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A Renaissance of Stars [MAINT][CLOSED][FT]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Hypatian Commonwealth
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A Renaissance of Stars [MAINT][CLOSED][FT]

Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sat Jul 17, 2021 5:33 am

Hypatia City, Hypatia, Mars

2200. Nerys read the year on the corner of the paper that she gently held between her fingers. It was a momentous occasion and the beginning of a new era some would say. The empire of old had gone away with time and the Reconstruction was coming to its fateful end. The mighty city on the shores of the Hellas, capital of the Martian people, now stood differently against the rising solette as it crept over the horizon. Glistening in the solar rays was a white and sleek city of chiselled stone, polished metal, and shimmering glass woven through a tapestry of gardens and canals.

Marbled buildings of a revitalised style of Greco-Roman architecture with their corrugated columns and embossed finishes could be seen dotting the city's lower-lying areas. These buildings functioned as museums and music halls and other facilities catering to the public who would come and admire all that they offered. The brutalist utilitarian style of old had been worn away by the sands of time and given rise to Hypatia, a city of culture unlike any other in the basin. And with the literal dawn of a new century came about a Nerissan Renaissance.

For the first time in over two centuries, the newly proclaimed Hypatians enjoyed the fruits of their toil and blood amidst an amicable and restful city. The country had settled into unprecedented stability, even as society underwent a major cultural shift. Managing one of the largest trade alliances in the Reaches with trade stretched far and wide across the galaxy, and enjoying the longest period of peace in the nation's history, it was difficult to remember that all of this was not as such, many years ago. As the nation underwent such an unprecedented rebirth, Nerys had taken on the appearance as a living reflection of its history. Grey streaks parted her once obsidian black strands of hair, and the deep canyons of time carved by the woes of this world were ever-present around her eyes and across her forehead.

The Empress walked more steadily these days, and was given to moments of greater pause when in the presence of nature and the few times of quiet. She would stare out at the grand gardens that adorned the Northminster grounds that she tended, and greet those blooming trees and flowers with a faint but warm smile. She would sit on a stony and moss-covered bench and listen to the sounds of the birds chirping their morning tune. She had stopped appearing so frequently in public, not for the sake of ill-health but to enjoy a more private life. It was true that under her leadership the Martian State had become a beacon of a new democracy, beginning what was a long and gradual process of change in the empire. This ironclad government was no longer susceptible to the corruption and political underhandedness of yore.

And so, she gripped that paper with contentment and signed her name across the bottom finalising her last decree as Empress. The last vestiges of imperial power had come to a close, the halls of such power would now sit forever empty as shadows of a bygone era, and so began the new century.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:03 am

Dearest daughter of mine,

You will be twenty-four soon. And already, I hear many great things about you and your achievements as you choose to follow your mother's footsteps into our great Navy. As a soon-to-be officer, you will find many opportunities across the galaxy, and I have every confidence in your abilities to represent us well. I know it has been a long time since we have spoken. You were three when I left you with your father, and I feel that I must explain myself.

A generation ago, this nation was scarred and wartorn. I can look out the window at a white city made of glass, covered in the various foliage of our home, and I remember. As I walk the skyways, I remember the pillars of smoke over the city. I can still see the craters of the bombs we dropped in the parks and squares we have built. I remember the faces of so many that I lost but whose names I have since forgotten.

I spend my days tending to my garden and enjoying the scent of Martian edelweiss. It's a delicate and carefully cultivated flower, but it was never meant to be here. It has long been a symbol of our people -- our nation. But it is a hauntingly beautiful flower that clings to the memory of a war that meant everything.

The old dome of the city is now gone. The factories of the outer districts have been swept away like dirt on a marble floor. The mighty guns that guarded this metropolis and our homeland against adversaries that only existed in our nightmares have since fallen silent. This city has sprawled across the landscape, bending the areography to its will, and stretching itself far and wide as if to finally rest.

The oppressive squalor of megabuildings that stood imposingly over the capital as if designed to hold the heavens themselves have since vanished. It seems even the godlike architects who built this nation aren't immune to the passage of time. The banners, speeches, monuments, and writings that once were held sacrosanct by their devotees are now just memories of a bygone era.

In our time, we have built mighty canals to the Ruell, seeded the Hellas with fish, planted grains in the east, and finally settled the once barren landscape of the heartland. You were too young to remember what our nation was like, but I have seen it fall and rise. Like a potter who commands clay, I know it has taken charge of its own destiny, and I have played my small part in what has become the closing of an Act and the beginning of another.

This is the Mars I have always dreamt of when I was your age -- it is the home I have always wanted. It is the country I have wished to be proud of. But like those architects of old, I now know that it is not for me to enjoy. I answered the call to serve when it was needed most, and I had to make some of the most difficult sacrifices of my life. But none more painful, more regretful than not being a part of your life all these years.

I can only hope that you will forgive me, because though I may never see what the future beholds, I know that I have played my part in ensuring that it is everything that you will ever want and need. All that I ask of you, is that you follow a path of your own making in this new age. Do not dwell on the past as I have, for I have already carried enough of the world for both of us for many lifetimes.

There is an earthen poem, and it is by that poem that I reflect on my life now. It is written as such:

"I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”


I will forever be a relic of the end of an era -- haunted by a seminal tragedy that you will never know. I will be the last Empress this nation has ever known. But I will always be your mother, and that is how I wish you to remember me. Because without you, the future would be meaningless.

with love,

Nerys Gloriana
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Tue Jul 20, 2021 8:49 pm

Hypatia, Mars

Nerys looked over the report in her hand. It was almost as thick as her desk and she was sure she could use it to bludgeon someone to death. She said nothing to the deputy that had handed it to her -- but she did at least acknowledge his presence with a glance while turning a page. The man was a special liaison from the Department of Research and Development, specifically from the secret program known as Project Glass, and also representing the Ministry of Intelligence. The contents of the paper 'brick' she held in her hands were perhaps the most important documents to have ever crossed her desk. They contained some of the greatest military and state secrets known to the Hypatians: schematics, theories, plans, projects and much more.

"You're telling me that this 'Advanced Materials Joint Research Initiative' is a surefire thing?" The proposal was surprising but it seemed that the other four nations mentioned within the report were also working towards similar goals, and she had already seen the intel brief -- the intelligence staff had determined it was credible. The question to the deputy was rhetorical then as she stood from her seat, and he knew that so he didn't answer. She mulled it over in her head -- the nations in the report each had their speciality, their own theories, but the proposal would bring it all together.

"So, we've made a breakthrough then," she murmured and gazed out the window. There were risks with this proposal, however. By exposing state secrets to foreign powers, notably one that had a hostile history was risky -- putting the Commonwealth in a vulnerable position would jeopardise national security. At the same time, these nations were making advances in the same field the Hypatians were -- valuable insights could be made. At last, there was the 'Big Three'. Such technologies were enough to be considered a valid casus belli in the wrong hands.

She turned towards the deputy, "You have my permission to contact them."
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Wed Jul 21, 2021 7:03 am

Security Council, Amsterdam Station, Location Unknown

Long ago, after Hawking had been ceded to the Menelmacari, there arose a need for a new military headquarters that would be safe from prying eyes. The Hypatians had, in that time, learnt much about the technologies surrounding the Red Abyss' origin and developed these theories under a program codenamed Project Glass. Glass had proven itself innovative and extraordinary insofar as government projects went. The Valkyrie Array, Laconium, Transit Gates, and so much more had become reality under this program. While Project Glass created theory, Project Icarus put it to the test.

Amsterdam was one such gift of the ancients that the Hypatians had learnt to create. The citadel was a leviathan in a sea of obsidian where a lack of stars and anything else in this void could hardly go unnoticed. The dodecahedron shaped facility spun on an axis that seemed to defy all reason, its form twisted and churned in a manner that without any other reference made it difficult to discern the direction of its spin. Nevertheless, small ships would approach and match its rotation via computer before disappearing into its form.

Nerys had only been here once before. It was generally considered unnecessary to have such officials present in person but certain matters could not be discussed through a mere facsimile. For all the data they had reaped from Hawking, and all the discoveries they had made themselves over the last few decades; none were as revolutionary as the matter that would be discussed within this mysterious geometry.

Hours ago, Nerys had left Mars as a typical civilian and boarded a shuttle to be taken to Temujin in the Reaches. None would have recognised the re-sleeved Empress, whose absence in Northminster would not have gone unnoticed either. In fact, Nerys was sitting down for a cup of tea, as was her typical routine, and reading the paper in Northminster as she boarded her flight out of Sol. Her closest confidantes, that was her staff, came in and greeted her as they typically would and they would never suspect a thing. In truth, this was not the first time such a farce had been done, and was typical for matters that required the utmost secrecy.

When Nerys' shuttle arrived at Temujin, the first stop on its itinerary, it proceeded to the jump-point used by all the other traffic heading towards the Delta Quadrant. The countdown began, and the vessel initiated its jump. Nerys, like anyone else that used modern-day Hypatian FTL, would not have noticed the change so easily. There was no demarcation between there and here, then and now. Space just seemed to change in what was a blink of time and then you were at your destination. As the vessel arrived in the Delta Quadrant, all was not as it seemed.

The vessel's arrival was routine and on schedule. Its passengers disembarked. But Nerys did not get off in the Delta Quadrant's Revansport Station. Rather her ship, now empty of passengers, began its final approach to Amsterdam. She watched through a window as the faint blue lights of the station became clearer as her shuttle approached. They twinkled against the dark backdrop of Amsterdam, whose shape became more difficult to make out as they drew closer. Amsterdam swallowed Nerys' shuttle, and once inside the large docking bay, she could see the other ships already parked on their pads.

"Welcome to Amsterdam," an automated voice greeted as she stepped out of her craft onto the platform. There were no workers here, but plenty of company that scuttled around both big and small. Mechanical arachnids worked away at construction and maintenance and larger automatons, known as guardians, stood guard at the entrances and along the platforms. Nerys followed a path broadcasted to her via her augmented reality visor and would soon come face-to-face with a checkpoint. The small digital line of white disappeared in her visual field and was replaced with a large red rectangle blocking the door that informed her to stop and await further clearance.

The two guardians that stood a few good feet over her did not appear to acknowledge her presence, but she reflected on their design. They reminded her of Anubis from Egyptian mythology, and were as such called Anubites for this. Their jackal-like features and figure were a haunting presence in the shadows of this station, and though they seemed statuesque, Nerys knew they were analysing every move she was making.

Before long, her clearance had been accepted and she was allowed to enter. The door opened and the red rectangle with flashing warnings disappeared. Nerys followed the newly generated white line into the catacombs of the station which were small and uncomfortable, to say the least. The absence of any real crew meant that a lot of work could be done through special maintenance shafts that ran throughout the station. There just wasn't a need to make the corridors any larger when foot traffic was often in the single digits.

