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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-02-19 05:17am
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Reaver class Battlecruiser Kinstrife
Deep Space
Near Free Federation Space



"Exit pulse from Rapid," said Elena Suul. "They made it."

"Good," said Vok. His eyes flickered to the tactical display. Remembrance and Terrible drifted, the victims of disruptor fire that stripped their defences and forced Between intrusions, overmastering the D-blockers with close proximity and brute force.. Vok had a pretty good idea about what meant to the calibre of the sorcerers on they faced. Every other ship was scrap or vapor. They weren't prizes the Black considered worth capturing.

"I'm proud to served with all of you," Vok said. Gods, it felt weak. Sounded weak too. He struggled to find better words. Eyes all over the bridge turned towards him, trying to ignore what was happening at the adamantium blast door behind him. "You have done the Free Federation and the Navy proud."

There was loud clang as most of the door fell inwards. Five figures in night black armour, the three in the center wearing Zarkos Elvindar style battle armour and carrying beam lances, and the two flankers wearing adamantium rune plate. All of them wore shadow cloaks and carried various bladed implements of mayhem. Insignia glittered on their armour, the memory materials bright now that stealth didn't matter. The inverted golden triangle of the Grand Alliance, the crossed sword breakers of the e'Incaradine, and the stylized dragon pictogram of House Zerell.

The leader spoke. The voice was clearly female. "Your ship is taken. Surrender or die, your choice. Either way your secrets are lost."

Elena Suul replied with commendable spirit, if nothing else. "Get raped you Slaver-" A green nimbus haloed the hand of the man on the far left. Suul slumped, her heart, lungs, spleen, and brain scrambled by the rupture bolt.

"We've left a lot of your crew mates dead on the deck," the woman continued, "you may join them if that is your wish."

"No," said Vok. "I am Battlecommander Jochin Vok. Your leaders will want me, I expect. I want my people treated well."

"The pups will get a comfortable kennel," said the woman on the far right. This got her several hard looks from the bridge crew.

The one in the center spoke again. "We have come to rebuild paradise, not stock the dungeons of hell. They will be shown compassion and will not be forced to yield their dignity or their honour."

Vok nodded in acceptance. "Do with me as you will."


White House
Terra
United States of America



The Secret Service agent approached Lamech with a faintly apologetic look on his face. He was tall, a couple centimeters taller than Lamech, with dark skin and a smooth shaved head. "I'm sorry my lord, but you'll have to leave the shadow cloak here. Security reasons."

Lamech gave him a completely insincere smile. "Of course," said Lamech as he slipped off what appeared to be a suit jacket. He was wearing a dark red silk shirt underneath and wore shield talismans in the form of a adamantium and orichalcum broach, belt talisman, and arm wring. It was a gross breach of protocol and insult, under Grand Alliance protocol. Now it was a quaint custom that carried no force and he was not in a position to force the issue. At least the White were not as assassination as the Slaver Lords. Lamech had no desire to reinstating the custom by means of martyrdom.

The other Secret Service agent, who was almost identical to the one who took his shadowcloak except he was white, extended a bulky wrist cuff of hard white plastic. "No sorcerers get near the president without one of these."

"An inhibitor cuff. Charming. Just for the record, never, ever do this to a Zarkos."

"I'll keep that in mind."

Lamech noted the dismissal and shrugged. "Your funeral." Literally in this case. It was safer to kill Zarkos Warlords than to try to disarm them. "Put it on." He extended his right hand. The agent closed the inhibitor around his wrist and closed it with a click. The agent inserted a key and twisted it.

"Alright sir. You're good for your meeting with the president. He should be done shortly."

"Wonderful. Do they grow you guys in vats?"

"No," said the black agent. The white agent looked at him as if he was crazy.

"Just curious."

"Do they actually do that out there?" the white agent asked.

"The Slaver Lords did."

"Oh. Space Nazis, right?"

