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Yut-Martian Scutum-Centaurus Relief Mission (FT/Semi-Open)

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The Ctan
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Yut-Martian Scutum-Centaurus Relief Mission (FT/Semi-Open)

Postby The Ctan » Sun Jul 04, 2021 10:18 am

The Vingilot-class freighter was a venerable design, predating the terraforming of Mars. They had been in service in progressively upgraded forms for centuries. Their design was simple and it was successful; their most common configuration was two kilometres in length from bow to stern, though these were not distinguishable. The design, without its cargo, resembled a dumbbell; two motive units with stardrives and gravitic engines at either end and a single spar down the middle onto which heavy Colca units could be attached. These modules could be adapted, and they were commonly used for everything from fluid cargo to further containerized freight, but the ships that arrived at the holding areas within the Thanatos system were different. These ships carried hospital and habitation modules, hundreds of them, each of them fully automated and capable of serving thousands of people.

These were the tip of the iceberg, however, and countless ships were en-route to other destinations. These ships were headed for remote locations to forward deploy quarantine and isolation sites, their modules were fully automated and run by near-sapient AI shards that could be set to accommodate any known culture. The modules were specified to meet species-based general needs, with the majority being catered toward pan-humanity, but with others based around other species common to the region.

Viltacáno Tyelciel nos Galdor sat at the head of one of the dual command centres of one of these vessels, attached to TYCS support. The Fair Lady was a ship that was longer than typical of the class, the central spar more than five kilometres long, and she raised an eyebrow, “Well that’s something certainly,” she said. Like most craft of any size originating in Menelmacar, the command centre of the vessel was built with holographic projectors in the walls, allowing the ‘flying carpet’ experience of the void. The ship’s threat detectors were calling her attention to thousands of obvious defensive systems ranging from the swarms that surrounded the Thanatos star to flotillas of drones that were already inspecting her ship.

She stood with her arms behind her back, looking at the planet itself, the world barely seemed habitable from orbit, an ash grey orb without any sign of life and precious little water remaining on its surface. Around it though, there were rings, by the number of transuranic elements in their construction she imagined they probably massed more than the planet itself, though the ship could not scan Thanatos’ mass. Glittering cities and domed parks could be seen on the rings, with constellations of other orbital plates, space stations, and most of all, ships.

Her communications and astrogation section, four people of the twenty-person crew, were certainly getting a work-out today; there were few systems as complex to navigate. Even though the ship was smart enough to navigate itself through the shoals of other vessels, a degree of supervision and discretion was essential.

“The enemy will come here captain,” her attention was taken by the leonine basso-profundo of Narth-Droneherder. She turned to look him in the eye, few unfamiliar with his species would dare, he was eight feet of striped menace, whose face was home to fangs the size of jacketed bullets.

“You think they’ll have that much nerve?” Tyelciel said.

“I do with this much force revealed the vile things cannot demur without making the attempt,” he said, “I feel it in my bones,” Narth said, “I hope we can be here when it happens.”
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The mustering continued across the system, the product of a decision that had happened with remarkable speed; a new legation from the Galactic Republic of Arkasia had been invited to the Martian Forum only yesterday. That same day the Forum had passed a motion. On Titan, the home of the Triumvirate of Yut,"he same motion, with just the names swapped in the appropriate places, was passed simultaneously. A joint response of the two bodies to the cavalcade of tragedies in the region over recent years.

The stereotype that many on this side of the galaxy had of Solarians was that they were distant, uninterested, and slow to act or make decisions. Dusty old senators; impotent, lame-duck, not sedate so much as sedated. Consumed with petty bickering over irrelevant property lines. In support of this, detractors could say that the Scutum-Centaurus arm crisis had been considered a problem for the locals to resolve unaided. Many Solarian powers had barely seemed to notice.

The truth was simple: many of the states of the far side of the galaxy had a reputation of being deeply antipathetic to accepting assistance from the Solar Reaches. The moment the request had been made, plans long drawn into existence were implemented.

None of the ‘Solar’ powers was truly confined to the region of Sol, and many were found far across the galaxy, or even in other galaxies, with several engaged in a high-level conflict in the Triangulum Galaxy even as the Scutum-Centaurus relief operation had been implemented. The Great Civilization had yet to become involved in that other conflict and more than that it had well-developed hubs across the Milky Way, which they called the Great Wheel galaxy.

The muster at Thanatos had been chosen because even by the standards of such worlds, this one was well defended, and positioned on the rimward reach of the Perseus arm, within ten thousand light-years (accounting for their Z-axis positions) of Arkasia’s home system, a jumping-off point for fleets to head rimward and a bastion to retreat to if the need arose.
Image

Of course, while civilian aid was being mustered, the Triumvirate-Forum forces were hardly restricted to this. Other involved parties were headed directly to Arkasian systems to address immediate needs, while the first wave of the TYCS response began.

The Flag Command Ops room for the Dagor Aglareb was similar to that of the Fair Lady in its overall structure, and actually smaller than the civilian vessel’s, as the ship was not run directly from this chamber, instead, it sat three to six people in comfort and served as a room for the fleet commander to survey the overall progress of the battle. The Dagor Aglareb did not truly require a conventional command centre, as the ship was sapient in itself.

The holographic image flashed white as it reverted to display the chosen system on the coreward edge of the Scutum-Centaurus arm. The system that had been chosen was a spinstar, ancient even by the standards of stars, massive compared to Sol in its heyday billions of years before even as a metal rich remnant it was bigger than the home-star; such ancient stars left rapidly rotating white dwarves with greater mass than more slowly rotating dwarf stars from which heavy elements could be siphoned. Although the star was a remnant of something ancient, even with the star’s light reduced to a tolerable level in the holographic rendering that surrounded the room the blazing star they had jumped to cast sharp shadows.

Louvres opened across the ship, as the gravitic and magnetic fields that it extruded began to pull matter from the star, starting bright new fusion reactions as they rose, and the battleplate began to release hordes of smaller structures. Someone had once memorably described a battleplate’s overall strategy as ‘throwing a beehive at the enemy’s face’ and the Dagor Aglareb had a powerful need for bulk mass - already its sub-craft were swarming.

Warlord Ferinion watched them go. He was a man who had spent the last thousand years sitting in a great many chairs in rooms like this, albeit with incrementally improved lumbar support. He still had the figure of a young warrior in his prime despite this, and his face was lean, with dark brown eyes that held a patient invitation in them.

He watched the optical view, and then reduced it with a gesture, calling up spreadsheets and countdowns that displayed the mission’s progress. He was not going to subject his crews to grandstanding, every one of them was far too busy with more important matters. Instead, he was far more interested in the progress of the fleet’s elements.

Caida, one of the aides who had spent much the same length of time metaphorically standing behind said chairs, watched the progress of the fleet. She appeared much more human than he did, though her hair was not only pale, but the colour of polished ivory. “We should be able to begin screening here within six hours Herunya,” she said.

“Keep an eye on the data we get back, when we go to public disclosure we are likely to get little initial traffic, but the first incidents in screening will be decisive.”

The ship was going to be providing oversight to a refugee clearing area, and its outer constellations of ship-drones were going to be operating in a fully air-gapped high-independence mode, their task was essentially customs, mixed with triage, to intercept ships that were leaving contaminated zones. These new drones were being assembled with only a limited suite of possible communication options. One of the several enemies assailing the conflict zone had been reported as capable of infiltrating cybernetics and electronics, and the drones in question were built to be physically only able of reporting a few select laser codes, and these were not digital transmissions or even data bursts, but simply coded frequencies; the spacegoing version of ‘green for clear to progress to next level screening, yellow for hold for investigation, red for open fire on us.’

This system was not foolproof, but Caida and her people were no fools.
Image

Screening hubs and refugee zones were one part of the response, but they were not all of it. Further core-ward there were ships moving with far more lethal intention. The crescent prow of the Athkira was deep sea green, almost colourless in the lightless void, the vessel had come forth from outside the galaxy. The ship was young by the standards of the Great Civilization, Athkira was not a veteran of the War in Heaven; instead, it was a new vessel not only physically but mentally, nurtured in the shipyards of the Ichnarus system.

Athkira was painfully lonely. The vessel had not endured the collapse of the transgalactic networks that supported the Great Civilization’s communications networks during the War in Heaven, and it had not had to stagger from the Great Sleep. It had endured similar isolations only in testing before now, but those had been scheduled. This was different and far more daunting; it had offloaded the broth of quantum encryption nodes that supported it and excised its hyperwave communications units, it had segmented its memory and removed the partitions that even included how to rebuild such systems, along with thousands of other related technologies.

Organics who had been through the small things that they called wars had often said their experience was crippling boredom followed by moments of terror. Athkira had always been able to sympathize with such experiences, but only now could it truly empathize.

The vessel had exloaded a complete mind-state before this mission, of course, the difference was that now it had also made certain that it had forgotten how to do so. It would be a lengthy clearance process before it could do so again, and it felt a fragile vulnerability that most organics would struggle to associate with five kilometres of heavily armed living metal. The longer the mission continued, the further it would diverge from any replacement that would be created should it be confirmed lost.

Of course, though it was alone, it was still able to communicate, though only with structured data bursts pared of all interactive content, communications systems were never closely associated with consciousness systems (except when one did exload a consciousness) but now this was a trickle of information using secure basic formats. It felt almost as though it was using punch cards, using something so gauche as words to structure the trickle of communication it allowed itself through the isolated networks with its siblings.

A prick of awareness brought Athkira from its reverie; as a sub-self of its mind tugged at its mental sleeve to observe. A flotilla of vessels, a mix of war-craft and civilian vessels, several cultures, lay in orbit over the world it had been dispatched to. Contact had been lost with this place and those who had fled from it.

Athkira would normally have hesitated to open fire preemptively, but this was one of a number of worlds confirmed as fallen to the sundry foes by refugees that had already reached Arkasia. It fired as it reverted to real space, without hesitation. On its dorsal side, tubes released ten score high-distort missiles, weapons that were perfect for informational hazards, as their drive systems utilized a ‘corner-case' of conventional physics to exist outside the material universe until they impacted, their ability to engage moving targets was minimal, but Athkira did not care.

Its vessel class had been built to take advantage of these weapons, a proprietary weapon of the Triumvirate, and it had a very large number to spare. The missiles winked out as they approached the speed of light, and it lost the ability to track them. The enemy ships were moving, but for now, the element of surprise was on the attackers’ side.

Several of the enemy vessels were ripped apart from within as the HDMs struck. Athkira and its siblings were striking more than a hundred targets simultaneously, their attacks timed by atomic clocks in inertialess chambers - held on a single frame of reference - rather than any communication between them. Analysts said that future attacks like this would be less successful, but the Athkira was not a ship that any opponent would expect to fight, for none of their class had ever fought before outside of simulations with their siblings.

Watching the fragments of the ships it had targeted, Athkira felt a vindication.

Right, you odious bastards, let’s get the rest of you.
Image

Elaterhatisse ita Mephrit had finished inspecting her temporary home. She had explored the apartment and taken in the view from the sloping windows of its main room. They showed the battered surface of Thanatos, seemingly a sky, though it was ‘down’ from the ring face, it was hardly a wonderful view she had to admit.

She was a Quendi woman, her hair spun gold, but it was not her most arresting feature. Her eyes shone with the light of stars, the fire of flares and coronae hanging in them, and she moved economically, her eyes taking in all around her. She wore green and gold, the dynastic colours of the Mephrit, whose dynasty had wholly restructured itself around providing weapons for the War in Heaven. Though she was no necrontyr, she followed that trade, and found her spiritual home there.

She set a golden coin with lacquer of green on the table at the centre of the apartment, soligram generators imported her preferences, generating replicas of her home’s more comfortable items across the suite, and she set her iron scroll on the wide, high table that had appeared nearby, its expanse of malachite a replica of the one she usually used.

She liked to think on the hoof, and her workspace was set up for that task. Several dozen of her colleagues occupied nearby suites already, and Elater had sprinted back from the Fornax Expedition to be here.

Here the information flows of the Great Civilization were far from isolated, though preparations were being made to do so, and if they had to be, the Working Group had wanted bodies near where the decisions could be made.

The merely military operations that had been undertaken thus far weren’t Elater’s concern, she was much more interested in gathering information. With the information security resources currently being deployed, they were at a stage of conjecture.

There were reports of survivors from a night shrouded world who had carried a story with them, an unlikely rescue from a shipwreck that had happened long ago, and these were being carefully considered. Elater watched the information spread across the table, mentally bringing some of the information from her halo - the extensions of her personality into the noosphere - and displaying it visually. She’d been following as she walked, and she did not speak aloud, instead, her thoughts became comments and expert systems transcribed them into desired formats.

And through that output, a single theme was growing. There’s either an error in our data or our picture of our enemies is woefully incomplete.
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Appendix 1: Resolutions
Image
Records of the Martian Forum

The UIK proposes, as follows:
A measure to assist a polity:
1. The Martian Forum shall cooperate with the Triumvirate of Yut in rendering aid and assistance to the Galactic Republic of Arkasia (GRA) in their recovery from recent disasters and catastrophes.
2. Each member polity shall contribute such aid as is within their ability, and their means, as is necessary to assist the GRA in their recovery.
3. The aforementioned contributions shall be balanced against and deployed in cooperation with, the Triumvirate of Yut.
4. The Forum and the Triumvirate shall determine, jointly and in the spirit of cooperation, the coordination of such assistance.
5. The GRA shall maintain oversight of the aforementioned assistance, and shall retain the rights of sovereignty in the areas so affected; the GRA's sovereignty shall be maintained and respected.
6. The form of aid so rendered under this measure, may include, but not be limited to, medical aid, reconstruction assistance, economic assistance, and security provision.
7. With the GRA acting as the coordinator of the aid so distributed, this aid will be offered to all polities in the affected area not in conflict with the members of the Forum.

Yes:
  • The United Imperial Kingdoms
  • The United Species of the Eridani Imperium
  • The Phoenix Domain
  • The Great Civilization of the C'tan
  • The Republic of Sunset
  • The Federated Imperium of Kajal
  • The Eternal Ascendancy of Menelmacar
  • The Empire of Taraskovya
  • The Incorporated State of Zepplin Manufacturers
No:
  • NIL
Abstentions:
  • NIL
Heritage Members (not voting):
  • The Martian Empire
  • The Eternal Radiant Empire of Roania
The motion was passed unanimously (9/9) and formally adopted.


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Records of the Triumvirate Council

The Great Civilization of the C'tan proposes, as follows:
A measure to assist a polity:
1. The Triumvirate of Yut shall cooperate with the Martian Forum in rendering aid and assistance to the Galactic Republic of Arkasia (GRA) in their recovery from recent disasters and catastrophes.
2. Each member polity shall contribute such aid as is within their ability, and their means, as is necessary to assist the GRA in their recovery.
3. The aforementioned contributions shall be balanced against and deployed in cooperation with, the Martian Forum.
4. The Triumvirate and the Forum shall determine, jointly and in the spirit of cooperation, the coordination of such assistance.
5. The GRA shall maintain oversight of the aforementioned assistance, and shall retain the rights of sovereignty in the areas so affected; the GRA's sovereignty shall be maintained and respected.
6. The form of aid so rendered under this measure, may include, but not be limited to, medical aid, reconstruction assistance, economic assistance, and security provision.
7. With the GRA acting as the coordinator of the aid so distributed, this aid will be offered to all polities in the affected area not in conflict with the members of the Triumvirate.
Yes:
  • The Great Civilization of the C'tan
  • The Phoenix Domain
  • The Empire of Taraskovya
  • The Eternal Ascendancy of Menelmacar
  • The Republic of Sunset
  • The Federated Imperium of Kajal
No:
  • NIL
Abstentions:
  • NIL
The motion was passed UNANIMOUSLY (6/6) and formally adopted.

Appendix 2: Map
Image
This map only includes the TYCS deployments (including seconded forces) I've described here, other day 1 actions aren't reflected but future map updates will follow.

Appendix 3: Participation
Obviously everyone within the Martian Forum and Triumvirate is invited, including observers such as the GRA who are obviously central to the thread. Anyone else wanting to take part should feel free to get in touch with me or any of the above.
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Sunset
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Postby Sunset » Sun Jul 04, 2021 3:13 pm

TYCS Vectron's Scarlet Letter, Immediately Before Transition to the Thanatos System, Deep in the Gamma Quadrant, The Milky Way Galaxy... Republic of Vectron Date 177.084.046...

"...you did not just say that," Commander Skoro groaned, his eyes rolling so far back in their sockets they practically disappeared. From his dominating position he looked back down at the Hauyht who looked back up at him, the biggest shit-eating grin spread from... 'Ugh...' ear-to-ear across her furry face. "'We'll play it by ear'? Seriously? Really?'"

Admiral FloPsy shrugged and the smile grew wider, exposing her wide and perfectly white front teeth, "Yes, I did. We're here to provide 'assistance'..."

'Assistance' was in single quotes because there's 'assistance' and then there's 'ten squadrons of Triumvirate of Yut Combined Services Supreme Emperor III (Block IV)-Class Battleships along with their fleet elements, support vessels, specialized service elements, however many brigades of Mobile Infantry, and a giant fucking doom station.'

