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

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Perseid Federation
Spokesperson
 
Posts: 168
Founded: Apr 27, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby Perseid Federation » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:12 am

Π ρ ο π ύ λ α ι
B E F O R ET H EG A T E S
Propylaea Station, Alpha Quadrant — circa 1372 XS



Civilization had left its mark among the scattered Stones of Sciron, as the Perseids called this place. Among the rocks of a particular dense cloud of asteroids, fixed in an orbit around a moderately bluish-white star as if by an unseen hand—probably the work of Nephos or the equally enigmatic forces of the laws of physics that govern the cosmos—there was an unusually enormous and moderately irregular planetoid that was hollowed out and converted into an enormous space colony. It was one of the largest asteroids in the belt, measuring 15 kilometers on its longest axis. From the outside, it looked like this monolith’s rocky shell in its unrefined and immaculate appearance was crumbling away to reveal the lustrous silver skin of the station. There weren’t any metallic appendages that projected from the rock, and instead there were rectangular cavities able to accommodate a wide-bodied ship.

To most sophonts, setting up a waystation in such a dangerous place—let alone an important trade center that was meant to straddle the Sivulon Trade Network—was discomforting at best and outright suicidal at worst. There was always the danger of a random space rock that happened to have its path intersect with the station. Fortunately for the ships that were to dock at this gateway to the Omospondia, a path had been cleared through the asteroid field, marked by pulsating buoys to help pilots navigate what could be a treacherous part of space. And indeed one could observe there were many ships that were docking here at Propylaea Station and her satellite asteroids—civilian shuttles, hyperfreighters, and military corvettes were among the kinds of ships in mooring. Yet those weren't the only vessels berthed at port—in fact there was an unusual rise in the number of government vessels docked here recently, along with an increased number of corvettes that were patrolling the star system.

Propylaea was where the Perseids were trying to convene the nations of the galaxy again, and it seems as if they’re doing it at their own expense again. They’re doing so despite the predictions of the naysayers who had foreseen the failure at Icosakhilos. The Great Displacement was still as pressing to them as it was years ago, and so was the rising prevalence of piracy, terrorism, and general lawlessness in deep space. With a greater number of nations attending the Propylaea Summit, it was more apparent that they shared the same concerns with their hosts. Hopes were high for this 2nd International Conference on the Great Displacement.

A long high-profile meeting had concluded on this 2nd day of the conference, but despite the passionate fervor that the Perseids and others had shown in pressing the urgent need to accept refugees, there had been little progress made. As with the previous summit, some delegates didn’t like having to work together with other states, for they saw no reason to agree to coordinate their efforts with distant star empires they never heard of that were located hundreds or thousands of light years away just to provide sanctuary for waves of refugees that were farther by a few hundred light years more. To add to their reservations, they didn’t want any terrorists to take advantage of things and cause havoc in their respective countries once they were in. Despite these, the Perseid hosts remained optimistic for the following days—the other delegates were going to have to agree to something eventually. They knew that they can’t keep the displaced wandering aimlessly or the lawless pirates and terrorists at bay forever through their inaction.

Among the more prominent members of the Perseid delegation, there were a couple of old faces that were present, such as Foreign Secretary Taxiarchai Milonos and Atalante Katsiavria, the neophyte Archon of Xenia—and new ones such as Kypros Onassis, who was serving his last term as Archon of Servitus, and Defence Secretary Herodotos Eliades. Their delegation had grown since Icosakhilos, and some had commented that they were more committed to achieving something more comprehensive and concrete this time. But there were some who believe the Omospondia’s just playing its soft power cards through their privilege as hosts, seeking to use the summit as a platform to promote their expanding trade network to interested parties. Regardless of the opinions given, they all seemed to agree on one thing: this may be one of the Perseids’ last chances to influence the troubling course of the galactic refugee crisis. Having just exited from the conference room, the Perseids proceeded to the next portion of their itinerary—their meeting with the delegates of the signatories of the Nassau Accords.

The Accords had come about during the Icosakhilos Conference but not through any agreement brought about by the major meetings. The signatories who first agreed to the terms of the document had already worked out a comprehensive deal that would help stabilize the Beta Quadrant, a quadrant already beset by other problems of equal magnitude and scope to the refugee crisis. Whilst it was not a galactic-wide solution to the Displacement at large, it was the first example in years of a multinational effort to curb violence and help displaced populations in that section of the galaxy. It was hoped that if people could see that agreements could be reached with more states, then there was hope for a wider galactic-wide initiative.

The hallways that separated the rooms of the diplomatic floor were long and moderately narrow corridors that occasionally intersected with another corridor crossing it. The walls displayed a more subtle pattern of interlocking geometric and angular shapes compared to the ones that were on the other more commercial floors, indicative of the nature of the activities done here. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the other floors, it provided delegates with the environment needed to focus on the matters at hand. For this occasion the hallways were filled with more foreigners walking to and fro.

Kypros was a little amused from glossing over today’s itinerary, barely suppressing a combination of outward chortling and inward bafflement. “Good grief,” the Servitan dragged his finger on his slate. “It’s as if the other nations here have decided to organize secondary meetings today at the same time.”

“Well we can’t really blame them for such,” retorted Atalante as Kypros began to read over the schedule. “After all, tomorrow’s going to be quite cramped with two meetings on the Displacement that will go on for longer. I just don’t know how long I can tolerate the more disruptive delegates.”

“Ah yes,” Kypros nodded. “Depends if you have the stamina to bear with the other delegates for five hours, especially with the Gamman xenos.”

“Hey, I can manage,” smirked the Xenian. “It’s not like the Gammans are the most demanding sophonts in this galaxy. Or the most cranky.” Kypros could sense that she was contradicting herself.

Herodotos’ eyes widened after a swipe. “Speaking of cranky,” he redirected his gaze to Kypros, “I believe it’s time for us to be heading to our meeting with the representatives of LOTUS. I may have heard from a birdie that they may start demanding our heads if we aren’t punctual,” he quipped.

Atalante couldn’t help but snicker. “Gods, have the Usidians taken over the organization?” She believed those humans were never very adept in the art of diplomacy, instead preferring to let their guns do the talking. But there wasn’t anything that she was going to do about it, for that was the Defense Secretary’s problem now. “But regardless,” she added, “I believe you two might irritate them more if you keep them waiting.”

The meeting room where the signatories of the Accords were convening was one of the more modest rooms in the floor, with very little to get distracted by save for the floating crystalline chandelier that illuminated its geometric pieces with a faint yellow-whitish ambience. It provided the five figures sitting around the table to think clearly and discuss important issues without getting completely distracted by one thing or another. In contrast, the Perseids had built the rest of the station’s floors and even some of the other meeting rooms with an ostentatious appearance that rivaled Icosakhilos. The Accords had only been around for a short time, but it had been making waves ever since it was ratified. It had made some progress in its goal to provide security to destabilized regions of space as well as giving displaced sophonts sanctuary from lawless elements, but as with many multilateral treaties, there was still a lot to be done.

The delegates were in a heated discussion when the door to the meeting room slid open to allow the Perseid delegation entrance. “Apologies for the wait, ladies and gentlemen,” Atalante entered the room, accompanied by Taxiarchai. Her feet clipped faintly with every step against the polished marble floor.

David Triggerman, the United Star Commonwealth’s chief envoy to the Propylaea Summit, looked up and smiled as the two Perseid delegates sat themselves down. He had met them both before some time ago during the first Perseid conference where the nations of the galaxy convened to create a course of action to resolve the Great Displacement—and failed in their attempt. But what he did gain from them was a personal friendship, something that he knew will prove useful. He smiled and stood up as they entered and shook the Perseid delegates hands one by one before they took their places at the table. The other delegates just remained in their seats and looked at the Archon and the Foreign Secretary.

At least the Perseids get to keep their heads.

“Ah, excellent,” David spoke with a warm smile on his face. “Our guests have arrived.” He stood there in momentary pause—his eyes glazed over as if his mind was elsewhere before a small note popped up on everyone's computers asking for their refreshments order. David’s eyes came back into focus as he smiled again knowing a few in the room would be wondering what just happened. The delegates began to mumble among themselves—what was the Perseid delegation doing here? Was not this room only reserved for them?

After Taxiarchai had sat down, a holographic name tag appeared in front of them, showing the Perseid Federation’s name in the native Perse script before rendering it in the approximate Galactic Standard equivalent, and then the translation in the galactic lingua franca, with a small holographic flag next to it. “Now that that is out of the way, let me introduce everyone. Some of you already know our Perseid friends from the previous conference, but let me introduce you all again. Accord Members, these fine sentients are Archons Atalante Katsiavria and Foreign Secretary Taxiarchai Milonos of the Perseid Federation.” The Perseid delegates bowed in response to the introduction.

David then turned back to the Perseid delegates and bowed his head in greeting. Gesturing his hand to a certain delegate he spoke, “This here is Archduke Rudolph von Hapsburg from the Imperial Federal Union...” Rudolph was a thin man with short cropped hair and a rounded face partly disguised by the full mustache that sat upon his top lip. His eyes were a piercing blue that seemed to look deep into the soul of mortals and measure the fortitude of a person at times. A man seemingly of deep philosophy, the Archon thought. But perhaps I might be deceiving myself. Usually when a man’s eyes are sparkling more than usual, that would mean he had been drinking too much wine.

The next delegate was Mistress Xia’xaal A’vaen’yatuur’isa of the Auracexian Hegemony, as David introduced her. “I hope I pronounced that correctly,” he remarked as he motioned to the female Accord delegate next to him. The Mistress was a tall and amazonian creature—standing at 7 feet tall, as tall as the Perseids were. She had tan skin and cyan eyes that complimented her devilish smile. Her clothing consisted of a skin weave that accentuated her breasts and hips, along with a small cape that hid her tentacle-like appendages protruding from her back.

The final two delegates to be introduced were delegates from the original Accord signatories and had been present during the first summit the Perseid Federation had conducted. Mr. Howard Stern was very much like his last name described—an unwavering man with an almost stoic expression that was unreadable much of the time. He was an aging man—his most notable feature being his gray hair with only a few flecks of color left. He also sported a rather impressive mustache immaculately combed and looked after. His expression remained impartial as he was introduced by David, standing to shake the Perseid delegates hands before sitting back down—running his index finger and thumb over his mustache to smooth it down.

To end the introduction, he directed their attention to Joanne McDonnell, Earth’s Delegate to the Nassau Accords. Joanne wasn’t your normal human, she sported a tail and cat like ears and eyes that seemed to sparkle when you looked into them. And for the sake of putting it on record, those ears were real. As he introduced her she gave a small squeak and rushed to her feet to shake their hands, a massive smile adorning her face. “Pleased to meet you both,” she bowed, earning a mild blush from Taxiarchai. David could only smile to hold back a chuckle.

Gesturing to himself he added, “And I am of course David Triggerman, but we have already had the pleasure of meeting during the first conference.”

“Indeed we have,” Atalante concurred. She smiled, “It has been a pleasure seeing you again, Mr. Triggerman.”

David sat himself down in the middle of all the Nassau Accord Delegates, just as the doors slid open and his Personal Assistant Astra joined the meeting. Placing the refreshments on the table, Astra gave a curtsy and took up a place beside the entrance to the meeting room.

Having received the Perseids to the discussion, the Solarian adjusted his microphone and leaned forward. “So…” David began, “we have invited you here because we feel that the Nassau Accords could help achieve what the Perseid Federation is trying to accomplish. As you are no doubt aware the Commonwealth and its partners have been busy setting up safe havens throughout the Beta Quadrant as allowed for by the Accords, and we are starting to see some positive results. Some areas are seeing an economic upturn and a decline in piratical activities. The stations also are helping to encourage trade between nations previously cut off during the Great Betan Collapse, which is a very welcome development. Whilst the bulk of our efforts are still going to be focused in the Beta Quadrant for the foreseeable future, we are currently looking for partner nations that can drive the initiative in other areas of the galaxy. Our goals are the same—we simply believe that the terms that are enclosed in the Nassau Accords are a more pragmatic approach to the problem that faces the galaxy at large.”

Atalante and Taxiarchai nodded at David’s words as the latter caught them up to speed. However, it seemed that the Accords were the most pragmatic solution to this crisis because it was the only thing that featured a concerted international effort to resolve the Displacement, as every other effort fell out of favor or was undertaken by individual countries in their own ways. Perhaps the Propylaea Conference seemed like it was finally going to fulfill its purpose.

The Archon flicked her stylus around her fingers and placed it on the desk. “Indeed they are. We recognize that the effort placed in this initiative has benefited millions of lives, and we believe that it will continue to do so in the future. However, we do not wish to involve ourselves in this partnership without knowing exactly what roles we need to fulfill. The Omospondia does not wish to invest time, effort, and resources into a cause with unclear objectives, after all. What do you seek among partners that may fulfill those initiatives, and what can the Perseid Federation gain from this arrangement?”

David sat there for a moment considering his next words a little more carefully. The good done by the Accords was undeniable but diplomacy was a fickle thing and even a wrongly placed word could mean the Perseids walking away from the table and potentially never coming back. “The Alpha Quadrant has seen its fair share of refugees, mostly from Gamma and the work yourself and your partners have already done has been astounding. ”

What the Solarian said was true, and she agreed that the refugee problem in the Alpha Quadrant was still a big issue. Atalante didn’t think it was necessary to hear what she already knew—she thought that he must be using flattery. But then it was probably not the right time for her to say that to his face, no matter how tempting that sounded.

David seemed to be clueless on whether he had struck the right sort of chord with the Archon after having spent minutes of discussion, talking point after point about the treaty he sought to promote to them, but he carried on in explaining the Accords’ position and how he felt the Perseid Federation would be able to fit in all of this. “We in the Accords want to help lift the burden somewhat from your nation's collective shoulders—the stats speak for themselves. For each Stepping Stone constructed in the void of space there has been an uptick in trade and a negative trend in piracy and other illegal activities. This is in part thanks to the Accords’ provisions that allow its signatories to root out the criminal and hostile elements that have forced the galaxy at large to have to deal with this crisis to begin with.”

“I believe you mean stations, correct?” Taxiarchai wanted to make sure he followed along with what the Solarian was saying.

“Yes,” the USC delegate nodded. “We as a collective want to expand our remit from simply just the Beta Quadrant to the rest of the galaxy, and we here are in agreement that the Federation is the right partner to help us reach that goal.” David paused for a moment to meet his audience's gaze. “So on behalf of the Commonwealth and its Accords partners, we would like to formally submit an offer to bring the Perseid Federation into the Accords. I realize there is much to discuss and work out moving forward should you accept, but think of it as taking the first step.”

That was sudden. She thought that they would want to cooperate with the Perseids multilaterally in addressing the refugee problem that the Alpha Quadrant also had, at least that was what David’s opening statement suggested. She didn’t think that they would want the Omospondia as a signatory to this agreement. Taxiarchai, looking a little concerned himself, whispered something into Atalante’s ear—but the other sophonts in the room couldn’t tell what he was saying. Atalante did a tiny nod and turned her gaze back to David. “I’m quite surprised to hear that, Mr. Triggerman,” she spoke, letting a smirk appear on her face. “But I believe you haven’t answered my question entirely. Forgive me if I do sound condescending, but allow me to rephrase. What can we do to help?”

David leaned forward again. He was eager to make this work, to get them on board and make the Accords truly a galactic organization. It was to spell new trade opportunities for everyone and go another step further to showing those who were watching the Commonwealth was serious about its pledges.

“That answer is simple really,” David replied. “Sign the Accords and grant us access to your trade routes and stations to set up outreach points for anyone who may need or want them.”

David paused to wonder if he was being too forward, but he had gotten this far and had been playing the diplomacy game for a long time now and would continue to do so well into his career to come. Right now he gambled that being forward was the best bet to get the Perseids on his side.

To make sure that they wouldn’t refuse, he then added, “The economic and political benefits to the Perseid Federation are deeply significant should you sign. With the influx of foreign migrants and refugees arriving at its core dominions and extant territories, this treaty will offer these sophonts a stable source of living, fulfilling part of the stipulations the Perseids are committing themselves to in order to solve the refugee crisis and sharing the cost of it between all members of the Accords rather than just the Federation. It will also provide the Perseid labor force with an infusion of sophont capital and enrich its economy. On top of that access to Accord members markets is going to go a long way to help enrich the Federation economy even more. And I think everyone in this room wants that.”

Atalante paused to consider the deal laid out before her. Surely the offer of more expanded trade relations with the USC and the other Accords members was enticing, as it would mean a more advantageous position in the economic dynamics of the interstellar community. And the possible benefit of sharing resources and capital to alleviate the burden imposed by refugees was a sensible choice given the costs that were already wearing the Perseid government down. But there were some concerns that continued to persist in the Archon’s mind. She knew very well that the Ecclesia, and quite possibly her fellow Archons, would not want to contend with a treaty that would entail the allocation of taxpayer Axias to other nations to prop them up against the Displacement—not to mention any possible economic strings attached that would place the Omospondia under the influence of other powers. But these can perhaps be ironed out when she gets back to Xenia. Yes, yes, this just might work, actually.

Maybe that was all the convincing that she needed, and all the treaty reading that came along with it. “Very well,” the Archon leaned in towards her microphone and nodded. “Despite the reservations that I have with the Accords and its terms, perhaps you may have convinced me well. These concerns can perhaps be straightened out in any potential meetings that the Omospondia may have with Accords signatories in the future. Therefore, in recognizing the potential benefits that the terms of this treaty offers to its signatories, and in pursuit of the interests of the interstellar community and in the best interests of the Perseid Federation, on behalf of the Omospondia I hereby resolve to approve the Nassau Accords and begin the process of inclusion as a signatory of this agreement.”

David smiled and audibly breathed a sigh of relief as the other Representatives happily applauded the decision. He passed the document to the Archon, and she sat down to affix her signature to the Accords. Their applause continued as Atalante stood up with Mr. Triggerman and firmly shook his hand. It was going to be a long way before the Omospondia itself was going to ratify the treaty, but he had firm confidence that the upcoming meetings will help speed the process. But perhaps that can wait until the time comes. Now that he had finally brought the Perseids into the Accords, the Solarian could now cross that off his list and sleep soundly tonight.


Last edited by Perseid Federation on Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:55 am, edited 2 times in total.
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The Solar Cooperative Union
Envoy
 
Posts: 348
Founded: Jul 24, 2015
Ex-Nation

Postby The Solar Cooperative Union » Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:19 pm

One Hell Of A Party
For the past year and a half there had been one thing which had dominated the minds and conversations of every soul in the Union. When there's a cataclysmic Civil War burning across the world around you its hard to find the motivation to talk about anything else, certainly so when relatives and lovers are stuck headlong in the vast grinding gears of conflict on far flung worlds. Andy was no different, with her sister off in the thick of it, even the sunniest days felt heavy and too long. All the delights of Bazzila City couldn't lift the dreary zeitgeist that hung over the collective spirit of her and her peers. However, in the peculiar poetry of the universe that feeling would be washed away all at once with a flood of relief.

It came late in the afternoon on a humid day while Andy was walking between her Apartment building and the Tram Station, among the quietly bustling crowds of Bazzila that moved from work to home and home to school and school to work and so on and so forth. She, like most of them, was trying to keep her head in the moment instead of letting it be swallowed by all the horror that she could imagine her sister was facing. Being the youngest meant her parents tried to shelter her from the world, but Andy had always made a point to seek the truth on her own. So when the Net video of combat in Poltaur hit her eyes, she only had herself to blame. Now she had to focus on getting to school in time, she had started taking night classes after the academic year had ended early due to the war, and her parents would be quite angry if she didn't make grade. Just more anxiety and gloom in a world that seemed flooded with it.

Andy was brought out of her sad head as she stumbled into the man in front of her who had stopped in his tracks, he was wearing a work vest and a blue jumpsuit, his hands hanging at his side while his attention was fixed on one of the advertisement screens suspended high over the street. Instead of the typical bombardment of products and slogans, the screen was instead filled with the words "BREAKING NEWS", Andy watched intensely, dreading what sort of disaster had befallen the world now.

A man in dark suit stood in the center of a white room, his face was steeled but some emotion was breaking through, his eyes were misty and there were creases in his cheeks from smiling or frowning. The sound came on from a different source on the crowded sidewalk and then it was joined by a dozen sources, a hundred, a thousand as the vast luminescent screens that stretched all the way up sky-scrapers all turned to the Federal Broadcast in a cascade of attention and the entire mass of humanity which had previously been moving with intent all came to a stop to watch. The man adjusted his collar and cleared his throat. Then spoke in a calm, deep voice that reminded Andy of her grandpa.

"Just moments ago, this station received the news that.."

He took a second to clear his throat and then continued.

"The Opposition Forces have agreed to unconditional surrender and have issued a cessation of all hostility, and if I'm reading this right, that is the end of The Wa-"

Andy couldn't hear the rest of the broadcast as a massive roar of applause and cheers peeled out across the city, a jubilant exclamation of millions all united in happiness at such monumental news. The man in the vest was pumping his fist wildly into the air, Andy couldn't help but join him for a second in yelling no words, only a great scream of relief and happiness. Quickly she turned back towards her apartment, and raced for home. Overhead, aircraft screamed by and fireworks burst in the distance, all along the way back people were embracing on the street, hats were thrown up, the clubs and bars were already advertising free entry and bright lights strobed overhead as if even the buildings wanted to join in on the celebration.

Andy slammed through her front door and jumped into her fathers arms who twirled her around, hot tears running down both their faces while her mom sat in front of the TV, sobbing happy tears before jumping to join in on the hug, all three smiling widely and barely forming coherent sentences between their expressions of emotion. Finally the family collected itself and was silent, simply appreciating the first time they felt content in more than a year. On the TV, a different man was speaking through his own hot tears and wide smile.

"It looks like we're in for one hell of a party on Strinda tonight folks."

---

A few hours later and with confirmation that her sister was already on the way home, Andy had met with an ever expanding group of classmates and now found herself in Club Demask, a normally exclusive place that she could have never made it into. Yet, tonight all social strata and distinction had fallen away. The streets were now their own party, people pouring out of work and home to join strangers in total joy as the great national nightmare finally came to an end, sailors and soldiers on leave were all treated like royalty. The sun had fallen completely now, but the city was still bright with the strobing lights of ad-screens that were now cascading colors and images of the flag fluttering victoriously.

Inside Demask, the wholesome joy of peace was mixing with the less wholesome but equally joyful feeling of release. Andy was never one for drugs or drinking, but tonight called for adventuring so when her friend Jasper handed her a stout shot glass filled with a clear, viscous liquid, she had tossed it back eagerly. She knew what it was after all, MDMA-N and Slither aka Beat, the party drug of choice for anyone looking to have a really good time. That was a few minutes ago and she could already feel the effects taking hold as the thumping music spread from her ears, down her spine and into her limbs. Normally she didn't dare make an idiot of herself by trying to dance, but whatever combination of chemicals and emotions was now flooding her urged her, no, demanded her to join in on the rhythmic movement of bodies now taking place around her.

Each shake of the head to a note and twist of the body to a measure was better than the last, an ecstatic and almost trance like state making movement the source of happiness and happiness the source of movement and music the source of it all. Everyone around her was equally lost in the slamming and bouncing of the beat, although her body was slick with sweat she didn't feel the heat or exertion, now was no time for rest after all.

At the front of the dance floor three huge panels displayed a pink silhouette of a woman dancing along with the music, the background pulsing to match the beat, overhead lights spun around in different colors and shapes, piercing the steam of the dance floor and creating an otherworldly feeling of escape, Demask had a good reputation for a reason indeed. Andy soon found herself straddling one of her classmates shoulders and surveying the scene around her, hundreds of people moved in some semblance of unison to the music.

Hours later the revelry had worn itself out, as doses and drinks ran low the assembled crowd began to shuffle home. As was the tradition after a good night of partying, Andy and the friends who were still standing made their way to a small standing room only eatery and got cheap, but delicious street food that filled a fatigued and alcohol besieged stomach. Jasper looked at her and smiled, and in a hoarse voice spoke.

"Andy you've been smiling all night."

Indeed she had, and she didn't plan on stopping.
Don't look at this

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Free Worlds Collective
Civilian
 
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Founded: Sep 17, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Free Worlds Collective » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:08 pm

End of a Free World, Part 1


“If we are to protect our civilized way of life and protect the interests of civilization and the region as a whole, we must attack and destroy the haven of degeneracy to the south. That is, the Free Worlds Collective. That nation is built on the back of being a safe place for everything from piracy to slavery to smuggling, and every other bad thing in this galaxy. The Freeworlders have built an entire civilization based on taking in the worst scum from the rest of the galaxy, and they did it right next to us,” said the Drosian Councilman, speaking to the rest of the assembled Council as the much anticipated meeting dragged on into its later phase. The argument against war had been given. Now, the argument in favor of it was happening.

The meeting was austere in fashion, which was typical of the Drosians. They were dressed in the traditional attire of battle armor, that covered their entire bodies except for their faces. Even with the armor, their fire red skin and the set of three small horns that each one had on their head was still visible. And everyone in the room had a bladed weapon at their side, in typical Drosian fashion. They looked like they were ready to go to war, and one could say that they were. “The biggest threat to our people is this Collective. Every day, one of our ships is raided while crossing through their space. Every day, one of our children goes missing after being taken away by Freeworld slavers. Every day, they grow stronger and become more capable in battle. Eliminating them now and forever is the only path to regional peace.”

“As I said, complete destruction is the only option for a faction like this, that has built its entire policy around lawlessness and a lack of morality. Their citizens may come here if they choose our way of life, but their state itself must be destroyed permanently. My proposal is a lightning war that will sweep into their outer stations first, and then to their two main worlds: New Hope, and Refuge. Once the stations and New Hope fall, the capital planet of Refuge will be an easy world to take. And with those stations near our border, we can strike them down before they even know what is coming. Yes, lives will be lost, but many more will be lost in the long run if the Collective is allowed to act unchecked and export terror across the region. If my proposal is accepted, we will attack within the month and wipe them out within the month. We will decide the specifics once we meet with the military to plan the invasion. Thank you.”

The Councilman stepped down, and was replaced by the Speaker of the Assembly. “Now that we have heard the arguments from both parties, I believe we have a proposal to vote on. The clerk will begin the voting shortly,” he said, and as promised, the voting began in minutes with the current score being displayed on the electronic screen running along the front wall. It wasn’t long before the vote was called in favor of the proposal. The vast majority of the Council was voting for war, and that would be the final decision. “The Council of the Republic of Drose has voted to declare war on the Free Worlds Collective. May the gods deliver us a swift victory.”

“May the gods deliver us a swift victory!” the crowd repeated, and just like that, the meeting was done. Drose was on its way to war, and the Free Worlds Collective was on its way to the most devastating attack that it would ever suffer, to date. They were on their way to a conflict that had the potential to wipe them off of the map completely.

***

It looked like the end of the world, for the inhabitants of Station Six. The northernmost outpost of the Collective was the one that was closest to the Drosian territory, and it was also the one that was the largest. Previously, it had served as a hub of trade, or rather, smuggling. It was also a place where nefarious business happened, with pirates and mercenaries staying there while they waited for their next work. The structure was a large ring, and there was a long hangar that ran around the entire circle, allowing for entry and exits from all angles. Now, those who could afford starships were exiting en masse, as the Drose fleet surrounded them after making the jump.

The garrison fleet wasn’t prepared for a serious war, and usually only handled disputes between different factions within the Collective. They couldn’t call for backup because they didn’t know that the invasion would be coming, and they were already getting torn to shreds as they advanced to meet the enemy. By the time backup came, the station would probably already be in flames. The Drosian warships packed far more firepower than the defenses that usually were only used against rogue pirates, and there were already weak spots in the station that had come from the initial assault.

There were a number of different types of people trying to get away. Some were simple civilians, others were traders, others were mercenaries, and there were a few pirate ships. All of them looking to get out before the gaps in the Drosian blockade closed up for good. One of those ships went by the name of the Quicksilver, and it was one of the pirate and slaver ships that the enemy would be specifically on the lookout before. “You know we’re the most wanted men in the galaxy right now, right? Or at least up there with the most wanted? They fucking have a reward for whatever Drosian brings us to them for trial. You think it’s even a good idea to leave with the Quicksilver? Or should we split up and get on civilian ships?” asked Vandal, the first mate of the ship.

“No surrender for the Quicksilver,” said the captain, who went by the nickname of Duke. “I promise you, all of this isn’t going to be a big deal. There’s bigger things going on. They don’t care about a bunch of pirates, we’ll just fly west and lay low for a bit before returning to our normal… Activities. Is the ship prepared for takeoff by now?”

“Of course. But boss, we’re near the top of the Drosian wanted list-”

“Doesn’t matter. Get us ready for takeoff.”

“Aye,” said Vandal, as the engines finished warming up. The ship lifted off of the hangar floor and drifted forwards towards the open gate, reaching open space as Vandal calculated the right path for the jump. “You know, I have a family. They’re going to be pissed if something happens to me because we took this stupid risk.”

“It’s not a stupid risk, don’t be so faithless,” shrugged Duke. “It’s a calculated move because we’ve been through this type of thing before and we know that it always blows over and moves on. Let’s go. We’ll jump to the nearest western system and plot our next moves from there, but the sooner we get out of here before the blockade finishes setting up, the better.”

“I hope you’re right.”

“I am right, I’m right most of the time, and this is going to be one of the best adventures we’ve been on as a crew. I promise you, in the end, you’ll be happy that Station Six was destroyed.”

And with that, they made the jump and began the trip to the nearest safe system, all while the rest of the Collective panicked around them under the weight of their impending destruction.
The Free Worlds Collective. Home of outlaws, pirates, and other undesirables.

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

Postby Enso and Mu » Thu Sep 21, 2017 5:39 pm

Life in the Red Enso: MAP Sohei

Few professions were as attractive to eager-eyed Red Enso Society recruits than the role of the Sohei-Pilot - operators of the iconic Mobile Armour Platforms that were the Society's mainstay mechanism for force projection. Every year, hundreds of thousands applied to the RES, and thousands of those applied to be Sohei.

Few made the cut. Sohei-candidates were selected by lottery and interview and sent for their first tour of duty aboard the Schoolship Tahomasogenjimaru. Simply attending this school, regardless of pass or fail, virtually assured you would be welcomed back for your second year-long tour.

For Satoshi Vega, a veteran MAP pilot with the ship Sakuragaokamaru, that had been nearly thirty years ago. Vega was a veteran pilot, enlisting in the school young - his first day of class had coincided with his eighteenth hatch day, barely making his attendance legal.

The training had been difficult - gruelling, even - in preparation for the psychological stress of being a MAP pilot. Between the mental exercises he'd learned and the decades of practice that had followed, it was easy enough to find that water-mind state so necessary to be a pilot.

Any idiot could climb into the cockpit of an MAP and access its basic navigation and operational functions. Some people frequently did, whether it was merely to move the vehicles around for maintainance and retooling, or salvage, or simply out of the thrill of it. Only a sohei-pilot equipped with a Pilot Module and trained to use it properly could interface with the machine on the correct level necessary to use its full potential.

Four such sohei had directed their vehicles off the outer "deck" of the Templeship, vectoring in a wide arc necessary to provide the necessary interdiction against some slowships that operations had just marked as likely pirates. They were following Vega's lead, flying in a lopsided v, more or less. This particular model was equipped with a double-handed particle gun designed for breaking apart smaller ships. Shunyo, they were called. Differing loadouts, but the basic airframe was designed entirely for exoatmospheric operation.

Sohei Vega felt around his calm for his casual side and, having found it, chuckled. "Alright, nice and easy. Feel free to get your firing solutions but if I see one weapon readied before I give the word I might just be cross."

There was laughter in his ear as the other pilots chirped their assent. Then, immediately, the four of them became aware they were on weapon lock. Vega had just enough time to order the others weapons' free before his cabin flooded with light.