"No. Space Nazis were their slave soldiers. If you are fortunate you will never see their like again."

The black agent nodded. "If you will come this way sir, the president will see you now."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-02-23 01:10am
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White House
Terra
United States of America



Lamech walked into the Oval Office. President Chen and a half dozen advisers rose as he entered. The President extended his hand. "Please be welcome."

"Thank you," said Lamech as he shook Chen's hand. "I am pleased we could manage to meet."

"Please, have a seat," said the President. "It's not everyday one gets to meat a living legend. What is the proper protocol of address anyway?"

"Lord will serve, or Excellency, or simply Lamech. It does much matter." He sat down and eyed the men and women in the room, his gaze stopping on a man in his mid thirties. "Doctor Connors, I presume."

"Yes," said the man uncomfortably.

"Your work proceeds you," said Lamech. "The leading theory of Grand Alliance history is always of interest to us, just for the influence it has on our relations. Such as they are."

"That is really the heart of the matter," said William Chen. "We don't really have a relationship, other than your hijacking our government during the Twenty-First Century. You had lost your civil war before our governments every formally met."

Lamech smiled. "I see it is still a sore spot with you. My people acted to prevent a global crisis that you weren't acting swiftly enough on. They acted at pretty much the last possible minute. They didn't interfere with any other part of your government or policy making. And you were the primary beneficiaries of that little intervention."

"Perhaps," said William Chen, "but you also seized control of our government, virtually enslaving the elected leaders of the nation."

"Yes," said Lamech. "It was necessary. I have done many terrible things when I perceive them to be necessary. And I am not alone in this. Your country has a long history of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries. Sometimes you even had their well being in mind. All of that is the past. I am here to discuss the present and the future. The current government of the Free Federation uses its economic and military might to confine your expansion, both economically and territorially. Not just you, but all the nations of Terra. Absorbtion or subjegation are their long term goals."

"And you will be better neighbors, I take it?"

"In a word, yes. These absurd and restrictive limitations on your expansion will be gone, as will the gun boat diplomacy style of trade negotiations. We don't conquer or oppress our neighbors."

"You did eat three interstellar nation-states."

"Yes. The Slaver Autocracy, The Kingdom of Avalon which hosted Slaver Lords, and New Jerusalem which attempted to commit genocide against us during the Resurgency. The latter two hated us like poison and were permitted to survive until those incidents. However much you dislike us, you can live with us as neighbors." Connors inclined his head slightly in acknowledgement.

"Alright," said President Chen. "What is it you want from us?"

"Nothing," said Lamech. "They will crush you like a bug if you oppose them. It would be irresponsible of you to openly ally with us, even if you wanted to. Just stay neutral. Don't interfere. Don't decide to pick off our worlds in the chaos. Recognize us as the legitimate government when we win."

"The latter could be a problem. We don't love dictatorships, military or otherwise. There is also the issue of your treatment of minorities."

"As Churchill said, Democracy is the worst system of government except for all the rest. Of course, he didn't have the benefit of having immortal necromancer and vampire lords. We inject a certain amount of stability and foresight into the system, which makes our form of government more stable in a crisis. Of course, little details like the mind probe do help weed out the bad apples in our ranks."

He paused for a moment. "I can assure you our elected officials have a great deal to say in our actions. Unsurprisingly the "Kick the bastards out" policy is as popular among the Grand Alliance politicians as the "Keep American strong" line is among your people. There has always been a means for the voters to strip us from power. White propaganda would state the conflict as democracy versus aristocratic oligarchy, but I can assure you that was not the case. It is quite possible for a tyrant to take power by democratic methods. What was that old line about Africa? 'One man, one vote, once'? In any case, it does not matter. We are restoring justice and democracy to our homelands and following the popular will. Our leaders have the full support of the legitimate, elected government. If that doesn't allay your concerns in that area, I don't know what will.

