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Tales From The Forest [IC]Forest/open mystery no war (P)MT

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Caracasus
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Founded: Apr 23, 2015
Left-wing Utopia

Tales From The Forest [IC]Forest/open mystery no war (P)MT

Postby Caracasus » Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:32 am

I don't really think that it's a cover-up, you know? I know what Nineday House said - sorry, Nineday House is Caracasus's armed forces headquarters. I'll try not to do that, you know - assume that your readers are going to know everything about Caracasus from the start. If I do, stop me will you?

So we are recording now? Okay. You're not the only one writing a book on this, you realise? I've had a few people interview me. "The first to see the ship!" and of course, everything that followed. So where were we? Ah, yes - how it all started.

So the ship. We know now that it was the Jarquir. I didn't know that when I first saw it, looming out of the mist. It'd rolled in overnight - from the sea. Mist isn't unusual for that time of year. The dock was pretty cold, I remember that. I remember thinking about heading back for a thicker coat.

I knew it was a damn warship, I'll tell you that much. I'm not exactly an expert in warships, so I couldn't tell where or when it was from - only that it was really, really old and trying to dock in completely the wrong harbour. Blue Star Rising dock hasn't been a military harbour since the Orion Conflict. And back then, any harbour was requisitioned by Nineday House if it was needed.

I remember seeing the damn thing - its guns sticking out of its deck. A small plane resting on something that looked kind of like a crane. Of course I raised the alarm - and a good half hour later... well, you know the story. We all know it now. Military trucks rolled up within the hour, the entire damn dock was quarantined and I was asked to leave.

It was only a couple of days later I learned about the Jarquir. Now I looked it up as soon as the press released the name. It was a frigate apparently - one of Caracasus's main fleet. Back in the bad days - during the Orion Hegemony conflict - well, as you know Caracasus was losing and losing badly. The Jarquir wasn't a well made ship. It was part of a class that has long since been decommissioned or sold off to slightly dodgy allied nations. The odd thing here is that the Jarquir had been reported missing, presumed sunk by an Orion submarine, seventy years ago. Now how did a, let's face it here, glorified bathtub with guns stuck on it survive seventy years with barely a patch of rust? The ship I saw gleamed as if it had just left the dry dock.

Of course there are odder things. Nineday House's refusal to release any information on the vessel for one. That's not unusual in itself - any old ordinance or uncovered remains of the Orion Conflict is always locked down. What is unusual is they released no information and utterly refused to clarify if anyone was found on board the ship - nothing. There was fifty sailors on board. What the hell happened to them?

I'm not sure whether the other incidents - sorry, events they're calling them now - in other countries happened at the same time, or if the governments of the other countries just sat on them. We couldn't - you can't exactly hide a 70 year old battleship reappearing as fresh as the day it vanished. Anyway, I'm sure you have other people to interview, so I'll let you get on with it!

Okay, new RP primarily for Forest. OOC thread will be up at some point. TG me for interest. Forestians who already have your starting point, you don't have to use the same style as I have, I just thought this would make a good intro. Feel free to post however you like.
Last edited by Caracasus on Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
As an editor I seam to spend an awful lot of thyme going threw issues and checking that they're no oblivious errars. Its a tough job but someone's got too do it!



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Chan Island
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Founded: Nov 26, 2015
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Chan Island » Thu Apr 12, 2018 4:48 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0Md9qwWQBI

(Just to set the mood).

..........

Jorge Shaft, the leader of Chan Island, looked upon the reports from Caracasus with concern. There had definitely been cases of ghost ships washing up ashore, but this one was clearly different. It was 70 years old- itself an achievement for a ghost ship staying afloat, and yet... there was so much extra. The ship hadn't rusted a bit, despite being of a laughably bad class. He remembered seeing a sister ship of the Jarquir docking in one of Chan Island's harbours as a child, only 10 years after the Orion Conflict - and even then the class was widely acknowledged to be barely seaworthy rust bucket.

The worst part though, was definitely the ... intelligence. This ship seemed to be sailing straight towards the harbour, as if it was expecting to dock there as usual. If the Caracasus military hadn't intervened, then who knows what could have happened? And that's assuming nobody was in the vessel, a rational assumption for a ship that had gone missing for 70 years and had never seen the land since then. If there were people on there, then who?! The spies so far haven't been able to determine that.

As an island country, Chan Island would be in an especially vulnerable position if this augured something nasty from the sea. The place would be attacked from all sides, with nothing but the insanely huge quantity of heavy weaponry on the island to stop it.

Determined to do something for his people, Jorge Shaft put forward a communique to the Caracasus government, politely asking for information about the Jarquir.
Conserative Morality wrote:"It's not time yet" is a tactic used by reactionaries in every era. "It's not time for democracy, it's not time for capitalism, it's not time for emancipation." Of course it's not time. It's never time, not on its own. You make it time. If you're under fire in the no-man's land of WW1, you start digging a foxhole even if the ideal time would be when you *aren't* being bombarded, because once you wait for it to be 'time', other situations will need your attention, assuming you survive that long. If the fields aren't furrowed, plow them. If the iron is not hot, make it so. If society is not ready, change it.

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Terrabod
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Ex-Nation

Postby Terrabod » Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:31 am

It was the middle of the night, and the headquarters of the Science Division had never been fuller.

The brightest minds of Terrabod stood in small clusters, talking in hushed tones with one another. On one of the sleek metal walls of the headquarters was a vast screen, about a metre in diameter, which looked somewhat like a large porthole. As a red dot faded in on the centre of the screen, the people in the room fell silent.

Good evening, members of the Science Division, the screen said, a robotic purr in its voice. Two hours ago the Military Division registered an unusual anomaly on their above-ground echolocation receivers. The scans appear to show an unidentified structure present where none was previously located. The structure is to the south-west of the remains of Snoddbodia, on the southernmost edge of the Radiation Region.

During the past two hours the receivers have been recalibrated fifty-five times, and all other systems have been checked for the possibility of error. There is no error. I therefore want a team of scientific specialists to be sent in order to investigate this mysterious structure. I have briefed the Chief Scientist, who will be in charge of selecting the team. Thank you.

The screen went dark once more.

Cynthia Shaw moved to face the crowd of experts. As she spoke, only the slightest hint of emotion crossed her face. "Due to the nuclear reactor initiative we're limited with respect to the number of personnel that can be spared for this venture, particularly as it may turn out to be a waste of time. As this object is due south of Snoddbodia, I think it may be prudent to send Dr Walters and Dr Stevenson. Hopefully on the way past the remains of the city they will have the opportunity to take samples for their current project. I would also like to send Miss Johnson due to her expertise in the geography and terrestrial biomes of Terrabod.

A brief and uncharacteristic look of indignation temporarily warped her features. "I am told that they will be accompanied by Bernard Davidson-Stewart of the Military Division 'for their security'. My concerns that this situation should be approached with scientific curiosity alone have been ignored. If there are any objections to these decisions please state them now."

The room remained silent.

