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The Compendium [Future Tech | Fiction | Open]

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

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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 Sep 24, 2016 12:33 am

Oxidation

To: n.clymonds[at]departmentintelligence[dot]gov
From: m.jillian[at]dentonindustries[dot]net
Subject: Information Needed

Nick, this is the video I alluded to during our conversation the other day. One of our survey teams operating in deep Beta came across something while investigating a derelict station in the quadrant. I can’t tell you much more than that, non-disclosure agreements and what not, all location information has been scrubbed from the video. So no, you won’t be able to get a bearing on where this occurred. But, see what you can find out on your end and let me know what you discover, we are a bit at a loss over here. I’ve forwarded a copy of the video to our new friends in on the Beta/Delta border. I’d suggest you follow up with them through official channels, as my avenues to them are still more under the table. When I’m back in Axul later this month, we can catch up you still owe me a beer. You’ll need a Denton Industry pass code to access the file. [4RR6GH9!V]. I’ll answer your question up front, no that code will not access anything else from Denton Industries so don’t even try it.

And no…this isn’t another space cat video, I promise.


///Initiate Video Playback Program///
//Input Classification Code//

…[4R?6GH9!V]…

//Classification Code Accepted//
/Begin Video Playback/

[Video Recording of Survey Investigation of Derelict Object #B1]
[Location of Recording: (CLASSIFIED)]
[Recorder: Travis ‘Hud’ Hawkins (Smokejumper)]

The screen came alive with an image of a space station hanging calmly in the foreground of an orange, brown nebula. The station itself was completely dark; no running lights blinking and no indicators that it was at all active. The station grew slowly in size as the distance between the camera and the station decreased, one could see even at this distance splotches of a burnt orange substance on several sections of the stations hull. The contrast between the dark grey hull and the brighter orange substance was stark, and continued to be more and more noticeable as the camera closed in. A moment of static occurred on the screen as the video skipped ahead. The screen stabilized with the scene of a gloved hand coming into contact with the grey plating of the station. The wearer of the camera turned around to spy three other suited individuals slowly making their way through the void using puffs of pressurized gas helping them join the first person on the hull of the station. Moving about on the outside of the station, the camera soon came to view a closed hatch, with a smaller terminal protruding from the left side of the hatch. Getting closer to the terminal the camera zoomed in on the odd symbols displayed on the keys of the terminal. A voice could be heard coming alive, as the individuals in the video began to address one another.

“…you getting those symbols on film?”

“Yeah, I zoomed in and panned them. Bring up the scatter box, we gotta get in here.”

The second man maneuvered himself with a puff of compressed gas over to the terminal; the camera zoomed in as he began to attach a smallish rectangular box to the side of the terminal. The box flashed a series of red, orange and green lights, as the static returned as the video was forwarded ahead. The image on the screen stabilized as it showed three individuals now inside kneeling on the metal floor in front of the person wearing the camera. A holographic display of the station was emanating from a small black box sitting on the floor in the middle of the team. A red dot could be seen pulsating within the blue holograph. The man directly across from the camera wearer began addressing the team…

“That red dot is our current position. We’ve been tasked with just a light recon; I say a two-hour jaunt through the station should suffice. Hud keep your camera rolling at all times, I want good documentation…not the bullshit you and Rick shoot on your downtimes.”

“Heh...”

“…You got it Victor.”

“Alright, the Razor’s sensors have yet to detect anything living or any emission from this place, but everyone stay frosty. We don’t need any slip ups today.”

Static filled the screen for a moment, as a further on section of the video eventually materialized on the screen. Hud, the cameraman was following two of his teammates down one of the many hallways of the station. The two smokejumpers in view were sealed in their black TOC suits and still moved elegantly down the hallway, the path in front of them illuminated by the flashlights attached to the end of their assault rifles. They were making their way down a series of doorways that individually branched off from the single hallway, when a thunderous clang occurred, reverberating through the hallway the echo’s compounding on one another creating one hell of a racket. Immediately spinning on his heels, Hud brought the camera to his six, the camera viewed the last smokejumper that was behind Hud as he too turned with a learned quickness. Hud’s submachine gun and the last smokejumper’s shotgun both came up to the ready position without delay.

“What in the fuck was that?” Hud exclaimed.

“Dunno…it came down that ways a bit.”

The last smokejumper in line gestured with his shotgun pointing down the hallway a bit from where they had just came. Following the direction of the noise the four-man team made their way back down the hallway and Hud’s camera viewed a metallic door off of its hinges and lying on the metal floor. With a quick look at one another, the team stacked up against the wall pausing for a count of two and the first smokejumper entered the room, shotgun at the ready. Hud and his camera were positioned right behind the shotgun wielding man as he entered the room, and followed him right in. Burnt orange splotches of the unidentifiable substance were present on the inner walls and ceiling of the room in decent amounts; the camera zoomed in on sections of the burnt orange matter and if you stared hard enough you would see parts of the substance vibrate with tiny motion. Hud turned around oblivious to the tiny movement to face back at the door that was lying on the floor and zoomed in so that the tiny bits of burnt orange could be seen on the hinges. Static filled the screen once again as the video was fast-forwarded.

Materializing on the screen showed a door opening revealing a large space, possibly a former cargo hold, as the there were stacks of pallets of unknown materials throughout the area. Hud was the first one through the door, and he took up a position behind one of the pallets as the other three smokejumpers made their way into the area. It was quiet in the hold, as Hud turned around to get the rest of the team in frame; Victor was kneeling placing the holographic projector on the floor. The camera could watch as a projection of the station appeared with a single red pulsating dot indicating where the team was.

“…The main control room should be a couple floors above us. That’s the last section we’ll look at before we get out of here. We’ll try and download everything we can, I’m sure the people in the assessment group would be thrilled to have new information to scour over. I think…”

A loud metallic screeching interrupted Victor, which ended in a hard clunk that echoed through the large cavity hold. It appeared the noise originated from somewhere inside the spacious area given how loud it was. But even as the camera darted around, nothing in the immediate area seemed to have caused the noise.”

“For being an abandoned place, it sure is noisy…Rick go and see if you can find out what the hell fell down this time.”

“You got it Vic.”

Travis and his camera could view Rick getting up from the group and moving into a semi-jog off into the direction he believed the noise originated. The other three returned to the holograph projection, as it increased in size a thin red line appeared from the teams current position and lead up into a different section of the station.

“…This is the path which will get us into the main control room the quickest, following it will also briefly put us through several other parts of the station, and if we make good time we should be up in that room within an hour or so…”

A familiar voice rang out with an alarming tone causing the other three men to instantly spring up from their knelt positions and fall into a dead sprint into the direction of the voice, it was only two words that disturbingly rang out into the large chamber. “OH SHIT!”

Static filled the screen as the video was moved forward once again, stabilizing with a view of a decent sized hole. As the camera focused in it could be seen that the perforation was ringed with a thin layer of the burnt orange material. Travis moved to the edge of the fissure and tilting his camera down, only the darkness could be seen. The sound of tapping and clicking could be heard, and soon a beacon of light shot down the hole, illuminating what lay below. Rick could be seen sprawled out on the steel floor below on the lower level, his left leg bent at an odd angle to the rest of his body. The three operators gathered at the newly created hole looking down at their comrade, the camera still locked on to the motionless man at the bottom.

“Rick! Rick!”

“Hey! Wake up man!”

“He isn’t moving Vick…”

“We need to get down there, now.”

The scene displayed on the screen changed as Hud moved his viewpoint from looking down the hole, over to looking at this other two teammates. Vic was already furiously studying the projection schematics of the station, trying desperately to find a quick way down to his fallen brother, his eyes were darting from section to section looking for a path. Tracing the projection with his finger, a red line appeared from their current position down to where Rick currently was sprawled out unconscious. The static returned as the video was forwarded to a new section.

“Form up on the door, Hud you take point.”

The camera focused on a closed door, which Hud reached out to and placed the scatter box onto the frame of the door, near the computerized lock. The red, green and orange lights flickered in a sequence for a moment, and then went all solid green. An audible hiss could be heard as the scatter box did its job and the door slowly released open. Hud flicked on the flashlight attachment on his submachine gun, sending a cone of illuminating light into the immediate area. Far in the back the hole which Rick fell through could be seen, a beam of light fell from that hole in the ceiling a single beam of brightness in a dark room. Sweeping his weapon right and left, Hud could spot small spots of burnt-orange scattered throughout the surrounding area. He maneuvered carefully into the room, making sure his steps avoided any spot of burnt orange on the floor.

“Follow my path guys, I don’t know what the orange shit is, but we don’t need to blaze any trails over it.”

Hud continued to keep the camera moving in sweeping arcs as he moved tenuously through the room. The burnt orange splotches were everywhere in this room small amounts dotted the floors while larger pools of the strange substance hung on the walls and even on the ceiling. It took several moments of a snake like pattern avoiding the spots on the floor, but eventually the three operators made it to the spot below the hole in the ceiling their illuminating lights mixing with the light coming from the hole in the ceiling. However, something was missing…the camera focused on an empty floor, with a burnt-orange smear leading off into one direction.

“Where…where did Rick go?”

“No way he walked off with his leg like that…I know the bastard is tough but fuck.”

“Hey…what’s that?!”

Hud pointed with his free arm at what his flashlight was currently centered on a bit away from their current position, it was a helmet. The camera stayed focused on the helmet as Hud made his way over to it, growing closer the helmet itself became more detailed, there seemed to be holes perforating the metal that made up the helmet in multiple spots. Picking up the helmet, Hud held it up high above his head so the other two operators could get a good look.

“Hud, what the hell happened to that helmet?”

“Hell if I know Vic…it looks like it was partially dissolved…”

The helmet was brought back down where the camera mounted on Travis could get a good look at it as he twirled it around. The flat black helmet had glaring holes in multiple locations, where it looked like some acidic substance had ate straight through the material that composed the helmet. Turning the helmet over, the tell tale patter of something hitting the floor beneath the helmet caused Travis to angle his head down and upon the camera seeing the burnt-orange substance dripping out of the helmet caused the operator to drop the helmet in shock. The camera zoomed onto the collection of small spots of burnt-orange as they pooled on the floor tiny vibrations of movement could be observed.

“We have to find Rick, now.”

The group split up at this point, Hud went in one direction while the other two peeled off to take other routes through the area. In a frantic ballet of movement, they searched the large room looking for their missing comrade. Hud so far had come up empty; his section of the room did not contain Rick or even a trace of him. He was moving across the far wall, inspecting the large tracts of burnt-orange when a familiar voice rang out.

“RALLY UP!”

The screen came back alive, the static dissolving away and the screen began to fill with the image of a man. His face frozen in terror, mouth agape in a scream that never left his lungs, his eyes wide with fright, his left arm outstretched frozen trying to reach for something long gone. The man was mounted up on the wall within a large tract of the orange substance, with only his face barely visible and the orange material covered the rest of his body.

“My God…”

“Hud, Mike get him down…”

Both operators moved at the command closer to their dead brother, each one unsheathed their combat knives and began chipping away at the orange substance. After a few hacks into the burnt-orange, Mike reeled back like an electric shock over took his body. The camera caught the Smokejumper throwing his knife away in an extremely quick motion, as the knife moved through the air the blade itself crumpled apart falling to the floor in pieces. Hud moved back from the corpse on the wall and brought his knife up to the camera, small spots of burnt-orange moved across the blade and a few of them began to burrow into the metallic blade itself.

“It’s eating my knife blade!”

Hud tossed his knife away with disgust and slowly backed away from the corpse on the wall. The three operators stood for a moment; gazing at their fallen comrade they bowed their heads in a respectful manner.

“Vick, I don’t think we’re gonna be able to get him down…”

“Our course of action has changed, we will extract to the Razor and return with heavier equipment to get Rick back. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

The screen filled with static as a new section of the video then began to materialize on the monitor. The image was one of a long section of hallway; the three remaining smokejumpers could be seen moving through it with a heightened sense of urgency.
A slow loud tremor began to vibrate through the hallway they were traversing, causing Travis and his camera to quake. The shaking was enough to make the three smokejumpers stop in their tracks; they looked at one another while the shaking subsided. Vick brought up the schematic of the station once again, in an attempt to locate the source of the heavy vibration, maybe part of the station crumbled. The sharp sounds of creaking metal took his attention away from the projection, but it was too late to react.

An entire section of the wall of the hallway detached itself and came crashing down onto Mike, its disengagement was quick and the effect on the human body was devastating. In a blink of an eye, Mike’s lower section of his body was pinned beneath the heavy weight of the wall section. Hud began to reach down to try and free his teammate from the crumpled wall, he stopped in his movement once his eyes gazed upon the backside of the wall. Vick started to pull Hud back away from Mike trapped under the wall. A large blob of burnt-orange was present, the largest mass of the substance they had seen yet.

It wriggled with an unnatural movement as it labored to move over the crumpled section of wall and onto its intended live target. Mike struggled to free himself jerking his lower body harshly, but to no avail. The collapsed section of the wall was just too heavy and pinned him down with enough force that he wasn’t going anywhere. Turning his head he looked at his two brothers and outstretched his free hand.

“Hey guys come on…help me.”

“Guys?”

The camera zoomed in as the orange substance finally reached the edge of the wall and began to spill over onto the armored back and helmet of Mike. Almost immediately the sound of dissolving composite filled the hallway, the orange substance began to flow over the composite armor and started to permeate into the protective covering. The scream shattered through the air, as Mike felt the burnt-orange squirm its way inside to his skin. His body began to twitch randomly as the substance continued to flow inside his TOC suit. The camera was centered on the horrific scene; Travis and Vick were both stuck in shock. A few moments went by before a single shot rang out, impacting Mike at the crown of his helmet. The camera jumped at the sound of the gunshot reverberated through the hallway. Turning to face Vick, Travis and the camera saw the still smoking pistol in his hand.

“Come on Hud, we…we gotta go.”

The screen went black for a moment, as a new part of the video was loaded up, with a moment of static appearing before the display came alive with a bobbling scene of a hallway. Travis was in a full sprint, the camera jumping around with every step, he came to a ‘Y’ intersection and darted his head left and right looking at each option to maneuver down multiple times. The corridor to the right began to vibrate and a ceiling panel crashed to the ground, a mound of burnt-orange wriggled off of the collapsed panel onto the floor of the hallway. Travis turned to the corridor on the left, and the camera began to jostle again as he starting running down corridor. The telltale sound of panels hitting the floor began to rhythmically emanate behind him, as the sounds grew closer his run turned more into a dead sprint.

“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.”

Coming at the end of the corridor the Travis and his camera came upon a door, in a flash he slapped the skatterbox on the side of the door, and in a few moments it hissed open revealing an office of some sort. Tables and desks with computers on them littered the room, at the far end of the room was a large thick window giving a great view of the stars and the brown-orange nebula that dominated the background. Travis made his way over to the giant window, his hand touching the thick glass. He pulled his pack off his back and placed it on the ground, as the camera angled down when he pulled open the zipper, which revealed several blocks of plastic explosives. A large thud was heard, and turning quickly around the camera could spot the door dent in. Moving quickly Travis began setting up the blocks of explosives on the window and the wall around it. Hearing another thud against the door, caused Travis to panic and drop one of the blocks, he kicked it against the wall with the window with his foot as he began to fiddle with the detonator. Moving to the far side of the room, he surrounded himself with a few of the desks, and grabbed hold of an exposed pipe with his free hand. He brought the detonator up, and depressed the trigger. The camera cut out, with only static remaining on the screen.

The camera came back alive to the scene of a starry black sky, turning around on the exterior hull, Travis could view the gaping hole that his explosives made in the hull of the station, the camera could spy desks, chairs and other assorted items floating in the void having been sucked out of the station. Atmosphere continued to escape from the hole bringing random items from inside the station out into space. Travis slowly crawled on the hull away from jagged maw that was continually venting atmosphere, the screen slowly tilting both right and left as the camera tilted with his body as he made his way on the exterior.

“Razor…come in Razor…this is Blade Two…I need immediate extraction…activating beacon now…”


/End Video Playback/
/Close Connection/
Last edited by Federal Republic of Free States on Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Senkaku
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 21492
Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Sun Sep 25, 2016 9:31 pm

Push Yourself





"It just isn't... what I thought it'd be, you know?"
Nina swirled her drink around, looking aimlessly into the cup, the neon flickering and casting her cheekbones in stark relief. She shrugged. "But whatever. It gets me a social studies credit, I guess, and internships like that look good for uni."
The boy whose name she'd forgotten laughed awkwardly, and she suppressed a sigh. He fumbled around with a tangle of meaningless words, making small, senseless conversation and occasionally staring at her chest. Why am I here? Someone remind me. His conversation was getting tiresome, so she drained her cup and stood. "I'm going to get something else to drink," she said abruptly, interrupting him. He started to rise, clumsily trying to formulate an excuse to go with her, but she just smiled coldly. "Want me to get you anything?"
He seemed to sense his inevitable defeat, and surrendered his cup, sitting back and starting to talk to someone else who'd been sitting near them as she vanished off into the crowd and headed out onto the roof. She filled both cups up and went to sit on the balcony ledge, her feet dangling over a canyon of neon and corrugated aluminum and wires.
Sixteen stories down. Wouldn't be much left of you after that. On a whim, she tossed one of the cups- the boy's- into the vast abyss looming beneath her, watched it arc through Lingzhou's night air. It smashed into a terracotta-tile roof, spilled, bounced, hit a clothesline and continued down to a corrugated aluminum sheet before vanishing from view into the bustling street below. She was feeling a little dizzy from the alcohol, and watching the cup's descent into the glittering pit was mesmerizing in way that whispered dark things to her subconscious.
A familiar voice came from behind her. "Whatcha doin' over here?"
She turned around, tossing a few curls out of her face and sighing. "Drinking alone." Quinn blew out a stream of smoke and sat down next to her.
"Mind if I join you?"
"Feel free."
They sat in silence, staring over Lingzhou's rooftops, over the forest of aerials, at other people out on their rooftops. The midnight sun was had turned the southern horizon into a fireball, like someone had detonated an H-bomb just over the horizon, and they watched the clouds dance and twist in its agonizing light and in the constant updrafts of heat and light from the vast city beneath them.
"Has everything been okay, lately?", Quinn suddenly said, flicking his joint into shimmering nothingness to plummet sixteen stories onto the impossibly narrow street beneath them.
Nina shrugged. "More or less."
"You've just seemed..."
"What?"
"I dunno, not all there? I mean I know, like, the usual stuff, but it seems like more than that."
She sighed, seeming to deflate within the armor of her brilliant blue dress, and slurred her words a little. Jesus, how much have I had? "Maybe it's this new internship? I have no idea, really. Between that and my parents fighting and this superluminal physics class and dancing... it feels like I'm just sitting on top of an old chemical rocket, Quinn. Waiting for it to go off?"
She looked at him, suddenly wanting to cry. "Do you ever feel like that?"
His brow furrowed, and he reached up to sweep a strand of hair out of his eye, while deftly sidestepping her question. "What's going on with the internship?"
Have I ever really known him? Never been able to see in all the way. Always able to put up a screen, be composed. Why can't you be more like that? "It's just not what I expected. It's actually really fucking depressing. You have no idea how many people the Research Office fucks over, and God, they're just so fucking casual about it." Her mopey weepiness vanished in a blaze of crystallizing rage. "And they don't really give the interns anything to do, either! Just... fucking shit. I'll be glad when this term is over and I can do something else on the weekends."
He nodded slowly, eyes vacantly staring at the endless sunset. "Yeah..."
Nina's rage disintegrated like a shuttle without a heat shield, and she put a hand on his shoulder to steady herself as she swung her legs back over onto the balcony. Get some water and go home.


The walk home passed in a dream. Lingzhou's twisting hallways and balconies and courtyards and meter-wide streets were a labyrinthine death trap by most foreign standards, but for natives, the claustrophobia, the constant invasion of privacy, and the darkness and smells were almost comforting, helping to reinforce a map of the city's maze. The narrowness of every hallway and the widespread availability of impromptu handholds also helped Nina avoid drunkenly sprawling flat on her face over loose floorboards and uneven stairs.

When she returned to the apartment, her mother was asleep in bed, and as usual, her father was out. Based on the broken plate laying on the dining room floor, she could guess why, but their constant fights no longer elicited any real emotional response from her besides a desire to get out. At least I wasn't there for it. She stumbled into her room and took off her dress, throwing it into her laundry hamper before climbing into bed.
Why am I doing any of this? The red numbers of her clock stared back at her in the darkness, muttering about how tired she was going to be tomorrow, and on a whim she turned the lights back on and grabbed her phone. The news headlines were the same- murders, crooked cops, robberies, evictions, fires, hitting with the same depressing regularity, each sensationalized into the disaster of the century when they were in fact just the tragedies and monstrous acts and accidents of a few people out of the seventeen billion who were still going about their lives in the City.
Angry thoughts that had been hammered into Nina's mind for too long began to chuckle to themselves as the sound of the neighbors' music shook through the thin walls.



The Research Office's enormous pyramidal office loomed over most of the city, offering a sweeping vista of a sea of rooftops stretching to the horizon. Lingzhou's leaning, sagging buildings stretched like a crowd of refugees and beggars, clinging to one another for support as licelike beings crawled over and through them. Forests of aerials and antenna sprouted like malignant metal thistles in patches here and there, spreading undeterred by the narrow clefts between buildings where, far beneath, weaving paths and impossibly narrow streets zigzagged crazily.

Nina took a sip from her water bottle to try and help her sore throat as she headed out onto one of the huge recreation balconies that protruded from the inscrutable mirrored surfaces of the pyramid. The wind buffeted her hair and scarf, bringing the familiar scent of omnipresent exhaust and trash into her nostrils. This particular balcony was a hundred stories up, enough for it to actually feel cold, and she could see all the way to Naahmura Bay's distant, glittering sapphire curve, far to the south, which just brushed the horizon.
Well, it's too late for second thoughts. She looked at her phone. Two minutes. A part of her felt the cold, but it no longer seemed associated with the person Nina- just with the shell she inhabited.

It had been a few hours short of a week since she'd gone to the party and thrown a red plastic cup into a neon abyss. Another normal week for Nina- waking up at six, at school by seven thirty and until three, then dancing her heart out and training until seven, then homework until at least eleven, then bed, surrounded by the ever-present backdrop of a disintegrating marriage, disintegrating people, a disintegrating school, and a disintegrating city.
She dialed a few numbers into her phone and spat out the piece of gum she'd been chewing, and it vanished into thin air as the line rang.



"Hello?"
Her mother sounded tired, as usual.
"Nina, what is it?", she said, a note of impatience creeping into her voice. "Look, is this some sort of prank or something? Nina? Fine, I'm-"
There was a sharp bang, and suddenly a dial tone cut in. "Connection lost," a computerized male voice said.

A moment later, a writhing green fireball suddenly rose above the rooftops of Lingzhou, near where she knew her apartment was. A second plume of flame erupted a few buildings away- her father's office.
Someone slammed the door open behind her- her supervisor, a portly, heartless bureaucrat named James. "Nina, come inside," he said, with the most emotion she'd ever heard from him.
"What's going on?"
"There's been a computer breach," he said urgently. "We're evacuating."
They're all so stupid! A "breach", James? It was just someone signing in on a terminal that had been left open, you witless fuck!
"Evacuating? Evacuating the building? Why?"
He motioned urgently. "It's a security risk! Nina, come on! All the other interns are already going down!"
"I don't think so." She swung one leg over the railing and fell into thin air.

As she fell, there was suddenly an overwhelming roar from below, and she smiled.

The last thing that she saw was a writhing toroid of flame, rising up from the base of the building to meet her.



"Three explosions. A coordinated attack. Eight thousand dead when the Research Office collapsed, two thousand from the fires started by the secondary blasts, twenty thousand wounded. Right now we only have preliminary reports, which would suggest that a member of the Research Office's City Gas and Light Administration Division named Alex Chi manually changed the settings in three specific city gas outlets, corresponding to the Research Office and two apparently unrelated buildings in the Fifty-Sixth Arrondissement. I want SEPOC to investigate this," Councilman Wu said angrily. "This could be a terrorist attack! Or some sort of political undermining, even! We need a centralized response to this!"
"Has anyone come forward, Councilman?", the SEPOC deputy director replied doubtfully through the data slate's crummy speakers.
"Well, no, not yet, but-"
"If it were a terrorist or political act, someone would've. When there's proof of such activities, you'll have your centralized response. Until then I suggest you continue telling the good people of Lingzhou that the city gas network suffered an unfortunate malfunction. Ten thousand out of seventeen billion aren't going to be overly missed."
"But it wasn't! We're already lying through our teeth! Even if this was a lone wolf, with no political motivations, isn't it concerning that they were able to kill ten thousand people on their own? Imagine if this became a regular occurrence! You wake up on the wrong side of the bed and decide to murder a few thousand people to maybe feel better about the day?"
"This sounds more like a problem with your city's antediluvian zoning laws and overcrowding," the deputy director said tersely. "I really don't know what you want from me. To stop every lone wolf who decided to go on the warpath, we'd need to employ PRISM assets and Security Directorate surveillance aid nonstop on every man, woman, child, and xeno in the League. Give it four hours and enough babies will have been born in Lingzhou alone to replace all those killed. Successful lone wolfs are not a common enough occurrence for me to grant your request from PRISM assets."
Councilman Wu gaped. "You can't be serious! I mean, these are people who-"
"-are replaceable, Councilman Wu. Much like yourself. I suggest you take this up with your Directorate-General of Social Tranquility. The ball is in your court until there are indications that a central response is justified. Good day."
Last edited by Senkaku on Sun Sep 25, 2016 9:34 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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The Vahkiran
Attaché
 
Posts: 91
Founded: May 23, 2012
Father Knows Best State

The Library Arc

Postby The Vahkiran » Tue Sep 27, 2016 7:13 pm

… The Skies Fall


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzXlaOFpp0U


Smoke… The sky rained ash and debris as though it itself was falling, crushing buildings and obliterating everything in it’s path in a burning surge of orange and red flames, the ground shook and shuddered, cracked and twisted beneath the impact and all of a sudden Saasere was jolted awake, the sound of screaming metal and yelling filling his ears. The corridor he had been sleeping in was doused with an orange glow and the shuddering that had woken him was no dream. What few windows that remained in the half-blasted skyscraper known as A-2 shuddered, some simply fell from their abused holdings, tumbling down towards the rubble strewn, wrecked city below.

Saasere stood, his helmet clattering to the floor, but that did not distract his eyes from the sight before him, the sky was on fire.
“The Vaasa'dahn has fallen, it’s the Vaasa'dahn!” One of the Vahkiran to his left exclaimed, pointing a gauntleted finger to the falling sky, no, the falling ship and it’s debris. Huge chunks of molten metal and the huge twisted hunk that was once a proud vessel scorched its way towards the ground. Saasere could only stand and watch in awe, even as a passing squad sprinted down the hallway, knocking him off balance and yet he remained, fixated.

“Brace, brace for impact!” Another voice sounded and with two parts instinct and two parts sense, Saasere dove for the crates he’d been using as a makeshift bed, just as the world shook on it’s axis. The sound was deafening, a horrific roar of a beast slain and the deep snarl of its dying breath as Saasere’s vision turned blue, white and orange as the Spooldrive ruptured, his ears rang and his eyes watered as dry heat washed over the building, followed by a jolting rattle of his chitin that threw him back against the solid metal racking against one wall.
“Saasere, up you fool, get up!” A voice just outside of his hearing range bellowed, before the feeling of a heavy pulser rifle slammed into his thorax, his four eyed gaze shifted immediately to his Ksvaimident who with all his force pulled the stunned Vahkiran to his feet. Saasere ducked, grabbed his helmet and slammed it on his head just as his squad rushed past following the captain to which he followed. It was the only thing he could do. Follow.

The scene outside was just as dire, dust and smoke filled the air from the ground to the sky, like a swirling maelstrom thrown up towards the stars from the impact of the Vaasa'dahn, he could see through the smoke and dust and debris the glowing carcass a few miles away, buried in some once existing part of the metropolis, now likely nothing more than a slag-ridden crater.
Raising his hand in front of his face, -as if that would clear the smoke- he could see the shimmering blue trails of plasmoid rounds crackling their way through the air, screaming and screeching as they splashed against concrete, metal and chitin alike, the whole square outside of A-2 was under assault and Saasere dived, skidding across the cracked ground to join his squad behind a hastily constructed barricade. It had originally belonged to the Yikla Loyalists who were ironically assaulting their own position.

“We have hostile armour inbound, command is down and we only have one or two anti armour squads!” His Ksvaimident roared over the the sound of both pulser-fire and the blast wave from the ship, which still surged past like a roiling sandstorm. Somewhere off to their right an orbital MAG round smashed into one of the few still upright buildings, shattering it from the inside out in a shower of bricks and debris. Saasere could feel some of it glance against the brown plating of his armour.
“There's no support Ksvaimident, Karmun-Komnidant Jijeer is presumed dead, HQ isn’t responding!” A Ksvaiar-Standing replied, an old school radio pack at his feet and the receiver plugged into his internal helmet comms.

Saasere watched for a moment, maybe two. He could not tell, before he raised his pulser-rifle and pulled the trigger thrice, sending off a spray of screaming, whistling plasmoid rounds towards those that were being fired in return, he could not entirely see who he was aiming at, but he was sure he scored a hit when a burst of blue and the pained, screamed chittering sounded off. Though it could have been any of the thousand rounds being exchanged through the dust cloud.

The Kijaa loyalists had been all but entirely surrounded, some still filing from the superstructure they were huddled around, barricaded against the encroaching fire, snipers and heavy weapons engaged from the windows and enemy missiles sought to eliminate them, showering those below in metal and glass. From one of the side roads where a grouping of the more resilient grey structures still stood came an ominous humming, a pair of Grav-Tanks rounded the corner soon after and wasted no time in loosing a heavy plasmoid impulse cannon round into a grouping of Kijaa loyalists.
Saasere watched as they were flash incinerated into soot, strewn across the floor by the condensed beam of plasmoid. Another round fizzled overhead, popping and turning the air static, before impacting a barricade at the entrance of the tower, blowing it to smithereens and anyone even remotely close to its firing arc.

Saasere slid down the barricade and watched a hail of plasmoid rounds sail overhead, watched as a member of his squad, one of the newer ones he had not even met yet fell to a round through the chest, the searing blue bolt melting through his armour, fizzling through chitin and flesh, then continue on only to splash against the floor, leaving a crackling blue trail in it’s wake. He clutched his rifle close and waited, waited for the round to crash through the barricade against his back, he awaited the burning sensation.

It never came. What did was an odd sense of shock and hope, -as almost like some gift from whatever Gods may have been watching them- came two Mechanized Unit Tactical Armours sprinting around the corner. Saasere had never seen one, but he had heard of them. Pre-Fall technology that gathered dust in the armouries of Alak, only known to be piloted by twelve Vahkiran in the galaxy and yet, there they were, the two walkers sprinting with an almost organic motion towards the blockade.

The first MUTA burst a spray of shimmering purple bolts at a frightening speed towards the two grav-tanks, causing Saasere to rise, peaking over the edge and watching the bolts scatter across the armour. One of the Grav-Tanks turned it’s barrel about, he could see the beam readying to fire. The MUTA however had already set its target and was faster, the barrel of it’s Thermal Charger Lance glowing, before it bellowed an otherworldly shriek as a stream of focused plasma shot forward, drilling into the metal surface of the Grav-Tank, messy globules of stray plasma splattering against the rapidly melting armour and falling to the concrete slabs, hissing and burning small punctures in the solid material as it cooled.

