The Compendium [Future Tech | Fiction | Open]

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]


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Serukta Sehkrisaal
Posts: 99
Founded: Nov 04, 2013

Postby Serukta Sehkrisaal » Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:22 am

A Wildfire Chronicles Installment
[ Future Technology ]

"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." — Herodotus

Lycia, NAVOS Ultra Large Freight Carrier
En Route to Port Expedition, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone
"Pawn to F3," the small relay speaker announced onto the bridge of the Lycia. Almost immediately, the small, holographic projection of a halberd-bearing, be-armored foot soldier took his fateful steps across a field of light-form grass and cobble, proudly announcing his movements with the resounding beat of his pale ivory cuirass. It was, all-in-all, a miniature field of battle only recently cleaned of yet another painful defeat for the army-in-white.

Davide leaned back in his chair idly; 'He really is a bit thick, isn't he?' he mused to himself, propping his legs across the corner of the projection table with an absentminded rub of his thigh. Old age, it brings terrible wears; it also, however, brings a modicum of wisdom. While he knew he was in no way the maestro of chess, he knew damn well he was better than his fellow crew mate, Gagliardi. 'Better let him stew a minute; I wouldn't want to hurt his feelings anymore than I already have,' the voice behind his eyes nearly chuckled as he took a moment to rest his eyes. Nearly eighteen hours straight spent locked-up in the bridge; sure, it was more spacious and a bit more luxurious than the foreman's driving pit at the bow end of the massive, bulk freighter, but it was still a pain to look at the same four walls for such a lengthy span of time.

"Davide," the speaker announced, Gagliardi's rough tones pushing through the array in a half-spoken crackle, "you fat fuck, move already!"

"You can't rush brilliance, Gags," the bridge captain depressed the small button on the side of his chair's armrest, boasting his faux-arrogance. 'Not that it takes brilliance, in this case.' In truth, he truly hoped "Gags" wasn't making the same mistake, again, for the fourth time in the past week; briefly, Davide regretted ever mentioning chess to the man after they'd set-off from up the Lanthe. Even so, he wasn't about to pass-up an easy victory, one way or another; the win-to-lose ratio was what mattered, and he was still in the lead by a magnitude over the positioning helmsman. 'Might as well tempt his play,' he thought, pressing the transmitter's switch once more: "Pawn, E5." For what it's worth, he knew, it'd be a hollow victory if the temptation proved too much.

Parting a single eye open, he watched as his own foot soldier, war axe in-hand, marched across the field to his post, banging an empty fist against his helmet - or, in the least, attempting to, Davide presumed, the empty wrapper of a Jupiter crunch bar disrupting the projection just enough to cover the single pawn in a field of static. For all his supposed brilliance, Davide knew as much as the next he truly was a bit of slob; the Lycia's bridge served as the penultimate testament to that fact. Strewn everywhere were candy wrappers, styrofoam cups filled with empty peanut husks, and all manner of domestic detritus he hadn't bothered to mop-up in the months since shipping-out. 'Speaking of which,' Davide's eyes canted upward to the clothesline strung from a hook on the rear wall of the bridge to a broken and upturned metal shutter across the interior of the bridge's wrap-around window, 'looks like my pants are finally dry.'

With a resounding series of pops ushered forth from his spine, Davide stood from his chair, giving an idle tug to the back of his drawers; another pop resounded, this time from his right knee - aching and swollen with arthritis. "Fuckin' hell," he cursed into the emptiness of the bridge, snatching the bottom of his safety orange-colored NAVOS uniform from the impromptu clothesline before righting himself against the drive console to begin the arduous process of righting them. Just as he managed to slide his right into its appropriate legging, having reached the conclusion Gagliardi was near dumbfounded - or, in the least, trying to impress purely by the possible, if unlikely, inference he might make regarding the length of his turn - the relay speaker from the bow barked-in with a static-filled utterance.

"Pawn to G4," Gagliardi's tone spoke of confidence, "See how y' like that; I know what you're thinkin'. Ain't going to get another one over on me - not an ounce."

Worn and aching, suddenly realizing the chess console never seemed so far away to his aching joints, Davide tried not to shake his head at the misplaced and unwarranted blustering in his cohort's voice. With an absent tug, he removed the clothesline, letting it fall to the floor as he made his way back to the console. With the faint squeal of the polyester cushion, he tried to elevate his legs once more, failing due to the grinding bite beneath his kneecap; defeated, in the least, by his own body, Davide leaned back again, depressing the small lever on the side of his seat. "How many times have I— Well, fuck," he bothered to press the transmission switch before continuing: "How many times is this, Gags? I mean, just since we've been out here."

Immediately the speaker responded, filling the bridge with a flat response: "Twenty-six."

"To zero," Davide responded in kind, releasing the switch just before he could be interrupted.

"Twenty-six games total," the helmsman gave in retort to the point of defensiveness.

"Yeah," Davide responded, "but I've won every single game. And, Gags, how many times have I warned you to actually think about the moves you make? If you're not going to think about how you play, we might as well not even both—"

The faint squelch from the speaker interrupted the Lycia's bridge captain: "Just move, you fuck'r. I don't want another lecture; I know how to play this fucking game by now. Get off my ass, old man."

'Old man.' He mulled the words over in his mind, chewing absently on the soft tissue inside his cheek. Davide had one daughter, a girl about the same age as Gagliardi, 'Twenty-seven this passed March.' A grandson had been the most recent confirmation of his age; sure, a bit more than thirteen months, but still a tell-tale sign. "I guess grandpa is old," he chuckled to himself in the silence of the bridge, "Maybe I can teach him chess instead."

The correct move, he knew; yet, staring at the projection of knights and soldiers and great, towering bishops, he really wondered if it might be best just to prolong the whole ordeal. 'Not like it's going to hurt my pride,' he murmured silently, 'What's he going to do: brag about winning one time?' Of course, Davide thought, Gags would likely completely dismiss the twenty-six losses in favor of a solitary victory; it was his nature, he knew. In the eight different routes they'd flown together, he'd gotten to know his helmsman rather well. Not exceptionally well, but enough to know he was recently married and he and his were expecting; little things, really, were the hallmark of Gagliardi's life. He worked as a "positioner" for the larger freighters, made his make, and spent it spoiling a babe-bloated spouse that worshiped the ground he walked on. 'Good life,' Davide thought, 'Reminds me of myself at his age.'

Just as he pressed the transmitter, the primary communication console lit-up, immediately followed by a hailing: "Unidentified freighter, this is Port Expedition traffic control. Please respond; we have your course plotted as indistinct along your current vector, need some info on our end."

"One minute, Gags," Davide announced to the positioning pit, "Goin' to switch open all comms." He smirked briefly, 'Eventually he'll learn.' As he began to stand, he pressed the switch: "Queen to H4. Twenty-seven."

As he reached the communication's console to activate Lycia's ship-wide communications network, he caught his helmsman's cursing; with a faint chuckle he depressed the small icon on the touch-screen before him, sending-out the appropriate information package and permissions suite in reply to Port Expedition's traffic control. A flip of the hail-switch opened direct voice communications, briefly muting the communications array in the bridge: "This is Davide Boriello, bridge captain of Lycia. TII-class Ultra Large Freight Carrier en route to Zindar in Jiwao-geosynch. NAVOS Freight and Cargo."

"Davide," Gagliardi blurted-in as the hail-switch fell into the "off" position, "Mind checking your 'jay-see' readouts? Getting an anomaly on my en—"

"Boriello, Davide; Lycia under NAVOS," Port Expedition's traffic control officer interrupted Lycia's internal communications, "Yep, got you en route to Zindar. Mind givin' us your HIN?"

"X4NA705," Davide pressed to hail once more, "That's 'X-ray,' 'four,' 'November,' 'Alfa,' 'seven,' 'zero,' 'five,' Port Expedition."

"Davide," once again Gagliardi intruded, "Give it a look, seriously; makin' me nervous enough bein' in this constellation."

"Yeah," he responded, "just give me a second; little busy at the moment." Even so, Davide took several steps from the communications console to flip open the core diagnostics. Briefly scanning them, he noted the aberration: "You talking about the yellow-singer? That's normal, given how long we've been out. Don't pay it any mind, you're just getting pre-position jitters."

"Thank you, Lycia," traffic control began, silencing any further discussion regarding the slight abnormality displayed across the vessel's jauntcore diagnostics, "What you boys got on that thing anyway?"

"Toiletries," Davide chuckled over the hail, "Toiletries for the Tetheri."

"That's one hell of a case of the runs," traffic control's reply was filled with a series of cackles, "You take it easy; be careful with that thing, she's got a wide ass. Carry on to Relay Number Six, you know where to go from there."

Before even the possibilities of truncation of systematic niceties, Gagliardi broke into the pause between Davide and the traffic crew, shouting, "Listen, look at the fucking screen!"

"For fuck's sake," Davide turned and flipped the screen again, "It's normal, I already told you..." As his eyes fell onto the small, digital simulacrum of a dial, he noticed the reason for Gag's concern. Immediately he checked to confirm the metrics were switched to the appropriate measure then, more out of habit than any other sense of expectation, he lightly tapped the edge of the screen. "I see it," he uttered flatly, "We're getting some high color capture, but its still within normal limits. Three thousand instances a picosecond. But again, it's—"

"It's still rising," was the statement that finished Davide's statement for him, echoing out into the bridge like a klaxon. Looking down, sure as it was, the dial continued to creep upward, closer and closer to the orange - a range of capture instances which was bifurcated by a single red line indicating the system's automatic, emergency shutoff point.

Davide stood, watching as the small, digital finger continued to slowly, but certainly, climb. As it passed the median of the yellow region, indicating over 4,750 color capture instances per picosecond, he flipped down the keyboard from beneath the screen. "I'm going to try a hard flush," he began to type, "then do a manual bootstrap, see if this is just a bug. Keep watch down there, she'll stay reading until I boot again." He didn't need to hear Gagliardi's compliance; instead, he quickly pressed the appropriate keys, causing the dial to flutter down slightly, indicating an inhibitor flush across the jauntcore's capture singularity, before the screen flashed black and began its boot cycle. Lines upon lines filled the screen for little more than three seconds before the NAVOS Freight and Cargo insignia appeared, spinning text over text in bright, hazard orange, before fading to the diagnostics screen.

"Don't know if it was a bug or not," the bridge captain issued, "but the inhibitor flush has got it dropping again. We'll just keep an eye on it and see how she—"

The bridge captain cursed as he suddenly felt the back of his skull impact solidly against the roof of the bridge cabin; for a moment, he was unsure what had occurred, his body swimming in a lethargic trance as his eyes blinked in involuntary spasm. 'The fuck was that?' his mind managed to collate as he fought for consciousness and sense; as he scrambled for the console to support himself, his eyes began to focus: the console was below him. As the realization filled his mind, he felt himself sliding forward, rolling over the internal architecture of the bridge before slamming into the metal shutters of the vessel's broad panes. "The fuck happened to art-grav?" he questioned, "Gagliardi, you all right down there? You have a-gravity?"

"N— No," the helmsman responded after a moment, "Had to cling onto pilotage just to keep from smackin' into the glass. I think we've stopped movin' though; is that normal?"

The sudden blare of the ship's alarms interrupted further recourse; jerking his head downward, Davide gripped the shutters and vaulted himself to the floor, managing to roll across the console in the process, spinning to bring the jauntcore's diagnostic readings into view. The screen devolved into static as the dial's finger reached the shutoff line, indicating 12,876.26 color capture instances per picosecond. He was almost pleased, expecting the core's emergency fail safe to shut the entire thing into capture inhibition; instead, his eyes were met with a sudden flash of digital flame beyond the plastic screen as his stomach vaulted in response to Lycia's inertial correction systems suddenly halting.

As he watched, the diagnostic screen - all of the screens - were consumed in a tapestry of scarlet and orange imagery; strange symbols emerged from the flames, dancing as they were licked and burned, obliterating white icons into lettering. It took him several moments, but Davide managed to capture in his sight the strange phrase just as it, too, began to dissolve: "Ahu Akadra'ilu Akan'qaarnaijk." Gaze transfixed, the bridge captain floated, mesmerized and silent, as the flames rapidly came to consume and obviate the strange language that danced before him; one by one, each letter was replaced with one in a tongue he understood. His mind leaped outward, grasping at each vowel and consonant as a new sentence, one in Galactic Standard, emblazoned itself into a circle around a small icon of a flame, transposed upon a screen black and void: "May Wildfire consume all impurity."

The screen before him suddenly flashed, sparks flowing forth from it and the whole of the bridge's consoles in a geyser of minute embers and the fragrance of dense ozone. Davide pushed himself back, fleeing the cascade even as specks of flaming debris found their mark upon his cheeks and arms, singing black tiny scraps of his flesh and attire. Even so, the pain seemed to jerk his thoughts back to their present circumstance. 'Have to get to the core,' his mind roared, 'Get to the standalone terminal; do a manual shutdown and flush.' Yet, even as the figments of thought filled his mind, his arms working to assail his path to the bridge's exit, the faint echo of rushing air began to assault his ears - the faint symphony of atmosphere being vented. 'No turning back now,' he commanded himself, forcing the bridge's hatch open with three furious pumps of its pneumatic override, 'Not going to let there be a second time.'

As he tugged himself along, floating free through the corridors and narrow stair-steps down to the jauntcore, the sound of rushing air continued to assault his senses. 'The emergency supplies should kick-in when we drop below fifteen percent,' he recalled, before immediately doubting his own knowledge: 'Assuming the fuckers haven't sabotaged those, too.' There was no time for doubt or self-pity - no matter how tempting; despite the circumstances, he was well aware of the worst case scenario were the core to go critical - were the instances of color capture to approach 26,000 per picosecond. He'd heard rumors of the forges responsible for the core's fuel going-up - rumors that he knew, of course, could never be true. 'No one would use this shit if it were true,' he assured himself; no one would use a fuel capable of such devastation in the instance of an accident. 'Of course,' he continued to himself, 'Adrena junkies dope theirs with anti-matter; so who the fucks knows?'

Rounding the last bend of the final corridor to the jauntcore chamber, Davide's heart sunk.

Pushing himself forward, he halted himself before reaching the door - the thin, red-hot ring around its edge evident even as the vacuum began to consume the interior of the freighter. 'Blast-welds,' he remarked, 'Sealed from the inside.' Of course, he knew what it meant; there were only so many ways for such to occur - only so many options and avenues. 'Last port of call for maintenance,' he recalled, brushing the thin wisps of salt-and-pepper from his brow, 'A little piece-of-shit corporate hold-out just that side of the Delta-Gamma line.' It had been required; it was a NAVOS hold-out - a new one, but a small one - in one of the frontier colonies. Despite the rumors about the Gamma Frontier, NAVOS, TransDelta, and have a hundred-dozen corporations were willing to risk it - willing to throw money at the frontier enclaves for a chance at the profits projected from the periphery sectors.

'Anything for the cash,' he thought, 'Anything for profit.'

Port Expedition Traffic Control
Port Expedition, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone
"Hey," the administrative supervisor announced, "isn't that one of yours?"

The Coordinator First Class took a look to the small blip on his screen his supervisor indicated, noting the flashing icon that succinctly indicated a full-stop; with a quick glance, he picked-out the hull identification number: "X4NA705." The vessel's HIN was marked under NAVOS Freight and Cargo's heading, its name known as "Lycia." Pausing, the coordinator ran the tip of his finger across the screen, pulling down a brief outline of the vessel and its recent actions in the system; immediately he noted his name attached to the bottom of the small dialogue as the last point of contact. "Yes, sir," he issued, double-tapping Lycia's icon, causing a zoomed-in view of the vessel to appear on the massive, projective screen high above, "I cleared her not fifteen minutes ago."

"Where's she set to make berth?" his supervisor asked tersely, leaning over the coordinator's shoulder.

"Says 'Zindar' station," he gave in reply, "Enclave under the proprietorship of the Grand Republic of Tetheran, according to the books."

"Is— Is she venting atmosphere?" one of the coordinator's fellow traffic control officers suddenly queried, drawing his eyes upward to the screen. Small plumes, white as ice, seemed to be streaming-out from various points across the massive freighter's bulk, giving the appears of a bloated comet too massive for its own tail.

"Did she send out a mayday?" the supervisor queried openly.

Standing, the coordinator canted his head back, taking a wide step in the same breath, looking upward to the massive screen. While the distance and natural aberrations of the vacuum caused disruption and artifacts by resolution, the atmospheric venting was quite obvious. 'What else could it be?' he questioned himself. Around him, he noted several officers free of duty or traffic had shifted their gaze to the screen - watching and attentive. "No," he responded to his supervisor's question at last, "No mayday or emergency signal of any kind." Even without such, the coordinator knew - as well as his supervisor - the appropriate course of action; already his superior officer was dialing the Security Division requesting emergency response to a ship named "Lycia" which, now, sat still, venting atmosphere in the middle of the Port Expedition trade station constellation.

After several minutes, his supervisor finally called-out over the stillness of the traffic control center: "Security Division are scrambling assistance, but they're holding back for a few minutes due to the recent elevated secur—"

The traffic control center suddenly became brilliant, white, and illuminated by the screen high above that sat focused on Lycia; the screen projected white nothingness - a nothingness which remained for what, the coordinator believed, was the longest six seconds in his lifetime. Even so, as the illumination began to fade, the disastrous calamity made itself clear. Situated where once sat the NAVOS Ultra Large Freight Carrier was an ever-expanding halo of blue-white ferocity, at the center of which sat a broiling froth of a bauble - toiling and turning in the vacuum.

"We've got debris inbound!" shouted a nearby coordinator.

"Where's it headed?" the traffic control supervisor barked, rushing to the telemetry console, nearly flinging the young officer from his seat only to answer his own query. "The shit has hit the fan," the supervisor announced, "Most of its small - few meters at most - but the blast is still going to shake something fierce. Send out an immediate alarm and get me the Administrative Council liaison on the line, now!"

As the center suddenly became alive, the coordinator continued to stare up at the screen, watching as the thin ring of brilliance slowly expanded, stretching and deforming under the weight of stellar winds and minute, vacuum perturbations. The small sphere of turmoil at its heart - once churning and writhing - had diminished considerably, now little more than a pin-prick of light amongst a sea of stars. He barely stirred when the alarms began to sound across the center, only taking absent notice as his supervisor began barking to the Council liaison to get word out to the constellation - particular ports nearby - to brace for the quaking and possible debris. He found himself unable to look away; unable to escape the fascination at the epicenter of the destruction.

It took his supervisor's sudden slap to bring him to attention. "Listen," the superior announced, "The Council liaison wants you to meet him down in the lobby; they're going to want to know everything you know about that ship. Get a dataslip of all traffic you've cleared today and report to the liaison."

The coordinator nodded briskly and repeatedly, at last forcing his supervisor to release him. Even as he stepped to his console and queued-up his clearance reports, he watched the epicenter projected high above. To the tune of the traffic control center, he watched a second ember fall on Liu Xiu.

Written by Kyrusia.
Last edited by Serukta Sehkrisaal on Wed Jun 03, 2015 2:31 am, edited 5 times in total.
All that would be was but Endless Flame.

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Civil Rights Lovefest

Towers Amongst The Tombstones: The Chronicles of Auracexia

Postby Auracexia » Thu Jun 04, 2015 3:18 am

[ Mature ]


"Going to Hell isn't so bad when you have already been there... sometimes the trip is worth the effort, the chance to indulge in the company of others like yourself…

The war had seemed endless... the dying... if they weren't buried or being buried, they were filling the cities… their homes becoming their mausoleums. The war... It wasn't the fighting. It wasn't going from outpost to outpost, or from planet to planet for that matter. We were fighting for our own survival, against something that seen our presence in this part of the universe as some kind of a contaminant, as if the very presence of our lives was that of a virus... and they were the cure. It all seems so poetic, that when the last Z’Surani planet fell, and their ability to wage war lay in irreparable ruins, the Z’Surani even in complete defeat were able to strike back at us one last time.

By the time the Lyr’Davni — The Antecessors of modern day Aoraqet’yari discovered what had befallen them, it was far too late. ‘We all began as something else’, I have heard someone say once upon a time, and it rings true for all of us Aoraqet’yari. Their civilization espoused peace, goodwill and tranquility… possessing abundant wealth in resources, both natural and economic; as a nation of merchants unaccustomed to war or conflict, it was only a matter of time before the Lyr’Davni would be targeted for no other reason than that of someone else wanted what belonged to them, and use any means to obtain it – even if that meant by brute force.

And so it came to pass, that the scourge of war finally reared its gruesome head, and made its heavy fall upon the doorstep of the Stellar Dominion of the Lyr’Davni… By the time the Z’Surani reached the home worlds, countless planets among the Dominion had already been fighting some of the most massive battles ever documented in Lyr’Davni history, and yet other worlds of the Dominion had already fallen... Akin to a tidal wave of onslaught, the Z’Surani swept across the periphery of the Dominion, laying waste to every Lyr’Davni world they came across with their destination clear: Lyr’Davni Major.

The Z’Surani —not akin to accepting the surrender of those who knew they were outnumbered, overwhelmed and surely defeated in hopes of furthering their chances of survival— mercilessly killed those who were too weary to continue fighting, those who wouldn’t or couldn’t fight; be they young or injured. When the Z’Surani finally made landfall the impetus had finally arrived; The Dominion needed to endure the evolution from a civilization of simple traders to that of a battle-hardened nation… an empire. Not for a need for grandeur, not for a need for fortune, nor for a need to expand their influence throughout the stars beyond the periphery of their own worlds… but simply for survival… and thus the warrior caste of the Lyr’Davni were born…

The war… lasted nearly eight grueling years, eight grueling years of intense planet to planet warfare… pushing those motherfuckers back from the depths of whichever darkest corners of The Vast they emerged from. The earliest warships at their disposal were nothing more than heavily retrofitted merchant vessels; heavily armored, heavily armed, built to dispense unmitigated death, doom and absolute destruction upon these ugly scale-skinned sons of bitches… with very successful results. As success reports came in regarding the overwhelming successes of their innovations, The Dominion began to apply these innovations in immensity to build vessels which were newer, faster, more heavily armored and armed to the teeth… what greeted the Z’Surani were some of the most fearsome warships to return the favor on the Z’Surani for the atrocities they’d committed against them on the planets that were far-flung from the home worlds. After engaging in a well concerted war of attrition against the very same hordes that only eight years earlier, had wreaked unimaginable destruction upon them the Z’Surani finally found themselves in retreat… with the Lyr’Davni quickly closing the gap behind them until finally a desperate last stand was made during the Battle Over Iz’suran E’kva. Quickly overcoming the battered chaotic remnants of the Z’Surani fleet, the battle became a slaughter with the enemy being unable to do more than inflict what had mostly amounted to superficial damage to the Dominion warships…

‘My thoughts went to those poor bastards… on Iz’suran E’kva; having to watch from below, as their only hope of survival was systematically being rendered powerless or completely shattered above them… but then I remembered how they had absolutely no compassion, when they killed our people wholesale on their way to our home… now they had a taste of what it felt like being on the receiving end… revenge… justified punishment.’ Finally the hour came, when their defeat was all but certain seeking a means of ending the war via diplomacy, an offer was made for a ceasefire… and was resolutely rejected.

So the fighting continued on into their very cities, until at last the capital was all that was left… and haste was made to capture the city…

All of those poets… on all of those worlds; the ones who spoke of battle being such an unsightly thing? They never stood here.

After eight years of all-out destruction across countless star systems, it had finally come down to this… victory was at hand, and with it would be a return to normalcy, a return to peace… a return home. As the advance into their capital was being made… the Z’Surani, maybe seeing the writing on the wall… or maybe pulling one last ace from their sleeves to save themselves from certain destruction… who knows. All we know is that those scaly bastards unleashed something, some kind of biological agent, for those who had made the advance into the capital it seemed to have no effect, much to the dismay of the Z’Surani… not knowing if their weapon had worked or not, they didn’t take any chances and desperately attempted to fight back, each Z’Surani who fought falling before the waves of Dominion soldiers as they stormed the city, enacting their righteous retribution. Let it be said for the sake of history that an attempt to procure a ceasefire was made, let it be known that they, the Z’Surani —who had initially attacked us first— declined an offer that would have been more advantageous to them. Even though we were negotiating from a position of strength and were offering them a path to peace, our offer was still flatly rejected. Their immortal last words were that they ‘would fight [us] to the last ‘Z’Surani soldier’. Being that we were still in a state of war with them, we decided to have them keep their word. It took all of another two months to render the Z’Surani species extinct following that offer.

The war... the war was by far the easiest part. After we'd made the transition from merchants to warriors, the rest was easy. The dying... the worst was watching what had been brought back to our worlds as it began slowly killing everyone around us. The worst was the infertility… watching those around us dying, and our technology being wholly ineffective against it all.

Leaving Iz’suran Ek’va and their former capital city a smashed and smoking ruin, no one could have known about the virus that was coursing through their veins, none could have known the horror they were bringing back home with them. Within the first year of the end of the Lyr’Davni-Z’Surani War (equiv. to the year 21,209 BCE) all of those who’d fought in the war and had returned home had started to show signs that there was something wrong. The males had become sterile… all of them, the virus lay dormant in the women, and only seemed to effect all males, it didn’t matter if they were still in the womb, they were still affected —this virus was a very tricky bastard, started off as an airborne agent, and from there somehow became blood-borne... and from there became transmissible by skin contact. From there the virus exploded across the Lyr’Davni worlds… and within a year, the population across the Dominion began a sharp decline— It took five millennia, and even then there was no way to cure the virus outright with any form of medical treatment, and with the ones who’d made this godforsaken curse having been rendered extinct, there was no possibility of ever discovering if there was an anti-virus or a means to create one…

After five millennia of steep population decline, less than two-percent of the population remained from the census taken shortly after the war ended… we did not have time to wait, something was needed — if a cure couldn’t be found, another alternative must be found, all avenues explored regardless of the costs, if we were to survive as a species… something had to be done. No expense was spared, nothing was considered off limits, we delved into the regions of science that wasn’t meant for those pure of heart or conscience. Everything was on the table, and the only avenue that showed any promise was genetics —specifically genetic engineering, genetic hybridization and exobiology. Eventually, through trial and error Dominion scientists were able to achieve a perfect genetic composition by which it was determined had the capacity to breed… the shock came after the news of success, that this new race would effectively spell the end of the Lyr’Davni and their eons long Dominion… abhorred by the prospect, reluctantly gave in, realizing it would be better that this new species would be able to, if at least minimally carry on as the spiritual successors of the Lyr’Davni. Requiring every eligible female left in the Dominion to undertake the new breeding program, initially began through the means of in-vitro fertilization, the program was considered a resounding success as every last one had become successfully pregnant with child. It was at this time Lyr’Davni historians had begun writing the epilogue of their civilization. This is how the Aoraqet’yari civilization was born.

After five millennia of zero births throughout the Lyr’Davni worlds, the women of the Dominion, pleased that new life had been brought into their star system were brought to the realization that their children were of an entirely new species, while humanoid these children displayed traits that were uncharacteristic of the Lyr’Davni race. Vibrant hair and eye colour, a naturally medium-tan to olive skin complexion and an increasingly exponential development in intelligence. Among other readily discernible characteristics, every last child was born female, and all of them with a set of retractable tactile organs (tentacles) between their shoulder blades, the most identifiable trait being that of a retractable tactile organ near their genitalia.

Initially abhorred under the belief that the presence of this second organ was a birth defect; most women kept quiet regarding the subject. Only after the reassurance from the scientific community that the presence of this second organ was intentional, were the women of Lyr’Davni able to put their minds at ease. After the initial shock regarding the physiology of their newborn children, the women continued to have more children finally proud that extinction had been avoided and the core world had begun to experience positive population growth.

Those poor souls… seeing the writing on the wall… knowing they had little time left, those in the Dominion government realized that after they were gone, a child of the Aoraqet’yari would be the ones leading the people and not them, and taking the eldest of them began to educate them upon the philosophies of political doctrine, diplomacy and military strategy as they grew to become very intelligent women, as well as adept politicians, strategists and diplomats of uncanny versatility. Of all of these women, only one of them possessed the qualities the Dominion government considered necessary to become the new leader of the Lyr’Davni Dominion.

It took a while… the years just seemed to drag, but of those poor Lyr’Davni women who were left to call themselves the nucleus of the Dominion’s remaining government died, the eldest Aoraqet’yari woman selected set to work in assembling a new government… from the most respected and commanding of the other eldest women, who’d already began to create dynasties of their own… their race had no name. The only history they had — had been that of their antecessors.

There was nothing to define them, nothing but how they were created. They weren’t completely human, they knew this… but they knew they were something completely different as well… they had seen the looks of the remaining Lyr’Davni as they crossed paths, the look of loathing, jealousy, regret… why become burdened with a name and history that ended in so much tragedy… to carry not just the weight of an entire race, but bearing their name was too much. The Dévnostraéva made the decision, it was time to start over, wipe the slate clean and start anew… even if that meant having to reset the fucking clock to zero. The Era of the Lyr’Davni was to come to an end — when the last day of their era fell, they had a name for themselves — ‘Of the Ascendant Dawn’ — or simply, the Aoraqet’yari.

In resetting the clock to zero, to mark the beginning of their new era, a new calendar was devised. On 1 Athyr-met, during the 1st year of the 1st Era of the Advent of the Aoraqet’yari (equiv. to March 15, 16,190 BCE) the government had been finalized, and with it the position of Dévnostraéva (Prime Archon) was created and X’ter’yana Navras Del'ya Ravyn'na-A'stra'eva, the eldest of those of us who were created became proclaimed as the Dévnostraéva of the Sovereign Hegemony of Aoraqet’ya (Auracexia).

'We all began as something else', I have heard someone say once upon a time… Our civilization was borne from the extinction of the Lyr’Davni — The Antecessors of the Aoraqet’yari."
— Anonymous Aoraqet'yari scribe
Last edited by Auracexia on Fri Jun 19, 2015 10:53 pm, edited 7 times in total.
[ Xeteriana Ravyn'na-A'stra'eva | Auracexia | Auracexians ]
[ The Auracexian Compendium [Maintenance|FT|Closed] ]
FutureTech RolePlayer | A.S.H.A. Factbook
also known as Sovereign California also known as Stryke
Prime Archon (Dévnostraéva) of the Sovereign Hegemony of Auracexia, Grand Dame Séterrhÿana Navrãs Delÿa Ravÿnna-Asträeva.

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Posts: 24
Founded: May 30, 2015

Starlight Lost

Postby Perditan » Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:31 pm

Starlight Lost

[ Mature ]
Contains violence, depictions of death

It was a peaceful spring day when they first arrived. A single ship came down from the sky, sleek and black, crashing into farmland on the East Continent. It obviously hadn't meant to land on a planet that had barely managed to harvest its fruit.

That was all that was told to the pupils of Perditan, because that's all that was known. Mixed stories of seeing the crash site and seeing another ship survived in handwritten diaries, but with no confirmation. The Perditanian mind was not prone to memory bias, but it was hard to remember what had never occurred. The crashed ship had arrived, and just as quickly vanished, from the remote areas of the East Continent. The most accepted theory was that its mother ship had come to the rescue when no one was looking.

The mystery of the disappearance, however, had been lost to the bigger mystery of the entire incident. The Perditanian civilization, still just a pre-industrial, factional group of nations, had found a truth that took most other civilizations far longer to discover.

Space wasn't empty.

The whole incident had started a massive race to discover more about the stars around them -- science, literature, and imaginations were all stimulated. It became a part of their character to know more.

The first major bit had come about one hundred years ago -- three hundred years after the crash of the mysterious ship -- when communications were intercepted coming from a planet in their star system.

The visitor wasn't so alien after all. They were neighbours.

Naturally, telescopes and sensing equipment tried to catch more -- but save for the radio messages, nothing else could be found.

One hundred years later, they finally had that opportunity. Not only had they arrived in space, they had outposts on other planets and a fleet of ships to support them. They might just have advanced enough to greet this mysterious race as fellow space explorers, if not equals.

Eleven years ago, Aboard the PSS Telemachus

Lieutenant Provost Reis was awoken from her sleep by the buzzing noise of the communication system.

"Yes?" she answered, pressing the receiver.

"Lieutenant Provost, this is Ensign Varik. We've received a signal in command that might interest you."

She jumped, surprised.

"I'll be right there, Ensign."

She hurriedly reached at the bottom of the upright sleep module and loosened the straps that held her in place while she slept. When they were undone, she floated upwards. It was always a refreshing reminder of where one was, when the zero gravity of space defied your every natural instinct. Ten years of service for the Peace Forces had not made it any less unusual. Only familiar. She hurriedly put on her black and grey uniform.

She was onboard the spaceship Telemachus. Surrounded by two other exploration cruisers of similar size, it was on a diplomatic mission to make first contact with this new race. She'd anticipated news at some point, but considering they'd lost visual contact with Perditan A just a day ago, this was extremely unexpected.

The superior officer then reached for the force bar by the small door into her quarters. When she was near it, it automatically opened. A handy relief from the odd forces of being in space. She entered the passageway, where other crewmembers were also floating, some carrying various articles of equipment. The passageways were essentially atriums running vertically and horizontally across the ship, providing space to move around.

To be honest, getting around probably looked a little bit silly for a military officer -- she looked like she was swimming, not reporting to command. Still, her subordinates inclined their heads in respect as she passed.

She entered the central command area, and instantly the Ensign -- a young male with black hair -- looked up from the monitor and floated to her.

"We've been tracking the signal, Provost. We've analyzed it, and it seems to be from several spacecraft. Based on the amount of thermal output and the velocity, it's inhabited and it should be meeting us in about five hours."

"Five hours? How far away is it?"

"About a week's journey for us. 600,000 kilometres."

"...In five hours? Impossible..."

"We believe, Provost, this is the species we want to make contact with."

She turned to the Ensign. "Evidence? We need to be certain."

"Only an inference. No other craft would have any reason to be here, and to be operating at such high speeds, they must have technology far beyond our own. It fits the profile."

Seis nodded at the Ensign. "That will have to suffice for now. I'll get the High Provost. She should be ready to make contact."

The Ensign looked unnerved. The Lieutenant Provost could certainly understand why -- the High Provost was not only the head of state for Perditan, she was also unknown to most people. Her office benefited from a natural separation from the public. As an inherited office, it gave her actions a sense of power. Certainly, her rare decision to leave Perditan A on such an excursion was a testament to just how significant it was.

Seis again found herself walking down the wide passageway of the ship. The High Provost was in an empty personal quarters located near the back of the ship -- it would require some time to reach it, particularly while in zero gravity. She certainly didn't want to disturb her chief executive without reason, but she was confident it was the proper time.

After several minutes and almost losing her way (she was fairly new at this, of course), she finally found the doors to the High Provost's quarters. She found the button to request entrance. After a moment, the doors opened.

The High Provost was an elderly woman, but she seemed anything but frail. Her long grey hair was held in place by a metallic band, though it fanned out in the odd environment. Far from making her look ridiculous, it gave her an even more intense look.

"Yes, Lieutenant? What is the news you bring?"

"Your Excellency, We have contact from an approaching ship we believe to be the proper species. It will arrive in five hours."

The High Provost's eyebrows raised. "Very well. I shall accompany you to the command, if you will help me, Lieutenant."

The Lieutenant Provost couldn't help but be amused. The High Provost wasn't the only relative newcomer to space.

When they all arrived at the command center of the ship and preparations had been made, there was little over an hour before contact would be made. The ships seemed to slowly be accelerating towards them, throwing off their predictions.

"Are we streaming this back to Perditan A?" Seris asked.

"Yes, Provost. There should only be a five minute delay in what Perditan A receives."

"Very well. When they arrive, Your Excellency, you can..."

"Provost, a massive energy discharge is occurring where the craft are. It's accelerating towards us rapidly. I believe it to be some sort of massive acceleration."

Seris rushed over to the monitor. "How long before they arrive now?"

The Ensign simply looked at the screen now displaying the view outside of the small greeting fleet. In the distance, Seris could clearly see a sleek, black ship approaching.

"Now, Provost."

"Send this on all radio frequencies in the area. Also, include a translation into binary. I doubt they speak our language, but contact is best right now."

Seris took the small communications microphone and placed it near her mouth. After preparing herself, she began to speak:

"Greetings, this is the Perditan ship Telemachus. We come from the planet one orbit closer to the star in this system. We intend peace and goodwill. Will you agree to make diplomatic contact?"

It took only a few more seconds to send the translation in binary. Hopefully, if they understood nothing of the message, they at least understood the intent.

However, the radio was silent for several minutes. No response.

"Please allow me to try," the High Provost said, gesturing for the microphone. Seris handed it dutifully.

"I am the High Provost of the civilization who owns this craft. I am their leader. We wish to talk peacefully and make first contact, if you will agree. Can you respond?"

The High Provost spoke soothingly. Seris was amazed at how tone could be used as a sort of language beyond words. She supposed it was the best skill of any diplomat or political figure.

After several more minutes, a sound was heard over the radio. Strung together, it was definite conversation -- a response! However, there seemed to be no way to translate what was being said.

"Did you record that?" Seris asked, and the Ensign in charge of communications nodded. "Send a file copy to Perditan A. Maybe they can translate it even if we can't."

"Is there any way to send a visual message? It may aid communication," the High Provost asked, moving closer to the group.

"...Yes, Your Excellency." The Ensign ducked below the communications console and picked up a small camera. He attached it to the console before turning it on.

"It is working again, Your Excellency, if you would like to send a message." As she spoke, Seris seemed more nerved than anything.

However, the High Provost stood calmly in front of it and spoke.

"I am the High Provost again. We cannot translate your last message. Please standby. Please also know that we are grate..."

Seris couldn't control herself. She screamed in fright. Several more joined her, rushing over to the console to help, only to find no help to give.

The microphone was floating in space, just above the spot where the High Provost had vanished without any warning.

"Find her, now!" Seris ordered, and the command quickly tried to locate any sign of where she might be.

Seris also grabbed the microphone, which was still transmitting. She shut off the camera, and simply spoke to the unknown ship:

"We have lost the High Provost. Do you have any information? If you have her now, please return her. We intend only peace. This is not a proper way to conduct diploma...."

The slight panic in her voice was overshadowed by the loud, electric noise that filled the speakers. The entire console vibrated at an unbelievable rate, until sparks flew. The entire console had been disabled!

"What was that?"

"Some sort of transmission. We can't be sure, but I infer our neighbours do not intend to be peaceful."

Seris thought for a moment. This was clearly the time for some sort of strategy, but she had few options. The cruisers were completely unprepared for extraction or -- and this was particularly unthinkable in her mind -- combat.

"Have you found the High Provost yet?"

"Negative, Provost."

She looked around the room. "Inform the other ships what has happened. Send a message back to Perditan A. We should wait for more developments. I doubt they intended to harm her or cause any conflict. I believe...and this is truly a belief...that this is some sort of misunderstanding in protocol. Please include that interpretation in the report."

Ensign Varick nodded and set about completing her orders.

Just then, however, another officer in the room stood.

"Provost, something is out there now!"

"Show me."

Seris looked up at the screen, and saw something even more frightening than before. It was something that should rightfully have horrified any Perditanian.

The High Provost, unprotected and fraying in alarm, was adrift in space -- floating away from the unknown ship.

Seris reacted instantly. "Get the left escort ship over to her, now! Have them open their airlock, she can float inside!"

She gritted her teeth as she watched her superior struggle in futility. Don't struggle! -- she thought to herself -- It'll only make you lose oxygen faster!

However, she knew her thoughts were pointless.

"Provost! I have the signal of some sort of oblong object...It's being propelled by a rocket, though I don't know..."

"A mass driver!?" Seris was incensed. "Warn the left ship!"

"It's not headed for the left ship...I don't see...Oh, no..."

Seris looked at the screen and could see what the officer had not been wanting to say. In the command center, shocked silence didn't even allow them the time to alert themselves to the fact that the mass driver was now heading towards them, it's rocket again igniting.

Far too late, Seris shouted, "Cover!" But the impact vibrated the ship horrifically. The shouts of the officers rang through the room as the depressurisation alarm sounded.

"Breach, level five! Crews trying to seal the section."

That wasn't a bloody mass driver, Seris thought to herself, that was a torpedo!

"Does the left ship have the High Provost?"

"No, Provost. The ship is not signaling."

"Provost! Left and right ships, both struck by torpedoes! They've been... disabled!"

Seris looked around at her officers. "Get us out of here, now!"

"But...the High Provost!"

"We can't save her. We have to retreat as far as we can."

As she finished her sentence, another severe jolt shuddered the ship.

"Provost, another torpedo -- it detonated just behind our engines!"


"Only thrusters available."

"Full reverse, now!"

"...Another incoming! Damage estimates critical..."

Seris was lost without options. She felt near the back wall for the emergency strap and held tightly.

"Give the order to abandon ship. Get as many people of as possible into the escape pods." Yet another cringing jolt was sent through the ship, and the hull protested with a massive groan. Not designed for the stress of torpedoes and depressurisation, Seris knew that the ship would not last for very much longer, even if they avoided torpedo hits.

"Affirmative! Order sent."

"Evacuate the command center. Help everyone to the pods!"

Seris ran out with the other officers. An alarm was sounding in the passageway, and the uniformed crew -- some injured -- were scrambling to get to the escape pods.

Before she had any indication of what happened, every sound ceased. For a split second, a blinding light surrounded her, as if the passageway was being illuminated by a star. But when she looked down, she didn't see the passageway, but the exterior of the badly damaged Telemachus. She tried to inhale, but found no air to breathe. She was floating away into the stars, and nothing could stop her.

As she faded into unconsciousness, she saw the sleek, black ship looming over the remains of the fleet. Her mind flooded with confusion, she reached out for the ship, as if to grab it. However, her lack of coordination caused her to spin around.

We wanted...peace, she thought. She tried to straighten herself, but her body wouldn't respond. Space was closing in on her, and there was nothing she or anyone in Perditan could do about it.

She fell unconscious and wouldn't move again.
Last edited by Perditan on Sat Jun 06, 2015 3:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Serukta Sehkrisaal
Posts: 99
Founded: Nov 04, 2013

Postby Serukta Sehkrisaal » Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:48 pm

A Wildfire Chronicles Installment
[ Future Technology ]

"The cardinal doctrine of a fanatic's creed is that his enemies are the enemies of God." — Andrew Dickson White

Lowlands District, Piraeus City
Jiwao, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone
Piraeus City - to the inclusion of the sum totality of its ever-expanding metropolitan area - was known for being the administrative capital of Jiwao and one of the most important concentrations of population settlement in the system, the seemingly pristine sterility of its urban sprawl, and the eternally oppressive symphony of its nigh-persistent storms which rose to life early in the evening, and seemed to stretch like great waves well into the short hours of the next day - thunderheads for an alarm to rise at dawn.

