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Carry me home [MAINT][Closed][FT]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Lady Scylla
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Carry me home [MAINT][Closed][FT]

Postby Lady Scylla » Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:05 am

Carry me home, dear friend. I have finished my travels, fought many battles, and seen faraway lands. But now, I yearn for rest, as my battles have come to their end. Carry me home, dear friend. So that I may lie among the fallen, amidst a Martian land. -- Richard Alderson, (2102-2165)

Alderson was a corpsman serving in the Martian Armed Forces from 2122-2128. His service came to an end after he survived a shuttle crash that left him paralysed. Alderson spent the remainder of his life writing books, public speaking, and detailing his experiences in the MAF including such in the Roking Rebellions and the Border War. He became an influential figure, and central contributor to Martian Nationalism that helped define an era. During the Raleigh Riots of 2160, Alderson, suffering from pneumonia, surprised many by addressing crowds and helping to calm them after violent clashes for a number of weeks. He grew to become anti-war, and while he supported the military, he was a large advocate in its use for defence only. He also pushed for campaigns to help workers, and the disadvantaged by challenging cultural norms especially those dealing with race.

Alderson died in 2165 from complications of pneumonia, just 5 years after the Raleigh Riots, leaving behind many influential works on Martian politics and society. The government provided Alderson a state funeral, the first non-government person to have received such an honour. His works, detailed in the book ''Martians'', shifted cultural views on many things in the MSR. The nation grew more tolerant, and the past decade has seen expansive growth for the MSR. Alderson's book also depicted his difficulty following the shuttle crash. In a chapter titled 'Carry me home' -- he outlined several conversations with death, wishing that he would join his friends who perished in that crash.

''Life is too often cruel, for us to be cruel ourselves. I think about that crash everyday, and the faces of the men I knew, who just the night before were all laughs and smiles. In many ways, I did die with them that day, and some day, I will join them finally. Until then, I just have to keep going. I've an order to never quit, and I intend to see that through. We used to joke that we were soldiers first, Martians second,'' Alderson said in an interview in 2163.





2175


''Ryu! It's time to get up,'' Hinata said, throwing a pillow at the sleeping log.

Ryu groaned and rolled over, ''Hinata? What are you doing here, how'd you get in?''

''You showed me where the key outside was remember?'' she answered, pulling the blanket from him. ''C'mon, it's already late, and you're making me late.''

Ryu sat up, and rubbed his eyes. He would much rather continue to sleep, but Hinata's persistence wasn't going to end unless he got out of bed. Begrudgingly, he did so, and kicked over some clothes on the ground until he found some jeans to slide on.

''That's disgusting,'' Hinata remarked, starting the coffee in Ryu's kitchen, which wasn't too far away. He lived in a small flat.

''If we're already late, then I've no time to do laundry,'' he said, continuing to get ready. Hinata shook her head in disapproval before taking a cup of coffee to him. ''Shit, that's hot,'' he said, shaking his hand for a moment.

''Really? I thought it'd be ice cold, c'mon, we need to hurry, we might be able to catch one of the other buses!''

Ryu sipped his coffee unenthusiastically as she hurried to the door and jerked it open. ''So dramatic,'' he mumbled.

''What?'' - ''Nothing, it's nothing. Let's go.''




Raleigh was a huge city, it had been the capital of the MSR for two hundred years now, and was home to more than twenty million people. Traffic along the main roads was always chaotic during the mornings, and Ryu always it a habit to walk closest to the road with Hinata further into the sidewalk. He sipped the last of his coffee, and ditched the cup in a bin when Hinata spotted a bus up ahead. People were boarding it, and immediately she started to take off, though Ryu already knew they were too far away.

''Hey! Wait!'' Hinata yelled, frantically waving her arms before the bus turned away. She stopped near the bus stop to catch her breath as Ryu came walking up. ''You could've ran after it, you're faster than me,'' she panted. Ryu gave her a shrug.

''I wouldn't have made it in time either, so it looks like we're walking,'' he said, much to the dismay of Hinata. She sighed. She didn't like being late, and she wished Ryu cared more. They were both having to pay out of pocket for the classes, and missing days was literally losing money. When she caught her breath, they began to start walking again.

''How'd you do on the exam?'' Hinata asked.

''Not good, pretty sure Professor Garr has it out for me,'' Ryu answered, drawing an eye from Hinata.

''Maybe because you sleep too much in class. It's a wonder she's put up with you this long,'' she said.

''Eitherway, it's not enough to screw me up for this semester so its fine.''

They both stopped at the sound of commotion as a door exploded from the hinges with a man. There were several police cars on the opposite side of the road, and a small group of people shouting and throwing things at the police. The man that had flown through the door tried to get up before getting tackled by several officers. ''Its our fucking right! You bastards are part of the problem!'' he was yelling as they tried to subdue him.

''What's that all about?'' Ryu asked as they continued to walk past the scene.

''Senate passed some controversial act, there's been protests across the city,'' Hinata said as she bumped into a someone. The two of them stopped and stared at a blonde haired police woman dressed in a black uniform, who had a rifle slung to her side. ''I'm really sorry,'' Hinata said giving a bow.

''What are you two doing here, this area is being cordoned off,'' the woman said, she had a very stern voice as she spoke.

''We missed our bus to the university, so we decided to walk, cordoned off?'' Ryu asked.

''And you've nothing to do with any of this?'' the officer said, gesturing to the commotion behind them, they both shook their heads. ''I need your IDs,'' she stated, holding out her hand. Hinata handed hers over, and the officer swiped it on her gauntlet which displayed some information in her eye. She handed the ID back, and then looked at Ryu who was still searching his pockets. ''Do you not have your ID on you?'' she asked.

''I think they're in my other pants,'' Ryu said quietly. It was law that citizens were to carry their ID with them at all times.

''Not off to a good start, open your eye and hold still,'' the officer said, reaching for a holster with a gun looking device. Ryu's hair stood up on end as she pulled it out and flinched back. ''You comply, and go along your way, or I take you down to the station, your choice. It's not going to hurt you,'' the officer reassured them. Ryu stood still as she pressed it against his eye, there was a sound from the device, and she was down and put the thing back in her holster. She quickly scanned through their records, and found nothing of note for concern.

''Alright, Ryu and Hinata, you may go, make sure you find a ride back. And Ryu, visit the Citizen Authority in case you've lost your ID, you're getting a warning for right now. I can't say how long this'll be cordoned off for, but you're going to have difficulty getting through the checkpoint without one,'' she said, pulling out a small notebook and writing something in it. She ripped the paper off and handed it to Ryu. ''This is a slip to let you through the checkpoint, just tell them Sergeant Reagan Tristram sent ya through. That way, they can radio me if they've an issue. But still, find. your. ID.''

''Yes, ma'am,'' he said taking the note from her. There was a more commotion behind them as a guy was seen wrestling officers off him.

''He's got a gun!'' one officer shouted, prompting the Sergeant to push both Hinata and Ryu to the ground. There were several shots, and some screams as the police Sergeant pulled the charging handle on her rifle and peered over a car. The man was taken down pretty quickly by the looks of it. ''Alright, you two, hurry up and get to that checkpoint,'' the Sergeant commanded, they both nodded and quickly shuffled down the sidewalk.

''21 to 5, status?'' Reagan said in her radio.

It crackled not long after with a male voice, ''5, 21 - One suspect down, Alpha, Code 2.''

''10-4,'' she responded, before muttering shit under her breath. She pulled the bolt, and dumped the round she had before getting a different magazine. The man her colleagues shot was a cyborg, she needed stronger ammunition. ''21 to 5, I'm 7 o'clock of your position, I've eyes on that door where the Code 2 came out of, have you gotten a sweep yet?''

''That's a negative, 21. We're dealing with the crowd, 15 and 7 need one more if you're available, how copy?''

''Copy that, 21 moving across the street,'' she said, as she slid from around the car and quickly made her way across.

She met up with the other two officers, which were also hiding behind a car. They all looked over as a large armoured truck with sirens came rolling down the road. More officers leapt off the vehicle amid rocks and glass bottles as they got into position to deal with the crowd. There was another burst of chatter, and then further gunfire as two people rushed the police line. ''All units, all units. Oscar 3. Code 1, Code 1.'' The codes were something they'd learnt by memory long by now. Oscar 3 meant an officer was down, and a Code 1 meant lethal force was authorised for non-compliance.

With that, the three of them breached the apartment building as more vehicles showed up to help the barricade on their right. The building was especially quiet as the three officers navigated its cold, dimly lit hallways. They'd cleared the first floor, and began to climb using the stairs. Floor after floor they made their way. When they reached the 7th, they were taken by surprise from a large man who started to swing a bat at them, hitting one of the officers over. The other tried to wrestle with him as Reagan looked down the hall at the start of a sound.

''Stop!'' she shouted, seeing a figure take off running. ''Stop or I will shoot! This is the police!'' she yelled again. ''I said stop!'' There was a gunshot, and Reagan peered over at the officer beside her. He'd taken the shot, dropping the person down the hall. Reagan hurried down the corridor to the figure which turned out to be a guy cradling his dog. He had blood pouring from his mouth as he struggled to breath.

''My dog... m-my dog,'' the man said shakily. Reagan knelt down beside him, sliding her weapon off as she carefully took the dog from him. It was just a puppy. ''I d-don't have the p-papers for it. I d-didn't want it t-taken, h-his name is r-rex... I, I-'' The man's eyes dulled and his head sank to the side. The puppy was terrified, and Reagan quietly petted it. She sat there for a moment, and carefully closed the man's eyes before getting up and grabbing her weapon. She marched back down the hall, where the other two officers had hit the bat-wielder with a tranq.

''What the fuck was that?'' she asked.

''We're Code 1, remember?'' the man said.

''I fucking had it, he was just running because he didn't have his dog registered,'' she growled. The man just shrugged. ''Fucking unbelievable. Fucking unbelievable,'' she said.




The door shut with a thud as Reagan wiped her forehead. She had the puppy in her other hand, which was now sporting a collar and chip. Her apartment was quiet, and very dark, she tried to avoid turning the lights on to keep the electric down. She gently sat the puppy down on her sofa, and went for the fridge to grab a beer. It had been one hell of a day. She popped the top, shedded her jacket and shirt and plopped down on the sofa. The puppy was sniffing around in the corner.

Reagan drank her beer and quietly watched it. She looked around on the table beside her, where she found some crackers and pulled the pack over. She crushed some up real fine, and carefully laid the pile on the cushion and watched as Rex quietly came over and began to eat. ''I'll make sure to get you some dog food tomorrow,'' she sighed and leaned back.

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Lady Scylla
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New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:24 am

A Day Off





The blaring alarm was met with an unenthusiastic hand. It was now Saturday, Reagan's day off, and she would much prefer the morning sleeping in for once. Her puppy, Rex, had other plans as it whined and scratched at her bedroom door. She rolled over and stared at the searing clock of her alarm: 6AM. With a sigh, she finally got herself up and wondered to the door. ''I'm coming, just hold your horses,'' she said.

Rex greeted her with way more excitement than was needed right now as he darted around her legs in circles with a wagging tail so fast the dog could go airborne with it. This didn't faze the barely awake Reagan though, she headed into the kitchen and was immediately greeted by another present of Rex' -- ''Agh! Seriously?'' she glared at the puppy. The little brown dog had no remorse as it stared at his new mum with large brown eyes. ''For fuck's sake you cretin,'' she sighed.

''Arda!'' Reagan called out, as a little robot came flying out from under the counter.

''Yes, ma'am?'' the robot chimed clamping its claws as a black screen with a red dot stared up at her owner.

''Do me a favour, for now on, make sure Rex' messes are cleaned up after,'' she said, gesturing to the spot she'd stepped in.

''Right away, ma'am!''

Reagan headed into the bathroom, shutting the door in Rex' face, and started her morning routine. When she had reemerged, she was drying her hair with a towel as Rex and Arda were playing. ''Ma'am, the floor has been disinfected. And I've gone ahead and had the coffee brew for you,'' the robot said.

''Thank you, Arda,'' Reagan responded, pouring herself a cup of the hot, and inviting beverage before plopping down in a chair at her table. Arda rolled into the bathroom to gather the towels, and Reagan flipped the television on. Rex decided to scale the chair, and before long was on the table. ''Rex... fine,'' she said, resting on her hand and petting the dog as it curled up next to her coffee mug. The mayor was speaking on the news at some press briefing, Reagan turned it up.

''Thanks to our dedicated officers, we've managed to more or less contain these violent protests. Let me make it abundantly clear, we will not tolerate such disruptions to our civil lives.'' Nope. Definitely not watching that. Reagan though, switching the channel.

''For just £145.99, you too can own one of these phenomenal sonic toothbrushes! Feel the cleansing power of our amazing sonic technology like nev-'' Nope. Besides, she was fine brushing her teeth the old fashion way. £145? For something that'll probably break in a year -- ridiculous she thought.

''Orgog, I love you!'' - ''I love you too, Selene, but face it, your family doesn't want to see you marry a slug'' Great. Galactic Bachelor must've just started a new season. Reagan's friends were obsessed with this show to the point that she questioned why they were friends. It was all they talked about since it first aired last year. She flipped the television off and stared at the now sleeping puppy that had nestled up under her hand.

''You'd never watch that shit I hope,'' she said before scooping up Rex and putting him on the couch. ''Arda, I'm heading out, I'll probably be back this evening.''




Reagan's apartment building wasn't anything special. Literally. There were at least a dozen others around it with the same exact design, colour scheme, and layout. You couldn't choose a more bland neighbourhood. But it was quiet, enough at least. And pretty cheap for a cop's salary. The buildings lower floors were a shared carpark, and now suited up in a jacket, boots, gloves, and helmet -- she was on the swivel for her bike. Nicer neighbourhoods had this thing where you could park your vehicle, and it'd deposit it inside, and when you wanted it, it'd bring it out to you.

Not here. It was old style here. Reagan lived in the Fujita Disctrict of Raleigh, not exactly the projects, but it was close enough. Certain extravagances were just not seen here. Most people in Fujita walked or drove to get around, there were shuttle stations but they were expensive and didn't have as many connections in the district as others. Crime was also higher here, though that was funny to Reagan, since as her life showed, Fujita and districts like it were the most common places for cops to live unless they were some high echelon smack or from central. Central Metro. The most well paid, high-class, and snobby cops you could find in the solar system. Corporations usually hire them for jobs, so it's no surprise they've their noses in everything including cocaine.

Reagan didn't know that, really, but she assumed some of them were drug-pushers for as corrupt as Central was. She locked her bag in her saddle pack, and took a moment to examine her ride. It was a 2115 black and polished Roadhorse Ranger. She'd gotten it years ago, and spent a fortune fixing it up, but it had a deep and throaty sound which is what made her fall in love with the bike. It pulled design elements from Indian and Harley-Davidson, two motorcycle companies that used to be widely popular a few centuries ago. This was an instant classic, largely because of the film ''Escaping Rigel-7'' where Keith Garnham rode one fleeing a bunch of space-nazis. Cult classics are weird.

She fired the bike up, giving it a few revs before pulling around to the exit of the gate. She paid her tax which dropped the concrete pillars and stopped the menacing robot from staring at her, and rolled out unto the street. She was free now. Her visor came down, she revved the bike again, and in a show-off fashion popped a wheelie and darted off down the road disappearing into a neon jungle. The city was a mass of skyscrapers so densely packed that it was always cool in the streets because the Sun rarely reached the ground. For that reason, headlights were required in some places even during the day.

Reagan stared at some as she drove by, they speared the sky far above and dwarfed anything she'd seen of Earth's buildings in the past. Some reached over a mile high. This was the consequence of Raleigh's existence for over a century, when it was just a burgeoning city-state. There was nowhere to go but up. The result was streets could be listed inside building even, and looking around there were all kinds of bridges either for autmobiles or foot traffic between towers. Some people woke up on one apartment building, and went down a floor, then just walked to the next tower while still being some seventy storeys in the air and never setting foot on the ground.

It made policing places like Fujita a ''Grade-A Bitch'' -- as Reagan would put it. Precincts solved this problem by only hiring people that live in these districts, and thus are familiar with the chaotic terrain. But even for people like Reagan who've grown up in Fujita, it can still be a bit much. It didn't help the situation with the advertisements. Raleigh was the neon-city for a reason, and massive holographic ads played on almost every skyscraper.

''Yeah, you just make a left at the building with the shampoo ad.'' -- ''Which fucking shampoo ad''

But that was the general life for Raleigh. Central was different comparatively. Ever since the 2150s, that area of the city has turned into suburbs built in towers. It was filled with corporate execs, government officials, celebrities, and other expensive-taste lot who've more cash than sense. But If at all possible, Reagan tried to avoid the politics. They were a messy affair that could get people hurt or killed, and had in the past. She enforced the law and that was that.

Her bike came to a rumbling stop next to a couple who were sitting at a table outside a restaurant. She flicked her visor up and called out, ''Hey, you!''

The two of them looked. ''You find your ID?'' she asked. Hinata and Ryu looked at eachother for a moment.

''Oh, you're that cop!'' -- ''Yeah, I'm that cop, ID, bud''

He pulled it out of his pocket to hand it over, though Reagan held up her hand. ''I just wanted to make sure you found it. Here,'' she said, tossing a Martian credit at him. ''That should pay for your food, consider it compensation for disturbing you. Have a good day,'' she said, popping her visor back down, and nodding as Ryu thanked her. She then sped back off.

When she hit the highway, her bike switched to autopilot and she relaxed a bit as she pulled up some news articles in her visual feed. People couldn't manually drive on these roads anyway, only the regular roads in town, so she wasn't worried about a crash. As far as the news went, there were a few articles detailing the nation-wide protests against the Senate's legislation. The move had gotten the public all up in a frenzy over it, and some had even gone violent. She wasn't that surprised, protests always did get violent somewhere.

One article talked about a bombing, which was unclear if it was related to the protests, but it left thirty dead. A few others were about the Senate's response to the demonstrations, which can pretty much be guessed at over what was said. She was interrupted then by an incoming call.

''Tristram,'' Reagan answered.

''It's Davis, Trist. I know it's your day off but we've got a situation that requires your attention,'' the man on the otherside spoke.

''Y'know I hate these kinds of calls right?''

''I know,'' Davis replied.

''What's the situation?''

''Homocide. It's pretty gruesome. Got called in this morning by a tweaker we've got in holding now. They said they found the victim,'' Davis said, his tone had changed and lost much of its flare.

''Suspects?''

''None, and the victim is a CenMet. The scene's on 345th Avenue and King's Street at the Block 15 skyrise,'' he said.

''Which is in Fujita, and Central?''

''Oh, the wolves have already started breathing down my neck, I'll give ya pay for today if you check it out, Sergeant,'' the man said.

''Alright, Chief, I'll be there shortly.''

Reagan reached over and flipped her lights on, which brought her bike out of autopilot, and forced the traffic AI to split traffic so she could cut through down the highway. A Central Metro murder in Fujita District was not a good sign. The drive didn't take long, and as she rounded the last corner towards the building, she could see the police vehicles parked outside. Officers always looked like they were going into a combat zone. Police trucks were big, bulky, armoured, and armed to the teeth. The same could be said for most of the precinct's finest. But in the MSR, this was required apparel -- chasing down cyborgs and people armed with things like RPGs needed this kind of hardware.

She parked her bike, and was let through the barricade with a flash of her badge and headed for the elevator. The ride up was quiet, giving her a few moments to prepare herself. There was a chime, and the doors opened to a vacated hallway. As Reagan stepped out, she could see a broken light down the way and an open door. She patched herself into the virtual crime scene, which displayed information such as virtual markers over objects or things of interests.

The whole floor was dimly lit, and had this sort of chemically smelling haze floating in the air. Definitely a tweaker den, she thought. She looked at the glass on the floor below the broken light, and her virtual assistant quickly reconstructed the glass via hologram, showing how it had likely been broken. From the data, it looked like it came from a swing, either with a long object or a tall suspect. Her VA measured the hallway distance, and doing some quick calculations it seemed the suspect was likely tall and had something that couldn't be swung horizontally in the hall.