"Very well," she continued. "Dr Walters, Dr Stevenson and Miss Johnson, please come to my office now to collect provisions for the journey. The team are to leave first thing tomorrow."
Last edited by Terrabod on Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:08 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Frieden-und Freudenland
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Democratic Socialists

Postby Frieden-und Freudenland » Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:44 pm

Fiona flipped the switch and the coffee machine stopped gurgling. She filled her cup with a weary yawn. "Could you wrap your head around this mysterious battalion yet?" she asked with a sleepy voice.

The only reply she got from her grumpy husband was a grunt.

"You know, Orson, you're a real morning grouch, sometimes," she muttered.

"It's all hogwash, and you too believe in it!" snarled Orson, without looking up from his newspaper.

"I thought you would know, of all people. You are supposed to be briefed on it from those at the top, not reading about it in Friedenspost."

"For dolphins' sake, woman, why should they give us a briefing on an old wives' tale? I repeat: WE.DO.NOT.HAVE.AN.ARMY! We never had one!"

Fiona was visibly hurt.

"I can't believe it has come to this. There was a time when you would share everything with me. If it's top-secret information that you're forbidden from sharing with even your dearest, tell me so and I'll understand. But an old wives' tale? This is pathetic!"

Orson silently folded the newspaper and laid it on the table. "I am leaving. Don't call me at work, this will be a busy day."

"I won't."

The door clicked shut behind Orson.

While Fiona was sipping her coffee with a frown on her face, the phone on the wall rang.

"Hello, the Delacroix residence."
---
"Yes, Sir."
---
"I'm afraid not, Sir. He was as taciturn as ever."
---
"I apologize for that. I assure you, it won't happen again."
---
"Usually at 5pm. But he expects to have a busier day today, so maybe at 6?"
---
"Certainly. I'm coming right away."
Last edited by Frieden-und Freudenland on Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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The Cypher Nine
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby The Cypher Nine » Thu Apr 12, 2018 10:11 pm

Cypher 5 squinted as he looked at the reports from the VAT Center.

"Mrs. 323432, while I also do not appreciate pranks it is not even the correct day. Please get back to work." He says, throwing the paper back at his secretary.

323432 hesitates but finally replies, "Sir, you know I am incapable of finding humor in pranks as requested. This is real."

He sighs knowing he has been bested and snatches the paper back from her. "Have we contacted any other nations about this?"

"No Sir. However, we have several reports from neighboring nations that..um..similar things have occurred." She swallows hard.

"Stress response 323432? Now you have me interested." He says finally looking up at her.

"Well, its just uh...its hard to believe. But all these nations couldn't fake something. Could they Sir?" She asks eagerly.

"No, of course not. But this is what they have us for, to quell the thoughts of any so called boogie monsters." Cypher 5 smiles as he imagines all the dimwitted citizens of Forest buying into the initial story.

"So sir, do you want me to send a communique back to the science coalition?" She says as Cypher 5 hands her back the reports.

"Yes, but don't include our own...problem. Just let them know they have the full support of our nations scientific resources and tech to get to the bottom of this." Cypher 5 looks back down to his displays and continues working.

"Yes sir." 323432 says as she hurriedly rushes out of the Science Ministers office.

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Caracasus
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Postby Caracasus » Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:32 am

Channing Townton - The Chan Islands


Ambassador Kene woke to the sound of seagulls and the smell of saltwater. The Caracasusian ambassadorial commune bobbed lazily in the wake of a larger boat's departure. The Hands Up! It's us! was due to depart today, the Red Handed Bastards fleet having won rights of pillage. Though on the islands one could never be completely sure. A rival might have woken early and decided to set course first. It would not be the first time.

Kene's walk took him past the plaza of stolen gods. This part of the jetty and pier cobbled together city sprouted pagodas, church spires, minarets and even a violet arch. Together they were mashed into one segment - the Plaza called all and none to worship, the sound of bells, of loudhailers and stranger exotic instruments blended with the shouts and cries of the adjoining market plazas - though plaza felt like the wrong word for the islander's habit of beaching a large tanker or freighter, filling it with concrete and lashing it to the wooden jetties that formed the walkways about the city. Above them wires tangled like spiderwebs. Above all, a jury rigged weapons platform turned its beady eyes this way and that, ever watchful for enemies.

A quick detour took Kene through the Island Museum. Never officially set out to be a museum, the artifacts were arranged in a hodgepodge fashion - largely donated by famous (or infamous) captains and quartermasters. The musty museum smell permeated all - and clearly the Islanders had looted or bought in some expertise in preservation. Old flags lay behind glass. Hermetically sealed.

Here some exhibits needed no name, no place of origin. They were ingrained in the collective psyche.

Here lay the first foundation of the Chan Islanders. A pile of dirt. Rumoured to have been bought back by explorers, it was placed at the feet of assembled pirate lords some six hundred years ago. It was a promise. Not gold, but land. A place to grow, to have children - to survive and become more than scavengers.

The islands had been swiftly colonised. What little arable soil there was dedicated to the growing of crops. It was this that led to the cities and towns of the islands themselves. Laws and orders banned the construction of buildings on farmland - so great was the need for fresh food. Instead, the builders built outwards. They built jetties, peers and bridges between the islands. Old boats decommissioned saw later life as part of a sprawling, ever changing metropolis. Later came skyscrapers - stolen oil rigs bolted in place and built upon. The ingenuity of the islanders knew few boundries.

And here was another artifact that needed no introduction. A broken glider and a sheaf of papers so weathered the lettering could not be read.

When the Chan Island pirates launched a petition to be taken as a sovereign state, the five great powers of the day decided that their activities could no longer be tolerated. It was one thing to steal, but it was entirely another to muscle in on their turf - that of an established state legitimizing theft. Five hundred warships, one hundred from each nation, set sail for the islands.

The islander's armada numbered perhaps two fifty, and many were not war ships. It should have been just another brutal, bloody footnote in history if it were not for the gliders and the papers.

Upon the first morning of the five day sea battle, thirty brave pirate pilots flew canvass gliders out across the enemy fleet. Fearing Orion Fire, the five nations armada shot down the pilots as quickly as they could. What the gilders dropped was much more incendiary however.

Pamphlets in five different languages spoke to the sailors and marines on the ships. It told them that the pirates would offer safe harbour to any ship that did not fight - as long as it first dispatched of its officers. It told them that if a ship joined sides with the pirates - after of course dispatching the officers - then its sailors would get first choice of bounty and the ship they sailed for their own. It instructed sabotage, mutiny and treason and it was effective.

The largely pressganged and conscripted crews eyed the officers on every single one of the armada ships. Accounts vary as to how many ships actually joined the pirates - some say fifty, others fifteen. The blow hit not the armada's numbers and ships but its morale. No officer could trust his soldiers and sailors. No sailor could trust the orders of an officer.

The battle dragged on for five days, still horribly mismatched. The damage done by a few gliders and a few pamphlets was enough though. The armada, in spite of doing horrific damage to the pirates, failed in its objective and was unable to destroy the pirate fleet. The world would have to live with a nation of pirates after all.

Ambassador Kene reflected on the exhibits as he prepared to meet his opposite number.
As an editor I seam to spend an awful lot of thyme going threw issues and checking that they're no oblivious errars. Its a tough job but someone's got too do it!