"...and since we don't completely know what form that assistance will take..." She paused, her deep brown eyes a mix between thoughtful and malicious. "Best to be ready for anything, right? So - we'll play it by ear. Though," she paused as a trio of Grendel-Class Missile Frigates arced past the virtual display she stood on. Packed with more high-distort munitions than you or a dozen like you could shake a stick at, they were the fleet's favorite pick-up line. "Maybe a little bit of fighting? But mostly we're here to show the roundel, make people happy, keep people alive, make bad people dead. In that order."

The hulking Eakhm just glared. He didn't need an explanation - he had read the briefing materials. In fact, she had written the briefing materials. Or at least signed off on them. Presumably she had read them before signing off on them but being an Admiral she did have people whose job it was to read things for her, make decisions for her, and occasionally - as was his job - to stand in for her when she needed to be doing something else.

This was not one of those times.

In fact, right now neither of them needed to be doing anything. As soon as the flotilla finished moving away from their collective moorage at Circlet VI, they'd similarly jump together from the far North-Eastern reaches of the Delta Quadrant to the Gamma Quadrant and the Thanatos System. From there they'd make ready for whatever came next, whatever that might be...
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Macisikan
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Macisikan » Mon Jul 05, 2021 2:28 am

“Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.”

-Bilbo Baggins, A Walking Song, first recorded in pre-Ascendancy Menelmacar


The Immaterium of the United Imperial Kingdoms
RKI:12F025/09:19

Simulation: Saragova, Tichel, the Metropole of the UIK
Chambers of the Council for External Affairs

“Which brings us to the next item, the Motion to Assist the GRA,” Sir Ardri flicked the text of the resolution into existence. “My department has divided our resolution on this into medical aid, reconstruction assistance, economic assistance, security provision, and other. I suggest we go down the list, giving in-principle agreements or not, and then haggle over the extent of each. Are we all on board?”

There was a general murmur of assent.

“Very well. Medical aid, ranging from supplies of staples, through to personal and medivac to the nearest Grand Anchorage. All in favour?”

Another general murmur of assent.

“Against?”

There was silence to that.

“Unanimous,” next to the Vice-Minister, the Secretary Assisting made a note; an anachronism, but a tradition.

“Reconstruction assistance? This would cover funding, through to prefabrication, to wholesale reconstruction if deemed appropriate.”

Another unanimous murmur.

“Economic assistance? Now, the Exchequer has already had a word with me about this; this would be provision of raw materials or direct funding. Infrastructure expansion and upgrade can also be considered. But no more than that.”

This got a more enthusiastic assent; it required much less effort after all.

“Now, security provision? This would cover everything from policing assistance, to intelligence gathering and liaison, to military intervention to help restore order. It would, of course, be to the extent agreed to by the Security Council,” Sir Ardri leaned back, and waited for the Delegate from Pa Lehstivis to object.

“We do not support that, beyond what is necessary to protect any personnel we deploy to the affected region,” the opposition came from the Three Brothers instead. Annoying. “We are already committed to wars on two fronts, and opening a third may result in morale issues among the general population. Our commitments are already enough; let the Triumvirate handle this side of the matter. They are a military alliance after all.”

“I have a better idea,” Sir Ardri narrowed his eyes. For Pa Lehstivis to offer a solution… bastard must have rehearsed this. “Why not simply refer the security issue, beyond the protection of our own assists, to the Security Council? That is their function after all; we would not want to exceed our own remit.”

Sir Ardri smiled and mentally cursed the other to the burning hells; the rest of the table was nodding and looking pleased. He’d have to say the words.

“Very well,” he said, committing murder in his head. “This body refers the question of security provision to the Security Council, without recommendation, to pursue at the appropriate juncture?”

Unanimous endorsement.

“And other matters – I suggest we consider these individually. Now, let’s begin to argue the specifics…”



“…you know he’s only doing this because he wants your job,” Dame Ankhneret, the Deputy Chair of the Security Council, was devoid of sympathy as she handed Sir Ardri a glass; she did allow a wince as he downed the entire thing in one gulp.

“I know, I know,” the Vice-Minister said. “Some days I’m inclined to let him have it too. But then I remember how insufferably smug he is when he gets what he wants, and I decide I’d rather inject uranium into my eyes.”

Dame Ankhneret bit her lip, stifling the snort.

“Yes. Well, it’s a solid, so that wouldn’t work. Anyway, do you have the text of the resolution as agreed?”

“Here…”

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CEA.R 7 Ayi XII 26: Effecting a Measure of the Martian Forum, and Related Matters

In the name of His Undying Majesty:
The Council for External Affairs of the United Imperial Kingdoms of Macisikan:

Recognising the measure of the Martian Forum, as appended in Attachment A of this Resolution;

Aiming to fulfil the obligations of His Serene Majesty’s Government thereunto;

Acting as per the legislation enabling this Council to authorise the disbursement of foreign aid and relief;

1. Authorises the Department of Aid and Relief to provide medical assistance to the Galactic Republic of Arkasia as per the provisions of Attachment B;

2. Authorises the Department of Aid and Relief to provide economic assistance to the Galactic Republic of Arkasia as per the provisions of Attachment C;

3. Authorises the Department of Aid and Relief to provide reconstruction and infrastructure assistance to the Galactic Republic of Arkasia as per the provisions of Attachment D;

4. Authorises the Department of Aid and Relief to put into effect the security measures and arrangements as detailed in Attachment E, such as this body determines are necessary for the distribution of the aforementioned aid; and

5. Refers the matter of further security assistance to the Security Council without recommendation.

Adopted unanimously in the Conurbation of Saragova on RKI.12F025.




Ata Vanak, Sibhalash System, The Metropole of the UIK
RKI:12F025/14:05

Shenzou

They had long since passed the need for this place. It was... sentimentality that drew them here. Sentimentality, and tradition. This world weighed heavily in their history, after all. They flickered into being; one moment they were not there, and the next, they were.

“You asked to see me?” one said. There were no names in this place; they knew who they were.

“Yes,” one answered. “It’s to do with the projections from the Scutum-Centaurus Intervention. They don’t match the observed data.”

“By how much?” one asked.

“Very significant. Two standard deviations from expectations, and trending consistently.” one replied.

“This has been verified? Of course, it has.” One had asked a silly question.

“It is like we are adding two and two together and coming up with five,” one said with a tinge of annoyance. “And don’t try to be clever by talking about alternative counting systems. This divergence is dangerous,” the one that opened their mouth closed it again.

“Divergences of that scale may necessitate intervention.” that was the one who had been quiet until now.

There was a shared look.

“Very well,” said one. “I will inform the Director-General.”

“I will engage external communications, and talk amongst the others, and see if our counterparts have found the divergence,” said one.

“I will seek out names,” said one.

“We have a consensus,” all three announced; they flickered away.
Last edited by Macisikan on Mon Jul 05, 2021 2:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
Please address your messages/threats/lies to:
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Tarasovka
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Postby Tarasovka » Mon Jul 05, 2021 4:05 am

The location is not as important as the content

“As per the direction of the Executive Committee of the Governing Council, the Triumvirate of Yut Combined Services have began forward deployments to Scutum-Centaurus,” the reporting officer advised as the strategic session began focusing on the finer details. “The Taraskovyan National Defence Forces have provided the necessary logistical support to the TYCS during the deployment stage. Furthermore, we are redeploying additional assets to the Organised Shysh Space as, while we estimate the direct threat to the Shysh as unlikely, we estimate that the movement of our and allied assets may provoke counter-activities by some polities that seek to position themselves as antagonists to our interests. These are regular counter-dissuading maneuvers to the expected counter-dissuading activities of potential rivals.”

Interactive maps flicker with interactive icons, showing deployments, charts, patterns, numbers and plans, scenarios of pre-emptive counter-strikes to pre-emptive first strikes by potentially hostile entities.

“At this stage, and provided the Triumvirate resolution, the Imperial Security Council has authorized Imperial participation in support of the TYCS elements and under overall TYCS command. We shall not move in combat elements ahead of the Allied effort and shall not open hostilities in advance, at least until the extent of the threat and the requirements of the frontlines have been established. Intelligence assessments indicate that the hostile patterns encountered by the Galactic Republic of Arkasia in this particular sector deviate from the hostile patterns encountered elsewhere in the Galaxy from the same identified Threat,” the reporting officer continued. “Relevant information is contained in the Military Intelligence as distributed for this session. We are liaising with our Triumvirate allies to ascertain the technical aspects of the threat we shall be facing.”

Further interactive information flickers, evolves, dissipates and reappears again.

“Finally, we have a special request by the TYCS to assign important contingents of the Knights of Praksa to the ground component liable to be deployed in forward combat roles,” the officer continued as others arched their eyebrows.

“Let me guess, the request comes from the Solntseskhod command?” a higher ranked officer asked.

“Correct, Your High Excellency,” the reporting officer nodded. “We have provided the TYCS with a list of assets and pending their confirmation as per their operational needs.”

“We destroy stars and darken out sectors, yet our allies are yearning for our hamster space marines,” came an exasperated sigh from one of the higher ranking officers. Somehow an accidental joke of an idea materialized into a very efficient irregular fighting force popular with Taraskovya’s allies in the Republic of Sunset.

OOC: More of a placeholder post for now.
Last edited by Tarasovka on Mon Jul 05, 2021 4:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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INCORRECT SPELLING - DOES NOT EXIST:
Adjective: Tarasovkan

CORRECT SPELLING:
Noun: Taraskovya (formal, high flown) ; Tarasovka (routine)
Adjective: Taraskovyan

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Alexzonya
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Founded: Aug 05, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Alexzonya » Mon Jul 05, 2021 5:49 pm

Thanatos System, Great Civilization of the C’tan
Gamma Quadrant, Milky Way Galaxy


The Arkasian Starfleet forces that arrived, late, to the Thanatos system, and it was immediately obvious that the ships the GRA could spare to show their own flag in the MarFor component of the operation had seen better days. Consisting entirely of Exploration and Patrol Corps ships, the small task group was a mixed force from the 118th, 131st, 202nd, and 339th Patrol Groups, with a handful of other elements attached hodgepodge. Two of the cruisers and a frigate were clearly new production, with clean lines and unmarred blue-yellow-white-black Starfleet ‘parade’ colors visible on their external coatings as they entered the system.

The rest of the formation was… not new production. The largest group ships, while appearing fully functional, had noticeable gaps in their parade color patterns, likely because of the clearly added-on hull blisters containing secondary armaments, hastily replaced missile tubes, repaired battle damage, or several of the usual culprits together. Several ships had what were entirely new sections, containing forward-facing magnetic accelerators.

The last group, perhaps a dozen ships in total, were ‘walking wounded’: vented compartments, disabled weapons, damaged drive nacelles, cracked armor sheathing... but the ships were still spaceworthy. Signs of ongoing repairs are visible from most of these ships; clouds of fabrication nanites and makeshift printer scaffolding patching holes in armor, resealing compartments, and repairing damaged power conduits.

The Ansible communication that arrived to the local command not long thereafter was short and to the point. “This is Admiral Saul Harrington, Arkasian Starfleet Exploration and Patrol Corps, Commander of Task Group 22, now reassigned to the MarFor theater command. Apologies for tracking our mess into your system; we’ve just come off the line at Leos. Should have it all patched up in the next day or so. Task Groups 38 and 54 should be joining us over the next few hours; they’re coming off the Shieldwall, so are probably in better shape.”
Last edited by Alexzonya on Mon Jul 05, 2021 5:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Alexzonya
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Founded: Aug 05, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Ambush

Postby Alexzonya » Sun Jul 11, 2021 10:57 pm

"Close air support covereth a multitude of sins."
- #4, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

Leos Surface

The Auxiliary squad had positioned themselves on the top of a ridge, overlooking the remains of the road below. The superhighway had been scuttled in the First Battle of Leos, sections over gaping chasms destroyed. This part of the planet was riddled with fissures of an ancient tectonic event, and drops of thousands of feet were not uncommon. The broken sections had been covered over by the NEGL Auxiliary with heavily reinforced, military-grade metallic plates for moving troops and restoring transportation infrastructure in the aftermath of retaking the planet. When the Static had hit the planet again, the disorganized defenders had been overwhelmed before they could be destroyed again, and the Kinsari platoon had lacked the firepower to destroy the infrastructure; mortars and cannon fire had left divots in the metal, but they couldn’t get so much as a creak. Instead, their Lieutenant had set his five squads on various ridges and peaks overlooking the road… and they waited for the enemy to come, their IFVs dug in until only the turrets were visible and their mortars, machine guns, and anti-tank rifles sighted in.

Every minute or so, the antsy Kinsari Lieutenant would peer through his binoculars, focusing his eyes to the front of his head and magnifying the sections of the road far away. He felt the weight of the bandolier of grenades strung across his chest; not the usual kinds, but flares of various colors: red to signal an attack, green to signal a cease-fire, blue to signal a retreat and regroup, and yellow for dispersion. With the communications networks down, word spread, and by now the Arkasians and their allies were fighting the old way, as the Arkasians’ ancestors had fought so many years ago on Earth: with hand signs, flares, couriers, and signals flashed with light reflected from mirrors.

The soldiers in the platoon, Kinsari all, wander about, every odd sound or rumble sending them bounding back into position with almost panicked quickness. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the Lieutenant glances down the highway and he sees a flicker of movement. He reaches up to adjust the binoculars, and a column of vehicles come into focus. Angular, with tan-splotched camouflage that matches the terrain of this part of the world. He counts, his mouth moving silently. 15… 20… 25… and many were troop transport trucks, the kind that would hold twenty humans. There was at least a company coming through, maybe more. He takes his mirror, and begins flashing quick signals to each of his other positions in turn, making sure they’re ready, and waiting for the return signal. The buns hop to their positions, ready to engage when their commander fires his flare. He waits, breathing carefully and trying to remember his training; every instinct inside him tells him to run, to hide, to be anywhere but here, generations of evolution working hard against keeping the lagomorphic soldiers on the front. But they hold, and hold… until the lead vehicle enters the kill zone. The Lieutenant raises his Puppy launcher to the sky and pulls the trigger, sending a red flare flying out from his ridgeline. And then the firing starts.

First the staccato bursts from the light machine guns, periodic pings and tiny puffs of debris indicating when they made contact. The lightweight darts don’t even leave a mark on the enemy vehicles, but when the infantry begin to disembark they begin to reap a deadly harvest. The thump-blam of mortars, presighted and now dropping their payloads onto the roads below. The harsh crack of the Vasily anti-tank rifles, shields flaring on enemy vehicles over and over as the gunners fire steadily, each squad’s pair wearing down one vehicle and peppering it before moving onto the next. The whomp-whomp-whomp of the IFVs’ autocannons,, and periodic flash of anti-tank missiles fired from the racks on the sides of the turret. Below, the Static soldiers take cover wherever they can, seemingly unphased even as they drop like flies. They begin to fire, targeting their ambushers… but mostly, just trying to pin the stubborn rabbits down to their foxholes. The Static only had to wait.

The streaks in the air were the first sign of trouble. A pair of jetstreams, high in the atmosphere, and the Lieutenant tries to track them with his binoculars, frowning. Were those…. And then one ridgeline explodes, scattering buns and equipment like shrapnel. The Lieutenant scrambles at his bandolier, hastily loading and firing a blue flare as a second ridgeline meets the same fate. As he yells for his soldiers to fall back, the world explodes; the circling aircraft had seen the flare, of course. He’s flying through the air, and then he lands, staring up into the sky. He can see flashes on his hud. A red cross icon, that human symbol for medical aid, indicated that his armor was injecting him full of nanites. He tries not to think about what they might be fixing; he feels pain, and numbness, seemingly everywhere. He knows he must be going into shock. The ground would shake again, every few seconds, sometimes dirt and debris flying up high enough for the Lieutenant to see as he blinks, trying to keep his vision clear, his eyes open. He tries to force himself to sit up with his arms, and can’t.

Things are suddenly silent, the enemy aircraft flitting away as quickly as they had come. Whatever was left of his platoon were dispersing; they’d regroup at a pre-determined rally point. The sergeants… they can handle it.. He tries to stand again, and the number of indicators flashing increases by one. It’s… I’ve just gotten the wind knocked out of me, rationalizes the Lieutenant, not caring whether he believed himself. Just… a short rest, ought to do it, and then I’ll be good as new.. He was so tired. He lets his head lull back, and closes his eyes. Just a short rest… and then...
Last edited by Alexzonya on Sun Jul 11, 2021 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Tor Yvresse
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Ex-Nation

Postby Tor Yvresse » Thu Jul 15, 2021 5:11 pm

The Dome of Crystal Seers
Tor Yvresse Craftworld


The stars above the dome were the same serene stars as the great worldship had sailed between for the last quarter-arc since the Great Peace of Sol had been established. Centuries ago, as humans measured time. They shone dispassionately down at trees of silver and quartz that rose from a floor of pale bone. Ulaneth stood in the shadow of the pale trees and watched as her fellows assembled.

All of them wore variants of the same ritual garments, orange hues fringed with enamel-white. The heart of the dome was ancient, and groves of seers long passed. He held his hand out in greeting at the circle that had assembled in the grove of Telgothrind.

