NATION

PASSWORD

The Compendium [Future Tech | Fiction | Open]

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

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Geanna
Minister
 
Posts: 2177
Founded: Jul 09, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby Geanna » Sun Nov 01, 2015 7:49 pm

Image
Serenity



Is this what life feels like? Even now, having opened my eyes to stare into the dark abyss, is this what it really feels like? Always troubled by the constant buzzing of the world, deadlines and time - forever enduring the journey from point A to B. There's never a breath, a quiet and patient stop to look about you, to collect yourself and draw in a breath as you stare out at the world. Numb, that's the word, we feel numb to what is around us - there's never any time.

The knock came at the door, my room had fallen quiet with only the small fan to disturb the uneasy silence. I couldn't say how long I'd been asleep, but I could tell you that it wasn't enough. I groaned, rolling under the covers as the knock repeated, this time with a voice - "Asha! Asha, I know you're in there. Come on, you need to get up or we'll be late!" I sighed, and with a groan told Tala I'd be there in a moment. Rolling back over, I was faced with the emptiness of my space.

The room was mostly dark, though the small emergency lights in the corner - with their hazy luminance, made this sort of blackness, blue.

"C'mon Asha!"

After I'd gotten ready, and met with Tala, who was surprisingly eager - we travelled down the long corridors of our station. Tala was always a big talker, there was never a moment that she wasn't describing something, or telling a long story. They were very interesting stories, though. If it wasn't for that, I'd probably find myself irritated constantly. I had met Tala during deployment, actually, she was an engineer on the Hiata Station near Sonna. Myself, well - I was a rather new Sergeant, sent there to be in charge of their security.

The Hiata Station was much, much larger than Iloras, and I was beyond nervous for the deployment. I'd actually never seen combat before then, and we were already nearing the end of the Long War. The war seemed so far away, though, like a conflict that you only saw on a television. We were all so very detached from such a reality, until the Hiata Incursion. A Betrican flotilla attempted a raid on Hiata Station, and after several weeks of fighting, we were able to push them back.

Such a victory didn't come without a price however. Tala was as talkative then, as she is now, but after the incursion - something changed about her. I remember the ride on the shuttle following the battle, we were all covered in oil and dust, our clothes torn and ragged. Our faces broken, and our spirits battered. We defeated the incursion, but ultimately, Hiata Station was destroyed. It pained me to see so many on that ride, their faces, pale and lifeless like the very soul within them had been crushed.

For Tala, that sort of wound cut far deeper than I could ever imagine. She was born on that station, grew up there - it was her home. We were all very ignorant to the war, separated from such an abhorrent conflict, that none of us knew the sting of such suffering. That's the thing about war, it destroys so many lives. Sure, we can cheer and rejoice over our soldiers in the safety and comfort of our home - wave the banners about those that return, parade them through the streets like some sort of trophy, but we're oblivious to such a thing. We don't actually see them. What they've seen, what they've been through.

We thank those that've lost their limbs, for their sacrifice, we call them heroes - but the real damage can't be seen. Not unless you truly open your eyes. And even then, you can't see just how deep that wound really is. They become like shadows, of their former selves, cast upon the wall with the flicker of light. They march and they dance, they play out their lives having returned, and although we can see these shadows - we refuse to actually look at them. We refuse to see the true reality of war, we make them invisible, because it makes us uncomfortable.

Sometimes, the greatest sacrifice that one can give for another, isn't the loss of an arm or a leg - it is the loss of a piece of their very soul.

This sort of uncomfortable realisation hit me on that shuttle. Tala didn't smile after that, and her eyes had lost much of their colour when she looked at you. It was obvious that she was suffering deep within, but she didn't show it. And even worse, I didn't know how to help her. I was the soldier here, and though I was still just as shell-shocked, I wasn't attached to such a place.

We walked that long corridor, her talking as fast as she could, me listening in my silence as we navigated people. Everyone had woken up on Iloras, our station, and we were all heading to work. After the war, I joined Tala's engineering unit, and we went to Iloras to work on the many projects they were conducting. We'd become such good friends in the past few years, inseparable even.

We'd arrived at our dock, went through the usual paperwork as we both smelled the oil and grease that had saturated the air. The dock itself was large, and filled with the sounds of the cargo mechs moving across the floor. They carried containers and equipment, and the sparks from welders high above in the scaffolding, fell like snow across the floor. Tala always called them fireflies, they reminded her of this insect she'd seen on a different planet during one of her deployments, and she always enjoyed watching them descend and twirl in the air.

She quickly signed off on a clip-board, and were soon moving across the bay's floor to a small shuttle. Two mechanics, one Crux, and the other a Runi by the looks of it, had been fuelling the ship for our trip. Having seen us, they waved, detaching the hose. "Hey Tala!," the one waved, Tala greeted them as I quickly opened up the door to the co-pilot and slid in. I closed the oval shaped glass, and then buckled myself in as I flipped a few switches to begin the pre-flight inspection. Tala talked to the two outside, though I couldn't hear them, before she too was climbing into the ship next to me.

"Friends of yours?" I asked, looking to her as she started to flip some switches on her side.

"Something like that, the Runi is Ty-kao, old friend of mine," she said. The engines of the ship shook themselves to life as I felt the shuttle vibrate and shift, the nozzles opening and closing as blue flames licked the floor beneath us. She throttled it a few times, each with a familiar jerk as it wanted to break free like a caged animal, but the anchored clamps refused to let it. When everything was ready, we gave the signal to the deck crew, and soon the clamp had detached and we were flying out of the bay.

You never really got bored of the view, I always thought I would, but I enjoyed staring at the thousands of lights across the station. They were like man-made stars, twinkling in neat but sporadic rows across the white surface. And behind each one was a face, looking back at the world out here, in the deep. Giant rings surrounded the central body of Iloras, these were the habitation areas for the hundreds of thousands on board. It was a floating city, far from any terran world, detached from the throws of the world - much like Hiata.

I rested against the glass, staring at Iloras as Tala piloted the shuttle. I can remember the slightly cold resonance from the glass, and the gentle hum of the ship as we flew, it sang softly like a lullaby. We worked all day on some panelling and shielding for the station, replaced some corroded hoses, fixed some lights, had a few jokes here and there. This was what life was like, everyday, the feeling of being in a never-ending wonderland - drifting along the pulls and pushes of the waves, smelling the foam as it sprayed across you. That's what life was like, calm and reserved, quiet and tranquil.

When we had returned, Tala didn't speak much. I found it odd, but I figured that maybe she'd finally worn herself out. She'd had joked with me much more that day, than she'd ever done, we ate our lunches and even visited the lower observation decks together. She looked tired, and when we finally departed, we said our good nights and I was soon inside my room again. After changing, bathing - I tried but couldn't sleep that night. I tossed and turned in bed, and finally conceded and curled up in the chair at my desk, staring at holographic screens, then darkness, then the clock.

I had finally dozed off, I can't say when, but I did. My dreams weren't any more of a comfort for me, however - it was everything from being chased to suffocating. When day approached, I found myself awake, half-strewn out over the edge of the chair with my face buried in some papers. I furrowed my brows, trying to stare at the clock and make-out the time. Tala hadn't woken me up, and now I was an hour late.

I hurried and got ready, though I was understandably sluggish. All the while, I couldn't figure out why she hadn't come to get me. Rushing out the door, I nearly ran over the two station security officers - who had arrived to greet me. They had questions, a lot of questions, and after the first few sentences, all I heard was muffled voices and a sinking feeling.

I've always found it so odd, how such news can be given, and you can sense their uneasiness. Their lips in a thin line, their cheeks and jaws tense and stretched, everything just sort've slows to a halt. I don't remember much else about that morning, or that day. All that was known, was that someone had heard a gunshot, and that was it.

There was no deep, heartfelt good-bye. No resting feeling of absolution - just this odd dream-like sensation, where your chest just felt like it was cold. Your stomach churned and felt empty, and your shoulders drooped like they had turn to a gelatinous ooze around your neck. You suddenly become oblivious to the world, before you know it, you're home again. I ran through everything about that day, constantly replaying the memories when she had woken me up, to the bay and everything else - like a movie that never ended. I'm not sure what I was searching for, I couldn't tell you.

The next morning, I got up and went to work. The walk was quiet, moving around the people in the halls, getting what I needed from the tool room, and readying the shuttle. I sat in the pilot seat this time, flipping switches and feeling the engines kick to life. The clamps released the ship, and I was soon leaving the hangar - outside, the station continued to lingerr about, slowly drifting in space in her slow and constant turning. I took a passing glance towards the thousands of man-made stars again, knowing well, that down there somewhere - one was no longer shining.

The world had gotten just a little bit darker.
LOVEWHOYOUARE~


"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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Intersteller Terra
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Posts: 107
Founded: Nov 16, 2014
Ex-Nation

Short on Time

Postby Intersteller Terra » Fri Nov 06, 2015 1:16 am

Short on Time


The engines gave out, not long after the generators gave out to. that was when the captain and the crew locked themselves in the bridge. That was two weeks ago we have been living off emergency power ever since, food ran out three days ago and Roz says the air filters died yesterday. She is a feisty one id have liked to get to know her more if we had ever made it to a safe planet that we could call home. Last I knew she had gone to try and fix the air filters with a few others, if i wasn't so tired id have gone with her. I find it hard to tell if I’m awake or not the darkness has engulfed the passageway where I sat down to rest, the only real sign Ive had that let me know that I’m conscious is the odd low groan of others around me.

There was one… sounded like the little girl who had curled up next to her mother. Poor girl i hope Roz gets the filters working for her sake. She seemed like a cute kid… there were loads on this bucket, loads of families loads of individuals that scrambled onto what ever ship we could find that could take us off world. The Monsters… they swept over pretty much everything on our home world they were unstoppable not even nuking them seemed to work, seems like a life time ago now,

So tired… No stay awake we got a distress signal off, at least I think we did, yes we definitely did have to stay awake, stay alive for as long as possible. Was that a thud on the hull? nah couldn't be lack of oxygen is making he hear things now. We had been fighting a war apparently although none of us had seen any of it other than stories told by the veterans that rotated back planetside. Then one day they started falling from the sky without warning hundreds of them lighting up the skies in flaming trails.

Ooooh god why am I so tired… why is it so hard to breathe, I hope that kids alright. How long has it been since I heard her last? Oh right yeah we are fucked no power no air slowly freezing and suffocating to death in the vastness of the void. Wonderful situation I got myself in isn't it, god i could go for a cold one right now.

No that was definitely a thud! Its the aliens they have come to finish the job, I know it… gah my chest it burns can hardly breathe. Maybe if I go to sleep ill be able to conserve more oxygen. There was another thud maybe I should go check that out? Nah far to tired for that and besides I need to conserve the little air I have left. Whats that? is that a light?

A light in the darkness is it that time already only feels like its been a few minutes. Its getting closer it must be my time i guess… Oh well I've had a good run. Come on take me to meet my maker.





Oh god my head, what did i drink last night? I don't even want to try and open my eyes. Oh god thats bright, okay okay try that one more time more slowly, I have thought the after life would be less blurry than this. I can see shapes the air… tastes clean shapes are moving and what is that beeping noise. Whats this shape hanging over me it looks so…. human! God my eyes sting but things seem to be getting clearer.

White walls fresh bedding and clean air a warm smile… A warm smile, god she is beautiful surely she is an angel. I feel better already for justing her… but who is she?

“Welcome back thought we had lost you for a short while there”

Even her voice is as soft as silk, wait a minute… welcome back surely I'm dead the light it came to me.

“There was someone here asking after you”

Me? you mean I'm not the only survivor, but I never heard anyone else… oooh god i hope that little girl is okay. My voice box doesn't appear to work but the angel simply smiles in knowing what i mean and steps to one side. Its all blurry at first but my vision clears. Roz! she's alive and smiling at me maybe the etherial gods are kind after all, maybe all will be well I guess only time will tell.
Last edited by Intersteller Terra on Fri Nov 06, 2015 1:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Federal Republic of Free States
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 142
Founded: Sep 04, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:43 am

The Interrogator


/////Encryption Level: 0-1
////Classified, Eyes Only
///Intelligence Department
//Special Activities Division
/Internal Affairs Office
[Secondary Interrogation]
Interrogation of: [Subject One]
[Disclaimer]: The Following is an audio/video playback recording of Interrogator [REDACTED] first session with [Subject One]. This is a clean slate interrogation. Subject One was recovered from the surface of [REDACTED], eight years after the fall of that planet. FSV Darkness conducted the exfil operation of [Subject One], did not report any other signs of life on the planet, or in the system. [Subject One] so far, is the only human survivor of the Cryic Threat.

/………/

[Playback Initiated]

/……../

The Interrogator walked into the room and eyed his subject from head to seat; the table obscured the lower half of his body from the field of view. Seating quickly across from the man, the interrogator could easily notice the dark sunken eyes, the protruding facial bones. This man clearly hasn’t eaten a full meal in quite some time, nor has had a full nights sleep in several cycles.

Wondering about the subject, the interrogator double tapped his middle finger against the cold table a light on the table responded to the touch. Starting up the recording program the Interrogator took a breath, “Let’s not waste any time…”

<State your name for the record.>

“eheh….”, weakly emerged from the cracked lips of the man.

<Your name, please.>

“Hen..ry.”

<That will suffice, They brought me a long way out here for you, Henry.>

The subject only smiled in response to the statement. “Did…did you know…? ….my…name?”

<No, they withheld any information of you prior to my arrival.>

A small flicker of light arose in the subject’s eyes, a spark. That smile grew a bit now. Parting his dry and cracked lips. Exposing what teeth he had left hanging in his mouth, “someone new…you don’t know.”

<Don’t know what, Mr. Henry?> The Interrogator sat straighter in his chair, he could feel the temperature around him change slightly, it wasn’t enough to warrant a response but it was enough to make the hair on his arms and the back of his neck stand.

“You….you….don’t know who I am. Ha..h.a….ah.h..ha.aha…”, a twitch sprang into action within the left shoulder and neck area of Henry’s body. Stopping him from his weak laughter, the twitch was violent in nature as it caused him to spasm his left arm and neck.

The Interrogator felt a small uneasiness float up in his bowels. It wasn’t overbearing, but it was enough to make his eyebrow’s twist, not to mention the scene of his subject’s spasming in front of him was unnerving in its own right.

<Who are you then, Henry?>

That smile returned to Henry’s face, even though the spasming had not yet stopped the violent movement of his body. “A Survivor.”

A puzzled look sprang upon the Interrogator’s face, his eyebrows coming together as his head tilted to the side. The air in the immediate area felt even chillier, a shiver of chill ran down the Interrogator’s back, <A survivor of what?>

The spasm subsided, and the body of Henry calmed down, but he had regained a full deep voice, “THE SURVIVOR. The. Survivor. The only one. ME. Ever, they never told you…?”

The Interrogator’s eyes narrowed, he tried to swallow the saliva that was building up in his mouth, but he could feel the uneasiness grow in his stomach. He grabbed the edge of the table with both hands. Trying to steady himself, he re-opened his eyes.

Henry was fully smiling now, the few rotted blackened teeth still hanging in his mouth exposed, “Of all the fallen worlds…..of all the dead systems….me. They left……me…..”

<……………> He couldn’t hold it anymore. The Interrogator pushed away from the table, his chair screeching horribly against the floor. And opened his mouth….out came a vile blue substance, splashing against the floor and radiating out in all direction.

Henry was ecstatic, his laughter returned. “Hahahaha….ha.ha.ah…hahaha. That’s….that is…..that’s what the other man did when I told him.”

///Close Loop///
//End Playback//
/End Connection/

................

Subject One will be indefinitely detained at [REDACTED], all further interrogations of Subject One will be denied. All contact with Subject One by un-authorized personnel will result in detainment of that individual. Any request to study Subject One must be made personally to the Director. Interrogator [REDACTED], will be deemed a compromised asset to the Department, he will be indefinitely detained at [REDACTED]. Subject One is now deemed a paranormal individual, and will undergo severe containment procedures. Interrogator [REDACTED], will in addition be deemed exposed to a Class AI Paranormal Event and will undergo observation protocol. The Special Activities Division is still our best counter to paranormal events, objects and individuals. The collary of the Cyric threat and paranormal activity cannot be ignored, their unnatural force is real.

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Senkaku
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 21528
Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:02 pm

Burnt Bridges, Part One: Concrete Angel



Tian System
Huasé-di
Zuan de la Republiqué Province
Lansé-kyotu City
13th Ward




"Aumary, please can't you just..."
Nathan took a shuddering breath and turned the volume on his sonic-field up, trying to drown out the loud, angry, grating voices from downstairs. The cheap sonics pumped more voltage into their field-adapters, turning Aumary and Maria Xiang into faint white noise behind whatever shit piece of electropop was streaming now. Nathan rubbed his eyes and stared at his screen blankly, trying to type a few more words to his essay and then deleting the entire last paragraph he'd written.
Alright, c'mon, try and pull yourself together. This isn't making you feel better. Just finish the paper, it's supposed to be a fun assignment. A delivery drone whizzed by his window, its tiny quadjets leaving a faint wisp of bluish smoke that quickly vanished against the dark, unrelenting rain.

The sonic-field, however, no matter how loud he made it, could not shut out the dark, creeping, and very small voices that were already in the room with him.



Aumary Xiang stormed out of his house well after one in the morning, after a fight with his wife about coming home late and not letting her know. It would only have taken a small effort on his part- have the family AI let her know, send a text, do something, at least. His son was locked in his room, probably trying to work on homework, as irreparably miserable as he usually was.
Nathan had always been too fragile, too delicate, for the realities of Aumary's mid-level bureaucrat's salary and the mediocre school and other trappings of life that came with it. Neither Aumary nor his wife had the heart to try and toughen the boy up at home- whatever their fights with one another, they loved their son as he was and treasured him for it, as they had since he was born and through the tumult of his infancy. But Nathan's quiet eccentricity and optimism and creativity and happiness was not something that could survive the life they led, whether Aumary and Maria wanted it or not. He would- indeed, even now was- slowly having all of that beaten out of him, honing his darker instincts and his already-sharp mind to become the perfect homme xué that Tianése society so idolized.

Not unlike, Aumary reflected as he plodded down the dark, nearly-empty street, his father had before him. Aumary's cigarette had gone out several blocks ago in the soaking, frigid rain, which was now threatening to penetrate his coat's waterproofing with its brutal intensity. He could count the number of pedestrians he'd seen on his left hand- and he only had three fingers on that hand. Delivery drones zipped overhead, as usual, and the occasional car or scooter or hovercraft hummed by in the puddle-covered streets, but a random, darkened street in the 13th Ward was hardly a prime destination of a rainy autumn night.
And anyways, it's not like I could tell her about it anyways. What would I say? 'Oh, sorry Maria, I was late because I was trying to find a way to tip off the police that my boss has been making me launder his smuggling money for the last eighteen months without getting myself or you or Nathan killed.' I mean, what does the woman fucking want from me, blood? If I weren't this careful, she might get exactly that!

A car pulled up and stopped at the corner up ahead, and a dark figure stepped out into the slightly apocalyptic orange light of the streetlamp.



There, see, that's two paragraphs done already. Nathan blew his nose and sighed. This really isn't half-bad, you're feeling a little better already. He saw his phone was running out of battery and switched the sonic-field off.
A few minutes later, there was a gentle rap at the door, and an uncertain voice drifted through the thin white-painted plywood.
"Nathan? Honey? I don't know if you want to talk or anything, but, um..." Maria Xiang's voice was faint and cracked with unhappiness. "Your father brought home some ice cream, from work. He... headed out, a little while ago."
Nathan felt a sudden flicker of corrosive anger rise along his spine. "I heard the door slam, Mom. It's fine," he said sharply.

He could almost see her nod half-heartedly and turn away. "Okay. You didn't eat much at dinner. Try to have something." Hope leaked from Maria Xiang's voice like water from their bathroom faucet on cold days.
Nathan heard every step she took as she walked back downstairs, and looked out at the darkening sky as anger and misery wrapped like a white-hot snake around his throat and lungs, whispering fury and corruption and depression into his ear, dulling everything but the pain of the disintegration of his own family around him and his utter powerlessness. Tears curled into teasing, infuriating balls at the edge of his eyes, and he suddenly slammed his computer off.
Fuck this. Just go to sleep. Madame Pralay can stick her fucking switched due date up her dried-up cunt.
As he lay in bed, trying not to drown on the seemingly colossal wave of ruin that stretched to the horizons of his life, there was distant gunfire, echoing over the city.

Nathan rolled over and settled into a light and uncomfortable sleep.
How much does it fucking take just to be happy?



Aumary sighed slightly and almost rolled his eyes as he saw the man point the gun at him and the muzzle flash. The sound reached him an instant later- pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop.
Then there were a hundred blossoms of fiery pain and numbness and a huge blow that knocked him onto the cold concrete of the sidewalk. It was just a kinetic machine pistol, using explosive charges to propel metal slugs into him, nothing particularly sophisticated.

For a mid-level bureaucrat, alone and damp on a dark, empty street in the 13th Ward late at night, it was more than sufficient.

Aumary gasped for air like a dead fish as blood soaked his work clothes, his coat, ran in a red river onto the sidewalk to be pounded into a pinkish-clear solution by the rain. He couldn't feel anything besides a cold that made him want to shiver, and suddenly a dark figure blocked his sight of the orange-lit clouds above.
He struggled to form words, his own blood filling his mouth and making his tongue clumsy.
"My..my...my-my-m-y... fa-m...fa...famil...il-y?"
The man's voice was even and strangely reasonable. "You sold us out to Inspector Liu, not your family. Otherwise they'd be with you. Now goodbye, Aumary."

There was a huge flash, a world-shaking noise, and then everything turned into a warm, tranquil, and perfectly silent darkness.
Last edited by Senkaku on Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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Senkaku
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 21528
Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Fri Nov 27, 2015 11:34 pm

redacted
Last edited by Senkaku on Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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Federal Republic of Free States
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 142
Founded: Sep 04, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Sat Nov 28, 2015 6:00 am

…..Boot…. [Part 1 of 3]



The sun itself…was starting to lazily set behind the mountain range; twilight of orange and violet hues had taken control of the sky. Deep in the West the light eating blackness of the night sky had started to permeate with every minute the sunset. The bright lights of the Marine Corps Depot could be seen well down the single highway that reached out to it. It was a secluded area, perfect for the transformation that would take place there for another group of raw fresh recruits.

The two busses each were carrying around fifty individuals from around the adjacent surrounding metropolitan and rural areas. These young people were on the path of becoming the next class of Republican Marines; they each have chosen this path of their own volition. While it was a professional Marine Corps, it was still dependent on volunteer recruits to fill the ranks and keep units at full strength. The busses came to a stop in a spotlight lit black asphalt parking lot, the group of new recruits filed out of the busses with their possessions and sort of milled about awaiting an official reception. From the group of buildings at the other end of four individuals emerged and close the gap between them and the recruits, the four Drill Instructors quietly made their way to the mass of recruits at a good clip.

Only one of the Instructors addressed the crowd of youngsters and his voice resonated with the low roar of a jet engine his voice rang out on the assembly area, “Attention on Deck!”

The raggedy group of individuals haphazardly formed up in a loose crowd, looking out across at them, you wouldn’t think much of the one hundred assorted young men and women. Their age ranged from eighteen to twenty-five, their motives were as varied as they were. Most wanted to see, see what they could make of themselves, see if they could live up to the hero’s and legend’s that wore the uniform, see more of the galaxy, see if they could surprise themselves. But no matter their motives for signing up, they were all about to question why they were even here.

The Gunnery Sergeant of the Republican Marine Corps took his place at the front of the assembled group; three other Staff Sergeants had taken up ancillary positions around the mass of youngsters. The face of the Gunnery Sergeant was not pleased, none in the assembled group knew why….

The Gunny closed his eyes and took a deep breath, “WHEN I SAY ATTENTION ON DECK, YOU ASSEMBLE IN ORDERD FASHION, AND DAMN IT YOU STAND AT FUCKING ATTENTION!” He snapped a stiff salute to the group of young recruits to enunciate the point.

Most in the crowd were confused, they had just stepped off the buses at the depot and it was already nighttime, it had been a long trip of several hours on an uncomfortable pair of buses, they were tired, they were hungry, they were not ready for what was about to transpire. Some began to nervously look around, and that is when some saw it. The yellow feet painted into the asphalt at forty-five degree angles. When they had departed from the buses, none in the group even bothered to look at the ground they were walking on. That amused the Gunny, enough for him to bellow out from his lungs, “YOU ARE NOW REPUBLICAN MARINES! EYES ON MY DECK. THAT IS WHERE YOU STAND. YOU WILL STAND IN FORMATION ON MY DECK! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

The response was almost in complete unison, “Aye. Aye. Sir!” But…it lacked a certain…. intensity…

And the Drill Instructors picked up on that almost instantly. From their positions around the group of recruits they dove into the mass of recruits. Forcefully moving them into the positions specified by the yellow foot markings while tearing into them audibly. One of the drill instructors was moving a young man into position onto the yellow painted feet,

“SCREAM! YOU SCREAM YOUR RESPONSE!”

“Aye. Aye. Sir!”

“DAMN IT YOU SOFT BELLIED FUCK, SCREAM! SCREAAAAAM!”

“AYE. Aye. Sir!!”

“FUCK RECRUIT I AM NOT MOVING AWAY FROM YOUR FACE UNTIL YOU SCREAM YOUR RESPONSE!”

“AYE! AYE! SIR!”

Watching his fellow Drill Instructor’s move about through the crowd brought a smile to the Gunny’s mind, but his face kept the stern expression, and announced to the crowd of recruits,

“YOU WILL NOT BRING ANYTHING WITH YOU PASS THIS POINT. YOUR BELONINGS WILL STAY ON THE DECK. THEY WILL BE COLLECTED AND PROCESSED.”

Noticing a few recruits not holding their gaze at the Gunny’s eyes, he turned to nod at one of the other drill instructors. It would have been complete mayhem audibly for the uninitiated, seemingly at once and well versed after years of use, the four sergeants began yelling different versions of the same command, and contradicting commands at the same time. Designed to overwhelm the young recruits audibly and honestly, to confuse the everlasting shit out of them. It was an exercise the drill instructors loved, and most likely always will.

“DON’T LOOK AT ME WHILE HE’S TALKING TO YOU.”

“LOOK AT HIM WHILE I’M TALKING TO YOU!”

“LOOK AT US WHILE THE GUNNY TALKS!”

“LOOK UP RECRUIT, DO NOT STARE AT THE DECK!”

“YOU WILL HOLD YOUR GAZE AT THE GUNNY, DO YOU UNDERSTAND!?”

Scanning the assembled group, the Gunny bellowed, “YOU WILL EMPTY YOUR POCKETS ON MY DECK, NOT ONE THING WILL BE LEFT IN YOUR POCKETS, DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

“AYE! AYE! SIR!” Came the response from the group of recruits, and they began the simple tasks of emptying their belongings out of their pockets and on their persons and onto the deck at their feet. The Gunny let loose the order one more time, just to be sure it was understood and followed.

“OUT OF YOUR POCKETS. NOTHING IS LEFT IN YOUR POCKETS. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? EVERYTHING IS TO BE ON MY DECK!”

One of the drill instructors began maneuvering through the group of recruits patting down pockets and stopped in the middle of the group when his hand hit a suspiciously bulky object in one of the younger’s jean pocket. Focusing his intense fury on the single recruit, the drill instructor let loose.

“WHY IS YOUR WALLET STILL IN YOUR POCKET?! ARE YOU DUMB? ARE YOU SLOW? RESPOND!”

“AYE AYE SIR!”

“EMPTY YOUR FUCKING POCKETS RECRUIT!”

“AYE AYE SIR!”

“SCREAM IT!”

With more force out of his lungs that caused his face to turn a dark hue of red, “AYE AYE SIR!”

The recruit then fumbled inside his pocket, clearing out his wallet and then dropping that wallet on the asphalt, his assorted cash falling out of the fold and blowing away in the soft westerly wind….

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Senkaku
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Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Sat Nov 28, 2015 1:36 pm

redacted
Last edited by Senkaku on Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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Senkaku
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Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:36 pm

The Second Bombardment




Ilseok Cosmodrome
Khevtul District
West Chongnam
Taihan-di
Feuille d'Or System






The sea of angry faces edged forward, held back only by the armored soldiers who stood menacingly near the entrance with stun rifles at the ready. The soldiers and a few police carefully let a few people into the narrow line that led down the jetway, and people hurried forward, pushed from behind by the weight of the crowd.
The building shook every now and then, dust sometimes falling from the roof, as explosions rumbled elsewhere in the district.

One of the soldiers looked up and pointed as a fluorescent beacon appeared above the crowd, waved by a desperate young attendant pushing through the crowd.
"Please move, please move," she stammered to the people around her, beckoning to the family coming behind her. The girl was in a hoverchair, her mother pushing while her father pushed an IV tower behind, and her brother and grandparents were coming behind.
A shoulder was thrown by one of the annoyed, frightened, faceless people, sending the grandfather stumbling. "Hey, I'm just trying to get through, my granddaughter's-"
"Just wait your turn!", came a woman's shrill voice.
"Fuck you, asshole," the old man snarled back, and suddenly the soldier's voice cut through the angry murmuring and shifting.
"Hey! Move aside! Let these people through!"
"We've been waiting for hours!," the same woman said, in the shrill tones of desperation and fury. "Make him wait his turn!"
"Ma'am! Move. Now."
"I won't-"
The sharp ping of the stun rifle cut off her screeching voice, and there were yells as the grandfather hurried forward and rejoined his family, the soldiers parting to let him onto the jetway with them.
"Please continue coming forward in an orderly fashion," one of the soldiers boomed over the agitated crowd. The sea of humanity parted around the stunned woman, who had fallen forward on top of her bags. "Make way for parties led by an official with a beacon."

A man at the edge of the room, trying vainly to push his way towards the entry point the soldiers were guarding, suddenly turned, staring for a moment at the armored man in front of him.
"Look, man, can't you just-"
"Citizen, please continue to move forward in an orderly manner," the soldier said flatly.
"Look, you fucker, there's more than enough room on the ship! Just let us all through!"
The soldier leveled his stun rifle. "Sir, please continue to move towards the entrance in an orderly manner without causing a disturbance."
The roof shuddered again, and the man started screaming, spit spraying the soldier's visor. "You're just going to wait for a bomb to fall on us and let a few of us get aboard?! Let us fucking through! Let us through!" He lashed out with a fist, clipping the soldier's armored chin.
The stun rifle pinged, and the man fell back with a grunt, into the crowd- but suddenly there were more yells.
"Hey! Let us through!"
"I've been waiting for hours!"
"We know there's enough space!"
"Please continue to move forward in a-"
There were more pings, and suddenly a soldier fell back, a man having seized onto him and shoved with all his might. People flooded forward into the opening.
"Stay back! Citizens, please remain calm!" It was like trying to hold back the sea with a pile of salt. People were pushing forward now, while the fluorescent beacons that had been making their way forward abruptly turned back and went to the back of the crowd as the lieutenant in charge spoke something into his mouthpiece.

The soldiers who remained in the line raised their rifles, barking orders at the mob in front of them to move back. Two more rushed over with batons and began to beat back those who had breached the line, helping their comrade who had lost his feet up. The mob surged back a few steps, but the flow into the breach was only growing stronger.
A voice whispered in the lieutenant's earpiece, sounding disappointed. "Switch to live fire. We need to leave soon anyways."

The soldiers slung their stun rifles over their backs and pulled out their sidearms. Now the mob was frightened, pushing into both the designated line and against the entire cordon.
The deeper blam-blam-blam of automatic plasma fire sent up screams. People scattered in every direction, more soldiers pushing against the flow of civilians up the jetway and running out into the frenzied crowd as it blew apart into chaos and death. Some of them fired little jets in the legs of their armor to swiftly reach the positions of the fluorescent beacons, ushering them forward and firing at those who got in their way.

Boarding the ship, Maria turned her head slightly, her oxygen tubes stretching to accomodate the movement, at the sound of automatic gunfire.
"Papa, is something going on?"
"Nothing, darling," her father said reassuringly, himself throwing a look over his shoulder as they followed the grim-faced attendant who had lead them through the crowd to the booth they'd been given.


No sooner had Maria been seated than a terse announcement crackled over the intercom. "All passengers, prepare for immediate takeoff." The sound of automatic gunfire was noticeable now even inside the ship, as soldiers hurried into the Petra Xincha's boarding ports. They were firing wildly at the few civilians brave enough to pursue them- a wise move, given the desperation of those still trying to get aboard. Even before the bloody scene in the staging area, people had killed to secure a seat on one of the only passenger evacuation vessels flying out of Ilseok still. The roar of the ship's jets began to drown out the noises, and soon the hiss of the doors sealing removed all outside noise, even the noise of nails scratching against the ship's thick, smooth hull.



The big people-mover slowly pulled away from her berth, her primary jets sending a gust of blazing air across the tarmac as it rose into the air. A mile or so away, someone fired a few bursts at it- small-arms fire, nothing to be concerned about. The Petra Xincha rolled slightly, turning, and whoever had fired on her was about to be very sorry indeed.
Typically, vessels of its size did not ignite their main engines until they were well into the stratosphere, and for good reason. The blazingly hot exhaust would fry anything behind it for thousands of meters, heated in the intense furnace of the ship's fusion reactor.

The Petra Xincha suddenly shot away and upwards, an enormous tongue of white flame stretching behind her and licking along the jagged steel teeth of the skyscrapers and streets on the other side of Ilseok's main runway. As the ship arched upwards, those few passengers with a porthole could watch as the world below them blazed.
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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Senkaku
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Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Wed Dec 23, 2015 12:34 am

Whistling Death
A Tale of the Bombardment





Vechnozelenyy Park
Chang'an District
South Chongnam
Taihan-di
Feuille d'Or System






"Leytenant!" The soldier's voice was urgent as he came running into the little makeshift bunker they'd tunneled into Vechnozelenyy Park's thick, rich soil and covered with concrete and re-welded scrap steel. It certainly wouldn't save them if the besiegers decided to throw down another dead ship or huge kill vehicle, but it was sufficient to protect from the sniper fire that constantly flew around the devastated Chang'an District, as well as the constant heat of the day.
"What is it, Corporal?", Lieutenant Kang said, standing slowly from his desk- really a slab of concrete with a data slate on top of it and some papers.
"Leytenant, Radar Sec reports incoming aerial contacts. At least five."
"They are probably headed to reinforce the enemy around the Zhongshilan Gardens," Ibrahim Kang said in a tired tone. "So Radar Sec broke the jamming, then? Why wasn't I alerted here?"
"I think it was a localized incident. Only soldiers in a certain area received the news," the man said breathlessly. "They sent me to come and tell you."
A sudden blast outside made everyone in the little bunker jump. "Corporal, go see what that was."
"Yessir, Leytenant." The man hurried up the entrance to the bunker, emerging into the brilliant sunlight and the scorching heat.
"All clear, Corporal?"
"Looks like it, sir. I can see a lot of smoke coming from Zhongshilan."