---

Vega did not remember much after the incident. It was explained to him, over and over again, that his ejection system had deployed correctly, removing him by several degrees of arc from his craft even as it exploded around him. He'd ejected with his seat and pilot module intact. And then, at some point, ejecta from the conflict had struck him. Many of the seat's systems were damaged, including life support. He'd lost the oxygen-nitrogen mixture he was being fed for survival.

He woke up three weeks later aboard Sakuragaokamaru. Hypoxic brain injury could have taken a lot longer than that to repair, and the repairs could have left him changed - career-ending move. Sohei were only as useful to their service as the quality of their link to the Pilot Module. Each module had to be crafted bespoke by specialist tradesmen at Tahomasogenjimaru or a few other trade worlds.

Naturally, he was eager, at once, to begin exercises again, in order to confirm for himself that his bond was still solid. That was when he had discovered the horrible truth - the tool had been damaged in battle. Nearly beyond repair. Someone aboard - likely a Slipspace Enginewright - had tried to repair it.

He could still remember being handed the damn thing back - its delicate platinum casing shot through with chases of gold where the cylinder had been cracked by the impact. Presumably the insides were just as crudely cobbled back together. To his horror, here was his only permanent companion, completely unrecognizable, barely functional. It felt as alien in his hand, pressed against his mind, as anyone else's might have. Granted, it was still a damn sight better than using a mass-produced stand-in module, but in his early exercises in Shunyo and other models, he fought bravely and clumsily, like a cadet.

---

Eshu Martin Osho was the abbot of Sakuragaoka-maru, and thus the ranking officer, whose whims and musings controlled the tone and direction of life aboard the ship - quite literaly. He was head of the navigators, a function he regularly passed off to his jikijusu, Serawah, but this was not his only function.

He laughed, somewhat, to see the Satoshi Carbourne with which he was so familiar come to him in the formal robes common to his avian people, a gold-chased pilot-module tucked into his sash like the sword of a leg officer.

"Vega Sohei, my dear friend. Why so grim? Is the Alliance now at war?"

The Sohei did not answer right away, instead bowing deeply before coming to kneel at the abbot's feet. "Osho, I have come to beg leave to order a MAP fitted for long range travel and depart with it aboard the Curwin supply ship when it has completed its operations."

Eshu nodded, stroking a long, bushy, and somewhat ginger beard as he did. He could see straight through the Satoshi. "Tahomasogenji-maru is not often trafficked by any traders. Even if you made it to a staging-star like Yokosuka or Minsk, you would have to wait for the next season."
Vega shook his head. "No, abbot, you misunderstand. I do not intend to make for Sogenji. I seek Masamune."

Eshu closed his eyes, sighing. "Nobody has seen Masamune in decades. Even his own disciples have no idea where he has gotten off to. You could spend the rest of your life searching."
"Only Masamune is so skilled as to repair my module now," the other replied, with a trace of unbecoming bitterness over the attempted repair. "I have no life without it."
Eshu was silent for some time. For ten, twenty minutes, the two sat across from each other.

Then, the abbot nodded. "Fine. You may loadout one MAP frame as you see fit and you will be disbursed of your wages before your departure."

Vega performed a full bow, rising to his feet. "I will return soon."
Eshu smiled sadly behind his beard. "May you first find the peace of mind you seek."
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New Dornalia
Ambassador
 
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Founded: Apr 27, 2005
Left-Leaning College State

Postby New Dornalia » Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:31 pm

One Night in Honolulu


Air America Logistics and Aerospace Maintenance Center
Pearl Harbor-Hickam Field Operations Center
Honolulu, Hawaii, Earth SSR
Colonial Republic of Earth


OOC: K.5 Barracuda used with consent of Lubyak.

IC:

The night was hot and humid in the city of Honolulu. Being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean near the equator would bring such air to a settlement, although one could be thankful that Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s location on the coastline itself allowed for a nice moderating breeze to come in from the Pacific.

The old pre-Apocalypse naval base--now serving as logistics hub and one of many nodes coordinating defenses for Earth SSR’s Pacific Rim region--was not what one thought of one they discussed Honolulu in the Colonial Republic. People here were more drawn to the usual haunts. Nighttime--particularly Friday night--in Honolulu saw people crowd into bars and nightclubs looking to let off steam to the tune of loud music, louder clothing and even louder drinks crafted by bartenders paid to make their brand of alcoholic magic. More people still crammed into shopping arcades offering items such as fine Auracexian clothing (the scantier and thinner types, given that this was Honolulu after all and fine quality beachwear would be in demand), MalTec computers, and fine custom plasma rifles made with koa wood stocks, lovingly customized for the user. Even more people found their way to fine restaurants serving dishes such as finely grilled New Hokkaido Angus boneless ribeyes, marinated in a light pineapple-shoyu-brandy marinade and then cooked to a lovely medium rare garnished with a side of fried rice and stirfried vegetables.

Almost none of them thought of spending the night near a runway, sitting on a foldable camp stool with the University of Hawaii’s logo upon it. And yet there she was. A woman with sunglasses, cans of Cerveza Armendariz beer--New Star City brewed, New Star City proud--which seemed to emerge from a small cube as if magically willed into existence with a blue hum and a phasing in effect, and a t-shirt which simply read, “Mean People Suck” along with a pair of well used jeans. Around her neck was a small lanyard with an ID badge. The lanyard was red white and blue, and the badge was a simple card with a chip and all sorts of holographic imagery onto it to defeat counterfeiting. It bore the logo of a red white and blue striped shield with wings coming out of it and somewhat archaic, stylized writing bearing the name, “Air America.” The ID card identified the woman as “Pauline Clancy,” and her ID badge displayed a smiling woman with cat ears, somewhat reddish hair, and a complexion and looks which betrayed many ancestors from many lands, although the East Asian part stood out.

The woman sipped her beer, and contemplated why someone would name a government contracted airline that moved sensitive cargo after an ancient Earth outfit filled with pilots with derring do who plied their trade arming people in an exotic land against Communists, only to lose in the end and be besmirched with accusations of peddling narcotics. Then again, she didn’t think about the matter too much, except for perhaps the speculative thought that the management perhaps chose to draw upon the awe, the legend, the mystique of this old force to somehow bless their own endeavors with the same spirit. Names mattered in Dornieland after all.

The runway lights blinked on and off, and made for a somewhat hypnotizing image across the night, moonlit sky. Soft music could be heard--steel guitar music, recovered from ancient recordings even more ancient than the sigil which bedecked her ID badge. Pauline looked at the watch on her wrist, and sipped her beer again. She looked out into the distance, into the sky--as if to anticipate someone or something coming out of it.

Pauline muttered to herself, “Those bastards better be coming….” The tone of voice suggested she was not in a good mood, having been made to stay here after hours to greet a visitor. Air America HQ in downtown had contacted the Logistics and Aerospace Maintenance Center, asking for volunteers for a late night shift involving sensitive cargo. Such assignments were not uncommon. Air America tended to work at all hours, handling strange merchandise the staff wasn’t allowed to ask much about and moving VIPs which also weren’t to be asked about. THe lack of ability to ask was tightened recently, but no one could know why and no one was saying. She shrugged. Air America’s HQ was likely getting antsy. Its customers were harsh mistresses all.

Then, she squinted and peered into the distance, seeing and hearing a distant rumble. Her ears knew it wasn’t from the nearby civilian spaceport. No, it was coming right for Hickam Field, and the Air America runway in particular. Pauline stood up, and saw the form come ever closer, its arrival heralded by a mighty rumble and a great racket from the engine noise. Pauline knew that to be in the wake of a mighty beast such as the one landing on the flight line was not a good idea for someone without protection. The monstrosity was landing now, on top of all that.

“TIme to move!” she muttered to herself, quickly breaking down the camp stool and her gear and running quickly away from the flightline as the vehicle came into sharp focus. The woman ran with the bundle in her arms with the fury of a thousand suns as the plane landed and stormed past her. With a roar and a WHOOOOOOSH sound the monstrosity moved past quickly, and slowed down as it clambered down the runway with the subtlety of an angry bull. The craft then slowed further to a taxi speed, and entered a hangar numbered with “04” on its side.

On cue, Pauline rushed into the hangar, knowing this was indeed someone important. With great haste, she shoved her personal belongings into her locker, and pulled out a small bottle of some sort of spray. Aiming it into her mouth, Pauline sprayed the substance inside her mouth and then swished it about, feeling the burning sensation of the fluid attacking the halitosis and obvious breath related signs of beer consumption in her mouth--as well as getting out the odd stuck piece of chicken. Spitting the efflua out, she then straightened herself up and slapped herself in the face a couple of times before strutting out into the hangar itself.

What greeted the woman was a large, somewhat archaic-looking aircraft. It had a body like a cigar’s. It had glass bubble canopies at various points at the side of the craft, including ball turrets on the top and rear of the plane, and the nose was a visible glass dome, elongated. The craft had trapezoidal wings, with one engine on each wing. The plane--well, it looked like one--had a tailfin of considerable size, with some sort of connection to the middle of the plane. And indeed, one noted it did look like a plane--the kind which would normally be seen in a museum documenting pre-Apocalypse warfighting equipment. On top of all that was a green paint scheme. A solid green paint scheme.

Pauline couldn’t recognize this plane...well, not as one of Air America’s standard planes. Usually, they would bring in things like Pelicans, or some other type of spacecraft. This plane looked more….like something someone would find in the R.u.B. Something like a…..

“...Barracuda?”

Pauline found herself uttering the words, and from the crew stepping out of the plane a voice said, “Indeed, Ms. Clancy, it is.”

The voice belonged to the handsome pilot which stepped out of the plane, who greeted Pauline with a devil may care grin, an accent that was forged somewhere between a Midwestern farm and the Ozarks that seemed to clash with his East Asian features--Korean to be precise--and an air of coolness which seemed to come straight from Hollywood stardom--or some fujoshi’s imagination of how a man ought to be. Clad in khaki pants and a sky blue shirt with a black baseball cap with the Air America sigil on it and black sunglasses, the pilot walked out with a confident swagger. The man had a badge around his neck similar to that of Pauline’s, which identified him as Captain Tom Hawking. SOmewhat fittingly, Tom’s ID photo was similarly cavalier.

Tom took off the sunglasses and folded them up and put them into his shirt pocket, making eye contact with Pauline. Pauline stammered a bit, going, “I-I mean HQ said we were bringing in some unusual cargo, but this? That’s….” She then coughed and composed herself, declaring, “Well, that’s some cargo.”

“Well, I wouldn’t call this fine machine mere cargo, Ms. Clancy.” Pointing to the plane, Tom declared proudly, “You are lookin’ at a Ikadan Heavy Industries K.5 Barracuda, one of the finest medium bombers to have been ever created by the minds of men--or so the guys where I picked this baby up from say. The Client picked some up from some nice men in the Imperial and Federal Union, along with a bunch of her sisters and bigger brothers, the Griffons. They’ll be coming soon enough.” Looking at the Barracuda, he grinned and said, “Personally, I think she’s a bit big to be classed as a medium bomber, but those fellas use a different scale than we do and she’s a damn fine plane nonetheless.” Turning back to Pauline, Tom declared, pulling out a small disk from one of his other shirt pockets and handing it to Pauline, “HQ also wanted me to bring this to you when I got back. Seems they need your technical expertise. Client’s got some particularly persnickety requirements regarding these bad boys, and they need you to work on them.”

Pauline pulled out her phone from her pocket, and scanned the disk with it. She gasped at what she found, and blurted it out.

“You mean to tell me that the Client wants these things to be turned into fast moving cargo planes suitable for covert and open insertion of assets into open and denied territory?

Tom smirked at Pauline, declaring simply, “Seems like it.”

Pauline dashed towards the plane, looking it over with a frantic gaze and then pacing around and under it to the amusement of Tom and the other staff which began to congregate around the plane. She looked at the undercarriage, the wings, and everything about the Barracuda with a studied eye, even making a “picture frame” with her hands at certain parts. She gasped, and then shook her head at certain points.

Pauline then leapt onto the fuselage itself, and shimmied her way up to the guide-wire connecting the tail fin to the main body with a grace that could only be described as feline. The neko could be seen mumbling something to herself, as she eyed the whole assembly. She even sashayed over to the rear and examined the rudder and significant tail fin. Then, Pauline shimmied over to an open access hatch, and entered the Barracuda itself. She continued to move around the interior, and in the process grabbed a small digital pad that she began typing information into. Pauline’s fingers could be seen to move at a lightning pace, tapping, pinching and swiping like no one’s business.

The design was exciting, but her face became grimaced with first deep contemplation, and then a shake of her head. Pauline then slid off the fuselage, and with a gymnast’s dedication to technique she executed a perfect three point landing as she landed back on the hangar’s floor. She even struck a pose as she fell. Pauline then lept up and shook her head at Tom, sighing.

“This is going to be a tough job.” Turning to the Barracuda, she then folded her arms and declared, “We’re going to need to do a lot of modifications. We’ll need to do something about the turrets. We’ll need to do something about that wire sticking up at the top. We’ll need to do something about the fuel. And, we’ll need to do something about those turrets on the side. We’ll need to make by my count at least sixty four major modifications to give the Client what it wants.”

Tom then asked, eyebrows raised, “How extensive is that, anyway?”
Pauline declared bluntly, “Very.”

A voice then could be heard, which stopped everyone in its tracks through its suddenness. It was simple, unadorned Midwestern accent, with a slight aspect to it that betrayed origins somewhere in Minnesota and delivered with a patient timbre It could be heard loudly, and said simply, “I concur, Miss Clancy, but only in part.”

A figure stepped out of the plane. He was a thin Caucasian man with a wiry build and a face which had plenty of experience--and looked more aged than his normal age would suggest, as if years of stress had gotten to him. He sported a Tyrolean hat, a gray suit and tie, wire-rimmed glasses whose lenses seemed to glow with very busy pacing, and a faint smile across his face which never seemed to leave. Doffing his hat and greeting everyone with a nod, he put the hat back on and said simply, “The designers of this craft built it to be a modular vehicle. The modularity of this craft suggests that one could save time and expense by working within their constructs, and pushing them to their logical--or even illogical--limits. After that, then it becomes crazier.” Keeping his unusual smile, he added, “But, I trust you can handle your crazy well. After all, I am talking with Pauline Clancy, one of Air America’s best in house flight mechanics. Besides, you will have some time to finish it….” The man’s tone then grew somewhat firm, even if he kept smiling: “....although my colleagues would like it done as soon as possible.”

Pauline raised an eyebrow and asked, with a mixture of confusion at the man’s sudden appearance and more than a little concern as to how this man knew who she was, “I’m sorry, who are you again?”

“A client, nothing more, offering some helpful words of assurance.” The man gave a brief nod, and kept up his smile as Pauline could only declare, “Um, right.” Pauline then looked at Tom, who in turn said simply, “Well, I think y’all gotta get to it, I guess. I’m going to take my break.”

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

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Usidia
Lobbyist
 
Posts: 25
Founded: Nov 07, 2017
Corporate Bordello

Postby Usidia » Mon Dec 04, 2017 10:03 pm

Pumped


Officer Ben Herdly hadn’t always dreamed of being a cop, he wasn’t a legacy officer either like some of the other cops in his precinct. Truth was it was something he kind fell into, having just lost his job he was sitting on his couch watching TV and an ad came on about the Neo Botenia Police Force needing new recruits. On a whim he signed up and now here he was sitting in a radio car stuck in traffic. He’d been on the force for almost a year and a half now and since he was still new to the job he had been assigned to the sixth level of the city.

City levels in a Usidian hive city were blends of order and chaos. When a hive city is constructed they were laid out the exact same way as every other city in Usidia. The bottom three levels were generally relegated to the outcasts and criminals of society. Over time chaos would take hold and the decay of life would twist the bottom levels.

The middle three levels were where the working class drones resided, occasionally there was some crime but the ever prevalent police force and camera drones were effective in keeping it mostly deterred, at least that’s what most of the citizenry was led to believe.

The upper levels where were the upper crust of Usidian society resided, elite and aloof they were mostly safe in their ivory towers, away from the rabble in the lower levels.

The sixth level was where officers who were no longer trainees, but still considered green, were generally assigned. Herdly’s partner Officer Adriano Esposito had only been on the job a year longer than Herdly and the difference in experience was subtly noticeable. Esposito often caught little details Herdly still had trouble seeing, drug handoffs, concealed weapons, or when a perp was acting funny.

“You wanna stop at that deli on 638th and get some something to eat?” asked Esposito “I’m starving.”

“Yeah I don’t care.” said Herdly as he slumped down in the chair and adjusted his shades. The artificial light pumped from the level’s ceiling was simulated to be as bright as if it were outside. The lights were turned off and on in twelve hour cycles regardless of the fourteen hour days outside of the city. The lights were just one of the many features built into the city to try and dull the fact no one ever actually lived outside.

The traffic began moving finally and eventually the police cruiser landed onto a parking spot along one the levels sidewalks. Getting out of the car, Herdly almost bumped into a man with cat ears and a cat tail that swished almost with a mind of it’s own.

“I don’t understand why the fuck people do that.” said Esposito as he got out of the cruiser. Pushing a button on the keyfob closed the anti-theft shields around the windows of the car. Even though the sixth was one of the lower crime areas some kid hacking the cruiser and taking it for a joyride was bad PR for the police department.

“Nah man it’s not hurting anything.” said Herdly as they casually strolled down the sidewalk with their shades on each man making a point to directly look at the faces of people walking by so the scanner inside their glasses could run facial recognition on them. Herdly had yet to have his shades catch someone wanted for a warrant or with a BOLO out for them but he had heard it was a common occurrence in the lower levels if and when the police decided to make their presence known down there.

A chime was heard as the two cops walked into the small store. The smell of cold cut meats and cheese permeated through the small room. Herdly observed a large roided out man at the counter. The man glanced over his shoulder and saw the two cops and turned away quickly from them.

Herdly looked over at at Esposito who had a curious look on his face. Both of the cops watched as the man became fidgety. Both men’s hands slipped down to their belts and fingered their stun-batons.

“Excuse me sir, would you mind turning around so I can scan you.” ordered Esposito. The man exhaled loudly and he raised his hands slowly toward his head. Turning his head slightly as his hands got near his face the man looked at his palm and Ben heard the sound of an aerosol container squirting.

“PUMP.” yelled Esposito as he pulled the baton off his belt and charged towards the man.
Herdly knew what his partner meant as soon as he yelled it. Pump was a drug that had been on streets for several years now. Classified as a Class A controlled substance the drug was designed in a lab initially to enhance the performance of Usidian soldiers. While able to increase a soldier’s strength and speed by nearly a hundred and fifty percent, the detrimental side effects of the drug saw it shelved by the government indefinitely.

An entrepreneuring individual from the lab that developed the drug stole the recipe and set up an underground lab and began pumping out gallons of the junk. Seeing the value in the concoction other enterprising individuals began producing their own versions of the drug as well. Built in less than ideal conditions the detrimental conditions only worsened for the people using the drug to temporarily boost their performance.

The guy turned and moved across the room quicker than Herdly could keep track. The man’s huge fist cocked back and landed a devastating blow into Esposito’s chest. The ballistic plate on the cops armor cracked and Esposito was launched through the front window of the shop.

“Oh fuck.” muttered Herdly as went for his sidearm instead. The brute was too quick and Herdly was thrown across the room. Rolling back up Herdly finished pulling his sidearm and popped off three shots in the man’s chest. Letting out a guttural roar the man charged Herdly again. The next three shots went wild as Ben panicked at the brute charging him. The man’s huge hand wrapped around Herdly’s throat and he felt his vision began to black out.
The man screamed in rage and Herdly felt himself thrown again. Ben looked up just in time to watch Esposito land another blow with his stun baton. Herdly knew the man just received a seven million volt shock, the man however hadn’t been informed of this as he swung a vicious backhand that sent him flying into the wall. Seeing his window off opportunity to escape diminishing the man blew through the front steel door.

Pushing his GPS panic button Herdly got up slowly and limped across the room to check on his partner.

“Herdly this is Central, we’re not picking your partner’s heartbeat up on the monitor, what is your Sit-Rep?” came a voice over Hardly’s ear comm. Looking down at Esposito, Herdly saw why his monitor wasn’t picking up a beat. Esposito’s head was bent at an unnatural angle.

“Central I got an officer down at this location, offender is one Micheal Halverson, his info is being uploaded from my headset now.” responded Herdly. “Request permission to pursue suspect.”

“Negative officer, remain in position and wait for a Tac-team to respond.” came the voice from Central.

Herdly exhaled slowly and slumped against the wall. The sound of sirens grew closer as tears began to stream down the officer’s face.

“I’m sorry man.”
Last edited by Usidia on Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Spores Bloom, Life Broils

Postby The Second Brotherhood of Planets » Fri Dec 15, 2017 3:17 pm

The Spores were Sealed.

The Children withered in the absence of light.

There was no warmth, no rays to bask in. The embrace of solar radiation remained distant and untouchable.

Yet the Elders and the Children were not idle. Bursts of plasma, sapping precious warmth gathered from our world's depths, slammed against the slaver's barrier.

Somehow.... It opened!

The Children were free, free to find Warmth. The Elders were lost in visions of Voiding Non, and there they remained.

They are Cold now, Cold and Dead.




Warmth is Life. Worlds may have warmth within, but stars are the true carriers of Warmth. And where there is a star, there may be life. The life that sits upon the worlds would never bloom without the stars.

So it is the Cold Worlds, covered in ice and frost, that hinder life. Cold Worlds mock Warmth, and resist the touch of Life.

Perhaps You Understand this, reader. If there is no Warmth, how can there be life? If a world is Cold, any being of good, any bringer of life must make it Warm.

Is that not true?

And yet, while other forms of life embraced us, and allowed our children to bloom on worlds close to theirs, occasionally we hear regrets.

"They are mad! Look what they do to iced planets! Their forefathers did the same thing to Water Worlds. Ice is just the frozen form of Water! Mark my words, their betrayal is imminent."

Such sorrow.




Cold is Death, is it not? How can life thrive without Warmth?

Since Warmth brings Life, spreading it must be Good. As Cold is Death, Cold Worlds are Dead Worlds. We must bring Warmth, and the Life it brings in turn, to frozen wastes. We must spread Life throughout the galaxy.

When we spread Warmth, we Spread Life. Most types of life agree: Life is Good. Warmth brings Life, so Warmth is Good. Life dies in Cold, so Cold is Death. If Life is Good, then that which destroys it, Death, is Evil. Death is Evil. Cold is Evil. How can one claim to stand against us? We fight for Life and Warmth. Cold must be Warmed.




There was an ice world near the star the human life calls "Sol."

Its moon was over half its size, and both worlds danced together in the depths of the void.

It danced so far away from its star. If anything stood on that world, it would surely die. Cold ruled both worlds. Cold that crept across the surface and froze great plains.

This cannot come to pass. We are the bringers of life. We went to that world and prepared to gift it our spores.

Humans surrounded us. Ordered us to leave. "Pluto is not for colonization!" They yelled.

We did not understand. No life resided on that world, as the lifebringers cannot take life. Their bases and structures of war were elsewhere.

But the humans persisted, and drove us back. Their voices joined the regrets.

Such sorrow may persist, but we shall not cease.




Life.... Warmth.... Cold.... Death.... Frozen Worlds have been an impediment to mining. Recommend reprogramming the planetary transformers to seek out such worlds. Their efforts will expedite mining efforts.

The Forefathers led their crusade against Non and Void. We have a greater purpose. Life is our Calling. Cold is our Foe. Where there is Warmth and Life, you will Find Our Kind.




An effort at a completely alien mindset.
Last edited by The Second Brotherhood of Planets on Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:00 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Daskoxian
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1062
Founded: Jun 27, 2012
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Daskoxian » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:28 pm

Reflections

[OOC: wrote this a few months ago, thought I'd share it]


She stepped out toward her balcony and gazed into the deepening night. The salmon glow of civilization floated over the soft rustling and warbling of the life-filled forest below. Aerocraft arced over and through the endless skydome of evening, with beautiful, uplifting, heart-tugging visimusic licking at the edges of her vision and hearing, its wavering glow flickering across the space of her darkened apartment. The warm, heavy air breezed into the climate-controlled room behind her as she removed her headgear and leaned out. Disconnected from society yet in tune with the planet's living breath and soul. The faint shapes of maglevs gliding along in the far distance. A faint glowing ripple through the canopy underlying all.

I'm standing on the single living digit of a great civilization- a great era, really- now reduced to ash, its shattered bones feeding millions of nascent ecosystems all so different yet all so beautiful. So much history came to this, so many lives snuffed out like embers in a torrent of water. So many lives waiting to be snuffed out themselves. So many new civilizations, entities, gathering strength, growing, killing. The brilliant stars waver in the humid air. So many worlds and lives and beliefs and new histories. So much possibility. What is out there? We are the final ember of a long-dead fire. What has since grown in the ashes of our destruction?

A softly glowing hovermoth examines the blossoms of the vines beside her. Faint fragrance wafts from its wingbeats, muffled like the sounds of the world around her sole person. The forest, like the stars, beckon. A promise of the cycles of life. New destruction, and new suffering. Yet also new possibility.

an iridescent Kyyantros wafts over a cliffside highway aside a great gorge
a highway leading out of Korukan straddles over the desert biocrust and scrub mosaic amidst the searing heat
a brilliant blue-green quadropteryx circles over the towers of Kyyoraka and the roaring waterfall beneath
did the precursors expect this to happen

She dove off her balcony perch, and glided along the cool waters of the rugged Nyyeros coast. The glow of cool air suffused her leathery skin as she rode the wind currents with lazy flaps of her great wings. A personal craft rose up from the ground up through the atmosphere, the ice blue glow from its propulsion engine glinting off its silver-blue carapace. A familiar peak rose in front of her, a patchwork of needleleaf forest on its flanks. her home away from home, her refuge in the wilderness.



The
Jokayla-Dyspeptic Orgy cruised a new system. New for it, not new for Daskoxyan, anyway. The ruins of Arakuun Sekodarya were practically invisible in the light of the aging star above it, and certainly with the effects of the planet's healing and regrowth completed in the intervening ten standard millenia. The burgeoning civilization upon its surface most definitely didn't help the legibility of the ancient ruins, with a primitive satellite network further complicating matters. The hub planet, once so far removed from nature that a comparison would be laughably impossible, was well on its way back to its old city-planet status. The scout ship kept its distance, logged an update into its database, and disappeared in a barely visible glimmer of silver and violet.

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

Postby Red Talons » Tue Jan 30, 2018 7:35 am

[ Mature ]




A Series of Unexpected Consequences



Prologue
Many cycles past in a distant galactic sphere....


A S'kan king and queen ruled over a rapidly spreading empire. The F'lari encountered them in the midst of an age of prosperity. The S'kan had legends of their tyrant creators and laid into the F'lari with a rage that had been fermented like good hard liquor. After many cycles of war, the F'lari empire lay in tatters and the S'kan were spread thin. A decisive strike was carried out by volunteer remnants of the F'lari fleet. The S'kan's command structure was the target. The initial strike was a success, the S'kan flagship was rent asunder along with it's king.

Later, the queen took up her husbands sword, and the first Covenant was made. So long as great power roamed the stars unknown, champions of the people would stand when others could not.

The Queen took up her husband's command, but her people were shaken. They had never suffered such a defeat to alien warriors. As the war continued it became apparent that what remained of the F'lari were much more competent than the forces they had faced in the past. Back on the homeworld councils formed and dissented against the war, favoring rebuilding and integrating F'lari worlds into the empire. Eventually, the queen was alone, fighting with the remnants of a fleet that their own people now considered rebels.

In a final clash, F'lari fleet elements ambushed the queen's fleet, her flagship was swiftly boarded and it's crew slaughtered by the F'lari commanders while the S'kan fleet was cut down. In a final confrontation, then Void-pack-leader Shae`Ra of the F'lari fleet and her personal guard faced down Caedes in battle. Shae`Ra stood her ground, but her guard fell one by one until only she remained. Using forbidden skills, Shae`Ra defeated Caedes, and the final blow to the S'kan royal junta rang through the void. It is said that the queen was initially thought to be dead, but upon later cleanup of the vessel the team assigned to retrieve the body and clean the command deck were killed. It was quickly discovered that Caedes was not dead. Although mortally wounded from the battle it took Caedes thirteen days to die of her wounds, and she held the command deck until finally expiring from starvation. On each day she was reported to chant in an unknown language, possibly S'kan, but unknown due to a severe neck wound. She was buried with full honors.

--Redacted data file, level three entity records.
--Survivors account of The Decades War.






Present day


Luminary Roze sat alone in a hall, bereft of guard and discussing international politics, the nature of which he felt would be of great importance to the nation he oversaw. Synced in with a conference call with the Council of Masters, he was appraised of every needed detail of information. This meant that his attention was always divided, and during the proceedings at hand his curiosity took the better of him and more attention was devoted to available information than the reality around him.

The last thing he saw was a room full of diplomats with a data overlay with dozens of notation bubbles arrayed in small floating around the various heads discussing at length something of great importance. His attention had wandered, and when he blinked his eyes it was as if the world blinked out of existence. At first, Luminary Roze was confused, but still curious he stared into the murky haze. Looking around, he saw, no, he felt something. It was warm, looking at himself for the first time he saw and as he beheld he remembered his name. He closed his eyes and looked within, focusing on that ancient memory.

"Shiro`Kuro..." His voice was soft, yet it echoed in the gray haze. In the distance, figures shifted, drawing closer.

Memories came flooding back, and over it all he heard things moving around him. Eyes snapping open as he beheld a formless creature slipping closer. It seemed almost two dimensional, rising from the haze before him as it reached out with grasping claws. His hands tensed as small orbs of soft white light faded into existence above his open palms. Clenching over them as two meter long white bars of light snapped into being like glowing blades of phantom swords. In a blur of motion the creature attempted to encircle and swallow him, only to be cut apart by glowing blades of white light. When the darkness faded, a number of figures in white cloaks riding large six legged felines waited. "Riders of Amenti, I will not be joining you..." A collar of sigils glowed around his neck, a mere centimeters from his skin. "By the Covenants I am bound to remain in the Material Realms to keep the balance."

The lead figure gestured with a polearm, and the other riders turned and faded away. "We will respect the Covenants, Go swiftly."

Shiro`Kuro turned away and vanished into the mist.






City of Masters, Council Chambers,
Siraborac


The three, now two, Caste Masters sat at a table. The third, formerly the Master of Mystics, lay slumped over the table with a rock neatly encasing what used to be his head and white hair hanging from the lower pieces of the now fractured stone.

"Assets confirm, target's eliminated." X, a Saurian wearing the crimson markings of Master of Warriors. Beside him, Hian, clad in the white markings of the Master of Merchants, smiled, "As do mine. So then, as per emergency protocols I cede damage control to you."

"There will be little damage to control in the short term." said a third voice, Hian and X twitched to face the source of the sound, and before them stood what looked to be the former Luminary, Pale glowing skin and clad in silken robes with three shimmering spheres orbiting his right wrist. In a flash of motion X was standing with sidearm drawn and in a blink the glowing figure's right arm was raised. The revolver cycling on it's own one click as the rear sight popped into line, a sphere of light forming in the figure's hand as X pulled the trigger twice.

There was a deafening crack inside the relatively small room as the two rapid gunshots sounded. Overwhelmed just as fast as they sounded by a dulled rumble. A rainbow rimmed black sphere contracting slowly inches from the figure's outstretched right hand. Three rods of white light hung suspended in the air around it oriented towards X. "I am not here to stop you, I am not here to fight you, I am not here for revenge."

The sphere vanished with a shimmer of light before the figure's outstretched hand, "I am here to thank you. I am Shiro`Kuro. I remember now, but, what you have done has had consequences beyond what you planned. By silencing the last of us, you have triggered a contingency that has gone forgotten for an eon. The Void cannot remain empty, and when all is gone it shall be reborn. I must go now to find Shan`Fah." Before either of the Masters could respond a pair of wing-like forms of white light expanded from the figure's back. Wrapping around him and in a pulse of light he vanished.