The Grav-Tank dropped and smashed into the floor as it’s reactor detonated, blowing the turret sky high. The second tank was dispatched by the second MUTA, which had already sent a hail of guided short ranged missiles, carpet bombing both the supporting squads and the tank itself into a hole strewn mess of inward melted metal. Saasere could not help but cheer and follow suit as the ranks of red-painted Kijaa loyalists rushed over the barricades, pulse-rifles rippling as they discharged round after round.

The entire Eastern flank devolved as the two MUTA’s fired a mass of anti-infantry air-burst plasmoid rounds from their rotary cannons, the shells clinging and bouncing across the floor in red hot glowing droves as their marks were found and Vahkiran bodies were ripped limp from limp…
______________________________________________________


The ground was littered in bodies, bits of bodies, rubble and sometimes you could not tell what was what. Saasere sat on one of the barricades, his helmet by his feet, cracked and scorched from where a plasmoid round had glanced across the visor. He’d been lucky it’s structure had held, else he would be more blind than he was now, or worse. The entire right side of chitinous face was a nasty churned blueish green from the cooled plasmoid mixing with soft white tissue, contrasting with the smooth tan-colour of the rest of his body. Both his right eyes had been scorched from their sockets and most of his upper jaw was all but gone.
But, he was alive and despite all the pain his body should have been feeling, he was glad. The enemy forces had been routed, their offense strong, but their organisation had dwindled and the crippling blow of losing not only two grav-tanks but also a support dropship had sent them running, hunted down like prey by the victorious. Saasere himself had slewn at least twelve, the wrist blades of his armour doused in the sticky, yellow-brown blood of his own kind.

He flinched as the medic saw to applying a paste to his maimed face, it would aid the healing process and stop any foreign bacterias from entering his bloodstream, something that would spell death for even the hardiest of Vahkiran. His good eyes lowered to the barricade a few paces in front, where he’d been stationed. The body of his Ksvaimident, his captain lay strewn across the concrete. He had not been so lucky after they had all charged over the barricades, two stray -or well aimed- heavy pulser rounds had hit him square in the chest, melting armour and chitin, fusing it with he soft white tissue of his innards. He likely had not even felt it.

“Done now; go. The Talzimar-Komnidant is redeploying all forces to the T’Dara System, a Library has appeared.” The medic informed him, packing his medical supplies into his bag and then sprinting off to a gathering of other Vahkiran off to his left, he could smell the pain from here, the anguished chittering and clacking of both the wounded and his comrades trying to ease his pain and just behind them, like a giant twisted metal sculpture ablaze in glory, was the carcass of the Vaasa'dahn.

It would not be the last time the skies would fall.
Last edited by The Vahkiran on Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:30 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Senkaku
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 21492
Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:41 pm

Maelstrom




Two ships were racing through the atmosphere of the gas giant Jehol-6, fusion engines ripping through majestic, billowing thunderheads as they hurtled at hypersonic speeds through a continent-sized storm. Orange cones of flame flickered around both as friction heated their exteriors to stellar temperatures, and occasionally quick puffs of smoke emerged from them to vanish in milliseconds as their attitude control systems fought valiantly against the brutal winds that were swirling up from the emerging storm cell far below.

61 Sao-hak waved a tentacle to call up the alert that had just appeared at the corner of his console's main display as the Ride Or Die shuddered again. It was another alert about wind shear and drag on the exterior, and within a fraction of a second, two more alerts had appeared warning him about hull temperature and incoming threats. Ugh. I know already! He released a few bubbles, waving his skirt and tentacles wildly in frustration for a moment, and minimized the warnings, calling back up the weapons control interface. It immediately displayed thermal and real-color feeds from the surviving hull cameras, one of which abruptly shook and turned to static as he watched. The ship shook again, and he saw clearly, in three of the camera frames, two points of approaching light, shooting through the massive, flickering clouds all around.
He tapped a few icons, bringing up an inventory of the Ride Or Die's point-defense lasers. When he'd first taken off in the modified freighter a few hours previously, she'd had six such weapons. Now, only three survived, with two having been lost to enemy fire and one having taken damage from the high winds currently buffeting the ship as it screamed through the gas giant's atmosphere. Another was displaying warning icons, indicating that reentry heating would soon shut it down as well if he didn't find some way to cool it off.
Squashing his eyes forward with concentration, 61 Sao-hak opened fire with the two that were not in danger, sending beams of green light slicing through the clouds. The two missiles chasing him dodged sharply, vanishing into a massive cloud that was welling up from the emerging storm cell beneath them. There was a bright flash from within the cloud, and hope filled him for a moment, but the missiles both burst out of it a moment later, engines roaring as they closed in. Damnit, must've just been lightning.
The third surviving laser mount's icon was blinking red at him now. Danger! Overheating approaching critical levels! Lens array must be allowed to cool!
"Fuck," he said to himself. The high winds buffeting the Ride Or Die were disproportionately heating the bottom of the ship, where the third mount was located. You have to act. With another quiet curse, he minimized the weapons control interface, and flipped the freighter over.
As the ship rolled, loose items began sinking from what had been the floor towards the old ceiling, and 61 Sao-hak hurriedly abandoned his console, jetting to the other side of the room as the glowing blue data core gently sank. He reached out and wrapped his tentacles around the gleaming cylindrical magazine of silicon crystals, setting it down gently on its side so it could roll freely, and swam back to his console. In his brief foray to the other end of the room, two proximity alerts had popped up for the missiles, which were now within ten kilometers, and a third incoming weapon had been detected- presumably a fresh launch from the Hideaki Maru.
61 Sao-hak set the ship to roll gently around its major axis, ignoring warnings about antenna and exterior plating being torn away, and began firing his lasers again.

Behind the Ride Or Die, the Hideaki Maru suddenly burst through a two-hundred mile tall thunderhead, lightning flickering off of the cone of reentry-heating plasma that surrounded the sleek, sharklike vessel. A fourth tiny star suddenly accelerated away from its parent, drawing steadily closer to its companions as they pursued the Ride Or Die, and Hideaki Maru swung her blunt nose slightly as her lidar again picked up the Ride Or Die, naked without any clouds to shield it from view.
Their target vanished into another cloud, and a moment later the missiles were hit by an updraft that Ride Or Die had barely outrun. The weapons swiftly corrected, their sensors looking intently for the heat signature of their target's fusion engines.

A moment later, three beams of green light stabbed out from the cloud, and two of the missiles disintegrated into fireballs. Heavier debris plummeted down, beginning their long fall towards the sea of metallic hydrogen that lay many thousands of kilometers below, while lighter parts- stray bolts, droplets of fuel, bits of composite casing- were lofted higher and sent soaring by the ferocious gusts coming from the gargantuan cyclone taking shape around them.
The strange intelligence at the helm of the Hideaki Maru warbled digitally to itself in frustration, firing its own point-defense lasers blindly into the massive cloud looming before the ship, and accelerated to try and pass through the vast plume of ammonia as quickly as possible. God damnit! This fucking uulchi is not going to get away!

61 Sao-hak swore and held on to his console as the data core bounced off of him, floating motionless beside him for a moment as the Ride Or Die decelerated and spun. On the screen, white streaks of light appeared where the Hideaki Maru's lasers turned ammonia into plasma, stabbing all around the Ride Or Die, and his sensors spat out confused and meaningless alerts as they stared blindly into the dense cloud. The uulchi swiftly vented a cloud of bubbles, evacuating the gas from his cuttlebone in preparation for what was to come.

A moment later, the data core began drifting towards the ceiling as the Ride Or Die momentarily went into free fall, and then 61 Sao-hak was nearly jerked loose from his console as the fusion motors kicked on again. The data core sank towards the back of the room, and 61 Sao-hak held on for dear life as the Ride Or Die blasted out the top of the cloud, arching up into a layer of thin ammonia ice haze. I can only imagine what would happen to an air-breather under g-forces like this. Within seconds, though, as he leveled off, two tiny stars appeared far below, and the implacable missiles continued the hunt, climbing furiously to engage their target. He let loose a storm of laser fire, but now that he wasn't hidden in a cloud, they dodged easily.
Hideaki Maru emerged from the far side of the thunderhead a moment later, lightning once again extending blinding fingers to stroke her fiery plasma cone. The jet-black auxiliary cruiser drone swung her nose up, the ship's AI realizing that the Ride Or Die must have changed altitude, perhaps in a bid to escape Jehol-6, and that it was unlikely the old freighter could have dipped into a deeper area of the atmosphere. But the ship was ascending more slowly, and turned thirty degrees away from the Ride Or Die so as to present a portion of her broadside. Perhaps her sensors are confused, 61 Sao-hak realized. After all, the wind must be hurting her too.
His thought about the wind metamorphosed into a muttered curse as the targeting lidar suddenly went offline. Now I'm stuck using auxiliary radar for targeting? This is fucking retarded.

An old human saying he had heard once in Carcosa suddenly came to 61 Sao-hak's mind. Sometimes the only way out is through.

The Hideaki Maru came around slowly, another missile emerging from her starboard launch tube, as her lidar tried to pin down where, exactly, the Ride Or Die was behind a curtain of shimmering ammonia ice. For a moment, the drone ship corrected in the wrong direction, presenting even more of her broadside to the freighter, and then began to lurch the other way. Inside the auxiliary cruiser's computer banks, her commander tried to ascertain the situation, which had suddenly become confusing. If lidar data was to be believed, the Ride Or Die, previously on an escape course into orbit, was now descending rapidly on a collision vector.
That can't be correct, the AI told itself. Makes no sense, based on the behavior so far. Just a reflection error from the clouds, or the lidar has been damaged by heat or wind.
Yet a moment later, the data had not corrected, and more alarmingly, the three missiles Hideaki Maru still had in the air were looping back around, engines screaming as they turned around to pursue their target.

Ride Or Die swooped out of the sky, lasers blazing, and at the last second 61 Sao-hak pulled the freighter back slightly. A head-on collision would have crushed his bow in and entangled the two ships as they plummeted towards Jehol-6's core- but now, the Ride Or Die's massive marine keel, for docking at seaports, cut through Hideaki Maru like a hot knife through butter, assisted by continuous laser fire.
61 Sao-hak let go of the console and swam to cling to the data core as the Ride Or Die shuddered and shook, her keel cutting straight through the drone cruiser. Mangled chunks of metal and ceramic immediately began peeling away from the freighter's underside, while the Hideaki Maru brought what lasers she could to bear at the last second and sheared away one of the Ride Or Die's thruster assemblies and some communications equipment, as well as punching holes in almost every compartment.

A moment later, the two ships peeled away, the heat of Ride Or Die's engines blasting Hideaki Maru sideways. The freighter, with chunks of hull flying off, once again pointed her nose skyward, and the two laser mounts that had not been scraped off her underside lashed out at the incoming missiles. The nearest one erupted in a fireball, while the second was only grazed and began losing altitude, plunging down towards the cyclone.
The third, having looped around and unable to pull up in time, slammed directly into the bow of the now-disintegrating Hideaki Maru. The impact was enough to tear the front half of the ship away, thanks to the deep gash the Ride Or Die had already left to weaken the vessel's structure, and a moment later the entire ship simply fell apart like a house of cards, flames gouting in every direction. Her proud bow, separated by the impacts of the Ride Or Die and the missile, blew apart into a thousand pieces, and the stern, flames pouring from the gaping holes the crash had left, began breaking up as it rolled into the cloudy deep like a dying whale.
God, what a prick, the AI thought to itself.



Eleven hours later, on a different world around a different star, a fireball of epic proportions appeared in the Pallasian night. It went streaking over the mountains, out over the coast, and went to plummet into the ocean with an enormous flash. Several minutes later, once the plume of light that had illuminated the western horizon had vanished, there was a low, deep rumbling noise, and that was all. Most of the townspeople living along the coast scarcely awoke- a kinetic strike was no longer a remarkable event for them, only a sometimes-frightening inconvenience if it landed close enough to create a tsunami.

Few, if any, noticed the smaller fireball that had split off from what was the disintegrating corpse of the Ride Or Die, approaching the end of her final voyage at the end of a long and often dubiously legal career at around twelve kilometers per second. But 61 Sao-hak, as his escape pod began firing its retro-rockets, felt a twinge of emotion as he watched the freighter vanish over the horizon. A moment later, the exterior feed suddenly went completely white- the Ride Or Die was gone. A worthy end for a distinguished vessel.
He minimized the exterior feed and typed a quick message out to the recipient of his cargo.

Will transmit GPS location shortly for retrieval. Be advised of possible hostile surveillance of the area, reentry was not exactly inconspicuous.


As the escape pod entered the stratosphere and deployed its parachute, 61 Sao-hak extended a tentacle and ran it idly over the data core beside him. I shall be quite glad to be rid of you.
Last edited by Senkaku on Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:49 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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Haude
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Founded: Oct 05, 2016
Ex-Nation

Postby Haude » Sun Oct 16, 2016 10:16 pm

New Worlds, New Problems.


Skyskimmer: In Orbit above Oreyate-A2

Anesab felt nothing. he neither felt his body, nor could he sense what was around him. He did not even really know which way was up or if up really mattered right now. He could think though. He just did not know what he needed to think about. Eventually this came to him, he was aboard the Skyskimmer an interstellar colonization ship that used cryogenic storage and a massive solar powered laser to send colonist jetting off to other systems. Cryogenics. That’s where he was, he was being thawed out, even as he thought about that he could start to feel his body and the steady drain of fluid from his holding tank.

Eventually he was no longer being supported by the fluids and he shifted his weight onto his two legs. It felt like he was standing on wet noodles though so he used his tail to brace himself up. Then clumsily he reached up with his right arm and pulled the breathing tube out of his mouth, which pulled the rest of his breathing apparatus away from his face. This triggered the doors to his chamber to open and it also cued him to the fact he needed to actually breath now.

Gasping for breath into the red lit room he blinked away the bits of frost that clung to his eyes as he tried to take better stock of his surroundings. Before he could even begin to let out a burst of ultrasound, the vocal cords along his nose began to scream out in agony. All he could do was clutch his snout, close his eyes, and turn his ears downward to block out all the pain. He did not know how long he stood in the now open cryochamber, he supposed it could not have been long given nobody had come to check on him. Still the entire top half of his snout throbbed in pain, probably from trying to contract while it was full of ice. Slowing down he tried to taking stock of the rest of his body, as he was now aware that his aching nose was not the only part of him that hurt. The rest of his body was joining in on the chorus letting him know of every ache and pain, as that numb feeling left him only to be replaced by some insulting combination of burning muscles and icy chill.

Vaguely he heard a machines voice speaking to him, but he ignored this for as long as he could. Instead he decided to work his consciousness over his body to remind him that he was still all there. Two arms, burning muscles and aching joints; Two legs, cramping up with aching joints; One tail, also cramping up; Torso, was too cold to be good but he was now breathing in warm air; Neck, actually didn’t hurt surprisingly. Eventually he turned his attention to the continued insistence of a mechanic monotone only a computer could generate and perked his ears up to it. On the wall across from the five defrosting cyrochambers was a microphone/speaker combo asking him if he was all right.

Grimacing, with his eyes squinted and his ears cocked back, he looked up at it and said <“Yeah, Yeah.”>

It responded <“You were taken out of Cryogenic storage at 02:61. Biosensors show that you are currently experiencing crippling pain due to torn ultrasound vocal cords. This damage appears to have been caused by not following thawing procedures, which you were tagged as having known. Added to Log.”>

He closed his eyes and began to sort his thoughts as the machine spoke, when it mentioned adding something to his log he turn his ears down. Massaging the top of his snout he looked at the intercom and thought about this particular computer system, eventually he recalled what he was looking for.

He set aside the pain for a moment and spoke up clearly, <Command. Authority Senior AI Tech, Code 2F4AA4. Order delete previous logs on Roruye-Anesab. Order insert empty log at 02:61.”>

He glanced over at Urede who had also come out of cold storage and was looking at him inquisitively. Anesab flicked the tip of his tail at him before continuing <Order copy Roruye-Urede Previous Entry, paste to Roruye-Anesab previous entry.”>

Turning one of his alpha ears towards Urede he cocked his head to the side to also look at him, <“Thaw out alright?”>

Perking both of his ears up in amusement Urede just held his hand’s up to Anesab in a permissive manner and said <“I did alright, looks like you tried to sound off when you awoke. Might want to clean up that blood before you spend the rest of the cycle deleting logs.”>

Anesab flicked his entire tail to shift his weight, allowing him to easily turn to the right, though he kept his ears point towards Urebe <“Good point. I’ll go do that. ”> Having rotated around towards the door he waved his hand at the other cyrochambers, <“Let the rest of the team know where I went, I’ll meet you at preparatory deck.”>

Urele tilted his head and let out a sharp whistle to hold Anesab’s attention <“Where are you going in between?”>

Pulling out a short device that had been hanging around his neck he started to spam its button to let out a burst of ultrasound, moments later his beta-ears picked up the echos and he gained a better sense for where he was. Anesab leaped forward and dropped down onto all fours as he called out behind him <“Going to check on the system drones.”> Before Urebe could give him a response he bounded towards the exit at a steady pace.

He took the rounded corner leading into one of the ships periphery hallways smoothly. On the floor were several color lines which would lead one to the nearest facility of some type, the reddish light sort of robbed these lines of their color but they were still helpful. Anesab currently followed the greenish one towards the Water-station. Personally he knew the layout of the skyskimmer but he kept spamming the ultrasound button just for the comfort of having an up to date idea on where everything was. It was also helpful because the presence of ultrasound activated some of the sonic-displays that provided more tangible directional information.

Taking another rounded corner, he came into a room with faucets, drains, mirrors and a rack of drawers. The aptly named water-station. Bringing his bounding jog to halt, Anesab righted himself so that he could take up more of the wall sized mirror and get a good look at himself. He couldn’t quite tell the color of his fur under the light but he knew it to be blue and black, though under this light it all looked black. Except for the end of his snout which was crusted up with his blood. That looked red. Though even that color was off because it should have been an orange color.

Once again he took stock of his body, but now with a visual aid to help him see what was going on. The pain in his snout had dulled down from a steady throb to a mild ache, so he continued to ignore it while he leaned in close to get better look. Anesab couldn’t say he was good looking, he always felt his snout tapered down to quickly and his four ears always looked like they were too long. However just before he set out on this journey he had actually found someone to mate and she told him his ears made up for his unimpressive height. So maybe he wasn’t that bad.

Studying the exterior structure of his upper vocal cords which ran along his snout in two ridges he could see a good deal of swelling. This worried him a bit, he didn’t want his vocal cords filled with any fluids especially if he was about to be facing some high Gs for a atmospheric reentry. The little ultrasonic transmitter he was using as a crutch wasn’t really giving him a clear idea of what was going on in his own body, not that he was good at that sort of thing any way. He made the mental note to talk to Elenat about his upper vocal cords, Elenat was a medic and would be far more apt to understand what was going on upper there and what the ultrasound echos meant. For now he grabbed a towel and wiped off the crusted blood.

With that handled he turned back around and bounded off towards the information center, which was what he really wanted to check out. Before he had set out he had talked about this projects AI at length with the other members of his team and he wanted to know how it held up in the real world. Making it to the information deck was fairly simple and all it involved was following the yellowish line on the floor but he also had memorized the route before hand because he knew the first place he was going to when he awoken from cold storage. Minus the little mishap with tearing up his upper-volcs.

While he padded along on all fours he began to excitedly sort out everything that should have happened since he and the other colonist had been cryogenically frozen. The Skyskimmer would have been cruising at around eight percent the speed the light before they used a series of nuclear devices to break. Before they had even arrived the system should have been seeded by five waves of autonomous drones, whom would have set up most of the basic infrastructure both in the system and on their chosen planet.

As Anesab entered the information deck he was greeted by the sight of dozens of unused terminals and a single central column which housed one of the AI’s they used to fly the ship. He didn’t let it slow down his enthusiasm but the empty room bugged him some what. When he worked at the Jaks Station this room would have been staffed around the clock and there would be a comfortable buzz of activity, both from the other terminals and from the people working them. He honed in on his reason for coming here though and with one smooth motion he righted himself and hopped onto one of the stools like he would have done back at Jak. Powering up the terminal he was greeted with a audio interface that his two beta-ears were able to translate as physical objects even though nothing was really there.

Quickly he went to work accessing the ship's communication array and began opening channels with Vanguard-1. Which were rejected. This brought his full attention towards the error report he was getting. Curious he tried to open a channel with Vanguard-2 and it went through. Satisfied nothing horrible was about to happen he began to launch inquiries to find out what happen to Vanguard-1. Reading over the reports Vanguard-2 had on the situation it seems that Vanguard-1 and all its drones had been destroyed when they arrived in the system and crossed paths with an asteroid. Grunting in mild annoyance, he checked the number of active drones in the system which should have been 400 of 500. Instead Vanguard-2 reported the number of drones in the system as 12,172 of 500 more than twice what was sent and three times more than what should have been active.

Anesab began to hum one of his songs to himself as he tried to figure out what happened by reading reports and launching inquiries. Right about now he wish he had a full team at his back to try and figure this out, the quietness of the information deck was starting to get to him. It wasn’t only the loneliness of the room now, it was also the fact that there was an army of unaccounted drones in this system with him. Shaking his body to try and focus his mind, he stood up from the stool and called up the ships Cyrogeneic manager. Then he said <”Wake the AI techs, code 04.”>. With that handled as far as procedures was concerned he turn away from his work in this room and made his way to the door. This was curiosity of his, he had an actual mission to do and now there was some doubts as to whether that mission would go off without a hitch. So now all that was left was to go planet side and make sure they were not going to have to leave 20,000 people in cold storage.

Once again he bounded off and followed the red-line and sonic maps towards the preparatory deck where he saw the rest of his five member team. Urede an electrical engineer, was talking to Rakkuran a structural engineer. Standing off to the side of those two were Elenat, a fellow Easterner and the team’s life-support engineer/doctor. Talking to Elenat was Emale a westerner like Urede, who was the team’s Communication Engineer and along with Abelu rounded out the team with mechanical engineer. Among the other members of the team he visably relaxed, though this cued them into the fact he had to have something to relax about. They all perked up when he entered and has they started to greet him, but Rakkuran spoke up with his usual heavy northern voice <“What’s wrong, you look tense?”>

He closed his eyes and said <”The Drone’s did something outside their programming, I’m not sure why.I already alerted the ship to wake the other AI techs.”>

Emele said <”Well that’s what your suppose to do, we just need to check out the planet's surface and make sure they didn’t make any mistakes right?”>

Elenat spoke up in his quiet more methodical tone, <”That’s true, let's suit up and get down to the surface.”> He paused for a moment before adding <“What happened to your upper vocals, Anesab?”>

Anesab’s ears naturally cocked themselves back and he admitted <”Tried to sound off when I woke up. Does it look bad?”>

Elenat shook his head <”Shouldn’t cause too much of a problem, it looks dry.”>

A sense of relief overcame him at that, the last the any wanted to do was delay the mission to the surface. Priority number one right now was making sure the colony could support people and they could get the people on this ship out of cyro safely and efficiently. Still spamming the ultrasound transmitter he looked through the contents of the lockers to find a suit marked for his fit. Eventually he found one and made his way over to it, swiped his card to check it out, and then opened the locker. It took him a moment to remember how to slip into one of these, he was usually a desk jockey so he never had to do this sort of thing on a regular basis.

Since his hands were full and his upper-vocs still hurt, he couldn’t sound off to see what the other were doing so he. Instead he opted to hop around on one foot while trying to get the suit on to see how they were doing and if they were having has much difficulty as he was. Rakkuran was already in his suit helping others, currently Elenat, get into theirs. While Anesab worked his arms into his own suit, he noted that everyone else was having as much difficulty as he was. Everyone but Elenat was probably used to wearing these, Rakkuran more than others sense he probably had to actually go out and fix things where he was stationed. Anesab, had only ever dawned an exosuit for drills and practice, since Jak’s relatively new and well manned..

Eventually Urebe called out to the group breaking the silence, <”So what do you think will find down there?”>

Elenat said <”Well the preliminaries said the air was mostly filled with carbon-dioxide so probably won't be able to get a good sense for it.”>

Abelu, the smallest in their group said <“That’s preliminary, those machines should have been turning some of that into breathable air and a stock of carbon.”>

<”Well”> Anesab began as he did a little hop to fit the rest of the way into his suit <”There is three times as many drones in the system as there should be, so hopefully it’s three times further along than it needs to be.”>

Rakkuran snorted at this and said <”Course that assumes the machines worked right, I think there is going to be a bunch of broken machines or they did something crazy ”>

Before Anesab fit his helmet on he added <”They should get everything set up as that was their primary goal and they have more than enough manpower to do it. ”>

With that bit of acclaim out of the way he slipped his head into the helmet and attached it to the suit’s to the collar. At first he was completely cut off, he couldn’t hear anything, and he couldn’t even see but eventually the helmet received power and it began to feed him auditory information about his surroundings as well as a visual display of the suits various sensors. With hearing restored he was much more at ease and with his team at his side he felt more able to handle their given task. Which was to ensure the infrastructure at site one was set up and able to handle colonist.

Turning to his teammates he held his hand aloft signalling that he was ready, after a moment of adjustment Elenat mirrored the gesture along with everyone else. With confirmations handle they all began to head towards the loading room filing in one behind another as they did so. Once everyone was inside this room the AI waited a spare moment and then sealed the door behind them.

Anesab called out on the local channel <”Most people think the AI’s slow when he doesn’t shut the door but they have a delay so nobody suddenly goes back through when they slam shut.”>

Rakkuran gave off a little indeterminable rumble before he added <”Yeah, getting it by a bulkhead would probably hurt.”>

Once they were sealed into the mid section the shuttles rear doors open exposing them to more rounded corners and benchs which made up the ship behind them. The ceiling of the shuttle however had several harness to hold people in place, which was not comforting as that meant they were neccisary and Anesab wasn’t a fan of reentry. However everyone was counting on him and so he took a seat and pulled the harness down, allowing it to inflate and lock him in place. The other members of the team settled into their seat, this was followed shortly by the shuttles door closing with a hiss. Then nothing. Anesab lost track of time, he wasn’t sure how long they had sat there because the whole time he was expecting to feel the shuttle shunted out into space. It never came though. Taking stock of what was around him he saw everyone else was expecting something as well, expect for Rakkuran.

Anesab called out to him <”Hey shouldn’t we have taken off by now”>

Rakkuran said <“We already have, patch into the shuttle's computer and you’ll see ”>

On one hand he Anesab wanted to be surprised on the other hand he should have patched into the shuttle from the get go. Then again the shuttle should have promted him to patch in when he first sat down. Anyway, he started speaking directly to the suit rather than to an open channel and went through the various screens to patch into the system.

Anesab comment on this to no one in particular <”Wow, this is kind of a complicated process for a little patch”>

Urebe said “Yeah, A northern group got assigned the shuttle but a Western Group got the exosuit. ”

Out of pure curiosity he stopped trying to patch into the system and looked at the operating specifications. Sure enough Taberant had developed the exosuit, however AleSolDel had made its computer system, which was from his homeland in the East. Curiosity satsifed he turned his attention back to patching into the shuttles network. When he finally managed to connect it granted him some addition information displayed on the inside of his helmet. Which gave him about two second to brace for impact with the planet atmosphere. It wasn’t quite a jarring impact like he feared but the vibrations that were being carried through the ship and into him, played havoc on his sense of his surroundings. After a moment the shuttle started to accelerate in earnest though as it was pulled down ever faster towards the planet. The Gs acting on his body started to steadily climbed and he recalled his upper-vocs might drive some blood down his throat any moment.

Anesab didn’t mind space travel or any of that but he hated flying into a planet’s gravity well like this. After what felt like an eternity the shuttle stopped shaking as hard and the forces acting on him dropped back down to a reasonable levels. As a plus he didn’t taste any blood so he assumed he had not started to bleed again, which was good. This smoother flight only lasted a short while before he felt the shuttle touchdown and the harnesses release their death grip on him.

Standing up along with the other members of his team, he heard Emele jokingly call out <”Bumpy ride.”>

Elenat said <”Better a bunch of little bumps than one final bump.”>

Anesab just shook his head, turning his attention over each member of his team he saw that everyone else was gathering by the rear door waiting for it to open. Eventually it popped open and exposed the outside world to his sense of hearing. Which was mostly a rocky mess, flicking his screen for information to visuals showed that it was mostly red and greys lit up by a bright yellow star. Curioisty started to gnaw at him and he exited down the ramp the shuttles door had created. Once outside his suit have him a better look at his surroundings as its on board audio system could break down sound and pulses far faster, and those could be translated to his beta ears as what he would normally hear. This gave him acuity up to hundreds of feet away which was nice. This new awareness also let him see the sprawling colony complex they had set down next to.

The strucutre itself was divdied into dozens of small half sunken domes with various pipes and connectors running between them. Intellectually he knew they probably also extend a ways underground with storage and transportation lines, that were unseen to him. Still what was above ground was impressive enough for him, until he saw one of the drones riding around with metal beams of some sort. Anesab immediately perked up at the sight of drones and bounded over to them on all fours, accessing their network to see what they were up to. He stopped a little ways from the one he saw, to take stock of the twenty of so who were building another section of the base. He thought they had already built all the structures they needed to so he started looking up what they were doing.

He quickly noticed some peculiarities such as there being 80 drones on site rather than 40. Twice as much as should be here, but 40 less than what he personally had expected to see given the numbers from earlier. Absentmindedly he called out to Rakkuran on the local channel and was greeted with silence. It took him a moment but he realized he need to open up the team channel since the other members were probably dispersed.

Giving the exosuit a call command Anesab opened the channel and said <” hey Rakkuran, What does the structure look like? Did they build them to your specs”>

He responded <”Yeah looks, good on my end. Although there are more structures here than what was intended. Looks like they built doubles of everything, but the original structure is to specification. Though I must admit I don't know why they built a third communication rig, out to the west.”>

Urede chimed in <“Whatever it is, it is not connected to this systems power grid but it is connected to this system’s computer system right, Anes?”>

Anesab sat down on the hill next to one of the drones and started browsing the complexes computer system. <”Yeah looks like it's connected to this computer network, but not to this station’s AI. It has it’s own model. Actually. That looks like Vanguard-1’s AI. So that explains that mystery, wonder why it didn’t respond to a query if it was repurposed like that.”>

Rakkuran eventually asked <“There is something strange going on here but structurally I’m gonna say this place is good. It can hold colonist.”>

Everyone else responded in time Urede confirmed the power grid was functional, Elenat confirmed that the colony wasn’t dangerous and life support was running, Abelu confirmed that vital machinery was operational, and Emale confirmed the communication system was functional. Now all that was left was to confirm the AI’s were doing what they were suppose to. Looking down at his display he didn’t see anything wrong with any of the AI’s just a few peculiarities that were within operable levels. Still, something was going on.