Chamnak 24 Chakx'i wiggled his tentacles and flashed blue and yellow in excitement. Beneath him, a twisting, shredded pillar of blue-grey smoke was now rising from the gardens where the Taihandi missile unit and its guards had been dug in, marking where the uulchi missile had found its mark. The earth around the terrace their missile launcher had been sitting on was charred black and much reduced, not even the skeletal steel frame of the launcher remaining to tell the tale of woe.
24 Chakx'i was annoyed by this. The missile launcher had certainly left behind bloody reminders of its victories- there were at least half a dozen crashed Tianése dropships in various stages of combustion and ruin that he could see from here, thousands of feet above the streets among the high clouds that whispered among the tops of Chang'an District's huge skyscrapers. It seemed unfair to only leave relics of the missile launcher's victory, while there was no token of its defeat besides one anonymous scorch mark.
On the other hand, you have plenty of spare missiles. He tapped his holo controls a few times, and began speaking to the troop compartment as more missiles snaked away.
"Prepare for your drop." He pushed forward with one tentacle on the controls facing him, reaching out sideways to make sure the ship stayed trim.
As the dropship plummeted towards the other identified human positions, in the big central park, 24 Chakx'i tapped a few more buttons and blew some bubbles in amusement.



The sudden series of powerful explosions sent them all hurrying for cover, either the bunker or behind trees, pots, terraces, shrubs, low walls, benches- really anything would do. Ibrahim immediately looked skyward, his eyes searching for vapor trails and finding none.
Those are no ordinary missiles. Bits of metal and stone began to clatter as they fell, the dust obscuring the little plaza above the bunker for a fraction of a second before the sky cleared.

Ibrahim suddenly saw a pearly glint in the piercing blue.
Oh God, please no.
The whoosh and whistle of subsonic munitions came to him a moment later. The uulchi dropship was swooping lazily, letting the sun gleam on its opalescent surface as it fired on them. Ibrahim swore, sprinting at full speed towards the bunker as death whistled cheerfully in the heat and the smoke on its merry path.
He was not, in the event, fast enough. One of 24 Chakx'i's tiny smart-bomb munitions had already begun homing in on him, and while his sudden movement threw it off, that was not going to stop its determined little AI.
The bomb exploded around the same time the others did, an airburst weapon. The explosions, taken together, briefly raised the temperature and pressure high enough to liquefy carbon, sending shrapnel ripping through the bodies of the soldiers who had hidden or vainly tried to flee. Ibrahim was at the edge of the blast area, but the bomblet that exploded near him was sufficient to burn most of the skin off of his back and shred his lower spine and gastrointestinal tract.
Ibrahim Kang lay bleeding on the sizzlingly hot ground, as the screams and moans of the few other survivors began to sound louder than the roar of the fire the little bombs had ignited.

Because 24 Chakx'i believed in mercy, he proceeded to vaporize those who appeared to still be alive after the initial explosion with selective laser fire, and called back to the main compartment.
"Jump now. I think I took care of the main group."
Isenak 39 Ikec'h blew out a few bubbles in excitement as she depressed her launch button. Immediately, her exosuit, folded into a ball, was blasted out of the dropship, hurtling towards the surface a few hundred feet below as laser fire continued to arch down from the dropship. Her suit's legs fanned out on all six sides, and she swiftly corrected the slight spin she's acquired upon launch. The legs flexed to take the force of the landing, and she immediately pushed up a long, thin, flexible periscope camera to survey the situation.
Their pilot had done good work- unsurprising. The enemy they faced was tired, unprepared, and primitive. Most of the humans did indeed appear to be dead- but her camera swiftly detected one, just moments before bullets started pinging off the exosuit. Somehow, he was practically right next to her, holding a kinetic sidearm. She waved a tentacle, and outside, one of her exosuit's tentacles whipped around and slammed into the man with the force of a speeding semi. His internal organs sprayed out of his shattered ribcage as he flew and slammed into a burning tree, and 39 Ikec'h unslung her cannon from its storage position on the underside of her suit.
"39 Ikec'h, I have detected a group of hostiles approaching from the Estmarche Subway Station," her partner, Isenak 62 Yichek said coolly. "You have a better line of fire."
"Confirmed," she said, glancing at text updates from the six other pairs elsewhere in the park. "I'm targeting now. Have you received any updates from the others?"
"Nothing," 62 Yichek said calmly. "I'm taking some sniper fire from a nearby tower, one momentkhhhhhh it looks likekhh a bullet slightkhhh damaged my speech transmitter." A text alert popped up.
Switching to text now. Firing on presumed sniper position based on trajectory.

39 Ikec'h opened fire with her cannon about the same time 62 Yichek did. Her plasma needles decimated the humans who had made it out into the open and started shooting with their little assault rifles, and she could see them punching into the Estemarche Station's structure, leaving glowing holes in concrete, steel, and glass as they exploded inside and shook the building. There were more explosions behind her as 62 Yichek laid a stream of fire into one of the upper floors of the huge skyscrapers around them.
I think the sniper is neutralized. I will take the far side of the station.
A second stream of plasma needles began biting into Estemarche, sending smoke billowing out the further entrance along with smoldering bodies.
"I'm going to move in and clear out any survivors," 39 Ikec'h said. 62 Yichek waved one of his exosuit's tentacles in acknowledgement.



Leonard Zhang coughed, waving his hand to try and clear away some of the smoke as he fumbled on his cheap, well-worn respirator. Once it was on, he stumbled out blindly into Estemarche's smoke-filled main platform area, where the subway maglev usually came and went. The holes left by the alien plasma bolts sometimes went clean through the station, or else left shattered, twisted wreckage behind them to signify where they'd exploded.
Leonard didn't dare make a noise or call out for other survivors, though he heard groans. Instead, limping thanks to the cut on his right leg, he hurried towards the exit on the other side, near the street.

There was a deafening smash, and Leonard dove behind a bench as one of the alien fighting machines suddenly burst through the huge windows that looked out on the park. The remaining glass disintegrated in a glittering cloud around the machine, and the repeated, sharp whistle of its cannon was soon drowned out by more explosions and automatic gunfire and screams.
This cannot be real, Leonard thought as he peeked out from under the bench to where the alien exosuit was now reaching out to bodily lift and fling with incredible force some of the vague shadowy shapes Leonard could see rushing it. Please let this all be a nightmare. The alien machine was crashing closer as it switched on powerful lights to cut through the smoke. This must all be just a bad dream.

The tentacle struck faster than he could have believed, and as the lukewarm manipulator digits snapped shut around Leonard's arm, he started screaming.



The humans were hiding everywhere in the station- evidently, a train of them had just pulled in when 39 Ikec'h and 62 Yichek had opened fire. For every one they'd killed or crippled, there were two more who'd managed to survive the volley of plasma fire.
"I may need a little backup, comrade," she said coolly to her partner, swatting away another group who were trying to throw grenades under her. Her targeting AI was doing a significant chunk of the work, identifying the ones it thought were the biggest threats and either highlighting them to her or dealing with them with spare assets.
To this end, it snatched out and picked up the terrified Leonard Zhang, hiding under his bench. The human was screaming and started firing an automatic pistol uncomfortably close to the sensitive cameras and sensors on the top of the exosuit, so the defense AI simply flicked the tentacle. Had it actually let go, Leonard would have been sent flying at eighty miles an hour into the far wall.
As it was, he only made seventy, misting blood behind him, and his other arm stayed firmly in the grasp of the manipulator digits until the AI told them to drop it a moment later. A plasma bolt melted a hole through his face and skull in midair before the cannon switched back to doing more important things.

Two minutes later, Estemarche Station was cleared, and within three, fourteen uulchi and one of their dropships had cleared all of Vechnozelenyy Park and its subway stations.
Now their human allies could properly land and fight the rest of their war.
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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Senkaku
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Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Wed Dec 30, 2015 11:42 pm

Moonlight Dive




Haiyan District
North Seokgrad
Taihan-di
Feuille d'Or System




"This is really quite nice, actually." Vanessa smiled as she swam towards the buoy lines that, in the daytime, demarcated where the lifeguard bots patrolled and kept poor swimmers to shore of. After the scorching, wet heat of the day, every surface in the city, every facet of this vast concrete reef was now releasing the sunlight that had fallen onto it into the air, keeping the pavement hot enough to fry an egg on in places. Most of the city's reservoirs were warm as well, despite huge refrigerator plants going into overdrive to try and provide the population with drinking water at least a few degrees below ambient air temperature.
But here, on the northern shore, shadowed by an old tower block scarred by artillery fire, Lucas had discovered a wide, deep pool. A few of the locals came here during the day sometimes to do laundry, and there was an old woman who sold little trinkets next to it in the early mornings and evenings most days. It was lovely to swim in, even a little chilly sometimes, and extremely restoring after a day that had felt like being smothered by a wet, hot blanket.

The old woman wasn't there today, but from the pool, they could watch the crescent moon inching skywards against the bluish sky. Seokgrad's lights drowned out all but the brightest stars around the moon, and now and then they could see the glint of large pieces of orbital rubble streaking in their decaying paths across the sky.
Vanessa swam over to Lucas, who was sitting in water up to his knees at the edge of this pool.
"I'm glad you suggested this, it feels great. Does someone cool this place?"
"I think it just stays in the shade most of the day, but I don't know. One of my friends grew up in this district and showed me it a few months back- although apparently he said he'd never actually swum in it."
She laughed. "Why?"
Lucas shrugged. "Dunno. His grandma raised him and she always worried a lot about him, so maybe that's why. But yeah, it's really nice on hot days."
"Well, thanks for bringing me. Do you mind getting out one of those beers you brought in your bag? I want to try leaving it in the water to cool off before I drink it," she said with a laugh.
"Sure." He turned around standing,many walked over to his bag to pull out the bottles.

There was a splash behind him as he straightened and turned around.

The water was glassy still, save for a few ripples spreading outwards from where Vanessa had been swimming towards him.

The voice behind him made him jump and drop the bottle.
"You should get out," the old woman said in a kind tone. "Do not worry too much about her."
Lucas gaped. "What... Where is she? Vanessa?!" He stared at the oddly-dressed crone. "Go call the police, go call the police. I'm going to try to fish her out."
"I would not suggest it," she said, but took out a phone anyways. Lucas dove out into the pool, looking beneath the surface into the pool's strangely clear waters. They faded to blue-black incoherence with depth, strands of weeds obscuring his sight along the sides. God, it is awfully deep.
He broke the surface. "Vanessa?" It didn't register to him that the old woman was no longer on the shore.

He saw a ripple part the water, heading towards him. It unundulated like a wake, but he could see some pale strand following behind, waving and spiraling under the surface.
His brain kicked into motion, and Lucas frog-kicked powerfully towards shore.

He felt a slick, smooth, cool coil wrap around his right calf, suddenly stopping his forward progress in the water. He opened his mouth to shout- and suddenly he was underwater, bubbles escaping from his open mouth. There was another coil looping around his chest, now, squeezing like a boa constrictor and slowly bending his ribs underneath it. Thrashing against the thing's grip was almost useless- Lucas managed to turn himself slightly, at least, and he looked down.

There was a metallic object, perhaps the size of a sofa, a ways below him. It was difficult to make out underwater in the dim light, but he could see one malevolent red photosensor peering up at him, and it lit up distinct scorch marks on the side of one of the water intakes that now jetted bubbles outwards. Tiny hairlike wires around the intakes seemed to simply sweep away the bubbles and ripples of the thing's passage as it reeled Lucas in, and suddenly he bumped something warm in the darkness.
Vanessa's face loomed out at him, a steely tentacle looping around her throat, her dark hair arrayed like a cloud around her. The tentacle was snaking up, across her cheek and over her eye, as she stared in horror at Lucas.
The machine paused in its descent, and the tentacle around Vanessa's head flexed. Lucas screamed soundlessly, precious air streaming from his lungs as her skull fractured in a dozen places, leaking blood and crushed brain. He struggled harder against the mechanical monster's grasp, but total blackness deeper even than the lightless environment around him was creeping on the edge of his vision, steadily advancing, and his limbs were growing weaker.
Before he blacked out, Lucas felt his ribs began to pop, and cold steel began worming into his chest around his still-beating heart.
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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Vocenae
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Founded: Jan 19, 2006
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vocenae » Sun Jan 03, 2016 1:42 am

The Silent War, Part I
Mature




It is a very old human saying that "History is written by the victor"

I was always interested in history. From the earliest moments of my life there are videos of me digging up alien dinosaur bones in the backyard to dressing up as Captain Tocrowkia for parties and holidays. Watching the holovids based on the a pivotal moment in our history known as The Gate War. When I got older I began to take a deeper interest in this enormous war that was, to my knowledge, full of heroes and villains, tales of heroism such as Vocian troops holding the line against the nightmarish Heurdaen to get civilians to safety. I wanted to know more, to see if the stories of my childhood were true. And what I found, what my high school library and Infonet searches would provide were fairly accurate. To most people, that might be enough. The stories are true, close the window and go back to living your life.

Here's what history will tell you about the Gate War.

One of the defining moments in modern history is the conflict known as the Gate War. It was a conflict that occurred twenty years ago in the Delta Quadrant on the galaxy, between, what most will tell you, the nations of the Coalition and the Huerdaen Star Empire. Set on the eve of the Great Betan Economic Collapse, the Gate War is most commonly known as when the Imperial Star Republic was somewhat unexpectedly thrust into the roles as the dominant power in the Quadrant as it's policies of isolation had largely sheltered it from the crippling recession, along with the Tocrowkian Reich becoming an active player in galactic politics after ending a brief stint in isolationism. You can look in any historical text today and you'll see the tales of heroism by the nations of the Coalition, the fierce and cataclysmic battles on Foer and Sojent-Ra, the ultimate treaty that divided the sector and established an uneasy truce between the three nations.

But look for the true origins of the war, and you'll be hard pressed to find anything more than a soundbyte or a brief snippet of text concerning a nation that no longer exists; The Bavin Federation. The Bavin Federation was a brief but bright player on the galactic stage and is arguably the reason why the Imperial Star Republic is now considered one of the most powerful and influential nations in the galaxy. With the Bavin Federation's actions, who knows what the galactic stage might look like today? Beta could be a wasteland devoid of life, Gamma may have never risen to new prominence, Delta may have remained a smoking warzone and the Alphan civilizations may have never experienced a resurgence. But the history books barely mention the Bavin Federations, or the Bavinese. Most people only think of the Bavinese as the 'galactic fall guys' despite not knowing why. Whenever something goes wrong in the galaxy, blame a Bavin. They, in the eyes of popular culture, are nothing more than vagrants who know how to make a good sandwich. That's just how they've always been, right? Just those fall guys who the Imperial Star Republic eventually tried to save from themselves. History conveniently overlooks the post-bellum years of the Gate War, skipping from 'Before" to "Now" and all the wonderful growth the galaxy has done under the general guidance of the Imperial Star Republic.

This is the story of those Bavinese who survived the Gate War, and their perspective on the piece of history the galaxy forgot. the story of those left behind. Those that were brave enough to challenge the Victors and their so-called history.

This is the story of The Silent War



It was early in the Losieda system when we met. I wanted a full day and I honestly didn't know if I'd get another chance to speak with him, given the nature of his life and the location of where we chose to meet. Like most days within the controlled environment of Tyche's habitat dome, it's warm and slightly humid, but not unbearable. I'm wearing a light colored skirt and blouse, I don't look out of place for a tourist. Behind me, the Tyche luxury hotel stretches upwards towards the dome's projected holoscreen roof, which is simulating a tropical sunrise on Thera. I can even feel a breeze on my face from the hidden and no doubt expensive life support system that makes the dome feel the surface of a real planet. For my crew and I, we don't truly notice it until we first meet our guest. I had just started to get worried that we had lost our initial deposit and transport fees when he appears from the Losieda transit terminal, a skinny rail of a man wearing a worn out and faded uniform. There's several mis-colored patches to it where it's been cheaply repaired, save for the curious absence of any sort of insignia or national identification patch. I wonder why he's bothered to dress in such a horrible get up and I start to feel insulted, but then I remember the reason I've gone through all this trouble to book this interview. We greet, and introduce myself and my crew and we quickly hurry inside the resort and take a lift to the suite I've reserved. Luckily it is the off-season for Losieda so we don't have to worry about too many curious sidelong stares from the very wealthy who have the resort almost to themselves. We make it up to the suite and settle in, I show him around, the kitchen, the bathroom, the balcony overlooking the artificial beach and sea. I can't really tell if he's acting or truly impressed, but I let him enjoy himself while we finish setting up the camera drone and adjusting the lighting in the master bedroom. As soon as we're done we bring him in, and I realize that this is the first time I'm actually looking at him as a person and not just someone I persuaded to do an interview with.

The man radiates age. It's not just his lopsided beard or the wrinkles that show on his scarred face, but just looking at him makes me feel as if I'm suddenly twenty years older. I have to remind myself he's not even really all that old, but his physical appearance makes him look positively ancient. He asks where to sit and I point to the chairs in front of the hovering cam-drone a couple dozen feet away. We walk over together and I can swear I can hear his bones creaking and the dry ligaments in his thin legs threatening to sap light overtaut string. I can hear the cartilage in his knees crackling and popping as he lowers his wiry frame into the chair. I swear I can hear my bones creaking as I settle into my own chair across from him, just off camera. The old man leans back and closes his eyes and for a moment goes deathly still, his hands folded neatly across his lap. My heart leaps into my throat and I'm about to call out when the old man lets loose a massive,, rattling sigh and sinks into the chair, his old joints seemingly releasing as his strict posture goes loose. I try to keep the color in my face and my breathe even, although all I want to do is ask if he's all right. He fixes me with a curious look, his brown eyes drilling into my blue ones but he eventually smiles and asks in his tired voice where to start.

I tell him to start at the beginning of where it all went wrong. The Siege. He makes a face that I can't tell if it is a smile or a grimace, and with a deep breath, begins.

"My name is Jeremiah Nixon, and I was once the XO of the battleship Freedom, the Derdon system of the Bavin Federation..."




The world was all fire and muted noise as Nix slumped in his seat on the bridge of the Freedom. Vlad, the captain, and more importantly his best friend, was dead. The sound of the hull breaching and the roar as fire bloomed from seemingly out of nowhere and engulfed the closest thing Nix had to a brother and reduced him, and the ensigns the man had tried to save, to ash. He couldn't recall getting to the bridge, just flashes of dozens of personnel rushing though shaking corridors. All he could think of was that he had to get back out on the catwalk. He had to save Vlad. Men were turning to him for orders that never came, their voices muffled beneath the wailing of the klaxon, their mouths moving as slow as the world around them. Nix could feel his own head turn to face one of the men, a lieutenant whose name he didn't know but all he could see was the afterimage of Vlad's bent frame every time he blinked. The officer in him, the years of training, screamed at him to push it away for later. But Jeremy had never been much good at being an officer. That had been Vlad's job. Outside the bridge's holoscreens Nix could see hundreds of flashes of light all around them and again the officer in him screamed to start giving orders. The ringing in his ears, what he thought to be the Freedom's klaxons, faded and the panicked cries of men and women across the bridge and the Freedom's main tactical display filled his ears. Nix's mouth flapped uselessly, silently as his stunned brain attempted to reboot just as another man stepped onto the bridge through the main hatchway; Admiral Daegle. Nix remained slumped in his chair as the cluster of officers seeking the advice of their XO flocked at once to the superior officer, and Nixon barely even flinched when the admiral glared at him before barking out orders. A younger woman, her brown eyes wide and scared darted in front of Nix's face as she pulled something out of her medical pack and stuck it against his arm. Life seemed to leap back into the XO's body, warm and ready and he clumsily dismissed the medic as his eyes focused and the world around him sped back up.

The moment the admiral had stepped on the bridge had at once the atmosphere on the Freedom's bridge changed as duty and order pushed aside fear and confusion, officers manning their posts, calling out trajectories of incoming enemy vessels and the status of the Freedom. Jeremy could feel the battleship rumble as a blast of white light shot out from her main particle cannon, the beam speeding off into the blackness of space and vansihing, engulfed by the darkness before a distant flash of light erupted and the Freedom's crew roared in victory. The deck plating vibrated as the battleship began surging forward as forward batteries began firing wildly into the dark.

The Freedom was underway.

As Nix made his way from his chair to the main tactical display at the center of the bridge he ignored the stares from the lower officers and the admiral's own glare, choosing to focus on the holoscreen's display. The Freedom was clearly marked, a solid blue triangle surrounded by dozens of smaller hollow triangles; the Bavinese fleet. Around the Freedom's marker and the markers of the smaller ships were dozens of smaller, angry red triangles were moving closer to the assembled Bavinese starships; the enemy fleet. The Freedom rocked again as another enemy round hit here and Nixon had to grab hold of the display's frame to keep from falling over but the admiral seemed as solid as a rock.

"This is Admiral Daegle onboard the Freedom. I'm declaring Condition Red across the fleet. Repeat, Condition Red throughout the fleet. All ships enact Fox in the Henhouse protocol, the Freedom and her escorts will cover you." The admiral's voice was strong, deafening and as Jeremy righted himself he wondered if the blast had somehow injured his ears until he realized the admiral's voice was being pumped through the Freedom's PA system.

"Commander Nixon, reporting in, admiral" Jeremy said, clearing his throat and standing at attention as best as he could as the Freedom was rocked by a missile impact. On the holoscreen many of the smaller triangles began silently pinging, signifying that they were starting their jump prep. The admiral fixed Nixon with a solid stare and keyed off the PA system.

"Good. We need to hold off whoever the hell we're fighting long enough for the rest of the fleet to get away. I need you to take over coordinating the fire for the escorts while I try to salvage this mess and figure out who the hell is shooting at us." The admiral's voice was strong, his face confident and focused, but it twisted slightly as the admiral leaned closer to Nix. "I need a commander who is fit to serve. If you can't do this, then remove yourself from the bridge. Are you fit for duty commander?"

Nix felt the urge to punch the admiral in his face and lay the older man out flat on the deck, but pulled it back in as best he could. It was just the Com-Stim the medic had given him, the adrenaline pumping through his system to wake it up from the shock. The officer took the rush of anger out by squeezing the tactical display's handrail tightly.

"Yes sir, admiral! you say jump, I say how high." It was the officer inside Nix talking now, not Jeremy. Jeremy was still reeling from the afterimage of seeing his friend die every time he blinked. Mourning Vlad could wait, right now he had a job to do. The admiral's gaze lingered on Nix for a moment longer before nodding and turning away, bellowing for damage reports and sensor telemetry, moving far enough away that Nix was confident enough to mutter "bastard" before pulling up a localized screen of the larger tactical display. Outside more flashes of light as the Freedom's escorts pulled past her, lancing out into the darkness towards the growing lights of the enemy.



The man tells his story with enough conviction and detail that it feels as if I'm really there, no longer a freshman filmmaker working on her first documentary. There's a strength in his voice that seems so strange given the man's small, skinny frame and for a moment, just a moment, I can see him twenty years younger in the uniform of a dead nation. He animates the field of battle as he shows me how this long destroyed starship was positioned in relation to it's unknown enemy, the trajectory of each missile the battleship fires, the explosion of an enemy ship. His hands go quiet as he leans in, almost conspiratorially as he relays the decades old sensor telemetry to me; it was the Huerdaen and Telrosians attacking them, a combined fleet that the Freedom couldn't hold off for long. Of course history mostly confirms his story. The Siege of Derdon was the only part of the conflict that would later become known as the Gate War that the Telrosians would take part in, though most history articles don't include the Bavinese perspective, especially in the opening battles. Most will simply focus on the later theaters of the war, which ultimately decided the outcome.



The tactical display sparked and died as the Freedom's hull was savagely ripped open by the unceasing rain of missiles and kinetic slugs from the combined Telrosian and Huerdaen vessels as the enemy fleet closed around the Freedom's battlegroup. The bridge's exterior holoscreen camera's had long since been destroyed or deactivated by battle damage and most of the surviving bridge crew were focused on back up displayed mounted within their station consoles. Damage control teams flittered across the bridge putting out small fires caused by overloaded consoles, moving debris out of the way and moving the handful of dead out of sight from the rest of the crew. Nix wiped away a stray trail of blood as he stormed away from the now useless main tactical display and moved into the nearby fire control console. On the smaller screen Nix could see that a significant portion of the Bavinese fleet had managed to escape, but the enemy had won more than a fair share of confirmed kills. The enemy ships were relentless and far better armed than the Bavinese warships had been, and the Freedom's escorts, the two destroyers than remained intact, were on their last legs with only a handful of their turrets still trading fire with the enemy. The Freedom herself fared little better; most of the lower half of the ship was open to space, and fires were breaking out across the upper half. The ship's weapons were falling offline at a alarming rate as power distribution system were sheared away or overloaded, or the turrets were simply blasted off by successful missile or kinetic impact. The particle cannon was useless, Admiral Daegle had played a risky strategy in using up all but one of the Freedom's charged energy cores to fire the battleship's heavy particle cannon. The cannon had made a confirmed kill each time it had fired but the last energy core had to be saved for the Freedom's own escape.

The starboard destroyer's icon on the monitor suddenly winked out before the Freedom was nearly shaken apart as the shockwave from the destroyed ship washed over it. Nix held on and ducked his head as the bridge suffered more critical damage, and prayed his console wouldn't overload. There was a shrill scream and a angry snap nearby and Nix glanced up just enough to see a live power distribution cable pull itself loose from a nearby console and land on the same medic who had given the officer a Com-Stim at the start of the battle. Her small body lay crumpled on the deck plating, jerking as the power cable short circuited her nervous system, her eyes staring into nothing as smoke curled off her body. The medic's body and the cable danced morbidly for a few moments before one of the damage control teams cut power to the cable, her body going still save for residual twitches. Her pale skin was charred, and smoke curled off her burning clothes and hair. The Damage control teams quickly set about removing the medic's corpse as the bridge quickly resumed operation, and Nix shook his head angrily as he watched the trail of smoke from the medic's mouth vanish behind the impromptu barrier where the teams had chosen to store the dead. His console was still online, the display showing only the Freedom and the port destroyer's blue icons surrounded by a angry swarm of red. There were so many clustered so close together that Nix had trouble distinguishing the individual enemy ships from one another.

"This is it" he mumbled to himself. The Freedom wasn't going to survive the fight. They'd accomplished their objective, now all that was left was to get a little payback for the dead. For the medic. For Vlad.
Nix entered a command into the fire control console and took manual command of the particle cannon. They couldn't escape, no sense hanging onto the energy core when he could rip the guts out of one of the bastards. The admiral was roaring an order to him but Nix ignored it. There was no point in following an order when the ship was about to explode. All Jeremy could see was the targeting screen in front of him as he began to align the ship for one final shot, his hands easing the controls until they were jerked away by another pair of hands.

"Comannder, I said get this hulk into jump formation! Now!" It was the admiral, his face furious and covered in small bloody gashes and smeared char. The targeting computer began beeping as it confirmed a target lock on a enemy dreadnought.

"Sir, I can get this bastard!" Nix pleaded, moving his hand back to confirm the target lock and to fire the Freedom's particle cannon. "Just let me take the sho-" Nix was unable to finish as the admiral hauled the commander up out of his seat by his torn collar.

"You are disobeying a direct order! The captain is dead, and getting this ship and the rest of her crew killed will not change that! Get this goddamn hulk into formation now! That is an order!" The admiral voice was strained but no less full of rage, and Nix felt bloodied spit and hot breath rolling over his face as what remained of the bridge crew stared at the confrontation. One of the damage control teams began to move towards Nix from the corner of his eye and he suddenly felt the deafening pounding of the blood in his ears settle as the XO in Nix took over once more, pushing Jeremy back into his hiding place.

Nix swallowed. "Of...of course, admiral. Cancelling target lock and aligning for jump, as ordered." The admiral released Nixon from his surprisingly vice like grip and stepped back, his fists settling at this sides of his ragged uniform as Nixon settled slowly back into his seat. The target confirmation beeped pleadingly and a part of Jeremy spoke up from the back of his mind.

"Just hit the button. No one can stop you. Do it for Vlad"

But XO Nixon was back in command now, and he pushed the thought away as he cancelled the target lock and manually rerouted the helm control to the fire control station. The halmsman was sprawled over the top of his console anyway, so he wouldn't mind. "Aligning to trajectory. At least the core is pre-charged, we don't have to wait once we align." nix said with a slight chuckle, but the attempt at humor did nothing to defuse the situation as the Freedom's enormous bulk began the ponderous re-alignment as the enemy ships continued to rain down fire and hell upon her hull. Another horrible shockwave rolled across the bridge as the port destroyer lost it's valiant fight and exploded in a ball of fire and light, the blast shaking the Freedom as she rolled against it and the horrible groan of failing metal seemed almost like the destroyer's death rattle as the Freedom's structural integrity alarm began blaring out across the battleship's remaining klaxons. The deck plating beneath Nix's feet seemed to sway and give, threatening to fall through and he wasn't sure, as the Freedom's ruined mass buckled and broke as it attempt to leap to safety if the sudden cool breeze was the air system or the pull of vacuum.

And then the horrible vibrations of weapon impacts ceased, and the blaring alarms of missile locks went silent. They had escaped.



We sit in silence for a moment. I think there's a certain amount of awe and reverence that comes with hearing any veteran's war story, the sacrifices they made and the horrors that they had to bear witness to. To think that this man stood on the bridge of one of the most famous battleships in the history of the Federation and helped save thousands of lives when your hardest challenge in life has been trying to graduate from a university or seek funding for a documentary as a unseasoned filmmaker, well, it's humbling. I stumble a bit trying to find the words to my next question as I just try to process all he's told me just in the span of just over three hours. He seems to understand as he waits patiently for me to collect my thoughts and read the next question in my notes. It's a question about what came next, after the Defeat at Derdon. His face falls a bit and I'm afraid I might hit another roadblock, another veteran that doesn't want to talk about the Fall of the Federation.

He asks, almost sheepishly, if we can take a break so he can get something to eat.

I agree.
Last edited by Vocenae on Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:02 am, edited 3 times in total.
The Imperial Star Republic
18:34 <Kyrusia> Voc: The one anchor of moral conscience in a sea of turbulent depravity.

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Azura
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 147
Founded: Oct 25, 2011
Ex-Nation

Postby Azura » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:05 pm

The Vigil's Creed


There is a sacred moment, when the last measure of flesh passes, that produces a cacophony of painful malevolence: strained, panicked breaths; the reverberations of a spirit put to the sword, or perhaps trampled underfoot. The prayers of those who are marked by Death are but a chorus reserved for the trees, and the beasts that creep in the dirt, the flying fowl that keep watch over the mortal coil. The cadence may vary, but the melody has remained unchanged from time immemorial. If you know what to listen for, you can sometimes hear the angelic chorus soothe the spirit of the dying while the flesh yet lives. No one should be privy to the host of the damned however—that which consumes the wayward traveler upon the earth, whose forlorn hope has all but been abandoned in the face of unremitting punishment. The upright soul is a joy to all that know him, but a spiteful man is a curse unto his progeny seven generations hence. They who make peace shall find rest; they who make war shall be extinguished.

I have seen the breadth of existence, inasmuch as it is known from the dawn of creation, when the great forces at work established the fabric of all that is, and all that was, and all that ever shall be. My eyes have grown dim with the passage of time; my heart aches with the ravages and strains of the years spent traveling, wandering, undertaking the greatest of pilgrimages. The stars burn hot in the darkness, the ever-expanse that beckons the lost and the courageous alike. I have seen into them, and touched them, and been touched by them. I have come to know them by name, and they paint their ethereal scenes across the canvas of the cosmos, beacons of light in the midst of the great void. He who would pine to reach the stars has the insatiable spark, divine and pure within him. It is the hunger for something more than is within you. To some, the hunger is for God; to others, power. For those that journey unto the horizon, so that they may peer longingly unto the next, their hunger is the wanderlust of the spirit. It is the yearning that drives us into the darkness.

But be wary, traveler. Those who sojourn into the void are not only privy to the host of heaven, but also to the maleficent reach of the vengeful and the wicked whose hand is never stayed from bloodshed. Those that travel here do so with safety abandoned, replaced only with the callous song of the night's indifference to the plight of the lost. You shall find treasures in the void, that which could quench even the most insatiable of appetites. But those that take do so per the privilege of those who would allow, and those who would not allow will plunder, rape and pillage until they themselves have been satiated. Those timid and beset by fear shall find the void their grave, unmarked in blackness, cloaked only in the veil of nothingness that buffets the stars. The cloak of darkness binds the broken bodies and the ships that carried them to their doom.

Yes, I have seen many things. I have embraced the pilgrims that journey into the host, and I have put to the sword those that would destroy the kindred spirits among me. The weary soul may find refuge here, just as they may find their damnation. I have seen many things; the universe has grown old, and I along with it. Nothing lasts forever; when the appointed hour has come, the heart of the stars themselves will give out. The engine that powers the breadth of life will yield to the unconquerable zeal of fate, and the worlds of men and beasts will pass away. Everything has an appointed time upon the fabric of existence; everything that is must cease to be, so that the world which follows may be borne.

How indifferent Creation is to the vain machinations of man and beast alike, squabbling over the finite resources of their mortal coil. Spirits blackened with the avaricious thirst for dominion over the weak, the conquest of new worlds and new stars... how insignificant it all seems compared to the expanse of the void, and the scope of time. Beings establish themselves on small outposts of rock and earthen clay for a short season, and erect monuments to their vanity that last but a season more before time reclaims it, or new passions stirred consume it to their own ends. The destroyers of worlds are themselves destroyed in at the last; Fate comes around for us all, even we who have seen so much, and have sought so much to pass. Take heed that you give care to those who deserve care, and give destruction to those who would destroy. For fortune does indeed favor the bold, the audacious bold, the vicarious bold, they who truly belong among the stars.

Yes, I have experienced the passing of time, and seen it pass from the infancy of man to the last days of time. And yet I listen still for the cries of the dying, that I may comfort them and sing my song to them. If you dare travel in the night, you have heard my verse, and you have known my voice. I am the mercy that stays the hand of Death, and I am the vengeance of the host of heaven. All that strike at me shall be blotted out, and those who call to me shall be satisfied. These eyes are tired, but they are yet sharp while I live. The wayward soul shall find peace with me, and I shall accompany them to the ends of existence, those who would let. But there is no safe passage forever, even in my presence. Prepare yourselves, those who travel unto the stars. And give to them a proper tribute, that they may bless you along the way. As for me and mine, we shall sing once more, and the stars will answer.
TARRAGONIAVIEJAPORSIENPRE!
THEGRANDREPUBLICOFTARRAGONIA

The Right Honorable David Luis Salazar, President of Tarragonia

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

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Cosu
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 3
Founded: Jan 01, 2016
Ex-Nation

Postby Cosu » Tue Jan 05, 2016 5:52 pm

The Mercy of Cosu



Sitting amongst a crowded and dingy space port a mother quickly signed her name to the bottom of the papers she was filling out along with the name of her two daughters who were sitting next to her on the bench. Her sweets had their noses buried into the little brochures some COSU employees had handed out earlier showing off the various colonial projects they could go to.

She looked at them intensely for a moment, reassuring herself that this was the right course of action with wars tearing themselves across the galaxy. Without much hesitation she grabbed her daughters’ hands to reassure herself and them, then she stood up and made her way towards one of the booths COSU had set up to process the paperwork for immigration.

It was an incredible act by any measure of the word, for the past several weeks COSU had taken millions of refugees to their colonial projects. Which was being paid for by a simple loan from COSU with the guarentee of work and board when they arrive to pay it off in a manner fitting to them.

She corralled her children with her outstretched arms and lead them through the crowded space port filled with people busy with their own paperwork on benches, tables and even the floor. The spaceport in question was absolutely plastered with COSU’s corporate logo and posters and its employees were all of over the facility in their clean, white clothing.