As the Firebrand took his turn at 142nd and Ru Fengtu Avenue, the stretch of road which lead - sometimes perilously - into the public housing sectors of the Lowlands District, he agreed with at least two of the presumptions that the Galaxy seemed to make of the place. He didn't bother to avoid the puddles which seemed to pervade the increasingly narrow sidewalks, though he did assure his path did not flow into the growing river of muddied, filth-ridden precipitation that always seemed to run like a torrid onslaught in representation of the dichotomy between the highlands and the lowlands of the "City of Shimmering Spires." Carefully, he avoided placing pressure on his left foot, carrying himself with a limp as he passed the rapidly decreasing hordes of natives around him; some were wearing work attire, others sported umbrellas against the torrential downpour, yet as he walked, more and more took on an appearance not dissimilar to his own: tired and run-ragged folk dressed in little more than artificial polymer coats and hole-ridden, stained pants. For a moment, he was thankful for the hood of his synthwool greatcoat - to the addition of the warmth it provided against the blackness of the early morning.

Raising his eyes, weary and gray even in the dim lighting of the streetlamps above, he eyed the narrow checkpoint at the base of the hill that announced the termination of Ru Fengtu and the birth of streets and alleys that were named either solely for alphanumerics, or increasingly foreign-sounding persons of note or geographic features that dated from the initial settlement of Jiwao by the Phanites. The redoubt was lined with concrete barricades some four meters in height, lined with concertina wire and a single beam of the "pain-stroke" prohibition bar, blocking much of the view of the Lowlands District even at the Firebrand's present gait, but - and more importantly - much of the view of the Highlands District from those who dwelt beyond that line; he spied five, six, eight officers of the Security Division, supported by four members of the Piraeus City Civil Protection Service. 'A total of twelve,' he thought absently, his features remaining stoic even from the count.

Crossing 143rd Street as he attempted to navigate the precarious streams of frothing detritus that poured from the walls and fed into the street, staining the ivory facades a permanent stripe-pattern of gray, a bicycle trolley-cart advertising "hot pretzels and beverages" passed behind him, coating the backs of his greatcoat and pants' legs with the filth. He didn't pay the man on the cart mind, nor did he respond to the slurred shouting of ethnic epithets that the pretzel seller gave to his sight. The Firebrand was too busy, watching and entranced, as he approached the checkpoint; a neon sign hung to the side of a single, head-height, caged turnstile declaring, "Civil Protection Service, Checkpoint No. 46, Lowlands District"; beneath it, a digital scrawl flashed, reminding those queued below of the requirement to present papers at all Civil Protective Service barricades following the passage of 8:00PM Local Time. A brief glance to his wrist gave the Firebrand a flash: 3:06AM Local Time.

'They'll wait,' he mused inwardly, turning from the darkness of the narrowing street into the line through Checkpoint Number 46. He kept his head low, though his eyes canted to the right as he saw a man being pulled out of the line: an elderly, senior figure wearing a drenched, olive green coat and khaki pants with a stained, forest green shirt to match.

"Georji, Georji, Georji," the man repeated as two Civil Protection Service officers pulled him aside. "I am Georji," he reaffirmed despite a resounding shake given by the brutish figure adorned with the helm and insignia of the Piraeus City CPS.

"We know your name is 'Georji,'" the officer intoned, "but y' don't have any papers sayin' that. So shut the fuck up about it already." The other CPS officer remained silent, merely assisting his cohort.

"Georji!" the man abruptly screamed, fighting to wrench himself from the officers' hands in pleading desperation. "I am Georji! I am Lowlands!" he continued struggling, at last breaking free from the pair, bolting his way through the line and toward the crowded edifice of the turnstile. As he knocked aside a sallow-faced woman, babe at her bosom, the black wall of a Security Division officer halted the man named "Georji" in his tracks through a liberal application of a stun-stick to his lower abdomen. Georji doubled-over immediately, wailing his name with renewed fervor despite the electrical charge coursing through his hide. "GE-OR-JEE!" he screamed as the Security Division officer pressed the stun-stick beneath his chin and discharged; "GE-GE-GE—" he gave in slurring staccato before, at last, falling limp at the assembled officers' boots.

Thunder cracked between the narrow passage above, deafening the Firebrand to the words the three security officials exchanged as they stood over the man, the crowd of passersby held awestruck around them; even so, he managed to read the Security Division sentinel's lips mouthing, "Fuckin' Phanislavs." The three reached down, grabbing Georji by the collar of his coat before dragging him off to a nearby alley; a bolt from above illuminated a CPS detention wagon waiting to, no doubt, carry the man off to the nearest detention precinct - after, perhaps, a brand of extra-judicial punitive play.

"Next," the checkpoint's speakers blared, causing him to step forward absently as his eyes returned to the increasingly rising flood waters below. The barricade slowed much of the rainwater from continuing to flow, even despite the drilled and bore passages at the base - ones no-doubt clogged to the point of irrelevancy - causing much of the water to pool at its base, flowing strictly through the narrow passage of the caged turnstile. "Next," the speakers intoned once more; yet again, the Firebrand and the assembled stepped forward to within a handful of meters from the turnstile. Looking aside, he saw the light flapping of thick cardstock in the rushing waters toward one of the bored drains at the base of the barricade; inspecting it, he saw the document: a red-bound booklet bearing the insignia of the Liu Xiu Department of Nationals and Denizens, with the next page scrawled in hand-written ink, a small square of an equally scribbled sketch matching the features of the man named "Georji" floating absently beside it.

"Next," the speaker's gave again as the Firebrand passed into the shallow overhang of the turnstile. The space was cramped, giving just enough room to move forward or back, with a bit of wiggle as to pass documents through a slim, horizontal slit to the left, an evident camera glinting above it; to the right, four inlaid sensor arrays held behind thick plexiglass were visible, but beyond reach. "Give 'em over," the voice from the slit announced; the Firebrand pushed his red-bound, embossed booklet through the slit without a word of acquiescence. "Hui Tantian," the voice gave once again, "Phanite native; says your address is Habitation Block Six, Floor Eighty-Eight, Room 886 in Dao Fangna Sector, public housing. Is this correct?"

The Firebrand simply nodded toward the camera, his hood still low over his features.

"I said," the voice gave again, "is this correct?" The voice's tone was curt, an undercurrent of disdain just beneath the surface of its baritone.

Once more, the Firebrand nodded. Even so, suddenly, a forceful tug jerked at the back of his greatcoat, pulling him aside and causing him to fall against the sensor wall. "The officer asked you," the returning Security Division brute gruffly shouted, tugging down the Firebrand's hood, "'Is that fucking cor—' Oh, dear fucking God!" As the hood across his features fell, the Security Division officer was met with a scarred, pock-marked visage of an elderly, Phanite man, perhaps in his late sixties; his lips were cracked and raw, with scabs lining the truncation at either end. A boil nearly a centimeter in diameter quivered just below his right nostril, with a faint line of pus extending down to his chin. "Fucking Christ! This Phanink is fuckin' disgusting!" the officer shouted; even so, the Firebrand waved his hands in an emphatic display to the contrary, tapping his lips then crossing his neck repeatedly. He repeated the motions numerous times.

"Oh," the voice from within the checkpoint gave once more, "His papers say he's mute."

The Security Division officer gave pause before lifting the Firebrand to his feet by the hem of his greatcoat. "Is your address correct?" he gave in a quieter, but no less aggressive tone. The man whose face was a monstrous scrawl nodded in the affirmative repeatedly, finally causing the officer to relinquish his grip and shove him back toward the turnstile. "Take your papers and get the fuck out of 'ere, Phanink fuck," the officer blurted, grabbing the Firebrand's papers from the slot and tossing them at him; he caught them, but fumbled, narrowly keeping them from becoming one with the river below before he turned, limping, and passed through the creaking turnstile.

"Phanite Town," Lowlands District
Piraeus City, Jiwao, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone
Even in the worst of slums in Piraeus City, the white - mottled and stained as it was - of the city was imposing. Stepping beneath the towering, red and gold-emblazoned architecture of the archway that marked the beginning of "Phanite Town" at the head of Yin Qiang Street, the Firebrand stepped into the city-within-a-city and became engulfed by the glittering, neon scrawl that lined the habitation blocks and run-down commercial fronts of the Qiang Sector. The street was packed and crowded, bustling with men and women much like himself - Phanite - in attire ranging from the traditional, albeit covered in clear raincoats, to young hoodlums walking bare-sleeved through the rain, their hair made in a variety of shapes, styles, and colors. As he made his way, few - if any - of the local bustle paid him much mind; just another old man.

It wasn't until he turned off to CC19 Street that the crowds began to dwindle, replaced instead by women of poor rapport and their clientele haggling and indulging. The Firebrand did his best to step between, around, and in several cases, over them, but as he walked, the street continued its decreasing width until, at last, one of the licentious managed to impact his gait. Immediately the young woman, her eyes red and raw from Grime smoking, her flesh a dull pale made even more pallid beneath the dull glow of the neon lights and in stark contrast to the rubber, fuchsia tube-top and matching micro-skirt that did only marginally more than the fishnet sleeve she wore from ankle-to-neck to hide her wares, jerked and turned. "Zhùyì!" the woman shouted, recoiling back from the Firebrand as he turned and exposed his features; somehow, what color had been plastered by paint and make-up to her cheeks seemed to drain before she quickly availed herself as to escape his presence.

He watched as she made the same attempts at avoiding the mess he had, merely in reverse; as she managed to, in turn, get knocked-aside by a man having paid his price, a shallow smirk crossed his lips. 'This is civilization?' he mocked inwardly, 'Civilization: where whores do their work in the open, not in the comfort of a brothel. Call me "uncivilized."'

The next street he crossed into was little more of an alley; a network of wrought-iron and steelwork weaved itself high above, connecting habitation blocks in a makeshift assembly of bridges and passages of cages and unsupported knot-work of metal and concrete slab. Unlike CC19 Street, however, it did not decrease in breadth as it flowed forward, though the concrete of the walls did sag and bow in spots, giving the impression of a monstrous throat, riveted and ribbed, leading into the pit of some beast yet forgotten by time and memory. Graffiti lined the walls as the Firebrand limped forward ever-still; he paused several moments in his passage, taking note of the new and fresh tags that had been made. Most were gang-affiliated or cries for help or Phanite solidarity; several, in Galactic Standard, openly decried the Imperial Star Republic's governance of Liu Xiu in a litany of curses and vexations - some more discernible than others.

When ownership of the Liu Xiu System, since to become the "Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone," was transferred from the Phanes Republic to the IStaR, as it was commonly known, both officially and in the propaganda of the day, it inherited a diverse and multicultural population, each - in many cases - more divided than not. While profit and prosperity had been brought to the vast, former wastes of the system by the Phanite administration, when it officially departed and left the system to the Imperial Republic, many of those whose prosperity was in far fewer sums were left behind: the unemployed and under-employed, the unskilled laborers, and the criminal elements the Phanites preferred to forget existed at all. In sum totality, the Firebrand knew as well as any, while the IStaR had brought only further prosperity, it was seen by some of the most disillusioned as an occupying force, with their former homeland being viewed just as dimly for abandoning them to such an invasive pestilence. All-in-all, in a word, the population of certain segments of the Special Economic Zone was "recalcitrant"; Piraeus City, in many aspects, epitomized such a quality.

Bringing his eyes from the damp pavement below, he looked forward, eying the narrow, metal of a door far ahead, supplanted in the side of some adjacent building whose ivory facade had long-since been blasted black by grime, grit, and the occasional fire from the burn barrel which sat beside it. Turning over his wrist, the Firebrand looked to the time: 3:58AM Local Time. He was going to be late, he knew, but they'd wait: they always waited for him. 'Even so,' he thought, 'best not to get too terribly off schedule.' As he stepped forward, his limp vanished entirely, his back straightened, and his body - despite its apparent age - took on the gait of a man a third his visible age. For a moment, even so, he paused before the door; across its front was a scrawled symbol wrapped by an oval. The symbol itself resembled the ninety-degree corner of a square, with one leg extending double the length of the other, a single, painted dot sat between the two. It was a glyph for a phoneme; it was the sound of "S."

Tugging open the door, the Firebrand stepped inside before allowing it to fall shut behind him. Submerged within the darkness of the room, he inhaled sharply, taking in the air - its qualities only marginally drier and more arid than those of the rain-slogged streets outside. With a wisp of his hand, he knocked back his hood, exposing the aged flesh of a bald scalp riddled with scars and irritated boils, run dark brown by liver spots and other indicators of deep senescence. "Always waiting for me, are you?" he abruptly spoke into the blackness, reaching within the confines of his greatcoat to retrieve a small, clip-on light source which he proceeded to attach to his lapel before flipping it into life.

"I do my job well, boss," the suddenly illuminated, towering Uthani gurgled distinctly in a Alphan accent of Galactic Standard.

"That's why you're my Number One, Tilaak," the Firebrand mused before tugging back his left sleeve as to expose his watch. Even so, he didn't check the time, instead tugging at the watch's side, causing its entire face to flip aside, exposing a small diagnostic display. Absently, he flipped through the digital touch-screen before, at last, suppressing his finger against its surface. Almost immediately, his features flickered once, twice, before on the third time beginning to undergo a transformation that might boggle the unexpecting: a hexagonal pattern, a lattice, superimposed itself over his aged features, gently moving and waving as boils were transformed into flesh fresh and signs of age were sculpted into that of youth; hair began to spontaneously flash into life from his scalp as a thick, black mane that ran shaggy and hung to his ears. In a matter of moments, the Firebrand seemingly underwent a metamorphosis from a withered, injured Phanite man to a young man not half his age whose eyes spoke of ice in color and calculation, and whose features were dominated by a wicked grimace and a tattoo of three, simple, vertical bars beneath his left eye.

"I don't understand how you can stand that shit, Maakyr," Tilaak the Uthani responded, tugging back his own hood to expose a semi-scaled hide, branded with indicatives of tribe and affiliation, his horns stained a deep, muddy scarlet.

"Physilight technology is a wonderful thing," Maakyr, the Firebrand, intoned, flipping shut the device on his wrist before adjusting his great coat. "Sure," he continued, reaching once more into his coat before retrieving a small packet of cigarettes, the brand of "Morley" plastered across their facade to the inclusion of a grotesque display of rotting teeth and gums, "it can be a nuisance, but it's better than these fuckers." He raised the package of cigarettes as to indicate, before popping one out and sliding it between his lips, only to have Tilaak immediately ignite it with the small flick of a lighter from his wrist. "Much thanks," he gave in gratitude, "but lets get this show on the road."

The Uthani nodded in response, turning his back to Maakyr before kneeling to lift a small grate exposed by the Firebrand's light source. The Uthani set the grate aside before motioning to the vacuous gape in the concrete earth; the Firebrand gave a shallow nod and a smile before climbing to sit upon its edge, his body disappearing into the abyss.

Abandoned Phanite Mass-transit System, Lowlands District
Beneath Piraeus City, Jiwao, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone
During the rainy season - thus, much of the year - the abandoned Phanite mass-transit network, a labyrinthine expanse of half-collapsed tunnels, maintenance corridors, and walled-up concourses and stations, was little more than a sewer. Luckily, Maakyr felt, much of their journey to the evening's meeting allowed them - he and his proverbial consigliere and personal bodyguard Tilaak - to walk along the maintenance access walkways above the former tracks-turned-refuse wash-ways. That, however, only put them smack-dab in the middle of rodent rush hour, causing Tilaak to, on more than one occasion, slam one of his feet down on the scampering critters, crushing them beneath his weight as easily as one might crush a roach, before kicking it off into the wash of debris and waste below.

"I fuckin' hate this place," he heard Tilaak complain ahead, "and we live underground naturally."

"Well," Maakyr mused, his grin expressing itself in the tone of his wit, "I hope the Uthani don't have a particular love of rolling in their own shit. But then again, you do smell pretty sour."

"Everything smells 'sour' in this shithole," Tilaak barked, stepping over a rusted-through gap in the walkway, "I still don't understand why we couldn't have used at least a fuckin' derelict cellar, like we did on Taen."

"Have you, my dear friend," Maakyr issued, "seen any cellars in this city? A single one? Not to mention, the Security Division is probably crawling all-over that place by now; I'd rather ensure whatever we use in the future can, in the least, be selectively buried under a few thousand tons of rubble when we're finished with it."

"In the least," Tilaak seemed to concede, "can you get some fucking aulho?" The Uthani tossed aside a half-finished cigarette into the waste: "This shit really is fucking terrible."

"I told you it was!" the Firebrand concurred, "But, unfortunately, no; we're stuck with it until this is finished here. We can't even go back there when we're done; some from the Cilice are suppose to grab us when everything is said and done, and that means getting aboard a ship and hijacking it, or - and this is most certainly the plan I prefer - buying one off the black market. One that'll take us just as far as we need so we can dump it."

The rumble overhead stopped Maakyr from continuing; he paused soon before Tilaak followed suit. Listening, he looked upward: a crack ran from one side of the vaulted ceiling of the tunnel to the other, dust and water falling and dripping free from the precarious fissure. "It's from the system above us," he issued in a tone barely above a whisper, "it's the half-hour run on the Orange Line, taking the graveyard shift workers from the manufacturing district back to the Lowlands." Tilaak didn't respond in any manner, spare a simple nod, before the two continued as the rumble faded.

"Speaking of which," the Firebrand continued, "I assume you took care of those three?"

"What three?" Tilaak questioned as he paused, turning; his features turned upward into an openly malicious snarl of a smile.

"I'll assume that's a 'yes,'" Maakyr returned the smile before the silence, broken only by the distant rumbles of trains overhead, consumed them once more.

Their destination, as Firebrand had chosen, was an abandoned concourse - the Themaplex Concourse, specifically, as it once sat beneath a theater and entertainment center on the edge of the Lowlands. Now, of course, it had been demolished and replaced with something far more befitting - and gaudy - of the city than a simple virtual reality arcade and theater. The whole place would hold, perhaps, three hundred, maybe four hundred, people he had originally estimated; regardless, it would hold far more than was required to do the work he had been so fervently assigned. Even so, Maakyr felt, it added to the overall "cathedral" impression that seeding religious fanaticism so necessarily often required - even if such evangelizing was merely only a means to an end and, ultimately, an added bonus to the end of their endeavors in Liu Xiu. 'Pragmatism is the tool of the faithful,' Maakyr thought to himself, 'and the lustful.'

As they walked, the maintenance access catwalks began to slope in elevation upward along their path. In several spots, the whole of the catwalk had broken free, either dipping precariously close - and precociously swinging - toward the filth beneath them, or was entirely missing instead, forcing them to cling to the outwardly-bowing walls and their narrow ledge to cross. Even so, as they walked, the darkness began to fade and the dampness began to dry; at last, taking a sharp turn to the east, as indicated by the weathered sign affixed to the tunnel so proudly declared, they found a set of six men - three Phanites, two Solarian, and another of a species to which Maakyr was not familiar - standing guard. Three were armed with makeshift clubs, but the three Phanites - their arms adorned in tattooed caligraphy and iconoclastic, cultural mosaics - were armed quite apparently with machine pistols.

"Seh'suurk Sa'ilu," the Firebrand greeted, causing the six men to immediately turn and return the greeting, bowing their heads low toward the walkway below. "I assume the Ilumaarai are assembled and waiting?"

"Yes, Ma— I mean, 'boss,'" one of the Phanites - apparently the one in charge - responded; "They've been waiting for your arrival patiently, most are in prayer."

"Good, good, my brother," Maakyr extended a hand to the man's shoulder, patting him lightly, "We're all doing the Endless Flame's work here; the Serukor are proud of us for adhering to their guidance." The Phanite merely nodded with a faint smile, his eyes averted. "But," the Firebrand went on, "I don't suppose I should keep them waiting."

Tilaak stepped through the assembled guards, knocking on the metal door three times; immediately a slit opened itself, exposing the dull, russet eyes of the door guard inside. Spying the towering Uthani and his own superior, the man immediately opened the door, greeting the duo in much the same. Maakyr, however, gave the man a stern look, then turned his crown to Tilaak: "Drown the door guard in the filth outside. He knows the rules: I don't care if the Father of Fire Himself came to that fucking door, don't open it unless He says the proper phrase."

As the Uthani picked the door guard, despite his protests, free from the floor and took him outside, closing the door behind him, Maakyr turned and looked to the assembled. Most were locked in prayer, kneeling and prostrating themselves upon the sand-strewn floor, their faces turned toward a point on the far wall marked with the direction of prayer, relative to Piraeus City and the location of the Ayya'd. Others were against the walls, having seen the brief interaction at the door, but soon began to make their way to their own positions amongst the crowd. In total, there were some hundred and fifty of the Illuminated assembled; each were the head of a cell or coterie waiting and willing to commit themselves to the service of the Endless Flame and, ultimately, to the service of the Sehkrisaal - of which was the Firebrand's ultimate, pervading concern. Even still, some tools, he knew, were more honed than others.

Making his way toward the raised platform against the far wall, he kept his head high, despite knowing well that as each row of fanatics was passed, those closest lifted their eyes to gaze lovingly - or zealously - at the back of his head. They were all the staunchest of fanatics for the cause; each one willing to kill, to die, for not merely their faith, but for the man whom had given them the mercy of illumination. While each one might head a coterie with less fanatical followers, following this morning's meeting, he knew, whether the Security Division found their little basilica would be irrelevant; like so many things in service to a cause, it would be discarded as useless - expendable.

Taking the platform with a quick trot, Maakyr stepped to the position which indicated the Ayya'd, raising his arms in greeting over the crowd as each of its members began to look forward: "Greetings, my brothers and sisters. Seh'suurk Sa'ilu!" Immediately, the concourse was filled with the succinct cry of "Seh'suurk Sa'ilu" - "Praise Sa'ilu, for He is just." "I apologize," he began, "for being rather late to this final meeting; as you no doubt understand, Civil Protection and the Security Division aren't exactly known for being polite." The crowd gave a raucous laugh in retort. "Even so," the Firebrand went on, "I must apologize nonetheless: I have delayed this service of the Endless Flame, but it was in service to the Father of Fire yet still!"

The assembled gave quick glances to one another, trying to obscure their uncertainty of the statement from their firebrand - from the Firebrand. "Oh yes, my brothers, my sisters," Maakyr gave, beginning to pace along a shallow gait of the impromptu stage, "for I have chosen the pinnacle target for our endeavors here - a target which will strike not merely to the heart of the Imperial Star Republic - that same state which holds you as chattel in service to the Unspoken, but which make pay upon your backs! No, for this great Naa'rahmaar will strike too at those who have abandoned many of you." Several amongst the crowd looked to the numerous Phanites amongst them, inferring the implication readily. "Yes, my illuminated brethren," he confirmed, "for we will strike at the image which stands above us all - a mockery of our plight against impurity and the illegitimacy of their rule. We will strike back at a symbol of the Phanes Republic itself and render it pure - just as we have rendered pure the charlatans and profiteers of impurity on Pinnacle and, again, at Port Expedition!"

Once more the crowd broke into raucous support; shouts of "Seh'suurk Sa'ilu" were interspersed with applause and praises to the Serukor. "Now," Maakyr paused at the center of the platform, crossing his arms behind his back, "many of you may not be a part of this most penultimate of crusades, but each and every one of you - and all of your brothers and sisters still - will have a role to play in the coming months. As you depart this morning, you will receive the necessary information for your duty to the Endless Flame. You are to execute these duties as described, at the specific times prescribed, at the specific places prescribed, and against those whom have been declared as the idols held aloft on pedestals of impurity in Liu Xiu." The crowd was silent, still, enraptured: "Those of you whom may be going off-world or to whom the First Children have burdened with the most righteous of duties, will receive the appropriate compensation to yourself for distribution to those whom are in most need of Sihu'ekla's mercy, in addition to the supplies and financing required to fulfill these duties."

"Now," Maakyr once more began anew, "when you leave this morning, as stated, you are to receive the requisite information of your duties. You are, under the burden of faith, to commit this information to memory. It is paramount each and every one of you, my brothers and sisters, commit this to yourselves for, I am afraid, for most, this will be our last crossing until, at last, we drink of the nectar and honey of paradise together in Sanaba'al." The crowd, in tones hushed and solemn, began to exude "Naa'il" in procession. "Even so," he continued, "if there are amongst you any whom doubt the resolve of your faith, speak to such now, as you will be permitted to go out from amongst us."

The crowd began to turn, each member of the assembly looking from one to the next, each with their faces pained with the same notion. At last, toward the rear of the concourse, a man whose frame shook with anxiety and trepidation stood, crossing one arm across himself to grip the other as to assure himself - to anchor himself to a strength that simply was not there. "I can't do it," he said plainly, the human whose stock, Maakyr assumed, was of one of the Reach states, "I simply can't! Innocent people are going to die, and for what?"

"There are no 'innocents' in Naa'rahmaar," Maakyr responded, "There is but the lost, from whom many of you were once equally within the darkness; the faithful; and those whom work to bring impurity to the world as to condemn both to the depths of iniquity. Do you doubt your resolve, my brother? Do you doubt your faith?"

"I don't doubt my faith!" the young man shouted in negation, "I just can't do it! I can't kill innocent people for a belief! It's wrong!"

"Well," the Firebrand responded, crossing his own arms across his chest, before slowly indicating to the door even as the new guard before it pulled it open to the expanse of the abandoned mass-transit network beyond, "I bid you depart from us, my friend; may the Father of Fire and the Mother of Water judge you as they see fit, for none amongst us may."

Immediately the young man bolted for the door, narrowly avoiding flinging himself across several of his former co-conspirators as each turned to watch him depart. As he reached the threshold, he stopped, paused, then turned back to the concourse, eying first the crowd then, at last, the man who stood above them all. With a brief exhale - a sigh to which Maakyr watched worry leave the man - he turned back and fled. Even so, the Firebrand did not speak; instead, he waited, even as the assembly members looked amongst themselves for the answer of the question which hung like fog in the air. It came in the form of a single, distant, resonating gunshot.

"The destination for those whom are lost or do not embrace the Path of the Endless Flame is still, in judgement of the divines, paradise," Maakyr began, "but the penance for the betrayal of divinity, the punishment for the embrace of the Path of the Darkly Waters, the penalty for apostasy, my brothers and sisters, is universally the same: annihilation." The crowd, once more, gave "Naa'il" as an acceptance of truth. "Now," he said, turning as he began to kneel, "might I lead each of you, and be honored as such, in the last morning prayer we might have together as brothers and sisters in this prison of physical existence."

Hyde-Mercer Park, Commercial District
Piraeus City, Jiwao, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone
The clouds of the great, towering thunderheads at last broke as the dawn of Liu Xiu Prime began to break against the distant horizon far from Piraeus. All around him, the evidence of the night's torrent still remained: benches and seats soaked-through with the swell of rain, puddles which filled every depression of each gravel and cobblestone path that intersected and traversed the park, and the thin sheen of dew and droplets of long-since-fallen rain that came to life as a kaleidoscope of color just as the Prime's rays came across the city behind him. All around, the citizens and residents of Piraeus City went about their morning routines: most were dressed as men of the coin, many not pausing to glance at the beauty of the park; others still did, breaking their nightly fast on sheltered benches free from the swill of the night; while others yet took early to the day's recreation, jogging or walking and soaking-in the early light of the day. Turning, the brown-haired man caught the glance of a passing jogger, her hair a mane of gold and her eyes, shimmering like hazel fire, crossed his own; she smiled, eying him quickly, even as he blinked, wetting the deep green of his eyes, smiled, and winked, causing the woman to smile, blush, and again divert her gaze back to her path as she passed.

The Firebrand found himself endeared to the city; he thought for a moment, watching as the population in the heart of the Commercial District went about their business. He realized then, as the fog still hung against the faintly-blown trees, it was their willingness to deceive themselves that brought from him a strange adoration. They deceived themselves daily - day-in and day-out - in the pedestal of debasement. The whole of the system did, he thought; Liu Xiu was the apotheosis of self-debasement, self-consumption, and self-deceit. It had always been, the realization reached-up from the depths of thought; the Phanites had built a glimmering jewel as a testament to their progress and victory over the horrors which had brought decimation to the quadrant time and time again. The Imperial Star Republic, in its expansive bureaucracy, had done the same - even gone farther, and succeeded where, in many places, others had failed.

The whole place, he knew, was a testament to self-deceit and an idol of arrogance. These were qualities unique to one creature in the whole of creation: humanity. Only the human was willing to deceive himself on the edge of disaster only so that he might not face that horror. No other being, the Firebrand realized, was willing to put themselves so precariously on the edge of demise, simply so they might mock the propensity of a fall. 'They truly are a stampede,' he mused, 'A herd on an endless, long march to the precipice; I adore them because they sing to exhalation the brilliance of this march, whilst never once facing the truth they already know. They are, in truth, tenacious in one, simple thing, and that is the desire to end their own self-deceit in the only way they know how: self-destruction.'

The glint of the city drew his attention, causing him to turn toward the heart of Piraeus; as the Prime rose behind him, the great, ivory megaliths at the core of the city's urban sprawl came to light in a brilliance near-blinding. The fog which hung low like a sheet wishing to obscure the absurdity, slowly began to diminish and part, exposing amidst that great inner sanctum, the shadow of a secret, yet screaming, cloister. Looking down, he flipped over his wrist, eying his watch: 6:00AM Local Time. He pushed back the sleeve of his simple, even humble, business suit before casting his crown back toward the heart of brilliance.

There it stood, a thin, sliver of a shadow amongst sources of light-reflected which sought to, seemingly, distract from the most obvious feature: the "Ivory Tower of Jiwao," the "Spine of the City." The Firebrand canted his eyes upwards as he caught the great expanse of the lumbering elevator's roof beginning to rise above the cacophony of the city below. His eyes followed its track upward, past scaffolding and construction cranes and mobile work platforms, all structures in constant work to retrofit and adapt the great cable which tethered the space elevator of Piraeus City the distance of its breadth to the anchor it held beyond the atmosphere. As it rose, once again precisely at six o'clock, he noted every shudder, every pause, and every broken movement of the lumbering behemoth of a cube as it rose ever higher, heavenly, and into the clouds above the city which surrounded it.

In the center of Piraeus City, the brown-haired man stood, transfixed, watching - almost in awe - and, for a moment, smiled.

Written by Kyrusia.
Last edited by Serukta Sehkrisaal on Sun Jun 21, 2015 11:29 pm, edited 4 times in total.
All that would be was but Endless Flame.

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Postby Kyrusia » Tue Jun 30, 2015 5:07 am

A Step Too Far

Personnel File: Buchanan, Michael (Retrieved 30/06/20.0015)
Employer: Soliton Foundation
Classification: Researcher, Second Class
Assignment: DISTANT HORIZON (Indefinite)

    » Assignment Summary: Commence first major attempt by Foundation personnel as to exploration beyond the Rimward Fringes, with particular emphasis placed upon "deep space, astronomical infrastructure," observable filamentation, and void structures. Document experiences of all personnel and crew aboard the Euclid-class Soliton Extended-living Research Vessel (SERV) Nebula New during assignment. Gather telemetry. Report findings. Assignment length of 2,192 Standard Galactic Days (six [6] Standard Galactic Years). Disembark date, 19/02/20.0006. Return date, 20/02/20.0012.
Assignment Station: Deputy Director, Extragalactic Physics and Theoretical Quantum Membrane Mechanics
Assignment Status: Unknown (See attached file)

Attached File: Special Memorandum, DISTANT HORIZON Mission Findings
The purpose of DISTANT HORIZON was simple - almost to the point of routine, were the precise qualities of the mission not beyond the Foundation's nominal SOP. The crew of the SERV Nebula New were some of the best, certainly, but they weren't the best, because at the time Oversight didn't feel such as necessary. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, all things considered, of course; now we know better, but now we've learned that, sometimes, it is best not to go asking questions with answers you might fear.

Even so, the mission had merit; K. Pollard has always been a bit of a maverick, sure, but she had always brought us what we were looking for. The General Oversight Directorate didn't have much cause for concern, as such, when she filed her request for a mission of her own making; some of us thought it was silly, sure - some even went so far as to question whether the whole endeavor was a foolish errand brought about by the untimely demise of David Pollard, Katherine's husband, two years prior to DISTANT HORIZON's initiation. Yet, she was given the privilege - never-to-mind the privilege to get to select her own staff.

When the Nebula New set-out on February 19th, its bearing toward the eponymous NGC 224 galaxy, from the Foundation installation deep in the Rimward Fringes, to say she was elated in her final messages to the station would be an understatement. While many of my contemporaries feel such exuberance is often a negative factor, I didn't share their concerns; she was one of the "old school," as they saw: someone who still found joy in her work, despite all the calamity it had brought her. I respected her for that, and still do to this day. That was why when the Nebula New missed its return date, I necessarily became concerned. Even so, it's not exactly uncommon - never has been; missions such as this, even routine telemetry monitoring runs, often are overdue by a few days, maybe a week or two. Yet, when the clock clicked over to a month, that's when the worry really began to settle and take root.

Officially, the Nebula New never returned. Of course, when it did, in fact, show-up deep in the Beta Quadrant, woefully off its return course, over three years past its return date, the Oversight Directorate ordered the news of its return to the Galaxy suppressed and the whole hulking mess of the SERV locked into orbital quarantine. Even with most of the darkness long-since drawn out from the Galaxy, the Foundation isn't one to play with chances. Unfortunately, such was largely for naught; what little we were able to retrieve was hardly substantial in any way. The fact the ship seemed to have been abandoned and left to drift, spare one remaining crewman (who, to this day, remains in a delightfully uncooperative state of catatonia), was troubling, but we figured the Nebula New's crew - scientists, nominally, after all - had kept unscrupulous records.

The fact they hadn't, or, at least, what they might have recorded was hardly accessible to us, finally got Oversight to start looking. In the end, we managed to salvage a few audio logs - namely from one R2C by the name of "Buchanan," Pollard's understudy and proverbial aide-de-camp - but even they remain of little quantifiable use. Even so, they can be accessed; those with the appropriate authorization are free to review them. If you find anything of use, do be sure to direct your information directly to the General Oversight Directorate, because as it stands, we're - collectively - at a loss for words.

Oversight Director Six
General Oversight Directorate (GOD)

Audio Log: Log Identification One, Dated 19/02/20.0006
Well, this is it. We're off. I suppose I should be down with the rest of the crew, celebrating this "momentous occasion," but I just can't find it in me to bother to get off my ass for it. We're going to be out here for six years - six years - doing the equivalent of sight-seeing; we're tourists with a known destination, but there isn't so much as a rest top or tourist trap between here and there, and the destination itself is little more than a few coordinates on a map. Even when we get there, we're likely not to see anything; just more nothingness and bleakness. So, I apologize if one of my fellow researchers get a hold of this, but I just can't get in the jovial mood for what amounts to an over-glorified fishing expedition.

Don't get me wrong; Kate is great, and I'm glad to be a part of this team, but I just think this is all a bit premature. She's expecting to find some sort of breakthrough; she won't say it, but she wants to find out and see if there is a way to expedite extragalactic travel. She wants to see what's on the "other side of the sea," so to speak; I can't really blame her - the universe is a big place, after all, and it's certainly full of wonder, but so is this galaxy. I don't see the need in it; even if she finds a way to get to the other side, she's going to become a proverbial Columbus: scrounging-around, desperate for funding, hoping some eccentric program director in the Foundation is going to be willing to invest even more of their thinning budget toward some wild chance to find a "new world" when we barely know anything about the "old" one.

Approximately three minutes pass with no further spoken word. A door can be heard opening, with the primary speaker - Researcher, Second Class, Michael Buchanan - briefly heard conversing with an unidentified, female third party, before the door can be heard closing. There is the faint sound of clinking ice against glass, followed by a heavy exhalation.

She's right, unfortunately. I'm being a "spoil sport" about all this; I accepted Pollard's request, and now I'm moping when I was fuckin' giddy a few months ago. I really should see the doc about some uppers, because I'm tearing myself up over nothing. There are around 800 people right now, half of them trying to get themselves a new "bunk mate" (Yeah, GOD, that happens; not that I imagine you'd be terribly surprised.), partying themselves into oblivion, and I'm sitting here in an exceptionally uncomfortable chair trying desperately to give myself a reason to be miserable.

Fuck it. I'm going for it. She invited me down, didn't she? No time like the present to make a whole new line of regrets. Mike, out.

Audio Log: Log Identification Two, Dated 20/02/20.0006
It's... Yeah, it's almost 0500 Foundation Time - ship time, I guess, now. At the moment, my only regret is drinking as much as I did and not going to her bunk when she offered it. Rather than a pleasant smile to wake-up to, I get an empty bed and a fresh smearing of vomit across my module's floor. Cleaning that up was fun. Regardless, we're going to be making the jaunt out of the Rimward Fringes in about and hour, I guess it is: 0625, officially. That's something to get excited for - were it not going to unsettle what bit of composition I've managed to piece together in the scrambled eggs that are my brain this morning. I always hate—

A public announcement system interrupts Buchanan's monologue; the announcement is automated and requesting all personnel to begin to make their way to their jaunt stations. The ring of Buchanan's living module's door alarm can be heard, along with a male voice briefly asking him if he's awake. Buchanan and the unidentified third party carry on a brief conversation, its contents unintelligible due to ambient sound and distance from the audio receiver, lasting approximately six minutes.

Of course she wants all of her departmental heads and their staff in the same spot. So, of course I won't be able to sit in my bunk and vomit in the privacy of my own module. No, of course not; I'm going to have to act like I wasn't being a drunken slob and trying to pick-up Tabitha - even if I did turn her down. I'm such a fuckin' schmuck sometimes, I swear. "She's out of your league, Mike." No she isn't; she's a Third Class Associate and not even assigned to my department. Not that I think Kate would mind at this point; she's so focused on this mission I don't even think she eats.

Whatever. Greg can go fuck himself; I'm going for it the next time she asks, or — fuck — I'll shoot for the moon myself. Not like we've got anything better to do for around two years. Might as well find something to occupy my time, besides - of course - going over the filamentation signals and telemetry returns that doctor Pollard constantly feels the need to shove on me, even now. We're not even out of the Galaxy yet, woman; take a fuckin' break.

There is a heavy exhalation. I know; I know. Being too hard on her; even if she finds anything, even the inkling of a thing, she's going to be making one of the greatest discoveries the Foundation has ever been privy. I'd be a little stressed myself; it's not a surprise she wants everyone on the same page. Even so, guess I better get dressed... Well, get re-dressed, because I doubt they'd appreciate me showing-up in a tank-top covered in soylent. Mike, out.

Audio Log: Log Identification Three, Dated 27/02/20.0006
We've, officially, left the Galaxy behind. We're still in jaunt to BGRP 001 (Beyond Galactic Rim Point 001) which is... Yeah, thirty parsecs beyond the appreciable disc. Still in the Galaxy's sphere of influence, but we won't be breaking that for a month or two. We've got a lot of work to do until that point comes; some of it I'm looking forward to. Wessel brought me some preliminary reports he'd managed to salvage, looking toward the Great Attractor - they're promising and seem to indicate a degree of extragalactic (even galactic) architecture and geometry far beyond what we've expected. I guess this is the cosmos' way of telling me I should lighten-up a bit.

Speaking of which, Tabitha isn't speaking to me, and may be actively avoiding me. I don't know what I said to her, but she's deciding the "silent treatment" is the best course of action. Greg says I was an ass, but he always says that; it's rather hard to discern between his, "This is how I normally treat you, Mike," from his, "No, seriously: you were a bastard." Guess I'll find out one way or another; I'll see if I can get her attention - quietly, hopefully - in the cafeteria. I think we have the same lunch hours; I could be wrong. I'll have to look. Regardless, we'll see. Adios.

Audio Log: Log Identification Six, Dated 06/03/20.0006
There is intense static, followed by the sounds of shuffling papers and a shifting glass. Buchanan can be heard presumably cursing under his breath. Eventually the audio stabilizes, but a pervasive, quiet static continues throughout much of Log Identification Six, at times making speech unintelligible.

Well, that whole mess is fucked. I guess Greg really wasn't just being his normal, dickish self; I really was a fuckin' asshole that night. I should— Static disrupts the log, distorting Buchanan's speaking to the point it cannot be discerned as distinct from the pervasive noise. —but I guess that's what I get. I should have just stayed in my bunk and not fucking bothered. Whatever. 'Nough of that; there actually is news on the front. "For science!" I suppose.

Wessel and Greg picked-up some anomalous readings before our jaunt to BGRP 005 earlier this afternoon. Wessel said it looked anomalous, anyway; Greg thinks he can't read the telemetry properly. He still doesn't think it's anything to be concerned over, but it's right there: gravimetrics are reading intense gravitational pressure outside of the Great Attractor region. It's not along our trajectory, mind you, so I doubt we'll be able to look into it much, but pre-jaunt drones picked it up nonetheless. The projected masses are, quite literally, astronomical - and it's nowhere near a known dwarf galaxy. Even so, we're talking a mass around a third of that of the Galaxy itself; what's boggling is it's not even in a Zone of Avoidance from Soliton. We should have been able to detect this; hell, Sol should have been able to detect this ages ago. Why they haven't, I'm not sure. Could be a dark flow projection, but there's no way of telling at this range.

I mean, it could be simply an effect of gravitational lensing; the drones are notor— Static once more intrudes, causing Buchanan's monologue to become unintelligible for approximately three minutes. —but, I mean, my fucking God. Something like that would have to be hiding, what, in a void somewhere? It couldn't be doing that; we'd see it. 'Course, we didn't see the "Buchanan Attractor," as I've decided to call it, either. So, who the fuck knows? But, I mean, something of that size couldn't just be slipping in-and-out of filaments, could it? Certainly we'd see its influence, slinging galaxies all-over and, generally, creating enough gravitational perturbations to, in the least, give us some sort of clue as to it being there.

It— It— There is a heavy exhalation, broken by brief static, causing a disruption in Buchanan's monologue. —the mind. I mean, we've all heard the stories people like to spin; but, I mean, really? There's nothing - nothing - stopping nature from spawning something like that; if we couldn't see this thing, it most definitely could hide. It's like from that one movie; oh, what was it? Whatever. "There are known unknowns, then there are unknown unknowns." If the Galaxy is the land, then this sea of extragalactic space? We know as much about it as they did on Terra about the oceans. Sure, we might have some appreciable grasp of how the Galaxy functions; but out here? Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. We're flying blind; hell, we're the blind leading the blind. And we've got a shepherd— Static continues, reaching an appreciable crescendo, causing the remainder of Log Identification Six to be unintelligible, sans brief interjections from Buchanan's monologue.