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Frieden-und Freudenland
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Democratic Socialists

Postby Frieden-und Freudenland » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:09 am

The Headquarters of the Primary Intelligence Agency (PIA)

"Dear companions, I'd like to start our emergency meeting without losing any t-, excuse me." Commander Peabody took a moment to clear his throat and sip some water from his can. "Yes, we have no time to lose. I'm sure you've all heard about the latest developments. About a horde of highly confused madmen wearing military uniforms adorned with medals and decorations that carry the Frieden-und Freudenlandian insignia, strolling in the Dolphin City National Park with their heavy, albeit outdated, armour; and instilling fear and panic in our populace. The whole tomfoolery of the matter, and the environmental damage wrought in the park set aside; I hope you see the magnitude of the security threat we are facing. I regret to say that our once-glorious nation is now in such a miserable state that a group of abominable hoodlums can somehow manage to purchase discarded military equipment from some other nation through illegal means, create fake military uniforms and other paraphernalia appurtenant to a regular army; and roam around in our national parks! For dolphins' sake! Their guns may be old and rusty, but the reports that we received from our Ballistics Department indicate that they all functioned very well. What if these maniacs had killed our people before we had a chance to arrest them? What are we doing here if we cannot ensure the safety of our people? We are supposed to be a pacifist nation where no citizen can possess firearms, and yet we are so neglectful of our duties that scores of mentally ill people can smuggle guns and tanks and what not to our country and wander in our forests without anyone noticing them for days! We should all be ashamed of ourselves!"

Commander Peabody took a pause and let his gaze scour his agents, and the agents dropped their heads in shame as the commander's eyes met theirs.

"I should probably resign immediately, and force all of you to resign, too; since Frieden-und Freudenland and its wonderful people do not deserve this disgrace!" he thundered. "But I will not do so. At least not yet. Our country may be in grave danger, and our service is sorely needed. As a country, we have tried to befriend everyone so far, but we clearly have some enemies. Our priority must be to eliminate those bastards who have provided a bunch of bandits with military equipment to harm our people. Who can say that they will not be arming terrorists to attack us at the next opportunity?"

"What if they are not bandits, or madmen?" a faint but determined voice asked from the back of the room.

"Who said that? Speak up!" the commander yelled.

"It's me," one of the agents said, standing up and taking several steps forward. "You told us that the military uniforms they were wearing were fake, and that the military equipment they used was smuggled from somewhere else. But how can you be certain of that? Our labs have established that the bullets that these guys had inside their guns were made of an alloy of lead, nickel, and friedenium; and as you well know, we are the only nation in Forest that has friedenium mines. This really undermines the credibility of your claim that their equipment was from somewhere else. Their ammunition, at least, seems to be a domestic product, since we do not export any friedenium."

"What nonsense is this, Agent Delacroix?" Commander Peabody roared. "Are you accusing our glorious nation of going against its foundational principle of pacifism, and insinuate that we have been manufacturing ammunition?"

"No, Sir," Agent Delacroix answered in a deferential tone of voice. "I would never want to say that. But the evidence there is... it leaves me no other option than to doubt the history books."

Commander Peabody was turning red. "A traitor, huh? And within our premises! Unbelievable! What else, Agent Delacroix? Do you also believe that these vagabonds are Frieden-und Freudenlandian soldiers?"

"As a matter of fact, I was going to ask about that as well," said Agent Delacroix, apparently unperturbed. "Just take a look at today's newspapers, they are all aflare with the rumor that Frieden-und Freudenland did have an army in the past, contrary to what the citizens have been told all along! And frankly, I cannot believe that all 300 men and women we have found in the Dolphin City National Park are mentally ill. Nor can I believe that they are terrorists, considering that they haven't shown any intention to harm anyone, and many of them were practically emaciated due to malnourishment. They have probably been wandering in the forest in utter confusion, until the guards in the national park found them."

Commander Peabody kept silent in the face of these bold accusations, though the redness of his face gave away how infuriated he was. As Orson Delacroix waited for a verbal response from Commander Peabody in vain, he felt a cold hand on his right shoulder. A swift hand bent his arms back and put handcuffs on him. Commander Peabody nodded with satisfaction.

"Agent Happonen, you know what to do," he said. When Orson Delacroix turned slightly, he saw his colleague Gennaro Happonen standing behind him, with a stone-cold face.

While Agent Happonen quickly frogmarched Orson Delacroix from the meeting room, Commander Peabody resumed his tongue lashing.

"Where the hell are you taking me, Gennaro?" asked Orson while they walked through the white corridor with its glaring fluorescent lights.

"You're damn right about that, you are going to hell," Gennaro giggled.

"What?"

"You're going to the place where traitors like you end up - to our correctional facility." Gennaro said in a serious tone.

"What correctional facility, Gennaro? We have no prisons here!"

"That's right, but that rule doesn't apply to potential traitors like you. What do you expect us to do? We can't let you run freely and spread your incendiary ideas all across the country, especially not in these delicate times. Don't worry about it, though. Be a good boy in there, and you might be released once the danger has passed."
Last edited by Frieden-und Freudenland on Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
When I write, I don't have an accent.

My issues

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Chan Island
Minister
 
Posts: 2310
Founded: Nov 26, 2015
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Chan Island » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:57 am

Caracasus wrote:
Channing Townton - The Chan Islands


Ambassador Kene woke to the sound of seagulls and the smell of saltwater. The Caracasusian ambassadorial commune bobbed lazily in the wake of a larger boat's departure. The Hands Up! It's us! was due to depart today, the Red Handed Bastards fleet having won rights of pillage. Though on the islands one could never be completely sure. A rival might have woken early and decided to set course first. It would not be the first time.

Kene's walk took him past the plaza of stolen gods. This part of the jetty and pier cobbled together city sprouted pagodas, church spires, minarets and even a violet arch. Together they were mashed into one segment - the Plaza called all and none to worship, the sound of bells, of loudhailers and stranger exotic instruments blended with the shouts and cries of the adjoining market plazas - though plaza felt like the wrong word for the islander's habit of beaching a large tanker or freighter, filling it with concrete and lashing it to the wooden jetties that formed the walkways about the city. Above them wires tangled like spiderwebs. Above all, a jury rigged weapons platform turned its beady eyes this way and that, ever watchful for enemies.

A quick detour took Kene through the Island Museum. Never officially set out to be a museum, the artifacts were arranged in a hodgepodge fashion - largely donated by famous (or infamous) captains and quartermasters. The musty museum smell permeated all - and clearly the Islanders had looted or bought in some expertise in preservation. Old flags lay behind glass. Hermetically sealed.

Here some exhibits needed no name, no place of origin. They were ingrained in the collective psyche.

Here lay the first foundation of the Chan Islanders. A pile of dirt. Rumoured to have been bought back by explorers, it was placed at the feet of assembled pirate lords some six hundred years ago. It was a promise. Not gold, but land. A place to grow, to have children - to survive and become more than scavengers.

The islands had been swiftly colonised. What little arable soil there was dedicated to the growing of crops. It was this that led to the cities and towns of the islands themselves. Laws and orders banned the construction of buildings on farmland - so great was the need for fresh food. Instead, the builders built outwards. They built jetties, peers and bridges between the islands. Old boats decommissioned saw later life as part of a sprawling, ever changing metropolis. Later came skyscrapers - stolen oil rigs bolted in place and built upon. The ingenuity of the islanders knew few boundries.