The works that consumed the attention of the Yvressi were deep and they had not been seen on the galactic stage for a very long time. Those who kept a careful tab on matters would know of their colonies and the city-ships that had calved from the great craftworld, and that they had joined the Great Civilization centuries ago. But few would know what drew their attention now.

What was more well known, was what Ulaneth and his compatriots had gathered to do.

“We cast our minds forth into the Skien of Fate!” Mel’nais called.

She was a legend among the Yvressean population, she had brought about the unthinkable, and brought about the redemption of the Soulless Ones, and even played a leading role in the reform of the Jackal God itself. When her predecessor had passed back beyond the skien she had been elected to the leadership of the council, and retained it ever since.

As one the circle of seers drew wraithbone stones, levitating the runes before them in an intricate constellation. Ulaneth sank his mind into the tangle of fate, as one the council moved beyond their bodies and their minds.

The Path of the Seer was one that Ulaneth was new upon, he had walked it for but several passes, and his position in the circle was minor. The usual mental barriers that surrounded his mind were hard to slough off, to trust entirely in the spiritual machinery of the Seer’s way.

He went to the place where the mind passed beyond life and into pure being, hurtling through the galaxy. For a single heartbeat, he felt the whole world ship, with its countless Aeldari, and the fleet around it, both Yldari and the necron vessels that still sometimes seemed strange.

His mind hurtled across the galaxy, through the tangle of fate, the lesser cultures venting fury at one another, ephemeral conflicts and ephemeral lives passed unremarked for he was not focused on them. Instead they sought the torment of souls shriven by alien powers, things from the realms that touched the Othersea but were still physical, alien places with alien beings.

Invaders of the Great Wheel. His instant reaction was abhorrence, he wanted nothing more than to burn them, the fury of his past paths falling in his mind for a moment; the days when he had ripped the loathsome Aumanii to slurry in their bastions on Mars as a Warp Spider came rushing back.

He set these aside as for now he was but a seer, a witness and a guide.

Long practice taught them not to look directly into the abyss, their attention turned and shifted. The skien was not merely spatial, but the tangled twists of fate, the paths from which one action could touch another, a cosmic infinity of weighty consequence. There were secrets that the Seers could know long before most others.

Their attention fell on the place known to its avian inhabitants and the humans that were allied with them as Leos.

Between the immaterial gaze of Ulaneth and his compatriots, something became crystal clear. What was unfolding there was not the thing that had assailed the lesser nations of the region in recent years. This was something far more insidious and dangerous.
Last edited by Tor Yvresse on Thu Jul 15, 2021 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Roania
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Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Roania » Fri Jul 16, 2021 1:10 pm

The Huanxin Daily Record
All News Under Heaven



FRONT PAGE NEWS

Military Expedition to Arkasia Announced
Chen Gai-Gai reporting from Wú Shàny'ài Bànyōngshì, Huanxin

The Office of Accessibility has confirmed earlier reports that the Sovereign, Ten Thousand Years to the Lord of Ten Thousand Years, has approved Her Excellency the Grand Secretary's plans for a partial mobilization of the reserves. These plans were only rumors until a month ago, when the Secretariat Record (ed. 1587-32b, p891, l66) contained a reference to Miss Jia Jinwan being named 'Great Secretary for Expansion and Consolidation', the new Secretariat being currently based at Hen Sen Palace in southwestern Huanxin. At her first press conference, the newly appointed Great Secretary confirmed to this paper's reporter that her position was intended to coordinate between the civilian and military services of the Dragon Throne (Ten Thousand Years to the Lord of Ten Thousand Years) during this time.

What we learned at this morning's announcement is that elements of the Second Fleet and Second Banner have indeed been activated, apparently for long-range expeditionary deployment. As of yet we do not have confirmation about where these units will be sent, sources within the Military have informed the Record that the situation in Arkasia has been weighing on the Joint Staff for quite some time.

Apparently Henrik Ironhand, a regular star in the city's society pages, is serving as an emissary from the Eridani Imperium on the matter. He was recently seen leaving the Palace of the Secretariat and later that day arriving for a meeting with the Joint Staff with the Great Secretary of Expansion and Consolidation on his arm, but refused to comment on his activities except to say that his interactions with Miss Jia were perfectly satisfactory for both parties.

The Situation in Arkasia

Unconfirmed reports from Arkasia have painted a grim picture of events in that Star State. According to sources on background, an unidentified Yogwey has been active in systems there, and is apparently capable of stealing the will of individuals.

The major Western states have all reportedly intervened in the crisis, according to sources on the ground. That this has played a role in the ongoing debate within the Cabinet was, then, a natural expectation by the public (In this very paper, see our articles here, and the editorial here [subscribers only]), an expectation confirmed by the release of the summaries of the last month of Cabinet Meetings in last week’s Secretariat Record (ed. 1587-33a, p151, l22), where it was learned that Her Eminence Great Secretary of Foreign Affairs Srinta had held consultations with unnamed emissaries from those nations. Reports that certain parties had been ordered to the palace to inform the Sovereign (Ten Thousand Years to the Lord of Ten Thousand Years) of recent events remain unconfirmed, but it would be likely that the Dragon Throne (Ten Thousand Years to the Lord of Ten Thousand Years) has been kept informed of the situation.

That the Westerners are concerned by events in Arkasia would give credence to the idea that matters are coming to a pass there. This Yogwey has apparently assembled a significant army already and reports from the foreign press that have access to the site are disquieting.

Events at Home

At present, the partial mobilization applies to all reserve members of the Second Banner, who are being moved to active duty, and to reserves of armies Jade Falcon, White Dragon, and Grey Stork of the Third Banner, who are being temporarily deployed to the depleted garrison sites normally controlled by the Second Banner. Recall orders began going out at third watch last night and should begin arriving in the coming week.

As reports of a mobilization grew more certain, talk on the street naturally turned to the impact of several biywan men being removed from the civilian economy. The Secretariat of the Treasury’s spokesman at this morning’s press conference has confirmed that the possibility of severe hardship has been discussed, but that at present there are no plans by the Secretariat or the Military to tap into the Strategic Reserves. Prices for staple goods are expected to remain stable.

All men currently being mustered are now subject to military orders and protected by military regulations, meaning that it is unlawful for their civilian employers to discharge them or for moneylenders to demand payment or seize property for debts. Families who are financially impacted by the husband, father or son being recalled and who believe they may be unable to maintain themselves during this period are asked to inform the Secretariat of the Treasury as soon as possible so that action may be taken.

However, it is not certain that… continued here

For on-demand access to our complete, ongoing coverage of the Arkasia Crisis, including translations of the foreign press, become a CLine Subscriber+ here; current subscribers may access this through the Special Event section on their Accounts page

New Guild Mistress Seeks to Travel with Fleet to Arkasia
Shi Yulin reporting from Gōnwuì Dàitīng, Huanxin

Following the shocking events at the Guild Hall two months ago, it was thought that nothing more could surprise the public about the sudden ascension of Naval Lieutenant Lian Jin to the position of Guild Mistress. But if the latest reports are true, then Her Serenity has petitioned the Dragon Throne (Ten Thousand Years to the Lord of Ten Thousand Years) for permission to travel with the Expeditionary Fleet to Arkasia. We will bring you more on this story as it develops.

Celestial Master Confirmed
Setia reporting from Jiaji Paoda, Huanxin; Qen Jeia reporting from Neydin, Zijindow

No one could have predicted that last year’s election of Ta Yong to the post of Celestial Master would have been so contested or that its aftermath would drag on for so long. After the death of Ta Go, the heads of the Ta Clan went into conclave. Apparently, about halfway through the vote there was a change of support from the initial favorite, Ta Baiyue, to Ta Yong, leaving her with a bare majority. Since then, Her Grace has held the title and been acting as Celestial Master as far as the majority of the people are concerned.

However, Ta Baiyue’s supporters would go on to petition to the Dragon Throne (Ten Thousand Years to the Lord of Ten Thousand Years), alleging publicly that there were irregularities both in the voting process and in the candidate selection process. We have covered his party’s claims in more detail elsewhere (subscribers only), but essentially the claim was that not only had foreign parties (left unnamed in the transcripts) interfered with the voting, but because Ta Yong was a descendant of Ta Wu on her mother’s side, as was Celestial Master Ta Min, then it had not yet been the full course of generations before she could hold the title. They requested that Ta Yong be removed from office. The Prince of Abiding Purity wrote an editorial in this paper (here) that recommended that instead she be married to Ta Baiyue and the title be held by them both, though with the husband as the senior partner.

Ta Yong did not respond herself, but her advocates before the Dragon Throne (Ten Thousand Years to the Lord of Ten Thousand Years) stated that the descent from previous Celestial Masters had always been calculated patrilineally and that on that level her ancestry should be calculated from Ta Weian. They also appear to have made the statement that even if descent was to be matrilineal, it should be taken from the date of Ta Min’s resignation and not from her departure to the ancestors. They disdained the claims of foreign interference and threatened suit for libel and slander.

The Sovereign (Ten Thousand Years to the Lord of Ten Thousand Years) after consideration returned the case to Her Excellency the Grand Secretary, who proceeded to order a full investigation by the Auditors of the matter, but decided that Ta Yong would hold the position until the end of the inquiry. The inquiry ended on last sixth day, but only now has a statement been issued by the Office of Accessibility that the original election results were confirmed.

According to sources, an arrest warrant has been issued for Ta Baiyue to stand charges of…continued here
Last edited by Roania on Fri Jul 16, 2021 1:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Alexzonya
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Posts: 244
Founded: Aug 05, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Alexzonya » Thu Jul 22, 2021 10:19 am

“The longer everything goes according to plan, the bigger the impending disaster.”
- Maxim 17, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries



The Domain and Eridani ships arrive in Leos, together with an Arkasian relief fleet launched from Aquarius at the same time, dropping into the periphery of the system outside the primary asteroid belt. On arrival, they find a system in chaos. Fighting rages around the primary habitable world, fourth from the star. Arrayed on one side of the world, huddling in the Starward side of the orbitals, are the remnants of the systems’ original defenders; Arkasian Starfleet mostly, with a handful of the Leosian ships that had miraculously survived the two invasions of their capital. They are steadily being driven back away from the planet as the Static, occupying the other side of the world’s orbit, press their advantage, raiding and skirmishing with their foe, resulting in bitter knife-fights that left shattered metal and debris across the planet’s orbit.

Further out and partially sheltered behind the shadow of the planet’s small, cratered moon is the the first wave of reinforcements from League Auxiliary Headquarters at Kinsara and the GRA’s quick response forces; a mix of Arkasian Starfleet, Kinsara System Defense Force, Arcadian Navy, and Myrrian Navy ships, anchored by the the sector control ship ARS Colossus. The Colossus, while covered in minor battle damage that indicated a direct engagement earlier, was at the far rear of the formation, shepherding and triaging the growing pile of damaged and disabled warships as best she could in the shadow of the moon, her internal booms deployed for hasty repairs. The wreckage spinning in random directions away from the gap between the moon and the planet, as well as the parts that had fallen into orbits, tells the tale of the relief forces’ attempts to break through, and their being repulsed by the enemy.

The Static warships, clean white with sharp, angular designs vaguely resembling birds of prey, are much more standardized in appearance than the hodgepodge Welded warships that had been encountered previously. For every foe that falls away from the battle, two more seem to take its place, and the hydra of Static warships move in precise unison, forcing the Arkasians holding the orbitals to dance to their tune as the defenders respond unevenly and piecemeal… at the speed of light, which in this case is noticeably slower than usual for Arkasians.

In the approximate middle of the melee is the once blue-and-green marble of Leos 4. The planet had seen better days; dust choked the atmosphere, and fires burned across the landscape in numerous places on the surface, adding more smoke and ash to the conflagration. The invasion is ongoing; Static landing ships drop past the shattered remains of the orbital defense stations, unopposed by anti-orbital and atmospheric defenses that, on that side of the world, had been silenced hours ago. They’re supported by a hail of laser and plasma fire from the Static fleet, clearing new landing areas and hitting any defending troops unlucky enough to be identified from orbit, which is an increasingly worrying number. The tide is with the invaders, and only growing more so with every moment that passes.

Near their entry point, a few light-seconds out, a single GRA cruiser sits waiting, as a picket… or a messenger. It opens one of its DALA ports and opens fire… at approximately 0.001% of standard pulse intensity. A signal laser, flashing in dots and dashes.

-- ... --. / ... . - / .-. . -. -.. . --.. ...- --- ..- ... / -.-. --- ..- .-. ... . / .. -. / ... -.-- ... - . -- / ..-. --- .-. / -.-. --- .-.. --- ... ... ..- ... / --. .-. --- ..- .--. / -.-. --- --- .-. -.. .. -. .- - . ... / - --- / ..-. --- .-.. .-.. --- .-- / .- -. ... .. -... .-.. . / -. . - .-- --- .-. -.- / -.-. --- -- .--. .-. --- -- .. ... . -.. / -.-


The in-system coordinates arrive soon after, as promised, in another flurry of light.

One of the Gungnir cannons on the NC Telemnar rotate to face the cruiser and begins firing at a small fraction of its normal power.

-- ... --. / .-.-. / -.-. --- --- .-. -.. ... / .-. . -.-. . .. ...- . -.. / .- -. -.. / ..- -. -.. . .-. ... - --- --- -.. .-.-.- / ..-. .. --. .... - / .-- . .-.. .-.. / .- -. -.. / .-- . .-..-. .-.. .-.. / ... . . / -.-- --- ..- / --- -. / - .... . / --- - .... . .-. / ... .. -.. . .-.-.-


It takes a moment, but in another series of flashes the situation is clarified; the relief forces were going to proceed in-system and commence an immediate counter-attack on the Static forces around Leos rather than proceeding to the rendezvous. The Arkasian picket acknowledges this, and the counter-attack begins.

Communications between the Phoenixi and Kadrian commanders quickly result in a plan of attack, which unfortunately cannot be easily relayed to their Arkasian allies. It is thus up to the reinforcing fleets to carry the sword to the enemy. The Phoenixi are the first of the relief fleets to score blood; arsenal cruisers peel away from the primary fleet, performing in-system jumps to take them to positions around the system. Salvo after salvo of laserhead missiles are launched into space on carefully projected orbits. Beyond the initial launch, the missiles perform no maneuvers, and use no drives. Dark and silent they drift, but they drift at close to the speed of light. Caught by planetary gravity, they slingshot around the system until converging from multiple angles on the Static forces in orbit. It is hoped that the combination of velocity, lack of emissions, and sheer number of engagement angles will either cause considerable damage, or at least force the Static fleet to abandon their control of planetary orbit around Leos.

Meanwhile, the Eridani forces form the vanguard of the attacking relief forces, who burn on the most expeditious route to try to force the Static fleet off of station and give the defenders planetside a chance to recover, as well as the arriving forces a chance to deploy their own forces planetside.

As the allied forces close, it becomes clear that the Domain missiles aren’t first launched in this engagement; the light coming from Leos shows salvos of cutting-edge Arkasian Javelin missiles arcing speedily around the planet, before failing in every conceivable way: misfires, premature detonations, warheads firing at bizarre angles into the void, and missiles veering away at random, chasing phantoms. Some burn up in the atmosphere, occasionally with massive blasts in the case of those carrying AM warheads, while a precious handful score incidental damage on their target. Behind the moon, Arkasian and NEGL warships form up and start burning on a set of long-parabolic trajectories that will bring them sweeping through the Static formation from multiple directions when the leading elements of the Eridani make contact. That’s the theory at least; without effective communications the Arkasians are just guessing, and would have to adjust their burns and angles on the fly.

Reality seemed to move slowly. According to the plan -- the ships coordinated and moved with carefully calculated burns that accounted for both the angles and timing that they needed. But the Static fleet unexpectedly lunged toward the encroaching Kadrian vessels and threw all of this into disarray. The Domain volleys were now out of sync with the Kadrian advance.

The Static fleet burns hard to break orbit and meet the Eridani vanguard.They release a flurry of cube-shaped probes alongside missiles, long-range kinetics, and particle weapon fire. The probes move in behind the missiles and burn single-mindedly towards the Eridani and Domain ships.

The two formations meet in a flurry of plasma and charged particle fire with the Eridani in the vanguard, and both the Domain and Arkasians on the flanks. The cubic probes are destroyed in droves, but the more urgent missile and kinetic fire quickly draws the attention of the allied point defense. A handful get close. Too close. The affected ships briefly lose sensor and communications feeds, the probes sucking up what information they need from their victims before they’re finally blasted late. Too late.

Aboard one of the Phoenixi warships, the virchspace flickers briefly as the Static consumes information. The tactical officer is watching the primary readouts when it happens.

#What was that? Did anyone else see that?# Her voice holds a note of confusion over the internal network.

#I saw it too! I can’t play it back either, the sectors are just blank, empty. That wasn’t an intrusion, it was instant,# replies the engineering officer.

The ship commander quickly contacts his immediate superiors in the fleet, reporting the phenomena and recommending the fleet flush and rebuild the TacNet. Something is not right here.