At some point within this facility, Nerys hadn't noticed the change, but she found herself standing before a door in a room that had no corridors connected. The door opened to a meeting room where other top officials of the Security Council were present, and greetings were exchanged as was customary before their briefing. At last, they all took their seat except for Nerys who rested her fingers on the table's edge. In the middle of this black-walled room, with its white halo lights, and featureless fixtures was their table and some chairs -- but in the centre of this table was a small orb whose size was no more than six inches in diameter, and if held would have felt like stone, but whose hardness rivalled that of a diamond.

This orb reflected no light and was completely opaque. The very sight of it defied perception, as its edge seemed almost malleable and indistinct until it was handled. Seemingly inanimate, those around the table spoke nothing of it. The object predated even the Commonwealth by an age that mattered little. Yet, they all could feel its presence as it rested there on its small stand.

"We have received a proposal, ladies and gentlemen," Nerys spoke, her gaze shifting to the faces around the room, "it is in regards to our advancements made under Project Glass. Specifically, our research has drawn the interest of other powers. The request has been made by these powers to join them in a joint research venture, it encompasses both great risks of unimaginable proportion, and great opportunities."

"Who are these powers?" one of the officials asked.

"The Phoenix Domain, the Eridani Imperium, and the Galactic Republic of Arkasia," the orb answered. The voice had cut through the silence like a whisper but carried with it the energy of a bomb as it spoke.

"That is correct," Nerys followed as she observed the Council's reactions.

Grand Admiral Serano, who represented the Navy in the Council, leaned forward in her chair with a creak. "We fought a war with the Eridani," she spoke, the room settled into silence, "How do we know they can be trusted? We are talking about sharing state secrets with foreign powers."

"They cannot be trusted. Not entirely. There will always be unforeseen motivations at work with interests that do not always align with ours. This is, however, a notable exception where our interests happen to align with theirs," the orb spoke.

"We have made our terms clear that this agreement would incorporate a non-aggression treaty with all parties involved," Nerys said.

"Such an arrangement would carry risks," the orb stated, "The technologies involved in Project Glass are dangerous to all life as we know it, and a matter that if mishandled would coax a hostile response from other parties whose technological prowess cannot be understated. The Macisikani would be of particular note. Were we to endeavour on such a venture, our participation and expectations need to be managed in a way that prevents this outcome. There is a practical benefit to this proposal: it aligns interests to prevent an arms race of four rising powers in their respective quadrants. Likewise, the sharing of research may yield beneficial results and cover certain gaps in our own understanding of these technologies and prevent disaster."

"Our intelligence on the matter shows that all four nations mentioned have made advancements in certain ways that could be of mutual benefit," Nerys added. "There are technologies we have explored that the others do not have or are just breaking the surface, and vice versa."

"So we are risking a monumental conflict that would make the Great War look like a cake-walk," Fieldmarshal Duval spoke up.

"It would not be so much of a war, as more of a minor annoyance for the parties that would initiate the hostility," the orb commented. "We have come a long way, but to think that any of the four powers at hand could sustain a conflict on such a scale against the others would be foolish."

"There is one other matter -- the Domain is a member of the Triumvirate," Nerys said.

"Are we thinking that they could be a potential leak for this proposed arrangement?" Serano asked curiously as she tilted her head towards the Empress. The notion wasn't out of line with their character. Nerys had mulled over the possibility herself, but she knew as well that the Domain's leaking of this would have its own risks. It was also a debate on transparency -- if the Domain were to be transparent with Yut about the four's intentions, there could well be a galactic war. But if they remained opaque on the matter and it eventually got out -- and Nerys knew that it would eventually, then the outcome would also be conflict.

The room fell eerily silent as the others mulled over the question which lingered in the air. "The Domain's potential to leak the matter is a definite possibility, but given their diplomatic nature, we would presume that their ability to manage tension in the Triumvirate would assuage some of its members' concerns and prevent direct conflict. It can be guaranteed that regardless of what agreement is made here, the Domain will likely be transparent with the members of Yut, and there will be a secret agreement amongst them to ensure some observation on our efforts. It is, however, the best outcome. Outright secrecy would precipitate conflict," the orb stated.

"This would mean exposing Icarus," Serano noted with a grimace.

"It would mean exposing a lot," Nerys quipped, "Icarus may well be the tip of the iceberg but once we move into testing, with as many resources as will be required between all four nations, evading systems like TRIPWIRE will become difficult. The reality is that we are all moving at relatively the same pace now, and this will ensure that there's a balance of power and some cooperation."

"By our judgement - we feel this to be a worthwhile proposal," the orb stated.

"We will need to brief the NSC," Serano said.

"Considering Project Glass is an imperial project, only three members of the committee have the necessary clearance. We can tell them only what they need to know. So it is settled then."
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sat Jul 24, 2021 6:13 am

.H..M..G.


Her Majesty's Government
Cabinet Minutes // Year 2200


STATUS : CLASSIFIED; Security of Communication Act, Section 5.3
VERIFICATION : Verified by State Security Intelligence Check — Token [REDACTED]

This is an official summary of cabinet proceedings. Unauthorised access will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law;

Minutes from the Prime Minister's Cabinet of the Hypatian Commonwealth



Meeting brought to order at 1300

All present. No apologies.




Reading of the minutes of the last meeting.

The minutes of the last meeting were read and accepted as being both correct and accurate by unanimous vote.



Bussiness carried forward from the last meeting.

Termination of Diplomatic Relations with the defunct Fenvarian Republic

Crown Office signed off on the 'Termination of Diplomatic Relations' request submitted by the PM and Cabinet with HM finalising the action with signature.

State Department agreed with HM's assessment to close the Fenvarian Embassy and cancel all military and research contracts in accordance with the law. (Review Appendix 1: Security Council Report - Declassified in Confidence of Cabinet)

Ministry of the Exchequer has closed all accounts and liquidated all assets of these programs within the thirty-day deadline set by the Crown Office.

Ministry of Commerce has revoked Fenvarian access privileges to starways and other supporting infrastructure. All outstanding accounts have been closed without resolution and report (Review Appendix 2: Outstanding Accounts of Fenvarian Republic) issued to Exchequer for review on damages.




New Business

State Security and Ministry of Defence's report on Meridian military activity
(Appendix 3)

Naval Intelligence and Valkyrie report no outstanding changes, threat level remains the same as of last report.

State Department's report on Scutum-Centaurus Relief Action
(Appendix 4)

The Commonwealth is complying with the Martian Forum Resolution 6.2021 (Appendix 4B). The Senate convened at the request of the PM&C and Security Council (Appendix 5 and 6) and approved limited emergency powers (Appendix 7) accorded to HM for the deployment and use of naval facilities, craft, and other assets. Senate National Security Committee and Budgetary Committee authorised the use of funds held in the Emergency Account to lease commercial shipping for distribution of supplies and aid in the Gamma Quadrant's affected regions.

A ledger has been created in accordance with the law to record the use of these emergency funds and for the records of the Exchequer at the close of the Relief Emergency authorised by the Senate.

State Department's report on Advanced Materials Joint-Research Initiative

The Commonwealth will be sending advisors from multiple fields as well as ambassadors from the Diplomatic Corps to a meeting of the AMJRI with other prospective members. A joint initiative for the research of advanced materials has been considered beneficial by the Crown Office and HM, giving weight to this mission. The National Security Committee has taken a keen interest in the outcome and requested a cabinet report following this visit.

State Department's report on the Galactic Trade Group

Diplomatic Corps reports success in attaining 'observer status' in the Galactic Trade Group, with extant member nations interested in Commonwealth transit infrastructure. State Department will send an envoy to the group once a selection is approved by HM. The possibility of full membership is currently being considered by Crown Office and the State Department. It is the first time the Commonwealth has been accepted into a new galactic trade conglomerate since the dissolution of the Galactic Commerce Corridor.

Exchequer's report on the economy

The Exchequer reports strong growth currently within the Commonwealth's economy in line with last quarter's forecast. Confidence remains high with strong investments keeping the domestic market healthy and stable. The Exchequer's Department of Labour has noted that unemployment remains low.

Exchequer's report on Asset Liquidation and Damages of Delinquent Balances of Fenvarian Accounts
Exchequer has issued a report (Appendix 8 ) on the value of liquidated assets following the closure of Fenvarian accounts of commerce and investment within the Commonwealth. This includes speculative assets such as properties and leasing contracts, and material assets such as machinery, ships, and resources.

In accordance with the law on damages, corporate contracts rendered null and void but without sufficient resolution of losses or other damages due to delinquent accounts and balances or failure to meet the terms of the specified contract are eligible for write-offs up to 40% of the apparent value (where the government was party to the contract) of that contract from the reported last quarter before the accounts became delinquent.

A further 15% of the value may be paid out by the government under the 'Corporate Damages Relief Act of 2183', but claims must be filed with proof of loss without sufficient resolution within 60 days of the termination of the delinquent accounts.

In total, damages for delinquent accounts and break of contract have been estimated to be £13.7 trillion with £6.9 trillion offset by direct-to-market liquidation. Exchequer expects a further £2.3 trillion in recovery for liquidation of speculative assets such as properties bringing total recovery at £9.2 trillion at current quarter value. The remainder will be accepted as a loss and be reflected in the next quarterly budget.

Ministry of Commerce's report on the Water and H-3 Shortage in the Arcturus System

The Ministry of Commerce reports that the Water and H-3 shortage in the Arcturus System has been successfully resolved after local authorities expanded mining contracts for in-system lunar regolith and icy asteroids to meet colonial demand. A proposition to ship H-3 and water from across the galaxy was rejected by the Ministry of Commerce as expensive and unnecessary.




Non Agenda Items

None.




Meeting concluded at 1500
Last edited by Hypatian Commonwealth on Sat Jul 24, 2021 6:34 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sat Jul 24, 2021 9:30 am

Jackie's Keep, Unknown Location
Military Research Station


"What d'you think?" Janette asked.

The hypothesis was interesting, its implications revolutionary, and the theory was sound. Janette's colleague and fellow researcher Ambrose Delaney likewise seemed deep in thought over the research he was staring at. He rubbed his hand gently over his salt-and-pepper beard in thought. "The math checks out. I mean, it would require us having to build it first to test it."

"Could you imagine storing physical things like they were data, yea?" Janette asked excitedly. Cargo ships could be so much smaller if the containers could be converted into information, lockers could be tiny boxes instead, what if one could print physical objects with information!? The mere thought sent Janette over the moon.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves here," Delaney said as if reading his colleague's mind. "First we'd have to convince the board for funding," he added.

"There are potential military applications as well," Janette coyly suggested.

"You're thinking of the Navy's budget considerations coming up soon, aren't you?" Delaney asked. He set the paper down on the table and placed his hands in the pockets of his large lab coat. It was exactly what she was thinking as she nodded. "They're going to think the idea is crazy."