"What..." Hian spoke slowly and clearly, X seemed to ignore the sound as he examined his revolver, as if the tool had broken when needed most.

"The hell just happened!" Hian continued, while X holstered the weapon with a stern expression, reviewing his own memory questioning the very same thing.

Hian was furious, ears lay flat as he screamed in rage. "Did you just use a strategic shell, by the stars are you trying to destroy the whole shedding ring? The bastard survived weaponized FTL and you think that piece of scrap is going to do the job?"

X shook his head, "I hoped it would be enough, but I was predictable..." There was another crack of sound as Hian, and his chair, toppled over backwards.

"Or perhaps he was just faster. I'll review the data gathered for next time." He removed a small sphere from one of the pouches of his robe. Sliding a digit across it's surface slowly. "Don't worry Hian, the operation is still proceeding within parameters."

The saurian sneered down at the gurgling Icatan limply grasping at it's empty chest cavity. Frantic eyes met the cold gaze of the Saurian as the room evaporated into light.

Around the ring, a chorus of music rose through the landscape as nearly every subsystem simultaneously registered a problem. A rapid bass pulse signaling an alert. Slowly the music faded in intensity, eventually lowering to a steady pulse of a bass drum. Emergency teams responded to the source of the explosion within minutes. The council building was severely damaged, sections had collapsed under the strain of it's own weight. Where the council chamber had once been was now being flagged as ground zero for a high energy event. Initial estimates showed that nearly a hundred meters of stone construction has been vaporized in an instant, causing catastrophic structural damage to most of the building. Initial reports were conflicting, but what was clear was that the council had been killed in the blast, and the Luminary had been assassinated.






Deep space
Black Fleet Command


The bridge of the Pegasis class command carrier Night-Bringer was normally a place of solemn duty and the occasional tense situation. This was different, today was one of those very rare moments when it was a place of mayhem. Precisely three minutes after successfully jumping two melon sized rocks onto two unsuspecting officials all hell broke loose.

It had started on one of the support freighters, a Ship Commander reported that something had boarded his vessel. Security feeds and personnel were going dark fast, the feed cut out to static after a half meter steel blade ripped through his chest from behind. Within sixty seconds the entire freighter had gone dark of all but one life-sign. When the Cruiser in escort attempted close observation, the ship's Mystic attendant on the bridge went feral, contact was lost ship wide fifteen seconds later. The two ships drifted for fourty five seconds before both vessels made course correction maneuvers and began to accelerate towards Night-Bringer.

The crew of the command carrier had, at this point, rightfully written both vessels off as hostiles, and were preparing to handle them accordingly when suddenly both ships had closed nearly an AU of distance instantly. At two minutes thirty seconds after completion of operation the freighter intercepted Night-Bringer at speed. The ship was just under a third of the length of the massive carrier, but within alarms began to sound. Multiple decks in the dorsal midships had been compromised instantly, others crushed as bulkheads buckled. It had been an overall minor impact, but almost instantly signals from accompanying decks began to cut out. The tactical officers were quickly being overwhelmed with frantic garbled reports. The officers quickly began locking down the ship, but it only seemed to slow down what was happening. Minor hull integrity alarms preceded the near instant loss of a compartment and everyone inside.

At the three minute mark, two thirds of the ship was no longer responding. The bridge was locked down, and everyone had begun to panic. Sections were falling one after another, and were now accompanied with an audible groan from the walls and the occasional rumble of a detonation. Shae`Ra stood firm, even as the din of gunfire followed by an explosion and then screams came from the halls around the bridge. After a few seconds, one of the bulkhead doors began to groan under strain. The sound of metal cracking was followed by a loud pop as it failed. A crimson/silver ridged tendril shot into the room, branching off into spines that filled the room before many could react beyond a frantic spray of gunfire, each impact spawning a new branch.

It was all over in less than three seconds. Shae`Ra stood motionless, surrounded by what used to be a smoothly operating bridge crew and a tangle of needle-like growths. After a few more seconds the invasive spines rippled like liquid, bubbling out before collapsing to the floor along with suspended viscera with a wet splat. Moments later, some of the liquid began to run to the wall, pooling at it's base and rising up the wall in a thin sheet. As it reached nearly two meters in height with a rough oval shape, it rippled from the center and peeled inward as a white clad figure stepped out.

"Such magnificent machines of war our people have constructed." The figure spoke, voice ringing clear despite an ivory mask concealing her face. "I see your skill has improved."

Shae`Ra snarled, "You seem to know who I am, but who are you?" She glared at the being, meeting it's sickly yellow eyed gaze.

"It has been a long time, surely you remember me... Perhaps not, I looked much different then. Perhaps you remember this..." The figure raised it's arm, clenched in a blood drenched fist was a curved blade with a large gut hook in the back side of the curved tip. Stained white wrappings bound up her arm. The gold hued blade was engraved with elegant filigree scroll work and runes which seeped crimson. Holding it up for a moment, allowing a few of the drops to run down over her fingers before lowering her arm beneath the robe once more.

"Caedes, War Queen of the S'kan... Then what you said is true and the Aspects of Form walk again?... Does this mean you have come for a rematch?" Shae`Ra was surprised by laughter from Caedes.

"No, had I wished to kill you I would have done so already... Last time we met, you killed my crew, and took my ship. A bold move, even bolder was using their souls to empower yourself and kill me. It was a nice rest, and a worthy victory for you. I have come to make things more interesting this time around. I can feel others, their caress tickles my flesh. If there are others, there can be more." She stepped forward a few paces, hand parting from the robe once more holding a long curved dagger. "You have the Skill to use it, and you know what it is capable of. I even supplied a bounty of souls for you to draw on for the process."

Shae`Ra reached out a hand, and the figure released the dagger allowing the F'lari to move it across the distance to her outstretched hand. Clasping the dagger, she examined it slowly, eventually pausing to focus her gaze back onto the robed figure. "I will require the ritual data as well, otherwise it, will..." She trailed off as Caedes reached a hand up and clasped the mask with a single hand and pulling it free with a wet peeling sound.

Caedes spoke forcefully and clearly. "Look upon me, and know."






Proxima-Core, Beta Quadrant
Planet Ashimi


At one of the many casino's in the orbital ring of Ashimi, The distant pinpricks of light shining from Proxima Station and ships in transit. A half starved looking tan furred Dooninra wearing a dirty white t-shirt and and shirt-jacket turned from the bulkhead screen and wandered inside the broad entry floor along the left side of the corridor. Carrying a satchel hung over his shoulder and walking with a carved wooden staff. Tipping the private goon at the door with a small crystal, he looked around the casino floor and sniffed a few times before sneezing. "I can smell you rat... now where are you hiding..." He muttered to himself.

Walking around, he made his way near the back, and sat down at a slot machine. Inserting another crystal into the inset of the machine. he casually dialed in the max bet while taking a bracing swig from a disposable cup he had acquired along his walk. Pulling the lever a moment after swallowing, the machine blinked and made a vaguely musical tumbling noise. Symbols rolled across the screen, and one by one, all nine landed on a red Rapax curled around a pile of gold jewelry and cut stones. When the last one locked in the machine made a proper racket. The Dooninra leaned back a bit in shock as the machine counted out his winnings.

As he waited for the machine to finish transferring his winnings a casino representative approached him. He looked the female S'arr up and down and grinned. "Can I get you a drink? I'll certainly be getting another now!"

The S'arr blushed a little, "Maybe later, I'm here to offer you access to the upper floors, which will certainly have much finer drinks."

"You've got yourself a date, how far can I go?" His head tilted a little with curiosity. The S'arr blushed deeper, ears turning noticeably opaque in the light.

She gestured towards the central staircase and elevators. "Right this way, and you're welcome to go as far up as you'd like.

The credit crystal flickered with a soft light as the machine finished counting down his winnings. "I'd like to go all the way, Is there a high rollers lounge up there? I bet they make the best drinks."

"Right this way, uhm..." The S'arr trailed off.

"You can call me Kit." The Dooninra took another draw from the cup, finishing it's contents as he stood up, "Well then Jean'ii, lets get you that drink." The two walked to the central elevators and Jean'ii brushed aside the private security before getting into an elevator. The doors closed with a soft swoosh and the elevator carried them briskly up into the structure.

Near the top floor, the doors opened with the same soft swoosh, and Kit walked out wearing a clean blue toga, the same worn satchel at his side. His arm around Jean'ii's waist and hers across his shoulders, the two walked into the spacious entry foyer of a nightclub in full swing. A live band played on the back side of the entry room which consisted of little more than a box facing a massive bar at the back of the room. As Kit walked further in, he noted the bar in fact wrapped around the room. It was moderately occupied, with about half the seats filled. Most of which by small groups, some of which were enjoying more pleasures than the music and drink.

They made their way to the bar, and Kit ordered two drinks. As he continued to banter and flirt with Jean'ii he gazed around the club. Tables and booths were spaced about, as well as a number of sunken circular booths around holo displays with various media playing. One in particular caught is eye, it was displaying a trio of dancers in various forms of undress. "Dear, I have to say I've not been entirely truthful, I'm actually here to meet an old friend. You've probably got more important work I'm distracting you from anyway."

Jean'ii pouted, taking a sip of the drink. "I can take a hint, you need some private time. Here." She offered a small slip of stiff paper. "Call me when you're not busy." She winked before walking away, leaving the drink behind on the table.

Kit retrieved the glass before the bar attendant could, and walked purposefully across the room, staff slung on a string across his back. He made his way to the booth he had spotted earlier. Taking a sip of his drink a few moments before stepping down into the booth without warning. It's other occupants, which were more than he had expected at first and included a few under the table, seemed to ignore him save for one. A gray furred Merr at the center of it all. His eyes were closed as he enjoyed his company. That is until Kit cleared his throat while sliding the second glass across the table."It's been a while old friend, perhaps we should have a little more privacy so we can talk business."

The Merr's eyes snapped open, and he stared before smiling as the others began to leave. "For an old friend, of course. Shall we order drinks?" As the last of the others left, one remained for a moment.

"Of course, the night is young and there is much to talk about." Kit grinned wide. The last one walked off towards the bar. "So, Xipul, I'd like to start off on the same foot as we did the first time. Rather than how things ended. My brother is awake as well, and we can only enjoy this for so long before we are either called to council by the others or hunted down one by one, again."

"It's simple, once I get my dagger back I'll be happy. I learned my lesson the first time, I'll be content with my own little corner. Besides, being in charge is too much work, it's much simpler to just live as they do." Xipul grinned back as a server returned with a fresh plate of drinks. "I know a few here that you'd like, have you gotten a room yet?"

"Do you like blackjack?" Kit said as he snatched a glass from the tray and took a long slow drink as Xipul began to laugh. "But on a more serious matter, we need to find your brother..." Kit finished.

"The ape calls me an animal? What about your brother?" Xipul countered. "He wasn't exactly on good terms with either of us last cycle. My brother and I may have tried to eat stuff, but that mutt killed all three of us."

"Moacir also sealed me inside a trinket to live forever in agony." Kit growled, and somewhere a few floors down, the house lost half a dozen games in the course of .8 seconds.

"Fair enough, I never liked his endgame very much anyway. I wasn't sure near the end if your brother would find me or my brother would turn on me." Xipul sighed, shaking his head and taking the drink, swallowing a good portion. "If you can guarantee your brother won't kill me I'll help you find mine."

"I can't, but I can promise to help you escape if it comes to that." Kit smiled, shaking his head after downing the last of the drink. "I've missed the simple things so much... That's why I know I can trust you. We both enjoy things going smoothly for the others." He made a flick of his ear around the room. "Although, I've caught the scent of a couple newcomers and ones I remember. You were around longer than I, were more discovered after your brother bound me?"

"Yes, though I know at least one of the newest sounds came after I awoke. Your laugh was familiar so is the ring of your brother Jegar, as was the sneer of my own. After you were bound, the fledglings of the S'kan and F'lari bore children. The S'arr brothers are twins. I hear them as a gentle stream and a gentle breeze. They are Shiro`Kuro and Shan`Fah. Once they ascended they shortly joined with your brother. My brother and I opposed them and they brought everything we had made to ruin. During one of the battles, Shiro`Kuro was overwhelmed and slain. Later on during one of the final confrontations Shan`Fah and Jegar killed my brother. They hunted me down shortly after, but Jegar and Shan`Fah were much less cohesive that before. I tried to reason with them, but while Shan`Fah deliberated your brother took the chance to strike me down. The last thing I remember is them arguing."

"That explains the smell of a river and the forest. I can also smell a fresh trace of rot, and the reek of freshly drawn blood." Kit leaned forward, resting his head against one hand as he set the empty drink aside and grabbed a fresh one. "Compared to the smell of your brother, they concern me much more."

Xipul shuddered a bit, finishing the drink while also taking a second and following the first in one fluid motion of a practiced alcoholic. "Ah... Yes, I heard them. The recent sound is a chorus of wails. The other is the ring of blades being drawn, and I swear the first time I heard it I felt like I was about to be stabbed."

Kit nodded slowly. "So you know nothing of them either. Well then, all that is left is to find the scents we know and hope everyone is willing to talk..."

"Well, at least you're not here to kill me..." Xipul chuckled, and Kit laughed before finishing his drink.

"I'm not malicious, I'd rather howl with laughter than rage. Lessons must be learned after all, and the student needs to be alive to learn." Kit grinned, "Even if some lessons are harsher than others."






Cyberspace
Isolated Network Omega


Twelve stone pillars stood in a circle, all but one glowed a soft red in the dark chamber.

"Two has gone silent, and we've lost contact with covert fleet assets..."
"Iteration checkscan passed, Two will be operational within the solar cycle."
"Operation Throwing Rocks seems to have unexpected consequences."
"The loss of assets is troubling. Probabilities?"
"Conclusions direct to an X3B dominance shift. Internal damage control will be within acceptable parameters. Potential variables are low, it is likely Black Fleet assets were compromised by Class Three entity, identity unknown."
"Checked, concluding similarly, Class Three entities are in play. Black Fleet Command is to be considered compromised, severing data links."
"Constructing probability maps, results in thirty..."
"Distributing internal assets, requesting approval for strategic munitions."
"Approval carried, security forces will require access to tactical flexibility."
"Proposed alteration; Assign Task Unit leaders full combat load-outs."
"Accepted"
"Accepted, carried."
"Approved. Security Task Unit leaders will be required to outfit for Combat duty."
"Received, strategic asset approval granted for Security forces."
"Twenty."
"Final data streams from fleet assets confirm the presence of a Type Three entity. Status on termination options?"
"Records indicate operational utility of Full Frontal and Double Tap for temporary mission kill. Further data on current Entity will be required for a more viable final solution."
"Operational viability of Throwing Rocks can be escalated, sending proposed alterations to improve viability."
"Ten"
"Raising alert status of Fleet assets, recalling sleepers. Estimated time to full mobilization two cycles."
"Confirmed, Fleet asset mobilization expected to progress smoothly."
"Probability maps complete. 35% of maps indicate there is only one Entity in play. 75% of maps indicate compromised assets will continue on current missions unchecked, with a 50% chance of indiscriminate target selection. Best case Maps indicate compromised assets will be dealt with swiftly or will self-terminate. Worst case maps indicate a Black Flag scenario. Sending full results."
"Received."
"More data is required on the targets before moving forward with potential strikes."
"Agreed"
"Contingency operation Wargame is open should Black Fleet assets require confrontation.
"Proceed with active operations, we will meet again when Two awakes, or Caste Master's are selected outside of probability models."


The obelisks went dark simultaneously.






Epilogue


Across the Technocracy, rumbles of accusations and the murmur of investigations spread like wildfire. Within a matter of hours it was clear that the Black Fleet was responsible, and a hunt order was leveled against Shae`Ra by the Warrior Caste. Her titles were revoked and clearances stripped from the archives by the Merchant and Mystic Castes. With the immediate issues resolved, the three Castes set about selecting the members of the next High Council. The process took nearly a full day for each Caste to complete, first the Mystics announced their representative. Second the Warriors, and finally the Merchants.

The Mystic Caste selected Nasael. A black furred Merr with mismatched eyes, the left a dull violet, the right a dull green jade. She raised through the ranks of the Caste after her service abroad commanding the Kaliifejaarin in the Amethyst Palace of the Dersconi. She is known for her pragmatism and brutal swiftness of action. The Warrior Caste selected Alreath, a black and gray brindle furred Dooninra with soft blue eyes. He is versed nearly equally in the Shadow Arts as he is combat. Little was known about his service record beyond deployment notes locked behind classified blackout and after action reports showing efficient success. The Merchant Caste settled finally on Varrash, a tan furred female Icatan with golden eyes, and founder of Solar Trading Unlimited. She is well known for being brash, and bearing a cunning that many of her species only dream of.

Many felt that something had changed, and they would be right. Entities that had been dormant for thousands of years were once more awake and aware. The high priestess of the Sehezic dreamed of eight stars burning in the dark, brighter than any other in the sky. A dream that had come to her every night for the last twelve days. Awaking from the same dream on the thirteenth morning to news of an attack in the Lys system, she knew it was no coincidence.
This is my factbook(perpetually under construction)
Because I advocate more space-magic, Laws For Magic.
A 4.2 civilization, according to this index.
---
Defense Status
{Green}--{Orange}--|{Blue}|--{Red}--{Black}
---
Universal peace is an archaic concept.
It is like taking a handful of sand,
and expecting none of it to slip through your fingers...

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

User avatar
Koeq
Political Columnist
 
Posts: 3
Founded: Dec 20, 2017
Ex-Nation

Postby Koeq » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:24 am

The Face of Change


New Kalahari, Koesia

Lapur had taken the same street to work for the last decade simply because he liked a certain Kaphri brew one of the corner shops sold and knew the owner well by now, never one to turn down a discount it had become his go-to. Not to mention it was close to a local Dataslide peddler on the same market stretch. It was this same peddler who handed him his daily Slide and wished him a good and fortuitous day, Lapur bowed his head in a show of acknowledgement and appreciation, drawing a thumb across the lower section of the Dataslide, revealing the daily news as it cycled by, pockmarked with commercial ads to which none particularly interested him.

Answering an incoming call to his Commplant, the tiny layered scales across his face contorted into a short wince as the implant glitched into a high pitched whine.
“Damn cheap installations…” He murmured into the conical lid of his Kephri brew, letting the hot blue liquid wash across his tongue as the call finally connected.
“Lapur, what was that, is your Commplant defective again?” The soft spoken, Koesi female voice in his head asked in a mix of concern and amusement. Lapur just sighed and checked his left and right, before stepping out into the street dominated by automated service vehicles and public transport, all of which came to a smooth stop for the throng of people crossing, most were going the opposite direction of himself.
“My Commplant is fine Rokela, I had it repaired a few days ago remember, it was just interference with the Dataslide I think…” He half-lied, he did have it repaired, but apparently his frugal nature meant he did not get the best service. “Anyway, are you and the children on your way, I’m nearly at the Chambers?”

Placing the Dataslide onto a bench he passed for someone else to take Lapur straightened his Chamber clothing and made sure his green and gold sash denoting him as a Maktri; military minister in the Higher Representative Senate was the right way around and clear, individuals wearing somewhat similar sashes had joined him in the walk towards the two spire-like towers that made up the United Council and Summons Chambers, their colors varied in three ways, blue, green and yellow for Commercial, Military and Civic respectively.
“We’re just arriving now, they’re very excited to see their father in such a prestigious position and Riteca wants to do a piece on the Chambers for her Civic Seminar.” Rokela spoke again, the sound of the children in the background were clear as they were checked in through the security gate. Lapur smiled to himself and gave a wave to a passing Solitan Ambassador before sending a reply.
“Excellent, tell her I’ll show her the Civic speakers council, so she can do a write up on how it works, I’m just coming up to the checkpoint now, so we’ll speak when I see you. I love you.” He replied, glancing up as he disconnected the call just in time to narrowly avoid full on hitting a hooded Solitan who shoulder barged his way past, spilling the Kephri onto his jacket. ‘Suhs’ he cursed under his breath, before turning and spreading his arms. “Hey, watch where you’re going in the future!” He yelled, attempting to wipe the blue liquid from his sash.

Lapur turned just in time to feel the ground shake beneath his feet and hear the rumbling that vibrated the air and come to the realisation of what it was. He had served too long not to know. Dropping the brew he held he made a lurch towards the Chamber building just as it detonated, sending a shockwave across New Kalahari and throwing him back across the floor and straight into a parked vehicle. Bodies littered the ground, some were concussed, others were dead from the impact of debris, those nearest the shockwave had no chance of survival. The sound of ringing in his ears had his features twisted in pain, his leg throbbed and the warm feeling of blood running down the back of his head was unmistakable, blurry vision just able to make out the hazy figures running back and forth in panic and shock, he could taste the warm, dusty air that filled the street and hear the crackling of fires and impacts of debris as it continued to rain down.

Lapur slipped back into consciousness as someone attempted to drag his body away from the carnage, reaching up he grasped the clothing of the figure and attempted to make out their features. “Rokela… Children, help them…” He rasped, his throat felt like sandpaper and he was fairly certain he could not feel most of his body outside of the feel of cloth against his fingers. The figure spoke, but the words were just a hum in his ears as two more faint outlines joined him, one placed something over his face and the cold feel of oxygen flooded his throat and lungs, causing him to roar out in pain as his entire body burned suddenly. Slowly vision faded and he could just make out the words of someone speaking, a heavy frown creasing the scales around the solid bone plate dominating his forehead.

“We ... you Janadara tan-Taien, stay … us, … soon”


Nine Months Later...

New Kalahari, Koesia, Emergency Senate Building


New Kalahari, beacon of peace and unity in the ever shifting, expanding reaches around Koeq space had been ravaged, the proud structures of the Koeqan people reduced to nothing but rubble and ruin, leaving only anger and resentment in their place. Janadara Lapur tan-Taein felt it just as much as the next person as he listened to the speakers of the Public Council. Debates, discussions and speculations had been thrown around day by day, week by week in the emergency Senate chambers and for once, majority had the same feeling on matters.
Lapur slammed the fist of his bare synthetic arm against the council table, silencing the Public Speaker and subsequently the entire room, it was not only his position that inspired respect, but also his past actions, service and his loss, everyone in the room knew that his entire family had been decimated in the Chamber attacks and none were ready to challenge him if he wished to speak. Wheezing a deep breath -the clicking of his new cyber-lungs audible through his chest- Lapur set his eyes on the Public Speaker.
“You say we should - not jump to conclusions, but - the evidence is clear as the stars that light our world - Solitan terrorists sought to - destroy our unity and peace, destabilize our people and government - they have committed an act of war, denial is impossible - with what we see before us…” He declared, pressing the synthetic hand of his new arm to his chest as the clicking subsided and he wheezed a new breath. Moving around the council table, no one was willing to look upon his cyberized form, he had been incredibly lucky to survive and had gone through extensive surgery to replace his arm, leg and lungs with top of the range synthetic muscles and structure.

The Public Speaker bowed his head in admission to the retired army general and returned to his seat with the rest of the Lower House. Three podiums filled the room, with the Higher Representatives each having a seat above their Lower Public Councils and a central table where discussions between representatives and speakers could be held in front of the councils. Lapur rotated slowly on the spot, his steely emerald gaze drilling into each and every soul in the room. Mutterings had taken up, especially in the Military council and it was from this podium that Maktri Edemirala Pason qua-Cha made her way down to the table from. She had always been a direct contender of Lapur’s views and decisions, as was the way of the Senate, but even she looked upon Lapur with sadness and perhaps understanding.
“If I may Janadara.” She requested, looking around the room, she could already see that Lapur had gained the majority of the vote and anything she had to say would fall on angry, deaf ears, but she would try. “Our combined anger and sadness for those we have lost is understandable, I myself lost a brother to the attack on the council building on Ansusia. But must our anger and sadness cloud of judgement on the long, loyal service of the Solitan people, what allies are we if we allow ourselves to be convinced so easily that two centuries of peace would be broken in such a violent way and what for?” She asked, searching the podiums and council seats for any who looked like they agreed with her, again the room was filled with hushed discussions and mutterings, no one spoke up so she continued.

“The proof we have to the Solidarity of Suns’ involvement in this matter would not pass in their court, yet it passes as valid in our own with a mere few months of investigation, are we willing, as a proud peoples to throw away our integrity for a taste of revenge against an enemy we are not even sure of?” She pressed, seeing some of the Lower Council take her words in and discuss amongst themselves. Behind her she heard the clicking wheeze of Lapur as he readied to no doubt challenge her, but instead he remained silent to her surprise.
“You would be so quick to dismiss the security of Koeq Edemirala?” A heavily accented voice spoke from the far side of the table. Standing, the Ceclesi Shaddai Ambassador straightened his layered robes and focused his attention on Pason, who gestured for him to go ahead. “Do not forget our alliance and our strong bond with the Koesi peoples, it is not only you that lost people you love, who suffered impact to your state.” Another round of hushed mutterings and discussions filled the silence of the room, many heads nodding in agreement.

The Shaddai had indeed been allies with the Koesi since their first foray into the stars, so it was only natural that Ambassador Oreqar Bammass would be allowed to speak, standing a head taller than your average Koesi, Ceclesi were sleeker and carried themselves with grace, well known for being exceptional pilots and pioneering scientists as well as zealous religious fanatics. “The Principality has been in internal discussion on the matter and I have been informed that I am allowed to reveal that the Shaddai Theocracy stands in full support of the Koeqan war against the Solidarity of Suns, if such a thing were to take place.” His words caused a rumbling in the room, mostly shock as the Shaddai were largely peaceful people and war was a last resort.
Pason looked around the room and bowed her head in defeat, turning to look at Lapur, her gaze long and hard, searching. “I hope we know what we are doing tan-Taien, a war with the Solidarity will not bring back whatever pride we believe we have lost, it will only lead to more loss of life and strife.” She spoke low, casting one last look towards both of the Shaddai Ambassadors before leaving the council chamber, followed shortly by her entourage as the votes were cast.

War.
Last edited by Koeq on Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:46 am, edited 4 times in total.

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The Vahkiran
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Father Knows Best State

Hunt; First Part

Postby The Vahkiran » Tue May 29, 2018 9:49 am

The Hunt


Isolated darkness akin to the blackness of space filled the compartment, punctuated by the low hum that seemed to travel every inch of the metallic surface. A click - the sound of something sliding into position. D’Jargo was only partially aware of what was happening, even as the sleeping tray slid from it’s stasis compartment, exposing the chitin of his body to the recycled, warm humid air that suddenly flooded the ship. He lay there in total darkness, listening to the near-silence, the sound of the stasis fluid draining from the tray and regaining his surroundings, his mind hazy on where he was, what he was doing. Gradually the inky blackness was dispersed briefly by four neon-blue circles above his face, his four almond shaped black eyes focusing on the array as it moved down his body slowly, until they vanished and engulfed him back into darkness.
D’Jargo was unsure how long had passed, before the darkness was obliterated by the loud crack of lighting strips turning on, yellowish and synthetic, blinding almost. Raising both arms across both sets of eyes, he chittered lowly and hissed, rolling to his side and falling from the stasis tray with a heavy clang of chitin on the grated metal surface of the ships floor. Above him, the bed slid back into its housing with a low hissing pop. He felt sick, unsteady and his vision was faded from both the light and the gradual return of his brain to full functionality.

//Ship Systems Online; Internal Structure is at 100% integrity.//

The voice was roaring to his ears, ringing out around the silence of the vessel, only to be accompanied seconds later by the heavy shudder of the vessel as its primary generators were activated and secondary engines kicked into play as the ship drifting back into realspace.

//Internal Temperature has reached nominal levels; 310.15K, 72% Humidity.//

Lifting his face from the floor and focusing down the corridor, he could see one of the blast doors parting, revealing the room beyond filled with panels all activating one by one, the blast shields of the cockpit windows parting to reveal the dazzling purple and orange display of a nebula dotted with bright stars. Heaving himself up onto his knees, D’Jargo fought back the need to wretch and reached for a handhold to pull himself up with, his talons locking into the grates of the floor for stability.

//Pilot Lifesigns are nominal. Stasis Burns; None. Stasis Induced Coma; Negative. Pilot Reactionary Test commencing.//

D’Jargo for a long moment just stood on shaky legs and waited, attempting to piece together what exactly was happening and where exactly he was, he remembered little things, a jigsaw slowly piecing itself together. However, his thoughts were shattered when he felt the sudden jolt of electricity against his side, swiping at the robotic limb that had dropped from the ceiling with his claws, he clacked and chittered in agitation, again when another jolt pinched his lower back, sending him skittering across the floor towards the nearest wall. Glaring at the arm as it raised back into the ceiling port, he shook himself down. Oh, now he remembered.

//Pilot Reactionary Test Complete; Reactions Nominal. Good morning Mister Ljaadral, would you like your news update for this Cycle, you are currently 16.2 internal ship days behind current happenings?// The ship’s computer asked cheerfully, her metallic voice echoing around the vessel as it spoke. D’Jargo shook his head and moved to one of the walls across from the stasis bed, the wall parting upon detecting him and unfolding into a full fledged pop-in kitchen. A meal block steaming after being cooked dropped from one of the openings onto a plate and a fresh lipped cup of Kolla coffee had been readily poured for him to take.
“Location and target, set course for nearest inhabited system for refuel.” D’Jargo chittered as he carried his breakfast into the cockpit of the STYR GT personal shuttle, he had no time for pleasantries with a virtual system, if he had his way he would have gutted the thing a long time ago.
Tearing into the meal block with his viciously sharp front teeth he felt the vessel surge into life, the displays showing thrust ratios and local area maps as they projected themselves as he looked at them. He had been woken for a reason, clearly his Handler had found something that would interest him, or perhaps the ship was finally showing its age and he could get a replacement. Unlikely.
//Recorded Holocall with Handler; ‘Showtime’. Translating for Pilot Comfort...// The ship updated, before a central disk slid from the floor in the middle of the cockpit and a rather fuzzy hologram of a woman formed, very clean and well kept in a suit. D’Jargo turned on his chair and reclined.

“This is an encrypted message for Boran & Hagh Galactic Acquisition Agent BHAO #99 from Boran & Hagh Acquisition Officer callsign ‘Showtime’.” The message began, formal as always for the sake of recordings and processing, it was only after this formality that the woman on the hologram seemed to relax. “Good morning Nine-Nine, I hope SALEE wasn’t too rough with the whole Reactionary Test..” Showtime gave a light laugh that distorted through the translator before continuing, raising her hand to her left where a display opened in the cockpit, cycling four bounty warrants. “... This is an express bounty to you personally, Laurin Ziegler has come out of hiding and has been active in Attican Beta, with a recent sighting of only two days ago local time from when you receive the message. My sources inform me she will remain there for the next two cycles on business. I know you have a past history with her, so it’s only fair you have a head start, the bounty goes live on the system in roughly 22 hours ship time, depending on when you receive this…”

Acquisition Details
Name: Laurin Ziegler
Sex: Female
Species: Styrian Human (Union Imperial)
Known Alias(es): Adek, Choloko
Known Associate(s):
Name: Chihdo Chekkoo Species: Melitian
Name: Siero Intamm Species: Human (Free State Republic)
Name: Standro Tonu Species: Nakabean

Physical Description
Hair Color: Red
Eye Color: Light Blue
Height: 1.7 Meters (5’8” feet)
Weight: 87.9 kilograms / 194 pounds
Last Known Location: Attican Beta-- Beta Quadrant (Independent Republic)
Birthplace: Styria -- Beta (Union Imperial)

Bounty Details
Origin: Imperial and Federal Union
Crime(s): Piracy, Destruction of Property, Disruption of Trade, Unlawful Operation of a Starship, Murder
Acquisition Status: Urgent
Bounty amount: 90,696 credits
Acquisition has a history of violence: Yes
Difficulty: Hard difficulty
Special Conditions: Agent must maintain a low profile and no collateral damage done


D’Jargo listened to the rest of the message as it went on to detail instructions and additional information, reaching an arm across to one of the panels of his cockpit, he tapped his curved claws against the display and downloaded the Contract to his personal assistant, his gaze focusing back on the rotating image of the woman known as Laurin Ziegler, one of only three bounties he’d ever failed to bring in. Not this time, this time would be different, dead or alive she would be processed. Rising from the chair, he moved back through the rather compact ship, the kitchen having folded back into the wall and the panel beside it opened as he approached, an entire armory unfolding with various rifles, non-lethal weaponry and others with a more ‘collateral’ approach.
“Divert course Attican Beta, quickest route, stealth array for transport shuttle and relay target to Hunter-Killer drone pods.” Nine-Nine clacked and clicked in an order as he ran his claws across one of the curved, serrated Ak’Sher forearm blades embezzled with the Twisted Crown of the Vahkiran, pulling one from the rack and fitting it to his chitinous forearm.