Urede called out to him <”Anes. What about the AIs?”> he heard others course this, also questioning the state of the AI’s but Anesab remained quiet for a bit longer. They were within operable levels he kept telling himself. Eventually he decided everything could be solved with a full colonies worth of citizen. So he called out to the team <”AI’s are fine, Signal the colony ship. Looks like this tin can hold some people.”>

User avatar
Haude
Civil Servant
 
Posts: 9
Founded: Oct 05, 2016
Ex-Nation

Postby Haude » Tue Oct 18, 2016 3:03 pm

Hunting Along The Coast


Listening to the rustling brush around himself, Udele immersed himself into his environment hearing each groan and creak as the ocean breeze pushed through. He heard the thousands of tiny foot falls of a long quin as it move across the ground a short distance to his left. He heard the the steady wing beats of thousands of smaller quin as they searched for some food. He could taste the ocean’s salt as it was wafted into his partially open maw even though he could not see it yet. What he could see amount to the thick brush of the coastal lands, heavy winding roots and dull yellow leaves trying to absorb the pitiful amount of light the sun was casting off. This was no good though, the lines and colors all merged together in his vision where one root began and another ended was almost indiscernible and individual leaves might as well have not even existed as far as he was concerned. Flexing his toes inside his boot he shifted his weight in the soft silt and gravel, using his own impeccable hearing to remain perfectly silent to the world around him.

Then he sounded off, blasting air through his upper vocal cords he instinctively shaped it into ultrasonic pulse that flowed out over the land. Mere moments later his beta ears responded to the echos and his mind piece together a map of his surroundings. Showing him how the roots twisted amongst each other, where they dipped into the ground and how far beneath they went before arching back up. It easily reveal paths of least resistance, and it marked out hidden shadows where the earth might have caved into a hole and something may be hiding. Then within the blink of an eye he pumped out more soundings, constantly updating his map so that he could picture the multi-limbed quin he heard earlier. Allowing him to hear it as it turned its head to looked left and then right before scuttling away.

His soundings also revealed another predator in the brush, who was like him silently crawling forward towards the edge of his current sounding range. When his pack-mate arrived near the edge of his sounding range, Udele flexed his tail causing it to snap and unleash a sound. This was sound barely discernible to most and mirrored the sound creaking branches might make, but to their keen hears it was a distinct sound that they could associate with a distinct signal. When his packmate heard the signal he stopped, settled into a low crotch and then sent off his own signal via a snap of his tail letting Udele know to move forward.

Taking his cue Udele dropped onto all fours. The gravel bit into the leather of his fingerless gloves protecting the thick layer of skin that covered his palms and forearm from the grounds biting edges. His fingers splayed over the ground like a puddle not really applying any pressure. Changing his soundings from a steady frequency, he began to move the frequency up and down as he started to prowl forward. His rear boots and gloves padded along the ground in complete silence, honed by years of practice and his own excellent sense of where to aim his next foot fall.

His soundings were now tuned for motion, both his and others, robbing him of some of his range but granting him surer footing over the varied ground. He could rely on his pack-mate who was now out of his range to alert him should something start coming at him from outside his shorter sounding range. He knew where his mate should be, so provided nothing major happened he still knew a general lay of the land. His had many years of practice with this pattern of hunting, allowing him to keep a running log of what was going and where he could go in emergencies.

Eventually his steady pace brought him to the edge of his pack-mates standing sounding range and he let him know with a short crack of his tail. Pausing, for a moment he listened to his surroundings not for echos, just to the general sounds of nature. Nothing. The buzz and thump of living things had been left behind. Something dangerous and ravenous was near. Letting off his own longer range soundings he checked his environment from this new vantage point and he didn’t hear anything of note. Just more brush land.

Snapping his tail he signaled his mate to move forward. The dull pulse of someone else's soundings left him as his mate shifted from standing soundings to moving soundings. He couldn’t imagine living in a city, the pressure of millions would overwhelm him. He needed this, the wilderness. The ranches. This prehistoric hunting ground. This is where he belonged, among his fellow hunters doing a job that fewer and fewer were willing or needed to do. It made one consider th-

Splot. Both his beta and alpha ears flared out and oriented themselves towards that one sound. He snapped his tail ordering his mate to stop. Then he focusing in on the direction it had came from he took a deep breath and let out a more potent sounding leaving him short of breath. Rather than gasping for air he simply open his mouth wider and let the rhythmic pump of his body stabilize itself. Silence was key, so he ignored his body's burning demand for oxygen while his mind sorted the echos he was getting back. Slightly out of range of his normal soundings a massive creature sat in small depression in the ground. The thing was massive easily twenty or thirty times as large and heavy as he was.

Splot. And it was soaking wet. Thinking about the contours of its body his amped up sounding had returned he realized this was probably kermoraza, the type of Lyrasov they were hunting. Turning his head towards his mate he lowered the sound of his voice to a shallow pitch but he put enough force behind it for it to carry simple words.

<“kermoraza. ahead. signal party.”>

His pack mate had only just begun to transverse the terrain and as such was further from the monstrous creature. Moments later he heard the whisper of his pack mate as he sent out his own low frequency calling, this one however had considerably more pressure behind it. It was good Abile was in position to do this one, he was good at that sort of thing; the longest he had ever heard Abile’s long call was almost six miles away. That should alert all the hunting packs and provide them some basic information about what was going on. It should also draw their own pack closer together so that they could support each other. While he waited for a response, he reached to his side and reassuring placed his hand on his rifle.

After a short wait the other pairs in the pack began sending their locations and confirmed that they were converging to surround and kill the beast. Then his mate let out a few barely audible cracks of his tail, singling he was going to start circling around for a better angle. Turning his attention to the direction the beast was in he felt nervous, his inability to see it with his normal soundings disturbed him. One thing at a time he told himself, Pack-mates take priority, cover our flanks don't worry about what’s beyond. Returning his attention to their general surroundings he made sure they weren’t going to be snuck up on.

Eventually Abile reached the edge of Udele’s soundings and he singled this. When he heard Abile’s single he switched modes and began to prowl forward. This brought him out of the thicker part of the brush and further out onto the battered cliffs of the coast line. This greatly improved the range of his soundings but it also showed him something, the ocean was no longer an indiscernible blur on the horizon and the crashing waves were no longer a distant noise. Down a slope and probably around a few more rock formations, the ocean expanded out before them as merciless as ever.

Processing this, he focused on his own body for a moment and triggered the production of a few key hormones in his body. He wasn’t trying to flood his system, just to coax more blood to flow and for his muscles to start readying themselves. Eventually he reached the edge of his pack-mate’s sounding and he was singled to stop. Unfortunately there was a rock formation in between him and the Kermoraza and that decreased his soundings in that direction just enough so that he still couldn’t hear it directly. Though the dribbling and squishing sounds it made as it rested revealed it was still there, what it was doing was a whole nother matter.

Signalling with his own tail he let his pack mate progress around him, rather than going between the rock formation and the Kermoraza he opted to go behind Udele getting nearer to the water than strictly necessary. Glancing to his right he saw the water down below, opaque as ever to his soundings but his eyes could ignore the glare and see down through its depths. His eyes didn’t tell him much though colors blurred together underwater even more than they did on land and he had no idea what started where, however he could clearly see some smaller blurs were moving. Fishes probably. So he kept his eyes turned to the water while he listened to his soundings.

Eventually his mate was able to circle around and move back inland, away from the water, Udele still eyed the water warily. By now the hormones he had triggered earlier were starting to noticeably increase heart rate and he could feel his sense start to strain and sharpen. He maintained a steady sounding, going over every contour of the land in his mind mapping out escape routes and fallbacks. When his mate reached a point before the edge of his sounding he cracked out the signal to pause. Turning his attention and ears if not his eyes and head towards his mate, Udele let out another low whisper asking what was wrong.

Then his pack-mate made the distinct tail crack they used for prey-spotted. Standing up on his rear legs Udele freed his hands up, while he placed one of his hands on his rifle instinctively. This time he let out his own Calling, slightly less powerful than Abile’s but it didn’t need to travel as far. However he arched his head back to let out the calling and even as he berated himself for the breach of procedure he caught the edge of something large surging through the water. With a thunderous crack it exploded out of the water and crashed onto the rocky shelf he was standing on. The soundwaves from this were powerful enough to cause his ear-buds to puff up protecting his ears from the explosive force and sound of this new predator.

Exploding into action as well Udele stopped concerning himself with silence and leaped several yards back. Now he commanded his body to flood itself with hormones. Using his tail and hind legs he beat a quick trail back up the slope he had chosen for an escape route. In the meantime he focused his soundings on the new lyrasov that had come ashore as he took aim with his rifle. Abile was many things, but he was adamant against triggering his own hormones for hunts and that might have cost him his last second. crack. His pack-mates rifle sounded off once before he heard a sickening ripping sound come from the place where he and the new lyrasov converged.

Lining up his own shot as he back pedalled from the shore, Udele started to blast out several high-powered soundings in the direction of the beast. And the creature heard them just as easily as he heard them. Crack. Crack. He let off two rounds with his own rifle, prompting his ear-buds to puff up and temporarily cut off his hearing. He kept up the pace with his high powered soundings though. His pulses were going out faster than he could suck in air but that didn’t matter as soon as his hearing returned he’d be able to fall into step. Luckily the buds shrunk back down a moment later, and he saw that the lyrasov was missing two chunks out of it body but was still writhing towards him as a mass of tentacles, teeth, and things he didn’t want to think about.

Crack. Crack. He knew it only took a few milliseconds for the earbuds to despand, but the flood of chemicals in his system had put him so far on the edge it felt like an eternity. When his hearing returned he was greeted with the ability to make out the rows of teeth that lined this things dozens of tentacles as it made its way towards him. slump. Shouldering his rifle he twisted around and lept into a full four legged sprint as he cut a trail away from this thing. slump. He started to suck in as much as air as he could, having to give up on his high powered soundings for ones better suited for running. slump. That’s the things stupid heart beat he thought to himself having finally figured out what that sickly sound was. Slump.

Not wanting to run towards the other lyrasov but not wanting to distance himself from his mates he cut towards the direction they should be coming from. Slump. Crap, he missed their response. SLump. Still sucking in air to try and get enough oxygen, he could feel his body starting to let off oils to keep him cool. SLump. So much for trying to hide, the stupid thing could probably track him now. SLump. His breath was coming in ragged, gasp now as he tried to keep his body going. SLump. Got to get to my pack mates. SLUmp. Oh crap. Oh crap. SLUMP. I’m sorry, Abile.

crack. crack. crack. crack. Four sharp percussion hummed through the air above him, followed by an explosion of gore as the lyrasov’s forward momentum and more gibbleted nature spewed itself forward, over Udele. Not trusting the stupid thing was dead from his other pack-mates shots, he kept running. slump. He was glad he did. But he no longer heard the things looming presence so he dropped into a roll and brought his own rifle up. slump. He unloaded the rest of his clip into it right then.

Udele didn't even try to send out any soundings, he just laid on his back gasping for breath. If it was still alive: congratulations it would get to eat one Udele. If not he was gonna lay here until someone came and told him it was time to get going. He didn’t know how long he laid there gasping for breath and soaked in his own oils, but he eventually started listing to the sounds of nature again. creatures were chirping, buzzing and moving about the brush again. Probably away from the lyrasov corpse, but whatever. It felt nice. The soft silt and gravel honestly felt nice in comparison to the strain of his muscles, so it might as well have been the warmest bunk ever.

Instinctively he stretched out looking for a packmates to use as a pillow, but then it sank in he was alone. Rolling up he saw his pack mates approaching him in their own staggered motion like he and Abile were doing earlier. Slowly pulling himself up onto all fours he reloaded and shoulder his rifle. One more of these things still had to be killed, though it was funny that all that had not alerted it. Raising his hand, he called out to circling the other ones hiding hole. He still didn’t care if another one came at him at this point, he couldn’t outrun it again if he tried.

Every muscle ached and now he just wanted to blast another one to smithereens. If it overwhelmed him like that last one did, his pack-mates would be able to finish it off and that counted as a win for the pack. A win for the Ranch. A win for the State and win for the species and at the end of the day, screw everything else. They would win. Prowling towards the small nook where the other one was hiding he prepared himself to deal with another one of those monsters.

Leveling his gun down the nooks entrance he was greeted with an interesting sight. The Kermoraza laid against the rocky wall, a clean hole blown through part of its torso. The rest of the thing was dead, Abile’s one shot had pegged the thing in the brain. One amazing shot, the stupid things were all fluid and motion its brain was never in the same place and sometimes it was hidden somewhere in one of its tentacles. That was another thing Abile was good at, he was a good a shot. As his other pack mates converged on the scene he said out loud to know one in particular

<“We Will Win.”>

User avatar
Senkaku
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 21492
Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Sat Oct 22, 2016 6:36 pm

Amaranth






"Stand by and cover!"
Takeda flipped his protective mask down as Jonathan began firing up the plasma welder, the heating crystals at the end blazing brilliantly and then dimming as his visor adjusted and cut down on the light passing into his eyes. The machine began wheeling forward slowly, and a moment later Jon tapped a few buttons and began turning the crank on the side.
As soon as he touched it to the massive beam, Takeda could smell the AIs around them and the scent of vaporizing metal, the scents mingling uneasily as their digital companions fine-tuned Jonathan's heating. The enormous, rust-coated beam, as thick as Takeda was tall, immediately turned white-yellow, drooping slightly until it was as soft as warm butter. Jonathan quickly spun the crank of the side of the welder to retract the contacts, and the beam itself, suspended by the enormous crane towering over them, began swinging it to make contact with another beam that had just been heated several hundred feet away. A team in the middle, at the connection point, hurriedly began setting to work on the two ends, and Takeda pushed his mask back up and glanced down.
Thousands of feet below, the massive steel and concrete pilings plunged straight into the sea, whitecaps smashing vainly against the surface. Massive barges carrying cranes or their own miniature steel and cement plants floated all around, and miles in the distance, he could see some of the low-lying cays that speckled this region of the sea. The palm trees that stuck up from them were minuscule at this range, but if he squinted, Takeda could see them swaying gently in the breeze.
He looked up, before vertigo could take over, as a stiff gust whipped over the exposed beam he was perched on. Above them, still more scaffolding rose into the sky, and the beginnings of the massive, curving arches that would form the amaranth's base were spreading out from the piling he stood on towards the other two, each erupting from the sea a mile away from the others to form a huge triangle. The massive central column was also beginning to come together, massive struts radiating away from it towards the periphery like the adamantine petals of a gargantuan sunflower. Smaller pilings poked their heads above the water here and there within the area encompassed by the three outer columns, like the protruding bayonets of gigantic soldiers marching in formation on the sea floor. And above all of it, the massive ring of Pattala arched into the sky, forming a thin, solid band of bright blue, green, brown, and white across the azure sky.

As Takeda walked along the beam to check the plasma welder's radiator, he heard a faint buzzing noise coming from overhead, and noticed a huge silver airship was emerging from one of the massive piles of clouds that surrounded them. Come to watch again, I see. He shrugged his coat tighter as the wind howled fiercely.



"There it is," Elizabeth murmured, laying a hand on her grand-uncle's shoulder. The old man nodded, smiling, as he took in the sight.
"Yes, there it is. Doesn't look quite ready to move in," Huang replied to his grand-niece with a chuckle. "I may want somewhere to put the furniture besides the ocean floor."
"Well, it's got what matters," she replied. He nodded, then coughed weakly. The initial cough seemed to set off a bomb inside his lungs, and more coughing soon wracked his body. By the time the fit was over, he was left doubled-over in his seat and retching, wiping speckles of blood away from his mouth with a handkerchief. Elizabeth frowned and looked concernedly at him.
"Could you get me another nano-dose?", he rasped. She nodded curtly and left the observation room as the airship began a long, smooth turn towards the docking station at the pinnacle of the central tower.



They had taken a quick break for lunch, eating quietly while the wind whistled around them and letting their legs dangle over the edge of the beam into the void. Takeda chewed his sandwich slowly, savoring the taste, and watched the enormous silver gasbag circle above them. He had seen the gigantic airship before, hanging like an artificial moon over the construction site, and had learned from his overseer, Ilya, that it belonged to the man who was building the amaranth. The man who wants to live forever. But today the airship was not simply lurking like a curious whale, peeking around the shifting towers of cloud that drifted over the sea. It was descending, the sunlight flashing on its side as it slowed and approached the tip of the central pillar. He could see a tube, presumably for offloading and onloading passengers, extending from the bow of the airship's gondola like a proboscis, slotting into a docking bay at the top of the central tower.
That's odd. I haven't seen them do that before.



"Don Huang! I hope you had a safe trip?"
Huang smiled and nodded, waving a few fingers to fine-tune the positioning of his wheelchair. "Thank you, Doctor Ghazari. It was quite smooth." Elizabeth shrugged her coast off, folding it over one arm, as the airlock door sealed fully and cold air stopped blasting in from the unheated jetway tube. Outside, through the nanodiamond window panes, one could see for miles, past the nearby clusters of cays, towards the distant peaks of Hulao Island.
"I'm glad to hear it, sir," Doctor Ghazari said with a smile, the lines in her face crinkling slightly. "If you could please follow me?"
"Lead on," Huang said, nodding, and they began heading down the corridor ahead. After a few minutes of walking- or in Huang's case, rolling- in silence, they arrived in a large marble room, with a bank of elevators in the opposite wall. One of them was already open, waiting for them, and Elizabeth caught the faint metallic scent of an AI lurking somewhere in the room.
They all walked into the spacious elevator, and the doors sealed automatically before they began descending.
"Well, Doctor, I hope this works, or I'll have a very expensive mausoleum," Huang said jokingly, trying to break the silence. Doctor Ghazari smiled nervously.
"I have absolute confidence, sir," she replied. The elevator came gently to a halt, and the doors opened silently. Instead of in a marble room, however, now they were at the edge of a large circular area, with huge columns rising along the edge that seemed to be made of highly polished black marble. Elizabeth knew better, though, and she glanced uneasily at the rings of computer terminals, manned by technicians, that surrounded the raised central dais. On the dais was a machine that looked like a sea urchin had been turned inside out, with long, thin, spikelike antenna protruding from the inside of a half-sphere towards a point near the top of the small chair that sat in the middle. There were other machines, whose purpose was less obvious, in front of it as well.
"Madamoiselle Delaure, do you want to head up to the control center, or would you prefer to stay on the operating floor?", Doctor Ghazari asked as they walked into the huge dome, passing row after row of terminals.
"Could you set up an audio-video feed from the control room, so I can stay here but know what's going on?"
"Of course. We saved a seat for you over there," Doctor Ghazari said, pointing to the right. Elizabeth nodded and walked over to the chair, while the doctor and her assistants helped Huang out of his wheelchair and then up into the seat surrounded by the sea urchin machine.

Once her great-uncle was situated, most of the scientists headed off to a doorway at the edge of the room, presumably heading to the control room. Elizabeth could make out a strip of windows in the side of the wall, a ways above the operating floor, with figures silhouetted by the lights moving around inside. That's probably it.
A moment later, one of her eyes cut to a different view of the situation. She was now looking from the position of a camera drone in the control room, down onto the operating floor, and she could hear the technicians upstairs chattering. Doctor Ghazari's voice suddenly cut through them, and Elizabeth heard it come on over the intercom as well.
"Alright, Don Huang, we are all set. Are you ready?"
"I'm ready," her uncle said with a weak smile, his voice echoing in the cavernous room. His rail-thin frame looked delicate and frail under the harsh spotlights that were on him, surrounded by the glistening apparatuses of modern medicine.
The intercom clicked off, but Elizabeth could still hear Doctor Ghazari's voice over her feed. "Administer primary anesthesia."
A faint white mist appeared around her uncle's head, which lolled back slightly.
"Patient is unconscious," another voice reported. Around her, Elizabeth saw the technicians studying their terminals intently, typing and clicking furiously, and the bloodlike metallic smell of loitering AIs was suddenly overpowering.
"Insert main connectors," Doctor Ghazari said calmly. Elizabeth flinched as the sea urchin's spikes suddenly extended, pressing against Huang's skull.
"Connection successful," someone said quietly. "Upload beginning."
"Madamoiselle Delaure, it may be some time before things finish up," Doctor Ghazari said. "Would you care for any sort of refreshment?"



Evening was beginning to fall, the mirror arrays rotating in the sky to plunge Pattala back into darkness, and the brilliant cerulean sky now began fading towards bruise-blue and indigo, stars glimmering into sight here and there. Sparkling yellow lights began to appear on the ring overhead, tracing the ring's settlements, and Elizabeth looked out the window and sighed anxiously. She had retired to the small waiting room while the upload process continued, and Doctor Ghazari had promised to alert her whenever there was a development, leaving her to sit alone in an armchair facing the spectacular view of the sea and the amaranth's construction site. Clouds continued to scud by as night fell, and the waiting room's lights automatically came on, shining out onto the darkening sea as lights blinked on aboard the barges and all over the massive beams and pilings that were rising up.
Doctor Ghazari's voice suddenly sounded in her ear, with a strange edge of urgency that worried Elizabeth somehow. "Madamoiselle Delaure, we believe the uploading is complete. We are orienting and testing the chiranjivi, if you would like to come down. If the procedure was successful, Don Huang should be able to speak to us shortly."
Elizabeth stood, setting her glass of water down on one of the small tables next to her chair, and hurried down the corridor into the control center. Haggard-looking technicians were crowded around a huge holographic display, all of which was gibberish to her, and outside, on the operating floor, her great-uncle's frail frame was still limply held by the sea urchin machine's spikes. Doctor Ghazari turned around as she came in, smiling tensely.
"Everything looks good so far. Any second now, he should be able to speak to us."

Outside, the sea urchin machine suddenly retracted its spikes. Red lights flashed on the hologram display, and Doctor Ghazari whirled and hurried to a terminal near the window, staring as Huang rose from his seat, shivering like he was having a fit. The technicians immediately all began jabbering to one another, and Elizabeth's eyes went wide.
A voice, quite similar to her uncle's, yet not the same, suddenly crackled over the intercom. "It's quite odd to move your own limbs from the outside. I'm sorry, I should have checked- was it safe for me to get my body out of the seat?"
"No!", Doctor Ghazari said forcefully, almost shouting. "Please put yourself back."
"Ah, very well." Elizabeth realized what was different about the new voice- it sounded younger than Uncle Huang, like she remembered from when she was a little girl.
"Uncle?"
"Elizabeth! Don't fret, one moment." Her uncle's body sat down with jerky motions in its seat, and the sea urchin extended its spikes once again. "Is that better, Doctor?"
"Yes, thank you. We'd like to keep him- your body, that is- there for a while, just so that if there are any coding bugs we can back you up, so to speak."
"I see. Well, may I use your holo-projector?"
Huang sounded delighted, and did not bother to wait for Doctor Ghazari to respond. The enormous display that had been projected dissolved, and a moment later a hologram of a younger version of Huang- standing on his own, at a healthy weight, with hair that was still mostly black- materialized. Doctor Ghazari's jaw dropped.
"Don Huang, I must say, I'm quite impressed that-"
"-I've been able to master network intrusion, speech, and visual display in such a short time? Well, I must say, the interface you designed is brilliant, Doctor. All the chiranjivis I've ever heard of took weeks to learn this stuff. I suspect the sheer processing power I have at my discretion may also be helpful, but your interface extremely helpful. I won't lie, though- waking up in total sensory deprivation, then having a bunch of numbers starting to flash at you is somewhat disorienting."
"Well, sir, I'm glad you're doing well. You may want to take it easy, though- keep in mind we're still adding some processing capacity, and post-op you may have random daydreams of memories and the like as your sub-routines and memory algorithms sort everything out."
"Of course," Huang replied. "This is lovely, though. I feel better than I have in years. Elizabeth, what's the matter? You look white as a sheet!"
She smiled nervously. "It just frightened me for a moment when you had your body hop out of the chair, I was worried something had gone wrong. Delicate operations are always a bit nerve-wracking, I'll be fine."
Her uncle chuckled. "That's true. But it worked! This place will not simply be the House of Delaure's most expensive mausoleum! If you'll excuse me, I may spend some time looking at camera feeds from around the site." The hologram vanished as swiftly as it had appeared.

There was a long pause, and then Doctor Ghazari spoke slowly. "I believe that, in light of this, I can report to the House of Devas that the Dohrnii amaranth's core functions are fully proven and the installation is operational."
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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Trasildor
Civil Servant
 
Posts: 6
Founded: Nov 04, 2016
Ex-Nation

An Accident

Postby Trasildor » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:40 pm

An Accident


Carvlori Bortsi lay silently in the soft bed as the clock beside him counted the seconds until he had to get up. In the kitchen, he could already hear his mother preparing breakfast. Soon, the smell of Vala'an would waft up the stairs to his room and fill his nose. Carvlori sighed, then moved slowly to pull the covers off of himself and get out of bed. As he began to stand, his wife grabbed his hand.

"You still have a few minutes," she mumbled tiredly.

Carvlori smiled and turned to kiss her head. "I know," he said softly as his hand ran over her pregnant belly. "I'll be home in a few hours, ok?"

"Mk," she said softly. "Love you."

"Love you too, Ceris." Carvlori let her hand go and slowly got out of the bed, then went to open the door to their closet.

Their clothes lined the left and right side of the small walk-in closet. At the back of the closet, a small table with a dim light hanging over it. A small bowl sat on it with a single pin needle laying inside it. Above the table, a small portrait hung on a wall showing the face of The Exalted One with an inscription on a plaque just below it. Carvlori approached and selected the needle from the bowl, then looked The One in the eye as he made the oath. As he recited it, he pricked his thumb with a practiced hand, then pressed it against a small device by the bowl. It blinked green, signaling it had sent his DNA off to a computer, confirming he had completed the morning ritual.

After that, he looked over his many brightly colored outfits and selected a more professional one. He went to his restroom and turned the shower up. While he waited for it to steam, Carvlori turned to the mirror. His brown skin shown brightly in light, obviously smooth all around, even near his green eyes. He rubbed his chin and decided not to shave, then jumped in the shower.

A few minutes later, Carvlori was going down the stairs. "Morning, ma," he said as he went into the kitchen.

"Morning," she said feebly. Carvlori frowned. Despite all the help that had been given her in the last decade, her body was slowly fading away. "Do you want any thing to eat before you go, Carvy?"

He shook his head. "No ma, I'm good."

"Alright, son."

Carvlori then went out to his Car and got in, then pushed the button for it to start. With a soft melody, it started up, the electric engine simply humming to life. As it did, a menu was projected onto the window.

"Where would you like to go today, Mr. Bortsi?"

Carvlori looked up at the menu. "Work, please, Julia."

"My Pleasure," the voice said from the speakers.

With that, the automation took over and pulled him out of the bay where it was kept, its rubber tires turning smoothly on the well paved road. As the car began to head down the road, Carvlori looked out the window and watched as they passed the tall, square houses. Each were either gray, white, or cyan with large windows and flat tops. On the tops, most had gardens or bird houses, hobbies that many people enjoyed. Carvlori sighed as the car moved out of the neighborhood. Someday, he and his wife would buy one of those houses. They would raise a family as The One commanded. In it, the house would fill with babies and loved ones as the family grew to become a part of the greater Transildorian family. He smiled at the thought of the children running around the large house and learning to paint, or sing, or dance. But that was a long way off.

The car slowed to a stop as it neared the busy intersection with the Magnetic Highway. Just above him, cars no longer used engines or wheels, but almost floated on magnets. They didn't use an ounce of energy as the force of the magnets kept them pushing forward with an electromagnetic field. It was a true feat of engineering to Carvlori, who had always been fascinated by the feeling of weightlessness as the car would begin to lift, even if it was just a couple inches.

His car approached the entrance ramp and turned to face the incline of it. Using its tires, it pulled itself up to the magnets and, with a giant shock of electricity passed through lines in the beams to the car's left and right, the magnets were activated and the car lurched forward, barely hovering off the ground as it accelerated to the speed of the traffic above, which flowed seamlessly as thousands of other Julias and Richards and Barthes guided vehicles down the Magnetic highway. The car easily slid into the space provided by the other cars as it became part of the river of magnets and metals.

Above them, at about 1,000 feet, crafts were flying in just as seamless a flow as the cars below them, each one with jets on the back and the bottom, pushing different levels of flame out from the jets. Carvlori found it odd how different the transports above were from the cars below. Above him, each one was different. They were different shapes, sizes, and design. They had different manufacturers and different prices, different specs and capabilities. But on the highway below them, Carvlori and thousands others like him rode in almost identical cars with the only difference being the color of each. Still, they were just as impressive. Carvlori stopped thinking about it for a moment and started to close his eyes for a short nap before getting to work, but then, above him, something caught his eye.

A thousand feet above him, the orange flames of the jets stopped jetting out of a commercial tanker above. Without any warning, it then started to take a nose dive. Carvlori's mouth hung open as he watched the heavy ship simply start to fall, his eyes widening as he tracked its path further and further to the ground, its momentum pushing it forward as it fell from the sky. Carvlori sat up and grabbed hold of the handle above his head as the tanker crashed into the highway ahead of him. The moment it did, a ball of fire engulfed the highway and surrounding buildings as it exploded. Ahead of Carvlori, the highway was collapsing under the tremendous blow of the impact. But, all the cars just kept moving.

Carvlori frantically started to press the few buttons available, but nothing was responding. Where were the failsafes? Why weren't they stopping? As the car raced towards to smoldering wreckage of the ship, he started to beat at the window, then the roof, and then at the windshield, but nothing he did would force the car to stop. Despite the wreckage ahead, the magnets kept working, the electricity kept flowing, and the cars kept hurdling towards their death. In a last ditch effort to escape this capsule of death, Carvlori kicked at the window beside him. He kicked over and over, throwing everything he had at the glass, but to no avail. The car just kept going, bringing him closer and closer to his most certain demise. He kicked one last time before shutting his eyes tight as the vehicle slammed into the massive wall of debris and, in one of hundreds of tiny explosions, was engulfed by the flame and momentum of the crash, thus ending the Bortsi line.
Last edited by Trasildor on Thu Nov 10, 2016 8:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Senkaku
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 21492
Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Sun Dec 11, 2016 7:57 pm

The Blue Hour




It was a cool, calm, slightly humid evening, with the sort of perfect evening balance of temperatures and moisture that presaged the shift into the wet season and heralded the end of the dry season. A few ragged clouds drifted above the city, obscuring here and there the stars that were beginning to twinkle through the light pollution and the fading glow of the already-set sun. The mingling noises of Keli's millions of busy inhabitants lingered in the air, and Hugo let his cigarette fall as he stared out through his open window. The tiny machine plummeted out of sight, and he caught an infinitesimal flash as its battery capsule broke open on the street far below.

There was a little fog gathering over the baray, forming a thin smoky veil of mist that rose a few feet off the water's surface and clawed for purchase along its shore. The noise of his upstairs neighbors' television suddenly stopped, and he pulled his head back inside and leaned against the wall, letting his legs sprawl across the bed. It had been a warm day, and living as he did in a building with poor climate control, Hugo was savoring the cool night breeze blowing in through the window.
Hugo turned his eyes away from the inside of his apartment back out over the city, and to the enormous vessel that loomed above it. The uulchi ship floated with utter serenity and disregard for the laws of gravity, like a vast, bone-white lotus in God's hand, defying all sense as it effortlessly kept its millions of tons of mass hovering at the edge of the troposphere. Its own spotlights and lamps, along with the city's lights, made it blaze so brightly in the sky it drowned out the stars around it, and Hugo could see smaller vessels, like glittering opalescent teardrops, flitting around it.