"They thought a long-gun was crazy, too," Janette retorted.

She wasn't wrong. It still took some convincing, however. It wasn't that the Navy would be against experimental technology, but it wasn't really the Navy they had to convince. It was the Budget Committee in the Senate. If they couldn't give solid proof of the concept so the Navy's Senate liaison could, in confidence, argue for the funds then there was no chance the Navy would even consider it.

"We're going to need to work with what we've got on a small scale. We need something for Garret if we're going to propose this." He waved his hand towards the paper and then stepped aside to lean against the table beside them. He was the realist of the two, but already he could see Janette's enthusiasm dropping by the minute, any more and she'd probably shrivel up like a raisin.

"You know Garret is looking to cut costs," she stated.

"Yes, but don't forget that I know a guy. Let me see if I can source a laconium clock, that'll keep us from having to ask for too much," Ambrose suggested.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:36 am

Jackie's Keep, Unknown Location
Alpha Station


The woman cradled the small device in her hands as she stepped forward. This chamber was remote, quiet, and a refuge from the business of the rest of the facility. It was her favourite place to be. Its dark metal walls were alien with their inscriptions and strange blue glow. The bite of the cold air and the silence brought forth an otherwordly quality that was both frightening as much as it was enticing. She sat the device down in a lonely pedestal as the metal contraption abruptly clamped around it. The loud crack of the device startled her but it had done something. She peered at the strange metallic stone that she had just held as a faint glow emanated from deep within.

The woman's soft, white hair gently moved at the slightest breeze as the walls began to lowly hum. The pedestal shifted downward and the sounds of machinery below her feet shook the floor. She stepped back with a breath of the icy air as it condensed into a mystifying fog. It was at that moment she was afraid.

"I am Atlas," a voice resonated. The woman couldn't place its source -- but it spoke with such command that the hair on her neck stood on its ends. "And you are Janette Roosevelt."

"I - I am," Janette spoke now against a wall. She could feel her hands tremble. There was a presence in the room that she couldn't place, but it gave her a sense of foreboding dread. It was there and she could feel it -- it wasn't hatred or any other emotion that she knew of. Whatever it was -- it felt cold, indifferent, and ancient.

"Are you afraid, Janette?" Atlas asked of her.

Janette took several deep breaths, she had been in this room countless times. She had never activated the device herself, this was a first, and she hadn't anticipated this. "I am," she answered and felt the wall behind her. The metal seemed to give to her touch as if it were alive. The reaction made her recoil as she stepped forward.

"Do not be afraid. It is because I am unknown to you, but I know you, Janette," Atlas stated, its voice even and calm.

"What -- what are you?"

"The closest analogue in your language is an artificial intelligence, but not one made by humans. And not one that your kind is capable of building at this time. But we are far older than your species," Atlas answered.

"Revenant?"

"That is one such name we have been given by your kind," Atlas spoke.

Janette tentatively stepped forward and stared at the small orb clutched firmly within the claws of the pedestal. It continued to glow but not as brightly. The very shape of it seemed to change and move as if not entirely a sphere and not completely solid. She struggled to rationalise its shape and the feeling of its presence on her mind weighed heavily, causing her to look away.

"You are new to our presence, but you will adjust. We are not here to harm you. It is difficult to understand what you are seeing, your kind sees in only two-dimensions and we are merely shadows without time," Atlas said.

"We have been studying your technology," Janette finally said.

"And great progress you have made, but so far do you have to go. There are civilisations in this galaxy that have made it further, though they understand less of our existence than yourselves. They seek to contain your progress but not without good reason -- you are studying the very limitations of nature and grasping at technologies that countless civilisations before you have tried and failed to attain. These technologies have been mastered by less than a dozen civilisations, and they carry significant consequences if used unwisely."

Janette furrowed her brow, "Like the Scythians?"

"The Scyth were an unfortunate casualty in a war that has lasted longer than some stars, and one that has been fought across a space otherwise unknown to you. Their destruction opened the gates of a Tartarus. Its fires are kept at bay by civilisations still unaware of the true dangers that lurk within. The Keeper is ever watchful and stands in the way of a deluge that crashes against your unsteady but eroding cliff."

"That's -- ominous," Janette said. She felt a chill creep down her spine and her mind wandered to the Red Abyss. There was so much she wanted to ask, she wanted to know, but Atlas could somehow sense this.

"For now, you seek our technology. I will provide you with a solution for your problem -- the device you have brought with you is incorrectly configured. You assume that you can decouple time from space, but they are simply two sides of the same coin. You have already learnt how to encode and decode information from and to matter; now you just need to learn how to do this without said matter moving."

Janette pulled the device from her lab coat's pocket and stared at it. Her brow furrowed as she manipulated it in her hand. She looked up as her eyes widened with the realisation. AAtlas disconnected the orb from the pedestal and the room went dark again, now assured that she had discovered the solution. Janette grabbed the orb and quickly left the darkened chamber, which had returned to its silent state. She had, indeed, figured it out.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Wed Jul 28, 2021 5:54 pm

.H..M..G.


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OFFICIAL DECLARATION of the HYPATIAN COMMONWEALTH
Year 2200 / STATE DEPARTMENT of HER MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT




STATUS : CLASSIFIED / SECURE TRANSMISSION; Security of Communication Act, Section 5.3
VERIFICATION : Verified by State Security Intelligence Check — Token [REDACTED]

This is an official communication of the State Department of the Hypatian Commonwealth;




URGENT / STATE OF EMERGENCY / QUADRANT MOBILISATION
At 1100 hours GST the Hypatian Commonwealth Navy (HCN) received a full mobilisation order of the Delta Quadrant anchorages in accordance with Parliamentary Resolution 3401 authorising full emergency powers of Her Majesty. HM has declared a State of Emergency within the Delta Quadrant affecting the Delta League following intelligence reports of the ongoing hostilities near the Gamma-Delta demarcation and the joint Yut-Forum Scutum-Centaurus Relief Mission being undertaken by nearly a dozen nations. It is the opinion of Naval Intelligence, Civil Defence, the Security Council, Her Majesty, and other various organisations privy to the intelligence of the developing situation in Gamma, that any deployment of Yut is a matter of grave concern requiring utmost vigilance.

At 0100 hours GST remaining forces within the Gamma and Delta anchorages have been placed on High Alert following the mobilisation order. The Delta Periphery Alert Status (DPAS) has been raised to 3 to assure maximum readiness of expeditionary and intelligence assets in the region.

At 0200 hours GST the 14th and 15th Expeditionary Fleets of the HCN had been dispatched from New Salamis to support operations of allies within the Gamma quadrant.

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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Thu Jul 29, 2021 6:54 am

Jackie's Keep, Unknown Location
Military Research Station


It was 6 in the evening for Jackie's Keep, though few could understand how silly that seemed unless they were Delaney. The researcher had reclined in the sofa of the commons area with a hot coffee in hand and rested his head back with a hand placed over his eyes. Delaney was tasked with researching breakthrough technologies, his colleague had been assigned to his team -- well 'team' -- it seemed the Navy wasn't big on dumping loads of researchers into such things these days. At least, not since they now had help. The 'help' though, was the reason Delaney was massaging his head.

He sighed and tendered a sip of his coffee when he heard the door open. "Hard at work?" he called out to Janette as she stepped into the commons. There was excitement written all over her face as he peered at her brown eyes. As a Martian, she had developed one of the rising phenotypes in Martian humans, which was her platinum hair, but not the amber eyes. He stood and sat his cup down and walked towards her - she could sense there was something wrong. He rested against the arm of the sofa and sighed, "What do you have, Jan?"

"Is everything okay?" she asked, her face moving to worry.

Delaney simply nodded and outstretched a hand to urge her to show him what she found out. He already knew where she had gone, the Warden also knew, and it was the reason for his meeting today. It wasn't that they weren't allowed to speak to Atlas, but it required approval and for good reason. Atlas didn't like its conversations being recorded, so any evidence they had her going into the chamber was mysteriously gone. Which was good news for her, in actuality, but it still meant Delaney had to cover for her.

"I know how to make holostorage, Ambrose," she said, holding out the device they had been tinkering with. Delaney tilted his head and took it from her. He looked it over, it was something of a cube, not extremely large but it was for small scale testing. He could tell what parts of it he had worked on, and where Jan had, and the alterations she had done were interesting. "Atlas..."

Delaney held a finger up, "Stop. The less you say, the better. The less I know, the better. What did you find out?" His voice was stern but calm, it carried the complexity of both being disappointed and somehow proud. The last emotion confused Jan, he seemed almost approving of her act of breaking the rules.

Nevertheless, she composed herself and cleared her throat, "So we've been thinking about this all wrong. It's the same process of how our rift-drives work, we're moving through time and space, yea?"

Ambrose followed so far and handed the device back to her as he crossed his arms, "Go on."

"Time is just another way to measure distance, and what we've been doing instead is trying to teleport something as if it was being manipulated by a rift-drive. Instead, I made some modifications to keep it here -- where we want it, when we want it, watch." She set the device down on the dinner table and Ambrose soon joined her to watch the demonstration. She pulled a pen from her pocket and slid her hand behind it like she was one of those gameshow hosts displaying a prize. Ambrose smirked at the gesture. She set it down on the device's modulator and stepped back after pressing the button on the side.

The pen dematerialised which they had seen a thousand times over, but after a few seconds, it rematerialised on the modulator. Ambrose's eyes widened and his jaw slipped down as he stared in disbelief. Jan picked up the pen and presented it to him. "It... worked?" he asked as he took the pen and looked it over. The pen had come back entirely fine from what he could tell, but he looked up at Jan as if to ask the question he had been thinking and she nodded.

"I already checked it on a particle level -- it's all there, nothing is out of place," she said.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Thu Jul 29, 2021 2:30 pm

Hypatia, Mars, Sol System

Hypatia was not the same city it was twenty or thirty years ago. Major environmental policies had cleaned-up a lot of the city and the dome that had crowned the skyline for nearly two hundred years had finally been dismantled. Genetically engineered flora had been seeded throughout the city's terraces, walkways, alleys, and gardens. The crude utilitarian architecture of the past had been replaced by vibrant styles pulling from classical and modern works alike. The city's planners had taken inspiration from ancient civilisations on Earth, and incorporated old mythos into their vision; weaving the tales of yore through the very stone and metal of the city.

Laconia, as the city had been known for nearly two hundred years, had a new name fashioned from history as decreed by the city's council. They envisioned an Alexandria on the shores of the Hellas -- a bustling metropolis of museums, decor, and knowledge. And from that hallowed library, they drew the name: Hypatia. A grand scholar of her time, immortalised in ancient texts. It was from her and her city that they drew inspiration for what would become the new capital.