And here was another artifact that needed no introduction. A broken glider and a sheaf of papers so weathered the lettering could not be read.

When the Chan Island pirates launched a petition to be taken as a sovereign state, the five great powers of the day decided that their activities could no longer be tolerated. It was one thing to steal, but it was entirely another to muscle in on their turf - that of an established state legitimizing theft. Five hundred warships, one hundred from each nation, set sail for the islands.

The islander's armada numbered perhaps two fifty, and many were not war ships. It should have been just another brutal, bloody footnote in history if it were not for the gliders and the papers.

Upon the first morning of the five day sea battle, thirty brave pirate pilots flew canvass gliders out across the enemy fleet. Fearing Orion Fire, the five nations armada shot down the pilots as quickly as they could. What the gilders dropped was much more incendiary however.

Pamphlets in five different languages spoke to the sailors and marines on the ships. It told them that the pirates would offer safe harbour to any ship that did not fight - as long as it first dispatched of its officers. It told them that if a ship joined sides with the pirates - after of course dispatching the officers - then its sailors would get first choice of bounty and the ship they sailed for their own. It instructed sabotage, mutiny and treason and it was effective.

The largely pressganged and conscripted crews eyed the officers on every single one of the armada ships. Accounts vary as to how many ships actually joined the pirates - some say fifty, others fifteen. The blow hit not the armada's numbers and ships but its morale. No officer could trust his soldiers and sailors. No sailor could trust the orders of an officer.

The battle dragged on for five days, still horribly mismatched. The damage done by a few gliders and a few pamphlets was enough though. The armada, in spite of doing horrific damage to the pirates, failed in its objective and was unable to destroy the pirate fleet. The world would have to live with a nation of pirates after all.

Ambassador Kene reflected on the exhibits as he prepared to meet his opposite number.


Soon, the delegation arrived. A Chan Islander government official, flanked by 2 bodyguards. The man approach and shook ambassador Kene's hand,"Welcome to Chan Island. I hope your journey was a pleasant one?"

After the simple pleasantries were exchanged, the official formally introduced himself, "I am Xi Li. I work for the direct office of the dear leader."

Ambassador Kene definitely knew what this meant: top secret meeting. Only the inner, inner circle.

Xi Li showed the Caracasus man towards the museum cafe, suspiciously cleared of all personnel but a single waiter. The cafe's decor is in amazingly good taste, with just the right balance between whitewashed walls and hung artefacts to really give it that "we are a professional museum" look. Xi Li points towards one wall at a musket. He offers an explanation,"That musket was used by infamous pirate Fred Gorgon to fight Caracasus's own navy actually. It's said he killed over a dozen of your people over the course of his career."

Leaving the ambassador to silently stew on the displayed weapon, he then adds, "How times change. And yet, I have troubling reports about potential future .... concerns... from the ocean. I have it on authority that the Jarquir, a gunboat from the Orion Conflict, appeared in one of your harbours, in mint condition. We know for sure this is true, however are seeking more information on the circumstances of this... anomaly. Speak freely, anything you say will be heard by myself, Agents Sparks, Bubblegum and Chester."

Naturally, that leaves one to assume that the waiter, standing to attention waiting for an order, is a secret agent. Xi Li adopts a relaxed posture as he waits for Kene's response.
Conserative Morality wrote:"It's not time yet" is a tactic used by reactionaries in every era. "It's not time for democracy, it's not time for capitalism, it's not time for emancipation." Of course it's not time. It's never time, not on its own. You make it time. If you're under fire in the no-man's land of WW1, you start digging a foxhole even if the ideal time would be when you *aren't* being bombarded, because once you wait for it to be 'time', other situations will need your attention, assuming you survive that long. If the fields aren't furrowed, plow them. If the iron is not hot, make it so. If society is not ready, change it.

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Terrabod
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Founded: Jan 10, 2018
Ex-Nation

Postby Terrabod » Fri Apr 13, 2018 1:32 pm

“So…”

The four members of the group walked away from the vast, multifaceted dome that contained the highest levels of the subterranean Terrabod City. The sun had just crested the impenetrable mountain range that bordered the island nation of Terrabod on all sides, illuminating the wide valley ahead of the expedition team. They walked two-by-two; in front, Dr Vira Walters and Dr Ian Stevenson led for the first segment of the journey, while a few paces behind Nish Johnson and Private Bernard Davidson-Stewart brought up the rear.

“So…?” Nish looked over at Bernard.

“So… we’re going to be walking all the way to this thing, aren’t we, Miss Johnson? Instead of just using one of those TransMat things. Wouldn’t that be much faster?”

“First of all,” she replied, “it’s Nish. Secondly, in order to transmit living matter across any distance you need to have a ‘sender’ and a ‘receiver’ at each end – those things that look like phone booths. No one’s been to where we’re going, at least not since the War, so there’s definitely no receiver for us to use near this so-called ‘structure’.”

Bernard’s eyes lit up. “Right! And that’s why we haven’t made contact with the people on the mainland yet – because we need to send them the instructions to build a TransMat device before we can get there.”

“Well, that and the fact that with the current range of our TransMat systems we can barely reach halfway across the ocean.”

They walked in silence for some time. After the end of the Thousand-Year War, much of southern Terrabod became inhospitable to almost all life; this area being referred to as the ‘Radiation Region’. Northern areas were also affected to a lesser degree – the landscape that the group of explorers walked through was empty and bleak, but also beautiful in a way that only such a landscape can be.

Nish felt Bernard’s eyes on her while they walked.

“What?” she turned to him, a smile playing across her lips.

“So… how did you end up on this expedition?” he asked. “I mean, you were told to go, just like I was, but I’ll bet the Science Division didn’t send just anybody.”

“I’m working on a PhD based on identifying features of the different biomes of Terrabod from a purely post-war perspective. We have quite a bit of information on what Terrabod was like before the end of the War, but practically nothing on the current state of our environment. For example, the limited data I’ve collected on plant life in the grassland to the north has indicated-”

She was cut off by a soft bleep from a device around her wrist. After calling for Vira and Ian to stop, the expedition team gathered around her. Ian proceeded to pass around a packet of high-energy snacks.

Nish addressed the group. “We need to start moving southwest from here towards the jungle – if we keep this pace up we should make it there by nightfall, and we can pop-up the tents at the jungle’s edge.”

“Question,” said Ian. “Why don’t we just avoid the jungle completely and go south instead of southwest? It’ll be faster and much more direct.”

“If you would prefer to walk across a radiological minefield, in which some of the War-period mines may still be active and incredibly deadly, please, go ahead.” The way Ian went pale was enough to make Nish laugh out loud, and the rest of their team wasn’t long in joining in.

Still smiling, she spoke to the group. “Provided we aren’t eaten by something horrible in the jungle, don’t succumb to radiation poisoning and don’t die in any other War-period traps set up near Snoddbodia, we could be at the city by lunchtime tomorrow. From there it’s only a couple more hours until we reach this enigmatic ‘structure’ and find out what it really is. In other words, it’s as easy as peach soufflé!”