Rumors had it that COSU had loaned out parts of its security forces to worlds overrun by refugees that they were transporting into their territory to help with keeping order. A rumur she was not inclined to doubt given their how many white coat and stun baton wielding humans wandered around the space port.

It was the other rumor that she had heard that made her hurry through the facility as apparently COSU was steadily reducing the number of refugees they were taking in and their ships were no longer returning to pick up more. This could be her and her families last chance to get to a good life.

Family. Oh how she wish she could have stayed and waited for her husband, but the constant wars near their previous home was too much to stand. And now they had made it this far and COSU was offering to take them the last leg of the way, she and her family were one more trip away from a good life and COSU was offering board and work to cover the expenses. No hiding with smugglers or sneaking aboard transports, just make it aboard and turn in the pap-

At that moment another refugee hoping to stem the tide of people heading towards the quickly filling shuttle snatched her papers out of her hands while she was lost in thoughts. It took a moment for her a moment to react and understand what was going on but as the man began to tear up her papers one of the COSU security officers stepped at and stuck him with his stun baton.

She could barely stammer out a response to thank him as he returned her papers, but he just waved her on as he turned towards another developing situation.

As she began moving forward again she noticed something else, the COSU employees were turning away aliens who wanted to immigrate to their colonies. She wanted to feel bad, She truly did as she had once known some non-humans, but right now she was thankful as it meant there was a few more spaces open on the shuttle and a better chance she and her daughters could get aboard.

---

An announcer stood atop a small pedestal in an immaculate white suit, almost glowing under the florescent lights of the space port. He called out to the crowd of refugees filing towards the shuttles which would take them up to the large passenger haulers above in a loud booming voice, amplified by simple speaker system integrated into his suit.

“.. Remember future citizens of the Sigma-Colonies, have all your paperwork correctly filled out when you present it to the clerks. A new home awaits you on the other side of your next hyperspace jump, all you need to do his fill out the appriopriot fields on our paperwork and you'll be made citizens of the Sigma Colonies. This new home of yours will be on some of our finest colonies and all you need to do is fill out the paperwork to become a legal citizen and we shall whisk you away to a better existence. I Repeat… ”

Over head two employees of COSU walked through the catwalk eyeballing the throng of refugees flowing into the shuttle. The youngest of the two eventually commented to the other, “Heard we already took in two-hundred million to fill up the southern continent on Haspan.” He looked over at his companion and said “I wonder what we are going to do with this million?”

Looking over the stream of men, women and children it took a moment for the shuttle pilot to answer, “They are most likely going to Jesin; They are being given a place to stay and a loan to pay for the trip so the underway colony will be a perfect place for them to work off their debt to cosu.”

“I heard Jesin was pretty much unlivable right now, don’t we have to terraform it still?”

“Enough of its functional we can put them to work in mines, hopefully their children will end up populating the fully functional colony.”

“So the announcer down there is lying to them?”

“Nonsense. We never said they were going to go to Haspan, we just handed out brochures for it. Not that it’s going to matter to them anyway, they will have the same fate in Haspan’s bad lands as they will on Jesin.”

“Still…”

“Exactly. Still. They are being given a place to stay, a job, and an easy way to support their new homes. It is much better than what they have now and within a generation this will be a distant memory.”

Down below the surge of people flowing into the shuttle began to trickle off as the clerks began denying entrance for the last shuttle to the Voyageur. Above the Pilot and copilot entered the vessels personnel entrance.

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Gogol Transcendancy
Envoy
 
Posts: 213
Founded: Jun 02, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby Gogol Transcendancy » Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:14 am

Twenty Eight Hours
[ Mature ]



I awake, startup diagnostics flashing in my eyes and warning klaxons blaring in my ears. Ugh, I think, what's happpen-, and then my camera eyes switch on, and everything comes rushing back. Before me is a vision of Hell; rivers of lava and brimstone, blackened rock and a sky darkened with ash. Pylos, I think, as I gaze upwards to see the gargantuan magnificence of Kythira in the sky. I am trapped on one of the most deadly worlds in the galaxy and, I realize as my comm array comes up negative, no one is coming to save me.

The job offer from BioV had seemed like a miracle when I saw it in the Jiwao slum; $80,000 for just two weeks of work, no prior experience required and a free upload. I signed up without a second thought, but it wasn’t long ‘till I realized why the benefits were so good; almost no one who understood was crazy enough to sign onto it. Turns out collecting extremophiles on one of the most hostile places known wasn’t exactly the safest activity in the ‘verse. That hadn’t stopped me from leaving of course; it was pretty much my only chance to get out of the ratrace, and anyhow the shithead execs in BioV had been careful to sneak lines into the contract preventing workers from chickening out.

So I’d been uploaded into a giant metal cockroach, designed to withstand the extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure on Pylos’s surface, and dropped into Hell. After that, it only took fourteen minutes for me to get caught in a landslide, fall off a cliff and get pinned under a boulder only a meter and a half from a raging river of magma. Which is how I got here. Great.

I panic, running a full scale diagnostic on all systems to see what was still running. The back half of my body, which included four of her six arms, was pinned by the rock. The cheapskate engineers who designed this thing had at least remembered to include an ejection system, designed to put the AI core into a low orbit, but the first stage solid booster had been taken out, and the second stage didn’t have the deevee to reach orbit, or even breach the atmosphere, on its own. The fission reactor was offline too, having evidently shut down after being brought close to meltdown. Fuck. That leaves the batteries for power; which going off the readout twenty eight hours of power left. Twenty eight hours in which to save my life.

I run quick analysis using the cartographic systems. With comm systems offline, there’s no way to find my fellow workers, so my best hope is to aim for the Anamuukitsa terraforming project, currentely three hundred forty kilometres away. Of course, my location wouldn’t mean shit if she could get out from under the fifteen ton boulder weighing her down. I try brute strength first, exerting all the force my manipulators could provide. Nothing. I try again, this time adding her jump assist thrusters to the mix. Still jack shit; the boulder was just too big. That gives me one last option. The one I’m terrified of even trying.

When performing diagnostics, I’d noticed that the primary battery banks were located right in front of her AI core. This meant that, if my front section was separated from my back, it should be possible for me to survive. Of course, the major problem is that I don’t have any inbuilt separation system. So I have to create one. I stick my arms into the ground, as far as I can, and pull wi. My exoskeleton, already cracked by the boulder, begins to strain, and as I add the force from its assist thrusters, it become unable to withstand the force, and the front half of my body is torn off. I slide across the burned rock, barely managing to stop itself from rolling into the lava. I breath a sigh of relief, almost laughing in happiness. I’m shattered and torn, but I am free.

---

I drag myself across the endless wastes, a shattered torn husk of a robot. I’d have lost track of time if wasn’t for my readout, but knowing that you’ve only got an hour of power left and twelve kilometres to go isn’t exactly comforting. Extend my arms, drag, repeat; that’s all I’ve done for the past day, with nothing to distract me from the endless drudgery other than the knowledge that it will eventually be over, hopefully in a manner that doesn't involve dying. Suddenly, I hear a rumble below me, and the ground begins to shake. Earthquake, I think, before the rock beneath me splits in two. I fire assist thrusters frantically, grabbing for the edge of the widening crevasse. I get a grip, hanging on the edge with all my strength, but the rock cannot withstand my mass, and I fall into the gorge beneath.

---
I’m still alive, somehow. My arms are busted, half of my power banks have been taken out, I’m stuck at the bottom of a crevasse and I figure I’ve got ten minutes left before I’m gone for good, but I’m still alive. I run through diagnostics, looking for some vain hope.
Thorium Reactor - Offline
Manipulators – Offline
Assist Rockets – Offline
Batteries – 9 Minutes Left
Ejection System – Second Stage Online
It hits me like a wrecking ball. I might still have a chance. I run the numbers: the stage isn’t meant to fire in atmo, but it should give me about ten kilometers if I break at the end, enough that someone might spot me. There’s no time for deliberation, so I plot a course and fire.

---

I wake up. I’m sitting in a chair in a bare white office, the windows displaying a void filled with abstract mathematical shapes, and calming music playing from an unknown source. Simulation, I think.

“That was nice work, Audrey”

I turn to the desk. Sitting there is Doctor Bright, the BioV official responsible for my uploading. “What…happened?”, I ask. My memories of the past two days are fuzzy, but I’ve got a general picture of what happened. I was trapped on Pylos with a disabled robot shell, crawled towards Anamuukitsa, and after getting trapped in a gorge tried to go the final stretch via ejection stage.

“You’re dead.”

“What?” I spurt out.

“The ejection rocket failed to brake at Anamuukitsa. You crashed into the ground at terminal velocity, killing your egocore instantly. Fortunately, our ship detected the initial burn from orbit, and we managed to get the fragments of your core and reconstruct your ego. It wasn’t perfect though; you might notice some oddities like a strange urge to work for us for the rest of your life.”

“What? Why?”

“Well, you signed on for a two week contract. And, well, it hasn’t been two weeks, has it? I expect to see you on Pylos tomorrow.”

Fuck.
Last edited by Gogol Transcendancy on Sun Nov 05, 2017 2:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.


Type 6.7 Civilization

About me:
Economic Left/Right: -3.13
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.74
Pro: Social Democracy, Free Trade, Agnosticism, reasonable atheism/theism, nuclear power, social freedom, space exploration
Against: Libertarianism, tankie communism, extreme nationalism/alt-right, climate change denial, scientism

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The Singers Of The Void
Lobbyist
 
Posts: 11
Founded: Oct 18, 2013
Ex-Nation

Building a New Future [Mature]

Postby The Singers Of The Void » Fri Jan 22, 2016 9:28 pm

Docking Control Tower
Lirianne Fleet Anchorage
Planet Lirianne


There was not much work to do in the Tower. Traffic consisted of merely the odd patrol ship returning maybe once a month, and Alle Und Keinen was still under construction. Port master Nereth-Il'Naren was therefore having a typical shift. Mind-numbing boredom, punctuated by occasional tests of systems. Suddenly though a beeping sound began, Nereth-Il'Naren recognized it as the emergency broadcast alert, a ship was in some sort of distress. He swiftly came to swift attention and pressed the comms control.

“This is Lirianne Fleet Anchorage Docking Control, please give your coordinates and nature of your emergency.” After a few seconds a reply could be heard over the tower's speakers. “This is Herald Laranis, acting captain of the Dimensionship Ay-yah Idare We are in phase state and have suffered heavy damage due to... a metaphasic event. Request immediate docking at Alet-Zel dock for repairs.”

Laranis?! Nereth-Il'Naren thought as his blood went cold. It was a name known to everyone on Lirianne. Herald of El'Niath-L'Eral, second to the top of the threats list. And now commanding a Dimensionship? This did not bode well. Still... the Spacer's Code had held true since the earliest days of Mu spaceflight. Never abandon another spacer in distress. Although this was war...

“Contact the Emperor. He needs to be informed of this.” the Port master said. He then sat back in his control chair as he heard his comms officer signaling the Emperor. “Yes Port master? What do you need?” Came a decidedly feminine voice over the speakers. It sounded like- Before he could complete his thought the voice continued. “Yes Peckerhead, this is Nathrael. There have been some changes shall we say, will explain it in the main auditorium when I have time for this bullshit. Yes, Herald Laranis is authorized to dock. The War is over. El'Niath-L'Eral, Laranis, and all of their forces are to be taken off the threats list. This is an Imperial Directive. Now have that damned dock ready to receive us.”

The signal cut off. “Get moving, you heard the Emperor! Get repair crews to Alet-Zel dock immediately.” Alet-Zel dock was the largest docking bay on Lirianne, and the only one large enough to hold Dimensionship. They were fortunately the only 'habitable" planet in the system, so no one would notice the change in albedo as the monstrous bay doors opened.

Technicians and repair drones flooded into the areas adjacent to Alet-Zel. Following safety protocols they would not enter the dock area itself until the ship had finished its landing operation. Engineers gathered tools and remote operators got into their control pods as they waited. The wait was not for long. Space shimmered in Lirianne's orbit. Ay-yah Idare slowly phased into normal space, occasional arcs of lightning-like energy announcing to every observer that the ship's phase drive had suffered a significant level of damage.

The ship was flanked by two... birds? At least that what they looked like. Phoenix-like birds of some sort of energy. One was a deep blacklight color, the other glowed black and amber like a flickering coal ember. And then they slowly shifted-in perfect synchronization-to the other color. They appeared to radiate or project a kind of energy net, similar in appearance to a tractor field. Are they...towing the ship? the Port master thought as he witnessed that.

Behind the crippled Dimensionship-that much was obvious upon observation, even though Nereth-Il'Naren was no engineer, were a series of ships. 2 destroyers of Harvester Fleet Nathrael, and the recently completed Phoenix Ship Covenant of Fire The Dimensionship moved under gravitics until it was positioned over Alet-Zel dock and then slowly began it's descent, the energy net staying on as a safety precaution. Observers could see the massive damage. The dorsal pyramid was a shattered ruin. Engineers watching seemed to think it had been an internal event of some sort. Explosion or other cataclysm. There were signs of damage elsewhere-rents in the hull material along the ship's flanks. The ship slowly lowered, guided and stabilized by the odd energy nets-flickering slowly between the two colors of their generators.

Massive landing feet emerged from the bottom of the hull, landing feet not used since the Judgment War. In Control Central, Laranis held his hands on the two control crystals for the ship's helm, seeing the outline of the dock in his mind through the neural control linkage. Displays indicated clearances and the distance until touchdown, along with velocity indicators and other status displays. All displays were in blue, signaling that all was nominal. They had gotten over the danger of destabilization with the aid of the Anais', but not wanting to add a crash to the other damage, Laranis was very careful as he brought the ship in. Nor did he want to tax any of the recently stressed systems.

No sound could be heard in the vacuum of the docking bay, but the ground shook slightly as the immense ship touched down. Her contragravitic lifting drives shut off and slowly the huge doors of the bay began to close as a atmospheric retention field activated. Pumps began to pressurize the bay once the retention field was on-the ship itself would disrupt the field as it landed, so the bay was depressurized during landing or takeoff operations. Once the atmosphere was at normal pressure, the waiting repair crews were cleared to enter.

As the engineers and drones began surveying the ship and preparing to begin repairs, two more ships arrived. Nereth-Il'Naren recognized them as Harvesters, one the Nathrael, the other likely the El'Niath-L'Eral though the way they shifted now made determining the identity of each vessel difficult. He'd never heard of Protocore ships shifting color like that.the ships descended gracefully, taking up a position to either side of the Alet-Zel dock. The two energy birdforms began to visibly shrink, starting at a slow rate but then accelerating. They changed their form as they shrunk, becoming more humanoid. Nereth-Il'Naren recognized them as the Trueforms of Transcendent Mu, of which he only knew two of would likely be here. He did not look at them directly as he knew that there were occasionally deleterious mental side effects from doing so.

The two figures then flashed brightly and faded out. Two identical figures appeared in the control tower in their material forms. White hair flowed down their backs to their waists. One wore the Imperial Regalia of Mu, but otherwise they were dressed in identical white gowns of a satin-like material. Nereth-Il'Naren and the other personnel in the Tower's control room got out of their chairs and genuflected before the Emperor, looks of concern or even shock on many of their faces. “Rise” El'Neth-L'Eral said softly. “I'm sure you have questions, all will be answered later at a special conference of sorts. For now however we have repair work to do.” Rising to his feet, Nereth-Il'Naren said “We may have a problem with this, Radiant Majesty. I seriously doubt we have the parts to repair that much damage to that ship. For that matter, some of the equipment to handle that class was removed and taken with the Fleet during the Judgment War.”

El'Neth just nodded. “You are correct on both counts, Portmaster. Fortunately my L'yren-a and I have a solution to that, albeit unorthodox.” El'Neth gestured towards one of the viewports, showing the two hovering Harvester Ships. “Open the docking bay doors for a moment. There is no need to depressurize.” Nereth-Il'Naren gave the order and the doors slowly opened. After they were open each of the Harvesters began to extrude a large amount of mass. Like the Shards they created for combat or survey work, but much larger. Eventually each shard detached and started moving down towards Ay-yah Idare. The Harvesters started to scintillate rapidly while continuing to alternate in color. “Radiant Majesty? I've never heard of Protocore ships doing that before-either the color shifting or the scintillation What is going on?” El'Neth smiled. “Nothing to be worried about. The reduction in mass that this operation has caused initiated a regeneration cycle. The ships are using some of their stored energy to rebuild the structural mass they gave up to produce those larger shards. As far as the color shift well... As you know a Protocore is bound to it's Partner/Captain at construction. The ships are shifting because the ships are now quantum and phase-linked, just as we are.” he smiled deeper and turned to gently kiss El'Niath.

The two shards slowly and perfectly slid through the Atmosphere Shield, causing no leakage. They each moved to one side of the shattered dorsal pyramid of the Dimensionship and started to flicker. Rays of energy came out and started outlining the damaged areas. Then, slow streams of glowing crystalline fractals began to separate from the main shards and move into the gaps, seemingly weaving themselves to form new shapes. “That will take some time, but I think you will find the results interesting. You can tell the repair crews to pull back until this process is completed.” The two spoke together in perfect unison. “Carry on” they said as they slowly walked to the tower's elevator and descended

Cafeteria Xe-15/Blue
Habitation Sector
Lirianne


Laranis sat with Niath-Xelnerre and several others from El'Neth's “Piracy Team”, as well as several of his own officers and a rather shaken looking Nialle. The scientist had been held in the Dimensionship's brig, and was scheduled to be sent to the Lifecrystals, but a pardon from the Twins had saved him as well as other prisoners. They all could look from their table out a large window which displayed a balcony overlooking the Habitation Zone. The Habitation Zone was a thing of beauty and a marvel of engineering. It was an artificial cavern 5 miles wide and a mile high, forming a ring circling the equator of Lirianne. Intended to support the personnel and dependents of most of the old Imperial Fleet, it was now near-empty, with barely 5% of it's living space utilized. Indeed, many of the areas were powered-down, with only basic environmental systems active.

“So Laranis...” muttered Niath-Xelnerre before he took a bite of food. “Now that the war between us is over, tell me about yourself. I know you are El'Niath-L'Eral's Herald and that speaks a lot of you-No one makes someone their Herald without good reasoning. Well, maybe Adr...” and then cut his words off as he realized he was potentially heading into dangerous territory. Laranis laughed as he reached for his drink. “Adraniel? Nothing to be worried about. No, Adraniel did not fuck up by naming my mother as his Herald. He fucked up by his stupid fake death stunt, betraying all those who cared about him. My Mother, the First Triune, the people of Mu...everyone.”

Niath-Xelnerre just nodded. “I suppose you are right the more I think of it. I am curious though, El'Niath-L'Eral is your mother? Who was your father?” Laranis closed his eyes, dimly remembering his father. “My father was Lt. Xel'nien, Imperial Mu Star Navy. My biological mother was a Chimeran woman named Liadrel.” “Chimeran?” Niath-Xelnerre asked quizzically. “Chimera was the name we gave to the world where IMS Ebon Wraith crashed after her phase drive accident 12,000 years ago. Chimerans are more or less baseline human genetically, but on their world were at a very primitive state of technological development. Those that survive to this day have of course been given advanced education.” As he thought about that, Niath-Xelnerre stopped eating for a moment. “Those who survived? What happened to the planet?” A grim smile formed on Laranis' lips. “My Mother hand to initiate her Protocore. You've dealt with Harvester's before.” Niath-Xelnerre gulped audibly, muttering “Well..these things happen”, to which Laranis simply replied “Indeed they do.”

They continued to eat, while taking in the aesthetics of the cafeteria's dining room. Unlike many navies, the Mu had always designed with a flair for the aesthetic. Two fountains decorated the room, their sprays lit by a series of colored lights. Plants and crystalline sculptures-some purely aesthetic, some part of the security system accented the otherwise utilitarian area. “So.. What happened to your biological parents Laranis. I trust that means El'Niath is your “spiritual” mother or such, like we refer to El'Neth as Father of the Order?” Niath-Xelnerre said when they started speaking again.

“In a sense yes, though s(he) is also my adoptive parent. You see, my biological father was killed in action. Our time on Chimera was not free of war. Then again, what life is free from conflict?” “A boring one” Nelara said, which made everyone laugh. “Indeed” Laranis continued. “I was very young when he died. I was eventually Tested for psi ability, and upon seeing the results was invited to join the Ebon Guards-El'Niath-L'Eral's personal guard. A rare achievement for a Half-Caste. That was the term we used for people of mixed Mu-Chimeran Ancestry. I was considered quite rare as I had also inherited the Blessing of El'Niath-L'Eral”

“Is that the ability that the Mu who dwell in the Black Nebula have, the one that lets them...” Nelara took a sip from his drink, making a deliberately loud slurping sound. Laranis laughed. “Aye, that's the one.” Nialle shivered a little as the others joined in Laranis' laughter. “So, that explains your father. No greater thing someone can do for Race and Empire then to die in Service. But what about your biological mother?” Laranis was silent for a moment, conflicting emotions showing on his face. “My biological mother lived in the capital that had been built above the crash site of Ebon Wraith She was a spinster, helping make clothing and bedclothes for the people of the capital. She died shortly before we managed to launch the repaired Ebon Wraith and El'Niath-L'Eral's Harvester ship.”

“Don't tell me she got Harvested...” Nelara said with an almost sickened look on his face. “Oh no... the Law prohibited the Harvesting of the people of El'Niath-L'Eral's Realm, they were all taken with us when we left. Admittedly a lot of them in stasis but still, all were taken. The rest of Chimera well... as was said these things happen” Niath-Xelnerre said “Then what happened, how did she die?” Laranis put down his cutlery. “There were many who-disagreed with the path we set ourselves on, the Phoenix Project. Some thought it was not worth bringing Adraniel back considering the cost in life energy it would take. That was of course before we knew the truth... My biological mother tried to convince me to leave El'Niath-L'Eral's service. She called her 'evil' and a 'monster'. You have to understand that the life of a half-caste was not easy. The Eternals-our word for the Mu members of the crew, often looked down on us. I was treated slightly better due to my 'inheritance' but still, what got me through is El'Niath-L'Eral sort of took me under her wing. S(he) treated me well, said s(he) saw great potential in me.”

By now the whole table was listening to Laranis' story. “Well, when she told me that I thought my biological mother had gone insane. I mean how could the person who had cared so much for me, and helped me, be evil? I tried to convince her, but she would not see it. She told me to leave El'Niath's service because she knew best, as she was my mother. I looked her in the eyes, and spoke to her. 'My mother' I said to her, 'My mother is El'Niath-L'Eral... s(he) made me what I am today.' and then I drained my biological mother's essence and terminated her.”

Nialle gagged, then bent over and began vomiting. A small janitorial drone came over to deal with the mess. The others just looked on in shock. Nelara actually dropping his fork to the floor. All were silent for over a minute. Finally Niath-Xelnerre broke the awkward silence. “Well... that was seriously hardcore... you killed her?” Laranis nodded. “By attempting to get me to defect from El'Niath-L'Eral's service, she was guilty of sedition, and also the Gift is... it's almost addictive. I wanted to just punish her, not kill her at first but...you just find it hard to resist.” Nelara grimaced “Wouldn't know, none of us possess that 'Gift', though what you say is in keeping with what we have heard from those of our crews that can do that. They talk about the need for control, and that doing it in a state of anger can result in taking more energy then normal. Of course they mostly do it in combat, so I doubt they care...”

The group finished their meal, then just sat there for a moment, reflecting on things. Laranis noted that Nialle looked at him with a barely controlled look of disgust on his face. “I can tell you are not pleased. Honestly I am not sure why I care...” Nialle kept his eyes averted from Laranis His looks really can kill... he thought. “The others here are soldiers, assassins, and other professions familiar and even comfortable with killing. I am not, I was a scientist working with Omega Section back on Mu.” Laranis thought for a moment. “That was the division they have for dealing with unusual phenomena and such?” To which Nialle nodded. “Well, you certainly must have seen violence and killing in that service, combat and otherwise?”

Nialle seemed to look off into space, remembering all that he had done in Imperial service. He had never actually killed another living human being, but he had seen much combat, against both human and less...natural foes. “I did what I did for Race and Empire, for Adraniel.” he finally said. To which Laranis simply answered “As did El'Niath-L'Eral...and Nathrael, and Xe'Metiel, and En'Lethra and all the others who served in the Harvester Fleets. More death has been wrought in Adraniel's name then in any other cause I can think of. And frankly...He brought it on himself He could have stopped it all in so many ways, but they all lead back to him faking his own death. So... who is the real monster here?”

“Can we talk about something else everyone?” Niath-Xelnerre said. “Even I can only take so much death in a day.” After a few chuckles they all got up, Nelara saying “Let's stop by Alet-Zel dock and see how the repairs are going.” “Oh the hell with that...” Niath-Xelnerre said. “Let's meet at the dock at 09:00 hours tomorrow, I personally want to get some sleep.” They all started making their way to their assigned quarters.

Guest Suite
Lirianne Fleet Anchorage


They lay in each other's arms under the covers, resting. Though they no longer physiologically required sleep, mentally they still enjoyed rest, and now were enjoying each other's presence once again. El'Niath languidly yawned, snuggling back into her L'yren-a's embrace. “A novel solution to the Dimensionship repairs, beloved Anais.” S(he) said. “But we will have other problems that face us. Topping that list is where will our people live? We can't go back to the Black Nebula or Irael's world-not after all that has happened”

“I've been thinking of that...” El'Neth said as (s)he traced a finger down his twin's body. “We can't really have our peoples stay in Mu either, the world there is not ready for that level of interaction. Nor is Akhenphire a practical option. I suspect only the two of us and perhaps Laranis even could live there. Charming place, but not for everyone. I do however have survey vessels searching the portions of that galactic quadrant close to Akhenphire. The Ermerians are the closest to us in philosophy, we should stay close for mutual defense against those who... have yet to learn from us.”

“What about Lirianne?” El'Niath softly spoke. “It's not bad, but frankly it's a giant naval base. I want our people to have a world they can live on without life support systems, underground facilities, domes, etc... Lirianne is a wonderful job of engineering but the surface is absolutely lethal to corporeal life without a vacc suit. That's not what our people deserve.” El'Niath pressed herself backwards as the two tightened their embrace. “Then it's in the hands of the survey ships then.”

SVS Void Scryer
Beta Quadrant, Towards the Galactic Rim


“Nothing Sir, another system with no inhabitable worlds. Though reports indicate the 4th world has a lot of potential for mining.” Spacer 1st Class Kel stated simply. Kel was one of the Chimeran starmen in the fleet, a small proportion that grew larger each year as more received a sufficient educational level and enlisted. “Move on to the next system on our list, Spectral class and mass readings of the system primary look good.” Ship Leader Ry'Thanne ordered as they made preparations for phase drive activation.

Void Scryer had a rather mixed crew. Lenari Ship Leader, mix of Mu, Chimeran, and even some Rigelian crewmen (Mostly ship's troops, but some of the gunnery section as well-and the pilots for their 6 fighters). The ship was a recent addition to the fleet, joining from the main Mu fleet when Nathrael had gone off on his own to join with El'Niath-L'Eral and form the Singers of the Void. Several ships whose crews agreed with the Twins' philosophies had left. Oddly the First Triune had let them go...

Quite a few people had left the Black Nebula recently. Most of them were families of the crewmen and women of Harvester Fleet Nathrael. A few however were just people who had grown tired of the life there. Everything was good... but some thought too good. There was no challenge there. Everything was provided. Some considered the ultimate fortress of the Mu Empire to be as much a prison as a stronghold. Those people were the ones that heard the Song of the Void. They brought ships, equipment, and their families. They were gathering at Lirianne while Void Scryer and her sister ships scanned system after system, looking for a new home world and capital for the Singers.

The odd shimmering effect of the Mu phase drive presaged Void Scryer's emergence into the system, designated “Xe-591/Alet” on their charts. So far the only data they had was that provided by an automated probe. Type G5V main-sequence star, 9 planets in total not counting dwarfs and large asteroids. There were two gas giants and two planetoid belts, one extremely large. As Void Scryer finished transition to normal space-time, dozens of small survey drones launched from the cruiser, headed for the gas giants, belt, and the world in the calculated habitable zone for the star. The cruiser itself moved towards the habitable zone on sublight drive.

The drones sent to the gas giants reported pretty much what one would expect. Giant spheres of hydrogen, methane, and ammonia. Useful for gas mining, and for refuel-skimming by the fusion powered ships in the fleet. Like most gas worlds they had a plethora of moons, though no ring systems to speak of. The drones spread out, splitting up to handle two moons at a time. Though one of the moons of the inner gas giant had a trace atmosphere, it was nothing close to life sustaining-to say nothing of the bath of radiation it received from it's giant 'primary'. Other moons were vacuum shrouded rocks, but rocks where some of them showed the potential on densitometer scans for some rich mineral potential. The drones noted this in their memory banks and moved on.

The planetoid belts were typical examples, and the drones assigned to them went into “Mining Survey” mode. This would take a great deal of time, even given the advanced technology of the drones' scanners. The first stage of the mining survey would be cursory, scanning a selection of randomly chosen metallic asteroids while substantially ignoring carbonaceous rocks and icy chunks. Once each belt was initially surveyed, prospectors and mining engineers would request detailed surveys of individual asteroids-assuming of course that the system was chosen for colonization.

This first drones to approach the single world in the star's habitable zone started relaying back information. The world had 2 moons, and sensor analysis seemed to indicate a breathable, oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere. As the swarm of small pods approached closer, a few moved to the moons, but the majority orbited the world, doing more detailed scans, and then a first probe dipped into the atmosphere to take physical samples for molecular analysis-to back up the scan results.

Gas analysis of the atmosphere indicated a breathable gas mix and pressure range, and no traces of hostile chemical toxins. Radiation levels were nominal for a world of it's size and magnetic field strength, and a level of vulcanism was present that indicated the planet's core was still molten. Some probes entered the oceans to check for chemical makeup and the presence of aquatic life. Life was found on the surface. Abundant vegetation, animals ranging from small animals and snake-like creatures, insects, birds, a wide range of herbivorous and carnivorous creatures. The only thing missing was any sign of higher life or civilization.

Void Scryer soon arrived in orbit, and began scanning the world with its Survey Array. Ship Leader Ry'Thanne looked over the initial results as well as the copious data flowing in from the many probes. “This... looks good so far. Extremely good” she said to the bridge crew. “Any sign of present—or past civilization?” Spacer Kel turned from his sensor console. “So far that is a negative, Ship Leader. No traces of ruins scannable from orbit, no trace of neutrino emissions from buried power sources...” Ry'Thanne brought the scan results up on her own display. It does look beautiful...just what we need she thought. “Radiation? Chemical or biological toxicity?” she asked Kel. “Radiation is well within tolerance ranges, molecular analysis shows no signs of chemical toxicity, probes are still working on biological analysis.”

“Good work crew. If nothing comes out we can move on to Class Alet Agricultural and Mineralogical surveys tomorrow.” Ry'Thanne said, feeling quite content. Over the next few duty shifts, continuing reports showed no hostile pathogens of note, and enough of the initial work on the Class Alet survey had been done that the ship's Survey Leader was confident enough to report to Ship Leader Ry'Thanne that the world was indeed a prime choice for colonization. “Well then, Com/Scan? Signal Lirianne Fleet Anchorage and the Anais' that SVS Void Scryer has found an appropriate world.” As she finished issuing her orders the bridge crew burst into cheers.

Grand Hall
Lirianne Fleet Anchorage


The Grand Hall was filled to it's maximum capacity of 9,000 individuals and perhaps a few more beyond that, standing at the back of the vast chamber which served as a theater, meeting hall, and currently auditorium. Those who could not attend due to lack of space were watching avdly as the event was being broadcast to all Singers' ships and facilities. The crowd broke into cheers and praises as the twin leaders of the Singers of the Void, El'Neth-L'Eral and El'Niath-L'Eral walked-not phased, onto the stage, holding each other's hand.

“Our people, we bring you greetings.” the two said in a perfect, beautifully united speech. Everyone in the room could hear it crystal clear, beyond anything the room's speakers could provide for.

“We have just received word from SVS Void Scryer, her Ship Leader has informed us that we have at last found a world that we can call our own. A world for all of the Singers of the Void to live on.” The air in the center of the auditorium glowed and an image of the new world formed. “This is being relayed from Void Scryer's main Survey Array, and as you can see this world is beautiful. Only thing missing there is higher life... And this time no, we had nothing to do with that condition, it never had any.” Some laughter was heard in the crowd, which swiftly stopped as the twins began to speak again.

“For those of you who have not heard... and we count included among that group both members of Harvester Fleet Nathrael, the Singers' Central Fleet, and some of the personnel and troops of this Base; We share a link that is...total in it's nature. Whereas in the recent past we acted rather hostilely to each other, and indeed-one of us looked rather different... you see us before you now as we were at the time of the Judgment War, before a cycle of pain began that encompassed both the people of Mu and several trillion beings on worlds and dimensional alignments that were unfortunate enough to cross our path. It is our pleasure and joy to announce those times are over. Never again will the curse brought to us all by Adraniel and his ilk trouble our peoples again. All of our peoples, be they Mu, Chimeran, Lenari, Kalizwah...or anyone else who has heard the Song of the Void.”

The crowd broke into applause at that, willing the room with a regular rhythm of cheer. El'Neth-L'Eral raised his hand slowly and the crowd slowly quieted down so their leaders could speak again.

The roof of the great hall glowed, becoming a visage of deep space-the orbital space above Lirianne. Ships of all descriptions were phasing in and arriving by other drive type, the Singers' fleet was not homogeneous in technology. Mining ships, warships of all sizes, and the bio-mechanical hybrid tech ships of the Akhenphire squadron. The last to arrive were the 3 largest ships in the fleet, one of which was even larger then the Dimensionship now under repair in the dockyards. Two were were very similar in design, one being Adran's Legacy-a large city-ship that functioned as the effective “homeworld” of the Singers. And it's near-twin, the battle fortress Sentinel both were the last remaining signs of a vanished race.

That last ship to arrive was the largest and most feared vessel in the fleet, the dreaded Caul-Yard Abheth. Looking like a monstrous spiked starfish 12km in diameter, Abheth was the twisted product of combined Mu and Ikrahk technology, built along with one other of it's type. It was the mobile production facility for such horrors as the Symphony of Dreams and Choir of Cacophony class ship-entities. Though it could be said Abheth birthed the ships as much as built them. As the giant ship/creature fully materialized, every telepath and psi sensitive on Lirianne felt a strong uneasy feeling. I bet they felt that all the way on the Motherworld... the Twins thought.

“Now that we are all here.” they continued on. “Construction Vessels Lan-1 and Lan-2, and Escort Squadron 1 are to set course and phase for our new system immediately. Once there proceed according to the plans and schedules you will find transmitted to your central computer cores. Abheth, you are to return to Akhenphire and inform Ermeriel of our new world, in accordance with the Pact.” Abheth “spoke”, in an odd bubbling voice, like the blending of an angelic choir and a dozen drowning children... As you Command, All-Highesssst... before activating it's phase drive and departing the system-raising the level of comfort in the room by an order of magnitude.

“We will be staying here until the modifications and repairs to Ay-yah Idare are completed, we shall then join you on L'Eneth-Xrel-'Glorious Home'.