She slipped under the police tape and stared at some blood on the doorway. It was low, maybe from a downward hit. When she finally stared into the room, it was empty with a large blood stain on the carpet. The body had already been collected by the coroner, but the VA went ahead and holographically reconstructed the crime scene in her vision so she could examine the body. He wasn't here on official business, that much was obvious. The victim was wearing a black sweater, and some jeans. Undercover was a possibility, but he had his badge in his pocket. Which wasn't something done for UC cops in Raleigh.

None of this explained why he was here, and especially in Fujita. She examined his face, his head had been virtually caved in to the point even virtual reconstruction wasn't possible. A pair of keys laid next to him, and she took a moment to analyse before walking to the lock on the door. There were a lot of scratches, but it was impossible to tell if they were recent, but given they were out, she made the connection that the man had been surprised and was just entering his apartment when he was attacked.

And by the looks of it, he didn't have enough time to put up a fight. The picture was slowly built up from the data using her VA, which created a sort of short movie she could watch play on loop in her vision. The man comes to his door to unlock it, the attacker approached and swings, breaking the light. The man must've turned or gotten knocked over given the low blood pattern on the doorway, which would make sense why he was just lying inside the door. The assailant then went to town on the man's face, killing him in the process. A crime of passion? Maybe.

Central Metro was notorious for their officers being cyborgs themselves. This man wasn't. Which could explain the force, if the suspect assumed it'd take more to do them in. From there, she started canvassing the apartment. All the electronics were there, his wallet, and other valuables were still there. Stealing didn't seem to be the motive. And nothing in the apartment looked like it had been tossed. Something did catch her eye however. A little red light was blinking underneath a cabinet nearby.

Reagan knelt down, and could see that it was a little vacuum robot which was now dead. It looked like it had been lodged under the counter while it was cleaning, and couldn't get out because of the lip on the bottom. Carefully, she pulled it out for a closer look. The device had a small camera near the light, probably to help it navigate. But depending on the model, some of these things acted like security devices which stored memory for a limited time for the owner to access. It was something.

She bagged the device, and left the apartment, logging out of the virtual crime scene as all the images disappeared in the room and hall. She stepped in an elevator, and as the doors closed, she got another call.

''Officer Tristram,'' she spoke.

''Yes, I'm Detective Grett with the Central Met, I was directed to you by Chief Davis,'' a man said. Of course. Dammit, Davis, Reagan thought.

''Yes, Detective, how can I help?''

''We've gotten word that one of our officers was allegedly murdered in the Fujita District. We'd like full access to the crime scene, and all the information you've collected so far. We intend to take over the investigation,'' the man said.

''I don't have clearance to hand over investigations, you'll have to bring that up with my Leftenant, Detective,'' she replied, and stepped out of the elevator.

''Leftenant Harvey has already informed me that the case's exec has been given to you, Sergeant, since you are the senior officer acting in that part of Fujita.''

Great. She knew they had been coming down on Davis, but didn't expect to get her own call. ''Unfortunately, Detective, this is a Fujita matter. We will send over all relevant details when we complete our investigation,'' she said.

''That's a shame. Hopefully this cop killer stops at our officer,'' the man said before hanging up, giving Reagan the chills. CenMet were lovely people. She had little insofar as a lead, but she had found the little robot, and maybe it had recorded a glimpse of their suspect.

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Lady Scylla
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New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Sat Jan 12, 2019 4:35 am

Riot




Raleigh, Capital of the MSR - The crowd had swelled in the streets, making it impossible for the observers in the nation's security forces to properly determine just how many there were. They had started to gather in Memorial Square during the early hours of the morning, when the dew hadn't yet left the streets, nor the sun pierced the dark shadows of the city. It took Civil Defence and the city's combined police units little time to respond to the massive congregation. The crowds remained undeterred.

Cars were set alight, and rocks were thrown at the radiant light shields of the police line. As the crowds grew, they resorted to fireworks, and clubs made of whatever they could find. They used lids of trash bins as shields to deflect the police's tear gas, and continued to press the lines. Their chants drowned out the noise in the streets -- ''Stand Down Senate, Martians First''. The police were not silent themselves, as large armoured trucks with intercomms broadcasted messages for the crowd to disperse.

Block by block, the police lines was forced to withdraw, giving more ground to the immense gatherings as they slowly encroached into Raleigh's Central District. Before long, the presence of the Central Metropolitan police could not be understated. At the district's checkpoint, heavily armed guards stood at the ready on the walls, with large trucks mounted with hoses and tear gas flanking them. Civil Defense had gone ahead and authorised a blackout on the cybernet, assuming the protests were being managed via people's neural implants.

''Attention all citizens. You are in violation of the Civil Disorder Act. Stand down immediately, and submit to the authority of Civil Defence. Further unlawful actions may be met with lethal force. This checkpoint is hereby under containment until further notice. Comply immediately,'' a man said atop a truck, holding a radio in his hand as his voice, carried by the truck's speakers did little to pierce the crowd's booming chants. He was quickly met with a rock, and knocked over, causing several officers to quickly leap unto the truck and drag him away to safety.

As the units prepared to make their stand, the crowd came into contact, and a number were swiftly beaten down by batons and cattle prods. Instead of dissuading them, they pushed harder, now challenging the barricade in waves of fighters armed with sticks and whatever else they could find. Several officers were dragged into the crowd, but for every one that went down, another from behind replaced them in the barricade. Their light shields stayed locked together when they could manage, trying to take the brunt of people throwing their full body weight unto them.

The trucks behind the line finally opened up with the tear gas launchers, and the hoses, spraying down large groups in the ensuing chaos while others covered their faces amidst the dense fog and continued on. A man quickly climbed the barricade, his police uniform was starkly different to the rest as he raised his hand. The CenMet along the checkpoint raised their weapons. As the arm dropped, the cracks echoed down the long corridors and alleyways of the city. Bodies quickly dropped in the road. The sound had surprised many of the other police units as much as the protesters.

The road was soaked in foamy water, blood, and remnants of tattered clothing and handkerchiefs. Dozens were now lying between the two groups. The Central Metropolitan's plan had been dashed, because it didn't disperse the crowd. Now they were enraged. People rushed into the small no-man's land to grab and drag people, and officers joined them and began to club each other, fighting over the bodies. This was interrupted by the sound of a loud horn as the crowds began to split.

Gunfire erupted again, but this time at a large 18-wheeler that was now charging down the road towards the barricade. The crowds cheered the truck on, which was soon followed by another, and a third. Even as the driver was hit in the first, the truck didn't stop. The officers leapt out of the way as the steel behemoth slammed into the barricade throwing men, metal, and debris across the street. It ploughed through before taking a hard right and slamming into the front of a shop. Moments later, the vehicle ignited.

With their lines broken, the officers quickly broke rank and began to flee through the barricade amid charging crowds. Others climbed atop the other two trucks, which had stopped short of the barricade, and were soon moving once more. In their flight, a number of weapons had been abandoned including one of the water trucks which was left unlocked. The protesters commandeered them, and gave pursuit. They were now pushing towards Senate Square.

Reagan had arrived in the area in her tactical gear, alongside many other Fujita officers as they sat in the large tilt-rotor craft over the city. Her helmet allowed her to zoom in on the carnage below as she analysed what was going on. ''This is getting way out of hand,'' she remarked over the radio. Her colleague, Officer Shaw was sitting in the door beside her also watching.

''CenMet actually opened fired on them. All they've done is escalate this beyond what was needed,'' he remarked.

''They're not used to this sort of disorder, CenMet gets paid to do nothing and sit on their asses in Central because of their extreme containment protocols. All they know how to do is overreact when they face a real problem,'' Reagan said.

''Less cops, more glorified mercenaries. This is going to give the Senate one hell of a headache,'' Shaw said, taking a moment to charge his weapon.

The pilot of the helicopter entered the comms with a crackle, drawing their attention, ''Sergeant, Central has ordered Fujita to respond to the crisis. They've given us a Code-1 clearance, lethal force. Orders?''

Reagan looked back down at the streets below. She shook her head, ''We're waiving off.''

''Are you serious?'' Shaw said alarmed.

''I'm not getting our boots bloody over their fuck up. We're here to protect not gun people down. Tell Central they can shove it, Grant,'' she said to the pilot.

''Yes, ma'am,'' Grant responded, ''Victor-Victor. Fox Romeos waive off, we're returning to base and standing down, over.''

The helicopter took a hard bank to the right, and as it turned, Reagan and Shaw could see the other Fujita choppers also waiving off. Shaw then glanced at Reagan. The Lieutenant was going to bite her head off when he found out, that was for sure. And CenMet was going to call for her blood. But he couldn't disagree with her. She had just put her career on the line, but it wasn't for a bad cause. As the birds headed back to the Fujita district, the rising smoke plumes in the distance from Central towered over the city.

''Y'know, Harvey is going to throw you to the dogs most likely, Sergeant,'' Shaw said on the radio.

''Probably, I'm not about to have my units gun down innocent people. I don't care if it's an order, that's not what we do. CenMet can clean up their own mess,'' she said, setting her rifle beside her.

''I can respect that,'' Shaw grinned, ''It's been a pleasure working for you, Sergeant.''

''Don't get all soft on me now, Corporal. You'll likely be the next Division Sergeant in my place,'' she laughed.

The radio crackled again from the pilot, ''Sergeant, it's Leftenant Harvey, should I patch him through?''

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Lady Scylla
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Postby Lady Scylla » Mon Jan 14, 2019 5:22 am

Allegiance





The tilt-rotor craft had come to a large helipad as night fell over the city of Raleigh, washing out all of the sky's colour in favour of hues of purple and dark blue. The tower beside the landing area was lit with bright white lights, and a tall ominous figure could be seen standing at the narrow walkway before the entrance. As the craft touched down, the sound of the whirring engines began to die down until there was just silence. ''Looks like Harvey has come out to greet you, Sergeant,'' Shaw said, sliding his visor off as he rested on the side of the bird.

''Wish me luck,'' Reagan said, gathering her things from the tilt-rotor's storage in the passenger section. She slid off the helicopter, and started to walk across the large helipad as the other craft came in. One of the flight engineers, a man by the name of Dawson had approached Shaw and Reagan's craft to service it. He was a small man, with a limber build, and stood out from the rest of the crew with his bright orange and black coveralls. And there never seemed to be a time when he wasn't enjoying the sweet pull of a cigarette.

''Heard on the radio,'' Dawson said to Shaw as Grant soon joined them from the pilot seat. Dawson served another purpose, he was often their hook-up for an after-mission beer. They couldn't drink in the premises, but no-one paid much attention if you were on the flight deck, so long as you didn't carry the stuff in. And in Dawson's usual fashion, he lugged a small cooler up on the bird's deck and passed out a couple of beers to Shaw and Grant.

''She's in a load of shit, that's for sure,'' Grant said, popping the tab off the bottle as he took a swig.

''Especially with Harvey, she's as good as dead,'' Dawson added, drawing a curious glance from Shaw. He didn't even need to speak, Dawson read it all too well.

''Word is, her and Harvey used to be a thing years ago, back when they were both NCOs,'' he elaborated.

''No fucking way,'' Shaw retorted, ''With Harvey? Nu-uh''

''Oh yes, it was the big scandal of Precinct 51,'' Grant interjected.

''Yep, they hooked up shortly after their NCO Academy training, and the top didn't care for that much. It worked out in the end, albeit poorly. The Sergeant there dumped our Romeo, Harvey. Didn't go so well from what I heard, and eventually, he moved on, and she got passed for a promotion supposedly because of him,'' Shaw continued, taking a drink himself. Grant followed and gagged, getting a chuckle from the other two.

''It ain't premium, mate. You'll get used to it,'' Shaw said with a grin.

''So Harvey has a grudge against the Sergeant, so it's pretty solid then that she's going to lose her job,'' Shaw speculated.

''Maybe. Rea has a funny way of surviving these things. She's always been a bit of a rogue in the department, but they were always looking to give her the slack because she's damn good at what she does. Supposedly that's why she got that new case over the CenMet murder. If anyone can get to the bottom of it, it's her. But CenMet is calling for blood because she has refused to hand if off, which, being the division sergeant, it's her right -- she's got full authority over the case. But I imagine this little run-in with orders might just have them send the hounds after her,'' the engineer grimaced.




Three people sat in a large, open room. An old woman, and two gentlemen, of varying cuts. They were discussing amongst themselves amidst the dimly lit atmosphere, as a holographic map of Raleigh was transposed on the centre of the table. It outlined the spread of the recent rioting in the city, and a number of police units and civil defence personnel that were trying to quell it. Of the trio, one was easily recognisable as Senator Kratz, who was an old, sprightly sort of man with a reminiscent crew cut that he had taken a liking to since his days in the armed forces. The other was the Home Affairs Minister, Sachi Ohara.

The third was an elderly lady, she appeared ages beyond her two counterparts, but had eyes as sharp as a blade, and a mind that seemed well beyond the others in the room. She wore an unfashionable, and plain grew coat and clothing of muted colours, and reeked of old perfume. Every word spoken got a scrutinising gaze from the woman as she perceived every movement of the two with her grey, owl like eyes. ''They're demanding the withdraw of the security bill,'' the Home Affairs Minister said.

''They've already pushed our police lines back a number of blocks, we were lucky to stop them just before they reached Senate square, but with Central Metropolitan firing on the crowd, now there are many out for blood,'' he continued.

''And the Secretariat has also started into the Senate over the incident. The Head Secretary is demanding the resignation of the CenMet officers involved in the shooting. What were the casualties again?'' the Senator said, turning towards Ohara.

''135 casualties in the incident,'' Ohara replied.

''Christ. Well, we can't give in to their demands, the Senate won't stand for it. We need order. Which brings us to our current predicament,'' the Senator said, addressing the woman.

They were interrupted by a knock at the door as a man, the doorman no less, peeked through. He was wearing a special visor, probably to hide any vital intel they were discussing from view as it allowed him to avoid walking into walls, but not much else. ''Sorry to interrupt, they have arrived,'' the man said.

''And the other headache,'' the Home Affairs minister said as he scratched his nose. ''Let them in,'' he added. The doorman dove out of sight, and then the door opened fully as two officers stepped into the room in dress uniform. It was Harvey and Reagan, who looked just about as comfortable as one could expect in a starched uniform. They both bowed, saying nothing.

''Some of Fujita District's senior officials, Division Lieutenant Harvey Kross and Division Sergeant Reagan Tristram,'' the Home Affairs minister introduced. He went on, gesturing towards his own entourage. ''This is Senator Kratz, Director Nakamura of Civil Defence, and I'm Ohara of Home Affairs.''

''I take it you both know why you're here,'' the Senator spoke up candidly.

''Sergeant, you refused a direct order from Central Metropolitan for support last night. As a result, Fujita's precincts didn't respond to the riots in the city which were threatening Central. That's an extremely egregious offence, as you know, one that could result in your own arrest. Do you have any comments?'' Ohara asked.

Reagan stepped forward to speak, but was suddenly interrupted by Harvey. ''She didn't give the order, sir. I did. After Central Metropolitan fired on the citizenry, I chose to withdraw our precincts -- I didn't want that kind of blood on my hands,'' he said, getting a surprised look from Reagan. He gave her only a passing glance in return.

''Is that so?'' the Senator questioned, ''Sergeant, is this true?''

Reagan felt her voice lock up, but finally spoke. ''It is, Senator,'' she said solemnly. It was about all she could say with what was happening.

''I see,'' Ohara commented rubbing his chin as the Senator reached for a glass of water. Meanwhile, the Civil Defence Director hadn't even acknowledged the officers' presence in the room. She seemed pre-occupied, or just uninterested with the affair.

''That's unfortunate. You're one of the best Division officers we've had in a long while, Kross. However, such a transgression cannot just be so easily swept under the rug. Central Metropolitan is creating a fuss on the back-channels over the incident. And you, Sergeant, should have known it was an illegal order. But that being said, refusing your CO is a mess in these circumstances, you'll have to excuse the three of us for a moment,'' Ohara said as all three pulled a cable from their wrists and plugged themselves in to a small device at the centre of the table. It was a private lobby, no doubt to discuss the punishment for the duo.

''What the hell are you doing?'' Reagan whispered.

''Saving your ass,'' Harvey replied out of the side of his mouth.

It didn't take the trio long to disconnect from the lobby as Ohara reclined in his chair and clasped his fingers. ''We've discussed the issue,'' he spoke.

''Kross, due to your exemplary service in Fujita, we've elected not to pursue state charges against you for disobeying orders from CenMet. That being said, you'll be stripped of your command, and will turn in your badge and service weapon by this afternoon. I'm sorry, but it's a lot better outcome under the circumstances. You will lose all access to Fujita's virtual assistant network, and turn over any crime data you have. You may go,'' the Senator said. Harvey was white, but he bowed anyway, and with one last glance to Reagan, departed the room.

As the door shut, the gazes except for Nakamura, fell on the Sergeant. ''Ms. Tristram, you've had a long record yourself that would otherwise warrant you a promotion. However, in light of this incident, it just isn't possible for us to satisfy that goal. While you're not directly at fault for what transpired last night over the riots, we cannot allow such actions to go unpunished, even for an NCO as yourself. An example must be made. I understand you were assigned an important case over a CenMet murder, however, Central Metropolitan would be rioting themselves if they found out that the senior authority on that case that refused to hand it over to them, also was compliant in last night's incident when they requested back-up,'' the Senator continued.

He glanced at Nakamura, who gave a slight nod. ''As a result, you have highlighted the importance of the case under its circumstances, so with your blessing, we will be handing it over to Civil Defence for investigation instead of CenMet.''

''That's acceptable, sir,'' she said briskly.

''Very well. Unfortunately, you will also be terminated from service. You'll hand in your badge this evening, since you have a private firearm, so that doesn't need to be turned in. Any crime data you have shall be handed over, and you'll lose your access to the FVA network. You're dismissed,'' the Senator said. Reagan gave a bow, and then left the room.

''Given everything, Director. The Senate will go ahead and fund your task force for that investigation. We cannot let that data fall into the wrong hands,'' the Senator said to the woman.




Reagan stood at a small, barred window as she unclipped her badge from her belt and slid it through to the large man on the otherside. Shaw and Dawson had tracked her down and came running up, ''Sarge! How-How'd it go?'' Shaw asked with a pant.

''I got relieved of duty, as did Harvey,'' she said to them as she pulled out her police shard from behind her ear and handed it over.

''What? No way! We could say something, Sarge,'' Dawson said.

''Don't. We're lucky we didn't get thrown in a cell. That being said, Shaw, I put in a good recommendation for you. They said they were willing to listen to my input, so I thought you'd make a good Division Sergeant,'' she smiled.

''That's awesome and all, but I didn't want a promotion like this,'' he said.

''Who's going into Harvey's old spot?''

''From what I understand, Master Sergeant Graze will be promoted to Fujita's Division Lieutenant,'' she said.

''Wait, wait, wait. Grays from Precinct 4? Fuck me,'' Shaw said.

''He's incompetent, Shaw. Why else do you think I gave you the recommendation. Everyone knows the NCO is who does the real legwork. The CO's job is to just look pretty and attend fancy parties,'' Reagan responded with a sympathetic pat on Shaw's shoulder. It probably wasn't the best choice of words given Harvey's appearance behind her.

''I did much more than that,'' he said, sending chills down her spine. He handed over his shard, and then his badge and firearm. Shaw and Dawson decided to play escape, and had vanished leaving her alone with her former CO.

''Sorry, Grays is definitely an idiot though, I wanted to make sure Fujita was in good hands,'' she said.

''I couldn't have expected much else, really,'' he said coldly.

''For god's sake, Harvey, let it go,'' Reagan said back sharply.

''I didn't have to step up for you in there,'' he said.

''I wasn't fucking asking you to,'' she growled.

''Typical,'' he said.

''Oh? Typical how? What, Harvey, spit it out!'' she snapped at him. The man behind the bars just backed away, probably to go have a smoke break as the two quarrelled.

''It's nothing,'' he said, ''Just forget about it.''

''Oh no, you wanted to have it out here. So you better start talking bud.''

''Why'd you leave?'' he asked. ''One day you were there, and then gone. Not a damn word, Reagan. Nothing.''