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Uan aa Boa
Diplomat
 
Posts: 572
Founded: Apr 23, 2017
Democratic Socialists

Postby Uan aa Boa » Sun Apr 15, 2018 8:06 am

The Director's conference room was dominated by a long mahogany table that could seat 16, but now she was alone except for her personal secretary. The meeting's other participants were displayed on the main wall screen, the display split into 8 sections: representatives of the Revolutionary Workers' Councils for the Interior, for Foreign Affairs and for Science and Technology, Intelligence and Counter-Espionage services, the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Workers' Armed Forces, the computing project known simply as Analysis (in the person of a bland-faced AI avatar) and, most surprisingly, the Chairman's Secretariat. The old man might even be listening. The Director revised the degree of seriousness with which she had initially taken the summons.

"Comrades," began the Chairman's representative, "I presume you've digested the reports. This is somewhat different to the earlier sightings."

Counter-Espionage: "Indeed. In this incident Lotoa physically took the microphone and addressed an audience in Revolutionary Square and, via live broadcast, the rest of the country. Physically as in he was observed to be holding it. He spoke for almost 5 minutes on the subject of revolutionary self-sacrifice, which he said was the reason he was giving up his place on the Mars colony mission to devote his attention to pressing matters here on Earth. Then he simply walked away into the crowd."

Armed Forces: "Despite the fact that he took a one-way ticket to Mars 20 years ago? I take it the real Lotoa is still there?"

Science and Technology: "And as baffled as everyone else. Also, though he hasn't aged in the same way due to the lower gravity, definitely not the 20 years ago youthful version we saw today."

Chairman's Secretariat: "So the question is, how was it done, by whom and why?"

Intelligence: "This appears not to be an isolated incident. We believe that at least 4 other nations in Forest are dealing with, in one form or another, the reappearance of something or someone, frequently military, from a number of years ago. In terms of size and length of absence ours is far from the most severe example."

Analysis: "Diverting resources to examine web traffic in detail we find a 2760% increase in chatter relating to incidents of this type, beginning a week ago and coinciding with the first reported sightings of Lotoa."

Foreign Affairs: "On it's own it would be a troubling incident but as part of a wave of coordinated incident across the region..."

The Director: "Fingerprints from the microphone? DNA?"

Counter-Espionage: "He wore gloves. Which are not part of the uniform he was otherwise wearing."

The Director: "An actor then."

Analysis: "If so an actor of unprecedented skill. Analysis of the recording gives a positive identification with 98% confidence. Relatively easy to achieve on video or as an image but hard to reconcile with the physical handling of the microphone."

Chairman's Secretariat: "Director, you are to assume responsibility for coordinating our response to this situation with immediate effect. Whatever resources you require will be made available. You will report to me personally on a daily basis and when anything significant comes to light. Questions?"

After a few seconds of silence the screen went dark.

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Caracasus
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Posts: 6184
Founded: Apr 23, 2015
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Caracasus » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:47 am

Channing Townton - Museum

It seemed to be some sort of immutable law of nature that all museum cafes look the same. Even on this hodgepodge of beached ships and jury rigged skyscrapers that was the apparent (though of course there was no official decree that named it such) capital of the Chan Islands. The tea was served in a thick china mug and Kene could see that somehow the pirates had even managed to locate a supply of individually plastic-wrapped chocolate muffins and flapjacks.

Xi Li made a comment regarding the musket hanging from the wall. Khopesh rattling was not Kene's forte, so he let it slide. He was, only a month or so into the posting, still getting to grips with the minutiae of social interaction on the strange archipelago.

Agent Sparks, ushered in by Xi Li, Kene had met before. The man wore a tattered brown overcoat in spite of the heat that put Kene in mind of a Parsohian Western. At his hip, a presently empty holster and a leathered, sun scarred face added weight to the impression. Chester, in comparison dressed immaculately. The woman had somehow found time to ensure that her well manicured nails were polished to a high gloss. Her perfectly coiffed hair barely moved as she took her seat, a patent leather bag in front of her.

Bubblegum... Kene would have remembered seeing Bubblegum before. The man was... huge was not quite the right word. Scars and tattoos fought for Pyrrhic victory over what little unblemished skin remained on his face and Kenes felt a fleeting sympathy for a man born to a world where everything was about a third smaller than ideal for him. He towered over the others, pulling back a chair in an almost dainty manner. Fingers and thumbs as thick as beer cans clasping the woodwork. When he sat, the seat sagged slightly. As the giant's fingers grasped the cup - a child's tea set in his hands, Kene could not help notice that he still seemed to be on an eye level with the waiter.

Kene began to speak. "As I'm sure you are aware, under protocol certain aspects of this report have not been released."

Chester's perfectly pruned eyebrows rose slightly. "Your government is worried about the Orion Hegemony? Still?"

"Their legacy is what concerns us. The things they were capable of... if I am not mistaken the islands did not do so well against them."

Sparks spoke, seemingly completely out of the corner of his mouth. "The black fleet. Yeah. There's a place for 'em in the Plaza of Stolen Gods. Hope the gods found their souls. It'd be about all left of 'em."

"So you understand our concerns then?" Kene spoke on. A nod from Xi Li.

"Now we began with a spectrascopic analysis of the hull and samples from the vessel itself. That led us to conclude that the materials were consistent with those used in the construction of that particular class of frigate. We are..."

Bubblegum frowned. The vast network of tattoos that covered his face shifted and contorted. "I don't understand." He rumbled.

"Well we..."

Bubblegum shifted, the chair creaking dangerously under him. "No. I don't understand why you did not do a comparative heisenburg scan. The technique was perfected in Quoris University. You have access to the ship - the technology and the scan itself...."

His tattoos shifted again. "Ahah! Of course! You never built the Jarquir!"

Xi Li sighed. "Once again Bubblegum, please don't assume we are all on your level. Care to let us mere mortals in on your reasoning?"

Bubblegum leaned back, endangering the waiter stood ever so slightly behind him.

"Yeah, sure boss. Basically a comparative heisenburg scan would pick up on components - and give a much better picture of where they were mined, milled or constructed. You'd see fractures in crystalline structures indicating the cold milling process unique to Caracasus at the time for instance. Now a spectrascopic analysis might pick up a bit more on unusual isotopes - it'd be more likely to tell you where it's been, not where it was made. Now the Caracasusians didn't bother with a heisenburg scan. Why might that be? It's because they know damn well that the ship was never built. Only reason they wouldn't bother with it, really. Am I right?"

Kene nodded. "More or less, yes. The Jarquir was a ghost ship. Nineday House had suspected for some time that the Orion Hegemony had some inside intelligence on the position of fleets and ships, so several ghost ships were sent out. These ships had all the requisite paperwork, parts of them were even built. Parts of them. But they never really existed. Different departments were told different things about where they were to be sent, and it was assumed that the position changes in the Orion Navy would help us pinpoint the source of the leak."

He sighed. "But yes. The fact remains that The Jarquir is impossible on two levels. Firstly it returns after seventy years apparently unaged and secondly, it never existed in the first place.

Dolphin City National Park - Frieden-und Freudenland

Jamar Nanthasa had worked in communes across Caracasus, finally settling in a forestry management commune on the eastern edges of Jevellit Province. His entire life he had spent as much time as possible in the great outdoors. At forty three years of age, his friends had worked out that he must have spent a good ten years outside camping, waiting for this tree to show signs of a fungal infection or ensuring that a certain trail was kept clear.