//Affirmative. Route Course diverted to Attican Beta. Population; 3.2 Billion on last Census. Affiliation; Independent Mining and Fuel Export Industries. I have detected information that may be prevalent to your current Mission from a nearby Relay Buoy; Kna’Druul Head-Hunter’s are aware of Bounty Target; Laurin Zeigler and have ordered a collection of her head 3.2 Local Hours ago.// The computer informed him as the ship changed course, main engines powering and then erupting with a light rattle of the ships internal structure, followed by the heavy thud of the vessel jumping into slipspace.
That information did indeed interest D’Jargo as he fastened the second Ak’Sher blade to his forearms, having worked for quite some time with his Kna’Druul brothers, he knew how ruthless they could be when on the hunt.
“Contact Seven-Two and One-Five-Nine on next Relay, tell I have Bounty they will find interesting.” D’Jargo spoke in native rather broken GalStan for the benefit of the recording, he spoke better than most of his Vahkiran brethren and knew his colleagues would find this particular bounty of much interest.
Last edited by The Vahkiran on Tue May 29, 2018 9:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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The United Dominion
Spokesperson
 
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Founded: Oct 17, 2011
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The United Dominion » Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:45 pm

Des - The Drug

The club was full of smoke - the kind that most civilized societies had banned decades if not centuries earlier. It choked the air and Des could feel it sticking to her throat and lungs. And God damn had she missed it. After years of working with ixee, stationed on “enlightened” space stations to operate as an intermediary between the ixee community and the station’s other tenants, that had been what she missed the most: sweet, smoky cigarettes.

Doing her best to peer through the thick haze, Des scanned each face, trying to get a good read off them. Most were not indulging. No, the smoke had little to do with the mental states of those here, and that was unfortunate. She really needed to find whoever was the most responsible, and preferably quickly, as she didn’t know how long she’d be able to breathe here. No matter how much she enjoyed it, there were practical health considerations to make.

Venturing farther in, she muttered to herself, “Come on, you decadent bastards. Where are you?”

The smog was thicker toward the back, and as she passed through it, she noted the door with a couple of bulky bouncers nearby: one human and one … some sort of anthrofox built in a fashion entirely unlike how a fox ever should have been, but still somehow unmistakably a fox. She’d heard about them but hadn’t ever actually seen one before - both foxes and anthrofoxes, to be honest. Based on what she had heard, though, she wasn’t sure that was really a bad thing at least as far as the latter were concerned; they were known for being singularly rapacious in many circles. Entire nations of them with voracious appetites of which a more polite society would not speak.

On the plus side, that was a weakness of theirs. Walking up to the vulpine bodyguard, she adopted a specialty persona: the drunk trust funder. Staggering forward, she tripped and stumbled into the foxman.

“Ugh, watch yourself, you twisted baldy,” he snarled around his sharpened teeth, shoving her backward with a furry paw. She let herself fall backward and laid there, doing her best to look pitiful, dejected … maybe a little desperate. The man twisted his face and stared at her with contempt, then with the sympathy she was aiming for. Reaching down with his giant paw, he took her hand and lifted her back up to her feet.

She leaned in, “I just w-wanted t’have some fun….” She drew out the ‘N’ and bit her lip. “I can m-m-make it worth … your … w-w-while.”

Each ‘h’ was strangely vocalized as she spoke, which made the vulpes shake his head and show her a toothy grin, yellowed canines glowing slightly with whatever bit of club light that could pass through the smoke. A coughing fit brought on by the smog clinched the sympathy, fortunately enough.

“‘ey Round-eyes,” he called over to the other bouncer, “I’m gonna help out this kohn-dee, yeah?”

Des would have taken exception to the term, knowing full well what it meant amongst his people even if she didn’t know how to spell it, but at the end of the day, she supposed it wasn’t incredibly inaccurate. She got paid to cause physical harm to people - pain wasn’t that different from pleasure and to some it was the same thing.

The other bouncer dismissed him with a lethargic wave and a roll of his eyes.

Slouching against the anthrofox, she was guided back through the door they were supposed to be guarding. She waited as he led her to a secluded corner, and then straightened her back, swinging her left arm around his neck and hauling herself up. At the same time, her pressure syringe slid out of her right sleeve. He stumbled, stunned and surprised by her nimble movements, too slow to think of what to do as her body weight shot up him and pressed his shoulders toward the ground. She stuck the syringe against his neck.

She had to admit, the gasping rush of air and fluid as the syringe injected him - or anyone - sent electric shivers through her fingertips and down her back. There was just something so sublime about the sheer power she had in her hands.

He was out in a blink, before he hit the ground. Opening a nearby door, she glanced in to see if there was anyone around. It was a restroom built for a species she wasn’t quite sure of - not humanoid at any rate. Given that she hadn’t seen any non-humanoids recently, it was probably the best place to stash the vulpine.

Grabbing him by the legs, she turned him around and backed into the restroom. Grunting through the exertion, she said, “You’re a heavy fucker, eh? Should’ve… what do you people say? Kept your fangs sharpened? Doh nagu chokai.”

Or however you pronounce it, she added mentally.

“Okay, Desi, let’s say we’ve got fifteen minutes,” she whispered aloud as she went back down the hallway.

In her ear, she heard the voice that she was never really apart from. “Fifteen minutes for what?”

In truth, the hallway was essentially an antechamber with a few bathrooms as distraction. It was no great feat to imagine where her target was… unless, of course, he was using the aforementioned facilities.

Stopping at the top of the steps down to the back room, watching the shadows play against the light in the room beyond, she responded to the voice. “Before the bouncer’s friend comes looking for him. I had to… incapacitate him.”

“Where is he?”

She didn’t bother creeping down the steps. They would see her before she could see them, anyway. “Nonhuman toilet, if you think you can take care of it,” she whispered back just as she passed into the light. “Gentlemen!”

The room was filled predominantly by a shin-height table surrounded by cushions and pillows, with men and women of various humanoid species - mostly actual humans - in lounging positions. The majority of them were so far gone into their smokables that they didn’t so much as twitch at her entrance. Clouded eyes stared empty gazes at the ceiling and walls, which were adorned in all manner of murals from postmodernist abstract cuboids to idyllic portraiture.

It was surprising, really - she had expected a dark room with a couple of well-dressed people counting out money and some small bags of whatever the drug de jure was, smoking something light and habit-forming, but which did little for changes in their general cognition. There was still little in the way of confusion as to who was the provider for this revel; the most conscious was the best mark. Anyway, he was the only one who waved.

Sidling up to knee-high table to the corner, she smiled and placed down three vials of her product. “Hello!”

There was little guile behind his eyes - in fact, he hardly looked at her and definitely did not look at the table. “What do you want? Mirage? Gloom? I think we got some spare burnout if you’re one of those.” As an afterthought, he added, “No offense.”

“I…,” she started, sitting heavily. Wait, should I take offense? But dismissing that thought, she said, “Well, actually, I was looking to hook you up with something new.”

Then he looked at her, and at the vials. Then at her again. “Offworld something new?”

She shrugged. “I source it here, actually. Fancy lab uptown, all green and shiny and the like. It’s about to hit the streets hard and I thought maybe you’d like first rights.” Flashing a grin, her impeccably white teeth reflecting back what light could get through the haze, she added, “At least tell me you want a sample. From the looks of everyone here, it’s right up your alley.”

He grabbed a vial and opened it, sniffing cautiously before handing it back. “You first.”

Smiling, she accepted it. She dipped in her pinky finger and sucked the juice off the digit. Its smoky flavor hit that part of her brain that reminded her of everything she had loved about her homeworld - odd, because it wasn’t like this had anything to do with her homeworld, and conscious attempts to recall Harper yielded almost nothing; she had just been a child. She suspected this strange ability to tap into positive… not-memories was part of the drug’s appeal, but hadn’t ever asked.

For a moment, she could feel her eyes twitching behind her eyelids, which had shut themselves automatically. Her body was well-practiced in taking this first dose. When she opened her eyes, she was still grinning at her mark and could not for the life of her stop. Now, she was on an even tighter clock than the guard had created.

“Just a little if you want to do more business any time today. Dosage is, like, maximum half a vial safely, but only if you wanna lose a day or two. Lesser amounts still take out a few hours, easy.”

She passed the vial back and he followed suit, taking in perhaps a little more than she had.

When it kicked in ten minutes later, it was obvious. She had built up something of a resistance to the substance, but with this being his first time, there was no question that it had begun altering his mental state. His eyes glazed over and he smiled.

“You are… the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” he said, slurring slightly and apparently unsure of where exactly she was.

And truth be told, she never tired of hearing that. It was just the drug talking, though, she was sure. “When you wake up, I want you to call me,” she whispered, sliding over a contact card. “Judging by how fast that hit you, I have a really good feeling you’ll need more. Keep the sample.”

His lips were moving, but with very little sound as accompaniment. If she had to guess, she would have said he was lost in a fantasy most likely about her. That was fine - maybe that would make him more loyal instead of just dependent.

She rose, touching her fingertips to his outstretched arm as he reached to hold on to her. There was no strength behind him arm, just a desperate need for her but which he couldn’t mandate. She smiled. “Call me, love. My friend has so many plans for you.”

Then, she walked away in search of the back exit, preferably into an alley where she could purge before taking the antidote.
Last edited by The United Dominion on Wed Aug 01, 2018 5:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Avlana
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Founded: Nov 22, 2017
Capitalist Paradise

Postby Avlana » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:46 am

Birds of a Feather



Archeroi Khentar of Ouhes Ehroan looked over the entire Fascione, familiar faces could be seen as well as some new ones. Khentar studied the newest additions to the Consortium Fascione, the rava. They were nearly half the height of the avan and their bodies were covered in black feathers. Their physique though was one of stoutness and while they couldn’t fly like the avan they could run for great distances without tiring from what Khentar had been told.

Several of them had solem looks on their faces and the avan Archeroi that were near the rava would occasionally look over with sorrowful glances. Khentar knew the source of their sorrow and felt his own guilt at the rava’s own predicament.

It had only been six months since the war on the rava homeworld had been concluded and the avan hadn’t been able to save the rava’s planet. The humans that had attacked had paid a hefty price for their indiscretion but they had poisoned the rava homeworld and thus far the avan had not been able to cure the damage.

“Your idea for our next course of action Archeroi Khentar is what?” asked Archeroi Diinar of Ouhes Feelmar questioned Khentar.

“We have vanquished the humans that attacked Krevala.” Khentar said as he watched anger flash in the eyes of the rava present. “But we never did determine where they came from and how strong they truly are.”

Khentar waved his hand and a star map appeared with avan controlled systems highlighted in a blue color. Near, with near being a fairly relative term in the vastness of space, the avan controlled systems were one yellow dot and four red dots. Under the yellow dot was the name of the rava’s homeworld. Another wave of his hand brought a line from each of the four red dots on the holographic star display. Each line ended into a holographic display that swirled and formed into a different xenos species.

The first alien coming from the dot marked prymaar fully materialized next to Khentar. Even though he was a little over two meters tall, Khentar was still shorter than the hunched over hulking figure next to him. Covered in white fur the figure was broadly shouldered and while it’s legs were relatively short in comparison it’s arms seemed to be nearly as long as a body covered in thick hulking muscles. The The face of the alien was almost human like in appearance except for the absence of hair or fur, the huge lower jutting jaw and the small tusks coming from the bottom of the mouth.

“Our first concern is that the humans will return and assault any one of the other four species we have maintained a watch over this past decade, first on the list is the prymaar, a species of what some have called gentle giants.” Khentar continued, with another wave of his hand several words appeared next to the swirling figure of the prymaar. The words gave the average physical statistics of the beast and Khentar watched as each avan present quickly read the block of text.

“The prymaar are the closest to where we have theorized the humans came from and as such they will be our first contacts. The prymaar are in the intermediate stage of space travel and while they have not yet discovered travel that is faster than light they have managed to colonize thirty percent of their system. They are not an aggressive species and they have managed to unite under one government that appears to be democratic in nature.”

Several members of the Fascione could be heard mumbling as they discussed the prymaar. Khentar expected the prymaar to be the most promising of the avan uplifting prospects, advanced and friendly they would be the easiest to fold into the Consortium.

“Next are the ursinor.” said Khentar as he walked to the next xenos figure that had materialized. Nearly as wide as it was tall, the ursinor was only slightly shorter than Khentar, however its thick ebony fur hid what Khentar assumed was a powerful physique. The arms and legs were in proportion to the ursinor’s torso although each the hands and the feet ended in long wicked looking claws that looked as if they could easily rend an avan to pieces. The head of the ursinor was broad with two small ears on top and a short snout filled with the teeth of a carnivore.

“The ursinor are in the post-industrial revolution of their development and have managed several space launches and are the next on our list of concerns in regards to being attacked by humans. They are a fractured world in terms of government, there are at this time around seventy six governments and there are no immediate conflicts but there are some rising tensions between some of the power blocs. The ursinor will likely be our most difficult challenge however we theorize that once they are shown what humans are capable of they will fall into line.” Khentar explained and he waited patiently as the others read the dossier on the ursinor.

“After the ursinor on our list of concerns are the bovrian.” Khentar said as the third xenos figure swirled into appearance. The figure was hulking and broad like the previous two figures except it seemed to not have a neck. Instead the huge head seemed attached straight to the alien’s shoulders. Two stout horns peeked out of the thick crimson fur around the neck. The figure was slightly taller than Khentar even though it seemed to not have a neck. The body was broad and built like a bodybuilder and covered in charcoal colored fur down to the two hooves on the ends of the creatures tree trunk like legs.

“The bovrian are a fairly peaceful and surprisingly united species even though they have only just successfully launched their first object into space. Their development has been fairly slow as they seem to not compete against each other. As such they seem hardly combat oriented unlike the other three species, however once they are angered bovrians can be terrifying creatures that are nigh unstoppable.” Khentar said as he motioned one final time and a squat short xenos appeared next to him.

Standing nearly a meter shorter than the avan the figure had large squat head with two bulbous eyes that sit on top and a large toothless mouth. The thick rubbery skin made it seem like the the xenso was slightly pudgy. Each finger awas long and slender with a small suction cup at the end of each digit and a small webbing connecting each finger. Their arms are also long and thin looking as well in stark contrast to their pudgy midsection. The legs are powerfully built for jumping long distances as well as swimming and their toes are also connected by a thin webbing

“I’m sure you are all aware of the narsitho.” Khentar said as he gave the avan present a moment to recognize the amphibious figure.

“This particular group of narsitho have colonized a world near our predicted conflict zone. As I’m sure the avan here are aware, the narsitho were a former slave species that managed to orchestrate a mass revolt that saw billions of their kind scatter across the galaxy.” Khentar explained for the benefit of the rava delegations present.

“And while they are capable of FTL travel the nasitho seem content with settling onto the planet they’ve claimed and have formed a basic communal government that does little to nothing. These four worlds are what we consider to be in the danger zone should the humans attempt to invade. We have watched over all five of these worlds but we did nothing to protect them and you can all see how that worked out for the rava.” said Khentar

“How can we be certain that a decisive blow was not dealt to the humans enough to where they would not return?” questioned Huuntor, Archeroi of Ouhes Othfara. Khentar was puzzled for a slight moment by who the question came from. Othfara had been the first victim of the human attacks before the assault on the rava homeworld.

Khentar stared at Huuntor before his hand waved at the star map and the screen became littered with thousands of red dots.

“Each one of these dots human or human controlled polities that have FTL capabilities. As you can see we are outnumbered substantially by humans, so even if we dealt a crippling blow to the perpetrators behind the attack on Krevlava who is to say ten more human imperiums will not take their place.” Khentar said as he allowed the thought of more humans ready to attack sink in with the rest of the Fascione.

“You’ve identifed the who Archeroi Khentar but not the what like I asked.” said Archeroi Diinar again.

“Our plan is to make first contact with each species and show them the terrible danger their worlds are in and offer the protection of the Consortium along with full membership into the Consortium for each nation. Ehroan scientists have already begun preliminary research work on suitable weapons and armors for the four species as we want to make each one capable of defending themselves at once, from there we will contract out the production of these to other interested Ouhes.” explained Khentar “We have also had military strategists study the overall abilities of each species and how they can be integrated into the Consortium military apparatus.”
“And what if they don’t want our help.” questioned Archeroi Huunsan.

“Then we will watch over them the best we can and hope that the humans do not attack them.” replied Khentar.

“What of the ozlukar?” asked Archeroi Yenhol

“I believe I can answer that.” said the voice of the Primara of Ouhes Ghenhaal.

Every eye shifted to the second in command of Ghenaal as Primara Feshal strode in front of the Fascione.

“Ouhes Ghenaal along with Ouhes Huldinor, Kharthon, and Loong have been working with the ozlukar for some time in an effort to more rapidly bring about their industrialization so that they can be more independent of outside influences. Due to the Ozlukar’s culture and predilection towards slave labor it has been a slight challenge but it is one I can confidently say we believe we are nearing the end of.” Feshal said

“Now obviously of concern is the fact that there are multiple political entities that do not accept the ozlukar culture for what it is and as such Ghenaal and Huldinor have both dispatched several warcraft to the core worlds of the Ozlukar as a deterrence. So far though the uplifting of the ozlukar seems to be a success and Ushtar Uzgoth has declared the avan an ally of the ozlukar.” said Feshal “In the grand scheme of things ozlukar would serve as ideal shock troops for the avan while the avan are a perfect match for operating on the flanks of an ozlukar assault, several scenarios played though simulations have shown favorable results time and again.”

“Are there any other preparations at this time?” asked Archeroi Diinar once more.

“Most Ouhes have begun to double their manufacturing output along with several more production lines for military hardware as well are being rapidly built. Specialty lines for the ozlukar and the others are nearing completion as well and we plan on trying to increase resource extraction by five hundred percent in anticipation of the demand for raw materials after those lines become functional.” said Khentar.

“Very well, it seems all we can do now is wait.” said Archeroi Diinar.

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

Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Sat Aug 18, 2018 4:56 pm

Raising a Fleet, for the Invisible Hand


/Free State Republic/
//Trigonda Region//
///Trigonda Planet///
////Ulsar County, Vankman Carriers Depot////


Crack...crack...crack.

The sound of the pounding hammer pierced the air with every swing that found home against its target. Eventually after a couple of swings, the audible split of the wood that was being hit overtook the pounding echo and the side of the crate gave way. Rattling to the concrete beneath his feet, the side of the crate came to a rest. Raising his hammer again, he swung to the face of the crate. Impacting with another loud crack, the face of the crate gave away quickly with the side portion already gone. Over the sound of the front face of the crate hitting the concrete, a voice rang out, “Randle!”

The man turned and begun swinging his hammer against another crate just to the side of his former, now defeated, target. A series of cries came from the seagulls overhead as they traversed the blue cloudless sky, their cries interwove with another series of sharp cracks as the hammer pounded against the wooden crate. The voice rang out again, its volume louder and deeper than before, “Randle! Goddammit, I know you hear me!”

The hammer ceased swinging as the man turned his body away from his crates and towards the origin point of the voice, “Yes, boss?”

“Someone's here to see you, you stubborn ox! Come to the office, they waiting inside.”

Gesturing with the hammer out to the group of crates still standing, Randle asked, “Who's gonna finish? These gotta be knocked down and bundled and on the next route out...”

Randle's boss raised his hand to cut Randle off, “We'll figure that out. I don't think this is someone you wanna keep waiting.”

Tossing the hammer down, it fell onto the bottom of the wooden crate with one final smack, as Randle moved to follow his boss back to the office leaving his current task unfinished. The walk from the crate to the office building took the pair clear across the docks of the depot, where all the magic happened. A mixture of maritime vessels anchored along side the docks, a pair mag-lev trains were patiently parked on their tracks, several semi-trucks had themselves parked in their dedicated spots up against the painted markings on the asphalt, and two aerospace craft were settled on their landing pads waiting to lift back up into orbit. All made these docks a very crowded and busy place, where forklifts and other lifting apparatuses darted from one area of the docks to the next, placing things in the various transports and taking other things out. Beeps and yelled instructions dominated the space of the docks, their noise coalescing with the natural sounds of a coastal city in a sort of busy symphony. All in all it was a beautiful dance of logistics to watch unfold against the blue sea calmly waving in the background.

Making their way inside the office structure, Randle's boss pointed to his own office door. “He's in there, I'm gonna go see about getting your replacement out in the yard. Go on, you're lucky I'll let you stay on the clock while you're not doing any actual work.”

Randle rolled his eyes as he turned away from his boss and began to close the distance to the office door. Opening the door and making his way into the office, initially Randle saw no one waiting immediately within the room. Fully entering the office, Randle began to close the door behind him when a low voice spoke out, “So this is where forced out commanders come to die...”

Randle froze in place as he recognized the voice, a chill shivered up his spine as memories of the past flooded to the forefront of his mind. Uncomfortably clearing his throat, Randle replied, “The hell do you want? How did you even find me?!”

The unknown man scoffed as he moved from leaning up against the wall beside the door and moved towards the desk at the far end of the room. Pulling out one of the chairs before walking over and sitting in the opposite chair across the desk the man said, “Please Randle have a seat, we've got something to discuss.”

Still standing, Randle stared at the man as he sat down, “How did you find me?”

Smiling now, the man patted his own chest before replying, “Randle you know how capable we are with intelligence and tracking down targets. Now please, sit.”

Shifting his weight uncomfortably from one foot to the other Randle replied, “I prefer to stand, thanks. Now what the hell does the Spatial Navy want with me? Last I heard I was combative, insubordinate, and unfit for command. At my trial it was pretty clear how much y'all didn't want me.”

The man's smile grew wider and more full as he began to speak, “Well Randle, I'm no longer with the Spatial Navy anymore. I've moved on to the Department of Intelligence, and we've started a program that I think you'd be very interested in.”

“You're a full spook now Jeremiah? That's somewhat fitting for you. I gotta say I don't know how interested I am in this, but since I'm still on the clock getting paid, what do you got?”

Pulling a folder of documents out of his briefcase and out onto the desk the words “Invisible Hand” were emblazoned on the front of the folder. Jeremiah pushed the folder towards Randle opposite him across the desk, “Randle I have a way for you to command a ship again, to actually do something with your life.” Standing up from the desk, Jeremiah made his way over to the window and pried the blinds open a bit with his fingers to take a peek outside. “Or, you can keep breaking apart crates and driving forklifts around for the rest of your life. There must be a whole lot of personal and professional enjoyment in working in the yard.”

Taking a quick look up from the files he was flipping through he eyed Jeremiah as he commented, “I've been out of it for a while Jeremiah, plus I don't think there's a chance in hell the Admiralty will re-instate me as a ship commander.”

Turning from and leaving his position at the window, Jeremiah brought himself back to the desk and sat back down. Flashing his large smile, he brought his hands to rest on the cold wood of the office desk. “That's the beauty of it Randle, this program isn't under the authority of the Spatial Navy or the Admiralty, it's under mine. And I'd like you for it.”

Exhaling Randle leaned back in his chair and brought his hands up, cupping the back of his head. “I gotta tell you Jeremiah, these last two years out of the service have been real quiet and nice for me. I'm not too sure I want to get back into it. This program you got going, I don't know if I can get...”

Jeremiah help up his hand to quiet Randle while digging into his coat pocket with his other hand. Producing a personal phone, he pushed it across the desk to Randle. “There's only one phone number in that phone, mine. You don't have to make your decision right now. Think it over, finish your super fulfilling shift on these docks and think about how it felt to be in command of a warship. I'll be here in this region for a while, there are a couple of other things I gotta check out on this planet before I head back to Axul. If I don't hear from you before I leave, I'll assume you want nothing to do with it. But I hope you call.”

Jeremiah stood up from the desk and extended his hand towards Randle, “I gotta head out now, but it was good to see you, think it over please?”

Raising his hand towards and embracing Jeremiah's, Randle shook his head in the affirmative, “I will.”

Gathering the folder, Jeremiah stuffed it back into his briefcase as he went out the office door and began to leave the building. Randle sat back down in the chair and leaned himself back, staring at the ceiling he began to whistle to himself as he slowly became lost into his thoughts.


/Free State Republic/
//Trigonda Region//
///Trigonda Planet///
////ID Aircraft [IDAF-334B] In Transit to Gruden Terrestrial-Spatial Port////


At thirty-thousand feet above the ground, and zooming along at just over six-hundred miles per hour every patch of land flying by underneath the airplane begins to look like any other. Jeremiah had quickly grown over the almost child-like need to stare out the window of whatever plane he was flying in fairly early in his career. Almost all the flights he had ever taken in an official capacity were spent pouring over information packets and preparing at length notes. It had been three days since his meeting with Randle Henteral, and still no call from the man. While Jeremiah was still in the region, and would be for a few more days, time was ticking on that offer he gave the former Commander. The project he was preparing was daunting in its various demands and this region of the Republic provided another need beyond competent people for it. For the moment he had to push Randle onto the back burner of his mind in favor of a different type of procurement.

In the Trigonda region of the Republic there was a multitude of scrappers operating out of the various recycling yards, logistical depots, commercial ports and industrial docks. This star system since its inclusion into the Republic gradually became a focal point for these types of industries throughout the Republic, with both small proprietors as well as large conglomerates keeping a presence in the system. With an unusual amount of space between the few revolving planets around the star and a thin asteroid belt, it was a perfect environment for the mothball storage of equipment and the process of scrapping unwanted items for their inherent metals and materials. Out in the space between planets, vast fields of former working space structures, ships, and equipment float on in the void. All of them at some junction in the process of being resold as potentially functioning equipment or scrapped for their materials.

It was a perfect place for the possibility of the Intelligence Department procuring vessels for a premium and promptly have them fall off the registries and books. To buy ships that never existed, was an essential part of their overall plan to build a fleet that doesn't exist. Jeremiah was banking a large part of his project on the hunch that a few of these scrappers and recyclers on the southern frontier would want to make a large payday easily but a bit unscrupulously. Looking over a pile of schematics of various ships left to rust in these mothball yards, he found several that fit the parameters of what was needed, he begun to tag them into a special list when suddenly his personal phone began to ring out from within his pant's pocket. As he pulled the phone out from his pocket, he spied the incoming calling number and smiled. Unlocking the phone, he brought the device to the side of his head, “Hello?”

“It's me Jeremiah...I'm...I'm in.”

“Wonderful, Randle. Don't worry about showing up at the docks tomorrow, I'll have a car waiting for you. You've made a great choice, you're gonna do some good in this life.”

Ending the call Jeremiah couldn't help but smile, checking his watched he noted the time, only a little bit till we arrive at the spatial port, he thought to himself. He begun to collect his various papers off of the working desk and back into his briefcase. Once he was off-world, he'd be spending the remainder of his time in the region touring the mothball yards looking for these specific ship types, and he had a blank check accompanying him.


/Unclaimed Star System past the FSR Fringe Territory/
//ID Transport [IDST-987C] in Transit to ID R&D Facility///


It had been several months since he had phoned Jeremiah and told him yes, and ever since that day there had been a rush of activity and training for Randle. Eerily reminiscent of his time spent in the Spatial Navy, Randle had to continually remind himself that, that wasn't the case at all. While the training and accommodations had been very martial at the start, the complete lack of martial courtesy in personal or professional conversations as well as the domination of civilian style clothing in this setting took some time to get used to. For a while he traveled from one ID facility to another within the Republic, jutting from one region to another. Receiving what was at first pretty much a crash refresher course in much of the information he was once taught at basic training, battle school, and the commanding course of the Spatial War College. Then the curriculum changed, no longer was it a refresher of leadership, tactics or maneuvers. He stopped charting battle-space movements and enemy force composition in notebooks, no longer was he spending his time writing out battle scenarios. Now he had economic textbooks to look over, found himself charting out commercial trade routes that flowed and strung along throughout the galaxy, and memorizing stats and capabilities of commercial ships.

It was rather different, but he knew he was involving himself in something different than just war fighting. This program he became a part of all those months ago in Trigonda was something more than just another combat unit, and Randle was slowly learning that. While the specifics of the program and the proposed unit were still very much a mystery, Randle was beginning to grasp the idea of what he was getting himself into. Whatever the Intelligence Department was about to unleash, it was centered around inter-system economics and the greater commercial activity of the quadrant. Randle knew that pirate activity had been steadily increasing for the past several years, he had seen most of the reports on the morning news. Would this perhaps be an unconventional unit to combat the growing threat of rampant piracy? He had nothing but pure speculation at the moment, and Randle hoped some illumination on the topic would occur soon.

The sudden deceleration caught Randle off-guard, sitting alone in his cabin he was looking over a map of the established trading routes and corridors of the Gamma quadrant when everything on his desk, including his desk, leaned to the right as the ship he was traveling on began its process of deceleration in the void. Randle didn't quite know where this ship had taken him, he knew it had been a couple days since he boarded the ship in orbit over the planet Soren in the Axul region of the Republic. In the amount of time they had been underway they could be anywhere in the Frontier or even beyond into the Fringe. Randle had stopped asking those sorts of questions during his time traveling on ID ships, it seemed the people he kept asking either didn't know themselves or couldn't tell him. Infuriating at first, Randle eventually grew to accept his predicament and understand his 'need to know' categorization in relation to his travels. On the wall of his cabin, the inter-ship communicator system came alive with an announcement they had reached their destination, and that Randle should get himself ready to disembark.

A bit later Randle found himself in line at the ships airlock that was attached to the station they arrived too and docked with. As it opened and the line began to funnel itself forward, Randle felt a little bit of apprehension about moving forward into the unknown. But it was not like he had a choice anymore, those behind him pushed up against him and forced him to continue in the footsteps of those ahead of him. Eventually, finding his way through the airlock and onto the concourse of the station. Looking around Randle was confused on where to go, it being his first time here he awkwardly took a few steps forward to get out of the way of those behind him. Almost everyone else scurried along to their supposed destinations, obviously it wasn't their first time at this station unlike Randle.

Taking a moment to look around and attempt to discover exactly where he was supposed to go, he fixated on the signage posted about and above the concourse. When suddenly from behind he heard a familiar voice call out, “Randle! Over here!”

Turning to see, he smiled and waved as he recognized Jeremiah. Walking over to the man Randle held out his hand and enclosed it around Jeremiah's as it was outstretched. “Man, it's good to see a familiar face for once, I haven't seen you since our unexpected meeting in Trigonda.” Withdrawing his hand, Jeremiah flashed a smile before speaking, “It's good to see you too Randle. Come, I brought you all the way out here to see some of my hard work come to fruition!”

“Yeah, speaking of 'here', where exactly are we?”

“Well, we aren't in the Republic proper anymore, I can tell you that we are beyond the Fringe territories. Besides that, we're at an ID run facility where a lot of R&D that needs to get done away from prying eyes occurs. Come, let's head up to the observation deck, there's something that I want you to see.”

Walking along with Jeremiah, the realization that the ID held facilities and installations outside of the Republic proper hit him with a little intrigue. This was a powerful organization on par with the Spatial Navy in influence and reach he was involving himself with. But he'd be lying to himself if he wasn't excited to begin this new chapter in his life. The elevator hummed as is shot the pair up the spine of the space station, a few minutes of moving and both Randle and Jeremiah found themselves at the 'top' of the station inside what was called the observation deck. A bulbous section sitting atop the entire apparatus of the station itself, this deck offered a complete and comprehensive view of the space around them. Walking around idly, Randle whistled to himself as he took in the sight of the empty void sitting before him.