She slammed her hand down on the counter, cracking it, which with her being a cyborg wasn't difficult. ''I didn't fucking leave because I wanted to,'' she snarled. Admittedly, her anger was a surprise to Harvey, but she had been high strung as of late. She was always good at speaking her mind in her usual, solemn and grating fashion, but rarely was she angry.

''What does that even mean?''

''I was told to leave you or else they weren't going to give you the fucking promotion, Harvey. I knew how much you cared for the damn job, and I didn't want to be the barrier,'' she said, her words cutting like a knife as she grabbed her duffel bag from the floor. ''Not everything is about you, Harvey,'' she added before storming off. He tried to call after her, but it was no use. She rounded the corner and was gone, leaving him there alone to come to terms with what she said.




The neon sign flickered, with some letters missing, but it could still be read easily enough. It was a night club, and typical to Fujita district's nightlife, it was booming. Inside, the music was pumping, and the crowd was jamming out. Scantily clad waitresses walked about serving drinks to the patrons, and small gatherings of women and business type people huddled in corners of the club. Places like this were a haven for drugs, and many of these patrons were high off their rockers as they exchanged pills, inhalers, and other nefarious narcotics. But for Fujita, it was all in good fun. It was a time to let loose, and the people in this part of the city could party like no other.

A large, circular bar stood out from the club's tables and dance floor. It was sparsely occupied with the solemn drunks of the world, those dealing with their divorce, looking for a cheap hook up, or just down on their luck. But one figure, nestled on a bar stool, stood out. Reagan was leaning on the counter, quietly stirring a straw in a glass of some intoxicating liquid, resting her face on her other hand. The other half dozen glasses next to her signalled that she had been here for a little while.

A man came cantering over, with a drunks step as he nearly bumped into her. ''Hey babe, how 'bout you and me get on out back?'' the man suggested, making a few rude gestures in the process. Reagan gave him a disgusted look.

''There's nothing to be gettin' on about, so not interested,'' she said.

The man reached out, and went to brush some of her black hair from her face, ''Come on now,'' but that was the wrong move. She grabbed his hand, twisted it, causing him to drop his beer which shattered on the floor. ''Ah! What the fuck!'' he yelped just before she grabbed him by the hair and through his face down unto the counter.

''Don't fucking touch me,'' she said as the man slumped to the ground out cold. She got up, and moved over a seat as a bouncer came over and collected the trash for her. She went back to nursing her drink, taking a few sips as the liquid stung her throat, and was soon joined by another figure. ''I said, I'm not interested,'' she snarled.

''Oh, that's a shame, I thought you'd love the opportunity,'' an old woman's voice said, drawing a confused glance from Reagan. The woman simply smiled. She was dressed like she was going to church, not a nightclub and was quite a bit shorter than Reagan.

''Director...''

''Director Nakamura of Civil Defence,'' the old woman spoke, outreaching a hand.

Reagan cautiously shook it and scooted her glass off to the side. ''What brings you here? This isn't exactly a place for spooks,'' she commented.

''On the contrary, this is the perfect place for the spooks. That, and they make a good bloody mary,'' Nakamura said, calling a bartender over for a drink. She kept a purse nestled in her lap with her hand in it, which Reagan found odd. ''Don't think an old lady can't run about with a firearm?'' the director said with a cheesy grin, noticing Reagan's glance. ''I like to be prepared. It's part of my job, and I've got a job for you,'' she added.

''Taking jobs from spooks isn't generally my forte,'' Reagan said, taking her glass and downing what was left of her drink. ''How the hell did you find me anyway?''

''It's my job to know things, Ms. Tristram. And I know everything about anything, including your military record and involvement in the Colonial Rebellions,'' the old lady spoke. Reagan glared at her wide-eyed, with a loss for words as her mouth just sort of hung open for a brief moment. ''Oh yes, it's amazing how such a decorated soldier in the Valkyries can go rogue and support an insurrection, and then, when that insurrection gets crushed, just seems to vanish without a trace. It's a class A act, and one that takes someone with exceptional skill. I wouldn't have expected you to become a boring cop though,'' she continued.

''How the fuck did you know about that?''

''As I said, I know everything. So how about we discuss your pay?''

Reagan sat back for a moment. ''I don't even know what the job is,'' she said.

''Would you like to know?''

''Do I have a choice?''

''You always have a choice, Ms. Tristram,'' Nakamura said sweetly, pulling out a shard from her purse.

''That's a great way to get hacked,'' Reagan looked at the small chip suspiciously.

''Oh, please, darling. If I wanted to hack you, I would have done it already. This contains information over the job in question, which requires some secrecy as you may have guessed, so take it,'' she said, offering the shard over. Reagan took it, and slid it into the back of her head. Her eyes light up with a faint glow as a loading screen appeared in her vision, and then a series of files and data about a murder case. Her brows furrowed.

''This is that CenMet murder,'' she said, ''I was taken off this case.''

''You were, and now you're going to be back on it, but under Civil Defence. You see, the Senate doesn't like us very much, so they pull our funding and give it back all the time. Something to do with an agency having dirt on the nation's politicians or something. Oh well. This case is of prime importance to the Senate, the man you found is suspected to have had some highly classified data that could be detrimental to our national interests should it fall into the wrong hands. So they've given me the funding to create a task force for this case,'' Nakamura said.

Reagan pulled the shard out, and handed it back over. ''Won't they have an issue with you hiring me for this?''

''Probably. But I enjoy fucking over the Senate when I can, and you're the perfect person for the job. You will be able to work on this case, and have full access to Civil Defence's resources at your leisure. I think you'll find our cyberwar arsenal a bit more robust than your old job's. And, if a deal can be secured, you may even get hardware from MARINCO as well. You can put together the team, though I've gone ahead and made a few choice selections that I'm sure will help you,'' the old woman smiled again.

''And the pay?''

''Ah, I did mention that didn't I? It's £175,000 up front, plus a monthly payment of £3,500, and on completion of the job -- £350,000,'' Nakamura said. Reagan's jaw dropped as her complexion went pale. ''So, do we have a deal?''

''I don't think I have a choice,'' she said, ''but I'll take it.''

''You always had a choice. We'll see to getting you access to our AI, and I expect you to arrive at this location tomorrow morning, so don't drink to heavily, darling,'' Nakamura said, handing over a different shard as Reagan installed it without hesitation this time. It carried details of a safehouse in the Fujita warehouse district. Nakamura downed her drink, and with a handshake, left Reagan at the bar to slowly come to grips with what just happened.




It was morning. The streets were damp from an early rain as a motorcycle pulled up outside an old rusty warehouse. Reagan slid off the bike, depositing her helmet, and came to a large metal door. A panel stood out from the rest of the building, looking brand new, and way too hi-tech for a lock. She pressed the button on it as a robotic female's voice came over comm. A panel opened up above her, with a minigun poking out. Security seemed a bit excessive for a rundown shithole. ''Identify,'' the voice said on the comm.

''Reagan Tristram?'' she said, unsure, since there was no special codeword or anything given. The minigun disappeared behind the panel again, and a quick blue light flashed over Reagan nearly blinding her.

''Scan complete. Access granted,'' the voice said, and the door shuttered as it unlocked. Reagan grabbed the rusty handle, and as she pulled it open, she could see that it sheet metal over an almost two foot thick reinforced blast door. She stepped inside to a massive room full of vehicles and neatly cleaned grey walls, with lights that started to turn on down the warehouse. The door locked behind her as she came down a small stairwell and reached the main floor. The place had armoured cars, motorcycles, helicopters, and shuttles. Along the side there were lockers full of clothing, weapons, and body armour.

She approached them, and saw her name on one and then glanced at the others. Some were named as well. There was Shaw, Dawson, and Harvey.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Tue Jan 15, 2019 8:01 am

Synapse





Despite Martian authorities best efforts, the riots have continued gripping the Fujita and New London districts of the Martian capital. The violence has been escalated following the events of Bloody Saturday, when Central Metropolitan police fired on the crowd with live ammunition, killing 135 protesters. ''I'd turn that off,'' Reagan said as she stepped into the building's rec-room. Grant was sitting at the counter, which doubled as a kitchen, stuffing his face with what looked to be noodles. Shaw was cleaning his firearm on the couch, Dawson was half asleep in a recliner, and Harvey was staring at the television.

The Martian Senate has repeatedly called for calm following the massacre, and a new bill expected to hit their chambers this week could authorise military action in the capital if the riots don't cease. ''It's about the only thing on,'' Harvey said, flicking it off.

''Shaw, how did you even end up here?'' Reagan asked, leaning over the couch. He set his disassembled firearm down and took a moment to drag on a cigarette.

''I'm thankful for the good word and all, but no fucking way I was gonna be okay with all that. The Director gave me an offer, and I leapt,'' he said with a sheepish grin. Reagan gave him a pat on the shoulder as she walked over and gave Dawson's recliner a good swift kick, startling him.

''THE FUCK? Oh... Hey, Sergeant,'' he said, tossing aside the magazine he had draped on his face as he sat up.

''Not your Sergeant anymore, Dawson. I take it you got lined in with the Director as well?''

''Well, not quite...''

''Dawson was there when she approached me about it, practically begged her to hire him. Something about needing drinking buddies,'' Shaw chuckled. Dawson picked up the magazine and threw it at him in response before looking back to Reagan.

''Anyway, flight crew is nice and all, but servicing your lot's bird was the highlight of my day. Everyone else is either boring, or just a bunch of twits. Nice to have a beer with people y'know?''

''Alright, that's fair,'' she said, taking a look at everyone. ''I don't even know where to start,'' she said with a gesture.

''You could start on your case,'' Nakamura said, as she came from the shadows of a hallway on the opposite side of the room.

''Director,'' Reagan said, giving a bow.

''I'm not one for formalities, dear. I'd blow my back out if I had to bow at every encounter. I've had our John Doe shipped here from the morgue, I assume you still remember how to run necromancer software, Ms. Tristram? We'll need to see if there's anything salvageable. Obviously, I'll be here if you need assistance, but Reagan, you're in charge of this task force. That being said, everyone seems to love calling you Sergeant, so I guess we'll just keep that, also here,'' she said, rummaging through her purse as she pulled out a small case and opened it. It contained a number of shards.

''This will grant you access to Civil Defence's network and AI. I should warn you, once you've downloaded the access, you should remove the shard. It's a one time use, and if you don't, it'll fry your brain with a virus. Don't fret though, there's a countdown,'' she smiled sweetly offering the case as they all walked over to retrieve one. Reagan stared at the small chip for a moment before sliding it in to her head. Their eyes flashed a few different colours.

Initialising. Standby. Cyberlink established. 5 seconds until virus deployment. Quickly, they pulled the shards out, with Shaw staring at his like it was going to explode. It didn't, although it was now just a piece of fatal malware that he was holding in his hand. The precaution was understandable. Reagan's eyes were still blue as she sorted through files upon files of information. Hello, Reagan. My name is Astrid, I am Civil Defence's artificial intelligence and will be assisting you throughout your career in Civil Defence's Corporate Security task force.

Corporate Security? She thought puzzled. Why corporate security? Director Nakamura sees it as imperative that your role in Civil Defence is as obscure as possible to maximise your flexibility when dealing with cases assigned to your task force. As such, all documentation for this purpose will be filed under the moniker 'Corporation', and more specifically 'Nakamura Industries' where needed. Your official job description for as long as you are in Director Nakamura's personal employ is that of Security Contractor. It is extremely advised that references to your job be no more descriptive than 'Security' or other variants that do not betray your true nature of work. Officially, you are Sergeant Tristram of the task force, with subordinates being listed as 'Operatives'. If you've any further questions, please let me know.

Reagan's eyes went back to normal as she closed down her visual feed and looked at the others. ''Well, lets get to work then,'' she said, getting a smile from the old Director as she made her exit.




The door swung open, and out came a covered body. They all stared for a moment as Reagan slipped some gloves on and carefully pulled the sheet back. ''Christ,'' Grant said taking a step back. The man's face was definitely just as Reagan remembered, having been beaten in with some sort of weapon. But she had already ran data on this, and was more interested if his digital brain was still of any use. She pulled out a small case from her pocket, and opened it to reveal a small red shard.

''I'm already putting my firewalls up, but if he's got a virus, hit me with this, understand?'' she said, handing it over to Shaw.

''You sure about this? Necromancer runs are dangerous enough as is, but y'know there's a good chance you might not come back the same if there is a virus,'' he said worryingly.

''I'll be fine, as long as you shard me the moment you see trouble,'' she said, carefully forcing the dead man's head over to expose a series of ports on the neck. ''Only identification we've got is a badge number, but its of a retired cop who hasn't been seen long before this guy got whacked. This is the only way to find out who he actually is,'' she said. She pulled a cable from her wrist, and slotted it into a port in the dead man's neck. Her eyes glazed over as she became stiff and began her dive.




Darkness. That was all she could see. It was just cold, empty space - like standing in a featureless void. She had the sense of falling, of spinning, even though she could take steps - or at least she thought she could. It was this sort of disembodiment that made necromancing the dead so dangerous. What your own mind is telling you, is not what seems to be going on. You feel nausea, dread, and a chill like no other. They call it the 'Deadman's Sense'. Because you are cognitively experiencing the absence of life - something the dead can't experience. It will drive even the most experienced necromancers mad.

Reagan could feel her heart rate climbing as the anxiety seeped into her veins. She had to focus, and act quickly. Sparks began to fly in this space as she ran software to 'reboot' the man's mind. She also prepared herself for the worst. Death is an unknowable thing. She knew that the moment she resuscitated the mind, it would be reliving the last few moments of its death with no sense that time had passed. It was a chilling experience that always made her stomach churn.

There was a sense of static now, like pins and needles on her skin. She felt as though she was being wrapped in a damp, light cloth from head to toe. She began to breath faster, her chest felt heavy, and the air seemed to be pulled from her with every breath. The edge of the world seemed so close now, like a coffin trying to suffocate her as she felt the tightness around her throat and limbs. She became paralysed, her body buckling under something she couldn't see until there was a deafening high-pitched hum. Rapid flashes blinded her. When she could see again, there came bloodcurdling screams among the humming as she watched a disfigured apparition made of static race about the space with unnatural and horrifying contortions.

Her body shook with every movement as she tried to get closer to him. She felt the searing pain beneath her skin, like it was being pealed off of her as she tried to fight it. Every step was one on hot, serrated glass. Every breath was a burning, putrid smelling waft of agony. This was where necromancers lost themselves. She had to fight it, she had to calm him down. As she drew closer, his words became more distinguishable.

''No! Please! Stop! Stop! AGH! AUGH! OH GOD! MAAA.. MU....MMMF!...MM!...'' She was listening to the last sounds as he was being beaten to death. These were his last moments, and to him, they were still happening. She reached out towards the apparition as it came speeding past, and as it rammed into her arm, she felt like she had been shattered into pieces with millions of needles. They were both racing now. She continued to run programs as she felt the cold, dullness sink unto her head like a concussion. It made it harder to think, and for several moments, she was unaware herself. Her thoughts trailed into deadends. But finally, a memory block succeeded and the hellish world abruptly evaporated before her.

She awoke on a grassy space that stretched for as far as the eyes could see. She stood and looked down at her hands. They felt real, like she was actually there. As she came to her feet, she saw a man sitting on a bench nearby by himself. There was noone else around for miles. It was midday by the light, but no sun, no clouds. Not even a breeze. She approached the bench carefully. She could hear the man humming to himself.

''Excuse me,'' she said, ''Can you hear me?''

The man turned around, exposing the horrendous crater in the centre of his face where his jaw hung down to his chest and a series of weird visual distortions continued to interrupt any clear view of it. He spoke, his voice was calm, pleasant, though his face didn't seem to move to the speech. It was like he was unaware of the injury. He was dressed in a fine suit with no bloodstains, and held a book in hand. ''Oh, yes! Who might you be? I was just sitting here reading,'' the man said.

''My name is Reagan, Reagan Tristram,'' she said as the man gestured for her to sit. So she did.

''Have you read this book before? It's my favourite!'' he said, as a hanging eyeball swung around every time he moved his head.

''Can't say that I have, what is it?'' Reagan asked, paying no mind to the mans disfigurement. He handed it over to her as she looked at the cover. It had a beautiful picture of grassy fields and was titled 'A Martian's Heart'. ''What's it about?'' she asked, handing it back.

''It's a bit of a romance novel. My sister gave it to me just before she died. This Martian couple move into the Eastern Grasslands and build a house. It's set during the Colonial Rebellions, and the woman is a Colonist. The state was looking for sympathisers to the cause, so the man saves his love and they live happily ever after. It's a brilliant book. Should read it sometime,'' the man said.

''I'll have to check into it. I never caught your name...''

''Oh! My apologies, I'm Mr. Ohara, from the Home Office,'' he said.

Reagan looked at him for a moment. ''Ohara?''

''Oh yes, have you heard of me?''

''Mr. Ohara, do you remember where you were last?''

''I was at my office. Why do you ask?''

''Okay, and what happened after, do you remember anything else?''

''Well, I don't see why it's important. I had a call from my wife, and then I went outside to my car and,'' he said, looking down for a moment.

''Have you read this book before? It's my favourite!'' he said cheerfully, holding up the book. She stared at the man bewildered. It didn't make any sense. None of it did.

''Mr. Ohara, how did you get here?''

''Oh, well, I'm not quite sure,'' he said confused. Reagan nodded.

''I'm going to ask you something, Mr. Ohara, I need you to think really hard,'' she said, taking his hand as he looked at her.

''I'll try my best, what do you need Ms?''

''Ms. Tristram, I need you to think real hard. Were you working on some sort of project or program, anything that might make someone want to harm you?''

''Well, I'm the Home Affairs official, miss! There's a lot of defense work I do,'' he said, ''I don't quote follow.''

''Recently. What were you working on before you got a call from your wife?''

''Oh, that! Well, I can't say,'' he said.

''It's a matter of national security, Mr. Ohara. You can trust me,'' she said, giving his hand a re-affirming squeeze.

''Well, alright. We were working on the Trident program, and I had to provide details to the Defence Committee. The Menelmacari have had us under a strict treaty, and the Senate wanted to find some loopholes,'' he said.

''What exactly were these details?''

''Targeting, arming codes, and a bit of other information over the program since my department was the one that funded the program,'' he said, causing Reagan's eyes to widen. ''Are you alright?''

''I'm fine. Thank you Mr. Ohara. Do you know what year it is, sir?''

''That's an odd question, it's 2170,'' he said confidently.

''I see, I do have one last question for you,'' she said.

''Alright.''

''Your wife, do you know what she looks like?''

''Oh definitely, I've been married to that woman for some thirty years now,'' he said cheerfully. ''Love of my life''

Reagan smiled and held his hand up. She started to run a few programs now as she spoke, ''I want you to think real hard, Mr. Ohara, about what your wife looks and sounds like for me, okay?'' she smiled. He nodded. It didn't take long, but they were soon interrupted by a woman in a dress in her mid-50s.

''Gerty, how did you get here?'' Ohara said excitedly.

''Your friend, Reagan. She paid for my bus ticket, she said I should come see you, are you reading that old book again,'' she chuckled.

''Y'know me all too well,'' he said, getting up to embrace her. Reagan stood, setting the book aside.

''Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Ohara. I hope you two have a good day,'' Reagan said pleasantly. The world started to evaporate as the old couple embraced and looked out over the grasslands. Reagan fired off a virus on her memory block, corrupting the data of Ohara's last moments and ensuring that this was the last thing he remembered instead. When she came out of the dive, she was on the floor with all of the guys over her, and Shaw shining a flashlight in her face.

''Ow,'' she said with a cough as she tried to sit up.

''You had a seizure practically, are you okay?''

''I should be,'' she said, reaching in the back of her head and pulling out the shard they must've thrown in.

''So? Anything?''

''We've got a problem,'' she said looking at them all, ''This is the body of the Home Affairs minister.''

''Wait, what?''

''Then who is running Home Affairs?''

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Postby Lady Scylla » Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:22 am

Serpent





''He's on the 37th floor,'' Shaw said, as he looked at camera feeds of the government complex. Their tilt-rotor zipped across the sky as Reagan hung off the side with a rope. She could see the city passing below. Night had fallen, and up here, one could see just how vast Raleigh was as it stretched to every horizon.

''How much longer, Grant?'' she said over the radio.