Officially, the Great Attractor was simply there to convey the Viceroy of Hanjin to meet with his counterpart in Keli and with various League officials in the city- but Hugo, like any sensible person, was rather skeptical of this. For one, the ship was almost as enormous and conspicuous as it was possible to be, particularly parked 25,000 feet in the air above a major metropolitan area. It plunged a vast swathe of the city into shadow for part of each day, and at night was bright enough to cast shadows, never mind the fact that smaller ships and aircraft seemed to be constantly buzzing around it in swarms. Few viceroys would indulge in such indiscretion without purpose, and the expense of using Great Attractor simply for a short hop over from Hanjin, rather than a smaller, more discrete, cheaper vessel, also raised questions. Secondly, the Viceroy of Hanjin had now been in Keli for more than two weeks, having arrived not long after the Mutsu disaster.
Various netizens and bloggers had run wild with all the reasons for the viceroy's extended and very high-profile visit, but Hugo didn't particularly care. Whatever the political machinations behind its visit, he simply found the Great Attractor beautiful, especially the way its lights reflected off the still waters of the baray on calm evenings. He knew the basic maths and saw repulsion drives every day, but the uulchi ship transformed antigravity from a mundane, everyday science into an exotic and magical art. It was a looming reminder of the foreign and the remarkable, staring down at Hugo everywhere he went.
Artyom's voice snapped him out of his reverie. "Where did you put the soy sauce?"
Hugo turned slowly towards him, wishing he hadn't flicked his cigarette away. "I don't know."
"You have absolutely no notion of where you put the soy sauce?"
"No."
Artyom glowered and muttered something and began rummaging around in one of the cabinets, and Hugo looked back up at the ship, and then abruptly stood up and slipped on his shoes. Artyom didn't look up, intent as he was on establishing the location of the missing condiment, and Hugo shrugged his jacket on as well.
Their upstairs neighbors' TV started back up, and the distant sounds of some reality gameshow began filtering in through the ceiling. Artyom gave a tired glance upwards before directing his attention back at the cupboard he was rifling through, and Hugo walked to the door.

Shoes, coat, phone, ID card. Is there anything else, really?

Well, I might want
some of this, actually.
He headed over to the closet, opening it, and opened several of the drawers that opened out from its back, beginning to remove clothes and other items. Artyom looked over at him with a quizzical expression as Hugo began casually tossing it into a backpack.
"What are you doing?"
Hugo didn't respond, and Artyom shrugged and stood up, soy sauce in hand, before turning towards the small stovetop. He looked over again as Hugo zipped up the backpack and headed to the door.
"Hugo, what are you doing?"
"I'm going to go do something interesting," Hugo replied vaguely, and he walked out. Artyom stared in confusion as he heard footsteps moving away quickly down the stairs, and then headed to the door himself.
"Hugo?"



Hugo stood on the shore of the baray, looking up at the gleaming petals of the Great Attractor as it floated tranquilly in the darkness. So now, where to go?
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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The Second Brotherhood of Planets
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 448
Founded: Jul 18, 2012
Ex-Nation

Restless Dreams and Riotous Futures

Postby The Second Brotherhood of Planets » Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:40 am

Restless Dreams and Riotous Futures


He looked out upon the world.

Green it was, as it was meant to be.

He stared deeply at its surface, at the various blue gems that flew off its surface into the great beyond.

With a sigh, he backed away from the window, and turned back to his desk.

"Commander!" A familiar face entered, placing a squared screen in front of him. "They want you to address the masses at zero eight hundred hours."

He nodded, snout wiggling cheerfully as she walked away.

But as she turned her back, that snout grew rigid. His eye narrowed and the tentacles across his face drooped low.

Shame covered that pad. Shame and Pain.




Too many good men died in that Second war.

Men who truly believed that they were fighting for the good of their civilization.

For thousands of years the Vux had spread across their green world. They conquered its vast seas and pierced through its skies. Centuries of Triumph, of Glory and Valor defined their people! Yet it was not meant to be.

Those accursed apes known as Homo Sapiens encountered a Vux patrol. Those were troubling times: scouts had encountered large ships with wide-wingspans that gave them cryptic announcements of ownership and empire before firing upon them. Others came across strange, fecal-shaped, two-legged beings with two eyes to match who spoke of mutual benefit and of expectations. Did charity not exist in the universe? Did the dreams of universal brotherhood, of creatures great and small coming together for a greater purpose not hold any meaning? Oh how so many Vux once looked up to the stars, hoping to meet fellows who would stand by them with respect and honor! Only to find none.

Then those silver ships appeared. Those accursed ships! Those same fecal-shaped bodies, this time greeting them with a single transmission:

Damn, that's one Ugly Sucker!

Uncooth. Degenerates. Filthy in body and spirit, the lot of them.

And then the Ur-Quan came.

They had threatened to seal away their green world, but the Vux would not be denied. The Ur-Quan were powerful; their ships massive, their rage unquenchable. The Vux had no choice but to bow. For obedience meant time. Obedience would bring hope: those who refused to serve the Ur Quan were sealed away, and those who would fight for them could maintain their hold on the stars.

The First Great War Happened then. Those Silver Ships proved little better than their Winged Allies: both these foes made it their pastime to slaughter Vux ships and butcher their crews. Strangely enough the other two-legged beings, the expectant ones joined the Ur Quan as well. They called themselves Androsynth, and they apologized for their thoughtlessness. In their eyes, a hostile universe meant that sensible races should attempt to benefit each other. But their rudeness ended any chance at that. The Androsynth fought bravely: Vux and Androsynth stood as one, moreso than the other Ur Quan Thralls. Those fecal ones known as Humans and the Winged Yehat battled bravely as well. These foes joined an Alliance that arranged itself against the Ur-Quan, and the Galaxy burned with their rage. Both sides lost many ships. Both sides witnessed so many die. And yet it was the Ur-Quan who proved victorious.

The Humans were sealed away in a big red ball, leaving the Thralls to do as they wished.

The Vux returned to their world, and their Androsynth friends left for their own stars.

Life had returned to normal for a time. Strangely enough they lost contact with the Androsynth but surely they would meet again. Suddenly, a Human came with a vast fleet at his back, and demanded treasures from the Vux. Refusal meant death. Pain and Suffering followed.

The Human brought more allies, powerful beings of metal and stone whose savage weaponry overran the Vux's finest armadas. These hybrid monstrosities calling themselves Chmmr proposed the unthinkable.

Humans, they argued, had been kept under a Slave Shield by the Ur-Quan.

It made logical sense, then, to subject the Vux to the same fate.

As her battlefleets were in disarray, Vux Prime could do nothing as a massive blue sphere engulfed their Green World.




For decades they languished under that blue haze.

The light of their star was blocked from them. Crops died and the people huddled in an eerie, unnatural darkness.

Yet suddenly, the sphere fell apart! There were many ships in Vux Prime's Orbit, some of whom were so familiar!

The Androsynth had returned!

... And they brought friends... Humans...

There were Humans, and Yehat, and so many other unfamiliar faces among a sea of living, breathing people.

There were even a few fellow Vux, who expressed such joy upon seeing Vux Prime freed.

They called themselves a "Brotherhood" of "Planets," dedicated to seeking new life and new civilizations. This "Brotherhood" had found a way to come to the Vux and had heard of their plight. The Brotherhood claimed to want nothing more than to help the Vux.

And yet, as the once great Vux sphere of influence was restored, as many stars were resettled under the Vux banner, there was a worrisome chill in the air.

Those worlds the Brotherhood called "Core Worlds" were full of plenty and pride. Legions of starships protected these worlds, and only a handful of Vux had the opportunity to visit them. A few managed to move, but the brighter stars and stranger climates of these worlds kept many Vux from settling there.

Vux fields were slowly beginning to recover, while on the Core Worlds the majority Human population bragged about how they were free from want and fear.

Around Vux Prime they did send ships, but not very many. The entire fleet sent to protect their world failed to truly fill the void around their green world.

Yet Vux was a member world! Her population matched those 'glorious' Core Worlds as well! Why shouldn't she have the same rights and powers as the other worlds of this coalition?!

There were many Vux who could not stand this injustice. If some terrible foe, like the fabled Shivans and Orz the Humans loved to lament about were to come for Vux, she would not be prepared for the onslaught. The defenses the Brotherhood placed in her system, the local garrison might not be enough.

And so, The Second Great War began.

Those Vux who chose to refuse the Brotherhood's siren song were not alone. Other peoples who had scores to settle with humanity joined them as well. Androsynth, Advent, Vasudans, they too gathered ships and crews to strike back against those selfish apes and their greed. Humans had each of their people's blood on their hands: each of those races had engaged in battle with Humans in the past. And if Humans wanted to continue taxing the other member races, they would have to demonstrate just why those taxes were necessary! Humans robbed their worlds of riches for what? For their own benefit? Such thievery and falsehood could not be. The Humans would pay for their deceit!

There were Androsynth and Advent and Vasudans and Vux who stood against their fellows, who prophesied that this Brotherhood would lead to prosperity for them all, but surely were traitors!

At least, that was how his brother saw them.

The Commander of the Vux starbase sighed as he stared at that pad. Their green world had been freed, and the echoes of that war were fading, but the screams of the innocent rang in his ears.

For he was there, a Lieutenant on one of the Loyalist ships.




Hull breach in deck three! Get out of the way!

"Dammit, Wrex, what are you doing? Get to your post, soldier, and make sure the shield generators are fine!"

As he scurried off to Engineering he could have sworn he heard his Human commander mutter "filthy Xeno".

Surely it was a hallucination; it could not be true! But as the ship rocked from the constant wrath of rebel fire, he could not be completely sure.

Their ship eventually managed to board a damaged rebel Battlecruiser, and with other boarders these Loyalist spacemen marched across formerly friendly decks. The Marines had been sent first, but as Engineers they were ordered to sabotage rebel craft by any means necessary.

He had just broken into Sickbay; a number of Vasudan guards tried to stop him. They were dead now, victims of laspistol fire and a rapid trigger tip on his part.

Suddenly, he saw a familiar face, one with that familiar scar on one of the left tentacles of his face. "Tex?!" He called out."

"Wrex?" The other Vux emerged from behind an operating table. Unarmed, in physician's garb, but with a Grand Alliance badge attached to it.

"So you joined the rebels..."

"And you became a loyalist dog. Put down the gun, Wrex. I've seen too much death these days."

Wrex did as he was told. "Tex, you don't need to do this. We need physicians. Too many are dead because of this war...

"Too many dead because of traitors like you! Your human masters are sucking us dry, Wrex! You're a spaceman, you don't have to see what happens back home." His brother pointed a tendril at a window overlooking Ventil, a Vux core world much like Vux Prime. "We barely had enough supplies even then. The Core Worlds wouldn't bother to help us Vux."

They heard footsteps.

"Get out of here, little brother. It's not safe here." Tex muttered.

"Tex, just lean down. Put your Tendrils in the air. Trust me, we need your expertise. I will testify for you."

There were shouts, warnings from loyalist troops that rebels must surrender. Tex suddenly stood, whipped out a scalpel, and made as if to stab his younger brother.

There were lasrifle shots, and Tex was struck in the back and fell. The subsequent court martial failed to bring any charges to Wrex as he was disarmed at the time.

He watched his brother die, and for what? For a cause that proved half-right.




Still, when the Second War ended Vux Prime got all of its demands met and then some. A Vux Admiral, Shex, who had served the Brotherhood time and time again even before Vux Prime's liberation was elected Premier. A new dawn was promised, and Vux Prime indeed received the garrison of ships and funding she so desperately needed.

Even so, times were not all rosy for the Vux. The war made tourism by humans and other humanoids, even former loyalist Androsynth and Advent, difficult. While the population shifted dramatically away from humanity, it was not as if Vux Prime herself truly benefited from such changes.

Some parts of the planet still experienced uncertainty. There were supply shortages and delayed convoys and tradeships.

He held the datapad. The people were waiting.

"The shuttle is ready sir!" His secretary called once more.

Wrex rose, and glanced back at the window, at Vux Prime herself.

"Tex! I'm... I'm going home-"
Last edited by The Second Brotherhood of Planets on Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:45 am, edited 2 times 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 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:58 am

One Shot


The clock shrieked with an annoying alarm of bells that filled the room with an unholy noise that yanked Alexasner Gypinor out of his dream state and into reality. His room was still dark, the sun had yet to rise over the horizon and penetrate the thin drapes that lined the window. Glancing at the clock, he saw the time 7:15am. Alexasner yawned and stretched his arms and legs out in his bed rolling to the edge he stood up and walked over to the bathroom, flicking on the light as he entered. Turning on his shower, he stood there waiting for the water to warm up. While Alexasner got a decent night’s sleep, he understood that he’d need to be on top of his game today. The entire planet was slowly slipping into hell, every single day was worse than the previous some of his advisors were adamant with their pleas for Alexasner to petition the Republic for intervention. Claiming that only their martial presence would be enough to turn the tide and push back the growing insurgency. However, Alexasner was hesitant; he felt fully that he still had a chance to rectify the situation without further involvement of Republican assets. As the steam began to flow out of the shower, Alexasner thought to himself as he stepped into the steam …I just need to reach the people…

He was already awake; in fact he didn’t even go to sleep too many tasks were needed to be completed before the sun rose and the day started. He spent the night in his room at his desk, his rifle deconstructed in front of him and being meticulously cleaned by his own hands. It needed to operate flawlessly and he would ensure it would. Looking up at the clock on the wall it read 7:45am, almost time to leave. Traffic into the area would be a large hurdle to tackle, he knew the regional government was pushing for and anticipating a large crowd presence to no doubt show to the cameras and the associated media that there was widespread support throughout the populace for the government. He knew that to be untrue, one of the many lies perpetrated by a governing system on its last legs. Spinning in the barrel of his rifle into the upper receiver, his weapon was now complete, he gave a small smile seeing it cleaned and assembled. He turned his attention to the ammunition spread out at the back of the large desk. The 12.7mm by 100mm shells were large and holding one in his hand, heavy. Their dark black tips were indicative of their heavy tungsten alloy component, constructed to tear through light armor and building materials they would perform well against the intended target. He forced each shell into their magazine one at a time until all eight fit snuggly inside the metal case. Slamming the magazine home into the rifle, he felt the satisfying clunk of the first round entering the chamber. He put the weapon on safety and grabbed the large duffle bag to slide the rifle into, zipping it up he placed it by the door. A quick look to the kitchen brought a quiet rumble to his stomach, opening up the refrigerator door he removed a few eggs from their carton and walked over to the stove. An empty stomach would not serve him well today.

The armored convoy left the home with Alexasner in the middle SUV, with two more in the front and two more bringing up the rear. Five vehicles in total barreled down the highway on the shoulder of the roadway towards Berj City from the Philyum Township which was just about an hour’s drive from the city. They’d make the trip in less than that given the fact they were traveling on the shoulder of the highway and wouldn’t have to stop or slow down at all. Since the start of the insurgency Alexasner was moved from his apartment in Berj City out to an undisclosed location in Philyum. While he wasn’t happy about the move and he protested it greatly, his security advisor pleaded with him to accept the move, which he reluctantly did. In retrospect, knowing what the city has been going through in the past couple weeks he was glad he made the move. The fact that there was a marine fort in Philyum made the move all that more attractive. The regional militias and Republican Marine forces have had a tough time fully securing Berj City against the insurgent forces and it was determined after several coordinated attacks that the public administration personnel would be sheltered elsewhere for the duration of the insurgency. Sitting in the back of the SUV, Alexasner was looking at the stream of data coming from the various military commanders, his daily security briefing. The reports weren’t good but there weren’t horrible either. For every area where they’ve made a gain, there was an area where they were taken back. There was a lot of give and take on the planet’s surface which made the security advisors a bit testy in the last couple of briefings. It was fine however, Alexasner considered himself to be the most levelheaded of the cabinet, he didn’t panic easily. Looking out the window of the SUV, he saw the stalled vehicles on the highway whizzing past at a great clip, he felt bad for those stuck in the traffic that he was moving by, the morning sun would soon bring the customary heat and being stuck out here in the badlands while it was hot was never a pleasant experience. He leaned back in his seat, and thought about his coming speech, like most of his public discourse he wouldn’t write anything down beforehand. Finding it easier to connect to the masses when he came from the heart and mind, closing his eyes he mulled what he would say later on in the day.

His grey van slowly came to a stop on the highway; the morning traffic had already snaked all the way from Berj City to his current location out in the badlands impeding his progress towards the city. He sighed as he viewed a long line of red brake lights leading far into the distance in front of him. Flicking on the radio the sounds of smooth jazz soon filled the cabin on the van, the music allowed him to relax his grip on the steering wheel. White knuckles soon became flushed with color again, as the tension he held in his body was let go with the addition of the smooth sweet music. He reached over to the dash where is phone was mounted and touched it on, he opened up the map portion of the software and typed in the address of where he was headed.

“Hmpph…”

Just over two hours away by the software’s estimation, it would be a long drive but the aggravation of having to be jammed in bumper to bumper traffic would be eventually be alleviated before the end of the day. Coming to a stop again after traveling maybe a hundred or so feet, he looked to his left out the driver’s window out into the sandy desert landscape. Serene, smooth, peaceful…

Five matte black SUVs barreled down the left shoulder of the highway, momentarily disrupting his view of the scenery. A feeling of disgust soon built up inside of him, he knew what those vehicles were, and the fact that they couldn’t wait in the stretch of traffic with everyone else did not sit well with him. The Republic always showcased itself as being a government of the people, understanding, compassionate…yet here was a convoy of its officials bypassing civilians, only caring about themselves. Just like their handling of the refugee migration, no considerations given to those in needs, only thoughts of how it would benefit the Republic. No doubt the cause of this traffic was the fault of the Republic as well; probably one of the many checkpoints set up by security forces that only added to the daily misery of getting into and out of the city.

The convoy came to a stop in front of the large regional government building in Berj City; the immediate area in front of the building was being prepared for the speech slated for later on in the evening. Standing areas were being roped off and designated out in the street for the assumed large attending crowd that was hoped to attend. In front of those roped areas were a few hundred chairs arranged in front of a single podium erected at the base of the steps that led up to the building. Getting out of his SUV, Alexasner took a look around the area; he felt a little better watching the security apparatus starting to set up. At the ends of the street roadblocks were being set up by local militia units, while actual marine units started to take up positions forming an inner circle of security that should provide an effective net to catch any potential problem. Turning back to the steps, he began walking up towards the front doors of the administration building; Alexasner had some work to preform not related to his speech tonight and he’d be damned if his daily duties would be interrupted. Entering the building, he easily made it through the security station just inside the entrance and made his way to the elevator. Taking it all the way up to one of the higher floors, he disembarked and made his way into his office. Throwing his tablet on his desk, he walked over to the large window which offered a tremendous view of the southern side of the city. Smoke plumes could be seen rising out of several areas out in the south side of Berj City; several marine aircraft could also be seen hovering around those plumes. Alexasner placed his hand on the glass as he watched the smoke rise in the distance.

His van came to a stop at the entrance of a multi-leveled parking garage at the corner of a mall complex. Several stories high, it was constructed to provide adequate parking out of the unrelenting gaze of the intense sun. Underground walkways would allow for people to walk to and from the mall to the garage without having to traverse the distance in the open sun. It was still an open garage however, although the roof at the top would give shade to the lower levels, the sides of each level were open to the daily weather conditions, and now that the sun was not directly overhead anymore the rays found their way into the garage. He snorted, Another cheap construction technique of the Republic. “Come! Shop at our malls, park your cars in our garage, stay out of the sun!” It’s still a hundred fucking degrees inside the garage. He rolled down his window as he slowly rolled closer to the gate he produced a few crumpled lica bills, and handed them over to the attendant manning the gate. In return he got a paper slip to place on his dash, as he drove further into the garage, his eyes settled on the paper. A smile formed on his face as he thought of the uselessness of it, the paper itself, and the exchange of money to park in a garage for such a short amount of time. Going up the winding ramps he continued until he reached the top level which was the seventh floor, making his way to the north side of the building he found the parking spot he wanted against the open section of wall. Backing into the spot, he left enough room for the rear doors of the van to open up. Shutting the engine to the van off, he awkwardly made his way from the front seat to the rear of the van. Opening up a panel in the floor, he retrieved the large duffle bag and placed it on the floor. Sliding to his right he released a panel on the wall exposing a tripod which he removed and placed next to the bag. Going back to the open section of wall, he retrieved several blackout sheets which he brought to the front of the van and placed them against all the windows obscuring any view inside the van. The darkness allowed him to relax a bit, his heartrate slowed allowing him to focus on his rituals that he must perform.

“You can’t be serious commander…”

“I am serious Alexasner, the task group will be here in a few weeks’ time. And with their arrival there will be enough firepower to tilt this conflict greatly in our favor. I have already received the confirmation transmission from Republican High Command.”

“So we only have a few weeks to rectify the situation before they arrive then.”

“What do you mean Alexasner…?”

Alexasner leaned back in his chair at the head of the table; all around sat his cabinet officials as they discussed the ever changing situation currently occurring in the Citic system. All eyes were upon him at the moment, as his defense official poised the question for clarification.

“Bullets and bombs do indeed kill insurgents’ Commander, and the task force will be well equipped to distribute those with lethal effect. However, I’m afraid that to kill the insurgency we will need more than the ability to widely distribute death to those that oppose us.”

“More…what more could we possibly need?”

“You’re thinking about this crisis very narrowly Commander, there is a reason why I have asked the entire cabinet to join us at this meeting today. We need to introduce a multi-faceted, wholly layered approach from this government to deal with this predicament. Security is just one part of our methodology going forward; we are going to need heavy input from the other ministers as well. Our infrastructure will need to be entirely redesigned; our population quarters need to be re-imagined. Sustenance distributions need to be re-thought, as our current policy of rationing seems to have been the spark that sent the insurgency over the edge.” Flipping through a stack of papers in front of him, he finally found the report he was looking for. “Archie, I see here that the construction of the orbital sprawls at Di, Epitar, and Fygnar are progressing well. Do you think they’ll be able to help alleviate the overcrowding on the surface of Citic?”

“To an extent sir, I mean we wouldn’t be able to move untold millions into the sprawls, but a portion of the surface population on Citic could be moved up into the orbital stations. Of course it would take some time to allow those selected to go to adjust to this new style of living...”

Alexasner nodded as he listened to Archie continue on about the orbital sprawls being constructed in orbit, but mentally he was already moving on to the next topic. Maneuvering the papers in front of him again, he saw what he wanted to touch on next. Holding up his hand to stop Archie’s rambling,

“Thank you Archie, something that I’d like to bring up that we need to make a decision on, is how we are going to continue routing the commercial traffic to and from Liu Xiu and the inner territories of the Republic? I’d like to remind you all that the entire Department of Commerce is expecting a plan of action from us within the week. So, that being said, the floor is open to suggestions.”

The silence inside the van was calming, comforting even; he took a peak into the back through the rearview mirror as he sunk into the drivers’ seat and spied his weapon lying on the floor of the van finally assembled and awaiting use. Bringing his eye to his wristwatch he noticed that time continued on its march getting ever closer to the moment of reckoning. The rituals he performed to cleanse himself and his weapon sure did allow for the smooth passage of hours unbeknownst to him. With them complete, he could truly preform the act ahead of him without reprisal, for what he was doing was sanctioned, blessed by the sacraments passed down to him from his forbearers. Getting up from the seat, he made his way to the back of the van and opened up the sliding side door being greeted by a rush of warm dry air. He parked the van so that the side door opened up to the gap between the floor and the ceiling of this level of the parking structure. In the distance he could see the towering structure of the Regional Governmental building; it easily dominated the local sky imposing itself against the smaller commercial skyscrapers and residential apartments. The avenue that left the mall complex directed itself towards the governmental building and provided him a wonderful alley. It seems his days of scouting and planning weren’t for nothing as he gazed out from the sliding door, moving his gaze down to his wrist he noticed the time. Only about an hour left…

“Alexasner? Sir? It’s about time to head on down for the press conference. Everything is set up and we are seeing a decent crowd beginning to form.”

Looking up from the computer terminal, Alexasner smiled at the aide. “Okay, let me save and close everything down and I’ll meet you at the elevator.”

“Yes sir.”

The ding announced their arrival to the ground floor; the doors of the elevator opened up to the spacious lobby, Alexasner stepped out and began to make his way to the front doors. He felt all the eyes of those in the lobby upon him as he walked, heads looked up from their tasks to track him through the lobby, the man of the hour was in their presence and that could not go unnoticed. Alexasner tried to shake off the feeling of being stared at, he knew he was about to have a large audience in front of him not to mention those watching on television in their own homes, but he still could never get comfortable at being the center of attention. Reaching the front doors that lead outside, he took a deep breath in as he opened the doors, revealing a podium a few feet in front of him along with a sizable audience already milling about their seats on the street spread out from the podium. Looking around as he walked to the podium, he could spy the marines on the security perimeter facing out doing their task. He closed his eyes for a moment as he stepped up to the podium, he could feel the various camera’s as well as the hundreds of pairs of eyes focusing on him behind the microphone. A smile appeared on his face as he began, “Hello ladies and gentlemen of the Citic Regional System, I am pleased and honored that you all could take the time out of your day to listen to me today, I know the last few months have been some of the hardest of times on you all, and I intend to address that here with you today…”

He was lying prone in the back of the van his upper body bent towards the side of the van so he could face the opening with ease. The side door of the van was wide open exposing the open section of wall, far in the distance the regional governmental building stood. He closed one eye as the other fit behind the computerized scope of his weapon. Within the scope he could see the front of the governmental building; he panned the weapon slowly seeing the security personnel, the assorted crowd, before finally settling on the podium. The man standing there came into focus, he could witness the speaker’s mouth moving and disgust rolled over him in waves. You’re a damn liar, peddling more lies to the public He focused the center of the target path projected on the scope’s screen on the speaker’s head. You will shut up now. You will shut up forever. He exhaled slowly as he depressed the trigger, the weapon bucked in his shoulder as the round was discharged downrange. Looking in the scope, it took a few moments but the round eventually found its target, the speakers head disappeared in an explosion of blood and gore. Smiling as he backed away from the weapon, the shooter opened the rear door of the van and got out, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a sphere the size of a grapefruit and tossed it in the back of the van before walking towards the staircase of the parking garage. The screams from the regional governmental building could be heard all the way down at the mall complex, the reverberated off of the parking garage, causing the man walking down the stairs to smile even larger. Reaching the ground floor he exited the garage and began making his way down the deserted street, he pulled his hood up over his head. After a few moments of walking he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small transmitter, he pushed down on the single button on the face of the transmitter and turned around to face the parking garage down the street. In a flash a large purple sphere of intense energy crackled into existence it ate at everything it touched, vaporizing anything in its path. And as quickly as it appeared from one of the higher levels of the garage it just as quickly then collapsed upon itself, leaving nothing in its wake. Putting the transmitter back into his pocket, the man continued on down the street.

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

Postby The Solar Cooperative Union » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:32 pm

A Little Bit of Peace...


Hospitals. It felt like Maya had spent most of her life in hospitals at this point, of course in reality it had only been five months, but the incessant beeps and whines of machines, the smell of harsh disinfectant and the tired faces stretched time like special relativity. Fortunately, or more accurately unfortunately, she was not alone in her long tenure in specialist wards of Federal Hospitals, hundreds or perhaps thousands of her fellow soldiers had suffered in the vast cogs of war, limbs, organs and minds torn asunder by the horrors of primal violence facilitated by the cutting edge of technology. However, while the majority of the wounded she had encountered had come from the fight against Corporate and EMA forces she had the unique distinction of being the sole survivor of the 77th Marine Division, destroyed to a man except for her by an as of yet unidentified alien force. Their sacrifice had not been in vain however, her men had died defending the city of Banko. The civilians there would have either been slaughtered or something worse had it not been for the outstanding performance of her unit.

The heroism of her deeds was little consolation to her however, the fight itself had been a new level of savagery in a time that seemed awash with it. When she closed her eyes on particularly bad nights she could still see the impish invaders letting loose into limping and unprepared marines. The hot plasma of their exotic weapons had not just killed but melted, turning those she was responsible for into grotesque half-cadavers half-puddles, their shrieks cut off as lungs and throats gave way to the incredible heat. She could vividly recall how molten ceramics and flesh had sprayed over her when her poor Corpsman was shot in the back as he tried to save her life. His name was Garett, a young man from Jerash who died with a steaming crater in his back. The cliche question often presented itself to her, why them and not her? Why was she cursed to see that horror on the back of her eyelids for the rest of her life. However, as alive as she was she had not survived unscathed.

Her legs, which had so often propelled her to victory whether it be High School gymnastics or combat, had been either melted or blown off in her desperate escape from an erupting APC. The final fate of her lower extremities was something she had not spent time pondering, and never planned to. The past months had been a struggle for life and then a struggle to acclimate to her new prosthetic legs, exquisitely crafted machines that in theory were better than the organic, but as the saying goes you never know what you've got until its gone.

For the past two weeks she had been facing yet another struggle, life. Life in the service was structured and purposeful, life in the hospital was transient and out of her control, life in the world at large was none of these things. Maya Selzeski had delved into ancient alien hives alongside equally alien allies, she had blown holes in pirate bases and fought in the hard vacuum of space, she had nearly died fighting off a terrifying force of what could only be described as space goblins. Now she was on Strinda in a family sized apartment all to herself, a flat panoramic window looking onto the vast cityscape of Carthansus Ward, glittering pillars of metal and glass jutting skyward to house billions of souls. Leagues below her at street level the people moved about their lives in vast lines and crowds, many going to attend the closing ceremony of the Vellum Blossom festival.

Maya had lived on Strinda for a brief few months before her first tour, she remembered talk of the Vellum Blossom festival. In theory the festival was to celebrate the falling of the Vellum Blossoms, beautiful blue petals that coated the street and fluttered through the air. The scent was wholly unique and pleasing to the nose, something like blueberry and cream. In reality it was a couple of weeks for the overworked and stressed population of Strinda to indulge in careless merriment and hedonism. Maya didn't have the temperament for such things in her first weeks back into civilian life, but she had been called for yet another act of service to her country. She was expected to show up and look her best to receive the highest military honor at the closing ceremony of the festival. The planetary governor Kylat Tarshan was going to place the silken band around her neck and clasp her hands in his, look her in the eye and give her a thanks.

6 Hours Later

The ceremony was more tolerable than expected, dignified but not gaudy, General Alice Petterfeld spoke about the war and the sacrifices it demanded. The details of Maya's struggle were kept strictly classified to the public and media, as far as the gathered crowd knew she had lost her legs in a battle against an overwhelming Corporate attack, and if that lie allowed these people to rest easy it was one she was willing to perpetuate. The heavy gold diamond was still hanging around her neck as she descended from the platform while the crowd dispersed to partake in one final night of revelry, military officers broke convention and saluted her as she walked past. One in caught her eye, a Rear Admiral.

In fact, he motioned for her to step over to him, she hesitated but went through with it and came to him. He pulled her aside and introduced himself as Carmac Oleki. They talked about military life and the war for a while before Oleki handed her a folder, bid his farewell and pointed her to a waiting sky-car. She dared not look in the folder, its flat manilla face seeming to ward her away. Warmth began to build up in her cheeks as it stared her down, the sky-car stopped at the entrance of her apartment and she exited wordlessly, moved into her front room and slouched down into her couch. She knew exactly what was behind the thin layer of paper, an offer, a form and a sign here that she would be unable to refuse.