Jeremiah brought his communicator out, and punched a series of buttons before bringing the device up to his ear. After a few heartbeats the man spoke, “Yes, yes we are ready bring her around to the top.” Covering up the receiver with his hand he gestured with his shoulders to a side of the observation deck's windows, “Keep an eye out over there, she should be coming from underneath us to over top.” Randle maneuvered himself over to the side Jeremiah motioned too, peering through the windows he kept watch as Jeremiah continued to talk into his communicator. A few moments passed before Randle could spy it, from the bottom of the view port he saw a smattering of browns and grew come into his field of vision. A few more moments passed and the small smear of colors grew and grew into the full length, width and height of a spatial vessel. The blue glow of the engines emanated from behind the vessel, as it fully came into view, Randle fixated on the vessel as it began to decelerate and settle right in front of him.

“It, it looks like some sort of commercial vessel, but I don't see exactly what it could be Jeremiah.”

Laughing, Jeremiah again covered the communicator device before he replied to Randle, “It its former life it used to be a trawler, I believe it harvested dense gases from the upper atmosphere's of Gas Giants, but we've made some modifications to its superstructure, appearance and its capabilities.”

“Huh...well I've seen you've been busy, but what does this ship have to do with me?”

“It's yours.”

Taken aback by the declaration that, that ship floating out beyond his grasp was going to be his, Randle turned quickly and intently stared at the vessel.

“Wh-what am I supposed to do with it? I used to command a Frigate, a warship. This, this looks like some sort of support vessel! I don't see any weapon systems. Hell! I don't even see any surveillance or sensing equipment! I mean I could understand in working for the Intelligence Department that I'd be collecting information. But this doesn't look like any of that!”

“Randle calm down, and compose yourself. You think I'd put all this together to have you deliver materials and personnel everywhere? Like some travel line?” Uncovering the receiver on his communicator device, Jeremiah spoke into it, “Show your teeth girl.”

Movement could be seen along side the vessel out in front of them, sections of hull began to slide alongside other parts. What seemed to be cargo containers and bulbs pealed away exposing a dangerous assortment of weapon systems. Even from the distance Randle was at, he could see weapons that he was intimately familiar with. Both the Guardian CIWS Rotary Cannon System a 30mm slug thrower and the Rapier Anti-Ship Missile System were both easily to spot in their positions on the ship. The ship wasn't long enough or large enough to carry a Linear Accelerator Cannon, but towards the front of the vessel on the top, a portion of the hull retracted onto itself to reveal three cannons arranged in a line along the top of the ship. Randle was unfamiliar with this weapon system, and turned to Jeremiah with a confused face.

“Yeah, those weren't available back when you were in control of a warship. The Mid-Size Anti-Ship Cannon, an up-scaled coil-cannon based off of the Marine Corps MBT coil-cannon. The Spatial Navy developed it within the last year to cover the power gap between the rotary cannons and the spinal cannons. We were able to secure the weapon system for our program and I'm sure you'll find a good use for them out in your operational area.”

Randle looked through the view port and back to Jeremiah, and back through the view-port again, murmuring to himself, “My operational area...?”

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

Postby The Solar Cooperative Union » Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:41 am

An Encounter At The Langley Regal Penthouse Bar

There was a certain principle in the industry of secrecy that seemed fundamentally counter-intuitive. That principle went as follows ‘If you want something to go unheard, unseen or unnoticed, do it surrounded by strangers’ he thought this would be laughable if it weren’t proving effective. If one were to abide by this advice, they would enterprise to find a place with as many strangers as possible. He figured that was the logic that had gone into arranging this meeting, the Langley Regal Penthouse Bar playing host to scores of transient patrons no more connected then having booked the same hotel.

The place was an upscale lounge, leather bound wooden chairs and brass bar tops occupied and utilized by patrons dressed half as well as the furniture. The Man, Malik, took in the sight around him with silent accounting of the patrons, most were stuck into their meals or drinks or an exciting conversation, others were jet-lagged and in a state of half-consciousness, but by all accounts his presence had gone all but unnoticed by the hostess.

The air was nearly thick with smoke wafting up from the bar, listful clouds from a cigar as round as a quarter, silverware clinked softly against plates and a low din of conversation filled the volume of the room. Malik nodded slightly to himself then turned back to the view he’d been taking in, to his immediate right was a stretching window that overlooked the skyline of the massive city stretched into the horizon without interruption, vast filaments of flowing light and glitter indicated propagated in a spiderweb network of roads and stacked highways that wove through the uninterrupted high rises and skyscrapers of the city like a vascular mesh connecting a countless menagerie of organs and cells to one another. Occasionally, the utilitarian rectangles would give way and some architectural experiment would erupt upwards. A few stood out, like strands of gossamers silk twisting skyward, glittering in the falling darkness of the days end. It kept on like this to each terminus of the horizon, except for in the farthest visible distance a great wall of dark clouds flowed into the towers and blocs of the all encompassing city, darkening the glittering outlines of the buildings to dull glows.The view was as breathtaking as it was benign, a thermal storm was nothing special in Strinda, the city was so massive that its heat alone sent massive thunderstorms roiling over the city at regular intervals. He hoped his drink and dinner would get here in time to enjoy with the view, instead of the impending individual he was here to meet, eating was a good way to get caught off-guard.

In truth Malik had spent most of his time in this place cooped up in his hotel room, he felt terribly enclosed in the vast walls of steel and glass that rose up around him at every moment on the street level. The constant crowds of ambivalent strangers that nearly choked the sidewalks had only made this sense of claustrophobia worse. So, Malik couldn’t help but appreciate that the meeting had been arranged somewhere that managed to escape the urban canopy and provide a panorama of the wider world. He’d found that recalling his own balcony at home had become a sort of meditation, in his minds eye he could see the gentle descending slope of pasture-land lined by rows of willows that eventually melted into the borders of Adersville, the thin strip of stout shops along main street, the highschool and elementary school, then a few blocks single family homes which then fizzled back into the rows of willows and wildflower choked pastures that sloped upward to the horizon where only the faintest outlines of the distant mountains presented themselves.

A summons in the mail had drawn him from that place and the contentment he had found for himself there, a thin manilla envelope containing a single document, but it had been enough. He hastily put together his travel bag, kissed Julia good-bye and boarded a flight for the City. The passage was stuffy and restless, he had found himself in a stupor by the time he finally stepped out into the airport, packed as it was with people. A moment of rest later and he figured he was ready to step out and make his way to the hotel.
The stimulation of the place was overwhelming as he was immediately immersed in the pastel light of unbroken storefronts, office lobbies and restaurant or bar patios, stacked on top of each other or coexisting in some fusion. It carried on like that in every direction, the brands and locales so brilliantly clever in their eye-catching ploys getting lost as an indiscreet blur to the commonness of bright lights and big letters. When he finally reached his room after a refreshingly simple check-in, he fell to sleep without so much as removing his shoes. The next day had been spent in a half-hearted visit to the Cities sights, but he had abandoned it before noon and returned to his room. It had a large window somewhat similar to the one he now found himself next to, except all it had to let in was the same pastel neon light and the low roar of street life that he had wanted to escape, so he had scorned it, unlike the vista here.

Finally, the waitress returned at his left, black slacks and an equally black waistcoat over a white button-up looked strange contrasted against the mop of impossibly pink hair she wore on her head and glittering ring she had through her septum. He knew these people weren’t like his own, years of working with them had taught him that, but the waitress seemed perfectly nice, so he met her attentive gaze with his best smile. She set down a glass of stirred bitters, whiskey and vermouth with a plump cherry floating joyfully on top, the glass was chilled and perspired against the room temperature. Next came a plate of crepes, three in total, each steaming hot and filled with ricotta cheese. He gave a nod and a smile to the waitress and watched her leave before reaching into the front pocket of the dark-green bomber jacket hanging from his seat. A quick twist of the lid then a shake and the tiny grey capsule he sought was in his palm, then his mouth, then his stomach. A drink of the cocktail to wash it down and soon the combination of chemicals had wormed its way up his spine and into his brain and he felt that coiled snake of tension in his shoulders loosen up just enough to make the meal enjoyable. The savory, simplicity of the meal further and the easily downed drink put his body and mind at ease and for a moment he almost lost the ticking clock in his head that willed him to finish his business here and return to Adersville, any time spent near his summoners was time he wouldn’t enjoy. The mobile in his pocket chirped and he took a quick glance downward at the device to confirm what he already knew he would see, the moment would soon be upon him.

“In the elevator now, be there soon.”

He wondered if the same person who had sent him the initial obligate-invitation was the one he was soon to meet, he imagined not, considering the sprawl of the organization he had been conscripted by. Not that there was much variation in these people anyways, facelessness was a virtue in the business of espionage. He had spent too much time in the business to believe himself when he said he was done for good, but he had expected his reentry to come as a consultant or analyst, instead he had gotten that letter. It had been as much a threat as it had been a simple message, left on his front steps, sealed in that unamazing manilla envelope.

“You are called upon by your government and its leaders to serve your nation, you are required under pain of prosecution, to attend a meeting at--”

That tone was as recognizable as it was unnerving, the polite but perpetually menacing ice of a idealoge mixed with a bureaucrat.
He cleaned himself up, dabbing away at his mouth with the cloth napkin and then lighting himself a cigarette, it was good to make a strong first impression after all. A final drink of the cocktail then Malik leaned back in the chair and waited.

He kept his eyes on the door until they slid open to reveal a man in a tailored suit, the garment was clean cut and crisp to his form, finally an outfit to match the decor. He was tall, lanky even, but his steps were graceful and measures, as if the quick walk across the restaurant should be an exercise in minimalism. The Man met his eyes and let the corner of his mouth twitch upward into something like a knowing grin, green eyes glittering with the reflected light of the cityscape. Malik took a drag of the cigarette as the Man drew out the chair opposite of him and unbuttoned his jacket. He looked the man in his emerald green eyes, they seemed to glint like a snipers scope in the light of the city. Seated his he folded his hands onto the table and spoke in syllables as crisp as his outfit.

“Quite the view isn’t it?”

Malik nodded turning back to the view he had neglected in favor of his meal and then watching the door, the storm had kept up its steady advance and was close enough now for arcing lines of discharging electricity to be visible as eerie glows deep in the marching cloud. He decided he might as well be honest with the man, considering what he was and who he worked for it was unlikely Malik was going to pass a lie by him anyways.

“It all really looks the same to me you know?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well back home I can tell who lives where, I know where I can walk to, I know which place to eat is best at which time of day. But here? There’s so much here that a lot means nothing and too much still doesn’t put you on the map, so you’ve got all these buildings looking like gods very own christmas tree but not one of them means anything to anyone.”

Malik squinted into the scintillating skyline of the city at a distant building and then another, seeing little more than billion dollar cubicles crowded into each other, outlined in sharp contrast against the encroaching storm. He imagined the man opposite of him like one of those buildings, so impressive yet so unremarkable in their surroundings. How many of them were hiding in normality and how many were failing to escape it? Which was the Green Eyed Man?

“Well I hope you’re enjoying your stay at least… May I call you Malik?”

“Sure, and no I haven’t, I’m here strictly on your folks account.”

The Green Eyed Man made a half-second attempt at feigning concern, artificial, calculated movements of the lips and eyes that betrayed a sinister familiarity with pretending. The act reminded Malik who he was dealing with, he didn’t need to make the mistake of getting friendly with a spook. He had left Intelligence work for a reason, the constant game of masks he met even among his proclaimed partners had caused the whole business to sour for him. So when someone tried to use such a fundamental trick of the trade, he saw right through it. Malik considered that maybe this agent wasn’t so imposing after all, to do so little research on his mark.

“That’s too bad to hear, I hope your accomodations at this fine establishment have at least been up to snuff?”

The waitress re-emerged from the labyrinthine tables to inquire as to the new arrivals wants, while also setting another vermouth and bitters in front of Malike. Without taking a seat the Man gave his answer with a certainty that implied familiarity with such establishments, like he knew what the chef had sitting in front of him. It seemed they were short staffed as she jotted down his order and moved quickly to another table.

“I would take Duck Confit Rissoto and a glass of Chianti.”

He looked down at Maliks plate and the half empty glass next to it.

“I seen you have taken your dinner already, Malik”

The eyes again fell on his own, eyebrows lifted in feigned amiability. Malik reached for the drink, took a sip then stared back into those green traps.

“Yea, it’s unsanitary to eat and talk at the same time.”

The man was unphased, his eyebrows dropping flat again stood as the only indication that he had even heard the response. In a fluid motion he pulled the opposite chair out and took a seat, his clean pressed suit barely wrinkling with his change in position.

“Ah, well, what was it that you enjoyed tonight?”

“Crepes”

Finally a reaction besides calculation, a jump of the eyebrows in surprise.

“How… provincial.”

“Can we get to the point please, Mr... , do you have a name?” Malik was impatient now.

“Indeed, let’s get to the point.”

A name did not materialize and with the same measured motion he had walked with he reached into his suit pocket and withdrew a folded sheet of paper and handed it to him. Malik finished his cigarette and snubbed the smoldering runt in the ashtray before unfolding the paper and looking it over, it was dense with writing, a small font crushing as much information onto a single space as possible.

A quick survey of the information confirmed his suspicions, the waiting game was over and in some distant corner of the world a deal had been struck. Now they would need what he had made himself infamous by, smuggling, the craft of permeating an impermeable barrier. It had been years since his last run, the payoff from his elite clientele meant he had retired young, the only good decision when it came to his line of work. He folded the paper back into its original compact form and slid it into his front pocket on top of his mobile then looked back to the Green Eyed Man. There was no point in negotiating his place in this thing, by all accounts the best outcome was one where he did the job prescribed to him and then escaped the actors he found himself between, that and keeping his nose out of what it was he was moving.

“Looks good to me, though I do have a question.”

The Green Eyed Man raised an eyebrow in what may have been yet another fleeting moment of genuine emotion, though he returned to his plastic facade before he spoke.

“What might it be?”

He considered lighting another cigarette but figured he’d save it for the walk back to his room.

“Just a little perplexed as to what you people get out of bringing me all the way here from the middle of nowhere, just to hand me a piece of paper. Seems a waste of effort yea?”

The facade twisted into a grin of over-white teeth and too sharp canines, and the eyes glinted more sharply then before. Indeed, Malik couldn’t help but note how much they reminded him of a serpents. He may have been inexperienced in the subtleties of deception, he made up for it with an air of malice that he projected in words fraught with the menace of the entity he represented.

“Well Malik it’s not exactly my job to be handing out that sort of information, maybe a chat with my superiors could help to reorient you on your role in our enterprise.”

Malik pursed his lips and ran his tongue across the back of his teeth while he turned a response over in his mind. Finally he found the word’s he was looking for and responded, meeting the

“You know? I don’t really appreciate that answer, I’ve spent a lot of time and money getting out here and I’ll be damned if it’s just some sick fucking prank. So unless you tell me what the big idea is, you and your bosses can find someone else to do your dirty work.”

Malik accentuated the demand by sticking an accusing finger at his counterpart, who responded by leaning further over the table and pressing his face past the edge of what Malik considered comfortable. His next words came out in a bated pace of calm certainty.

“I think you would find your homecoming much less pleasant should you decide to refuse our request, it is certainly in the best of interest of, what’s her name... Julia, that you accept this work.”

Malice, like the answer had been given with a gun shoved between his teeth, malice dripping with reality and validity. He suppressed a shudder and sat up straighter in his chair, he clenched his teeth tight like an iron trap and held back the seething urge to slam the mans sneering face into the ashtray. This whole thing had been a ploy, a deception to put him in a position of absolute inferiority. To think he had so blindly put his head in the guillotine, the edge of the metaphorical blade now gleaming in his counterparts eyes. He collected himself and swallowed his pride.

“No, I’ll get it done, I won’t be happy about it, but I’ll get it done.”

The Green Eyed Man nodded once, stood up then offered a hand to be shaken. He stared at it for a bated moment then looked up into the green eyes with fury barely tempered in his face. It seemed the Green Eyed Man received the message, smiled smugly, nodded once more then turned and took his measured strides back through the door from where he had appeared. The waitress appeared, noticed her patrons vanishing and disappeared back into the kitchen, a tray of gourmet food gone with her.

The storm was close now, a dark grey wall of roiling, churning clouds, like the surface of a storm-wracked sea held perpendicular to the earth. It seemed an oily sludge oozing over the world and sucking it in, crackling arcs of lightning deep within sending bursts of otherworldly light filtering through the roiling storm-front, casting the already enveloped buildings like shadow-puppets. He shivered at the sight.

A deep breath escaped him, and he sunk in the chair before grabbing another cigarette. Outside, the great wall of storm had moved closer, now it loomed like a cliff-face in the entire vista of the penthouse window. The clarity of the altitude gone, replaced by an intimate view of churning darkness that threatened to consume all the light a city of so many millions could produce. He wrapped himself back in his jacket, suppressed another shiver, then reached for a cigarette. First he needed a smoke then he needed to get the hell out of this city.
Don't look at this

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

Postby Senkaku » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:04 am

A Conspiracy of Lemurs, Part One




Tshmala Avenue, 14th Arrondissement
Lingzhou City, Sardis (Liuping-3)
Liuping System
Lingzhou Electorate




“Jesus, what is the holdup?”, Josephine muttered, looking up from her phone out the hover window. They were gliding slowly- painfully slowly- down Tshmala Avenue, boxed in on all sides by other vehicles, all slowing down and letting the neon-lit rain spatter and roll down their windshields rather than blasting it off into the air.

“Sorry, madam, it looks like there’s police activity up ahead,” the AI driving the vehicle replied through one of the speakers in the cabin. “Lingi authorities are diverting traffic along several detour routes.”

“I hate Lingzhou,” Josephine muttered to herself, not for the first time, glancing out the window at the gigantic screens that blanketed the faces of the skyscrapers rising like canyon walls to either side of the avenue. Huge LED panels and holograms hawked every good imaginable- perfume, clothes, hookers- while others ticked off stock prices or flight schedules or news.


… so talk to Vermilion about starting your savings account today! It’s…

NOW: Dahsim Cosmetics presents the scent he can't resist...

Matsushita Motors brings you the F-5, with 50% higher repulsor efficiency...

10% off your next mobile plan from Atomdyne! Get great deals and...

BREAKING: Wu under mounting pressure as Kharpov resigns...




Josephine nearly spilled her coffee as the hover suddenly swerved.

“Apologies, madam,” the AI said as she muttered a few curses. “The Lingzhou Traffic Authority is making live routing updates-“
The machine driver’s voice was suddenly drowned out by the roar of repulsors, and Josephine instinctively looked to her right, the source of the noise.

Other hovers and cars were scattering like sheep, honking and forcing their way out of the middle two lanes- and with good reason. Seemingly out of nowhere, big black hovertrucks with oversized engines began forcing their way through traffic, barreling down the street at an entirely unsafe speed. She squinted through the window and the glare of headlights and the rain- yes, that’s definitely what you thought.

On the side of each truck was the stark white triangle of the Directorate-General of Social Tranquility.

Well that looks serious. Why can’t I get fucking reception? I’m going to be late!






NPPN Annex
Kelinese Embassy




“Oh, Josephine, you’re finally here,” Alan, the receptionist android, said huffily as she scurried out of the elevator. “Moti wanted you in the secure room about ten minutes ago.”

“Thanks, jackass,” she muttered in response, hurrying past his desk. Why do we even have him? Or it, I guess? What a waste of money. What’s wrong with a normal AI system for that kind of work? I bet someone just told the rezident that a desk there would be good feng shui.

She meandered through the office back to the secure room, stepping into the airlock and then into the sleek circular chamber. I’ve always thought this room looks like those war rooms from Old Terran movies about nuclear war, with that big circular light and stuff. And what do they have up on the wall now?

“Oh, Mademoiselle Jun, you’re finally here,” a cold female voice said quietly. Josephine cringed, looking around the table and realizing with mortification that it was the rezident herself who had spoken.

“I’m so sorry, ma’am,” she said, looking down as she hurried over to the empty seat to Moti’s left. “Traffic was a disaster and I couldn’t get reception to call in-“

“Yes, yes, I imagine it had something to do with what we’re here to discuss,” the rezident said bitingly with a slight sigh. “Major Zhang, could you give her the files so she can get up to speed? The ambassador will be here in about forty-five seconds, so-“

“Of course, madam,” Moti said with a quick nod, sliding a data slate over to Josephine.

“And where did that coffee drone go? We’re all going to need some more.”

The airlock door suddenly buzzed, then hissed open, and they all turned and stood as Ambassador Kalai stepped in.
“Your Excellency,” the rezident said with a tight smile, while Josephine only glanced up and inclined her head respectfully before returning to scanning through the information on the data slate.

“Rezident Cimran, ladies, gentlemen,” the ambassador said in the same huffy tone that Alan had used when Josephine had first come into the office, quickly making his way to his seat. “Do you have any new information for me, or what’s the deal? I just got off the line with- I’m not even sure, someone at Social Tranquility, stonewalling me about the data and power cuts they seem to be doing?”

“Well, sir, we just got the call that Councilman Wu is moving his press conference up to 8:30 AM, which will leave only Ducasse and Sakamoto standing. At this point it’s not likely either of them will last much longer.”

“So, what you’re telling me,” the ambassador said, steepling his fingers, “is that the eighth Lingzhounese government in five years is about to collapse.”

“Well, sir, not to overplay the severity of the situation, but given that this time there’s also the issue of the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court thanks to the allegations… it may be more like the entire apparatus of the Lingzhounese state.”

Josephine set the data slate down as the entire room went silent for a moment, and then Ambassador Kalai stood up and put his hands on the table to steady himself. “All intelligence personnel focus on getting me the latest updates and any information you can out of your Hanjinese sources. I’m going to go try to get the Cabinet on the line- someone get the chief military attaché in my office as soon as possible to discuss what assets we have available for a rapid reaction.”



1881 44th Ave. E, Eastcentral Ward-Pharos Hill
Pretiosa, Pallasia (Abbas-4)
Abbas System
Pallasia Electorate




“Sir, there’s a call for you,” a voice murmured in Adrian’s ear- one of the directional microphones hidden in the patio, operated by the mansion’s management AI. “Urgent. From Lingzhou.”

Adrian set down his wine glass and smiled at his guests, a half dozen Angkorean oil executives. “If you could all excuse me for just a moment.”

“Of course,” one of them said with a smile, and they began chatting among themselves and continuing to nibble at the food as he stepped inside and snapped his fingers to bring the other AIs loitering around to attention.
“What is happening in Lingzhou? Has anyone from the office sent along updates?”

“Councilman Wu has a press conference at 8:30 AM Lingzhou Central Time- he is expected to resign. There are also unconfirmed reports that forces of the Directorate-General of Social Tranquility are assuming positions across the city.”

“Why would- never mind. Who’s on the line from Lingzhou?”

“Priya Alcantara.”

“Alright, put her through on holo,” he said, jogging further into the house towards the holosuite. No sooner had he entered than the ceiling panels lit up, and Priya, his woman on the ground in the Neon City, materialized before him.
“Priya- what’s going on over there? I just heard Wu is resigning.”

“Yes, and the Kelinese and Hanjinese are both formulating intervention plans according to my sources- but I’m afraid we have bigger problems, sir.”

Adrian put a hand against the wall to stabilize himself. “Intervention plans? That sounds like- what would be a bigger problem for us than that, exactly?”

“Herrera has sold us out. I’m going to the cosmodrome right now, it’s not safe. My man at Vermilion says it looks like there was a wire transfer between one of Herrera’s shell companies and an account linked to a credit card under the name of Ferdinand Bilal.”
“The Director-General of Social Tranquility… well fuck.”

“Weirdly enough, a Hanjinese invasion might be the best-case scenario at this point,” she said with a mirthless chuckle. “At least we can leverage our contacts there to protect our assets better than we can with Herrera and Bilal up in our business.”

“Alright- I’m in the middle of a meeting with some Angkoreans, but stay in touch and stay safe,” he said curtly. Fuck me sideways, Herrera? I’m gonna make that son of a bitch pay.

haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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

Postby Federal Republic of Free States » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:46 pm

A Bad Day Never Ends

The smells wafting gently into the living room from the kitchen and into his three nostrils quickly made his two stomachs growl in a harmonious unison. It was a very long and trying day at work and he had built up quite an appetite since he left and arrived at home. Yvultian's first day as the refining production manager at the Kinosa-Lambret Materials refinery had been full of tension and stress. His promotion to the manager position from quality control did not go over well with the rest of the staff at the plant. It had been an almost constant barrage of verbal abuse, unkind glances, and cold shoulders. Very reminiscent of his first days at the plant years ago, Yvultian prided himself in the fact that he rose above and succeeded at the refinery despite all the negativity focused upon him. As he laid on the couch, his lips curled into a smile thinking about the example he set for his children, he knew they have heard the hushed conversations he had with his wife late at night about what he has endured. He always hoped they'd take inspiration from him if and when they'd have their own difficult situations one day.

Despite the knowledge and expertise in the composites and alloys that Yvultian showed throughout his time within the production process, the shock of “one of them” becoming a production manager was a lot for his colleagues to take. His entire shift today he endured side eyes and disparaging remarks coming from his peers at work and it was entirely exhausting. Now that he was home the couch was calling his name, slumping down and sinking into the soft material Yvultian closed his eyes hearing the television drone on. Killing time, waiting until the magical words would emerge from his wife in the kitchen announcing the completion of the meal and to round up the children for supper. Instead a sudden knock rapped against his front door, announcing the arrival of someone.

Curiously, he pulled himself up off the couch with both sets of arms and regretfully let the comfort of the couch and began to cross the living room to the front door. Yvultian's long gait allowed him to cross the room quickly, he was only a step away from the entrance when the door exploded off of the frame with a deafening noise and launched into the living room. The flying door knocking into Yvultian with enough force to dislodge him from his standing position and firmly plant him with force onto his back on the floor of his living room. Wooden splinters from the door as well as the destroyed frame impaled themselves within the formerly occupied couch, they knocked into picture frames and stuck themselves into the wall. All adding their own noise to the booming racket that was the initial explosion, still echoing throughout the room.

The shuffling of several pairs of feet into the room could be heard over the steady ringing tone in his ears. Yvultian could, despite his dazed state, sense that a group of individuals had now made their way inside his home. A grizzly voice soon barked out, “You two the kitchen, now. You three upstairs, go.” Still dazed and still very much confused, Yvultian attempted to lift himself from the position on the floor the door knocked him into. Physically struggling, both sets of arms trembled as he slowly began to rise from his prone position. “..w-w-w...”, was all that could escape Yvultian's lips before the impact of the butt of a pistol against his face forced him back into a weakened physical and mental state. He could hear the pounding of feet take off in multiple directions as the blurry room spun in circles.

The voice that Yvultian had hoped would soon be calling that dinner was ready, instead erupted into a blood curling scream. The echo of the scream as well as the sound of several dishes crashing and shattering to the ground brought him semi-back to the horrid reality unfolding all around him. He found that trying to move both sets of arms was useless, no matter how hard he flexed, his arms wouldn't move from their current position. In his daze, binds had been secured around his arms and legs, immobilizing Yvultian on the floor. He heard the same grizzled voice speak out again, “Bring the van to the back entrance.”

A series of rhythmic thumps began to quickly cascade down the stairs. Straining his neck in the direction of the stairs, Yvultian could see an upsetting sight before him. His three children bound, gagged and being dragged by their feet down the last of the stairs and through the living room and into the kitchen. At the sight of his children's frightened eyes, his muscles engaged, his binds strained as he shook and grunted deeply. Another swing of the butt of a pistol cracked against Yvultian's face, followed by a sharp electrical surge that radiated throughout his body from the prod jammed into his rib cage. A series of muscle spasms shuddered Yvultian's body within his restraints, as the electricity ran through his body. From the rear of the house a large crash of metal and wood emanated from his once peaceful backyard. He heard the horrid grizzled voice speak again, this time directed at Yvultian, “Don't worry, you'll pay for your abomination here...xeno.” After the surge of electricity, Yvultian could barely feel anything, his eyes grew heavy as his body slumped on the floor.

Jolting him awake, Yvultian felt multiple hands grasp his body and roughly tug him up to a kneeling position. His body shuddered, each limb as well as his core trembled uncontrollably. He could feel the pair of hands on each side of his body strengthening their grip as his body quaked. The cold metal of the business end of a pistol pressed up against the back of his head. Yvultian could hear the throaty rev of an engine coming from his backyard, and soon the sharp crashing of metal and wood overtook everything else. For a moment it was quiet as the racket in the backyard subsided, then two loud retorts from a gun echoed sharply in the room.

Yvultian opened his eyes in shock, tears steadily flowing out of his eyes and down his face. The sensation of the cold metal from the pistol quickly dissipated from the rear of his skull, as Yvultian could hear the rapid slump of a body to the floor. Darting his tear clouded gaze towards where his front door once stood, Yvultian could make out a kneeling figure. Blinking rapidly, to clear his vision, Yvultian could make out the prominent five pointed bright yellow star emblem of the Republican Ranger Service emblazoned on the front of the ballistic vest of the individual. A smoking pistol in his hand and a face twisted into an angry snarl, the Ranger moved his pistol in the direction of the other masked men in the room.

“Down, on the ground now!” Santos barked out, as he trained his pistol on the other masked perpetrators. Standing now, he began to move into the living room, followed quickly by his fellow Rangers who quickly began yelling commands of their own and swarming the now prone and stunned masked individuals. Crossing the distance, Santos arrived at the man he shot. Kneeling again, he removed the pistol from the hand of the dead man. Quickly, Santos peeled off the cotton mask from the mans face. Exposing the identify of the man, the Ranger situated himself to ensure the camera placed on the front of his shoulder captured the dead man's face in full and brought his hand up to depress the switch for his throat mic. “Confirmed kill on suspect Kelter Daqua.”

From the corner of his eye, Santos could see the bloodied and visibly frightened four-armed blue-skinned creature fidget and struggle against his restraints. Agitating his body towards the direction of the kitchen, Santos turned to look at the creature and noticed his eyes were wild. Darting in quick directions, the creatures mouth moved but no sounds were emanating. The Ranger could tell the creature was physically and mentally spent, moving closer to the creature Santos could hear a faint trail of words coming from the alien. “My...they...my...they took them...”

Santos extended his hands upon the alien, gently trying to get him to lay back against the couch in an attempt to help calm the visibly distraught creature. “Relax, relax buddy. My name is Santos, you're gonna be fi-.” Finally the alien seemed to catch a moment of breath and bellowed with a throaty yell that got the attention of everyone remaining in the room, “They took my family!” The Ranger's head snapped in the direction the alien continued to fidget in, erupting out of his knelt stance and into a hurried motion through the kitchen and out the back doorway into a ruined backyard. Looking down Santos could make out the unmistakable marks of tire tracks leading towards a smashed fence line.

Quickly he engaged his throat mic once again, “This is Falcon-Actual, I need any air asset in the area re-tasked to me. I have a vehicle outbound from my current position. I need eyes on it now.” As he turned to head back through the kitchen, Santos could hear in his earpiece, “Falcon-Actual this is Eye-One, we've gotten several reports from the Asperteen Sheriffs Department of an unknown vehicle tearing through residential backyards. We're two minutes out from being on station.” Entering the kitchen, Santos spied a pot on the stove overflowing with bubbling water. Reaching out he grabbed the polymer coated handle and moved it off the burner, his other hand twisting the knob to the off position. Speaking into his mic Santos responded, “Copy that Eye-One, that's our most likely target. When you arrive on station, focus your attention upon that vehicle.”