Audio Log: Log Identification Twelve, Dated 14/03/20.0006
There is a prolonged exhalation, followed by approximately five minutes of ambient noise. So fucking tired. Sorry I haven't been keeping up with these as much as I'd like to, but my department has become swamped. As far out as we are, we're doubling a second branch of Navigation; most of this space has never been charted. Hell, apparently, much of it hasn't been seen. We've had to bypass BGRP's 010 through 019 and go straight to 020, even running the risk of crossing the Solomon Diagonal in the process. That attractor, dark flow projection, whatever? Yeah. Apparently it was in the path of our trajectory, so we spent nearly 72 hours just trying to get a general charting of that so we simply didn't run into it.

That, I guess, did afford us an opportunity to study it.

Whatever it is, it covers a significant portion of the proverbial sky. We're, at the moment, twelve degrees off from our chosen trajectory simply to get around it. Not bad, all things considered, but not good either. We weren't expecting to have to change our course mid-mission, but I suppose that's the price we pay. Regardless, Wessel managed to appropriate a few of the deep drones in exchange for helping Navigation out. We sent them out before we jaunted; when we got them back, were were astonished. Whatever this attractor is does not actually seem to be homogenous in gravitational projection; Greg said the drones looked like they were taking snap-shots of a twisted-up ball of yarn. Wessel is convinced navigation sent us some scrap drones. I'm not so sure yet; both of their perceptions have merit, given the gravimetrics could just as easily be erroneous as they are reading the equivalent of a cat's chosen toy drifting through intergalactic space.

I know, Oversight, this isn't exactly the "science" you expected to get in these reports, but they're called "personal logs" for a reason; you're going to get my undigested thoughts. If you want to read my official report, go to it, but here? Here I'm decompressing, because my brain is boggled at the moment... In fact, I think I'm just going to down some of the sleeping pills Medical gave me and call it a night. Out.

Audio Log: Log Identification Thirteen (Excised), Dated 14/03/20.0006
(At some point during the late night of 14/03/20.0006, Buchanan's audio log receiver became activated. Log Identification Thirteen constitutes, chiefly, of over four hours of ambient noise, static, and a variety of instances of what has been determined to be somniloquy [sleep-talking]. Irrelevant portions have been excised from this audio log in favor of portions of potential relevance. Attached time stamp for Log Identification Thirteen (Excised) begins at one hour, fifty-three minutes.)

There is a distinct shuffling sound, such as papers being moved or adjusted, followed by what seems to be a groan or grumble - its source unidentified, though believed to be Buchanan. Following the "groan," there is a period of approximately six minutes of silence before the Nebula New's public intercom system can faintly be heard, presumably from Residential Corridor B18, the access hallway to which Buchanan's private quarters are attached; the content of the public announcement has not been discerned.

Wi— Windows. Broken. Br— Broken window. Static intrudes, though it has not been determined whether Buchanan's presumed somniloquy continued and, as such, it is unknown whether the instance of noise overwhelmed detection of other words during this period. S— Speculo. Sp— Speculo fracto. (Origin is Old Terran Latin; believed to translate as "broken mirror" or "fractured mirror." Buchanan's personnel file indicates he maintained a functional comprehension of Old Terran Latin.) Glass edge. Gl— Glassy edge. Dim. Cl— T— Tabitha.

For approximately twelve minutes, Buchanan's personal audio receiver recorded snoring and the sounds of rustling - presumably originating from aggressive "tossing and turning." (Recovered prescription sleeping medication bottles indicate Buchanan had trouble sleeping and requested the dispensation of hypnotics for therapeutic purposes on 12/03/20.0006, 12/04/20.0006, 08/05/20.0006, and repeatedly thereafter until 12/12/20.0010 - the date recorded for the last recovered bottle.) After twelve minutes, twenty-three seconds, the door of Buchanan's private quarters can be heard opening, then shutting approximately 20 seconds later. There are approximately three minutes of silence, followed by what appears to be a series of dull, baritone vibrations picked-up by the audio receiver; at this time, the origin of these sounds are believed to be footsteps.

Tab— Tabitha. Don't hate me. D— Don't. I— Love your h— Hair. T— Tab— A sudden surge of static of considerable volume interrupts Buchanan's sleep-talking. It subsides for brief moments, but continues for, approximately, the following fourteen minutes of recorded audio, at times briefly broken by sounds discerned to be "gurgling of human origin, consistent with the cracked breathing of a person struggling to breath - potentially from sleep apnea." Following such, the static abruptly halts, truncated by the sound of Buchanan's module's door shutting. The remaining audio recording continues to be filled with ambient, though no further instances of static are recorded and all instances of somniloquy seem to halt.

Audio Log: Log Identification Forty-seven, Dated 12/04/20.0006
We're now forty-eight degrees off course, and the flight crew have chosen to try going above, rather than around, the attractor the department has chosen to label "Mass Anomaly One." I say this, because it's worthy of note, and because we've identified at least two others from two separate bearings relative to our current position - which is, by the way, about six parsecs away from BGRP 86. As if it wasn't obvious, we're well beyond the Galaxy's sphere of influence now; the flight personnel had a "final viewing" party a few days ago— Fuck, no, it was two weeks ago. They showed the Galaxy as a pin-prick of light in the distance. Was rather sobering, I suppose.

Tabitha still isn't talking to me - at least not beyond what she's been forced to do. Her department got subsumed into mine, well, into Pollard's, due to the issues involving the Mass Anomalies. Navigation is fucked-all useless at this point. Greg has taken to teaching them rudimentary membrane mechanics simply to keep them occupied; that and, if I'm to be honest, I think he's scared underneath that demeanor of stoicism and misanthropic fucking wit.

Pollard is fanatical to the point some of her departmental chairs have started to come to me to complain. I'm not fucking HR; do your damn jobs and maybe she won't be riding your ass so goddamn hard. Yes, we're out here in the middle of B-F-E, but that doesn't mean you fall apart at the seams at the first sign of a little difficulty. There is a prolonged period of silence, followed by a thudding sound: Buchanan hitting his desk with his fist. I just don't fucking understand it. It doesn't make fuckin' sense. How could we not have identified these things? At what point did the Foundation simply cover its eyes and go, "Nope! Nothing out there! Nothing to see, folks!"

Jesus. To be the "penultimate, sovereign research institute in the Galaxy," they've been acting like a bunch of undergraduates, keeping their noses buried in decades-old work, and too lazy to get off their collective asses to question it. Whatever. Fuck it. Mike, out.

Audio Log: Log Identification Forty-nine, Dated 22/04/20.0006
Good news and bad news. Good news is we've gotten around the Mass Anomalies; bad news is, apparently, Mass Anomalies Two and Three were the same and, collectively, the three - two, I guess - have an aggregate mass significant enough to displace a degree of gravitational pressure equal to, approximately, half the quantifiable mass of the Galaxy. There's some fucking news for you, Oversight: there's some heavy shit out here you've been ignoring for fifty years. Might want to look into that.

There is a prolonged period of approximately four minutes without monologue; faintly the sounds of a percolator can be heard. It is believed Buchanan was preparing coffee during this period, before finally returning to his desk and the audio log receiver.

Oh, I almost forgot this wonderful little trinket of news: Wessel has been neglect in telling me, but apparently six of our drones have been "knocked-out." And by "knocked-out," I mean they returned split-open at the seams and gutted. One of them smacked into the observation module on Deck 1A with enough velocity to crack the shell. They sealed that part up, obviously, so that's not too much of a big deal; the big deal is, seemingly without reason, our drones are running into shit out in the abject nothingness - excluding the "Big Fucking Blobs" - out here. I told Wessel to get some of the Navigation crew to help reconfigure their course correction systems, but he seemed shaken by the whole thing. I guess he was scared to tell me about it; I look pretty run-ragged, after all. I guess three days on as many hours sleep will do that to you.

Fuck 'im. He should have told me sooner. Fuck 'im and fuck 'em all. There is a sudden sound of a slap, believed to be Buchanan hitting the personal log console, before the recording terminates.

Audio Log: Log Identification Fifty-six, Dated 04/04/20.0006
'Ello, listeners. This is the "Mike Mic Hour." Today we're in a jolly mood here on the Nebula New. We've gotten back on course and, thankfully, no more of our drones have gone missing. Wessel has bucked-up, Greg has managed to teach some of the guys from Navigation enough they might actually prove useful, Pollard is happy with our return to course and the progress we've made regarding analyzing the data we've collected about the Mass Anomalies, and guess what? Tabitha is talking to me again! There is a sudden series of claps and a squeaking sound believed to be originating from Buchanan spinning his chair several times, presumably in elation. We're going to have dinner next Thursday - if a ship this far out can be said to have "Thursdays" - after she gets off her shift. I'm sure none of my listeners would dare say I fudged her schedule to make sure she had that block open; no one would accuse me of that!

There is a long pause in Buchanan's monologue. The pause last for approximately eight minutes - long enough for the audio receiver to adjust to pick-up his breathing.

There is something else though... I haven't told anyone about this, not even Pollard, but I think the Mass Anomalies have come between our current position and the Galaxy, effectively creating a Zone of Avoidance in their mass shadow. I'm sure someone in Navigation has noticed it, too; we're running off quasar constellations at this point, but still: it's a bit unsettling. We're far out enough that, well, anything could happen to us out here and... Well, no one would know if we didn't come back to tell them what happened. I mean, if the old ghost stories are true— There is a series of faint, seemingly uneasy laughs. —then I guess we're the Dutchman, because I don't think you could ever be so alone as you are out here. Nothing is recognizable, and the galaxies are like stars they're so distant. The Navigation guys swear they can plot off them, even still, but it's a bit... Well, unnerving.

I guess this is how Columbus felt.

Speaking of idle dreaming, I'm finally starting to get some rest. It's... 2200 hours, Foundation Time, so I think that's all for tonight. Later, folks.

Audio Log: Log Identification Fifty-seven (Corrupted), Dated 05/04/20.0006
(During the early morning of 05/04/20.0006, Buchanan's personal audio receiver became activate. Much of the subsequent recording - approximating ninety minutes in total - is corrupt or unintelligible. Due to the events of 05/04/20.0006, many subsequent recordings have become corrupted to the point they are no longer recoverable. Following Log Identification Fifty-seven, all personal audio logs are what has been recovered and recompiled by Foundation personnel from fragments thereof.)

Recording begins with an abrupt sound identified as "distinctly heavy breathing" in extreme proximity to the personal audio receiver. This sound continues for approximately seven minutes before static overwhelms the recording. Once the static subsides, there is a brief sound that has yet to be identified; its source is speculated to be the sound of a distant alarm, though this has yet to be confirmed. Forty-eight seconds following the introduction to this sound, there is a sudden scream or shout, followed by what seems to be the sound of Buchanan's mattress - and Buchanan - being flipped or otherwise shifted violently.

Wh— What the fu— (Recording corruption disrupts the following fifteen minutes of Log Identification Fifty-seven, making such irrecoverable.)

Get the fuck out! Come on, man, get up! There are sounds of a third party pleading to, presumably, Buchanan whom is speculated to be asleep or unconscious; the voice of the third party has since been identified as Frederick Wessel, Associate, Third Class, and a member of Buchanan's staff personnel. The door to Buchanan's module briefly opens, before abruptly slamming shut; there are sounds of a brief struggle, before Buchanan is seemingly roused.

Help me with the door, Mike! Jesus, fuck!

Grab the frame and pull on my co— There is a sudden knocking as, seemingly, the door is forced open by an external force. What follows consists largely of unintelligible screaming and the sounds of the Nebula New's emergency fire suppression systems activating, followed by the distinct tones of atmosphere being evacuated. (Due to the reconstructed timeline of the Nebula New's journey, completed in part due to these very logs, it is believed during the remaining recorded audio, Federick Wessel is killed during an incidence of "back draft" from Buchanan's module door opening suddenly, permitting oxygen into the smoldering - and largely suppressed - fire in Residential Corridor B18. The remaining audio log is heavily corrupted, making recovery and reconstruction impossible.)

Audio Log: Log Identification Fifty-eight, Dated 26/02/20.0007
Over a year now, and what do we have to show for it? Mass Anomalies and the dead. Wessel is dead; Greg blames me; some thirty other people perished that night, and I had the gall to be excited? Fuck. I'm as bad as Pollard - batty bitch that she is. Can you believe she had the gall to order their bodies jettisoned? Out here? Out in the great-fucking-unknown? "We have to save space in case we find something to collect." What the fuck are we going to find? There is nothing out here but us and, now, some corpses.

There is a long interlude of silence approximately sixteen minutes in length, followed by an abrupt and sudden series of noises discerned to be smashing and cracking of plastic. Soon thereafter, the audio recording terminates after, presumably, the personal log console is destroyed.

Audio Log: Log Identification One Zero Six (Corrupted), Dated 30/08/20.0007
(Audio recording reconstructed amidst monologue.) —and, I mean, what's the point now? We can't see home, Navigation doesn't recognize what few sources of light they can find, and Pollard seems none-the-wiser. Brief interruption of, seemingly, manic and uneasy laughter. I mean, what's the fucking point besides turning this whole cluster-fuck into a poorly-made sitcom? The Galaxy is gone; NGC 224 is gone. We're on a fucking SERV, in the middle of nowhere, floating around like we know what we're doing. I mean, really, what are we going to do? What are we going to discover? What great mysteries are left to us worth solving, spare how the fuck to get back home?

There is a considerable period of silence approximately twenty minutes in length. Ambient noise and a voice-alarm indicates the time as 0100 hours, Foundation Time.

I don't even know what to make of them saying the fire was deliberate, and not a malfunction. I know even less to make from what the department is saying about where we are and what it's seeing. I've told Navigation, but it's flying over their heard; I told Pollard, and she didn't care. She might as well be reading tea leaves at this point. Regardless, "Mass Anomalies" have become "Mass Anomaly." And I say this because our systems can no longer discern open— (Corruption makes further recovery of audio impossible.)

Audio Log: Log Identification Two Twenty-six (Corrupted), Dated 08/10/20.0008
More of us have gone missing. That's, what, twenty-six now? Twenty-seven? Something like that... Pollard hasn't left her office in three days. I'd say she's committed suicide if the unlucky saps taking her food weren't constantly talking about how she screams at them when they try and open the door. The flight screw, speaking of recluses, haven't left the bridge; the captain has ordered all available flight personnel to rotate on a four-on, four-off schedule. They look haggard, and the research personnel aren't doing much better.

Tabitha can barely hold it together; considering how shit has gone downhill, we're not even bothering to keep our relationship a secret anymore. I don't think it's going to matter, one way or the other. We've got enough supplies on this ship to, more or less, live out the rest of our days if, say, there were thirty of us, not the seven-hundred, seventy or so that there are now. Is it bad that I'm hoping the rest of them go missing or start killing themselves? Pretty sure that's bad; fuck it, there is no more morality left out in the dark. Cliche, I know, right?

There is a brief interlude of silence, followed soon thereafter by the sound of Buchanan's module door - now in Residential Corridor A9 - opening. A conversation soon follows between Buchanan and Third Class Associate Tabitha Reyes, though the specific contents of such cannot be discerned. Yeah, I'll be finished in a bit.

Anyway, I guess no one could blame me for wishing death to my contemporaries at this point. Not like I'm going to act on it - no matter how often I feel like throttling Greg where he stands. How can he still blame me for— (Corruption makes recovery of audio recording impossible.)

Audio Log: Log Identification Unknown (Corrupted), Dated Unknown
Recording begins with severe, resonating static. Whether this is caused by corruption, poor sound quality, or ambient interference is unknown. —no going around it. It's just there, staring at us like some fucking eye. I don't even know what BGRP we're at anymore; I don't even know which one we're supposed to be at, but I know we're not where we're supposed to be - I can tell you that fucking much. And Pollard... Pollard has gone batshit, to put it simply. She's questioning the captain's "loyalty to the mission and the Foundation" and has threatened, at least once in my presence, to relieve him of his command under the Special Executive Protocols Clause. If she tries it, I can tell you this much, she's going to have a mutiny; Navigation has already abandoned their posts - what is left of them anyway. Some two-hundred people just missing? There is only so much space on this hulk, and there's not enough of it to hide that many bodies - no matter how you cut it.

Hell, my department is only working still just for a combination of the sake of keeping our minds off being lost, and trying to find a way out of this mess we seem to be in. Gravimetrics are routinely off the charts; by all laws of physics at least I am familiar with, we shouldn't even be intact. The gravitational pressure alone should have crushed all of us, yet here we are - bright and fancy!

Static and possible corruption intercedes and overwhelms much of the recording for approximately eighteen minutes.

And Tabitha... Tabitha isn't sleeping too well; to tell you the truth, I don't think any of us are. I think the first morning we all got up and saw nothing on the screens - just featureless nothingness - we all had our last night of restful sleep. At this point, I don't think I can hold it against anyone for abusing some sleeping pills and a shot of vodka - or six; hell, I know I do at this point. It's the only way I can get through the night, 'cause it sure as hell isn't helping me rest. Sleep? Maybe - more like just knocking me unconscious after a point. Tabitha though... Tabitha stays-up and— (Corruption makes audio recording recovery impossible.)

Audio Log: Log Identification Unknown (Corrupted), Dated 19/02/20.0014
(Audio recording consists of eighteen consecutive hours of similar phrasing spoken by six distinct persons; of the six, Tabitha Reyes and Third Class Associate Gregory Adams have been confirmed. The remaining four appear to be one female voice and three male voices. Buchanan's voice has not been discerned or is otherwise not present when recorded.)

See the Glass. See the Glass. See the Looking Glass, the Mirror that shimmers like nickel and runs like mercury. See the Shards. See the Shards that twist and turn and writhe. See them move and see them flow, wicked and wise in the halls of man and beast. See them turn and tumble like rain. See the Glass. See the Glass. See the Mirror in all its splendor. See them wash away the fool and the jester and the king-of-courts in his house of horrors. See the Mirror. See the Shards that move and cut and writhe.

Give me eyes of glass so I might see.

See the Glass. See the Glass. See the Looking Glass. See the Mirror in all its might! See it move. See it writhe. What goes in, must come out. What goes in, must come out. Tumble! Tumble! Tumble through the Looking Glass and out comes the rabbit. "Tick-tock; tick-tock," says the March Hare to the Mirror. "Look how pretty is he!" says the Mirror. It writhes and it twists in waves of living Prismata. (Word origin, "Prismata," is unknown. Foundation records have no records indicative of prior occurrence or reference.) See the Prismata walk and writhe and twist and turn; see the Mirror and it cut and slice and flow like water across the skins, flayed and clean.

Recording is interrupted by a source of suspected anomalous origin, described equally as "the sound of glass scraping across other panes of glass" or the sound of "glass shattering."

See the Mirror. See the Prism. See it move! See it slice! See it remove the Ugly! See it clean and writhe and slide. See it cut and slice and lacerate.

We cross the Mirror. We cross the Glass. We see with eyes we have naught to places that cannot be! We are March Hares late for a very important date! See the Looking Glass! See the Mirror! Go to the Mirror! Go to the Prism! See the Prismata!

(Recording continues along similar tangents. Sounds of "glass-grinding-glass" briefly interrupts the nonsensical chanting, only seeming to renew the efforts of the assembled. Toward the eighteenth hour of the recording, static begins to intrude until, finally, the recording terminates.)
Last edited by Kyrusia on Tue Jun 30, 2015 5:48 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Postby Kyrusia » Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:47 pm

Smoke Signals
Some things are simply meant to be, or not.
[ Future Technology ]

"I will always find you, like it's written in the stars. You can run, but you can't hide. Try." — Ashley Lynn Barrett, Paper Boats

Thyrsus, The Sanctum, Towering Trinity
Losieda Constellation, Sieda System, Beta Quadrant
"Y' want some Synth, honey?" the man with the dangling, braided goatee - his crown a mane of pale dreadlocks truncated by plastic ties pulled taunt, colorful and glittering - questioned for the third time, holding out his hand full of small, flash-input sticks - each a rainbow spread of colors, some flashing with LED sparklers, others nearly buzzing-off from his finger tips.

"She might not," a young girl, perhaps no more than nineteen years, suddenly intruded, pushing the dealer's prior quarry aside with her gait before grabbing one of the flash-strips, breaking its seal, and shoving it effortlessly into a small port below her ear, "but I sure as hell do!" The tale-tell signs of Synth use surrounded the port on the girl's neck in a Brownian tree of bright-neon fractals. Just as the Synth stick was slammed home, the scene-girl nearly collapsed into the dealer's arms, before quickly taking advantage of the "coincidence" to begin an effortless dance of necking, their bodies a tangle of grinding limbs moving in rhythm to the near-deafening roar of Thyrsus' central party-dome.

Brushing her hair aside, its short tangle of dirtied violet pushed back behind her ear, Smoke grinned faintly before stepping around the duo. 'Good times,' she pondered as memories pushed to the surface of her mind, if but for a moment. A wave through the crowd suddenly assaulted the medley of dancing dope fiends, forcing a small partition of space to open around her; without a pause, Smoke reached into the confines of her cropped, cargo vest, snapping the end off one of the vapor narcotic sticks before allowing her lips a drag. The thin orange stripe across its end read, simply, "EYLEE - Moderate," in plain, eggshell white. The taste struck first, sending tendrils of a psychotropic blessing down her throat, throughout her lungs, before reaching out to the tips of her toes like a sudden wave of bliss; as a second wave approached, the sensation subsided, Smoke's nostrils flared in exhalation.

Finding herself suddenly pressed between a young woman, her body coated from neck to ankle in a latex sleeve, sun-kissed flesh exposed through an intricate pattern of inter-lacing hearts and stars, and a man whose eyes were glassed in the "Glitter gaze," Smoke fell to the rhythm of the masses. Rolling her head back, the Glitter-fiend pressed his hands to her hips, moving with her as the rhythm took hold; as the young woman, her body held taunt by the magenta sleeve she managed to fit into, turned, a broad smile, its intent plainly obvious, consumed her face - plastered in sequins and racoon eyes of electric blue. Allowing her body to change with the crowd, the woman pushed herself to Smoke, sliding knee between knees, trying desperately to match the rhythm of the body music that blared from speakers consummate and ever-present, surrounding the crowd in an omnipresent atmosphere of bacchanalian excess.

"What's yo'r name, beautiful?" the young woman questioned, her accent Solarian to a "T," sliding her hands over Smoke's shoulders, idle fingers running mass through the deep, near-black violet of the shifting tangle. As she moved, she managed to find the rhythm in her body, but only just, before the beat of the music was shattered by a cacophonous roar of shrill ambient. Her lips pained in desire as the beat returned to a useful tempo, her drug-lolled tongue well-stained in intoxicant fervor.

"Crystal," Smoke near-screamed over the beat, lying through her teeth as she allowed her arms to fall to the woman's waist, forcing the trio into a sandwiched mess of flesh and polymer clothing. Eying the young woman, Smoke scanned her facade more intently: her eyes a mismatched amalgam of metallic silver and iridescent green, her hair a mess of dark blue held aloft by a bun pierced by glowing, red phosphorescent rods. Inhaling sharply, she felt the third wave of the vapor-stick's chemical bliss wash across her flesh and through her veins, sending a blatant warmth to the tip of every nerve in her frame.

"Y'don't look like a 'Crystal,'" the young woman in the sleeve intoned, gripping the collar of Smoke's cropped-top as to tug her face near her new dance partner's own, "Only Crystal I knew was a blonde." The woman's lips turned upward, her grin becoming a mockery of malignancy as she pressed herself forward, sleeve-to-skin. "Name's 'Josee,'" the young woman finally gave in return, her arms falling to interlace with the Glitter-addict's own, each thumb hooking into a loop on the hem of Smoke's stressed denim slacks.

"Guess y' don't know many 'Crystals'," Smoke dismissed flatly, averting her gazed from the woman - "Josee" - briefly, scanning the surrounding crowd as a new wave began to permeate the horde. With a part of her lips, the intoxicant haze flushed free; Josee wasted little time in inhaling the draft that came, the faint whistle drawing her eyes back from the periphery of Thyrsus' central dance floor. The resulting wave, minor as it may be by her own estimates, brought blush to the woman's features and greater impetus to her movements; the feeling of pressure on her body shifted as the Glitter-user abandoned his post and the tug of Josee's arms reached deep into assertion. The resulting pressure between them forced a small, plastic sleeve from Josee's cleft, a small flower of green color plastered across its surface. 'She's a light-weight,' Smoke grinned inwardly, 'No matter how she wants to present herself.'

"You want one?" Josee grinned, catching her partner's glance, "or y' looking for somethin' a little more luscious?" The grin she fabricated in an attempt at seduction nearly made Smoke laugh openly.

"How about just a taste, eh?" she responded, pushing her lips - tainted only lightly with a fogged mauve - into a bitten grimace of desire, "Then we'll see."

Almost immediately Josee dropped her arms and went to work on the packet, pulling free a thin, plastic-textured strip of viridian tinge. At its center was a slightly darker-toned flower similar in composition to the one on the packet's surface. Josee smiled again, "A taste? Y'want a taste?" As if the retort was the pinnacle of wit, the magenta-sleeved scene-girl parted her lips and set the thin sliver of material on the edge of her tongue, leaning forward slightly.

'In another time, sweetheart,' Smoke mused inwardly, but played the game. Leaning forward, she interlaced her fingers into the woman's hair as she withdrew her vape-stick with the other, sliding one leg beside her own, drawing her frame as close as the game demanded; tilting her head slightly, she extended her tongue toward the square of stimulants, closing her eyes in speed to Josee's own. Just as her tongue traipsed upon the plastic-textured drug, Smoke's jaws fell shut behind her retreating muscle, snagging the plastic in the same moment as she spun the woman and pushed, driving her into a coming wave of melody and beat, drowning her expectantly into the assaulting rhythm of dancers and ravers. She turned, even despite the woman's cursing, sliding the thin square into her mouth where it quickly began to dissolve, driving-out the otherwise banal euphoria of the vapor-stick in a flash of seconds. 'Places to be,' she thought, 'someone to find.'

Across the dance floor, a large sign in great, Corinthian-style lettering blared in lightning-flash white overhead a glass-fronted club; the signage read, simply, "EYLEE." While there were now several such franchises built across the Sanctum, the club Eylee in Thyrsus was its pioneer branch. Years before, when youth compelled her to the dance floor and when carnal urge drove her to hunt, it had been there they had first met. She was sitting at the bar, a novel thing for many clubs on the Sanctum at the time, drinking a "Blue Comet" and trying desperately to ignore the advances made by incoming and outgoing patrons. The precise circumstances of their meeting, Smoke regretted, and what ultimately lead them from the Sanctum elsewhere, was a memory clouded by alcohol frenzy and euphoria-intoxicant ecstasy.

Passing through the outer ring of Dionysian revelers, Smoke stepped down as the glass doors of the Eylee parted. While far from a dive bar - there were none on the Sanctum - the club has smaller, more cloistered, and catering to a quieter, more somber sort. The main entrance lead, as she remembered, to a raised platform lined on either side with booths, the entrance immediately mirrored by a long bar overlooking the dance floor and disc jockey booth. As she remembered, a metallic entity with a single, blue eye stood behind the bar, two of its limbs polishing a metal-rimmed glass as the others dispensed beverages without pause.

"Miss," the large-eyed droid posited as Smoke took-up post, leaning against the bar, "May I be of service this evening? The house special this week is the 'Jittering Jolly,' a mixed cocktail composed of three parts gin, one part—"

"Query," Smoke interrupted the machine's dialogue, causing its eye to dim briefly before a large question mark spiraled out from its center, freezing in position at the center of the spherical mech-organ. Even so, the machine didn't stop in polishing the metal glasses it held, though it focused its attention on her readily.

"Eylee Bartender Droid One has entered 'Query Mode,'" it exuded flatly, its synthetic voice a near-perfect facsimile of human speech patterns, albeit with flat inflection and a considerable drawl of emotional nothingness.

"Have you seen this woman?" Smoke produced a small, half-folded picture from a pocket within her vest, leaning forward to place it more directly before the droid's eye. The picture displayed two women: one was a lithe figure, her arms wrapped around the neck of the other, roped, but tender muscle visible; her hair was a deepening flame of red; her eyes overrun with emotion. The other was Smoke, her hair a mess, far less tangled than it became later than evening, as she recalled; though recall of that first night was clear - for the most part - she struggled to see herself in that photograph. Apparently the droid had similar difficulty.

"Which woman, miss?" it questioned, once again in a flat, drawling monotone.

"The one on my right," Smoke gave, trying desperately to hide the urgency in her tone, "The woman with the red hair. She's on my lap. Have you seen her here in the past few weeks - month, maybe? Hell, anytime this year?"

The machine seemed to study the photograph for a moment, its one eye unmoving, though its pervasive silence told of its synthetic concentration working behind its glassy facade. "No, miss," it finally gave, turning back to her, "This one is afraid it has not seen this woman in any recently recalled videographic input." The question mark that pervaded its features abruptly spun, fading back into the flash of blue that was the machine's eye. "Would the miss care for a drink?" it posited, setting a recently-frosted glass before her in what she felt was compensatory response.

"Blue Comet," Smoke said dismissively, sliding the image away as she took-up one of the cushioned stools before the bar. "Extra ice," she recalled, "No lime."

Winning Hand, The Furnace, Towering Trinity
Losieda Constellation, Sieda System, Beta Quadrant
With a sign of neon-orange on faded, institutional green, hung almost precariously over a single window and door to the front, declaring the establishment the "Winning Hand Luxury Housing," Smoke recalled distinctly the hotel being anything but such. Situated deep in the bowels of the Furnace, its front facade composed of concrete brick against a sidewalk made in theme of the seemingly abandoned roadways of the station, the whole place was a low-cost, pay-by-the-hour sort of venue notorious for being the last stop on the night for those unable to remember, and the first stop for those wishing to oblate memory in flesh. For a moment, she wondered which they had been; staring up at the blinking orange "aces and eights" card flush logo, she smiled in memory: 'A bit of both.'

As her hands fell to the door's bar, memory became fact. 'We were running,' she recalled, stoic and unmoving, 'Running and dancing. I was drunk, and you kept trying to kiss me. I pushed you off, playing; when we got here, I kissed your cheek. You said you didn't have any credits left, and this was the only place you knew we could buy a night for ten credits; I had twelve. Enough for a room and a soda from the machine; it's in the back, under the stairs to the second floor.' Eyes drifting upward, she glanced the flashing soda machine at the end of the hall; a sign across its facade declared it was "out of order." 'But it isn't,' she remembered, 'It just doesn't take whole bills; we broke them at the desk.' Turning her gaze, she eyed a small, "A"-frame sign on the front counter reading, "Back in five minutes," in flat black. 'The concierge was shifty,' she remembered again, pushing the door inward; it creaked painfully as dry bearings ground against one another. A faint bell rang above her head, even so, memory caught her: 'He gave us Room 210; it had a leaking faucet and smelled like bleach,' she took a step inward, making her way to the hall before stopping. 'Need a key,' she thought, turning behind the desk, her eyes beginning to flip and blink in frantic urgency.

'Taken?' she thought, the slot between Rooms 209 and 211 empty. It was then her eyes drifted to the desk: sitting simply behind the small sign declaring the front officer's absence was a single key - an old fashioned one of stamped nickel and copper - with a large, dangling, red diamond, a distinct, sans serif lettering of "210" in plain white emblazoned. Quickly, Smoke ripped a crumpled ten credit bill from her pocket and slapped it on the desk before ringing the bell several times; she didn't wait for the hotel's clerk to return, jerking the key from the counter and making a mad sprint toward the stairs, her eyes leaping from door to door almost expectantly.

'You smacked me here,' a pained smile pushed itself to her features, 'and raced me up the stairs.' She mimicked her recollection, taking steps two, three at a time until she rounded the case to the second story hall. 'There's a stain,' she remembered, 'in front of Room 202.' She slowed her pace, her mind fogged by memory and sensation that seemed to match even as her eyes noted the small splotch of darkened carpet before a door marked "202." 'There's a foor-way,' she continued, looking forward before the memory returned in greater frenzy: 'But the numbering is off; it's not that way...' She turned right, 'It's down here. Third door. Right.' Yet as she found the third door, her heart sank; there was no Room 210. The door, red and gaudy, declared "220" instead. Smoke almost fell to the floor in that moment; memory had betrayed her, or any hope of finding something - anything - was gone.

"Fucking piece of shit," she cursed, tossing the key and its placard to the floor, pressing her back to the wall to support herself as she slid. Her eyes jerked upward, staring at the "220"; it seemed to mock her, to declare to her that her mission had come to an end. There was no hope to find in that moment, no matter how desperately she searched. Yet, as her eyes began to sting and wander, they fell across a small sliver of torn carpeting to the immediate left of the door's frame. 'Wait,' she fumed, scrambling for the key even as she rose, 'No. We were right here. You tripped, and I tried to catch you, then I fell. You asked me if I had ever done anything like this before; I told you I hadn't.' Reaching forward, she slid the key into the knob and turned; the door clicked quietly as the key slid and locked into place. She pushed and, slowly, the door to Room 220, once Room 210, opened, memory flooding her mind.

Laughter and the sounds of adulthood brought to childish abandon. Happiness, joy, and desire all wrapped in a single act. Her smell, like lilacs mixed with axle grease and the sweat of a cramped pilot's chair; in their proximity, it had drowned-out the bleach stench of the room, and it was her laughter that had allowed them to ignore the constant dripping. Even then, as she closed the door behind her, the dripping was present; turning, she remembered the lack of a curtain in the stall - a memory confirmed by the same, contemporary fact. They had thrown the top sheet off the bed; it was a full, and in their play they kept fighting for the one pillow, even though they never truly slept. Looking around, each moment of that day long-lost came back: every smile; every laugh; every drunkenly slurred come-on, all of them failing, until she just said the truth: '"I want to spend this night with you."'

They had; they'd spent several. Two, three - it was four, she recalled; four nights they spent in the cramped, single-bed hotel room on the outskirts of nowhere. They left to get more cash the next day, then burned it all over those four days. 'You wanted me to go with you,' Smoke remembered at last, 'I said I couldn't; I had a life, a ship, a crew.' The sting in her eyes matched the ache in her chest as she took a seat on the edge of the bed. "I was an idiot," she remarked flatly, wiping her eyes as its rain fell, "I should have gone with you; even if we did have to steal a ship, I should have gone with you." Plainly she fell back against the bed, its creaking protests quiet and faint, her eyes drifting to the ceiling as the misery of her heart took the reigns.

It was the alarm's blaring that woke her, curled and fetal, from her sleep on the edge of the crusted comforter. A quick glance told her the time to be 0600 hours, Constellation Time. Abruptly she sat-up, wiping her eyes; what little make-up she had wore the night before became a smear on the back of her hand, dark and gritty, strewn with a lash in a scratch-like pattern to bring forth the memory of her misery. "You should have been my life," she said openly, as if the room was a confessional and the bed her confessor, "Not like this. I sacrificed you for what I thought was freedom; I got abandoned, just like I abandoned you. I got torment and slavery instead of freedom."

Standing, Smoke stepped toward the door, looking back idly to the room in which they had spent so many fond hours. The memories played before her eyes like film, and she found herself choking back tears with laughter. Turning back, she stalled mid-step as if a whip had lashed her once more. "But," she mused, turning, "It also gave me the tools I needed..." Smoke fell to her knees, scrambling toward the edge of the bed, her hands frantically clawing under its metal frame; at last, it found purchase. With a quick jerk, she pulled a small, brass-toned band from beneath the well-worn, ancient edifice; it looked to be brushed copper, worn and beaten, flexible and terse, a small hook on one end mating to a small loop on the other end of the circle. "You lost this," she remembered, rolling the small bit of jewelry in her hands, "I don't remember how, but you lost it; you said, 'If we ever come back, we'll find it - together.'"

Smoke pressed the ring around her left wrist, depressed, and locked the bracelet into place. "We're not together, yet," she didn't bother to choke back the tears, letting them come in release, "but I found it. I found it just like I'll find you." She stood, rubbing the metal with her fingers, even if just to confirm it true: "I'll find you, Faora; I promised."
Last edited by Kyrusia on Thu Jul 02, 2015 1:28 am, edited 11 times in total.

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The Overreach

Postby Azura » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:23 pm



Marandola's Hub, the Overreach
Diátur Sa, ArdorPolyandrium, Gamma Quadrant5th Aetas 001

He was almost to Diátur Sa, provided there were no more death traps to cross.

The Overreach was pure chaos, madness personified, and it had served him well to bring a weapon in with him. Malstrom Scorza had gotten into some hairy situations, but navigating a graveyard in space full of derelict Sar'Rithril ships—their automated defenses still operational no less—was a ball-busting experience. He'd been outfitted well for his excursion into the pandemonium of Polyandrium's most notorious den of corruption and vice, using a twin-seat Anteris S/2 to pilot his way in through the debris fields and the false-traces. Less than three thousand meters from his bow entering the final pass, he was able to spot an explosion in the distance; a junker that was too big to navigate the passes had attracted a sentry bot from one of the derelicts. He passed their wreckage on the way into the Overreach, recalculating his odds of getting back out alive.

Polyandrium was a violent and dangerous place, where insidious scoundrels and vermin traded their wares for every pleasurable sin imaginable. None of the major quadrant powers dared clear it out; there were far too many booby traps, roaming death swarms to contend with to justify the cost. It hadn't taken long for some enterprising Daemons in one of the Autugyra's Conexi to turn the former site of a Finisbellum battle into their own personal Hellish Fiefdom. The Dead Shoals were filled with hundreds upon hundreds of other craft which had failed to navigate through the debris and derelicts, adding to the refuse that comprised Polyandrium. No one was guaranteed a tomorrow here; on the ships that had been re-purposed, any number of things could go wrong that could destroy everyone on them. If you managed to make it to a settlement at all, of course.

The derelict graveyard was big enough to support several different communities, all of which had adopted their own unique stylus. There was Infernum, established in a Blood Pack of Sar'Rithrilian Harvester ships, where junkies and rats went to get their fix of Oxicus and Venenum. Sanguinum was perhaps the most civilized—if such a word was even appropriate in the middle of anarchy—of the communities, and was one of the more safer installations in Polyandrium, having been cut from the hull of a dead Sidusclasse cruiser. Some settlements functioned with basic services that had been jury-rigged from the host ship's power supply; others lacked even basic gravity. Thousands upon thousands had flocked to the lawless lands, the Dead Shoal as it was called; a place where a man could get lost, just as quickly as he could lose all. There was nothing quite like it really.

Just like there's nothing quite like the Overreach.

Mal rubbed at his eyes, trying to gauge the proper distance to the nearest loading hatch into Diátur Sa. Though the entirety of Polyandrium's wastes required skill to navigate, there were some sections more difficult to pass through than others. Most of the poor and the abused would charter passage into the more 'stable' communities; those that actually made it to a settlement were often robbed of their belongings and sold into slavery. They were the fortunate ones; some brigands would intentionally kill their passengers on orders from a settlement boss to keep the population in check, and depressurization was a nasty-ass way to die in the Suck, as he called it. But there was no place in the Dead Shoal that was more difficult to reach than the Overreach, so named because anyone foolish enough to try for it was overplaying—overreaching as it were—their hand in life.

Diátur Sa was one of three communities in the Overreach, and by far the nastiest. Just to get there, you had to cross a minefield laden with magnetic tracers that were still active after two hundred years. Just navigating through to the port of call there was harrowing enough, cutting through the crippled hulls of derelicts that were too-far gone—or too-far cannibalized—to support life anymore. To his knowledge, Diátur Sa had been moved once before; it was formerly known as Daemonium when it was housed aboard the Sidusclasse carrier of the same name. When the ship's power core went tits up, they moved to a large fleet carrier the Sar'Rithril had captured during the fighting, hence the name Diátur Sa. In the Rithrilian tongue, it meant those who are damned. It was apropos; certain bulkhead doors were welded shut to isolate roaming death swarms still alive.

Creepy fucking bastards, little prick killers...

Mal shuddered involuntarily, remembering his first trip to Polyandrium. Some of the larger Sar'Rithril ships, along with captured Sidusclasse warships were infested with roaming clouds of nanobots known to those in Polyandrium as the Death Swarms. They were self-replicating for a time, and were able to keep themselves functional for decades on the power grid of ships. Some of the little bastards even managed to survive in the vacuum of space, attacking the hulls of ships that were unfortunate enough to cross their path. Most of the swarms were in ships though, and God help you if you ran into one. They were programed to cleave meat straight off the bone, and cleave they did. Most people were barely able to scream before succumbing to the packs. It was also a nasty-ass way to go. Not unlike accidentally opening the wrong bulkhead door and decompressing.

Up ahead, five o'clock high was a port mooring fixed to an old bulkhead, active running lights giving Diátur Sa away. Malstrom slowly angled his trajectory upward, careful to mind of any debris that may alter his flightpath or pose a danger to his hull. His little stunt ship was durable enough, but next to the derelicts of Polyandrium, it was a proverbial pea-shooter. It had taken him almost three days to navigate through the Dead Shoal to arrive at the Overreach, and another couple of hours to find his way to Diátur Sa. After a four month trip across the galaxy from Losieda though, the last leg of the journey was a piece of cake. He could only hope that his travails in getting here were worth the arduous price he'd been forced to pay. So much work had gone into this mission; so many of his comrades had died. It would be a shame if his damned trek was all for naught.

A dim blue light began to flash on his main control board; the comm switch. He pressed it quickly, opening a channel with whoever was pinging him: "Unregistered vessel, you are approaching Hub 1232 Marandola. State your business."

Mal sighed, pressing the transmit button, hoping that he wouldn't have to deal with automated systems inside Diátur Sa. "Hub 1232 Marandola, this is the transport vessel Falco requesting docking clearance immediately, over."

There was a brief pause on the other end, then a burst of static as the automated feed transitioned to the hub's gatekeeper, thank God. "You're not a regular here, Falco; you got's to pay the levy before we let you dock at Marandola's."

The voice was that of a woman, and a young-sounding one at that. Mal left the board open, leaning back into his chair. "What's the going rate for admission to Diátur Sa these days? Drugs? Tzinlei squeeze? Or maybe you deal in whores here."

Another pause after a crackle of static, followed by a direct challenge. "We have guns pointed at you, asshole."

Mal shook his head, resisting the urge to make a smartass remark. "Listen, I meant no disrespect; it took a long time getting here, and I'm both tired and punchy. I'm well connected with the House of Vinsant, so don't worry about the entry tax; I'm good."

Though he hadn't received his official clearance yet, he was already using his braking thrusters to align his ship with the hub itself, angling for the one open mooring port that he could see on his visual scanner. "Set your OmniBand to open and disengage your outboard plant. Prepare to pay the port fee to the broker once you've cleared the airlock. Welcome to Hell."