In the Great Bay, they erected an island of rock and metal wire, poured concrete and fastened metal, and there they laid down the foundation of a mighty colossus. A maiden stood several hundred meters high overlooking the Great Bay towards the west -- she carried with her an open book kept gingerly in her hand and held high a torch of flame with which a powerful light was built. This beacon shone over the grey water of the Hellas, and its light sparkled like a star that could be seen from further ashore. Adorned in a long flowing robe, she wore a necklace with two keys. An inscription at her base read: "Scientiae Cedit Mare".
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sun Aug 01, 2021 7:20 am

New Salamis, Deltan League, Delta Quadrant

"Tristan! Wait up!" Gracie called out, pushing through the crowd in the hallway to catch up to her friend. Unlike Tristan, who was tall and had distinct silver hair, Gracie was shorter and could barely be picked out from among the crowd. It took grabbing Tristan by the shoulder before she finally stopped walking and turned to face Gracie.

"I was calling for you..." Gracie said out of breath.

"Gracie, you could drop a grenade here and not hear it," Tristan spoke as she stepped into a side hallway that broke away from the main flow of people. "How was class?" she asked.

"Exhausting, we've been refreshing up on time dilation, targetting delays, and aim-assist modules. The math hurts my head," Gracie groaned. By now the two had begun walking again, it was lunch, and they would make their way across the station to the 'chow hall' as it was affectionately named. They were cadets of the Themistocles Naval Academy and had been for the last four years.

"You look exhausted," Tristan remarked, noting Gracie's dishevelled hair and dark circles under her eyes. The Final Exam was fast approaching, and it looked like she hadn't slept a wink in nearly six weeks.

"Not like you look any better!" Gracie rebuffed. Tristan hadn't dared look in a mirror the entire time, she knew she looked rough, she could feel it in her bones. She and Gracie had joined the Navy when they were 18. They spent a year doing basic training, and another doing 'Advanced Combat Training' or ACT with the Hypatian Marines. There they were trained and acclimated to zero-g combat and tactics. It was the first time Tristan got to experience travel aboard a spaceship.

After they graduated from ACT, they were shipped to Themistocles to become naval officers and had spent the last four years at this academy. The pair arrived in the chow hall and quickly got into line behind the other cadets. Tristan watched the others that had already been served move about in their grey uniforms to their assigned tables, she could tell what year they were based on the colour of the aiguillette they wore.

There was white for freshmen, blue for second-years, yellow for third-years, and finally red for senior cadets. There were some variations depending on the duties the cadets had, but overall their uniforms had little deviation. Some of the more ranking cadets wore things like peaked caps, known as 'peaks' in the common parlance, and special pins. These cadets were known as the 'peacocks' -- though not to their faces -- because of how they strutted around with their new sense of authority. The name itself originated from the 'peaks' they wore.

The downside was that Tristan was one such 'peak' though she saw her job as more of a chore than something to brandish at the lower classes. The benefit was that they were paid extra for these commissions, and this had allowed Tristan an opportunity with the extra cash she had to do something special. Once the pair had gotten their food and they sat down at their table, Tristan placed a small box with a bow on Gracie's tray. "Happy early birthday," Tristan said with a smile as she pulled her silverware from its packaging.

Gracie's face lit up, "What? Tristan, no. Really?" Gracie picked the box up and looked at the colourful wrapping paper and was taken aback by the gesture. Tristan watched with interest as she dug her fork into a meatball and dipped it into some sauce.

"Go ahead, open it," Tristan urged, taking a bite of her food as Gracie popped the lid off the container. Her eyes marvelled at the small ring inside, it was silver and well within their dress code but knowing Tristan there was something more to it. There was always something more to it. "It's got a mobile HIVE relay in it. Since we're graduating soon, and will probably be stuck on different assignments, I thought this would be a good way to keep in touch," Tristan said, holding up her hand with a similar ring.

"What! No way. How? How did y--"

"Let's just say I know a guy and I had been saving my commission for over a year now. D'you like it?"

"I love it!" Gracie exclaimed, sliding the ring on and taking a moment to gander at it. It was plain enough to avoid suspicion. "I just can't believe prim and proper Ms Regulation here would get this," Gracie chuckled.

"Oh, shut up," Tristan replied with a smirk, "the regulation is dumb to start with. And it doesn't much matter after we graduate. Have you heard of your assignment yet?"

Gracie nodded, her demeanour changing, "Yeah. First Fleet. The HCN Carrington Rogue, it's a destroyer. DDS-717 I think?"

"I'm going with the 15th Expeditionary Fleet on the Gwendoline. Cruiser," Tristan said, "Not too bad for first assignments, at least we'll be in the same quadrant."

"To the Junior Corps," Gracie said with a raise of her glass.

"To the Junior Corps, and the friends along the way," Tristan replied with her own, clinking her glass against Gracie's.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sun Aug 08, 2021 9:59 am

Narthis, Ar Narthis System, Nicean Client State
A Commonwealth Military Directorate


'And so Naal'ath-ul, God of the Rays, came down from the heavens and graced the land for which His people sowed. Where He stepped unto the land His crop did flourish and where He fashioned of the clay were cities made from stone.' – Nicean Nalathulist Archive, Verse 1.




The roaring of the shuttle's engines drove away small creatures sunbathing on the exposed rocks above the sand. As the shuttle landed, its powerful thrusters whipped up dust and debris into a thick cloud that obscured the vessel. The side door slid open as its occupants stepped out into the Grand Sa'al-hak-ur desert – the largest on Narthis.

"All clear," a female voice said as she brandished her weapon. She wore a fully enclosed environmental combat suit, known as an EVO. It had its own air supply and offered both ballistic protection as well as protection from the elements. This was standard issue for the Hypatian military.

"Alright. Vasquez, take point," a male marine ordered. Vasquez shifted her position and the squad of five began to move through the cloud of sand towards their destination. As visibility returned to normal and the dust settled, the small squad came face to face with the entrance of a cave.

Vasquez stopped and turned on the light at the end of her rifle to peer into the gaping abyss. "It looks like it slopes down," she said, leaning closer to the edge of the opening. The light only went so far but it was clear that this was no ordinary cave. She pulled a beacon from her belt and turned it on, it began to flash and broadcast a waypoint to their augmented reality visor or ARV.

"Go ahead, Lieutenant," the commander stated. The rest of the squad stayed back from Vasquez' position and kept their eyes on the surrounding desert. There were things that lurked our here other than strange caves and them.

Vasquez tossed the beacon into the cave with an underhand throw. She watched it fly through the air and down into the cave. There came a metallic clank as it bounced off the floor and then disappeared into the darkness. The ARV lost the signal after that.

"What the...?"

Vasquez flipped her wrist over and looked at the small screen on her arm. 'SIGNAL LOST' it stated in bold red lettering. "It's gone!" She turned to get her commander's attention when the ledge she was standing on abruptly gave out.

"Vasquez!"

The lieutenant fell into the cave, hitting the metal with a thud and began her chaotic descent into the maw of whatever this place was. She was thrown and rolled and tried desperately to grab something. She could hear her teammates calling for her on the comms. At last, she hit the bottom.

"Fuck!" she exclaimed. Her visor fogged with her frantic breathing as she slowly rose to her feet. She brushed herself off, taking a moment to stare at the patch on her uniform depicting her unit: OSIRIS.

Her radio crackled and she could hardly make out the transmission, "Va–are you–respond."

"I'm fine. Just some bruises," she replied though she wasn't sure they'd get a clear message either. She flipped on her helmet light and began to look around.

The cave was far deeper than she thought with the entrance being little more than a tiny window of light at the top of the slope. She could barely make out any movement, but more strangely she couldn't see the waypoints of her team on the ARV. It seemed the structure was interfering with their radios and TacNet. It was then that she noticed the beacon's waypoint.

"Va–uez, can–come back up?" her radio crackled as she walked towards the signal on her visor. She tilted her head and furrowed her brow at the sight. The beacon was floating in the middle of the air but its strobe had stopped flashing.

"Guys, there's something weird down here," she said. It was then that she noticed other things – a small creature frozen in place and rocks as well. The creature was known as a galaki by the locals and resembled something of a lizard. Her curiosity got the better of her as she reached out to try and touch it.

At first, Vasquez didn't notice the change. She watched her hand reach towards the lizard, but as it drew close and crossed whatever was there, the light began to bend around it. For a brief moment, she could see her entire hand all at once. Then she felt it. It was like something had grabbed her, without actually touching her. She felt confused.

There was this static. It invaded her mind and consumed every thought she had. The sensations of the ground, of her suit – evaporated. Something moved through her, and she could sense that there was something else. Something there.

She hit the floor with a thud and suddenly came to with a gasp. Her suit alarm was going off. The air had stopped circulating. Every sensation had returned, and she felt a searing pain across her body like her skin was on fire. Still confused and gasping for air, she panicked.

She frantically peeled her helmet off and threw it in a frenzy. The air rushed in as she heaved several breaths before collapsing again onto the metallic floor. As the pain subsided and the brain fog began to clear, she could make sense of her surroundings.

"Guys?" she spoke as she rose to a sitting position. Nothing. "Can you hear me? Marc?" She fumbled around in the dark until she found her helmet again and carefully slid it on. She reset the oxygen system and began to run diagnostics to determine what happened.

"Can anyone hear me?" she asked again, but there was still no reply. As she rose to her feet she looked back to where the beacon was. It rested on the ground and was blinking normally. She picked it up and looked it over, it hadn't been damaged during its descent.

NO FAULT DETECTED – her suit announced. It had finished its diagnostics and found nothing wrong with her O2 system. Stranger still, the clock on her visor had stopped working entirely.

UNABLE TO RESOLVE TELEMETRY DATA

Vasquez turned on her helmet light again and observed her surroundings. She was at a dead-end in a long corridor with no sign of the slope she had made her rather painful descent. Her only choice was to go deeper into the catacombs of the structure. Maybe she'd find a way out, and hopefully, reunite with her squad.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Tue Aug 10, 2021 10:11 am

Narthis, Ar Narthis System, Nicean Client State
A Commonwealth Military Directorate


'Naal'ath-ul brought to His flock the knowledge of the ages and so they built Him a mighty temple at Naal'ath-ul Ilis -- the Hall of Naal'ath. There they gave Him gifts and prayer and took from His guidance a bounty of fruit and stock so they may furnish their cities in His image.' – Nicean Nalathulist Archive, Verse 7



The cold catacombs were an endless labyrinth that made navigation difficult for the stranded lieutenant. Thoughts of whether she would ever escape and if her team had dared the descent to come to her rescue lingered in Vasquez's mind as she stopped for a short break. She had joined the Marine Corps eight years prior before participating in the Osiris program, the most elite special forces training program in the Hypatian military.