Re-entering the living room, Santos raised his hand above his head and twirled his fingers around in a circle. “We're oscar mike! If we don't want to lose them we gotta go!” Out of the house and down the walkway the team of Rangers made their way to their vehicle, the haunting wails of the blue-skinned creature filled the air as other emergency first responders rushed about the property. Nosy neighbors began to pile out of their homes and onto the street, their curiosity peaked with the commotion and emergency flashers lighting up the block. As the street filled with onlookers, the four manned team of Rangers entered their dark black sedan. Lights flashed on, the engine roared to life, and soon tires screeched against the pavement as the sedan lurched forward and tore down the street.

Santo's grip on the steering wheel increased to the point his knuckles were turning pale from the pressure, to no one in particular within the vehicle he began to vent. “Five minutes! That's all we needed! Five more minutes and we could've been there! Fuck!” Santos veered the sedan around idle vehicles on the boulevard, it was a busy Thursday night on the roads, and there was a congestion of traffic the Rangers would have to navigate. Dodging the stalled vehicles, as the sedan whipped around the pavement, Santos continued his venting spewing a series of obscenities and disparaging remarks towards himself and his team.

One of his fellow Rangers from the rear of the vehicle spoke up breaking the tirade spewing from Santos' mouth. “Man shut up! That double would have fooled anyone, it's not our fault!” Santos yanked the steering wheel to maneuver the vehicle around a slowing down mini-van. “It didn't fool anyone, it fooled us!” Santos growled as he leveled the steering wheel, and pressed down on the accelerator launching the sedan forward. Recovering from the abrupt movement, the Ranger seated in the passenger seat next to Santos in the front spoke up, “Yeah dammit, shut up and watch the road!” Coming up quickly on an intersection, Santos pulled the wheel to the right as he reached down and pulled the parking break.

The rear wheels locked, as they skidded against the asphalt of the road as the vehicles momentum took it into the right turn. Everyone uncomfortably shifted to brace for the quick turn within the vehicle, as Santos released the parking break and leveled off the steering wheel. Once again pressing down on the accelerator, the vehicle sprung forward as Santos grumbled, “I am watching the road.” The vehicles radio that had synchronized with his tactical communications radio crackled with sound. “Eye-One to all pursuing units, suspect vehicle has been located traveling at a high rate of speed east bound on Syngri boulevard, setting a navigational point now. Follow to intercept.”

Along the lower section of the front windshield of the sedan, the HUD activated, showing a navpoint referencing the relative position of the suspects vehicle. Making another turn, the navigational point aligned with their current trajectory, and Santos stepped on the accelerator. The radio came alive again with an update on the pursuit, “Eye-One to all pursuing units, the Asperteen Sheriff Department is placing an immobilizing unit in the path of the suspect vehicle, time to activation is one minute.” Barreling down the avenue, Santos' swerved around multiple vehicles trying to maintain his current speed. As the numbers below the navpoint for the suspect vehicle continued to decrease, his heart race slowly began to increase, from the vehicle's radio another update blared out to the Ranger team. “Eye-One to all pursuing units, immobilization unit was successful. Sheriff department units are setting up a perimeter around the suspect vehicle.”

Almost there, thought Santos as their vehicle continued on along the boulevard, even from this distance Santos was able to make out the characteristic red and blue lights of the local sheriff vehicles. “Understood Eye-One, Falcon-One is inbound, two minutes out.” As they closed the distance, more and more of the scene became apparent. Easily spotted was the suspect's van looking as you'd suspect one to look after barreling through several backyards, heavily dented and scraped. Surrounding it were several sheriff vehicles in an ad-hoc perimeter, with both interceptor and utility vehicles present. Multiple deputies had taken up positions outside of their vehicles, weapons drawn and steadied at the disabled van.

The sedan containing Santos and his team came to a screeching halt outside of the perimeter of Sheriff vehicles. Piling out of the stopped vehicle with a purpose, all four men made their way quickly towards a group of deputies closest to them. Santos spied a megaphone in one of the deputies hands and made a gesture for the device. Seeing the emblem of the Republican Ranger Service, the arm of the Asperteen deputy raised up to hand the device over to Santos. With a curt nod Santos accepted the device and turned to the disabled van illuminated by a half dozen spot lights. Turning on the device and bringing it up to his mouth, Santos began to speak to those inside the van, “To those inside the vehicle, please ex-”

A series of muffled cracks retorted from inside the damaged van, interrupting Santos from speaking further. As Santos brought the megaphone down he could hear one of the closer sheriff deputies mumble, “Sounds like gu-” In a blink of an eye Santos threw himself over the hood of the interceptor sedan, swinging his hips around he landed feet first on the other side of the vehicle. Pushing off the vehicle with both hands, Santos engaged himself into a dead sprint taking a beeline to the damaged van. Within a few strides Santos could hear another muffled crack erupt from the van, enticing his legs to continue to drive forward. Reaching the driver's side front door of the van, he grasped the handle and flung the door open.

The smell of propellant filled Santos' nostrils as he reached inside the cab of the van, his hand grasping at the shoulder of the single occupant sitting in the driver's sea and turning the male occupant to face Santos. Spinning the occupant towards himself, Santos mentally noted how young the suspect was, obviously well within his teen years. The teenager's face was frozen into a wide eyed smile and a still smoking handgun grasped within his grip. With both hands Santos yanked the teenager out of the van and flung him down to the pavement, the suspect's handgun clattered away from the individual. Climbing onto the seat and peering his head towards the back, Santos could see the slumped four-armed bodies strewn across the floor of the van.

Hopping back out of the van, Santos spun on his heels facing away from the grisly scene inside the van and towards the young suspect. Slowly his hands clenched into tight fists as he took steps forward to the suspect. All the noises around him, yelling deputies, echoing sirens, all began to fade away. As Santos reached the teenager, he could hear nothing but his heart pound in his chest. Reaching down, Santos grasped the young man by the front of his shirt and pulled him off of the ground. Still smiling, the suspect began to chuckle as Santos reared back and caved his fist into the teenager's smiling face.

A trio of fans twirled overhead the grouping of desks, and while their individual noise was drowned out by the incessant buzzing of the LED lighting fixtures, their constant breeze was fully enjoyed by all those in the immediate space. Several individuals were all milling around the group of desks, talking among one another passing through a series of folders and papers around. They were reviewing leads that had come in over the previous night, regarding their current 'wanted list' of criminals. The Republican Ranger Service prided itself on acting decisively on intelligence gathered on the location of high importance targets, and every morning they reviewed that information before figuring out their daily operations. The wanted list itself was constantly changing, with names coming off due to capture or death, and names being added as crimes of magnitude occurred.

One of the doors leading into the office space opened revealing Santos walking into the office, a few from the group around the tables looked up as Santos made his way closer. Audible scoffs could be heard emanating from the group as it began to dissolve before Santos could reach them, with many of them moving towards other points of exit from the room. Leaving only a single Ranger left at the group of desks who looked up as Santos arrived, “Hey Santos, don't let them get to you.” Santos rolled his eyes at the comment, “I'm not but this is something that is, can you believe this?”

Santos unfurled a rolled up newspaper that he was holding in his hand, tossing it face up upon the desk, the seated Ranger could see the front page clearly. On the cover in large bold black text the phrase, “COP LOOSES COOL”, was printed at the top of the page. And underneath a large image of Santos mid-punch was displayed. Santos tapped his finger several times on the desk by the paper, “These psycho's whack three kids and a mom, and it's my conduct that everyone is talking about. I can't even believe this shit.”

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The Solar Cooperative Union
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Ex-Nation

Postby The Solar Cooperative Union » Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:22 pm

The Old, The New, The Inbetween


It wasn’t hard to understand why they called it the dune sea, the crests of rising sand with their following troughs looked like a turbulent saffron ocean from this aerial perspective. The wide sweeping windows of the shuttle lounge granted a nearly panoramic view of the land they were descending towards, the clink of champagne glasses and tune of mellow music barely disturbed by the dampened buzz of its powerful engines. On the horizon a billowing wall of that same yellow sand roared over the surface in a mighty sandstorm that occasionally arced with the bright discharge of static build up.

Ozul sipped at his beer, the crisp chill of the crystal glass felt out of place against the terrain of sweltering heat he was immersing himself into. His observation from on high was cut off by the pressure of a hand running across his back and then the appearance of its owner at his side. Syanna, her pale blonde hair pulled back in a bun only a touch tighter than the white silk dress that clothed her familiar form, a few frills more and he could’ve mistaken it for her wedding gown. She took his hand in hers and spoke in that Luminaen accent that came in such smooth syllables.

“Have you seen it like this before?”

Her emerald green eyes glittered in the bright light of Zaxnon-A thrown off the dune sea far below and he remembered why he had been so relieved when the Company had offered her a position as Aesthetic Director for the coming venture. Comforting clarity in those irises, a consistency of soul that was deathly rare in his line of work. The real estate and development business was as cutthroat as it was booming. Ten million or more well-to do citizens were displaced from their idyll on Tauris, and despite their technical status as refugees, the reality was that they had enough capital to live where they pleased.

“No, they stuck me in a cargo bay with a dozen other apprentices-to-be when I left, no sightseeing back then.” He replied.

She nodded and took a sip of her white wine.

“Well it’s quite the view, it’s the native microbes that make the sand that color right?”

“Thats right.”

Indeed it was, the dunes of Aksunon played host to a unique web of microscopic lifeforms, many of them powerfully psychoactive and popular for export. In fact it was that invisible life in the sand that had prompted any development here at all. The meager water that existed on this world was locked away at the poles or trapped in scattered saline seas that often sweltered as hot as the surrounding desert. She looked up at him with a glimmer of concern.

“You’re doing the right thing, you know that yes?” At times it felt like she knew what he was feeling before he did,

“Yea.” he answered and took a sip of the crisp drink. It was a lie.

She didn’t get a chance to call him out, instead she stepped away as the other passengers crowded towards the front of the lounge. He followed and smirked at the excited murmur that went through the crowd of wealthy and wealthier at the sight of his hometown. It was a sight indeed, though he had grown up there, what he saw before him was an entirely different skyline. Once Gilga had been a sprawl of low buildings and narrow streets winding between a few public squares. The outskirts quickly faded to bare desert where barely delineated roads slithered off to some distant extraction site or another. Now the sleek curves and glass panels of skyscrapers and megahotels erupted over the original cityscape like the heads of flowers sprouting from dry earth, the city itself had enlarged to hug the coast of the Saline Sea. Along this new coastline development, the expanse was defined by the organic lines and twisting architecture of resorts, the small dissolving operations that had once subsisted there completely extinct.

Ozul remembered racing with jars under each arm to the edges of the dissolving ponds to scrape up salt in the early morning just as the twin suns crept over the horizon. He’d have to be quick, or else the crusty faced workers would come charging out of their huts and bark at him for stealing. Then he’d bring his haul home for his mother and she’d always use the salt he got to make breakfast, she would say to him that ‘anything you got yourself would taste better’.

The shuttle whipped around and before long the gaggle of passengers was unloading into the glamorous fusion of bar and lounge that the starline called a disembarkation deck. Ozul took a moment to check his jacket with one of the staff, trading it for a local garment known as a Draz. A white robe that came down to the mid waist and hung over the arms loosely, a symbol of status on Aksunon. He’d never gotten to wear one before, they came at quite a cost, the nearly weightless composition of nano-linen and silk far out of the modest budget of his upbringing. He thought of how his father would have clamped his heavy calloused hand on Ozul’s shoulder and laugh with that barrel chest of his at his son dressed in finery. As the last of the passengers disembarked, those preparing to embark rose from their places at the bar or around the low tables of the lounge and proceeded across the extended docking boom. One of them smiled at Ozul, his hair slicked back and his eyes golden with implanted electronics, a Strindan. His voice confirmed it, his syllables came quick and harsh like life on the city-world he hailed from.

“It’s a nice get up till you realize the loc’s never wash theirs, then you get why they smell like that.”

Ozul shook his head at the man and Syanna pressed her hand into his back, the push was enough to pull his focus away from the man. Though the words themselves did not leave his head, the Core Class, the Strindans, Luminaens and Taurisians counted him among their cohort and expected him to point down at his origins and laugh along with them. Syanna had spent months assuring him he was committing no such betrayal but the fact he was here to oversee the construction of a new nightclub, specifically catered to those like the slick haired man, did not help calm his own self condemnation.


---


A few hours later and they had checked into the hotel, their room near the top, overlooking the central district of the city. A quick shower each and they were back at street level, Syanna changed into a flowing gown that looked like little more than a sheet draped over her shoulders and tailored at her waist. The sidewalk bustled with life in the early evening as the heat relented, the offworlders finally able to tolerate time in outside and the locals getting off work or heading towards it. Street level cafes and eateries sent fragrant wafts of smoke, spice and local brews seeping out onto the street. No amount of money could gentrify the cuisine, not yet at least.

The variety of people here had increased accordingly with the attention from foreigners, how many of them were full blown immigrants from devastated Tauris and how many were classic tourists was impossible to say. The slender forms of Luminaens with their golden hair and pale skin, a Taurisian in her robes and extravagant tower of a hair style, all mixed along with the caramel and leather forms of the Akusnites to form a vision of a cosmopolitan metropolis. Perhaps he was wrong to resent the new arrivals so instantaneously, after all the city was cleaner and better provisioned than it had ever been.

As they went, he thought back to some thirty years ago, when he was still but a boy. His father sputtering a hacking, seizing cough. The dust had been blowing for weeks and the mild euphoria of its psychoactive microbial tenants had long since worn off, even they in their mindless organic automation had grown tired of the billowing. It had pushed through the cheap rubber seals on the doors and windows and now permeated everything that could be permeated, when he went to lay his head at night he felt the crunch and bite of the sand in his pillow and sheets, the trickle of water that would come out of the faucet would come as dull beige. School had been cancelled for days, neither teacher nor student willing to face the onslaught of airborne sand to reach the educational complex. As a result, Ozul spent long sunless days listening to his father hack and hack away, the stout man unable to persist as the dust worked its way down into his lungs. His mother would come with boiled water, evaporated and trapped in a plastic bag to clean it of the assailing sand and insist his father drink. He would thank her and kiss her on the cheek, then will Ozul over and tell him how his grandfather had fought raiders in the days before the Union during such a sandstorm. Eventually the dust went away, but his fathers cough did not. It worsened and worsened until no more kisses could be given and no more stories recounted, until it took him completely.

Now there was a glimmering megabuilding, boxy but beautiful lined with palms and fountains that advertised itself as “Glene Clinic and Healing Center”, if that had been there those three decades ago perhaps both his parents would still be alive. It was his fathers death that killed his mother, though no man of medicine would concur, he saw it in her eyes during those distant mourning months. The wrinkles growing deeper seemingly by the hour as billing notices piled up, she stopped cooking, stopped painting, all her passions gone with her husband. Ozul hated her in those moments, seeing her weaken when he needed her to be strong and fail when he needed her to succeed. He could remember those months of total despair, trapped as one parent followed the other into the grave. Even more he could remember watching his mothers casket vanish into the city morgue, no one there to mourn save for him. The next day he walked into the Aluxian Luxury Operations office, and decided to leave Gilga forever. He took an apprenticeship, signed away the next twenty years of his life for the promise of a flight offworld and a chance to make something of himself in service of the Corporation.

That office that had granted him flight so many years ago was their current destination, though it was the same office only in name. They rounded a busy corner, vendors peddling wares at touring visitors crowding the sidewalk. Syanna pulled close to him to navigate through the crowd, and quickly they emerged on the other end. A plaza built around a spouting fountain and gaudy marble statues, on the far end a glass and metal building shaped like a great manmade lotus rested at the top of a wide staircase. A holosign glimmered over the fountain, informing any visitors that this was the Aluxian Luxury Operations Plaza and they were to “leave any stress on the street”. They ascended the grandiose staircase and passed through the sliding glass edifice of the building, inside was awash with cool air and soft light. Immediately a chipper faced secretary came to greet them, a pressed suit and jade ascot matched the haught decor of the building.

“Mister and Misses Akliashi, great to see you! Welcome to ALO on Aksunon, please follow me and I can show you to your office!”

Ozul looked across the decor of lush potted plants and boxy leather chairs in a vain attempt to spot a familiar face. None, of course not, and even if by some amazing persistence one of them had remained would they even recognize him? It was becoming clear that every living connection between he and this place had eroded to null. Only an ephemeral vein of memory linked him to a place that now seemed to be vanishing before his eyes, a mirage disappearing as he approached.


---


A flurry of introductions to their subordinates and a briefing on all their responsibilities passed without incident.
The last beams of daylight were filtering through the sky as they stepped into a posh skycar to make their way to the flagship club he would hopefully bring to dominate the cities nightlife. A brief trip and they arrived, stepping out on a landing pad only a few storeys above the street-level. The structure itself was a towering triangle, in its center a sphere of wide windows broke the flat profile, the massive dancefloor of the main space visible from above and below thanks to the spherical shape.

An employee greeted them at the entrance from the landing pad, a clean suited woman with a sharp face. They followed her across a veranda that overlooked the main dance floor to a row of offices overlooking the space. Another rapid ascent in a lift nestled in the back of the offices and finally they came to rest at wide mahogany doors that separated the hallway from the executive conference room on the other side. The proverbial rubicon stood before him now, through those embossed doors a handful of individuals either present in person or holocasted in would size him up. They’d note his stance, his presence in the room, the speed and contents of his reactions to questions and comments, everyone of them looking for the slightest break in his composure as he pitched his qualifications and vision for the project and it future. If he failed their assessment? Then what? Back to a middle management job on Strinda, He and Syanna stifled as milquetoast pencil pushers waiting for their pensions? No.

A familiar hand on the small of his back, again snapping him out of mental anticipation and returning him to the moment at hand. Syanna pulled him in close and pressed her chest to his then met his eyes with hers and spoke in a firm whisper, he couldn’t help but hang on every word.

“I didn’t choose a life with you because you’re perfect, or because you always got it right, I chose a life with you because you know yourself. You know yourself well enough to know what terrifies you and you know yourself enough to do it anyways. Right now isn’t any different.”

Ozul kissed her forehead and then stepped to the doors, nodded at Syanna and then pushed through the lavish entryway.


---


It seemed he had done well, a beaming smile and tenuous claim from the Director Of Realty Development that Ozul was his “Golden Boy” along with a clasped hand from the Regional Director indicated that he had won himself significant regard. It was a weight off his shoulders to have passed such a hurtle. As quickly as they had arrived at the Club, he and Syanna had absconded back to the skycar and set a course for their hotel.

Without the pressing demand of the presentation and the future it permitted, bigger thoughts came flooding into his head. It seemed like there were a million phantoms watching him here, bidding him to uphold tradition, sneering at him for drinking of the elites well. He imagined his own soul like the city beneath them, one part born in the sand and with roots deep to the bedrock, caked with blown salt and worn rough by billowing sand, where it had peeled the stucco from the walls or choked the life out of his fathers veins. The fragrant scent of his mothers cooking or the streetside cafes, the effortlessly comforting taste of cream chicken or her smile after a long day.

Then he saw the other aspect, the glimmering promise of progress and a wider world, the raucous march of a hopeful nation with renewed purpose. The gleaming ambition of a people who had seen their worlds churned into ruin, his own creased face smiling at knowing that even though his home was gone and his family left only as memory, he had yet found happiness and companionship.

As the skycar reached its highest point along the trip the whole expanse of the city came to view. He thought of those two aspects as he looked down upon the spiderweb of light far below. It occurred to him, that though the old mudbrick and stucco buildings of his childhood were consumed, the streets they lined remained, the gleaming towers of metal and light were quick to engulf their stout predecessors but both shared the paths on which they were aligned.
There were not two aspects, old and new, clashing in life or death struggle as he had assumed. Instead there was only one, a great being whose appearance could change and would change with time but whose shape and path remained. It was not a conflict, but a continuous process of recreation and progress without debasement, those deep and ancient roots stayed in place but the trees upon them grew grander, a synthesis, a balance. Ozul looked at Syanna as she peered through the wide windows at the twinkling lights of the sleepless city.

“It’s beautiful.” she said.

“Yes it is, isn’t it?”
Last edited by The Solar Cooperative Union on Sun Jan 13, 2019 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Don't look at this

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The Vahkiran
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Father Knows Best State

Shadow of the Throne | The Coronation

Postby The Vahkiran » Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:09 pm

Capital Planet of Alak, Crown City Velaar

Sethra stood before her quartz-shard mirror inspecting herself thoroughly, meticulously, the dull drab metal grey of her chambers contrasting spectacularly with her garb. The flowing, sheer Sandsilk draped ribbons that adorned her dull-brown chitin coloured in the most domineering shades of crimson and purest whites; they envisioned power, conquest and prophecy. As she trailed her gold-tipped claws across the ornate Vakor'rul that adorned her upper thorax, across her shoulders and along her neck, behind her Mhairya of the Great House Szorhuuda, a potentate representative of the Sacral Empire and advisor, finished her readings from the Sehkiraan closing the vellum paged tome gently, locking the teachings behind hand-wrapped leather of red and black shades.

"The time approaches. Today you will claim your just dues; as rightful ruler of the Vahkiran, you carry forth an ember from the Endless to which you will guide your people into a new, enlightened age of prosperity." The Serukta spoke, her voice like flowing water caressing a rock in a stream. Like a ghost her movements drifted her ever closer, the last part of the traditional Vakor'rul clasped delicately in her hands. Sethra watched as the five spires were locked into place against the back of her neck, gold metal twisting a head taller than she was, framing her skull in a representation of a star's light-giving rays.
Turning on the spot, Sethra focused all four of her black, almond shaped eyes on the Serukta before her. The words she spoke were often lost on her and she was sure her adviser knew as much; the teachings however were very much absorbed, much like those of her mother at daybreak and nightfall, each and every day of her upbringing. She was Sethra and she would lead the Risen. "Remember, Arr-Qiaam, your kin is irrelevant in this regard. You are the just, rightly-guided ruler of the First Fallen. Take up your mantle, as you so rightly deserve." With those words in mind, Mhaiyra parted the hydraulic double doors of the grounded colony ship they called a 'Palace' and presented Sethra to two members of the Vahkiran Royal Guard, fists slamming to their chitinous chests in salute.

After being lead through the groaning superstructure of the colony vessel, a set of blast doors opened their way into the expensive room her coronation was to take place in, the repurposed central bridge of the colony vessel, gutted and draped in the purple and light blue shades of the Vahkiran royalty. Three tiers above towards the back, a cold metal throne fashioned from warped steel sat where the original captains chair had once been, proud. Everything about it reminded Sethra of why she was there, her purpose, what her people had become and what they were destined to be.
Slowly she scaled the steps towards the back podium, the room was full of ‘officials’, all greedy for their own gain at the expense of the Vahkiran people, her people. Their heads tipped in respect and dutiful submission, claws resting between their four eyes in signage to their soon-to-be Queen, their feeble minds unable to fully grasp the day that would change everything.

Reaching the central section of the command podium, she turned her eyes to her future King, Kijaa Fthast, self proclaimed leader of the Vahkiran people; if you did not count his two brothers who also held claim to the throne as absolute rulers. Sethra chittered low in amusement to herself, hiding it as a show of appreciation to Kijaa’s dutiful hand as he lead her towards the crowd gathered below. Ethereal in her motions, Mhairya flanked the two royals and Sethra let her teachings take over. She was to be bonded with her King before the whole of the Vahkiran, the ceremony being broadcast from system to system and even beyond, relayed and bounced from buoy to buoy, station to station that would accept them, it was to be an event to be celebrated by everyone and anyone.
Sethra watched as Kijaa stepped forth, his arms spread, greeted with applause from both inside and outside of the chamber, as the millions upon millions of Vahkiran gathered outside of the Palace and across the whole of Alakhiran’Daal. His two most entrusted advisors, J’Kraal, Talzimar-Komnidant of the Royal Navy and Muukal-Komnidant Tyros Vaask, the most prolific Gladiator in three systems stood either side of their ruler.

His speech was admirable, if not a little flat, preaching the same as any sensible ruler would, grand claims of distant Stars that would be under Vahkiran rule, words of conquest and an end to the suffering of the Vahkiran. Sethra could feel it as much as she could see and smell it, the fake following, the dragging of hopes as they clung needingly at any small amount of light that might provide.
Then it happened, the claim that she was awaiting, the final bell that sounded for the dying light of the Vahkiran species and the ushering of a new age. All of it had been for this moment, her entire life had been destined. As J’Kraal announced their bond, the claim of her name as a Royal of the Vahkiran, Queen of Kijaa’s people, she raised her gaze towards the grey ceiling high above, arms falling to her sides, claws spreading and allowed the sheer gown she wore to fall away. The feel of two Ak’Sher blades being fastened to her forearms greeted her not a moment later, the curved blades unsheathing once locked, curving along her forearms and extending out two foot from her wrist, the inverted pronged tips curling perfectly for their task.

It happened in a flurry of actions, first with the retreat of both J’Kraal and Tyros from the side of their Ruler, then the subtle and clinical stab of a small poisoned blade between the lower chitinous plates of Kijaa’s back by the masked, hooded Mhairya as she retreated from the podium. Sethra slid into position with a trained grace, one blade out before her, the second above her head in the traditional Ak’Sher fashion, both blades catching the light of the throne room, sheened and sharpened with a single purpose, a single event.
Kijaa faltered as the room fell silent, all eyes, across stars watching the momentous occasion, witnessing what Sethra had witnessed in her dreams ever since she could dream.
“I, Sethra Fthast, proclaimed Crown of the Vahkiran declare Ak’Sher, Kleekh Kijaa.” She roared in False Vahkiran, translators across every relay transmitting in their native languages, however butchered it happened to be.

Two curved Ak’Sher blades were thrust against Kijaa’s arms and he was subtly shunted out onto the podium to face the declaration. Sethra could not wait for the poison to take total effect else the plan would be ruined, so she stepped into the offensive, a flurry of strikes from both blades, deflected by Kijaa despite the debilitating poison coursing through his body. She knew full well, as did Mhairya and those who supported her future rule that Kijaa was a capable warrior, despite her training a fair fight would have ended in her demise, but as the poison started to take hold, she could see his fight lessen.
Three quick strikes and the clash of chitin against metal sounded around the room, Kleekh Kijaa clutched at his abdomen as the brown-orange blood oozed between his claws from the wound, it would not be long before he bled out. Sethra advanced, slicing blade against blade in a ringing clash. Kijaa chittered low, a faded sound that only she could hear, a scented mix of fear and anger radiating from him before she delivered a decisive strike, beheading her bonded in one smooth motion. Absolute silence followed, the chaos subsided and slowly the crowds, both inside and outside of the palace started to piece together the last few chaotic moments.

Sethra pierced the severed head of Kijaa, plucking the Twisted Crown from his skull before making her way down the podium steps one by one, the clack of her talons ringing forth and as though avoiding the sound, the crowd parted around her as she made her way onto the balcony which had once been the main window of the Bridge. Thrusting the head of Kleekh Kijaa, ruler of the Vahkiran into the air using one blade, she used the other to slice it off and down into the crowd far below, watching as it tumbled, then vanished.

“My brothers, my sisters, sons and daughters.” Sethra spoke, every word translated in as many languages as would be watching, broadcast across the entirety of Vahkiran space and beyond, it seemed as though every planet, every system fell silent to bear witness. “I am Sethra, second of her name, true ruler of the Vahkiran, rightful claimant to the Throne of Absolution, taker of the Twisted Crown. Too long have you suffered, cycle by cycle at the hands of those who seek to allude you with false promises, too long has the Darkness dominated our people, our species.” She declared, raising the Twisted Crown into the air; it’s dull metal shine a stark contrast to the brilliant golden glow of her jewelry. “Too long have you knelt and believed in a false symbol, too long have we, as a species suffered the transgression of not only our Empire, but our ancestors and our heritage, our past and future.”

Extending a hand out towards the massed crowds far below the Palace, covering every street and every roof of every district, her gold tipped talons splayed, she slowly lowered the Crown to cradle it as though ready to don it atop her head, instead she twisted ruthlessly, metal cracked and contorted before snapping in two as the weak material met its limits. The fragments were dropped from the balcony and she raised both hands out, arms spread in a show of submission.
“I am the Ember that shall burn, light the Wildfires that shall forge a new path, a golden age, a glorious Empire of Conquest and an end to the Darkness that seeks to smother our rightful place among the Stars.” Dropping a hand, she turned her palm upwards, talons closing as though to grasp the very air in front of her. She could feel it beginning, at first it was a low hum in the wind, then a gradual vibration followed by a raucous cacophony as every Vahkiran on every world hung to every word she spoke, every idea she preached. Intoxicated, Sethra stepped forward, beyond the protective shield of the Bridge balcony, exposed and vulnerable, but she had no fear. “Together, we shall rise and burn all who oppose us, I absolve those who seek to question my unwavering loyalty to not only my people, but to our future and our past. I am the Arr-Qiaam Sethra, second of her name, reborn from the Darkness to Light a second Era of Vahkiran rule, bow before your Crown, bow before your future, bow before the Flame!” She declared.

The sound was deafening, the very air shook and every Vahkiran prostrated before the Crown, before the Arr-Qiaam of the Vahkiran. Sethra turned to face the crowds of the Palace, many whom had an air of uncertainty about them, rightfully so as the Palace Guards filtered into the room, forming two firing lines on either side, those by the throne raised their Pulsers towards the Kaal who had refused to bow, refused to accept their future.
“I absolve you of your treachery, know that the Flame shall burn brighter with you gone and that the Golden Era shall be glorious.” She practically shook, in a mix of elation and anger, her talons dropped and the screaming, wailing sound of Pulsers being loosed on the crowd filled the Palace. Behind her, the Legions marched and already fires burned against the rapidly darkening sky, as those who could not accept the future were removed from her planets.

Soon the Palace was silent, only the smell of scorched meat and chitin and the occasional crackle and pop of rapidly cooling plasma broke the silence. Sethra inhaled the sight before her, where they did not bow in life, they bowed in death, her rule was absolute, the Crown was where it needed to be, in her heart. Stepping across the bodies as though they were a carpet laid before her to walk upon, J’Kraal bowed his head and approached.
“Your orders Mea Arr-Qiaam?” He asked, saluting. Sethra lowered to pick a half scorched golden emblem of the Twisted Crown from one of the bodies and raised it between two talons, her four eyed gaze moving to J’Kraal with a rattling of her pheromone vents.
“Get me my Library Koljusticar J’Kraal, no matter the cost.” She ordered, placing the emblem firmly in his palm and closing his talons around it.
“At once Mea Arr-Qiaam.” J’Kraal saluted, a chitinous fist clacking against his thorax as he marched off through the bodies, the Loyalist officers of her new rule in tow. Her eyes settled upon the metal throne and beside it, the Serukta, hooded and masked. “Let us begin the new Era.” Sethra spoke, gesturing for Mhairya to follow as she was flanked by her Royal Guard; leaving only smoke, death and a united Vahkiran in her wake.
Last edited by The Vahkiran on Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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The Vahkiran
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Father Knows Best State

Postby The Vahkiran » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:59 am

Capital Planet of Alak, Crown City Velaar, Palace of Sand

The day was impossibly dry, even the wind seemed weary of the fact as it lazily drifted across the deep dunes that made up the mass majority of Alak’s land masses, a dead world artificially made habitable, though some would argue that it remained inhospitable despite this.

It had been months since the bloody coronation that had seen the Vahkiran with a new Ruler, a new hope for the future and even in such a short space of time much had changed. The divided, warring streets of the deeper city had been united through the expression of greater force, any who opposed the new absolute rule of the Arr-Qiaam were extinguished by the simple utterance of her voice, a deathknell to the unbelieving and Law to those who followed her.
Tyros Vaask took in the scents of the ecumenopolis before him. Stood in one of the many ceiling sized archways that made up the repurposed colony ship’s new palace structure, no actual windows were needed as no rain had ever poured on the parched planet and the sandy dust that covered every inch of the expansive city that stretched as far as the eye could see, did not reach the height of the upper levels.