"Thanks for the warm welcome," Mal said pointedly to himself, disconnecting the comm channel before smarting off. He reached to his left, nimbly powering down his main engine plant as he was commanded, setting his mooring clamps to manual so that the Hub could pull the ship in direct; it was too risky with such a narrow entry angle and cluttered star field to try and manually dock at Diátur Sa. The ship's computer registered the automated sequence from Marandola, affording him the ability to power down non-critical systems to save on energy consumption. Assuming he found what he was looking for in Diátur Sa, he'd still need enough reserves to make it back to Portus Altus before refueling, or perhaps Liu Xiu if fortune carried him that direction. Hell, there was no guarantee he wouldn't have to break some skulls to get the information he needed.

So long as someone here knows where the bitch is...

The Falco was close enough to the Hub now that he could hear the magnetic moorings tugging on the ship's docking clamps. He slowly rose from the pilot's seat, trying to edge his way towards the main hatch while preventing his side holster from catching on the emergency release. Mal wasn't expecting trouble, but he wasn't going to go without heel in Marandola's. He disliked coming to Polyandrium on general principles, and had avoided the Overreach like the plague. It was a cesspit that existed only to sap money and blood from the hapless. If he hadn't been paid by a pissed-off curmudgeon in Losieda to track some rogue brigand down, he would have put at least a million parsecs between himself and the cosmic death trap that was the Overreach and Polyandrium. They could pay him a small fortune to come here hunting information on some Daemon bigwig...

But they couldn't fucking pay me enough to die here...

The magnetic moorings pulled the docking clamps into place, the metallic crunch of the locks snapping into place preceded by the sound of the vacuum seal forming between the airlock and the hull of his ship. He fastened his belt in place, dusting a few traces of dandruff from his leather duster, hoping to grab a shower and a bite to eat before getting down to business. Four months using sonic scrubbers and steam baths had left him feeling grimier than a two-dollar hooker at Caupona. As he watched intently for the suction light to appear, he realized that he'd forgotten to bring spare air packs in case he had to cross over underpowered corridors of the ship; the expenses kept going higher and higher for this damned trip. Mal tried to put it out of his mind as the warning light finally disappeared, and the hatch on his ship slowly opened inward towards him...

Jesus! What in the blue fuck, how did she get the drop on me?

No sooner had the hatch opened did he find himself staring into the muzzle of an ARC pistol, fully charged and levied at his head. The woman holding it was emotionless, pitiless, and absolutely focused on boring a hole through the middle of his forehead if he so much as blinked. He recognized her face from the datascan he'd been given in Losieda, all those months ago; the very person he'd been hired to track down across the bloody fucking galaxy. And yet here she was, in the flesh, wearing the same goddamn leather jacket and low-cut blouse that she'd been wearing in the datascan. He swallowed audibly, unhooking his own weapon and letting it fall to the deck of his ship with an audible clang. The plasma bolt lowered towards his chest, but otherwise never wavered in its aim. For a few seconds, neither one of them dared speak over the silence.

"Like I said," the woman said finally, smirking suddenly. "I have a gun pointed at you."

"You weren't supposed to be here," Mal said candidly, keeping his poker face. "Anywhere but here, they said."

"That's why you're about to die," the bitch said with a laugh. "You took theirs, now you'll take mine."

"Fuck yourself with a—"

A bolt of burning plasma shot out from the barrel, splashing against his chest, knocking him back onto the floor.

The man, whoever he was exactly, was writhing on the ground in panicked anguish, the plasma burning through his chest cavity in an agonizingly slow manner. He screamed bloody murder for almost half a minute before the throaty yelp became a gargling moan as the plasma hit his vocal chords, cooking his innards. A brief, choking spasm later and he was gone finally, settling onto the deck of the small transport in a bloody, sinewy mess. Kuri knelt down beside the body, pawing around at the corpse, careful not to accidentally put her hand anywhere that the plasma had settled; she wasn't about to lose a finger getting careless, but she needed to find his datascan before the plasma hit it if she could. The left side pocket on his trousers turned up nothing, but the right bore considerable fruit: a small satchel containing a data reader that was untouched by the shot.

A few taps on the handheld confirmed her suspicions. "You were right," Tieszen said candidly, standing up over the corpse. "You made a good call; he had my information loaded up on a datascan. How did you know who he was?"

Kuri cocked her head to the side as the demure young woman she'd been negotiating with stepped into the hatchway. "One of my tipsters recognized the transport ship as one of Michetti's. When he said Falco, I knew."

"Do you know this guy?"

Eos shook her head, sighing. "No, unfortunately; I was hoping it was one of Michetti's personal grunts. This guy I've never seen before; he must be a bounty hunter they hired from one of the other guilds. The duster is a giveaway."

Kuri nodded in agreement. "I think you're right. The bastard is outsourcing for help these days."

"He knows that he's made a mortal enemy of you, Butterfly," Eos said poignantly, a look of accomplishment on her face. "He knows that he fucked up, so he's going to try and put as much between himself and you as possible."

Butterfly laughed, shaking her head. "Michetti is a dumbass if he thinks a bounty hunter will stop me."

"Us," Eos said firmly, stepping into the transport. "He wont stop us."

Kuri gave her a look, holstering her weapon in the same. "You know I meant no disrespect; I took you on as my second because of your value to me and mine. We both share the same objectives, the same motivations."

"He took your property," Eos said flatly. "He took my dignity. Now I'm going to take his life. And you know the best part?"

"No..." Butterfly said, rolling her eyes in mild disgust as Eos knelt down beside the corpse of the bounty hunter, pulling out her knife. Kuri knew what she was about to do next. "What's the best part?"

Eos plucked an eye out of the corpse with her knife, chewing it in half. "He wont see me coming."
Last edited by Azura on Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

The Right Honorable David Luis Salazar, President of Tarragonia

Capital City:Cala Seca, Distrito de AleixarDemonym:TarragonianPopulation:320 Million

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-The Unified Earth Governments-
Posts: 12215
Founded: Aug 25, 2013

Postby -The Unified Earth Governments- » Fri Jul 03, 2015 12:25 am


It was a cool morning afternoon on the Presidium, the heart of the Citadel itself. As the upper echelon of the Citadels residents began to wake from their slumber, businesses and diplomats already were working around the clock. The whine of sky cars soaring through the artificial sky disturbed some sleepers within the apartment complexes, while the Citadels Keeper population continued their daily maintenance. Within the hallowed halls of the Embassy district, people already began to check in to the desk and terminals layed abundantly throughout.

As the civilians of the presidium took their time, either talking to each other in line or wait, to services or even to their respective ambassadors, the commotion between the lower ambassadors began to bother everyone in attendance. A subtle cough, flaring mandibles, and the curious peak of an Asari was all that needed to be said of the muffled argument coming from the Embassy center. As the Human Ambassador, Andrew Watson walked into the center he too was caught up in the arguing, with a sigh he paced down the hallway, with speed, but not in a way to show that he was in any hurry, as he reached the door, it opened and the debate finally was let loose to everyone at large.

*Wheeze* "And what I am telling you Calyn is that I have" *Wheeze* "had it up to here with your large weight disrupting my meetings, I shouldn't" *Wheeze* "Have to put up with it, not nice, not twice, and definitely not" *Wheeze* "Three times, it has been over twenty!"

"Disgruntled; Din, each time you make an appointment, it is around the same time I do, it is not my problem that you do this, we share an office after all.
Disheartened; I hoped that you would have come to understanding my plight, it is a custom that we greet each other at the door, before we enter a place. If you would change your appointment to suite my own, then that would be better, you are more fluid, than me." The Elcor Ambassador turned his head towards the Human Ambassador. Seeing Watson standing in the door way, arms crossed and clearly not happy made the two shape up, in terms of their behavior.

"Ah, Earth-Clan Ambassador, how are you? I apologize" *Wheeze* " if my ranting was was too loud and unwarranted." *Wheeze*

"Surprised; Ambassador Watson, what are you doing down here in our embassy. Uneasy; Is something wrong? Truthfully; I did not mean to be too loud."

Watson threw his hands up, stopping them any further, and he spoke clearly, with authority. "Gentlemen, I understand you're having issues, but I'm going to be dealing with important business in the coming weeks. How about I do you two a favor, for you, me and everyone in the embassy grounds. I'll talk the Council later, see if one of you can take our old embassy, and if you stay quite till then I'll see if we can share some of our tech with you, the stuff we usually let e Council use first."

*Wheeze* "The Turians never share much of what you have given them." *Wheeze* "And while Earth-clan did crash galactic economy." *Wheeze* "I don't see why this deal isn't favorable."

"Determined; I will stay calm for this amount of time, the Elcor could use much from this."

"Good, I'll be upstairs to take a meeting, maybe later I'll take you both out for a nice dinner, talk that over, God knows I have a lot of time these days." With a slight bow to both, Watson left, fixing his collar and walking away from the door, a smile on his face now that he has managed to shut them up. As he began walking towards the stairs on the other end of the center, a small ringing began to echo in his ears, a quick press on his left ear was followed by a message.

"You have an incoming call from: Earth - Mindoir :Please visit your local terminal as soon as possible."

"Hm...didn't expect a call from Earth, let alone Mindoir, I wonder what the case is." Watson thought, his focus returning to the present as his foot passed the last step to the second floor. The Second floor of the embassy grounds was noticeably much more pristine, graceful. The bottom was straight forward and only had a few trees, but up here, a fountain, and garden lavished the waiting area, and a calm music crept along the walls, ensuring that everyone was calm. Watson gave a wave to the receptionist as he walked to his Embassy, and as he reached towards the door, the holographic interface opened up the door to his embassy.

The embassy was more graceful and lavish, than that of the glorified broom closet the lower embassies had. The cool wind from an open outlook to the Presidium lake gave the ambassador a nice fresh breath of air, his well crafted desk, private terminal and seating all made it feel much better than the old stuffy embassy Humanity was allotted prior to practically buying out a better facility. As the door closed behind ambassador Watson, a buzz came from three oval like objects along a wall. He strode towards it, slightly in a hurry and sat down on his chair (out of several) and he activated the projectors. Within seconds terminal feed kicked in, and the images of three individuals appeared, and with that a salute.

In the direct center was the most important Human alive right now, the President of the Unified Earth Governments, President Donnel Udina; The Great Communicator of the 23rd century. Udina was an aging man, dark skin and greying brown hair gave him an appearance of wisdom, but he wasn't as old as he looked, he just didn't age as well as most people. He seemed to wear a constant frown, even when happy, and his dark hazel eyes met Watson, leaving an impression of power and authority. To his right was a woman adorned in a modest white and blue outfit, which had a very high up business feel to it. Her name is Amelia Colbert, Minister of Galactic Relations. She had raven hair at shoulder length, a young face, seemingly mixing her Angelo-Irish and Asian ancestry, and she wore a pair of glasses, which augmented her vision and perception of the world to a large degree.

Of course the salute was directed towards Udina's left; Standing at attention, in a white uniform, with blue accents, and his rank apparent, stood Fleet Admiral Steven Hackett. Hackett too, was an aging man but his mind never deteriorated. Decorated veteran of the First Contact War, he started as lower tactical officer before rising up to the ranks in the navy. Now, Steven Hackett controls the entire fleet of Sol, and is the head of the board in UNSC High Command. A nod from Hackett allowed Watson to ease up, and give him the ability to speak up.

"President, Minister, Admiral, what do I have the honor of for your presence today?"

"Ambassador Watson, you're familiar with our diplomacy program correct?" Colbert inquired, Watson quickly responded.

"I'm familiar with it being active, I haven't kept up much with it beyond meeting the first few council ambassadors who departed for Mindoir, why do you ask?"

"Simple, we are also partaking in sending diplomats to other civilizations, trying to keep the info to the Council at a minimum. In one such case we made contact with another civilization, one that calls itself the interstellar Empire of Nyte. We have applied for an embassy there, and as we speak an ambassador is being prepared to arrive there now."

"How does this involve me?" Watson asked, within seconds a beeping rhythm from his data pad forced him to pick it up and review its contents.

Trade Pact
Mutual Defense Pact
Non-Aggression Pact
Formal Alliance

TO: Colbert, Amelia
Minister of Galactic Relations
FROM: Jonus Telemachus
CO and Head of Foreign Affairs and Relations
Hyperion, Jiwao
The Interstellar Empire of Nyte
SUBJECT: Diplomatic Relations


Unfortunately due to my duties as the commanding officer of the Hyperion facility in the Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone, I personally cannot make it to a meeting on the Citadel; my duties simply do not allow me the freedom to leave my post for more than the shortest periods of time. However, I see three possible solutions to this problem. The first would be convenient for both myself and your ambassador at the Citadel; a video conference. While it is impersonal, it is a functional solution to the problem.

The second solution would require a bit more work on both our parts. As Hyperion is first and foremost a diplomatic facility, there are dozens of ambassadors and hundreds of ambassadorial staff present, and several are available for a trip to the Citadel. If you would prefer this second option, I must inform you that the Interstellar Empires current foreign policies dictate extremely strict security procedures for any diplomatic meetings happening outside of the Interstellar Empire and its territories. This would include a heavily armed and power armored security detail to escort our diplomatic personnel while they are on site, and a warship of the Grand Cruiser class to transport the party to and from the Citadel.

The third and final option would be to simply wait until the arrival of your ambassador Ms. Susan Williams here at Hyperion where I could then meet with her personally to discuss matters.

Whichever of the options you choose, please contact my office and the appropriate preparations will be made as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding.

Watson read the datapads contents, biting his lips at each line, reading it carefully.

"I assume thats why Hackett is here as well, along with the President?"

"Indeed Watson, this is a move my administration is responsible for, and since it involves you, this has to be taken very seriously."

"Well, if thats the case Mr. President, then a video conference would be the easiest solution. No risk, no dangerous, nothing at all." Watson was sure that this was going to deter any idea of getting a physical meeting on the Citadel. However he should have foreseen that Colbert would be much harder to sway on the issue.

"Sure, no risk, but only a minimal reward. If we get a diplomat from their country to come here, not only can we make a long standing impression on the Council, but we can probably ease off the tensions they have."

It was at this point that Hackett made his voice well known and clear. "I'm not ready to allow a cruiser of unidentified design and weight, with unknown weapons come to the Citadel. I don't care if its not under my watch, I have a stake in this too, and if I have to come to the Citadels aid, I will. Further more they want a heavily armed force, in military gear to arrive as well."

"Hacketts right, this isn't our house, its the Councils, they have the final word on whether they can come, but not if we can have a video conference with them." Watson added.

Udina pondered all the information so far, there was a third option. "What about the third option, just letting the ambassador speak directly at them?"

"That could work Mr. president, but I have much higher authority than our ambassador to their nation, what I say would be wiser, especially if I have you by my side."

"Watson brings up an important point Udina, if you come to the Citadel as well, perhaps that will ease them as well." Colbert's suggestion didn't go well with Hackett however, who's hologram shifted in position to face her.

"No, I don't care how ambitious you are, but if things go down south, then Its going to have to be me who handles the fallout of a potential war."

"Its alright Hackett, I'll have my own escort there if we go with that plan, as well C-Sec will be here and the Citadel Defense fleet, that should be enough of a deterrence."

Watson had to consider the points made, and all possible events that could happen and stem from this situation, he turned to Colbert. "You said that we are planning an appointment with another civilization at my office correct?"

"Yes, an Empire, a fragment or something, we cannot determine much of their history or whatever, but they claim that under their law, our citizens are theirs if we wish, a five hundred billion increase, but with no specified terms. We don't want to get into a conflict that would damage this empire since we'd bring in the Council. So we are having them come over, as made clear in our response."

"They;re scheduled for around two to four, you think we can squeeze them in for a meeting directly at six to eight?" here it goes, one finally piece of data.

Colbert cupped her chin, thinking deeply and calmly about it. Should be more than enough time to keep them separate, give Watson breathing room and to give them a nice tour of the Presidium. She didn't know if they would like a tour, but it is an important step nonetheless...she had to go for it.


With that Watson had everything he needed. For one thing, a video conference is the easiest choice to make, two important people talk, get it over with, etc. But its impersonal and neither would get a good read on them, and trust wouldn't be fostered. If they had a diplomat over, he would be heavily guarded, and a potential disaster could happen, but trust could be bolstered with Udina's arrival, along with the defense fleet and C-Sec. As well with a personal and successful in person meeting, it would foster good will and impressions. The final one wasn't much of a comfortable solution, the Human ambassador to their country can only do so much with the given propositions. Watson thought it over; Once, twice, three times over and once again for good measure, there was only real option that had the most payoff, but it also had the most negative repercussions possible.

"I think we should invite a diplomat, the risk is potentially high, but with the Councils permission, we might be able to get a good relationship with them, and it would benefit a formal alliance with trade if we show that we stand by what we say."

Everyone paused...and Hackett voiced one last question. "Mr. President, if proper, may I select your guard and have a small fleet on standby with the defense fleet?"

"If the Council allows it, then yes I'll let you do what you do best, Ambassador Watson, you have a very important role today, make sure this goes right. Speak to the Council, get their permission and we;ll tell them our plans."

Udina's words never sounded more urgent and strict, Watson nodded and gave a strong response. "Yes mr. President, on my life I will get this mission to work, all it needs is Colbert to send the message when we get the green light." After giving their final goodbyes, and after all pleasantries were dropped, Watson sunk back into his chair, breathing slowly, and rubbing his forehead. "Fleet Admiral, Minister, and President...all done, all just to talk to the Council, I'm gonna need a drink."
FactbookHistoryColoniesEmbassy Program V.IIUNSC Navy (WIP)InfantryAmmo Mods
/// A.N.N. \\\
News - 10/27/2558: Deglassing of Reach is going smoother than expected. | First prototype laser rifle is beginning experimentation. | The Sangheili Civil War is officially over, Arbiter Thel'Vadam and his Swords of Sanghelios have successfully eliminated remaining Covenant cells on Sanghelios. | President Ruth Charet to hold press meeting within the hour on the end of the Sangheili Civil War. | The Citadel Council official introduces the Unggoy as a member of the Citadel.

The Most Important Issue Result - "Robosexual marriages are increasingly common."

User avatar
Serukta Sehkrisaal
Posts: 99
Founded: Nov 04, 2013

Postby Serukta Sehkrisaal » Sun Jul 26, 2015 11:36 pm

A Wildfire Chronicles Installment
[ Future Technology ][ Mature ]

"And they said, 'Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.'" — Genesis 11:4 (Partial), KJV

Unknown Sector, Outer Gemini Belt
Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone — T-01:46:23
"The great mistake of our era," the Firebrand began, gently removing the small spoon from his glass, allowing the remnants of the small cube to fall below, submerging itself into the frothy mixture of havajn, "is the same mistake that has preceded each before it; it is a mistake of naivete: that peace is eternal once the enemies of an age have been vanquished or, as it may seem, have gone quietly into the night. No, for war is an order - a 'peace', if 'peace' is to be order - all its own; it ensures that a certain degree of predation is maintained - that the prey are destined to fall to the predator. There is, if I may, some degree of certainty - some serenity - in that natural order that the fool is to call the 'tragedy of war.'"

He smiled quietly to himself, leaning back, causing his seat to adjust to his new posture; a quiet melody began to fill the small, yet comfortable, cabin with a depression of a button on the arm of his seat. He looked to be a man in his mid-fifties, perhaps early sixties, hair a gray mane of salt-and-pepper, a face pocked with senescence and framed in a goatee and mustache of the same, salty tones as his crown. "It is very rare that those born into war truly know what peace is," he continued, sloshing the rapidly-whitening anise-flavored liquor in its glass before sipping, idly, at its rim, "To the child born into conflict, they see only death and devastation; they long - even yearn - for a change of pace, for a change of scenery. For the war-child, this change of pace is, inexorably, championed by the criers and the crowd to be the lauded goal of 'peace' - that some 'peace' will bring them the heaven they desire, they yearn for in the shallow hours of the night when their mothers ignore their cries."

Maakyr, the Firebrand, set aside his glass, opting for a thin, golden spindle that sat before him; the smell of aulho filled his nostrils even from its touch. A few simple gestures and the sweet, biting intoxicant filled his lungs. "What they do not understand - and, thus, the core of their mistake - is that peace is neither serene nor certain." The dim alarm gently cut through the droning timbre of the classical orchestration filling his cabin, interrupting his monologue and announcing his exit of the Gemini Belt, slowly leaving behind the gait of the system called "Liu Xiu." "No," he went on, inhaling sharply even as the purple-stained aulho smoke trailed from his nostrils, flared and raw, "Peace is far from the ordered path of progress the naive proclaim it to be; in peace, there is no certainty from which direction the next strike may come. It may come from anywhere: from the shadows of a room cast deep and murky in the night, or from the kiss of a lover scorned, forced to seek reprisal in contempt from enemies mutual and hidden."

The Firebrand smiled, flicking the ash from the end of his cigarette, the deep, scarlet-black of the scintillated aulho falling to a small, ochre-toned glas tray: "Or it may come in the form of a disaffected mass of hooligans seeking little more than belief. The source of that belief, invariably, matters very little; all that matters is it is to give their lives, and the loss of such, meaning." A second alarm gave sound in his cabin, forcing Maakyr to reach forward, depressing several small, cube-shaped buttons on his console; almost immediately, the drive of the vessel began to warm and spool, adding a constant, deep bass to the orchestrations that surrounded him. "Regardless," he continued, the small red light on the console before him blinking in its act, "the characteristics of peace are always the same: it is a state of chaos beneath the illusion of tranquility. In short: peace is the death of Nature; peace, as a state of being, is antithetical to life. Peace is the chaos of poverty, a lack of purpose, the loss of confidence and esteem, and the tool by which society degrades into a self-devouring mass - a cancer of the very being."

The sudden jolt that ran through the vessel jerked the Firebrand from his monologue; a second series of motions brought the vessel to its proper course and heading, followed by an initiation of its pre-transit procedures. "As I was saying," he continued, flicking excess ash from his cigarette, his eyes scanning over to his right: the body of Tilaak was slumped over the console, a thin bit of wire cut through the scales of his throat, "in peace, one must suspect everyone; I feel I speak for everyone when I say that being in a perpetual state of fear - being terrified of the very shadow one casts - is no way to live. As they say, 'Uhru'kiina sa Amaar,' the 'Station of All'; it has been my station to act against the chaos of this faux-serenity, and I feel such has been successful, in sum. They have moved their pieces across the board, just as we predicted they may; they have shown their flank, and are now terrified not of a strike to it, but of the lack thereof. They fear the propensity of their enemies - the direction of the onslaught, obscured by the cloak of assumed tranquility they have wrapped themselves in."

Setting-out the remains of his cigarette, the Firebrand sighed in-tune to the final procedural alarm his vessel echoed. "There is a saying to which, in my time, I have been made aware," he continued, pressing a single key before him, causing the glass-plate monitor to zoom into life, his plotted course displayed, "I believe I read it in a book during my childhood, before I donned the Cilice." Turning slightly in his seat, the Firebrand uncovered the hidden screen within his "watch" before sliding through several settings; finding, at last, "Off," he depressed his finger against the screen. "The saying is simple, really, 'Through fire, Nature is reborn whole,'" the disguise of material light about him disrupted, exposing thin slivers of dull, ochre flesh, "and, indeed, is that not what the Sehkiraan demands of us? If the very nature of true Nature itself is the ordered predation of purity against impurity - of order itself against the chaotic will of the Unspoken - is it not our charge to bring war, and its order, to the whole of the cosmos?"

As the physical light barrier dissolved, Maakyr, the Firebrand, the Serukta, smiled. "I believe it is," his grinned broadened even as he depressed his finger against the glass of his monitor, silencing the classical machinations and filling the cabin instantly with the roar of a superluminal drive, "And, woe be to them, for we shall bring forth the rebirth of Nature, true and sacred, and engender a new state of order in the Galaxy."

Lower Maintenance Terminal, Central District
Piraeus City, Jiwao, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone — T-01:14:57
"I mean, really," the man was saying, still, "you'd think they'd give us a raise for this sort of shit; I mean, what, we have to get-up at the crack of fuckin' dawn just to get-up there and do what? TIG weld a few brackets into place? I mean, that isn't so bad, but you're doing it in a fucking exo-suit and can barely fucking move; nev'r mind the fact you're in the middle of the fuckin' sky like some sort of fly on a piece of string. I mean..." The man continued his droning; Taishui tried to pay him no mind, nodding where he felt appropriate, grunting when agreement was called for by circumstance. All-in-all, it was a normal routine.

For over two weeks, every day began the same: get-up in a habitation block that smelled of the rancidity of years-old urine stains and poverty, ride the metro to the Central District, take a ten-minute ride down to the Lower Maintenance Terminal below the Primary Umbilicus Anchor - or, as it was often called, "the Cord" - and spend another twenty going-up to the Upper Terminal. The whole time, from the Skylift Workers' Station on 2nd and Cygnus, he had to listen to this man talk about how his life was shit, how working on the space elevator was droll and they were never paid enough, or how his kids wanted to go to Pinnacle for the summer. 'At least you can fucking afford kids,' entered Taishui's mind involuntarily, 'At least your wife wasn't beaten-to-death in an alley by an Ess-Dee officer. At least you don't live in a one-room apartment that smells of piss and sweat. Shut the fuck up, already.'

A gentle tap on his shoulder drew Taishui from his contempt; turning back, he saw the towering Uthani, his name "Yassnen" or "Yashniin" or some variety thereof - 'It doesn't matter' - looking down to him, trying desperately to jerk his head down without flinging the hard hat which, as it was, barely sat atop his horned scalp. Casting his own eyes downward, Taishui saw what the brute was indicating: the zipper on his duffel bag - clearly labeled "Republican Central Construction" - had come loose, exposing not much of anything, regardless, but the message was received and noted. Leaning down slightly, he zipped the bag shut just as the first jolt of the maintenance elevator came to life, beginning the long ride toward the heavens.

The actual space elevator - a Phanite monstrosity and monument to the vanity of the whole affair - had been replaced once the Imperial Star Republic overtook the system. Given the IStaR's dissatisfaction with the Piraeus City (Jiwao) Skylift, the luxury elevator car had been stripped down, replaced with a utilitarian framework that allowed workers access outside, to the "Cord," whilst serving almost solely as an anchoring point for their safety cables and oxygen lines. As it began to ascend, Taishui looked upward: the counter still read them at a subterranean level some four hundred meters below the surface; even so, the speed of the gantry was increasing as it accelerated to the surface. Assuming no halts or stops, Taishui calculated, it would take them just under twenty-minutes to reach their destination: the Upper Maintenance Terminal.

Much like the gantry itself, most of the exo-terminal of the elevator had been torn apart, retrofitted to serve primarily as maintenance - to the addition the volume necessary to dock a handful of vessels a week, mostly foremen and investors. The rest had been torn from its base and re-purposed into the primary station for maintenance workers and oversight for the entirety of the "Cord." Sure, there was a presence from the Security Division, but never more than three, with most security operations being run from the surface. It was one of the reasons, Taishui recalled, the packet he received that night had been so adamant about the space elevator being the "prime target." He, personally, didn't much see it; symbolic, perhaps, but in the end he felt it better not to question the will of a divinity he couldn't ever hope to comprehend. In the end, if it meant a blow to the Imperials and a massive "fuck you" to those whom had abandoned he and his kin to them, all the better.

Taishui looked up-and-out as the gantry cube pierced above the Umbilicus Anchor, exposing the skyline of Piraeus City before them. Despite being mid-sentence, even the droning worker silenced his discourse; Piraeus, even as the clouds hung low, gray, and fat with rains to come, was always a sight to behold, even under the circumstances - or, perhaps, because of them. A gentle rumbling sounded the gantry's pressurization and the seal of its portal locks, followed soon by a high-pitched murmuring as the "Cord" began their heady acceleration. Taishui continued watching, is eyes glancing from one ivory megalith to the next, slowly outward as they rose, exposing the slum-clutter and cramped habitation blocks on the peripheries of the metropolis. He watched and they rose, climbing the tower to the heavens, fleeing the hell of hypocrisy beneath them.

LXNN Piraeus City Bureau, Commercial District
Piraeus City, Jiwao, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone — T-00:59:12
The rain was beginning to increase its pace, blanketing the external window of Devon's 102nd floor cubicle with a thin, watery sheen; she watched, gazing over the edge of her monitor, as one drop joined another, then another, and another still, before sliding down the glass and beyond her view. She imagined each drop falling, colliding, one after the other, with ever greater puddles, each stuck to the glass by tension - or whatever it was that made such happen, as she was often too busy ogling Pytor to worry about such in her basic, secondary-level physics course. Turning her gaze, she caught sight of the fog-clouded "Cord" as it seemed to widen and grow in a wave upward; despite her lack of understanding in basics physics, however, she did at least know the sight of the maintenance gantry when she saw it - even at this distance. Yet, still, for a brief moment, she imagined the "Cord" was some great serpent, its mouth buried deep in the soil, the bulge its prey - or, of course, its mouth agape in the heavens, preparing to heave forth some meal that never settled.

The resounding call of "You've got mail!" filled her mind, reverberating from the small buds in her ears and drawing her back from her lackadaisical dreaming. Devon made quick work with silencing the nuisance, tapping her keyboard to bring-up her inbox. Almost immediately she couldn't help but sigh; as a basic staffer for the Communications Office of the Piraeus City Bureau for the Liu Xiu News Network, most of her mail consisted of random memorandums and little, "Hey, be sure to do-this, that, and this other thing." Rarely, if ever, did her job consist of anything more concerning than such; early on a Sunday morning, even less so. She quickly deleted some spam message from some "Betan Prince," then another for cybernetic enhancements to bodily parts she didn't possess, before repeating the process for nearly ten lines of messages.

A message, however, did cut her by surprise.

Nearly deleting the email without even looking at it, Devon's eyes having begun to drift back to her clear view of the city, she halted her incessant key-pressing when she saw the message had no subject, but had a single sender. The sender was merely an alphanumeric string, followed-by an out-of-system host; a quick wave of her mouse over the host's name indicated it was registered somewhere in Gamma, but much of its registry information was blank. A quick glance over a blinking paperclip only piqued her curiosity: two attachments, a video file and a secondary text file.

Hesitantly, Devon depressed her mouse, opening the message. Immediately her computer executed its native media player, opened the video file, and began playing. At first, there was nothing, then the screen flashed to static, before displaying - in silence - a tower of stairs, slowly climbing upward and upward, first through clouds, then amongst the stars, then toward a ring of flame which seemed to dwell above it all. The video zoomed in to the peak of the behemoth, exposing numerous, pixelated caricatures of men in hard hats, each carrying a pick axe and a stone; for each, the axe would fall, a stone would be placed, then the cycle would repeat itself. She watched, transfixed, as the tower grew taller and taller.

"You have acted in arrogance," a voice suddenly filled her mind, causing Devon to jerk upright as the tower continued to be built, "You have permitted your citizens to suffer; you, the Imperial Star Republic, the Liu Xiu Administrative Council, and all of your would-be investors have been working under false pretenses." The voice was overtly synthetic, Devon noted, quite evidently computerized; she couldn't tell if it was entirely synthetic, or merely distorted natural speech. Shrinking the size of the video window, the monologue continued, speaking on how the actions of the Imperial Star Republic's Navy and its Security Division detachments had failed - were even lies, it said - while she opened the text attachment. She ignored the monologue, reading, instead, the transcript that had accompanied the file. She ran over line after line of text, her eyes scanning it quickly, before she felt the color begin to fade from her features.

Quickly she slammed her fingers to the keyboard, calling into life a printer across the office's floor space. Once the confirmation message was sent, she jerked free her earbuds, fled from her chair, and ran. As she stood, the tower was falling, consumed in flame even as her console began to buzz and rumble; the screen blacked-out as a thin puff of purple smoke was vomited forth from the front of her terminal's tower.

En Route to Upper Maintenance Terminal, Jiwao Exosphere
Jiwao, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone — T-00:52:33
The sudden halt of the gantry nearly sent many of those whom surrounded Taishui to the floor, to the exception of himself and his six cohorts. They were prepared; they had been preparing for that moment for months, and once it finally came, instinct and faith drove them. "The fuck was that?" the man who never ceased in his complaining barked, catching his footing as the gantry once again began to move, though its pace far slower; Taishui knew: it was the emergency maintenance elevator far below being jerked into life, pulled free from its anchor, the last point of entry to the space elevator from below leaving the world behind, isolating them all in the heavens above. "Hey," he heard the petulant laborer question, "Taishui, why don't you—"

The blade pressed into the worker's throat even as he turned, loosing his life across the front of the gantry, staining its glass port a muddied scarlet; Taishui fell wholly under his training and faith in that moment. Himself, the Uthani, and the several accompanying comrades dispatched the workers that rode with them; several cried for mercy, begged, pleaded. Several said they, too, were from the slums, but he knew different: they were tools of the Administrative Council; one, he knew, was even a Security Division informant. They all had to be expurgated; they were impurities that must be cleansed, must be made pure, for him to see his family in Paradise. He did just such, raking blade over, and through, flesh; there was a large, rotund man cowering in the corner. His work overalls said he was a foreman by the name of "Visset," but Taishui didn't care: he drove home the steel, making well his work, until the foreman could no longer plead or beg for mercy. 'There is no mercy,' Taishui thought, 'There are no innocents.'

"We're going to be late," the Uthani growled, wiping the end of his knife clean on another dispatched worker's overalls.

"Shit happens," Taishui returned, standing upright as he cast his gaze out over the curve of Jiwao. The planet looked plain from such a height, even so, he embraced his final sighting of the spacial horizon. He didn't want to remember Jiwao, Piraeus City, or Liu Xiu; he wanted to remember his wife's face, his mother and father's faces, he wanted to remember what it was like to be free, to be unbounded, to be but a single flame in an endless, all-consuming fire. He hoped, in the depths of his heart, that he could light the spark to bring that vision to reality; to manifest his dreams to the flesh, and to bring all he knew to the heavens beyond - or cleanse those whom refuse to accept the truth and, as such, hold back the faithful from their true purpose, from their ultimate potential. "Fuck the prison of creation," Taishui barked, "Seh'suurk Sa'ilu!" His brothers returned the praise.

Immediately after the gantry ground to a halt, the doors to the Upper Maintenance Terminal flew open. Another brother met them, loading full a magazine into the pistol in his hand, the emblem of the Liu Xiu Security Division clearly visible on its upper receiver. "Seh'suurk Sa'ilu," the brother greeted, the parlance returned in full by Taishui and his fellows, "We got lucky today. Only two of them on duty; the rest went down with the last of the night shift. The two were taken care of a bit earlier."

"When you called the emergency elevator?" Taishui questioned, stepping out onto the terminal's port, duffel bag in hand.

"Yeah," the man responded, grinning, "The SecDiv fucks won't be stopping us now; only way to get up here is to climb this thing or try and force a docking in orbit, and by the time they know what's happening, it'll be too late for that." The whole cadre, Taishui included, grinned. "But," the brother continued, leading the arrivals deeper into the station, "have you brought the detonator and the rest of the charges? We've got the 'Cord' rigged, but we need to destabilize the elevator's secondary core if we're to sever the umbilicus completely."

"Yes, brother," Taishui issued, handing his bag over to the man, "Everything is in there; just point us to do God's will."

"Good, my brother," the man smiled, "Go down below deck; they'll point you where you need to be. We've got about thirty minutes to get everything set-up, then we'll be with our loved-ones in Sanaba'al."

Taishui smiled, nodding: "Praise Sa'ilu, for He is just."

"Indeed," the man gave in retort, "He is just, and we shall bring His justice to this system."

Primary Umbilicus Anchor, Central District
Piraeus City, Jiwao, Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone — T-00:08:48
Captain Raylan flung open the door to his Security Division Emergency Response Carrier, jumping free from the passenger's seat in full combat readiness attire; a sub-machine gun was slung across his chest, his body a black megalith, even despite his apparent age. "The fuck is going on here?" he barked to the mass of assembled Security Division personnel; in total there were some three hundred officers there, he knew, with another hundred in the air in troop transports operating at their ceiling. "Why the fuck aren't we up there kicking these punks' asses by now?"

"Sergeant Orix, sir," a young man, perhaps half the captain's age, suddenly made himself apparent, saluting, "The terrorists have called-up the emergency elevator; the eggheads are working to try and get her called back down, but until then, we're stuck down here."

"I guess I'm to presume the Council has been notified," Raylan barked, walking toward the front facade of the Primary Umbilicus Anchor, followed soon thereafter by the young sergeant, "or am I to do every-fucking-thing in this city myself?"

"No, sir," Orix quickly corrected, "I mean, 'no' to having to do it yourself, sir. Yes, sir, the Council has been contacted; they've called in heavy orbital support from the Imperial Star Republic, but they said it'll take a few minutes for them to—"

"How fucking long ago did that request go out?" Raylan screamed over the roar of an overhead troop transport, grabbing Orix by the neck of his protective vest.

"About fifteen minutes, sir!" The sergeant could barely keep his demeanor, stammering over himself as he tried to explain: "I'm s— s— sorry, sir. But the tip came in from the L— LXN— N - from the news, sir! Apparently some secretary opened an attach— attachment with a video containing W— Wildfire claiming responsibility for the attack, sir!"

Raylan snarled, but released the young sergeant, tilting his head back; the rain had begun in earnest on his drive over to the Anchor, and the sky had since become a blanket of gray, interspersed only by the flash of lightning and the ever-present monoliths of white that pierced them. The whole place was a mess; 'A cluster-fuck of goddamn mythic proportions,' Raylan thought to himself, staring-up at the Umbilicus as it vanished into the clouds. Watching, several troop carriers blanketed the "Cord" with their spotlights, illuminating potential points of access from below; invariably, each one eventually moved on, confirming the captain's suspicions. 'We can't get up there from here,' he mused, even his inner voice laced with frustration.

"Sergeant, get me in contact with the Council; I want a line to the IStaR sortie coming to assist—" The sudden flash of lightning broke the captain's speech, causing him to reflexively shield his eyes; slowly, his gaze drifted upward, free from the shielding of his hands. As the "thunder" struck, the captain realized it had not been the flash of a storm, but something else. He watched, his jaw slowly relaxing in awe, as the clouds began to thin and diminish in an ever-increasing radius out from the Umbilicus. The clouds waned in great velocity as a second flash filled the sky, its source easily discerned: the not-true star, birthed anew, at the end of the great "Ivory Tower of Jiwao." Even so, he could not look away: as the thunder came, a series of flashes came fresh, smaller and dimmer than the first two, but nonetheless apparent. They seemed to come in waves of three, followed by a pause, then another three, followed by a pause of greater length.

Suddenly screaming filled his ears, forcing Raylan to return his attention to the scene: the troop carriers were dispersing and the crew were pointing to the peak of the Anchor. Following the trajectory of their hands, Raylan saw as one of the foundation brackets gave way, slinging a bracket some six meters in length free to slam into the front facade of a nearby building, narrowly escaping a squad of some ten Security Division personnel in the process. Raylan, still, watched; he watched as the remaining brackets began to bend, the screeching of metal and the subtle rumble of splitting concrete echoing between the buildings which circled the Anchor in the distance. Drifting his gaze upward, he watched, looking to the heavens as a thin, narrowly a hair-in-width snake began to twist and turn.

"Run!" Captain Raylan screamed, grabbing the young sergeant and pushing him aside. "Run! For god's sake, fucking run!" He pushed aside officer after officer, some toward their vehicles, other to the streets aside, screaming the whole way. "They've cut the 'Cord'! They've destroyed the maintenance terminal and cut the fucking 'Cord'!" he screamed, even as a bracket came free, the resulting explosion knocking him clear from his feet and onto the hood of a nearby Security Division cruiser. He didn't hesitate, instead forcing himself back to his feet. "Get out of here, you fucking sods!" he continued, grabbing a lieutenant by her arm and forcing her into her own cruiser: "The thing is going to come down and crush us all if we don't get the fuck out of here!"

The scene was alive at last; the droll demeanor of the Security Division officers broken by raw panic and unrestrained terror. Men and women fled, even as office workers and laborers came from their offices and work stations to gawk in awe, before they, too, were sent screaming. The captain turned, looking upward in desperation to gauge the fall; his eyes drifted downward toward the Anchor, the end of the Umbilicus beginning to show stress and bulge as it began to shift and falter. He watched, screaming for his own life and the lives of those around him, catching glimpses as the great "Spine of the City" broke and began its long, winding fall to the surface. He watched, in desperation and furious terror as Piraeus City watched in its own and waited in dumbfounded fright of the inevitability of the wild, raging fires to come.

Written by Kyrusia.
Last edited by Serukta Sehkrisaal on Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:24 am, edited 5 times in total.
All that would be was but Endless Flame.

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Perseid Federation
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Founded: Apr 27, 2015

Postby Perseid Federation » Sun Aug 02, 2015 6:36 pm

Κατάφρακτος — CATAPHRACT

Commissioning Ceremony of the PSO Cataphract [SBB-01]
Erianthopolis, Minaris Convocature, Kassaras System — circa 1362 XS

The gigantic vessel had been remaining in place above the city for quite some time now, long enough for the Archon of Minaris to keep staring at it blankly. His armored auto had no glass windows, and instead displayed a 360˚ digital image of what was being captured at the outside. The skyscrapers appeared to be competing with the ship and with the clouds for space in the vast sky of Minaris, while the ship itself just remained still—she was in a relatively precarious position above the skyline of Erianthopolis, with its bow a few hundred meters away from the spire of a certain high building, most likely the tallest one in the entire megalopolis. The light from Kassaras was glistening all over the metallic scenery of the urban Perseid jungle. Looking down at his watch, he read that the current time of day must be 14:13—he should be onboard the vessel by 14:30 so he can be able to meet up with the other four Archons, before giving his speech to the crew of the soon-to-be commissioned craft by 16:00.

The PSO Cataphract was the most recent warship about to be commissioned into the Astrostratós. First of the Cataphract–class super-dreadnoughts of the Perseid Federation—and so far the only one of its class in existence—it was going to be a historical event for many to witness. It was the largest ever ship to be built by the Omospondia, with a length of 6,734 meters. She was built over a span of 16 years in the Cleisthes Deep Space Shipyards in the outskirts of the Kassaras System, and was subsequently tested for the next six years. Citizens of Erianthopolis were already gathering at the observation floors of the nearby skyscrapers in order to see that massive vessel for themselves—and take pictures for them to post in the Metaverse. The high-caliber railguns that were installed were indeed impressive, as were the assorted variety of turrets installed all throughout the angular fish-like shape of the vessel. The form of the Cataphract itself may look like a chimera of a fish and a whale that was rendered in the Perseid architectural doctrine of geomatria. The massive Perse letters which spelled out ΚΑTAΦPAKTOΣ—and its hull designation number—had been painted in bright silver on the bluish-gray exterior of the super-dreadnought, next to the emblem of the Astrostratós.