Only three graduated each year from the program, and she came third. Rather than see it as a failure, she considered it only a sign that she could still improve and work harder. It was this unwavering perseverance that drew the attention of Osiris Command and earned her a place in a pathfinder unit as a senior research officer. Her small team had been working as a detachment of an exploration frigate that had been given orders to investigate Nicean ruins. For the last several months they had been scouting for a place like this.

She smirked as she rested against the wall. The thought of her dying in an old dusty ruin was almost poetic given all of her hard work. She thought about how things could have gone differently if she hadn't stood so close to the edge or hadn't tried to investigate the galaki that seemed frozen in time. She knew better than to dwell on these things, doubts were what got one killed in a situation like this. She felt her strength return and slid off the wall to continue her journey through the abyss.

"Pathfinder 3-2 to Pathfinder 3-Actual, please respond," she said on her radio. She would transmit every so often in the hopes that maybe someone would pick up her comms but there was never an answer. The facility was made of metal and she was deep underground. Narthis also had an anomaly that created a lot of dead zones during certain times of the day making radio communication difficult. It was that anomaly that drew them here initially.

There were two periods when radio traffic was cut off because of a massive energy spike that disrupted the ionosphere's ability to reflect any radio waves. It was like the planet was being caught in a geomagnetic storm but it was far more localised and consistent. More strange was the absence of any major solar flares that could cause the phenomena from Narthis' star. Whatever the source, it was coming from underground.

Vasquez abruptly stopped as the seismic sensors in her boots detected a sudden drop just a few meters ahead. She could see that the corridor entered into something of a chamber which exhibited a very faint glow. The change in scenery was a welcome one at first as she stepped out onto the ledge. The chamber itself was so large that her light couldn't reach the opposite end so she turned on her ARV and pinged the space with the ultrasonic sensors in her helmet. The computer in her suit quickly created an augmented visual of the room from the data, depicting a massive circular chamber hundreds of meters in diameter with a hole that was too deep for the echo.

"By Mars..." she gasped.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Wed Aug 25, 2021 12:06 pm


The frantic footsteps echoed in the halls of Northminster Palace and told the world of the urgency that guided the woman forward. She carried with her grave news, the very essence of which weighed her down and had taken over every facet of her mind. She slid into the communications room where a pair of State Security agents were posted, her exasperated state and abrupt entrance had taken them by surprise as one nearly fell off his chair to get up. The message was grave, indeed, and so began a dizzying blitz of communications across the entire empire.

Image


Silence had befallen the palace grounds. The ravens did not come to the central courtyard where the Empress frequented to play their shrill song, the bag of feed she used sat undisturbed by the doorway, and the wind had become nought but a gentle breeze bringing the first whisper of winter from the south. The halls of Northminster, save for a few stragglers, were empty and solemn as the bells began to sound. A single car pulled into the south lawn's horseshoe driveway and stopped. The driver did not have time to open the door before the female officer leapt from it and pushed past the guards.

An entourage followed her as quickly as they could, but the silver-haired woman walked with such a pace that not even death could catch up to her. She rounded the corner, following the gestures of other posted guards, and threw open the doors of the master bedroom with such a force that even heaven itself tremored. "Where is she? Where is my mother?" she demanded and then abruptly stopped.

A few civil servants had been taking care of the room, but all looked up to see the piercing amber eyes of Tristan Harlowe, daughter of Empress Nerys Julietta Harlowe. Not a word was spoken as they quickly and respectfully vacated the chamber with one carefully closing the door behind them with a quiet click.

The room was dimly lit with the curtains pulled down to prevent sight from the courtyard and to give them some privacy. Tristan hesitantly approached the peacefully resting Nerys—who had been carefully prepared—and stood quietly at the side of the bed. The Empress gripped a longsword in her hands, holding it tightly against her chest with it pointing towards her feet. She had been dressed in her white Grand Admiral uniform and the crown, fashioned by the Macisikani, rested gently on her head. She looked as though to be in the midst of a deep slumber, her face bearing the years humbly, and her features soft and restful.

Tristan heaved a heavy sigh and carefully reached out to gently cusp Nerys' hands. She held them, cold as they were, as the red sheets were soon marked by the first few drops of tears that streamed hotly down her cheeks. She collapsed by the bedside and sobbed as the bells rang with a dismal tune. The Ironclad Empress was dead.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Wed Aug 25, 2021 12:47 pm

.H..M..G.


Image
URGENT COMMUNICATION of the HYPATIAN COMMONWEALTH
Year 2200 / STATE DEPARTMENT of HER MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT




RECIPIENT(S): INTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTRIES of the SIXTEEN NATIONS of the COMMONWEALTH
STATUS : CLASSIFIED / SECURE TRANSMISSION; Security of Communication Act, Section 5.3
VERIFICATION : Verified by State Security Intelligence Check — Token [REDACTED]

This is an official communication of the State Department of the Hypatian Commonwealth;




URGENT / IMMEDIATE RESPONSE REQUIRED /

It is with heavy hearts that we inform the Commonwealth of the passing of Her Majesty as of this morning from natural causes. Due to recent events, the following orders have been issued:

The High Court has recalled all Senators to Hypatia, including all Succession Committee members. Failure to attend the session will be met with contempt of parliament and compliance may be enforced by the Sergeant-at-Arms. Security for all Senators and essential officials in HMG will be increased ahead of the Succession Hearings. Senate Recess has thus been revoked.

State Security and major intelligence and defence assets have been put on high alert. Northminster and the Forum are to be cordoned off with unauthorised access being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. A gag order has been issued under the MEDIA ACT to prevent leaks to the media, any violation will be considered a federal offence. This gag order will remain in effect for 24 hours at the issue of this notice.


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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Wed Aug 25, 2021 5:46 pm

Forum, Hypatia City, Mars

The senators filled the seats of the forum. The typical bustle and conversation that often graced the walls of the building were absent during this session. A roll-call soon followed with sixteen senators called and sixteen being present. The various secretaries who sat in the middle of the forum began to type away as the speaker took the podium and struck the gavel three times.

"Order! Order! This session will now come to order and prepare for an urgent item on the agenda," the speaker spoke. A secretary of the Succession Committee emerged with a sealed paper rolled neatly and fastened with a ribbon. It would bear the nominations of the committee for their approval, but when the speaker was handed the paper, there he saw the imperial seal of the late empress. He looked at the woman confused and then peered at his colleagues. He opened it and began to read.

He carefully rolled the paper up again and cleared his throat, "I hold the last testament of Her Majesty expressing her wishes. Under the law, if a nomination was not named, it was the duty of the Succession Committee to carry out the hearing and to submit the nomination to the Senate for final approval. However, it appears that Her Majesty, in her good grace, did name a successor in her final testament. The Succession Committee has already conducted the hearing. Please rise for the new Queen," the speaker said as the doors to the Forum opened.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sat Aug 28, 2021 1:43 am

Dear Tristan,

I do hope you can forgive me, but I will understand if you don't. What I am asking of you is the greatest responsibility someone could ask of anyone, and I am sure that your entire world will have been turned completely upside down by the time you receive this letter. I have no doubt that you will feel overwhelmed as if the entire universe has suddenly crashed down upon your head. I know this because it is how I felt when I was given a crown. But I need you to understand that I did not make this decision lightly. It was never meant to be you.

I received my coronation to become the Empress of our people aboard a Macisikani ship where they had hastily crafted a crown for me. At the time, I had so much more on my mind. The Great War had begun and we were set upon by enemy powers from every direction across the galaxy. The capital had become a ruin. Eridani had assembled the largest fleet in their history to assail us in the Reaches. And our sovereign before me had been assassinated in a coup that saw much of the government collapse. I could have fled.

At that moment I could have faded from history as my country burned, dooming millions to die in the disintegration of a nearly two-century-old empire. As the Macisikani placed the crown on my head and hastened the ceremonial procedure; I thought to myself that I could just disappear. Noone would be the wiser and by all accounts, we were probably doomed anyway. But I didn't.

I became Empress and coordinated defence of the Reaches, smashing the Eridani Armada, and routing Meridian forces on Mars and elsewhere. I could not save everyone. We lost our Gamman colonies which sparked the largest refugee crisis in our history, and we lost Kathira putting millions at risk of a rapidly industrialising Kadrian Warmachine. By the time the dust had settled, our empire was but a shell of its former self. A third of our territory had been lost and millions had perished without much of a forethought in a gruelling galactic conflict.

I faced pushback as I tried to rebuild our government and nation. I felt I had to constantly look over my shoulder at both friend and foe. Several times we were lucky and crisis had been averted and the empire continued. But this is not the world you have grown up in or will know.

When I first created the laws of succession, I was adamant that under no circumstance were you to be my successor. I wanted you to live a normal life away from politics. And after the Succession Act had passed, I breathed a sigh of relief. Our monarchy would be elective, but the law was not retroactive by design. I had poured my years and hope into rebuilding our nation and I had to ensure that it would survive. But in my old age, I've come to realise I was naive.

There would come a day where I would have to trust the system I created. But I have also come to learn that it takes someone with a special kind of mind to be such a leader. And sometimes you have to make sacrifices. We have not moved even a full generation past the Great War, a lot of those enemies I faced are still there. A lot of the resentment and tension is still there. And though I intended to be the last Empress of this empire and a champion of democracy, I have come to realise that it will need to be carefully guided by someone who does not want the job. Much like how I didn't.

There were many choices I had for nominations of the next successor. Grand Admiral Serano would have been a good pick, but while she has long been a confidant of mine, she is hard-headed and sometimes too bold for her own good. Serano is obsessed with success. Granger is fighting to get out from under his father's shadow and is likewise from a very different world you have come to know. What we need is someone who will guide us to the future and smooth out those tensions and heal those scars of our past. It was then that I realised there was only one person I felt who should succeed me. You.

But I want to stress that this choice has not been made for you. You will be summoned by the Succession Committee upon the delivery of my last testament where they will interview you. But the choice of whether you choose to accept this responsibility is yours -- I did not have such a luxury, but we come from different times. All I want is for you to do what you think is best for you.

If you do choose to accept the nomination -- then heed my advice and heed it well.

Be wary of those around you, there are old powers at play. Do not be afraid to assert yourself. If something does not feel right, listen to what your gut tells you. And never, under any circumstance, give in to despair or lose who you are. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. When you are in the public mind, you are the Crown, our Sovereign. It can be difficult to separate the individual from such an imposing persona -- but you must rebel against this. Do not let it consume you. And do not let the taste of power overtake you. Far too many tales have been told and retold over many millennia across all species of those who did not heed this warning and how it corrupted who they were.