“Lastly, to all those here who may be unsure about this new course we chart as a society... I ask you not to fear, not to bring discord.” El'Neth spoke, identifiable only by the Imperial Regalia of the Motherland. Those of you from my Harvester Fleet, or from the Motherland can have faith that I am the same Nathrael you all know. I am not going to turn into the next Adraniel or such. Rest assured I still have more Spheres then Adraniel ever could, even now... To those if you who serve with my L'yren-a, I can only say that I will treat you the same way as s(he) would.” El'Niath then spoke. “And for those of you who serve with Nathrael...El'Neth, I know I have for a time now been listed as a threat and an enemy. The time has come to put anger, fear, despair, and hatred in the coffin of the past. Will I return to how I was before the Judgment War for those who know? Probably not. That many experiences in life change one, it is unavoidable. What I will say is my L'yren-a and I are now in complete unity of purpose. And our purpose is the safety and prosperity of all Singers of the Void.” then the two started speaking once again in unison. “So let us all work together now, to build a new future, forged in fire and pain but shaped by hope!”

The speakers in the room then started playing the Singers' Anthem, “L'Eneth Anais”, at which everyone in the audience and all across the base and fleet stood at attention and sang. When the anthem was over the personnel began to file out of the hall in an orderly fashion, to carry out their orders, and begin building the new future the Twins had seen for them.

L'Eneth-Xrel
2 Months later


Buildings were starting to rise on a plain near the rim of a serious of canyons and dales. The spot was chosen for the site of the new capital. Right now there were only a few buildings that stood complete. The towering 1.5 km high Spire of the Anais', home of El'Neth-L'Eral and El'Niath-L'Eral, a power center, and a public utilities center. The Government Center, a 300 meter tall pyramidal structure, was still under construction by teams of construction drones.

Other drones and engineers were surveying the land, using neural CAD/M systems to plan out the city in preparation for construction. A veritable army of survey probes and ships were checking out the rest of the system. The asteroid processing ships had already identified many rich strikes in the first belt, and were starting refining to provide minerals of the myriad construction projects. Signal and sensor buoys were being placed at strategic points around the system, while attack craft and smaller combat vessels patrolled the worlds of the system on a constant basis.

Patrol Squadron Ain-8
Outer System
L'Eneth-Xrel


“Dimensional resonance signal, distance 5 light seconds. Bearing 45 by 120” announced the computer of Meret's Night Talon attack craft. “Roger that. Inform SVS Spectral Talon by Resonator that we have detected a likely FTL emergence and are investigating.” Then he switched to MesComm and signaled the other ships of his squadron. “Alright Ain-8, you all saw it, now we have to go find out what we have out there. Keep weapons hot but no fire control as of yet.” The six fighters altered course towards the coordinates and kicked their thrust plates to full acceleration.

Mining/Survey Scout Farseeker
Outer System
L'Eneth-Xrel


“Good news Captain!” Lisa. the ship's perky sensor operator piped up. “System has two gas giants, and what is looking like a world in the habitable zone. To early to tell though...” The ship's master was an middle-aged man named Joe Mason, he used to be a belter, making a decent profit prospecting and mining asteroids in their home system before the invaders had come. They had had a fairly small military fleet. A single cruiser and a small group of destroyers and frigates. Most of the fleet had been destroyed or damaged when the Gata'ja had raided them. What ships had survived were mostly docked for repairs when another group had attacked.

This group was not interested in raiding or pillage, they came for conquest. Planetary Command had barely been able to hold the invaders back long enough for a small group of the population to escape on a few hastily converted freighters and a liner that happened to be in dock awaiting passengers. The liner and freighters had been hastily modified into evacuation ships, escorted by a destroyer and frigate, the last of the navy that had survived-and that only because they had been in port for maintenance at the time of the invasion. The fragmentary reports they had received before planetary command went silent-orbital bombardment- made them certain they could not go back.

There were barely enough of them left to form a viable genetic pool. Although human and on a galactic scale not in danger, their culture was almost gone. Onboard the ships the people comforted each other, cried, and prayed to whatever gods might exist to send them aid in their hour of need. Farseeker was the closest thing they had to a full survey ship, though it was optimized for mining surveys. So they did not notice the attack craft until after they had signaled the rest of the fleet to jump in -system to at least refuel...

Lisa gasped as 6 contacts suddenly appeared on her sensor panel, coming in fast. “Captain! I have six contacts closing rapidly, some sort of fighter by the acceleration they have.” Mason looked to her, the bridge of the ship was reasonably spacious, meant for long times spent in the belts. “Have a classification?” he said “Last thing we want are pirates. Not sure sure if we can hold off six fighters long enough for the fleet...hah, to get here.”

After running the incoming sensor profiles through the computer a match came up. Her heart sank in her chest. “Oh god...captain... they're Night Talons!” “DAMN!” Engines, give me everything you have, full acceleration away from them!.” “Night Talons?” Shawn, the navigator said “Never heard of them.” “Eternal Night attack craft...” Mason simply said, watching Shawn shudder and start plotting his course, fingers working with feverish speed at the controls. “Fuck... and we called the fleet, not knowing they are here... There's only one EN fleet known to be in this sector.” Lisa muttered “One of the 'nicer' ones?” she said, her voice quivering slightly. Mason solemnly shook his head “The worst of the worst... Harvester Fleet Nathrael.”

Bile rose in the throats of all the small crew as they recognized the name, considered on of the great terrors of Beta Quadrant. Eternal Night it was said had given up on “Harvesting”, but unfortunately no one seemed to inform Harvester Fleet Nathrael. “Our people are coming to their slaughter aren't they?” Lisa softly said. Mason said nothing as they all watched the blinking dots of the six attack craft closing, far outstripping the meager acceleration the little scout could produce.

Patrol Squadron Ain-8
Outer System
L'Eneth-Xrel


“She's turning to run, probably raiders.” Meret signaled to the rest of the squadron. Whereas in the past the would have gone to missiles and readied for launch, their new standard orders dictated a change in engagement policy. Activating his comm unit and setting for EM bands, he started transmitting. “Unidentified craft, this is SV Patrol Squadron Ain-8, give your identity and home port immediately or you will be treated as a pirate, over.”

Farseeker

“C...Captain?” Lisa said, stuttering in some bit of shock. “Yeah I heard it... not sure what to make of it. He said, reaching to his radio controls. “Mason...should we contact them?” she said, obvious fear showing on face. “Well, look at the options. If this isn't Nathrael's butcher patrol, we could get shot at as pirates, if it is well... We can't run, we can't fight...” She just sort of nodded as he keyed the transmitter. “Ain-8 leader this is Joe Mason, Master of the mining surveyor Farseeker We are not pirates, we are on a survey mission looking for a new world. Our home system was recently invaded and likely conquered by hostile forces. Over.”

A few seconds passed, short tense seconds that seemed like hours. Then the speakers crackled to life “Roger that Farseeker Be aware that this system is claimed by the Anais Unity of the Singers of the Void. You are granted permission to refuel at the gas giant before departure.” Mason breathed a sigh of relief, but then thought about the fleet. Even if able to refuel supplies were running low. “I'm going to ask them for assistance.” Everyone on the bridge spun to look at him. “Are you insane?” Do you know what these people do? Who they associate with? Rethast, Ikrahk...” Mason nodded “Yeah I know they are right up there in Guinness's Book of Horrors, but they called themselves something different...Singers of the Void or such? Maybe they are not actually...'them'.” He keyed the transmitter again and said “On the authority of our fleet command-such as it is, I am requesting aid for our fleet. Our ships are damaged and low on supplies.” After another few seconds he heard “I do not have the authority to make that call, I have relayed your request to my superiors.” Mason smiled weakly and said to the others. “See, they may not be as bad as we all heard”. Lisa then said “Or this group is so awful that even Eternal Night wants nothing to do with them.”

A chill passed through Mason's bones as he thought of the implications.

Destroyer Sunflare
Gas Giant 1 orbit
L'Eneth-Xrel System

The Sunflare emerged from jump space in a flash of radiation, followed by the rest of their small fleet, In front of them his viewport was filled with the massive gas giant, it's cloud of multicolored gases presenting a beautiful panorama. Unfortunately between them and the gas giant was a 500 meter wedge of black metal/crystal composite. His passive EM arrays quickly got a reading on it . “Ebon Talon Heavy Carrier-Imperial Mu fleet.” “Well fuck. This is unpleasant in the extreme. I guess we arrived just in time for dinner.” Acting Commodore Alex Ferara said. “Dinner, Commodore?” someone on the bridge muttered. “Trust me, you don't want to know. Well men, we've had a good run, but I suggest you pray to whatever gods you worship that we have a quick and merciful..” He was interrupted by a voice from the speaker. An EM signal coming in on their fleet's standard frequencies. “This is SVS Mist Falcon Actual. We have received word of your distress thanks to the Farseeker's master and are standing by to render assistance.”

The bridge was silent other then the occasional beep or tone from a console. “Well...” Commodore Ferara said. “I guess that was some fine preemptive prayers we have on this ship. Good work.” Turning to the Intership console, he signaled the logistics office. “I want a complete list of what this fleet needs, I guess angels of death are still angels after all.” “Commodore?” the voice on the other end replied. “Never-mind, just get that list ready.”

Command Post
Lirianne Fleet Anchorage


Squadron Leader Methren stood, head bowed, before El'Neth-L'Eral and El'Niath-L'Eral. “Report, Squadron Leader” the two said in their eerie, too-perfect duet. “A transmission has just come in from L'Eneth-Xrel. Progress on construction is proceeding as per all schedules, and Stage 1 should be completed, possibly ahead of schedule.” Noting the looks of satisfaction on hi leaders' faces he then said “There is also a complicating factor...

Energy flickered around and between the two of them as they looked at Methren. “Please, do tell...” “We have received information that an apparent refugee fleet has shown up. Apparently their homeworld had been subject to at least one raid that weakened them and left them vulnerable to invasion. They requested aid and the on site commander granted it under the Spacer's Code.” The twins just looked at him “All very proper and acceptable under the Code. Nothing wrong with helping distressed spacefarers, it's both the Code and a part of Mu Law. What's the complicating factor?”

Methren looked odd. “They um, want to settle on L'Eneth-Xrel. Even with resupply their ships are not really capable of a long duration in the Eternal Night.” The two just looked at him before El'Niath spoke. “Do they understand all that entails? That they will have to live according to our laws, and while they can keep their culture, they will need to become part of our greater society?”

“I really don't know how to answer that, All-Highest...” he said. “We don't really have a diplomat there. If we even have diplomats at all. No one from Ministry of State came over to our cause, Irael has them under his glowing thumb quite nicely.” El'Niath shrugged. “Nonetheless they have to understand that joining the Singers is a lifetime commitment.” Methren looked at her “They have been through hell. Can we turn our backs on people in that level of despair?”

El'Neth interrupted. “If I may Anais...” while gently massaging El'Niath's shoulders. “I would say that these people have heard the Song of the Void. And see no problem assuming they agree to all conditions. That being said, there is a matter of concern here. The Great Displacement.” S(he) turned to look at her twin. “Great Displacement? Sounds like some corny name you would use for some horrific dimensional/quantum state weapon.” she said with a laugh. “Good point” El'Neth replied, “But in this case it refers to reports I have been getting of massive wave of refugees from various attacks-mostly in Gamma quadrant, some in Delta. These are the result of Gata'ja attacks, as well as pirates, slavers, and other marauders.”

El'Niath just looked completely at a loss. “Umm... pardon me most loved, but why do we give a damn? If anything this is an opportunity. Lynassa Nakan was going on about how refugee fleets could be turned into effective weapons to wreck logistics of people you plan to attack. Why should we not encourage these refugees, maybe create a few more fleets?” Her twin looked back at her, smiling. “Now, not that I'm any great philanthropist, and seeing how these 'fugees' as they are being called handle themselves will be a great way to test their worthiness, But the simple fact is that we have to plan for more refugee fleets reaching L'Eneth-Xrel.”

“Then we just Harvest them, and put what ships we do not salvage and their bodies into the Matter Compilers.” El'Niath whispered into El'Neth's ear in an almost sensual tone. “We have to see beyond such tactics, though it's nothing I have not done-more times then I can easily count. I want our people to have more then a legacy of endless war, and people being terrified of us. I want us to be part of the galaxy. You know me, Anais. This is not weakness, and there will be plenty of conflicts. But they will be conflicts on our terms. Not endless war against all of creation. We must become more then we once were.”

“So...what do we do?” El'Niath said, while still gently circling her twin's earlobe with her tongue and lips. “Well, we have no real Ministry of State, and the diplomats on the Motherland are not prepared for interstellar level diplomacy. So... S(he) accessed her Bondship's Protocore, checking the personnel, diplomatic, and SIGINT records of the fleet.

“Hmm... it seems the Perseids are holding a conference on the Great Displacement. Looks like Irael may have referred them to us because we were invited to attend.” El'Niath laughed loudly. “Referring people to us for humanitarian conferences? I didn't know Irael was that much of a sadist.” El'Neth shrugged her shoulders. “Well, he was my superior in the fleet so I guess some of my mannerism's rubbed off or something. In any case I have a potential delegate to send. Commander Lithral.” “Lithral?” El'Niath said. “Yes” her twin replied. “Lenari, Ship Leader of the SVS Novaflare, Scored high in competency testing for simulated first contact scenarios given non-violent mission parameters. Probably the closest thing to an ambassador or diplomat we currently have.”

Turning to Methren, the two of them spoke in unison. “It is decided. Signal Ameth and Lynassa Nakan at L'Eneth-Xrel and tell them to relay our orders to Commander Lithral. He is to attend the conference held by the Perseids and try and find a non-violent solution to the Great Displacement.”

Methren saluted, bowed, and went to the communications center as the twins fell into each other's arms.
Last edited by The Singers Of The Void on Fri Jan 05, 2018 6:40 pm, edited 8 times in total.

User avatar
Federal Republic of Free States
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 142
Founded: Sep 04, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Sat Jan 30, 2016 10:41 pm

Beautiful Ugly

…Terminal Start Up…
…..Bio-Identification Accepted…
…Good morning Director…
…..One [1] Urgent tagged message….
…..Seventeen [17] non tagged messages…

///Initiate Message Program///
//Urgent Message Flagged First//

….Downloading Message….
…..
…..
…..

Free State Republic
Republican Federal Marshal Service
LX Trade Corridor District [Special Administrative District]
Field Report: 477-889 [Distress Call Dispatch]
Federal Marshal Nyke Cranto [Badge Number: RFM-933442]

////CLASSIFIED.EYES ONLY////
///IMMEDIATE REFERAL TO DIRECTORS OFFICE///

Before I begin, I would like to reiterate that this is the ninth [9] distress call received involving pirate activity this calendar year by Federal Marshal outpost “Gatekeeper” within the Special Administrative District of the LX Trade Corridor. Three times more than any other district in the Republic, this increase in activity is troublesome at the least, and down right terrifying at the most. If we do not get ahead of this issue soon, we may soon face an uncontainable situation within the trade corridor that could have the potential to ruin the access to Liu Xiu, and that is unacceptable.

///This is the field report dictating the events that transpired during a dispatch of a Marshal Service Asset to a distress call, which initiated in the LX trade corridor district (SAD). ///

Marshal Outpost “Gatekeeper”, received the distress signal at approximately 2:15am Local Standard Time, at the time it was unknown which vessel initiated the call, all that was known was the coordinates of where the call originated from. My spatial vessel, RMS Hammer was dispatched to the co-ordinates at best possible speed. By my own admission a decent amount of time had passed before RMS Hammer was able to arrive on scene from Outpost “Gatekeeper”. Entering the local space several hours’ later, no discernable energy signatures of active spatial vessels could be sensed within the local space. We made our way undeterred closer to our target.

Once within hail range, the captain [Badge Number: RFM-344721] initiated a challenge to the ship, which went unanswered. Closing distance with the vessel, the sensor array began to feed us more information and what we found, was that the vessel was cold, by operational standards. There was no output from the engine vents, which for lack of a better term were devastated. Only a weapon of high-energy output could devastate the main engines with such effect, all relevant information has been sent to the Department of Intelligence for further review. We have not seen any sort of weaponry of this magnitude since the Incursions of Kilmer and Quixie by xeno forces. No output from the main reactor, and very minimal energy emissions coming from the vessel in any capacity. As we entered visual range of the target ship we could see the name of the vessel still displayed across the bow in white lettering against the blue hull. Beautiful Ugly, looking up the ship name in the spatial registry I found that it was registered to Star Supplies a import-export corporation headquartered on Soren (Axul System). Cross referencing to past pirate activity reports, this would be the second vessel of Star Supplies to be destroyed in the LX Trade Corridor since the new year began three months ago.

As we orbited the four hundred meter long freighter, it was apparent that she was moderately damaged. Major sections of the hull showed pocketed impact sites that dug into the armor of the vessel, indicative of sustained concentrated fire of smallish caliber kinetic weapons. The Hammer began to tighten its orbit around the Beautiful Ugly, and from the optical cameras we could see smaller punctures within the ship’s hull, located near the personnel airlocks on each side of the vessel up by the bow. At the time, I thought that is where the unknown projectile weapons actually penetrated the armor of the vessel. I and the rest of the Hammer would learn of their actual purpose once we continued our investigation. The sensor array on the Hammer had begun to spit out its preliminary reports of the cascade emissions that were still detectable on/in/and around the target vessel. While I am still waiting on the comprehensive reports to come back from the research division regarding comparing and contrasting emissions from past attacks and our current one before us, I can infer from what I know personally and from the Hammer’s array as well as past field reports as I understand them. To myself these energy remnants match up with past incidents of pirate activity in the trade corridor and we are dealing with a dedicated group here that has assaulted Republican ships in the recent past.

The boarding party was comprised of myself, and three other marshals. We left the bay of the Hammer on one of the Petrel Dropships, and headed for the starboard side puncture. Closing distance with the puncture, its small diameter began to interest me. As the four of us sealed our suits and prepared for an EVA walk from the drop door of the Petrel, the Hammer kept its distance and its orbit constant. Exiting the Petrel into the void my compatriots and I floated closer to the man sized hole, I could see that in actuality the hole was what was left of the air lock. I still do not know the nature of how the puncture occurred, and until we tow the Beautiful Ugly back to the outpost we won’t know for certain. At this time, I can speculate that it must have been some sort of shaped charge, but I cannot fathom how those charges were delivered to the airlock themselves. Entering the Beautiful Ugly I set our waypoint for the bridge of the vessel on our head up displays. Making our way to the waypoint, moving through the decompressed hallways and corridors of the Beautiful Ugly, it was very obvious that a haphazard running gun battle occurred from the penetration point continually down the corridors, with every turn and junction we found a couple corpses, they have since been retrieved. Looking at their ID badges and the corresponding personnel list of the Beautiful Ugly, the men and women we had found deceased by the gunfights were members of the Merchant Marine detachment assigned to the ship. I like to think they tried to defend the ship gallantly, but the attackers must have overwhelmed them with their numbers.

Making our way to the bridge of the vessel, we arrived to a blown open bulkhead. It seems like the command crew of the Beautiful Ugly tried to establish a last stand within the bridge space. As a few tables were overturned and spent shell casings of small arms littered the deck. The four of us spread out across the bridge, and it was very apparent that vital electronic equipment was missing. The navigation computers, sensor computers, data terminals, memory banks, and the other assorted electrical equipment were simply gone. I fear that the navigation data contained within the individual computers and memory banks was not wiped and expunged before the assault reached the bridge. If this is the case, I recommend a doubling of patrol routes in high traffic areas. As well, as a legislative mandate to be passed in the Federal Senate, dictating procedure of expunging navigation data as well as punishment for failure of doing so. Our navigational data is and should be treated as a national security secret, the last thing we would need is any group with ill intent to have access to star maps and coordinates.

Marshal Hynrick [Badge Number RFM-133478], began to pick up a faint energy signature in the southwest corner of the bridge, he called the rest of us over to join him. As I came up to the corner section of the wall, it looked solid to me. However, looking at Hynrick’s thermal detector there seemed to be a cavity with a faint thermal and electrical signature emitting from it. Feeling the wall, I could not see any distinct breaks in its face that would indicate an opening within the wall. But the energy readings were not wrong. Sending back Marshal Gilmer and Marshal Vynder [Badge Numbers: RFM-983211, RFM-763321] back to the Petrel they returned moments later with the plasma cutter. Watching them cut through the wall the blinding light from the plasma made quick work of the wall. As the metal cooled, we peeled away the section of wall to reveal an individual curled up in a sealed suit with an oxygen tank attached. I grabbed the tank and looked at the counter on the display, this individual only had minutes of life sustaining oxygen left. Marshal Hynrick and myself grabbed the individual and gently moved him out of the cavity. Looking at the ID badge, I recognized the name from the dossier that I had on the vessel, it was the captain of the Beautiful Ugly, Erick Dison.

Erick Dison seemed to stir awake as we removed him from the cavity, at his current level of oxygen supply I imagined at the time he would have been very dazed and confused. I was relieved to see someone alive after witnessing the damage to the ship and the remnants of the running gunfights. Behind his clear visor, I could see his eyes open, his pupils were small, his eyes bloodshot, and he gripped my forearm with such force. At the time, and I still do, think for those first few moments he thought we were the assaulting forces coming to finish him off. Only when he saw the insignia of the Marshal Service, did he relax the grip on my forearm. Mr. Dison motioned with his hand for me to get closer to his head; in his current state I don’t doubt his body was very weak. Leaning down to his head, I could clearly hear the words emanating from the small speaker. “Cargo bay 12-B…Section 7…. starboard wall…lower half…seven…three…seven…four…” Copying down that information on my data pad, I took another look at his air tank level, at this point I told Marshal’s Gilmer and Hynrick to help Captain Dison back to the Petrel for medical evaluation. Marshal Vynder and myself would continue to the cargo bays, and they would rendezvous with us after getting the Captain back to the Dropship.

The cargo bays still had atmospheric capabilities so I could raise my visor, as soon as the entrance to the cargo section of the vessel closed behind us. The first bay and the others we walked through were barren, not a gram of the assorted cargo of the Beautiful Ugly was left. Whoever the assaulting force was, they were thorough. Eventually Marshals Gilmer and Hynrick made their way to join us in cargo bay twelve. Like the other eleven we walked through it was barren, remembering the captain’s words we made our way to the starboard wall. Spreading out around the wall, we began feeling around for anything ‘special’. I was the one to find it. Close to the floor, the wall could be pushed in. Revealing a small terminal, with a numerical keypad. Pushing the buttons seven three seven four, a hiss could be heard emanate from the wall and to my surprise a large section of it rolled up into itself, exposing a decent sized cavity.

I’ll never forget their faces, there was about thirty of them, they were frightened as the wall rolled up. I could hear scampering and movement as they tried to shield one another with themselves. I’m sure the light from the cargo bays obscured who we were to these individuals, yet once their eyes adjusted combined with the standard phrase “We are Federal Marshals, we are here to assist.” Seemed to relax the group of people, we lead them out of the cavity and had them sit on the floor of the cargo bay. I radioed the Hammer and relayed the new situation to the Captain. I was instructed to inform them that for the moment they will be detained, and before that sentence could even finish leaving my lips, a bombshell from the group was dropped. Like lightening it ripped through me, children were taken by the assaulters, ripped away from their parents to an unknown fate.

It still doesn’t sit well with me, and I’m sure the other Marshals are just as troubled by it. I didn’t even think of it at the time when we found the group, but there were no children with them. A few crying mothers related to us that the children were ripped away during the ensuing chaos, before they could be hidden away. I felt horrid at this revelation, our lack of quick response led to the kidnapping of nine children. So far that is the most egregious of the crimes that occurred within the Beautiful Ugly, while I do blame the captain for putting these people in harms way, I cannot fully blame him alone for the entire ordeal.

We retrieved all thirty of the undeclared passengers, and safely transported them back to the Hammer, the medical staff on the Hammer is currently performing physicals on each individual. Preliminary reports suggest no permanent injuries to any of the surviving undeclared passengers. The Captain himself, may need a few days of intensive care, but the doctors have said he will make a full recovery.

Despite the situation at hand, upon arrival back on the Hammer Captain Erick Dison was placed in Federal custody for a felony level trafficking offense. It is well known that the population levels of Freeport City and Cirrus Station are tightly controlled, and Republican Legislation supports these controlling factors. Captain Dison was in violation of Republican Law, and will be tried in court at some point in the near future. The thirty individuals that we retrieved from the hidden cargo hold will be processed and returned to Republican Controlled Space, most likely back to their places of origin.

All in all, we have a Republican Vessel disabled, dozens of Republican Citizens dead, tones of Republican cargo stolen, and most egregiously nine Republican children kidnapped. The lists of crimes perpetrated in this incident are vast and serious. The group behind this assault looks to be dedicated and competent in their actions. They did not leave behind any dead, nor any large pieces of evidence. We might have to wait until we do a comprehensive search and tear down of the Beautiful Ugly before we can find any sort of real evidence to move us towards the individuals behind this assault.

Target of Opportunity, is most likely what I would label what attracted the pirates to the vessel. It was not operating as part of a convoy per the Federal Government’s guidelines of safe voyage outside of controlled systems. The civilian freighter also had minimal defensive weapons installed; only some point defense rotary cannons as well as small arms carried by the Merchant Marines and the vessels crew. They would have been no way ready for any sort of assault by a determined force. Our regulations and recommendations to Corporations engaging in intra system commerce need to be re-worked and updated following this attack.

It is the recommendation of this marshal that an increase in Republican presence throughout the space that makes up the trade corridor with Freeport City/Cirrus Station within the Liu Xiu system and Republican Controlled Space be the Republic’s upmost current national security endeavor. While that revelation may not sit well with individuals within the political section of the government, it is starting to become more and more apparent that a broader security presence is required. I understand that since the destruction of the Kilmer and Quixie systems by unknown Alien Forces, the Federal Government has taken a stance of hard line isolation. However, it is plain to see, if we are to continue operations in the LX system, expansion and inclusion is necessary.

I propose way stations and outposts manned by Federal Marshals with extra-judicial [designations], or even manned by Republican Spatial Naval forces. It is the only way to further protect our economical interests in transit from our territory to Liu Xiu and vice versa, which are beginning to show real returns for the Republic. Any further loss of life, or loss of cargo is deemed to be unacceptable if it is somewhat preventable.

My recommendations for further action to circumvent and prevent further loss of life and loss of cargo, as well as create a more secure trade network are as follows.

Increase cooperation with the Liu Xiu Maritime Authority as well as the Imperial Star Republic to ensure safe passage and security to and from the Liu Xiu System.

Increase cooperation with the Perseid Federation to ensure safe passage and security towards the Gamma-Alpha border was well as coreward traffic.

Seek out other sovereign star states coreward for security and cooperation agreements to ensure safe passage as well as comprehensive security of the local space.

///Individual interrogation of Captain Erick Dison forthcoming, individual interrogations of surviving undeclared passengers forthcoming. Interrogations will be sent through the normal channels.///

User avatar
Red Talons
Diplomat
 
Posts: 720
Founded: Apr 12, 2008
Ex-Nation

Arming the Mob

Postby Red Talons » Sat Jan 30, 2016 11:38 pm

Somewhere in the Beta quadrant...

The T.N.N. logo in a white on black background appears on screen cutting a plasma rifle commercial off short. A moment later it fades away to show a Felari news anchor smiling warmly, wearing a white robe with a low V neck showing her ample cleavage. Behind her the wall reads 'Great Displacement; Problem or Progress?' The Felari spoke in fluent and clear Galactic Standard.

“Welcome to TNN, I'm Kelia, and tonight we're covering a story you've been talking about, and we've been following closely.” As she pauses the camera view cuts to her right as she turns to face it before continuing.

“Word of the growing refugee crisis has not gone unheard within the Technocracy. Refugees have been slowly but steadily immigrating to the Trade Systems for centuries from all manner of problems. A few ships every few years packed with sophonts fleeing some manner of disaster or conflict. It wasn't an unusual occurrence, until recently, when ships began to arrive every few days...” The camera position changes, showing the anchor from the front left.

“A number of private industries have taken notice, primarily due to the influx of consumers and potential workforce. Initially many were offered citizenship and work, though there was quickly no more work to go around. As displaced sophonts continued to arrive at a steady rate, Master Specialist Varrash owner of Solar Trading Unlimited stepped forward, promising to raise every individual's state of living to an acceptable level in a speech recorded earlier here, by T.N.N.”

The wall behind the anchor shifts to show a close up of Varrash, standing behind a console wearing a similar white robe. The female Icatan had a stern expression as she spoke. “A weapon for every hand and a home for every family... The fact of the matter is that unless they can provide the basic needs of survival for themselves, they will only continue to be a burden, at best. I intend to provide those tools to any that are in need, both locally and abroad.”

The wall screen fades to black as Kelia turns back to the camera. “There you have it viewers, big solutions for big problems? With GESO trying to organize action, is she going to step on any toes? Only time will tell...”

The camera view shifts to a close up frontal of Kelia from the waist up. “Tune in later when we have our reporters go undercover, and under the covers, at the top five sensual destinations in the galaxy.”

The feed fades out to a commercial for a new 'all meat' SPRAT. Vethiis watches for a few more moments before switching it off. Turning slightly and keying on his radio. “How close are we to being done?”

The saurian's tone was flat with a hint of impatience. A few moments later his radio crackled a response. “Almost done, rolling out the last few crates now.”

Vethiis smiled, a broad grin baring teeth, the expression catching on the rest of the bridge crew, comprised mostly of Saurians and Dooninra. Vethiis nodded to another Saurian, who swiftly departed for the hangar of the cargo ship.

Down below, the main hangar was empty, it's contents having been unloaded and already largely dispersed to the eager refugees. The Saurian from the bridge arrived in the hangar as the loading team was walking back in, the main access hatch closing behind them. A S'arr called up to the Saurian. “Hey Siif, what's the word?”

The Saurian expressed a devious smile, calling down. “We're in the clear, do it Kar.”

The loading team, mostly Dooninra, exchanged knowing glances. They moved to a smaller access door, lowering the ramp. Kar walked outside, waving and yelling to grab the attention of the refugees. “Hey, everyone, if you can bring us those in need of medical care, we have a facility on board to provide treatment.”

the crowd murmured, a few injured moving quickly to the ramp, followed slowly by more. Kar greeted them with a wide grin and directed them to wait inside. After a few minutes a crowd of bandaged and banged up humans had gathered in the cargo hold. They were organized into groups and explained that the most severe needs would be treated first. One by one they were taken to to be examined and treated. The crowd thinning out over time.

George wasn't sure when they had closed the door, effectively sealing everyone in the hold to wait. He briefly wondered where the people that had been treated were, but figured they were being let directly out, star ships did tend to have a good many doors after all and all the ship's crew that he had seen were smiling. It was a little unsettling when the Saurians did it, but he just smiled back politely. Everyone seemed so friendly.

What George didn't know, is that the cargo ship had lifted off shortly after he had boarded, had no intention of returning, and that in this culture, showing your teeth in a smile was anything but friendly.

That realization came later, much too late. The medical exam went fine, treatment for a few cracked bones and some vaccine shots. George wasn't particularly injured, but he had dislocated his knee and shoulder having been partially trampled after boarding the over-packed evacuation transport fleeing his former home. Over all he felt much better by the time they had him sit up and step off the exam table.

It wasn't until his way out of the medical room did the realization arrive. Waiting just outside the room were a Dooninra and a Saurian, both holding rifles, and both smiling broadly. The door to medical sliding closed behind him. The Saurian gestured down the hall. “Come right this way, we'll walk you out.”

George walked, anxiety rising. At the end of the hall, they stopped. The Saurian tapped something into a keypad beside the door, and as it slid open he was greeted by a strong metallic smell in the air, the din of groans and somewhere, a voice pleading for mercy before a wet thump silenced the voice.

The man froze, turning to run, the Dooninra grabbed him, the two struggled for a moment before George twisted free, throwing the guard into the wall with the movement. The Saurian tackled him as he took the first few steps down the hall away from the room, a sharp pain running through his shoulder as the easily three hundred pounds of reptile toppled him face down to the floor. He could feel a warm wetness covering his shoulder, numbing it. He looked over to see that the Saurian had bit him. Blood on its scales at it snapped again, biting at his face. Struggling in near panic George pushed the reptilian away, trying to crawl as his vision began to blur. The hall stretching and fading from focus into a gray haze. His arm lost sensation first, followed by a cooling numbness in the torso which spread down his legs, eventually George collapsed limply on the floor, barely able to groan in protest as his muscles went slack.

“Keep this one for later, it has spirit... I've been looking forward to a proper hunt...” Clawed feet tapped the floor as Vethiis stepped out into the hall. “That is if it survives the night...”

The last thing George saw were the three smiling down at him as his vision faded completely.
This is my factbook(perpetually under construction)
Because I advocate more space-magic, Laws For Magic.
A 4.2 civilization, according to this index.
---
Defense Status
{Green}--{Orange}--|{Blue}|--{Red}--{Black}
---
Universal peace is an archaic concept.
It is like taking a handful of sand,
and expecting none of it to slip through your fingers...

=Isahil Traekith=
---
Fear is a basic emotion...
What frightens you more, the evil that you know?...
...Or the evil that you don't...
When you light a candle,
you also cast a shadow...
=[Data Redacted]=

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The Singers Of The Void
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Posts: 11
Founded: Oct 18, 2013
Ex-Nation

Postby The Singers Of The Void » Thu Feb 04, 2016 9:11 pm

Image


Main Conference Room
Lirianne Fleet Anchorage
Planet Lirianne


Military, civilian, and religious officials of the Singers of the Void sat around the room's large table, each in turn making his or her report to El'Neth-L'Eral and El'Niath-L'Eral, who sat together at the narrow end of the roughly triangular table. The meeting had been called to plan strategies for the Singers-mostly having to do with the setting up of their new homeworld and capital at L'Eneth-Xrel.

“Construction of infrastructure is proceeding according to schedule, and we should be ready to start moving the first civilians in soon.” Laranis spoke to his parents. “There are reports of increases in piracy and at least one planetary invasion. Because of these factors I think we should prioritize the construction of a full System Grid for L'Eneth-Xrel-or at least as close as we can get. We lack certain materials we need”

El'Niath-L'Eral looked at her adopted son and Herald oddly. “Lack materials? We now have Atomic Recompilers that we captured with Ay-yah Idare” An uncomfortable look came over Laranis' face and he motioned to Niath-Xelnerre, who slowly stood up with a rather dejected cast to him. “Blessed Ones, we have discovered some things about the recompilers on Ay-yah Idare... It seems that they are an older model, they cannot achieve subatomic transmutation like the normal ones the Empire uses. Now they are still quite useful-they can assemble any compound, dismantle an asteroid and separate it into constituent elements... But they cannot transmute elements. Construction of a System Grid requires certain elements not found in the L'Eneth-Xrel System.”

Laranis spoke again “We have compiled a list of reports from our survey units, mineral surveys from local systems.” He touched a control and the main holodisplay lit up, showing the survey reports from about a dozen systems. “We must move carefully for now, With the loss of our allies the Rethast to Causal Incursion, we must be somewhat circumspect.” “Do we have a better idea of who did that? Was it Lord Midnight?” El'Niath almost whispered the name.

With a slight shrug of his shoulders Laranis simply said “Honestly, Blessed Mother, I doubt we will ever be able to tell that. He certainly has the power, maybe even the motivation. But there is no way to tell unless perhaps we ask him. For other reasons that is of course ill-advised.” El'Neth had been silent so far, but when the Rethast were mentioned he closed his eyes in contemplation. He looked over the survey reports on the holosphere. With the erasure of the Rethast many projects had been terminated, notably the Gestalt Project-though with the help of the Ta'nar that might be salvageable, and the plan to have Emporium spread a darkly hilarious “bio-weapon” to another galaxy. The chaos from that would have been glorious, a tribute to the Priory...