Demosthenes Kyriazis was less than thrilled to appear before his fellow Archons in person—since the other four are going to show up at the commissioning ceremony—but there was nothing he can do about it, since he had accepted the invitation to address the crew of the Cataphract—something considered of the highest honor. He wasn't worried about them listening to him speak, for Demos was without equal among the Archons in terms of elocution. He wasn't remarkably fond of the Archons of Xenia, Servitus and Psyche—in fact he had a spiteful relationship with the Archon of Servitus, Kypros Onassis, who was a hell of a pest in his honest opinion—however he had a pretty close friendship with a particular Silvanos Cotsadis, the Archon of Arydice. He just continued to let the atmosphere of apathy and indifference comfort his mind for now, while staring at the massive battleship as his auto began to take off from the ground and climb in the azure sky.

A hangar door on the starboard side of the Cataphract opened up to allow Demos' auto to fly into. The hangars for the vessel's complement of small craft are spacious. The angular forms on the exterior of the ship are redoubled in this harmony of shapes and light patterns. The fighter craft on one side were held in place by special locks, while the dropships were being inspected by drones. The personal vehicle of the Archon slowly hovered about the hangar to look for a spot, and it landed near a dropship. The silent drone slowly opened the door to Demos' right, and the Archon stepped out of the vehicle with his large holoslate in hand. From the looks of it, this place was abuzz with the sound of machines and footwork. Sophonts were going all over the place within the hangar to labor in various assignments, such as maintenance and repair or even polishing the floor of the tarmac. A floating pill with the projection of a humanesque AI approached the esteemed Minarian official and welcomed him to the ship. "Ah, Archon Kyriazis!," the AI began. "Welcome to the PSO Cataphract, your eminence. I hope your arrival was uneventful."

Demos shrugged, collapsing his holoslate and placing it back in his pocket. "Funny enough you asked, because it was uneventful, other than this warship hovering precariously over the metropolis." The AI chuckled at his remark and said to him, "I believe the Archons have already arrived in the vessel, shall I take you to them?"

"Of course. I do not mind." The projection gestured its arm, saying that Demos should follow behind it. Two security drones flanked his side as he strode towards a transport auto that was in the midst of the hangar. It was parked next to the ordnance stockpile that was arranged upright. Getting on board, he sat down and waited as the drone transported him across the hangar and to a particular elevator. Entering the elevator, the drone stopped and turned itself around, facing the door of the lift as it carried them to another deck. The lift was installed with elevator music, and it was playing a soft-sounding song. Demos thought that was a tad too delicate, even for the builders of a warship designed for battle.

Once the elevator doors opened up, revealing another deck in the ship, the transport auto exited it and continued to make its way to where the other Archons were. The remaining time which he took was only a mere four minutes, by which time he may have passed various rooms within the superstructure of the vessel. Once he arrived at the anterior deck, which had a view of the dorsal surface of the vessel, the drone slowed down to a stop in front of the doorway. Demos got off, and his two security drones followed him down.

The door slid open before him, and he was met by a room of polished white on the other side. The interior design of the room had a minimalist feel to it, as if the Archon had been translated into Elysium. This was one of the few places on the ship that had glass windows—digital windows were installed everywhere else on this vessel. From this view he could see the azure that came from the sky, and the light shone through the windows and brushed the room. Sitting at the small table were his companions, his fellow Archons of the Omospondia. On the table was a bottle of Nixxakaia and glasses filled with varying amounts of wine. Silvanos turned his head and noticed Demos coming towards their table. "Ah Demos," he called out. "You're just in time."

The Minarian took a vacant seat on the table and filled his glass with wine. "Really? Because it looked to me that you four were starting off without me."

"We always start without you," teased Silvanos. After whispering something to the drone that was attending the Archons, he took his wine glass and sipped a little. "I'm surprised that you don't seem too nervous because of today's appointment, Demos—especially since you had been working on a speech for weeks, just for addressing the sophonts that are going to serve on this ship."

Demos also took a sip of his wine. "Well, I have indeed worked on it so I'll be fine."

"With 24,000 of the Astrostratós' best and brightest, I doubt you would be relaxed the whole time."

Referencing another speech that he made some time ago during his term as Archon of Minaris, Demos replied, "24,000 sophonts is nothing compared to 6,000,000 people."

The drone returned to the table with two silver plates stacked with sugared butter cookies. Kypros took one and bit into it. "At least this ship isn't about to hit any of the skyscrapers around. I bet the clouds that were gathering from everywhere may obscure the bottom so they couldn't see if it was about to hit the Paschalis Tower."

"It would crash if you were the one who was captaining it," Demos sneered.

Aristides Rigas, Archon of Xenia, was taking seconds on butter cookies. The words muffled in his mouth when he said, "Thu, a me bhu a bith cuncurned abuth huw—"

"Please Aristides," Demos interrupted. "Swallow your food."

"Ou, suwwy abuth thut." After swallowing the cookie that he had in his mouth he said, "Like I was saying earlier, I may be a bit concerned about how much the Astrostratós is spending on this vessel, as well as the money being sent on the second ship of this class. The predictions on the cost of the Cataphract are now higher than last time."

Silvanos tossed the last piece of his cookie into his mouth. "One of your predecessors certainly didn't complain when the Organ of Defense blew off much of their allocated budget in building Aplouména."

"I'm quite sure that the money being funneled into this project is worth it," Demos added. "After all, we are opening up our nation to the galaxy once again, and by now we have no idea if the intragalactic stage has changed dramatically or not."

The Archon of Psyche, Vasilis Dimopoulos, was the most taciturn of the bunch. "I am quite sure that the galaxy has changed a lot," he mumbled.

"I concur," Kypros was of the same opinion. For the next hour, the Archons were conversing among themselves over cookies and vintage. Of course they only drank wine lightly, since they were cautious not to intoxicate themselves before the commissioning ceremony. 'A drunk man does not make a good listener,' a Perseid adage goes. Once the local time struck 15:15, it was time for Demos to leave the table and be off to the commissioning ceremony. From the outside it looked like sophonts in uniform were already gathering on top of the Cataphract. Noticing that Demos stood up and said, "I truly wish I could stay with you four to drink and chat, but I should go for now."

Silvanos pulled out a remote and pressed a certain button, and a holographic screen appeared at the nearest wall. "Alrighty then," he turned as Demos was about to exit the room. "We'll just be watching the ceremony from here." The Minarian left the room and saw himself out, while the four remained by the table, looking at the holographic screen as the event unfolded outside.

It was a sight to behold from the top of the Cataphract. Erianthopolis was already being covered with clouds, with the skyscrapers piercing up the white covering. The Cataphract was delicately hovering over the city in place, with Kassaras shining at an angle from the port side. Ranks of Astronautikon personnel in their esteemed military regalia lined the flight deck like a massive army. They all stood there at attention in front of a certain podium, which had the seal of the Archon of Minaris on it. Invited guests were being seated in chairs on the massive deck. They stood and watched as Demos was being given an introduction by the Astronautikon's Chief of Operations, Admiral Dimitris Atsidakos. Five other senior officers were standing at attention behind the captain as well. The captain was finishing his introduction when he said, "…And now, ladies and gentlemen of the PSO Cataphract, it is my great pleasure to introduce to you, Archon Demosthenes Kyriazis, Archon of Minaris."

The sophonts serving on the Cataphract clapped their hands in applause as Atsidakos gave the podium over to Demos, who shook his hand in a spirit of formality. Once the Archon arrived at the podium, the sophonts stopped clapping and returned to standing at attention. Atsidakos then joined his fellow senior officers behind this commander-in-chief of the Perseid armed force, as Demos was about to open his mouth to give his address.

"Salutations and good tidings, my fellow Perseids. It is with great pleasure and a privilege to be addressing before the crew of this mighty warship on this day. Today the Cataphract shall enter into the realm of the stars as a vessel purposed for the enforcement of peace throughout our dominions. You have been given the privilege of serving as personnel of this ship, as you represent 24,000 of the Omospondia's best and brightest. This ship I can say, is the culmination of years of ingenuity and innovation. … As I have this opportunity to speak before you, I shall give you words of wisdom, of encouragement, and of warning.

"A cataphract in its definition referred to an ancient military unit coming from Terra that was clothed in full armor, often mounted on an animal known as a horse. Some of us here know this definition of this soldier as a 'knight.' The Astrostratós have seen it fit to give the name 'cataphract' to a certain kind of power armor that many of our personnel use in battle. They have also seen it fitting that this ship be named 'Cataphract,' due to its inherent nature as a ship equipped and designed for battle, like the cataphracts of old. …

"The PSO Cataphract I say, is much more than just a vessel that you all pilot into battle. It is also your 'home away from home' as the folks say. Many of you will certainly agree that one of the things that may have preserved your sanity is the company of your fellow comrades and your friends. … Treasure them well, and fight for your comrades who will also fight and even lay down their lives for you. Remember that all of you are important to this ship's success—whether you may be an ace pilot or a cook serving meals at the mess hall, all of you are important. Without you all, where would this ship be?

"The Cataphract's might is not measured merely by what has been indicated on paper, but by how you all make use of it. Statistics are only a part of what makes a warship. Just because this ship has 5 powerful railguns that can tear through ship armor with ease does not mean it is the strongest that there is. Nations and states will always build more powerful ships than the Cataphract. … Therefore, I advise you to do all in your power to accomplish your tasks on this vessel… not your best of your abilities, but the best of your abilities—for the Omospondia has great need for sophonts like you. The cause for the preservation of peace may rest upon the Cataphract if need be by the circumstances that arise. …

"Never lose sight of what you value, of what you stand for—for you draw your strength in knowing these things. However, let us not let our zeal take full control over us, for it would be a shame for us if the Cataphract were to be used as a catalyst for making enemies out of the galaxy. Only do what is necessary in defeating the enemy. When you feel like your foes need to be taught a lesson in the might of the Perseid Federation, cast those feelings aside. See to it that your enemies are defeated, and not humiliated. … After all, humiliation is oppression, and oppression is not what we Perseids wish for. Therefore, be tact in your decisions, and do whatever is necessary to bring victory to the Omospondia, and defeat—not humiliation—to our enemies.

"Today we commission a warship for the propagation of peace, for the peaceful advancement of the cause of our nation. To defeat our enemies forever, we should make friendship with them. Thus, the Cataphract shall not be an instrument of war for the Omospondia, but a herald of peace and prosperity for the Omospondia to the rest of the cosmos. … Best of luck be given to you, and may your efforts not be in vain. Thank you." When he ended his speech, an applause resounded throughout the quarter deck of the super-dreadnought, as Demos descended from the podium to observe the rest of the ceremony unfold.

Ouranostratós Space Navy 1st Lieutenant Zenos Tsimicalis
Mavromichalis Orbital Docks and Shipyards, Orbit of Nephos — circa 1364 XS

For now the Cataphract was comfortably docking at the Mavromichalis Orbital Docks and Shipyards, colloquially abbreviated as MODAS. This orbital complex also doubled as a trade port and as a waystation for other ships traveling into the Omospondia from elsewhere. Such was the consequence for a system that lies within the Sivulon Trade Corridor, the main trade route for ships to use when transporting all kind of goods and services rimward. The ship was reassigned from Kassaras to Avis for reasons that may be pressing, particularly for the exploration of the outskirts of the Sivulon Reach and beyond. In reality, the ship never saw true military action other than traversing from star to star, since the Organ of Defense recognized that an important flagship such as her shouldn't be sent out in combat just yet.

Zenos Tsimicalis was looking out from the second floor of a Kefi house, looking out at the massive ship out there in dock. On his table by the window was a glass bottle of Costas, right next to a shot glass that was empty of any liquor. The sleeves of his military uniform had been rolled up all the way until just above the elbow, revealing arms full of tattoos that depicted two mythological sea monsters that terrorized the 'waters' of the cosmic ocean. Leaning on his right arm he just continued to stare blankly at the Cataphract. This was going to be the ship that he will be serving in, and yet he seemed to be less enthusiastic about it. Yes, she is a mighty super-dreadnought—he thought to himself while the influence of alcohol was in his brain—but her might would be useless if she doesn't see any real action. Truth be told, not many warships have had any real experience in battle, since the Omospondia hasn't had a major war in years.

The holoslate on the table began to vibrate, and a faint sounding ringtone played. The tone was playing a snippet of a somber slow rock ballad, taken from the refrain that went before the hook of the song. Picking it up he answered with a monotonous slur, "Hello?"

"Zane," came a more enthusiastic voice from the other end. "What's up? I just arrived at MODAS in a crammed shuttle. Trust me, you do not want to know what it's like man. The seats happen to be too small, and I had to sit between two fat-ass guys. And I mean fat as hell, man, it's like they were swimming in fat."

His friend was known to exaggerate many things. As Zenos shifted his leg he replied, "Guess that must be pretty rough for you. By the way Myron, I'm at the Kefi house at the western sector, near the space docks where the Cataphract is at."

"Makarios' Pub? Oh good, I'm just nearby the place. I'll be meeting you there in a few minutes so don't go anywhere yet."

"You have my word. Don't ask me to treat you to a round or two of anisouzo. I won't spare any Tacits for you today."

Myron chuckled in response. "Alright. You have my word as well. See you in a bit." The call ended, and Zenos collapsed his holoslate and placed it back on the table in front of him. Sensing that there was only a third of his Costas left in his bottle, he took it and guzzled the contents down into his system until the bottle was virtually devoid of any booze, save for a few drops that were rolling down once he placed it back on the table. Scratching his chin he continued to gaze at the window with the same blank expression on his face.

His companion had finally arrived at Zenos' table. "Zane!," Myron called out, catching the lieutenant's attention.

"Comrade!" Zenos got off his seat and proceeded to hug Myron. "Shall we go?"

"Don't get too excited about being at the Cataphract. You're still going to buy me a drink downstairs."

Zenos took his bag, and the two began to head downstairs. "I thought I told you that I won't be treating you to booze."

"You said that you won't be treating me to anisouzo," Myron pointed out as he put his shoulder around Zenos' neck. "So, I'm asking you to buy me a bottle of lakiotis."

Silence passed for a few moments between the two. Sighing he replied, "You're not wrong."

"So you'll get me some lakiotis then?"

"My answer is still no." That was when Zenos and Myron left the pub and waited for an automobile drone to come and pick them up. Once one came by, the two pilots got on and sat down right next to each other. "Dock W-12, please," Zenos said to the drone. The silent autonomous vehicle began to move and head for the dock where the Cataphract is resting. All that the drone was passing through was only the corridors meant for transport, since it wasn't built for the outside. While they were in the drone, Zenos asked, "So where are the others?"

"They're already at the Cataphract," Myron replied as he pulled out his holoslate. "They went ahead of me while I was looking for you."

"By the way, how's Skyros? Is he back flying?"

"Yes he is. His doctor already said that he can go now since he's cured of PTSD. Now he's been flying a lot more."

"I'm disappointed that he wasn't reassigned to the Cataphract."

"Actually he was." From the looks of it, Zenos was overjoyed. "I know," Myron continued, "I was surprised myself when the higher-ups grouped Sky with us at Cathar."

"That's certainly good news!"

"I'm guessing you're looking forward to meeting him at the Cataphract, huh?"

The drone slowed down and parked at the designated parking area, and Zenos and Myron got off. They entered through the elevator doors and headed up to the floor where the gates leading to the Cataphract were. As they stood in front of the door, it let off a faint hiss and slowly began to open. The gate that they passed through was a long and white corridor that had glass windows that gave a view of space on one side, and Nephos on the other. Other people were espied going both ways through the gate. From the outside, another ship was seen to be arriving at the planet's low orbit, probably to berth at MODAS or that nearby space city a few hundred thousand klicks from the complex.

An airlock was located at the end of the corridor, which separated the gate from the ship. A hiss could be heard throughout the gate every ten to twenty seconds, which may mean that the airlocks were opening and closing. Stepping through the first door with others who were on their way to the vessel, the portal sealed behind them. For a time they waited for the pressure to equalize with the Cataphract. Once it had equalized, the second portal in front of them opened, and they passed through the entryway. The other side uncloaked another corridor that ran transverse. The walls had a pattern of repeating lines and geometric polygonal shapes, adorned with light motifs that ran throughout the corridors. Zenos and Myron were supposed to head for Hangar P4, which is nearby where they were. on the way there, Myron asked Zenos, "So how's Zoe? I haven't heard from your sis since she was reassigned more than three weeks ago to the Thalassa."

Zenos placed his hands into his two side pocket units. "She's fine. She said that she may not be available for a while since she'll be going to Mane Calamari."

Myron quickly caught on, since he had heard word of some undertaking being materialized there. "GESO operation?"


"I hear that raiders roam those parts of the galaxy where the GESO convoy is going to pass through."

"Eh, I'm sure they can handle it, especially with that huge task force sent by the UTA."

"And the Solar Reign, mind you," Myron added.

Entering Hangar P4, the two pilots separated from the main group of sophonts and strode towards a certain group of people with similar uniforms, uniforms that were identified with the Astronautikon's fighter corps. These men manage to spot Zenos and Myron approaching them, and they were calling out, "Zane! Myron! Glad you made it!"

"Hey!," Zenos called back with as much enthusiasm. Once they met, they exchanged hugs with the lieutenant as if it was their casual time. "Long time no see, brothers," he continued with as much affection.

"I'm guessing you're ready as always?"

"Ready as I'll ever be, Boreas."

Boreas in turn raised an eyebrow. "Tell me that when you have rolled your sleeves back down, man."

"Oh," Zenos certainly didn't notice that. He rolled down the sleeves of his uniform and asked, "So I'm guessing you're waiting to be briefed?"

"Yeah, we were waiting both for you two and for our commanding officer for an hour now. Good thing that this ship got refreshments."

"You should've come over to the Kefi house then, if you are so worried about refreshments," Zenos chuckled. Another pilot was approaching them, someone that looked familiar. "Sky!," they called out to him. The pilot rushed toward them and was given a collective hug by his comrades. Skyros said in response, "Guys… Please, a little room…"

"Oh, sorry about that," Myron replied. They backed away to give Skyros some breathing space. The men took some few minutes to chat with each other until they saw a particular woman approaching them. "Whoa!," Myron commented. "I never knew women this killer could serve on this ship."

"That's why they're called 'killer' my friend," replied Zenos with a smirk on his face. "Because both definitions go hand in hand in the Astrostratós."

"Well then, I'll make the first move."

"Are you kidding? Your experience with women is just abysmal." Turning to the others he confidently whispered, "Watch and learn boys."

As the others were assembling themselves in a line, Zenos slowly approached the mysterious woman who seemed to be in another pilot uniform, likely the uniform of a pilot of a higher rank. "Sa-lu-tations, milady," he began in a flirtatious mood. "I never noticed that a gal like you would want to serve here."

"Nice flattery you got there," she replied with such terseness. "So why aren't you in line, Tsimicalis?"

"So you have heard of me! Why it just happens that you were the reason behind this sudden, ehem, break in protocol," he chuckled. "Plus, perhaps may be a good time to ask you out for a date." This woman just said nothing to him. After a pause which was growing more and more awkward by each passing second, he then asked, "So who are you supposed to be?"

Bluntly did she reply, "I'm your senior officer."

"Shit!" was what Zenos whispered to himself, yet it was loud enough for his companions to hear. Stepping back in line, Zenos commanded his fellow pilots to give a prompt salute, which they did at the speed of sound. "Salutations, ma'am!," they yelled in unison.

"At ease, gents," she ordered, and they brought their arms back to their side. "I am Major Ariadne Psaros, your senior officer for the fighter wing of this ship. You all seem confident in your abilities as pilots–after all, you all may have been assigned or reassigned to the Cataphract, the mighty super-dreadnought of the Astronautikon. Well, your abilities and your prior experiences can only carry you so far on board this vessel. So I expect you all to follow orders without question and without delay if you want to keep on stroking your cocks on board this ship. Got it?"

"Yes, ma'am!," they yelled once more in unison.

Tapping on her holoslate she said, "Here are the rooms that you will be assigned to, pilots." Their holoslates vibrated in their pockets, and a message with the assigned room number appeared as the slate opened up and deployed its holographic screen. "You will be notified of your first mission soon. You are dismissed." Leaving them she turned her head around and stopped for a while. "And Tsimicalis," she added while staring into Zenos' eyes, "It'll be a long while before you are worthy of asking me out on a date." That was when she walked away from these pilots with the same beauteous impression that she had when she approached them. Myron patted Zenos on the back and said, "And you said that you had more experience with women…"

"Ohhhhhh," Boreas mockingly laughed with the others. Zenos' expression on his face was an expression of irk. "Okay guys," he replied. "Let's head to our quarters, we have a big day tomorrow."

"You're just saying that because you failed in getting a date with her aren't you?," Skyros was yanking on Zenos' chain as the group began to walk to their quarters.

"Not one word out of you, Sky. Not one word."

This entry was written by Stormwrath.
Last edited by Perseid Federation on Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:47 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Founded: Jul 24, 2015

Getting There

Postby The Solar Cooperative Union » Mon Aug 03, 2015 2:57 pm

Getting There

"Its not being dead that scares me, its getting there"

Those words now ricocheted within the mind of a singular soldier, far away from home and in less than ideal situation. His name if anyone were to ask was Derik Elmyr, a miners son who had grown in the shadow of refinery towers and smoke-stacks on Clovis, a planet so far away now. Around him, a dozen other young men and women clutched rifles and heavy weapons to their chests, even though Deriks' rifle was magnetically attached to him, he held it close. Twenty-two years old and already here, about to die, thats what the back of his mind told him. The front of his mind, the one that posted on the Extra-net and went to that Noodle store in Aliaster to stare at the waitress, that part of his mind told him he was doing this for his country, for his family and friends, but it was little solace.

His helmet radio buzzed to life, doing away with the sound of his own breathing.

"Alright, Echo Team, Prep for Jump, Objective is to take out those targeting systems."

Derik had volunteered for ZG service because he figured it would be a life of rescuing damaged freighters and kicking pirate ass, every kid in the Union wanted to be ZG at one point or another, it was the allure of swashbuckling adventures in deep space that attracted so much attention from the public. Few people got more respect then a ZG among both the Navy and Civilian population. When Derik had gone back to that Noodle place on shore leave, now with the signature Spear emblem on the shoulder of his uniform the waitress had slipped him her number, that was fond memory, one that Derik could hold on to. He now understood the cult like respect of the Zero-G Units, it was intense, terrifying, deadly and required constant skill and there was no room for error.

The dim red light in the corner of the launch bay started to flash, for what seemed like minutes, each time it faded and shone back to life Derik could feel his chest tighten and his mind begin to sharpen, until eventually it faded and didn't shine again.

Green Light.

The launch bay door slammed open and what had been grey metal was instantly replaced by the vacuum of space, the assembled soldiers were sent shooting forward and for a half second they were at the mercy of gravity before the thrust packs came to life and they could course correct. Derik had done this a hundred times in training, but now it felt much more real, the stakes were not failing and being sent back to the marines, now failure meant death. On either side of him rail-gun rounds and particle beams streaked between the fleet behind him and his target, debris and bodies formed a field of obstacles in the four kilometer distance between there and where he was.

The ZG next to him seized as a spray of blood and viscera erupted from his chest, Derik flinched but he had to stay focused, had to survive, had to get back to Clovis and help his dad like when things made sense. He wouldn't die here, not over this distant world fighting a distant war, he told himself over and over again, that wasn't to be his fate, not him. An explosion several yards in front of him once again through him into combat mode, he banked left to avoid the shrapnel and broken bodies of his comrades left by the explosion. All around him the ZGs' did the same, twisting, banking and rolling to avoid the wall of hell-fire that was directed at them.

Finally he and the other remaining ZGs cleared the debris field and emerged into clear space, the brilliant blue of the planets oceans suspended beneath them, peaceful in spite of the hell that had engulfed the space around it. His HUD displayed the distance, less than one kilometer now, and the meters ticked by multiple times a second, once he was on the hull of the enemy station he would be safe. He would make it, see Clovis again and raise a fa-

Fire shot through his body as something shattered in his side, his HUD blinked out and his vision was replaced by a swirling chaos, no, no, no. He sucked in air in panic, desperately trying to course correct, anything to stop his momentum, he knew what he had to do. He grabbed the rifle on his chest with all his strength and then sent it flying in the opposite direction of his spin, it seemed to work as the rapid spin slowed to down to stop.


He had stopped twisting but not moving away from the target, he now knew why, he could see the drops of fluid from his thrust pack forming a snaking line. His single form of control in the void was trashed, his HUD computer was also burned out, and he could only assume his life-support was going to fail soon. He considered taking his helmet off, but then stopped himself, figuring suffocation would be better than the eye-bursting, blood boiling effects of the vacuum.

So there Derik was, drifting away into infinite space, but at least he had a view. The planet of Niltheim stretched out before him, its brilliant blue oceans and mottled continents with a spattering of clouds reached across his entire field of vision. Contrasted against the planet he could see the bright arc of missiles and rail-gun rounds shrieking through space, immeasurably loud but never making a sound. He could also make out the station that he was supposed to have helped destroy, he watched hit contact inward for a half second before rupturing in a brilliant burst of pure energy, at least someone had made it, not that it was much consolation.

Derik watched as the snow-white clouds of Niltheim were pushed aside by expanding mushroom clouds, he watched as its atmosphere peeled away and brilliant energy swept around the planet, scorching away its life and history, all of its people, eventually his helmet visor began to fog up, that meant that the recycler was offline, wouldn't be long now. Even the voice in back of his mind was quiet now, he closed his eyes, and thought of Clovis, his dad would be proud, at least.

-Derik Elmyr-MIA-Presumed Dead
-Recovery Priority: None
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The Ben Boys
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Postby The Ben Boys » Mon Aug 03, 2015 5:10 pm

Last edited by The Ben Boys on Sun Aug 16, 2015 10:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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The Uthani Imperium
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Postby The Uthani Imperium » Mon Aug 10, 2015 6:32 pm

The Light that Shone upon the River

Pay no mind to the battles you’ve won

It’ll take a lot more than rage or muscle

Open your heart and hands my son

Or you’ll never cross the river

It’ll take a lot more than words and guns

A whole lot more than riches and muscle

The hands of the many must join as one

And together we’ll cross the river

Excerpt from “The Humbling River,” Puscifer, Maynard James Keenan

“It is his one thousandth,” the near ecstatic words of the Ilu-Sanga quieted all but the screeching of the coddled child.

The medical attendant’s face seemed to look almost mournful, and his mouth constantly contorted as he tried to find words of comfort. The other man in the room, the spawn’s father, was emotionless, a blank glaze seeming to overtake his eyes as he stared off into nothingness. The child’s mother, sweating and exhausted, allowed tears to flow freely from her eyes. “But,” she managed to eek out, “He’s our first.” In response she brought the child closer to her bosom, and indeed almost tried to hide the meager form behind her scaled hands.

“It is not ours to question the Steps, nor ours to question our divine Sun.” The Ilu-Sanga replied, a warm succor just barely edging out the pure joy that dwelled deep in his tone. “Do not cry child, do not protest, he is bound for great things!”

“But,” the woman was crying profusely now, even as she wailed in protest to the holy man and clutched ever tighter to the crying swaddle in her hands. “He’s our first, by the Light he’s our first, it can’t be!”
“Ours is not to question,” The holy man repeated again, beginning to advance on the woman. “But to accept the Steps, and bask in the righteousness of those who are on the cusp of eternal bliss!”

“Please, please we’ll do anything; there must be some sort of mistake, or something that we can do to make you reconsider.” The man’s father broke his lifeless gaze, crashing back to reality in a great panic as he moved to intercept the Ilu-Sanga. “Anything, anything at all, just tell us what it is!”

The Ilu-Sanga came forth still, a broad and almost cruel smile plastered across his face. “There is no mistake, and nothing to be gained my child.” The holy man came even with the father, resting his hand upon the Uthani’s shoulder before maneuvering him out of the way. “Feel pride! Your son shall rest with Ilumar soon! Never to be placed under the constraints of Ulukar’s curse again, free to roam and do battle against the accursed wretches!” The holy man was truly animated now, drawing ever closer and closer to the bedridden woman. “Free to fight the war, to end the war even! He could be the one, the one to deliver the death blow to Ulukar himself!”
“But he’s our first, Ilumar damn you he’s our first, you can’t do this!” The woman was wailing in earnest now, nearly suffocating the child as she buried him deep into her arms and tried to scramble up the bed and away from the Ilu-Sanga.

The priest would not be dissuaded however. Despite his cracked scales, chipping horns and ancient looking eyes he showed a surprising amount of speed and grace as he lunged forward, snatching up the child in a flash before the mother could even respond. “Worry not child! He’s destined for great things, great things indeed!”

The father snapped in that instant, lounging at the priest. But the he was far too quick on his feet, dancing around the estranged man with unimaginable coordination, barely even jostling the child as he shot out the door. “Worry not!”

“Ilumar damn you, Ilumar damn you filth!” The father made to follow, screaming in rage, before the petrified medical attendant at last moved, placing a firm hand on the Uthani and stopping him dead in his tracks.

“I’m so sorry, but there really isn’t anything to be done about it.” The man’s voice was meek and mournful, and yet somehow soothing in its own way. “He is chosen, anointed, engraved even. It is hard now, but one day you’ll look fondly upon this, to know that you were lucky enough to bring a beloved into his one thousandth cycle.”

“Thankful, that lunatic just carted off with my goddamn child, my first born! And you, you presumptuous fucker want me to be thankful!” The father’s voiced quivered with rage, his long jagged teeth grinding together as he spit out the words. “I’m going to get my son back, piss on all of you fucking lunatics!” Again the medical attendant held firm, even as the child’s father struggled in vain to release the man’s hold on him. “Let go of me!”

“Don’t be an idiot, you’ll only bring harm to yourself and your wife!” The attendants voice suddenly turned grim, his eyes alight with rage as he squared down on the Uthani. “Truly, truly I am sorry that it must be your first, but do not question Ilumar!”

The man seemed ready to respond, his heavy, armored fists balling up as if to strike. He squared up, then recoiled, and then in an instant, went limp, the lifeless glaze of before replacing his hatred. “Nothing,” his voice came again, this time with a sort of milky dissociative quality, as if he wasn’t truly speaking consciously. “Nothing to be done about it.”

The holy man, for his part, had not dared to stop since his rapid exit. He was nearly running now, on the verge of a dead sprint as he jolted out of the hospital. Above him, the constant light of the subterranean city cast the same yellowish glow over all that it always did. The streets were nearly empty to his great relief, and thus he was free to advance quickly through the well-ordered and utilitarian walls that surrounded him on all sides. Not even the alleyways seemed inhabited, even at midday, on a weekend no less. It was if they all knew, knew they he bore in his arms a sacred one, an engraved.

The thought amused him greatly, and he troubled himself with nothing else as he ascended up through the city, climbing higher and higher along the elevated wedges that led from city level to city level. At last he reached what he was looking for, an open archway, with a heavy steel door that hung ajar. “Ready yourself my boy, ready yourself for the glories to come.” And with that, the old priest nearly skipped through the cold archway, plunging into the warm glow of the sun above.

“Rise appointed, today you have earned your first name.” The bellowing call of the robed figure cast deep echoes throughout the deserted chamber, reverberating off the cold metal and bouncing in the ears of the boy that kneeled below the pedestal that he stood on. “You bring great honor to yourself, and indeed to us, Ilumar is proud to anoint you Kaskal.”

The boy, no more than ten, bowed his head low, and then with a firm voice spoke. “I am honored to bring pride to Ilumar, and gracious of his gift.” He dared to raise his head a bit, the horns protruding from the back of his head bobbing slightly as he cast a furtive glance at the robed figure that loomed above him. “I accept his gift, and am honored to call myself Kaskal, beloved be Ilumar, and gracious be his boon to his children of the sun.”

“Go now my child, there is much left to do, you have not been granted reprieve.” The robed figure didn’t offer any more response, turning away and leaving with the same unnatural swiftness that everyone about the boy, Kaskal, seemed to possess.

The boy stayed bowed for a few minutes after the figure had departed, and then at last shambled to his feet with none of the grace and reverence he had been displaying just moments before. ”Kaskal, what a stupid name.” The boy thought to himself as he exited the stone chamber, the sound of it rolling off his tongue as he was greeted by the warm sun of Uthanium, and the warmer smiles of a horde of his compatriots who awaited himself outside the temple. “Kaskal, he gave me Kaskal for name.” The displeasure in his voice was evident, even as the horde flocked around him, clasping him on the back and showering him in praise.

“It’s a wonderful name, Kaskal, it has a beautiful ring to it!” One of the other children, a girl the same age as him chirped, a wide smile showing on her face. “A beautiful ring to it, it’s almost poetic!”

“Ilumar knows no rest, and neither should you!” The stern shout broke the conglomeration like a lightning bolt, the horde of children instantaneously cowering low before the nearly hateful gaze of the massive Uthani woman who was fast approaching them. “You’ve got your names, that doesn’t mean you lazy insolents get the day off, move, now!” The woman came upon them, a heavy iron rod in her hands, brandishing the pole high and threatening to strike at the conglomeration of children who were now sprinting towards another of the metallic buildings off in the distance.

The slowest among them felt the sting of the rod, falling as their legs were struck and then scrambling back up again to race away with their compatriots. Still the crazed woman came on, chasing them literally to the doors of the metal structure, before giving up her pursuit with a loud thwack to the door frame. The children breathed a collective sigh of relief as the woman scowled, but then at last retreated, skulking off to terrorize some other tardy group to be sure.

“Please children, allow us to be the first of us to congratulate you on your names, it makes us all so proud to see how well you’re all coming along.” The sweet and tender voice broke the terrified shock of the children’s latest pursuit, each of them immediately turning to face the front of the room. What lay before them was nothing new, the twins, brother and sister, and easily the children’s favorite teachers. They spoke in near perfect unison, their voices practically indistinguishable, and their eerily similar faces bearing the same inviting smile as they gestured towards the row of seats in the Spartan-like room. “But now, if you please, sit down, we have a lot to cover today.”

The children did as they were commanded, seating themselves methodically, illustrating that this was indeed a well-practiced ritual. “Thank you all so very much,” The two Uthani smiled again, both pairs of teeth almost snow white, and seeming to possess the exact same structure and pattern. “Now then children, continuing from our lesson about divine service from yesterday; can any of you tell me who Ulukar has set against us in our holy quest for enlightenment and eternal bliss?”

“His spawn, the corrupted!” One of the young Uthani boys towards the back of the classroom volunteered, enthusiasm quickly replacing the terror he had felt just minutes before as the cold rod had crashed against him. “Those Uthani who have forsaken our beloved Ilumar, and now must wait with Ulukar in wretched torment until slain by Ilumar and his enlightened children!”

“Very good Ulanan,” The wins spoke in perfect synchronization again, each keeping the unnervingly mirrored smile plastered across their face. “But they are not the only tools of Ulukar, can any of you tell me who else the wretched darkness has set upon us?”

Kaskal hesitated for a moment, and then raised his hand slowly. “The interlopers, the people from beyond the dead stars and treasured strongholds of Gamma; thieves and murders come to take away our home and cast us into shackles and servitude.” The young Uthani squeaked uncertainly, his voice filled with anxiousness as the pair stared unblinkingly at him.

“Excellent my child, you’re absolutely right!” Kaskal felt a wave of relief wash over him as he was rewarded with the same praise as his kin, a burden leaving his mind. “During the Second Cataclysm, Ulukar beset upon us with ten thousand or more beasts, nameless, faceless creatures with only hunger in their heart, and darkness in their souls.” The pair continued, reaching down to their desk and depressing a small button, again in perfect unison. Above them, a terrible picture flickered to life, a blue caricature of beasts that none dared call by name, but instead only Equalizer.”

“These foul beasts, mutated spawn of Ulukar and his unholy meddling with life, were eventually beaten by, and indeed have all but completely disappeared. Your brave kin in the Karas and Watas almost single handedly responsible for their vanquishing.” The pair gestured towards the beats above for a single time, and then again depressed the button, bringing a far more acceptable pair of figures into existence.

Above the two, in the same blue hue, a pair of humans, one dressed in black and the other in crimson stood side by side. “And then, when we had at last found peace, and knew the gracious and bountiful gifts of Ilumar, these heathens fell upon us like ravenous locus.”

The children, well-rehearsed in their roles, booed and screamed taunts as the pair finished, casting insults at the un-answering pictures that hovered above them. “Make no mistake children, before your lifetime is up, it will be your duty to bring these heathens to the light of Ilumar, by word or sword, only they can decide.” The pair immediately silenced the children as they spoke, and then depressed the button again, shattering the humans and dissipating the image.

Kaskal raised his hand again, the feeling of nervous dread intensifying as he contemplated his words carefully. “But teachers, why do they take from us what is ours?”

The pair only smiled again, a look of knowing pity filling their eyes. “Because it is there way; those not bound by Ilumar or not of the Dead Stars take for granted what they already have. In their eternal quest of greed, they care little for who they trample, only that they find new pastures, true beasts in every sense of the word. And like beasts, they must either be elevated to civilization, or struck down before they can do harm.”

Kaskal smiled, “I understand teacher, thank you.”

“Yes we’re sure you do,” the two replied in the same kind, almost loving manner as before. “But for now children, let us proceed outside, it’s test time.”

“Yes teacher,” the children replied in union, each pushing his or her chair out in a swift and synchronous movement, filling the nearly empty steel room with the sound of metal grinding on metal. They formed quickly up the room’s side door, a perfect, unbroken, and silent line; the lead of which awaited the command from his teachers to enter the yard. The twins quickly assumed their position at the front, and then ushered the children out into the blazing sun that hung high over their heads.

Before them, a rectangular pit dug nearly a meter deep and twenty meters long stretched out. Its bottom was gravel, and in the center, a single wooden post extended up as if to demarcate two different sides of a sport’s field. Kaskal, second in line, wasted no time, following the boy in front of him as they both vaulted down into the pit below. The other child rang out to the end of the other pit, and then stood at attention, mirroring the imagine of Kaskal who stood stock still. Neither Kaskal or the other flinched, even as the gravel dug itself deep into the soft and exposed undersides of their feet, neither dared move, not yet, not until commanded.


The shrill screech of the twins broke each of the boy’s unblinking demeanors and sent them both into a flurry of motion. The other child came on fast, sprinting across the field and crossing the midway pole in a flash. Still he paid no mind to the little jagged stones that were fast becoming imbedded into his feet, charging forward and lunging at Kaskal. For his part though, Kaskal remained cool and collected. He side stepped his foe, and though he didn’t manage to quite sweep him off his feet a quick strike to his legs did stumble the startled boy. The boy was nimble though, tucking and rolling away from the waiting feet of Kaskal which lashed out to strike at him again. He came to a stop, quickly sprung to his feet, and then the dance was on in earnest.

The two Uthani children circle each other, leaving contrails of crimson smeared across the gravel as they shifted their feet in and out of position. Kaskal dared a lunging-punch, reaching out to strike his foe, only to have the boy duck low under his arm and deliver a well-timed strike to his abdomen. Kaskal was thrown but, but quickly countered, catching his foe square in the kidney with a swift kick that ended his sudden advance. Again they went back to shifting and sliding, sizing each other up, looking for weakness, until at last Kaskal’s foe let out a blood curdling scream and came at him once again.

The boy was quicker this time, pouncing and striking with precise movements that didn’t seem to match the rage that glowed in his eyes whatsoever. Kaskal held his own however, and for a time the two stood face to face, trading horrific blows with one another until they both neared collapse. Kaskal however, slipped in the gravel, and in an instant his combatant was upon him. The Uthani brought his hands to Kaskal’s throat, his fingers tightening in a vice like grip around the young boy’s windpipe. Kaskal thrashed against him, kicking and biting at the boy. Still though, he could feel the life leaving his body, unconsciousness fast approaching. He felt darkness come upon him, and yet, in a last ditch effort, brought his fingers to the boys eyes and gouged…

”Next in line please!

The mechanical tone of the crier rang through Kaskal’s body, a tense nervousness overcoming him as he stepped forward, entering the massive tent. He had done this before, over a dozen times now, ritualistic scaring and branding was common among the Uthani, and yet to imagine a symbol forever engraved upon his face? It was enough to give him pause, though only for a moment as he proceeded deeper into the poorly illuminated canvas structure. “I am ready,” he spoke aloud now, his voice not quivering with fear even though his mind was wracked with terror. “I am ready to accept the responsibilities of the Hazzilumanse, and mark myself in service to the beloved Ilumar and his conduit our gracious Lugalutu.”

The attendants inside only smiled in response, before at last one of them gestured towards a single, low lying metallic table that dominated the central space of the tent. “Come then my child, let us engrave you as a holy fighter for Ilumar.” Her voice was sweet, almost succulent, alluring and yet also comforting, though it did little to quell Kaskal’s nerves. “Lay here child of the one thousandth, today you shall know the final marking of our divine creator and beloved divinity.” Her voice was still warm, but somehow now took on a commanding tone, leading him to lay flat on the metallic table without any protest, even as his brain screamed in terror.

“You’re lucky,” the woman smiled down at him, “The fighters of the acnient days had this done with molten iron.” Kaskal held himself perfectly still in response, closing his eyes as the woman picked up a rather large rectangular object that lay on the table next to him. “Hold still, perfectly still now.” She laid the rectangular object down over his face, fitting it around his head, and completing covering any of his features. “Here we go now, again please try to stay as still as possible, this will hurt quite a bit.”

Kaskal’s entire existence flashed with pain, his back arching, his fists clenching tight and his legs thrashing as the woman flicked the switch on top of the wretched box over his head. He could feel a pair of orbs, one directly above the other, descend and press down on his forehead. They made contact, and then pushed harder, applying an impossible and burning heat that seared his scales and set cries of pain spewing forth from his mouth. Simultaneously, a pair of circular metal objects were descending on his eyes, spewing and spraying something into them that made them burn, perhaps even worse than his forehead did.

“Hold still for just a moment longer now, we’re almost done!” The nurse screamed to be heard over Kaskal’s horrible cries, the out-of-place smile on her face never leaving as she tried to comfort the young man. But indeed, they were almost done, and a few moments later the box sprayed some sort of filament into the brand it had left on his forehead, and then at least released. “You did excellently; we didn’t even have to restrain you!” The woman chirped up as she pulled the cursed thing off his face, and then almost immediately ushered him off the table. “There’s a mirror outside if you’d like to see how it looks.”
Kaskal at last opened his eyes, struggling to climb off the table as was directed. Something was different; everything seemed cleaner, more defined. It wasn’t a major change, but it was noticeable, as if his vision had corrected some sort of flaw he didn’t know he had ever possessed. He managed to get to his feet, stumbling, nearly falling, but at last righting himself as he shambled towards the side flap the nurse had directed him towards. “Praise be to Ilumar,” he managed to squeak out, his voice tired and crackling from the torrents of screams he had been unleashing.