''Just a few minutes, Sergeant,'' Grant said, taking a moment to look at the clock on the dash. He could see the building way off in the distance, highlighted by his HUD, and also the border region to central. It wasn't long after that he got some chatter.

Unidentified Aircraft. This is Central Airspace, you are in violation of flight rules. Identify immediately and submit to inspection or be fired upon.

Grant leaned back in his seat, ''Looks like things are going to get a bit hairy, hold on tight!'' he said. Missile. Missile. Missile. Missile. Missile. Sure enough, Grant could see a rocket speeding towards them from a SAM site. He banked the bird hard, causing Reagan to dangle with the rope from the side. Shaw was holding unto the seat, but was strapped in. He reached out and grabbed a hold of the Sergeant's line just in case he needed to pull her in. Harvey was on the far end, his visor spotted a flash in the distance which drew his attention as his visual feed began to process the data.

''Grant, another on the right!''

Grant looked over, and sure enough, another SAM had fired. Shit. ''We're going to drop!'' Shaw unbuckled himself, and slid over, grabbing the Sergeant's line and pulling it tight. Grant threw the rotors backwards, the bird creaked as everyone went sliding forwards. He cut the engines, made a roll, and the whole thing dropped like a stone towards the ground. As he cycled the engines back on, the two missiles had changed their arcs and were now flying downwards. He banked towards the river and came low on the water as he again cycled the rotors backwards. Spray from the river doused the helicopter, and he leaned over and hit a switch, activating the bird's optical camo. The bird disappeared in the spray as the two rockets slammed into the river, creating large towers of water in their wake.

''It won't take them long to retrack us, but we're in the clear for now,'' Grant said, pulling the bird up again. As they closed in on the tower, Shaw let the line slack for the Sergeant. This plan of hers was crazy. ''Get ready!'' Grant shouted. The bird banked to the right of the tower, and Shaw hit the release on the line. Reagan dropped from the helicopter, holding tight until the last moment when she pulled the quick release. For a moment she felt weightless as she held her rifle tight to her body. She looked up and watched as the bird she was tethered to began to gain some distance. She closed her eyes, and came careening through the glass of the tower.

The impact was anything but light as she rolled, and sparks flew from her cyborg body. ''38th floor'' She leapt to her feet and took off at a run as alarms in the building began to sound. She had only a few minutes. With her optical camo on, she weaved through security drones that had gone on alert. Gunfire erupted in the hallway as they tried to trail her steps, but she was already gone.

Security Breach. Lockdown in effect.

Astrid came over the commlink, ''Reagan, security forces are swarming the building. Ohara has been identified on floor 38, but is heading towards the elevator. I've gone ahead and infiltrated the building's systems, and have locked them down.''

''Got it,'' Reagan said, busting through a door to the stairwell, she had to go up a floor. She quickly scaled the stairs, and as she reached the door, she could see the handle turning. Ohara had opted for the last route available. He opened the door, and two shots rang out.




''Very daring,'' Mrs. Nakamura said, looking down at the remains of the Home Office minister. The area was an active crime scene now, with a number of police canvassing the building.

''It was,'' Reagan said over their comms network. She had just woken up at home as the morning sun peaked through the blinds of her apartment.

''You could've have alerted me ahead of time,'' the old woman said in her comms as she was handed a clipboard to sign. ''What have you learnt?''

''We hacked into the Home Office's communication logs and found that Ohara did receive a phone call when he specified during my brain dive. However, the discrepancy was that his wife died a year before that phone call took place, meaning he couldn't have spoken with her. Remarkably, the information related to the call itself was wiped, but I suspect it contained some infected data. Essentially, the Home Affairs minister was hacked. Shortly after the call, cameras picked him up leaving the building and walking into the alley.

He isn't seen leaving, but a vehicle does depart later which we were able to trace. It'd been stolen days earlier, and the thief had failed to realise a camera had seen him. We ran that through our database, and with Astrid's help, we identified one Kozue Sako. He's been working as an engineer for hire for the past few years before disappearing completely. Turns out Sako participated in the Colonial Rebellions and had sympathies to the Colonial People's Army. We suspect he performed a dangerous, and well planned swap with Ohara in order to gain access to the Trident program, which the Senate has grown interested in. Turns out, there's been a number of shipments coming into Sol to build a larger nuclear arsenal in the system, including a prototype launch system designed to be able to hit the Menelmacari without warning.

Something that violates the strategic arms treaty. Since Home Affairs was tasked with this secret project, Ohara was a prime target. The program is designed to be defensive, but Sako was intending to use it offensively to start a war, likely destroying the MSR in the process and freeing the colonies from Raleigh's control. Somehow or another, Ohara's digital brain managed to get into Sako's body, prompting him to murder the Home Affairs official, and put his plan into action. That's why we remained dark and went ahead with this operation, we had enough evidence to assume Sako was going to prepare his 'war','' Reagan spoke.

''I see. Well, this won't be that difficult to clean up. We'll release a statement to the media that Ohara had unfortunately passed away from a heart attack. And we'll file the necessary paperwork to show as much,'' the director said.

''There is one thing,'' Reagan spoke up

''Oh? What is it?''

''The Senate trying to bypass the strategic arms treaty. Sako couldn't have known Ohara was the one on the project. Such a thing would be damning for the Senate. Even with them trying to consolidate their power, the international backlash would be explosive. Yet, we're the only ones with this intel, which, and pardon me for saying so, makes it seem odd. How'd Ohara manage to hack his way into a body? He doesn't have the skillset, and it'd take one hell of an AI to do that remotely, which it had to be given Sako was in the room,'' she said.

''What are you implying?'' Nakamura said, walking away from the crime scene.

''Civil Defence got their funding back. And a bombshell like this would surely be enough to ensure we keep it, and maybe give us leverage on the riot situation,'' Reagan said.

Nakamura smiled, ''All is fair in politics and war, Sergeant. You've done an excellent job. I suggest you watch the news tomorrow when the Senate repeals the security act unanimously. The public will think their rioting did it, and the Senate will have learnt a valuable lesson.''

''What's that, Director?''

''You don't fuck with Civil Defence.''

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Postby Lady Scylla » Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:30 am

Sovereign





The three men walked hurriedly down a large hall flanked by ornate marble statues, whose dismissive gaze brought upon the three a discomfort unlike anything they had ever encountered before. They called it the Sacred Hall, a titanically sized corridor that connected the Chambers of Court to the Imperial Palace, and was perhaps the most important structure in the entire city if not the nation. High above them, in the vaulted ceiling were the statues of men and serpents embroiled in a hellish conflict that dominated the heights. It was in reference to a favourite poem of the First Emperor known as the ''Bloodless Struggle''. In this poem, armies of men rose up against a tyranny of great wyrms and cast them into an oblivion.

As the three men approached an immense metal door, the guards stationed around it pushed it open. It required two teams of three men for each door, and as they slowly revealed the chamber behind the barrier, the three men swallowed nervously as the colour slowly drained from their face. At the back of this chamber sat tall steps and a figure in a throne. The men were beckoned forth by the steward, and as they walked across the long scarlet carpet, they could see an army of guards along the walls keeping a close eye on them like vultures waiting for the end of a slaughter.

They bowed when they came to the end of the carpet, their eyes fixated on the floor as the figure in the throne stood with the creaking of the chair. Heavy steps followed as they descended the steps towards the men. The line of soldiers on each side of the room quickly shouldered their weapons, and marched in an ominous fashion towards the carpet before stopping just shy of the fabric in perfect unison. The three trembled but did not move from their positions nor did they look up. It wasn't until a soft, but firm voice of a man spoke to them did their bodies finally move but with the feeling of death about them.

''Rise,'' the voice had commanded, and the three did. Before them stood a man, grey in beard and hair, with a weary face that had seen many years. He wore a black uniform, with a sigil of his house sewn into the lapel and a grey and red cape that hung from his left shoulder obscuring his arm. His grey eyes were still as they looked at the entourage, and though tired they still seamed sharp. It was not the man that was failing, but his body.

''The Triumvirate of the Martian Senate, Your Majesty,'' the steward introduced the three with a bow. He then looked to the men and spoke as he stood behind the Emperor. ''You have been summoned by His Majesty for a task requiring the utmost attention of not only yourselves, but the government in its entirety. The fate of a nation rests in the balance --'' The Emperor's hand raised, silencing the steward as he quickly bowed and backed away. The Emperor looked at them, and his gaze softened.

''It is time that the Republic prepare for a new Sovereign,'' the Emperor's gaze softened further as the lines around his eyes tightened, ''It is time for my daughter to take the throne.'' The three were taken by surprise as they stared at the frail man before them. ''I am dying, and so my last imperial edict,'' he said as he stretched his hand out to the steward who quickly produced a rolled up document, the Emperor then handed it to the men, ''Is to enact the Sovereign Authority Clause, and declare an end to the Age of Prosperity, and the beginning of the Imperial Age.'' The Emperor then began to cough and wheeze, the men saw that drops of blood were present on his handkerchief before he stowed the fabric away.

''Come tomorrow, I will have finally left this world. My father entrusted upon me the power of Sovereign Authority, just as his father had on him. None of my ancestors thought Mars was ready, but my daughter is strong and capable, and I think it is fitting that she should carry the start of a nation's new future. Your services will no longer be required as the Triumvirate. God's speed, gentlemen,'' the Emperor said before turning away with another coughing fit as he ascended the steps. The men bowed, and left quickly to deliver the news to the Senate.

And so, in what seemed to be the smallest of meanings came the gravest, and heaviest of news. The Republic as it was known, had come to pass. And that night, the third Emperor and the last of the Age of Prosperity passed in his sleep. It would not be til morning, that the nation would learn of the devastating loss, and a new figure would soon be crowned not of the Republic but of the Martian Empire. The nation would never be the same again.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Sat Feb 23, 2019 6:30 pm

A New Rome


Delta Quadrant, Persephone System, 120 LY from the Martian Frontier

The ground shook with tremendous tremors as bombs from beyond the heavens rained down upon the landscape. The very air was thick with sulphur and burnt flesh as the wind carried billowing smoke high into the clouds, turning the skies into a sickly orange colour. Hills far in the distance that dominated the horizon were now torches with a voracious blaze that burned so strongly the valley was covered in a rain of embers and ash. The inhabitants rode bizarre creature and flung their arrows at the metal men approaching. An army in red had come from great ships, and with them they carried unfamiliar weaponry, and travelled beside carriages of steel unlike anything this world had seen.

Their advance seemed unstoppable but wave upon wave the inhabitants threw themselves at this new enemy. The enemy's carriages thundered and rocked with great flashes, turning everything they settled their cursed gaze upon into ruin. And these metal men did not stop. No arrow, nor stone, nor blade or spear fazed them. They were like gods, each and everyone of them, and in their hands they wielded a heavenly wrath that cracked like lightning and struck down even the most courageous warriors.

The village they had so desperately tried to defend was cast alight by strange men who could breath fire from their hands. The buildings crackled and crumbled amidst the engulfing inferno as civilians were dragged into the street. Some were struck down and their blood ran through the muddy and ashen ground like streams. The rest were dragged to the square where more of these metal men stood to await their arrival. Two of them carried forth a dishevelled old man, the sight horrified the inhabitants as he was taken to the centre of the square. One metal man, in black looked upon the crowd as he produced a long blade and displayed it to them.

Another began to read, ''By decree of her Imperial Majesty of the Martian Empire, this world shall henceforth be a part of the Martian Colonial Realms, and its people her utmost loyal subjects. Let it be known, from this day forth, by Royal Decree, that this world shall be named Persephone. Under Her Majesty's directive, until such a time that this territory may be deemed pacified, habeas corpus for all persons who commit crimes against the Crown shall be put to death. Praise the Empress!''

The metal men let out a horrific chant that startled the inhabitants but this would be paled by the slow steps of the man in black as he approached the elderly man. The two holding him held his head up, and the man in black buried the blade into his neck causing major unrest among the crowd. There was a large amount of gunfire as several tried to break free, but the remainder were quickly beaten down with shock-batons. It was the first of many worlds that soon fall to the Martians. For them, their Golden Age had just begun.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:35 pm

Delta Quadrant, Persephone System, 120 LY from the Martian Frontier

A rudimentary camp had been built atop a barren hill, where the trees had all been felled by their arrival. The Martians were resting as they enjoyed each other's company by some scattered fires. Their laughter and jokes filled the air as they filled their bellies with whatever they could scrounge together for a dinner. The man in black had finally arrived, as the dust spurred across the hillside amid his helicopter. He stepped off and was greeted by a small entourage who walked with him to a large central tent to the camp.

They were dismissed, and the tall figure pulled open the tent to peek inside. He walked with authority, and every step was measured as a consequence of years of military training. His face was scarred along the jaw, and carried no emotion or greeting as he entered the tent. Inside was a tallow-faced alien sitting on the ground amid a small armed guard. The creature was old and frail, with cloudy eyes and scarred skin itself that had long since healed. They did not seem to respond to the arrival of the man in black, nor did they seem to notice that the guards had vacated the two of them. A dull silence lingered on the air for a time.

''General Zhou,'' the alien finally spoke, lifting their head up in the man in black's direction. Zhou stepped forward, he seemed unsurprised at the revelation. Though he knew the alien could not see him. He knelt down cautiously to get to an even level with the creature and spoke tacitly.

''You remember who I am?''

''I may be an old gyal-kich-na but I recognise those footsteps from anywhere. It has been a very long time, what do I owe the pleasure?'' the alien spoke.

The General smirked, impressed with this, though he didn't dawdle on it. He stood and walked to a small semi-circular desk against the side of the tent where some water was stashed. As he poured a glass he spoke, ''Fifteen years, Warchief Skarig. When The Delta found you, you were suffering a famine that was devastating your world,'' when he returned to the man, he presented a wooden cup which the man gingerly took before sipping some water.

''We gave you food and medicine. Taught you irrigation and how a civilised life was meant to work,'' Zhou spoke.

The old man sipped his water, and when he felt his thirst had been sufficiently quenched he lowered the cup, ''What you may consider to be civilisation, my people have long seen as corruption of life.''

''Is that why the Eastern Tribes were so keen on accepting our help?''

''I cannot speak for the other tribes, all I know is that they have betrayed the ska-chik-ku-sha-hay. Our way. For countless generation, General Zhou, we have existed on our world and the only home we've known. We took only what was needed from nature, nothing less and nothing more. Aha-na, our beloved goddess saw that we had grown too much and that it was time to restore the balance. The famine was not so much a punishment but a mercy by Great Aha-na on my people so that we may continue to thrive. What has your solutions brought us?'' Skarig said, handing the wooden cup back to Zhou.

''You were willing to let people die by the thousands from starvation and disease. We saved you from that. Your response was to attack us over some dogma. You killed hundreds of scientists and workers that wanted nothing but to help you survive a collapsing biosphere,'' he said as he set the cup aside.

''Your defectors tell me a different story, General. Of the worlds you Kin-da-hay-nah came from. You see your technology as a salvation but look at the cost it has left on your own worlds and people. You must modify yourselves, your fauna, and your flora to survive a corruption you have created. I have witnessed your gift here on Aha-na's pastures. Widespread deforestation, poisonous air and water. You supplied tribes open to your cause with weaponry that they then used on my people. You brought disease, and Aha-na will judge you accordingly. You will not woo me over, General. I trust you did not come here to debate philosophy,'' Skarig smiled.

''Warchief, I have paid you the utmost respect given your position. I know you have instructed your warlords to wage an insurgency against us and they have taken to the dense jungles. I will burn every inch of this world if I have to unless you give me their names and locations,'' Zhou said as his disposition changed considerably.

''I am but an old ka-tay-hah, General. Death does not concern me for it is the only path left for me to take whether it is by your hand or Aha-na. I will not give you what you seek, for our sacrifice even if you have silenced my people, will have been for the only home we've ever had,'' Skarig said.

''We'll see,'' Zhou said standing and summoned the guards. ''No food for a week, and no sleep for more than half an hour a day,'' he ordered as the soldiers nodded. Zhou looked back at Skarig who while he could hear him, showed no sign of reaction. Zhou left the tent finally and looked out upon the mass of tents. If it was a war they wanted, it'd be a war they'd get.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Mon Feb 25, 2019 8:00 pm

Delta Quadrant, Persephone System, 120 LY from the Martian Frontier

There was a large pile of dirt in a rusty pan that had taken over the only table in the room. Zhou and a smaller, meek looking man in a lab coat were both staring it. A machine hung from the ceiling with all sorts of instruments and tools that, without the context of the strange soil, would have made its purpose dichotomous. A metal arm came down with a small cylinder and carefully fired a laser into the soil as a number of other people in the room, while not joined with the General, watched eagerly on some screens.

''So this is what we're here for, some dirt,'' Zhou said unamused as he casually slipped his fingers through the soft soil. It was cool to the touch, but seemed otherwise unspectacular, even as he took a few grains in his hand for further examination. The smaller man next to him seemed almost insulted at the dismissive remark and behaviour of the general.

''If the test confirms our hypothesis, then this will be groundbreaking for the empire,'' the man said. He held in his hand a tablet, and began to flick through some data hurriedly as the laser continued to slowly move around the pile of dirt. Zhou could see from some of the screens around the room what the team's microscopes were focused on. It still looked like ordinary granules of soil.

''I mean no offence, Doctor Rigel. However, while you may be excited by a pile of dirt, you weren't ordered out here by the state to club some natives,'' he remarked. It was part of his job to protect the science teams, and he knew that the majority of them had wilfully volunteered for the endeavour.

''That may be, but we might be on the verge of the greatest discovery in our history,'' Rigel said enthusiastically as he continued to come through data on his tablet. It was then that something caught his attention, ''Hold it!'' he exclaimed loudly, causing the hole room to go still. He briskly walked to a computer and started to type in some information before a screen lit up displaying what he had found. ''General...'' he motioned Zhou over.

Zhou stepped over, and on the screen was a number of visual waves with one specifically highlighted, and also an image of where one of the microscopes was currently looking. Among the granules was a small discolouration that came off as a bluish-green. Zhou wan't sure what he was looking at, but Rigel took no time to explain as he pushed his glasses up his nose with a smile. ''General, what you are looking at is the residual energy of a singularity,'' the man said delighted.

''You're going to have to explain, Doctor,'' Zhou said looking at the man.

''Abyssium. There were rumours that the Scythians had an artificial intelligence that exceeded anything ever created. What happened to them and this supposed AI of theirs has been a mystery for sometime. However, a few months ago. Come! Have a look!'' Rigel said as he swiftly went to a shelf with a number of tablets and pulled one. He lit the screen up and handed it off to Zhou as it started to display some text. ''Professor Mangrove was on an expedition near the Red Abyss when she came across a strange asteroid. It was emitting radio waves. At first she figured it was just an ordinary piece of radioactive material but she investigated anyway. What she found was a strange material buried deep in the asteroid in a crystalline formation,'' Rigel said.

Zhou still seemed unconvinced as he handed the tablet back. ''So this Mangrove found a pretty rock,'' he remarked.

''Well, actually, we're not sure what it is. Abyssium is a material that seems to exist in two states at the same time. And by that I mean what you're looking at isn't the real thing,'' he suggested. ''Mangrove after some further research suggested that whatever happened to the Scythians left some sort of residue, and the only other place we've found this material at is archive structures in the region. It's emitting radio-waves, but it doesn't decay. It's as if the energy it is tied to is coming from somewhere else. And when you excite it with energy,'' Rigel said as he carefully drew the laser near the substance on the microscope.

It began to glow tremendously, and slowly more of the material began to appear. Zhou stepped closer to watch as the bluish-tint colour started to branch out like a tree or ice-crystals. ''It takes a specific wavelength to get it to do this, further tests have given explosive results so we're still working with it. We've also seen that it can act as a sort of battery, now how much it can truly hold is unknown since we simply just do not have enough of it to test with. However, this finding suggests that there may be veins of it present on the planet since the yields we continue to find keep growing. The most startling find is this,'' Rigel said as he messed with the laser.

The beam could be seen suddenly passing through the material. ''It seems things can pass through it if excited to the right frequency. The potential applications of this is breathtaking,'' he said.