He had never left Caracasus before now - and with enough funds put aside through Caracasus's IndTrad and Hypothetical Zone to take a luxury cruise he had decided instead to wander the wildernesses of Forest. Frieden-und Freudenland had been an obvious choice. Safe, peaceful and serene. He'd gotten down on his hands and knees and removed a small kit - ready to examine a rather beautiful iridescent lilac beetle that was busy nibbling away at a thistle branch.

He'd spent years in the wilderness, enough to know when someone was behind him - even if they were making an effort to remain quiet. He had not been surprised by that. The fact that the three men standing in the grove held automatic weapons pointed squarely at him took him back a little.

A kidnapping! Here! He would have shouted, raised the alarm no doubt were it not for the fact that he had three guns trained on him.

They'd bound his hands, gagged him and placed a blindfold on him, but he could still hear, and knew enough of the language to work out what was being said. He listened mournfully as they led him through the thick undergrowth - brambles tearing at his trousers.

"A Caracasusian? Seriously? A training maneuver and we catch a spy! That's got to be worth a promotion."

"You idiot! It's a plant. Loyalty Division do this all the time. We're not going to get a promotion from those guys - but we might get shot if we let him escape."

"Really?"

"Wanna know what happened to unit 34? After they missed that faked up parachute drop? One in seven of them were killed outright - and the others were lashed. This is a test to make sure we don't fuck anything up. We don't get a reward for it."

"I bet you were thinking that the Dread Empress herself would hang the medal round your neck, weren't you?"

The chatter dissolved into standard complaints about rations, about the unreliable equipment they had and about the midges. Jamar moaned through the gag. Who the hell were these people? What happened to the friendly park rangers he had so far met? What was happening to him?

Intended Consequences - Unified Martian Settlement.

The Boani cosmonaut Solomon Lotoa had immediately annoyed Hetti within five minutes of meeting him. He'd shown off, to start with. The veneer of a man putting aside his own ambition for the scientific and cultural advancement of the entire world was thin at best, and his arrogance had shone through as far as she was concerned. He was playing the good, modest communist far too well for her liking.

Within the first week of the journey he had managed to annoy her even further. His attendance at her lectures on planned Martian engineering projects had been exemplary, yet he had a habit of asking annoying questions. Every time he rested back in his harness to gaze round the room it was as if he was being interviewed for a press release. Even worse, when she was certain, absolutely certain he had not been paying attention for at least half an hour she'd direct a question at him - only for him to answer it with barely a pause for thought.

The early days of the settlement proved more troublesome. Hetti and Lotoa shared a dormitory with six others, three Watersvillians, two Caracasusians and another Boani - a small, softly spoken man who specialized in botany. Lotoa would be the first to wake for the rigorous exercise regimes that began each day, would never complain when food rations proved less than palatable and was practically obsessed with maintaining the cleanliness of the sparse living quarters.

She was waiting, just waiting for him to make a mistake. For the mask to slip and for the arrogant, self serving man she was sure lurked underneath to come to the fore.

A year later, and something happened. Or rather, several things happened. Firstly, a dust filter on a section of insulated wiring failed quietly without anyone noticing. Six hours after that, three atmospheric scrubbers failed. This was noticed by the colony's infrastructure virtual intelligence - which incorrectly registered the fault as a breech and sealed off sixteen colonists in a zone rapidly running out of oxygen.

Lotoa didn't even need asking. He fitted an environmental suit and crawled through a mile of ductwork to locate the door control. After forcing it open, he proceeded to the faulty air scrubbers, patching them through to an auxiliary system. The second repair job bought him into contact with an exposed filter blade, shredding his envirosuit and cutting deep gashes in his left arm.

His quick thinking saved the sixteen trapped colonists - although he never fully regained the feeling in his damaged arm. Nine years later, Hetti counted Lotoa among her closest friends on the colony.

It was unusual then for her to find him sat across his bunk. She'd known that he had an incoming communication from Aa, though these were frequent enough. Lotoa's updates on the Boani Mars Project were broadcast all across the state. Usually he took these in his stride, although clearly not today.

Even so, it wasn't an uncommon reaction to news from home. Even happy announcements - a family member having a child, for instance, carried with them a certain sadness - a reminder of what you were missing here on this barren rock. Hetti herself had been relieved from duties for a fortnight after she received news of her sister's death.

"What's up?" She asked, gesturing to the tea dispenser. "Can I get you anything?"

Lotoa shook his head. Frowning. "No... no thank you. Listen, I have something to tell you...."
Last edited by Caracasus on Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:49 am, edited 5 times in total.
As an editor I seam to spend an awful lot of thyme going threw issues and checking that they're no oblivious errars. Its a tough job but someone's got too do it!



Issues editor, not a moderator.

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Chan Island
Minister
 
Posts: 2310
Founded: Nov 26, 2015
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Chan Island » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:12 am

Xi Li nodded along with everything Kene was saying. The outburst by the secret agent was not appreciated, but it was intelligent so allowed. After the explanation, he then adds, "So in short, you have an intended ghost ship go ahead and become an actual ghost ship. Spooky... but worse than I feared."

At this point, he motions towards agent Sparks to bring forth a binder. The weighty tome is placed on the table after a brief run outside and the official explains, "We ourselves have been having a series of... anomalies that break the standards procedures of reality. Most of them of course can be dismissed by some of our 'capitalists' taking excess amounts of crystal meth. Yet... there have been a few small things. Nothing for the headlines yet, just the occasional plane in the sky coming from the north who's vapour trails put it squarely in the ocean and then disappearing without a trace or sea creature washing up ashore as yet unknown to science."

The bodyguards are all dismissed at this point. All 3 agents leave the room. Just as the door shuts, Mr Li leans in and whispers, "I fear that something strange might be happening. Both to our country and to others, including yours. Your country may have had the biggest and most obvious thing occur as yet... yet I do recommend we keep in touch."
Conserative Morality wrote:"It's not time yet" is a tactic used by reactionaries in every era. "It's not time for democracy, it's not time for capitalism, it's not time for emancipation." Of course it's not time. It's never time, not on its own. You make it time. If you're under fire in the no-man's land of WW1, you start digging a foxhole even if the ideal time would be when you *aren't* being bombarded, because once you wait for it to be 'time', other situations will need your attention, assuming you survive that long. If the fields aren't furrowed, plow them. If the iron is not hot, make it so. If society is not ready, change it.

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Uan aa Boa
Diplomat
 
Posts: 572
Founded: Apr 23, 2017
Democratic Socialists

Postby Uan aa Boa » Fri Apr 20, 2018 2:59 am

Intended Consequences - Unified Martian Settlement

Solomon Lotoa no longer understood his place in the universe. When the Martian mission had launched Uan aa Boa had been a fledgling rogue nation, the rag tag band of guerillas now in charge condemned around the world for the wholesale seizure of land, assets and property and the nuclear weapons programme that triggered a tense diplomatic and military stand-off. The decision to include Boani cosmonauts on the socialist nations' joint project was primarily a calculated snub to the Western powers.