"As for the treatment of minorities, by which you mean Christians, that will not change. The sociopolitical environment has favored conversion to Christianity over the last few centuries and that will end. They currently make up almost ten percent of the Free Federation populace, but that should drop as the 'Rice Christians' deconvert. We have had small Muslim, Jewish, and Christian minorities as full citizens in our polities since our foundings, to say nothing of the occasional fringe cult. That will not change."

"There is the matter of New Jerusalem," said William Chen.

"Mister President, please understand that what you see when you think of the Grand Alliance is a distorted image of our darkest figures from our darkest hours. We, the Nazar, did almost exterminate them. We shattered their fleets, their planetary defences, and their cities from orbit. We killed them in vast numbers. We did not do this because we hated their religion, although we did because it was one of the nastier mutants ever to be spawned from the general body of Christianity. If they hadn't tried to commit genocide against us while we were busy helping defend the entire spiral arm from Slaver Lord domination and most of our ground troops doing the same, we might have reacted differently. Until then, we let them live in peace. We certainly weren't friends, but we had ample opportunity to burn their worlds if we wanted to."

"Our people and government can live with that," said Chen.

"Our history is consistent with those policies," said Lamech. "It stretches back thousands of years. It gives a far better assurance of our intentions than mere words. I'm more than twenty thousand years old, Nalhen has ten millenia on him. We've picked up a few habits and long ago learned to put up with various kinds of religious belief."

"You've given us a lot to consider," said Chen as he rose up. "I can't say that we will be in touch as I don't think we have a way of contacting you."

"I'm sure some kind of message drop can be arranged," said Lamech. "I'm glad you are so understanding of our security concerns."

"I have to say I am rather skeptical of your plans to defeat the Free Federation under these circumstances."

"Obviously, telling you the details would be a breach of security," said Lamech. "But if you are willing to consider a peace of advice, lean back and enjoy the show." The vampire showed his fangs as he smiled.

----------------------------------------------------------

"How did it go?" asked Reeze as Lamech came by. The vampire had retrieved his shadowcloak and was free of the inhibitor bracelet.

Well, Lamech sent telepathically. They aren't inclined to help the White, which is what we need.

You sure? Reeze replied.

Yes. Got a good read on the whole room, although not a deep one. They believe those toys will actually work on high mage or vampire. Our whole biology has been altered to be a furnace that produces The One Power. Pretty hard to cut off our access to it when it floods through our bodies.

They don't have to deal with Slaver Lords of the First Circle and they have inhibitions about driving needles into people's spines, Reeze replied.

Lamech shrugged. Whatever. They won't be aiding the White and that's all we need from them at the moment.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana


Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-03-06 03:46pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-03-11 12:40am
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The Senate
Sandresha
The Free Federation


President of the Senate Collum Solem addressed his cabinet and senior military officers. His voice was mild "So you are saying that our first major fleet clash against the Black was a complete and utter disaster?"

No one wanted to answer. Deputy Minister Rhodan stepped into the silence. "Yes sir. It is a loss we can eat and we gained valuable intelligence, perhaps crucial intelligence, but the engagement was an utter disaster."

"Fleet Admiral," said Solem, "do you concur?"

The senior Navy man squirmed uneasily in his chair. "Yes sir. The summation is accurate. I must reiterate the value of the intelligence we gained from-"

"The value of the intelligence!" Solem shouted. "We lost three squadrons. Three Squadrons. All three Reavers were captured! Captured! And they didn't lose a ship! They're stronger than ever and apparently they have power generation and weapon technologies that we can't match! We're down three squadrons and they're up three battlecruisers!" He addressed his officers. "Naval superiority was the decisive factor in our favor during the Civil War, correct?"

"Correct," said Rhodan from the other side. "Sir, we still have decisive naval superiority. To hold territory they have to commit and if they commit we can mass against them. There is only one Sun Eater, after all."

"How do we know they haven't built others?" said Solem acidly.