She would keep fighting of course, she would accept the invitation into Special Operations Command, and she would very likely die in service to the abstract concept of her nation. She signed her name on a black line, scanned the forms into digital format and sent them off to Oleki.

She had her taste of peace, and it was not for her.
Don't look at this

User avatar
Telros
Diplomat
 
Posts: 953
Founded: Apr 29, 2006
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Telros » Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:03 pm

What Drives Good Men: The Beginning


If there was one thing the universe taught you while your people cut across the black in your spaceships, it was to fear the void. Instincts laid the foundation in that matter, teaching you that darkness hit the truth from you, that there could be something in there that could and would reach out and kill you. So you were always careful toward the darkness and the unknown, hyper-aware when inside of it, a voice telling you to bring light, weapons and allies into that space to protect yourself and others. The galaxy wasn't much different from the deep darkness of midnight on their own home , when their ancestors walked out into the forests for the first time. The things to fear then were the many predators they were ill-equipped to handle: the Red-Heeled Roc who would come and rip whole nests away to feed themselves and their brood, the water lizards who would attack them as they came to drink, leaving themselves vulnerable and the most feared iron panthers, their grey fur slipping across your sight the last thing you saw before teeth and claws ripped you apart. Over time, as they matured as a species, developing tools, increasing knowledge, they gained the tools they needed to overcome these predators, evolve from the flighty birds of the ancient days and become the masters of science and the material, walking up right and spreading across the globe. They became the predators, upending the ecosystem and becoming its master, its protector. With nowhere to run, the predators could only submit, shying away from what was once their favorite prey. But now, having gone into the deep black that is space, with its nigh infinite space to explore, build and most importantly, hide, they found this ecosystem impossible to tame. And it wasn't the Roc, the lizard or the panther that was the predator they battled with, it was the institution of piracy. It was a common refrain you would hear from spacers of all nations, species and creeds; where people go to settle, have families, and build a life through hard work and community, there will be those who seek to live off of them like parasites, using murder and terrorism to get their way.

The recent destabilization over the past year of the galaxy vastly contributed to the current problem with the pirates and raiders. Nations would always have to deal with them nipping at their flanks like flies, but the numbers of raider and pirate groups swelling, their memberships growing, the Wildfire terrorist attacks hurting the market and sending shocks through the galactic trade network, and the Great Displacement providing unrelenting pressure on the already strained resources of many of the nations. With many nations actively arming the refugees, or turning them away, by force in some instances, it was not a surprise to see their numbers growing so quickly. This made the trade lanes of the Milky Way prime fishing ground for attacks and with the Grand Moot having issued new laws to open their lanes to the migration and trade of the galaxy, the numbers coming in were far above the estimates they had calculated. Their naval forces were simply spread too thin to cover their own traffic, not to mention the traffic coming in from other nations. They were experiencing rapid losses in shipping, goods and manpower from all the raids, and they were increasing as the sharks could smell the blood in the water. A flood of complaints were coming in from the corporations, demanding more protection and costs of goods were beginning to rise as they had to deal with all the life insurances and ransoms they were paying to these groups. As the trade of other nations were getting hit as well, their diplomats were issuing warnings that governments were lodging their own complaints about the status of the trade lanes, threatening to pull trade entirely or harshly renegotiate the terms of the treaties, leaving them in an imbalanced treaty against the Directorate. Costs were rising all across the board, and it wasn't just in currency, as Claws of Aquamarine was fully aware, as he returned to the loathsome task at hand.

One of his talons gently touched the energy screen of the holopad, moving down the growing list of names, commands and locations, with addendums for service records and family records the servicemen and women in the navy. These were the casualties and injured of various states they had suffered in the past week of raids on their routes. Vice Host Fuschia, who was in command of that region, was handing off the weekly reports he had mandated ever since this crisis had begun. He could only watch in frustration as the numbers kept climbing and he had to send more government messages to devastated clutches and families thanking them for their service as well as interacting with the Mandate about the lost troopers aboard these vessels. She was standing stock still in front of him, eyes staring above him to the wall, her stance rigid and locked. He knew what was coming, it was a dance they were doing every week and both were exhausting of their desire to repeat the steps. Aquamarine ignored the feathers he could see readying themselves to fall out on their own from the sheer stress; he was in a worse state, with active skin showing in some areas. He had the excuse of age, she didn't. A sigh escaped his beak as he turned off the holopad and inserted it into a slot that open up as his hand approached, accepting the device into itself and his screen popped up, data scrolling over it as it began to catalogue the information and prepare his report for filling the rest of the details. His right hand lifting a talon barely lifting to point at a chair. The Vice Host relaxed, her stance shifting into one of abject fatigue and collapsed into the chair, threatening to be devoured by the cushions as he pulled out a large bottle of imported whiskey, from one of the Terran nations, and two large glasses which were filled in short order. The admiral lifted his own glasses and proceeded to drink, taking the moment to enjoy the burn going down his throat, obliterating all other thoughts and delaying the trial ahead. Fuschia did the same, continuing her part in the ritual and indulging his growing habit of ingesting alien liquor. He refilled both glasses when they were empty and leaned back to stare at his own cup. It took only a few moments before his opposite began to speak.

“Aqua, we can't maintain things the way they are now, you know that.”

He avoided responded by focusing on his drink, which Fuschia took the time to continue.

“We've lost four ships in as many days and half of the Second Host are stuck in berth for repairs from this campaign of raids we've suffered, And half of them are stuck on waiting lists because of the overflow we've had on trading and goods coming in. All requests to the Moot are met with silence, bureaucracy or told to make do. We've been suffering this for two months, Claws. If we don't do something soon, we're going to have to reassign ships from the planetary defense fleets and leave them open to raiders or admit our own weakness and ask for help from others. We'd have to pay fees, face unfair trade deals as you know they are already demanding renegotiation and with how things are going with the Oozori, they'd probably move that much closer to outright revolt. What pittance they have given for the budget and for new ship construction isn't enough! The Moot and the Ternion have to be made to see reason!” The room echoed with a bang of fist meeting wood and Aquamarine finally put down his cup and met her flared eyes. He took a brief moment to study her as he gathered himself to reply. The stress was getting to them all, with some joking behind closed doors about how old he was getting as he was losing feathers more and more now, but she was on the road to joining him and she didn't have age as an excuse. Tired circles were around her eyes and her skin slightly ashen as it began to affect her.

“I have tried, Fuschia, for over six decades. I have spoken to the Foundations, to the Moot, to almost each individual Councilor and to each of the Ternion and especially Wings of Crimson. I get the same responses from them all each time. The Foundations and the corporations don't want to support an expansion as it would mean funds moved from budgets and more taxes and increased competition for those graduating from the education system. The Foundations hide behind our culture of scientific progress and the corporations behind our already expansive social program network being enough for taxation on them. The Moot refuses to cooperate due to their influence and because we don't have the infrastructure and supplies to support any expansion and refuses to fund anything on that matter. And with the older elements in all of these and the Ternion, especially my friend Wings, they are all too focused to the point of religious obsession about the losses incurred by the War. With the many conflicts going on in the galaxy and in our quadrant, they see any expansion of military operations are provoking or giving cause for a fight and tempting us to do what they do, even if some of it is right. They view a weak military, just strong enough to defend, as the best way to go forward.

The Vice Host puffed in anger, her talons digging into the edge of his desk. “Dammit, Claws, show them the data, the numbers-”

A frustrated caw ripped its way through his patience and throat, forcing the other back into their seat as Aquamarine found himself standing despite himself. “They don't CARE about the numbers, Fuschia! They only care about their numbers, and making sure they are as high as possible. We've been at peace for so long we've become complacent and all of the contacts, allies, arguments, data, money, people I have used over that time have not been enough to get any action beyond some occasional upgrades or bonuses to the budget to shut me up each time. As long as the Ternion is united behind Claws post-traumatic pacifism, we aren't getting anywhere with this!”

He huffed, his chest heaving as air was forced back into his lungs, making him realize he had been shouting. Fuschia, who had focused her eyes on her lap, swishing her drink around to see the liquid moved. Once he had recovered and sat back down, she spoke again.

“You know that means we are going to leave ourselves open to an attack and once a massacre happens or by the stars, a hostile invasion, then they will be finally be willing to do something about this.”

“Aye. I do. But other than going against the very duty we swore to protect, to defend our institutions and rule of law, we can't force the issue. The politicians, corporatist and peaceniks have the sway, and even though the Oozori favor our side, there is still too many biased against them for that to have any real weight.”

A bitter chuckle from the Vice Host. “Yeah, they're just going to antagonize and ignore them until they finally revolt and probably take us over, since we're so stretched out here.” She put her face into her hands, rubbing her face feathers hard, causing a few to come loose that had already been drooping.

“You're going to be a bald beak at this rate if you keep this up. And I thought that was going to be my claim to fame in my golden years.”

She looked up, a fragile smirk in her eyes. “Oh quiet you, you're gray and old, at least my feathers are good for souvenirs....and a visit to the replacement services to get them put back in.”

Aquamarine reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a slip, a prepaid visit to the very same place. “Here, your orders are to take a break while your forces are in the shipyards and get yourself looked at. Your people, too. I managed to force the issue enough with Wings to get them to prioritize your forces. For the next couple of weeks, at least, we'll have enough to hold things as they are.”

The Vice Host smiled as only a bird could, crushing the slip in her fist. “You crazy old bat....even when against the wall, you find some small miracle out of this. Just like in the war.”

The Admiral laughed, soft caws as the exhaustion set in after the anger dripped the last of its way out of his body. “Yeah, but then I knew where I could shoot and had full support of backing behind me. Get yourself taken care of.”

“Only if you will.”

“I'll court martial you before that day comes.”

With that, she finished the rest of the drink, her face blanching and then exited the room, leaving him to pour another glass full, staring at the screen as it continued processing.



****

It was the beginning of some kind of joke for certain. “When a Tezekian Admiral walks in The Final Croak, then...” and yet Aquamarine found himself here, in civilian clothes , large hat, not looking up much. With just a bit of body language, the right clothing and keep your beak shut, people wouldn't be able to recognize you. They would expect a stiff-backed, stern avian who would stare into the ground, not some dirt-covered jacket down on his luck bar goer. And that was how he liked it. It was beginning to become a habit, his drinking habit of foreign liquors but the other option involved much worse things he didn't want to contemplate, so alcoholism it was. This time it was apparently a drink known as Vodka, again from one of the many human worlds. He just didn't know why but he found their alcohol especially appealing. Enjoying the burn as he tilted the glass back, Claws took the time to listen to the room. This was a bar you often saw in the crime dramas, the scuzzy bar where the downtrodden and the parasites both frequent for its ignorance by society and the affordability of its services. So many lower scale Tezekians, some off-worlders who were not as welcomed or low on their funds were seen here and even Oozori, where their credits were just as accepted as anyone's. The conversations ranged across many topics, most personal, but the larger groups gathered around the holovision sets or the game tables could be heard discussing the local events. The tension around the negotiations for the treaty, especially at the Oozori tables, with some of their drunken clicks rising to irritated screeches, drawing ire from the room and even the bartender before lapsing into sullen hissing, while those of the merchant bent were bitterly complaining about the rising costs and longer lines of the trade lanes. And the people they were losing to the rising attacks they were enduring.

He was still listening to one of the conversations, gaze staring hard at one of the holovision sets when he felt two shapes sit, one on each side of him, with the buzzing rumble of an Oozori on his left speaking. “Bartender. My associate and I would like to buy two rounds of your best ale.” The barkeep glanced at him and seemed to pause, feathers ruffling lightly before settling down and nodding in recognition.

“Very well. That'll be eighty credits.”

The figure on his right slid over the required chits, golden inlaid plastic rectangles with built in projectors to indicate the currency type. From the talons on his hand, the Admiral was able to note this was a Tezekian. An Oozori and a Tezekian coming to a bar together and sitting on either side of him. This was an obvious meeting of some sort, judging from the barkeeps' reaction, but what for? Any attack or struggle would only cause an issue. It wouldn't be long before he was revealed and the Directorate brought down troops. It had to be something else. The avian behind the counter gathered up the credits, both he and Aquamarine noting it had fifty more worth in it as the Oozori's comrade spoke.

“We like to enjoy our beverages in pleasant company, if you don't mind. We'll call if we need any refills.”

With a nod, the bartender left to get their drinks, hustling quickly with the money, pocketing the extra that was clearly a bribe. He quietly shifted a hand into his coat, gripping his personal defense weapon while nonchalantly finishing his drink. Setting it down, he found another glass in front of him, an Oozori claw retreating from his vision. The other placed down a metallic square on the table which clamped down with the small sound of splintering wood and a blue light blinked on. Aquamarine froze; that was a highly expensive and classified device used by the intelligence arm of the military to be able to conduct meetings without anyone being able to hear. It blurred the soundwaves until it sounded like dull murmurs, mimicking the general tempo of the room. That discredited most of the theories he had about their identity, although assassination was still possible. With an Oozori they could restrain him and use a quiet method of finishing him. The Tezekian next to him chuckled, sipping at his own drink.

“No need to worry Admiral; we are not here to harm you. We just didn't want others to hear what we've come to discuss with you.” The voice was clean, clipped, with just that certain accent of humor. He had heard that voice before but couldn't quite place it. This was shortly remedied when the other pulled his hood back enough to reveal the orange tint of his facial feathers. It took some doing to continue keep himself impassive, despite the other being aware of his concern.

“And why would Wings of Orange, head of the Rising Claw Foundation, want to speak with me about at this place? I thought the high rises of the capital were more to your taste.”

“You may think so, but important matters are around us and even those in the sciences cannot ignore them.”

“Or those of the Mandate, Admiral.” The Oozori gripped their glasses and raised it but seemed to never drink, their eyes glinting in his direction. Claws chuckled.

“Ah yes, my manners. I do apologize, partner. This is Kul-Tan, a representative of the Diktat who rules over the Mandate.”

Aquamarine bowed his head. “A pleasure, Kul-Tan.”

The Ozori clamped its arms to its chest and bowed its head. “The pleasure is all ours, Admiral. Your support for our people has not gone unnoticed by the Diktat or the burden you are bearing.”

Things began to click in his head; this was a meeting to try and cajole him for something, but what?

“Alright, gentlemen, what exactly are you looking from me? You have exacted a lot of effort in finding me, and getting that device past the security measures they are kept in.”

Orange turned to face him fully, still keeping his clothing around him. “My Foundation helps to create and improve these devices; it is no large task to take one in storage and bring it here. And our finding you was quite simple; bartenders love being tipped.”

The Oozori clicked in irritation. “Stop playing with the prey and get to the issue at hand, Wings. Our time is not infinite.”

The other leaned in, setting a talon on the table, pressing one down for emphasis as he spoke. “As you are well aware, most of any of us, the Directorate is facing a direct danger in the form of the attacks on our trade routes.”

Aquamarine stiffened, his back going straight and already moving to keep the secrets of his administration safe. “We are experiencing a lot of raids, yes, but the Flocks are handling it.”

Wing eyes glittered. “You misunderstand me, Admiral. I am not here to impugn your honor or ability in handling this crisis with criticism. It obvious to anyone with the right eyes and contacts, and that is something both the Mandate and my Foundation have in ample supply. Your forces don't have enough people, Tezekian or Oozori, to man the outposts and ships fully. You don't have enough supplies to run the search and destroy missions needed to root out the raiders, nor will the Moot and Ternion let you go past our own borders to do so. You are losing effective ships due to strained infrastructure and the rising raids. Both of our information networks can confirm they smell blood in the water and are planning to raise the stakes and enjoy the weakened prey they have found. They do love pacifists since they refuse to fight back.”

Kul-Tan spoke next. “Our people are getting angry, Admiral. We chafe under the terms of a treaty and being treated as a subclass for mistakes we have repaid for through the tribute we give, the soldiers we send to die in your conflicts. And the rising toll we are losing in a situation your government refuses to mend is making it difficult for the Diktat to ignore the elements who call for complete separation or even outright war.”

That made him start. “Your people don't want full independence?”

The rising and lowering chitters and hisses that made up the Oozori laugh was his response. “The Diktat may feel the pang we all feel for our lost glory days but we are not fools. We have built our home around the remains of an old research base and its surrounding systems. Our industry has long become used to the influx of credits, support and technology we receive from you. Removing that would cause a lot of pain that would be easily avoided. He just wants more of an even standing as partners, not servant and master. We have much we can aid you with if you will let us. If we could marshal our fleets again, this would not be happening.”

Orange continued where his companion left off. “It won't be long before the Diktat won't be able to restrain it; it won't be long before the military forces are too weak to defend the trade lanes. By our best estimates, we're going to see a massive attack soon and how many we will lose there? When that hits and the negotiations continue to fail, we have 60 to 40 odds a rebellion begins, further weakening us. That is if we don't start losing trade deals due to our inability to handle our problems, and the worst case scenario-”

“-an intervention by foreign powers. I know, Wings. But there's nothing we can do. I have tried everything to get the Moot and Ternion to see, even using my connection to Wings of Crimson. They refuse to budge. Other than betraying every principle we have sworn to defend, there are no other options.”

Aquamarine downed the glass he had, while Kul-Tan and Orange gazed at each other. They waited for him to finish and get his attention again before speaking.

“There...may be a way; it's not a clean way, but it is better than letting things continue as is.”

The Admiral eyes turned flinty and Orange held up his talons.

“Now, just hear me out; we are not advocating rebellion or a coup or anything like that. The fact of the matter is; it is only a matter of time before a massive attack is conducted by the raiders/pirates and all we know will come, happens. Our associates have information that they are in fact planning such a thing. They wish to strike at the main lane, and at a colony at the same time.”

His blood ran cold at those words, his mind already working the calculations of what that would mean as Kul-Tan sounded it out.

“Thanks to your government's inaction, you have been forced to draw off ships from the forces defending your worlds. They have increased raids to ensure you respond in such a way. Now, once your closest colony sends the relief forces; a force will strike to raid and pillage the now almost defenseless colony. The word has gone out, Admiral; you are seen as easy pickings for the galaxy's scum. They have enough gathered to carry this out. Now, as the Mandate sees it, you have two options; they are going to attack, nothing will stop them. Even if the Moot was to suddenly do as you say, you won't have enough to stop this. You can either let the trade lane get decimated, drawing galactic ire and acclaim in that accursed news report and the dusk of your sovereignty begins, or you appease the galaxy but draw anger when your outer colony is utterly ransacked, people enslaved and the Void knows what else. You will have your excuse either way, but too much will be lost, you will be victims either way.

Orange leaned in further, almost touching Claws. “There is a third way out, a way to make the best of this situation.”

He was tired; tired of dealing with all of this, the politics and the back and forth. Closing his eyes, Aquamarine asked the words he had been avoiding this whole time. “What do you recommend, if it isn't a coup?”

Wings grinned in only a way a Tezekian could, feathers fluttering with excitement and a low coo issuing from his throat. “The attack will come, as Kul-Tan described, as you yourself have now imagined, striking both trade lane and colony. Lives will be lost, Admiral, we can't do anything about that. But the Mandate has been gathering a force of ships to offer in the next round of negotiations to aid in the raiding issue. The Mandate can gather this fleet, which is currently at dry dock and do round the clock preparations to be able to meet this force and drive them off before they do too much damage. “

“This is against the treaty, Orange. The Moot would have the Mandate sanctioned or worse.”

The director chuckled, grabbing his forgotten glass. “Ah, in any normal case, yes. However, there are many in the Moot, and in the populace, frustrated with the government's laxity on this. All of your debates, save for personal discussions with Wings of Crimson, of yours have been made public domain as per our law, and our news reports on the situation. The populace is aware and the first Tezekian's death in space since the War of the Rift have cut deeper than they bother to realize. When the Oozori come in to aid with this, they'll immediately be seen as heroes, coming to make up for the war by aiding us when we need it, political malaise be damned. We have voices in the Moot and in the media, Admiral. There are other Foundations, Councilors and corporations who see as we do and we have enough to make the push at the right time.”

“And what time would that be, Orange. For what?” Claws tone was hard and suspicious.

“Simple. The media will tramp this out a heroic scenario, silencing the protests with popular support from the people and the Mandate, who place themselves at our service. They will suspend the negotiations until the crisis is handled. The Moot will attempt its usual flim-flammery, anger will grow and when it reaches its pitch, one of our people will call for a vote to declare emergency powers and elect a Primus.”

Aquamarine just stared at him. “You mean..enacting the crisis clause of the constitution?”

“The very same, Admiral. And of all the candidates, we think you will be best for that role.”

“You can't be serious. They will never go for it, Orange.” He just couldn't see it happening; not with the current view towards the military that has calcified over the decades. It would be seen as an extension of a military dictatorship.

“We are, Aqua. Wings of Crimson trusts you and faced by an angry populace and reports of the issue within the Mandate, he will trust you, his commander, to set things right. We will then have the crisis to fix the issues with the military and others and then properly dispense with the threat.”

Aquamarine was silent for a moment, taking it all in. His instincts screamed to reject this, that this was blatant manipulation of the system but,

”We just can't expand the military, we will become monsters like all of the other powers in the Milky Way.” His talons tightened as he viewed the peaceful stubbornness of his friend and for the first time hated his friend.

but if this was going to happen anyway, something Intelligence had warned the Moot of many times, they could make the best of it and get things done. He could finally do what he knew needed to be done. Still, that left one issue.

“Kul-Tan, what does the Mandate want from this.”

The Oozori let out an amused chitter. “You are deserving of your position, indeed. The Diktat would ask in return for our assistance that you negotiate terms to change our relationship to that of an equal state. We shall remain within the Directorate but serve equally alongside, with representation in the Moot, and be able to build up our forces again. We shall contribute more as we expand more and we can soothe the separatist elements. Further, the Diktat is willing to share information on locations of old Oozori caches, installations and worlds, where technology of old can be gleaned. As a show of good faith, we give you this, to find out of nowhere to aid in your cause.”

He took the holopad into his hand and clicked it on. Data ran down the screen, revealing coordinates and info, with a small picture of a planet completely gray and with some lights still glowing from the surface. It was clearly a heavily industrialized world, and the design of the damaged and debris of the orbital infrastructure pegged it as Oozorim, but there was something about it...

“Is this what I think it is?”

“It is, Admiral. An old Forge World of the greater empire of old; in its prime it could produce thousands of ships in weeks, supplying the commerce and military of our glory days. It was the site of of much battling between rebellious factions and outside invaders, so much of it is damaged beyond repair with either of our current resources. However, enough of it is online and able to be brought back online to give you the tool you need to reinforce our nation. The Gata'jan's found it and began repairs for their conquests before they were conquered by the Capita Alliance under the Vipran Imperium. Thanks to their efforts of a splinter attempting to flee their wrath, we gained this information in return for aiding in their attempts for protectorate status. And there is more to come, if we can count on your cooperation.”

Claws of Aquamarine fingered the card, debating with himself. Orange finished his cup, and moved to stand up, talons reaching for the device on the table. “You don't have to decide now; our information says the attack will happen within the next week. For preparations sake, I suggest we get your response by this evening. You know how to reach me.” With that, he took the device and left, the Oozori following soon after, as the Admiral battled within himself over duty and principles.

Wings walked out with Kul-Tan into the busy streets, squinting his eyes at the afternoon sunlight blaring down at him. A hovering limo eased up in front of him, the doors opening automatically. He waved Kul-Tan in, before entering himself. Sitting down, he barked out a quick command of “Darken!” before the windows eased down, both to cut out the light and to keep people from seeing inside. The hummed to a start, moving to rejoin the main traffic as Kul-Tan caught his attention.

“Will it work?”

Orange extended his arms out wide. “Of course. Those peacenik morons in the Moot and Ternion have pushed him to the brink where he is scrambling for any alternative. We have presented him one that seems to avoid validating the fears of his friend Crimson. I would be surprised if we don't hear from him within the hour.”

The arthropod gripped the seats, his mandibles clicking in concern. “Not telling him to true reason behind the delay and what 'other things' we'd like him to fix is a gamble, Wings.”

“Life is a gamble, my friend. By the time he has a chance to even try to figure that out, we're going to have the firestorm of media coverage, debates in the Moot and forcing Crimson to ask his friend to become Primus. Then he will be much too busy to find out our scheme and our people will scour all the loose ends clean. We shall help him every step of the way and get our peoples to where they belong, not some peaceful backwater in the Gamma Quadrant. There is opportunity for what we both want, Kul-Tan and through the Admiral, we shall see it at long last.”

“I bet two hundred credits it takes more than one hour.”

“Your gambling addiction never ceases to amaze me, but if you want to give me more of your money, I can't refuse now, can I?”

Two hours later, the Admiral called to say he would accept, with some conditions. Orange began to soothe his feathers while Kul-Tan hummed to himself, counting his new windfall.

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

Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:35 am

Ghostly Conversations


....Accessed Federal Marshall Service File Database....
....Audio Log Depository.....
....Operation: Windfall Collected Sources....
…Input File Requested…

///AudioLog.[REDACTED].(09270993)///

…Log Detected. NOTES ATTACHED…

[The following is a collected audio log of an unknown conversation which was located at /REDACTED/, following Operation: Windfall enacted by the Federal Marshall Service /REDACTED/ Regional Office.]

[Investigator Note: While we have opened inquires to try and put faces to the voices on the audio log, at the present time the investigations have stalled. While the information contained within the logs is worth considering, I am afraid too much time has passed from the discovery of the log and the start of our search. Our agencies ability to figure out who these individuals are, is declining with each day. If more resources are not diverted in following up Operation: Windfall, I’m afraid we will lose any chance at uncovering these individuals and where they have gone.]

/Open Log/

….Loading File….
…File Loaded…
.PLAY.

The murmurs of a slightly crowded room could be heard, conversations fading in and out, the unmistakable clank of glasses could be heard far off echoing for a moment before being drowned out by the various conversations once again. Suddenly the creak of a door slices through the idle talk and begins an odd moment of silence. Footsteps could be heard for a few seconds as hushed whispers floated about. The scratching of wood on wood could be heard softly echoing off the silent walls. A voice finally broke through the silence


“Heh, I didn’t think I’d ever see you walk into this place again…”

“What? I can’t come in here?”

“You saw everyone react to you…”

The sound of wood scraping against wood abruptly fills the log


“Does anyone have a problem with me in here?!”

Silence could be heard for a few heartbeats on the log


“Thought so…”

The sounds of someone sitting back down hastily fade away as the first voice picks back up again


“I do…”

“Oh? Since when?”

“I heard what happened…”

“Heh…I guess everyone did. Well what are you gonna do?”

“…shit. It’s between you and him. Hell, you’re lucky I’m here. Can’t say most of the folks in here take kindly to you right now.”

“I’m lucky? That you’re here. That’s rich.”

*Two muffled pats could be heard before the second voice picked back up*

“I can take care of myself.”

“Ha. You know you have some real balls coming in here. You know all I have to do it point and ten of these fellas will pull what they have off their hip at you.”

“That’s a threat?”

“You know it’s a damn well fact that they didn’t drag you by your hair the moment you stepped foot in here, is because I am here.”

“Do you want to listen to what I have to say? Or are you going to keep sitting there and not look at me.”

“Fuck I need to look at you for? I want to look at a bitch, I’ll grab one of these hoes outside.”

*A loud crash of wood abruptly filled the log then the first voice began again*

”You better sit the fuck down, and keep in your lane before this is a problem.”

“A problem?! Fuck you, man. Everything we’ve been through? The things I’ve done for you? And you’re just gonna leave me out to dry like that.”

”…I told you, you want to walk this path…you walk it alone…

“You’re just a pussy.”

A second crash of wood against wood could be heard before the first voice started back up


“…you choose your next words carefully, they may be your last. When you decided to do this, I fucking told you. I told you not to, I told you to reconsider, I told you that people would flip on you like this. You don’t just take charge like that, you must finesse the game. If you would have listened to me, there wouldn’t be a price on your head right now. Fuck man, I know three guys in here that need the money too……Hey! Don’t fucking move your hand down like that.”

“Fuck you…I’m not gonna let you do this to me. Not after everything I just did. If I’m gonna go, I’m going out on my own terms.”

”No one is going anywhere you idiot. I’ve been telling you I’m keeping you alive right now. And you’re fucking testing my patience. Just letting you in here has taxed me enough.”

“Letting me in here!? I brought you in here your very first time!!!”

”And how the tables have turned these short months….Nah! What did I say about your hand. Swear, you move your hand again.”

Silence enters the log for several moments before the second voice starts again


“What happens now…?”

”I dunno, but first thing first you raise your hand away from your belt…”

“That’s not going to happen until I get safe passage out of the system…”

”Ha! How about I walk out that door and let everyone else in here do what they want to do with you? Sure, you might get one or two…”

“You ain’t leaving until you get me a way out of this system, I don’t think you understand me. It’s not a gun I have on me.”

”…you’re not serious…”

“You want me to lift my shirt and show you? I die, this whole block goes. You walk out that door, you’re gonna die in the blast, you’re not that fast. I’m not fucking around with you here, I need a way out of the system towards deeper Gamma. I’m taking this fire outside the Republic, you’ve always thought too small and never really listened to what they were saying to us. It’s bigger than the Republic, the whole damn Quadrant must feel the heat from the eternal flame.”

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

Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:54 pm

Citic Planet
Hytira County
Outskirts of Corsyran


"Vamp-2, this is Watcher...do you copy?"

"5-5 Watcher, go for traffic."

"Roger, synching targeting data link now, uploading target information."

"Are you still painting the target Watcher?"

"Negative Vamp-2, position was compromised, we have egressed out of the target area."

"Understood, Watcher. Time to target five minutes."

"Roger, you are green for weapons release on target. Over."

"Understood, over and out."

The Nighthawk attacker careened through a thin cloud layer dropping its altitude closer to the sandy desert far below the aircraft. The blue exhaust flame flowed bright against the black night sky. The pilot flipped a switch and the rest of the lights in the cockpit faded in their brightness, a soft red glow took over the HUD displayed on the front glass. Pressing another button, a diamond shaped target appeared on the HUD, details about the target flowed by it, all the information originally shared by Watcher appeared and disappeared quickly besides the diamond indicator. What stayed on the HUD however was the only information that mattered, distance. And that number was quickly decreasing as the Nighthawk roared through the night sky.

----
Citic Planet
Hytira County
Center of Corsyran


"Inara! Stay with the group, don't lag behind like that."

"Sorry sir..."

"Don't be sorry, just be better."

The twelve individuals made their way down the street, staying close to the buildings on one side, using them as best as they could as cover. The twelve-people kept their weapons at the ready scanning the immediate area around them. A mixture of old assault rifles, shotguns and hunting rifles would meet any adversary that came their way tonight. They cautiously made their way to the end of the block, stopping in the relative safety of an overhang sticking out of one of the buildings that sat at the end of the block. The leader of the group picked a pair of binoculars out of his nap sack and brought them up to his eyes. Seeing the blue building up close, he confirmed what he already knew to the rest of the group.

"There it is, our target, right there. Just down the street and to the left, the blue building."

"Why are we doing this again...?"