Now Lotoa watched footage of a country he didn't recognise. Uan aa Boa was prominent among the tiger economies of Forest, a wealthy nation at the forefront of the high tech industries and a provider rather than a recipient of foreign aid. Images of the cellular city of Aa fascinated and disconcerted him in equal measure as he struggled to find landmarks he remembered. Today Boani inclusion in scientific projects was entirely on merit. The nation had established its own space programme and then abolished it, along with the provocative nuclear weapons, with the arrival of the Party's Ten Thousand Flowers initiative. Stranger still, Lotoa understood that alcohol, tobacco and even hashish were now permitted and openly used, that parental licensing had come to and end and that much of the rest of the revolutionary code he had imbibed was no longer enforced. He had been sent as an ambassador and an inspiration, but he suspected that now he was an anachronism, an emissary for something that no longer existed. He watched the messages from his mother, in her pristine apartment with its holowall and domestic robot, and wasn't sure if the cause he had embraced had triumphed or become ridiculous.

He took a deep breathe, composed himself for a moment and began to explain to Hetti about the mysterious duplicate of his younger self now appearing back on Earth. She was initially incredulous, but was then reminded of some of the stranger events she'd heard mentions of from her own nation and so heard him out quietly. As she drew breathe to respond, however, Lotoa stopped her.

"Now I must tell you something I have not spoken of in many years. I am afraid. I have kept a secret, and because now somebody knows so very much about me it may have been discovered."

"You know the story they tell about me, how I was a fighter pilot in the old President's air force but defected to the revolution and bought my squadron with me. They do not say how long it took me to do this, or the orders I followed before I finally did. I was an escort for the bombers. The revolutionaries had no air power and only a few stolen missile systems, but there were planes from Caracasus and also from further afield - Freien, Golanchia and others. The rebels' strength was that they could disappear into the jungle and never be found. We bombed everywhere there was so much as a rumour of an encampment. Then we sought to intimidate their popular support and bombed villages that had colluded with them. Then we bombed villages that had done nothing. Then refugee camps and aid workers. We would come in two units, minutes apart, and the second would strike the ambulances and rescuers. In time they must have known what would happen, yet still they came. I think reflecting on that was what finally bought me to my senses."

"My people... For weddings and feasts we take off our clothes, paint our bodies and carry shields and spears. A spear is a good weapon, I think. If a warrior is to kill a man, he should look him in the eye. This is not the way of the pilot. If he is to kill children... And everything else I have done has been to atone for these crimes. I have fought to be the best man I can be. When I was trapped in that shaft and my suit was torn open my first thought was that at last justice was to be served. I welcomed it until I remembered that I could still serve my comrades in other ways."

"They have made me a hero, but it is a lie. The old air force's records were destroyed. When I was nominated for this mission I was in anguish and I confessed to the Party... but they said it was my duty now to fulfil the role assigned to me. But now these people who have copied me... how can that be? Surely they must know. And my shame will be complete. I should have died in that shaft... I should have died in the war."

Holding out her hands, Hetti guided him hesitatingly to his feet and embraced the big man, though her head didn't even reach his chin. "You are a good man Solomon. People can change."

"I wish I could believe that. But when everyone knows..." He pulled away and looked down into her eyes. "Now you know..."

"Solomon, you proud and stupid man, I have known for years." He was speechless, open mouthed. "How long have we shared this dormitory? Did you not know that you talk during your nightmares?"

In my narrative far more time has passed since the launch of the Martian mission than is the case in the narrative of Caracasus. Look over there! A squirrel!
Last edited by Uan aa Boa on Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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The Cypher Nine
Lobbyist
 
Posts: 21
Founded: Jun 09, 2017
Left-wing Utopia

Postby The Cypher Nine » Wed Apr 25, 2018 8:32 pm

The secretary looked frazzled after her meeting with Minister Cypher 5. But she had her direction, share everything they could with Caracasus and the other nations...but no mention of the weird VAT issues.

She shakes her head. Cypher 5 may be a minister, but he is clearly too distracted to think about how obviously weird it will look with The Cypher Nine is the only nation reporting no unusual circumstances. She sighs and prepares her form letter to the caracasusian delegation. At this point, she has become an expert in mimicking Cypher 5's writing patterns.


Caracasus,

I will keep this brief. Our Intel reports of weird disturbances in your harbors. Unmaimed ships from the past that should be much worse for wear appearing out of nowhere? Per our treaty agreement, we would be excited to help you investigate this...and the other disturbances in the great region of Forest. Luckily, our science team believes they may have something that can help. We have long been curious of the other side, if you understand my meaning. We have a device that we believe detects a new spectrum of particles on such a side and wish to test it with you on the Jaquir.

Please respond post haste if you are interested, and we will send our best minds along with this prototype to you and your investigation team.

Cypher 5
Science Minister of The Cypher Nine

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Caracasus
Issues Editor
 
Posts: 6184
Founded: Apr 23, 2015
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Caracasus » Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:41 am

Intended Consequences – International Mars Mission

Habitat 34

Hetti and Lotoa drank Martian coffee from bamboo fibre cups. The erstaz coffee took some getting used to – Hetti had mixed in a measure of gin – the Caracasusian oxygenation farms utilizing modified juniper trees had, of course, been purely coincidental.

Outside the habitat, the machines of the gods moved. They'd sat in this spot some nine years ago and watched as one of Caracasus's orbital bombardment platforms had rained down chunks of metal at high velocity – exposing the Sini Glacier and caving in areas of the Lii Canyon that would prove impossible to modify for habitation.

On the day that destruction and creation worked together for once, It had rained on Mars. Not true rain of course, rather spray from the glacier exposure, but for a few minutes Hetti could see the future of the planet.

Machines larger than towns built the impossibly fine monofilamer framework that would hold the great dome in place. Lii Canyon, some six miles wide at its widest and thirty eight miles long, would be encased within. Day and night the machines scurried about, building and dismantling in patterns never before seen. Every job requiring a different component – a different configuration.

In the heavens, a Watersvillian ship had dispatched its cargo of minerals and – most precious of all – luxuries from home. The packages drifted through the thin atmosphere on constructed gliders. The ship would continue on its way to the asteroid belt where it would be dismantled. Its Hermann Engine would be used to increase power to the spiderweb of automated drones seeking out likely ice asteroids. Its control network would turn instead to fitting rockets and guidance systems onto those asteroids and when – in some twenty years – enough had been gathered they would tow their cargo into orbit before the Intended Consequences ground team guided them into likely craters on the surface. Phase two of the five hundred year plan.

They were less than ants. Her and Lotoa would probably live to see the great Lii Canyon terraformed, would take the last faltering steps of their old age on Martian soil under a strange new sky. The rest though? Lotoa's great, great, great, great grandchildren – if he had ever had any children to begin with – might look up into the night sky at a Mars of a slightly different colour. Their great grandchildren might see clouds scudding across its surface.

She listened to Lotoa as they both sat watching the machines move. He was tall, though those born on Mars would be taller. Already the first generation of Martianborn were approaching adulthood, and several held a good few inches on the man. Gravity.

“Listen, Solomon,” He'd turned away. His secrets exposed for so long unknowingly had hit him hard, she guessed.

“Listen will you!” He turned.