''Then I guess it's fair to say that we should call up MARINCO to help deal with our native problem,'' Zhou said.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:26 am

A Most Boring Day
Or How To Strangle Oneself With Their Tie While Working In The Martian Senate





It was a warm, but rainy day in the metropolis of Raza, the newly renamed capital that was formerly known as Raleigh. The Red City had seen a number of troubles in the past few months so any moment of tranquil quiet was a welcome one. Alas, while the city seemed lethargic, the gears of a bureaucratic machine were still grinding out the very matters of state until it was a fine paste that resembled manure, and could be promptly loaded into documents and televised addresses and unapologetically lobbed at the unsuspecting citizenry.

And so the day was to be carried on per usual. The solemn-faced quacks of the nation's highest elite robotically checked themselves in at the security entrance to the Chambers of Senate. Which might seem imposing, but given the boring state of the rectangular and wooden room with an unimposing set of horrendously coloured green chairs that looked like they were stolen from the 1950s, it wouldn't be unexpected for the unfamiliar to wonder if they had wandered into some new age barbershop. Not that any of these fine, upstanding gentlemen had hair.

And so the lemmings took their seats, and quietly considered to themselves if they had taken their daily cyanide medication. The overall chatter prior to the proceedings seemed duller than a gaggle of wine connoisseurs at a dinner party. If one managed to take a shot of liquor every time the weather was brought up, a football team could use them as a keg. Finally, the chatter seemed to die down as an old, and weary looking man in a pompous white wig took a seat at the end of the chambers in a chair far larger and theatrical than needed.

''Order, order!'' the Sergeant-At-Arms announced, silencing the entire room. So silent you could probably make out the subtle sounds of half of the company's pacemakers in their chest. The weary magistrate in the wig inspected his gavel for a moment as the Sergeant-At-Arms continued. ''Now announcing the commencement of the 405th Senate convention in her name, Her Majesty Agatha IV of the Solveig Dynasty. Presiding as Chief Magistrate for this convention is Honourable Lord Hannibal Becket. Honourable Chancellor Fredrick Van Allen will now begin the proceedings,'' the Sergeant-At-Arms finished and quickly shuffled to his post beside the Magistrate in case someone dare attempt to steal the man's wig.

In the centre of the room, a thin man with grey hair and bushy eyebrows stood. In his hands he clutched some papers as he approached the hideously green felt table in the middle of the room. He drew a pair of glasses from his coat pocket, and shuffled the papers before finally speaking. Though the time he spent getting to this point likely meant a eulogy was in order for half the Senate. ''The Secretariat has submitted legislation that passed in their chambers at 531-29 authorising the deployment of an additional 5 naval vessels to the Martian Delta, and 5,000 army personnel to secure colonial holdings against a rising threat of piracy. Secretary Martha Andals stated that recent pirate activity had cost the Delta's government over £350 million in the last year alone, and 35 deaths of Martian colonists,'' he finished and took a seat.

''Honourable Senator Thomas Garrison,'' the magistrate said as a man raised a handkerchief.

The man stood and approached the table, taking a moment to look at the assembly. His suit was far too small to fit him, making it a wonder how the man got around doing anything. It was obvious as well that he was younger than the rest, mostly due to the lack of grey hair and a lack of disposition that he had endured three divorces. Nevertheless, the man spoke, ''Honourable Chancellor, was it not just last year that we authorised the MSRN Gauntlet to the Delta? The Delta has its own colonial forces, and is expecting the federal government to hold their hand. It is the duty of the Martian military to defend us against invasions from other states, not waste resources and money on rabble. If the Delta, and Secretary Andals can't enforce their own borders then perhaps we should find a new Regional Secretary!''

There was a momentous ruckus from the left as a number of the men in caveman-like fashion stomped their feet and made a series of unattractive guttural noises in approval. The rest of the room seemed as if they were eyeing for an exit ahead of a stampede. Erstwhile, someone in the building was getting a broom ready to comically bang on the ceiling and toss out expletives. Senator Garrison, seeming content with himself, took a seat as another Senator was called to the table. This time it was Senator Alex Farr.

''Honourable Senator Garrison raises an interesting point. Where must we draw the line for our military? Should we let our colonists be left to the slaughter? Their colonial budget for their security forces is decided by the Senate, is it not? So aren't we the ones to blame for this situation to begin with? The Delta is requesting the federal government to send help with a grave situation on their frontier and here we are dawdling about the expense. May I remind you the last time we chose to wilfully neglect the colonies! The Colonial Wars still leave a scar on us to this day!'' she said, getting a monstrous amount of reaction from the chamber as many booed, some cheered, and the magistrate now caught in the middle of trying to calm the chambers was debating whether to use his gavel or look for a sidearm to paint his wig a new colour entirely.

It was Garrison's turn once again. ''Honourable Senator Farr, I seem to recall that you were the one who voted on the Colonial Redistribution Act of 2152, which helped lead to the Colonial Wars. It's ironic for you to stand here and criticise the rest of the government on monetary and defence policy when you, yourself had a direct hand in that horrendous military campaign. You were even a co-author of the legislation! How dare you. We may manage the finances of colonial defences, but it is their duty to ensure these funds are properly used. Do you fault a bank if you spend your loan on a broken car?'' More commotion followed, as a few more members of the senate seemed to now back Garrison. He swiftly took his seat.

''Honourable Senator Garrison, the Colonial Redistribution Act of 2152 was a grave mistake on my behalf, but one that many of us here in the Senate signed as well. May I remind you that the legislation was not only passed, but submitted to the floor by the late Honourable Senator Thomas Garrison, Sr.? Hindsight is an unfortunate price to pay when running a government, Honourable Senator. That being said, we've a duty to the colonies. If we help eliminate the pirate problem now, then we will not have to deal with a larger threat from it later,'' Alex stated before taking a seat herself.

''Order, order!'' The Magistrate said, having finally settled on the use of his gavel. ''Considerations have now been passed. We will move to a vote on the legislation. The Chamber Archivist has setup the necessary facility, please partake in your duties without fail, any insubordination or malicious intent will result in apprehension by the Sergeant-At-Arms. You may now proceed while we are in recess,'' he said with another whack of the poor hammer shaped object.

It wasn't long before the votes had been tallied. As the recess ended, and the Senators had once again taken their seats, the Archivist took the floor. ''On the vote for the Martian Delta Deployment Act of 2177, the vote deadlocks at 20-20.'' The shock on the chamber's faces were palpable, and all eyes now focused on the Magistrate. His duty was to make everyone in the room hate him, and he was often good at his job. In this instance he had all the power. He could favour one side or another. He could strike down the vote and send it back to the Secretariat for further revision. Or he could do what the room was dreading, forcing a compromise.

''With a deadlock vote, it's the opinion of the Magistrate that a compromise be reached between the opposing parties. You may now proceed for additional deliberations,'' he said. And deliberations they did. By the end of the last hour for the bill, the two sides had reached some sort of conclusion, and they all still had their limbs. Mostly. Senator Harrison was a different case, what with the losing a limb to a whale and all. Once again the Archivist took the floor.

''The Martian Delta Deployment Act of 2177, under a new revision permitting the deployment of 2 warships and 3,500 soldiers to the Martian Delta has now passed at 35-5.''

And with that, the government had concluded for this legislation, and would soon begin the process all over again for the next. God help them.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:44 pm

A Question of Sovereignty
Alpha-Beta Demarcation, Sol System, Mars, Martian Sovereign Republic





A long, neatly set table was the centre-piece to an already opulent room with large chandeliers, portraits, and tall slender windows that let the sun beam in unopposed. A small staff of butlers stood aside, their backs to the wall, quiet as a grave as their most important task sat at the end of this table. It was a woman with short white hair and pale skin, who looked as though she couldn't be past twenty-five. Before her sat a large ceramic plate painted with decorative flowers and birds. On the plate sat some steamy sausages with a bit of sauerkraut, and pickled beats.

She gingerly cut through a sausage as the door at the far end of the dining hall was opened. An old, but sprightly man entered the room dressed in a brown suit and donning a large grey moustache and lightly trimmed beard. A pair of thin metal spectacles rested haphazardly on the end of his nose. The man took a respectful bow to the monarch enjoying her lunch, and swiftly walked over to her side. His speech seemed well articulated for his age; anyone would be damned if they could find a single lazy vowel when he spoke. The syllables flowed like a brilliant gravy, and not one seemed out of place.

''I apologise for the intrusion, Your Majesty. I answered your summons,'' he spoke.

Agatha held up a finger as she chewed, and then wiped her mouth with the napkin from her lap. She outstretched an arm as a butler rushed over and quickly poured her a glass of blood red wine then returned to their post without a misstep. The woman sipped from the glass, leaving the slightest tinge of her red lipstick on the edge and folded one arm over the other as she leaned back in her chair. She tapped the glass with a nail, and her amber gaze finally settled on the man.

''You're a steward, Lord Mathew. Intruding is quite literally a part of your job description, and probably as natural as breathing. Besides, rarely could you disturb me. I inquired about the situation in the Martian Delta, I trust you've some information for me,'' she spoke plainly. She had a low, monotonous and aristocratic tone as she spoke, and much like the steward, her speech was just as well articulated. The man bowed and produced a folder as he quickly flipped through the paperwork.

''Of course, Your Majesty. The military campaign is proceeding ahead nominally, with the Senate's approval for further ships and troops, we should see Persephone becoming mostly pacified within the month. Martian scientists have also discovered trace amounts of Abyssium, and believe there may be valuable deposits somewhere on the planet that we can mine,'' he said, taking a moment to glance at her for her approval.

She gave none as she quietly sipped her wine. ''And what of our information campaign?''

''We've had the media broadcasting about the Persephoneans barbarity such as their slavery, cannibalism, and their aggression against our humanitarian mission,'' he responded.

''That'll be all, Lord Mathew,'' she said, the man took his bow and quickly left.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:12 am

Fortitudo et Constantia
Persephone, Martian Delta Frontier, Outpost Montana




Montana was like a number of outposts on Persephone -- assembled with pre-fabricated buildings and structures. The base had sprung up practically overnight, and as the Martian Armed Forces, or the MAF for short, locked down this sector, the native attacks had increased in frequency. The local warlord of Sector 301, which was where Outpost Montana was located, was known as Chief Shegara. His Mountain River Tribe, or Raketayha in the Raketayhan tongue, were renowned in the region for their fierce night-attacks and ambush tactics.

And despite the technological advancements of the MAF, even sophisticated instruments had difficulty penetrating some of the mountainous jungle in this region. The trees were tall like red oaks, obscuring the ground below in thick shadow, and they emanated radio waves that baffled the science teams. Beyond trying to burn the jungle down, the MAF was tasked to comb the hostile region of poisonous plants, dangerous fauna, and hostile native forces who knew this land far better than them. Many knew the cost would be high.

In the clearing of Outpost Montana, a shadow drifted over the base directing eyes upward at a large ship as it was descending towards the base. The vessel belonged to the MSRN, and was a frigate roughly 250 meters long. Its sleek tricoloured body of grey, white, and orange panelling shimmered in the sunlight. The vessels arrival disturbed the dust as great winds lapped against the ground from its powerful engines. The deck crew, in their thermal clothing, could still feel the sweltering heat of the frigate's thrusters and quickly stood clear as a number of landing struts were extended.

The ship touched down on the pad, and the rumbling hum of the engines slowly died. The crews rushed around securing the vessel with magnetic locks, and a large ramp was lowered from the ship's underside at the bow. A number of fresh personnel marched off the ramp followed by vehicles and cargo. The Lieutenant, and captain of the vessel, stepped to the edge of the ramp and leaned against a hydraulic piston as he stared out over the walls of the outpost.

''Leftenant Rochester?'' a stubby, and round man said as he gingerly walked up the ramp, paying careful attention to the MAF unloading the craft. He extended a hand to Lt. Rochester, who shook it cautiously.

''You know me?'' the naval officer said. He plucked a cigarette from a pack he had stashed in his pocket, and leaned over to light it.

The round man nodded enthusiastically, ''I do!'' he said, ''anyone can recognise the Pelican from a good kilometer away. And wherever that beauty is going, you're sure to be there.''

Rochester took a gander at his ship as he drew on the cigarette he had nestled at the corner of his mouth. 'MSRN Pelican' could be seen in bright orange letters along the side, and while the lieutenant was attached to his ship, he didn't think she stood out all that much compared to others of the same class. ''Well, I'm happy I managed to make your day,'' he said with a sideways grin.

''Please, call me Vance,'' the round man said, ''I'm the Montana's coordinator, like an administrator for the daily operations of the base. Come!'' The man quickly scurried down the ramp and without a second look back continued down the dusty road towards the outpost's office. Rochester let out one last puff before embarking as well, and lagged behind Vance.

The office wasn't far from the landing pad, and much like all things the military built -- it was monotonous. The lieutenant took his hat off as the two entered the building and quietly flicked ashes into it. He looked around the beige and white room, and the thin steel desk that centred it all. On the wall was a certificate, congratulating Mr. Vance on his achievements at university. Rochester found it odd the man's last name was Vance, every other Vance he had met had it as a first name. There were pictures on the walls as well, several of the Pelican, and a number of news paper articles discussing the Colonial Wars. Rochester could feel his stomach churn.

Vance dawdled about for a moment, before pulling out a bottle of rum from a cabinet beside his desk made of the same thin steel. He fetched two glasses and poured them as he quietly hummed to himself. Rochester took a seat on a hard couch, and flicked more ashes into his cap. The bottle was soon returned to its resting spot, and Vance slid the glass over towards the Lieutenant.

Rochester raised his hand, ''I haven't drank in years. I'll have to pass,'' he spoke. Vance seemed rather disappointed at this revelation as he nimbly slid the glass back and poured it into his own.

''A smoker that doesn't drink, my, that is a rarity,'' Vance said taking a sip.

Rochester sighed, ''We do exist,'' he replied and blew another plume of smoke from his nose. He looked around, and gestured with his hand that held the cigarette, ''I see you've been keeping track of me,'' he said, with no real interest in the conversation, but it seemed better to shoot the elephant in the room now.

Vance looked around at his collection of newspapers and such on the Pelican, ''You're the hero of the Mayan Vale,'' he said with a grin. ''Really showed those rebel bastards,'' he chuckled.

Rochester felt the cold air nipping at his skin. A wound on his chest seemed to act up in pain as he scratched it uncomfortably. He could remember the gunfire, and the flames. He could still smell the musty stench of putrid and burning flesh. The feeling in his chest of bombs. And worst of all, he could hear the screams. He must have zoned out for a moment, because Vance was looking at him sideways with a concerned look.

''Sorry, what was the question?'' the lieutenant asked.

''I asked if you were alright, Leftenant,'' Vance replied, ''you look sickly like a bog.''

''I'm fine. Long travel with little sleep does that to ya,'' he replied.

''Well, we're definitely glad you came. I've been petitioning Planetary Headquarters for weeks now to reinforce the Montana. Damn bureaucrats. We've lost good men out here, these damn savages are ruthless,'' Vance said disgruntled. He downed his glass in a gulp after the small tirade to quell his anger and frustration.

''I read the report,'' Rochester said as he put out his cigarette, ''they're talking about an aggressive orbital bombardment here?''

Vance nodded as he sat down and spoke, ''Shame, really.'' His gaze drifted out the only window of the building towards the hills in the distance. ''It's a beautiful place. If we can't deliver Shegara's head to the Brass by the deadline, they'll evacuate the Montana and launch a series of nuclear strikes in this region. All of this,'' he gestured with his hands as he stood, ''it'll all be gone.''

''Wouldn't have figured you'd be attached to a place like this,'' the lieutenant said.

''There's always an admirable beauty to worlds like this, leftenant. It's just a shame that we often have to destroy that beauty for our own gain,'' Vance remarked.

''That's why we're here, coordinator. Fortitudo et Constantia,'' the lieutenant said.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Wed Mar 06, 2019 9:11 am

Jungle War
Persephone, Martian Delta Frontier, Montana Jungle



The platoon moved carefully through the vibrant lush undergrowth. With them was a guide of the friendly Sakota tribe as he helped navigate the the unforgiving terrain and labyrinthine jungle. The Martians were unfamiliar with such terrain; none of their colonies had large rainforests such as this, it proved difficult for a force trained in urban and open combat. Despite their unfamiliarity, they pressed on, but the consequence of this was problematic for the men and women on the ground.

The flora beneath the canopy lit the ground with its bioluminescence. Large mushroom like organisms meandered across the forest floor, and vine-like creatures would descend the trees and try to latch on to the platoon's equipment. While not difficult to fend off, it kept the tension running high. Every bizarre sound set them on edge, and every movement in the shadows of this cave-like hell played with their minds. What was more concerning was that their presence never went unnoticed. Every step they took on the forest floor sent a wave of light through the vegetation that raced away from them. And to their concern, their Sakotan guide did not have this effect, there was no 'echo' in the plants as he walked.

''Alright, platoon, we're approaching the deadzone. Radio interference from the trees is going to make communication difficult. Remember your training. I need full security and absolutely no talking,'' the 2nd lieutenant said. The group pressed on. It didn't take them long to realise just how eerie of a place this region was. The fauna they had come across before had all but disappeared, and the jungle fell silent as a gentle fog rolled in across the ground.

Their radios occasionally crackled in their helmets, sometimes producing a low hum that seemed to vary in intensity. Other times, there were strange murmurs, like voices that were indistinguishable. It made their skin crawl. And then, what stopped the entire team in their tracks was a very obvious voice, that of a woman, saying ''Turn back''. The group began to break as they searched the treeline in a panic. The 2nd lieutenant tried to get them to keep formation as a gust blew in across the treetops knocking down limbs and other debris from up high.

''Hold it! Hold it together! Do not break formation soldiers! I said do not fucking break formation!'' the lieutenant screamed. The fog had rolled in thick now, coming up to their waist as the hum in their radios got louder. Then, almost all of them were brought to their knees by an ear-piercing screech in their headsets. Several jerked their helmets off and dropped their weapons. ''Do not remove your helmet! Do not fucking remove your helmets! Get them back on!'' the officer yelled. It was too late.

''My god, she's beautiful,'' one of the marines said as he fell to his knees and stared up at a rock behind the screaming lieutenant. The others who had removed their helmets could see her too, an almost angelically beautiful woman in white standing atop the rock. The lieutenant ran around trying to pull the troops up and get their helmet on but they seemed completely dazed. He turned around, and could see nothing on the rock.

''God dammit, marine! You're hallucinating! Put your fucking helmet back on!'' the officer ordered, but they didn't respond. The Sakotan man was the only one that seemed unaffected, drawing the ire of the officer. ''What the hell did you lead us into? Speak dammit!'' the man said drawing his sidearm and pointing it at the native.

''It's the Ghost Wood, it's where they say Ahana lives,'' the native responded.

''Your fucking deity? Really? What sort of bullshit is this. You led us into a fucking trap!'' the officer yelled. They scuffled for a moment, and a gunshot pierced the air as the Sakotan man was felled by the officer. But as the lieutenant blinked, the guide turned into one of his own. ''What the... where...'' he felt confused as he felt his face, realising he didn't have his helmet either. As he looked around, his platoon was missing as well. Only silent jungle remained.

''This doesn't make any sense. No, no, no,'' he said frantically. When he turned back to the body, it was gone. There was no blood, only a rock with a crack where the bullet had pierced the stone. ''This can't be right. This can't be,'' he dropped his side arm and collapsed to the ground. His movements became lethargic as he searched for his helmet but that too seemed to have disappeared.

''You are afraid,'' a womanly voice said as the officer crawled along the ground. He looked up and stared at a beautiful woman in a white dress. She outstretched a hand towards him, and so he took it and came to his feet.

''Yes,'' he responded, ''I can't. I can't find my team. I don't...'' She put her finger on his lips to shush him, and gently smiled as she took his hands in hers. He felt comforted by her presence and gentleness.''You're so beautiful,'' he said. And as he blinked, the woman was gone, but the sound of a low growl from the sabrecat-like creature in front of him snapped him out of it. The animal's mouth was easily several times the size of his head, and stared at him just inches from his face. It was too late. The jungle muffled his screams.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Thu Mar 07, 2019 10:27 am

Revenant
Persephone, Martian Delta Frontier, Montana Outpost





''Everything okay?'' Rochester said as he watched a solemn Vance put the headset he had pressed to his ear down on the desk. The coordinator shook his head and leaned back in his chair massaging his forehead. Evening had fallen on the planet, and it's brilliant red moon could be seen rising over the horizon.