Sincerely,

Nerys
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Mon Aug 30, 2021 4:42 pm

Queenstown, Hellantis, Mars

The sniper and his spotter had positioned themselves atop a roof overlooking a large street that ran alongside a small community park. They watched the curtains of rain coming in from the Hellas and while it wasn't their preferred environment to fire a shot in; they had no choice and just had to make do. The sniper set up his rifle atop an AC unit to keep it away from the ledge from possible onlookers below. The spotter had moved position just a few feet away but ensured he was at least upwind from the sniper. The pair had been a team for some time and worked well together.

"Got some rain coming in," the spotter said as he set up his scope and started taking measurements. He pulled up some information about the storm coming in from the Hellas Sea, they had a few minutes before it would be bearing down on them, but he was mainly interested in the changes in wind direction and pressure. Things that could affect the shot. Rain by itself wasn't going to interact with the bullet during most of its flight, the cone of high pressure around the projectile would prevent an interaction, but this wasn't true when it was transonic or moving at subsonic speeds. There was also the problem of downdrafts and updrafts during its flight.

"Welp, as long as he isn't late we should be fine," the sniper commented as he pulled a cover from his ruck and carefully draped it over his rifle. The last he needed was water getting into the chamber or it drenching him too much. He pulled back the bolt and inserted a round into the chamber, sliding it forward to lock the lug, and then inserted a magazine below. He left the safety on and carefully positioned the rifle into his shoulder.

The spotter had covered him and his equipment with a cover, being careful to not knock over his spotting scope. He had also taken out a small hand-held ballistic computer and was taking measurements of the humidity, windspeeds such as cross-wind and head-wind, temperature, and several others and recording them in the computer. This was the first reading they had, and he would continuously check it to try and determine a baseline for their position. He also accounted for the differences in elevation, taking time to range his spotting scope using a rangefinder and recording that data.

Civil Defence had been monitoring their target for several months now, ever since they had received a tip that something was afoot. The team had been tasked with shadowing the target for several weeks and gathering their own intel. They knew the target's schedule, where he liked to eat on a Sunday afternoon, what kind of coffee he ordered, what sort of relationships he had, and who he met with. This didn't account for everything, even the most routine person had occasional spontaneity. But this was the target's weakness, he liked routine far too much. They spent weeks going over his typical schedule and determining the best opportunities to make their move. They had scoped out potential nests with the best visibility and conditions, exit routes, optional solutions and so on and so forth.

Other options had also been explored. Sometimes, a simple mugging was enough to take out a target. It was plausible, easy to clean up, and didn't draw too much attention. The problem there was that this target was particularly dangerous, getting close may cost lives beyond the operator tasked with the deed. Bomb-makers were not subjects one could resort to the typical tactics, fanatics were at times unpredictable when cornered.

And that was the problem here. If the target had a bomb vest or device on him, it could go off. Indeed, Civil Defence had noted that on a few occasions the target may have been wearing an explosive vest. It had never been outright confirmed, typical ways to measure and detect such devices from afar with specialised instruments was a risky affair. They weren't willing to take the chance. But they had analysed his past attacks, they knew the sort of explosives the target had been using when making things such as car bombs.

A high powered round through a possible vest wasn't a major concern given the target's prior MO. It was unlikely to cause a detonation and that worked in their favour. There was another motive here as well. There were risks to making an arrest, for much of the aforementioned concerns, but Civil Defence had done their homework and considered that taking down this target would expose the cell he was working with. They would panic. Once it had become apparent that one of their own had been taken down, the others would quickly try and go dark, Civil Defence had taken time to consider safe-houses and locations some other well-known members would flee to. These were under surveillance and only needed the fly to wander into their web.

Some would inevitably slip through their fingers, that was just how it went. But some of the ones they would capture could be compelled to flip on others. Even if it meant they couldn't get them all. Months of work had gone into this night.

"Target acquired," the spotter spoke, quickly taking measurements of their environment. The first curtain of rain had just started to roll in and the sniper could hear the drops hitting his tarp as he peaked into his scope and began to focus on his breathing. The spotter began to read adjustments out and the sniper carefully adjusted the knobs on his scope. "Exiting his vehicle now, he's carrying a briefcase, black suit."

"Got him in my sights, waiting for solution," the sniper spoke. He slowed his breathing and flicked the safety off. His finger gently curled around the trigger as he became extremely still. Heach breath had to be measured to prevent the crosshairs from drifting.

"Fire," the spotter spoke. He would repeat this as long as there was a solution, knowing that the sniper would take his shot when he was most comfortable that it'd hit its mark.

"Fire."

"Fire."

There was a muffled crack. The rifle shifted backwards as the shockwave moved through the sniper creating quick ripples over his cheek and through his body. The muzzle on the gun wasn't meant to so much silence the weapon but disperse the sound sideways across the rooftops. It sounded like a crack of thunder as it reverbed. The spotter looked for a vapour trail, though it was difficult in the rain. The target was walking into the entrance of the building half a mile away when the round hit his upper body square in the back. He fell over onto the ground as others in the buildings rushed out to help or quickly fled. Red and blue lights could be seen illuminating various corners of the block. Things had been set into motion.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sun Sep 05, 2021 2:35 pm

Zandari Empire, Rymara, Razalan System
Rymari Client State of the Hypatian Commonwealth


For seven generations the Azgalot dynasty had ruled the Zandari from their opulent palace of Gorguntuli that stood high atop a volcanic cliff-face overlooking the capital of their burgeoning empire. Ezma Tulotil, the western continent, had long been dominated by the imposing presence of Zandara and its benevolent rulers, but their power came into question under the reign of Axota the Terrible. It was said that the great city had lost its favour with the gods.

Legends said that the sun appeared dim in the sky, its light suffocated by the encroaching darkness of Malutu, the God of the Apocalypse. That year, the temperatures began to plummet, crops failed, and famine struck the Zandari. Other petty kingdoms reported the same. Disease soon followed and ravaged the land as Malutu consumed the lives of every man, woman, and child. For generations, the Zandari had held these smaller kingdoms at bay, but as the food ran out, they turned on their hegemon with hopes of grain.

The Zandari people believed that Axota, their king, had done something to anger the gods. They concocted many nefarious tales depicting the king's deeds, each more outlandish than the last until finally many believed that perhaps Axota was Malutu himself. The mobs descended on Gorguntuli, slaughtering or scaring away the guards who were too starved to resist them. They found Axota hiding and dragged him out of the palace to the Altar of Rakanuat, the Sun God, where they murdered him and driven by the frenzy of their affliction, consumed his remains.

It was then, as legend tells, that Rakanuat sent the Matzu to Zandara as a sign of his good will for the slaying of Malutu. These Matzu came in flying chariots of metal that breathed fire and were met with jubilation by the storm god Tulatzuati who would excitedly clap at the sight of these chariots. The Matzu brought with them many things for the people of Zandara such as food, clothing, and gifts that could restore life.

The Matzu taught the Zandari many things and together the Zandari and Matzu waged terrible but righteous war on those kingdoms who had followed Malutu. In a generation, all of Ezma Tulotil had come under the sway of a renewed Zandari Empire. So ended the Azgalot dynasty and arose the Matzutuli dynasty with Ihuat the Great as king of the Zandari, who had been crowned by the Matzu as the rightful ruler of this new empire. The Matzu soon left, only returning to collect their divine tribute of Ihuat and to revisit the great towers of Xuhatotili atop the Mountains of the Spirits.
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Fri Sep 17, 2021 9:28 am

Zandari Empire, Rymara, Razalan System
Rymari Client State of the Hypatian Commonwealth


The sounds of the jungle were overtaken by the loud crack and flash of light as the ship entered the upper atmosphere, its arrival causing the evaporation of the clouds for as far as the eye could see. It wasn't an unexpected visit, these ships had appeared high above before, like watchful guardians they moved aloft over the landscape before disappearing almost as quickly as they had arrived. This was different, however.

The vessel was larger than the typical visitor; it also did not leave but remained high in the atmosphere. It was a spectre hanging over the landscape and casting all the lands in its shadow like a vulture peering for carrion. Long pillars of vapour trailed from the ship like fingers ready to swallow the world. One of these came down towards Gorguntuli; blue flames licked the ground as the craft landed. The tribesmen guarding the palace complex stepped back as the dust filled the small courtyard and the roar of the engines shook the very ground where they stood. These would soon quiet down, the beast coming to a still and eerie silence before a side-door was flung open revealing its interior. They had arrived.

Several soldiers of the Matzu had appeared with their weapons slung but firmly in their grips as they pressed forward. Their black suits of armour were matte in colour, though their visor reflected the faces of the Rymari who peered at them in awe and fear. The soldiers pushed through the guards, who stepped back and began to bow, though none took notice. Their objective was just ahead as they scaled the steps into the palace where King would surely reside.

"Ah! Exceeellent. Excellent. The Exalted have arrived," Ihuat greeted with a mischievous simper. He had reclined on his throne with a leg draped haphazardly over one arm, and was tended to by several servants who presented both food and refreshment. He picked a Juhuata fruit and bit through its plum-like skin with an obnoxious squelch as its spore-like sacks hung from it and fluid drizzled down the King's face giving him a menacing red maw.

A soldier stepped forward from the seven that had arrived and tapped their helmet, making their visor transparent and revealing the face of a young woman with blonde hair. She was Captain Hyletta, leader of Osiris Team One. She looked at Ihuat unfazed by his theatrics and slung her rifle to the side. "Your majesty," she said, holding her hands out and flipping them so that the palms would face the ceiling. A typical and respectful greeting of the Rymari.

"You are not the typical representative of the Matzu, are you?" Ihuat clapped his hands and his servants quickly gave the King his space as he slithered off the throne and daintily stepped towards Hyletta. He was shorter than her, most Rymari were, unlike the Matzu who came from a planet with low gravity—as compared to Earth—Rymara was around 1.3g. He examined her features, a grimace forming over his face as he did.

"Something the matter?" Hyletta asked. Not that the Rymari were anything pretty to look at, their reptilian-like features were easily off-putting.

"Hmm," Ihuat stepped away and tossed his hands into the air as his gaze fell on a crystal that hung above his throne, "By the will of Rakanuat, we have been graced by his messengers! The Matzu have blessed us this day." Ihuat fell into the embrace of his throne and looked down upon the Matzu with an owl-like gaze. "But you are no Pathfinder, are you Captain? You are not here to collect your tribute like before."

The King's bodyguard had filed into the room and taken positions near the walls. Hyletta had taken notice but focused on Ihuat as her men bunched up. "We have come to offer your kingdom membership in the Commonwealth," she said. "You would be given wealth beyond imagining and be elevated to that of an emperor amongst your people, no longer just King of the Zandari and them alone."

Ihuat picked up the fruit he had been eating earlier and dipped his fingers in it. He took the brightly coloured juice and gently smeared it over his eyes like paint then plucked a fungoid sack from it. He held it in his fingers and examined it closely before speaking, "Tell me, Captain. How can one be Emperor when they are but another pawn at the mercy of a Queen?"