"I hope they have," said Rhodan. "The amount of resources that would have to be sunk into it would greatly strain their limited industrial base. We can only hope they will be so foolish. No, we know that their naval weakness is not as great as we hoped, but they still can't hope to match our strength. Our reconnaissance ships will find them, sooner or later. We will simply mass against them and kill them. We only need to endure and not do anything stupid."

"You're bold, deputy minister," said Solem. He nodded his head at the battlecommanders. "You're dismissed." He turned back to Rhodan. The military men and women glared daggers at the junior minister as they filed out.

"I am," said Rhodan. "We can crush them in raw numbers. They can't threaten our core systems, they can't engage in a conventional military campaign, they can't win unless we play into their hands. All we have to do to win is not panic and grind them out of existence. There are also considerable political gains to be obtained, if we are suitably inclined."

"What did you have in mind?" said Solem in an amused tone of voice.

"With elections suspended and the investigation of the Black conspiracy with Transtream Transportation leading to investigative detentions and suspensions of a large number of Liberal supporters and corporations, the Liberals are both spitting mad and terrified. It should be relatively easy to convince a number of their prominent supporters to jump ship. After all, you will be President of the Senate for the foreseeable future. Their interests are better served by lining up behind you. Whenever elections resume, you'll have even more money and influence behind you as well as being the heroic leader against the Black Terror. Not to mention that Conservative military spending policies will be one of the reason we won."

Kast glared at his deputy. Rhodan ignored them. "The Black Terror eh?" said Solem.

"Or whatever the appropriate media flacks decide to call it. The mainstream will go with it like good dogs."

"Alternative sources are being increasingly turned to," rumbled Tesharess Hithone. The big sithi shifted his bulk. "The mainstream press had been too subservient for too long. It had bled away too much credibility. It is seen as a virtual propaganda arm of the state, which is accurate enough. Their owners are heavily invested in the status quo."

"That doesn't mean we can't get any use out of the," said Rhodan. "Incaradine, for example, was always one who liked a public display of excess. Mass impalings are mass impalings. That they were Slaver Quislings five hundred years ago won't mean much to the man on the street, the fear that he might also end up on a stake will. Play up his Zarkos Elvindar connections and feed in some atrocity footage, minus any context of course. They'll be willing to adopt whatever measures will make them feel safe. We can pull the legs out from under the Liberals for the next hundred years and if they try to complain we say they are soft on security. Its an old Terrani trick, but it works quite well."

"Are you suggesting I exploit this situation to maintain a near perpetual lock on power?" said Solem. A ripple of anxiety went through the senators and cabinet ministers.

"I think sir," said Rhodan, "that we are playing high stakes for all the pieces. And you always keep what you take."

"And you, deputy minister?"

"I think that the right hand of the man with all the pieces holds the keys to paradise."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-03-12 02:05am
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The Phoenix Hall of Voices
Avenyanti
Myashuetha
The Grand Court of the Stars



Ambassador Nathan Singh followed the Zarkos killer in bladed orange and gold armour down the high ceilinged hall. This was easier said than done as the Zarkos had at least thirty centimeters on him and rapid stride. He was used to that, at least. Elvindar tended to be tall and graceful and Singh was short and rotund. The ancient wooden building was in immaculate condition, the process of careful preservation and replacement. Under his feet was a deep crimson carpet with intricate gold geometric patterns woven into it. The walls were covered by ancient tapestries of hunting and feasting. The lights were modern, as was the wiring and comp systems, but much of the building was as it was ten millenia ago.

The Zarkos stopped outside the office. With a wave of his hand, the dark wooden door with a rising phoenix carved up it swung open. Such a casual use of sorcery unnerved many Americans, but Nathan Singh wasn't one of them. He wouldn't be much use if he was. He stepped in. The Zarkos closed the door behind him.