The Static fleet promptly turns tail and runs, allowing the allied powers to sweep them out of the Leos orbitals for now, seemingly unconcerned about the several hundred hulls they shed along the way to the pursuers from the relief forces, the Arkasian and NEGL firing passes, and the Domain missile strike, which arrives late but tears into the flank of the Static withdrawal with brutal lasers of pulsed photons that tax shields and blast molten holes on dozens of hulls. But they had thousands more such ships in the fleet. The losses could be easily replaced... and the Static had gotten what It needed.

The mood is jubilant on the whole in the CIC of the Colossus, with the majority of the staff cheering, often aloud, as the Static forces break and run. A few of the veterans, though, look at each other, almost nervously. Commandant-General Rawlins sits heavily and scratches his stubble, which serves mostly as a reminder that he needs to shave; he had been on duty too long. You bastards… why are you running? He turns to his fleet communications officer. “We need to move any elements with expeditionary forces up. Colossus and her immediate support will shift to a stable orbit on the facing side of the moon. I’m moving my flag to…”

He pauses, and looks at a dossier of ships. Can’t be another Arkasian ship… Glorious Cavalier is out of action… Sword of the Sovereign, maybe? No… not a Myrrian ship either… ah, there we go!

“... to the KRS Unity Station,” he finishes.

“The Kinsari flagship?”

“That’s the one. Inform Commandant Sou-Bri to expect my shuttle and my staff. We’ll be moving up, and I need to be onsite to coordinate with our allies.

Meanwhile, a foreign signal makes itself known on the Domain’s TacNet. +KAV Skofnung, Officer Sigurðarson speaking. Did you catch that anomaly on the sensors a few minutes back?+

The response is quick, #KAV Skofnung, DCF Inner Light actual. Confirmed. We’re trying to determine what exactly happened, but that was no network hack. Suspect active metaphysics at play. Probable all existing comms protocols compromised. Waiting on advice from fleet command. Inner Light out.#

Then comes a noise over the TacNet that was probably the officer hissing in realspace. +Understood, Inner Light. Legatus Imperia is being informed of the possibility. Analyst Shadowcloak recommends only essential information be passed over comms for now, so the útlendingar don’t get too interested. Skofnung out.+

Shortly after this exchange, the Domain fleet command orders all vessels to sever their connections to the combined fleet network and to rely only on internal datanets. The previous cohesion and precision of the Phoenixi forces is degraded, but not yet to the degree inflicted upon the Arkasian forces.

Victorious, or so it seems, and with the Static fleet on the run, the allied forces settle into orbit and prepare for the next stage; it’s time to retake the planet. A new swarm of drop pods and landing transports begins raining on the allied-held sectors, but this time those pods carry friends: Arkasian Marines, NEGL Auxiliaries, Eridani soldiers, and Domain combat servitors. The fleets form up to protect the landings and the planet, the Eridani in particular inching forward, almost daring the Static to run the gauntlet of their guns again. Privately, the Domain and Eridani commanders must both be thoroughly confused: why couldn’t the Arkasians have managed this on their own?

Post Co-Written by The Eridani Imperium and Phoenix Domain. Special thanks to Sunset for his helpful feedback and suggestions on this post and Hypatian Commonwealth for assisting with grammar and proofreading.
Last edited by Alexzonya on Thu Jul 22, 2021 10:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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The Ctan
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Founded: Antiquity
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby The Ctan » Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:31 pm

Novum Convenientem, Independent Colony, Scutum-Centaurus Arm

Elias drove across the track, his vehicle bouncing here and there with the lie of the land, its shocks protesting slightly. The morning was beautiful, crisp skies, fine weather for anything one chose to do on such a blessed day. He had been at work since before the lesser sun had risen, of course, and he had taken the time to do land clearance, hard work, but satisfying, he’d dragged up a substantial line of vegetation into burn rows this morning. He wasn’t going do any burndowns for the next few days before it would dry, but he needed to return the excavator claw he’d been using, as that had been on loan, and it was good enough weather to take the time out.

Novum had few paved roads, the population was low enough that few saw the need, and the roads wound between the farms of the several dozen families around the town called Repentance.

Then, an unusual sight struck him, and Elias pulled over, though he left the ignition on, reaching out and pulling a lasgun from the clip behind the seat, he opened the door, stepping down, leaning on the bonnet of the car to take aim.

Staring at him through his scope was a Novum Caribou. No relation to the Terran species, they were delicious they were useful and they’d learned to run from bipeds. They hadn’t had this kind of blithe trust about men and their machines for the best part of four centuries.

He took aim right between its eyes, a single las shot would drop it. He looked at the back of his flatbed and sighed. It was a good opportunity, but he didn’t really have the space to bring the doe back home, or to town without putting something down by the roadside. Far more bother than it was worth in a season when he had plenty of food set aside.

“Lucky you,” he said, and brought the gun down from his shoulder, slipping the safety catch back on. He racked it again as he got back into the cab, and drove on.
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“It was the strangest thing,” Elias said, “I haven’t seen one of them just stand there, watch me take aim since we landed.

Elias was an old man, though he could pass for twenty-four, he had been here when Novum, or more properly Novum Convenientem had been settled. The world had been chosen for sitting on the fringe of the galaxy, well out of the way of heathenry, where the settlers could focus their efforts on things that truly mattered.

They were not a part of the so-called Great Civilization from which they had come, indeed they renounced its values and works. But neither were they unchanged by it, and they traded with it on their terms; the Agreement for which their world was named was a charter of faith and purity, and that included the technological. They had taken nothing of Necron knowledge, and they wanted nothing of it, but they had access to the whole technology of the Old Imperium, and that included a great many juvenat drugs that prolonged life.

Elias spoke to someone much younger than he, Verity who kept the general store at Repentance Town was a little older than she looked, though she had a serious demeanour for all that. “Passing strange brother,” she said. She leaned on the counter with her hands in white trimmed sleeves, considering his words seriously. “Perhaps it has amnesia? I believe there are certain parasites that do that to them, I would make sure to cook it most thoroughly and avoid the offal if you take it.”

“You know, that would explain it Sister,” he said, “I will do that if I see it on the way back. Many thanks.”
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The Temple was the heart of life for the community, and Elias had rarely missed it. The building was no longer the largest in the town, but it had been the first to have electricity and the first to be rebuilt of brick as fortunes had improved. Today it boasted a golden statue of the Emperor Enthroned, the great suffering god of mankind.

“Let us remember the evils of the vile C’tan,” Pastor Jacobs announced, it was a perennial but poignant topic of the sermon, one that she avoided using too often, but one that focused the community. “The treacherous being known as the Deceiver, who by its own admission brought ruin to the ancient necrontyr and their Empire of Wickedness, is the architect of this heathen culture. This titan of deception separated us from the work of our Emperor, and brought us here, to further its own designs. This is no secret.

“We faithful few, from among multitudes, who cleave to the vision of the Emperor, are charged with a sacred task. We are water carriers in a desert of decadent ideas. All across this galaxy and beyond, men exist, of lesser mould, who seek consciously to emulate the machine-worship of our distant ancestors.

“The C’tan encourage this, for it is to their benefit to encourage man to become mechanical, to spread the plague of soulless nullity, to cast themselves in the image of the obscene pariah and the wicked null.

“The C’tan know right well that the destiny of mankind is transcendence, not in ever more complex and more centralized forms, but in the individual soul of each human struggling on the path that our divine forebear has set forth. This is what they fear, for though the perils before us are many, that is the divine wisdom of the Emperor.

“Brothers and Sisters, let us pray that those few of us here on Convenientem and our sister worlds, hold true to that vision, and never forget this singular truth; explore and learn as one wishes, but remember that all things pass away, that only through the spirit can we know the way to righteousness.

“To indulge in the cult of the machine is to forsake the spirit, that is a truth that our Emperor knew, but was forced by circumstance to compromise upon, we at last here and now can afford…”

One of the great doors opened with the clatter of runners and the squeak of hinges, and a boy came in. Elias knew him, he knew everyone in the town of course. It was Dayl Brock, son of Martha and Rodden. The weather was poor, and he was covered in dried mud, but he seemed to have been crying.

The pastor halted her sermon, stepping down from her pulpit and bowing once to the icon of the Emperor before rushing to where several dozen of her flock had gathered around Dayl.

Elias was on his feet as well, the ceremony could withstand a pause, and Pastor Jacobs knelt before Dayl, speaking to him.

“Calm down Dayl; you’re safe here,” she said.

The boy was attempting to look as serious as he could, in that false-maturity that hit at about in early teenage years. “I am calm,” he said, though his voice lacked the certainty of that.

Jacobs’ hand squeezed his shoulder and she nodded, in clear agreement with the fib. “Of course,” she said, “tell us what happened.”

“My parents forgot me. They were out, and then came home, and chased me out last night, they thought I was trying to rob them. I had to walk through the woods all day. I think they’re sick, or enchanted.” The idea of witchcraft was never too far from the mind, and it was a malady as real as any other.

The Brocks lived on Elias’ route into town; he spoke up. “I saw something yesterday too,” he said. “The wildlife up by the Brock farm has been wandering around stupified.”

Pastor Jacobs gave him a look, and then a nod. “The Emperor would forgive us if we ended the service here,” she said. “Sister Jayne, can you call Doctor Canmer, she send me a cypher this morning that she was called out to the Bogin farm, Slyte is having trouble with that augmetic of his again but this will have to take precedence I think. Captain Maxwell,” another of the first generation settlers stepped forward with a nod to Elias. I fear we might need the militia, can you muster some of your men as you see best? I am help Dayl get settled down in the parsonage for now.”
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Thanatos System, Great Civilization

Vɑrsɛl ita Oruscar pushed the air out from beneath him with each pump of his wide white wings. He focussed on the path ahead, the feel of the wind and the push on his wings with each glide between his wing-strokes. He cut a sharp grey-white form beneath the glimmering dome though his wings pushed forward far more than one would imagine wings on a humanoid form to move. He was a phoenixling and the wings that emerged from his back resembled the straight-sweep of a heron’s. The overall appearance gave him the look of an antique angel.

Bringing his legs out from under him he executed a deft upward thrust and came to land on his feet, his boots crunching gravel as he hit the ground. He was dressed in trousers and a jacket of ultramarine blue, with grey edging. His long hair was pale, shining white with a tint of robin’s egg blue.

The dome rose above a garden, and he took a moment to look around and savour the sights, the floral bushes that ran in rows on the edges of short-clipped lawns that surrounded him, before approaching an information terminal. The garden was surrounded by a three-mile ring of low buildings, and he wanted to look up something. His halo conveyed his intention to the terminal before he stepped up to it and it displayed the settings for the buildings around him.

All were vacant.

The Great Civilization did not believe in Disaster Readiness. It believed in Disaster Expectation.

The difference was small but it was impactful. The planning approach was the same as border states that responded well to unexpected crises because key decision-makers were always expecting some crisis, and existed in the expectation that they would have to confront a parity threat at any time. This was the same for the Great Civilization, despite its lack of prominent threats, for the War in Heaven had left deep scars, and many later immigrants had come from conflict zones. Vɑrsɛl himself had.

Disaster Expectation required substantial foreplanning, and the Thanatos System had long been prepared, like most C’tani systems, with far more housing than it needed for its own population. Most C’tani had several residences, for the cost of both land was low and the cost of building non-existent. Vɑrsɛl had three. But still, places like this area were built to a higher standard.

Vɑrsɛl had planted this garden, and he wanted to save something of it, a few commands and a drone, shaped not unlike a bee, arrived with a cylinder of glass. The terrarium held a single flower, pink-tinged white Caltrila lily.

The whole area would be used as a stage four refugee area, this whole platform with its gardens and shops and residences for half a million people, park-domes and aqua-zones; there was a chance, given the enemies that were expected, the whole area would be quarantined, and should anything happen, perhaps incinerated.

He’d bred this cultivar, and while he could re-print their genome if he wished, he would rather keep some continuity from the original. He took the terrarium and tucked it into the null-space of his halo.

He took off again. He could have simply displaced, but he enjoyed flying whenever he could.
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Vɑrsɛl ran. The general evacuation of Thanatos’ inner ring had been sounded six minutes ago, and the compromise of the systems had been remarkably swift. Very little that he’d not been carrying with him was responsive, and he had seen fellow citizens and refugees alike turned into ravening monstrosities.

The phoenixling recalled the shield projector, heading forward again to one of the crevasses that ran across the infrastructure layers of the ring, the inner track of the ring was already fallen, the residential and recreational areas that encrusted it were on fire and in mayhem.

He checked the map projected from his sleeve, he did not have internal navigation to rely on. His early experience with brain experimentation had put him off any permanent neural interface and his suite of devices were all external. He wondered if that wasn’t an advantage in edge cases like this.

“Halt!”

The voice was sharp, and the speaker was a T’au woman, whose frame suggested a mixed caste parentage. In one hand she held the clone of his weapon, hung from a shoulder strap, and pointed at him.

He didn’t know whether to trust her. She probably didn’t know whether to trust him either. On reflection he didn’t even know if he could trust himself. The threat-briefings had made it clear that some infected did not know they were.

“Halting,” he said.

She was certainly loyal in her dress, she looked like she’d stepped out of a gala, wearing a light dress with golden thread describing sine-script along it and shimmering phos-glyph necklaces and inter-actives on her wrists. The rune of the

“I’m Vɑrsɛl,” he said. “Heading to the small-bay?”

“Kian’ta,” she said. “It’s as good a location as any,” she said. She seemed to relax a little, and Vɑrsɛl wondered for a moment.

Choice was better than non-choice, and trust beat paranoia. “This way,” he said, stepping into the travelway beside her. The interior layers of the massive construct were not designed for habitation, but they had a breathable atmosphere in these areas. He could feel her eyes on the small of his back, but she didn’t fire. They’d both need to be cleared regardless.

The space was designed above human scale, and with confusing geometry in places, the service constructs that used this area did not need to travel on a single gravitic plane, and some areas had apparent-gravity that pulled them opposite direction from the centrifugal force that normally served as gravity. Others were in free-fall, and more than once they passed flensing fields of energies or energetic columns of scintillating milli-constructs.

“Active terminal,” he said, and he could feel Kian’ta looking at him.

“Trap,” she said. “The ringmind seems to have scragged its main internal sensors, don’t get into the capture field of that one.”

“Got it,” he said, stepping back, most holocapture units had a radius of three meters or more, but the terminal was built into a supervisory area for what had clearly been an interchange for internal transport, built on a scale you could fit freight units in.

Kian’ta moved sideways, and together they covered a vertical shaft. She held her hand over the warm updraft and gave him a look; there was atmosphere below. He checked the map again. “Three levels,” he said, and he beat his wings once and then twice. He dropped and let the air current break his fall. A gestured command to his escort drone lit up the area, flood-lighting the area of the control cabin. Kian’ta was climbing down behind him.

The drone responded to something it had heard before him, and fired a scoutmissile, a two-centimeter sub-unit that zipped down a corridor ahead, relaying an image that hung over the side of the drone. Vɑrsɛl recognized the figure that appeared as a humanoid, fortunate. He was not concerned about infected humanoids as much as he was about subverted systems, but the ringmind seemed to have done a good job at putting its sub-systems beyond use.

The scoutmissile returned before the stranger could react, and Vɑrsɛl frowned. Three really was a crowd in this kind of situation, the reversal of any usual survival logic, and he glanced to Kian’ta, she gestured out with her arm in the opposite direction and in agreement, he followed, letting her take point now.

A few moments later they were approaching the smallbay they had chosen. The name gave the wrong impression for many foreigners, for it was still a large space compared to humanoids. Statues of Arnstoan, bird-like creatures that resembled terran corvids, formed huge buttresses in two rows along the sides of the chamber. The smallbay was designed for small craft, not necessarily small itself. It could accommodate scores of craft, and several remained.

Unfortunately, that didn’t mean that they were active.

Despite having gone down many levels from the residential area, they were still on the inner track of the ring, there were a hundred thousands of levels of dark industrial space before they got to the outer surface. But this would do, provided they could gain access to a ship and get control.

The Great Civilization’s ships and systems were designed for redundancy, and the quiet tomb-like silence here was misleading. “Okay, there should be a backup here,” Kian’ta said. “Cover me,” she said, and stepped forward, while Vɑrsɛl looked forward. “Keep back,” she added, “if there’s any defence systems subverted…”

He didn’t need telling twice, hangars were always defensively armed, he needed to stay back so that if any of the systems here was live there was at least a chance for one of them to survive.

The universe was not so kind as to allow him to escape, and sure enough, another person appeared; he was spared from wondering if he needed to trust the newcomer, as the newcomer’s escort drone opened fire, his own protecting him with a flash.

He fired in turn, and his ablation projector failed; the weapon of course, could hardly fail under ordinary circumstances.

Both he and his perhaps-compromised opponent had state of the art personal fields, the newer generation “quantum shields” of the Great Civilization were infamous for this; they did not simply protect the warded object with screens. They worked by selecting which possibilities actualized from uncertainty. Tales of assailants attempting to shoot someone or something protected by these and being killed by falling masonry or suffering spontaneous heart attacks were common, the most common failure conditions were equipment issues that would otherwise never have happened.