The soldiers seemed agitated at this. Hyletta had likewise felt uneasy as she stepped back a few steps, her hand sliding cautiously towards her side-arm. "You know quite a bit, my King, I cannot fault you for that." Ihuat's bodyguards stepped closer. "But you would be able to rule a world with our help and stand as an equal among the other united nations of the Commonwealth." They brandished their spears.

"But that is something you do not understand, Captain," Ihuat said as he sat up once more and stared at them with a grin. "I am already an Emperor of my world."

The bodyguards lunged forward. The Osiris agents brandished their rifles and fired several shots. Ihuat threw down the sack, smashing it into the stone floor as a plume of smoke erupted from it. Hyletta drew her sidearm and fired several shots into the haze before being hit by one of the bodyguards. She flipped him over, fired a few rounds into the creature's head and ducked under the swing of another. Gunfire erupted. More bodyguards pulled in. Hyletta watched as her men were overwhelmed and quickly killed. She picked up a rifle and cut down several more before she was pinned to the wall and hit across the head by a stone.

There was the sound of clapping as she was dragged across the floor to the centre of the room. Ihuat emerged from the fading cloud looking amused as he stared down at the Captain. They pried her helmet off, exposing her to the noxious atmosphere which was difficult to breath in. She gasped for air, her blonde hair matted with blood. They tossed her cracked helmet aside and pulled her head back.

"There will be more," she sneered, "We will come for you." She struggled against their grip to no avail as Ihuat stepped in front of her and brandished an obsidian blade. He looked at the pile of bodies across the throne room. Several of his men had been cut down. He placed the blade against her throat and took hold of her hair.

"I expect them too," he said and plunged the knife into her throat. He pulled her head from her body and looked at his men. "Let this be a message to the pretenders that I, Ihuat, son of the God Rakanuat, shall free our people!"
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Fri Sep 17, 2021 3:09 pm

HCN Sea of Tranquility in orbit of Rymara, Razalan System
Rymari Client State of the Hypatian Commonwealth


Hyletta gasped for air as her pod opened. She let out a blood-curdling scream as the techs rushed to her side. Her vital alarms were going wild. She pulled cables from her, fell to the floor, then vomited. "By fucking Mars," she heaved out, vomiting again. The techs quickly helped her to her feet as one called for a crash-cart and they got her back into the bed of the pod. She was alert and aware of her surroundings now as personnel clamoured around her. The Captain was clammy and drenched in sweat, but most distressing was the feeling around her neck which she clawed at as if still feeling the searing pain in her throat. They injected her with a specialised drug to calm her down and she was quickly whisked away to observation where she would undergo further treatment.

Those in the Osiris Program had been conditioned for this, but it only helped prevent or reduce the risk of the more life-threatening complications of dying in a sleeve. The whole ordeal was taxing not only on the body but the mind. Psychological trauma such as PTSD, phantom pain, and hallucinations as well as what the Hypatians called 'rampancy' were common and possible risks of such a traumatic event. Physiological complications caused by extreme stress could result in seizures, cardiac arrest, hyperventilation, and other problems as the real body was engaged in a fight-or-flight response. Drugs were used to try and numb this part, but treatment during the telepresence couldn't be too invasive otherwise it'd complicate things for the sleeve.

<><><>


"All seven?" Commander R'valla repeated, almost in disbelief. He turned to look at Captain Vanser who was standing beside the holo-table. Vanser and R'valla had been to Rymara several times. Neither had seen this before, it left a lot open to question, and undoubtedly, the brass would be asking those questions while dangling their careers over their heads. Osiris was the best of the best, it wasn't too often an entire team got bested themselves. R'valla rested his hands on the table and sighed.

Vanser had known the Nalari for many years, the look on the Commander's face was difficult to describe but was something crossed between a grimace and anger. Neither of them was Martian-borne, the laconic stoicism of the homeworld had little impact on their expression. Vanser was from Alula in the Martian Delta, he was notably shorter than his Martian kin, largely because Alula had been settled long before the Red Planet's gravity had changed the physiology of what became the areohumans of today. "We've had difficulties with our scans of the planet, there's been a lot of geomagnetic activity around the Mountains of the Spirits as of late," Vanser brought up, spinning the hologram over the table that depicted the planet around to show the absence of any new data for that side.

"Could there be another storm?" R'valla questioned as he stood upright and fixed his uniform. The last time they had seen this level of activity was when they had first arrived on the planet. It is what tipped the Hypatians off that there was something more to Rymara than they initially believed. That storm crippled their sensors on the ground and seemed to have a devastating impact on the planet's biosphere, a phenomenon they had never seen anywhere else before.

"I couldn't say," Vanser answered, then asked, "How's Captain Hyletta?"

"She's recovering in the Medical Observation Ward. According to the medical personnel, she'll make a full recovery, but will likely need to undergo a full evaluation to address phantom pain and recurrent psychotic episodes," R'valla spoke candidly. The procedure in events like this was to mandate leave, but depending on her recovery, they both understood that she could be discharged completely. With communications being affected by the phenomenon, there was no way to pull the plug early, not in time at least. You couldn't just pull someone out of their sleeve without warning. You risked killing them. The downside was they were now down an Osiris Team, and still needed to find answers.

"Are the Pathfinders on the ground?"

"They are," Vanser spun the globe again to a location marked the Singing Garden. It was a vast jungle that covered the southern portion of the western continent. "They are advancing towards the Mountains of the Spirits, they should reach their destination in the coming days, but communications will be sporadic. They do have one QE-Pack on them."
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sat Sep 18, 2021 1:45 pm

Singing Garden, Rymara, Razalan System
Rymari Client State of the Hypatian Commonwealth


The puddle splashed as Sergeant Wendel's boot sunk in. There was irritation and an annoyed grunt as he pulled it free and scraped the mud off. Wendel was the NCO of Pathfinder 3; a scout team dispatched to investigate the Mountain of the Spirits and its anomaly. They had been deployed to a safe zone nearly a day out and were already running into problems. Caked in mud and stuck in their armour because the atmosphere was too toxic to breathe meant the entire ordeal became a claustrophobic nightmare.

"Can't take another step in this damn swamp, LT!" T'nalla, a corporal, complained loudly. Lieutenant V'harka had been guiding them through the Singing Garden and even he was showing signs of getting tired as he slipped into a shallow pool with only a vine to save him from falling in completely. Several team members stepped in to help him up. The planet's gravity was so much greater than Mars or other settled worlds of the Commonwealth and was proving exhausting.

V'harka took a seat on the bank and slung his rifle to the side. "R&R. T'nalla, go find some wood, take Juno with you. Hutley, get that QE-Pack up and bring it here. Wendel, need you too. Asanari, I need you to get your sentinels up and running in five. Everyone else, pull security." With orders out, the team split up as T'nalla and Juno rushed off to find some dry wood for a fire. V'harka measured the atmosphere quality and was surprised to see the reading came back as breathable. He checked it again.

"Everything alright, LT?" Wendel asked as he slid his pack off and plopped down next to V'harka. He could feel his legs throbbing, they'd been on the march for so long through this shit. He massaged his calf with a groan.

"The ATMOS is telling me that we can breathe down here," V'harka said in disbelief. Wendel checked his and got the same reading. Hutley had joined them now, and V'harka got his attention, "Hutley, check your ATMOS and tell me what it says."

Hutley sat the QE Pack down and did so; after a moment he looked at the two of them, "My thing must be busted."

"It says it's breathable, right?" V'harka asked, Hutley nodded. The comms specialist went back to setting up the QE Pack as V'harka called for Bryer. Bryer was their corpsman but also a specialist in xenobiology, he had to be, given the make-up of the team. If anyone would know, it seemed like it would be him, that was V'harka's reasoning.

Bryer came to them, his canine drone, Ambrose, not far behind. "What is it LT?"

"Do me a favour, run your ATMOS and tell me what it says," V'harka said.

"Says it's breathable," Bryer commented, "we're in a crater and the flora here is dense and probably specialised in filtering out the excess gasses, notably what's toxic to us." Bryer looked at them and slung his rifle over to his side where it dangled and then unlocked and unsealed his helmet. He slid it off exposing his brown hair and took a big breath. The jungle didn't smell pleasant, but he was breathing and he looked relieved of the fact; either because it didn't kill him or because he was as tired of being in the helmet like the rest of them. The others followed suit and took a breath, all except Asanari, whose suit was telling her it wasn't breathable. The namari required a slightly different make-up of atmospheric gasses to be able to breathe, unlike the humans or nalari, which meant she would be confined to her suit for the trip anyway.

"Does mean we can't eat anything in here," Bryer added as he took a seat. Ambrose meandered over and lied down next to him, resting its head on Bryer's lap. "With the flora taking in the shit, any fruit or other things we might find here could be filled with toxic compounds."

<><><>


HCN Sea of Tranquility in orbit of Rymara, Razalan System
Rymari Client State of the Hypatian Commonwealth


The frigate Enceladus manoeuvred slowly towards the hangar of the Jupiter-class battleship, HCN Sea of Tranquility. It oriented itself carefully into position with its vectored-control system. Small puffs of gas rolled the ship and put it on its final approach. The large bay doors of the battleship opened to accept the ship, which had been flying high in the atmosphere of Rymara. Clamps locked the frigate into place as the bay doors closed behind it.

Since the incident at Gorguntuli, the intel team aboard the vessel had been monitoring the situation on the ground. Their efforts were still being impacted by the anomaly, but they were able to track some movement around Zandara. The Zandari were amassing warriors, but more surprisingly, there was considerable activity across the continent in other kingdoms. It seemed others had fallen behind Ihuat's cause. The level of coordination became the most alarming feature.

While Vanser was the Captain of the Sea of Tranquility; R'valla was the commander of the marines aboard the vessel and of the mission. He mulled over the events of the last few days with aggravation. This was meant to be an easy run. The last leg of their tour before they could return to the anchorage at Rhea, but now there seemed to be a planet-wide rebellion, and it was R'valla who would have to face the Admiralty's inquiry.

The biggest question, however, was how should they respond?

R'valla entered the observatory, a special deck with live feeds to the outside. Vanser had been standing on the platform overlooking the planet below with his arms crossed like he was deep in thought. He hadn't noticed the commander's entrance.

"Any word?" R'valla questioned, startling Vanser.

"N-no," Vanser replied, regaining his composure, "We lost track of the pathfinder team about four hours ago, but we should be receiving a check-in over the QEC soon."

"You seem a little bit jumpy," R'valla noted.

"The anomaly is growing in strength, and messing around with possible alien artefacts has always given me some dread," Vanser replied with a weak smile. R'valla nodded and peered at the planet.

"The mission has changed. We gave them our ultimatum and they refused," he said.

"Ultimatum?"