"Ambassador," said Lord Yelseneth. The Lios was tall, pale skinned, and silver haired. He wore a sky blue robe cut for easy movement and wore a pair of intricate platinum rings. Behind him was a wall length window. Various human religious icons and texts lined the walls. There were Russian Orthodox icons, Catholic crucifixes, Hindu statuettes, a jade Buddha, a prayer wheel, and ancient hammer, among others. Singh's gaze flickered over them.

"I didn't think Elvindar cared much for Terran religion." Diplomacy with the Elvindar was tricky at the best of time. They weren't hostile, but they were standoffish. They avoided close ties with their one time allies the Free Federation and allowed Free Federation dissidents and Zarkos Elvindar to take refuge in their society. They formed democratic associations that was loosely translated as houses and the most alien and hostile seeming house was actually the most reliable ally the Terran governments had. The Elvindar were happy to allow Terran governments to send representatives to them, but the ruling princes (they preferred that translation) declined to meet with the nations of Earth or send envoys to Terra. It could be maddening.

"It matters to you, so I take an interest," said Yelseneth. "Despite our shared origins, our differences in culture and biology are considerable. This is part of my effort to bridge the gap. Your need to invent gods and cling to bronze age fictions is something we have difficulty grasping."

"You honor the Powers."

"The Powers are real. Their influence, although subject to various limits and constrained by the Between, can be measured and tested. Whether or not the Christian god will punish you for stealing from the poor box is a measure of faith. That you will be frozen in a solid block of ice or have your flesh charred off your bones if you attempt to steal one of the swords at the Shrine of Nevaya is objective, verifiable fact."

"You hold onto and value ancient customs, so do we."

"Only if they remain relevant."

"Faith is relevant."

"Yes, it comes down to that," said Yelseneth. "Thus my humble efforts to try and understand it. The Kordassi had religious beliefs similar to yours. The reborn Naomar Empire espoused a version of them. How is it that such beliefs are so common among our progenitor species and among those who created our race from yours, but so rare among us? And what is the significance of that?"

"Interesting," said Singh. "Considering how little House Phoenix has to do with any Terran nation, I find your interest very surprising. I was attempting to speak with House Panther recently and they directed me to speak with you instead. In fact, every House directed me to speak with you. Why might that be?"

"I'm sure you're aware by now, if not from your own sources then from House Panther, that Black has returned. With a resumption of the war looming, it has been decided to present a unified front and speak with a single voice. In this particular case, mine."

"I see," said Singh. "And what does your one voice say?"

"This continues to be an internal Free Federation affair. We shall deal with whoever remains standing at the end as we see fit. House Panther will no longer be passing you technology and intelligence."

"I don't know what you're talking about," said Singh.

"Of course not," said Yelseneth. "It is something of an irony that the House that cares least for Terrani is the one that provides them with the most help. They just want to be able to go to war with the White and win. Realpolitik is widely used term for it, am I not correct?"

"If such a hypothetical situation existed, yes, that would be the correct term. I'm surprised the Zarkos don't have a term for it."

"They do. Politics. Despite the problems we have with integrating them into our society, even in modest numbers and even with most of them joining House Panther, their directness is some areas is quite refreshing. For example, if an American were to desire to carry a hand gun in a major city he would probably site self defence as a reason, correct?"

"Yes," said Singh.

"A Zarkos would say in case he needed to murder someone. Self defence being only one of a number of reasons to kill. Their honesty on the subject is pleasant, but their attitudes result in a whole host of potential social problems. Of course, they are useful in a fight."

"That is their reputation," Singh said blandly. "I noticed a fair number of humans on streets wearing skull mask make up."

"One would be unwise to expect expatriates to love the White government. They are simply making their views known."

"Sensible of them. This has been most illuminating, my lord. I may call on you again in the near future."

"I look forward to it."