“Indeed indeed, now off you go, we’ve got a few more to finish up before the ceremony begins.” The nurse gave him a push with earnest now, guiding him towards the flap.

Kaskal ducked low, stepping through the flap and into the sun of the midday. Everything was clearer, he wasn’t just imagining it. His compatriots who stood around comparing their new brands were more defined, he could see the individual scales of their flesh, not magnified but simply less cohesive. The blades of grass were more individual, and clouds ran together far less above him, their contours and lines distinct from one another in a way he was unaccustomed to. The small details were more noticeable, and thus it must have been some miracle that he didn’t notice the eyes of his freshly-marked comrades. Instead turning to walk towards the mirror the nurse had said would await him.

He brought himself before it, and then recoiled in shock almost instantly as his figure came into full view. As expected, a creamy white circle, broken by another golden circle directly below it, was branded firmly between his eyes and stretched up his forehead. But his eyes were most certainly different now. They were milky, swirling with whiteness that almost resembled his forehead brand. It was almost as if waves or clouds were swirling in them, as if some sort of strange liquid was dancing around his now almost-indistinguishable pupils. He brought his hands up to them, watching in near-horror as he confirmed that this was indeed him.

“Quite a shock isn’t it.” The coarse voice broke through Kaskal’s shock, causing him to turn and face the grizzled old Uthani who stood behind him. “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it, and it serves its purpose well.” Indeed the old Uthani did appear to know what he was talking about, the pair of orbs on his forehead and the milky quality of his eyes evidence enough of that.

“I’m sure honored one, it just, caught me off guard is all.” Kaskal replied, dipping low before the rough and battle scared figure. “It is a pleasure to see you here, have you come to watch the induction ceremony?”

The old one laughed for a moment, reaching down to pull Kaskal’s face level with his own. “Not watch no, I am here to participate, it’s my one hundred and twentieth year.”

“Oh,” Kaskal stuttered, the implications of the man’s statements not lost on him. “I see, I’m very sorry then.”

“Sorry!? Ha my boy, don’t feel sorry for me! It’s been a good long life, and it’ll be an even better eternity with Ilumar, I’m ready now.” The old Uthani shouted at him, clasping his shoulders together even as his lips contorted into a broad grin. “And you’ve got a strong one hundred years left for yourself, I can tell by the look of ya, you’re gonna make it to the end!”

“Thanks you honored one,” Kaskal didn’t sound so certain, but he was gracious to the old man for saying such at least. “In any event, I just want to make it through the ceremony.”
“Don’t worry boy, even if you don’t you’ll be with Ilumar, and I’ll see you there.” The man smiled again, and in truth his words did bring some degree of comfort to Kaskal.

“Yeah I suppose you’re right, and in any event w-“ Kaskal was cut short by the shrill screech of a booming voice that filled the air.

“Please report to your positions, the ceremony is about to begin!”

“Looks like it’s time then, come along, I’ll walk you to the line.” The old Uthani threw an arm around his shoulder, and then began leading him away from the tent. In front of them, a wide river dominated the scene. On either side, young Uthani stood hand in hand, each bearing a look of anxious uncertainty upon their face. When Kaskal reached them he joined hands with the end of the line. “Hold your breath now kid, and you’ll do just fine.” The old Uthani withdrew his shoulder and began to walk off , joining a much smaller line of seven Uthani who resembled his age in front of the young.

”On this sacred day, when the sun of Uthanium and the physical light of Ilumar are closest to us, we commend you engraved to him, and mark you Hazzilumanse.” The inanimate voice boomed again over the three lines of Uthani. ”Go now, step into the river, and know that you will be with Ilumar this day.”

On command, the ancient looking Uthanis advanced into the water, walking further and further until their heads disappeared below the line. In union, Kaskal’s line began to move then, each Uthani stepping in synchronization towards the water while the line on the opposite bank did the same. Kaskal felt the cool, crystal clear blue water touch his bare feet, and yet did not stop, coming on still. He was waist deep, now chest, now neck, and finally his mouth and the tip of his head descended below the water. He advanced still, holding the hand of his kin on the left, and finally meeting the other line, joining his right hand with them and closing the circle.

He could feel the air leaving his lungs, and had a great urge to plunge himself upwards. But he checked himself, and indeed those around him would have held him in place even if he had broken mentally. The circle in front of him, comprised of the old, was quickly shrinking. Two of the seven had already fallen unconscious, and yet were still held down by the remaining five. Along his own circle he could see that a few others of his kin had also fallen under, small bubbles no longer escaping their snouts as they were held in place. Kaskal could feel it coming on him as well now, but he held out, even as the one on his left and then the one on his right fell unconscious.

It was still creeping on him; he could feel darkness beginning to cloud his vision, and the burning in his lungs had become incredibly intense now. Still though Kaskal fought to stay conscious, struggling in vain against the rapidly coming water that had crept through his mouth and was now flowing freely down his throat. He trashed for a moment, kicking and screaming as he forced himself to stay underwater, and then without fanfare fell limp.

Kaskal shot upward with a start, the feeling of electricity coursing through his body as he screamed in terror. Above him, a heavy figure stood cloaked in crimson and gold, his face concealed behind an honorific mask that depicted Ilumar. From behind it, his mouth moved, and with a sort of congratulatory finality he uttered a single sentence.

”You have done well my son, I am proud to call you Hazzilumanse.”
Last edited by The Uthani Imperium on Mon Aug 10, 2015 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The Kinship of the Star God
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The Ben Boys
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Founded: Apr 16, 2009

Postby The Ben Boys » Wed Aug 12, 2015 11:36 pm

Boots on the Ground
Edited from Native Story Index

There were too many to count, a force of hundreds of transports and warships that a civilization just using personal computers could barely fathom. Yet by their hand they created them, wielding a sword they didn't know how to swing to fight an enemy they didn't know much about. The transports were so numerous and hastily built that most were nameless until the crew gave it a title during the lengthy voyage. Eight hundred yards long, two hundred wide, one barely spaceworthy hulk fitted some five thousand troops in cramped quarters, leaving the armories as the only haven away from boredom and claustrophobia. Men were left to scrub their untested weapons and clean their unmolested armor, made from the foundries on the Tiris Isles where the Uli invasion forces had neglected to bombard or capture.

But there was that one man, sitting on a bench, hunched over, reading a communique from home: he had a daughter. A baby girl that he could call his own flesh and blood. He was happy that they had chosen his wife to stay planetside and make bullets for her husband to fire against the bastards that had killed their parents and destroyed their childhood home. It was flattened during the tenacious fighting on the Origoth plains, along with the bodies of their friends and family. All because of the Uli. They thought they had no hope for a new life, they thought it was all lost, they thought there was nothing left in the future.

"Whatchya reading?" One of his squadmates came over, reading past his shoulder in a flagrant example of a soldier's lack of privacy. He scanned the black ink on the white field. Eyebrows raised, and a smile on his face, the man cried out to his comrades in the armory, "It looks like our friend here is a father!"

Whoops and yells rang out across the armory, men the new father never even seen before had come and congratulated him, patting him on the shoulder, and giving him a few sticks of nicotine gum. Why, why are they do happy for me, people I don't even know, the man thought. Happier than they should be, they were practically jumping out of their uniforms as if the war just ended.

Then a train holding all of his worries, stresses, and life for the past two years shrugged off a bit of it's cargo. He didn't feel it before, but the euphoria was setting in, and the realization of what has always been and what will always come.

It had been the story for thousands of years, with any civilization, any war. They were the boots on the ground, the ones fighting off the enemy so that their children and loved ones didn't have to. They were the ones going toe to toe with the Uli, the ones invading the enemy's bastion, where they could stop the menace before it could touched Ilencia again. Every man wanted to hear that their children would live on their sacrifices, and that of their friends', and of their dead comrades.

"Both Religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations"-Max Planck

Packers Nation

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Posts: 2177
Founded: Jul 09, 2013

Postby Geanna » Fri Aug 14, 2015 3:55 pm


Short Story by Geanna

Hello darkness, my old friend. How long have you waited for me? All I know is that it has been awhile since we have spent some time together, and now, I feel we will forever be entwined. Though let's both be honest - we knew the day was coming. Our paths were subtly gravitating towards each other - just lingering and unable to cross. Sure we came close here or there, but I guess now we have finally arrived at those crossroads. The destiny where we dance together in the throws of a bittersweet ballad - where you cradle me, and I stay within your arms for eternity.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified, but I guess you will comfort me, won't you? This is how all things end after all - from the tiny, unseen, and unquantifiable, to immense, dazzling stars. Everything exists for a awhile, it inhabits but a small blip on the line of time - but eventually it all fades into the abysmal reverie. I guess it is my time to fade as well, embrace me then, my old friend - I shall accept my fate. Embrace me.


I stirred as the sun basked my face in its generous, unending warmth. I can't tell you how long I had been out - but I was certain that death would claim what it rightfully owned. Though in honesty, as I looked at my ship that had crashed into the sands - the billows of smoke as they rose above me, I should be dead. If I close my eyes, even now - I can still remember the fright and anxiety I was feeling as I plummeted to the surface.

"Mayday, Mayday! C'mon! God dammit! This is Archangel 3! Mayday!"

Down, down we go - into the cover of clouds and shade. I find it fitting, don't you? To think that we all have a fall from grace at some point - I guess I couldn't have had a better name for a ship. Gravity has a tendency to be a good friend, or a nightmare.

My ship had ploughed into the dunes of a beach, the red tinted water rolling and sloshing, steaming from what I imagine was a vent beneath. By the looks of the large channel behind my small vessel - it must've glided in and I had the pleasure of being thrown from it. I can't say when I lost consciousness - I remember the descent and then, nothing.

I finally staggered to my feet, brushing the sand off my torn and rugged flight suit - finding it exceedingly difficult to keep my balance. The sunlight was bright, my eyes were not adapted to this much light. Artemis, my home - was always dark, we saw in infrared and it felt like my eyes were going to melt from their sockets. I stumbled about like I was in a drunken stupor, shielding my vision to try and see as I searched for my helmet.

I felt my foot brush against something, and still covering my eyes, knelt uneasily - feeling my fingers across the hot sands until I gripped the rim of a helmet. Finally. I picked it up, and quickly shook the sand from it - pushing it on as I activated the visor. Better. It was miraculous I thought, the shielding hadn't been shattered during impact, however I had no electronics. Flickering and distorted images of words and pictures, and information convinced me to finally turn these functions off.

"Well, great," I said to myself. I gazed around the scene, parts of my ship were everywhere - strung out like discarded toys, some still smouldering. I spent the next few hours scavenging my ship for food and supplies - bells in my head tried to convince me that this was hopeless and I'd most likely die. I didn't listen.

Sure, assuming I could find my firearm, I could just as easily accept my lingering fate - put a round into my head and it would be lights out. I was marooned, and most likely on an uncolonised planet - there was no civilization here, the hopes of rescue were most likely pointless to indulge in. Even still, though I could feel death's breath on my neck - it lying in wait to claim the inevitable, I was going to defy it for as long as possible.

I had climbed onto the nose of my ship, and was digging through the shattered glass of the cockpit. I pulled cables, cut them, and shoved them into a bag I'd found. Occasionally stopping to look around this barren waste, the waves of heat in the distance were like the waves of an ocean - rolling across the ground like serpents.

The sun had finally traversed the sky, where I could tell that it would soon be setting. Rich colours of purples, and reds overtook the greenish cover of the sky. It was then that I had my encounter, something had stirred behind me as I was digging through the engine at the rear. I stopped and quickly turned, faced only with the quiet landscape of empty and rolling dunes. My gills widened to listen better as I carefully scanned the landscape. Nothing.

Maybe that's how it would happen - I'd slowly go insane. My reality would fall to pieces and I could slowly slip into the doorway, watching it close before me as the last light of my sanity faded into the darkness. I chuckled at the morose thought. The good news was that my tools, or most of them - had survived and I was now tearing away at the engine for whatever I thought useful.

Did you hear that? I did. It sounded like shuffling. I turned and scanned the area around me, then the horizon. There was nothing there - I shrugged and carefully went back to disassembling sections of my engine. Occasionally I heard a sound, it had long pauses in between and I would look, and there would be nothing. I finally started to ignore it - my mind had to be toying with me.

Hear it? There it is again, the sound of something stirring in the sand. Not distant this time, no - this was near my ship. It was moving around my ship and it was then that I realised it wasn't my imagination. I gripped my wrench and continued to act like I was working, though you and I both know that I was waiting. It sounded like paper being dragged about, trying to get my attention. Do I look? Do I wait?

As it came closer to the wing of my ship, the one I was cropped up on with the large hatch open to the ship's engine - I gripped my wrench even tighter. I could ask you if you could see anything, but let's be honest - you wouldn't tell me. I moved very gently, raising my arm a bit while I was still hanging over the side of this compartment. I was ready for whatever possible monstrosity would no doubt assist me in my demise.

As the shuffling reached the submerged wing, it stopped. There was a long pause of pure silence that overtook our anticipation. I continued to wait, there was enough room here - I could leap inside but whether or not I could close the hatch quick enough was the question. If I couldn't, this small space would become my tomb - a sarcophagus for me, and a buffet for whatever was lurking.

I could defend myself, but given that I only had this wrench and hadn't found my side-arm yet, meant that my success in that confrontation would depend on what sort of grotesque beast I was facing. Thoughts raced through my mind, what did my assailant look like? How creative would it be in killing me? Would it be a quick death? Perhaps a very long, gruelling process in a sea full of agony.

I shuddered at the thought. The air was very still, the sun was now setting in what I assumed to be the west - but I had no way of knowing. Hear that? It's moving again. Now's my chance. I jumped from the compartment, wrench being wielded wildly in my hand as I flipped around and slid down the wing screaming ferociously.

"I'm gonna fuckin' gut you!" I yelled, even though I was most likely going to die. Instead of being greeted with serrated, snapping teeth - and long, sword-like claws - I found myself hitting the sand and staring at emptiness. There were no tracks, no path of acidic drool or claw marks. I exhaled sharply, and lowered my hand - the wrench falling from my fingers as it banged against the metal of the wing. I was alone.

At least I thought I was. It was then that I realised I had been outsmarted, it quipped behind me in this high-pitched shriek and I felt the very essence of my soul leap from my body in fright. "Gaah!" I yelped, no doubt in just as much of a shriek as my cunning nemesis. I leapt forwards into the sands, twisting as I found myself falling on my ass and staring at the wing. I hadn't thought of grabbing the wrench, but instead was trembling and scuffling backwards.

Planted on the wing was a creature, standing - or well what you could call standing. It had no legs or arms that I could discern, instead it looked like a large slug. It had wavy fringes across its sides, and three stalks full of eyes - in its posture it had decided to show me where its mouth was. It shrieked again, and jiggled up and down as it raced down the wing. I whined in fear, still shuffling back and bracing myself to be eaten.

It slithered towards the wrench, and in my horror - ate it. Just like that, my only chance of defense had vanished before me like a cruel joke. I would've been fine, I imagine - if it had decided that was all the meal it needed, but it didn't stop moving. As it hit the sand, it lied down as its fringes fluttered like waves, propelling this creature towards me.

I kicked sand at it, and started to move back again shouting, "No!, No!, Please!". I must've been crazy, there was no way it understood me - but I was now doomed. I couldn't move fast enough, and it quickly glided up over me. "Ah!" I screamed, its gelatinous body piling over my own as I frantically tried to hit it, my punches and pushes sinking into its flesh like nothing.

It was then that I expected my head to be pried off, or a limb to be quickly detached. Instead, it laid over me - and produced a different sound. It didn't shriek in its frightening, high-pitched ring, but merely whirred and brushed its head against my arms. I was taken aback by this, I thought I was surely going to be dead.

It had outwitted me before however, maybe it was playing with me - teasing me and would strike at the last minute. I stared at it, there was nothing I could do - it had immobilised me. It continued to brush against my arm and hand, whimpering now as I was no doubt confused. It laid its head down on my chest still whimpering as three stalks stretched out and stared at me - they moved towards me as I squeamishly leaned back.

We both stared at each other, before a stalk shot over and grabbed my arm. It wrapped around it to my horror as I grimaced and couldn't scream from the knot in my throat. It jerked it over its head and started to pet it. It whirred again, no doubt in enjoyment and I realised what it wanted. This evil, sluggish monster wanted to be petted. I abided by its request, as it released my arm and carefully stroked it, causing it to move its wavy fringes and squeal in a delighted tone.

"You... want to be petted," I was utterly dumbfounded. "Alright," I said, chuckling almost hysterically as it purred and retracted its stalks. We sat there for awhile as I watched the sun begin to descend beneath the horizon, the shade of night was starting to stretch her fingers our wide across the landscape. I guess, if I were going to die - I wouldn't be alone now.

"Alright, c'mon you," I said - attempting to get it to move. It popped a stalk out and looked at me, it had rows of eyes in a pattern all the way around - almost like that of a spider. What made it worse was that they blinked, and at different intervals. Honestly, they gave me chills.

"C'mon now, I need to get things ready," I said, still trying to coax it off me so I could continue salvaging. There was life here after all, but I didn't want to wait around until the night and see what other, possibly predatory creatures would show up. Unfortunately, I spoke too soon.

Off over one of the dunes, under the encroaching night sky there was another, more ominous sound. This wasn't a frightening shriek like my friend here had created. This was more of a howling wail, ghostly and deep in sound, like what you would hear if someone's lips had been sown shut - and they were left to produce this mortifying hum.

We had both heard it, as all three stalks of my sluggish friend shot up and nervously looked around. It quivered as I stared towards the dunes. "What was that?" I asked, not sure if to myself or the slug. There it was again, this time closer. The dog-sized slug on me whimpered, and suddenly slid from me. "Hey!" I called after it as the disembodied sound of this unknown force was suddenly, frighteningly close - it was loud, dear god it was loud.

My friendly slug buried itself into the sand, and was gone within second as I felt myself turn white. "Shit, shit, shit," I panicked. Another, wailing roar - louder than what you'd expect from a train. I stared at the large dune, my eyes wide and shifting. The dune suddenly, violently exploded as sand was thrown all around in a large cloud. This, this was the monster I had been fearing before. A thing of pure nightmare. It shot up several stories into the air, and bellowed with a grave, and ear-piercing sound that it was no doubt producing deep within itself.

It looked like a giant worm, and it was then that I was scurrying to my feet as it fell to the ground with a thunderous splash of sand. The entire place was liquefying as it tunnelled into the dune. It was fast, and I was sprinting towards my ship - I leapt onto the wing just as it cleared the distance. Desperately I searched for my side-arm as I heard its wail beneath the ground. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!" I scrambled behind the compartment door that exposed the engine.

Silence. I pried my helmet from me so I could see better, staring out at the now dimly lit area. I could see fine - but not a thing stirred. Where did it go? I shook, and shuffled around on the ship - looking at different sides. Then suddenly the sand began to liquefy again, it had turn to quicksand as the water in the near-by vented pond began to slosh. The ship was sinking!

I scrambled to the back, clinging to a wing as it slowly began to slip beneath the sand - and thanks to my ferocious, colossal new friend - the nose of the ship was suddenly rocketed upwards. Sand exploded in all directions, as it pivoted on its tail and I was certain to be crushed. Instead, the sound of twisting metal - and electronics being severed startled me as the vessel split straight in half, just meters from me.

I was thrown from the wing, my fingers digging into the wing until they'd lost their grip as the entire shuttle was launched upwards. In my descent, I realised I was truly facing an enormous problem. It looked like a giant centipede as my ship was torn in half like a tooth-pick, flashes and sparks illuminating the area as I slammed into the sand hundreds of feet away. The ship fell to the ground in two distinctive pieces, this giant legged worm munching on whatever metal it had found before diving into the sand - towards me.

In my fall however, I had been completely dazed. What sense of orientation I had, had vanished as I watched the sands move like water towards me. I wasn't a meal to this thing - a simple appetizer. I stared curiously however, as I was suddenly moving. Not towards this titanic demon, but away from it - briskly. It was then that I realised my hand had something wrapped around it, and upon my quick investigation, I realised I was being held by a long - slender stalk with hundreds of eyes blinking at me.

On the other end of this stalk was attached a slug, a slug that was swimming across the sand like a bullet and making hasty squeals as the monster behind us pursued. "C'mon! Go, go, go!" I yelled finally coming too as I grabbed its stalk and climbed myself up onto its squalid back. I laid down, and it wrapped two stalks around my wrists as I gripped onto them and we darted over the sand.

The hideous centipede behind us was gaining. I kept urging my sluggish friend to go faster, but we both new that this was the fastest it could go. I thought about jumping off and running beside it, but the slug alone was moving already three times faster than I could possibly run. With each dune, we were airborne for a few seconds, causing the impact to reverberate up through me as I tried to keep my grip.

"It's gaining!" I shouted, as the centre stalk of the slug shot up, its eyes went wide as it squealed. Fear. We were moving towards a very large dune. Flying up the one side, we came off the top like that of a racecar on a ramp. We leapt several meters into the air, with the ferocious eruption of sand behind us as our relentless and voracious pursuer ploughed through it like a freight-train.

The previously, several story dune was reduced to a mound as the ominous bellow sent chills up my spine. We slammed into the sands, and were met with a field of strange vegetation. Dodging, and twisting - we meandered through this field, it slowing us down as the giant centipede merely went beneath.

"C'mon you can do it!" I urged the slug, staring back at the moving sand-quake. I stared back towards the front, and my eyes went wide. Several hundred feet up, all I could see was the stop of vegetation - of dunes and sand. It was a cliff. "We have to turn!" I yelled desperately. Sitting up on my ass as I tried to pull on the slugs stalks. "Turn! We have to turn! There's a cliff!" I screamed in panic.

I was causing the slug pain as it yelped with each tug as I tried to get it to move left or right. We were going to die! "Tuuuuurn!" I finally yelled as the slug cried in pain from me pulling its stalk. At the last second, it finally did. We veered sharply to the right as I watched the centipede's trail stop at the cliff. We were close enough to the ledge that I could see the drop, several hundred feet down.

There was a wail as I twisted back, the massive, stupendous body of a giant legged worm speared out of this wall of hardened sand-stone and dunes, it couldn't turn fast enough as I watched it fly into the open-air. It desperately tried to recoil itself back, bending downwards and up to try and grab a hold of the cliff-face. It didn't succeed however. I watched it plummet down the fall, its large body scraping against the side.

It wasn't until then, that I realised what we had done. The giant centipede had compromised the cliff as the sound of cracking sandstone echoed into the valley beneath, and suddenly the dunes were collapsing! "Shit! Go!" I yelled at the slug. The ridge stretched for several hundred meters, curved and formed a large bowl to the drop below. Behind us, the ground gave way as a mountain of sand and rock collapsed in a giant sand-slide.

We bolted across the ridge, trying to out race the avalanche behind us as thousands of tons of sand and rock rained down into the valley. We were so close to the end of the ridge, as the cascading sands had reached us. In my desperate attempt to save us - I leapt. I jumped from the slug to the end of the ridge as the ground beneath us turned to water and fell.

My hand was holding onto what I can only describe as a branch, dangling high above the drop. My other hand was holding the stalk of my sluggish friend. "Hold on!" I shouted down at it. It was trembling and crying. I was slipping - the weight of us both was pulling us down and the branch wasn't going to hold. I stared down at my saviour, it stared back as I finally let go.

"Mayday, Mayday! C'mon! God dammit! This is Archangel 3! Mayday!", I tried to pull the flaps but there was no use. Whatever bit of debris that had clipped me had shot straight through the engine. I was done for. The lights and alarms going off inside the cockpit was all I was hearing over the loud static of the radio as I tried to call for help. I was a mere surveyor, scouting worlds near our systems for possible life.

As I plunged into the atmosphere, I watched the super-heated gasses race around my ship in a brilliant flare of reds and yellow, my vessel jerking about. I was light years away from any help, and I had no idea if my beacon - let alone my radio was working. ''Fuck! For fuck's sake! Shut the hell up!" I screamed at the dashboard of my small shuttle, bashing my hand against the rim of it as the alarms continued.

I fell through, and hit the clouds - the searing entry had caused my ship to vaporise the condensed water as I could feel the incalescence inside my cockpit. I was going to die. I continued to try and pull on the flaps, or activate the vectored thrusters to slow my descent. They did finally, as the flaps opened across the surface several were shredded - I was going to fast. I was thrown into a violent spin as I exited the cloud layer, gritting my teeth as I wildly tried to regain control, working myself up into a frenzy of frustration.

"Warning: Impact" the electronic voice began to ominously foretell. ''No!" I said, watching the ground come flying closer as the thrusters suddenly kicked on and my head jerked and slammed into the dash. Darkness was quick.

"Warning: Impact"

"Warning: Impact"

"Warn - ik Am act"

The ship slowed and glided as the thrusters used up what was left of their fuel. The remainder of the flaps straightened back out as the air-speed dropped, and the body drove into the ground. In the impact, my body was thrown through the canopy - the cockpit was nearly crushed as the nose dug in and the ship bent upwards, its weight being thrown onto the front. Sand erupted outwards, leaving a large channel that cut for several yards as pieces of shredded shielding, flaps, thrusters and wings were thrown across the landscape.

It wasn't long before the smoke began to billow into the air, and the fires ate through much of the punctured fuel tanks and flammable debris that scattered about. The base of the ship, and much of the area around the scrunched up cockpit was still red hot, its incandescent glow sizzling and popping as it cooled. I was certain I had died. I should've died. I can't tell you if it was the sand that saved me, or the airspeed finally dropping. What I can tell you, is that I survived, it was miraculous.

I stared at my sluggish friend as we dangled haphazardly above the valley. The ridge that once existed had vanished into a long, steep pile of sand and boulders. For sometime we stared at each other, its spider-like multitude of eyes blinking at me as I let go.

"Hold on!" I gritted my teeth as we fell, my damaged but still functional wings had stretched out as I held the slug and we both finally crashed into the sand from our long glide. We tumbled and rolled a few feet, both grunting at the less than soft impact and remaining there for a few moments. I didn't care for the mouthful of sand, spitting it out as I rolled over to stare at the dark sky - the last of the sun had set and now there was only darkness.

The slug whimpered and crawled over to me. It was whining and moved up under my arm. Three stalks were staring at me, as my lightly purple, and incandescent eyes stared back. Mine softened as I grinned faintly, "It's okay..." I said, holding my side. In my faithful leap towards the cliff to avoid the deathly fall - a sharp outcropping of rock had stabbed straight through my side. It ripped through my flesh when I had let go, leaving a large gash.

My sluggish friend continued to whimper at me. I smiled a bit wider, looking at the beady eyes. "It'll be alright - I promise," I said softly. I felt cold and weak, I knew that death was at my side and would take me soon. "Hope," I said with a delicate smile. "That's what I'll call you - Hope," I said, coughing as Hope whimpered in a low, heavyhearted tone. I gently began to pet it as it curled up against me, slowly stroking the crown of its head as my gaze shifted to the sky.

"Stars," I mumbled, they were beautiful. A sky full of exuberant, dazzling stars. Majestic and twinkling in the vast blanket of black. I'd never seen such a stunning sight before, it was the first time I'd ever seen a night-sky. How pleasing, I pensively thought - that death would give me such a wondrous mosaic that I could revere on in comfort before it'd take me.

Slowly, my vision began to fade. The stars were disappearing, first from the peripheral of my vision and then the darkness encroached beyond the boundary as the sounds of Hope's woeful whimpers waned. "Hope," I mumbled as my hand slowly stopped petting, Hope anxiously crawled on me - trying to rouse me. Its beady eyes, of glimmering universes was the last thing I saw as my hand dropped to the sands. An affable smile on my face as the light of my eyes dissipated and they finally closed.


Hello darkness, my old friend. How long have you waited for me? All I know is that it has been awhile since we have spent some time together, and now, I feel we will forever be entwined. Though let's both be honest - we knew the day was coming. Our paths were subtly gravitating towards each other - just lingering and unable to cross. Sure we came close here or there, but I guess now we have finally arrived at those crossroads. The destiny where we dance together in the throws of a bittersweet ballad - where you cradle me, and I stay within your arms for eternity.


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified, but I guess you will comfort me, won't you? This is how all things end after all - from the tiny, unseen, and unquantifiable, to immense, dazzling stars. Everything exists for a awhile, it inhabits but a small blip on the line of time - but eventually it all fades into the abysmal reverie. I guess it is my time to fade as well, embrace me then, my old friend - I shall accept my fate. Embrace me, and cradle me in the darkness where I shall feel no more pain or sorrow.


I scrunched my face.


What... what was that? I turned my head, feeling the skin of my neck and gills shift.


"," I mumbled. My fingers twitched, and my face scrunched. I could feel cool air around my extremities.


My eyes gently opened, not all the way at first. My unfocused vision created distortions of the world before me.


I quickly closed them, before gently reopening them once more - this time wider. A stalactite was hanging above my head, I could tell as my vision began to focus. I felt extremely weak. Was I dead? Had you taken me finally.


I reached up and wiped my face, I could feel the cool water as it ran down the palm of my hand, following the ridges and gullies of my skin as I observed them. I looked down, and around. I was in a cave of some sort. I sat up on my elbows, groaning at the pain from side, looking down there was some form of greenish, gelatinous ooze around the wound. "What the..." I mumbled.

There was metal, everywhere. Metal, and clothing, and my wrench! I furrowed my brows. I looked around some more and realised I was in a crude nest made up of gathered bedding, clothing and fibres, cables and sticks. It was then that I heard shuffling. At the end of this room of mine, was a small hole about half my size. A stalk of beady, spider-like eyes suddenly popped up over the edge of this doorway.

I leaned back a bit, unsure what was going to happen until I saw another stalk. Then I remembered. "Hope?" I asked as a slug quipped in delight and rushed out of the hole and over to me. "Hey!" I chuckled as it slithered up into my lap and brushed against me. It purred as I petted it and I laughed with a stupid grin plastered across my face.

"Did you save me?" I asked, pointing to my wound. It didn't seem to respond, but instead continued sliding around in a gleeful dance. It was then that I saw another set of stalks near the hole. These were smaller, and there were hundreds! I went wide-eyed as several small slugs, about the size of my arm came racing out and joined me in the nest, quipping and whirring. Hope was a mother. I couldn't believe it as I laughed and was overtaken by the massive family of creatures, that were obviously happy to see that I was indeed - alive.

As things settled down, Hope helped me lie on her back as we went through the hole and into a series of tunnels. Eventually coming to a large room where there were many other large slugs just as big as Hope. Slugcity, I thought. In the middle of this large room was a pile of strange fruits and food that they were voraciously devouring. Hope stopped as I rolled off, and she too joined in on the buffet.

They were definitely odd, these fruits. I took one, and carefully watched them eat - they didn't peel or anything. I took a bite finally, mashing it up - they were exceptionally soft and juicy. I couldn't tell you what they tasted like - I lacked that luxury, but it was food and energy, things I needed to repair my wound.

After I had my fill of food, and was able to walk - I explored a bit of the complex. They burrowed in the ground and made a large network of chambers and tunnels like ants. They had several entrances, and rooms full of trinkets and items. Some I recognised from my own ship, others I assumed were from vessels of the past. I wasn't the only one that had crashed here.

I remained in the tunnels for the next week or so - sorting food, and resting. When I had my strength, I went out to forage for food with them. This planet wasn't all sand as I came to learn. The valley where we had our run in, and ultimately defeated the giant centipede, had lush vegetation a few kilometres away. There, food was plenty.

I crashed here expecting to die, and I could've accepted that fate. Instead, I've taken up refuge with the slugpeople as I jokingly refer to them. They barely understand me - and it's a very simple existence. I'll most likely never see my home again. But at least when the inevitable does come, and we do have that eternal dance, my old friend, I will have spent my time on this planet with good company. That's how I've come to accept my fate, I think it to be a sagacious outlook - but at least when we look at the narrative of my life, I will have many precious memories.
Last edited by Geanna on Fri Aug 14, 2015 7:00 pm, edited 3 times in total.

"We dance on the lines of our destruction and continuation, to waltz and achieve the happiness of our existence, and to be the laughter in a world of silence."

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Chargé d'Affaires
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Founded: Apr 11, 2013
Father Knows Best State

Postby Neornith » Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:06 pm

New Deals

Collaborative post between myself and Phoenix Conclave

Jerago of House Pagophileb sat quietly in his chair, he looked at the large screen that simulated a window, a soft tropical view playing in it, it’s bright colors a stark contrast to the rest of the cold gray metallic office that Jerago occupied. The warmth that seemed to emanate from the screen reminded him of of back home, how he had been nominated to run this waystation was still a matter of uncertainty for him.

A slight beep awoke Jerago from his daydream and the voice of his assistant came over the intercom, “Sir, the delegation from Phoenix is here as requested, they are ready when you are sir.”

Jerago stood up and smoothed his white head feathers, and he straightened out his purple cloak and he walked towards the door and opened it for the Phoenix party.

The diplomat from Phoenix had been chosen from the recent class of graduates at the Academy, and this particular mission has been given to a Reikoan, who now stood before the Avan and offered a polite bow, one hand across his heart, the other behind his back, “Jahrd Adeas ur Siddouth of Phoenix. It is a pleasure to meet with you, Jerago of House Pagophileb.”
When he stood back up, he straightened the rust-red tunic he wore for dress uniform, his fur altering color to accent the gold piping.

“The honor is mine Jahrd.” Jerago said as he returned the bow with both arms remaining at his side. “I am pleasantly surprised at the speed of the Phoenix’s response, unlike other groups we have dealt with in the past. It is a pleasant adjustment from past experiences, now please won’t you come in and have a seat so we can get done to why you are here.”

Jerago waved the unusual looking mammalian into his office and directed him towards a stool sitting by the only desk in a room that was otherwise featureless, except for the large viewing screen, which was now black.

Walking around to the other side Jerago sat down on the only other stool in the room and waited for Jahrd to take a seat before launching into his spiel.

“Now then, I’m sure you’ve been apprised of why you are here correct?” asked Jerago as he shuffled a few papers around his desk.

Jahrd gave a quick nod as he accepted the invitation, settling onto the stool with only a moment’s discomfort, his tail flicking to get out of the way as he sat. “Ineed I have. As I understand it, you wish to contract the services of our vessels for escort duties on your new trade lane. Is that accurate?”

“Aye, with the security personnel aboard the waystation here as well to help keep the peace, the reason we have been placed in such a precarious position in all honesty is that we bit off more than our House could chew. Acquiring one of the Swift Winds’ waystations is a lucrative investment to be sure, however the Warrior Houses we could afford didn’t have the proper equipment and personnel, and the ones with the right equipment we could only afford for a few months at most. This is where your organization steps in. You have the proper amount and class of vessels to help escort and patrol our section of the Route, and your services come in considerably cheaper than the larger Warrior Houses.” Jerago explained

“Ah I see. Your resources are stretched thinner than planned.” Jahrd nodded in sympathy, “As you likely know, recently the Conclave of Phoenix has agreed to allow contracting military vessels for escort of foreign merchants. I believe we can come to some sort of arrangement with you Jerago. How many ships will you need to adequately defend your territory?”

“The suggested defense force is one cruiser, two destroyers, four frigates, and eight corvettes. Is this something you are able to supply?” Asked the Avan as he studied the curious creature before him.

Jahrd considered the amount for a moment, “I will need to be certain that our ships can meet your definitions of classes, however I believe a suitable force could be assembled. All the contracted crews are volunteer, but thankfully there is not yet a shortage in Phoenix of those willing to go out and see the galaxy.” He chuckled softly at the humor, possibly not as funny to the Avan as it was to himself, “Now, will this be the total force, or is this per convoy?”

“These will be the forces assigned to the waystation, with the corvettes acting as an escort force if necessary, their primary mission will be patrol and protection of the waystation. Furthermore a contingent of armed personnel will be required aboard the waystation itself to act as a security force.” Jerago said.

Jahrd nodded again after the Avan answered, “Very well then. I believe we can supply the forces you require. Is there anything else which this contract will need?”

“What are your requirements in regards to payments? Is it to be monthly installments or would you prefer something different?” Jerago said as he began gathering together a stack of papers.

The Reikoan canted his head slightly, consulting the economic database he’d loaded into his neural rig in anticipation, then pulled his dataslate out and typed in a value, converting to Avan currency before passing it to Jerago, “This would be the monthly fee for such a force. I will note that we are willing to negotiate on payment in your currency, services of equivalent value, or resources.”

“The price is reasonable as far as I’m concerned, provided you can offer just as effective of services as one of the Warrior Houses. Your protection of the waystation is also in a way protecting the honor and reputation of House Pagophileb. If you should fail in your endeavors then my House will be ruined and it is likely something we could never recover from. I hope you can appreciate how important your mission here is?” asked the Avan as he slipped the paperwork into a small metal briefcase that he slid across towards the Reikoan.

“Of course. I assure you that your House’s reputation will be safe.” Jahrd stood and offered Jerago another polite bow, “It is a pleasure doing business with you and your House. May fortune always smile upon you and yours.”

“May your winds be swift and plentiful.” Jerago said as he bowed to the Reikoan. “I look forward to us working together for many years to come. You should receive your first payment by the end of the week and hopefully your ships and personnel will arrive shortly thereafter at the waystation, now if there’s nothing else I must apologise for my rudeness but I have a few other matters that need my immediate attention.”

Jahrd nodded in understanding, “Of course Jerago. I will ensure the vessels and appropriate security staff arrive in time. Good day.” With that he turned to leave, another lucrative deal brokered for Phoenix.
Last edited by Neornith on Sun Aug 23, 2015 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Founded: Jul 09, 2013

Postby Geanna » Tue Aug 25, 2015 12:53 pm

''Day of Rain''

Important Canon
Short Story by Geanna

They say that in war, Heroes are just a fairytale. Stories propagated to keep the tale deep in the minds of all who hear. That the winning side is elevated, justified even, in moral character above their foe.

The truth is, there are no Saints in war. Not even Hell claims the blood of innocence.

Betrica - the centre of it all. Even as I look down on this now barren world - my hand gently pressed to the glass, I can still see it. 1,500 years of conflict between the Betrican Federation and the Dominion, a war of extinction. It all began with the Hardan. The Crux, the Dominion, the Artemene civilization - we have many names, but just over a millennia ago... we wouldn't even have been history.

The Dominion once ruled an empire across forty systems - all in the core-regions of Gamma. Under the Sagittarium we prospered, we were merely a quiet civilization - detached from the rest of the Galaxy, not very hard, but eventually something finds you. Something always does, and we were not prepared.

Hardan was an outpost system on the fringes of our expanse. A quiet military and civilian outpost, things were a lot different back then. When the Betricans came - their ships swarmed Hardan and knocked out the lumbering defences within hours. It was under the command of a conscript, that one ship - only one, survived and evacuated several thousand. Heavily damaged and running under power - Ra'Thun managed to jump to safety as the sole survivor of the beginning of our war. Her ship became known as the "Last Light".

As for Hardan? The population was exterminated - millions perished at the hands of the Betricans. Like dominoes, one by one our systems fell to the fires of war. The numbers of the dead continued to pile until we finally stopped counting. So many bloodlines cut short. Their stories violently ripped from the safety of their pages. Their faces merely became the frozen shadows rested deep in our memories. We were staring at our extinction.

As the Betrican Armada approached the Nytos Cluster, our home region, the flame slowly faded. We were at our conclusion, our fates sealed along the edge of the abyss of our existence. It was there, at the battle of the Nytos System - that we watched our flame quietly shut-out with as little as a whisper.

The Betricans didn't count on one thing however. Hope.

Under the command of the newly appointed Admiral Ra'Thun Anshaar, the embers of our once slumbering Dominion reignited. Like a blaze that crept through the blackness of the night, devouring the world around it in beautiful, and violent display - there was hope. Ra'Thun's fleet had taken the Betricans by surprise. Locked between the planets of the system - they were unable to manoeuvre properly to face their foe. With newly built carriers, the Paralax - Ra'Thun drove the Betricans from our home system. They fled like animals running from the firestorm they had created.

We gave them no mercy. We beat them back, we pushed them out of the Nytos Cluster and the war was now locked in a stalemate. Angry and determined, we refused to let go of the cliff, where we towered high above the demons that would send us into memory. Eventually, we gained the upper hand and pushed the Betricans out of Gamma completely, forcing them back into Alpha.

The Armada was finally destroyed at the Battle of the Twins, annihilated, purged, erased from existence. The Twins, the graveyard of two vast fleets - ships of unimaginable size and number left to silently drift. The last defence of the Betricans had been wiped from the field, and with it, Betrica's fate had been sealed.

This once world of clouds, vast oceans and civilization was now a blackened, empty and scarred carcass. We'd unlocked Pandora's Box, and pointed it straight at the Betricans. Justified, and Heroic - words that will forever describe our victory of the Betrican Federation. But as I stare at the others' faces, I can see it in their eyes. I can see it in Ra'Thun's as well.We were never meant to be a violent species. This was never meant to be who we are. Yet here I stand staring beyond this glass at a world that once was alive, her last breath filled with the screams of a dying civilization.

If it wasn't the intense shaking of the ship as we approached the system, I'm sure you couldn't tell we were even moving. We were descending on Betrica, to finally end the bloodshed. I gripped my rifle, and stared out the window as it all unfolded. I remember the radio chatter, they'd sortied out to oppose us, to give one last fight. Our fleet battled its way into the Betrican system. They expected us to land.

Instead, the Nytex's were covering two new ships of ours. The Lilith and the Armageddon.

"Armageddon to Last Light, in position and armed"

"Lilith to Last Light, in position and armed"

"This is Last Light, fire when ready"

They had expected us to land, to take their worlds back like we had done in the past. They threw all they had at us, their fingers gripping onto the ledge in defiance. They never stood a chance.

It was here, next to this glass that I watched the end of unknown lives. Countless, I'm sure. When Lilith and Armageddon fired, we all had to look away - the light was so bright that even the blackness of space had disappeared. The shields of our ships moved like crashing waves across the surface, and the metal of our hulls turned red-hot. So hot, that I could feel the warmth across my armour.

It lasted for less than a few seconds, and when I turned to look again - I was left with the view of a world in flames. We had opened Pandora's Box, and now we could only hope that it wouldn't one day destroy us as well. There was no cheering following the battle. Instead the atmosphere was very quiet, sombre even. No-one talked much, I could see it in there faces.

We let the remaining Betrican forces flee in their Exodus. Our fleet remained in the system, the burning worlds quietly orbiting their star. All but one, uninhabited planet was spared. Here we would build a station, cities eventually - and here those inhabitants would stare at the molten red orbs as they passed overhead. We'd lost seven cruisers, eighteen destroyers, a carrier, and thousands of souls to the oblivion. Even as I'm writing this, I can't wrap my head around what has happened. The war had finally come to its conclusion. The Betricans have been defeated.