The man put away his binoculars as his shoulders slumped and a heavy sigh escaped his mouth upon hearing the words from one of his militants. Turning to face who spoke, the man looked squarely in his eyes as he replied.

"Shut up Mark, the Marines are going to make a push deeper into the city at daybreak. They'd like us to occupy this building to help spot targets for their advance units. And if I have to tell you again, I'm going to rip off your ears. Obviously, you don't need them."

Looking back to his rag tag group some still dressed in their civilian clothes, he pointed at seven of them, "You all will be following me in, the rest of you will stay here and keep watch on the street. Any movement from those Corsyran Resistance fucks you all shoot first, then call for us got it?"

The four staying behind, nodded in affirmation. Inara being one of those four chosen to stay outside closed the distance between her and her group leader in a panicked rush. "Why can't I come with you inside?!"

Putting a calming hand on her shoulder Sergio used his other hand to move her hair out of her face. "Cause, I need someone I can trust to be outside, someone who will make the right decisions. Now please get your team together and watch our backs okay?"

A small smile appeared on the face of Inara, her chest swelled a bit with pride as she moved back to the other three in her team. Sergio pulled back the charging bolt of his assault rifle and twirled his hand in the air. Eight of the twelve individuals broke away from the group heading towards the blue building. Inara turned to the three assigned to her and pointed for two of them to keep watch down the far side of the street, while Inara herself and her partner took up a position to watch the side of the avenue where the blue building was located.

===
Citic Planet
Hytira County
High above Corsyran


The Nighthawk attacker leveled out in its flight path, underneath the aircraft one of the internal bay doors opened up revealing a large black painted munition inside. The pilot inside the plane moved his hand up his joystick to one of the red buttons on top. As he depressed the button, and felt a shudder as the munition was dropped out of the aircraft. Once he was sure it was cleared away from his craft, the pilot pushed the throttle forward to the limit. The Nighthawk attacker then began to screamed forward high above a sleepy coastal city continuing out into the black sea, eventually fading away from sight.

The long black munition upon exiting the aircraft sprouted smaller wings to stabilize itself as it "fell" closer towards its target. With no capabilities of maneuvering itself it was a silent weapon of destruction guided by inputted coordinates by the pilot. Holding enough explosive power to level a sizable structure, it would make short work of the intended target of the night.

====
Citic Planet
Hytira County
Center of Corsyran


Inara kept her eyes level on the door Sergio and his group disappeared into, so far, the radio was quiet. Which she took to be a good sign that things were going as smooth as possible inside. Turning around she took a quick look at the other two watching the other end of the street. They were doing their duty keeping a vigil on their task, it was a quiet night in Corsyran. No one else on the street wandering about, Inara wondered to herself how long it would be before Sergio would give her the all clear to enter the building and join the rest inside. Standing up, she took a few steps outside the cover of the overhang and suddenly she was flying in the air. Slamming into the wall of the building next to her, she lost all the air out of her lungs and heard an audible crack emanating from her body. Crawling on her hands and knees she gasped and gasped and gasped, unable to fully breathe. Panic started to grip her as her eyes bulged, and her movements became more jerky. Desperately trying to get air into her lungs, she began to shake uncontrollably. Dust and smoke began to settle all around her but she could still see her partner lying next to her, she painfully made her way to his body. Reaching him she tried to call out his name, but still nothing came out of her mouth. Reaching out to him she started to shake him, and slowly rolled him over to face her. Her first good breath in came out as a high-pitched scream as she saw that half the man’s head was gone, sheared off by a hot piece of shrapnel leaving nothing but a grotesque jaw and neck leading to a limp body.

Shakily getting to her feet she turned around, the other two who were facing the other way down the street were still lying on the dirt ground. One of them was twitching intermittently, while the other had his hands over his hears with a pained look on his face. Inara dropped to one knee as a wave of nausea came over her, and she couldn't hold it. The wet vomit was soaked up quickly by the dry dirt, after her last dry heave she stood up and turned to face where the target building was. Her heart dropped when all she saw was smoking rubble, nothing was standing in that plot of land anymore. Oh...no....no.... Instantly she started running towards the rubble, her legs were wobbly as she moved and she fell onto the ground. Trying to get up, she fell again. Tears began to well up in the corners of her eyes, and soon it was unstoppable.

====
Citic Planet
Hytira County
DoI [Department of Intelligence] Safehouse in Corsyran


One man was sitting at a desk in the dark, his laptop computer screen the only light source in the room. Above the desk there was a map of the city with several circles drawn on it around buildings. Next to the computer a midsized radio sat, as well as a stack of papers. On the screen a messaging application was open, and the man’s fingers flew across the keyboard quickly typing up a message.

Operation: Watching Strike is a success; destruction of the target building has been confirmed by various assets on the ground. I am dumping all access codes to strike platforms as well as any other associated data to our secure system. Additionally, it has been reported that a militia team had entered the target area before the application of force. Two birds with one stone? I’m calling this operation one of the smoothest I’ve ever ran. The Marine push into the city at dawn should go better, I will remain in town and continue to allocate more assets to our side. Awaiting additional instructions.

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The Second Brotherhood of Planets
Chargé d'Affaires
 
Posts: 448
Founded: Jul 18, 2012
Ex-Nation

That Which Tries Our Souls

Postby The Second Brotherhood of Planets » Thu May 18, 2017 9:45 am

That Which Tries Our Souls


Zeus Station, Orbit Around Beta Caeli V, Beta Caeli Star System, Hangar Bay B

"Commander, I hereby announce my resignation."

"David? I'm not hearing things, am I? You have served as Chief Engineer of this Station for thirty years. We've seen two predecessors of mine during your tenure. What brought this on? Y-"

"That." David pointed at one of the ships perched in drydock.

The Starbase Commander glanced where David was pointing, and sighed.

For months, Brotherhood Defense Force Command (which was always shortened to Command to avoid that awkward mouthful), had been informing engineering crews across the Brotherhood that new starship designs were being rolled out. Schematics were sent, and few could believe what they saw.

It was always understood that the Starfleet, or Stellar Navy for the formal term, was a Navy. Despite rhetoric about meeting new peoples and exploring the stars, the Brotherhood Starfleet was always built to defend member worlds and peoples and annihilate those interstellar civilizations who sought to threaten our particular assembly of races.

Still, the primary reason people stated for enlisting in the Stellar Navy wasn't to obliterate worlds and strip the universe of intelligent life. No, the stated goals were to explore, to discover, to learn.

But the new Expunger class of Star Destroyers could achieve none of these things. While Star Destroyers were meant to be formidable craft, they could perform other duties: there was an incident where a foreign starliner had been assaulted by terrorists, and a Hyperion class Star Destroyer back in the day managed to disable the ship, sending marines to rescue the passengers.

An Expunger, with its enormous antimatter cannon that virtually trailed the length of the ship, could do no such thing. If an Expunger had come to the "aid" of the starliner, well, thousands would swiftly die once it fired.

And David made this absolutely clear to his former superior.

"Commander!" He all but growled, gripping tightly to the railing they were both standing next to that overlooked BPS No Child Policy, the brand new Expunger the station was working on. "When we joined the Brotherhood Defense Force, we all expected to help the cause of finding and coming together with new life and new civilizations. We all know that horrible things lurk out there, and that is why we have so many weapons. But our ships should be more than just bringers of death. Yet that is what we've unleashed upon the universe: a ship that does nothing else but destroy, exterminate, remove from existence. And with every name being some sort of pun on finality and devastation..."

"Chief Engineer Hornberger, I expected better from you. You are a man of duty: you proved that by serving in the Engineering Corps for decades. And yet you intend to discard such a noble career. While it may be true that the Expunger may seem troubling compared to the other starships in the Defense Force, her role is an absolute necessity. There are more and more powers in this multiverse who have proven to express disdain for the concept of different species working together towards similar ends. Our Brotherhood consists of all kinds of alien races, but each of us agreed on one basic principle: that sapient life should cooperate for mutual prosperity. Among our ranks there are those who despise violence. There are those who revel in the glory of combat. There are those who embrace the thrill of commerce and others who choose more ascetic lifestyles. And yet all of these peoples are willing to stand together so that none of us will perish. We never asked for uniformity, and I don't plan to ask that from you. But your premise that you ought to resign because of a new starship design is absurd."

"Is it, Commander?" David sneered. "Is it? The vast majority of recruits state their reasoning for joining the Force. So many of them stare wide-eyed at the notion that they could discover new stars and planets, and new ways through which evolution brought about intelligence. Most of the greenhorns that join the Engineering Corps are absolutely enthralled when they encounter new technology. So many of us joined because we thought that we would pursue purposes other than killing. But that ship there represents death and nothing else. How could it possibly 'seek out new life and new civilizations'? And how could any Brotherhood officer abandon our principles?"

"I..."

"Anyone who agrees to command that abomination of a ship has surrendered their soul, Commander."

"David..." The Commander sighed now. "Say that to the citizens of a planet who stare up at the cosmos and see nothing else but hordes of ships designed to purge whole worlds. Say that to those ships in the void who fly ponderously across the stars only to be blasted into nothingness by marauding fleets claiming glory and righteousness. There are too many powers out there who would like nothing else than to exterminate everything that isn't them, because otherwise they couldn't sleep at night. No one who wears this uniform enjoys blasting intelligent life into atoms. We all strive for something more. But we produce countless torpedoes and cannons and railguns because without them our dream would die. Yes, anyone could take one of our torpedoes and obliterate a city with it. None of us believe otherwise, but you disgrace everyone who puts on this uniform if you believe that the existence of such a ship means its purpose is solely to destroy. No, with that ship you see there, we can protect. Long ago, our kind had a leader who said: "Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick, and You Will Go Far." I'm sure plenty in the Diplomatic Corps would get teary eyed if they heard that, but it's true. We need powerful weapons in order to keep our dream alive. Without them we'd just get smashed by even bigger sticks."

"Sticks and stones, where does it end, Commander? You said so yourself, if some madman captures that ship, what then? How many would have to die? How many deaths could we prevent?"

"And how many more deaths could that ship prevent when it's in our hands, Hornberger? Seems rather convenient to resign now, after we've spent hundreds of years wielding antimatter weaponry. That ship might not boast the same nonviolent capabilities as everything else in the fleet, but her role is no less vital. Without her and her sisters, we'd be that much more vulnerable. "Evil lurks in the datalinks as it lurked in the streets of yesteryear. But it was never the streets that were evil." A ship is as moral or immoral as her captain. Expungers can prevent countless deaths as long as they focus on the right targets, and you know it. Now, if you're serious about leaving, are you going to get off this deck? I have work to do, Sir, and time waits for no one. Plenty of lives are at stake."
Last edited by The Second Brotherhood of Planets on Fri May 19, 2017 11:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Senkaku
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 21492
Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Mon Jun 05, 2017 12:11 am

Cat And Mouse






Taku shifted his weight a little in the cramped capsule, sighing as his tiny motion caused the pod to bob nervously to and fro in the water. Outside, the fog made the cool air utterly impenetrable, just a haze of toneless gray stretching to infinity in all directions, save for a few feet of gently undulating blue water that he could make out. All of his monitors were completely powered down save for one, displaying some passive sensor data as faintly as possible to reduce its power consumption. Taku had decided to switch the pod's shields off as well, but left the generator fins deployed in case any of the enormous creatures the pod's passive sonar could dimly register took an interest in him.

In any event, none of them seemed concerned with the little pod, thousands of feet above them. Taku swallowed as the sonar detected two more of the leviathans- enormous squidlike beasts, the size of container ships- swimming west. Since touchdown, more than twenty hours ago, he had detected more than two dozen such contacts, all swimming at speed on the same heading. The monstrosities soon jetted off into the gloomy depths, out of range of his passive sonar and hydrophones, and Taku was once again left alone to contemplate the all-encompassing fog. He reached up to grab another wafer out of the cabinet in the capsule's roof, munching numbly and taking a sip of water from the straw that extended up from one of his armrests.




It was beginning to grow dark- at least, he thought so- by the time anything else of interest happened. He'd napped intermittently, dozing off and waking up whenever the capsule's AI chirped at him about something on the sonar screen, but all it had spotted were a few fish and smaller deep-sea giants, swimming after the leviathans.
All of a sudden, to Taku's surprise, a tiny dark shape plummeted out of the fog, splashing into the water not ten feet from the capsule. He started, about to slap the button to turn on the shield generator- the leviathans, he had been warned, could be quite sneaky, and had been known to fool sonar on occasion- but the object soon bobbed to the surface.

It was a puffin. Taku inhaled sharply, breath hissing between his teeth, as the adorable little bird began swimming away into the fog, apparently disregarding his presence. As it flashed its broadside at him and swam deeper into the mist, he saw its feathers shiver from blackish-blue to pale gray, and the creature melted into the fog.
It couldn't have gotten this far out to sea without a base...
As if on cue, the sonar display flashed, showing sudden pulses coming from the east. Taku's heart jumped into his throat as he saw where the signals were coming from- that's where Min-jung landed! What could be wrong?

But almost as suddenly as the active pulses had started, they abruptly stopped, and Taku, heart pounding, sat in the growing darkness.




Night had ended and dawn was beginning to turn the incessant fog from an impenetrable black blanket into a static-filled blur of blue and dark gray. The sonar screen flashed at Taku, reporting a new contact- another leviathan, approaching slowly from the east, near the surface.

Then it detected another one, practically right on top of the first. Then another appeared, and Taku's eyes began to widen as the sonar began to resolve into a massive, slowly curving front, approaching from the east. The Wanderer is coming! Immediately, his mind conjured up the image of a vast, slowly curving steel wall moving across the ocean, effortlessly parting the water and the fog around it. He tapped a few buttons, switching on other sensors and computers, and as screens came to life around him and AIs began whispering into his ear, Taku's breath quickened. His mark continued moving inexorably towards him, and as it moved deeper into his sensor envelope its distinctive massive ring shape began to emerge, hundreds of smaller contacts milling around it beneath, on, and above the surface. Taku threw the switch to turn on the main power system, but an error message abruptly appeared.

ERROR: HIGH WATER TEMPERATURE, RADIATOR OVERHEATED



How is that possible? It wasn't more than forty degrees when I landed...
His heart sank as he looked at the thermometer and infrared scanning monitor. Heat was gushing from The Wanderer in every direction, cranking up the water temperature as the huge floating city continued steaming towards him. Taku swore quietly, ignoring the quiet reprimands from his AIs for his language, and tapped a few more buttons. They must be preparing for launch. Was Min-jung trying to warn us? Did they find her?

His hand hovered over the button that would switch on the pod's water jets and active sensors. God, I hope I make it out of this alive.



The water temperature was cooling, but not fast enough. Taku swerved again, his wake slashing the fog like a sword, as another contrail streaked past and vanished into the mist. He could see two drones, in the shape of gleaming golden hummingbirds, skimming hungrily over the water on his infrared scanner, and far behind them the vast glowing form of The Wanderer and its thermal exhaust. Taku flinched as one of his AIs briefly took control, forcing the pod to nearly submerge itself and throwing up a cloud of spray. Tracer fire sprayed overhead, and an instant later the two patrol craft, surprised, flashed past the partially-submerged capsule.

RADIATOR ONLINE, PREPARING FOR TAKEOFF


Taku gave a little cheer, quickly throwing a few levers on his control panel, and leaned back in his seat as the pod tilted itself in the water, orienting its main thrusters towards the depths. The hummingbirds were beginning to loop back, but even as their winglike gravity foils sliced into the surface of the water like samurai swords and they banked steeply, theirs was a lost cause- Taku's main engines ignited.

In a fraction of a second, he was above the fog, looking out over a vast gray expanse- and in the middle of the seemingly endless sea of fog, the perfect circle of The Wanderer, with its glittering spires and whitewashed walls, floated serenely on a clear patch of deep blue sea. Fog and spray vomited forth from various points along the ring's edge, and as Taku was rammed back into his seat by the acceleration, he saw a point of light suddenly launch itself up from within the city's great circular harbor. The sky began to change from blue to black, but the distant point of light rising up from The Wanderer stayed with him. The main engines switched off, and Taku gave a gasping exhale as he entered orbit, slapping a button on the control panel to begin his transmission.

Between the time he pressed the button and the time he finished opening his mouth to speak, the laser blast had melted the pod's faster-than-light drive and main subluminal engines into a glowing mass of metal and rapidly expanding gas, and completely fried the transmitter. Taku banged his head on the ceiling as the capsule suddenly spun out of control, debris flying everywhere and flashing in the harsh light of the unfiltered sun. "Fire attitude thrusters! Stabilize!", he shouted to the AIs as the tiny ship continued to rotate, but none of them responded- the laser strike had torn through many of the computers, nestled among the piping and circuitry of the engines. Taku vomited, and the vomit formed a hundred tiny globes, which began rotating through the air along with the motion of the vessel, occasionally bouncing off him or the walls. Outside, the tiny light that had risen from The Wanderer's harbor had resolved itself into a terrible sight- a vast golden galleon, gravity foils and shield generator sails stretching like wings from its shimmering sides, laser cannons in delicate turrets trained directly on him. A squadron of smaller craft zipped around it, and Taku screamed in fright as one suddenly appeared mere centimeters outside of the pod's windows. It tapped the pod with something, jolting Taku in his seat, and the horrible, nauseating spinning abruptly stopped.

Outside of his window, a golden hummingbird the size of a man, with eyes like blue opals and a beak like a finely honed lance, stared in. The drone regarded him without passion, its robotic eyes offering him no sympathy. You brought this on yourself, you know, it seemed to say to him, its wings flickering in what could have been a slight shrug.

The drone jerked its head, and its needle-like beak slipped through the diamond window pane like it was cutting through soft butter. Taku gasped as the freezing metal stabbed into his body, going clear through him and his seat. He was sure it had gone clear through the capsule, but the hummingbird seemed to have instantly grown another one- not that it mattered. The window exploded outwards, and Taku screamed soundlessly as he was blasted out into the vacuum and his blood and organs began flying out of the perfectly round hole in his chest.

His last sight was an enormous flash of light on the surface, as the distant, tiny ring of The Wanderer began to soar skyward towards its gilded charm of servants.
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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Yortini Systems
Diplomat
 
Posts: 747
Founded: Mar 13, 2013
Ex-Nation

Undoing - An Un-State Vignette

Postby Yortini Systems » Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:37 am

Undoing: An Un-State Vignette


Back when he first donned the grey, Theb gleefully threw his books into the fire. He watched with pride as the pages curled and became ash. Back then it was voluntary. Now–now he pulled an ornamented manuscript from an elderly priest’s arms. The holy man pleaded, begged for the book. Theb felt badly, it was always hardest for the religious. To Go-Up is to reinvent, and to reinvent is to dispose of the old. With that, Theb carried the book across the tiled floor and into the temple’s courtyard. In the center, a great fire crackled and roared. His teammates worked about upstairs, in the arcade of the courtyard hurling all manner of refuse into the flames. Icons, paintings and books all fell in parabolic arcs releasing flocks of embers wherever they landed. Theb approached the fire as close as he could, until the wall of heat penetrated his tunic and made him look away. He tossed the book in, underhand, and it spread open when it landed. Its pages fluttered and flew out and burned and became dancing embers that joined the others in their heavenward march. He went back into the building for more.

They finished working early in the next morning. The fire was in its death throes. A few patches of flame danced upon twinkling embers. The rest was glassy black ash. The remnant forms of what had burned created curious topography in the charcoal. White paper-thin ash coated every surface in the courtyard. Theb slid his fingers along a bannister on the perimeter arcade, and examined the chalky residue on his hand. This is the only thing that is real. He left the temple before the sun rose, but its light illuminated the cloudy sky so that a grey curtain lay over the world. He felt the tired in his eyes. Outside his teammates were deconstructing the last artifact. It was a statue. A chain fastened to its neck was attached to a powerful winch. It heaved and pulled and the statue moaned as it tilted over. It was carved in the likeness of one of the god-heroes, there were many and Theb couldn’t remember their names. Finally, the statue gave way and fell forward violently. It sank somewhat into the soft ground where it landed. The team hoisted it onto the bed of their truck and departed. It would be melted down for its metal.

It was a long ride back to the city. Every so often they passed other rising columns of black smoke. They undulated and churned, and Theb imagined that they carried the souls of the burned, carried them up and into nothing. He was overjoyed to see the smoke rise. The Deconstruction Patrols were everywhere now. Work had begun to organize patrols on the off-world colonies as well. Things were beginning to fall into place and Theb couldn’t be happier

There had been little pushback last night. That was fortunate. Too often the connection some have with their traditions is strong. They barricade their doors, hide their libraries. Blood has spilled for it. They can’t seem to understand that the burning is for their own good. When the chains of the past are cast off, one can become the future. Tradition is a weight that holds back anyone within its sinister grasp. When tradition is forgotten, it is possible to Go-Up. To Go-Up is to reinvent and to reinvent is to let go of the old. Reciting this doctrine was cathartic for Theb. He needed something to ascribe to. If only it had been there when he was young. He was a boy during the Bad Times. He and the neighborhood kids would climb the rubble piles, splash in the flooded craters. The new order was established in his adolescence and he joined as soon as he could. A month later he was out of his family home and into the youth dormitories. Back then, it was voluntary.
Last edited by Yortini Systems on Tue Jun 06, 2017 8:58 pm, edited 5 times in total.
A cactolith is a quasihorizontal chonolith composed of anastomosing ductoliths whose distal ends curl like a harpolith, thin like a sphenolith, or bulge discordantly like an akmolith or ethmolith.

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Delta Dominion
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 3
Founded: May 16, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Delta Dominion » Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:09 pm

Insurgency: Part One


“The Dominion is coming! The Dominion is coming!”

Those four simple words, repeated twice, were enough to make an entire block in one of the densest urban areas in the ring city of Monda Prime go mad. It was enough to send everyone into a panic, to wake people up from their sleep, and to make them reach for the weapons. It was enough to send them to arms, and it was also enough to make them fear for their lives and their futures. After all, this isn’t how it was supposed to go. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go at all, for the Free Deltan Front, or FDF.

Where had it all went wrong? They were supposed to be the winning side. They were supposed to be counting their new members after a membership surge that would inevitably have happened after they captured some of the most well guarded and valuable plans that the Dominion had; the ones that revealed plans that the citizenry wouldn’t be happy with if they saw in their raw and unedited form, plans to use piracy around the planet of Entalos as an excuse to invade and build the largest ring city that would be in their little empire, and to… Take something that they wanted, something important that apparently had been a big enough secret that they hadn’t even put the details in the classified plans.

It should have outraged the populace and it should have made them question their government’s actions around Entalos, their actions that saw them skirmishing with a nation that had done nothing other than exist in the wrong area. It should have made them question why an invasion was being planned under a false pretense to recover something from the planet that was so highly classified that only the Council knew about it, not even all of the soldiers that were going after it. That outrage should have taken the FDF mainstream, made them respected, and should have given them the biggest recruitment boost that they had ever seen.

Instead, it was resulting in them being tracked back to District Thirty Eight of Monda Prime before they had even finished leaking the documents, and they were apparently not even just being pursued by the police, but by the military. At least that was what rebel leader Mika Katala assumed when she moved the curtains aside from the largest window in the apartment and saw not just a foot patrol, but a black armored van that was surrounded by infantrymen wearing full suits of grey metal power armor.

“For fuck’s sake,” she said, backing away from the window and yanking the curtain shut before anyone could see inside, turning back to the messenger that had just entered the apartment before locking both of the locks that were on the front door, and then flipping the third lock, a latch that was alright at holding the door shut. Security was always a concern here, as the place where the leading figures of the FDF either lived or came in and out of, but this time, having three locks wouldn’t save them from what was coming. When the military showed up, they didn’t mess around. There’d be little warning, sometimes no warning, before they would breach. And they always, every single time, came in with guns out. There would be no reasoning, no citing the law, no trying to prove innocence. “Have we got runners sending the alarm to the whole street?”

“Have you seen how close they are to us? It was pretty fucking hard getting here without leading them directly to you! We’re better off letting everyone figure it out on their own, instead of showing those soldiers exactly where all the rebels are,” said the boy. “Whose idea was it to house all of us on the same block, anyway?”

“In theory it should let us communicate without worrying about internet spying. In practice… Well, this was always a threat,” said Mika, forcing herself to lean with her head against the wall and take a pair of deep breaths, telling herself that she still had some time to work with this situation without panicking. “Make sure everyone knows exactly what’s happening. And they didn’t find us because we all live here. They found us because they somehow tracked our ongoing upload of their documents back to this location. They must have ran a search for someone who was uploading files that had the same size, or metadata, or… I don’t know, but it’s no coincidence that this is the only time we’ve been busted like this.”

“What do I tell them to do, once we all know what’s happening?”

Awkward silence.

“Head out through the back. But tell Damian to stay here, and tell Thad to stay, too. I don’t want to go it alone, and I’m going to head all the way to the basement and take the hard drive that we have the data on. We didn’t sacrifice what we did to get it for nothing, after all. Oh, and Jax? You’ve been very brave. Get yourself to safety after you do what I said,” Mika replied, and with that, she walked into the nearest room and reached into a cabinet, coming back with a pair of rifles. She tossed one to the boy, Jax, and kept the other for herself, loading the rifle with one magazine and stuffing more extra ammunition into her jacket.

Jax took his own rifle awkwardly, holding it up to test the weight of it before lowering it again and starting towards the back parts of the apartment, which was not just tall but also long and filled with many winding corridors and different rooms. “Hey, Mika. One last thing, before we go our separate ways.”

“Yeah?”

“Don’t die out there. Even if it means giving up the stuff we fought for before. You’re too important from that, and even though everyone will say that the hard drive is the most important thing, I disagree. Protect yourself. Also, if I don’t come back, make sure my family a few blocks from here is safe. Make sure they didn’t get pulled into all of this, and that it never happens to them in the future…”

Some more silence.

Eventually, Mika nodded, turning and starting to walk away on her quest, holding her rifle in hand by the barrel and having her backpack strapped on with one strap around the opposite shoulder. They hoped it hadn’t needed to come to this, but it did. And right now, it was go time. Victory was not the goal, in this case. Just survival was.

**

Behind the black mask, there was always a person. The Dominion didn’t always want people to know that, enclosing their soldiers’ heads in full black helmets that had dark visors that showed none of the face, but that was the truth. Even in some of the more higher up units and even in the Dominion Special Forces, and specifically the First Division, the one that was based on Monda Prime that handled the security of the capital among other elite tasks reserved for the best of the best. Even when it was the team tasked with the protection of the capital area itself, the ones that were trained to fight in the densest of cities and with the highest stakes.

The fact that these soldiers were human too applied sometimes more than others, and it especially changed things right now, for Captain Jordan Haley, who was facing a conflict in the dense city streets that was important not just because of the context of the job… But because it was personal. “The FDF call themselves the good guys, but they’re the ones that get their point across by carrying out attacks against the entire populace, not just those who are connected to the government that they hate. My girlfriend was one of those casualties, a couple of years back. I know others that have lost kids to these bastards. Not adult family, but kids. If that doesn’t make you angry, if that doesn’t make you want to shoot every last one of these rebels, then I don’t know what will,” Jordan stated as his unit set up around the back entrance that would likely serve as the emergency exit once the rebels saw the convoys coming down the main road from both directions.

He tuned out the chatter of his squad behind him and stared down at his black gloves, adjusting the straps slightly before reaching for the assault rifle that was slung around his back, looking over his shoulder and gesturing for everyone else to hold up. “Remember. We don’t attack until they show themselves and leave this building, and we only take prisoners with their known officers. We have the positioning advantage, let’s not pull ourselves out of position by breaching. Oh, and Mika Katala is mine. She isn’t getting out of here this time, regardless of what the wanted list says.”

The battle would be starting soon, and Jordan backed up with his men and ran a hand across the black visor that covered his entire face, clearing up his vision just slightly. “Let’s do this thing,” he said to nobody in particular, raising his rifle and looking through the scope as there was noise from inside the building.

“Sir, what happens if they head the other way and we can’t shoot em all down before they get out of our range?” asked one of his men, as the others began lifting their own weapons and getting ready to open fire on whoever entered the alleyway via the back entrance.

“Then we hold position and let them get mowed down by the second convoy as soon as they hit the street,” stated Jordan. “Turn this into a chase around the streets and we’ve already lost. Force them into real conventional battles, and they stand no chance. That’s not their way, and we’ve backed them into a corner.”

“And the rooftops? Isn’t there a way out for them through the roofs?”

“We’ve been told to hold here no matter what. If they head to the rooftops, there’s support units waiting around for them. Now, let’s all stop talking and focus on the door. I want radio silence, until contact is made.”

“This is Section Leopard, and we’re entering radio silence until contact,” the radio operator announced over the communications channel that was being used by the Dominion forces, and that signalled that things were getting real. But they wouldn’t have to wait long for contact. It would only be minutes later when the first rebels stepped out of the door, met by open fire and a hail of metal as bullets began to fly in both directions and the Leopard unit took them by surprise with their positioning, blocking off the main escape route.

“Other way! Other way!” screamed one of the rebels, planting his feet and taking a few shots while the others turned around, before being shot through the heart and sent tumbling to the ground, his gun hitting the concrete with a clatter. It wasn’t a fight as much as it was a mad dash, with one side knowing that fleeing was their only chance of survival and the other knowing the same information.

Despite doing so much against the Dominion and having so much success in the past, the FDF was aware that here, they had no chance. No, it was like this killing field that they found themselves stuck in right now was revenge for the past, for the times when they had been the ones forcing their enemy onto the back foot. “Get the support going!” shouted Jordan, and the machine gun began to fire as the Deltan soldiers cleared out to avoid friendly fire.

Still, these rebels weren’t going to go down without a fight. They had tricks up their sleeves, and like caged animals, they fought harder with their backs against the wall, facing death. “Grenade!” someone shouted, as an object landed near the Deltan formation and then resulted in a series of flashes that made it impossible to see, despite not having the stunning effect that they were intended to have because of the black visors that filtered out some of the light.

It was, however, enough to get the soldiers to break their formation and give chase to the ones who had thrown the flashbang. And that was when the second object landed in the middle of the group. “INCOMING!” shouted one of them, as the grenade was in the air, but they still wouldn’t all be safely out of the blast range when the thing went off, a second or two after hitting the ground.

“Where the fuck’s the power armor when you need it-”

The grenade went off, covering the area in a cloud of smoke and causing a few shouts as fragmentations went everywhere. They also lost whatever chance they had of gunning down the rebels before they could safely get out of the alleyway, and while they had already dealt damage, they hadn’t dealt the decisive smashing that had been expected when they set up here. “Fuck’s sake!” screamed Jordan, who hadn’t went forward when his men lost their discipline. But worst of all, for Jordan, he would realize that there was nobody in position to catch Katala. “Everyone else, stay here. 1-4, come with me and look for Katala.”

The two soldiers ignored the chaos around them and ducked into the open door, which the rebels hadn’t bothered to close up during all of the chaos. There was a flight of stairs, and they climbed up them as they reloaded their guns and prepared for what they may find, and they found another open door and walked right past it at the top of the stairwell, not bothering to do a proper check to see if anyone was around. No, the urgency of the situation didn’t allow for that. The urgency of the situation meant that only one thing was important. Finding the woman that had masterminded so many of the FDF operations in recent years, now that she was cornered, just like the rest of them.