“None of us were happy on Earth. I told you my story, years ago now. Now I know yours – we both had things that we had to leave behind and I am certain we aren't the only ones. No-one gets on a rocket to go live in a metal box on another planet because they are happy where they are! After what happened at my home commune... after my father and...”

She paused. “You know, there are things about my country that I really do not like. We say we have no prisons, no punishment but... but we do exile people. After what happened at the hospital I was living in a different Caracasus to everyone around me. I was an exile in my own home. They – they all wanted me to go to a therapy centre – as if what I had done was because of some illness! We...”

“I killed innocent people Hetti. When I flew those first missions... that moment when I pressed a button and watched as the bombs took a rebel encampment... I felt good. Proud even. That is part of me, and it doesn't matter what came after because I know – I know what I did and what I am capable of. How many lives would I have to save, do you think? How many years would I have to work to undo that?”

“There is more. After I convinced my squadron to join the rebellion I spoke to the Chairman personally. I told him what I had done. Everything. Then I told him I wouldn't kill for him. I wouldn't take another life as long as I lived. He laughed. He doesn't laugh very often but he laughed at that. He told me that a soldier does not need to kill to be a soldier – that I had more value as a symbol than a whole squadron of fighter pilots. And that... that was that. For the remainder of the revolution I was set on milkrun missions. Do nothing scouting for enemy planes when the old regime could barely put together a defense of Aa. I became a symbol.”

“And now... now someone is walking around with my face and my... my memories and I have to wonder. What if I had stayed? Would that be me there, giving speeches at ceremonies... fighting – training others to kill? It can't be me, but it is.”

He trailed off. Together they watched the sun rest beyond the dunes.

Caracasus – Jevellit Port – Blue Star Rising dock.

This area is restricted under Orion Hegemony Artefact Protocol. Authorised personnel only past this point. This area is restricted....

Soft rain slanted through the silent cranes, perched over the vast tarpaulin tent that covered the mystery ship. Three large trucks had pulled up outside the airlock leading to the vessel and sixteen men and women wearing strange uniforms busied themselves unloading stranger equipment from the vehicles.

“Good afternoon. I am Cypher 5's spokesperson.”

The woman held out a hand to the Caracasusian scientist. She, in turn took the woman's hand and shook it. A slightly mechanical smile flitted across the Cypherian's face.

“And uh- what do I call you?”

“My identification is Science Officer Theta Level 3456. You can call me 3456 if you wish.”

“Ah... Good. I'm Jez – uh, Doctor Iami. We've been told that your division might have something to add to the investigation?”

Dr Iami listened as the (clone? Woman?) went through a series of tests they planned to carry out on the ship. The Co-operation treaty required full disclosure of tests on such joint operations. The Cypher had yet to divulge how many of these operations they themselves had conducted.

She could not focus on the tests, she would have to rely on her comms playback for that. The Cypher were... alien was not quite the right word. Caracasusians had cheerfully embraced those parts of transhumanism that improved the body, or simply looked like fun. The Caracasusian lifespan had slowly edged upward and thanks to certain treatments and adaptations, Caracasusians continued to live in good health (on average) even into old age. She herself had a node implant that allowed for separate retention of tricky formula and facts. The need to open her comms device and searching for an answer had been removed – for the most part. The Cypher though? They had made it almost a religion. Vat grown citizens – implanted neuropathic circuitry and shared data bank modules...

“What possibilities seem most likely at this point?”

Dr Iami stopped. Ran her fingers through her hair – another implant. Today it was a deep copper. Though she was thinking of programming the refractive crystals to black.

“Well. Nineday House thinks this is someone attempting to replicate a Caracasusian warship. They think it's possible that someone, somewhere is planning some sort of attack to try and implicate Caracasus. I mean, Nineday House sold off enough of them so I guess we'd have egg in our faces if one was used to carry out a war crime. Seems like a lot of effort to...”

“Have you considered the possibility of a parallel reality?”

“Uh – come again?”

Channing Townton

Agent Xi Li finished his tea as Kene slid the datapad across to him.

“I've been authorised to give you this information. The... situation is worse than we thought.”

Xi Li scanned the document. Report titles, details, press clippings and shaky handheld camera footage. Very little made any sense at all.

A Frieden-und Freudenland fighter jet had threatened to shoot down a Malstian air liner for invading imperial airspace, before vanishing into thin air. Shaky drone footage showed a circle of Cyperians lying down, feet touching and sprawled out, in a corn field. A Caracasusian man had been admitted to intensive care after the transport truck he had been driving had been struck by a train – on a rail line that had not been active for nearly a century. Mostly encrypted chatter from the secluded zone of Terrabod showed increased references to some strange new building never seen before.

Xi Li paused the datapad.

“You know, I think we are going to need another round of tea here.” He leaned in.

“Mr Kene, would you be so good as to contact your government? I have some proposals to make.”

Caracasusian Embassy to Terrabod.

The embassy was barely the size of a house. The reclusive land of Terrabod was an unusual posting to request – but Caracasus's International Affairs and Diplomacy division often contained very unusual people.

The smudged plexiglass gave view to the storm. Great swathes of semi radioactive particulates danced – lightning flashing and booming. Out of the cloud strange shapes loomed and collapsed in on themselves. Some were mirages – others long collapsed buildings. Some were stranger still. Tales of the native flora and fauna gone strange. Trees that walked and drank blood. Giant lizards that could conceal themselves with ease. Parasites that caused the infected to seek out as large a group of people as possible before the host exploded like a water balloon, covering all around in gnawing, biting, infectious grubs.

Ambassadors came in two flavours. The meloncholics who would spend their assignments writing dismal poetry or painting hellscapes and those who would venture into the ruins with Terrabodian personnel. The government of Terrabod had handled the inevitable deaths of the latter ambassadors with dignity and respect, returning what was left of them to their homelands.

Ambassador Shiv was neither. He'd simply picked an assignment at random. Six weeks later, and here he was. Bored out of his skull. The other four of the tiny ambassadorial team were elsewhere, so Shiv had the place more or less to himself.

He looked up out of the plexiglass dome window at the storms. Lost in thought and with nothing to do all day he'd made himself a pot of tea.

The knock on the door startled him from his daydream. The man standing there, flanked by two equally intimidating looking guards made him stutter a little.

“C.. come in. How can I help?”

The man introduced himself and sat down. His bodyguards did not. Their eyes scanned every inch of the room as if just waiting for a hired assassin to leap from behind the sofa.

The man on the sofa tried his best to focus on Ambassador Shiv's face. He wondered, briefly, if Shiv had gone momentarily insane. It had been known to happen – though how could you tell with a Caracasusian?

“We have some highly sensitive information regarding our island nation, Mr Shiv. We would not be sharing this with your government unless... well – it may have some connection to your strange ship appearing from nowhere. Now, I've been instructed to escort you to the Science Divison, but Mr Shiv can I ask you a favour?”

“Of course! If I can help at all...”

“Mr Shiv – could you please put some clothes on?”
Last edited by Caracasus on Fri Apr 27, 2018 1:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
As an editor I seam to spend an awful lot of thyme going threw issues and checking that they're no oblivious errars. Its a tough job but someone's got too do it!



Issues editor, not a moderator.


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