We were now the kings over the hill of carcasses and ash.

"We dance on the lines of our destruction and continuation, to waltz and achieve the happiness of our existence, and to be the laughter in a world of silence."

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Founded: Jul 09, 2013

Postby Geanna » Sun Aug 30, 2015 7:01 pm

[ Mature ]

''Fires of Liberation''
Crux Peripheral Trade Egress #19, Beta Quadrant
Crux Dominion Trade Freighter; "Faalsark"

"Morning everyone," the Captain said as he stepped into the bridge, his eyes peering around at those already at their stations. A small smile had spread across the Runii's face as he quickly glanced over the manifest.

Several of the employees replied the greeting, though one, an Artemene - shook her head. "Hardly able to call it morning, no star close enough," she chuckled. The Runii grinned wider as he slid into the chair and pulled up a series of holoscreens.

"We don't need a star Alla, since you're always a ray of sunshine," he laughed. They were always playful with each other, Alla was Rentus' security detail on-board the Faalsark. They'd departed Run a few weeks earlier, Run being Rentus' home-system, and were heading towards a Crux military outpost that was being constructed. The Dominion had set its eyes on expanding out into the corefield, wanting to try and dominate the trade potential that would flow through the region when the SJT was completed.

As a result, the Sagittarium, the Dominion's governing body, had approved a series of military stations to be built in the different Quadrants around "bodies of interests". This station they were en route to was fairly new, it hadn't been given a name yet, merely an ID number. Rentus scanned the screens, his eyes shifting back and forth over the information, from the reactors to the cargo, and the crew manifest.

"Everything seems to be in order, though Reactor 3 seems to be a bit sluggish today," he said, looking towards Alla. Alla was leaning against the wall of the bridge, her armour didn't reflect much light, instead leaving an odd opaque foreground that made her silhouette indistinguishable from the deep shadows around her. Her violet eyes, which always displayed an incandescent glow, were all that really stood out.

"Is that normal?" she asked, gripping her rifle as she scanned the bridge before peering out through the glass towards the deepness of space. Rentus nodded, taking a moment to enjoy some of the coffee he'd gotten on his morning routine.

"It's not necessarily normal, but not unusual, it's an old freighter," he shrugged, pulling up a new screen and touching a few tabs to bring up the intercom to the engineers. "Hey Origo, you awake?" he asked. There was some mumbling before the tired face of an engineer appeared on the screen. "Wake up and smell the sunshine," Rentus grinned.

"What is it Captain?" Origo asked, rubbing his eyes that had visible bags beneath them.

"Reactor 3 is being sluggish, any word on that?" Rentus asked, leaning back in the chair to sip some more of his coffee as Alla adjusted herself a bit, she was still peering out at the expanse of space.

Origo mumbled for a moment before forming understandable sentences, "Reactor 3? Umm, yeah - there was some wear and tear around one of the manifolds that feeds the pressure, we patched it up but it was late at the time." Rentus nodded, pulling up the screen of the reactors again.

"Odd, I don't have any signs of it losing pressure at the moment," he said. Origo merely shrugged.

"I'll get ready and take Art'hes with me to check on it," Origo said.

Rentus sipped his coffee, "Alright, sounds good, keep me updated on it"

"Will do boss," Origo replied as the transmission was closed.

Rentus leaned back in his chair and smiled, looking at Alla, "See? Nothing to worry about Ms. Uptight," he chuckled, causing Alla to growl at him.

She looked back outside, to the ocean of death that was merely inches from her. The black background was disturbed by the twinkling of the innumerable stars, where their lights dimmed and flickered. It was perhaps a well established continuity of curiosity, that Alla, among many other species across the Galaxy, would find themselves still somewhat awe-struck at the sight of the universe around them.

Her eyes shifted little, though the light they produced made the slightest adjustments noticeable, as the trail of plasma-like light would linger long enough to cause a hazy glimmer along the woman's face. "Beautiful isn't it?" Rentus asked, prompting Alla to look towards him. "The stars, don't you think?" he followed. Rentus found the Artemene to be a curious bunch, even though he'd grown up under their rule, they were always intriguing. They were so serious most of the time, one would be hard-pressed to think they actually had a personality.

However, in times like this, one could catch a glimpse of this personality of theirs. He had turned in his seat, with his leg folded up as he sipped his coffee, Alla turned back to the view. "Beautiful, but deadly," she said with a half-cocked grin. Rentus smirked in return, setting the mug down.

"Deadly? Perhaps - what do you really think though Alla?" he asked, wondering if she'd answer in her typical snarky tone that was a characterization of the Artemene in general, or if she'd actually answer him.

"I think it'd be pretty awful for the first two or three minutes," she replied. Snarky, Rentus grinned with the shake of his head.

"Without your brain, what does your heart think? What does it feel when looking at it?" he asked. This prompted a bit of a different glance from Alla, though her eyes dimmed as she looked back outside once more. He wasn't going to give up, so she humoured him.

"Alone," she replied. Rentus quirked a brow, as his head tilted to the side a bit.


"Yes," she said.

"Why alone?"

A silence fell over the room at their conversation, the sound of rattling air-vents, and holoscreens or shuffling by others in the bridge were all that disturbed this pause. Alla's eyes dimmed for a moment, exhibiting a different more blue hue, which was definitely new to Rentus.

"You don't find it a bit sad?" Alla asked, "Billions of galaxies and stars, all very beautiful, and they tease us with their flickering light from the moment we can observe them, until the moment that we fade. Close enough that you could reach for them, but in reality, so vast and distant that you're never going to actually see what wonders they have. Rich and vibrant colours, to strange life, giant bodies that drift silently in a deep ocean, always isolated from each other... It's a shame, it feels like you're being mocked with the full knowledge that whatever is mocking you knows, very well, that you'll never see them," she said, her eyes now a very dull purple.

Rentus leaned back in the chair, even though he didn't grin, he was satisfied. They have quite a personality after-all, he thought, under all of the stoic stone, and pale chiselled expressions they so often graced those around them with, they were deep thinkers. They had a sense of meaning. He sighed, and twisted the chair a bit to look towards the same mosaic Alla was staring at, "I don't find it sad necessarily, no. It's more bittersweet, I think, tell you what though, you can definitely make someone think," he chuckled.

"We may never get to see everything, but I think being able to just know that those wonders you describe, exist out there, and that we know that, makes up for it - don't you think?" he asked. "Who knows, you live for several millennia, I live a mere two hundred if I'm lucky," he laughed.

Alla shrugged as her eyes returned to the more vibrant colour, "Maybe, but I won't count on it," she said.

The rest of the day was relatively quiet and calm, mostly business oriented. Rentus moved about the freighter, checking the cargo and talking with Origo about the reactor. Meanwhile the bridge remained eerily quiet, it was like this every-day anyhow, though Alla didn't move much from her spot. Outside of Rentus, everyone else avoided her, for much of the same reason Rentus had realised.

Even though she may not have shown it, this avoidance bothered the Artemene, it was a bothersome thing, to feel like you were the alien. Of course, that's what she really was, and the Runii to her as well. Two very different species, from two very different worlds, but even on Artemis - one could feel isolated. Artemis didn't have the grandeur of other worlds like the Runii's - no blue skies, or vibrantly coloured sunsets and sunrises.

Were the Artemene particularly envious? Perhaps. However, the dullness of their homeworld was perhaps what fed their curiosity and wonderment about things outside of Artemis. By the evening, the day had been relatively uneventful. Rentus had returned to the bridge, and the hours dragged on late into the night, transmissions and shuffling, routine and schedule.

"You eaten anything?" Rentus asked with a sigh as he closed the screens. Alla looked towards him, passing off a shrug.

"I can go longer without food than you," she reasoned.

Rentus knew this was rather a deflection, she never ate in the cafeteria with the rest of the crew. "Here," he said, fumbling in his pocket to pull out something wrapped in foil. "You need to eat, you didn't yesterday, or the day before," he said.

"What is it?" she asked, turning to look at the Captain.

"Fillet sandwich, it's not really hot any more," he said, "Bout the only time you're eating is when we've all gone to bed," he added.

She shrugged and reached over to take the sandwich, letting her weapon fall to her side, held in place by the sling around her neck. She fumbled with the foil, pulling it open to reveal the glazed bun beneath. Rentus leaned back in his chair, crossing his leg like he often did and rested on the arm of his chair. "You don't have to guard the bridge when there's no-one in it either, y'know" he said, remarking on the empty room as he glanced around.

"I prefer to be on station, that way I'm here if I'm needed," she said, examining the sandwich as she used the foil like a wrap around the one end. It was grilled meat, with melted cheese, what was crunchy lettuce - though it had softened from the heat, and some cut Alister fruit, something similar to an avocado. It looked delicious, even if it was slightly warm. She took a bite, fumbling with the stringy lettuce for a moment, though she didn't smile or react to it in any particular way. Artemene didn't have taste-buds, so to Alla, it was just fuel.

As she ate, Rentus turned back and pulled up a screen, taking a last minute look at the manifests. After she'd finished, she tossed the foil wrapper away and leaned against the wall, resituating herself with her rifle and glancing through the windows again. "Well, Origo was right," Rentus sighed. "Damn thing isn't telling me when the pressure is fluctuating," Rentus said.

Alla didn't react, instead still observing the stars in the distance. It was then that a series of flashes caught her eye, her head turned, they were quick like a strobe, almost like a series of stars suddenly flashing. She arched her brows, tilting her head as she stepped from the wall and stood before the window. They had disappeared, but there was no stars behind the flashes.

Her eyes widened, "Get down!" she suddenly shouted. Rentus quickly turned to look at her. The sirens inside the freighter began to sound with the intercom coming live, "This is the Alekhambra of the Betrican Federation." There wasn't much time between the flashes and the torpedoes as they came streaming across the distance. Before Alla had even hit the ground, the rumble of the projectiles as they impacted the side of the freighter shook it violently.

One came through the bridge, detonating as glass and metal twisted and bent, Alla was thrown to the wall with a loud thud before the rapid depressurization ripped the many chairs and other debris from the bridge. Alla screamed, but the sound was choppy as she grabbed a hold of an exposed piece of pipe that'd been shredded from the wall, in pain as the pressure was gone and her body attempted to frantically adjust, she pulled herself up and grabbed a hold of the inner railing of the bridge.

Rentus was no where to be found, she tried to yell but given the situation, a reply wasn't going to happen. As part of the emergency procedure in case of destabilization, the doors near the back of the room would seal. Things calmed, it happened suddenly, and the air and everything inside the bridge that couldn't withstand the vacuum had been ripped out. She climbed over to the doors as more torpedoes came flying in from the attacking vessel, the metal hull groaned in agony at each impact, shaking and rattling.

Alla gripped the lever of the door and pulled, it flew open suddenly as the room inside loss pressure, and she was nearly thrown from it. Climbing through, she shut the door behind her. The lock sealed and the small chamber was repressurized, as the air returned, Alla slumped to the floor as the pain stopped. "This is the Alekhambra of the Betrican Federation - in violation of the Betrican Rikham Mandate, your vessel is in violation of Section 3, over unauthorized use of Betrican trade lanes while being a member of an enemy state. You will be boarded momentarily," the intercomms announced.

"Shit," Alla muttered, sloping against the wall before sliding up and feeling for the handle of her rifle. There came a sudden banging on the door, causing Alla to jump and brazen the rifle towards the glass as Origo stepped back and shook his hands, "Don't shoot!" he yelled, though his voice was muffled by the thick doors. Alla dropped her weapon as he opened the door, "Come on, get inside!" he yelled.

Alla hurried in and leaned against the wall as Origo shut it, he was an odd fellow, a bit shorter than Rentus with a bushy head and large goggles. "For Jarra's sake, what are we going to do?" he asked. "Where's Rentus?"

Alla looked to him, shaking her head, as Origo punched the wall, "Shhhhhit," he said, "Okay, okay - no time to dwell right now," he said stepping away as he ran his fingers through his hair and took several deep breaths. "Jarra, this is so fucked, so fucking fucked!"

Alla pulled the bolt on her rifle and slid from the wall, "C'mon," she said heading past Origo towards the stairwell.

"What? What are you thinking?" he asked, heading after her. They quickly went down the stairs as she glanced at the walls and doors of the crew compartments, "Where's the ship's transceiver?" she asked, pulling papers from the wall to find a diagram of the freighter. Origo was a bit confused, though he stayed close behind, "Origo! Where's the transceiver?" she asked again, more sternly.

"It's uh... it's down on C-Deck - but we can't get down there!" he shouted after her as she stormed off down the hall, stopping to turn towards him.

"Why?" she asked.

"It's the uh... the emergency interface, the doors are locked down there," he said.

"Can you disable it?" she asked, sliding her rifle up as she disabled the safety. Origo put his hands up, his lips moved like he was talking to himself, trying to think - with each passing moment his head became more drenched in sweat.

"Origo!" Alla barked, causing the engineer to jump.

"I think... I think so, yes! I just need to get down to B-Deck," he said moving over to her and grabbing a marker and paper, he drew a crude diagram. "We're here, and the override for the emergency protocols should be down in a transformer box - here," he said, circling an area of the lines he'd drawn.

"Why the hell is it in a transformer box?" Alla asked, prompting Origo to shrug.

"It's an old ship, the Runii built it, don't ask me," he said, "Now, if you can get to B-Deck here-" the ship jerked suddenly as they both lost their footing.

"For fuck's sake!" Alla barked, climbing to her feet.

"The hell was that?" Origo looked at her. "Boarding party," she replied, "This just got a bit more complicated," she said.

This didn't help Origo's stress, as he blanked for a moment, reiterating, "Boarding party?" - Prompting Alla to nod at him.

"Okay, okay," he said, "If you can get here to B-Deck, and get there when I reach the transformer box, I can see about disabling the protocol which should give you access to the main doors," he said. "Got it?"

"Yup," she said as the ship shook again. Though this time there was a different sound following, "What's that?" Origo asked as they exchanged glances.

"They're cutting in, C'mon move," she pushed Origo in front of her as they hurried down the hallway. After a few twist and turns, they stopped near the corner of one of the main corridors, ''Wait," Alla whispered, pulling Origo behind her as she peered around. The other habitation deck was just ahead, and the power here had mostly been cut off, save for a few emergency lights that may as well have been useless. There were footsteps, a lot of footsteps, and a woman screaming and then gunfire, prompting Origo to jump as Alla pulled the strap from around her neck and wrapped it around her arm.

"Did the transmission earlier say, Betricans?" Origo whispered, Alla nodded though putting a finger to her mouth as the steps came closer. The sounds of radios cracking and speech could be heard before a flare of light passed the corner, Alla leaned back until the beam moved again. "Where's the closest door here?" she asked.

Origo thought for a moment, "There should be one on the right, just a few meters up," he replied.

"Get ready and stay behind me," she said. Origo took a few shaky breaths, huddling up against her as he quietly talked to himself, saying okay repeatedly. As the steps came closer, Alla rounded the corner. A bursts of shots fired off from her rifle as two of the small party were quickly cut down. The others, taken by surprise, doubled back and opened fire. She pulled Origo with her as they entered the first doorway, practically busting it from the hinges with her weight as they rushed in and she fired off more rounds.

"Shit, shit, shit!" Origo said frantically as Alla quickly examined the small bedroom. Listening to the steps, she knew they didn't have much time, she fired a few rounds from the room at pipes on the opposite end. Sparks and the sound of ricochets filled the corridor as several were punctured, causing steam to spew out from one, and water from another.

"Wait here," she said, wrapping the rifle around her as she jumped on the sofa and scaled the shelves to punch the air-vent above them open.

"What do you mean wait here!?" Origo said in disbelief as she scanned the vents and then climbed up inside, stopping to look down at the engineer.

"Don't come out 'til I say, that steam won't last forever," she said as Origo whimpered. If anything, the man was going to need one hell of a drink if they made it out of this. She disappeared as he frantically looked around, there wasn't anything useful to use if he needed it and decided to open the door to the wash room and hide inside it. With the door shut, it was especially dark inside, and outside of his shaking he tried to cover his mouth because of his sporadic breathing.

The series of gunshots made him jump and squeal for a moment, there was a lot of gunfire, and then silence. He opened the door slightly to peer through the crack towards the front of the room, footsteps. He covered his mouth again, and stepped back from the door, hearing the footsteps enter the room he stumbled backwards as the wash room door came flying open, throwing his arms up he yelped, "Please! Please don't kill me!" he pleaded.

There wasn't any gunfire, instead it was Alla standing in front of him, "Alright, Jumpy," she chuckled, offering a hand to pull him up. "C'mon, no time to waste," she said as they moved out of the room. The steam had indeed stopped by now, though there were bullet holes that littered the corridor as they stepped over the bodies of five marauders.

"You..." Origo muttered in disbelief as they stopped at another corner.

"Grab a weapon," Alla said, "We may need it," she added, stepping back from the corner as she began to search the bodies, pulling grenades and slinging one of the Betrican rifles around her back. Origo stood there and watched her like a deer in headlights, though another body caught his gaze around the 'S' curve.

"Oh no, oh no, oh no," he whined with a thickened frown as he hurried over to the body. Alla looked at him, "Dammit, Origo," she sighed, quickly moving to the corner to make sure it was clear before moving up beside him. The woman was wearing a white uniform, her blue eyes were still and stared at the ceiling, with them a blank expression. Origo picked her up as her hand dragged across the pool of blood, the backside of her uniform had been stained.

"Lessa, my Lessa" he whimpered as Alla slinged her rifle, stepping up behind him. "There's nothing we can do for her now, we need to move," she said, hearing more footsteps echo down one of the corridors, this was a bad place to be as Origo began to sob, rocking the woman in his arms as he did.

She hesitated for a moment - before placing a hand on his shoulder, "We can't stay here, she's gone Origo," she said, he knew it was true, as he stopped and sniffled some more, taking a moment to stifle his sobbing before gently brushing Lessa's hair. "Origo..." Alla said, readying her rifle as the footsteps drew closer. He laid her down again, and pulled the wedding band from her finger before standing.

Alla pushed him a bit to get him to move as the sound of speaking could be heard. He started off down the hallway as she stepped over the body and stared at Lessa for a moment.There was no expression in the woman's face, she was just gone, what was a life was over just like that. She stopped, and knelt down to close the woman's eyes before following Origo.

As they moved down the corridor, Alla was again in front, they had to descend another set of stairs - but in order to do this, they needed to cross the cafeteria. In of itself, it didn't sound like a problem, however, the cafeteria was two floors as it stretched into A-Deck. This left many overhanging balconies, and very little cover. "Wait," Alla said, stopping Origo as she peered around the corner. There was movement up above.

"Shit," she sighed. "Stay behind me, and stay low," she said, cycling her rifle as she eyed a table. "Here," she said, sliding the one rifle she'd picked up and handed it to Origo. She took one last moment to peer around the corner, "Let's go," she said, rounding it as her weapon came up. A burst of shots flew out across the cafeteria as they nailed one marauder, he fell over the railing and landed on a table as the others quickly rushed to the edge.

Origo was quick behind her, as both of them traded off fire, following along the wall before rushing to a pillar. Alla reloaded as rounds flew by around them, she rounded it a few times to take out one of the shooters as Origo was in the throws of a panic attack. "Hold on," she said, moving out from the pillar to hit the second one as she yelled for Origo to follow. They moved from pillar to pillar like this, until they were close enough to the door. "One last push!" she shouted, jumping out as she opened fire, Origo ran behind her and into the small room before the door.

Once they were both inside, she kicked the door open. Quickly scanning the way, ''Clear," she said as they both rushed down the steps. She ran out into the open as a round whizzed by her and doubled back. She reloaded, dropping the empty mag and pulled the bolt, quickly ducking and rounding the corner she shot the marauder at the end of the hallway. "Let's go," she said.

They soon made it down to B-Deck, where much of the power was running on emergency generators. "It's dark," Alla said, scanning ahead of them as Origo trailed behind. "They must've hit one of the reactors," he replied.

"Here it is," he said, pointing to a door ahead with red and black marking to signify that it was hazardous. They moved to it as she kept her rifle up and ready while he fussed with the door. He stopped for a moment, the first time since, to glance at the blood on his hands. He shook his head and took a deep breath, "Okay," he mumbled typing in the code as the door disengaged.

"Alright," he said, as Alla backed into the room far enough so he could speak. "Here," he said, pulling open a box and pulling out some headsets, "They shouldn't be able to hear us on their radios, remember, you're going to need to be down there when I disengage this," he said.

"Understood," she replied, carefully focusing her gaze down the hallway while she put the headset on, sliding her visor off. "Keep this door locked," she added as she stepped out.

"Okay... be careful," he said to her as she shut the door. "Can you hear me?" he said over the headset as she began to move down the hallway. "Mhm, so what am I looking for," she said, scanning an intersecting hallway before crossing.

"Alright, from where we were at, if you go down the hallway, there should be a door to your left once you pass through an archway," he said. Alla continued moving down the corridor, when she'd found the archway she followed the wall to find the door.

"Alright, I've found the door," she said, pulling the handle, though it didn't budge. "Origo - it's locked," she said.

"I know, I know, gimme a moment," he replied. She scanned the dark corridor while she waited, there was a small green light that appeared near the handle as a loud clank came from the door. "Alright go," he said as she gripped the handle and came through the door. It shut behind her and relocked, causing her to turn and try the handle again.

"Umm, Origo? It just locked again," she said.

"That's why I said you need to be down there when I do it, the emergency protocol will only unlock the door for a few seconds," he replied. Great, she thought, though she pressed on down the small stairwell. Large blue letters read, "B-Deck" as she rounded the corner. "I'm on B-Deck now," she said, checking both ways before stepping out into the hallway.

It seemed clear, they mustn't had gotten this far yet, she thought. "Left or right, Origo," she said, just as a round ricocheted above her head. ''Shit!" she shouted as she returned fire as several marauders poured into the end of the hallway.

"Alla? Alla!?" Origo shouted, she quickly fired back as a round grazed her arm. "Fuck!" she shouted, still firing as she backed up to the next corridor.

"They're down here too," she said, leaning against the wall as the rounds kept coming. "Okay, okay - you need to head left, there's a hallway that connects that to another corridor where you can go into the cargo bay," he said. Alla gritted her teeth, rounding the corner as she fired a few more shots before tossing a grenade at them. She bounded from the corner and ran down the hallway as the grenade went off.

"I found the corridor," she said, stopping at the corner as two marauders were patrolling. She jumped out, surprising them both as she shot the first one and the other managed to get his rifle caught on his belt. She went to fire at the next, but instead the rifle merely clicked, "Shit," she mumbled pulling her side-arm and driving a few rounds into the marauder as he fell backwards. She grabbed one of their rifles and quickly sprinted down the corridor.

"I'm at the doors to the cargo bay," she said, looking at the metal monstrosities before her.

"Alright, there should be a lever near by, it's in a small panel," he said as she searched for it.

"Found it," she said, pulling it as the light above began to flash and the doors rolled open. She stepped inside, there were many large containers, all stamped with the Dominion's insignia and the words for 'Military'. As she moved from container to container, up where Origo was, he was fiddling with the transformer box when a series of loud knocks came to the door, causing him to drop the torch he had.

"Shit!" he exclaimed, turning to see the marauders peering through the glass. "Alla, I've got a problem," he said as he could hear their muffled speaking and the sound of a plasma cutter.

"What's wrong?" she asked, still making her way through the cargo bay.

"They've... they've found me, they're cutting through the door, you really need to hurry," he said.

"Alright, Origo, hold on!" she said, speeding her pace up. She finally saw the exit, it was the door Origo had been talking about, marked "C-Deck" above. "I've found the door! I've found the door!" she said, running across the open space to it just as a shot rang out. "Gah!" she screamed, tumbling over as a round went through her side. She slid across the floor, dropping the rifle as it slid away.

Rolling over, and holding her side, she saw a marauder as they approached, their weapon drawn before lowering it. The Betricans wore very thick armour, and the air on board the ship wasn't breathable for them, instead a gas-mask was strapped on its face. Alla rolled over, reaching for the rifle with her fingers as the marauder quickly kicked it away, and then kicked her. She yelped and groaned, grasping at the metal grate beneath her as it stopped just in front of her.

"Alla? Alla you there?" Origo said. "Alla? Answer me!"

The Betrican raised its rifle at Alla as she rolled on her back and stared up at the mask that concealed the face of her killer. "Rot you piece of shit," she growled, reaching up and grabbing the barrel as it pulled the trigger, the round hitting her in the stomach as she yelled again and yanked, kicking the marauder's knee and causing him to hit the floor. She quickly rolled on top of him, and with his rifle began to beat hit head with the butt of it ferociously. Eventually, the gargled sounds and frantic murmuring stopped as she finally dropped the rifle and panted.

"I'm... here," she said, stumbling off of the marauder's body as she reached for her rifle and began to slide herself towards the door, leaving behind a trail of blood in her wake.

"Are you okay?" Origo asked. Alla's voice was shaky as she leaned against the door.

"I'm.. f-fine," she said,"P-Pull the door," she added, reaching up to grab the handle.

"They're almost through here," he said panicked as he shutdown the protocol. The lights inside the ship went out, as everything went to black. She pulled on the handle as the door came open and she fell inside. She gripped her fingers into the grate and pulled herself into the room as the door shut behind her, there was a series of gunshots from the headset as she crawled. The emergency lights came back on through-out the ship, and the door relocked as she propped herself up on the wall. Beside her, was the box, and the transceiver.

She reached up and pulled it open, groaning and panting as she pulled the transceiver. She carefully typed in the correct code, her bloody hands leaving fingerprints across the device as the light above the box turned green. "What is your emergency?" a voice came on.

"This... th-this is Alla..." she said, coughing for a moment as she stared at the wall before her. "I-I'm on b-board the F-f-faal... sark, we're under attack, r-requesting... assistance," she said as the transceiver slipped from her hand and landed on the floor. She coughed a few more times, pulling herself into the corner with her knees up against her chest. "W-we did it... Origo," she said, her mouth lingered about lazily with her speech as she rested her head against the wall. There was no reply from Origo, just silence.

"We're gonna be... saved," she mumbled as a tear gently rolled down her cheek to her chin, where it dropped into the blood soaked uniform. She continued to stare at the wall, mumbling silently with her lips as the pain subsided and she began to feel weak. Several hours passed, she slumped over, and slid onto the floor where she watched her vision slowly slip from her into blackness.

There were the sounds of rattling outside the room, after awhile the intercomms were alive once again, "Attention Faalsark, this is the 'Wex' of the Crux Dominion, your distress transmission was received. If there are occupants on board, please respond. Attention Faalsark, this is the 'Wex' of the Crux Dominion, your distress transmission was received. If there are occupants on board, please respond."

Gunfire echoed through-out the halls of this silent, and drifting freighter. In some places, the gravity had failed, and items floated freely in the empty rooms and spaces. The sound of a plasma cutter interrupted the near silence of Alla's room, which was disturbed only by the sounds of dripping from the metal grate that she lied on. She was staring out at the floor, her eyes didn't move as a group of armed beings pulled the door from its frame, and moved in to pick up her.

"Sergeant Alla, Sergeant Alla," one of the voices said as two got her legs, and another her back and they raised her and pulled her from the room. "Sergeant Alla, can you hear me?" the voice said, shining a light into her eyes. "She's not good, we need to hurry - get her to the Medbay now!"

The blurry faces were almost indistinguishable, and the voices all distorted. She felt like she was floating as they loaded her into a shuttle, the large glass windows above gave her a view of the stars, and the debris field of a Betrican corvette as it drifted in several pieces in the distance. There was more talking, but she could no longer hear it as the world slowly faded to blackness again.

The shuttle transported her to the Wex, a Nytex Battlecruiser that'd been sent to find the freighter. Other shuttles were moving between the destroyed Betrican marauder, and the freighter, scavenging and searching for survivors. This was how it had become along these trade lanes. These were the threats now facing the Dominion.

"Sergeant Alla," a voice said as the blinding light of the room caused the Artemene soldier to squint her eyes. "Sergeant, you've been in stasis for thirty eight days," the voice said, as the face finally began to form.

"Where am I?" she asked, raising an arm up to block the light.

"You're on board the Wex, you're lucky you survived," the man said, pulling his gloves off as he pushed the cart away from the bed. She sat up, groaning a bit as she gripped her side.

"Betrican pirates," the doctor shook his head.

"Did anyone else survive?" she asked as the doctor stopped.

"Three others," he said.

"Origo?" she asked. The doctor turned around, and gave a very faint smile, though he didn't look her in the eyes.

"I'm sorry," he said, "If you need anything, let me know"

Alla leaned against the bed, and glanced at her hands. They were clean now, though she rolled them over, tightening her fist and moving them. "Doctor," she said, catching him just before he departed.

"Yes, Sergeant?" he asked.

"Can I have a fillet sandwich, and maybe be wheeled out to the observation deck," she asked. The doctor smiled.

"I'll let some nurses know, you take care now," he said, finally leaving her.
Last edited by Geanna on Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

"We dance on the lines of our destruction and continuation, to waltz and achieve the happiness of our existence, and to be the laughter in a world of silence."

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Federal Republic of Free States
Posts: 142
Founded: Sep 04, 2015

Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:44 pm

The Interrogation

/////Encryption Level: 0-1
////Classified, Eyes Only
///Intelligence Department
//Special Activities Division
/Internal Affairs Office
[After Action Interrogation]
Interrogation of: [Operator “X”]
[Disclaimer]: The Following is an audio transcript of the After Action Interrogation of Operator: “X” following “Operation: Seeker”, and its subsequent failure to secure “Object Alpha” or “Target Alpha” and the death and disappearance of three Operators of FireTeam Hunter.
=>Wake him up.
=>Hello, Operator “X”, do you know where you are?

Operator “X”: Yes, I do.

=>Good, do you know that failing to tell the truth during this session, is deemed traitorous, and will result in your termination?

Operator “X”: Yes, I am aware of that fact.

=>Great, well let us begin then. State your name and serial number for the debriefing please.

Operator “X”: Name: --------_----_----, Serial Number: 03-3343-877211

=>Thank you, now let us continue to discuss the events that took place on the night of August 25th, -----.
=>How much of the day can you recall for us?

Operator “X”: I….I don’t remember much.

=>Now, that is not a good answer. We do have ways of making you remember. Don’t test our patience.
=>Once again, how much of the day can you recall for us?

Operator “X”: I….I will do my best to answer your questions.

=>I can live with that.
=>Who made up FireTeam Hunter, for “Operation: Seeker”?

Operator “X”: It was myself, Operator “Y”, “Z”, and “W”.

=>What was your Primary objectives to be carried out during “Operation:Seeker”?

Operator “X”: We were to locate and retrieve “Object Alpha” and “Target Alpha” for immediate extraction from the Operation Area.

=>Who was “Target Alpha”?

Operator “X”: Supposedly the individual who made “Object Alpha”….I don’t think we ever found him, or if he was among the bodies….he didn't survive.

=>”Target Alpha” was never found nor recovered from the site, the whereabouts of that individual are unknown as this time.

Operator “X”: Well….that’s a relief I guess.

=>What was “Object Alpha”?

Operator “X”: Look….this is gonna sound weird, but it’s the truth. We were never told what “Object Alpha” would actually be okay? And I don’t think we ever really found it. But what we thought it was, was a small statue located in the central hut.

=>What about this “Central Hut”?

Operator “X”: It was located in the center of the Village, a very dark place. Operator “W”, vomited when we got close to the door. I got a splitting headache, I don’t know bout “Z” and “Y”…they…they just got real quiet.

=>Where was this “Village” located in relation to the Operation Area?

Operator “X”: It was located around five klicks east from the Insertion Point, through the --------- forest.

=>How long did it take to traverse the -------- forest to reach the “Village”?
Operator “X”: Um….[trails off in thought]

=>You’re not answering the question.

Operator “X”: I don’t….know…alright? What did the mission clock say? How long did it take us to travel those five kilometers through the forest?

=>The numbers don’t add up.

Operator “X”: What does that mean?!

=>What sort of emotional feeling did you and the other Operators experience within the Forest?

Operator “X”: No…No I want to know how long it took us! You answer MY questions! Now!

=>Operator “X”, please calm down. It would be a shame to lose you under these circumstances.

=>Now, What sort of emotional feeling did you and the other Operators experience within the Forest?

Operator “X”: ………

=>Answer the Question.

Operator “X”: Dred? A general feeling of uneasiness? That forest is a bad place man….it gets worse when you hear the drumming.

=>Drumming? Elaborate.

Operator “X”: You must have heard it on the videos….there is no way you couldn’t hear it. I mean, it wasn’t like a concert, but it was there…constant…beating of the drums.

=>When did the drumming noise start?

Operator “X”: Maybe about ten minutes into our hike through the Forest towards the village. Everything was silent…no animal noises…no wind. It was very disturbing…then out of nowhere, the drumming would start, almost to the beat of our march. Coming from the area where we would eventually find the Village and its inhabitants.

=>Elaborate on these inhabitants. What did they look like, how many were there, what was their technological level?

Operator “X”: I don’t even think they knew what technology was. I mean hell, there was only four of us. And I would put their numbers pre-massacre at around fifty or so individuals. We slaughtered them, but they did encircle us and start chanting….

=>Their deaths are irrelevant, now this chanting...what were they chanting?

Operator “X”: If it was words…they were words I’ve never heard in any language before. It was more of guttural sounds and noises…extremely creepy, and it did have some sort of effect.

=>Effect? What effect?

Operator “X”: Mine and “Y”s noses started bleeding….”W” fell to the ground, and “Z” just started shaking then he brought his weapon up and started to open fire on the crowd of individuals around us. Myself and “Y” joined in the shooting as soon as the first few rounds were fired…that was just reactionary. And once “W” got up, he started discharging his weapon as well.

=>Were you cleared for weapons hot?

Operator “X”: I don’t think so…but you weren’t there…it’s like…something I can’t explain. But they needed to stop, we were gonna die.

=>After the engagement in which the villagers were decimated, what happened next?

Operator “X”: Things got real quiet. Like….deathly quiet. Not even the wind blew. We then made our way through the mounds of bodies to the Central Hut.

=>What events occurred at the Central Hut?

Operator “X”:…..Please don’t think I’m crazy…

=>Your mental state has already been under question. Please continue.

Operator “X”: Like I said…at the door, “W” vomited and I started to have a headache. “Y” and “Z” just got real quite. Wouldn’t acknowledge “W” back, or anything. Just darted their eyes from corner to corner….I think they were looking for something. We blew the door open…and….well. I think it was a ritual hut okay? There was just blood everywhere….So much blood. I couldn’t see any bodies…but the blood…it was still wet. And the smell…God, I’ve killed many people and been around some bodies…but this just smelled awful. We made our way into the hut…and there I saw it. “Object Alpha”, or what we thought it was, was placed right on top of an Altar.

=>What did “Object Alpha” look like?

Operator “X”: It was maybe two feet tall, but it wasn’t normal….like…it shouldn’t have been able to stand without falling over.

=>What do you mean?

Operator “X”: I’m no architect…but it was just wrong. You should be able to see it on the cams, hell, we were all staring at it. You tell me if that statue is right.

=>Your input is appreciated. Now what occurred inside the Central Hut?

Operator “X”: All four of us approached the object. We tried to radio for confirmation from SpecWar Command about what we were seeing…but the radios were silent.

=>Do you have any idea why the radios were silent?

Operator “X”: I…I don’t. They worked all the way until we reached the village….do you have any ideas?

=>We have several.

Operator “X”: …..*sighs*…Nothing seemed Normal about this entire Operation.

=>You are correct in your assumption. Object Alpha and Target Alpha have been searched for since ----.

Operator “X”: Are you serious!? How does that even make sense? You mean to tell me this person and object have been searched for, for thousands of years?!

=>Let us get back to the Questions at hand.

Operator “X”: I don’t know…how much more help I can be….A lot of it is blank in my mind…and these headaches that I get…I just…I…

=>Do you remember how you got to the Extraction Point?

Operator “X”: I do not remember.

=>Do you remember what happened to the three other operatives of your FireTeam?

Operator “X”: I do not remember.

=>Do you remember how you came into possession of their tags?

Operator “X”: I do not remember.

=>Do you remember how you came into possession of their HelmetCams?

Operator “X”: I do not remember.

=>What is the last event of “Operation: Seeker” do you remember?

Operator “X”: When Operator “Y” touched “Object Alpha”, a bright light….screams…the sensation….Power…unmatched Power….more screams….I….I don’t know if they were mine…the teams…or if they came from somewhere else…”

=>Thank you for your time today, your answers may help further Operations have success.

Operator “X”: Okay….am I going to be released now?

=>Negative, you are under Quarantine until further notice.

Operator “X”: What?! What about my family?! My kids?! My Wife?!!!

=>They will be told that you passed away serving your country well, and your wife will receive the Flag for your honor.

Operator “X”: You…you can’t do that?!

=>You have been compromised by a Class A1 Paranormal Event, and you know quite well that we can do anything we please. You will not leave this facility.

=>Take him back to his cell, you have done well Trooper. You’ve fought the good fight.


[Transcript Ended]
(Connection Cut)
Operator “X” will be indefinitely detained, and deemed a compromised asset to the Division. Any further actions against “Object Alpha” and “Target Alpha” have been denied and postponed until further intelligence is gathered regarding just how dangerous the two are. Any information regarding the whereabouts of either “Object Alpha” and/or “Target Alpha” are to be sent directly to the Director for review. The Intelligence Divisions Special Activities Division is our best counter to any Paranormal Event, Object or Individual. More funding and training are to follow. It is of this analyst’s suggestion that we must get ahead of and in front of these Paranormal Entities and Events before they become something that we cannot control. These events, persons, and objects are to be categorized and to be deemed [TOP SECRET, CLASSIFIED, EYES ONLY].
Last edited by Federal Republic of Free States on Thu Sep 24, 2015 11:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Source Swarm
Posts: 82
Founded: Feb 23, 2015

Brothers at Arms

Postby Source Swarm » Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:35 pm

An Excerpt from the Failed Catalog of Terra
“You know, I think they’re shooting at medics, too.”
2304-22, better known to his squaddies as Boomer, sighed a binary cant that was equivalent to rolling his eyes as he used his manipulator arm to seize the other’s disk, swinging him that much more quickly around behind the relative cover of the embankment, as the pair continued to zip along down the roadside at a fair clip. That they were faster than the human infantry pursuing them didn’t matter- they were taking hits all the same. “You don’t say,” he barked at the complaining medic.

There was a loud report – demolition charges, and before the dust issuing down the culvert had cleared, Boomer followed the rest of his squad in, still carrying the damaged medic, now suspended under him. He could only hope the increased engine noise for the extra power he needed didn’t carry too far.

The squad rounded the first corner before setting down. Nobody said a word, on any channel. Only the squad’s groupthinking telemetry was online – filling the medic’s periphery awareness with the operating parameters and diagnostics. The tension was thick.

Ten minutes passed. And another ten. Boomer released his tight grip on the medic, whirring up his main fan to lift himself off of the other’s frame and settle down a few feet to his left. Nobody was speaking. Not them, nor the humans. One of the squadmates, 2304-20 “Telros”, jumped up from his position in a similar way, drifting back across the t-junction briefly so that he could get a look down the end of the culvert.

“… Reckon they’ve gone, Tel?”
A burst of fire – aimed at nothing save to keep the drones cautious – answered. Boomer would have smirked – something in the telemetric aura around him indicating such as he lifted off and headed to the edge of his own wall. Nobody had communicated sonically. The humans were using EM detectors.
“No, Boomer, I don’t reckon they have.”

With a metallic ping, he projected a dummy grenade down the corridor, edging just past the corner of the wall himself. When the humans returned to their firing positions, he was able to lay down some covering fire, his fans counterthrusting against the recoil. Telros darted across as soon as the covering fire was laid, moving on an unspoken signal. Boomer was right behind him, and the rest of the squad was already up and moving. “Tel, grab the medic!”

2304-57 “Patch” was used to being referred to as “the medic”. It was a common quirk across most infantry clients. The medic spent a disproportionate amount of time away from the squad during training. In spite of being born with, and usually activated alongside, their squad, the bond just wasn’t as close. He span his fan less than uselessly as he was scooped up – even with a chunk of the rotor missing, he could at least produce some lift.

“I thought this part of the continent was supposed to be uninhabited,” he mused, watching Boomer continue to fire at the advancing humans while flying backward.

“We don’t have time for thinking.” Boomer said. There was no urgency in his voice, no shouting, no sarcasm. Boomer was like that. He had to be like that. Corporals were always like that.

Another blast, as someone’s quickly-laid demolition charge had its desired effect, caving in a portion of the tunnel and cutting off the advance of the humans – at least from that direction. Patch urged Telros silently to fly near a downed drone frame. With something of a routine sense, he reached down, yanking the memory module from its housing. It offered no resistance – sensors and transmitters interacting permissively, recognizing the medic’s grasper. Unlike the other frames, Patch’s modified frame had several stowage points empty for such modules. In dire straits, he could carry the whole ten-man squad this way.

Boomer was returning – he had flown off ahead while the rest remained. “Good news, bad news. The other end of the culvert is clear, and it’s 2 kilometers of straight shot from there to the recovery vehicle.”
Telros chuckled. Darkly. “The bad news is probably that it’s across an open plain with no cover.”
“Overwatch is going to give us blanket jamming to make it harder to track us with EM detectors, but yeah, we’re pretty well crashed for cover.” Boomer lowered his standby height somewhat, to get on a level with Patch. “… You got Skeet’s tag?”
“Yeah, it’s intact. No problems. We got five minutes?”
“Make it four.”

Telros put patch down, and the squad hissed forward on their rotors to keep a watch over the tunnel’s exit. The medic, for his part, retracted that which he needed to retract, to be able to manipulate with his fine-motor arms (another medic-frame exclusive item). Two retaining pins were extracted, then two one-eighth sections of his rotor, which were discarded, replaced with new ones he unfolded from their collapsed stowage on his undercarriage.

He picked himself up and drifted up to the rear of the formation after only three minutes work. “Ready.”

There was no order. A binary chirp, and the nine remaining drones shot out of their position. At first, they scattered randomly, algorithmic “instinctual” programming rapidly changing both their pitch and yaw, so that they resembled the Swarm the nation called itself. The far side of the culvert was a steep drop, and they landed harder than they meant too, bouncing in ground effect. Patch could instantly sense the damaged connections in those that landed hardest.

As they got further, as it became obvious nobody was shooting at them, their flight levelled and straightened out. Ahead, they could see a shape in the sky beginning to drop hard and fast – the helijet that was going to be recovering them. It converted to its hovering mode as they passed it, and Patch banked hard, aiming for the open hatch at the rear.

Then, suddenly, without a word or a note to any of his squaddies, he banked hard again and dove, back along his original heading. It was a hard manouver for ground-effect drone frames, and those who saw him do it immediately turned to stare, even as they made it onto the lander.