My friends need a memorial... Nathrael thought. His eyes settled on a particular spot of the holosphere. All I need is to find an appropriate site, and I think I just have... Turning to his L'yren-a, s(he) said. “I'll get the elements we need for our system grid. Have hope, Anais. I will return shortly.” and giving her a light kiss he phased out. Shortly thereafter, Harvester Ship Nathrael, Covenant of Fire, and several escorts left Lirianne orbit, soon activating their phase drives. In the conference room, El'Niath looked at the holosphere, noting a system named “Esperanza”. “Have Hope...” s(he) said with a smile, which soon turned into a laugh.

L'Eneth-Xrel System

Nathrael and her consorts emerged from phase-state and immediately resonated a message to Several of the ships in system. Carrier Mist Falcon and escort group, Ermerian Detachment, Abheth, processor ships Xe 1-4, Form up on my Harvester. It's Hunting Time! The ships and ship-entities began converging on the Nathrael. Abheth moving with a slow but inexorable pace.

When the fleet had gathered, Nathrael resonated to them all, Mu and Lenari, Rigellian and Ikrahk, Chimeran and all the other peoples of the fleet. Set your course for the Esperanza system. Time for some “Old-school” action... Operational plans will be downloaded to your Sentience Cores or Life Nodes. We go to make... He paused for a second, contemplating, remembering. a Requiem. Glory to us all, and good hunting. One by one the fleet activated their phase drives or other superluminal engines, and left the L'Eneth-Xrel system behind.

Esperanza System
Beta Quadrant


Esperanza was called one of the jewels of Beta Quadrant. Settled by human colonists thousands of years ago, the world had since then become a cosmopolitan society, open and accepting of all species of sophont, both organic and AI. The planet's name meant “hope” in a language that no one even recalled the origin of, and Hope was indeed what the world embodied. Hope for peace. Hope for cooperation.

The world had become a nexus for trade and commerce, as well as a nexus for cultural exchange. Crime although present was minimized by both social policies and an efficient law enforcement structure. Sophonts from all around Beta quadrant and beyond came to Esperanza for education, medical treatments, and all sorts of trade in goods and services.

Despite the cheerful outlook, the people of Esperanza were not pacifists. They maintained a strong fleet and planetary defense system, and regularly patrolled the spacelanes between Esperanza and their two colony systems. Piracy was an off-on danger in Beta quadrant, and then there were other dangers. To the rim of the galaxy was dread Akhenphire and the equally feared allies of Ermeriel, Harvester Fleet Nathrael. In other parts of Beta were other dangers, Gata'ja, Sarians... But so far the Esperanzan fleet had not had to deal with anything beyond the occasional pirate. Nevertheless they did not allow themselves to grow complacent.

Battleship Indomitable
First Esperanza Battle Squadron
Outer Reaches of the Esperanza System


Vice Admiral Christopher Mendoza sat on his command chair on the bridge, buried deep inside the ship. He was conducting a naval exercise on orders from High Command. The First Battle Squadron consisted of four Inseparable class battleships; Indomitable, Resurgent, Ntlenyana, and Inflexible, as well as two large carriers; Victorious and Formidable. A screen of destroyers and scout ships surrounded the capital ships and carriers, supplemented by fighter patrols. The exercise was to consist of a simulated attack by ships of the Second Battle Squadron on a refueling station orbiting the system's largest gas giant.

“The exercise will formally begin in an hour, upon receiving the go signal from the Umpire. Once we get the signal, be ready for anything.” Mendoza said to his bridge crew. “Admiral Henson of Second Squadron is a clever bastard, so expect any number of unorthodox stratagems.” Over the next hour the crews conducted drills and readiness exercises in preparation, but then as the chronometers clicked off the hour the exercise was supposed to start... Nothing happened.

They waited. 5 minutes went by, then 10, then 15, then half an hour. “Something's wrong...Comms, did the exercise get canceled?” Mendoza said. “No word of a cancellation or delay from fleet command , Admiral. But...something is wrong, sir.” Mendoza looked at him. “Wrong? What do you mean?” The comms tech looked at his board to confirm. “I'm not picking up the automated nav marker from the refueling station, nor any of the comms buoys around the gas giant.” “Technical error?” the Admiral asked.

“Negative sir. It is all but impossible that all of the buoys would be down, and the refueling station has 5 levels of redundant backups due to the nav hazards of the gas giant and traffic control requirements.” Mendoza looked at the main tactical display. “Pirates? Raiders?” he said. “Well, no sign of any distress calls, just...one second. I'm picking up a weak signal, Sir I think it's a gas mining vessel. Signal's broken up but I think I can get it...putting on speakers.”

The bridge speakers crackled to life, the transmission was filled with static, indeed was mostly static and some distorted words. One coherent sentence could discerned though. “Libera tutemet ex infernis...” before breaking down completely into static. Mendoza felt a chill, he could not explain it, just a sense of growing terror. “Admiral? What does that mean?” Mendoza looked on into space, saying softly “One of the Old Languages, it means 'Save yourself from Hell' or similar. General Quarters, this is no drill. All ships raise shields, start getting weapons hot. Take us in to the refueling station, full combat readiness.”

Throughout the ships of the squadron, crewmen and women ran to stations. Weapons crews loaded missiles into launchers and began charging the capacitors of the spinal mount kinetic accelerators and bay mount DEW's. Onboard Victorious and Formidable, deck crews loaded strike bombers with anti-ship payloads, and the first fighters began launching to set up a CSP. The squadron began accelerating towards the gas giant, ready for anything they could imagine.

As the squadron drew close to the gas giant, the crews began feeling a sense of dread. Not the apprehension all soldiers and starmen felt when about to enter combat. No, this was something more primal. A feeling of dread-of despair that could not be quantified, it just was there. Christopher Mendoza was not a superstitious man, but he had read reports from Gamma Quadrant. Something similar. An aura of despair and fear that would envelop whole systems, heralding the arrival of...

No... It can't be. They're gone, destroyed... he thought to himself. As they approached scanner range of the gas giant he noticed there was nothing there. And that was the problem. The refueling station was gone, as were the various gas mining stations that hung in orbit, feeder pipes hanging like orbital elevators into the turbulent atmosphere. “There were 20,000 people on that refueling station...” muttered Indomitable's CO, Captain Alex Calland. “And more on the mining platforms. What happened here... There's nothing. No wreckage even. If it was pirates or raiders, why would they destroy their pillage-Unless they towed away the whole station?”

Adm. Mendoza looked back, shaking his head. “No, it would take a fleet of tugs to move that station, and there hasn't been enough time.” Looking at the tactical displays, the Admiral and CO alike were stymied. “Keep scanning for survivors...wreckage...anything” Mendoza ordered, as the feeling of dread permeating the ship-no, space itself, seemed to get even deeper.

“Spatial gate forming, distance 50,000 kilometers. Bearing 000 by 120. Looks like a ship coming out of superluminal.” The sensor officer announced. On computer enhancement they could see it, a ring of blue energy forming in space ahead of the Formidable. The ring shrank, and then when it was about a quarter of it's original diameter turned into a swirling colored pattern as the spatial gate opened.

And Hellfire blazed forth.

The gate grew bright, whatever was coming down was no ship. A gout of what seemed like fire-or a solar prominence burst from the gateway. It streaked towards the carrier and her escorts and fighters, some still launching. To the shocked observers it was like seeing a solar flare suddenly appear, yet it was brighter, like s supernova turned into a stream...

The stream of “fire” enveloped Formidable. Her shields collapsed instantly, overloaded by energies far beyond their capacity, Screams could be heard over Intership as the huge carrier began to melt. Fighters and strike bombers that got caught in the beam flared out of existence like moths caught in a flamethrower blast. Arcing streams of energy coming off the main beam struck two of the destroyers accompanying the carrier. Sentinel had the beam punch through her shields and through the ship. As escaping atmosphere, heated to a plasma state gushed from the gaping holes in her hull, Sentinel exploded. Firestar, a now ironic name, was perhaps more lucky. Only grazed by the arc of energy, she started tumbling, showing a melted line along her side. As the horror-stricken crews looked on, Formidable then...dissolved, melted away to incandescent gas in the hellish beam.

Everyone on the bridge of Indomitable was pale white with terror. “What the fuck was that!?” Captain Calland shouted. Mendoza looked on, shaking his head, his body trembling slightly. “Spatial gates opening!” the sensor officer announced. The new gates were small. They disgorged small bus vehicles loaded with missiles, which immediately activated their engines and streaked out towards the remaining ships. “Guns! Fire at will, point defense protocols!” Calland ordered. From the point defense emplacements on the ships, rapid fire mass-drivers and counter missiles shot forth, targeting the fast moving missiles.

Many of the missiles were hit and destroyed, a few however got through. The bright spheres of fusion warhead detonations could be seen. A few were contact hits, and weakened the shields of the vessels hit. Some were proximity hits, which barely scratched the shields. Then the battleship Resurgent was struck by two missiles. Rather then the expected actinic blasts of fusion or even antimatter warheads, spheres of blackness formed, rimmed by sparkling particles. Mendoza knew enough about astrophysics from his training to recognize the spheres as micro-singularities. Gravitic shear from the singularities twisted at the hull of Resurgent, causing structural damage. The shields were not designed to stop that kind of effect, as the designers had no idea of how to weaponize a singularity...

A third missile struck Resurgent near her engine room. The singularity actually overlapped the hull, sending a 30' section of the vessel into nonexistence as the spatial discontinuity consumed it. The loss of the decks hit by the missile combined with the gravitic shear forces had apparently damaged the battleship's main fusion reactor. Plasma started spewing from the wound in the ship's side. Resurgent kept firing her point-defense armament at the incoming missiles, as did the other surviving ships of the fleet. Victorious scrambled all of her deckload, sending them out hastily, lest they share Formidable's fate.

“Someone find out who is firing these missiles...they have to be coming from somewhere.” Admiral Mendoza ordered. The bombardment went on and on. The ships taking more damage as they could not stop all of the missiles. “Admiral! We have a sensor contact!” the sensor officer announced. Bearing 000 by 120, distance... No this can't be right” Mendoza looked annoyed. “Out with it!” “The distance is approximately two light minutes Sir.” Mendoza reeled at that. They are engaging us at 2 light minutes? Who in the name of God can do that? He thought to himself then said “Can you get me a sensor classification?” After a few moments the sensor operator said “Oh fuck... Sir, I'm reading what appears to be a large crystalline wedge, 1.9 km long. 14 additional ships matching those of Eternal Night vessels. A carrier, cruisers, destroyers, and one ship of unknown type.”

“Well, that's an unpleasant bit of news. Explains the weird gate-weapon crap though.” Alarms started blaring “Spatial gate forming!” Mendoza looked up to see a blue ring form in front of Inflexible.Inflexible, this is Admiral Mendoza! Take evasive action! You're targeted!”

Onboard Inflexible. Captain Peter Randall shouted “Helm! Full evasive, shields to maximum power-concentrate shields forward!” Inflexible started to change vector, but the ship's mass made that a slow process. He saw the gate on the viewscreen start to shrink, and then open. From his angle he could actually seem the beam streaking down the gate, it looked like a hurricane made of fire. He knew his battleship was structurally stronger then the carrier, it had the new bonded superdense armor. He weakly hoped it could resist the beam.

The fiery stream blazed forth. It struck Inflexible's shields. To the designer's credit they held for a little over a second before overloading and collapsing. The flames struck the bow. The superdense armor melted, super-heated by a level of energy not seen since the birth of the universe. The beam bored through the battleship, as it was not big enough to envelop the much wider battleship as it did the carrier. The outer hull glowed and started to almost bubble outwards, like a pizza in an the oven of one of Esperanza's pizza shops. Inside the ship the crew screamed and died as the atmosphere super-heated to a plasma state near-instantly. In the CIC Captain Randall saw the CIC's reinforced armor start to glow. First red, then yellow, then white. “Fuck, try to live a virtuous life, still end up burning.” He managed to draw his service pistol and point it at his head. A cleaner death... he thought as he pulled the trigger, the sound of the gunshot drowned out by the screams of the crew and the roaring of the blazing beam melting through the ship.

The bridge crew of Indomitable watched in horror as the beam blasted out the stern of Inflexible, the ship floated there in space for a few seconds, a a glowing, molten wreck-and then exploded. Mendoza thought for a moment. “We try and face them at range and we are dead. All ships, prepare for micro jump. We are going to drop right on top of those bastards!” One by one the ships reported in that the microjump calculations were completed. “Signal High Command, tell them we are about to engage Eternal Night.” He thought for a moment “If there was ever a point to our world's name, I hope it's now-Engage drives!” he called out as he saw the ships of the squadron start to jump.

The ships emerged less then 100,000 km from the enemy contacts. Image enhancements picked them up swiftly. A large crystal wedge sat in the center of the fleet, it glowed an odd black/purple light. It was surrounded by a number of what the warbook recognized as Eternal Night cruisers and destroyers, they had gotten the information from traders. And an odd ship that seemed to be radiating rings of some sort of energy from a large weapon mounted underneath it.

“Squadron, Engage!” he shouted. Though the feeling of dread was still present, it was subsumed for a moment but the adrenaline produced by battle. Missiles launched from all of the ships, accompanied by a blizzard of particle beam and laser fire. The enemy ships did not seem to have shields in the conventional sense, they used some sort of phase system that partially absorbed fire, as opposed to deflecting it. More annoying were discontinuity fields which they used as point defense. The fields absorbed most of the missiles. The missiles which did hit did not seem to explode, or rather the explosive initiators detonated, but the nuclear and thermonuclear reactions did not occur. “Once might be a malfunction, all of them? They can't all be duds...” Mendoza said. “Line us up on the enemy flagship, let's see if they like a crowbar.”

Fighters would be arriving soon, the deckgroups of Victorious and the few surviving members of Formidable's flight group were heading in at maximum acceleration. Victorious had stayed behind as the lightly-armed carrier would be a liability in close range combat. Her captain said he was going to hide in the gas giant atmosphere, as it would be concealing against most known sensor types.

Beams started firing from the Eternal Night vessels. Eerie amber glows that seemed to appear around their targets, making the targeted section of a ship literally vanish. The large crystal flagship fired an odd tripartite beam, red, blue, and green of color. Ships that were struck were affected in...disturbingly odd ways. Sometimes the ship hit would suffer damage as one would expect from a DEW or other weapon, other times the ship would change, shape, material... Captain Calland lined up the ship correctly. “Guns! Weapon status?” he called to the weapons officer. “Axial Mount charged, projectile loaded.” Calland nodded and smiled, a grim smile. “FIRE!” he shouted.

The enemy flagship had turned a new weapon upon Ntlenyana. Arcs of what looked like lightning streaked from the stricken ship into the enemy flagship. Being carried along with the lightning was what looked like small spheres of blue light. Inflexible shook as her axial mount-a massive mass driver, fired it's multi-ton round at a significant fraction of lightspeed. Discontinuity fields formed, moving to try and intercept the round. They ship's gunners seemed to be responding sluggishly, as if they did not actually expect the attack. The round slipped past the discontinuity fields and struck the zone of distorted space forming the phase barrier.

Even with the phase barrier, enough energy got through the blast shards of the odd crystalline hull into space. The ship screamed, a woman's scream. The crews of the Esperanzan ships clutched their heads in pain, some of them bleeding from their noses and/or ears. The lightning coming from Ntlenyana stopped as Inflexible's bridge crew cheered. Despite the strike, the battle was not going one. Several damaged ships tried to ask for quarter. They were promptly destroyed by what appeared to be disintegrator weapons.

Onboard Inflexible, the crew heard a voice. A woman's voice, unearthly in it's beauty, multiresonant in nature. You fight well, You have injured me... Not many can make that claim. The voice seemed to come out of the air. Not telepathy-though rare, psionics were known on Esperanza, but this was almost as if the air molecules were vibrating. Like the ultimate in ventriloquism. A set of missiles struck the ship, 3 fusion warheads and a singularity missile. The odd RGB beam struck Inflexible's #1 Particle turret, turning it into what looked like twisted aluminum. “Aluminum?” one of the crew said in disbelief.

Setting Intership to all bands, Admiral Mendoza started speaking to the enemy flagship. “I don't know who or what you are... but we will never surrender!” “Admiral, we might not want to surrender but those last hits cut the power to the axial mount. Damage is also mounting in all sections” Captain Calland said in a somber tone. The air resonated again. I admire your willingness to die for your principles, Admiral... The lightning like effect had commenced playing over Ntlenyana again. After a few more minutes the lightning still arced and crackled-but no more of the odd spheres were seen. Ntlenyana then started to slew out of formation and began to drift. Despair filled the hearts of the bridge crew as the sensor operator said “Ntlenyana is still fully powered, Admiral but... Sir there's no life signs onboard.” The feeling of despair grew, Admiral Mendoza went over to the gunnery console and sat down, the gunnery office curled up in a fetal position on the deck.”Do you hear me you demon or whatever you are?” he shouted into his throat mike as he started firing the ship's remaining P-beam and kinetic turrets, driving the despair from his mind with sheer will and guts. “I will NOT GIVE IN!” One by one Inflexible's guns were silenced, either through direct hits or from creeping cumulative damage to the ship itself. A blue glow filled the bridge, and an odd electric crackling feeling. It feels like a riot control stunner the police on Esperanza use... he thought before blacking out. The last thing he heard before losing consciousness was the odd melodic voice.

And I would have it no other way...

Gas Giant
Esperanza System


Victorious moved slowly though the billowing gases that formed the bulk of the huge planet. They maintained communications silence, but could occasionally hear screams and shouts coming on the comm channels from the remains of First Squadron. Captain Karen Landry looked around at her officers. “It does not look like the battle went well. With luck though we can hide out here long enough that they will lose track of us. The gas clouds will help that. Then we can rendezvous with any of the system defense boats remaining and maybe get back to Esperanza to help in the defense.”

Something moved on the main viewscreen. It looked like a tentacle... Probably a Nisharra... Karen thought. They were A kind of gas giant lifeform akin in appearance to a jellyfish. “Should we go deeper into the atmosphere?” The helmsman asked her. “No it's too dangerous.” she said, shortly before the ship shook as if rammed. “Damage report! And what was that? Missile hit? Mine?” she looked around as she heard reports coming in “Boarding alert! We're being boarded!” Karen looked around, drew here sidearm. “All crew and ship's troops, repel boarders, repeat repel boarders!”

The ship's bridge suddenly changed. All color vanished. The lights and displays on consoles, the flashing red alert annunciators, even the paint. All was now monochrome shades of greyscale. She realized she could no longer hear the shouts of the crew, the sounds of combat over the intercom, nor even the blaring alarms. It was almost like a silent movie that nostalgia buffs sometimes watched on Esperanza.

The armored door of the bridge bulged inwards, as if struck by some sort of battering ram. There was no sound but she ordered the crew to get ready. The bridge crew and two marines could not hear her, but they knew what to do. They drew their weapons and aimed at the door, taking what cover they could. Another bulge formed in the door, and then another-and then the door fell with a silent crash to the bridge floor. Twenty feet down the corridor floated a... well she did not know what to call it. It looked like a distorted baby dripping with black ichor. But it was what was between the destroyed door and the floating creature that caught her attention.

They each looked for all the worlds a grotesque sac of tissue and ganglia, weighty with the meat of not-life and dripping with vile ichor-with a protruding set of human legs, arms and teeth, as well as a jaw with razor sharp teeth. They were covered in black, beady eyes that focused on Karen and the other women of the bridge crew.

Whorehoards... She thought, Bile rising in her throat. She immediately began firing at the Whorehoards, soon joined by the rest of the crew. Two of the Whorehoards went down. Most of the crew knew what they were, since Akhenphire was not that far from Esperanza on a galactic scale. Then the baby like creature-an Ikrahk Tyrant, did...something. Gravity altered. It was if each individual on the bridge was now subject to a different gravity plane. The crew flew and tumbled about the bridge chaotically. Karen's head struck a bulkhead at an oblique angle, stunning her. She woke up to find with a lurch in her stomach that one of the Whorehoards had surrounded her in tendrils. She screamed, a silent scream, as she saw something on the screen that terrified her even more then the Whorehoard.

From the lower depths of the gas giant's atmosphere, three monstrous tentacles reached up, wrapping around Victorious and dragging the carrier into the depths of the gas giant, the flashes of a few futile laser turret shots the last actions of the once great ship.

Senate Chambers
Planet Esperanza


“Eternal Night? Are you sure?” Senator Mira Lokan said in a soft tone. “They have been quiet for years, ever since they stopped Harvesting operations. Why would they suddenly attack now, and why us of all places? There are thousands of worlds to raid.” “Maybe we have some resource they need? Hell maybe it's just senseless violence. I have heard rumors you know, that the Eternal Night Fleet in this quadrant went rogue.” That comment came from Senator Lars Colton, known as having an expansionistic view towards interstellar politics.

An explosion was heard, a large one. Going to look from the Senate windows the senators and their security guards looked out to see a column of fire coming from the main starport. “It looks like the fuel depot is on fire... Sabotage?” Mira said. “Let's get away from the windows, if there are Eternal Night agents on planet they may have snipers...” one of the guards said. As the group moved towards the inner part of the chamber they notice a new and disturbing sound from outside. Shouting, fighting, the occasional gunshot. It sounded less like an invasion and more like a riot.

“Gah...make it stop.” The other guard said. “Make what stop?” Mira said, noting the guard was clutching his head as if suffering from a migraine. “The sound...the goddamn SOUND!!” Everyone looked at each other “What sound?” Lars Colton said. “I don't hear any...” and then Senator Colton's head exploded as the guard put a round from his gauss rifle through his skull. Swiftly turning his gun to the other guard, he shot the man before the other shocked guard could even bring his own rifle to bear. “MAKE IT STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!” he screamed as he triggered a full burst into his companion, and then turned from the falling body towards Mira, who beyond her own screams could hear what seemed like a cacophony of voices and sounds in her head...

All across Esperanza, people went mad. Hearing a serious of discordant sounds in their minds. Civilians hiding in shelters, Troops preparing defenses against invasion, all started fighting each other. There was no order of any sort. Even police robots seemed affected by whatever affliction had fallen over the once peaceful world. As each person died, a small sphere of energy floated gently up into space, towards the glowing crystal ship that sat securely in orbit. The planetary defense system lay silent, the crews busy killing each other. Beside the Harvester ship floated an odd vessel-in ways even odder then it's crystalline companion. Roughly wedge shaped, it was more a conglomeration of spikes that formed an approximately triangular shape. It seemed partly organic, and in physical size was much bigger then the Harvester.

With resistance disoriented, the Harvester extruded it's induction towers and began to feed on the life of the world, actinic lightning arcing up and into the towers, carrying hundreds...then thousands...then millions of the little blue spheres of light.

Harvester Ship Nathrael

Nathrael...El'Neth, was pleased. The intake of life energy would replenish that which was used in repairing Ay-yah Idare. In addition, scans from the survey shards he had dispatched to the Esperanza's two colony systems indicated they possessed plentiful quantities of some of the materials they needed for L'Eneth-Xrel's System Grid. Resistance in space had ended with the destruction of the carrier hidden in the Gas Giant. Nathrael assumed some of their fleet would hide there to avoid scans, and so had dispatched one of the two Symphonies of Dreams to submerge itself in the gas giant.

The Symphony of Dreams had destroyed or consumed all of the system defense boats stationed at the gas giant, and had pulled the mining stations down to be crushed, feeding on the crews' terror as they died. The refueling station had been rotated out of space-time by the combined efforts of the Nathrael and a dozen Ikrahk Tyrants. The Station had uses, and would likely be towed elsewhere to where it was more needed. The other Symphony of Dreams, along with the odd spiked-wedge Choir of Cacophony, had helped subdue the planet so it could be Harvested.

S(he) started to think that perhaps the colony systems should be conquered. But for Esperanza... As Ermeriel always said an piece of art requires the finest work. After a week, the intake to the induction towers stopped. The side affect of the Choir of Cacophony was many of the people were killed before they could be Harvested. These things happen... s(he) thought, as Nathrael retracted the inductor towers and sat serenely in space over the lifeless world. El'Neth exited the Harvester in Trueform, heading towards the star.

As s(he) flew through space, El'Neth resonated orders to his fleet, instructing them to begin the conquest of the other two colony systems. Some would likely get away, but what the hell. A little more chaos in the galaxy. At the thought of that, Nathrael began to resonate again.

Marked in blood foulest in stench, coarsest in touch and most acrid in taste, we live. We march o'er corpses wrestled of dreams, aspirations, and hopes. What we are, what we believe, what we seek, and what we desire is not our aim. It is what we leave behind, in this wake, this chaos.
This is the treasure! The treasure of our efforts! And most, natural, we wage war against stagnancy.
That 'ere we build a dominion of equal suffering to allow abreast our aim.
Blessed be our lust, unquenchable, inconquerable, and inevitable, to be as every stone set into the priory.


S(he) could feel the resonance response from Ermeriel, knowing as Nathrael did that the refugees the conquest of Esperanza's colony systems would produce would result in the spreading of chaos, of conflict. And s(he) was glad. S(he) could sense the energy of the star as s(he) approached it at a high c-frac speed. Slowing, s(he) regarded the star now close in front of him.

Always had a thing for fire... as s(he) dived into the photosphere, heading deeper into the swirling burning plasma. Moving to the core, Nathrael languidly flapped his wings, enjoying the feel of the gravity, the neutrons caressing his form from the fusion process. S(he) began to concentrate. Thinking of memories of the Rethast. Their Aura, his dealing with Dragomyr, Lucifer... S(he) felt odd for a moment. I miss them. I mean they apparently were not strong enough to survive but...I still miss them. Fuck, I'm getting sappy with age I guess...

S(he) concentrated his energies on a small node of d-branes. Shaping them like a grand master sculptor would clay. Fashioning a thing of wonder and horror. You may be gone my friends, and in a way I cannot return you but... but people will at least remember you. I can see to that. S(he) linked to his Protocore, and through it to his L'yren-a's Protocore, finding the old data from Chimera. A Rethast Relayship had crashed there. The ship was long gone, but the psychometric patterns had been recorded. Indeed the recordings of the Aura had helped with the development of the Choir of Cacophony. But this would be different. The dimpling in space-time caused by the gravity well of the star would project a perfect facsimile of the Rethast Aura through the system. S(he) bound the effect into a series of branes, literally manufacturing a device out of the fundamental base of reality.

Even if some ass novas the star, the Aura won't stop. S(he) chuckled to himself. Then s(he) started to resonate to all those who still lived in the system. His crews, troops, Ikrahk... And of course to his L'yren-a and Ermeriel. Let us all observe a moment of silence in remembrance of our departed friends. For beings such as us friends are difficult to find. The Rethast were loathed and vilified by much of the galaxy, but they were some of the few who truly understood. We cannot bring them back-not with what was done. And trying to avenge them is pointless since we can't be sure who terminated them. So the best we can do as remember them. And to ensure that others remember them, I provide this...

Nathrael concentrated, and the last resonance patterns aligned, sending the Aura radiating out-from the star to the Oort cloud of Esperanza.

You will always be remembered Dragomyr, and Lucifer, and all the others. This...will be your Requiem
Last edited by The Singers Of The Void on Tue Dec 13, 2016 12:31 pm, edited 12 times in total.

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Vocenae
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Founded: Jan 19, 2006
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vocenae » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:37 pm

-Remastered-
Mature




Ding.

The sound was like a hammer to his skull, a striking blow to the tone of "HEY DUMBASS. WAKE THE FUCK UP."

Jesse already knew where he was before he finally pried his eyes open. It was the smell of the sheets, the unwashed grime that nestled against his cheek that made an audible rip as he pulled his head away from whatever had once been a pillow case to cast a bleary stare out into the dark and shadow filled room before collapsing once more into the filthy embrace of cheap, overused pseudo-cotton.

The Winning Hand.

It wasn't the first time that Jesse had been there. Another wild night of partying in Thyrsus, bar hopping and dancing with fine ladies who gave him exactly what he needed until his credit chip ran out. Sitting up on the uncomfortable bed he tried to piece together what happened next as he kicked his shoes off somewhere into the shadows. A picture slowly appeared through the pounding siege on his gray matter; electric blue hair, nice enough breasts, the reddest eyes that seemed filled with wild sparks. Pigtails. A hand that took far too long to reach his face accompanied the thought. The goddamn pigtails. The dancing girl had given him a pat on the cheek and a sad smile as she turned to wandered off after his credit chip had buzzed against the reader in her belt, and a combination of far too many drinks and some other illicit substances gave him the idea to use the pigtails as handlebars. Jesse pulled himself to his feet and stumbled his way towards the restroom, ignoring the several soft, wet objects he stepped on during his short journey there. He didn't bother with the light.

"Would probably finish the job the bouncers started anyway. " Jesse mumbled with what may have seemed like sad familiarity Jesse maneuvered into the small closet sized room, kneeled, and voided the contents of his stomach into what he assumed was the toilet.

Several long minutes passed as Jesse purged his body of the sins from the night before, his hands digging a unwelcome but unavoidable rut into the sticky grime that covered the porcelain throne as Jesse finished, pushing himself upwards as steadily as he could in the near pitch black darkness. Another far too slow hand swept towards his face on instinct and Jesse caught it at the last second; there was no need to make this experience any worse than it already was. Something bright green flashed from the left and he winced as his watch's auto-adjust worked its technological magic. Jesse was too tired to care what time it was though, and with a grunt, made his way out of the acrid smelling closet . The hung-over soul made his way back through the motel room and collapsed as softly as he could back onto the thing that apparently passed for a mattress. Nothing moved in the dim and dark, nothing that Jesse could see or hear, anyway, and he was thankful that despite the filth, the Winning Hand was at least quiet.

At least this time I didn't get a room with the broken air unit, he thought as his exhausted mind and body drifted into sleep.

Ding.

Jesse's eyes snapped open at the sound and he lunged upwards with a swiftness that he instantly regretted. Although the worst of the hangover had passed, Jesse's body was still reeling from the effects and he clutched his shaven head as the world tried to rearrange itself and Jesse's brain properly rebooted. The drinks. The drugs. The girl. The beating. Voiding his stomach and then FORGETTING TO WASH HIS HANDS. Jesse groaned as pulled himself from the bed as quickly as he could. He picked his way through the small minefield of roach corpses until he was in the bathroom once more. His filthy hands searched in the darkness for the light switch until finally Jesse's world was filled with dim light from the single bare, dying bulb in the bathrooms ceiling. He tried not to stare at the mess surrounding the toilet as he reached for the handle of the small sink. Pipes gurgled, groaned, and for a moment Jesse feared that he may have gotten a room with no working water.

"Oh you have got to be fucking kiddin-" Jesse muttered before the pipes finished complaining and were replaced by the soft hiss of slightly brown water spilling into the sink. With an annoyed sigh, Jesse began washing his hands, reminding himself that the color of the water Usually didn't mean anything. He was in the Furnace after all, perfect water was usually reserved for more profitable businesses. He finished and wiped his hands dry on his once clean pants as he finally stared at himself in the dirty mirror. His face was gaunt, enough dark circles under his eyes that he could have started a hoax on some primitive planet. The tell tale track marks of Glam along his neck.

"Never again" Jesse told his mirror self, but the both of them knew otherwise. And that he'd have to find a shower somewhere else; Jesse may have gotten a quiet room, but he certainly didn't get one with a shower. With a grimace he flushed the toilet and banished most of the mess to the Winning Hand's sewer system. He didn't care enough to clean up what had spilled over onto the floor, just his addition to whatever unseen layers of biowaste already covering the cheap tile. He made his way back to the bed, fished his shoes out from under the coffee table, checked them for unwanted passengers, and slipped them on before heading for the flimsy door. He caught himself as he reached for the old fashioned door knob.

Where was the key?

Hitting the nearby light-switch that brought to life another bare bulb, Jesse looked around the small room for anything small and shiny. Roaches scattered into any dark recesses they could find and a dark stain on the wall drew his eyes for only a slight moment before he began searching the filthy rags on the bed.

Clink.

With a sigh of relief the small piece of forged metal tumbled out of the bed sheets and to the patchy, stained carpet of the room. Frowning, Jesse quickly grabbed it and once again made to leave the dirty cell he had been dumped in. His stomach grumbled loudly, and he knew that he needed to find something to eat and quick. A quick glance at his watch told him it was 3:58 PM, still too early for any of the local clubs and he certainly wasn't dressed for anything other than slumming it.

Maybe that flat cake place a couple of blocks down...

The warm, almost stuffy air that reeked of poorly filtered exhaust filled Jesse's lungs as he closed the door behind him. Below him was the courtyard and parking lot of The Winning Hand, a desert of cheap-crete that was in dire need of repair that would never come. Low, dented tables were bolted to the ground though there were no chairs around. In the parking there were two vehicles, both of which had long since seen better days.
Screaming metal deathtraps most likely, Jesse thought to himself, but he quickly lost interest. The walkways of the Winning Hand were, like all the other times Jesse had been 'deposited' there, empty. In fact, Jesse had never seen the motel so dead.

"Maybe its the middle of the work week. Or something." He thought as he made his way towards the nearby stairwell. Though despite how deserted the motel and local area may have looked, Jesse could feel eyes on him was he walked. It could have been many eyes watching him; junkies looking for an easy target to rob, those strange alien bugs he knew lived nearby looking for a easy fight or meal, or a paranoid criminal who thought that everyone who moved was a cop. But Jesse knew the source of at least one pair of those eyes and he tried his best to avoid their source as he reach the bottom of the stairwell. If there had been an alternate route out of the motel he would have taken it, but the only way to get onto the street was past the front desk.

Ding.

Jesse ignored the sound and kept his eyes locked straight ahead as he passed the front desk. If there was one thing he absolutely hated, it was looked at the thing behind the counter. He picked up his pace as he stepped into the almost otherworldly bright light from behind the counter.

Just keep your head down maybe he'll just let you go.

Ding.

Goddamnit.

Jesse paused and turned towards the tall figure that stood behind the front desk. Jesse's eyes traveled up the full body gray coat, counting each of the three buttons before his eyes traveled up the long, skinny neck and stopped at the large head that sat on top of it like a spider in a web. Two thin, vertical slits that led up to two oceans of black pinpricked by two tiny white islands that seemed the bore into Jesse's skull. A outstretched hand with three spindly fingers as long as Jesse's forearm was hovering motionless over the counter top.

"No. I'm staying. I'm just going to get something to eat down the block." Jesse said, diverting his eyes from the creature's own, glancing at the old flip clock on the back wall next to a faded blue door that read 4:06 PM.

It wasn't a whole truth, but it wasn't a lie either. As filthy as the motel room may have been, Jesse knew from experience that he'd already been charged a full day's lodging fee, courtesy of the management of whatever club he had gotten himself kicked out of last. And since he had already paid for it, Jesse figured that maybe there was no harm in riding out the rest of the night here. After all, it seemed peaceful enough. The being behind the front desk said nothing as its had slowly withdrew back behind the counter, its eyes never leaving Jesse as he slowly backed up a step and then quickly hurried past towards the street. Jesse shuddered until he swore he could feel the being's eyes stop following him. No one knew what kind of alien it was. No one that Jesse knew of had ever heard it talk, least of all himself. The only name he knew that was associated with it was 'The Concierge', and that every day at 4:47 PM it would leave the front desk and disappear into a back room until precisely five minutes later at 4:52 PM. During that time there would be a almost comically small sign sitting on the front desk that read 'Back in Five Minutes!'. In the grand urban fiction of Losieda, no one knew what the Concierge did in those five minutes, though the current running theory was that it was all just an elaborate hologram that used hard light to interact with the environment.