"Goodbye." Singh turned and left. He had a report to send back to D.C. The Elvindar may not have chosen sides yet, and might not ever, but it was clear that joining the White was not an option for them. He tried to keep his joy out of his step. If the White went, supposing a Black regime wasn't even more hostile toward Terra, the shackles that limited American expansion would be gone and his country could take its rightful place among the stars.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-03-14 10:17pm
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Merres
Sandresha
The Free Federation



The thighbone splintered in Zahn's jaws. The bioengineered infiltrator-assassin sucked out the marrow and then devoured the rest. He had another two hours before he had to leave to maintain his victim's schedule. His body's metabolism and digestive system had been kicked into overdrive so he could consume his victim in that amount of time. One hour to finish eating and excreting, one hour to clean. Plenty of time.

Specialized cells were generating tissue samples, blood, and skin and marrow, that would match his victims. The same process that allowed him to shift shape would enable him to move those samples through his body to where ever they were needed. Stealth implants would allow him to pass through scanners without his inhuman anatomy registering. The Slavers had built him as the ultimate instrument of murder, a weapon surpassing even the hyper lethal class sixes. They had succeeded, but found the class sevens made poor slaves. Zahn had defected and almost every other class seven had been broken down and sent to the recycling vats.

He checked his reflection in the mirror. Naked, smeared with blood, wearing a face that wasn't his own. Perfect. He reached into the bath tub for the other thigh. He had work to do.

Terinar Construction Platform
Terinar System
Nazar in Exile


Nadia Falseborn e'Kail e'Zerakis looked at the face of her most hated enemy. "You died too easy," she cursed her reflection. Her mother's face glared back at her. Yes, there were a few distances. Her jawline was a little stronger than Mirella's had been, her noes a little larger, but that was it. Virtual clones, both attractive blue eyed blondes with strong features. She raised a slim blade in her hands.

"I am blood of your blood, but I am not yours. I reject you now, always, for all time. In my heart I am the daughter of your worst enemy, the savior of your killer. I was born in a Slaver hell, but I am Free Federation." She drew the blade down, slicing her face from above the right eyebrow and then down her cheek. Blood dripped from the wound down her face and into the sink of the narrow bathroom. "I am Dedicated. As Kail fought, so shall I." Nadia heated the blade with The One Power and applied it over the cut. Smoke rose as she cauterized the wound closed. She sheathed the blade and walked back into her bedroom.

An intricate tattoo covered most of her back, a legacy of her days as a Slaver Lord. Power welded to flesh and patterned with exotic inks. Stored spells, shaped sorceries, that lay quiescent in her flesh until needed. The untrained eye could almost see how the dragon's coils connected the clusters of complex geometrical patterns and runes together to form an even greater pattern. Almost.

She began putting on her uniform, dyed black Slaver hide shaped and augmented with necromantic sorceries to bind the slain into monstrously effective armour. Her husband was waiting for her. Lyvan Bloodblade e'Kail e'Zerakis was a lean, muscular man with reddish-brown who also resembled his Slaver Lord father. They had somehow survived the treacherous waters of the Slaver Autocracy as lovers long enough to betray their masters and defect to the Free Federation. "Again?" he sighed.

"I will not lead Free Federation soldiers into battle without remembering him."

"Kail never approved of the Dedication Scar. Even if it could be removed with surgery or sorcery. That the scars Mirella gave him weren't so easily fixed wasn't something he wished commemorated in the others flesh. You know that." They both did. Kail hadn't been the warmest of men, unless one got close, but over time she had almost become like kin. A shared hatred of her mother did much to bind them together. Not many of Mirella's victims survived with enough of a mind left to hate with. She had lost her father. Kail had his scars and a dead friend courtesy of her first attack, before Mirella had come back years later to take his wife and children.

"Kail is dead," she said, "and in any event supported our right to do this." She laughed bitterly. "Celene is returned to life only to find out her husband died. The Lady is returned by a miracle only to find her Lord is gone. What cruelty the universe has."

"He may live."