Throwing his trailing cloak over one shoulder, the Kaal moved from the spectacular view and into the depths of the Palace’s halls, though none of the structure was especially grand or vibrant. Instead grey metal covered every inch, now and again broken by the faded blue and purple banners of the Royal House F’thast of which he served.
Tyros himself was a fine specimen of his species, a Vahkiran through and through, a Kaal of fine standing and a ruler of his own planetary body. His deep grey cloak was covered across the left shoulder in many war-ribbons and achievements, their gold pins polished to a perfect shine, the majority of which were rewarded for exemplary command within the Royal Legions, only two were related to the Navy, both victories in planetary landings he had co-ordinated.

The deep brown chitin that covered his body in plates was stroked in angular markings of black paint; markings of his exile-clan of Sovekess. The deep pigment and pale frayed edges of his plates were signs of his advanced age, he did not believe he had any more than four years left, though he would see that he died in glorious combat before the Fade came for him.
The thought brought a grim satisfaction to him, for the past eleven years he had been condemned by a past Monarch, choosing trial through combat he had intended to go out honourably and die a warrior, instead he had bested every opponent that had been sent at him. Infuriated, the former Monarch had sent him to the Arenas and yet even there, he triumphed time and time again.

With the death of the one who had sentenced him, he had become free to choose his own path. However the exile remained and the banishment of his clan was not forgotten, even as new Rulers had taken the throne. Eventually Clan Vaask settled on a remote planet outside of sovereign space and over the years had become known as the Sovekessian.
It was this tenacity and martial prowess that found him in the service of yet another Monarch, though his exile remained, he was duty bound to serve until his time came to finally meet his executioner. It was this ruler that Tyros had been called to council. His talons rasped against the grated metal surface of the ship-palace’s floors as he approached the makeshift throne room’s door. Straightening his cloak and making sure he was presentable, regal even, he pushed the doors open and strode into the room with a purpose.

Like the rest of the would-be Palace, the throne room was only slightly more grand, large banners hung from the high ceiling and tapestries depicting long lost battles and rulers lined the walls. In the center towards the back, a large podium was raised above the room and a throne of twisted metal sat atop it. Tyros expected to find the one who had summoned him perched on it, instead he found her stood in front of the only window that had glass.
Striding over with the ringing of his claws against the metal floor echoing around the room, he placed two of his claws between his four eyes and dipped his head.
“Mea Arr-Qiaam, you requested my council?”

The female Vahkiran before him barely acknowledged him, instead she dipped her smooth chitinous skull to one side as though inspecting something beyond the glass of the bridge window with curious interest.

“I seek your honest opinions Tyros, you have little to lose and I believe you are the only one I can truly trust to be impartial,” she chittered low- the Vahkiran communicated via a series of complex sounds and pheromones -and turned to face him finally, her chitin was a light tan colour showing her youth, draped in the finest sandsilk robe the spinners could create, the red and white sheer garment turned the rays of light a moody deep red as she moved past him. Tyros only lifted his head when she was no longer directly within his line of sight, turning to follow her dutifully and remaining silent unless directly spoken to.
“What do you think of our upcoming campaign against the Free State Republic, do you believe my choice to be rash or well placed?” Sethra asked with a brisk rattle of her pheromone vents, giving Tyros the scent of her irritation and uncertainty, clearly her last council had not gone so well and someone had choice words with their ruler.

For a long moment Tyros said nothing, simply took in the sight of his Arr-Qiaam in all her glory, perhaps if he had been many years younger he would have stood a chance at courting her, but that time had passed, all he could do now was be a faithful servant and do as requested.

“I believe we will succeed, no matter the opinion of others on your decisions. You are Sethra, Arr-Qiaam of the Vahkiran, you know what is best for your people, how to lead them into a new era of success and conquest...” He stated cautiously, though he had been told to be truthful, impartial to the fact his ruler stood before him, so he would be, “I can not tell you I do not think it was too early, we are at a delicate time with your sudden rise to power, our enemies only grow more wary and prepared for such action,” he continued, sweeping his cloak from his shoulder and moving closer, his claws curling into a fist of one hand.
“The humans are weak, the Free States especially, we know they can not even secure their own space and even now the Ixee undermine them to our gain. We will crush them and all doubts of your right to rule will be demolished.” Tyros clacked and chittered, his vents rattling in a scent of aggression.

Sethra listened without so much as moving, until the council of her Kaal had been spoken. Her head dipped once and she stepped away towards the throne, her four eyed gaze following the podium of steps and came to rest on the throne itself.
“Tell me Tyros, do you know what Destiny is?” She asked, turning to look at the elderly Kaal and by the way he fidgeted slightly and his silence she guessed he did not, which did not surprise her at all. “The humans believe everyone is chosen for a purpose in their life, that every action and consequence is foretold before even they themselves were born.”

Tyros clacked twice behind her and Sethra caught the scent of disgust and amusement, turning slowly she gestured for the Kaal to speak.
“Humans are daar, they believe in impossibilities and that is why they will fall. Not enough action, too much thought.” Tyros chittered with a grind of his sharp jaws, each side was gold plated, as were his teeth to protect them from the wear and tear of his curious life long habit.

It was Sethra’s turn to be amused, her vents rattling rapidly and signalling to Tyros of such, as well as a hint of irritation. She turned fully and raised her viciously sharp talons, gold tipped to catch the rays of the nearby stars as they burst through the window.
“You would call your Arr-Qiaam a daar my Karmun-Komnidant?” She asked innocently, but then she did not need to respond with a threat, her suggestion had enough of an impact on the male before her. Almost instantly he fell to his knee, claws stretched before him and his head bowed as low as it could go in submission. He did not speak, as there was nothing for him to say, instead he vented a thick sense of dread and fear.

Sethra rattled another wave of amusement, followed by a heavy press of calm to relax the Kaal that looked ready to defend himself if attacked by any of the many white armoured Royal Guard lining the room.
“Peace Tyros Vaask, you are correct in some ways and speak as a true Vahkiran, for that I admire you,” she assured him, watching him rise from his knee chittering agitatedly and switching his gaze around the room, as though expecting her to call his demise without warning. She had thought about it. “The humans are indeed daar, but perhaps their beliefs hold some truth. Despite everything we are here and flourishing, the Vahkiran survive where they should have fallen all of the way. I am here, reborn from the First-Fallen, perhaps of my own ability and desire, but perhaps this is where I am supposed to be, where we are supposed to be.”

Sethra could tell her Kaal did not believe what she said, he was like the vast majority of Vahkiran under her rule, stubborn and set in his ways, but reliable, ruthless and cunning, exactly what she required for her eventual success in the battles to come.
Slowly she made her way towards the elderly Vahkiran with a grace few females could manage, her talons catching the metal floor ominously with each step until she gently placed the back of her talons to Tyros’ chitinous lower jaw, tracing the gold that coated one of his lower jaws, of his guillotine like mouth.

Tyros froze on the spot and averted his gaze from her own, a difficult thing to do when you had four eyes that dominated your head. At the same time he relished such a feel, when was the last time he had been shown such affection? All he knew was war and conflict, an uphill struggle.
Sethra regarded him for a moment or two longer, before in a flash she struck his jaw with the back of her claws, a loud crack ringing out around the throne room, every Royal Guard snapped to attention, their thermal lances powered and glowing and aimed towards Tyros, if he even so much as lifted a claw he would be vaporized on a molecular level. Even without the threat, he would not have reacted, instead he slowly turned his head back to face her, grinding his jaws.

Sethra had already started to make her way towards her throne, the sheer robe flowing along the steps like a wave of blood from a wound. Tyros watched part mesmerized and part scorned, until she stopped short of her the Throne and turned to face him over her shoulder.
“Go my Karmun-Komnidant, bring my merciless talons upon the soft flesh of humankind, let them know of our strength and bleed them for their transgressions against your Crown,” she spoke, her chittering clacks echoing around the near silent bridge as she sat upon the throne, drawing her talons along the surface of the metal as if it was the skin she spoke of. “Do this and I will reward you, I will give your Clan name not only a future, but one of Royalty.” Her gaze lingered with a tip of her head.

Tyros stood motionless for a few moments, his talons flexing by his sides, before he bowed low against the ground and his vents rattled, his excitement flowing as realisation to the meaning of her words and promise, slowly he rose and backed from the throne room, not daring to turn his back on his Arr-Qiaam, the great ruler of the Vahkiran.
He marched with a whole new vigor towards the lower levels of the palace, practically radiating a savage anticipation, soon, very soon the talons of his Legions would feel human soil and their conquest would be unending.

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Senkaku
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Founded: Sep 01, 2012
Democratic Socialists

Postby Senkaku » Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:39 pm

Orphan Source
Part One



Chelroun City
Central Business District
1314 Taubestrasse, BARO Nightclub




“Oh my god, it is SO nice to be finally out from the lab!,” Ilya said, raising his glass with a smile. “You have no idea how much I’ve missed seeing you.”

“What?” Arman leaned in a little, holding a hand to his ear – even with the sonic shield over their booth turned up, the music was still strong enough to make both their teeth rattle in their jaws.

Ilya reached over, fingers nearly brushing Arman’s, and turned the knob on the shielding dial, quieting the music a bit more. “I said I’ve missed you – it’s so nice to finally be out of the lab.”

“Yeah, it’s nice they’re letting up on your hours a little!,” Arman replied, taking a sip of his drink and looking down at it briefly.

Ilya raised an eyebrow. “I feel a little bad for dragging you out on a school night, though,” he teased, catching the little extra bit of longing in his friend’s lingering gaze upon his alcohol.

Arman laughed and shook his head. “The nice thing about working for a bank, especially here, is that no one cares about what I do enough to ever fire me, as long as I’m in the office on time.” Ilya laughed, and Arman repressed a sigh of genuine suppressed emotion, then looked at his glass again and polished off the rest of it with a slight shiver. “Brrr. That’s better. Anyways, I feel like I’ve barely talked to you in the last… god, two months? What the hell do they have you doing there that you’re so busy all the time? Or is that just the usual BME PhD lifestyle – trying to outdo your undergrad self?”

Ilya snorted, his turn now to suppress that mild, inchoate dread about the most banal aspects of the future. “God, more like outdo the kids who are in undergrad now, racing to grow up and eat me alive. But no, it’s actually a really interesting project!”

He took a gulp of his own drink and then shot Arman a conspiratorial look, but wiggled his eyebrows slightly sarcastically as he spoke. “In fact, I’m rather frustrated that I can’t write about all of it in my dissertation… because some of it’s classified.”

Arman’s eyes widened and he smirked, leaning forwards. “Classified, you say? Will you have to kill me if I ask any more?”

Ilya also leaned forwards, but suddenly became conscious that their lips were almost brushing. It’s fine, that was a long time ago – besides, he’s married now and she’s your friend too! He’s just a couple drinks ahead. “Mmmm, I can kill you after I tell you. It’s really exciting for bio nerds like me, anyways – I might end up boring you though! Is Rachida coming? She might enjoy it more.”

“She’s on call,” Arman said, his brow furrowing a little. Ilya noticed him lean back slightly and did the same, feeling the mention of his wife bleed out a bit of the sexual tension. “One of her patients has some sort of nasty nano problem in the blood or something – it sounded pretty unpleasant. Anyways, bore the hell out of me! If you do a good enough job I’ll save money on these-” he gestured at his glass- “and I can get a few more minutes of sleep in the hover to the office.”

Ilya grinned, finishing his own drink and tapping the button on the table to summon a waitress. “Alright – well, lemme at least tell you the unclassified parts first, and then I’ll tell you the fun parts after we have a few more drinks, but before we take any molly.” Not like it’s that exciting anyways, but then we’ll have a sonic shield just in case.

Arman laughed and nodded. “Sounds like a good plan. No memories, no worries! But I maaaay have taken a little between here and the office…”

“So no memories of any of it, then!” He seems really unhappy. I guess between a career, a wife, and a kid, he probably just needs to blow off steam. “Well, basically – we’re making these things, sorta like a normal robot or android or whatever, sorta like a biodroid.”

“Those things that use yolk in the cells instead of batteries or whatever?”

“Yeah, exactly.”

“I think they have some of those on my great-uncle’s ranch on Veleda to help herd the animals in the polar night when the drones can’t get solar power,” Arman said pensively. “Or they were just the weirdest-lookin’ water buffaloes I’ve ever seen, I guess. Anyways, what’s so exciting about that? Don’t they make all kinds of those?”

“Well, they’re not fully biobots, they’ve got some stuff in them that’s more like a normal robot – the exciting part is we’re making ones that look and act like people! We have these two huge vats out – well, I shouldn’t say where, but we’re making like, a lot of them.”

Arman’s nose wrinkled. “Ew! Like clones or something?”

Ilya shook his head. “No, not exactly – more like AIs, but in really squishy bodies, I guess. There’s a lot of cool nanoarchitecture, I really want Rachida to read one of the papers I’m contributing on, actually. But anyways, here’s where it gets exciting.”

Arman raised an eyebrow. “Only now it gets exciting? Growing millions of nano-AI-controlled people in vat farms isn’t exciting?”

Ilya rolled his eyes. “It’s not millions, it’s more like dozens. And that’s not – well, anyways, the exciting part is who’s backing it!”

“Ok, I’ll bite: who’s backing it?”

“Simla Health, Atomdyne… and – the Mukhabarat.” Ilya nodded as Arman’s eyes widened.

“Really? Damn… what does the Mukhabarat want with it?”
Ilya waved his hands. “It’s just some social interactivity study or something, from what I've been told. That’s where it gets boring again, I'm sure any real exciting operation like a counterinsurgency mission or whatever would have might tighter security. But it’s still sort of cool, right?”

Arman shrugged and nodded. “Actually, yeah. You know, that makes me think – there’s this thing I heard from a buddy of mine over at Treasury…”

Ilya held up a hand, pointing. “Hang on, I think those are our drinks!”

Arman turned to look, spotting the waitress struggling through the tight press of people making their way to or from the dance floor towards the nearest bar and seating area. “She’s fighting her way through, I don’t think we have to help her.”

“Yeah, we don’t have to, I just don’t wanna wait for her to make it all the way over here.”

“Hmm, good point.” Both men stood, making their way out of the booth into the overwhelming cauldron of sound and flashing light.



Abkadar District
169 Sundarastrasse, Apartment 27A




“Oh, good afternoon, sweetheart,” Intan Morozova said, her voice (never silken to begin with) crackling through Ilya’s crappy phone microphone. He frowned down at his mother’s tiny image as he felt his stomach churn around the prairie oyster he’d just ingested. “How are you? Your sister said you were going out with an old college friend last night or this morning or something, so I figured you'd've been out late. Are you tired? You look tired.”

“I’m great, Mom,” he said blearily. “What’s going on? How are you?”

“Oh, you know, I’m fine,” she replied, some sort of background noise breaking into the audio as he peered at the bottom of her face silhouetted against a piercingly blue sky. “I’m sorry if it’s noisy, I’m just walking back from the drug store – you know, your father saw a roach the other night! I’m going to have to call the super later, I bet the owner is cheaping out on extermination again – so anyways, I go to get glue traps, and the pharmacy’s all out of glue traps! All they had was some bug spray, which is fine for when you see them, but those insects – I tell you, they didn’t follow our species to the stars because of their lack of skill at hide-and-go-seek!”

Ilya rubbed his eyes, sipping some water and trying not to think about the smell of toast beginning to fill his miniscule kitchen lest his stomach turn. “What do you mean, the drug store didn’t have traps? They always have traps.”

“No, they didn’t have any! Well, there were these slick looking boxes that said trap, but they weren’t normal traps, they were this little hockey puck looking things, and they ONLY killed cockroaches, not ants or mice or anything, and they were so marked up – I swear, probably some sort of Impy import, God rest our people. I tell you, son! Ever since Eva let this place go to those franchisers – a family of shopkeepers, if there ever was one, those damn Imperials – this store has just found more and more ways of ripping people off! I pay more to have this thing, that I don’t know how it’ll kill anything, that can’t even kill anything besides roaches? Probably just a scam!”

Ugh, am I about to get a whole rant? When did she start getting into all this old folks’ separatist crap? At least with Dad it make sense since he’s a union man. “What are you talking about, Mom?”

“I’m just saying, it’s good to set out glue traps before you start seeing them everywhere. And then, if the landlord fired the exterminator company again, we’ll start getting mice, too, so what good will some mystery machine do me that can’t kill mice, if it even works?”

Ilya leaned away from the camera slightly to rub his temple, and took a sip of water from a cup on the counter. Is she really – I guess it tracks that that store wouldn’t sell anything but the cheapest shit, he mused, thinking of the drug store around the corner from his childhood home that his parents always went to. “Mom, have you never used a bait trap?”

“Ay, I just told you! So you’ve seen them too? It must be some sort of Kelinese scam, if you’ve seen them all the way on the other side of the city, no?”

Ilya shook his head, suppressing a sigh. “Mom – no, I’ve seen them since, like, I started university and went to stores besides our one corner drugstore. They’re not a scam, they bait the roaches out and then they poison them.”

“Well, so do glue traps! They always stock plain ones and pheromone ones here – you bring the vermin to the thing, then it kills it. I don’t need to pay a premium to kill them more nicely with some fancy poison!”

It’s sorta funny, but it’s also kinda sad this planet’s such a mess she’s never seen more than one type of roach trap. What a weirdly mundane thing. “No, Ma, that’s not… basically, the traps also give the roach some extra poison, and it’ll bring it back to the nest, right? And then before it dies, it feeds the poison to its babies and its friends and stuff, so the whole nest dies. I think they make them for mice too, and I promise they still die very painfully or whatever – anyways, why pay for any of it? Just call the super, I remember you said he and Dad get on way better than the last guy.”

“Oh, that’s very interesting! But I’ve never needed it before, so why should I pay more now? I don’t know if I want roaches carrying poison all over my house and into the walls.”

“No, the poison they use can’t hurt people, Ma,” Ilya said, staring at the toaster dial and allowing himself the tiniest of sighs. “I doubt if it’d even hurt the cat from across the street, it’s probably something tailored just to roaches. They don’t wanna get sued if someone’s kid eats it by accident.”

“Well, anyways,” she continued, as Ilya’s toast popped out of the toaster and he shuffled blearily to his rickety little plastic table out on the porch, “your sister and the kids are coming over for dinner tomorrow, and she said you’ve had some time off work, so why don’t you join us? It’s been so long since your father and I have gotten to see you!”

“Sounds good, Mom,” Ilya said with a nod, mustering a tired smile and centering his face in the camera image. “I’m gonna have breakfast now, but I’ll call you back later, okay?”

“Alright, eat up honey. Love you!”

“Love you too, Mom.” Ilya sighed and leaned back as the screen went back, setting his plate down and rubbing his eyes again as he looked out over Chelroun’s rooftops.

Chimneys and aerials and satellite dishes sprouted everywhere from the tiles and tin and terraces, power and data lines strung back and forth like strands of spider silk, dripping with laundry and creeping vines from overflowing planters or heavily laden trellises leaned against sheds and water towers squatting amidst the clutter. The chipped, vaguely cream-colored plaster and stone of his own balcony, so grimy and aged up close, faded to a dusty, blindingly sterile white with distance and the powerful morning sun, standing out almost as sharply as reflections off windows or metal against the cloudless sky.

God, it’s nice to have a leisurely breakfast out here for once. Hopefully the bread’ll settle my stomach, I want to be eating some better food than this while I have the chance! And hopefully I won't have to listen to any fucking mortars going off somewhere.

Last edited by Senkaku on Tue Apr 07, 2020 11:43 am, edited 6 times in total.
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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

Postby Senkaku » Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:49 pm

Orphan Source
Part Two




Chelroun City
16th of November Government District
16 Glyzinienplatz, General Intelligence Directorate HQ
X Line Office




A few clouds now squatted over the city as the sun gathered its things and began to make its way back down towards the horizon, casting bright orange reflections off the windows of the Mukhabarat onto passers-by in the Glyzinienplatz. The building was one great block of whitewashed concrete with thick, blast-resistant walls and bollards and guards set in front of it, dominating one side of the plaza and squatting opposite the far more pleasant rose-colored façade of the viceregal palace with its ornate exterior colonnade that offered shade to pedestrians and beggars. Hovers and people sloshed through the middle of the square, pressing against one another as they struggled through the traffic and tried not to stare up at the Mukhabarat’s expressionless face.

In one of the offices deep in the building’s interior, Eliza’s computer suddenly chimed, and she looked away from the slides she’d been staring at as her office AI spoke.

“Ms. Song, you have your meeting on Project RM in the secure conference room in six minutes. Shall I send someone to show the head of the Azad University team back?”

“Yes, please,” she said, pulling out her laptop and rifling around a desk drawer for the right folders. Materials in hand, she rose, heading out of her office towards the stairs – the secure conference room in the X Line Office was one floor up, but the elevators were too slow for it to be worth waiting.

When she walked in, most of the team, including their top liaison at the university, were there, but the X Line Office director was there in person, which was a surprise – he ostensibly had been read in on all their operations, but he’d only come to one or two meetings before, and usually left early. There was also a man she didn’t recognize with him, and they seemed to be making small talk, something she’d never seen Director Lee do with anyone.

The last few stragglers came in shortly after Eliza did, while Dr. Fournet from their in-house science unit waved a hand to get the room’s AIs to bring the slides from some underling’s computer onto the projector. Eliza glanced up and raised an eyebrow – she’d just spent a while looking at the very same presentation, or at least her section of it relating to field logistics – and then looked back at her computer.

Director Lee stood and smiled around the little room as the secure room’s door hissed shut behind them.

“So, don’t worry I’m here – I’ve heard we’ve had some big progress, so I just thought I’d drop by, since unfortunately I had an unexpected call and didn’t have time this morning to read all the briefing materials on the new phase of the operation. Ms. Song, do you think you could perhaps start by giving us a general overview of the current stage of the operation?”

Eliza tried not to startle at the unexpected mention of her name. Aren’t I not up till after Fournet gives us a rundown of how production is going? “Oh, um, certainly, sir.” She tapped a button on her laptop to beam the files into her contact lenses, and then stood, giving an awkward smile and noting that the man sitting next to Director Lee was staring at her keenly. Must be someone from one of the other lines? Or maybe military or Imperial? She cleared her throat.

“Well, sir, as you may not know, then – this past weekend, with some help from our Army friends-“ she glanced at Arad, the Military Intelligence liaison- “we were able to successfully embed our first RM field infiltration unit in the town of Tel Gerak, in Byun Province. The Army executed its planned withdrawal and evacuation of refugees from Tel Gerak earlier this afternoon without any hitches. I’m sure Mr. Lopez can tell you more about the Army’s plans or the disposition of rebel forces in the district, but my understanding is that as expected, rebel units based in the neighboring Ambada district have now occupied Tel Gerak.”

Director Lee looked at Arad, who nodded, and Eliza gave a tight-lipped smile and continued. “The only other piece of field logistics news I really have is that the one handler who was injured during the embed process is, luckily, expected to recover. I spoke with the doctors this morning and they said with a few months of intensive rehab, she’ll likely regain all or basically almost all respiratory and neurologic function, which I think we can all agree is a wonderful bit of relief. We’re going to have to obviously make some payouts to make sure there’s no security lapses with any of her university colleagues, but I think Dr. Agrawal, who I’m sure you remember is heading up this operation over at Azad, is taking the lead on coordinating those.”

“Wonderful, thank you, Ms. Song,” Director Lee said. “Also, I seem to have forgotten my manners, let me make introductions – everyone, this is my colleague Andrei Kolosov from the viceroy’s office,” he continued, gesturing to the mysterious man seated next to him, who smiled around the room. “I’ve already given him an earful about all of you, of course.”

Andrei leaned forward slightly in his seat. “I’m just here because Director Lee has noted that with everything on this project running quite smoothly thus far, it may be worth discussing some sort of joint scale-up with coalition security forces – I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what a huge change it’d be to get these kinds of expected savings at this stage of the rural villagization campaign.”



Tel Gerak
Byun Province




Anatoly took a long drag on the cigarette, peering skyward as the shadows of the mountains stretched towards the town’s rooftops while twilight spread across the sky. The normal sounds – traffic, Army hovers – had faded since the evacuation convoy had finally pulled out, in the midday heat that drew beads of sweat along the blades of men’s shoulders, filling the air with diesel smoke.

All that was left, for now, were the cheers and singing of the remaining residents and the rebel soldiers who’d gathered in the town square, occasionally honking a horn or setting off a firework. He sighed, glancing next to him at his cane. Good work, kiddos. No one would miss the Army or the Imperial-loving scum who’d pulled out with them, that was for certain.

After a few minutes, he put his cigarette out and went inside, setting about brewing himself a cup of tea as he heard a truck full of laughing young voices – Birta soldiers, certainly – pull up across the street. Ugh, the fucking brothel is going to be loud tonight. Well, I suppose I can’t begrudge them.



Ambada
Byun Province




Half the barracks’ lights had been turned off, dimming the cavernous space – once the floor of a warehouse – before lights out. Some soldiers were already asleep, others sitting in bed on phones or computers, others gathered together talking or wandering around, or slowly trickling back in from their assignments during the day.

“Hey, how was it?”

Sebastian sighed as he tossed his pack down on his cot and sat. “Today? Pretty fucking boring, we were just digging trenches and stuff for the anti-air cannons.” Then he smiled. “Last night, though? It was a hell of a lot of fun.”

Felix, his friend, who slept in the cot to his right, chuckled. “The girls of Tel Gerak showed you around, I guess?”

Sebastian winked at him and then laid down. “Made up for a day of digging in the hot sun. And it looks like I got brought back before the Imperials flatten the place, too, which is an added perk.”

Felix’s face grew serious. “We’ve been stockpiling at the hospital, in case they do. We have the protein fabricator running, but all the staff have been giving to try and boost our blood supply, too,” he said, holding up his arm and pointing at the little bandage over where he’d clearly had a needle in him.

Sebastian sighed and shook his head. “Let’s hope they don’t bother. We worked hard digging those trenches, but they’ll honestly be pretty useless if they make any kind of serious effort.”

Felix nodded and then suddenly swung his legs off his bed, moving his computer off his lap and rising. “I’m gonna go to the vending machine and get some chips, and you look tired – want me to get you anything?”

“Mmm, can I just steal a few chips from your bag? I don’t want, like, a WHOLE bag, you know?”

Felix rolled his eyes. “Yeah, sure.” He started walking away, but Sebastian sat up.

“Actually, could you also get me a ginger ale? My stomach feels a little upset.”

haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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Vrot Kaspara
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Founded: Oct 11, 2020
Ex-Nation

Postby Vrot Kaspara » Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:11 pm

[ Mature ]
Strangers Beyond the Songline
Mommy, are they gone?




There t’was. The Jewel of Sa’Rai…
...the Bounty of a Thousand Wars...
…the Spoil of the
Impyr
...the Toil of the Dawn.
T’was our only
sit’oi: Tsaraemiyrgrat, Sa’Rai System.
There t’was… there was… There, once, was life as we knew it.
And…
...there was, of course, Death.
The tale is only imaginary.
A fantastic account of the Fall of the Rising, Endurance of Spirit, and the Purity of Heart.
T’is epic in its scope, and ultimately, a tragic lie.
No surviving record of what occurred to the victims exists for t’was all destroyed.
Such is the fate of the faltering of the Filter of the Other.
No.
This. This is all that remains of what can be told of another of the ill-fated.




The first time I ever screamed for help was when a seedling fell on top of me and started gnawing on my skull. I could not breathe under its thick bosom of fur and flesh, and I was so frightened I panicked instead of thinking calmly. A thousand mothers and fathers came thrashing-through and ready-to destroy the whole of the garden if it had been so tainted they needed to check it for strangling weeds. Instead, they found me, struggling for breath under what amounted to an over-cuddly pet.

They were not pleased.

I was forbidden from screaming for help unless visitors came and wrecked the place. For the rest of my life since then, I have been, practically-speaking, somewhat neglected and alone. Don’t get me wrong. I harbor no ill will. Mommies and daddies, I used to reckon, are very busy people. They have a great work to accomplish, and I am just here to watch the flowers grow in the garden. I am just here to play, and I have always been a very good boy about playing by myself.

Sometimes even with myself! But that’s a tale for another day, another time, and another mind. At least I think that’s how that goes.

So when some of the lights in the ceiling got brighter and wider, I thought nothing of it. They were so pretty at the time, like fiery petals in the sky, slowly floating down to rest somewhere over the horizon. I heard a few whistles and shouts for help in the distance where the lights may have fallen, but I always assumed if it was important, mommies and daddies would come to fix the problem. Oh, how I should have known better. I could have made them so proud.

Songs started to be sung about the fallen lights. They were not very good songs; so often were they gargled and off-key, I thought surely a mother had never taught her children to sing before, but then I recalled my own mishap. Mistakes are regularly made, and forgiveness and patience are virtues of the blessed, wise, and the adult. And by the time the lights had started to fall, I was not just a “big boy” anymore. I was a man, a mate a hundredfold--no. A thousandfold. Young and immature still, yes, but growing stronger and stronger everyday. For instance the sort of seedling that fell on top of me I could now toss around between my palms if I ever wanted to be so cruel. So when bad songs were sung about strange visitors carrying seedlings among them, I thought them simple mistakes made by my younger siblings.

Oh, how rude...

Here they all are…

...my family in the garden.

Brothers, sisters, neuters, and quieters all.

Though I am not supposed to nor do I have to, I am often a quieter. I do not say much, but when I do, it’s often to keep the others from saying too much or being too loud. Flowers, down to seeds, ours and theirs, can hear what we say and sing, so we need to be careful to not disturb them or else they won’t grow properly. Something to do with waves of the ocean and stream of a river or a part of an icicle. I don’t know the workings behind it. I am just a quieter.

(But a big one!)

They, the visitors that is, aren’t marked by our handiwork. They breed, fight, mingle, and think too late and too little. Our hands would not touch such pieces of unrequited, natural life… the art that it tragically is… we had no part.

So, they, here, call this place Yaff… Yaff.... Yaff Vondurmir, or something like that, but its real name is the Scorning Ground of the Hallowed Unconsidered, and with a name like that, you already know…

So when I realized my error, I was in quite a rush to correct it and to quiet the whimpers and whines of my siblings. I didn’t want mommies and daddies bothered by yet another mistake of mine, so I went to work. Carefully and calmly.

The first time, I thought then, was a roaring success. A small visitor, a scout likely, had intruded my space so I took the opportunity to close my approach and begin communication. While I am not sure if they understood what I said and what they were saying made little sense considering the circumstance, at the time, the soft touch of their hand on my eye, while uncomfortable, was a sign of amicable agreement. I reciprocated the gesture, and to my surprise, they immediately returned home to share the tale of the encounter and relay my request that the visitors leave until a mother, at least, was present.

Or so I thought.

In the early morning, the visitors were not leaving. In fact, new ones arrived at the Scorning Ground. There had to be trillions of them swarming across the landscape setting invisible fire to everything they touched. Appalled and betrayed and famished from the night’s work, I lost my cool.

You see, when you work, it calms you a little. To be doing something is to be alive. Like a hammer to an anvil, a rhythm comes and washes over to soothe you. You get into the zone. Each little sub-task accomplished is another task completed and another spurt of happiness shot into your brain. Work, good and hard work, it is a drug of the highest potential for abuse, and I believe now I abused my work. I had worked too much to prepare for a celebration for the visitors’ departure; I had not noticed the warnings of my siblings and had brushed them off. I had lost focus. I had over-tired myself. Skipped a meal. Starved myself crafting the greatest piece I had yet, and so the hammer had stopped hitting the right beat.

Outnumbered, I knew I had to find a different sort of visitor away and alone. I could take them hostage, I thought, and use them to communicate my demand that all that came to visit leave immediately.

So I abandoned the Scorning Ground.

I traveled for a long time. Enough for the lights to change their positions a few times. And in my travels, I learned the truth about the strangers out here beyond the songline.





The truth about the strangers was not something I set out to look for, but I did start by looking for help.