But whatever it was, Jesse knew that you always gave it your key before you left. Always.

The dull sign of the flat cake house rose above the low urban clutter up ahead, and the sweet smells of food and syrup cut through his thoughts. Jesse's stomach rumbled again, and suddenly all he could think about was food. He practically raced through the doorway and, ignoring the startled, suspicious glares of some pale looking biker-dwarves with bad hair, took a seat at the bar. An alien woman, Jesse didn't know what species, looked up from the glass she was cleaning and slid towards him with a cute, fanged smile. Before she could begin to ask, Jesse slammed his fist on the bar.

"Just give me some pancakes."



Sometime later, he stomach full and already feeling a bit more human, Jesse sauntered out of the flat cake diner and took a deep breath of the Furnace's warm air. Jesse's watch read 4:36 PM.

Still too early for the local clubs to be anything other than expensive ghost towns, Jesse thought, and for a short moment he simply stood there, pondering his options. He could always call for a shuttle home, of course, but again the thought of leaving the unused bill of his Winning Hand room made him think twice. Besides, the alien waitress seemed into him and would be getting off work around the time the clubs started opening up. As trashy as it was, if there was anything the Winning Hand was good for, it was anonymous fuck sessions. Jesse turned back towards the motel, it's faded, unlit sign hanging there missing most of the words from its faceplate. With a half-hearted nod Jesse began the return trip. Maybe he'd see if he could talk the Concierge into letting him switch over to a room with a shower. Or maybe find a unlocked door to one. The trip back was just as uneventful as the trip from it. But Jesse stopped at the main gate of The Winning Hand. The Concierge was staring straight back at him, as if it had never moved the entire time he had been gone. He made his way across the court yard, watching it from the corner of his eye as the tiny white pupils tracked his every move. Jesse stopped as he passed by the front desk and opened his mouth to speak; but he couldn't think of what to say. All he could see were the two white pupils staring at him while his mind went blank. time seemed to slow to a crawl as the human and the Concierge stared at each other until the ancient flip clock behind the Concierge flipped once more.

4:47 PM.

The strange creature's sudden movement snapped Jesse from his trance as it moved it's right arm beneath its gray coat. With a mechanical grace the Concierge lifted a small plastic sign from beneath the front desk and set it down perfectly centered on the counter. Without a word and only the slight rustle of the fabric of its coat, the Concierge tore it's gaze from Jesse and exited through the faded blue door next to the flip clock. Jesse stood dumbfounded for a moment before an idea struck him. He may not have been able to talk to the Concierge, but maybe he could switch keys without it noticing! Seizing the moment Jesse hauled himself over the counter and into the Winning Hand's front office. He flopped onto the cold cheap-crete floor as he lost his balance, but now that his body had been fed he recovered quickly. Pulling himself to his knees Jesse looked at the dim area under the counter. It was filled with small key hooks, many with keys one them , several without. There were no numbers identifying what key went on which hook.

Shit, he thought and he racked his brain trying to remember the room he had had that had the full shower in it. He drew a blank as the flip clock behind him flipped over to 4:48 PM.

Fuck. There's no time, just grab a key and make a break for it!

His hand shot out and grabbed the first key he saw and yanked it off its hook before hurriedly placing his own key onto a empty hook. Jesse stood and began to climb out of the small office when he looked over at the faded blue door. He was, by his knowledge, the person to have EVER gotten behind the front desk. He was certain that he was being watched, not by the Concierge, but by other customers. Surely he was already becoming part of the urban myth by doing this, right? Maybe he could make the story just a little bit more exciting...He'd just have to be quick about it. Lowering himself back to the floor, Jesse reached out and grabbed the knob to the door the Concierge had disappeared into. A part of him screamed to just make a break for it, but it was small and insignificant. This was his moment, just in and out, a quick peek was all he needed to do and then he could haul ass out of there. With a twist and a turn, Jesse was inside.

The door clicked shut softly behind him.

The room was painfully bright. Jesse could almost feel it cutting into his skin. He couldn't see where the lights were, but he could see the towering, silent figure of the Concierge looming only a few feet in front of him. It's eyes started at him as they always did though this time Jesse felt truly frightened. Jesse checked his watch.

4:50 PM.

Maybe if he could just wait it out the Concierge would just go back to the front des-

There was a muted snap from the direction of the Concierge as it started moving towards Jesse on several previous hidden pairs of legs. It bounced towards him in a almost a low gravity gait until it was less than six inches from Jesses, a unblinking tower.

"L...Listen. I'm sorry! I-I just wanted to give you the key back!" Jesse yelled as he fumbled for the tiny piece of metal in his pocket. His fingers found purchase and he ripped the key from his pocket and held it as high as he could reach.

"Take it! It's yours!"

A long slender hand reached towards the key and for a moment Jesse was filled with relief...Until the Concierge's hand wrapped around his own and Jesse could feel the strange rubbery flesh tightening around his own with a strength that seemed impossible. Another muted, wet snap and the Concierge rose another full meter as its second hand deftly undid the button on its jacket. With a flourish the Concierge's chest burst open, it's jacket fluttering behind it like a cape as it's chest expanded outward on either side and within Jesse would see thousands of small finger length...things waving in unison in his direction. And then the Concierge lifted Jesse upwards and inwards. In an instant Jesse could feel the stinging sensation of the thousands of..things and he screamed in pain as the Concierge's impossibly strong hand forced him deeper into the pulsating mass. Jesse tried to fight back, but he couldn't move, he couldn't do anything as his scream died out as the stinging appendages did their work. He cried out in mental anguished as the tips of the appendages began frothing over with a bubbly white acid, and Jesse felt his skin, and his left eye, being to bun. And then a shadow fell over him as the Concierge's chest cavity closed in around him, and he began burning all over. Before the acid ate through his remaining eye and Jesse was plunged into darkness for the brief remainder of his life, he saw the dim glow of his watch between the dim squirming mass.

4:52 PM.

And then it was gone.

Jesse's last conscious thought was of pancakes.

4:53 PM.

As silently as ever, the Concierge returned to the front desk of The Winning Hand and slid it's meal's key back onto the vacant hook beneath the counter. With eerie precision it removed the small sign and placed it beneath the key racks and with a single slender finger, rang the bell.

Ding.
Last edited by Vocenae on Sat Feb 20, 2016 11:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
The Imperial Star Republic
18:34 <Kyrusia> Voc: The one anchor of moral conscience in a sea of turbulent depravity.

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Vocenae
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Posts: 1093
Founded: Jan 19, 2006
Compulsory Consumerist State

Postby Vocenae » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:12 pm

Joyride
-Remastered-
Mature




Planet Coreign, Imperial Star Republic.

The small LO/AC-C Aurora floated in space outside the looming patrol cruiser's restricted flight zone, the massive by comparison ship cutting a sharp silhouette against the reflective muddled red-brown surface of the planet behind it, marred only by a gray ocean and the patchwork of urban-industrial sprawl of the planet's inhabitants. The Aurora seemed to pause only for a moment before it shot forward with a blast of energy from its three main engines, a slight pale blue contrail in it's wake. The moment the ship crossed the invisible line between 'civilian traffic space' and 'restricted space' the pilot's ears were filled with warning klaxons as the small craft's computer registered an immediate target lock from the law enforcement ship's main batteries, but she ignored them with a laugh. With a brush of her right hand through her short, fiery red hair, she angled the craft into a beeline trajectory right past the cruiser's bridge. Her control console lit up with a bright yellow light as the cruiser hailed her and a tiny voice in the back of her head said to turn around and head back to the space dock, that she could get her thrills buzzing the lazy asshole in THAT control tower...but she'd never hear the end of it if she backed out now, not to mention pissing away all the money she'd spent on acquiring the somewhat illegal black market communications spoofer...

No fear.

The pilot grinned and flicked the hailing frequency to open as she pinned her engines beyond the 'recommended safety zone'. The sound of a surprised and pissed off flight controller filled the craft's cockpit as...whoever it was demanded that she immediately reverse course or be fired upon. Another flick of the console and music flooded the channel and the pilot could hear the flight controller swearing at her as his ears were assaulted by the blaring music The pilot merely laughed into her headset and cranked the music until she could no longer hear the flight controller's furious commands and rolled the craft over and sped across the forward hull of the military warship, the bulge that indicated where the warship's bridge sat quickly growing with every second.

BOOM.

The Aurora's small frame shook as the cruiser's point defense system fired several warning shots around her craft, the only ones she'd get before they decided to just hit her. The explosive round's shockwave was intended, meant to scare more than damage as even at maximum range a single military grade round would shred the tiny Aurora like wet tissue paper and send her flying out into space, and her death. The pilot grinned; that was IF they could hit her. She reached over and tapped the red button on the box that occupied the co-pilot's seat and broke into an even harder laugh as the spoofer suddenly generated hundreds of sensor ghosts that proceeded to, quite nicely, fuck with the warship's targeting system. She spun her craft into a wild roll as she corkscrewed across the cruiser's firing solutions as the bridge's bulk grew with every passing moment until it filled the cockpit's viewport entirely, the heavier anti-capital turrets swiveling back and forth as they locked target with a sensor ghost before the targeting programs corrected and immediately malfunctioned once again. With the Aurora's frame groaning under the unexpected flight stress, the pilot pulled the tiny craft to a near standstill over the smooth metal bulge of the warship's bridge, the Aurora's wing engines swiveling forward in unison and kissing the warship's hull with twin contrails of blue-white engine counter-thrust. With a giggle, she depolarized the cockpit's viewpoint, and gave the warship a wide smiled as she one-finger saluted the ship's crew. Running a hand through her red hair, she gave whoever might have been watching through the hull cameras a playful kiss and a wink.

And then she was gone, a screaming bullet past the warship and towards the brown-red bulk of the planet below. The spoofer program bleeped once and shut down, and a slight twinge of fear spiked in her racing heart but she pushed it back, confident in her own piloting abilities. And the fact that no military officer that valued his career would authorize firing AT a planet that was home to several very large and productive cities and industrial centers sitting right in front of her, right below the warship's cannons. They'd have to come after her personally.

Whatever, even better! She thought, and then her eyes widened as the Aurora's small sensor display registered two new contacts screaming in behind her at almost double her own velocity. Warning alarms screamed again and she jinked wildly to the left right as a stream of bright bolts shot through the area of space she had just inhabited. The Aurora's computer kept screaming as it's insane pilot seemed intent of murdering it and herself as the craft spun out of control, the woman spinning the craft's multi-directional thrusters in an effort to gain control of the spin and NOT get shot in the process.

There was no time for second thoughts. No time for ANY thoughts beside instinct. The pilot stabilized and dove into the planet's atmosphere, a falling star on a trajectory that no sane navigator would ever recommend. The flight computer made one final objection to the course before the guidance system snapped off from the intense structural stress and silence filled the cabin as most of the ship's computer systems died with a sad bleep. Heat rose in the cabin as the three craft entered the atmosphere and the angry sky of the planet swiped at the three small craft with fiery claws, hungry for the life inside. Her world shook and became a messy blur of light and sound from the almost impossible angle of entry as the Aurora heaved as gravity and wind shear kicked in and the pilot did her best not to bite her tongue off. A large crack shot through the viewport and the pilot remembered to flick the polarization seconds before fire and light washed over it. Even so, she had to clench her eyes shut and for a brief adrenaline spiked moment the pilot wondered if anyone was making a wish on her tail, or the tails of the two very pissed off military pilots that were right behind her. The Aurora screamed and bucked as something heavy tore away from the hull. A long instant passed, and then they were in freefall, hurtling through the upper cloud deck of the planet with a wing and a prayer that somehow kept the tiny craft from ripping itself apart at the seams, but the pilot's fling with death wasn't over yet. She was blind, she still had two military craft right on her tail, and she was falling at speeds that she wasn't even sure the pilots behind her, with all their fancy technology could recover from.

No time to worry. Instinct.

Fighting gravity in the dying craft was like trying to lift a dead bull, her arms screamed in pain as she poured every ounce of her strength into leveling out, the M-D-Ts on her wings sputtering and coughing black smoke as the high altitude winds shook her from side to side. The pilot pumped the controls for the main engine but there was no response. She cursed the fact that she had grabbed a Aurora-C from the station's hangar instead of the larger, more robust E model.

No fear.

She wasn't getting shot at, which meant the flyboys behind her were either still in their dive, recovering, or possibly dead. There was no way to know and no way for her to care as the ground rose up at her like Gaia's own rusty-brown fist, determined to smack her out of the sky. The O-D-Ts sputtered once again as she cycled what was left of the coolant into their overtaxed and tortured casings. The pilot glided in silence for a moment before the wing-mounted engines moaned back to life and she shot upward with a triumphant scream, which she mirrored with her own. But her cry died within seconds as a sleek, if heavily burnt, frame of a military fighter rolled in from the right side of her viewport. The cockpit was depolarized and she could see the helmeted head of the pilot craned sideways, staring at her through a emotionless visor that made her feel like she was being stalked by vultures. A large black hand reached up above the flyboy's head and jabbed a single finger (she couldn't tell which one) down twice. No words were exchanged, or could be exchanged due to how heavily damaged her craft was, but the message was clear.

Land. Now.

The pilot put on a sheepish grin and toggled the viewport's polarizer. Nothing happened. She flicked it again. Still nothing. She glanced upwards at the deadeye visor of the flyboy as he jammed his finger down one more time and banked out of her field of view.

Comply or die.

With as much care as she could, the pilot gently rocked her disintegrating craft's wings side to side; the universal sign of 'copy, loud and clear'. And in this case a 'please do not shoot me with your fancy guns'. The pilot steadied her craft and began gently angling her nose towards the ground and waited. Hopefully the flyboy (or his wingman) had seen the gesture and were kindly going to spare her life as she angled slowly towards the growing skyline of a city as they coasted across the mud flats and broken valleys of the industrial world. Minutes passed as she cruised closer to the ground at a much more reasonable speed, banking slightly to angle towards the city's sprawling spaceport where there was no doubt her own private party of corporate security and military tough guys were waiting to haul her into a black van. And then prison. Still, she was relieved, there had been mo shots from the flyboys, and, as far as she knew, she wasn't a fireball hurtling downward. The pilot suddenly realized she was holding her breath and clenching her jaw. Her eyes burned and it seemed to be all she could do to force her eyellds downward. She closed her eyes and exhaled, her body shuddering as the adrenaline seemed to leap from her body just as quickly as it had arrived. In her head she was playing through what would happen next; she'd land, be hauled from the Aurora at gunpoint and put in the back of a vehicle with several large, armed law enforcement officers or soldiers. Then she's spend the rest of her life locked in a windowless cell where she couldn't see the sky. Or where she could, given how her nation's correctional system had a thing for ironic punishments. She couldn't decide which was worse, and how all of this had been for nothing. If only they hadn't sent the flyboys out, she could have hid out in the badlands for a few days before heading back to civilization. But now she was going to pay for a brief moment of thrill and freedom. It was unacceptable.

Breathe deep. No fear.

The pilot's eyes snapped open and she fed what little fuel remained in her craft to the O-D-Ts and twisted the Aurora into a hard downward corkscrew. The two shadows of the military fighters screamed over her, but she couldn't spare to look. The ground was flying at her once more, and she corrected her spin as best she could as she went sailing past the city's star port and into the city proper. Gray, utilitarian buildings replaced the rusty brown earth as she thundered past, windows shattering in the concussive shockwave as she fought the Aurora's final death throes. The small starship's wings began disintegrating in mid-air as the pilot pushed the O-D-Ts beyond the point of no return against the larger thrust of the main engine, slowing her inevitable descent to something that she hoped wouldn't kill her. The pilot gritted her teeth as the pressure began to pound in her had as she guided the craft through the maze of towering skyscrpaers until a large large plaza of vibrant green opened up before her.

"Any landing..." She muttered to herself as the Aurora bucked one last time before the engines irrevocably died, and gravity pulled the small craft downward.

The impossibly hard ground finally snatched it's prize as the Aurora slammed into the plaza, the Aurora's battered, broken frame collapsing on impact. Concrete, dirt and metal flew into the air, showering the mass of civilians that were running for their lives, shopping bags, food and other miscellaneous items adding to the cloud of debris. Inside the Aurora the pilot bit down and felt the warm coppery taste of blood filling her mouth as she prayed that the viewport held out. It didn't.

The pilot closed her eyes and ducked in her seat as the viewport shattered into a million pieces of formerly reinforced silicate that washed over her, slicing the pilot's clothes and flesh as she tried not to scream too loudly.

And then there was stillness and silence, save for the ringing in her ears.

The pilot raised her fiery red head and hesitantly opened one eye to the carnage she had caused. Metal and glass was everywhere and as the ringing in her ears subsided the pilot could hear, in the distance, emergency response sirens as their parent vehicles rushed towards the crash site. The pilot ripped at what was left of her flight harness and fell onto what was left of the control console. She coughed once, thick red blood splattering into the debris as she picked herself up and staggered as fast as she could away from what was left of the Aurora. She cast a bleary upward as two shadows roared over the crash site. Her flyboys, her dance partners, her jailers if they had anything to say about it. If she wasn't a fugitive now on the run (not to mentioned battered beyond belief), she would have given them a mock salute, but all she could do was pick up her pace. It took all of her energy to push through the shredded terrain of the plaza and into the closest alleyway right as the first emergency vehicle screeched around the corner. The battered pilot chanced one final look at the burning wreckage that was the Aurora; only the fore of the ship had remained intact, the shattered canopy of the cockpit staring at her like the accusing stare of a metal cyclops. The wings had snapped away at their base and there was no sight of the main engine or the fuel tank. A long trail of debris and fire stretched across almost the entirety of the plaza. Another emergency vehicle appeared and she was simply out of time. She blew the ruined Aurora a bloody kiss and disappeared down the alleyway.

She had to get as far away as possible, maybe find someplace to lay low and clean up before finding someone to smuggle her offworld. The pilot staggered onto the adjacent street, ducking between the mob of concerned, curious citizens cautiously making their way to her crime scene. She was thankful for the cover, given the all-encompassing surveillance cameras that covered the city would be overwhelmed trying to track and identify so many citizens moving en masse, but eventually she took to ducking between the stalled traffic . It wasn't necessarily more cover, but she was less likely to get grabbed by some cash hungry do-gooder who wanted in on the obvious bounty that she would have on her head or end up getting trampled trying to move against the current of bodies. Minutes and streets passed and just as she began to feel confident in her escape, her right leg decided to buckle under her and send her crashing to the asphalt in front of a dingy looking compact car. As hard as she tried, her muscles just refused to listen to her brain as she flopped on the hot asphalt, her battered frame struggling to push herself back to her feet but it was no use. Much like the Aurora, even the human body had limits.

The vehicle's driver side door opened and she flicked her green eyes upwards, trying to fight back the fear that had been hiding beneath the adrenaline. A older man stepped out, his clothes looking like they had seen better days and his gray-bearded face gaunt as if he hadn't eaten right in years. With a grunt, the driver reached down and cupped his hands under the pilot's arms and lifted upward.

"G-get of me, f-fucker" the pilot huffed, her breath heavy, flecks of blood splattering on the man's clothes as he dragged her beaten body towards the passenger door and quickly flipped it open. With a groan, the old man shoved her inside and with a swiftness that seemed unnatural to his apparent age, jumped back in the driver's seat.

"That was some flying. But I think we both know what happens next." The old man's voice was emotionless, hard as he stared straight ahead into the stalled traffic. The pilot tried to push herself into a upright position, but her arms just throbbed painfully in response. She shifted to face forward as best as she could and fixed the old man with the best glare she could. Over the vehicle's speakers she could hear an emergency broadcast urging citizens to stay in their homes, and a rough description of her appearance. Her body screamed at her and she could feel every last cut as the two sat in listening to the radio report. If this man was looking for a bounty, the pilot honestly didn't know if she'd be able to put up a fight to escape. But she was nothing if not defiant in spirit.

"Oh yeah? T-tell me then, you gonna wait for them to put...to put the bounty up first or are you going to be Dudley and take me right to them now?" Her voice was shaky, her breath labored as what was left of the adrenaline rapidly drained from her system.

"I might, but I need a pilot, batshit crazy as you might be, more than I need money right now. And I'm sure that whatever career you had before this stunt is laying over there in the wreckage. So, sign on with the Slim Pickings, and you stay out of prison with a job that I can promise you is better than hauling freight around in an undercutter with no legs. Refuse, and I pay my orbital parking fees and maybe treat myself to a nice steak while you disappear." The old man said as he turned to look her.

He was right, of course. She had just traded her life and career as a shuttle pilot for a few minutes of cheap thrills. And with the military grade spoofer that was still sitting in the cockpit...The old man was right, she could either take his deal, or she would spend the rest of her life (or afterlife) inside a small box and never see daylight (or the sky) again. At the time she had taken the bet she was riding high on overconfidence, on pride and more than a couple of drinks. She just hadn't thought it all through and now she had lost everything. But she had a exit, all she had to do was reach out and take it. If the old man was lying, all she needed to do was play along long enough to get her strength back and she could sneak off to whatever future awaited her. If not, if the old man was telling the truth, then her brash and reckless dare had just opened a whole new door for her.

"Miss?" The old man frowned with uncertainty.

With every last bit of strength that she could manage, ignoring the screaming pain of a thousand different cuts and bruises and what she was pretty sure was a couple of broken ribs, the pilot slid an arm forward into the old man's line of sight and stretched out her dirty, bloody palm. The old man turned in his seat and slid his leathery hand into hers and clasped it. The pilot gave the old man a bloody grin.

No fear.

"The name is Faora."
Last edited by Vocenae on Sat Feb 20, 2016 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The Imperial Star Republic
18:34 <Kyrusia> Voc: The one anchor of moral conscience in a sea of turbulent depravity.

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Serukta Sehkrisaal
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Anarchy

Postby Serukta Sehkrisaal » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:57 am

REIGNITION
A Wildfire Chronicles Installment
[ Future Technology ][ Mature ]

"Fire destroys all sophistry that is deceit, and maintains truth alone, that is gold." — Leonardo da Vinci

Paradise Gardens Restaurant Complex, Ambrosia Starliner
SVαU-1204/4.7HS Resort System, Solarian Trade Corridor, Alpha Quadrant
"Eat your supper, sweetheart," Tristan doled quietly to the gold-haloed troublemaker that was his daughter.

"B— But I don't like spinach, Papa!" Henrietta intoned in the childish mockery of disgust, scrunching her nose lewdly and sliding forward the plate of greens and vinaigrette. In truth, it was the most she'd done with the plate of thinly cut, modernist morsels and vegetative greenery since the waiter had delivered it some ten minutes before her final reproach of the meal. In truth, he couldn't blame her much in that regard.

"Just a few more bites for Papa, will you?" he pleaded in the way only a father can, allowing a smile to form at the corner of his lips, "Just a few more and I'll buy us some sherbet before we head up to the show tonight - promise." If anything, he thought, it would go a long way to settling his own stomach.

"Promise?" Henrietta managed to contain her beaming hope; it was a stern nod from her father that, ultimately, got her to slide the plate back into place and begin - reluctantly at first - shoveling the small cherry tomatoes into her mouth, being careful to avoid the leafy vegetables at all costs. There's always someone to thank for the small favors, and their life was full of them, as of late.

Being a single parent was difficult - always had been, always would be. Were Sydney still there, he knew, life would have been simpler - things easier. There would always be bumps in the road, of course, of that much he was certain, but someone to share those bumps with - someone who could understand why - made all the world a difference. Since her passing, however, it had just been them: father and daughter, Tristan and Henrietta, lone rangers in a big, wide, and scary world. He couldn't afford to let himself fall apart at the beginning - not that he could anymore in the moment; he had someone who was counting on him, counting on him being there, being composed, and being able to protect her. It was that little ball of gold hair and spittle stains, a girl all of two, that demanded he take the bull by the horns and keep moving, never looking back - or, at least, never looking back and letting the angel see.

The early years were the hardest; the first year he thought that sort of self-help wisdom was a novelty crafted to help those like himself move on - some anecdotal nonsense that amounted to nothing. Unfortunately, Tristan learned the truth; fortunately, however, he learned it quickly. Taking on three jobs helped, even if it meant a painful and lengthy period of separation from the light of his life; her grandparents had been kind enough to take care of her during the worst of it, when life was less about living and more about surviving. In time, he was able to support them with less emotionally painful necessities, but it never truly got easier, he just learned how to cope better. Over time, he thought he actually got quite good at it; sometimes that made him hate himself in a way he knew he'd never be able to admit to anyone: the fact that some days he didn't even think about her, about his wife, and about the months of treatments and doctors' appointments and the horrible wasting weeks at the end. A part of him, in the pit of his heart, awake only when the little golden angel was asleep and he was left alone, hated himself for being able to experience joy without her - without Sydney. Watching her sit there, watching her wiggle her nose, watching that angel that his wife had the selfless heart to give him before she passed from the world, made it worth those moments of self-loathing and selfish pity.

In truth, this was the first time he'd been able to simply sit and marvel at what they had created - at what blessing they'd brought into the world. Though he was not a religious man, Tristan thanked God for that. He thanked God for the past two weeks - for the strength to do what he had to give Henrietta a better life than he had. It had taken months of bleeding fingertips and eyes worn raw over a glass screen, but their time spent together - truly, just them, with no cares in the world - had been worth every ache and begrudging pain. Three weeks aboard the Ambrosia, transiting up the Solarian Trade Corridor to Liu Xiu, and back; stopping at little systems with beautiful sights and serene, quiet worlds, all the while being treated like kings and queens. Of course, the Ambrosia Starliner was not his original goal; originally he had promised to take her on a vacation aboard the Olympia Luxury Starliner. He'd made that promise before seeing the ticket costs for one week, much less three; she didn't seem to have cared much that it was a slightly-less-ample vacation, he thought. For a girl all of eight years, she'd grown to understand - at least in some ways, if not others.

The Ambrosia, though a supposed step "down," was far from a rickety bucket. Filled with all the luxurious amenities one would expect, it had provided them a venue to escape the worries and concerns which daily life brought upon them both. At least, when he remembered to take his pills; he never quite got the "hang" of artificial gravity, leading to a fairly unpleasant first couple of days underway. Luckily, an on-board dispensary was well-stocked with medication designed specifically to halt - or, in the least, lessen - such sickening attributes for those with a propensity for such. Tristan was more than thankful - again, it was always the small favors.

The light of the system's star passing out of view and the gentle, feminine voice of an announcement across the Ambrosia's public announcement system brought his attention back to the present. "This is an announcement for those with tickets to see Ambrosia: Light of the Heavens on A Deck; the show will commence in fifteen minutes. Ticket-holders are advised to begin making their way to to A Deck," the voice said, echoing across the hollowed, be-arched interior of Paradise Gardens.

"Are you ready to go, sweetheart?" Tristan turned his attention to Henrietta; she'd finished a third of her morsel salad, and that was enough - at least for a vacation. She could afford to be a bit picky. He noticed, however, her attention was drawn elsewhere.

"Papa," she asked, "What's going on over there?" With a gentle nod, Henrietta gestured over his shoulder.

Turning, Tristan eyed the tell-tale white-and-blue uniforms of the Ambrosia's on-board security service - three officers, in total. They were collected around a gentleman sitting on the other side of the small garden display in the center of the complex, seemingly questioning him. "I don't know," he found himself answering in a far-off space, trailing away as his eyes glancing from one security officer to the next before finally falling on the odd man out. The man, quite truly, stood out: unlike most in Paradise Gardens - hell, most on the Ambrosia - he was not dressed for vacation, for travel and carefree living; instead, he was dressed in simple denim, a t-shirt, and a jacket buttoned tight against his chest. From where Tristan sat, he couldn't tell if the man was responding to the officers, but he guessed not from the way he was sitting: leaning forward against the table, his vision seemingly focused on nothing in particular - almost as if he were looking through the security detachment.

Something was amiss with the situation, Tristan slowly began to realize. Something didn't feel right; something was wrong. "Come on, sweetheart," he said, standing as his chair slid back, "Let's go to the show." He reached forward for Henrietta and managed to pull her against his side just as he heard a shout from over his shoulder; quickly his head pivoted without conscious thought: the odd man was on his feet and being held by the arm by one of the security officers. The shout was from the odd man, and though he couldn't hear what exactly was said without focus, he could tell by the way his face contorted that it was nothing an eight year-old girl should hear - much less something that should be said in polite company. Tristan felt Henrietta's hands against his sides as she suddenly became glued to him in the way only a suddenly frightened child could manage.

Tristan's movements seemed to slow and his thoughts seemed to cloud; he couldn't understand as to why, but at the same instant he felt the sudden need to leave Paradise Gardens and yet couldn't help but watch the odd man struggling with the three officers. They were all exchanging words, he realized, and a small crowd of those still in the complex had gathered to watch where the source of the shouting and cursing. He was distantly aware Henrietta's grip had tightened and of her saying she was scared, and his feet seemed to begin a gait back without his own command - some primal instinct forcing him into action. He gripped his daughter tightly and spoke softly to her of how everything would be fine mere moments before the odd man broke free of the officer's grip and began to flee - or so Tristan believed, at first.

The odd man smashed his way through the two officers in front of him and made a darting sprint toward the center of the complex, toward the small flower and monument and water-feature garden at the center of it all, the feature which gave "Paradise Gardens" its name. The officers were in toe quickly, but not quick enough; they slipped and nearly fell across one another as the man ran, sprinted, toward the horticultural display of beauty and serene carelessness. By the time they reached the feature, the odd man had leaped atop one of the smaller monuments and began shouting; Tristan didn't understand what he was saying, GalStandard or not, but understood the next few moments in a sort of lucid, crystal clarity.

The odd man gripped the hem of his jacket and pulled, instantly sending a set of six buttons flying off, each vaulting in different directions. In a moment, his hands were gripping two cylinders and his jacket was pulled back, exposing a ring of twelve larger, cylindrical devices strapped to his chest and abdomen, each metallic in their terminations but crossed by a near-translucent, too-blue substance. In his gut, Tristan realized what was happening; logic told him to run, to flee, but instead he gripped his daughter tighter than he ever had before, tugging her face into his stomach, away from the scene at the center of the complex, turning his back entirely on the odd man.

"Seh'suurk Sa'ilu!" the odd man suddenly screamed amidst the sounds of fear and panic; yet none of it mattered, for he had his daughter, her head cradled in his arms, his lips pressed to her head in a quiet kiss as he dropped to his knees around her. "Wildfire yet rages, still!" the man said and Tristan heard, clearly, yet ignored; all that mattered was the kiss of his daughter and his arms around her in that moment - that all-too-fleeting moment that passed in a flash.

That small favor.




Preliminary Investigative Report: Ambrosia Starliner Disaster
Case Number 56509-26-044A, Recommend Immediate State-level Dissemination
In the early evening hours, somewhere between 6:35PM and 6:55PM Local, February 22, 20.0016 Galactic Standard, the Ambrosia Starliner - a luxury resort cruiser known to fly flags-of-convenience - was in slow orbit in the SVαU-1204/4.7 HighSec tourism system in the W12-4 Western Sector of the Solarian Trade Corridor of the Alpha Quadrant, en route from the Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone; at this time, a catastrophic incident occurred somewhere within the central decks - currently believed to have originated specifically in the "Paradise Gardens Restaurant Complex" - of the Ambrosia which, ultimately, resulted in its catastrophic destruction and the complete severing of the cruiser in-two along its z (top-bottom) axis. Given the current state of this investigation, while there can be no absolute certainty until all surviving records are salvaged, it is the belief of this investigation unit (for reasons detailed below) that the destruction of the Ambrosia was not accidental, but a deliberate act perpetrated by a hitherto localized terrorist organization known as "Wildfire."

At approximately 6:10PM Local (to SVαU-1204), a message was relayed to Interstellar Star Tours, the proprietorial corporation of the Ambrosia, Olympia, Titus, and Concordia luxury starliners. The investigative unit did not receive this message until the day following the destruction of the Ambrosia; a textual transcript of this video message is replicated below in sum:

    "You have been lazy, selfish, and unwilling to see this inevitability; for your own self-deceit, we commend you, but we cannot let this farce continue any further than we have already permitted. For this, take heed:

    We have grovelled; we have begged. We have pleaded for your respite, for your assistance, for your help: we have been left wanting. We have been left hopeless. We have been left as vagrants to the blackness of space, wanderers of the stars, scrounging to survive with naught but contempt, hatred, and primal bigotry slung to us for simply wishing to survive, to desire for better circumstances for ourselves and those we love. This is unacceptable and we refuse to submit to this heinous degradation any further; we refuse to let you mock us by believing that we are not here if you simply cannot see us.

    We will make you see.

    You know now that we are here, that we are not some distant problem you can ignore or shovel beneath the dirt and pray away. Your faith is meaningless, and the impurity of your own selfish desire condemns you to the scintillation to come. Know now that you are not safe so long as we breath; know now that there will be no respite, no reprieve, and no escape from this judgment. You have already been found guilty; this is your sentencing: you are condemned to never feel safety as we forever feared danger, you are condemned to never again feel the wind of hope upon your face as we forever felt the burden of survival alone, and you are condemned to burn true as our hearts are wreathed in the flames of a righteous justice to come.

    We will make you see.

    Pinnacle, Port Expedition, Jiwao: these are words of victory, battles we have already won. You lack victory because your faith in greed, in materialistic power, in fleeting lusts is meaningless, impious, and impure. Pinnacle, Port Expedition, Jiwao: these are words of power. They were merely the beginning, not the end. You could not be rid of us so easily as you presumed; your Security Divsions, your Administrative Councils, your pompous conferences and summits and useless fouling of order cannot stop us. There is no peace yet to come, only the inevitability of execution. Pinnacle, Port Expedition, Jiwao: we have yet another word to add to this lexicon of might and irrefutable justice.

    We will make you see.

    The ember has not withered and died. It did not get smothered in Liu Xiu. It grew; it reignited a people, it gave us purpose, and it gave us hope where you only gave us spite and a locked door. Wildfire is alive, is well, and has grown far beyond the limits you assumed contained it. Know now this: we ask no quarter of you, we ask of no reprieve, and we no longer want your assistance as it is spoiled by the state of your being.

    You have decayed; we will make you see the rotting of your existence.

    Seh'suurk Sa'ilu."
As of yet, we have not fully been able to interpret the meaning of the final line of the video message or its ultimate origin. Cooperation with the Liu Xiu Administrative Council, believed to be referenced therein, has been sparse and minimal; at this time, we are unable to ascertain if similar messages were sent before the incidents of the "Wildfire Season," though we suspect strongly that such exist. For that reason, we cannot with any absolute certainty say this is truly "Wildfire," some splinter organization, or if this is a situation which we could not foresee.

In regards to specific suspects, review of the crew and passenger manifests of the Ambrosia produce one discrepancy. This discrepancy concerns an adult male, human, believed to be between the ages of twenty-five (25) and thirty-five (35). An in-depth examination of his identification documents, passport, and other relevant details revealed immediate discrepancies which has forced the investigation unit to hence conclude they are likely fabricated or forged. This lends credence to one of a number of theories, but in review of the attached transcript, this investigation currently concludes one is the most probable.