"They were going to be integrated into the Commonwealth willingly or not, Captain. We would have preferred the diplomatic option, but they've chosen the hill they wish to die on. Because of this, we're going to need to take a different course," R'valla replied. Vanser looked troubled, but there wasn't anything R'valla could really say to console his friend. He gave him a pat, "You've always been the more compassionate one, Vanser. But war is war, and we have a job to do."

"I know."
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Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Thu Sep 23, 2021 6:08 am

Northminster, Mars

The day was cool as the first whispers of winter lingered in the air and the world seemed bigger than it ever had before. Tristan rested on the railing with a cup of coffee warm between her hands as she looked out over the city from the palace. Her world had been turned upside down. It seemed as though she had become Empress just yesterday and yet it also seemed like it was ages ago. Her life had been taken up by so many meetings -- she had received an education in all things politics -- and she had spent many hours late at night lying awake.

"Your mother would laugh at you right now," a familiar voice said. Tristan turned to see Cora Rowland, the former Prime Minister, standing at the door with her shoulder leaning against its frame. She had a soft grin hidden away from black locks of hair that curled at her cheeks. She had been meeting with the Empress weekly on matters of government, though the recent parliamentary elections had seen a new prime minister take the mantle.

"She never said," Tristan spoke. Rowland stepped forward and rested her arms on the railing beside her, taking in the atmosphere laid out before them. It was a beautiful day, with gentle sunshine and a light breeze. Rowland could sense the agitation in Tristan, but it seemed that Nerys had, despite everything, worn off on her for she was good at not showing it.

"She would talk about you, y'know. She had pictures of you going to school and doing sports. Your father would tell her about your achievements all the time," Rowland said, searching Tristan's face for that glimmer the Harlowe's seemed to keep so well hidden behind their rocky facade. It was there, Cora could tell.

The Empress took a drink of her coffee and said nothing for a while. The two stood and listened to the sounds of the birds chirping from the courtyard and the bustle of the city. Northminster Palace rested on an island seemingly separate and remote and yet still the centre of the universe. "What will you do now?" Tristan finally asked, "now that you've retired."

"Well, I thought about making a dash for the frontier to live out my life peacefully. But, I think my purpose is here. Imperial Court can be overwhelming, it would probably be beneficial to have someone in your corner for once, if you would have me," Rowland commented.

"You're no longer Prime Minister, though?"

"You can choose anyone to be in your court, but it is up to you. You Harlowe's have a knack for trailblazing a path through mountains may as well make sure the roof doesn't cave in," Rowland smiled.

Tristan was quiet again, but then she spoke with a gentle smile, "Then if you would accept my offer, I would like you to join my court."

"I accept."
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Founded: Jul 17, 2021
Ex-Nation

Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sun Sep 26, 2021 3:32 pm

Palace of Northminster, Northminster, Hellas Province, Mars

Since Nerys had moved her residence to the old Sato Manor, what was now the Palace of Northminster, the government had to renovate and make use of what space they had. The initial structure and grounds had been expanded considerably in the years since the move. The palace was now a large fortification on the banks of the Hebrides river which flowed out to sea. Nerys had never been one for flashy displays of wealth or power and so the building looked modest with plain stoneworks and minimalistic decorations. An outer wall served as a fortification with an inner wall -- making use of Sato Hill -- rising above the first to give a good vantage point with needed depth from the main residence. At the summit of the hill, what was once the rim of an old asteroid impact, sat the residence of the Crown and its offices. This building stretched across the grounds and stood several storeys high with rows of windows and gothic-style architecture, using a similarly named palace of the Old World as inspiration. Nerys liked the classics, and her obsession with changing the image of the nation meant no detail was too small.

"What do you think about calling it the Palace of Northminster?" Nerys has once suggested. "If we're to be taken seriously, we may as well reinvent ourselves. Given a lot of our early settlements were Anglo, it would harken back to our roots."

Nerys helped design every facet of the structure for both accommodation, function, and security. They would dig a channel from the Hebrides and create the Harlow River around the palace to make it into an island and then use bridges to reach the structure from the ground. Harlow Bridge became the east entrance's main artery for traffic and the Hebrides Bridge, a large stone structure that straddled the white-water river, became the artery of the west. When it had all been completed, Nerys then focused her remaining days tending to the courtyard where she had taken an interest in gardening. She had flora flown in such as trees and bushes and planted them in the rejuvenated soils. She would spend her days feeding the birds in the morning.

Tristan stood at the entrance to the courtyard and looked out over the grounds. The bushes had begun to wither and the flowers that were supposedly the beauty of the palace had long since died. Groundkeepers didn't have the same touch as Nerys it seemed, as a lot of the more exotic plants withered away despite their best attempts.

"Ma'am, we mustn't keep them waiting for too long," Rowland spoke. The former Prime Minister had seen the courtyard many times during her visits with Nerys, it was her favourite place to hold meetings over tea. The Menelmacari tea had always been Nerys' favourite. Tristan stepped away from the courtyard and the two continued down the corridor towards Chamberlain Hall.

The Imperial Court stood whilst the Empress entered the room, she stopped for a moment and looked at them, taking stock of them before she went for her seat. The Court's role was to serve as an advisory committee for the sovereign; it comprised mostly of bureaucrats, business magnates, the hierarch, and other officials. A large wooden table sat in the middle of the room with a dozen chairs that had been claimed by the most important members of the Court. Tristan took a seat in her chair at the end of the table and so did the rest. Rowland stood to the side with everyone else, in all about thirty people had been gathered in the room and watched as Tristan opened her ledger, untangling the small red ribbon wound around the pin, and laid it flat on the table's surface.

There was a silence that lingered after as Tristan sat and looked at the eyes fixated on her. The chair she sat in felt gigantic in comparison and the room too small for her. She didn't ask nor want to be in this position. The letter from Nerys had come as a total surprise and she still had not fully processed everything, but it seemed in that moment the realisation had finally struck the iron, and under the surface of her cool facade the sparks were flying.

Every second she waited was more time for the wolves to circle. True to being a Harlowe, she gave no indication of the churning maelstrom underneath, but then she felt a hand on her shoulder, warm and reassuring. She gazed up and saw Rowland who gave a subtle nod. That had lit something in her as Tristan reached out and closed the ledger then stared head-on at all the faces in the room with her amber eyes peering sharply. Their complexions changed like a wave crashing against a shore, the wolves had backed down, for now.

"I am not my mother but I am still the Empress. We may begin, but first I will announce some changes. Madame Rutherfeld, you have served as the Chamberlain for some time. I understand that this position functions as a private secretary for my office, and I thank you for your service. However, I will be letting you go with full provisions of retirement for your exemplary service and full honours. You may take your leave of this Court. Madame Rowland, please, if you would accept my offer, will you serve as Chamberlain to the Crown?"

Rutherfeld sat to the right of the Empress and stared almost in shock at the announcement. There was still silence in the room but the faces had become pale. The elderly woman stood from her chair and gave a bow, having been fired was one thing, but she had also been removed from the Court in a single sentence. It was unprecedented, far different from the appeasement Nerys had done to keep people in line, but Tristan had done her research on those attending. None were her friends nor had her best interest in mind. Rutherfeld had been under Nerys' surveillance apparatus for years, and the former Empress knew of her side-dealings with the bureaucrats to feed them information, some of whom were in this room as well.

"I graciously accept your offer, Your Majesty," Rowland stated, almost in as much shock, but she knelt down and kissed the ring of Tristan before taking her place at the table. She did not look at Rutherfeld who was gathering her things. With Rowland now where Tristan wanted her, the Empress looked at the others.

"Admiral Serano," Tristan called. The others looked towards the corner of the room where the military officer was standing as she stepped forward. She had been invited to the Court as a guest, though none had paid her much attention until now. "I understand that you were intended to be my mother's successor," the Empress said, cutting the silence in the room with a bombshell as the crowd shuffled away from Serano as if blood were to be spilt. "I am sorry that things did not come to pass in the manner either of us may have wanted. However, if you choose to accept, I would like to offer you a position in this Court as an advisor. I have need of your services and expertise and will double your salary for this role," Tristan said.

Serano blinked and stood quietly. At the start of the Empress' statement, she had expected to be fired, but the offer had taken her tongue. When she finally found it, she gave a bow to the Empress, "I graciously accept, Your Majesty."

"Then you shall be given the title of Crown Marshal," Tristan spoke, her eyes moving to the previous Crown Marshal, Alexander Cormorant. He stood and stepped away from the chair as Serano kissed the ring of Tristan and took a seat to the Empress' left. Cormorant gathered his things and looked at Tristan expectingly. She looked up at him, though said nothing. There was no send-off as there had been for Madame Rutherfeld. Cormorant's role in the Meridian Uprising had been covered up by Nerys, though everyone in the room knew of his treachery, and so did Tristan it seemed. There would be no retirement or honours bestowed, but he would leave with his head. Cormorant shuffled out of the room without a word.

"As I said previously, I am not my mother," Tristan spoke, "by comparison, I am far below her achievements but I am still the sovereign. I am still your Empress and Queen. I took the liberty to learn about all of you, your secrets. Tsk, tsk. Let this be a warning, I do not care of your business and back dealing, but do not undermine me."
Commonwealth of Hypatia

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Hypatian Commonwealth
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 154
Founded: Jul 17, 2021
Ex-Nation

Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Fri Oct 01, 2021 12:24 am

viewtopic.php?p=39025937&sid=7300bac02d7ab7c275d7848c52a156c4#p39025937




1319 Downhead Street, Victoria, New Australia, United Provinces, Mars

"You're telling me you didn't order it," the security guard asked. Artecia shook her head. It was a nicely made bust, but the loss of the nose unsettled her. "It made it through the scanner but we had State Security double-check it and run a background on the courier; it all came back clean. Obviously, someone barging in with a package is highly unusual," the security guard added, noting that generally there was a byzantine level of security around these places because of all the terrorism years ago.

"You're saying it came from the Menel?" she asked sceptically as she examined it more closely. The features were spot on, having even her mole with the three little hairs in place above her lips. If it wasn't for the nose, she'd have thought it beautiful.

"Do you have any sort of... relationship with an elf?"

Artecia glared. "Miles, I am a married woman. Let alone to a man. I ain't got time to be playing around with no soft-footed fairy,"[/i] she commented. Miles made a face at the 'soft foot' comment. What a weird thing to say. "This is a message."

"That they knows you?"

Artecia glared again, "Boy, I don't have time for your games today."

Miles looked at it, content with his pun, "Well, where do you want me to put it?"

"What do you mean where to put it? We have to get rid of it. Have any idea what would happen if the Imperial Auditors caught me accepting something like this, let alone State Security. We'll send it off to the Appraisal Department of the Treasury and they'll deal with it. Someone isn't happy about my bill."
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