“Where the fuck…”

Jordan stopped in his tracks, and focused in on the sounds around them. Not the sounds of the battle outside, but the sounds that were coming from the apartment itself, from the walls. “What the-”

“Go!” shouted Jordan, turning back and heading the way they had come, pushing the door open once again and running two or three steps at a time, doing anything to get out of the building before it would potentially explode. Upon reaching the outside, he waved for his men to abandon their post. “There’s beeping noises coming from the walls… They rigged this place to blow once everyone is out.”

“And where is Katala?”

The question hung in the air, before the soldiers cleared out regardless of their doubts about whether the building was really trapped or not. Less than two minutes after doing that, it would indeed go up in flames after an ear shattering explosion sent glass and shrapnel all the way across the street. And now, as the battle continued to rage on the street that was opposite of them, there was still one question that hung in the air: where in the hell was Mika Katala, and her flash drive?

The fight between the democratic forces and the Dominion had been raging for years. But it wouldn’t end tonight, that was for sure.
Last edited by Delta Dominion on Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
T H E _ D O M I N I O N
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The drifting oligarchy of engineers, robots, and superstructures. Now found in the Southwest Delta Quadrant.

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Auracexia
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Civil Rights Lovefest

The Convergence Of Fates: The Chronicles of Auracexia

Postby Auracexia » Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:22 am

[ Mature ]


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5 Aepyrrh-met, 999th year since the Advent of the Aoraqet’yari (November 19, 15,209 BCE)
Serq’khet’yeva, Dévno Aoraqet’ya (Auracexia Prime), e’Sovaar’aen a’Kaemaan’arit’u Aoraqet’ya (Sovereign Hegemony of Auracexia)

It had been but nine-hundred and eighty-one years since her coronation as Prime Archon (Dévnostraéva), and even now, she was still getting used to the task of administering the vastness of the Sovereign Hegemony of Auracexia, that was not to say that everything had been going well for her. Census reports had shown that the birth rate had been increasing across the fifteen core systems of the empire – so much so, that it would be possible for recovery up to the levels of that of the Lyr’Davni Dominion just prior to The Great Dying. Maybe within five decades, a century even with the most pessimistic of projections. Even then, other topics arose, much to her trepidation… the establishment of houses or dynasties within the empire. Inside the first century since the establishment of the S.H.A., several of the most prominent women within the empire began their assertion of dominance over several of the smaller families, and before long, it all just seemed to snowball until over four dozen imperial houses had risen, with just over a dozen becoming the largest throughout the empire… Moreover, with the sheer size of these dynasties, they had amassed a considerable amount of political influence.

Through her position as Prime Archon, X’ter’yana Navras Del’ya Ravyn’na neither condemned nor condoned the practice, which did little to diminish the fact that these dynasties were now competing against each other for representation throughout the S.H.A., and the last thing she needed was a multitude of factions openly fighting against each other for dominance. The only thing that reassured her was the fact that despite their competition against one another, it never escalated into violence as all conflicts between dynasties were solved via a form of non-lethal combat sport, Kiat a'Karos'a u'Xuxiar'a (the Dance of Dominance).

Those who chose to settle their differences in this fashion would fight against one another wearing little more than the basic of necessities, scant coverings mainly to prove they were in fact unarmed. However, in hindsight provided a more debauched and decadent scene for those who found themselves as spectators of this sport wagering money against the fighter they wished to see defeated. Being that it was little more than a glorified combat sport —in considering what was allowed— there were still rules. Nothing that would cause permanent physical impairment or disfigurement were allowed, so given that the sport essentially boiled down to using everything at their physical disposal to win at all costs, their limbs, tactile organs and their wits were all they had.

The victor was decided when she had effectively negated her opponent’s ability to continue the fight or asserted her dominance there in the ring and claimed her as her own. The rules of this sport stated that upon victory, the victor gained the defeated opponent as her concubine with full discretion over her social position afterwards as well as gaining everything of import belonging to her defeated opponent.

Several disputes between the dynasties of the S.H.A. had already been resolved this way, and though the Imperial Dynasty’s official line was that they did not condone the sport, they did not condemn it either. Unofficially, several in the administration openly supported the practice as it kept the complaints down, as it solved inter-dynastic rivalries and kept them out of the courts. As it was several of the judicial minded Aoraqet’yari were sick and tired of having to mediate issues between the dynasties over things deemed utterly trivial and not necessary for a court to decide.

X’ter’yana had always been intrigued with the rumors regarding the sport, and as such she wanted to see what it was all about. What with her being a solitary, yet public figure for most of the infancy of the Sovereign Hegemony of Auracexia’s existence, matters such as the governance of the empire although left to other people in the administration below her, still made her feel detached from the people she ruled. Since the foundation of the S.H.A., X’ter’yana had no real freedom —despite being the most powerful person in the Empire— according to her advisors, her life was in the palace. All she knew of the world was what she was able to see when she made the trip from the palace to the capital to meet with the First Consul and the Vice Consul to discuss the governance of the Empire.

Although several of her advisors strenuously protested her decision, she left anyways with a retinue of her personal guards. To avoid being recognized by the casual Aoraqet’yari, X’ter’yana dressed down in modest attire and cosmetics, and instructed her retinue of guards to do the same. Her disguise was not adopted out of fear of possible attack or assassination, but mainly because she wanted to be treated like a normal, average Aoraqet’yari for once… instead of always as the Prime Archon.

As the Prime Archon, X’ter’yana was virtually idolized for being the individual who had stood to take the reins of leadership, in a time when the Lyr’Davni Stellar Dominion’s population was dying off so fast, that what had remained of the government were enough individuals to count on two hands. X’ter’yana had been chosen, as the first-born —trained and educated by the last of the Lyr’Davni before they too died— it was her job to take the alphas, those who received the same training and education as she did out of the first generation of Aoraqet’yari and form a new government after they were gone.

X’ter’yana knew that it was because she played a central role in guiding what remained of the Lyr’Davni Stellar Dominion out of the chaos that preceded the foundation of the S.H.A. as the successor-state to the Lyr’Davni Stellar Dominion. X’ter’yana was not vainglorious, as she felt the overwhelming gratitude that every Aoraqet’yari held toward her was mostly undeserved, but when it came to her advisors, she also felt that she didn’t need to be so protected… as their attitudes bordered on being condescending.

X’ter’yana never had any worry about any harm coming to her, never minding the fact that her very capable guards would ensure nothing would ever happen to her anyways. She marveled to herself as she traveled with her retinue across Serq’khet’yeva at the fact that her disguise worked, to the casual passerby she appeared to be an Aoraqet’yari of high social rank, albeit a moderately wealthy one for the way she carried herself and her entourage of security personnel. The murmuring of those around her as she passed by put a slight smile on her face.

Making her way across the great sprawl of the capital city was quite an experience as she became enraptured in the architecture of the various towers, bridges, and various structures as she traversed the boulevards and avenues of the massive city. It still surprised her that this city —Serq’khet’yeva— a city of nearly two-hundred and twenty million was nearly a dead and lifeless city a millennium ago… was teeming with life. City… Serq’khet’yeva was more than a city, it was for all intents and purposes a city-state of its own, it was the place X’ter’yana deemed would be the capital of the S.H.A. because of its beauty, because of the overall gargantuan size of it.

Near the center of the city, a little west of the true center up the terraced foothills leading up thousands of feet to the base of the as of yet unnamed lone peak, was the palace. Along with the various administrative buildings, and the capital… she was not sure of whether this massive edifice was the seat of power for the Lyr’Davni and their precious Dominion, but it was indeed impressive, sculpted from the very rock and constructed in harmony with the mountain itself, it was a true wonder to behold. Throughout the inside of the peak were living spaces, labyrinthine corridors, balconies sculpted from what would have been sheer cliffs, wiring, piping and ventilation ducts snaked through stone to provide illumination, plumbing and heat.

Using what natural resources the mountain had to offer, the Lyr’Davni constructed what could be termed as a fortress. Were ever the threat of invasion to surface the government could hold out indefinitely inside the very mountain itself… in various places across the exterior of the peak, various communication arrays had been constructed, this made sure that even if isolated from the outside world the government would be able to maintain uninterrupted contact with the people and the military.

Briefly pausing to turn and look back at this peak in the distance, X’ter’yana couldn’t help but still feel a sense of awe, she traced the rugged ridges down until she found the grand terrace, the entrance of the capital cut into the face of the peak, and the palace not far from there. She thought about what it was she was doing and if fate should smile upon her, she would still be returning home to the palace. She could not let herself be distracted with the thoughts of the alternative. As she continued staring into the distance, her reverie was broken by one of her bodyguards, Va’laara’ya as she gently grasped her shoulder. “Come Femme X’ter’yana, we should continue on, if we wish to get there in time.”

Taking one last look at home, she pulled the hood of her cloak up and covered her head and moving to the center of her security detail, she continued toward her destination… her fate. Regardless of the outcome of tonight, she could hardly contain the anticipation… the excitement… she could feel the adrenaline in her body for what was in store. Continuing on, she noticed the further from the core of the city she travelled, the transition from polished stone and glass to cold stone, metal, glass and bright neon lighting… and the numerous establishments offering their services; restaurants and watering holes with dining and alcohol, entertainment be it exotic or otherwise, gambling and of course sporting events official and… unofficial.


Stopping in the square at the intersection of a major thoroughfare with her security detail, she was intoxicated with the hum of the non-stop traffic of vehicles and people on foot surrounding her. She looked around to find herself in the shadow of several large buildings ringing the square, easily two-thousand feet tall, thin slices of light from one of the Trinity’s three stars shining through in slits between them. As she stood in awe of the massiveness of these buildings, Va’laar’ya leaned in from behind over her shoulder following her gaze, “You know, for being Prime Archon one would think you to be an Aoraqet’yari tourist from another system visiting the capital, for all of the time we’ve spent looking around.” she whispered with a smile. X’ter’yana barely turning her head, smirked looked sideways at Va’laar’ya, “Indeed, I do feel like a tourist. This is as far from the palace as I have ever been, it feels strange and yet so liberating being out in the open like this, completely anonymous, and yet wishing I didn’t need to hide who I am to the public.”
Va’laar’ya silently nodded. “Maybe in due time, you can change this… after all, you are the Prime Archon.” With a playful grab of her bottom, Va’laar’ya leaned in closer and playfully kissed her on the cheek. “We’re here. We should get inside before the show starts, so follow me… Your Majesty.” Va’laar’ya said playfully.

X’ter’yana briefly looked around looking askance, “So, where is ‘here’, anyways?” Va’laar’ya motioned with her hand toward the entrance of the tallest and well-lit building of the square. “Welcome to The Black Lotus Resort and Casino. The Black Lotus Resort and Casino, owned by Dame Xuxiah A’stra’eva, of the eponymous A’stra’eva Dynasty. Come, follow me.” X’ter’yana silently nodded and followed Va’laar’ya through the sprawling interior of the casino until coming to a section completely enclosed floor-to-ceiling by shatterproof glass, a series of large holographic screens littered the walls opposite the glass partitions showing the arena inside and the spectators slowly filling in the seating. As she peered through the glass at the arena below, she noticed on the east and west sides of the enclosed arena were armed guards standing watch at the entrance of a shallow hallway, the ends of which culminated in an elevator door. Watching for a few minutes, women would approach the guards and upon showing the ID card provided by Black Lotus, the women passed through and wished luck. Located just above both hallways, in bold neon lettering read the words ‘Competitor’s Entrance’, she had arrived.

Walking towards one of the hallways, she approached one of the guards with a smile, “Excuse me, could you point me to where I can get one of those cards I’ve seen the other women with who’ve came through here?” Showing courtesy, the guard brought up a small holographic map of the casino, with a trio of icons on the display showing their locations. “You are here, where you need to go is here, to the south side of the arena on this floor and to the Competitor’s Registration Kiosk where you can get your identification card.”

Departing the area, X’ter’yana quickly made her way to the kiosk, with Va’laar’ya in tow nearly running to keep pace and proceeded to register herself as a competitor, under Del’ya Ravyn’na. The automated kiosk quickly scanned her and processed her card. “Thank you, Del’ya Ravyn’na. You are Competitor A05-9563-09-791-001-DRAV. Please continue to the West Competitor’s Entrance and to the locker room below, there you change from your current attire into the attire issued to you for competition, a holographic instruction unit (HIU) will inform you of the guidelines and regulations before you are able to compete. May victory shine upon you.”

Va’laar’ya looked at her, beaming with pride as she looked over her card, smiling. “So, you’re really going to do this? I could not help but notice that you did not use your full name. Still playing low key?” X’ter’yana broke the stare with her ID card and looked up at Va’laar’ya, “Of course I am going to do this. As far as my name it’s unimportant for now, I can change it later to include my full name at a later point if I have to.” Va’laar’ya smirked, “X’ter’yana let’s get to the locker room and get you changed. I hope you don’t mind wearing the bare minimum of clothing, you’re going to be out there in front of tens of thousands, watched by hundreds of thousands even on holo-screens, so I hope you don’t get embarrassed easily.” X’ter’yana shot Va’laar’ya a smirk. “I won’t be embarrassed by flashing some skin.”

Proceeding to the west entrance, X’ter’yana and Va’laar’ya presented their identification cards, and upon having them scanned were waved through. “Good luck you two.” Said the guard who had previously assisted them. Making their way to the elevator, the guard on duty there swiped a card and the door opened, and stepping inside the doors closed, and the elevator began its descent. As soon as the doors opened, they were greeted to the sight of dozens of women each attired in the same tight black synthetic fiber thong and top, wrist and shin guards, their hair arranged in a tight braid and secured with a black leather hair cuff.

Receiving her attire, she found her locker and quickly disrobed and began changing into her attire, taking her time to assure everything fit properly. Sitting down on the bench and affixing her wrist and shin guards, she couldn’t help but notice the stares from Va’laar’ya as she took her time changed into the same attire, affixing her wrist and shin guards without breaking eye contact with X’ter’yana. “Like what you see?” X’ter’yana quipped. Va’laar’ya blushed with a smile, “Well, it has made me consider that I might have taken up the wrong profession when I volunteered to join your security duty.” Before they could continue their conversation, the holographic instruction unit (HIU) flashed before them, “I am Amu’nirrh’ya, your personal trainer. Your undivided attention is required as I explain and demonstrate the guidelines and regulations of Kiat a'Karos'a u'Xuxiar'a.”

Officially, the sport has three ways in deciding the competitors for a match; the first method being a direct challenge in which one competitor challenges the other, once a challenge is given the rules stipulate that the challenge cannot be ignored, only postponed for a period of up to ninety days from the time of the issuance of the challenge. The second method, being a challenge by proxy in which a competitor is chosen by the challenger to face another competitor, chosen by the rival to compete at any time within ninety days of the issuance of the challenge. Lastly, competitors are chosen by lottery and organized into up to thirty-two pairs for a Single Elimination Tournament, each pairing will compete against each other until one wins, advancing to the next tier until the two remain, at which time they will compete until there is but one winner.

Twenty minutes later, both had reviewed the rules and became well versed, comprehending everything they needed to know, giving each other a hug they parted ways to their respective waiting area until the announcer gave them their cue to enter the arena to compete.

It was not before long that X’ter’yana’s cue came; nervously she strode through the long corridor towards the arena, the only thought on her mind was that she was not going to lose, she could not afford to. Steeling her mind, she quickened her pace, making her way out onto the soft white sand and approached the area enclosed in a circle of red dye. She briefly paused, staring down at the red line… knowing the moment she stepped across it, everything was going to change.

She looked up, scanning the crowd in attendance and seeing the others of her retinue sitting up front, she smiled. She gave a quick nod to them and stepped across the line, standing there the roar of the crowd was nigh on deafening as she was announced as “Del’ya Ravyn’na”. As she gave a wave and bow, the announcer named her opponent. Stepping out of the entrance from the opposite side of the arena, her opponent Vikt’aur’ya Vi’rrhok’ya strode to the circle to the roar of the crowd. Stepping into the circle, Vikt’aur’ya turned to the crowd and gave the cursory wave and bow before turning again to face her, as the announcer called out the match type and rules, X’ter’yana locked her eyes on Vikt’aurya’s and as soon as the alert sounded she charged.

Taking the initiative, she lunged at Vikt’aur’ya launching her shoulder into her chest, driving her to the sand in a spear. No sooner than her shoulders had hit the dirt, Vikt’aur’ya responded, catching X’ter’yana upside the head with her bracers. Stunned by the glancing blow X'ter'yana staggered back, providing Vikt’aur’ya the opportunity to get to her feet and lunge at her. Seeing her coming, X’ter’yana tried dodging, but too she was too late as Vikt’aur’ya threw a quick succession of punches that added to her disorientation, allowing Vikt’aur’ya to seize her arm, allowing her to hoist X’ter’yana to her shoulder and quickly throw her to the ground in a body slam. Having the air knocked out of her on impact, she laid there dazed and confused as her opponent taunted her, as she slowly rolled to one shoulder she pushed herself to her feet and without a moment’s hesitance dove for Vikt’aur’ya’s legs, taking them out from under her. Quickly getting to her feet, she straddled her opponent and proceeded to throw a succession of punches, one of which glanced off Vikt’aur’ya’s nose, causing it to bleed. Shoving X’ter’yana off of her Vikt'aur'ya rose to her feet and rushed at her, throwing a few good body shots at her abdomen, causing X'ter'yana to double over. As the match wore on X’ter’yana paced herself, dodging and countering while her opponent continued trying to wear her down. Finally after over a half hour of fighting, X’ter’yana was tiring and her opponent was showing noticeable signs of fatigue as well, Vikt’aur’ya attempted a running grapple and seeing an opportunity she countered. Bringing a knee up catching her in the chest, she quickly followed with a leg sweep, bringing Vikt’aur’ya to the ground.

Getting to her feet, X’ter’yana quickly straddled her abdomen she threw a heavy punch and seeing her opponent dazed, she proceeded to hook her arms under Vikt’aur’ya’s legs and drew them up until vertical. Then using her tactile organs, she snared Vikt’aur’ya’s arms above her head completing the pin and asserting her dominance, the announcer signaled the end of the match.

Still in a daze, X’ter’yana held the pin until one of the arena officials rushed to her side, “Femme Ravyn’na, the match has ended. Let me help you to your feet, you and Vikt’aur’ya can return to the locker room now.” X’ter’yana looked up at the official… then down at her opponent. “I’ll carry her.” Getting to her feet, she pulled Vikt’aur’ya up, draping one arm over her shoulder she accepted the assistance of the official in getting to the locker room.

Once inside the locker room, she sat Vikt’aur’ya down on a bench and went to her locker and began removing her wrist and shin guards, and having disrobed she entered one of the many showers to cleanse herself of the sand and blood. Returning afterwards, she noticed Vikt’aur’ya stirring. “Hello there gorgeous, you might want to get cleaned up.” Vikt’aur’ya looked up at X’ter’yana groggily, “So, what shall I call you, mistress?” X’ter’yana smiled, looking down at her, “For now, you can call me X’ter’yana, but please don’t call me Prime Archon…” “Courtesan of a harlot (equivalent to ‘son of a bitch’)…” she sighed… “Excuse me?” X’ter’yana quipped. “You’re the Prime Archon, X’ter’yana Navras Del’ya Ravyn’na?!” X’ter’yana nodded in the affirmative. “I suppose that means you own The Black Lotus now…” X’ter’yana stood confused, “The Black Lotus? How would I-“ Vikt’aur’ya gave a defeated smirk, “My name isn’t Vikt’aur’ya… I am Dame Xuxiah Sely’ne Dur’en A’stra’eva, of the A’stra’eva Dynasty. As per the rules of the sport, having defeated me… myself, my dynasty… and The Black Lotus… are yours to do with at your discretion.”

X’ter’yana paused in shock, “Whoa, if I would have known it was you out there…” Xuxiah quipped, “If you had known it was me, would you still have fought as hard as you did?” “I could ask you the same question”, X’ter’yana quipped. Xuxiah smirked. “I guess it doesn’t really matter does it, I lost. Though, I will admit, it was one hell of a fight.” X’ter’yana leaned in and helped her to her feet, “Let’s get you cleaned up, I won’t have you coming back to the palace looking like that.”

After getting Xuxiah cleaned up and both had changed into their normal attires, they rode the elevator up to the lobby of The Black Lotus, the two met with her retinue of guards, plus an unknown woman standing next to Va’laar’ya. X’ter’yana smirked with a glance at her companion. “I guess you were victorious tonight as well?” Va’laar’ya smiled, “This is Sae’irrha, she’ll be coming back to the palace with us.” X’ter’yana nodded. “Very well… I am sure she’ll find life around the palace to be quite rewarding.” Looking at Xuxiah, “That goes for you too.”

Hours later after a leisurely return through Serq’khet’yeva back to the palace, X’ter’yana and Xuxiah began their courtship, and within months the two were married with Xuxiah taking her place as Dévnostraéva-Saéret (Prime Archon-consort), beginning the formal establishment of the Ravyn’na-A’stra’eva Imperial Dynasty. Nine and a half months later on 15 Seq'khe-met, during the First year of the First Aeon of the Aoraqet'yari (August 29, 15,208 BCE) their daughter Sely’ne Ravyn’na-A’stra’eva was born.
Last edited by Auracexia on Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:07 am, edited 3 times in total.
THE ASCENDANT SYNDICATED HEGEMONY OF AURACEXIA
[ Xeteriana Ravyn'na-A'stra'eva | Auracexia | Auracexians ]
[ The Auracexian Compendium [Maintenance|FT|Closed] ]
FutureTech RolePlayer | A.S.H.A. Factbook
also known as Sovereign California also known as Stryke
「私は日系人そしてイギリス人あるです女。」
Prime Archon (Dévnostraéva) of the Sovereign Hegemony of Auracexia, Grand Dame Séterrhÿana Navrãs Delÿa Ravÿnna-Asträeva.

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Enso and Mu
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Founded: Nov 14, 2014
Ex-Nation

Postby Enso and Mu » Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:07 am

Life in the Red Enso: Mizushin Navigators

The day started with a great deal of noise, but it was not a gong or a bell or any other instrument that Juvalo's stereotypical view of the Mujin had lead him to expect. Someone had run down the corridor with a pair of temple-blocks, clapping the wooden sticks together quite a bit more loudly than their own footfalls. The sound had carried down the central walkway of the Jovian Dormitories, where Juvalo and their 4 fellow Jovians lived.

The Mujin had been kind enough to furnish them with a dormitory to themselves, where their remarkable artificial gravity was suspended, giving the Jovians several hours a day of rest in something not unlike their own, native gravity. Juvalo rose, stretched briefly, and donned the single-layer robes of a novice with the Navigator Corps, stepping quickly into the frame of a stripped down mechanical-assist exoskeleton, which clamped around their limbs firmly enough to give them the supportive push they needed against the oppressive 9.7 m/s of gravity that the Mujin were more used to.

In the walkway between cells, he saw the milling of the other Jovians, who were burdening themselves with more cumbersome suits, filled with fluids and other conveniences to prevent the lasting damage of enduring long stretches of time among the higher gravities. For Juvalo, this wasn't as much of an obstacle. Time was the greater factor. They were running late.

Serawah was the Jikijutsu aboard Sakuragaokamaru, the Temple-Ship where we filmed our holo-doc on the subject. One of the owl-like Satoshi Carbourne, she'd joined the Red Enso Society as part of a conscripted levy nearly thirty years before. As Jikijutsu, she was in charge of the schedule and training of all Navigators aboard, novice or otherwise. She was kind enough to offer us occasional narrations, provided throughout.

"Any sentient being posesses the basic framework you need to be a navigator. It's not quite the Buddha-nature, though a Buddha would likely make an excellent navigator. The two paths are, however, remarkably similar."

There was no breakfast to be had in the early morning. Juvalo stared longingly at their fellow Jovians, who were headed down to the engineering bay where their suit's supplies of nutrigel would be replenished for the day. Instead, their first stop was the station Zendo. Of the thirty or so gathered this morning, fully two dozen were navigators - and Juvalo the lone Jovian. They slipped out of their simple sandles, bowed where they were meant to bow, and crossed the threshold into the Zendo proper. Cushions had been arranged in an elongated rectangle. One entered at one end, following the row down until they came to the last available seat, before taking their position. In the support frame, Juvalo had to sit with their cushion balanced between their ankles, supporting, more or less, the joint of their legs to their body proper. A quirk of the thumb-controller locked out the motion of the legs and back and released Juvalo's arms into the fullness of gravity unassisted, allowing them to form the appropriate mudra.

Juvalo sat there like this for several more minutes, until Serawah, seated at one end of the elongated rectangle, picked up the bell that sat beside her. At the first clear chime, Juvalo blinked once, becoming aware of the fullness of their respiratory bladder - the organ that in Jovians stored their body's waste nitrogen and allowed for speech. Slowly, they released it, like a breath, parting their dental ridge just slightly to allow the breath to exit as silently as possible.

A second chime. The oppressive weight of Mujin-normal gravity, nearly ten times what the body they were trapped in was used to, hit hard. Arms sagged unnaturally at their joints. The cushion between their rear and their ankle suddenly felt more like a rock. Juvalo blinked and tried to push it away.

"In those early days it was often said the Jovians would never be able to raise a navigator, unless you dedicated an entire Templeship to their training and their needs. While pain or weakness-under-gravity does not bar you explicitly from practice, it can be such a great obstacle that none of the Jovian navigator-candidates were expected to complete their first one-year tour. We underestimated the Jovian patience."

A third chime. Juvalo stopped pushing on the pain, instead focusing on the beat of their disparate hearts - the pulse that carried her blood through their body. The old training manuals, scriptures, and the advice of her betters was to focus on the breath. But Jovians, strictly speaking, didn't have a pure breath. They remained peripherally aware of the level of nitrogen in their respiratory bladder and kept it as close to ambient as possible. They blinked when they needed to blink, corrected their posture when it needed correcting.

They was not sure how much time had passed when it had all melted away. The pain was certainly still there, but it was no longer an oppressive presence in her mind. It was more like the rest of the ship - there, present, and asking for her attention, though it waited patiently in line for her to acknowledge it. The pain would always be there. But it didn't have to be about that.

All at once, in muted simpatico, she became aware of the ship. Not the ship as in the zendo-floor beneath their knees. They knew, intuitively, how many souls aboard. The mass of the ship, the state of the drives both stellar and interstellar. They could even feel some suggestive of the Ebbspace Currents pushing against the ship. This last sense was the crucial skill of the navigator, the most esoteric and hard-to-learn part of this practice.

For the first time, Juvalo did not feel as though this practice was a waste of theirs and everyone else's time. The glimpse had been fleeting - a second or two, no more. Some of it, though, refused to fade. And they couldn't be sure how long it had lasted, either. All of a sudden, Serawah was ringing her bell one more time. With everyone else, Juvalo stood, and bowed in unison. As they turned to follow in line with the exiting Navigators and novices, they trippped, seized up in the inoperative state of their gravity assist gear. The crash was disruptive. For longer than Juvalo was sure the others thought necessary, they lay there, trying to make sure that none of their diminished bones were damaged.

Awkwardly, they fought their arms back into the frame and activated it with the thumb-switch, standing again and realizing nobody had left. The whole body of the Zendo had waited for her to be properly ready to leave with them.

"Zero, a navigator among the Curwin, travelled across the stars to visit with Eshu, a mujin Navigator Abbot of great renown. He arrived aboard Eshu's temple-ship and placed away his umbrella and sandals, hurrying back to his interview with the Great Teacher. Eshu-osho asked Zero, "When you arrived, did you place your sandles on the left or the right of your umbrella?" Realizing in that moment that he could not carry on his every-minute zen, Zero pledged at that moment to spend ten years as Eshu's student."

"If you are so mobile in that little exoframe why do the other jovians use those big tanksuits?"

Juvalo pulled themselves up onto the top of the drive they were inspecting, walking carefully along the narrow little ledges meant to serve as something of a walkway. Above them, Serawah perched on a conduit carrying data-lines along the spine of the ship, studying her student's every move. "Tanksuits are filled with a fluid selected to be neutrally bouyant. They as near to cancel out gravity as we can figure out how to do. Way better for the health over the long term." And more comfortable, she thought, though she excluded the gripe. Navigators didn't gripe. They took all difficulties with an attitude of graceful forbearance.

Serawah watched in silence for a moment as her student lay down along a footstep-ledge, to get a much closer look at something, which they decided to polish with the special cloth she had brought along for the purpose. The outer casing of a drive was not critical to its function. The ritualistic throughness in its cleaning was a mark of the Navigator's respect for the engine they served.

"It shortens your lifespan to abstain from it."
"Not necessarily," Juvalo explained. "There's medical practices for treating people who suffer from long term exposure. And the nightly rest period in reduced gravity helps mitigate the risk."

In the distance, a bell was ringing, deep and resonant. Juvalo picked up on it first - the hearing of the Jovians was exquisitely sensitive. "... Navbell. We're moving the ship."
Serawah nodded. "That's my cue. You should come along."

"I can't Navigate," Juvalo protested, hesitatingly.
Serawah turned. There was a softness in her gaze - as close as the Satoshi could ever come to smiling. "I was watching you at morning practice. You're right, you can't navigate. But you've reached the stage now where you can watch."

Juvalo was walking with Serawah, now, if only to not delay the Jikijutsu in her own duties. "Navigator-candidates aren't permitted on the zendo floor during maneuvers."
"No, but Novice Navigators are. And while only the abbot can confer Jukai upon you and make you a novice-in-name, he does so at the suggest of the Jikijutsu." Serawah chuckled. "So come. It is time for you to get a glimpse of what you have been trying so hard to do these last three years."
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Ex-Nation

Postby Higher Japan » Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:54 am

The setting sun of hope




The day had been usual for Lunda as she walked around the perimeter of the base she was stationed on, on a modified light patrol walker as it lumbered along the outer rim of the city. Past blasted buildings and blockades as 4 more were in front of her. The past few weeks were hard as the empire relentlessly bombed them out, although they had somehow managed to last through the attacks. The patrol group just went around the corner before the radio came on for Lunda. She quickly picked it up as the open air walker continued along it's path as she responded. "This is captain Lunda of patrol group 3, requesting identity."

"This is command, captain Lunda. Please send your patrol group back to the main building, this is an urgent order."

As soon as the transmission ended, she started to speak to them. "All right boys, we need to head back to central. Turn your asses around" She said as they turned into a street, walking through the streets devoid of life. All around them dead bodies were piled high as it was merely covered with a white cloth sheet. The buildings all around her were destroyed although some were filled with guards as they saluted her, as she returned it. Eventually after walking a little more they started to see more buildings filled with life as they walked through the commercial district, the workers there knowing better than to talk to a soldier on duty. At last they came upon the center, better known plainly as the main building. It looked more like the government building that governors of the past held, originally in white it was now surrounded a few emplacements with small shield generators from a recent raid on a small outpost. The emplacements were only metal containers for the supplies they used wielded together in front of a small and weak shield generator manned by only 3 to 5 at all times. At the main building the entire building was surrounded by a shield generator with a red hue as the windows were secured down with metal shutters installed. On the roof was a few snipers on duty as some men could be seen setting something up at the other end of the building.