The enemy still had one more functional drone, and he could just about - his eyes were faster than a human’s - see the shot that killed him.
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The Reality Chamber was a remarkable invention, more than a simulation, or hard light holograms, Vɑrsɛl and his cadre were in a training environment that was literally real, a splinter of reality altered by the manipulation of the base data of the universe. Some civilizations used related technologies more extensively, but here it was a technology principally used for entertainment. Entertainment and training.

And a whole bunch of niche industrial uses Vɑrsɛl couldn’t recall of course, but it wasn’t a way many people lived. Too close to being a lotus-eater.

It wasn’t a chamber, it hadn’t been in Vɑrsɛl’s lifetime. The technology had been invented shortly after the starchange. This model was a ring on the floor built along with several others, for his comrades experiencing their pocket realities.

“Not bad, good call on trusting Kian’ta. Any particular insight?”

“Not that I’m sure of,” Vɑrsɛl said. “By the time I ran into her I would have had trouble if she was infected anyway. May as well get to a safe zone and move on.”

“I think that’s fair,” the speaker was Simnat. He had a broadly rodent-like frame, close but two steps sideways from those creatures that were found on earth, and larger than any of them.

Screens showed those who were still in their frame realities, Vɑrsɛl leaned on the railing between the observation and briefing area and the ring of reality chambers, and wiped down his face with a soft wet cloth.

“It’s difficult to train against something capable of being subtle like this, even with every practical precaution,” he said.

“If it makes you feel any better,” Simnat said, “Manlon is doing worse than you did.”

Vɑrsɛl wasn’t going to take a simulation running to death as a slight, most of them would, the scenario was consciously hard. He stepped back, and stripped, reaching behind his back to undo the point where his jacket closed on each side beneath his wings, before shucking it off onto the railing, the chambers were one part of the complex. The same procedure followed for the upper part of the bodysuit he wore beneath until he was stripped to the waist. Simnat nodded to him; a proper scenario-debrief would be a while off, he had time to do something else.

Preparedness was something that had been drilled into him by his foster parents, his sister had never taken to it, but she had never wanted to please them as much as he had. Since he had begun living independently he had spent much time here in training for events he knew would likely never come to pass. “Random melee opponent, humanoid,” he said, crossing the floor to a ring set three steps down behind another railing and a ring of flex-plast.

The hard light figure that appeared was something approximating half the galaxy’s soldiery, he honestly couldn’t identify the uniform, but it was an opponent with a bayonet and a carbine. He smirked, and drew a knife from his belt, he owned a very fine mithril sword, but did not wear it, they were more of a dress item and it was awkward to fly with. This was more practical to carry alongside other arms.

Some civilizations were fond of imagining their people were good at warfare because they lived lives of austere poverty. The thinking went, a warrior who was raised in an environment exposed to the privations that were considered a part of unfiltered life would possess greater fortitude than one who had not known such things. For that reason some governments, almost always authoritarian, consciously held back their industrial automation. The idea they professed was that toil made one strong; a more cynical sociologist might be inclined to think that the true thinking was that toil made people too weak to contemplate revolt. But often this was a sincerely held belief; throughout the Great Wheel human and other necrontyr-form cultures could be found where men and women did tedious labour with and basic automation, toiling on assembly lines and in shipyards. All for the belief that this made their people better suited to war.

Vɑrsɛl could say that he had experienced more hardship than many of his neighbours, for his childhood before puberty had been a bleak one. He had been a slave and even a scientific experiment subject before his new homeland had swallowed the country he had lived in like a heron gulping down a fish. He did not agree with this line of thinking. He was far more prepared for combat than the stevedores and factory workers of much of the Gamma and Delta Quadrants.

The soligram ring suppressed sound from outside, and he watched the opponent carefully, the setting he was at did not wait to begin, but would take aim in its course; the opponent fired.

The simulation was intended to be difficult, but he was not a beginner. He moved with remarkable speed when he wanted to, and the motion was quick enough to read, Vɑrsɛl was close kin to a predatory bird, as much as he was to humans, at least beneath the surface, and his reactions were fast; the same mystically grounded biology that let him fly gave him brittle bones that allowed injury easily. Many would enhance these, but his his early and involuntary experience as a victim of brain experimentation had put him off that. The people who had oppressed him and used him were dead now, and their people within the great civilization, but he was not inclined toward the cybernetic.

He did not need to be, because although he was fragile, he was also strong, at least in striking motions, and he had conditioned his body and trained his reflexes to use this. The opponent was quick, the thrust high, and Vɑrsɛl was far quicker.

He gripped the weapon as it was thrust toward him, the point to do so was just behind the sword-bayonet, and the motion was carried upward, using the momentum of the charge against the opponent.

His knife-strike could be taken to be an afterthought, a motion of follow through in the deflection, the simulated enemy dropped, and blood pumped from the simulated enemy's chest wound.

Three of his heartbeats had passed; perhaps two for a healthy human running on adrenaline.

“Another,” he said.
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The fan shape of an iron scroll sat on the broad table in Vɑrsɛl’s bedroom, the wide space that looked out onto the void, a solarium as well as a bedroom with a lofty feeling of open space to ward off claustrophobia. The device flowed with updates on the evolving situation. Ultimately though he was a resident of Thanatos, a system that had until now been one of the most secretive as well as heavily defended of the Great Civilization, he was a civilian, not a warrior and not a war machine.

That did not mean quite the same for his people as some thought, for all the citizens of the Great Civilization were pledged to a single cause, and if the need arose to fight for that cause. The preservation of reality and the protection from the Primordial Annihilator.

He was skilled in violence, but it was not his calling, it was a part of who he was, but there was much more than that.

The room held parts of his journey, a carpet from Deist covered much of the floor, and in one corner of the room, a glimmering Áramírë stone the size of a duck’s egg from Menelmacar, a wide painting of the deserts of the quaintly backward land of Turtleshroom he had once visited, and a complex mandala of the Forntian Constructivist faith on one wall.

A C’tani form of the prevailing religion is the country of his birth - not the same as the now conquered land of his enslavement - the Constructivists believed in the quest to impose flexible but incorruptible law on the cosmos. It was a creed he had studied, a growing body of meditative practice that blended the systematic, scientific understanding of the cosmos with the cause of justice.

But just as he was not any of the things in the room, he was not a warrior nor even wholly a gardener, he had something far more important to do today. He had a date, and while preparing for the crisis was important, there were more important things to him than that. For all that he was listening to the audio of the crisis updates, he was not paying attention to the fine view he had of the Arkasian fleet arriving. Right now, choosing what to wear to make the right impression was more important.

To survive was only the basis of life, to thrive was to live well.

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The Arkasian ships at Thanatos were in for a surprise, and perhaps a lesson. The system contained a great many structures, all of which were conceptually familiar, ranging from the swarms of collectors and the frame-like spars of the Solar Harnesses around the Thanatos Star, to the rings around the primary planet itself, no less than seven of them, making the world look something like a gyroscope, the world itself was not able to be scanned in any way except the optical and near-optical ranges.

Nothing was detectable of the world outside a narrow envelope between 280 to 840 nanometer electromagnetic radiations; the range was deliberate, the range of most visual biological organs, including the range of ultraviolet and infra-red that most biologicals could manage.

The people of Thanatos wanted their world visible, but they didn’t want anything else to be known about it; its overall mass could be calculated from its orbit around the primary, and influence, but direct scans of its gravitational field seemed to vary, while more sophisticated sensors, from neutrino-diffraction arrays to the transcendent technologies of space-time boundary analysis could read nothing of the world itself.

But what could be seen was a starship graveyard. If the starships were evenly distributed across the planet’s surface they would make a layer of detritus approximately eight kilometres deep. Most were large, miles long, like the Great Civilization’s own interstellar ships, and a back-of-the-envelope calculation would suggest that this indicated between two and three billion wrecks on the surface of Thanatos. They hailed from a vast variety of species, and one could spend quite some time analysing the different ships scattered on the surface, many were conventional, but others seemed to be made of bone, or stone or were agglomerations of seemingly random components, others were converted asteroids and corals. Some were even Necron, the ancestors of the ships that patrolled the system today.


The ships were guided to the fourth ring, and a series of entry ports scaled for the leviathan ships used by the Great Civilization, tens of miles wide, enough to swallow battle plates whole.

The communications back to Admiral Harrington had been more than cordial but somehow lacking. “Welcome to the Thanatos system, do not worry, we have plenty of mess here.”

A flurry of offers followed, and the ships of Task Group 22 found themselves navigating toward a hexagonal aperture in the ringside, the interior structure of the ring was a curious mix of cylindrical and circular elements, the outer docking regions were not small, but the route they were taken led deeper within the labyrinth within the ring-structure.

Here there was much less effort to stop their guests probing, and there was information to be gathered too. The rings were composed of a living metal, a form of organized matter with strange currents of power and energy through them, not nanotechnology.

More disconcerting, for the security conscious, were the walls of eye-like orbs of black metal set into the innards of the ring, and life-size images created of the ships as they passed through; if the situation in the NEGL was less urgent and the leadership not already thinking in terms of playing catch-up, such things would likely make strategic planners apoplectic, but in this situation, operational security conniptions were likely to be ignored.

By the time the ships had arrived at their final dock within the harbour structures, they had company, the frames of new vessels built in their own style, with names assigned, where possible, new ones drawn from Arkasian cultures. Other vessels were provided direct replacements for damaged components, and dense fullerene-encapsulated anti-matter fuel; this took somewhat longer to supply, as it was not stored in bulk in the harbour facilities.

The crew’s needs were similarly attended, though here there was some inhospitality, for all that the C’tani were making their stay as pleasant as possible, they had come from a contaminated war-zone, so rather than unrestricted access a segment of the ring’s domed gardens and arcades was provided and the rest of the facilities accessed by hard light hologram telepresence rather than physical transport.

There were definitely worse berths in the Gamma Quadrant.
"If any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. When I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"The Necrons were amongst the first beings to come into existance, and have sworn that they will rule over the living." - Still surprisingly accurate!
"Be you anywhere from Progress Level 5 or 6 and barely space-competent, all the way up to the current record of PL-20 for beings like the C’Tan..." Lord General Superior Rai’a Sirisi, Xenohumanity
"Many races and faiths have considered themselves to be a threat to the Necrons, but their worlds and their cultures are now little more than interesting archaeology."

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Sunset
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Sunset » Thu Jul 22, 2021 8:25 pm

Port Ha'Bainda, Blishi'i Star System, Along the Northern Segment of the Monoceros Ring, The Edge of the Edge of the Milky Way Galaxy... A Few Hours After the Allied Offensive into the Leos System...

"...these are VUG craft," High Paladin Sinuriyu confirmed, the prosthesis on the aquatic Blishi'i's lower face pronouncing it 'vug' rather than the more formal 'Ver'Un'Guun'. Aside from the Defense Force liason posted to Blishi'i High Command, he stood alone at a half-circle of displays where combat footage from the Leos System played out on each. His black eyes were mostly focused on the angular ships as they moved and fired, his hands carefully folded together inside his robes, though occasionally they flicked to one of the information streams that accompanied the recordings. "They are not under their control."

Captain del Monaco didn't question the High Paladin's declaration. The BUSF had been been fighting the Ver'Un'Guun for many years previous to contact with the Republic and the wider galaxy and Sinuriyu, as his rank suggested, had seen his own unfair share. There were few with as much direct experience with their now-mutual enemy and so when a match had been made to the ships fighting at Leos in the Galactic Republic of Arkasia del Monaco had been instructed to simply ask him.

"They're not;" it wasn't a question so as not to offend the High Paladin but he began to clarify as he continued to watch, "They fight together, as if under the command of one. The VUG are chaotic - unruly. Each section fights as their own but these fight together. Their weapons," his eyes flicked to a particular data stream. "More accurate as well."

"What do you know about their information warfare abilities? The GRA reports that they have been able to penetrate their systems, erasing information and even erasing any trace of their penetration, except that data is missing."

That was a more reasonable question to put to the High Paladin, who stopped tracking the ships on the displays and looked through the displays to watch 'Ha'Bainda's duty crew as they went about their regular duties. The port's control center was located just above the docking cage that protruded from the great bow-shaped arc of the station and so beyond the sparse crew and their individual control stations the two were afforded a sweeping - if remote - view of the mass of ships continually coming and going from the station and then the nearly-uninhabited planet beyond.

"They have none. Except that you now say they do. We have never encountered anything like this, Captain - they are too simple of a mind and the distances involved here at the edge of the galaxy make these both difficult and less useful. Useful to the Ver'Un'Guun, that is - but not to the Krȃng."

"The Krȃng? You think this is a Krȃng invasion?"

"Or a distraction," Sinuriyu corrected the Captain quickly. "I have been eagerly reading the reports sent back from M33. Both from your office and from the Inquisitors. The Krȃng are losing. Slowly, yes, but they are losing. This could be an attempt to either distract the AEF with the threat of an invasion into the Milky Way or just that. Over the past years we have made substancial progress against the Ver'Un'Guun. We have destroyed many of their Synthesizers, killed dozens of their Warlords, and by our joint reckoning we were on the verge of eliminating them entirely. Correct, Captain?"

del Monaco nodded, "That's been our analysis as well."

"These things come and go, of course - the cycle of violence continues as they are either destroyed, destroy themselves, and then they fall silent until a new Synthesizer is discovered. Or, perhaps in this case, uncovered to them. Note the pattern of activity. Only a few months before the departure of the Exterminators;" the Blishi'i term for the i'Halalaentariel, that now-extinct entity having been responsible for a scouring of the planet at the bottom edge of the command deck's main screen thousands of years before the Blishi'i evolved to sapience; "we were in direct conflict with three Warlords and their fleets. These we destroyed and then... Silence. And now these," he looked back to the combat footage, "have appeared. I do not believe in coincidences. Not of this magnitude."

"Go on."

"The Ver'Un'Guun owe their existence as a space-faring..;" for the Paladin to call them a 'civilization' was unfair to most civilizations. They were an unruly mob with little understanding of how they came to be and how to act to their own betterment; "...culture to the seeds left by the Krȃng. Just as we ourselves do by means of their destroyers. Perhaps it is that when the i'Halalaentariel began their attacks in M33 the Krȃng sent a signal to one of the Synthesizers here which then subverted whatever methods the VUG use to achieve their dominance."

"We haven't seen any kind of infowar activity in M33 though."

"Because we would be well-prepared for it," Sinuriyu replied quickly, as though he'd already been thinking along those lines. "We have both fought the Krȃng for many years, we know how to harden our systems against them, and they might know this. And the Exterminators were there," he added as an after-thought. "They were doubtless immune to any such until their extinction. I believe this is a distraction. They use VUG craft because these are what they had on hand and because it would take time to shift production to their own designs. The VUG would have been easy to subvert - when we have had the opportunity, we have been easily able to infiltrate. The Krȃng are particularly adept in this, they would have accomplished it without impediment."

"Even if it is a diversion, as I believe, we should not ignore it," he went on. "I will inform the Inquisition and dispatch Space Force assets to survey the area nearest to the GRA and begin positioning a fleet to deal with whatever we find," he finished, looking to the Captain as he waited for the obvious response.

"I'll talk to Fleet but we'll probably do the same," del Monaco answered. "Let's just hope it is a diversion. The last thing we need right now is a full-fledged Krȃng invasion..."
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Hypatian Commonwealth
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Founded: Jul 17, 2021
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Fri Jul 23, 2021 1:07 am


Revansport Station, 1300 Hours
United Provinces, Delta Quadrant
Hypatian Commonwealth Republic


It was an unending conveyor of ship and crate in Revansport, one of the largest harbours in the United Provinces. Since the order had come down from way up high, thousands of dock workers had been tirelessly loading containers aboard the cargo ships. Automated shuttles moved to and from the depots to keep up with the demand as the schedule was tight. The Martian Forum had passed a resolution to administer aid to those affected in the Scutum-Centaurus arm, at the same time as the Triumvirate. Speculation was rampant within the docks.

It didn't take long for the Prime Minister to present her case to Parliament and for them to authorise limited emergency powers for the Empress. A binding resolution followed enabling the allocation of funds from one of those blackhole budgets the Minister of the Exchequer didn't like to discuss. Once the paperwork had been signed, Nerys had the power to deploy Commonwealth warships, and the funds to lease private ships and acquire supplies to supplement any shortfall in the federal government's emergency stockpile.

DVI cargo ships, among many other corporations, were hired on by the federal government under a tight regime to quickly load up and head for the Scutum-Centaurus arm. A letter had also been drafted by the State Department and dispatched to the participating parties announcing the Commonwealth's commitment under the Forum's resolution and the form of aid the Hypatians were interested in delivering, namely: food, clothing, medicines, and temporary shelter.

Among the Parliamentary reoslution's limited-use powers was a provision to acquire intel on the situation to be used in routinely scheduled briefings with the National Security Committee. For the Crown, this was enough justification to activate Valkyrie. The ravens of the Commonwealth were now loose to keep an eye on the developing situation.

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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Sunset » Fri Jul 23, 2021 6:01 pm

The Estate of Ambassador (Retired) Arthur Forsteri, Somewhere on the Rim of the Valles Marineris, Mars, Sol System... Republic Date? Republic Date? This isn't a time for accurate record keeping, this is an emergency!