Whether the sender of the video message and the perpetrators of the attack on the Ambrosia were or are a part of the "original" Wildfire organization, given what is known it is highly probable that this new activity is, in the least, inspired by them. The content of the message is indicatively similar to what was reported in the first hours following the destruction of the Jiwao Skylift, though, once again, such cannot be truly confirmed as of yet. Even so, the investigation unit believes the perpetrators are likely either migrants or displaced refugees whom are unsatisfied with the action of star-states currently to help assist them. It is considered probable that this degree of desperation has lead them to seek ulterior means of asserting their existence and "defending themselves." Whether this is through the adoption of some anti-materialistic and anti-capitalistic credo, religious indoctrination, or state support, the investigation unit cannot as-of-yet determine.

The investigation unit wishes to make careful note: as of this moment, it seems likely that the perpetrators of the attack of the Ambrosia represent only a small, violent minority of those parties displaced by conflict. It is unlikely that such sentiments are widespread, but due to rumors and concerns over parties arming refugees and displaced persons - possibly to include with ulterior motives - we cannot say for certain.

As for technical reporting, search and salvage operations are currently underway in SVαU-1204. As of this moment, of the 4,756 crew and passengers aboard the Ambrosia, there have been approximately 1,350 injured; due to the nature of the blast involved, many aboard the Ambrosia are missing. Many more are presumed dead, likely due to the as-of-yet undetermined nature of the probable explosive(s) used. Preliminary speculation suspects concentrated or degenerate antimatter due to the level of annihilation and the lack of organic matter remaining in the space surrounding the wreck of the Ambrosia, though this has yet to be confirmed by forensic analysis.

It is the recommendation of the investigation unit that select parties in close proximity to the Solarian Trade Corridor, the Lanthe Route, the Liu Xiu Special Economic Zone, and other profitable trade ventures be informed of this investigation and its preliminary findings. It is known that galactic news and media outlets have already begun reporting on the Ambrosia as a "catastrophic drive malfunction"; we recommend this fabrication be corrected once the appropriate state actors are notified privately as to permit the domestic handling of informing the dead and to allow for a more considerate mourning and consolation period.



Written by Kyrusia.
Last edited by Serukta Sehkrisaal on Tue Feb 23, 2016 2:21 am, edited 10 times in total.
SERUKTASEHKRISAAL
All that would be was but Endless Flame.

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The Solar Cooperative Union
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Posts: 348
Founded: Jul 24, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby The Solar Cooperative Union » Thu Feb 25, 2016 2:26 pm

Revelations

FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS DESIGNATED SECLEV-RELIQUARY
INSERT BIOMETRIC CREDENTIALS IN 15 SECONDS
Wait what, Reliquary? Since when is that a clearance, weird.

I'm in

.
.
.
.
CREDENTIALS ACCEPTED
ACCESS GRANTED

Sweat caused the mans fingers to slip on the archaic physical keyboard, the edges of the plastic keys were strikingly unfamiliar to skin accustomed to the warm buzz of holographic interfaces. Even the monitor before him was ancient, a bulky plastic box secured to the wall by thick polymer beams, dusty cables spiderwebbing away into a dozen different interfaces that formed a ring around the dimly lit room, its domed roof stretching beyond the reach of the few lights within, concealing the apex of the dome in shadow.

The guard doesn't suspect a thing, he's the only one here so he assumes what he's standing in front of cant be too important. An unmarked server room on the 12th sublevel of the Naval Plaza, known only to a few select people at the highest echelons of Military Intelligence. A room that contained information that had shaped the fate of billions of lives for centuries. How he had found his fingers on this keyboard was a longer and more shameful story than he cared to recall in his own mind, all that was important now was the information within. On the dusty screen a command prompt appeared, a spartan UI that contained only an off button and a single password prompt. The man stared at it, bright hazel eyes sucking in the sight before him. Here it was, the lockbox, the big fish that he had been ordered to secure. Those orders, delivered in the cryptic half-language that the JNI so loved, they compelled all this way. He couldn't truly explain to himself why he was here, why he was carrying out a suicide mission on behalf of a destroyed organization. Perhaps it was loyalty to his former peers, perhaps it was his training, more likely than not it was his lack of other options. Even know as he was a half mile underground the room still reverberated with the distant impact of high energy shells, the besieged city had imbued every inch of the mans skin with soot and the aroma of war.

He remembered the mad dash from a makeshift landing zone to the doors of the Naval Plaza, the vast and smothering shadow of a Corporate cruiser hanging overhead. He and his partner stepped out of the dropship, its engines roaring and sending up a thick halo of pulverized concrete and ash. A grim faced soldier motioned with his hand for them to follow, words useless in the drone of engines and war. It was midday then, the sun should have been at the crest of its arc across the sky, except it, like every other feature beyond a few hundred feet, was swallowed by the combined darkness of a burning city and descending capital ship. His partner turned back to the dropship, trying to retain some irrelevant piece of equipment. The dropship was consumed in a expanding cloud of pure energy, he turned his eyes away but he saw his partner get caught in the blast. An arm went to cover her face for a split second before she was atomized and expunged from reality.

Gunfire and the screams of desperately outgunned defenders marked his descent down the stairwell that led to this room, the guard had not even challenged him as he approached. The young man stood there, seemingly wasting away as the endless rumble of Corporate bombardment replaced any silence that attempted to find existence.

He looked back to the prompt.

ENTER PASSWORD....
///QUANTUM KEY ACCEPTED\\
ACCESS FILE: INCIDENT-APOLLYON-1
DO YOU WISH TO PROCEED
Y/N
Y
.
.
.
.
JNI-COUNCIL BRIEFING ON INCIDENT ON PLANET QAR-ALPHA
TRANSCRIPTION BEGINS
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, SEVEN HOURS AGO WE RECEIVED WORD THAT PROJECT LONGBOW WAS ABOUT TO START INITIAL ACTIVATION, HOWEVER SINCE THAT TIME THE STATION HAS MISSED ALL STANDARD HOURLY REPORTS. INITIAL INTELLIGENCE IS DISTURBING AS TO THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS SILENCE.

ADMIRAL ENLIGHTEN ME AS TO WHAT PROJECT LONGBOW WAS, CONSIDERING THE BRIEFING HAS JUST NOW BEEN GIVEN TO US.

VERY WELL COUNCILOR, PROJECT LONGBOW WAS A IDEA ORIGINALLY CONCEIVED BY THIS ORGANIZATIONS PREDECESSOR, THE OBJECTIVE OF THIS PROJECT WAS TO CREATE A STABLE AND PASSABLE PHASE SPACE POCKET FOR THE PURPOSE OF OF CREATING A TACHYON ANTI-TELEPHONE.

TIME TRAVEL? YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT WE WERE BUILDING A TIME MACHINE?

YES

AND WHAT IS SO DISTURBING ABOUT THIS SILENCE ADMIRAL?

I WOULD NOT BE OFFENDED IF YOU APPROVED THE OPERATION WITHOUT KNOWING ALL THE DETAILS COUNCILOR.

NO. TELL ME.

INITIAL OBSERVATION OF THE FACILITY SUGGESTS THAT ALL COMMUNICATIONS AND LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS ARE ONLINE.

SO, WHAT?

WE HAVE LOST CONTROL OF THE FACILITY. SCANS INDICATE THAT NON-RECOGNIZED BIO-SIGNS HAVE SINCE COVERED 90% OF THE FACILITIES INTERIOR.

YOU LET SOMETHING THROUGH?

IT WOULD APPEAR SO COUNCILOR.

THEN I WILL LEAVE THE SOLUTION TO YOUR DISCRETION ADMIRAL, GOD HELP US ALL.


This.... wasn't what I expected.

He pulled his hands away from the keyboard, fingers trembling at the tips as excitement and terror crashed into his mind like waves. His time to ponder this discovery was brief, outside the guard let a half yelp escape before thudding to the ground. He scrambled for the pistol at his side, fumbling to unclip it and train it on the door. A figure came through and he began to squeeze the trigger but he found himself unable to will the killing shot. The face before him was familiar, sharp jawed, green eyes and thin lips.

He spoke, trepidation permeating his voice.

"Alex?"

The figure opposite to him nodded once. Relief flooded into him, finally a friend in this seemingly unending ordeal.

"Alex you have to look at whats on this terminal, this changes everything. Then we can talk about where you've been for the past 3-"

"I already know whats on the terminal Jon." His voice was calm, distant, reserved.

"What?"

"I know why this war is raging on, I know what came through that door, I know so much, and I've been sent here to extend an invitation to you."

"No Alex, TELL M-"

His reply was cut short as fire spread in an expanding ring from the base of his neck, warm blood splattering to the ground. He brought his hand to the wound, then looked his former friend in the eyes. He shuddered and clutched at the terminal for support, but found no grip on the smooth plastic. His head hit the ground with a crack and he watched Alex stride over to him, his green eyes cold and sharp. The barrel of a pistol soon blocked out that view and a shot followed.



Alex looked down at the smooth hole that his weapon had left in Jon's head, blood pooling around the broken body of a former friend. Without speaking he stepped over the lifeless man, taking extra care not to stain his boots with blood. The terminal was still open, those ancient secrets still exposed to a world not yet ready to know them. His superiors had made his objective clear, retrieve a copy and then purge. Unfortunately for Jon this terminal was designed to a dead end, no way to copy the information. The techs called it Vampire Code, nothing on the screen would show up on photograph, only human eyes could absorb the information provided.

Alex crouched next to Jon and drew a thin needle from his belt, he hooked it up to a small device and then slid the needle through Jons eye, the ocular nerve soon betraying its secrets to the probe.
Don't look at this

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Tharwatine
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Founded: Feb 18, 2016
Ex-Nation

Postby Tharwatine » Mon Feb 29, 2016 7:39 pm


The Most Dangerous Game
"There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter."
- Ernest Hemingway

[ Mature ]



The freezing sensation of a bolt of electricity passed through the entire body, shattering the darkness that enveloped every single senses, waking it from its slumber. Before the curtain of the eyes could be raised, however, information from the outside world had already flooded the mind with its temporarily blinding light. Rows upon rows of names emerged from the depths of the mind, where messages from the wireless network transcribe into thoughts, ideas, and sensations within the machine of the mind. Discussion, debates, reports, all sorts of information temporarily stunned the activating faculties of the body, before soon fading into the backdrop of the mind and ceasing disruption to the more important task at hand.

Among the various irrelevant names, Desta quickly identified her own name, along with a dozen names that were grouped into a single unit. Some were well-known to Desta as they dragged her into this game; some others did not register among her memory - must be someone they managed to acquire on the network to further boost their number. Although the moderate list of names on her side was more than enough to fill half of her vision, the opposing side consist but one single name.

Malktaa Lebbe.

To those who were not familiar with the circles of arena combat, it was but a simple name used to identify one of the millions of citizens within this country. However, to Desta and all her team-mates, the name alone was more than enough to evoke a wide array of sensation - excitement, desire, lust, and fear. Even though Malktaa was but a single person in this fight, the reputation of this “Queen of Hearts” would have persuaded Desta from participating in a fight where she merely had an overwhelming number against her. However, as the notations extending from the glowing name of the foe suggested, additional limitations were imposed onto Malktaa, forcing her to use only two pieces selected close combat weapon, while her team was allowed access to armament that was capable of levelling the vicinity if they wished so.

Even with such limit, though, the hesitation she felt still lingered in her mind. Malktaa had fought in more matches than her entire team combined. What exactly would have made such a veteran warrior agree to such a crippling penalty? Was that she, like all other players, like to enjoy the painful sensation of being defeated and transformed into a misty paint sometimes? Or was that she was so confident in her skill, that merely a sword and a shovel was more than enough to win again a small military platoon?

Regardless, she had already entered the field, and the only way to find out the answer would be to either triumph over the Queen of Hearts, or die trying. With that, she finally opened her eyes, and let the lights flooded into her eyes.

This particular scene bore the usual aseptic aesthetics that dominated most places Desta had seen. Smooth, white walls surrounded the similarly white grounds, while soft lights of blue-ish hues illuminated the environment in a falsely comforting tone. With her body sitting on one of the chairs littering the room, several racks and desks could be seen scattering across the compartment, filled with a myriad of weapons ranging from the unassuming combat shovels to the boring, but practical laser guns, along with some larger pieces of armament that would be too unwieldy against her opponents.

As the list implied, Desta was not alone. Several humanoid figures were standing directly before her, each acquiring their own weapon of choice from the weapon stash. The unfamiliar name that floated above their physique in Desta’s eyes did not really aspire her, now that she saw what kind of body they were using in this fight. Blessed by technology that made transferring the mind from one body to another as easy as changing clothes, all fighters worth their salt would have created their own body that were both functionally and aesthetically tuned to match themselves the best. Yet, all three of them bore practically the same body archetype with minimal differences.

A refined, but otherwise unimpressive feminine human figure, this archetype - called the Laughing Hound after some long forsaken predators - was characterised by their canine ears that Desta swore was incorporated due to fetish of the designer. True to its namesake, this archetype was developed specifically for combat first and foremost, granting them above average physical strength and fortitude. Their eyes, flashing the otherwise unusual reflection not unlike gemstones, allowed them to sustain the blinding lights of their laser armament, making it a decent choice for neophytes that had yet to taste blood. For fighting against someone like Malktaa Lebbe, though? They might as well mince themselves on a plate for her feast! Barring the extremely unlikely case that all of them liked the default model a lot, the most obvious explanation was that they did not know what they were getting themselves into.

“How long do you want to sit there, Desta?” A voice echoed inside her cranium, as she turned her attention towards her only hope now. Leaning against one of the main walls, Afrim bore not the body of organic humans like others, but instead a huge case of reinforced steel and heavy armament. Called the tactical enforcer, its behemoth body towered over everyone else, and the doorways were barely enough for it to pass. The four sturdy legs supported the massive torso armed with two magnetic cannons capable of re-purposing any organic body - even one of Malktaa - into a nice wall paint, as well as grenade launchers that can deliver various types of ordnance. Instead of a human head, the enforcer enjoyed a panoramic vision that should be enough to avoid a nasty surprise from the rear.

“Not very long. Only barely enough for those three dogs to be disembowelled.” Desta responded - through a private channel - to Afrim, at the same time pulling herself from the chair and towards the weapon stash. As she approached, the dog-eared fighters stood away from her path, seemingly treating her as some sort of superior. “Where did you get these people? Do they even know against who we are fighting?”

“They do, obviously!” Afrim did not seem to share her concern, as the mechanical body slowly marched from the wall towards the centre, raising one of its arm cannons, testing each of its moving parts. “Being able to meet the Queen of Hearts was a minor honour of its own.”

“Even more if she personally eviscerate them, I bet.” Before the wide selection of weapons, Desta began to simulate possible encounters with her notorious foe. Multiple ways of being cut apart by close range weapons soon emerged from her mind, briefly dulling the sharp gaze of her ruby-toned eyes. With that in mind, her armour-clad hand reached for a shotgun laying nearby. A weapon pre-dating the first venture towards the stars for at least a century, the robust design of a shotgun still proved nonetheless a deadly weapon when in close quarters - pumping one full of lead with a single press of the trigger, while not very elegant, had secured her more victories more than she could count.

“C’mon! Look at us! We have enough fire-power to blow up a smaller habitat! What does Malktaa have? Just a combat shovel and a chainsword!” Between the two sentences, Afrim switched to the public channel, at the same time turning towards the rest of the team with its boast. A product of either over-confidence or ignorance, the rest of the team cheered accordingly as well, waving their superior armament in the air.

“She has Malktaa Lebbe.” Desta gave a silent answer to herself, while her pair of armoured hands stock rounds for her shotgun on the pockets littering her clothes. Around the same time she put away the last bulk shot, the public channel was suddenly cleared, being replaced by the familiar tone of arena announcement.

“Citizens and tourists! Once again the grand arena of Zenith welcomes you with our pleasure of the flesh!” That said, Desta never saw the physical body of the announcer - did he even have one? Given his access to all the detectors littering all the arena, being incorporeal would be rather helpful.

“As many of you have noticed, today we are honoured by a very special match to the death. Led by Abbot Afrim, this heavily-armed team has vowed to take on our one and only Malktaa Lebbe, the Queen of Hearts herself!” As the name was mentioned, cheer from the viewers immediately flooded the channel again, clearly indicating that Desta and her friends were merely material for Malktaa to showcase her superb fighting techniques and bloodthirsty tendency.

“To make the fight more interesting, our beloved Archon Malktaa has imposed a rather interesting limit to her side! Facing against a tactical enforcer and a dozen of combat archetypes, she decides to bring only her combat shovel and chainsword to the arena, and in her characteristic neotonic body as well! Can our challengers and their advantages withstand the Queen of Hearts?” The communication platform almost immediately exploded into debates following the rhetoric question by the announcer. Even with Afrim and the newbies cheering for the few supporters they had, Desta did not really have high hopes for that. Though, with enough luck, the pumped lead might just be enough to make Malktaa bleed. That, alone, would be worthy of the inevitable pain of her blades scrambling the interior of this body.

“Now, both teams are ready for the fight. With that, let the grand feast begins!” A brief, heavy wail from the claxion bursting from the depth of her mind told Desta that the fight had officially began. More importantly, Malktaa was on the move now. Time was ticking.

The eager warriors almost immediately slid open the doors leading to the dim hallways outside. Tightly holding the laser rifles at hand, they carefully scanned the hallway with the green-tinted lens on the barrel. Once confirming that their enemy had not approached them, their young voices summoned Afrim and the rest of his team forward. Footsteps of boots on the frozen ground, coupled by the clanking pneumatic echoes, soon pulled Desta towards the long walkway. It seemed that the illumination outside the starting area was deliberately reduced. While it was barely noticeable with enhanced sight, the looming atmosphere nonetheless stirred worries inside Desta's heart. Her shaking fingertip touching the trigger by her waist, the miniature camera smoothly fed its sight into her mind, extending her vision as she made rapid turns to the side, just in case this fight approached its end even faster than she envisioned.

“Wow! I knew the Queen was handicapping herself, but neotonic body too? Maybe she would actually lose!” Comment from one of the laughing hounds pointed out the one detail that the announcer pointed out to Desta. Even with the extremely advanced technology that allow the creation of various organic bodies that did not conform to natural physiological development, physical limits nevertheless existed. A neotonic body would seriously limit the amount of strength Malktaa could muster in this fight. While her limited options of weapons made it less an issue, not being able to take a few laser shots and remain in one piece still put her in an disadvantage in that aspect as well.

That is not enough. Desta thought to herself. After all, not being able to withstand multiple shots would not matter if none could land in the first place. Could a rag-tag team like this even fire enough shots to produce a chance to hit? She made an educated guess, and it was not in her favour.

“Don’t lost your head over it. It’s still the Queen of Hearts we are talking about. Stay on guard until we reach her starting point.” Afrim answered as his lackeys opened another door for its metallic body. Another hallway appeared both in the dimmed sight and on the map floating inside Desta’s view as part of the tactical systems she installed. “Stay together and fire generously. If we’re careful enough, we’ll pull this through.”

With each turn at the corner and each slide of the door, more and more twisted arcades and occasional walkways passed their sight. The movement of the mechanical legs dominated their hearing, occsaionlly broken by warnings that ended up being nothing more than strategically-positioned covers and assorted goods. As the red dots on the map ventured closer and closer to the marked room on the other side, tension continued to rise. It was all but certain that Malktaa Lebbe had trekked the very ground they were on now, and to some unseen corners where she quietly watched her prey. Her use of neotonic body now made more and more sense to Desta: not only was the body of a child easier to hide from their sight, the very mental image of being decapitated by a laughing girl covered in blood was strong enough to persist in her mind despite her best effort to ignore it.

Her nightmare, however, had just begun.

“Eh… have you seen Veasna?” Almost immediately after one of the canine females guarding the rear asked the one dreaded question, the last red dot on the map flickered before disappearing. Every single one of the team instantly stopped their steps and turned outward from the group. With the pneumatic sound melting into the cold air, residues from the background could finally be heard.

The sound of motors. Powering chainsaw.

“Veasna!” The newbie duo screamed - literally - towards the road they just walked through a moment ago, conveniently warning their foe of their location.

“Keep moving! We can’t fight her here!” Despite Afrim’s command, these two friends of Veasna pointed their laser weapons towards the darkness covering the disappearing dot. With cat-like tread, the canine fighters pulled themselves towards where Veasna was.

“That is why I hate noobs.” Desta once again vented her frustration to Afrim.

“Stay on course! I will take the rear!” The tactical enforcer turned its armament towards the fading silhouettes, while its legs tried their best running in the opposite direction. The other members of the team, seemingly more disciplined, followed his command as they left the three behind. While the humanoid body forced Desta to face towards the front, the additional sight on her shotgun allowed her to look and aim behind, savouring the first moments of this hunt.

A bright green flash engulfed the long tunnel briefly, promptly followed by the sparkling sound of air being ionised by a powerful energy source - the signature of laser guns being fired. The silent afterwards, although brief, felt like an eternity for the remaining team, before the rash chainsword roared again, digging its monomolecular blade into some sort of soft tissue. Discrete cries from the archetype bodies were soon drowned by the echoes of motors and tearing of flesh. The fading of two more red dots on the map merely reaffirmed the obvious.

However, it seemed that Afrim did foresee this inevitable outcome. Before the whisper of chainsword disappeared, a new voice spoke into Desta’s ear - the voice of batteries unloading their power into electric coils. Then, with an almost deafening blast, a faint rainbow erupted from the arm cannon, where a bright tear in her vision rapidly soaring towards the other end of the hallway. With barely enough time to sever auditory information, the end of the tear exploded into a flash brighter than the meagre laser rifles used a moment before, followed by a growing fireball that transformed the white walls into black charcoal.

“Take that! You little - ” With the distinct sound of reloading leaking from the smoking barrel of the magnetic cannon, Afrim’s satisfied claim was cut short by the cheer from both the surviving team and the speculators - surely they had seen something Desta could not. Did the blast that took out a chunk of the building actually scored the Queen of Hearts?

“Let, let us just keep moving.” Desta, seemingly the only one not indulging in the afterglow of the blast, repeated the order, and the team soon gathered themselves and continue their walk towards their goal. Still, the seemingly successful encounter instilled a sense of comfort in their mind, making whatever fate the trio suffered back there merely an afterthought. That said, if sacrificing those noobs were enough to win against Malktaa, then it was arguably the best exchange she had ever encountered -

Splat!

Suddenly, her sight was blocked entirely by a sudden shadow. Almost immediately, a rather heavy weight followed as a sense of soaking wet pressed against her upper body, almost making her to fall onto the ground. Benefited from her alert, the reinforced arms were enough to push the weight sideways, where it hit the metallic body of Afrim and made a clear impact sound. As the team turned towards it, Desta’s eyes also focused on the object that landed on her.

A body. Laughing hound archetype. A large, searing cut extended from the shoulder to the other side of the waist, almost cutting the torso apart. Only the heavy implants embedded in the abdomen stopped the cutting apparatus, and the sparkles from the gory mixture of blood and flesh showed that even steel was not impervious. The most terrifying part of the body, though, was the sliced chest. While the jagged cut made short work of the skeleton, a secondary slice - one that was noticeably sharp and precise - removed the remaining rib cage. Between the pink stew and red meat, one organ was conspicuously missing.

Heart.

After all, she was not called the Queen of Hearts for nothing. As the bodily fluid from both the victim and the would-be victim dripped, Desta’s jaw slowly dropped as her pupil shrunk in fear. The tumbling mind invoking the name of the adversary, though, did not go unanswered either. As Desta and the panicked team-mates gazed upward into the darkness of the exposed ceiling, a pair of blood-red glows gazed into them as well.

She never knew eyes could smile before. Let alone talk.

“Now, let’s have the most amazing party!” Like the physique, neotonic bodies bore the voice of a child as well. One that was supposed to be sweet and cute, and could sometimes double as air siren. This one, however, the innocent sound merely served to contrast with the diabolic forces behind, staring at her prey hungrily.

She did not allow a single syllable to escape their throat. No. Every single vibration of the vocal cord shall be reserved to her. Aided by gravity, the child-like body emerged from darkness just when multiple barrels began to turn upward. The beautiful blonde hair and cream-white skin had already been painted crimson. On her undeveloped body only a simple feminine clothes existed to maintain decency for foreign viewers. Every pair of eyes in this enclosed space, though, were caught by her lithe hands. The pair of black, fingerless gloves hold tightly the hilt of a sword. However, the blade extending from the end of the hilt was not a piece of normal sharpened steel, but instead a set of teeth attached to a chain.

A chain that just began rotating.

The descending Queen of Hearts clearly had great control over her miniature body. Lending the momentum of the heavy weapon she swung before the leap, she easily turned her body towards Afrim that was standing just beneath her. With a grin towards the zooming camera on his head, her body rapidly dropped from his blind spot to the lower torso, at the precise moment where the spinning teeth of her weapon slammed towards the steel.

A deafening scream instantly burst from the sparks of fire coming from the armour and electric circuits beneath. Designed to slice through heavily-armoured unit, the sturdy teeth had already embed themselves into the stained armour when Malktaa touched the ground with her feet. The remaining speed of the unwieldy chainsword, though, was enough to make her turn the upper body towards Desta, slicing through Afrim’s waist in the process. At the brief moment where their gaze met each other, the expression on Malktaa’s face was burned into the revolted mind of Desta.

It was an expression of pleasure. Almost like an orgasm. Every pixel of the grin and stare was packed with pure ecstasy. It was not something that even the most adept actor could mimic. She truly enjoyed every single moment of it.

And now, Desta was marked to be part of it.

As the dimming body of the tactical enforcer lazily slided from the cut, the chainsword had almost made its revolution around the neotonic body. By then, one of the closer fighters had almost pressed the barrel low enough to reach Malktaa. However, it was still too slow. The fingers that was still holding the hilt tightly rapidly released the grip, letting the remaining momentum of the blade to soar before her eyes, before wedging itself into the waist of the gunner. The sheer force of impact, and the waves of pain that certainly followed, paralysed the finger on the trigger, creating only a green flash that obscured the immediate surrounding. As the light slowly melted back to darkness, on the lithe hand a wrist-long combat shovel had already been summoned, preventing any single moment where the Queen of Hearts would otherwise be unarmed. A seemingly simple tool, the edge of the blade on the combat shovel was equally sharpened to molecular level, meaning that it would not be less deadly than the chainsword embedded in the body before her.

Desta knew she was already dead. Her mind was disengaged from the body, and the automatic systems took over. With a sharp turn, her body began to run towards the designated - now unreachable goal. Leaving the echoes of scream and laughter behind, her legs scrambled themselves to power the shaking body into the darkness. It was a sensation that had long been denied from her. One that kept her coming back to the bloody grounds of the arena.

The Queen of Hearts did not intend for her to have the luxury of thinking, though. With a sharp burst of pain, Desta almost tripped herself over. From the edge of the recovering vision, the sharp blade of a combat shovel smoothly glided into her shoulder. Its high frequency vibration and extremely sharp edge made short work of the metallic skeleton of hers, removing the smoking shotgun from her body along with the arm. It was no longer a concern, though. Now that she had seen the true face of her foe, she knew that no weapon in the world would stop her.

No. The only thing that would stop her is a sated thirst for blood.

The sudden loss of a limb seemed to be too much for her body to balance, as after a few disconnected step, she fell onto the smeared floor, rolling towards the wall of the corner as she looked into the carnage behind her. The towering tactical enforcer was no more; its torso being chopped in half along with its core processing unit. The remaining fighters - being forced to engage Malktaa in such a close range - never stood a chance, as the blue sparks from the torn laser guns demonstrated. At the middle of the slaughter, only a single figure remained standing, and her glowing eyes now matched the sanguine tone perfectly.

As the young, grinning girl dragged the heavy chainsword towards the stumbled Desta, her jaws dropped again. However, this time her mind engaged in a different faculty, one that she did not expect. Following a slight cough, Desta began laughing. As her aspiration fluctuated like her bloody pulse, Malktaa slightly turned her head sideways, seemingly in brief confusion before realising. Then, her giggles joined the laughter as she stood before Desta.

“Arn’t you a bit too confident? There’re still several survivors ahead.” Desta asked, now that fear that flooded her body and mind had transmuted into a different, but equally strong emotion.

“Don’t worry, big sis! Malktaa will save them for dessert!” The victor responded cheerfully, licking her bloodied lips as if she was talking about actual food. However, given the pieces of flesh hanging from her clothes, it might not be too far from the truth. Perhaps to remind her of the same position, the teeth on the maroon sword started to grind once more.

“Well, what are you waiting for then?”

“The crowds, obviously!” Malktaa exclaimed with a tone not unlike stating the obvious. With this reminder, Desta turned her attention towards the network once more. True to her words, the communication platform was swarmed by anticipation from the speculators, probably the lingering height from that well-executed blows before.

“Everyone! Look at Malktaa more!” The childish voice echoed across the corridors and the network alike, as the smeared tip of her blade slowly drew close to Desta’s chest. The smile on her face had now transformed into an orgasmic grin. It was clear that her blood was boiling from the pure lust for blood that had propelled her to the position she enjoyed now. “Don’t worry, big sis. Malktaa ensures it’ll hurt. A lot.”

“Never once doubted it.” At this fleeting moment, Desta saw in her vision a mirror. A perfect reflection of her expression - one that was soon decorated by another layer of flayed flesh and bone. She knew perfectly well that both side of the mirror shared the exact same feeling:


How exhilarating!
Last edited by Tharwatine on Sun Sep 18, 2016 10:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
Call me Reno.
Also known as Tuthina.


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The Solar Cooperative Union
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Posts: 348
Founded: Jul 24, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby The Solar Cooperative Union » Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:06 am

APEX




Tauris
High Orbit
Operation Alexiad

The space around Tauris was once a jewel of the Solar Cooperative Union, the beating heart of innumerable trade lanes and passenger ferries, vast freighters and luxury liners carrying the goods and people that fueled the massive planetary economy. Towering spires craned up from the surface to poke through the dense white clouds, their highest points in convenient reach of the ever present starships waiting to dock. In low orbit massive habitats supported the work force of the capital, middle class citizens spent their free time in these vast installations, enjoying enclosed parks and markets with the salary earned tending to the ultra-rich of the planets surface. High above the North Pole of the planet was the home of the First Fleet, a massive series of concentric rings home to thousands of sailors and marines tasked with defending the nerve center of the Federal Government.

Despite the ever present and always vigilant First Fleet, Tauris was caught almost entirely off guard by the corporate attack. Seventy-five phase space signatures exploded on sensors in the opening minutes of the civil war, then a vast fleet fell into reality. The fleet wasted no time in obliterating the First Fleet before it could get out of dock, the Absolute a glittering flagship of the home fleet was caught in dock for repairs, the bristling warship never got the chance to fire a shot as the orbital dock was consumed by fire. Now it had been nearly a month since that withering assault, the Corporate fleet still hung over the home of the Federal Administration. The orbital habitats had been evacuated for the most part before they were destroyed, the docking towers that once crested the clouds were shattered husks of structural skeletons and collapsed floors. The alabaster white cities that dotted the surface were choked with dense black smoke and pulverized concrete, turning the air and everything in it a dull gray.

Despite the Corporate Fleets initial element of surprise, they had not been able to dislodge the stubborn defenders that were dug in across the planet. The Board of Directors didn't dare order an orbital strike on Tauris, knowing full well it would be the end of their campaign if they took such drastic measures, so instead a million mercenaries, corporate troopers and pirates had been ferried to the surface of the planet and had taken to the streets in building to building combat, often losing dozens for a single structure.

Where once there had been a dense vein of trade and travel, there was now the Corporate fleet, facing outwards to defend against a counter-attack that had been long coming. Minutes passed as the hard angular profiles of the corporate ships sat motionless in space.

Crack

A brilliant halo of energy expanded outwards as the SCUN Praetori broke back into reality, its shields glittering as the massive Flagship erupted on the edge of the Corporate Formation. The ship was cylindrical with a expanded mid-section and gently sloping bow that terminated in a protrusion to house its massive spinal cannons. Within seconds of its emergence sixty-eight other Federal warships followed and immediately the bedlam came in full force. The Praetori carried through with its inertia, slamming into the side of a ESCV frigate and shearing the unfortunate craft in half before slinging a round at relativistic speed into a corporate Missile Cruiser, the streak of light connected with the craft and cored it.

The corporate fleet burned hard to meet the oncoming enemy, carriers scrambled their fighter wings on both sides as it became apparent that this was a full scale fleet battle. Two streaking fighter formations met and engaged in a rabid dog fight, the beams of pintle mounted laser turrets lanced out at each other, sending shattered fighters twirling away or erupting in explosions. The federal wings emerged with a slim victory as the corporate fighters broke off and retreated into the center of the fleet. The two formations had now closed to within a dozen kilometers of each other, spinal cannons being abandoned in favor of broadsides and missile salvos. Dozens of frigates and cruisers were shattered on either side, atmosphere and crew venting into the void through gaping holes.

The Praetori kept up its rabid attack, its dozens of rail guns and missile pods working at dizzying capacity as it fired at hostiles in all directions, millions of kilotons of energy being exchanged between either side. The overclocked shields of the Praetori shrugged off most of what the corporate guns could put out, with only the most powerful weapons finding their way in only to be deflected by the thick armor that covered the hull. Finally the battleship broke through to the clustered carriers and missile cruisers and immediately tore into the lighter ships, severing, breaching and mauling combatants on all sides. The rapidly crumbling corporate fleet finally broke as the support craft and carriers were destroyed almost in their entirety.

Poltaur
Naval Plaza

Far above the shattered capital of the Union burning hulks of massive warships erupted into bright streaks of fire as they fell into the atmosphere, the broken superstructures carried thousands of dead and dying sailors from either side to their demise. Some of the skeletal hulks collided with towering sky-scrapers, sending terrible clouds of dust and flame into the air and drowning the world in horrible noise. The vaporized concrete and steel swept over the city like an apocalyptic wave, swallowing and sundering everything for miles around. Than as quickly as the hell had erupted it settled back into silence, the dust settling over vitrified streets and melted buildings.

For a brief moment the devastated city was silent, save for sporadic gunfire and crumbling structures that had since replaced the bustle of traffic. The dullness was broken as the slap of super-focused light against air bellowed out into the dust choked metropolis, blinding white beams of energy slicing skyward in an effort to fend off Federal landing craft. Corporate soldiers and officers looked up to the smoke blanketed sky in anticipation of the hundreds of small craft that would come through, but instead the smoke was thrust aside as the massive profile of the Praetori erupted into view, beam weapons sizzling to nothing against its armor and shields.

The corporate Cruiser that had long been hovering over the besieged Naval Plaza roared as its thrusters worked to face the behemoth warship, but its effort was cut short as the enemy flagship buffeted it with a line of rail-gun slugs, one catching the main thrusters and causing a brilliant string of destabilization that sent the cruiser slamming to the ground as engines failed to support the entirely non-aerodynamic ship. The rapid clamber of capital ship weapons cracked like thunder over the city, pandemonium ruled as corporate soldiers and federal marines clashed in a desperate battle. With each passing minute another beleaguered sky-scraper collapsed or another neighborhood was consumed in ionizing energy, the Praetori crept over the city shattering rebel lines wherever it went. More Federal ships descended into the brawl, and the battle reached a fever pitch as railguns and missiles exchanged with beam weapons and dug in artillery. The deafening rhythm was a orgastic symphony of death, the deep roar of shattering steel, the sharp crack of hyper-accelerated slugs, the staccato clack of automatic weaponry, the unearthly sound of beam weaponry boiling the air, all of it stewed and combined in the maelstrom that had consumed this place.