Seeing all this, she smiled to herself as she was reminded of how large their rebellion was growing. They had taken refuge in this run down city out of the empire's radar as they slowly built it up to what it was. Her thoughts were interrupted as two of the guards, which only had a helmet that covered their head and eyes along with armor covering only their chest stopped them. The armor was not that well made and the helmets were just barely brought together after another raid. "Halt, we need you to show authorization." One said as the other manned the station. 'Border control, always so tight as ever' She thought to herself as she passed them her radio. They quickly went back to the emplacement as behind the containers was a table with some equipment on it. After a while she was returned the radio and allowed to pass as she dismounted the walker along with her copilot before they all walked into the building.

Being inside the building in itself was a surreal feeling. As they walked through the large entrance lobby which was just filled with crates of the same design as men and women rushed around counting something as some droids did the same. Walking into the main halls that lead to the main office all they could hear is the sound of equipment working and typing as behind the various doors they were working on the next major battle strategy. Eventually they entered the main office as there were a few more captains there.

"Ah, captain Lunda. A pleasure to see you as always." The box with a screen at the table said as the sound waves displayed it's speech as well, before she eventually stood at attention after her men were required to wait. "Today i have called you here for a meeting. As you may know we have intel that the empire is working on a new weapon. As such, after confirmation with our spy networks it is true. The empire has been working on a new weapon that could potentially wipe out all of our electrical systems. As such, we will be deploying you to the nearby system. You're dismissed. Garou, a word." It said before the others left as the single captain stood there with the box.

"How has the rebellion been going." The empress said after Garou confirmed that the doors were locked down.

"Good sister, they suspect nothing. The nearby system is wear 'they' are yes?"

"Indeed, the twins have been called. I want you to come to a separate planet alone." She said as the box ejected a thin square item which was shining gold. At that, he bowed before the box shut off as he left.

At the base, everyone was getting prepared as they made their way to the ships. There were only small fighters and a transport, but it was all they could scrap together and event then the fighters had heavy weaponry so it was no problem. While the others were getting into fighters as troops went onto the transport, Garou took one and left prematurely as he entered the code in by sliding the disk in. Eventually his took off first as the others paid no heed. Within minutes, the force was prepared as they jumped into the next system.

Unknown planet

The empress stood waiting as the fighter eventually landed. As Garou stepped out, it revealed that they were standing on a cliff overlooking the facility about to be attacked as she begun speaking. "Indeed, it was a good idea for this to start. We can finish the main combat force off. Tea?" She said as she sipped some tea before he joined. "Now we wait." He said as he looked at the watch he had in his pocket.

Soon, the attack force had appeared as fighters dived down. Seeing this, the empress picked her equipment up as she began speaking. "The weapon is in facility 5" She said as she smirked. 5 was empty as they went for the attack while the transport merely lumbered in the distance. As if like lightning, wasp fighters came out as they destroyed the transport which had it's shields down as it fell and crashed into the desert.

"It's a trap!"

One of the pilots said as fighters flew against them, firing all they had as they wasps turned around. Eventually they were all shot down as they tried to shoot them down or just run. "Girls, you're clear for landing." She said to the radio.

Rebel base

Back at the main base, the entire system was in a frenzy as everyone rushed to equip all able bodied men with weapons. Most of their defense force was sent off to battle, causing a hole in the system as hammerhead landing ships suddenly flew overhead the entire city. Most cowered in fear as it passed them. After a few more minutes of waiting, the battle had begun. The tanks appeared as they walked through the city, some falling the traps set up and heavy fire but one was always replaced with five more as they fired on the infantry, causing them to fall back as the line got closer to the main building. Once in the commercial district the shop owners ran as some tried to reach the main building but were all killed by gun fire by the walkers. Once at the main building, mortar shells were fired onto them as most destroyed the walkers, but were quickly stopped as heavier spider tanks appeared, the overwhelming fire from all sides breaking the shield as they advanced. On the ground, heavy fighting broke out as they tried to stall for time by firing on the advancing troops, but were eventually over run. As they reached the main building, two girls busted in followed by troops as they slaughtered everyone inside.

"Leade-" One had said as they tried to inform their leader, but was shocked to see who she truly was before being pierced by a baton as he fell dead.

"I assume that it has gone well yes?"

"Yes." The girl with longer hair answered.

'Excellent, the final sun of such hope has at last set."
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Delta Dominion
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Founded: May 16, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Delta Dominion » Sat Jun 17, 2017 2:47 pm

Insurgency: Part Two


The fate of the Dominion may rest on what would happen to a hard drive. A hard drive that was hidden at the bottom of a backpack, that had just been pulled from a computer that was located at the same place that had just been raided by the Dominion’s military for housing rebels, dissenters, and other such undesirables. It was a small object, only about four inches long and three or four inches wide, but on that drive, there were numerous plans that could generate outrage and that could spark reform, plans to invade an innocent planet under a false pretense because that planet had something that was only described in those plans as being classified.

But that would only be revealed to the public of the Dominion if the plans were leaked, and right now, he Free Deltan Front was having a hard time even getting the files from the hard drive onto the internet. Breaking the encryption had been a days long task. Before the actual upload could even near completion, the rebels had been forced to scatter and cancel it because of the subsequent raid on their hideout, which had been tracked down by the Dominion tracing the metadata traffic from the files. The raid had caused many deaths for the FDF and had cost them their de facto headquarters, but, that wasn’t the end of things.

Leader Mika Katala had escaped and so had a few others, and once again, there was a chance to get the information out of the massive ring city of Monda Prime, and into the hands of the public. That, of course, meant getting out of the city, heading somewhere more favorable, and continuing the upload that had been halted back in District Thirty Eight. It was a task that sounded easy, but in practice, it could be close to impossible, with there only being a couple of central spaceports that facilitated authorized entries and exits from the ring city. And Mika’s exit definitely wouldn’t be an authorized one.

The South Spaceport was the closest one to where she had escaped from, after leaving through a side window to avoid the back door ambush in District Thirty Eight, but upon arriving, she realized just how hard of a task it would be to get out from here. After all, it was the busiest one of the two that could take someone on or off of the ring, and it was being heavily guarded by the military because of the threat that was ongoing.

She looked up at the electronic signs near the massive main gate and saw that some of them had her picture on them, and a simple inscription: ‘Mika Katala. Wanted for terrorism, treason, murder, and extortion. Reward of ten million Delcoins for capture, dead or alive’. With a sigh, she looked back down and kept her head down for her entire walk into the spaceport, not daring to show her face to anyone that might have ideas about wanting that reward. She pulled a hood over her head and reached into the backpack’s side pocket for a pair of shades, which she quickly put on.

There were military men in power armor all over the spaceport, patrolling and likely looking for her, but she tried to stick with the crowds. She avoided exotic tourists and stayed with the other humans, trying to blend in with her dark nondescript colors and her hood and shades, but still… I was an uncomfortable feeling. Like someone was going to come after her at any moment, and there was nothing she could do to stop it from happening.

Her chest tightened up and her breath grew short, and she felt a panic coming on as the crowds pressed against her as they headed down the massive main hallway to the place where the road would fork off towards many of the different bays where the actual starships were held. “Focus,” she commanded herself, looking up and forcing a large breath that she held for five seconds before exhaling through her nose, in the way she had been trained to do when she was under pressure.

As she continued down the hall and entered one of the bays, there was another black armored soldier with the full set of power armor, a full face covering helmet, and a dangerous looking rifle in one hand and a communications device in the other. She could’ve sworn that the soldier had made eye contact with her before she could look down, and she glanced out of the side of her eyes to see the soldier saying something through the communications device. “Shit…”

Her hands in her pockets, she kept hurrying towards the row where her own starship was parked. Well, not her own, but the one that would be giving her a ride, the one that was owned by someone that could be called a friend to her. More specifically, a pirate that owed her a couple of favors, that had a ship that was in town often. Today was one of those days where the crew wasn’t doing much, and Mika had found herself a free ride to safety because of it. She stepped onto the ship, named the Marauder, and shut the blast door behind her, looking around for the familiar faces of the crew that she knew from the past.

“The fugitive shows her face… I began to think you were going to bail on us instead of walking through this spaceport, where your face is on all of the screens,” said a voice from the front of the ship, and Mika turned her head and saw the captain himself, the one who went by the name Lux. There wasn’t a last name, nothing else to identify him, he was just Lux, the infamous pirate that probably wasn’t originally from around these parts. If he was from around here, it was highly doubtful that his identity would still be a secret.

“It’s good to see you again, too, Lux,” muttered Mika, locking eyes with the captain and thinking back to times not so long past, times spent together and times when the stakes just seemed lower for everything that was going on, when Mika hadn’t been absorbed enough in her work that she didn’t forbid herself from feeling anything outside of it. “And thank you. I’ve lost contact with most of the others after the raid. You’re probably saving my life by giving me this ride offworld-”

“Thank me when we’re at lightspeed,” Lux shrugged, turning back to the controls of the ship and starting the process of getting ready for a quick launch and jump. “It’s not going to be easy to get out of here. This place is fucking swarming with soldiers and I might not have snuck the ship in here if I knew what it would be like. If they see through the fake callsign, it’s fucking over-”

“Then let’s leave before we draw too much attention. It doesn’t look like there’s any suspicion right now-” Mika started, before being cut off by an incoming transmission from the radio. “Damn it, I think I just jinxed us.”

“This is the Deltan Space Authority. We were looking through our records and we saw something strange with your documentation. We’re going to need you and your crew to exit your ship and allow a search,” the voice on the radio said.

“Fuck… One of those soldiers recognized me, and he must have told the rest of them, and they called up the Space Authority and told them to run a check on the ship that I was boarding. They’re looking for a reason to get me out in the open, where we’re surrounded and where there’s no way out for me-”

“Joke’s on them, the engines are already warm enough to get out of here,” Lux said, ignoring the radio message and gesturing for the rest of his crew to come to the front of the ship. “We nearly pulled off the stealth attempt, but it looks like we’re going to have to get out of here the hard way. May, get to the guns. Take them off of the targeting computer and get ready to go full manual. Ricky, start getting us ready for the jump. I don’t care about the destination, just send us in the opposite direction of Deltan space.”

“Aye, boss,” said the tattooed woman who Mika recognized as May, moving over to the space next to the main part of the cockpit and turning on the series of computer screens that showed what each of the ship’s guns were doing. “Just tell me how long we’re keeping our cover.”

“Not for much longer.”

Lux guided the Marauder off of the ground and started to turn it towards the massive gates that let the ships in and out, breaking procedure and cutting across the opposite lane of traffic rather than going under. That was when the second radio message came in, and when the gate began the process of shutting, stopping traffic in the process. But before the Space Authority could say anything else, Lux cut the radio feed and turned to May. “Alright, I need you to try something unconventional. I believe that the machinery that’s closing those gates is located to the right of us, right there next to the opening. Try unloading on it, and seeing what happens.”

May nodded and turned the largest gun on the ship, located below the cockpit, towards the box full of machinery, holding down the trigger button and unleashing a stream of shots towards the box. There were sparks, a small explosion, and like Lux had predicted, the gate suddenly stopped closing, and the Marauder suddenly had a clear path. By now, there were police ships approaching, the small vehicles about the size of a corvette compared to the larger pirate ship that was disguised as an unusually nimble freighter, but it was too late.

The stream of fire turned towards the police ships as the gun spun around at May’s command, but it didn’t even matter if they were hit or not. The Marauder was already on the way out, and all it needed to clear the gate was an acceleration boost from Lux. And once that happened, they were in the blackness of space once again, speeding off towards a destination that was still unknown. But they’d did it. Gotten out with the most valuable hard drive in the Dominion.

“You might have just changed the fate of this nation, Lux. I just hope we’re changing it for the better…”
Last edited by Delta Dominion on Sat Jun 17, 2017 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Queen of Hearts





"Were you ever happy with me, Liu?"
Liu took a heaving gasp, panicked thoughts racing through his mind as fast as a speeding starliner as he listened to the horrifying sound of air whistling into his shredded windpipe. There was blood everywhere, and he was already beginning to feel lightheaded and cold. The blazing crimson color was shocking against his aquamarine suit and the mirror-polished white jade floor tiles, the heat and stickiness and wetness utterly alien in the perfectly manicured, perfectly controlled atrium.
Your coat, try putting your coat on it, staunch the flow until the cell knitters start working, one of the panicked shouts in his head called to him. His hands were shaking badly as he tried to roll over and take the coat off, blood pulsing freely onto the floor. he tried to speak- don't just stand there, help me- but it just came out as an excruciating whistle. Chang'e stood just a few paces away, her silver gown floating around her like storm clouds under starlight, and she clutched a knife as long as one of her perfect, petite, porcelain-white forearms. The white ceramic blade had once almost perfectly matched her skin, but now it was a garish vermilion, slick with blood.

As he struggled to take his coat off, he thought he heard her give a stifled little sob- I didn't see you get fucking stabbed, sweetheart, what the fuck are you crying about?! He managed to roll over fully, flopping like a dead fish as he struggled to position the coat around his neck, and heard one of her shoes click on the white jade tiles. A moment later, Liu screamed- or tried to, air whistling painfully around his ruined vocal chords- as the knife plunged again, this time into his left leg. He waved an arm up in shock and anger, rolling over, but Chang'e had danced away from the feeble blow and he caught a slash across his palm for his trouble as she parried with her knife.
I need to take her down before I pass out, Liu realized, his reason growing clearer even as his blood continued pouring forth like a waterfall from his severed jugular and wounded leg. With agonizing effort, he managed to sit up, and then launched himself towards Chang'e. She tried to dance away, but he caught an armful of her ballgown and yanked as hard as he could. The stormclouds billowed around both of them, droplets of his blood flying through them like the rain of an alien moon, as she landed in a heap beside him, the knife flying from her hand and clattering against the jade. Liu could feel an excruciating burning sensation in his throat as the cell-knitters in his blood began working dutifully to rebuild his larynx, and tried to flop towards the knife. Why is she doing this? How did this happen? God, I don't want to die...




His wife, Liu had reasoned, would not mind a concubine. She preferred women anyways, so perhaps his new lover would even lure her to his bed on a more frequent basis than the execution of their dynastic duties. Daniela had perfectly upheld her end of the bargain- two children, healthy pregnancies, arranged for nannies and tutors, all the things she had to- but Liu had always appreciated beauty like hers in a way that went beyond filial piety, and her disinterest in him was maddening.

An Orchid Girl, he reasoned, would bring twofold benefits- exercise for him, and possibly some interest from his distant wife. Chang'e had been very reasonably priced for such a beautiful piece of engineering- given that she represented the life's work of dozens of Pattala's brightest genetic engineers, biotects, behavioral scientists, programmers, and surgical artists, six hundred million taels was a low price indeed. It had taken another two years after his first deposit to made edits to her to fit his personality, but when she arrived, it was as if a new sun had risen over the city. The summit of aesthetic beauty, the most thrilling and subversive sexual creature, the most emotionally available partner- there seemed to be nothing the Orchid Girl couldn't provide him with. As he had hoped, Daniela was attracted like a moth to a flame- as was everyone else he knew- but within a year she had her own.

But Liu had an Orchid Girl, and as it turned out on a hot day in Keli's industrial district, she could provide him with even more than sex and love.




The crowds were atrocious, and Liu was deeply regretting his decision to proceed on foot, especially with Chang'e drawing looks from passers-by. I should have waited for a mechanic to just fix the damn skimmer. The dust was getting in his eyes, and the scorching sun of the Kelinese dry season had made him sweat completely through his shirt. Chang'e was carrying his jacket for him, following a few paces behind him while Calvin, his enormous Taihani bodyguard, and a spider droid forged a path for them through the jostling masses of the Great Unwashed.

Liu turned his head to look at Chang'e, admiring how her pale skin seemed to glow with an inner light in the bright sun, and heard a bang and a loud grunt from ahead of him.

Calvin, most of his chest reduced to a mass of red pulp, slumped to the ground as the spider droid's main cannon slowly tracked from him towards Liu. Hackers? How-
Two unseen people seized him from behind, pinning his hands behind his back. "Why don't you come with us, khun," a masculine voice snarled in his ear, and Liu thought he felt an antenna brush his back. A handset? A headset? He tried to turn his head, but whoever was behind him cuffed him hard on the side of the face. "Ah ah ah. Don't move too much." Two more men moved from behind him into his field of view, closing in on Chang'e.

The Orchid Girl, whose mouth had opened in a silent scream when Calvin's chest had exploded, suddenly bent her knees slightly, mouth closing and eyes narrowing. One of the spider droid's optical units swiveled towards her- perhaps the robbers were feeding the data stream to someone, trying to appraise her value.

As his unseen assailants continued to hold him, Chang'e began to dance. A powerful pirouette planted her gracefully outstretched leg squarely in one of the attacker's chests, sending him crashing down on top of the spider droid. A swift sweep of her other leg as she spun swept the other man's feet out from under him, knocking him into the dust. One of Liu's captors released their grip on him, perhaps pulling out a weapon, but Chang'e flowed like the ribbon she so often danced with. Liu could see an outstretched arm with a plasma taser in his peripheral vision, but a swift downward stroke from Chang'e's leg onto the arm caused a sickening crack, and the man howled in pain as she followed through. Her next kick hit him in the side of the jaw, sending him plowing into the disoriented spider droid, which had barely gotten its bearings. Liu saw blood and teeth fly out, and the man's head rotated nearly 180 degrees on his neck before he landed like a rag doll on top of the droid.

The fourth attacker released him, the antenna tickling his back once again. Liu turned around as the man tried to take off into the crowd, trying to look for a police officer nearby as the mugger tried to burrow between his fellow Kelinese.

Chang'e seemed to defy gravity as she jumped after him, hooking her legs around his neck and launching into a backflip. The man's body came around far faster than his head, forming a convenient cushion for her as she landed, but even from twenty feet away Liu could hear the crack of his neck breaking. The spider droid, meanwhile, appeared to have had the barrel of its cannon physically bent by the force of the two men Chang'e had kicked into it, and before it could deploy its secondary armament, he heard the blaring megaphone of a Thousand Eyes drone from overhead.
"CITIZENS, REMAIN CALM..."




She hadn't been expecting much of a fight, apparently- her first kick was weak, by her standards, though Liu felt one of his ribs crack under the force. Twenty years I keep her around, and this is what I get? Who ever heard of an Orchid stabbing their fucking master, anyways? His hand closed around the hilt of the knife, and he swung it as hard as he could towards her.

All he came away with was a few yards of gleaming silver stormclouds, the fabric almost floating in midair where it had been severed. To his horror and dismay, Chang'e was already back on her feet, and Liu gave the loudest scream of his life as she drove one of her stiletto heels into his right kidney with every ounce of force in her body. The knife clattered out of his hand, entirely forgotten.
"Answer me, damnit," she shouted in his face as he doubled over into a fetal position, trying to clutch his wounded throat and abdomen. "Was I ever good enough for you?"
Liu keened into his own knee, unable to even process her words as his blood continued slipping away and the pain in his kidney overwhelmed him. At this rate, with the damage she was doing, not even his nano supplements and cell-knitters would be able to keep up for much longer.
"No, it was always Dani this, Dani that," she said breathlessly. "Me, an Orchid Girl- and not good enough for you. I was created for you. But you didn't want me, you wanted Dani."
Liu collected himself slightly, wondering in a pain-filled daze what the hell was happening. "She's... my wife," he croaked. "What are you.... what are you doing?"
"Twenty years as your plaything, Liu! Six hundred million taels- I know my own selling price, six hundred million, you could've bought a missile cruiser or a small moon, and you keep me penned here for twenty years and wait for your wife, and use me, and I've fucking had it far enough!"
How is this possible? Did they manufacture her wrong? You can't just break an Orchid.... can you?
She kneeled down next to him, rolling him over to look in his face. "You know that thing you do to me, with the belt and the razor? You know what I realized last night? You don't want to do it to me. You want your wife to do it to you," she said coldly.
"You're not... made to question it...", he managed to cough out. "Stop it. What are you... doing?"
"Whatever training they gave me? You've managed to wear it off," Chang'e said, a manic smile suddenly twisting her face. "You may be the only man in the Galaxy sick enough to grow a wild Orchid," she continued, giggling in a way that sent shivers down his spine.
"You can't... do this..."
"I can, and I am!"

Then, with the slow, deliberate movements of a waiter presenting a particularly exquisite dish to a patron, she gently inserted the knife back into his throat, and sat with him as he screamed and cursed her and convulsed and choked and bled onto the white jade floor and died.
Last edited by Senkaku on Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:24 am, 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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Ivor De Prie
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Founded: Jul 27, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Ivor De Prie » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:09 pm

To Know Angels


The bridge of the Blessed Persistence was quiet now, as The Visvek had always preferred it. Moments earlier the space had been alive with nonstop communication as a brief conflagration played out between his Ship and the patchwork station before him, its jutting figure contrasted with the infinite expanse of the blue gas giant that it orbited. He could see secondary blasts peppering the station after the initial impact of his ships salvo, precision strikes had rendered the facility defenseless. It was an unusual assignment, but not his first Silencing. In fact, no one in the Church had carried out or witnessed more Silencings. As head of the Arm of Zealotry it was his responsibility after all, one he took quite a great deal of pride in. To undertake a Silencing was to scour away those who would bring harm to the Church and the vast Truth it represented. This particular Silencing was the first in five years, and he had made sure to oversee it personally. A band of brigands and pirates had slaughtered hundreds of clergy at Conclave De Rast, a brazen and foolhardy waste of life that implied these particular outlaws had little knowledge of history. It was well known among the populace of Ivor De Prie that the Church was capable of what was simply known as a Silencing.

However, as widespread as knowledge of the act was, full understanding of the true nature of a Silencing was limited to a mere hundred individuals in the highest echelons of the Church. The Visvek was among those privileged, or burdened, few who had been allowed to view the workings of the great secret. He thought back to that incredible tale as he awaited the final step of his mission to begin.

---

200 Years Before Present


Curo Frederik wrapped his hands tightly around the restraints that kept him from jostling around the cramped drop shuttle, his stomach churning as the craft rumbled downwards towards the surface. Through the viewport he could see the dusty surface of Alisiga below, the wind battered plains were flat and lifeless, featureless except for the rare jutting rock. The shuttle leveled out as it approached its landing zone, and Frederik tore his attention away from taking in the sights to recounting his responsibilities in the coming mission. Alisiga was host to modest archaeological project, a collaboration between the Church and the Erudatique De Histoir. In recent months a number of significant discoveries had been unearthed at the Project that had significant implications for the entire system, in the Projects final report they had indicated that they were about to proceed into what they described as a massive chamber. However, according to the briefing the Project had activated a distress signal about two days after their final message. Disconcertingly, there was no accompanying message, only the automated ping that indicated something had gone terribly wrong. An armed contingent of Soldiers had been dispatched at the orders of the Church, and Frederik was to accompany them and guarantee any artifacts of spiritual or scholarly significance were obtained and protected.

The short-range radio sewn into his hood came to life with the voice of the pilot.

"Be aware, smoke rising from the site, ship of unknown make on the landing pad."

One of the soldiers spoke with a mix of excitement and fear.

"Pirates, for sure."

Sure enough Frederik heard the ping of small arms glancing off the shuttles thick armor, and then felt the entire craft rattle as a salvo of missiles roared from its wing mounted pods. At this point he had closed his eyes tightly as the rear ramp had now fallen and the soldiers went leaping out, the roar of the engines and the soldiers activating drop-jets was extremely loud and the sensory storm overwhelmed him. In moments it was just him and the representative from the Erudatique, named Jean, left strapped in, he imagined the soldiers were in the midst of a savage fight as the shuttle banked around to line up another salvo of missiles. However, instead of the telltale rattle, the engines whined and the craft ceased its forward movement than gently touched down on the hard packed earth of Alisiga. Frederik hesitated for a moment, waiting for Jean to stand up first, before he himself left the security of the Shuttle.

He walked down the ramp and was immediately taking in his new surroundings, on the landing pad the pirate skiff was ablaze, sending a thick plume of black smoke flowing skyward. Around the site there was a mixed scattering of corpses, some wearing the blazing red outfits of the local pirates, and others the white robes of Church scholars. Frederik recoiled at the sight of his peers left to rot in the sun, but quickly regained his composure in order to take account of the situation. The lack of crackling weapons fire indicated that the pirates were either dead or gone, all except one who the soldiers had slumped against a crate. The red outfits of the pirates were said to hide their blood and wounds from their enemies, but now amount of cloth could obscure how near death this man was, a ragged stump was all that remained of his left leg, crimson blood pooled around it. Besides the man, Corporal Detaque was squatting close enough to hear the mans whispered words. Frederik didn't want to approach so he made his way towards the largest of the prefabricated habitats that the Project had been working out of. He was about to slide open the door when his radio again came to life.

"Alright, no time to dilly-dally, the live one says some of the science team escaped into the dig when they attacked and a dozen of his friends went after them, everyone on me."

There was urgency in Detaques' voice, and Frederik felt the same urgency in his mind, the idea of his colleagues being run down by pirates in the dark was not one that sat well with him. The dispersed soldiers scrambled to the central feature of the site which Frederik had failed to notice, a simple square hole in the ground. The hole was about 10 meters across and had a cargo lift at one corner that the soldiers were now loading onto, their sleek black body armor and full helmets making it difficult to tell them apart. He could tell they were all as eager as him to rescue the survivors, or maybe excited at the prospect of more fighting, either way their goal was the same. So without further discussion the lift was lowered and the unit submerged into darkness, the hole was surprisingly shallow, delving continuing down for 15 meters before finally opening into a large rectangular chamber composed of black, featureless stone. The entire unit felt the draft coming from deeper within the chamber and immediately helmet lights flicked to life and broke apart the darkness before them. They revealed that the floor was gently sloping downward, and as it sloped deeper into the ground, the chamber itself grew wider and taller. Every surface was a perfectly black, featureless stone that provided ample traction despite its perfect smoothness.

As the group descended rapidly Frederik couldn't help but be struck by the sinister minimalism of his surroundings, there was no decoration or architecture only an ever widening descent that seemed to stretch out endlessly into the blackest depths of this lifeless planet. Since they had entered, the unit had remained silent with weapons raised and their wits about them, but as their HUDs indicated that they were now more than two kilometers underground someone finally asked the question they all had.

"What in the Spirits name are we in right now?"

The unit momentarily glanced at Frederik, before he shook his head and they went back to their tense watch. The silence soon became suffocating, and soon the walls and ceiling of the chamber were beyond the reach of the lights and alertness turned to paranoia. Almost mercifully a crack echoed from up ahead and the entire unit fell to prone positions and aimed forward.

"Shots!"

"No contact, an echo from up ahead, double time!"

The soldiers, Frederik and Jean broke out into a run as the reality dawned that the pirates were probably in the process of slaughtering the surviving scientists. Jean appeared to be a particularly fast mover as he tore to the front of the group, Frederik tried to catch up but suddenly the entire group sans Jean threw themselves backwards and one soldier made sure to tackle Frederik to the ground. As he collected himself Frederik saw why the group had come to such a sudden stop and his heart dropped. Less than a meter in front of him the gentle slope dropped off into a perfectly circular pit, and Jean had run full speed into it. A moment later a dull thud echoed meekly up the walls of the pit and Frederik winced.

"No time to mourn, get your climbing gear, we can still save the science team."

Detaque was already stomping a vibrating titanium spike into the floor at the edge of the pit, and surprisingly the black stone gave way easily. Other soldiers did the same and began to descend in a staggered formation down the side of the pit, facing downwards with weapons leveled at the bottom of the descent. Frederik and a single soldier stayed behind, but neither could keep from peeking over the edge of the void and watching the unit descend. Moments before the troops would have vanished from the widening cone of Frederiks light the entire pit was illuminated by a wave of chaotic weapons fire from the bottom. Screams echoed from far below and interspersed with the rapid clattering of automatic weapons fire. Assuming the pirates were now slaughtering the survivors the troops opened fire in turn, orderly bursts punched downwards for what was only a half minute before the firing at the bottom subsided, Frederik was shocked by how quickly the pirates had been dispatched, and apparently so was Detaque as he dropped an illumination flare.

The flare fell silently for a few moments before something horrifying occurred- something caught it halfway down and crushed it. Frederik looked over at his sole companion but found his eyes locked on the pit, a soldier nearer the bottom spoke out for a half second.

"What the fuck is tha-"

The last breaths never escaped his throat as a glowing white, perfectly smooth oval shaped appendage came slamming out of the dark and flattened him into the wall. Immediately the units orderly formation broke as some scrambled upwards and others fired at the vague shape that was charging at them out of the darkness. Frederik reeled away from the edge as shrill screams punctured the darkness. Demaques strained voice roared over the radio, hardly audible over the rapid and panicked gunfire and shrieking of men as they were broken like twigs by... something.

"GET THE FUCK OUT RIGHT NOW!!"

Frederik obeyed that order as less than half of the unit came scrambling over the edge, after them came the upper half of Demaque, tumbling through the air and slamming into the sloping ground. The soldiers raced for their lives, occasionally spraying backwards wildly as a literal killing machine charged after them. Frederik didn't dare turn around, because he knew whatever was attacking them was mere meters behind, when a man tripped or ran out of breath it was only a few moments before he'd hear a sickening crunch or desperate shriek. The sprinting group of survivors was beginning to thin out, but a widening point of light willed them onwards even as the beast closed on them. Suddenly, a hope of survival came through on the radio.

"Alpha Team? Come in Alp-"

Frederik cut them off, wheezing heavily in between words.

"Bravo- Team-, We are being chased"

A scream punctuated the message as another soldiers heavy armor cost him his life, his limp body rocketing forward. Frederik finished his message.

"Extremely dangerous contact!"

As they neared the light it was only Frederik and the soldier who had stayed behind left, both wheezing as if they were near death from exhaustion. Finally they stumbled into the light and immediately a rocket roared over them and impacted whatever was running them down. The explosion sent Frederik sprawling forward and onto his back, where he finally got a look at what was about to kill him.

A humanoid figure stood seven meters tall, its form rounded off at the ends of its four appendages, they tapered to round points like the end of a shovel and were currently covered in blood, its "head" was an oval protrusion that slope forward at an angle and had six red triangles running down it. There were no visible joints or cracks in its carapace and yet it moved like it was made of rubber, its left "arm" widening to shield it from the missile, which did little but stagger the thing.

---

Curo Daphene watched in horror from the circling drop shuttle as the thing brought down its blade like arm down on her longtime friend Frederik and flattened his body into a red splotch. Without a pause it slapped the one surviving soldier into the wall with the force of a truck. The soldiers collected on the surface unloaded into the hole as soon it was clear both survivors were no longer surviving, and the drop shuttle angled hard to line up its missiles and chaingun with the beast. Rockets, grenades and thousands of rounds rained down on the thing and its progress seemed momentarily halted before it threw itself upwards and came slamming down onto fleeing soldiers.

It looked like Bravo Team was moments away from being slaughtered like animals, when as if the grace of the divine, a bright streak of molten titanium came shrieking down from space at an angle and knocked the top half of the beast from the bottom, both tumbling backwards into the hole, black fluid spewing from both halves.

---

The Visvek recounted the rest in a rush as the final step of this operation neared. Deeper in the structure more than a thousand inactive versions of the thing had been discovered, and through decades of research, made to serve the Church. In fact, one had been launched towards the criminal station only moments ago. Soon the people on that station would undertake their final act of submission to the Church, to know Angels.

The Visvek smirked to himself.

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