"...what?! You can't have them!" the penguin objected, throwing up his flippers and running around in a tight circle, his feet slapping out the beat to Neil Peart's drum solo in "O Baterista" as he did. "They... They..."

A humanoid figure walked past - black, militant, and androgynous; except for the careful tuxedo it was wearing - and both turned to watch as it went past, a silver serving tray and platter held in both hands. The remains of a half-dozen herring were splattered across the platter with the only flesh remaining being the head and their strange, dead black eyes.

Like a doll's eyes.

"They're government property," his visitor - a something-or-other from some department he no longer gave two shits about - said firmly. "Records show that there were eight thousand MD-Sm/s-type drones placed into long-term storage at Long Term Storage & Maintenance Facility Six just two kilometers from here;" how they managed to capitalize all the letters as they said them was a mystery but they pulled it off nicely. "Records also show that you visited that facility on 175.741 and checked out six tonnes of picked herring and two bottles of Taittinger Blanc de Blancs Brut '1943. For 'diplomatic purposes'."

"Well, I don't remember doing so, but," again the retired ambassador waved him away with a flipper. "If that's what the records say then that's what I did. Unless you play them backwards. Hail Satan."

His visitor - an actual officer, in uniform and with a sidearm (not that the penguin didn't think he could take him) - paused to look around. They were both standing in what was the foyer of the estate's foyer, an open room with a high chandelier hanging above them, a pair of enormous carved oak doors that led outside, and a massive archway that led into the entryway itself. An intricate marble scene played itself out under their feet, the little spheres rolling this way and that with a 'click' and 'clack' before being scooped up by a mechanical arm and dropped into a fountain to one side where a statue of some unspeakable horror stood peeing into a bowl of carved stone rings.

"...six tonnes. Of pickled herring." The officer eyed him closely, "You've got quite an appetite."

"I've got six mouths to..." Forsteri clamped his beak shut and the officer smirked; "which is just what eight MD-Sm/s-type drones and eight bottles of Taittinger Blanc de Blancs Brut '1943 would weigh if one were to cover them with a hundred kilos of pickled herring, which is all that the logs show were checked in to storage."

"Shit."

"Yeah, shit."

The penguin threw himself forward, ending up on the floor just shy of his accuser's feet and looking up at him, both flippers implausibly wrapped around an ankle, "Alright, fine - ya caught me. The butler, the maid, the chambermaid, the gardener, the footman..."

That one had been hard to miss. Just outside the door there had been an elaborate horse-drawn carriage - except, as one might expect given the circumstances - it wasn't horse-drawn. Instead a four meter ogre stood there, a collection of straps held in one hand while the other finger was firmly up her nose. A stick-on name tag on her rotting tunic had proudly proclaimed, 'Hello, My Name is Horse' to anyone who might ask.

"...the cook, the housekeeper, the valet, the coachman, the stable boys, the groomsman, the tutor, the nanny... They're all your damned drones! Take them, take them all! I throw myself on the mercy of the court! Just don't tell her. Oh," and he pulled himself up the man's pant-leg until he was once again standing, "and how's she doing? Good? I hear Demi's just about ready to pop, again. They be getting it on!" he emphasized this last with a feathered elbow to the thigh. "You know what I'm sayin'?"

He put out a flipper for a mid-five but the officer just stared at it until it was withdrawn, "Yes, well. I'll have them rounded up. Might take a few minutes. Ms. Higgins?" he said to no one in particular, "my fowling piece, if you would. We're after dangerous game!"

"Intact."

"Oh. Why?"

That at least seemed a harmless question to answer, "The entire lot is being forwarded to Circlet V then they'll be shipped to Thanatos and transferred to the Arkasians. They're looking to rapidly some replace battlefield losses. We'd like to have them delivered in the next few hours. We're just waiting on..." the sudden realization that the penguin had listed off a lot more than eight crossed his eyes but he shook his head, 'No' - Forsteri was insane and a liar. "...we're waiting on the eight here. And if we can get them inside the next five minutes then this never happened," he finished, his voice trailing off as he watched another walk through the door, this time wearing the sultriest of sultry French maid outfits.

"Never happened, eh?" Forsteri rubbed the chin of his beak and looked sideways at nothing in particular, his eyes glinting.

Well, it had been the unspeakable horror but you know how these things are - take your eyes off them for just a moment and they've scuttled out the door. Now he was just looking at a large stone bowl of piss-soaked cheerios.

"I'll have them here right away," he declared, rubbing his flippers together in obvious glee. "Five minutes! Ms. Higgins! Round up the servants, we're selling them down in Charleston... What do you mean, I can't say that, it's racist you son of a bitch? It's not racist - they're robots! What do you mean, I'm a robot?! You take that back!"

"Ah-hmm," and the lieutenant cleared his throat for further emphasis. "Five minutes. Four."

"Oh, yes, right. Right!" Forsteri whirled around. "Four minutes! My, how time flies! I see you've brought a car," he scooted around behind the officer and began to shove him forcefully towards the door, threatening to shove him forcefully through the door if the disabled access button didn't work quite fast enough. "I'll have them right out!"

In fact it was less that two minutes later that the eight - minus most of their previous outfits but suffering under the clear effects of a pre-credits pie fight - trooped out the door to stand in two neat rows of four. As one they saluted with one stepping forward, "Orders, Lieutenant Eversun."

"Board the vehicle," he gestured to the hovertruck that sat behind him idling, "and secure for transport," he ordered, looking over them to take one last gaze at the strange conglomeration that was the former ambassador's estate. Onion domes and Las Vegas glitz clashed endlessly with Tudor paneling and he could once again hear the sounds of musket fire as the lawn gnomes waged their never-ending battle over the hedge maze.

Breaking formation, the drones quickly mounted up - six in the bed, two in the back seats - and in his haste to leave the premises the Lieutenant failed to notice as one in the back raised a hand to wave at a collection of six-armed otterkin that peered around the columns on either side of the gate as they drove through...
Last edited by Sunset on Sun Jul 25, 2021 6:46 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Hypatian Commonwealth
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Founded: Jul 17, 2021
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Thu Jul 29, 2021 1:01 am

Hypatia City, Mars, Sol System
Commonwealth Parliament


"You'd have us rush into the unknown with our guns at the ready because of some unconfirmed reports? Are you insane?" The forum within the Senate was teaming with members in verbal disputes over a new bill that had originated from the House. It was, perhaps, the most significant piece of legislation that had crossed these halls since the New Accords. For many years the nation had endured something of a Pax Martiannica. The nation had long recovered from the Great War, and though the physical scars of that terrible conflict had vanished from the public spaces, the monument at the steps of Parliament ensured it was not forgotten.

Lord-Chancellor Mavin Dawnblade stood from his seat and with a booming voice silenced the room and brought it to order. Dawnblade was unlike the others in the Senate, a man of mixed Kadrian-Hypatian blood. He stood taller than the senators at nearly seven feet in height and had silver hair and a scar across his face. He wore black robes as a custom to his position, and once he had seen the rest come to order, he took his seat.

Aurelio stood, he was a newer senator, "All that I am saying, honourable lords, is that we have the forces of Yut on the move in great mobilisation across the galaxy. Few of us here were alive during the last major mobilisation of this organisation, and they do not tread so heavily without reason. We have already authorised aid but it is becoming clearer now that there is far more afoot here than we realise. It is imperative that we provide Her Majesty the means."

"The means to an end, honourable lord?" Belcrow stood and chided before taking his seat. There came a groaning among the floor.

"IF we dispatch an expeditionary force, we have committed ourselves to whatever conflict may arise. The last time we risked such an adventure we found ourselves left to watch Gamma burn. I needn't remind the honourable lords here of the consequences of our arrogance: it is a price we have paid for in blood," another senator stood.

"And what have the honourable lord to say if whatever this manages to push past the Yut? Have we not families within the Delta Quadrant and along the demarcation with the GRA? What happens to them? Shall we stake ourselves and wait to see what comes of this menace, or do we make preparations for a conflict that could see our homes sacked on the frontier?" Aurelio stood again. There were whispers that followed, and Dawnblade looked over the room. Belcrow did not stand to rebuff Aurelio for the first time since the debate had begun.

The Lord-Chancellor stood finally and all eyes were on him. "I suggest we put it to a vote. Motion to the floor! As stated by the House, 'Do we permit Her Majesty the authority to mobilise our military forces to be dispatched to the Gamma Quadrant in aid of the Martian Forum, the Triumvirate of Yut, and the Galactic Republic of Arkasia. Voting may commence, clear the forum!"

Image


.H..M..G.


Image
OFFICIAL DECLARATION of the HYPATIAN COMMONWEALTH
Year 2200 / STATE DEPARTMENT of HER MAJESTY'S GOVERNMENT




STATUS : CLASSIFIED / SECURE TRANSMISSION; Security of Communication Act, Section 5.3
VERIFICATION : Verified by State Security Intelligence Check — Token [REDACTED]

This is an official communication of the State Department of the Hypatian Commonwealth;




URGENT / STATE OF EMERGENCY / QUADRANT MOBILISATION
At 1100 hours GST the Hypatian Commonwealth Navy (HCN) received a full mobilisation order of the Delta Quadrant anchorages in accordance with Parliamentary Resolution 3401 authorising full emergency powers of Her Majesty. HM has declared a State of Emergency within the Delta Quadrant affecting the Delta League following intelligence reports of the ongoing hostilities near the Gamma-Delta demarcation and the joint Yut-Forum Scutum-Centaurus Relief Mission being undertaken by nearly a dozen nations. It is the opinion of Naval Intelligence, Civil Defence, the Security Council, Her Majesty, and other various organisations privy to the intelligence of the developing situation in Gamma, that any deployment of Yut is a matter of grave concern requiring utmost vigilance.

At 0100 hours GST remaining forces within the Gamma and Delta anchorages have been placed on High Alert following the mobilisation order. The Delta Periphery Alert Status (DPAS) has been raised to 3 to assure maximum readiness of expeditionary and intelligence assets in the region.

At 0200 hours GST the 14th and 15th Expeditionary Fleets of the HCN had been dispatched from New Salamis to support operations of allies within the Gamma quadrant.



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New Salamis, Delta League, Delta Quadrant

New Salamis was one of the oldest inhabited systems of the Delta League, having been settled by Hypatian colonists nearly a century ago. The bustling polity was also the first to ratify the Commonwealth Accords and join fifteen other nations in forming a federation under Hypatia's rule. The system boasted the largest Hypatian anchorage in the entire galaxy known as the Three Sisters for its distinct three-station design. Several major battles from various wars had been fought here over the last hundred years and each attempt to capture this system had failed. For the Salamites, they were the gateway to the Delta League.

The Three Sisters came to life as their central citadels spewed forth drones and ships to ready the fleets moored in the system. Auxiliary stations and platforms had received their orders and automated foundries churned as their industrial fires beckoned. It was the first time the Commonwealth would go to war, but the nation had not been idle during its peaceful slumber. Since reconstruction, the Hypatians had been moving and upgrading their defences. They had built new fleets, designed new ships, and recruited more men and women into the armed forces.

The 14th fleet was the first to transition to the transit gate, it would take them to a staging point where they would then advance on Kinsara with a citadel in tow. The 15th fleet was not far behind, though its destination would be Leos. Several ships slipped into the transit gate ahead of them, they were Aegis-class corvettes, otherwise known as the navy's stealth ships, whose mission was to gather important intel on the threat they would be facing alongside the others.

At last, the two expeditionary fleets embarked on their journey through the gate leaving behind the bellowing fires of the Three Sisters. It would take several more days before the 1st Fleet would be ready for deployment, but when it was, its destination would also be Kinsara where it could establish a more formidable foothold in the region. Initial reports from the Arkasians during planning depicted Kinsara as a vital system within the North-Eastern Gamma League, but it was poorly defended and had fallen behind with the GRA's attention focused elsewhere. In some ways, this worked to the Hypatians' benefit.

Admiral Granger had been named commander of naval forces heading to North East Gamma after Amsterdam declared the region an active theatre. His appointment was quickly approved by the Senate, making him the first active admiral of the HCN, since these positions were generally empty during peacetime. Granger's flagship, the HCN Roosevelt led the pack of the 14th as it made its voyage, and though some in the brass expected Welded -- the admiral had his doubts. There was a lot from the preliminary briefings during the planning stage of this operation that didn't quite add up.

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Alexzonya
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

The Thanatos Protocol

Postby Alexzonya » Wed Aug 04, 2021 12:25 am

The situation at Thanatos for the Arkasians had gotten somewhat out of hand, though not in an ill way. Rather, the C’tan had watched, amused, as the Arkasians took the gift of new, fresh-from-the-replicator warships and, rather than transferring to them, split their crews to press every available hull into service. The local system command, as a result, had amused themselves by periodically dispatching increasing numbers of Arkasian warships to the small Starfleet contingent, watching curiously and taking notes as the Arkasians divided resources, relocated AI cores, and quickly field-promoted new bridge crews for the shiny new ships. Just when it was looking like the fun had ended and the Arkasians would have to leave some of the original damaged ships behind, reinforcements arrived, from both Task Groups’ 38 and 54 arrivals in the system as well as a hastily request, granted by the Nimatojin, for a series of available MD-SM/s drone crewmen, capable of handling mundane maintenance and repair tasks and thus freeing up more Arkasians for critical roles.

Admiral Harrington, on his oddly named new flagship ARS Verdant Forests of the Horizon Centers’ Waterfalls, eyed the new drone crew with pleasure, before he turned into the wardroom. He was glad they were here, being able to cover a huge variety of mundane tasks that allowed him to move his sapient personnel to cover the influx of new warships; Task Group 22 had started with 61 warships, and now had nearly 150. Task Groups 38 and 54 had seen similar increases thus far, and yet new cruisers and frigates and even the odd Infinity-class Patrol Capital Ship continued to float into their docking area. They had a few other advantages, which he would be relaying to the two formation commanders shortly. He just hoped they were as capable as the Nimatojin believed.

Inside the room were Admiral Janeec Palico, a mud-colored Ghalen and the commander of TG 54, and Captain Samantha York, yet another Arkasian human… and not the commander of TG 38.

“Where’s Admiral Jel’Colli?” he asks first, his eyes pivoting to the unexpected Captain.

“My apologies, Admiral, but Admiral Jel’Colli took the 204th off on a scouting mission; said it was some kind of hunch, but didn’t clarify; something about OIC arrays. I thought he would have sent a Q ahead.”

“No, Captain, but that’s alright. I appreciate your swift redeployment, even without your CO.”

“Yes sir. Thank you sir.”

“Now,” starts Harrington, without further ado, “I’ve been consulting with the folks down in engineering and with Wiki, and I’ve prepped a document.” He calls it up, the words appearing on a holographic display. It’s titled ‘The Thanatos Protocol’, and from a quick skim was a short and to-the-point guide in how to quickly decrew GRA ships, how to crosswalk role reassignments, and a series of technical appendices regarding the design of the Nimatojin MD-SM/s drone crew, of which several had been quickly shepherded into the new flagships’ engineering bays for examination. The design, as it turned out, was remarkably simple for such a capable piece of hardware; the largest challenge was copying the software programming, which they did verbatim rather than reverse-engineering it the long way; that could come later, but for now they'd copy-paste.

“The Thanatos Protocol is a formalization of what we’ve done here; how to handle a sudden shortage of crew relative to available ships, using these expert system crews to replace some of the support and maintenance personnel. Our preliminary examination indicates that these drones are quite easy to replicate; we’re working on building new ones onboard as we speak. I suggest you both do the same. However, I also believe this protocol will be useful outside of our immediate situation; the Alpha, Beta, and Delta commands all have significant crew shortages, and our main fleet formations have an urgent need to scale up our deployments immediately, contingent on being able to find additional hulls. Based on some number crunching… I have reason to think, with Martian support, we may be able to massively expand the Starfleet’s ship inventory, far more quickly than we can expand our officer count. This protocol… well. Let me show you.”

He flips to a particular section. “I’ve run simulations, checked the historical notes, and asked Wiki to consult… and this is the key. The Thanatos Equation. It postulates the marginal improvements to combat efficiencies that result from the addition of an additional member of crew or an additional drone. The equation takes as inputs the number of sapients, the number of drones, and the original design crew complement. You can get slightly better precision by fitting some complex math, but Wiki said this was likely more accurate. Anyway, the short version is: we can get something like 87% efficiency out of our ships with dramatically reduced crews. Further, many of those positions can be retrained for necessary roles on new ships. The only exception are pilots, who have a niche skillset that requires specialized training no matter who role they’re coming from.”

The other officers nodded along. “How sure are we this is right?” asked the other Admiral.