Poltaur
Soostari Plaza
11th Corporate Platoon


Alex had never been more afraid in his life, he had been hot dropped into enemy territory, boarded pirate vessels, but he had never felt this much fear. Naturally he was familiar with the primal fear of combat, the drive in the back of your head that willed you to flee and survive. However, the feeling that now consumed his was far more acute, it found specific thoughts and places in his mind, touched them with a poison. How many of his comrades had he watched die in the past hour, Federal bombing runs and gunships had ravaged his exposed position. Even know he sat crouched behind a charred landing craft, carbonized soldiers still petrified in the troop bay. Beyond him in the plaza was the smoking wreckage of the ESCV Zastophon, a Corporate heavy-transport that had been knocked from the sky by that damned battleship, the falling ship had planted itself directly on top of the Platoon HQ and thus he was second in command at the rank of Corporal.

His acting orders were to hold position, that was the last he heard from Company command before communications had blacked out nearly 10 minutes ago. Now an eerie calm had taken hold of the crater scarred plaza, the distant sounds of combat remained but a lack of fighter-bombers streaking overhead had instilled a distinct sense of dread in Alex and his men. He kept his eyes up towards the sky, quietly hoping that a Federal assault craft would appear so he could surrender. As he focused on the quietly wafting dust he noticed something was off, small swirls of the grey powder danced through the air in decidedly unnatural ways. Light shimmered off a inappropriately clear patch of sky and Alex signaled for his unit to take cover as the clear patch moved closer. A whisper of engines came to his attention as the object grew nearer, before it stopped over the Zastophon. The oddly distorted patch of sky was replaced suddenly by the sloping, carbon black hull of a small ship, two ball turrets protruded from the bottom that swiveled around the plaza, the tell tale simmer of super-charged magnets betraying their purpose. The craft silently descended to the ground and a dozen equally dark figures emerged and immediately headed into the smoldering transport.

The ship clearly wasn't Federal and so Alex decided to let it leave without a fight, he kept his men concealed behind the cover they had found for themselves. A few minutes went by with the unknown vehicle still hovering over the wide open space, then it returned to the ground, picked up its contingent and once again turned into a half mirror shape. The engines whirred to slightly above their whisper before the dust parted and the ship zipped away. Immediately Alex motioned for his men to move in on the wreckage to see what the strange unit had done within, he led the movement. Stepping over the detached ramp of the troop bay he saw what their objective had been right away, there was the transports phase-core in the middle of the cavernous bay. The radioactive glow of high energy particles caused Alex to squint at what he could only conclude to be a bomb, a foreign object hastily attached to the potent machine. In the last moments of his life Alex figured that his fear was probably justified as an expanding corona of unbridled energy reached him.




-/SECLEV- HIGH\-
INCIDENT REPORT
AT 0330 HOURS PLANETARY TIME A DECOUPLED PHASE CORE WAS ACTIVATED NEAR THE GEOGRAPHIC CENTER OF POLTAUR, THE EFFECT OF THIS ACTION WAS A DISCHARGE OF ENERGY THAT REACHED APPROXIMATELY 80% OF THE CITIES TOTAL AREA, AT THIS TIME IT IS BELIEVED THAT ALL MATTER IN THIS RADIUS HAS BEEN EITHER OBLITERATED IN TOTALITY OR MOVED TO AN AS OF YET UNKNOWN LOCATION. ASSUMING THE FIRST REALITY, IT CAN BE CONCLUDED THAT ALL PERSONS IN THIS RADIUS ARE KIA. PRELIMINARY ESTIMATIONS SUGGEST THAT 60% OF THE FLEET ENGAGED ON TAURIS WAS LOST, ALONG WITH 70% OF THE ACTIVE GROUND FORCES, THIS WOULD PLACE FEDERAL LOSSES AT WELL OVER 500,000. CIVILIAN CASUALTIES ARE ESTIMATED TO EXCEED 1,000,000. AS OF NOW CORPORATE RESISTANCE ON TAURIS HAS BEEN EXTINGUISHED, THIS FACT LEADS TO A PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION THAT THIS ACTION WAS NOT INTENTIONAL ON PART OF THE CORPORATE FORCE.


-/SECLEV- RELIQUARY\-
FLASH TRANSMISSION
CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT SUSPENDED
OFFICE OF TO MAINTAIN NATIONAL INTEGRITY IS ACTING GOVERNING BODY
ALL NON-MILITARY TRAVEL IS SUSPENDED
ALL PLANETS UNDER FEDERAL CONTROL ARE QUARANTINED
THREAT LEVEL IS EXISTENTIAL





Ultimately, this was always the plan.

He knew that.

But like this? The heart of the nation reduced to a hole in the ground. All those people gone in a flash.

Right, but how many more lives would be lost if we didn't take control. No, there was no room for bickering politicians or greedy oligarchs in the world that they knew. The war was unfortunately needed to remove the two entities in the way of us. Soon when the deep black ships of OMNI appeared over long suffering worlds, there would be hope to survive the coming tumult.

And when that great vast evil from out there found this small nation, there would be a real chance at survival. He hated cliches, but it seems that these means would find justification only at the end. He could only hope that the ends would be the ones that he had worked so long for.
Last edited by The Solar Cooperative Union on Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
Don't look at this

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Tharwatine
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Posts: 62
Founded: Feb 18, 2016
Ex-Nation

Postby Tharwatine » Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:13 am


The Dream of Home, the Dream of Home
“For the whole world, without a native home,
Is nothing but a prison of larger room.”
- Abraham Cowley, To the Bishop of Lincoln



With a tired sigh, the wary hand gently lowered the discoloured photo frame. Briefly shutting his eyes, Imeda turned his head upward, gazing through the window before him. While the black backdrop of the universe had always been there, the pattern of stars decorating it changed only slightly to hint the journey he had gone through. The starry ocean, yet, was not all there was today. A faint, crimson disk dwarfed the faraway star, its warming light passing through the stains of the window, showering his body and the rest of the rusting bridge.

For someone like him, whose life had been spent sailing between stars, the blazing thermonuclear torch was called the light to safety, for when there were stars, there were planets and asteroids to shelter the wanderers. Yet, this familiar idiom had since become alien. From stars to stars he had led his rag-tag flotilla, and all worlds he had seen bathing in the glow of stars sooner or later fell to the all-encompassing flow of conquest, war, famine and death that consumed his own world.

This one, however, was different.

Beyond the lone sphere dancing across the fiery surface, flocks of ships and stations docked themselves to harness the enormous power of the star. Unlike the gritty, boxy shops he led through the adversary, upon which the desperation had left its mark, virtually all he native ships before his eyes maintained a sleek, white exterior embellished with soft, blue lights. It was clear that the inhabitants of this system had the luxury of having aesthetics in mind when they constructed these vessels. Mixed with each other, the sharp contrast of the image once again reminded him of his role, what he needed to do for his people.

And for her.

“Commodore Imeda?” A sudden voice braked his chain of though, as he turned towards his subordinate, slightly nodding to address his call.

“The representative of the Tharwatine Constellation has docked.” The young sailor reported nervously. On his arm the afterglow of the data-pad marked the crooked writings of the Tharwatine people, their latest host.

“Send him in.”

“It is a her, sir.”

“Send her in, then.” With a salute, the ensign ran through the doorway, disappearing behind the sliding door. Imeda then turned his attention towards the ship just beyond the window. A long, thin tube extended to connect both ships, physically and magnetically, the short distance allowing its details to be deciphered. Although the simple, aseptic aesthetics was not entirely alien to him, columns of windows on the Tharwatine ship drove the point home that it was an alien people. If the rumours about them were true, then building their space ships like towers instead of actual ships would be the least of his concern.

However, he did not have the luxury to worry. Toiling through dozens of systems already, his people were wary, and the Tharwatines were among the last hopes of taking them into the fold. Since the entire quadrant was set ablaze, most other powers had turned from the needy refugees. As fleets upon fleets of displaced people jammed the old trade routes that marked the road to civilisation, the journey would only be even more arduous from here, and his people would not survive it.

“Commodore Imeda. The guest has arrived.” Once again, voice of his subordinate summoned his mind back to the mortal realm again, this time through the telecom, indicating that their saviour had already arrived outside the door.

“Yes. You may come in.” The commodore responded, subconsciously straightening his ragged uniform, now a remnant of a forgotten state. The brief moment following felt like an eternity, as the content of his stomach danced against his best effort to suppress it. Though, the sound of door sliding open was more than enough to focus his attention on the silhouette behind the equally nervous ensign.

Like her ship, the colour of white dominated the humanoid emissary. A shoulder-length hair she donned, beneath which was her smooth, flawless porcelain-like pale skin. Her torso was encapsulated in clothes of some tight-black material that seemed slightly transparent, but remained opaque enough to maintain some degree of modesty.

Quickly drawing his gaze from inappropriate places, he looked towards the staff she was carrying. He had heard of the famous shovels of the Tharwatines, which served as some sort of symbol of authority in the distant past. Apparently at least this one still uphold that tradition, though, with an orb emitting a soft, blue light flanked by two pieces of chalk-white decoration. The cerulean light contrasted with the amber iris she bore, reflecting a beautiful, yet unnatural gleam from her windows of the soul. While the engineered body she inhabited hinted her origin from the Tharwatine Constellation, it was the pair of eyes seemingly encrusted with enchanting gemstone that cemented her coming from a state that was famous for its bioengineering.

Her gaze in return to his observation, though, reminded him to stop staring at the representative and greeted her instead.

“I bid you greetings, milady.” Not the most sophisticated person, Imeda tried his best to imitate both pertaining to high society and Tharwatine greeting according to the scraps of information he could get. Although he somewhat knew how it would be pronounced in their tongue, it probably would not leave a good impression mangling the host language, especially if the stereotype of the language being insanely complicated turned out to be true.

Despite the difference between languages, she seemed to realise his imitation - whether it sufficed was another question. Perhaps in exchange of such mimicking, she slightly bowed towards the commodore, the fingers sliding on the lustrous surface of the staff. “On behalf of the Tharwatine Constellation, I bid you greetings and may there be peace through fellowship between us.” Her voice was soft and pure, making it strangely comforting to Imeda.

“I am Imeda, leader of this humble migration fleet. It is my greatest pleasure to receive you.” The man continued to introduce himself to her. While unquestionably an eye candy, her smiling, yet unemotional expression made him more anxious that it should.

“I offer you the gratitude of but an apostle serving the Machine Goddess in exchange for your kindness. You may call me Izar.” Certainly one of the longest ways Imeda knew of saying “thank you”, her language certainly remind him of the religious figures of his old world. They would never dress in tights, though, naturally.

That said, the emphasis on the Machine Goddess inadvertently drew his attention from the lengthy words and her garment. On his way towards this sector some time was spared to study the background of the Tharwatines. According to what he read, the Tharwatine people was once on the verge of extinction during a time of great strife. Back then, the Machine Goddess was apparently some sort of energy being that fed on the energy of the star, before the doomed people summoned her into a a steel casing, upon which she granted the people immortality by transferring their mind into the same machine form she had. Even if the people appeared to have genuinely benefited from it, this background story always made him uncomfortable dealing with them.

Deal with them, he must, though.

“It is the least I can do… um, my apostolic lady. After all, your realm might be the only one that is still willing to admit refugees from the calamity.”

“Izar will suffice, commander Imeda.” The apostle smiled, easing the tension and confusion over her title. It was only by now that he noticed that her body seemed to bore an almost unnoticeable scent, one that was quite pleasant compared with the rust and decay that had filled the compartment for a long time.

“The Machine Goddess offers hospitality to all who are willing, including those who are displaced.” she continued, though the golden eyes looking directly into Imeda seemed to suggest her spoken words were not all that was spoken. Not knowing how to respond, the commodore felt silent for a brief moment as Izar waited.

“So… forgive my audacity, mi - Izar.” He had to break the silence. His people were in a great enough disadvantage in this situation already.

“But did the Machine Goddess state her opinion on… a more permanent stay of their guest?” He almost immediately regret that, however, and would have shoved all those words back to his dried throat if he could. Izar, however, did not appear to have a strong reaction to the question, responding merely with the usual faint smile.

“The Machine Goddess knows her flock. Those who are of her will be welcomed as our own.” Like an ink brush, what was not said rang louder.

“May I ask how does she determine that?” Never really a man of faith, Imeda could not really decipher the minds of those who were religious - in most cases, it appeared to him as completely arbitrary. However, if the fate of his followers were to be subjected to it, he would have to figure out what lay behind the smoke and mirrors.

“Oh. It is a rather simple process, actually.” Perhaps fortunately, Izar seemed to be quite forthcoming with what might be internal affairs of her religion. “Have you experienced virtual reality before? A casual conversation, along with some inquiries conducted in one such environment by the Inquirer will suffice.”

Despite his best effort to the contrary, Imeda’s lack of experience with virtual reality was evidently shown by his pondering expression. Although a similar concept was among his people, anything they had before the displacement could barely serve as entertainment, let alone an official government screening process!

“Please do not worry, Imeda the leader.” The comforting smile of Izar was more than enough to overshadow the awkward expression. “The Machine Goddess knows of your species. Our apparatus will adjust for your specific characteristics. Your people will need only to relax in the machine, and she will take care of the rest.”

“That is comforting.” That said, Imeda could not rid himself of suspicion and anxiety. If a deal is too good to be true, then odds are it is. Not to mention that barring some extremely unlikely scenario, only a handful of his people would be admitted, and he could not shake the idea of leaving them to the void behind. “However,”

“What seems to be of your concern?”

“I would want to experience it myself before my people do.”

“Ah, it seems that you are quite eager to prove your faith.” At that moment, the smile on Izar’s face deepened, and the pupil enclosed by gold slightly expanded as she looked into him. Now, he was sure that she was not really emoting beforehand. Either that, or she had emotions before, but now she was ecstatic.

“It is merely my responsibility to test the system for my people first, even if I am sure your people mean no harm to us.” To be frank, he no longer knew which possibility was more worrying.

“I understand that, Imeda.” The apostle nodded to him, her emotion seemingly passed the spike she had a moment ago, but its residue nonetheless lingered. She maintained the quiet smile for a brief moment, before the soft tone could be heard once more. “That is only a fair request. Would you prefer to undergo the inquiry now?”

“Now?” Is that even possible?

“Yes. The emissary spacecraft contains the essential facility to conduct the inquiry. In fact, our intention is to process all request for such in orbit, so that the time otherwise wasted on waiting clearance to landing platforms can be saved.” Izar turned her gaze towards the window. Following her, Imeda noticed that several other Tharwatine ships had parked themselves next to some of the larger refugee ships already. Even though only a fraction of ships survived the journey from the scorched home-world, it would still require considerable time to transfer tens of thousands of souls to the surface through vessels capable of atmospheric re-entry.

“That is true. Please lead the way, then.” The commodore nodded towards both his subordinate and the emissary, the latter responding with a smile and a nod. With the door once again sliding open for the approaching guest, the small party left the now-emptied bridge.

The lack of maintenance since their hurried departure had taken its toil along the long corridors of the exodus ship as well. Blotches of rust and damage littered the raw, undecorated metallic surface of the square hallways, illuminated only by the odd flickering lights. As they passed through more and more corners and stairs towards the bowel of the repurposed frigate, the foyers began to be populated as well. Odd bands of refugees stood and sat away from the main passage, staring at the commodore and his companion. While some of them managed to be dressed slightly less rugged despite the tight restrictions on personal belongings, the wary and tired faces nevertheless posed a sharp contrast to the calming and - to some - well-dressed Tharwatine visitor.

Even though both parties ultimately descended from the fabled Earth, vastly different circumstances had left their mark on both the body and soul of the two people. As the pale lady walked pass them, their expression was one filled with both uncertainty and curiosity. They had all heard of the extreme extravaganza the Tharwatine people enjoyed, where the definition of being the poorest citizen was one who was served only by a handful of customised servants with enough foodstuff to drown them all inside a comfortable private dwelling. It might be beyond imagination, but the vague prospect of becoming part of such a lifestyle had nonetheless filled their exhausted mind with hope. Failing that, at least perhaps the great riches of this strange people can trickle down to them, sustaining them long enough to find a new home elsewhere.

As they drew close to the docking point, another population emerged from the dimmed hallways, mixing with Imeda’s people. While these humanoids varied greatly in appearance, most of them could be described as being quite delicate and attractive - if unnaturally so. The combination of tight-cutting garments and the gem-encrusted eyes bore by all of them, though, easily demonstrated their origin from the Tharwatine Constellation, the realm of the Machine Goddess. Several of them could be seen distributing carts of palm-sized crates to the weaker exiles, while several females donned with a pair of seemingly genuine canine ears could be seen walking around the aisles, sedately inspecting others, giving a brief gaze to the leader as he walked pass them.

“On my way to your compartment, I could not help but notice the suboptimal health of a significant portion of the residents. As such, the Goddess took the liberty of allocating some of the stocked resources to alleviate the ailment.” Even though she did not turn her head towards the commodore, she seemed to have noticed his interest towards the unannounced boarding party and explained, her rather high heels continuing to stroll towards the docking area.

“Um, thank you.” He was not very keen on the ship under his command being boarded by unauthorised individuals. At the same time, though, he could not deny her statement regarding the steadily degrading situation. The people needed every help available, which could not be denied by either the slight violation of his regulation or his pride.

Delivering an unanswered nod to the Tharwatines, the three made their way to the cream white tube conneting the two vessels. While minimalist in design, the soft blue glows and the smooth surface nonetheless gave the impression that it was designed specifically to be comforting.

After a few steps pass the grey gate of their old ship, though, the ground became softer and softer, their weight seemingly evaporated to the cold breeze without a trace. The unexpected loss of gravity almost propelled them towards the curved walls with a careless step. The native, though, was clearly used to the weightlessness of her own ship. Somehow, she shifted seamlessly to the microgravity environment, effortlessly turning towards them in the air and extending her hand towards Imeda. Caught off guard by the loss of gravity, he instinctively hold her helping hand, stopping the spin almost immediately. Like all other aspects of hers, Izar’s hand offered a comfortable sensation, an unworked hand of smooth skin and somewhat warm feeling. It was as if every inch of her skin, every ounce of her flesh was hand-crafted to be attractive - and it showed.

“Please excuse me for that.” The emissary smiled as Imeda rescued his subordinate from the spiral. Her grip on Imeda tightened slightly and - with a very slight buzz transmitting from her torso - the trio slowly stopped spinning in microgravity. The combined inertia of them was more than enough to maintain their approach towards the white gate at the other side of the tube. “Our people do not utilise artificial gravity on space vessels like yours do. While it might take some time to get accustomed to it, you need not to worry, as I am here to guide you.”

“No artificial gravity?” The subordinate was as surprised as the commodore, but he had more trouble keeping his words to himself. Even though his people was probably among the less advanced people in the galaxy, creating gravity for prolonged space travel was nevertheless taken for granted to them. As such, a people that appeared to be much more advanced than them - like the Tharwatines - would lack such a fundamental pieces of technology caused him to raise an eyebrow before Imeda looked at him, silently preventing him from continuing his unspoken comment. The smile on Izar’s face, though, seemed to suggest she did not mind whatever sentiment the young man held.

“Our people have the ability to create artificial gravity. It is just that we choose not to. The negative effects on health from such an environment is negated by our bodies, and a design that could maximise utility without gravity is adopted for all our space vessels.” The emissary explained, as the bright hallway of her ship began to leak into the tube. With another quiet buzz from within her body, the small convoy once again turned slowly, allowing Imeda and his supporter to regain footstep on the ground next to the doorway. Still without help from gravity, both of them immediately grabbing the silvery door frame to stabilise themselves, before pulling Izar to them.

“Thank you.” She offered a sweet smile to the duo, who were now starting to get used to her perpetual friendly expression. Helped by a slight tug, she moved herself through the two and returned to her ship. Like the surface and the connecting tunnel, the doorway of the Tharwatine vessel consisted entirely of the same aseptic white wall lit by white light with a faint blue hue, once again forming a sharp contrast to the dim, run-down metallic aisles of the exodus fleet. Similar to the columns of windows, though, a simple black line could be seen decorating the wall, seemingly marking the horizontal line in the weightless environment of the ship.

As the wall gently stopped Izar’s movement, she once again turned sideways and extended her hand towards the “lower” portion of the wall. Like an extremely accurate machinery, a handle suddenly emerged from the black line just before her palm, allowing her to grab and land on it. The function of this contraption became immediately obvious as the handle moved sideways, dragging her body from opposite of the connecting doorway, where two new handles emerged similarly. Seeing her demonstration, Imeda and his subordinate immediately recognise the expected course of action, pushing themselves towards the wall and taking hold of their respective handle. Once they had secured themselves a firm grip, the handles began to move across the black depression, sending them towards the curved corridors of the Tharwatine ship. As the commodore oriented himself to the wall and the leading emissary, the curvature of the aisle confirmed initial assessment of the structure of the host ship: decks were oriented vertically to the spine of the ship, or in other words, it was like a tower with the engines located at the lowest floor, instead of the more traditional design that had its origin from seafaring vessels bound to the waters of planets.

The design of space vessel, though, was not the strangest thing about these people. As they passed through some crew who were lingering on the other side of the hallway, Imeda could not help but notice that their body was similarly modified to suit the lack of gravity on board: apart from being more lithe and slender than those he saw boarding on his ship, the feet of these humanoids were replaced by palms. Although such modification allowed them a much easier time manoeuvring the weightless environment encompassing their ships, the fact that their physical form now sat firmly in the middle of normal human and non-human objects made them look strangely disturbing for him. Trying his best to hide the conflicting emotions, the leader merely nodded to them before turning his sight towards the more attractive Izar as they were led through a doorway and into a rather large room.

Like everything they had seen for the past moments, most of the room was enclosed by the same aseptic white walls illuminated by the same gentle glows embedded in the structure. However, one of the walls were instead made of a transparent material, showing the starry void, in which everything and everyone was submerged. The rusty and tattered posterior of his own ship could be seen at the corner, undergoing maintenance and repair by crew of both factions. The tail of the engine, ,though pointed towards a distant blue glow, on which the attention of both man was set. Brighter and larger than the cosmic background, it was the primary star of the Tharwatine planetary system, around which its core worlds orbited. It was said that the core worlds were, in many ways, paradises reserved to the citizens of the Tharwatine Constellation: lack of need to work or to worry about sickness, injury or death, surrounded by myriad of foodstuff and dedicated servants that would make even the most powerful individual of his original country jealous of an average Tharwatine citizen. Although it was all hearsay from people, the image was too alluring for him and his people to ignore, and his brief journey inside the Tharwatine ship seemed to support that idea, enough to make the wide-eye subordinates to quietly wonder what would the life of a high-ranking citizen in Tharwatine be, if an average citizen was already enjoying the best he could envision.

At the other side of the panel, several cylinders could be seen standing from the floor, leaning against the featureless wall behind. With half of its surface transparent, the interior of these tubes seemed to be quite comfortable for even the most well-built human to stand within. The side facing the wall was opaque and filled with numerous cavities and mechanical externalities, giving the impression of the whole device being specialised to some sort of comprehensive tool set for interacting with a person - perhaps not unlike some kind of incubation chamber? Two Tharwatine individuals, indicated by their gem-like iris colour and reflection, as well as the Tharwatine symbol printed on their tight clothes, were standing beside the glowing panel of one of the tubes, before turning towards the visitors and greeting them with a smile.

“These are the machines we use for foreigners to access our virtual reality system. Lacking implants all citizens possess, these dedicated stations are capable of replacing the function of those implants and deliver an authentic sensation to their users.” Izar explained as she released the handle, her body slowly floating before Imeda. Adjusting her direction and - somehow - her movement in the air, she turned towards both of them and extended her lithe hands once more. While the expression on her face did not seem to have changed, somehow the emotion behind it was different. It felt like that her smile was totally sincere and genuine - without any lingering trace of simple professionalism - as she spoke: “Now, please come with me, and into our world.”

The emissary did not receive any verbal response, as neither Imeda nor his follower knew how should it be done. Instead, they merely release their grip on the handle like she did. With a slight step against the wall, they floated towards Izar and held onto her hand, enjoying the smooth and warm sensation once more. As her fingers wrapped around their hands, the reaction wheels beneath her clothes span rapidly again, slowly turning the trio towards the virtual reality machines as she pulled them towards the two Tharwatine assistants. As was before, despite the lack of any visible signals, the assistants knew perfectly when to act as they pushed themselves towards the duo quietly, reaching for their another hand. After a brief moment where all five in the room was physically connected, Izar released her grab and let her assistants guided them to their separate chamber. It was most likely that these Tharwatines - perhaps all of them - utilised implants to communicate with each other, completely bypassing the need to speak or to gesture. Perhaps a more efficient way to convey messages, the complete silence and lack of apparent interaction nonetheless complemented the aseptic aesthetics their people bore.

“I bid you greetings. Are you in acceptable health?” Even though their voice were similarly calming like Izar, their verbal speech was clearly not as refined as the official representative of the Tharwatine people. However, probably serving as operators of the facility, they were quite skilled in helping the humans removing some of their accessories. At the same time they were escorted to the cylinders, the transparent surface slid open, allowing them to float naturally inside.

“That is the literal meaning of our greeting in our language, or to put it more sufficiently, ‘Hello. How are you?’” It was quite surreal to see Izar, a Tharwatine translated the human speech made by another Tharwatine, though the surprisingly comfortable interior wall of the chamber briefly distracted Imeda as he laid against it. Somehow, despite the lack of gravity anywhere, he felt like his body was gently pulled towards the bottom and the back of the cylinder - perhaps, this was the only part of the Tharwatine spacecraft that possessed artificial gravity, or that his body had gotten used to weightlessness.

“Please, worry not. You will be in our care here.” Izar's voice echoed inside the tube as the transparent door slid to its original location and sealed the space from the outside world. However, while her diminishing voice indicated that the chamber would be made sound-proof, just before it was sealed shut her voice was amplified again. Although the echo made it difficult to determine the source of the speaker, it seemed that the Tharwatines had installed them to maintain communication with its occupants.

“The virtual reality program is being activated. You will meet the Inquirer soon.” Izar slowly floated towards Imeda, her hand rose to gently press against the window. Looking into him, she once again delivered a mellow smile to him. At the same time, the contraptions surrounding him began to spring into life, as soft, strange lights illuminated the chamber and a low humming sound echoed inside his body, giving off a continuous vibration.

“Now, you should relax yourself. Close your eyes, and let your consciousness slide into your well-deserved rest.” The machine carefully change its mumbling sound, closely followed by the trill bouncing inside the body of the user. At a particular point, though, the device suddenly became quiet, and the echo inside the flesh transmuted into a comforting purr. Slowly but surely, the exhaustion, the tire residing in the deepest reach of Imeda's body was gently drawn out, melting the remaining strength of his body before flowing into his mind. Following the Tharwatine instruction, the commodore slowly lowered his eyelids as the vision before him started to be consumed by darkness, with the pair of amber glow and the distant azure star being the last ones to vanish.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.





Gone was the virtual reality chamber. Gone was the aseptic room and its cold air. As he consciousness woke up once more, Imeda instinctively opened his eyes once more, and found he was no longer in the strange space vessels he was in before. Instead, he was in a very familiar setting.

A bit too familiar.

It was a modest but comfortable house. With painted walls embedded in reinforced wooden frames, sitting on a quiet mountainside. It was a nice retreat for the two of them, with a large balcony facing towards the vast ocean, now lit by the two distant suns hovering just above the horizon. At the balcony sat a simple round table, with two chairs beside it to allow some quality time for them as they enjoyed the bounty of nature.

What surprised him the most was that the chairs were no longer empty. Blurred by the binary sunset, he could not make out the details of her appearance, but he knew full well who the silhouette could possibly be.

“Gulisa?” He called to her name. Hearing his call, the humanoid figure laid down the cup of drink she was holding, before slowly turning her head towards Imeda with a smile he had longed for too long.

It was her.

It could not be her. Not after what he saw happened to her.

“No… this could not be happening… who are you?” The entire spectrum of emotion almost consumed the mind of the commodore. He felt like the world around him was spinning, trying to swallow him like a vortex to a helpless ship. On one hand, he had dreamt of being with her once more. Ever since he was virtually forced into a position of command to lead the few survivors out of his home. Without her support, he could not fathom how he managed so.

He did, though. He saw what happened to her. He knew what he failed to do.

He failed her.

“Is that not obvious?” She answered before slowly standing up - another image where the impossibility had made his mind confused even more.

“You are… the Inquirer.” He did remember what happened before he was ushered into this dreamy location. That was not a long nightmare as he had hoped. However, with that revelation, he also realised the true reason behind what was happening before his eyes, and it was not a good thing for him.

“You are plying into my mind.” He concluded, his eyes staring at the female before him. Despite the anger of them looking into his memory, he was not sure how to react to the one standing before her. Even if she was not her, he could not bear the thought of trying to harm someone with her appearance. Not to mention, if she truly was the Inquirer, then harming her in her own realm might not be the best idea either.

“That was not entirely correct. Would you please take a seat? Our talk might last for a while.” The Inquirer invited him as she slowly pulled the chair from the table, signalling him to sit with her. Without any other possible course of action open to his scrambled mind, he complied as the female returned to her seat, brewing a cup of fine beverage for the empty cup before Imeda. “Please take a sip. It is your favourite drink, is it not?”

“You should have figured out already.” The commodore remarked, staring at his host as he took a sip of the drink. Its colour, its scent, its taste. All of those were exactly as he remembered it. It was a brew of nostalgia, a faint reminder of what he had, and what he lost.

“Actually, no. Tell me, do you remember what happened before you arrive here?” Her voice, too, was the same of her as the commodore remembered. While the mannerism was not identical, he would not have suspected about her identity if not for the sheer impossibility of the scenario.

“I… I closed my eyes. I felt tired, and then…”

“You felt asleep.” She finished his sentence. “Or rather, you are asleep.”

“Are you suggesting it is all a dream?”

“For all intents and purposes, yes.” Seeing that he had reached the desirable conclusion, the Inquirer smiled and quietly clapped her hands to celebrate. Yet another familiar gesture of her. “While there are other forms of virtual reality, this one in particular relies on modification of your dream. An augmented dream, if you will.”

“And?”

“In a sense, we can only influence the course of your dream, but not actually knowing how it unfolds in your mind. In fact, we do not - and will not - know about this friendly chatter of us.” The Inquirer poured Imeda another cup of his drink. He no longer remember when was the last time he enjoyed it in reality. “As such, I assume the form you see is caused solely by you already dreaming about this form already. We just… borrow her mouth for a little while, so to speak.”

“Fair enough.” He was not really a man of science back in his country, not to mention what she said would be far more advanced and totally alien compared with what his society had. “So, what exactly do your people want to speak to me though her mouth?”

“Nothing really important, really. Consider it more a… friendly chatter, or perhaps a brief respite from your duty.” The Inquirer lowered her empty cup and turned towards Imeda, smiling as she drew close slightly. “It appears that you have quite a strong emotion towards this form, though. Would you like to tell me more about it?”

“I… I am not sure if that concept exist in your people.” Her sudden movement and question startled the commodore a bit, as his body shook along with the glass he was holding. His eyes, though, could not be drawn from the female before him, for he knew this was the only chance he could see her again. “She is… very important to me. I cherish her more than anyone else in the entire universe.”

“Is she on board your fleet?” Even though it was probably not a deliberate question, it nevertheless pierced his heart, the fingers losing traction on the glass as it felt down onto the floor, shattering into a million pieces.

“No.” His eyes lingered on the darkened wood surrounded by tiny pieces of shards. “I have lost her.”

“My condolence.” Perhaps as a gesture of consolation, the female laid her palm onto the shivering shoulder of the commander, quietly offering him comfort. To him, all these felt so real, much more so than any other dream he had. In fact, if he no longer remember the events leading him to this unknown corner of the galaxy, he would have taken it as reality. Reality as he wished to be. “It must have been a great loss to you.”

“It is.” He had longed for her comforting voice. More than enough nights had gone by without her comforting him from this role he never wanted, but must nevertheless take.

“If you may pardon my insolence…” Her hand smoothly slid from his shoulder to his arm, before finally reaching the shaking hand, holding it inside her palm. It was a sensation he had been denied for too long. “Would you want to have a… substitution of her?”

“What do you mean?”

“You might have already recognised it from seeing the functional body of our people.” The Inquirer's grip became firmer and firmer, as if she intended to connect her deeper into his mind. From the other side of the contact, a heartbeat could be heard, slowly synchronising with his own pulse. “We have mastered the art of body - and mind - a long time ago. It would be, if I am to be blunt, trivially easy to mould, to craft a body that is exactly the same as you wished.”

“Yes, I have heard of it, and I have seen how attractive many of the Tharwatines could be.” Imeda commented, his eyes fixated on the familiar, comforting smile before him. However, after lingering a bit longer, he slowly closed his eyes and shook his head. “But I l- my affection for her is not only for how she looks.”

“But for how she acts? How she supports you?” It was a difficult question, and perhaps an irrelevant one as well. Like many other people in a similar situation, Imeda had never really thought of the one he missed in such a composite term. With the quiet wait from the Inquirer making the situation increasingly awkward, he had no choice but to silently nod.

“If you wish so, that could be arranged as well.”

“What do you mean?” He really did not like what they seemed to be suggesting through her image.

“For us, body is merely a shell that can be changed with relative ease; mind, in a similar vein, is but a software - a very complex one - that can nonetheless be programmed based on your need…” She suddenly drew near, leaning towards his arm as she slowly whispered into his ear. “… and your desire.”

“It might take a while to recreate the one you want, but with enough effort, she could be yours again.” She concluded, with her palm on his hand and her head on his shoulder, smiling. The faint, flowery scent of her body leaked into his mind like her voice.

“I - This is wrong!” Imeda shuddered a little, before finally releasing himself from her body. With a slight push, the Inquirer was sent back to her seat. Stood from his seat, he turned from the balcony and into the residence, walking towards the exit without a word.

“Why?” The doorknob offered no resistance when the commodore turned it. However, just as he was going to open the door and leave, the feminine voice stopped his action for a moment. “Why is it wrong?”

“Why, of course it is!” Imeda vented his frustration. However, with his emotion slowly settling from the initial turbulence of mind, he was at a loss of words as to continue his answer. “How could I face her if I opt to replace her with such an… imitation?”

“Is that true?” Her lithe hands gently wrap around his trembling waist, giving him a warm, long-overdue hug. He knew full well none of these were real, yet it nevertheless filled the gaping hole in his heart that had been desiring it for too long. “Would you wish that… I were to withhold my happiness if I have lost you?”

“… no.” His hand slipped off from the cold doorknob.

“And would you forget what… who I truly am simply by having a substitution to ease your pain, a memento, if you will?”

“Of, of course not!” How could he?

“Then why would it be wrong? Is it wrong to seek respite from your unbearable pain in my form?” She slowly rested her head onto the stiffen shoulder of Imeda, her soft voice whispering into his ear as her hands tightened around his body.


“I just want you to be happy.”


“Please don’t leave me alone.”


“We’ve been parted from each other for too long already.”


“I…” He could no longer bear it. Gently holding her shaking hands, Imeda turned around to face her love.

“I understood. I won’t leave you again, Gulisa.” He lowered his head as he looked into the starry eyes of her lover, before all he saw is her smiling face.


“Welcome home, my love.”
Last edited by Tharwatine on Mon Mar 14, 2016 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
Call me Reno.
Also known as Tuthina.


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