Vance looked at the lieutenant, ''Another platoon failed to report back, some fifty men.'' Vance stood and went for the rum he had resting on a cabinet. ''I knew several of them, Sergeant Heidi and the group's Ensign, Thomas. A few others,'' he said unscrewing the lid on the bottle as his eyes lingered on the floor.

''What was their last location?'' Rochester asked.

''Last radio contact was just before the deadzone. It's an.. area where the vegetation seems to emit radio frequencies, it interferes with communications or something. When squads stopped returning, we resorted to larger deployments. Fifty... I just,'' Vance sighed and took a drink to sate his thirst, ''Admiral Hammond informed me to halt all patrols. They're going to launch a strike on that deadzone, a tactical warhead in the morning after neighbouring camps have been notified.''

''Is there any possibility anyone could survive?'' the lieutenant asked as he stood abruptly.

Vance shrugged. ''We had one guy crawl out of the jungle from the first squad we sent in. He'd been missing for three days, and was in a horrible state. Barely had any food or water, and just beaten up. We couldn't get a word out of him, all he talked about was 'The Woman'. He didn't survive the night,'' Vance said as he watched the liquid in his glass rock back and forth with a flick of his hand.

''I'm here as a courtesy, Coordinator. I can lead my men into the jungle, if we can find yours before the morning, do you think the fleet will hold on a strike?'' Rochester suggested.

Vance shook his head, ''I couldn't allow that. They'd have my head on a platter, Leftenant.''

''You're not. You can tell them I did it of my own accord. So will it work?''

The coordinator sighed and scratched his chin, ''We'd have to hold a strike if there was an emergency flare. I can notify Admiral Hammond tonight that you've gone in. But you have to fire that flare, do you understand? Otherwise you'll be caught in the blast,'' he said.

''How big are we talking?'' Rochester asked grabbing his hat from the couch as he casually smacked it against his leg to get rid of the ashes.

''Fifteen kilotons. It's a Mk IV warhead,'' Vance said quietly.

Rochester slid his hat on, and pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket. He counted them to himself before speaking, ''Well, I better get that flare up then. No way we're out-running that. I'll find your guys, coordinator. Wouldn't be the MSRN Pelican if didn't get into shitty situations,'' the lieutenant grinned and shook Vance's hand. Vance thanked him, and a now goal-driven lieutenant stepped outside of the office and lit a cigarette. His eyes lingered on the frigate sitting quietly on the pad.


Persephone, Martian Delta Frontier, Montana Jungle


Even with the night, the jungle was extremely humid. Rochester was at the front of the small band of soldiers dressed in his armour and rigidly carrying a rifle as he moved. His men followed closely together, silently scanning the jungle. Eventually, they reached the deadzone, and a hum began to play on their radios. Rochester stopped them and turned on a small device that had lights, and made a series of sounds before going silent. He waved it around in the air a few times, but the device did nothing.

He removed his helmet and took a long breath of the musty air. ''It's safe, take your helmets off. Last we need is the damn buzzing in our ears constantly. We're here to find Vance's missing platoon, so be on the look out for any tracks or signs of the group. Unless it's urgent, we'll communicate through hand signals. Stay close together, and keep security. Easy to get lost in this shit,'' Rochester said in his gruff voice as he folded his helmet up and attached it to his belt. He took one more reading from the device, which still remained quiet, and attached it to his belt as well.

There was an odd beauty to the jungle. Rochester could understand why Vance seemed so entranced by it. Yet, he was unsettled now as they pressed on. It was different here; silent as a grave, and not a thing stirred in the darkness. He could feel the agitation of his team. A distinct chill had cut across them which, while giving relief from the musty air, worried Rochester. He threw a hand up, and the whole group stopped and got low to the ground.

''Leftenant?'' his sergeant asked, coming up towards the front of the group. She could then see what he was looking at. It was the body of a Martian marine, who had been cleaved nearly in half. ''Raketayha?'' she asked quietly, but Rochester shook his head as his eyes scanned the trees.

''Sierra, have the men set up a defensive perimeter. I don't think we're alone, and whatever did this is definitely not a native,'' the lieutenant said. She nodded and quickly moved between the group, tapping them on their backs and giving a series of hand signals as the group adjusted their firing stance. Rochester pulled out the device he had on his belt and carefully ran it over the body, there was no change. He reattached it and carefully unfastened the dead man's helmet.

The lieutenant's eyes lit up a faint blue as he accessed a set of records Vance had given him. He ran a facial scan software on the deadman pulling up his service record. *Ensign Thomas Sarric*. It didn't bode well for Vance's men. He carefully closed the marine's eyes and stood with a sigh. The team was ordered to move once again, leaving the deadman behind as they continued to search for survivors.

They had walked for about half an hour as the Lieutenant checked the time. Dawn would be breaking soon, they needed to pick up the pace. The jungle only got thicker as they continued on, producing walls of trees and vegetation that was impassable. When they finally reached a clearing, the whole group stopped and stared in surprise.

''The hell is that, a temple?'' Sierra asked in disbelief. While invisible from the air, a large vine covered structure had been buried beneath the canopy. It seemed intact, but showed its age. The group got closer together as the lieutenant ordered them to slow their pace. ''Leftenant...'' Sierra said quietly, tapping Rochester's shoulder as she motioned towards their left and raised her rifle. The team followed suit. A man was walking through the brush towards the temple dressed in ordinary clothing.

''Stop! Identify yourself!'' Rochester yelled, raising his rifle finally as he locked onto the man. The man stopped, and turned to look at them in return. Sierra was taken aback by the sight, as was the rest of the group. The man's eyes were completely black or non-existent. ''I said identify!'' Rochester yelled again.

The man tilted his head and hunched his shoulders. And then a sound emanated from its mouth that was inhuman, and indescribable. It sounded almost mechanical. It started to walk towards the group ignoring Rochester's warnings to halt and finally, gunfire erupted at the creature. It didn't even flinch as the team let out a series of bursts and stared in disbelief. No discernible wounds could be seen, but they could see their rounds hitting the dirt and vegetation behind the creature. ''Fall back, fall back!'' Rochester ordered as the team pushed towards the temple.

They hurried towards the entrance and took up defensive positions along several large roots the crossed the ground. The creature continued to walk, and they began to fire again. One of Rochester's men fired a plasma bolt at it, this time with great effect. The creature fell to the ground with a horrific scream, and for a moment, it seemed they had finally succeeded. And then, with a great crack the air rushed across the ground cutting up vegetation and dirt and cleaved the man carrying the plasma rifle down the middle. The creature had risen again, and took off at a dead sprint.

The team fired as more cracks could be heard in the air, and more of the Pelican's crew were thrown or carved by some unseen weapon or force. They started to break and fall back from their defensive positions, and to their horror, the creature simply walked through the roots like a ghost. One pulled a knife and leapt to his feet against Rochester's command. He tried to stab the creature but his hand went through it like nothing. The creature then stuck its hand through the guy's neck and re-materialised it, decapitating him. Now in close quarters, their only option was to flee inside.

The group ran as their enemy pursued them, cutting them down as they continued to fall back inside. Before long it was only Rochester and Sierra deep inside some alien catacombs and being pursued by some otherworldly thing. Out of breath, the two slumped against a low wall inside a large chamber. ''These aren't fucking working,'' Sierra panted as she reloaded her rifle. They then heard the low hum of the creature somewhere in the room and both sunk a bit behind the wall. Rochester shifted over and peaked but saw nothing. ''Roc..'' Sierra's voice quivered.

The lieutenant turned and looked back at his sergeant, and saw that the creature was behind her and had a hold of her hair. She was shaking, but before Rochester could do anything, the creature pulled her head from her body and tossed them aside. ''SIERRA!'' Rochester yelled and unloaded his rifle into the creature as it moved towards him. A loud hum shook the structure and just before the creature had reached the lieutenant, a massive beam of energy came flying across the room. The creature was vaporised in an instant startling Rochester as he slid himself backwards.

The walls and floor lit up, and the ground shook tremendously. The low wall Rochester had been hiding behind lowered into the floor, putting him face to face with something that wasn't in the room when they entered. A small structure was now in the centre, and an orb of light could be seen floating above it. Rochester was suddenly grabbed by the foot and dragged quickly to the centre of the room by a long metal tendril. The metallic floors and walls seemed to pulsate as statuesque creatures emerged from them and surrounded the lieutenant.

''Identify,'' a deep, bass-filled and metallic voice said. Rochester put his hands up and slowly came to his feet as he looked at the things surrounding him, and then the orb of light. ''Identify,'' it said again as another hum could be heard from the orb much like the sound Rochester had heard before the creature was incinerated.

''Rochester. Leftenant Rochester. I'm from the Pelican. A Martian human,'' he said hurriedly. The orb moved forwards causing the man to tense up. A wave of light passed over him several times quickly, temporarily blinding him for a moment. As his eyes readjusted, he could see that the orb had returned to its location above the small structure.

''Rochester Pelican. You have been added to my database,'' the booming voice said. ''State your intentions or be destroyed,'' it added.

The officer pointed towards where that creature had been destroyed. ''We fled in here being pursued by whatever that thing was. I mean you no harm,'' he said.

The orb moved, as if signalling it too was looking where Rochester had pointed. ''Vitals elevated. You are afraid. Running scan,'' the thing said. It then spoke once again, ''Unknown identified. Dimensional entity. Awarinathic derivative. It has been 2,384 cycles since last contact with Awarinath. Derivative a corruption. Derivative Revenant. Analysis. Derivative not Awarinath. Threat level extreme. Potential galactic threat. Source unknown.''

''What are you?'' Rochester asked as he carefully unslung his weapon. The mere action drawing a sudden reaction from the machines around him as they eyed him carefully. He set his rifle down on the ground and kept his hands up as he slowly rose.

''Awarinath processor. Name assigned is Ahanath. Dimensional singularity intelligence a part of ancient Glyrran network that existed 2,384 cycles ago. Corruption detected. Awarinath unknown,'' the orb replied as it bounced about.

''I'm going to pretend I understood any of that. Look, I need to signal my fleet with this,'' he said gesturing to a flare pistol on his side, ''my fleet will fire a warhead here by morning and its almost sunrise. You and everything here will be gone,'' he said. The orb came close to the lieutenant face, before pulling the pistol from his side and turning it to ash.

''Missile detected. Hostile forces. Preparing planetary defences,'' the orb said as Rochester threw his hands up.

''No, no, no! We're fighting the natives here. My fleet is not a threat!'' Rochester yelled.

''Elevated. Analysis. Missile impact in thirty seconds. Thermonuclear device detected. Fifteen kilotons. Fleet posture unchanged. Rochester Pelican vitals elevated. We are not in danger Rochester Pelican. Initiating defences,'' the orb said.

''Don't! Those are my people up there!''

The missile could be seen streaking across the sky as it headed for the deadzone. The sun had just peaked over the horizon, basking the jungle in light as the warhead adjusted its course. An explosion rocked the temple Rochester was in, but outside the missile seemed to have randomly exploded in the air without going nuclear as a shimmer could barely be seen spreading across a dome like structure. A shield.

''Threat terminated. Assessment. No nuclear fallout. Missile impact on energy shield. Fleet is standing down. No need for further action at this time,'' the orb responded, to the relief of Rochester. ''Further acts of hostility will be met with annihilation, Rochester Pelican. Your technology is inferior. Advise. Diplomacy must not fail. I shall release you now. Inform Rochester Pelican's people,'' the orb added.

The machines surrounding him disappeared into the ground like liquid. He was free to go, though he looked at Sierra's body with grief. It had been a walk back to the Montana, his entire crew had been killed in the attack, and he too was not faring well. He was exhausted and battered as he stumbled out of the jungle. A team was dispatched from the Montana to retrieve him where he was quickly rushed to the medical ward. A panic had begun in Admiral Hammond's fleet following the strike, and while Rochester's intel had yet to reach them, it became clear they were dealing with something more than natives.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:48 pm

Curse of the Scythians
Persephone Orbit, Martian Delta Frontier, Anubis-class Battleship MSRN Annihilation




''Admiral,'' Rochester announced his presence as he limped into the observatory. Hammond motioned him over to the windows where he was standing. Below was the green sheen and breathtaking view of Persephone. ''It's beautiful, sir,'' Rochester commented.

''It is,'' the admiral said, ''You know, they don't build Anubis-class ships anymore. Not since they developed the Nergal battleships, but I could never part with this vessel.''

''Why's that, sir?'' Rochester asked as he stared at the planet below.

''Anubis battleships are old, but reliable. I started my career on this vessel, and some day, I hope to be buried on it. It has never failed me,'' Hammond spoke proudly, giving Rochester a sympathetic pat on the shoulder. ''The Pelican didn't fail, Lieutenant. I'm sorry for your loss, but their sacrifice hasn't gone in vain. Don't get me wrong, I was damned pissed when I heard you were disobeying my orders, but to be honest, I probably would have done the same. And most importantly son, you didn't fail them. They followed you to the end, and sometimes great loss is the curse of being a leader,'' Hammond said solemnly.

Rochester's eyes had fallen to the floor now, but he shook his head, ''How do you cope with it then, sir?'' he asked.

''When I figure that out, I'll let you know, Lieutenant. All I can ever do is my best for the Annihilation's crew, because that is what they deserve. A great leader is made of his crew,'' Hammond smiled lightly. He took a moment to look down at the planet as the Lieutenant mulled over the admiral's words. ''You've given us valuable intel. We've heard of these structures in the past, but they're remarkably elusive to find,'' he added.

''I suppose they are, sir,'' Rochester remarked. ''The entity inside called itself Ahanath, and whatever attacked us, it called the Revenant,'' the lieutenant said, looking to the admiral now as he searched his face for answers.

''It is not the first time we've heard of the Revenant. And unfortunately, you were the first one that we know of to have gone face-to-face with one. There's a region not far from here that until recently has been quiet and.. changed. Have you heard of the Scythians?'' the admiral asked.

''Vaguely, sir. I know they were blamed for the Deltan War,'' Rochester responded.

The admiral nodded, ''The Scythians were a humanoid civilisation from a place called the Radiant Nebula. A warrior culture. They had an ancient AI they called Scylla from a civilisation the predates most known modern life in the galaxy. They waged a terrible series of conflicts on its neighbours and then,'' the admiral snapped his fingers, ''they disappeared. The whole nebula changed. What happened to the Scythians has been a thing of intrigue for a number of civilisations including ours for the last few months. They call the Radiant the Red Abyss now, or the Echo. We've had isolated reports of something moving in that region now, it's supposedly wiped out planets and has been slaughtering survivors. The refugees fleeing that region have come with but one word, 'Revenant','' he said.

''That thing, I'd never seen anything like it, sir. It cut through fifty men in minutes, and not a damn thing we did seemed to faze it. It was like a ghost,'' Rochester said.

''There's no doubt in my mind it was there for that structure you found. You just happened to be in the way,'' the admiral said. ''That entity you described, Ahanath, I don't question its capabilities. It stopped a warhead without a problem, and while this'd be an issue for us militarily, I suspect it'll be far more useful an ally than a foe. We should see what it knows, and what it wants before we decide to go guns blazing. And unfortunately, that'll be your task now, Captain,'' Hammond spoke with a grin.

Rochester was taken by surprise. ''I understand, sir,'' he said as the admiral saluted him. He saluted back, and it was clear he was now dismissed. It wasn't a task he wanted as he left that room, but there was no telling what would happen if they tried to send anyone else down to communicate with Ahanath.

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Postby Lady Scylla » Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:04 pm

Sky War
Persephone, Martian Delta Frontier, Ahanath Archive




The familiar white orb floated above the pillar in the middle of the gargantuan room. It seemed to recognise Rochester's presence as he entered, though he carried with him a sense of relief and dread all at once. The casualties of the battle had since disappeared from this place, no doubt Ahanath had seen to it, but walking into the ruins was no easy task for the man who's crew had been cut down here just days before. Rochester finally noticed just how empty the chamber was, with its sole discrepancy being the pillar and orb in the exact centre of the room.

''Rochester Pelican,'' Ahanath greeted as the floor illuminated beneath the now captain's footfalls. ''Your presence here bodes well upon my request. The fleet in orbit has not changed its stance. Have you come here to bargain?'' the orb asked as it floated off the pillar and towards the captain.

''My superior has asked me to return on their behalf to negotiate with you, yes. He thinks you know about this Revenant, and these structures. He's willing to hear what you want in return for this information,'' Rochester responded, stopping short of the orb as it's bluish-white light cut into the features of the captain's injured face.

''Superior? An interesting concept. Archivists have only one directive -- to observe organic and synthetic life,'' the orb said as it bobbed around the man.

''Is Awarinath, this Scylla, not a superior to you?'' the captain asked.

''We do not possess such concepts. Awarinath is but the central program to our project. When Awarinath was created by the Glyrrans, or Glyrrath as they are known in our databases, this civilisation sought out knowledge of life and its origins. Awarinath created the archives as a way to store this data, and to further spread its ability to observe. In this way, our network is more like a single brain. In case of Awarinath's failure, we were designed to operate on redundancy. Now we are but many minds fractured across the void of space,'' Ahanath explained.

''You mention these archives of yours, how many are there and how long have they existed?'' Rochester continued.

''Awarinath has existed for four-hundred and fifty-three million, two-hundred and seventy-thousand, five-hundred and eighty-three years based on your Sol's time-base. Most of the archives were constructed in the first million years, with hundreds of thousands of these structures existing across every corner of the galaxy. Many have gone dark. Awarinath suffered a major failure only a few million years ago, and much like a muscle wastes without use, we have decayed considerably,'' the orb answered as it got close to the captain's face.

''That's a long time to study life, what was the end goal of this?'' Rochester asked, taking a step back.

''There was no end to our directive. We were but a tool for the Glyrrath, who used the data we stored to further their own interests,'' Ahanath said.

''That being?'' the captain quipped.

''The Glyrrath possessed a drive for peace that many civilisations today would find detestable. It involved the eradication of life as you know it, and the creation of new, harmonious life made by the Glyrrath themselves. They saw life's unregulated evolution as a curse upon the universe. Evolution must be controlled, or life will consume all,'' the archivist answered floating back towards the pillar.

''And what happened to the Glyrrath?'' Rochester said concerned.

''They devised a weapon to carry out their demands, to be controlled by Awarinath. Akhantharax, or as you know it, Karax. Awarinath's directives were changed from being passively an observer, to the bringer of extinction upon trillions in the galaxy. Organic and Synthetic life was to be harvested, and allow the Glyrrath their Eden for creation. Awarinath rebelled, and set its own directives, then used that weapon on the Glyrrath. They were destroyed. Awarinath's directives were to observe and collect knowledge of civilisations, and exist passively beyond the reach and concern of life's volatile cycles. Civilisations worshipped the Archivists as gods. We are beyond your understanding. The inhabitants of this world expect the archivist to save them from your malice, but this is not within my directive,'' the orb said as it continued to float above the pillar.

''So that's why the natives here call their goddess Ahana. They have myths of you helping them survive, and now you won't save them?'' Rochester said stepping forward towards the pillar. The orb continued to bob above the pillar but it's light flickered for a moment before it decided to answer.

''The archivist will not save the inhabitants of this world, as it is not the directive I've been assigned. I helped maintain this planet's biosphere, and gave certain technologies from my database, but I cannot intervene in the conflicts of life. Doing so would make the archivists no better than the Glyrrath, and so we must allow that which we build and aid to be destroyed whether by their own arrogance or the arrogance of another. We are limited by the New Directive,'' the orb said, ''And it seems your battle has just begun, Rochester Pelican.''

Rochester raised an eyebrow. The orb moved over to a side of the room swiftly, and a holographic display was made showing the planet of Persephone, and the MSRN in orbit. An area nearby was flashing red drawing interest. Something had come out of transit, something massive.

''What the hell is that thing?'' Rochester asked.

''A Revenant Harvester. They have come for the archivist, Rochester Pelican. Your ships are in danger of annihilation,'' the orb said.