“Reasonably,” Admiral Harrington replies, with a confidence he nearly felt. “We knew approximately how well our ships perform with skeleton crews already; what we needed to figure out was how well these drones could replace ordinary crew and Marines. The protocol also adjusts all ships to A/B crewing schedules from A/B/C schedules, which on its own goes a long way towards freeing up more crew. And we can consolidate more from that; page eight. And we had data on the performance changes from an A/B schedule already; it hurts morale some, but efficiency not much at all.” He moves the display to the relevant section. “What I want from you is to review this in the next four hours, run your own simulations and consult with your Wikis, and then get markups back to me. We’ll meet again electronically to review edits, and then implement the Thanatos Protocol officially. And then we’ll send a frigate back to Meridian with a copy and see if they think we’re right. If we are… then all we need are more ships.”
Last edited by Alexzonya on Wed Aug 04, 2021 9:55 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Hypatian Commonwealth
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Wed Aug 04, 2021 2:55 am

Senatus Populusque Martianus

HCN Roosevelt, Hypatian Heavy Cruiser
Alpha-1 Staging Point, Delta Quadrant


The Glory of Mars had not faded with the Hypatians, true many still considered themselves 'Martian' by right or by blood. While the Empire had faded, its spirit endured within the men and women who captained such ships as the Roosevelt, and who manned the guns when the hour was nigh. It was perhaps that warrior ethos of the older Empire that was needed here, among the fabled men and women inside the war room of the Roosevelt, to provide relief to the Arkasians and deliver them from total annihilation by a familiar yet strange threat.

"How are the preparations going?" questioned Admiral Granger. He had recently been appointed to the Admiralty by the Senate and proclaimed the theatre commander of what was rapidly becoming a concern of the Commonwealth. The threat at hand came as if it were Welded, but intelligence reports were painting something different entirely. Had the scrutiny of the reports remained and the consensus still believe it was a Welded incursion, then the Hypatians probably would not have lifted a finger.

What the reports indicated, however, was something more threatening that was moving with haste and had taken the Arkasians by surprise. And then there was the Triumvirate of Yut, an alliance that may as well have been considered ancient, responding to the same reports the Hypatians had collected. When a mountain rumbles, one takes immediate notice; and this was very much what drew Hypatia's curiosity and why the matter now had their undivided attention.

"It looks as though the Arkasians are bogged down in the Leos system. Domain and Eridani forces have responded as well, it's developing into something of a clusterfuck," Vice Admiral Delaney stated, perhaps rather harshly. The reports weren't exactly swimming with compliments, but the Domain weren't inexperienced in war, neither were the Eridani but Delaney would prefer a bullet than admit that. That being said, the poor state of the order of battle in the reports depicted thus far were concerning.

"Casualties?" asked Granger.

"Unknown, currently. The Arkasians have responded with their own reinforcements, we picked up fleet movement from Aquarius arriving in Leos," Vice Admiral Thelmy answered this time, he was another that had been promoted into the Admiralty and was commanding the 14th Expeditionary Fleet. Delaney had command of the 15th. Granger was travelling with the 14th.

It was then that Granger turned to their Naval Intelligence liaison, Major Abby Blackwell. She had been standing to the side of the war room listening to the general staff speak but emerged from the shadow into the embrace of the light that hung over the holotable. "Our strategists have combed through all of the intel reports and worked with both Civil Defence and your planning staff to come up with a plan of action: Operation Syracuse," Blackwell said. She turned on the holotable and slid in the shard that would bring up a starchart of this corner of the galaxy.

Leos was clearly defined, as was the North-East Gamma League, and much of Arkasian space. Granger nodded and so Blackwell continued, "Valkyrie, our dark space array, has been compiling data on the GRA for the last several days mapping out activity and trying to give us a more top-down picture of what is going on so we don't go in blind. At the same time, we deployed Aegis corvettes who have been setting up remote sensor relays and monitoring the situation from a safe distance. All of this has led to what you're looking at now." She zoomed in and highlighted the threads of Arkasian movement among some other traffic -- they looked like threads having been woven by a spider throughout the void.

"And what exactly does Operation Syracuse entail?" Delaney asked, scepticism lingering in his voice.

"We need to secure the Arkasian front against whatever this is -- I think it's clear, at least starting to become clear that we may be dealing with either a new strain of the Welded, or something new entirely. Naval Intelligence has dubbed the enemy with a codename: Static -- for the radio silence we've encountered when trying to intercept communications. We've run the models and here," she zoomed on the Kinsara system, "We should fortify and focus our efforts on this system as its pivotal to the greater part of the Northeast Gamma League."

"Why Kinsara?" Thelmy asked, looking over the hologram carefully.

"It's been fortified already, though its fortifications have fallen behind in development with the Arkasians having directed their attentions elsewhere. We can establish our citadel here and begin laying down a wider sensor net outward along the frontier to gather more intel. We've brought buoy-layers to deploy our HERMES nodes, and a sensor array is being brought in with the citadel to interface allied communications and pool all this data."

"And what would be the plan of action here after we've moved into the system?" Granger questioned.

"At the same time, we recommend pushing the 15th into Leos using sorties to assist allied forces and gather data. We want to focus on possible containment, Syracuse involves trying to scout neighbouring systems for signs of the Static. It'll also buy us a little time to deploy our auxiliaries in Kinsara and establish firing solutions for Achilles using the reports from the Aegis flotilla. Essentially, we want to lay down rings of sensors, patrols, and defences stretching out like a net. Arkasians be willing, we may be able to use our foundries aboard the citadel to mine the local belt for resources. Our initial reports indicate that our mobile harbour travelling with the 14th may be quite busy with repairs and resupply. And that brings us to the most important part -- a phasegate being towed in by the 14th. We can quickly setup a supply line in a few days time and then create a distribution network to resupply and maintain momentum with our allies in the region."

Granger stared at the starchart for a moment and brushed his chin. Silence lingered in the room as the others watched him. "And what of the defences?"

"The citadel in question is the Helepolis, it's a Leviathan-class anchorage and the largest of its kind in our navy. Kinsara being the civilian and military headquarters of the League means that it will most definitely become a target if the Static cannot be held at bay. It's close proximity to the GRA and its large population are prime targets, but it serves a strategic interest as well. Any attempts to push further into the local systems is going to be met with relentless pressure on our end from this system. Her Majesty has pressed us to prepare for any eventuality, and so we're not sparing any expense under those orders -- it's why within a week or so the First Fleet from Delta will arrive to reinforce us. That'll bring a lot of fresh troops and ships into the fray.

"For now, the citadel is coming with its typical auxiliaries -- about a dozen Achilles defence platforms can be set up with pre-firing solutions and positioned around the system at these points to launch strikes into Leos and to use smaller missile defences against an incoming fleet. A small detachment of Asimov cruisers has come with the 14th and will be available alongside the EWAC cruisers we already have to launch interference and inhibitor wells. We'll have two Mars-class battleships available to us for strategic targets, a drone carrier, and then the general set of cruisers and destroyers of the 14th to run patrols. Frigates and the Aegis flotilla will be able to screen and we'll have Valkyrie keeping watch. Breaking everything up into task groups will allow us to remain flexible," Blackwell explained.

"What are the Kinsari defences looking like?" Delaney was the next to ask the question as he rested his hands on the side of the holotable. Blackwell changed frames in the hologram to show the Kinsara system directly, depicting several large structures and other assets.

"The Arkasians have tried to build-up infrastructure in haste over the last several years after their bout with the Welded. Byzantium, another system has the majority of the Arkasian and League fleets within the region but they're within reach. Avalon has existing infrastructure that could be useful for our logistic operations. Haven has some major fleet yards. Kinsara itself has a small fleet yard and some Dyson swarms around the primary -- they could be useful. There are some other orbital structures that could be retrofitted to our needs. We've taken time to find ways to complement existing infrastructure in our defence arrangement."

"Then it's a go," Granger decided, nodding to Blackwell, "Good work, Major. Delaney, Thelmy -- have the Major fill you in on any specifics you'll need. If preparations are ready, we can get the carnival on the road. Major -- you'll be given full access to our facilities on the Helepolis, including the necessary security clearances to perform your duties. I'll send off a communication to the GRA about our move. Dismissed."


Image


Kinsara System, Northeast Gamma League, Arkasian Client State

The beautiful assortment of stars was disrupted as the light began to bend in almost unnatural ways. Speckled dots of faint colour stretched to streaks and reflected around the sudden mass before a flash split the inky sea of the cosmos and revealed a flotilla of small fast warships. These vessels appeared in multiple locations across the system, their non-reflective hulls made of composite materials and angular slopes could not betray their abrupt rotation on their egress. Ports in the stern opened, venting out heat from the ship's internal radiators and taking the opportunity to fire off several torpedos loaded with sensors that quickly rocketed away in several directions. Just as fast as they had appeared, these small ships vanished, fading into the abyss.

Another opening appeared after a few minutes and this time came several cruisers, their weapons armed and tracking multiple targets in the system as they slipped through. Destroyers and frigates followed alongside EWACs that fired a number of defensive countermeasures into their surrounding. At last, the black and orange hull of the first Mars-class battleship emerged from the opening, its immense but sleek design dwarfed the cruisers escorting it. Some in the navy had commented that the ship resembled a sword with a long, slender bow and midship section that shrouded the barrel of the ship's spinal cannon. It was a killer designed to take down strategic targets like stations and capital-class warships with a range that far exceeded anything else in the Hypatian navy.

More ships followed, but through other wormholes across the system in carefully arranged task groups. At first, their entry seemed random, but between them emerged the final wormhole and spewed forth a facility so large that its size cast an imposing shadow on the fleet that was positioned behind its sunlit side. Resembling more of a moon, the geometrically shaped anchorage was tugged along by several heavily armoured warships and they were swarmed by drones from the nearby carrier. The fleet had arrived.

Image



HCN Roosevelt, Hypatian Heavy Cruiser, 14th Expeditionary Fleet
Kinsara System, Northeast Gamma League, Arkasian Client State


Vice Admiral Thelmy was at the bridge of the Roosevelt as the flagship huddled near the centre of the formation. Each task group of the 14th was moving towards their staging areas to begin operations, whereas the Roosevelt was leading the pack towing the citadel. Hypatian ships were unlike the earlier Empire's counterparts, they were so heavily automated that the crews aboard them were more for redundancy. Nonetheless, it took commanders to delegate tasks to the shipminds and systems and Thelmy continued to give orders out to his bridge as they moved.

"Status report?" Thelmy inquired.

"All systems nominal, Commander," Roosevelt's AI replied. A screen before Thelmy scrolled with raw data displaying the telemetry, and health of a variety of systems across the ship. They had made the jump without incident. All stations had checked in, and the fleets overall posture was cautious but advancing. It wasn't that they expected the Kinsari or the GRA to be hostile -- but without knowing so much of their newfound enemy, they wanted to be prepared, especially given their vulnerable position as they moved across the system.

A map of the system collected data from the nodes the scout flotilla had fired when they first breached the system. Granger was busy studying the holotable where this map was being displayed, which sat behind Thelmy's station at the bridge. There weren't any anomalies so far. "We're making good time," Granger said confidently. The Admiral straightened and adjusted his uniform before joining his subordinate on the bridge's central island.

"Good time is all we can ever ask of Mars," Thelmy stated, "We're at full burn currently and should be in position within a few hours to make our course adjustments and put the anchorage into position. Last report showed that the auxiliaries were being put on standby for deployment. Task Group One is sweeping wide in the system and just finished their high-G burn to get them where they need to be. Task Group Two is deploying buoys along their route with their EWACs tagging asteroids for potential mining. The others are heading to their staging points to perform their duties."

"Any complications?" Granger asked.

"None. I went ahead and relayed your message to our new allies in the region about establishing a standardised communications net by using our sensor array. Should help coordinate our efforts, they've also been invited to Helepolis once we have it up and running. That way we've got a good, firm command centre to handle theatre operations," Thelmy answered, stepping back to get a cup of coffee he had sitting on a shelf.

"Good work," Granger sighed as he stepped off the island and headed back to see if they had any new reports.
Last edited by Hypatian Commonwealth on Wed Aug 04, 2021 9:11 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Alexzonya
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Posts: 244
Founded: Aug 05, 2012
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Alexzonya » Thu Sep 02, 2021 8:48 pm

“If you can see the whites of their eyes, somebody’s done something wrong.”
- Maxim 22, from The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries

The Guardian leaps the ridgeline, robes fluttering behind her and revealing, for a moment, the tightly fitted weave that clung to her form, a special blend of Force-reactive fabric from New Dornalia’s Ordermen woven together with Arkasian graphene sheathing and ablative gel. Unlike most Arkasian armor, the weave wasn’t supported by a powered endoskeleton; unlike most Arkasian armor, it didn’t have to be.

She lands gracefully, sparing only a moment for a look behind her before she takes off running again, dodging through what passed as dense foliage for the relatively arid Leos with inhuman agility, her feet avoiding every pitfall. Finally, only once she feels her legs might give out, does she stop and slump against the prickly bark of a tall tree, plenty of the sky still visible between the sparse foliage. The sky… still ashen gray, after weeks of fighting for the beleaguered world.

The woman pants, taking a swig from her canteen and then resting her hand on her chest, watching it move up and down with her entire upper torso as she catches breaths she had not dared stop to take. It had all fallen apart, so quickly. The enemy had come out of nowhere; not so much as a warning flare, a peep, a rumor that ought might be amiss a hundred kilometers to their East, at the front. Not so much as a bomb blast from the Holy City. But the enemy had come nonetheless, against all odds and for no purpose, striking at the Reliquary.

A museum, a library, that’s all the Reliquary was; a store of holy tomes and writings of the religion of the Leosians’ Five-Headed Bird God. It had been nearly abandoned, a target of no value at all to the Weld. Only a half-dozen Arkasian Guardians had remained with the Priest-Caretakers, standing vigil with their avian allies. And now she was the only one left, Guardian or Priest.

The Guardians had taken precautions; motion sensors, cameras… but it wasn’t until she felt that unnatural twinge of Wrongness in the Force that she or the others knew something was amiss. By then, it had been far too late. Her eyes flutter as she sees back. Her hand flying to her lightsaber and her jumping into the air; the grand gilded doors of the entrance flying apart as fragments, thousands of years of history becoming so much shrapnel. The bursts of rifle fire that cut down her team’s Captain and the priests; the desperate stand, her colleague standing at the end of a hallway with his lightsaber aloft, and the only escape through a small window.

“Go,” he had said. “I’ll hold them off. But you need to tell them what happened here. Everyone. These…”

“... are not the Welded,” she had answered him, a tear running down her face. “I’ll tell them all. Alistar… you don’t have to...”

“Brianne. Go, now.” And he pushed her away, for the last time, through the thin slit of a window, too narrow to accommodate a Leosian larger than a child… but small enough for a nimble human female to make her way through, with some judicious squirming and an extra push. She started running, following her comrade’s last request, not even stopping when she heard the screams of the dying Static and then the crack of gunfire, and then the awful, awful silence behind her.

She loses track of how long she waits there, staring up into the sky, until she hears a ruffle behind her. She jumps up and wheels around, drawing her lightsaber and activating it with a hiss. Across from her is a ragged party of Kadrians, looking much the worse for wear. She lowers her lightsaber for a moment, and then realizes that the Kadrians didn’t seem to have budged, their weapons pointed squarely at her.

“Glamour,” she offers, after a moment, recalling the sign from the briefing before the drop.

They still didn’t budge. “That doesn’t prove shit,” one of them replies, a Sergeant by his stripes. There was a moment of silence.

“... what do you mean?”

They don’t reply, and another moment passes. She raises her lightsaber again, and the Kadrians tense… but they don’t fire. Brianne waits nervous, calculating.

“Sarg, I think she’s clean.”

“Aye,” he agrees. “And a battlemage ta boot.” The sergeant lowers his weapon. “They’re behind the lines, Miss… ma'am,” he adjusts, finally catching a glimpse of her insignia and taking a moment to recall what the single Arkasian star on her emblem meant. “Taking our people without so much as a trace they’ve been subverted. We’ve shot more along the way than we’ve saved.”

She takes a moment to process, and then nods. “T-that… explains a lot,” she replies, gritting her teeth. “These aren’t the Welded,” she adds.

“Aye.” It occurs, belatedly, to the Kadrian that the Arkasian before him is an officer.

“I can able to tell the difference,” she says, confidently. “These Static… feel wrong.”

“... Battlemage stuff?” The sergeant asks after a moment.

“Yeah,” she agrees. She looks at the platoon, some still eyeing her with distrust. “Where was your post?”

“Holy City, southern flank. Got hit from behind, and the bastards infiltrated past. What’s left of the company is here.”

The Guardian nods. “Fall in,” she replies, steadying herself. “Lets get some more distance between us and the city. And stay sharp… we’ve got a long war ahead of us.”



The party continued south through the countryside. Along the way, they collected a pair of Leosian Internal Security officers, a half-dozen Kinsari auxiliaries and their Kodiak IFV, and a shell-shocked Phoenixi Sergeant, sans drones or transport. Their stories were all but the same: the Static hit hard, without warning, far, far further behind the line than they should have been able to be. And then they encountered the Arkasians.

“Scouts have contact,” whispers the Kadrian Sergeant, to Brianne, reading off of flashes of light sent by one of the scouts, who had clambered up to the top a nearby tower. The improvised platoon was near the edge of the foliage now, with a small village blocking their path. Sending in scouts had been a risk, but she had hoped they’d make contact with friendly forces. Now she’d see if the gamble paid off. “... Arkasians, looks like... a whole company.”