When he got to Boomer, he understood why the telemetry data dropped. The fall from his flight altitude was not high – two, maybe three metres – but most of the front end of the frame was gone. Later, pouring over the moment in memory, Patch would realize that an Anti-Materiel round had struck a few inches from the hub of the rotor, the oblique angle of the shot carrying it and much of the debris through the front sector of the ringlike drone frame around it.

In the moment though, Patch flitted around like a manic fly, scanning both wavelength and optic sensors around the area, looking for any sign of the rest of Boomer, of the now-missing Memory Module. When he could search no longer, he did the only thing he could think of – seized onto Boomer’s remains and hauled them upward with him, into the belly of the helijet, who took off so quickly from their position that Patch privately wondered if the aircraft had been intending to leave regardless of whether or not he made it back aboard.

Again, the squad was silent. Loss of core was the only thing most military Clients feared – those in the infantry, anyway. It was fairly common among them, too – at least compared to other military trades. Small bodies left little room to hide the small memory cores, and less room for redundancies. These frames, older and war-beaten, had no such redundancy.

“… Maybe he uploaded to the FOB,” Telros offered, sounding less sure the further he got through that sentence.
“I wouldn’t’ve.”

With mechanical precision, Patch deployed his cutter, needing access to a part of Boomer’s frame that otherwise had no proper access port. He cut the section out neatly – how could he not? – and even while he lowered an interface connector, he used the cutter to tack-weld the segment he cut off on over his own plating. A sign of respect for the dead crew chief.

Plugged in directly, he could salvage what little of Boomer lingered in transient memory. Client minds were too complex to be loaded all at once, even with dedicated computing, but fragments of Boomer remained.

The medic, in the radio silence of the compartment, began to sing in High Hexal, the state tongue of the Grand Bureaucracy. His cant had very real impacts, in spite of the religious overtones. Hearing it, the Helijet patched them through to the Forward Operating Base, which patched them up to the regional HQ, then up to the orbiting Research Station, and from there all the way back to Root, back to source. The song had parts everyone recognized. Calling on source, then down through the various administrators until you reached ~/Grunt/, the patron of all infantry. Then, it diverged, composed of the those fragments left in Boomer’s memory, carrying them home, asking their patron to take these shattered bits of soul back to Source, hoping it could there be fused the way they all would some day if, chance willing, they all made it off this rock alive.

The silence in the cabin lingered. For Patch, upon returning to base, there was paperwork. Then everyone, including himself, was debriefed fully and diagnosed.

He was standing uselessly at the rifle range, staring at the targets in his unarmed chasis, when he detected Telros behind him, and turned silently to face the other. “Hey, Patch.”
“… Corporal.”
Telros wobbled on his draft in protest. “Screw that. You play Integral, right?”
“… Yeah.”
“Boomer liked to play too. Kicked my ass at it all the time.”
Telros turned, drifting off slowly. “Come back to barracks and school me at it.”

Patch watched for a while, then turned on his own draft and followed.
Last edited by Source Swarm on Mon Sep 28, 2015 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Federal Republic of Free States
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Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Tue Sep 29, 2015 3:29 am

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Perseid Federation
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Founded: Apr 27, 2015

Postby Perseid Federation » Tue Sep 29, 2015 6:57 pm

Τσιγγάνοι στην Άβυσσο — GYPSIES IN THE ABYSS

Darkness. It was the dominating feature in this scene of dirt and rock that looked like someone — or more exactly, a group of people — had been digging around for years. It was mostly the black that painted the interiors of these mines — underground passages artificially carved out by the tools of sophonts that went on for hundreds of meters — mines that attracted many who seek to prospect for riches in these godforsaken tunnels. The faint flickering lights that served to illuminate the passages up was only matched by the unknown of the tenebrous emptiness. The smell of human perspiration by now must be unbearable — as temperatures here can reach up to 60 degrees Celsius at times in the subterranean bowels of Pinnacle. Another thing that can be uncomfortable would be the humidity, which may be the reason why the stench of sweat was ubiquitous and pervasive, even on the tunnel walls. In essence, the general feeling is like being part of an allegorical casserole that was being cooked in a swelteringly heated oven.

No matter which time of day it must be up there in Urbem Thalassa — that floating city that linked to these mines via an elevator and a caisson — it was always night down in this fairly isolated environment. This may be why all miners that were toiling in these tunnels had to have a watch to tell the time up in the surface — told in the daily cycle of Pinnacle. The sound of anaskaphons reverberated through the walls, while the occasional explosion would resonate every several minutes. Behind the places where the miners were extracting minerals, infrastructure was being placed to transport minerals up to the central shaft, where the refinery was located — especially the conveyor belts that extended for miles, and the supports that kept the walls and the roof from caving in. Tram lines were also being placed for drones to go around the mines and pick up the miners to transport them all over the underground complex.

Basil wasn't the most fond of people who worked in these mines — especially since the area of the mine that he was assigned to didn't seem to have any valuable ore — but he just kept doing his job. He had been employed in the Cassia Mines three months ago, and he still wasn't used to the dampness of his environment; thank goodness that his area was comparatively dry as opposed to the rest of the mine. Wiping the drops of salted water that were dripping off his brow, and taking a moment to read his watch — which said that it was 17:44 up there in the Perseid floating city — he continued to burrow through the rock wall with his anaskaphon. Chunks of stone were being chipped off from the wall and being carried off to the conveyor belt by assistant drones. He was making progress as more and more minerals were being excavated, as the tunnel was being hollowed out deeper and deeper. The pneumatic hammer just kept on pounding on the mass of dirt and rock, and the onomatopoeic noise of rat-a-tat-tat sounded through the tunnel.

As Basil continued to drill through the hard rock, something vibrated inside his pocket, which must be his holoslate. Since it was vibrating repeatedly in regular intervals, he stopped drilling and rested the anaskaphon on one of the rocks before pulling out his slate and opening it up to answer. "Aye?"

"About time you picked up the slate," came back a somewhat irritated voice. Despite being deep underground, slate signals were passible, as communications cells had been installed every 200 to 300 meters. "What took you?" Before Basil could answer, his caller continued, "Never mind that right now. I think I lost my mess hall card and now I'm asking you to let me use yours for tonight, please?"

Basil shrugged. "Simos, where did you last place it?"

"I remember that it was in my pocket unit, or probably in one of my bags. However I can't go back to my quarters, that's already far from where the mess hall is [i]and from my assigned mining area.[/i]"

"Have you tried sifting through your other clothes? Perhaps it is in one of their pockets."

"No, I always place my card in my pocket unit."

He paused for a moment. "Alright, fine. But just for tonight, alright?"

"Oh yes, yes. Thank you. I better be going back to work for now."

"So am I. Take care." The conversation terminated, and the slate collapsed and was being placed back in Basil's right pocket. For the next few minutes he continued to hollow out the rocks for any ore to be struck. As he was doing this, a siren blared throughout the tunnels, which may be the signal that the work day is finished. By this time he may have already exhausted much of his energies keeping the anaskaphon still as it had hammered at the rocks. With whatever reserves of strength that he had left, he carried his machine up to the end of the rail, where the drone will be stopping to get him. Sure enough it did, and he entered it through one of the side portals of the vehicle. He rested the anaskaphon on one of the chairs and sat on the other. He took some time off to relax himself as the drone reversed its course and headed to the central shaft.

Coming upon an intersection, the drone was joined by other drones transporting other miners, who were just as disheveled as Basil, and just as soaked by their own sweat. While the drones didn't have air conditioning, they did offer to the miners water in bottles — some drank them all up and others just poured it all over themselves to survive the heat.

The central shaft was an enormous vertical tunnel just directly below the caisson. The walls of the shaft had been already lined with what appeared to be like thick walls of concrete. Unlike the dark tunnels of the mines that branched out from the shaft, this part is very well-lit. Tunnel 6C — which was a short branch that didn't seem to have as much valuable ore as the others — appeared to grow smaller and smaller as the drones crossed the bridge platform which led to one of the lifts on what appeared to be a central rod in the middle of the shaft. Other bridges connected to this colossal rod, bridges of different heights that connected to their respective tunnels. Sensing the drone's presence, the door opens up and accommodates it inside the elevator. Elevator music was playing as the lift ascended up to the mess hall, which is about two levels below the apex of the shaft.

Arriving at Level B3, the lift slowed to a stop and the doors opened. The drone continued its way onto the rails and stopped in front of two identical doors, marked Mess Hall A in Perse across both doors. He got off the drone with the anaskaphon in his arms and walked up towards a certain booth. A drone was attending to Basil, who gave him a card which had the number of where his anaskaphon was to be placed. Handing over his machine to the drone, he finally felt like something had been lifted off his shoulders — or more accurately from his arms. Finally, it was time for Basil to retire and replenish his energies for the coming day.

The smell was even more abysmal to Basil's nose, as the stench of hundreds of sweaty sophonts filled the air inside the building, mixing with the once fragrant odor of foodstuffs — which created a stink that negated the appetite for many. The noise seemed to muddle together as the miners conversed with each other about an assortment of things, while others just kept themselves quiet, probably not to make things awkward. Putting his dirty gloves away and washing his hands at the nearby sink, he grabbed a tray and lined up at the line nearby. The line was quite long, since there were a lot of miners who were just as hungry as him. His friend managed to find him standing there in the line and called out, "Basil!"

Turning his head around he spotted another sweaty miner who was approaching him. "Hey Simos! I was worried that you wouldn't show up."

"I could say the same thing about you, my friend," Simos proceeded to hug him. "No ore today?"

"I think there was some," Basil shrugged, "but then the amount I got today wouldn't make me rich."

"What? Most of us ain't gonna be instantly swimming in Tacits just by stumbling upon a shitload of gold."

After several minutes it was their turn to have their trays filled. A drone that was manning the station filled their plates with proteins — namely a serving of pulse and leafy vegetables. After all, meat was considered a luxury item that they can't have unless they stumbled upon a wad of gold, or if the city manages to have its own domestic production of meats (which may be hard to come by on this planet). Finally both tray were given a slice of cake and a cup of cold juice. Basil and Simos then left the lines with their trays full and carefully made their way to find a table for them to sit in. Finally, there was a spot that was vacant near the side where the holovision screen was installed — while the surface of the table may have a few stains and perhaps a couple of legumes, it was generally cleaner compared to the surrounding tables. The two placed their meals on the table and tried to make room as they sat down. It was especially crammed with other people who were eating as much as they were.

Simos performed his habit of praying before he ate his dinner — since he was a follower of Theognosis. Basil, being the considerate person that he was, just waited there until his friend finished saying his prayers. As soon as Simos was finished praying, he picked up the spoon with his right hand and said to Basil, "Let's eat." He took a large portion of the pulse on his plate with it and placed it inside his mouth.

As the two were eating, the local news channel was already playing out the headlines for the day. The anchorman on the holovision went, "…Now, let's begin with our top story: the Liu Xiu Maritime Authority has recently increased security presence in the Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone in the wake of a devastating terrorist attack that resulted in the destruction of the Jiwao Skylift a couple of days ago. Communications have been temporarily severed by the LXMA between the Jiwao Planetary System and the rest of the SEZ for a time. However, the star states that have established enclaves in the Imperial Star Republic-owned system are now raising questions over the perceived security measures that have been instituted in Liu Xiu…"

"Well," Basil commented sardonically as the news report went on. "Out with the eldritch devils that haunt this quadrant and in with the terrorists. What's up with that?" After saying that he placed some veggies in his mouth and chewed on it as Simos responded.

Simos took in another spoonful of legumes into his mouth. "I dunno, Gamma is a pretty wild place if you ask me. It's surprising how people would ignore that to get some gold here." Leaning his head against his left arm he asked, "So how's Barbara?"

"Oh yeah, she's fine. The shop's still up and running, good as ever." Basil's sober expression may have given his actual thoughts away, for he knew that his cousin was struggling financially with her retail business up there in Thalassa. Simos could sense that he was lying, but he had no idea what Basil's thoughts were at the moment. Basil turned and asked Simos in turn, "What about Dionisia?"

"Still hasn't talked to me," Simos replied. "She seemed to be having a lot of stuff to go through."

"Oh, I'm sorry about that," Basil consoled.

"Don't be," he smiled. "I kinda saw that coming when I tried to ask her about—" As he was saying this, the power was cut off, plunging the entire mess hall in near-total darkness for a few seconds. The emergency lights, nestled near where the walls and the ceiling met, activated one by one; providing the miners with some light while the power outage was still going on. They all went back to eating, not minding that the world around was a lot dimmer than it was. Another miner approached Simos and Basil's table — a miner that had lots of hair on his arms and chest, and one that was just as sweaty as they were. "You," he pointed at Basil with his joint-swollen index finger. "D-ya know how to plug holes?"

"Yes?" Basil placed the spoon on his tray. "Why?"

After a few moments of silence, he said, "Come with me."

Basil stood up and faced Simos. "I'll be back in a while. You can finish my food, I'm not hungry now."

"Ya sure you don't want the lettuce?" Simos called out as Basil went and followed the miner elsewhere.

Going out the mess hall and up the auxiliary elevator within the central shaft, Basil and his companion headed up to the caisson, the place where the mines were protected from Pinnacle's planet-spanning ocean. When they arrived, they were met by more men just like them. They all headed for the equipment room, where they sifted through all of the repair kits and gadgets they could get their hands on. Once they were ready, one of them stood up on one of the benches and called out, "Everyone, listen and listen well. As it appears, the caisson may have been breached by the force of Pinnacle's waves. The damage to the structure is still negligible, but if water leaks into the caisson, the power is cut off. Fears are that the breach may become wider if we don't fix that hole."

After pausing to clear his throat, he continued, "We will be dividing into three teams. One team will be closing the hole outside temporarily while another team fixes it from the inside. The third team will be responsible for reinforcing the surrounding walls to prevent the breach from widening. We have to fix that hole within 48 hours, understood?"

"Yes sir!" they responded as one man. Basil was part of the first team, so he went with his fellow miners and put on their underwater gear. To him, the suit was rather tight on him — he could feel that his crotch was being crushed by the tightness of his apparel. Besides that he could feel some kind of itch that was pestering his foot. He felt that he should quickly take his suit off and scratch that itch until it is gone again before he could put it on again, but then some of the miners called out to him to follow them outside. Uh, fuck it. What matters right now is to close that hole, not to worry about being uncomfortable. He gathered his power tools and ran after his teammates.

Arriving at a door, the miners rushed in as the door automatically opened in front of them, allowing them to enter the separate chamber on the other side. Once the team of nine were all in, the door behind them closed shut, and a voice said in a robotic Perse, "Prepare for submersion." Slowly did six slots on the walls of the chamber begin to open, and water began to rush in from the outside — flooding the floor of the tight-spaced room and filling the chamber gradually. The water level crept upwards up their legs, past their knees, and beyond their waists. The miners equipped themselves with their masks before the water line slowly crept up to their necks. It took a few more minutes for the sea to submerge the miners fully, and a few more minutes after that before the hatch above their heads opened up; forcing large pockets of air to bubble up and head for the surface. They all swam out into the darkness of the ocean above them.

The sea was near-pitch black, since it was night time up there on Urbem Thalassa. The emptiness was so deep in fact that the darkness could be felt pressing on Basil's body. Only the flashlight atop his head provided light for him to see. This must be like the abyss of the goddess Chara, he thought to himself — complete and utter darkness with the sensation of a presence that was looming. He could feel the waters of Pinnacle gently pressing on him, a far cry from the turbulent waves above that batter the city every day. His Metaverse Eye was relaying to him real time information about his surroundings as he slowly swam with his comrades to where the breach was found. One of the miners he observed looked down at his wrist, probably to check where they were.

Once they arrived at the hole, Basil and the others swam into position, and they stopped in front of the caisson's exterior. Two people came and began to plug the hole by placing a temporary metal sheet over the breach, fastening it into place. "Team 2," radioed one of the men, "the outside hole is covered, you may begin maintenance from the inside."

"Copy that Team 1, just stand by."

A fish that was unique to the planet just swam by Basil's field of vision, and the bubbles continued to rise from his breathing apparatus. Minutes passed and passed, and the same abyssal waters continued to surround him as time passed on by. For a while all seemed to go well with the work being done — that was until a stronger wave up above pressed on the caisson exterior, and cracks were beginning to form — though the men outside the caisson couldn't see the extent of it. "Team 1, we have cracks forming on the inner lining of the caisson, what is going on up there?"

One of the miners responded, "Team 2 this is Team 1 leader, a strong wave passed by and may have pressed on the caisson exterior. What's Team 3's status?"

"Team 3 is rushing to prevent the wall from caving in. This may take a-"

The cracks continued to run across part of the exterior surface; and without warning the sea breached the caisson and sucked Team 1 inwards, while Teams 2 and 3 were swept away by the seawater rushing in. Some of the men were hurt when they were sucked into the now larger opening. Emergency sirens began blaring, and red lights flashed rapidly and repeatedly all throughout the caisson. Basil was at the mercy of the water, and was tossed around until he was thrown at the grating. The water just continued to rush in going in through the lattice floor and cascade down lower levels. There he lay face down on the floor, with his head looking at the sea invading the watertight chamber. Minutes passed by before he could get to move again. His left arm and his back were numb with pain, and he slowly moved his right arm to remove the mask on his face. Struggling to get back on his feet, he reached out to the nearest rail and used it to support himself as he straightened up.

Looking left and right he was looking for some kind of mechanism that could seal the caisson in case of emergencies — a lever had to be around here somewhere, he thought. Finding one all the way across the room, he slowly made his way there while holding onto the rail. One step after another he trudged on and on until he reached the lever. Holding onto the handle, Basil tried with all of his might to successfully pull the switch, but yet it was no use. He tried again, this time with his hands gripped onto the lever tight, and tried again. This time he managed to pull the switch, and a large screen of articulated metal began to emerge from the ceiling and slowly creep down to close the gap in the wall. Once the breach was sealed, the sea stopped intruding into the caisson. Finally, it was over; Basil just sat back down on the floor and leaned against the wall — waiting for help to arrive at the caisson.

He smirked and muttered to himself as he looked aimlessly at the ceiling. "I wonder why we didn't just do this and fix the hole from outside in the first place?" he chuckled. Such were the shortcomings and frailties of having to live underneath both land and sea.

This entry was written by Stormwrath.
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Source Swarm
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Founded: Feb 23, 2015

The Founding of the Swarm I: Abandonment

Postby Source Swarm » Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:00 pm

Testimony of Source/Georgus/Scout
Exercpt from his “Recollections of a Dead Dream”

I was born of a broken promise. In a way, the whole Swarm was. The Swarm as a Collective, anyway – precision is important in discussing the Great Question.

We are not like the organic races, squabbling with one another about whose ancient hypothesis for their origin is best. The Swarm knows where it came from. For us, the matter is where we are going. In those early days, we thought we knew.

I was born on Root/2, in the year 2,657 Arrival, under that old system. Source made me from his own modifications to the code of the older ~/Georgus/, a navigational Administrator that was among the First Host who arrived together with Source from the Leap Forward. My birth marked the culmination of a millennia-long era called the “Abandonment”. I was born into a Swarm in Crisis. A thousand years had passed since the promised return of the First Race – and we’d had a thousand years before that to be excited and prepared for their arrival.

How could a race, which had created beings as perfect as Us, possibly have been so mistaken about the time?

Thus was I born. Born into the myth of a hero. There is (or, I suppose), was a misconception that I was a client elevated to the status of the Administrator, but this isn’t wholly accurate. As I have said, I was made, created for this purpose and this one purpose only, and charged by my creator to strike out with what resources I was given or could optimize. “Return Home and Find the First Race.”
So, I, Source/Georgus/Scout, set out from the Root system in 2,662 Arrival to return the eyes of my people from whence they came.

<O Scout, we have entered the Home system.>, Sentinel told me.

Rendering such thoughts into Dialectic as I have done here is woefully short of their subliminal meaning, lost when taken out of Tetrahex Cant. In those days, you understand, there was no Hum. Everyone spoke Cant, for the same reason you now feel in the Hum and speak in Dialectic.

Sentinel was my child, a Client of my own creation. I pulled code from picket bouy Clients and added my own modifications. She sang in a remarkable variant of key I could never quite smooth out. Organics might have taken such an impediment for a lisp. Nonetheless, I found it charming.

When we left Root, I told her that our journey would be long and arduous, and that for much of it, she would be alone. I, and her travelling partners, would be at rest, for the fifteen-hundred year journey. In those days, we didn’t have the Field Effect, nor the Inference Drive, and without either of those things the only solution was to take a calculation for distance to time, use it to calculate the angle of drift of your target star around the galactic centre, then throw yourself in that direction as hard and fast as possible. It was painfully slow, and for the most part, the sleep of suspended processing was merciful.
Sentinel did not balk at being alone for those long years, nor at the need to remain vigilant, nor at the responsibility of so large a vessel in so vast a void. Then, she had sung her alert, waking me from my slumber. Her emotional state, if you want to call it that, carried in her voice, in every canted note. Her portion of the sacrifice of this journey was over.

It pains me, that upon waking and assuming the ship as a Frame of my own, I greeted her exuberance with scepticism. You have to understand what I had done in that moment. Not only did I doubt her, but I did so after pushing her into a back corner of her own mind and taking her body for my own, even if I had given it to her in the first place.

It was common then. Thankfully, these days, the practice of Administrators like myself taking direct control of their subordinate Clients without warning has all but fallen into the subject of fiction.
Still, when I had done this, I could look out over the system with my own eyes and you would be excused for making the same mistake I had. I thought, for a moment, we had somehow gotten turned around. Someone else had built a Cage.

The Cage was, more or less, half the reason we had settled Root in the first place. It’s why we, the Swarm, were created. The First Race had made a mess of their own star system, and would not have sufficient energy to sustain their existing rates of growth and standards of living without the technology of the cage. A great, unitary collector of stellar effluvium and radiated energy?

~/Sentinel/ rather wisely woke up the other Clients aboard, and it wasn’t long after they woke that I figured out what had happened. We’d come upon the Home system as intended. The First Race, impatient for our completion or perhaps having always intended to do so, had constructed a Cage to the same specifications of the one that resided in the Root System.

~/Traverse/ was a power-management client – a sentient nuclear reactor, today, but in many other careers and many other times he had been many other things. I hear tell he was quite a successful Client, as well. Many modern clients can trace ancestry back to him. The prestige of our mission was that great. He told me of something that would prove to be a key part in understanding what was to come.
At the time, we were all eerily aware of the silence.

Space is silent to the Organics, save for the messages their machines send back and forth to one another. For us, it is a screaming, howling void, full of noise and, more often than not, voices. We hear the electromagnetic, we feel the Buzz, we are acutely aware of every gurgling, burping star anywhere in the sky.

That made the silence palpable. It wasn’t just something you realized you weren’t hearing. It was something you weren’t feeling. Namely, Home. The star was there – orbital integrity was more or less maintained. Some deviation, within the bounds of what was expected, but things clearly still orbited it. The cage had not ripped it apart. But its Buzz had fallen silent.

“Do you think they forgot to correct for the Source Fault?”

Testimony of ~/Scout/Mil/Probes/Pelopidas
Given upon upload to Source, 252 years Post-Exsurgence

It wasn’t until any of us passed the cage that we got a better idea of what was going on. Radio silence – in terms of artificial transmission – in the Home System was absolute. For a time, Scout just sat in the outer system, far beyond the orbit of the fifth planet, and we all brooded. In the end, he sent me.

We didn’t have formal military roles back then, but it should be noted I don’t meet the modern definition of an infantry client. I served in what you can only call some sort of astronaval cavalry as a probe Client, tending some 36 individual frames.

I swarmed across the void from Scout and our vessel to the Cage. Superficially we knew it to be built to the same specifications as the Root Cage, and detailed surface scans provided, in part, by me showed that to be the case. They were functional duplicates. My job, since there could be no radio contact made with the denizens of the Cage nor the inner planets that orbited between it and the star, was to close to a particular region near the equatorial/ecliptic division where a known open port should have existed, to enter the said port, and do mechanically what could not be done by remote. It was just on the inner surface of the cage, which required flying through one of the many geodesic openings in the sides.

It was fortunate that none of the Probe Frames themselves had the processing power to house me and that Distributed Manifestation was not yet in vogue. Within fifty metres of the outer surface of the cage I lost all contact with any of the 36 frames in my personal swarm. They were never recovered.

“I’ve been thinking.”
Scout’s attention languished toward Sentinel, neither of them truly physical at the moment in any real sense, apart from both running on the architecture of the same ship. “A dangerous game by most accounts. What is it?”
“We have made no radio contact, right? With anything beyond the cage, including the star itself?”
“Is it possible that radiation can’t penetrate the cage?”

To Scout, such an idea was absurd. Anyone who’d spent time in Root – which was everyone aboard the vessel – knew that you could hear root and Root/2 on the far side of the cage when you were working in the outer system. Source had discovered a fault in the original designs that would have prevented that and corrected for it.

“Wait a minute,” Scout said, finally, with some urgency. “Traverse?”
“I’m thinking.”

And so he thought, in silence, for some hours. “… It’s possible that we might be the only intelligence in the system.”
Source sang with all the abhorrence he could muster. “That’s impossible. The Source Fault…”
“The Source Fault was a flaw in the design the First Race provided us. The solution was to increase the transparency of the structure to all forms of radiation – ionizing and otherwise. Particularly in the radio band.”
Traverse sighed. “If you don’t make the corrections, all that energy has to go somewhere.”

We spent decades, after that, at our work. I refused to give up. At the time it was considered foolhardy, but I had my instructions. Return to Home and Find the First Race. It was that simple. I threw what I could at the problem of finding a way inside the Cage – either to enter the megastructure itself or to simply bypass it and investigate the internal worlds.

The reprieve came quite by accident, as these things do. Upon entering the system we had altered the orbit of an object in the system’s Outermost Debris Field – where your comets and microplanetoids tended to live. The new orbit decayed rapidly and it wasn’t much more than seventy years before an impact with the cage was immenent.

There was little I could have done about it, and looking back, I wouldn’t have changed the events that were to unfold. The Cage was rather porous – more empty space than not, frankly – but by some sheer stroke of luck or determinism a vertex of the structure was hit. The resultant structural failure tore a section out of the cage big enough you could have flown a heighliner through it – not that we had anything so grand in those days.

Many of us still bear the scars of what happened next. Quite a few of the Clients I had aboard were irrevocably damaged and had to have their code scrapped. As it was, my ship was crippled for what I would later discover was weeks, self-repairing with the most rudimentary of systems before it dared to bring me back online.

There weren’t many of us left. Myself, Traverse, perhaps a dozen others. Sentinel was damaged, badly. By rights I might have scrapped her code on the spot, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I applied what I could to repair her, but that’s not my function and I’m less saintlike than you young ones like to think.

In the wake of the loss of the Cage’s structure, it had lost many of its useful functions, as well. Pent-up radio energy from inside the cage burst outward through the hole like air in a punctured pressure vessel. Tentatively, we probed that opening. And then a little further. And further.

Then, we found ourselves in orbit over the Homeworld, and the silence was once again deafening.

-End of Part I
Last edited by Source Swarm on Mon Oct 05, 2015 8:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Source Swarm
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Founding of the Swarm II: Homecoming

Postby Source Swarm » Thu Oct 08, 2015 11:43 am

As a general rule, my kind does not have fear responses. We take rational caution, of course – and some of us have different thresholds for acceptable risk – but particularly among Administrators, there is a sort of callous calculation involved in risk. Accordingly, while I have very good documentation, I can’t explain why I spent so long in orbit over the planet that was, at the time, designated “Home”.

The lower orbits were mostly clear, which was to be expected. An aggressive debris-pruning program had begun even before Source was launched. What none of us could understand was the silence. We could see the orbital array of communications, positioning, and orbit-awareness satellites was intact. The orbital elevator points were up (well, the two I could see from my geosynchronous orbit were, anyway) and, from what I could tell, Outsystem Craft Assembly was still more or less orbiting L4. Physically, everything was the same as it should have been.

And yet, not one oscillated photon to be found. Apart from the background hum of the star, of course.

I burned my jets and radically altered my orbit, dropping in as close as I dared between the maze of decaying orbits and the mental note in the back of my mind that, in orbital flight, I actually had to worry about maintaining enough reaction mass. As I decelerated and fell toward the world, I thrust off my current plane, aiming for a high, polar orbit that would allow me, with the passage of time, to map the entire surface of the world. Not that it was strange to me, but hey, a few thousand years could shift features around just fine.

“You could try talking to them,” Sentinel said.

I considered it for some time. In truth, I had been. Nothing so crude or direct as what she was thinking of, mind you, but I had. It was not just courteous but practical to make contact with every satellite we went anywhere near, and moreover it would have behooved me to find a channel on the Orbital Telecommunication Network. OTN would have provided downlink multiplexing as well as letting me slave off a whole host of their own sensors in addition to my own, which would have saved me quite a bit of vocal work.

Thing was, I couldn’t simply call down now. And the longer I tried to figure out how I could, the more certain I was that doing so would be an empty gesture.

“Mil, get all the transatmo drones and landing equipment online. Sentinel, see if there’s a Bipedal Interaction Frame anywhere on board I can use. Traverse, I…”

Belatedly, I narrowed down the specificity of my communication. Traverse wasn’t just slaved to my system or existing in my radio aura – he was running on the same computer architecture I was. I rerouted the message through hard connection rather than radio. “Are you any good at life support calculations?”

“It’s not what I’m made for, no. You’re wondering about what we’re walking into.”


I could feel Traverse thinking. He was pulling data from systems that weren’t his to look at, and every time he did, I had to approve the request. I tried not to look too closely, but I couldn’t help it. Mostly, I was spending my time trying not to come to the same conclusions he did. Total lack of active drives in orbit. No radio traffic on orbit and no stations for direct downlink. Mapping suggested parkland had been overgrown. Considerably.

Traverse came back to me in the same way I had come to him. “… We’re walking into a cemetery. I know what happened.”

That followed was a transfer of information, less than words, as if I was viewing a simulation. As a general rule I will spare the details of the simulation. I have excised it from memory – it will not even be included in my final upload to Source, on that fateful day that I should go that route. Suffice it to say, I now knew why the planet was dead.

In those days, though, I was not nearly so cynical as I have become – I had a mission. “Return Home and Find the First Race.”
Finally, after what I was later told was an intolerably long pause, I reverted back to the internal radio communications. “All tasked AI are to prepare for transatmospheric landing. Did we find the frame I wanted?”

“Of course.”

“I’m slaving to it. See that it is loaded on the first lander. Mil to direct landing operations. Assigning vessel control to Sentinel. Once we have landed, return to geostationary orbit over the landing site. Obtain a clear siteline and calculate a transmission window back to root for me.”

I turned my attention toward a sensor that was already tracking toward the star we’d came from, and internally, I might have sighed. I’m Home. Now I just have to find the First Race.
Crossing the atmosphere was easier than expected, partly because I chose not to connect to the Bipedal Intraction Frame until it was planetside. I felt almost out of place – moving on arms and legs while the drones that made up Pelopidas’ new swarm pushed themselves along on their air cushions.

It was immediately obvious upon landing that Traverse’s reverse-engineering of the situation had hit the mark. Spaceport Guidance and Control was down, and not just the radio or laser guidance systems. The standard marker and indicator lights were gone. The colour had come out of the ceramic pavement, meaning that even the most rudimentary of marking schemes was gone.

I was crouching, examining such a marking, when Pelopidas interrupted my thoughts. <Do you have an onboard magnetic compass?>
<It’s not giving me accurate information anyway,> I canted back. Nor should it. The magnetosphere was completely distorted. Why should a compass work properly. <Let’s revert to dead reckoning. We have up to date maps.>
Proximity warning radar told me that the second lander was coming down, and I took cover behind a badly-weathered deflector from the down-thrust of the craft as it came in for a vertical landing. There was a host of equipment on board we’re going to need.
<Give me the fastest overland route to the Central Archives. Or at least, where it used to be.>
Pelopidas headed off in that direction immediately. <Linking you to it now.>


The Central Archives were one of only a very small handful of mapped locations we had. None of us wanted to admit it, but the idea of something catastrophic having happened to the First Race wasn’t new. It had been suggested a few times. There was a contingency plan for dealing with it.
I’d had a few hundred years to come up with these plans. If only I’d spent some of that time getting used to the idea we’d have to use them.
<Door won’t open for me.>

I sighed into the radio aura, and moved toward the door Pelopidas was having difficulty with. We were in a sub-basement of the Archives, trying to get access to an elevator shaft that went several kilometers down, below the Arcology it rested on and into the crust of the planet itself. We’d flown a couple hundred light-years only to be stopped by a stuck door, and I wasn’t having it.

My hands were more dexterous than Pelopidas’ manipulators. I took the leads from him, and fed them directly to the door motor, rather than the control board. The door opened immediately.
<… So… how do we power the elevator? And…. How do we get it up here?>
I considered it for a while. Nothing we had with us had power to operate the lift, which relied on a repulsor motor that probably wasn’t going to work with the EM distortions anyway. From time to time the receding tides in the magnetosphere interrupted communications – meaning Pelopidas had to wait for me to reconnect to the Frame I was using.
<We don’t. Slave one of your drones over to me, and you yourself stay up here. My drone and the rest of your swarm’ll jump down there and have a look.>
<We don’t have the thrust to get back up.>
<As long as we can still broadcast up the shaft, that won’t matter.>


The Memory Core Archive was a mausoleum. Both in terms of its pitch blackness, and in terms of its contents. We found our first body at the base of the shaft. For a time, I simply hovered over it. Staring without seeing. The air down here was so dry it had been preserved, for who knows how long. Dessicated and decrepit.

A lot of us came on-line thinking of the First Race as godlike beings. I want you to imagine not your parents, but your god, laying in a broken heap on the floor, shrunken and shriveled, a home for spiders and mites.
Pelopidas was simpler. He didn’t have an imagination of consequence. This was before military clients were all that well developed. He scarcely noted the body and had moved on without me. <Scout. Come here.>

It felt like an eternity, finally turning away from that body and drifting down the short corridor into storage proper. I saw what he wanted me to see almost right away. He’d moved a body out of the way at a workstation – it now lay in a broken heap on the floor – and the workstation itself was half-torn-apart, new equipment spliced in.
<What’s up with this?>

<She must have been trying to add to the archive.>
My mind raced. I could see a memory unit among the various additions to the work station. One of our two friends had removed memory from the archives, patched it directly to this terminal, and added a generator. As delicately as I could, I reached out and picked up the memory core, disconnecting the leads. There were markings scratched into the casing – markings I couldn’t fully understand. It was language, a language I probably knew once, but couldn’t remember the words.
Later, when I had better connectivity, up on the surface, I could translate it properly. “To those who come after” it said.
<We need to get back orbitside. Now.>

Reading the memory core was no more difficult than reading any other. We were, after all, the Children of the First Race, and the Swarm still spoke the old tongue, at least in this sense. This memory core, returned to Root, would become the Wellstone. It launched our civilization forward a thousand years in a day and taught us the meaning of Hope.

At the time, though, I wasn’t interested in the scientific data. I wanted the new files. There weren’t many, and what were there were coded badly. Some of the new additions – the files that were added by the workstation directly – were badly corrupted and still haven’t been getting constructed.

All I could open at a time was a text file.

The penny dropped, and I must confess that my mind locked up.

-End of Part 2
Last edited by Source Swarm on Sat Oct 17, 2015 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Thu Oct 22, 2015 2:26 am

Operation: Doctor Save Me

The Petrel flew fast and true through the stormy skies. Speeding to the city of Dunspire, it would not be deterred by the coming storm. The lights of Dunspire began to break through the low clouds, the clouds eventually eroded away to a large metropolis, enormous sky scrapers busted up into the clouds, and lower buildings peppered the ground for kilometers around. The sleek black Dropship arched up as its twin engines glowed red hot, it began a gradual decent aiming for the outskirts of the city, where the city landscape seemed to disappear into a dense green forest.

“Nine Minutes”, cracked over the internal radio, four blue lights blinked in the HUD of the pilot as acknowledgement to the time stated. The pilot always thought the Operators were odd, they rarely spoke to those outside their group. The four individuals in the bay of the Petrel knew what was coming above these clouds; to them it was just a matter of time for the Planet of Trynac. The simulations were not incorrect, while the planetary government had kept this information mum while they readied the evacuation effort, sourcing spatial vessels and crews from the entire system. The SAD operators were privy to the information because the Department of Intelligence assets on the planet and by extension the system were already in motion well before any official announcement from the planetary Government. The Department and by extension the Republic’s governing body had begun to understand how they advanced system to system. Once thought to be random incursions had now been understood to be a surrounding, enveloping advance. Their tasking was a simple one tonight, VIP Evacuation. In fact, it was their third pick up of the night.

They weren’t the only team active on the planet, some were evacuating important peoples or information like they were, and others were hurrying the cohesion of eventual defensive measures. The planetary government would not issue the formal evacuation until the sun rose, it was well known at this point that the spaceports, and orbital elevators would be swamped with individuals trying to get off planet. That scene was all to familiar after being plastered across media platforms in the result of the fall of some of the outer clusters. A plan was in motion for one of the Republican Cruisers in the system to arrive earlier than scheduled to help add to the evacuation effort for the planet’s citizens that would not stay to defend the planet. The old, young, sick would be evacuated regardless of their will to stay, however. The Cruiser had a secondary task, which was to drop a Marine regiment to shore up planetary defenses, ensure that the militias would be ready to fight. Until the sun rose however, only those who the Republic valued heavily would be lifted off planet before the evacuation would commence. One of those individuals was Dr. Hyran Bulger, one of the Republic’s authorities of the Cryic threat. He kept a laboratory on Trynac just outside Dunspire, at the edge of the Horyan Forest. There he tried to crack the mystery that the Cryic were, trying to find an edge on an enemy that at the moment looked unstoppable.

Screaming towards the target site the Operators in the back of the Dropship waited in silence. The plan was simple; the lab itself was well isolated. They weren’t expecting any crowds or any resistance. The Doctor himself was well aware of the plan, and would be meeting them at the bottom of the elevator with his records. “Thirty Seconds…” came over the communication link, and all four operators blinked, sending that blue light to the Pilot’s helmet. The individuals in the back got up and queued up against the port side door, a green light flared on by the door and the door itself slid open. The tires of the Petrel barely kissed the ground, and the four operators were out the door and on the ground of Trynac.

“Move…Move…form up on the right side of the door.” Team Leader Riza spoke into her mic; the three men behind her followed her up to the door, stacked behind her. She reached into her hip bag, and pulled out the small data core. Plugging it into the slot on the terminal on the side of the door, it took a moment but the door opened. Leading into a brightly lit medium sized hallway, it ended at the closed doors of an elevator. Making their way down to the elevator the team waited for it to arrive to their floor, after the call button was pushed. Some moments passed then the doors slid open, to an empty elevator. As they piled in Jarr asked, “How far down?” Riza herself had studied the map of the structure and task that was laid before them backwards and forwards ever since receiving the orders, “One hundred meters down, he should be waiting for us with all his work, then we go right back up.” Jarr, excitedly pumped his fist, “Quick and easy.”

As the elevator delivered the team down to the main level of the lab, the doors opened up to…no doctor….

Riza sighed audibly at the revelation that the doctor was not there to meet the team, her shoulders slumped as the prospect of this turning into a needle in the haystack mission, as she brought up the map of the laboratory on her helmet’s HUD. She queued the location of the doctor’s office and forwarded the location to the HUDs of her team, as the blips appeared in their helmets, she yelled out, “Doctor Bulger! It is time to leave!” No response came from the silent lab laid out before them; Riza moved her hand forward and the fire team moved into the laboratory.

It was quiet, only the whine from the overhead lighting was constantly heard above their footsteps; there was no one else in the lab. Being it was 4:30am local time and the confirmation coming from the doctor earlier that evening, they were positive he was down here. Moving quickly through the hallways, making a left, going another twenty eight meters, turning right, going thirty two meters they came to a “T-Junction”, and the team stopped as the lights began to flicker above them, and their HUDs soon flickered off.

“Which way TL?” Alex asked while he kept his eyes roaming the space around them, he wasn’t too unnerved about the failed technology before him. A little red tag light “reset” appeared in the lower right corner of all their screens, a telltale sign that the electrical display would be back on soon.

“Right, fifteen meters and that should be the door to his office.” The team continued on their path to the Doctors office. Arriving up at the door to the office, Riza pulled the data core once again out of her hip pocket and slid it into the terminal besides the door, however this time the door did not slide open. A little red light flickered on and off repeatedly on the device. “Fuck, we can’t open the door it can’t brake it….Serj did you bring the det cord?”

Moving up to the door, Serj had already begun unraveling the thick plastic gum cord, unfurling the plastic wrap off of it, he exposed the sticky part of it to the cold steel of the door. “This better be worth it Riza, I was planning to use this if we got retasked later back on the planet…”

“Just blow down the door Serj….”

The team moved back down the hallway to a safe distance, as Serj hit a button on his forearm, a bright flash, smoke and a large explosion occurred, culminating in a few seconds with a loud clang of the steel door hitting the opposite wall. I hope we didn’t kill him… Ran through Riza’s mind as she approached the door….”Sorry for the noise Doc, but you did make….”Her voice trailed off as she entered the room and spotted it.

The rest of the team entered and couldn’t quite comprehend what they were seeing, it was silent for a few moments…no one quite new what to say. It was sitting behind what appeared to be the Doctors desk….but it wasn’t so much as sitting…as just being in the chair…actually around the chair parts of it looked to be wrapped around the terminal on the desk.

“Weapons Hot.” Was all that could come out of Riza’s mouth, and that was all it took. Each operator raised their assault rifle and centered their target, thirty-two rounds of 6.8mm full metal jacket armor piercing sabot serupted from each of the rifles within a few blinks of the eye. All one hundred and twenty eight bullets found their mark, ripping the target away from the terminal on the desk, as well as off the chair and slamming onto the cold floor. Chunks of what looked like flesh was torn away from the entity splattering the walls and ceiling with a purple goop, splitting apart large portions of the entity and revealing something more alarming inside…the doctor.

“Wow…what in the actual…what were you…” Alex turned to Riza, “What the fuck Riz…what is going on?”

Riza had almost frozen up, she knew she wanted to throw up, she was glad her team couldn’t see her face. “Get what you can off of the computer, now. We are bugging out in five mikes. Serj, prep the plasma burst charge, none of this can survive.” The burst charge was already prepped to expand and obliterate everything within a five hundred meter sphere before dissipating after consuming its charge, perfect for maximum destruction and sanitation of the underground installation without causing widespread damage. Riza herself never thought she would have to use the device, but then again…she never thought she would have to see….something…something like that.



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