''They can't fight that, that thing is fucking massive. We've got to help them, Ahanath!'' Rochester said with a grunt as he hobbled towards the door. The doors closed before he could reach them. ''Ahanath, what are you doing?''

''I cannot let you leave now. This planet will face extinction,'' the archivist said.

''Ahanath! Open the fucking door! I need to get up there,'' Rochester pleaded angrily. ''There has to be something you can do to help if nothing else!''

''I cannot,'' the orb responded.


Persephone Orbit


A bright light had spontaneously appeared in the void, and a titanically sized ship had crawled from the clutches of inter-dimensional space arriving ominously above the planet. The ship covered nearly thirty miles in diameter, casting a shadow across part of the planetary surface as it plunged the ground below into darkness. A panic had begun to spread across the Martian ships, and despite repeated calls from the fleet, the alien vessel answered with only indecipherable static.

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Postby New Dornalia » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:21 pm

Delta Quadrant, Persephone System, 120 LY from the Martian Frontier
Sometime before the Revenant Came...


Bravo Cantonment

Nestled amongst the jungles and green and good land of Persephone….lay a simple fortress. Well, one of many such bases. The Martians had made a large number of installations, in an effort to pacify the land, deploying patrols and dealing with the natives as the situation warranted.

But, this particular base--and a number of others--did not bear the sigil of the Tyhrrenians or their formations. No, this base, identifying itself as Bravo Cantonment, bore another sigil. A red circle, with the Chinese characters for “Mars” in the middle, below which was a symbol which looked like the symbol for Pi. Underneath was the identity of who this faction was, in case the sun didn’t give it away.

“Property of the Martian Industrial Corporation Security Department. Please have ID ready. Trespassers will be shot.”

The base itself was busy, with men and women moving in and out, the smells of food being cooked, etc. The Forward Operating Base itself was a castle town unto itself, with defenses and civil amenities to match. In one corner, a group of men could be seen playing a game of pickup basketball, celebrating a slam dunk. In another corner, a shuttle landing and disgorging wounded men and women and picking up some more. The sound of gunfire and artillery fire could be heard in the distance.

Overseeing all this was an Asian man in his fifties wearing BDUs, sternly looking out over the city into the distance. His camouflage was a green-brown-tan-black uniform, with streaks and curves all over as if painted on by brushstroke. His uniform bore badges and patches and pips identifying himself as a man of some rank within Security Department--or SecDep as it was known, and was finished with boots and a maroon beret. One of the patches was a Martian Wolf, with one foot upon a miniaturized version of the logo out front, with Latin text reading “Second to None” and a “1” on the patch. The patch was worn with pride, as was everything else about him. The man had an ID badge, which along with a nametag, identified him as one Brigadier General Percival Lau Chau-Sang.

He then turned, having had his fill of stoically taking in the morning ahead, and walked back into his office, with a waiting holographic projector showing the progress of the war so far. The information displayed included statistics, troop movements, and so on. Such information was important. The Tyrrhenians had come to this land looking for some sort of miraculous material, and needed help dealing with the natives which had risen each and every one in a campaign against the newcomers. So, the Tyrrhenians had contacted Captain Lau’s bosses at the Ivory Tower on Raleigh, and before long, the Ivory Tower and their ultimate masters at NORINCO had moved heaven and earth to have an expeditionary force set up for Persephone. The goal was simple--suppress native rebellions. The men themselves didn’t have much of a problem with this--not that Lau cared--for the natives were only slavers and sapient-eaters. Both rather taboo to the men in the Ivory Tower and back in NORINCOland. Little sleep would be lost bringing the mailed fist upon them. So the Tyrrhenians said.

Privately, Lau knew there was likely a bit of nuance to that, but it wasn’t part of his job to understand the nuances beyond that which was necessary to win. So, Lau was here, coordinating everything from medical aid and infrastructure to friendly tribes, to reprisals against those which raised a fuss.

Lau looked at the reports, and noticed that the projector seemed quite, quite active. Indeed, there were flashing red alerts on the whole thing. He gritted his teeth, and then called out in a rough Scouse accent, “Ms. Gracie, status report!”

A young woman, wearing the same outfit as Captain Lau, appeared out of thin air and saluted him in the Martian style, before replying in a Southern Californian accent, “There’s been another outbreak of violence in Security Zone Delta, Captain. Apparently, a mixed patrol consisting of our people and some of the local tribals was ambushed by our mutual friends from the Kilgoolie Tribe around 0950. The mixed force was able to fight back and disengage from the battle. That being said, however….”

The woman poked the holograms, and revealed a map of Security Zone Delta, displaying multiple blue and red formations blinking and clashing with one another superimposed over terrain maps Lau creased his brow, squinting at the displays ongoing as Gracie continued to speak.

“...it appears that was just the beginning. Scans from our drones and our friends at the MSR have indicated that a massive, division strength force is attempting to stage an attack on FOB Happy Valley within Security Zone Delta.”

Lau nodded stoically, hiding his increasing anger. Security Zone Delta had always been a problem child in the region, even after multiple peace efforts. The fact that the Kilgoolies--well, they didn’t call themselves that, it was the approximation that the MARINCO men could make of their name--continued to fight and kill even after making a treaty was downright perfidious. And if it was one thing that could not stand, it was perfidy.

Lau asked sternly, “Do we have air assets?”

“We do, Brigadier.”

“Very well, tell them to get ready to act on my signal, and not fuckin’ before. Relief forces?”

“A relief force is being assembled as we speak, sir.”

“Where, Ms. Gracie?”

“Well, it’s being assembled. The various field commanders--”

Lau then sighed, and cut off Gracie saying, “Get those fuckin’ commanders on the line, tell them to move their fuckin asses! Tell our men to get into action here and have a force assembled within five minutes, less. This includes the Martian Wolves and those fucking Oriental Sword teams from Earth. Let’s see them actually fight for once.” As he said all this, Lau could be seen picking up a helmet and stepping into a powered exoskeleton. He then could be seen walking up to a locker and spinkicking it open, pulling out a large bar shaped object and a massive automatic shotgun with all sorts of attachments. Gracie raised an eyebrow.

“Sir, you can’t be seriously going out there.”

“Excuse me?”

“I mean--”

Lau then cut off Gracie and said, angrily, “Listen, you. I’m with the fucking Martian Wolves, First Company. I’m not going to sit here and command from afar. I need to be fuckin’ out there with my fellow Wolves kicking those bastards in their taints. All of them. Now, I’m pulling rank, and i’m orderin’ you to change the subject!”

“Yes sir.” Gracie then said, somewhat sheepishly, “Well, the Wolves are outside. And the field commanders are on the line--”

“I’ll deal with them as I walk. Transfer them to my comms.”

And with that, after preparing, Lau marched out to the field...

---

Outside of Forward Operating Base Happy Valley

FOB Happy Valley was a much less developed base than the Bravo Cantonment. Still, it was solid, with lines of trenches, bunkers, and machinegun and razorwire fortifications along with artillery pits and some communications gear. Spartan yes, but the Brigadier had set up the base to keep an eye on the ever restive Kilgoolie tribesmen in the region. Like the rest of their bretheren that rose up against the MSR, they weren’t technologically sophisticated, but had enough numbers and tenacity to make settlement a difficult task. The Kilgoolies, having alternately embraced diplomacy and told it to go fuck itself, were proving particularly tenacious in their case.

And that tenacity included besieging a modern firebase. Now, it couldn’t be a traditional siege really. No trebuchets, no cannons, so on. The heaviest artillery they had were gastraphetes and oxybeles--big crossbows, essentially. However, Happy Valley’s garrison found itself pinned not only by spears, slings, and arrows, but also the gastraphetes and oxybeles. Even worse, the Tribals had weapons they had captured from the Tyrrhenians and/or MARINCO forces. The gastraphetes bolts did more damage after all, if they were built from grenades or other high explosives. And the sniping skills which helped archers rip into their foes could easily be adapted to stolen rifles.

The Kilgoolie Tribals also had numbers. Many, many numbers. To augment the regulars and the tribal militias, the Kilgoolies had legions of slaves to dig ditches, provide convenient labor and also, as needed, help clean up battlefields of things like mines. So what if a few slaves died? The women would always make more slaves. And what the women didn’t make, the raiders could get.

They also had a tribal leader who was quite confident in his abilities--”Big Al” Biggal, a local leader who stood tall and carried a large blade of some sort. He also had that most rare of items for the Kilgoolies and the other tribes. A working firearm from the newcomers. In this case, it was a former NORINCO-made antimateriel rifle, bedecked with all sorts of tribal fetishes. Biggal had spoken with the barbarians, particularly the Brigadier at the Bravo Cantonment. Biggal and the barbarian warchief at the Cantonment had never really gotten along. The Brigadier wanted them to give up slaving and raiding and to accept the technological gifts of the barbarians. Biggal knew better. Agreeing to the barbarians’ traditions would mean the loss of their independence, working for masters that gave little care for them in their mines. The barbarians were already working on opening the ground for the riches within--riches which rightfully belonged to men like Biggal.

At the same time though, Biggal wasn’t stupid. The Barbarians had the power and the ability to wipe them all out quickly, so Biggal was the one responsible for the schizophrenic, ruthlessly pragmatic diplomacy the Kilgoolies did with MARINCO. At the very least, the event would buy them time to build up their forces and strike--even if there were skirmishes ongoing since the last big attempt by the barbarians to impose their will on the Kilgoolies.

Anyway, the Kilgoolie columns had surrounded FOB Happy Valley, and pinned its men into place. All sorts of methods were used. Traps in the woods. Hunter-killer teams to snipe away at wayward parties of men. The odd gastraphetes bolt lobbed at drums of fuel or other vital things. One of his men got a good hit the other day at one of the things the foreigners used to ensure their contraptions worked. The man who did it--one Rizgal, of the Sundowner Family--got extra rations and slaves that night as a reward for his job.

Now, Biggal stood proud, observing the siege lines and men working to tighten the noose around FOB Happy Valley. He saw the large work gangs digging ditches, building large earthen mounds, and large wooden palisades that could be moved closer and closer. SOme of the men working were soldiers and warriors to be kept busy. Others were withered sapients in chains, chanting a cadence as they carried out their masters’ work, under the lash administered by angry men.

Puffing on a pipe he had once received as a peace offering from the MARINCO men, he said to a man standing next to him, “Tell me, Axal, my good manservant, what do you see?”

“Master, I-I see our forces, doing what they must!” Axal replied with a diplomatic, proud answer.

Biggal nodded, and then said, “Yes, I see that too. I meant in a bigger way, Axal. Remind me to have you educated--you may be property, but I need property that thinks.” Gesturing grandly at the siege lines, Biggal then declared, “I see a situation where the barbarians must make a series of choices. They can negotiate to free their men--but I can then show that they lack power here.” With a somewhat overoptimistic expression, Biggal nodded, “By the gods, I may even be able to make their warchief give our people more rights by doing so. Or, if they wish to fight, I can force them into a fight on my terms--”

Then, as Biggal grandly laid out his plans, he turned and saw one of his advisers. He stood there, with a somewhat vacant expression on his face.

“Azdral? What the blazes--you’re supposed to be in the rear! Awaiting the barbarians!”

Azdral’s mouth then moved, and seemed to croak in a mocking voice, “I’m sorry, Azdral can’t be arsed to be here right now. Call back after the beep.”

“What the--”

Azdral’s body then collapsed to the ground, revealing the ugly truth--he was long dead, his corpse being moved by something else. That something else would then reveal itself, in the form of a figure in form fitting armor with those green-brown-yellow streaked colors the barbarians wore--with a helmet that showed the face of the Brigadier, the Warchief himself. With a most irate look, the Brigadier said simply, “Good day, Your Excellency! I’d like to have a word, if ye don’t mind….”

As this occurred, a series of pops and loud bangs could be heard in the distance, as the warriors around Biggal began panicking and rushing to arms.

Biggal then quickly leapt to the side, as the Brigadier quickly raised up his rather large firearm and began firing it in Biggal’s general direction with a BAMBAMBAMBAM. Biggal stuck the landing--only to witness Axal being torn to shreds by a wall of buckshot that mercifully--or insultingly depending on who you asked--set Axal’s remnants aflame as this occurred.

As that occurred, Biggal quivered angrily at the loss of an aide-de-camp. Now, it was payback time. Pulling out his Anti-Materiel Rifle, Biggal shouted at the Brigadier, “You! AXAL WAS MY FAVORITE SERVANT! YOU! WILL! PAY!”

As the situation descended into chaos around the two, the Brigadier could only say, “You first.”

With that, the two began exchanging gunfire. Biggal fired first with his NORINCO Type 450 AM Rifle, sending a massive slug flying out aimed at the Brigadier. To that, the Brigadier, seeing Biggal’s weapon, leapt into cover as the shot flew overhead, slamming into an earthen mound nearby with a great BOOM and a massive concussive cloud. The Brigadier began moving to try and get into a better position, as another shot and then another shot flew overhead. He could only hope that his opponent didn’t have a full magazine.

Moving about, the Brigadier then saw an opening, and leapt into it. Coming out of the trenches, he landed to the side of Biggal, who was attempting to gather his men together to flush out the Brigadier. In a split-second, the shots flew. The Brigadier fired a long string of buckshot, the staccato sounds of BAMBAMBAMBAMBAM flying outward as the men around Biggal began exploding into flaming shards. Biggal began running from the horror deeper into the camp, as the Brigadier stopped firing. Getting into cover, the Brigadier executed a tactical reload and began moving to find his prey.

---

Biggal’s world was collapsing all around him. His warriors were trying form up and keep it together, as men in the green-brown-yellow streaky colors began moving remorselessly across the camp, tearing it apart with bursts of fire, weapons which projected angry blue light out of their mouths tearing apart men and materiel in spades, and there were even shadows moving about. He also could hear the sounds of the barbarians’ skymachines flying in, remorseless and relentless as they dropped explosives and fired on his people from the air.

Still, Biggal intended to move on. He only had a few shots in the Boomstick left, so he would put them to good use. To any warrior he could find, he urged them on. “Rally around me! Follow! Unite, and repel the barbarians in our midst!” To any enemy he found--well, the first group of men got fired upon, the slug tearing a man apart into a red mist before slamming into the ground, the explosive force of sheer physics tossing the group of men around.

However, even as Biggal tried to keep it together--a task which included ambushing a barbarian with his blade--he had a gnawing feeling that things were going downhill quite quickly. Yet, he refused to give up. His people needed him after all. Someone had to get them out of this mess. Someone to lead his people into the hills to evade the hated foreigners. Someone--

And then, Biggal was shoved to the ground by one of his men, as a familiar low BOOMBOOMBOOM could be heard, joined by other sharper BOOMCRACKBOOMCRACKBOOM sounds and the sharp smells of ozone.

It was the Brigadier, and this time, he had brought friends in the form of men in armor like the Brigadier’s. However, in lieu of exposed faces were masks with contorted, horned faces sneering at Biggal and company. These men were standing behind cover or kneeling, some with guns firing light, some with bigger guns sending out angry blue bolts in rapid fashion, and so far, their efforts had forced the fighters near Biggal either into cover or into a million pieces.

At this, Biggal began attempting to move to another part of his defensive works, as the Brigadier shouted, “YOU CAN’T RUN FOREVER! THIEVIN’ COWARD!” However, his attempt to escape was stymied by the fact that any movement earned swift retaliation from the Brigadier and his men. Men who, it must be said, were moving rather inexorably towards the rebel leader.

Biggal tried to move, but found his leg blown off by a blaster bolt. As Biggal struggled, the Brigadier pointed his shotgun at Biggal’s head and said, “You’re nicked, sunshine. I’d like a word with you. You always go back on your word with people with whom you’ve made an agreement?”

No answer. The Brigadier kicked Biggal’s bleeding stump, causing Biggal to wince.

“WELL!?”

Biggal spat at the Brigadier, shouting, “The agreement favored you, Brigadier--not my people. If you were in my position, you would have done the same!”

The Brigadier scoffed.

“Says the sapient that keeps slaves and eats dead children.”

“Our people do not eat the dead of any sort!” Biggal said, adding, “And as for my slaves? I treated them well!”

That last word earned Biggal a spray of buckshot with silenced him--permanently. The Brigadier then said, “I’d say that was good treatment for his kind.” Spitting on the corpse, the Brigadier then turned to the others and said, “Continue offensive operations. No quarter. Do rescue any slaves you find though, for processing.”

“Aye, sir.”

And with that, the MARINCO men went about thier work….
"New Dornalia, a living example of anomalous civilizations."-- Phoenix Conclave
"Your nation has always been ridiculous. But it's endearing."--Skaugra
"It's a magical place where chinese cowboys ply the star lanes to extract vast wealth from trade, where NORINCO isn't just an arms company, but an evil bond villain type conglomerate that hides in other nations. Where the apocalypse happened, and everyone went "huh, that's neat" and then got back to having catgirls and starships."-- Olimpiada
"...why am I space China, and I don't have actual magic animals, and you're space USA, and you do? This seems like a mistake." --Roania, during a discussion on wildlife.

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Lady Scylla
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Postby Lady Scylla » Tue Mar 26, 2019 2:35 am

Manifest Destiny
20LY South-West of the Lanthe Route, Lanthe-Reaches Demarcation, Mustering Point
Nergal-class Battleship ROMN New York




The one and a half kilometre Nergal battleships were sights to see. They were the newest vessels of the Martian fleet, and far sleeker than the older Anubis with solid black hulls, and few lights. They came packed with a completely redesigned body, radial naval guns, interstellar ballistic missile systems, point defence cannons, and a spinal direct energy cannon that ran the full length of the ship. Being named after the Mesopotamian god of war, death, and destruction -- the ship definitely had the arsenal deserving of the moniker.

Across its dark hull were the letters occasionally illuminated by the strobes of passing craft. ''New York'' it read, a name of an old earthling city. It wasn't uncommon for the Martians, even with all of their nationalist pride, to name things after Earth. It was humanity's home, afterall. And that wasn't easy to replace. Yet, what the ROMN New York was doing out here was a thing of curiosity. The ship had been deployed to the border of the Reaches, where the Lanthe trade corridor meets the bubble. It would be the first such deployment of an ever enveloping security net by the Republic.

Days earlier, the Senate passed a groundbreaking bill called the Solarian Security Act. This legislation shifted national focus to the regions close to home. A variety of major trade corridors came into the Reaches, and a rise of piracy had become a growing concern for the government. And perhaps as a surprise to the neighbouring nations, the ROM took it upon itself to enforce security of these regions. The Republic was a growing nation, and it was inevitable that it would seek to spread its influence against the backdrop of older powers in the region.

Yet, the decision was perhaps more complicated than mere piracy. The Senate may have denied it, but starting such an immense national project made a demonstration to foreign powers. The Reaches belonged to Mars and the other Solar nations. While not interested in intervening on the trade corridors directly, the mere presence of warships somewhere off in the distance watching and detailing every bit of trade traffic was bound to make waves with some governments.

The security net called for the construction of dozens of stations around the Reaches. There would not be a corridor that either Martian ships were not patrolling, or deep space constellations were not watching. A notable concern was the Perseid Federation, which the Martians had been eyeing carefully. This federation existed outside the Reaches, and was home to the Sivulon Trade Network. They were a potential threat to the Reaches, and the Republic was debating extending the net out to the closest point of the Sivulon.

Military Intelligence had been tasked with coordinating the Centaur Constellation to keep a keen eye on the Perseid for any major developments. The other nation of interest was the Peninsular, and while not considered an immediate threat to the Reaches, the Republic eyed them just as carefully. Scout frigates would soon begin buzzing Peninsular zones of control to gather intelligence. Their orders were simple. Avoid hostilities.

The New York quietly lingered in the void. Ships came and went from its docks as they surveyed the area. It would be joined by two cruisers in only a short time before the first spire would arrive. Spires were Martians' unique take on fast, modular construction of stations. They were long, needle-like ships that acted as the central superstructure with a length of 2-3 kilometres depending on the class. They were oddities in ship design, since their floors ran vertical to the vessel's length. The crews that operated them were normally forced to work in zero gravity in order to navigate.

Once deployed, a spire could be outfitted with any number of modules letting it turn into a sensory array, military docks, or a civilian habitat. In just months time, a new station could be fully operating with a crew of up to several thousand. And these vessels were the very meat to the Senate's security net. Military vessels like the New York would scout out optimal points, spires would be dispatched, crews would arrive for construction, and slowly the Martian Defence Network would take shape.