Brianne frowns. “Signs of combat?” The Sergeant flashes a series of signals to the scout, and gets more in return after a moment. “No ma’am. Looks like they’re moving this way from the West.”

“From the front? No sign of a struggle?” She doesn’t like that one bit. “I’m moving up. Let me see if I can get a read on them.”

“A read?”

“Battlemage stuff. I’ll be right back… if I’m not, in ten minutes, take the company East.”

She drops low and sprints across the space between the edge of the foliage and the nearest building, before ducking into concealment. She repeats the attempt two more times, before shimmying up to a rooftop that she hoped would provide a good view. It does, and as the report said, an Arkasian column was moving slowly through the village… door to door, in fact. The Marines were clearing the place. She frowns, and leaps to the next rooftop with a bound, landing harder than she meant to. A few Arkasians glance up… all of them, glance up, 40 rifles suddenly pointing in her general direction. A squad breaks off, moving to investigate, in eerie unison. There was no more doubt left to Brianne; these Arkasians were in the thrall of the Static. Now she just had to escape them.

She crawls backwards, along the flat-topped roof that clearly had never had to contend with snowfall, until she reaches the edge. She rolls off, and relies on her instincts and the Force to land with only a soft thud and a gentle sting rather than a broken bone or few. And then she’s on her feet, and running again. She’s almost fast enough, but hears the repeated crack of rifle fire just as she ducks into cover, and then a hammer strikes her in the back. She staggers, hissing, and reaches down her chest; her hand comes back up bloody. Shot clean through. She growls, fighting the instinct to run back to her command. She’d lead the enemy right to them if she did. Instead, she takes off in another direction, heading East herself, but only so she could circle back North again. As she’s running, she follows her Instincts. Jump!. She does, bounding away only moments before she feels the heat on her back; a 40mm grenade. Down! She drops, rolling into a somersault as slugs crack through the air where should would have been.

She pops back up and keeps going, now behind a building again. Slugs still fly around her, but no longer aimed; seemingly, the Static was far more eager to kill her than it was to take any civilians hiding in the building alive. She doesn’t stop, though she can feel her heart thudding in her chest. Sprinting was not on the list of recommended activities after being shot, she recalls. She moves to start running again, though she freezes; where even to go. Left! She does so, throwing her body to the side as a series of cracks slice through the building, the autocannon shells blowing divots in the field behind her. They don’t stop, and she crawls along the ground, before reaching out. There, along the ground…. She follows her senses, and pushes on the edge of the skirting of the building. A piece gives way, and she squirms inside, hiding underneath the structure, before pushing the piece back into place. After seconds that feel like hours, the shooting stops. She crawls further through the mud, trying not to think about what was getting into her wound as she moves further from the edge.

There were a few moments of blissful silence, but Brianne doesn’t dare move. She hears footsteps above her. They come… and then go. Silence, again. A minute passes, then two. And then the world flips, the building becoming rubble in seconds as the grenades strike it, and it folds in, pinning Brianne under the resulting mass of material. The avalanche continues for what may be forever; as time slows, she wonders if this is how she dies. And then it stops. She can’t move… she can barely breathe… but she isn’t dead. Not yet.

Time passes. The bleeding stopped, she realizes faintly, though maybe too late. And then, a familiar voice. One of the Kadrians. The Sergeant.

“Lieutenant? Lieutenant, are you in there?!”

“I-I… I’m here!” she tries to reply. She isn’t sure if she manages, because it all goes quiet again. She closes her eyes. She opens them again. No, no rest. She can’t rest. She closes them again. She has to rest.



She awakens in the back of the Kodiak. She moans softly and tries to sit up, feeling the cool conditioned air blowing over her body; her armor and robes were long-gone, evidently removed in the process of plugging the inconvenient hole in her chest.

“Don’t.” A commanding voice. The same one. She stops and flops her head to one side.

“... Sergeant?”

“Lieutenant. May as well call me, Valdemar, by the by and by your leave. My rank’s gonna wear out real fast out here.”

“Valdemar. I like it... why are you still here?”

“You’re welcome.” He rolls his eyes. “Because our cultural sensitivity training says you Arkasians aren’t big on following orders, and anyway we don’t leave men behind. Or women.”

Brianne’s response is a grunt that sounds less defiant and more vulnerable.

“And also, because we’re up shitcreek and can't tell who's us and who's them now. Figured it was worth the risk to get our paddle back.”

“... thanks.”

“Don’t mention it. How’re ya feelin’?”

She reaches down to her chest; the wound had been cleanly sterilized and sealed over, with a thin piece of translucent polymer stuck over it firmly. Her ears were still ringing; no fixing that until she got back to proper medbay. “... like someone just dropped a building on me.”

Valdemar snorts. “Sounds ‘bout right. After we dug ya out, we tailed that group a’ bastards that shot you for a bit, and then circled back behind ‘em. Betcha they’re coming in after getting turned on the front, mopping up stragglers. I’m havin’ us make for the mountains to the southwest”

“Yeah… yeah that makes sense.”

“Glad ya think so. Rest up, Lieutenant. We’ll need ya back again here before long.” He stands, and pats her shoulder before turning to go.

“Brianne,” she says. He turns back to her. “Brianne,” she repeats. “Anyone that digs me out of a collapsed building gets to call me Brianne… ‘by your leave and by the by’.”

He nods, with a small smile very, very briefly flitting onto his face. “Brianne.” He turns, and exits the vehicle. She closes her eyes again, and rests.

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Kajal
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Founded: Antiquity
Democratic Socialists

Postby Kajal » Thu Sep 02, 2021 9:30 pm

Central Communications (aka "The Switchboard"), TYCSHQ, Port Aurora, Titan
Sol System, Alpha Quadrant


If there was only one constant presence that underlaid practically all of modern life, it was that there was always a mind somewhere behind the scenes when the public had long assumed that a particular service had been fully automated for ages.  In the Triumvirate of Yut, Central Communications was one such place where a great many minds were employed, for the most part, to do nothing.

Long established as one of the most extremely dull jobs a mind could perform in the TYCS, the Officers of the Watch, Central Communications were trained and tasked with monitoring what, where, and how the systems colloquially known as YutLink were operating.  Much of this traced back to the physical limitations and arrangement of the network itself; while there were various commercial technologies in place throughout the Triumvirate that offered high bandwidth and peer to peer capabilities, the true backbone of YutLink remained the QE network, and the limitations of that network were at this point extremely well known, with the strictly point-to-point nature being the most widely understood and obvious drawback.

Questions of bandwidth had occasionally come up, of course, and were often remedied with increasingly expensive & sophisticated QE transceivers that never seemed to gain qubits as fast as the agencies that demanded them, with most instead focused on eking out performance gains by increasing the ability of said transceivers to read and make changes to the entangled qubits.  Central Communications was never particularly in want of funding, but it was also typically also not in want of redundancy.  A great many more conventional links existed and were in use every moment, and monitored by national agencies or satellite offices of Central; watching every channel everywhere at all times was outside Central Communications’ mission and purpose.

The reasons why Central did not monitor those other links, and why it monitored the QE network exclusively came down to a matter of sources of truth that was often the subject of lectures when new officers arrived.  Every link that Central Communications watched over was a direct link between Central & the remote transceiver.  Conventional channels could be cut, jammed, or intercepted in a variety of ways that the QE network could not, and Central's job in those cases was made dramatically easier by nature of being able to contact literally anyone that still had an active transceiver before dropping to conventional networks.

That Central Communications was mirrored with multiple copies of itself with their own QE networks all interlinked into a mesh was both irrelevant and also key to the continued operation of YutLink and the TYCS as a whole.  That redundancy did not change the fact that the task list for the average Officer of the Watch was not dissimilar to watching paint dry.  The only incident of note observed by Central Communications was the Kajali Timehole incident, and this event had threatened only a relatively small, if important, region.  That the Timehole incident remained a point of training ever since was also somewhat embarrassing to the Federated Imperium, but to Central Communications' credit, the response had been swift, serious, and most importantly, well documented.

In the time since that incident, the centerpiece of Central Communications had in truth contracted in size noticeably.  Also known as "Jason's Technicolor Lawn Art'', the Visual Control screen filled most of the volume of Central with a gently undulating and rotating visualization of every QE node in the Triumvirate of Yut.  In the past it had appeared to protrude from a classical large format theatre screen; in this incarnation, it was both the center of the room & sole object of focus.  The overall arrangement was unchanged, in that the visualization still resembled an iridescent pine tree with TYCSHQ as the point.  The nodes expanding away from that point were typically a pleasant green, and occasionally changed to yellow or orange depending on how heavy the load on a link was at any given time. Red links represented broken connections, and while these were not unheard of, they did at best represent a remote QE transceiver that was offline and at worst the total destruction of that device and everything else around it.

A scattering of a few red links here and there amongst millions was expected.  With as many nodes as existed on the QE network, it was inevitable that some would be taken offline for maintenance or scrapped and replaced as they aged out of usefulness.  Likewise, the position of links within the tree was an important detail as well.  The designers had wanted to make it as obvious as possible how the network was organized, and what was easier to remember than a tree, with the trunk representing all the myriad intraservice links and the branches connecting outwards to the other national agencies within the larger Triumvirate. There was perhaps only one time that the trunk might have appeared in red, and rumor had it that outside of bringing up the QE network from scratch, such an event would be all but impossible.  Only once, during the Kajali Timehole incident, did an entire branch turn red, and when it had, a visitor would have been forgiven for thinking that the entire Triumvirate was coming to an end with how strident the alarms had been.  For a branch, cluster, or series of nodes located in a geographically coherent area to go red represented a catastrophe in progress.

Insistent chimes sounded occasionally, drawing the attention of the Officers of the Watch, and glances were exchanged.  One red line appeared, then another a few moments later, frozen in place while those around them continued to sway gently in a galactic breeze.

"Technical, status report on Phoenix Domain task group links in Gamma.  Check for local hardware failures.  Communications, raise those fleet elements through secondary methods and confirm status for remote hardware..."
"Wait, what?"
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Hypatian Commonwealth
Secretary
 
Posts: 32
Founded: Jul 17, 2021
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Hypatian Commonwealth » Sun Sep 05, 2021 10:49 pm

Leos System, Galactic Republic of Arkasia

They didn't come in a single group but entered the system from many different points beyond the furthest orbiting planet. First, they were few, then there were a dozen, and then hundreds of Hypatian warships materialising in interplanetary space of the Leos system. There were no wormholes or other typical indications of a jump. Instead, it seemed they had just appeared from the void without warning. Just seconds after entering the system, the ships divided themselves into groupings and engaged their interplanetary drives.

They broke up and rocketed away into several different directions. Hypatian battleships of the Mars and Makemake classes burned hotly towards Leos VI, a jovian world and the furthest out in the system. As they passed this world and its moons, the ships fired a grouping of probes at the planet and continued with haste towards Leos V. Like the outermost planet, Leos V was also a large gas giant with a more impressive collection of nineteen total moons.

A group composed of cruisers, frigates, destroyers, and corvettes went clockwise in the opposite direction of the battleships and rushed to the two asteroid belts in the inner solar system. They dove through the outer asteroid belt and trailed the curve towards Leos IV. On their way, the cruisers rolled and began to deploy several torpedoes that ignited their drives and rapidly accelerated towards the star.

Nearing Leos III, the cruisers split from the formation and made a detour towards the star. They used the celestial body's gravity to fling them around and began their final burn to Leos IV. The remaining frigates and destroyers continued to trail the asteroid belt until they were close towards an intercept with the conflict-afflicted world. They dumped several salvos into the belt of asteroids, dislodging several rocks, and continued firing until a corvette could get close enough to pull off the party trick they had been waiting for.

The ship swung by the asteroids and deployed a number of modified shuttles that lodged themselves into the rocky surfaces. The vehicles had their communications and log data torn out or wiped. All that remained was the drive system reading pre-configured coordinates and making simple adjustments. The Hypatians had come up with a plan -- Leos was considered a loss and an evacuation was a must. They would ensure that nothing of Leos IV would remain. But while some rocks were powered towards the planet, others were moving to the Static's forces. These vehicles had been set up to go critical ensuring that the Static would be shotgunned by fragments of rock.

Things were now in motion. The battleships out by Leos V fired their retro-thrusters and oriented themselves sideways to their orbit as they came closer to the shadow of the planet. A shimmer over their bodies was barely visible but it distorted the space around the ship in such a way that briefly one could see the starlight behind it. The ships fired their spinal cannons towards Leos IV, which was well across the system, before their orbital motion had them slip behind the gas giant. The shots would be nearly instantaneous as the Mars and Makemake had been outfitted with a neutronium lance lensed through a wormhole and created by the ships' internal neutronium-laconide powerplants.

The ships from the belt emerged opposite of the Static's position and began to dump missiles into the void as they rocketed towards Leos IV. A group of battlecruisers had now entered the system from the side closest to the planet with carriers in tow. Interdiction fields were deployed by the Asimov cruisers in the formation and the Hypatian destroyers began to lay down blankets of fire and c-frac munitions from their railguns even though the distance was great. They were now racing the clock.

Delaney had considered how to best communicate with the allies without deploying probes around Leos IV. The solution seemed novel -- several corvettes had rushed forward towards the planet and started short bursts of radio transmissions that would hit the planet's surface at such an angle that the hope would be that they would appear to be natural reflections off the ionosphere. If the ground troops had working radios, the Hypatians hoped they would hear the message, lasting only seconds with each burst.

EVACUATION IMMINENT. BEACON.

Beacons were deployed and fired towards green zones on the surface of the planet. The battle had begun.
Last edited by Hypatian Commonwealth on Sun Sep 05, 2021 11:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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The Eridani Imperium
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Posts: 269
Founded: Jun 15, 2017
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby The Eridani Imperium » Mon Sep 13, 2021 10:12 pm

Leos IV, Leos System
Galactic Republic of Arkasia


Thunk.

“Vilkas, stop bothering the servitor.” Alrek’s thoughts were interrupted by Aeden Sincar, the Phoenixi engineer they had saved a couple days ago. “It’s already been Blanked, it doesn’t need to figure out if it’s being poked by a friend or a foe.” The Phoenixi gave a wry smile.

Vilkas, the Kadrian warrior in question, turned around and returned the smile. “Just making sure it hasn’t been compromised, ser. We don’t need to be shot in the back like we were in the Holy City.”

Aeden leaned forward at that. “I had heard rumors… You were there?”

Vilkas nodded. “Me, Alrek, and Arcadius, our driver. You can ask Arcadius when he gets back from recon with the Arkasians, but I suspect his story is very similar to ours.”

The Phoenixi considered his questions for a moment, deciding where to start. “…Were the initial comms right? Did you take the Holy City easily?”

Alrek sighed. “I’ve served 20 years with the Legions, and I have never seen a cleaner victory in my life. Within three hours of planetfall, we had tanks rolling into the Temple District.”

“That should have been our first clue that something wasn’t right.” Vilkas muttered. “Cities don’t fall that fast. They just don’t.

“Yes, but what’s that Terran saying? Never look an Eiken in the mouth?” Alrek raised an eyebrow. “Still doesn’t make any sense to me. Regardless…” The Kadrian Discens looked over at Aeden with tired eyes. “The first day or so were typical. A missing shipment here, a couple troopers gone awol - nothing much beyond the ordinary. But then whole sections of our perimeter began to go offline.”

“It was only for seconds at a time, and they’d always report back in with an all-clear. We thought nothing of it at the time, but that was a mistake.” Vilkas added.

Alrek was looking out in the distance now, watching the Hypatian orbital bombardment. “It was day 5 when everything fell apart. I was in the Temple district on patrol when this old Leosian caught my eye. They stood up, opened their beak… and dropped dead. 20 million of them… and us.” The Kadrian fell silent, letting Vilkas take over.

“The city fell fast after that, thanks to the hole the Static tore into our lines. The lucky ones were killed in the retreat, while others were simply… subsumed by the Static.” Vilkas shuddered. “A fate I would not wish on even the most ephemeral of us. Me, Alrek, and Arcadius - we’re the only ones left of our Regiment, as far as I know. We joined up with the Arkasians as we retreated, and then we found you, and the rest is history.”

Alrek looked over at the Phoenixi, who was thinking. At last, Aeden spoke. “These are not your typical Welded. They’re too intelligent.”

“What are they, then?”

“I don’t know.” The Phoenixi’s shoulders slumped. “One thing is for sure, though - we need to get off this planet.”

Alrek nodded in agreement. “The Hypatians have sent out evac beacons. Once Arcadius returns with the all-clear, I intend to try and reach one. Ah, and there he is now.”

All eyes turned to the third Kadrian, who had entered the room, who took a breath, before beginning his update. “There are signs of Static movement nearby. But the coast seems to be clear. We’ll be moving via the woods for now so we have cover, but the ride shouldn’t be too rough…”
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DEFCON: GREEN - CONSISTENTLY RAIDING
"If Menelmacar is the successful corporate executive parents with a nice house, your people are the black sheep daughter that parties with the wrong crowd and has a batshit crazy boyfriend." - The Eternal Ascendancy of Menelmacar


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