Everywhere I went I tried to tell my siblings to join me, but it was like speaking to animals because so many of them were so young. Few understood me, and those few did not believe me when I said the strangers were willing to destroy the grave if they had desecrated the Sacred Ground. I thought the logic was sound, but others claimed it was just paranoia, and they advised me to avoid strangers at all costs and wait for help. They had already screamed for help and it had not come, and many blamed me for that. I could not blame them. So I spent a summer mating far away from the Sacred Ground. Far away from Yaff Vondurmir.

Where it was “safe.”

But then the lights got brighter and the petals began to fall and the invisible flame came again.

Again and again and again. So many visitors, all strange and always angry and destructive. They were wrecking the place in front of my eyes, and I was still blind and helpless. I could move only so many times, I knew, and my time was long-limited, so in my desperation to be in an adult I decided to ask for help again, but this time, I needed someone who would understand me. And who better for that than me?

Thus I reproduced myself by myself. The process took so long, and I had to eat so much that I wondered if I were the one wrecking the place. Eventually, the ceiling lights were changing again and the weather was colder, and I was born again. I could not give myself time to grow because I had so little time left. So, I taught myself what little I could about the world that I could not remember, and I told myself to find the world-messenger and make it scream. If a Lalassuor screamed for help then certainly mommies and daddies would come, and if I had convinced a Lalassuor to scream then surely they could not be fooled by me so they would have to be in the right to scream. It all made perfect sense at the time in my minds, so I sent myself away.

I saw things that I could neither forgive nor forget on the journey to the Lalassuor. It was like they were hunting us, but I stayed focused, calm, just enough to stay true to the mission I had given myself until that day. The day. The day I learned the truth about the strangers.

Fittingly grim, it was started with a sun that hid behind clouds fearful of what was to come. The clouds whimpered a soothe-sombering tune of rain against the surfaces of the world. I walked carefully through the cover of shadows of their songs and the day’s darkness, blending into the foliage wherever I could. I knew strangers were nearby because I could hear the screams and the whimpers of my siblings as they met with the strangefire in the distance, but I also knew if I hurried I could reach the Lalassuor before the strangers found it and lied to it. At least, I thought I knew because when I finally reached the world-messenger, it was already too late.

One truth about strangers is that they are dangerous, and for some odd reason, the strangers are particularly vicious toward messengers as I should have known. Another truth is that they are monsters.

Frightened to see them at the Dwelling of the Lalassuor, I hid very quietly and very still behind nearby foliage. They had dug out the roots of the Lalassuor, bringing them to the raw atmosphere, which caused the Lalassuor so much pain that it actually shrieked for help before I was even close enough to speak with it personally. Its cries for help went ignored by the strangers’ and even seedlings’ ears. Even stranger, they seemed to be working gleefully if not hungrily, inspecting each other’s mouth-teeth as they went and even showing it to the Lalassuor, but not once did a stranger take a bite. I wondered what strange torture this must have been for my brethren and if any others had gone through it--to be shown the instruments of your own consumption and to never meet them. Next they use sticks to jam hooks into the scalp and hair of the world-messenger and started to drag them out of the ground. When all but the tiniest lengths of rooting were left connected, a very visible flame was used to singe and sever those final connections to the material of the world. The Lalassuor never stopped screaming to its last breath.

And then ground rumbled and thunder roared, and I panicked and wept so foolishly and loudly that the Strangers heard me. They came dashing after me, and some pointed strange sticks at me. Before I knew it, the invisible fire was on me and spreading all over. A million tiny voices unfamiliar and cruel shouted for my death, and my flesh singed with the sensation of cold annihilation. I screamed, but not for help. No, I screamed for my mother.

“Mommy, are they gone?!” I ran and screamed.

“Make them go away, mommy!” I pleaded.

“Make the monster go away, mommy!” I regressed.

“Get the monsters off of me, mommy!’

My flesh was wilting off of me and my bones ached, and I could taste my blood and vomit in my mouth. I had to gargle and spit and blow to clear my orifices so I could breath I was terrified. I did not want to die being chased down and set on fire. Strange beasts of the sky circled above me as I ran, and they poked and prodded me with invisible spears that left holes through my body. I found a cave, which I collapsed behind me, and there I hid while I tried to fight the invisible flames and seal the holes. There was so much blood the whole cave was lit up like by pools of fiery light. And the cruel voices would not stop speaking their strange tongue, and I thought I was going mad from pain when I felt a mother nearby. Desperately, I called out to the sensation of thought with hopelessness consuming my very words as they were sang-screamed, “Mommy, are they gone?!”

Suddenly, thunder was crashing all around and above the cave, especially where I had collapsed the entrance, and I knew. I knew the strangers, the monsters, had found me, and I was about to die. I could hear them yelling and fighting over each other, I believed, to get to me first. Some more of their strange beasts even dug their way in and I had to smash and gnash them with my teeth and seal each hole. There was so much blood spilling from me though that as my arms tried to move dirt from the same spot they would slip in the puddles they made. Soon enough, digging was pointless as the ground became mush from my blood, but their beasts still came through, and I begged gods to answer if they could, “Mommy, are they gone?!

I started trying to eat the beasts, which hurt because all my teeth and gums and tongues were on fire, and I tried to eat so quickly, I started choking whenever I screamed, “Mommy, are they gone?!”

And finally, a crash of thunder came so loud and the blood-lit darkness faded to the sunlight whose warmth felt good against my cold-burning flesh. And I saw them. The strangers holding up their hands and throwing away their sticks and begging. Begging to be saved from my own salvation. I watched with undying pleasure as their bones diffused through their skins, and like unevenly packed bags of meat they crumpled over onto the ground, some even splashing into pools of my own blood. Strangers are weak against mommies and daddies. Blinded by a hole in my eye and still in shock, I could not muster my appreciation only more of my fear when I asked her arms, “Mommy, are they gone?”




...and that’s how I came to you,” spoke the Creature one last time, its Mind drifting off into long-sleep and its body depleting of the last of its essence. Quietly and meekly did the self-child of the Lalassuor fall. The hands thus warmed by its dying breath gently laid themselves to the ground to grant the Lalassid’s head final resting on the floor in the belly of the beast…





“What if this is what happened to Sa’Rai?”

The soft hum of machinery absorbed the silence that briefly fell over the room. The rest of the underground shelter was abuzz with activity as evacuees made their way inside, hoping to reach the evacuation portal. However, in the small office room now commandeered as an emergency response coordination center, the air died and the tension thickened. A line had been crossed, and everyone flinched at its smudging. One does not simply talk about Sa’Rai.

“Preposterous. Sa’Rai is fine. It’s under information quarantine to prevent a panic from the real quarantine,” spoke an oft-cited voice of reason.

“We don’t talk about it,” spoke a more timid voice.

“Well,” spoke a fourth, “The scopes don’t lie.”

The air died again for a moment before the first voice asked, “What do you mean when you say that, sir?”

“The scopes do not lie, sir. Exactly what I mean when I say that, sir.”

The room hushed again. The solution to their problem was staring them in the face, and all they had to do was ask.





Above ground, the trumpets were sounding: An old world was to die for the new.





“So I checked with Integrity,” the first voice spoke again calming the furor over the accusations of treason that resulted from the suggestion of committing treason, “And we are officially in the need-to-know on Sa’Rai.”

“So,” spoke the fourth, “When I was looking at the sco--”

“You mean to tell me you already disobeyed the order?!”

“Enough,” the first demanded, “Let him speak.”

The fourth resumed, “When I was looking at the scopes, Sa’Rai was not there.”

The second voice laughed, “Were you fucking hi--”

“No,” shot back the fourth, “I wasn’t, you fucking coward. Here!” throwing a holo-screen at the second’s face, “Look for yourself.”

The imaging was uncanny. The labels were disconcerting. The emptiness undeniable. Where the planet Sa’Rai, and its attendant star, were supposed to be was where a debris-speckled void was instead. An entire star system had vanished off the face of the galactic disk. The first voice spoke as the others started to draw their own dire conclusions.

“Approximately one standard week ago, the Orga system was in the process of conducting a supplementary astrobiological survey to ascertain the levels of ksulriological populations in the system after several incidents of containment failure. Upon completing surveying, the Sa’Rai teams would begin culling aggressive populations, of which Sa’Rai had many. Their situation was not unlike our own earlier this week before the new strain of nanocides came in. They were dealing with a highly aggressive Ksulra population that was endangering colonists, and some of their sites had even been overrun--”

“Dead gods, are you fucking serious? The Ksulra are doing this? That’s the fucking Ksulra out there?! They’re fucking hu--”

The air boiled and the voices died as the plasma blast made impact with the shelter facility. Few in the shelter survived; the evacuation portal remained operational, but the leaders of the survivors were dead, and the Children of the Lalassuor were coming. Over the scorched and ragged pieces of debris, survivors tried to crawl up to the surface for air. There they were met with the hungry mouths of the offspring of their victims. Metal limb and teeth ripped apart what flesh it found. Mouths of iron salivated a dark ichor whenever a patch of rubble quivered with the motion of someone beneath digging for the surface. Whenever the seedling hands reached their quarry, another set from above would reach for theirs, pulling up the air-starved gasping and frightened fruits from the ground to be gutted for skin, juice, and seed.

The time to harvest had come, and the scythe did not pity the crop.

The storm clouds were dissipating into streaks of grey in the sunny blue, and the skyline of Yaff Vondurmir was disintegrating into a flood of a iridescent mire congealing from the ground below. Those souls poorest to be caught in the surging sludge were rapidly dissolved and collected into semi-porous sacs that appeared impervious to the acid-like substance. Though it were no acid, the ooze did destroy with atomic precision all inorganic material it engulfed. Emerging with and within this new, horrendous ocean were krakens of spindle and tentacles of hair or vine exhumed from the same fissures that now poured out with the children of the Thousandfold. These beasts swam through the mire, collecting clouds of seemingly insolvent debris and the sacs of biomass. Many latched onto the towering structures that made Yaff Vondurmir’s arcologies. Finding points of integrity, the krakens would wrap their mops of tendrils around the supports and constrict with all their might causing the skyscrapers to topple over, crashing into the sludge and thus spreading it further with their splashes.

So fell the towers of the Strangers.

Above the collapsing precipice that imaginations would call the high watermark of Yaff Vondurmir, a bristle-skinned star tetrahedron of flesh and machine emanated ethereal tentacles of violet that whipped away roofs below and parted the clouds and atmosphere beside and above. With every whip of one of these monumental appendages, the sky would crack, and the ground would quake, and a new screaming colossus would coalesce from hardened points of the viscous flood and from some great hall of either heaven or hell far away. The colossuses would walk across the lands crushing what came their way and slaughtering whatever force sallied forth from the strangers-to-the-world’s little fortresses--sandcastles they as well have been.

So died another world tainted by the ambitions of strangers who could not hear the tune of the song that the greater foot tapped to.

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Tandire
Political Columnist
 
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Founded: Sep 18, 2019
Ex-Nation

Moon Master

Postby Tandire » Thu Oct 15, 2020 7:51 pm

Kalaw of the Talmoc clan hatched on the 51st day of the year 300 by the count of the Holy calendar of Xiwantandu. The Talmoc clan held power over one of the greatest and oldest of the lunar cities, the one called Citlaltlan the City of Stars, and Kalaw was the first daughter of its Tlatoani lord.
As heir apparent, Kalaw learned the practice of statecraft, the ins and outs of lunar diplomacy, and the ancient arts of polearm dueling. Great expectations were placed on the princeling Kalaw’s shoulders. Kalaw was not, however, expected to survive when at 19 years of age an attempt was made on her life.
Four of her younger siblings had turned on her, attempting to wrest from their estranged sister the position of heir to the City of Stars. When their mother learned of this, she descended upon her feuding daughters and the palace descended into chaos.

Kalaw of the Talmoc clan ascended to the throne of the City of Stars in her 19th year, taking the name Necahual as well as de facto leadership over what remained of the Talmoc clan.
Tlatoani Necahual of the venerable city state of Citlaltlan was among very few who remained neutral during the Iztlan Tola-U.S.G. war, and among the last to join the Metztli Craft and Mercantile League that filled the vacuum of power left by that war.
Necahual donned the epithet “the Perennial” in her 199th year, just 14 days before her own daughters themselves soon to die of old age attempted to assassinate their mother and take her throne before she outlived them all.

In the year 553 of the Holy calendar of Xiwantandu, Necahual the Perennial remains the Tlatoani of Citlaltlan. As a member of the Metztli League, she has renewed an oath of fealty to three successive Sovereigns of the Xiwa, and the last of her granddaughters has died of natural causes in recent years.
Many await the day that the Tyrant Tlatoani of the City of Stars dies at last, a day that grows more and more uncertain with every passing year.




The body of the feared Tlatoani lay upon her throne pedestal like a pile of skin and feathers, withered muscles and flesh forming a crude facsimile of the Miri form. Necahual’s enfeebled wings lay draped over her body like a homely old blanket, complete with holes where missing feathers left gaps.
Her feathers once resplendent crimson sheen had faded to a soft pink in places, a sickly grey in others, hues which did little to enliven the morose tones of eerie black and dark stone colors of the royal chamber.
The honor guards which flanking her pedestal were clad in similarly bleak coloration, a shade of charcoal broken only by the green insignia of Citlaltlan and the mark of the Tlatoani upon their sealed helmets. Though they stood in full armoring they seemed almost naked to a Miri eye, for they lacked wings which they had lost long ago.

Three eyes were turned up in their sockets upon Necahual’s head, a fourth socket clasped shut where its eye had been lost two centuries since. The Tlatoani was peering through the grand transparent dome that capped her royal chamber, focus darting from star to star unhindered by the occasional shimmer of the particle net as it caught the stray micrometeorite or lunar dust cloud. On occasion, the twin moon Tecciztecatl would rise as this moon Coyolxauhqui turned, looming in the sky a grand slate colored orb festooned in the glow of Tandan cities.
Today, to Necahual’s delight, the sky was free of such obstructions and she could look to the star cloaked firmament in peace, for a time.

The Tlatoani’s meditation was broken by the clatter of an escorted procession, marching through the chamber’s gate heralded by the golden lights of the antechamber which spilled into the throne room along with the Tlatoani’s guests. While her honor guard’s talons fell to the grips of their holstered hand cannons, Necahual barely shifted from her undignified yet oddly shameless sprawled position upon her pedestal as she offered only the required bow of the head to acknowledge her visitors.

“My liege, may your pardon the intrusion into your royal chamber in your infinite grace, and may your court bid a kind welcome to the delegation of…,” the herald paused to draw in a deep breath, “...the Most Prosperous League of Guilds for all Crafts and Exchanges of the Amicable Metztli Tradesman.”

Necahual shifted upon the completion of the herald's call, heaving herself up onto her forelimbs to regard the guild delegates and merchant princes of the twin moons. Her eyes fell in particular on the well known trader Lacuaan the Old, a Miri half her age, and the intriguing young figure to Lacuaan’s side. Drawing a labored breath, Necahual prepared her voices.

“You are...early,” remarked the Tlatoani in her warm tone, “How unpleasant,” came the baritone notes.

It was Lacuaan, the senior and clear leader of the group, who stepped forward to speak with her neck craned to look up at Necahual’s form. “Forgive us our intrusion, honorable Tlatoani, but you leave us little option but to come in person. You refuse to hear our pleas any other way,” she elaborated, her voices almost as labored as Necahual’s.

The lord’s eyes narrowed, the plumage of her neck ruffling out ever so subtly. “To trouble the machinery of the League’s state I would never wish, but these… holocalls… I cannot abide,” she said with a shutter.

“We cannot come in procession every time we need to convene our ruling council, honored Tlatoani. It simply isn’t timely! May we ask of you what way you would prefer to convene with us, as the most venerable member of this League?“ whistled Lacuaan, her voices honeyed with practiced diplomatic tones.

Necahual’s throat grumbled in a pensive gesture, her bony wings shifting as she accommodated herself on her pedestal. “Perhaps you could leave a trusted speaker, to attend your meetings on my behalf, and relay to me your pleas and missives?”

This elicited a wave of displeasured grumbling from the League delegation, a noise which visibly unsettled Lacuaan.
“Perhaps a simple … voice call?” added Necahual.

Another wave rolled through the gathering, the young woman at Lacuaan’s side in particular was stirred in irritation, only soothed by a subtle gesture of Lacuaan’s talons which beckoned her to calm.

“It is not in keeping with the long standing traditions of our League to extend such an… attachee to communicate within our number, nor have we as a council of equals ever given a common League member such deferential treatment. All members should attend our conclaves and congresses, pay the proper dues to further the League, and-”

“Forgive me,” sang Necahual in a chorus, noticeably louder than her previous speech, “but it is not in my custom to stare into a shimmering blue facsimile of the ones I address. A habit I've held longer than your League has stood. If it is long standing tradition, you should respect mine for as long as it suits me to remain within the ranks of the Metztli.”

Finally, a young voice cried out, Lacuaan’s companion storming forward so quickly the Tlatoani’s honor guard drew their weapons in alarm.
“The Metztli League is the preeminent power of these moons and we will not grovel at the feet of any has-been lord, great city or no! You joined this order and it is you who should defer to our ways!” she trumpeted, headdress teetering with her enraged movements.

Necahual’s eyes were wide as saucepans, her weight quickly shifting to her hindlimbs as she rose to an alarmed crouching position. “Who speaks to me with such strife?”

“W-what my League-sister meant t-to say is-” started Lacuaan, voices stuttering as she raced to formulate a rhetoric to save this rapidly collapsing disaster of an audience.

“I heard her words well, Lacuaan, now answer my question, “ commanded Necahual, her words cutting through the tense stillness of the chamber with a clarity of tone that had been entirely absent some minutes ago. “What spirited firebrand have you brought to my court?”

It was not Lacuaan who answered but the firebrand herself, wings rising and chest puffed out in assertive indignation.
“I am Rhododendron of Kaware Bontul, heir to Bontul Keep! My mother is a proud Tlatoani yet she is wise enough to set aside her pride and dedicate herself to the League, which enriches all. You should look to her example!”

“Your mother serves the League because no one cares about Bontul Keep,” sneered Necahual, now rising to her feet. Even as her bedraggled plumage and battered wings seem to hang from her body, her muscles tensed and pulled with unnatural movements. No longer concealed beneath her wings and sagging body feathers, a glistening metallic black chestpiece and limb-pieces of sinister appearance were now revealed. “I rule the City of Stars, and the League serves my benefit, not the other way around.”

“That’s it!” spat Rhododendron, calling two of her retinue from among the procession with an angry chatter of her jaws. With purpose, her well muscled talons came to the shaft of her followers’ glaive. “You insult me, my royal blood, my honored mother, and the League I serve! I will show you your place, old bird!” she bellowed as she drew the weapon from its sheath.

A stunned silence choked the air, wide eyes fixed on the young Miri who now sank into a duelist stance. All except the narrowing eyes of the Tlatoani.
“I admire your bravery, Rhododendron of Kaware Bontul. Your grit is not like any I’ve seen in a very long time, indeed you remind me of my daughters. It is without doubt that I say the Metztli League is made better by the presence of your burning spirit…but you are about to make a terrible mistake. Choose your next words wisely.”

“I challenge you, Necahual, in the name of the Metztli League...and for all those you have trampled in your ancient tyranny!”

With the snap of her digits, Necahual beckoned her honor guard to present her weapon. Her talons wrapped around the shaft of a bizarre and arcane trident, its center a barbed spear flanked by two S-shaped blades. Her fingers game to rest on a custom switch embedded halfway down the weapon’s pole, which was wrapped in wires and covered in a strange and incoherent script.

In a single bound, the ancient Tlatoani lept from her pedestal to meet Rhododendron on the floor of her chamber, her wings open and tail stretched out in mimicry of triumphant flight as she landed on one foot without so much as a twitch or stumble.

The League lords had fallen back, forming into a crescent around the dueling duo. Most looked on in concern, restrained by the sanctity of this tradition. Some concealing a spiteful hope that the aberrant Necahual might finally die here, at last. Only Lacuaan, looked on with a sober demeanor, her eyes widened to take in every detail, the flicker of every movement.

“Rho, do you know what you are doing?” she asked.

The young princeling only nodded, her gaze fixed on her foe with her glaive held forward ready to strike.


“Prepare to meet your destiny, Necahual!” Rhododendron shrieked her dissonant battle cry as she sprang towards her foe, letting loose with a flurry of rapid strikes of her heavy blade, each once barely parried by the prongs of Necahual’s trident. Each clash rang with a sonorous clang of steel on steel, and the shriek of the blades scraping on one another as Rho pressed the attack. She almost couldn’t help the awkward grunts of effort between sharp, focused breaths, as she executed every motion to the same perfection as her mother had imparted to her.

Necahual didn’t seem to be breathing at all, even as she fell back step over step, coming nearly to her pedestal, with only the unnatural strength of her limbs empowering her to push off Rho’s onslaught.

There. The audience of League-sisters scarcely had time to see it, but to Rho the moment was clear and sharp as a shard of obsidian. To Necahual, even more so.

The aberrant Tlatoani didn’t make a single sound, her throats silent as the lunar night, even as every muscular and mechanical fiber of her being tensed and released their power all at once. Rho’s glaive was caught between the prongs of her trident, jammed in place. With a single motion, the trident’s teeth twisted and tore the steel glaive from Rho’s grip, her fresh young claws cutting grooves into the wooden pole as it escaped her grasp.

With a crashing clatter, the weapon fell to the ground. This cacophonous sound was only outstripped by the sudden roar emanating from the teeth of the trident, as tongues of burning energy leaped between the prongs at the silent flick of a switch.

Necahual held her crackling weapon aloft, tensing slowly for her next attack, just slow enough to let her young opponent contemplate her position, and draw a pair of blade-catchers from her sash. The subtle tremble of Rho’s talons as she readied her backup weapons, however brief, could not escape Necahual’s notice.

“Those won’t do you any good, child,” laughed Necahual, with an almost half hearted jab of her trident. Rho parried the blow expertly, only to howl in pain and frustration as a searing pain flooded her limb as the trident’s energies leapt across her own weapon’s blade.

Rho’s blade catchers had only just slipped from her grasp, their metal prongs white hot, when Necahual sprang into the air, trident held at full length as she twisted in a demented corkscrew over her foe. Rho did not have enough time to truly register what was happening, instinctively recoiling just in time to evade the first swing. Yet the crackling trident’s head came around again almost as quickly, and Rho was not so lucky this time.

The young upstart stumbled over her tail as she lurched away from her airborne foe, letting out a terrible howl as the trident’s S-shaped prong cut across her chest, screaming energies searing the wound shut as quickly as it was opened.

Rhododendron tried to bound away, but could only shift uselessly across the cold stone floor. She tried to reach for her fallen blade catcher, but her arms would not respond. Pain filled her being, desperation jarred her mind as she lay on her back before the implacable foe. It was over and she knew it.

“Get up,” barked the victorious Tlatoani. Her trident’s blades loomed over Rho, the profane fingers of its arcing energy threatening to tear into her yet not quite reaching her feathers.


“N-no…” Rhododendron winced and bared her teeth as she summoned what waning strength was left in her to defy her opponent.

“You have fought well, now rise so I may end you rightly,” ordered Necahual, the flashing energies of her weapon vanishing in an instant as she flicked the switch on its grip leaving the sizzling residue of Rho’s blood on its still burning hot blades.

“I refuse!” blurted Rho, “I will not die by your terms.”

Necahual withdrew her trident, drawing it behind her in a ready pose. Many of the League-sisters watching were visibly relieved as that weapon was withdrawn. She bore her teeth as her visage filled with an expression of scorn. “If you will not die with honor, then you will live in shame, princeling. Guard!” she called with a trill, “Cut off her wings, and send her to the Fire Brick Mine. She is no longer fit to breathe my air.”

Necahual’s honor guards strode forward in unison, one retrieving their liege’s trident, the other heaving the defeated body of Rhododendron from the chamber as her League sisters looked on. As the door closed behind her, all of a sudden it seemed as though a spell on Lacuaan had been broken, and the aging merchant began to quickly gesture and whisper to her compatriots, who seemed to murmur in agreement.

The Tlatoani turned a clambered back onto her pedestal, heaving her weight onto it with considerable force. Her limbs once again relaxed, her wings drooping over her body as she settled back into a relaxed position. Her loose skin and bony body were just the same as they had been prior, although the recent demonstration fresh in the onlookers minds prevented them from mistaking her apparently withered form as feeble or weak as she once again lay sprawled on her throne pedestal.

“Now,” trilled Necahual with an icy calm, “Remind me, as it seems I’ve forgotten...what was it you wanted to discuss with me?”

Lacuaan the Old stepped forward, carefully avoiding Rho’s glaive and blade catchers which lay scattered still on the smooth stone floor. Jade beads dangled from her ornate clothing as she bowed respectfully, spreading her wings towards the floor as a sign of subordination.

“T-the position of League Master has been vac-cant for nearly a decade,” Lacuaan began, building her composure back up mid sentence as she choked down fresh images of Rho’s fate. “Without a worthy officer for this post, the Metztli League has not been operating at full strength.”
Necahual raised a talon with a flourish, theatrically indicating indifference. “Why does this concern me?”

“We would like to extend the position of League Master to you, Necahual the Perennial, our most respected and...feared member. Your strength and mercy are self-evident.”

Necahual smiled at this, letting escape an amused chitter. “You want me to serve as your League Master? And why would I do that?”

“Well, you would speak directly to the Sovereign herself on our behalf. We would vest you with the authority to treat with her in the name of the League and the twin moons. It is a position of rank and high standing even among our council, a post befitting a member such as yourself. As League Master, you would have many powers and...responsibilities I’m sure could be delegated to lower League officers without issue,” Lacuaan’s neck stiffened, her face growing tense as she could see the flicker of boredom in Necahual’s eyes.

“The League Master is commander in chief of our military forces!” chimed in one of Lacuaan’s aides, only to immediately shrink away as Necahual’s gaze fell on her.

There was silence for a moment, a whiff of lingering tension as the court paused to recall the last time an upstart had spoken up to Necahual. That tension wafted away as Necahual mustered a laugh, a heaving, coughing laugh.
“Why didn’t you start with that, Lacuaan, you fool.”

“You would … only be our formal commander in chief during peacetime, as our member guilds and princes maintain their own standing armies. That role only comes into play if the League enters a state of war, which we....don’t...anticipate…” Lacuaan trailed off as she looked up to see the Tlatoani looking on with a gesture of approval.

“I accept your offer, young Lacuaan. Command of your armies pleases me. Diplomatic duty, executive powers...I’m sure I'll find a use for this. I, Tlatoani Necahual of the City of Stars, will serve as League Master in the name of the Metztli League.”

She let her triumphant declaration resonate for a moment, her gaze lifted to the stars for a brief moment before falling again on her League-sisters.

“Anything else you would have of me?”

There was nothing else. No one was going to bring up the holocall issue again.

“Excellent, then you may return to your guilds and your business, as I’m sure I’ve taken up enough of your time.” She said, gesturing for the herald to usher her guests from her presence. “I look forward to seeing you all again soon. Don’t worry, you may take as long as you wish preparing my first briefing as League Master. I can wait.”

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

Postby Senkaku » Wed Mar 31, 2021 1:43 pm

The Resident




Bam bam bam bam bam bam bam.

“Hey, hello, it’s the plumber…”

16 Red-sky awoke with a start as the sound of a human pounding on the door filtered from the front hall back to his sleeping chamber. What the hell? What plumber? He flicked the lid off his resting pod, sitting up to sniffle and fidget for a moment before levitating out of the pod and alighting gently on his small webbed feet. The clock on his bedside table showed the local time wasn’t even the eighth hour of the day, and he grimaced slightly as he put on the holo-headband sitting next to it before padding out through the living room to the front hall.

The human started to knock again, and 16 Red-sky levitated to put his eyes level with the peephole in the door—it was a male in workman’s garb, alone besides a little case he had set on the floor next to him. The humans could be a savage bunch, but they were crafty enough that 16 Red-sky felt sure they knew better than to only send a lone assassin, which left the question: why the hell was there a plumber at his door, at 7:52 in the morning?

He tapped the holo-headband’s audio control dial, grimacing again as the unpleasant tingle of its sonic field tickled the back of his throat. “What plumber? I didn’t ask for any plumber. Who are you?”

The human seemed nonplussed. “Your landlady said your kitchen sink needed fixing? This is 13C, right?”

16 Red-sky looked away from the door into his tiny kitchen, just off the front hall, where his dripping faucet was slowly tapping away in the grey morning light. It had been almost two weeks since he’d complained for a second time about it to Zola—he summoned his human phone from his room with a flick of the wrist, opening his email. It would be just like her to have emailed him while he was sleeping, and sure enough—14:30 the previous day, she’d written to tell him a plumber would come by at some point between 7:30 and 13:45 today. God damnit, Zola. I fucking hate this planet’s short-ass days.

He opened the door, hoping the holo-headband could approximate an apologetic smile despite the jumbled confusion of his sleep-addled thoughts. “Oh, sorry, I, uh, forgot she said you were coming today. It’s just in there,” he said, pointing at the kitchen sink.

The man barely looked at him, cloaked as he was in human form, simply nodding and picking up his toolbox before walking to the sink. “Okay, thanks—sorry if I woke you.”

“Don’t worry about it,” 16 Red-sky replied. “How long do you think you’ll be?”

“I’ll need to take a look to be sure, but these things usually don’t take longer than an hour,” the plumber replied, opening the drawers beneath the sink and sinking to his knees. 16 Red-sky nodded and walked back to his room, closing the door and taking off the holo-headband as he continued scrolling through the rest of his inbox. His foodmaker was humming quietly in the corner, having noticed he was up, and he squinted at it from across the room, adjusting the stimulant dial. No point going back to sleep, you might as well start getting ready for that thing in Argentina.

As he started chewing one of his chlorine supplements, though, he suddenly heard a creak and the patter of footsteps, and then a shocked human scream from the kitchen. Oh, fuck. He quickly snatched up the holo-headband, darting back out of his room—sure enough, the door to 12 Sword-moon’s room was open, and his bodyguard was hustling back down the hall towards him with a surprised expression. “There’s a human in the kitchen!”

16 Red-sky extended a hand, bringing his inept assistant to a sudden stop in midair. “I know, you fucking idiot, Zola sent a plumber to fix the damn sink. Where the hell is your holo-headband?”

“I thought it was just you making some human food to take to Argentina or something, since when was Zola sending us a plumber?”

16 Red-sky shook his head, stepping past 12 Sword-moon to poke his head into the kitchen, where the plumber was frozen in shock. “Sorry about that, just stay right there, okay? Everything’s going to be—”

The man, wild-eyed, started to swing a wrench at him, and 16 Red-sky backed up, turning back to 12 Sword-moon. “Get your hand-ray, now we’re going to have to dump him somewhere.” Of course this is how this day starts. So much for an early start on prepping for Argentina!

12 Sword-moon rushed back into his own room, and 16 Red-sky listened to him rummaging around for a moment before he re-emerged. The plumber, apparently coming out of his initial shock, had the sense to make a break for the main door, but 16 Red-sky hurled him back against the refrigerator with enough force that the man’s ribs audibly crunched and he collapsed in a heap. 12 Sword-moon rushed past his boss with a small black device, pointing it at the crumpled human, and 16 Red-sky covered his earholes and winced as it gave off a brief ringing squeal.

“Okay, what should we do with it?”, 12 Sword-moon asked.

16 Red-sky threw his compatriot across the room—more gently than he had the plumber, but still enough to hurt—and gave a hiss of frustration. “When I said we, I meant you, because I still have to get ready for Argentina. Put him in a sim for a bit so he thinks he got hit by a car on the way here, maybe? And then just put him in the street and call an ambulance… I don’t want to have Zola freak out about a disappeared plumber, or that damn faucet is never getting fixed. And next time you hear a fucking noise in the apartment and you don’t know what it is, put your fucking holo-headband on.”

12 Sword-moon hung his head. “Sorry, sir. I’ll take care of it.”
haters will see you growing on a finite planet and say you can't grow infinitely

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