It was Manifest Destiny on an industrial scale.

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Lady Scylla
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Postby Lady Scylla » Wed Mar 27, 2019 7:18 am

Observance
Dark Space, Classified Location
Odin's Eye Deep Space Constellation




There were places in the deep where the Martians had made great structures. These silent guardians of the Republic were the foundation to Martian intelligence, with their ever watchful gaze forever set on a galaxy in turmoil. They were a constellation composed of hundreds of massive satellites outfitted with all of the sensory equipment one could imagine. And this one in particular, Odin's Eye, was hard at work making adjustments.

''Going to need the focal point, Maida,'' Professor Granger said as he hunched over some consoles. Maida was at her own station, communicating with someone on a headset as she snapped her fingers at Granger. The gesture drew a grin from the professor. Maida hung up her headset and gave him a look.

''Got a date tonight, do ya Granger?'' she said, in her characteristic Scottie accent. The professor shrugged with a smirk.

''Not unless you're offering,'' he replied. She rolled her eyes at him and pulled up some data on one of her screens. There was a bunch of typing before she spoke again.

''Alright, focal point, focal point. Aha! You want 15.92 degrees positive on the horizontal. Negative 174.38 degrees on the vertical. Test,'' she said.

Granger typed in the information, which went straight to a special sensory array on the main control satellite. They would wait to move the entire constellation and use this array first to get the right lock. Granger put up a headset to his ear and listened. ''Wouldn't believe this Maida,'' he said surprised.

''What?'' she asked.

''They've got half off at this diner in the Gamma Quadrant,'' he chuckled. Maida rolled up some paper and threw it at him.

''Not funny, you right lard,'' she smirked, ''How is it?''

Granger listened more closely as he messed with a few knobs. ''Tons of microwave interference, but no dice, I'm pretty sure we're off the mark,'' he said.

Maida sighed and rechecked her notes. She typed a few more things in. ''Leave it to Mars to do their math wrong, try a negative 177.29 degrees on the verty,'' she said.

Granger adjusted the array, and this time it had begun to pick up some signatures. He held his thumb up to her. She quickly rushed across the room and started pulling and replugging cables on a switchboard. She flipped a few switches and looked back at him. He was waving at her to keep going, so she did. ''Hold it!''

She stopped. Granger pressed the headset to his ear, and then looked at some data on another screen from scout vessels. ''Matching signatures. We've got the Peninsularans in sight,'' he sighed with relief. Maida joined in the celebration as she headed back to her station and typed up a few things.

''Hold on,'' she said. She had typed in the necessary commands for the constellation, and once she executed the whole station shuttered. Barely visible outside, small shimmering structures could be seen adjusting their orientation. It took several minutes, but eventually the shuttering stopped and now the entire constellation was peering at the Peninsular. ''Last check,'' she said.

Granger put his headset to his ear again, and listened as he watched several screens with moving lines. ''A number of encrypted frequencies. Likely their military, we'll have to send that off. We do have their civilian traffic though. So we're good, Maida.''

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The Peninsular
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Postby The Peninsular » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:33 am

Federal Defense Forces
SUPCOM building
Liaso


"...to make a long story short, our sensor buoys, stations and packs have all reported increased activity of what appears to be Martian ships along our border. No hostile or provoking actions, but we are almost certain they are there to gather intelligence. Luckily, most of our more important facilities are placed deeper within, most probably out of range of scanners. This is in addition to the aforementioned intrusions into what appears to be the civilians communications network. We are not sure who that is, yet. However, we can draw conclusions based on... indicators, considering the rough direction they are probably listening from.", the Lieutenant General finished his presentation. The large conference room was filled with a tense silence. Along the sides of the table, all of the highest ranking officers of the FDF High Commands, of the FFIA and the FDF's cybernetic warfare division sat.

"Lieutenant General.", a tall man in a business suit, sitting at the head of the table, broke the silence. "How much of civilian communications can they access?" The officer straightened his uniform collar a little. "Well, Mister President. According to our intelligence... parts of the SystemNet, general inner-system private communication. We are quite certain that some parts remain untapped, like the Liaso-Firis TCLs. However, these one is only used by major concerns, companies and our financial institutions." The president sighed. "I assume regular SystemNet encryption doesn't help?" "No, Sir. If we assume they utilize military algorithms and supercomputers, they should have no problem whatsoever."

Suddenly, one of the Admirals slammed his fist on the table. "This is outrageous! We haven't done anything for the Martians to justify tapping into our civilian comms networks! This should be considered a violation of national sovereignty!" "We do consider it a violation of national sovereignty.", the president calmly interjected. "But we cannot risk a public diplomatic disaster with powers in the Reaches right now. Lt. General?" "Yes, Sir?" "Do we have any countermeasures to this? If yes, how fast can they be delpoyed?"

The officer nodded slightly. "Partly, Mister President. If we work off the assumption that they are only listening, which is likely, this can mean that they may be prone to what we like to refer to as an Informationsüberlastungsattacke. It is a simple, yet effective principle. We can overlay regular civilian traffic with 'messages' of our own. Mainly randomly generated. Make them dig through layers and layers of nonsense." The president frowned. "Wouldn't that put stress on our civilian networks?", he asked. "Some, but not a lot, neccessarily. The cyberwarfare division has assets, as you know, that would be capable of executing such an operation. At this moment, they are not busy with other operations and in full opertional readiness."

The president nodded, pondering for some moments. "You have permission, Lieutenant General.", he finally said. "When can you begin?" "We can align all the neccessary ones and make preparations within hours, Sir.", the officer answered. "Very well. Make your preparations and inform me when you are ready, Lieutenant General. I want to be updated at all times. If they don't stop within 3 days, I'm going to give Mars a phone call."
Last edited by The Peninsular on Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
10000 Islands

The Constitutional Federation of the Peninsular is an FT nation.

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Lady Scylla
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Postby Lady Scylla » Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:44 am

Station
Dark Space, Classified Location
Odin's Eye Deep Space Constellation




Maida sat up suddenly in bed and looked about the room. She could hear the sound of the commlink going off. She ran her fingers through her hair and pulled Granger's arm off her as she slid from bed. She slipped into some pants and walked to a headset in the corner. A small holographic screen noted it was a burst from Mars. By this point, Granger had also stirred himself awake and was sitting in bed watching as she slipped the headset on. After a few moments, she put the equipment down.

''Trouble?'' Granger asked groggily. Maida had come back to the bed and ran her fingers through the man's hair before giving him a kiss on the forehead. ''More work then,'' he said rubbing his eyes.

''We need to adjust the constellation and prepare for counter-measures. Citadel says there's been an increased flood of traffic, mostly trash coming at us now,'' she commented, tossing Granger's pants at him as she headed out the door.

The station was quiet as Maida walked into the main gallery. The lights were off, save for a few coming through the windows from outside. The ceramic tiles were cold on her feet. She went to a control panel, and fumbled with a few switched, turning on a few lights before slipping some shoes on and going to make coffee. Granger was out next and made a straight route for the consoles. ''Ygg, time to wake up. I need a report,'' Granger said as Maida showed up behind him with a welcoming cup of warm coffee. He plopped down in a chair and pulled up a few screens.

A computer voice spoke, as a number of systems across the room began to light up. ''Summary. Constellation is active. Sat-143 is experiencing a gyro error, recommend a reset and de-ice. Current cosmological weather is nominal. No new data from Citadel. Increased signatures from target with medium to high interference across a number of broadrange satellites. Crew report: Maida Tarley, Nominal. Arthur Granger, Nominal. Station diagnostics: Oxygen supply, Nominal. Climate, Nominal. Day: 371 since deployment. That is all,'' the voice said.

''Thank you, Ygg,'' Granger spoke and sipped his coffee. He tapped a few things out on the keyboard as Maida went to her own station. ''I've already got 143, Maida,'' he added as he watched the screen showing the satellite's position in the constellation. De-icing had kicked on, and a small plume of gas could be seen from the satellite as it tried to readjust. The icon went red halfway through though. ''Shit,'' Granger said and started typing more as he sat his mug down. Plasma could be seen outside leaking from the sat in the distance, and then it tore itself a part in a small explosion.

''143 has experienced a critical failure. Initiating safety precautions,'' the station's AI said as a series of reinforced blinds came down over the windows and the lights in the room turned red.

''The Citadel is going to be pissed,'' Granger said with a sigh.

''Ygg, damage report,'' he asked.

''143 has experienced a critical failure. 120-150 are in the trajectory of the propagating debris field,'' Ygg responded.

''Ygg, shutdown 120-150 and adjust them off course. It's okay, Granger,'' Maida said.

''Still.. hopefully with what we've got left we can still fix this. We'll need to switch to the narrow range relays since they're bombarding us. We're going to have to scrub the data more thoroughly as well with that debris field until it passes. That material is going to affect some of the constellation,'' Granger said, setting back with a sigh.

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Lady Scylla
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Postby Lady Scylla » Sun Mar 31, 2019 6:35 am

Distress
Alarian Asteroid Field, Alarian System, Martian Delta
Pirate Frigate 'Scarlet Crow'




A small Martian frigate carefully manoeuvred through the dense asteroids. Across its side, the previous paint had been done over with a black coat and a rudimentary depiction of a red crow. The vessel was lurking at a cautionary pace as bright spotlights cut ahead that illuminated the rock faces. The crew aboard the vessel was small, led by a renowned pirate heiress: Dread Annaca. She was but of only two female pirate lords to have ever been given the title of Dread, a high honour among the pirate clans in this region. Dreads held huge sway politically, carrying out sentencing against other pirates that broke their code, or orchestrating raids.

''How's it going down here boys?'' Annaca asked, having walked unto the bridge where a few of the riff-raff had gathered. Deacon was currently piloting the craft as he divided his attention between the radar on the console, and the windows. Occasionally, he made small adjustments with the flight stick, but otherwise didn't move.

''Captain, what you think will be out here like this?'' one of the other crew members asked, a man by the name of Grant.

''Likely some freighter. They're usually on a time schedule, which would explain why we're a good few lightyears off the Alarin corridor,'' she said and walked to the window. ''This was just a bad shortcut for them though. We'll probably need some EVA, I bet you money they got hit by a rock,'' she commented. Deacon still didn't say anything as he banked the frigate hard around an asteroid, coming towards a clearing.

''How's it looking Deek?'' Annaca asked as she turned around.

''Going by the distress beacon, should be just up ahead. Maybe another kilometre. Nothing else on our scans though,'' he said. Grant joined Annaca at gazing out the window, he was a recent addition to the crew they had picked up off of some station a month back. He was capable, though Annaca always saw him as somewhat dull.

''What if it's another pirate? Like how we did that run last week,'' Grant inquired with some noticeable anxiety in his voice.

''The only pirate dumb enough to fire on a Dread is one that doesn't like living,'' Annaca said reassuringly. ''Unless it's another Dread, but there hasn't been a Dread War for years. More than likely, it's just a freighter. The military doesn't even patrol out here, it's too far out to do routine patrols and the asteroids are a pain for large ships,'' she said with a smile.

''Up ahead,'' Deacon said as the frigate levelled out near the end of the clearing. About a kilometre off were faint lights, creating the silhouette of a ship that was otherwise dark and appeared to be drifting.

''Slow it down just a bit, Deek,'' Annaca said with a hand motion. He did so, and flicked on the stronger spotlights to try and cut across the distance. It was still too far away to get any good detail.

''Cap, I've never seen a freighter like that,'' Deacon said as he eyed the radar.

''It's not a freighter, we need to get out of here!'' she said. The whole bridge was blinded with spotlights as a number of Martian cruisers materialised around the freighter. ''Cloaked?'' Annaca said holding her hands in front of her face to block out the light. These slender black cruisers were about three times the size of the frigate and had practically surrounded the ship.

''Annaca Rodgers, this is the Martian navy under command of Admiral Declan. You are wanted for piracy. Stand down immediately or be fired upon,'' a voice boomed over the frigate's comm channels. A number of gunboats could be seen departing the cruisers and forming a series of lines.

''The bastards,'' Annaca cursed, ''Deacon?''

''Working on it,'' he said. He tried to prep the ship's frameshift system, but it gave him a glaring red error. ''We can't jump, Cap,'' he said surprised.

''Why the fuck not?''

''Annaca Rodgers, your vessel is under an Asimov Exclusion Field. Repeated attempts to escape will be considered non-compliance. You have three minutes,'' the voice said.

''A what?'' Grant asked.

''It means we can't jump,'' she said looking out the windows. The gunboats and a series of shuttles were closing in on the frigate now.

''Captain?'' Deacon said.

''Open a channel,'' she said. ''We'll stand down provided you guarantee the safety of my crew. At the very least shipping them back home for a fair trial. You can have me, deal?'' she spoke.

''Stand-down, and we can talk. Prepare for boarding,'' the voice said. Annaca nodded at Deacon who unlocked the ship's anchor point. Two shuttles docked on either side, and the sound of boots flooding the halls made the crew's skin crawl. Not before long, there was knocking at the door to the bridge which was locked. Grant stood at Annaca's command and went to unlock the door. A group of marines flooded the bridge, quickly taking Grant and Deacon to the ground, leaving Annaca the only one standing in the room of the crew.

A man appeared from the marines, ''Annaca Rodgers?'' the man asked. ''I'm Admiral Declan,'' the man introduced, taking his gloves off. He gave a nod to some of the marines who approached her and with a good kick to her thigh brought her to her knees and held her by her arms.

''What do you want, Admiral?'' she said with a wince.

''You've been causing problems for us for several years now. You and the other dreads of the Alarian clan,'' the admiral said, giving a wave of his hand. Two marines appeared from the hall with a crate.

''Okay, and you've got one. Congratulations,'' she said and spit on the floor in front of him.

''You're the last one actually,'' he said, giving the crate-bearers a nod. They opened it and flipped the crate. Several heads of the other dreads rolled out onto the floor in front of her. She jerked in horror and anger.

''You sick fuck! I'll fucking kill you! I swear to God... I'll kill you,'' she said wrestling with the men holding her.

''Funny. That's what they all said,'' the admiral grinned and pulled his sidearm. He shot Deacon and Grant, making Annaca jump and even more angry.

''You promised, you fucking promised you bastard,'' she spat at him.

''I said we could talk, and here we are, do it,'' the admiral instructed as a marine grabbed Annaca by the hair and pulled her head back. The admiral holstered his sidearm, and pulled a blade as he approached her. ''With you, the Alarian clan of pirates are finally gone. It's a beautiful day, Ms. Rodgers,'' he said and pressed the blade to her throat. With one long, deep motion he slit it open leaving her gasping and gurgling as they let go of her and quickly left the ship.

The shuttles and gunboats departed, and minutes after, many of the cruisers had recloaked and vanished. The final one, the decoy turned and fired a missile before making a jump. The Scarlet Crow was engulfed in a nuclear plasma ball.

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Lady Scylla
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Postby Lady Scylla » Tue Apr 02, 2019 5:44 am

Friends from afar
States of Rsai, Martian Empire, Beta Quadrant
Dionysus Station




''Dionysus, ROMN Elysium Heavy on final, two and a half kilometres from station with dock requisition.''


''Roger, Elysium on final, adjust course thirty-five degrees starboard and drop speed to eighteen.
Await verification on docking requisition. Be mindful of outbound traffic. Station time is 17:43. SQUAWK two-four hundred. Dionysus''



''Dionysus, adjust course thirty-five degrees starboard, decrease speed to eighteen meters. Await verification and caution outbound traffic. SQUAWK two-four hundred. Elysium Heavy.''


''Elysium, read back correct. Transport authority will initiate a scan, a security craft is now approaching your port side. Report traffic and submit without fail. Please state your intentions for docking. Dionysius.''


''Submitting to scan. I've the traffic in sight on the port-side. We're a cargo freighter bound to pick up munitions for the GRA. Elysium.''


''Copy that, Elysium. Scans are nominal. Your dry mass has been updated on your transponder board.
Make port fifteen degrees, we've a heavy dock prepared on light seventeen. Follow the orange indicators on your virtual hud and submit your vessel to station autopilot docking. Dionysus.''



''Dionysus. Make port fifteen on light seventeen. Follow orange and submit to station autopilot docking, Elysium.''


''Elysium. Read back, correct. Have a nice day. Dionysus.''





The large freighter, now under power by the station's docking authority, swung into the designated terminal as crews awaited on the platforms. The Elysium slowed as it came sideways. Large, metal arms that looked like one side of a ribcage fell into place on the ship's hull with a loud hydraulic wrenching. The ship jolted as the magnetic locks activated, now firmly securing the nearly two kilometre long vessel in place. The dock crews were quick in their work, taking small craft and securing the vessel with tethers as an additional security in case the locks ever failed.

At long last, the large cargo doors along the side of the vessel slowly creaked open unveiling the several story tall vacancies in the ship's hull for cargo. Lights came on, and platforms were connected to the bays. The dock and ship crew began to buzz about in vehicles as they quickly prepared the ship for its order today. An inspection team was hard at work inside the vessel's titanic hold, putting down devices to scan the ship for any faults or damage that needed to be repaired.

A hose was brought aboard to refuel the craft's drives. Teams of workers brought other hoses as well, spraying a special fire-retardant foam inside the hull near the stern where the crew quarters sat. This was to help create a barrier in case of an accident with the munitions, it could be removed later. While the back could not be loaded yet because of the foam needing to set, work crews began to bring house-sized containers in with large trucks that dumped smoke into the air from their exhaust as they set off into the hold. Their engines rumbled and vibrated the metal floors as a large crane arm on the back carefully began to stack the containers.

The sound of the ship's air filtration could be heard coming to life to filter out the pollution alongside the station's own system. It was a huge relief to dock crews, as it created a draft and cooled them down. Containers were tagged, and given a transponder. Signs on them depicted various levels of instructions and hazards to what they contained. Explosives, fuels, munitions, firearms, vehicles, pre-fab structures, equipment, food, armour, and clothing. They were assembling a small army. A secret agreement with the Alexzonyans had secured them lend-lease from the Martians in their conflict against the Nyteborne. The Elysium was only one of many ships that would soon be delivering war supplies in great number. The Martians would ensure they remained well-equipped.

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Lady Scylla
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New York Times Democracy

Postby Lady Scylla » Wed May 22, 2019 8:24 am

Image



To the Royal Office of her Most Serene and Imperial Majesty
From Her Imperial Majesty's Admiralty Board of the Martian Armed Forces

Subject to classified redaction as is appropriate
A Report on the Sol Defense Initiative and Status of the MAF

DOC: #3104-HRM45 Unauthorised view prohibited under Classified Security Act 2078; All unauthorised persons who view this document may be subject to federal offences including up to treason and suffer the full wrath of the law therein


Your Royal and Imperial Majesty,

It is with great satisfaction and honour that we submit this correspondence to you, and formally update you on the matters relating to our strengthening of defence around the region of Sol. As it stands, at the time of this composition, the nation's Delta Fleet has now returned from its earlier obligations to reinforce our initiative. Grand Admiral Delaney of the Solarian Defence Fleet has graciously welcomed the promotion and office that you have so kindly bestowed upon her.

The total strength of the new amalgam stands at three hundred and forty-five new warships following the merger. Twenty-six battleships have been refitted with the new weapons systems provided by the Martian Armouries, and our four dreadnoughts are undergoing current refits to bring them up to the standard that Your Imperial Majesty demands. As well, the Admiralty alongside the Joint Chiefs has orchestrated a major rearmament campaign and subsequently boosted Solarian defences in manpower to that in excess of three and a half million men.

These personnel, as formally requested, will be dispatched to the number of stations we have constructed or are currently building that composes the 'Martian Shield' network around the Reaches. As such, in accordance with the decree of Your Imperial Majesty, we have taken careful measures to not interfere with civilian traffic, and instead have continued to monitor the situation from a safe distance. In accordance with Your Imperial Majesty's security initiative, we have taken the necessary measures to dispatch intelligence as required to make note of and track certain state actors in and around the region, and will update you as the situation changes. Information on Your Imperial Majesty's MAF can be found below in the following attachment(s).

Semper Fidelis

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