"If so he has been lost for five centuries," she said. "And those bastards piss away everything he fought and died for. Everything everyone fought and died for. Everything we bled for. We defended paradise and they turned it to ash."

"All debts can be paid in skulls," Lyvan quoted. The old saying meant was nothing more valuable than life: saving it, risking it, or taking it. Or losing it.

She smiled and nodded. "Let us ready our soldiers for war."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-03-17 05:27am
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Peace Park
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


It was quiet. The mid day sun fell on the meadows and rolling hills. Long grass waved slightly in the breeze and scattered trees provided shade. It was a perfect place to take a picnic or a leisurely stroll. It had been carefully manufactured and tended and it served to obliterate any monument to the black.

Varshen looked down again at the picture in his hand. It was not technically illegal, but it had been systematically eradicated. A campaign of deletion and a disinclination to preserve it had served the Free Federations current masters better. They had let the past fade out of memory and history. Almost.

The necromancer wore a pale blue shirt and white slacks. He wasn't on duty, in fact duty wasn't far enough away for him at this moment. He looked around. There was no sign he was standing where Darkhold once stood, before the White had done what the Slaver Lord Autocracy had done and leveled it. There was a hill now where the Vault of the Sleepers had once stood, an ancient resting place of the true undead and severely wounded who chose to sleep away the ages until a means of healing them was discovered or they were needed in battle. The Vault had survived the Civil War, but there had been nothing left but a blackened crater within a year. The history books said it had been unfortunate collateral damage of the last days. They lied and a few images and accounts still survived to testify to it. If you could find them.

He though of all those brave and valiant dead, murdered for having been likely to side with the Black. The Black which had failed them by considering the Civil War insufficient cause to wake them and so condemned them to be murdered as they slept. His masters' work, he knew. The plutocrats and ambitious politicians survived to this age, their wealth and privilege buying life extending sorcery that there policies restricted. The Free Federation's rulers had no desire to personally pay the price for their policies after all. And what other policy would one expect from those who would plunder the nation for all the wealth and power they could take?

"Varshen," said a harsh female voice behind him. The pale necromancer didn't have to turn around to know who it was.

"Sadara," he replied.

"Varshen," said a male voice, "this isn't looking good. We're in a middle of a war against the Black and you spend vacation time coming here?"

He turned around and faced the Mollar siblings, his superiors. "I've got the time saved up and nothing urgent on my plate. Why not?"

"Why not?" Kalen Mollar bellowed. The hatchet faced man's face flushed. "Don't try that bullshit with me! Do you know where you are, you stupid piece of shit!?"

"I'm standing on the ground where Kail lead the Third Legion of the Dark Guard against the War Dogs Incursion. The only large scale movement of troops through the Between since the Devourers came to this universe from who knows where. A Slaver Lord surprise attack on the then capital of the Free Federation stopped cold."

"Kail is dead and cold," said Sadara.

"They never found his body or his possessions. No one claimed the kill. If that rift ended up in a hell, their lords are sure quiet about what happened to him."

"With Incaradine already having the blood of one demon lord on his hands, I wonder why," sneered Sadara. "Dead or not dead, doesn't matter. He's gone and that's old news. A thousand years old and done. You're a fucking necromancer Vashen and you're standing on Black holy ground. In the middle of a war against the Black. Do you have any idea how bad that looks or are you merely dumb?"

Varshen shrugged. "I'm under perpetual suspicion anyway."

"Which is even more reason to keep your nose clean," said Kalen. "Which you haven't. You're under arrest."

"Not funny," said Varshen.

"Not joking," said Kalen. "A Directorate necromancer with questionable loyalties? We can't fucking let you wander around. You're going to detention and interrogation. Be smart. Go easy."

"I wouldn't stand much chance if I went hard, would I?"

"No," said Sadara. "Make it easier on yourself."

Varshen thought for a moment. All his doubts resolved the hard way. It was easy enough to figure out what side he should be on, his masters having already decided he was against them. These thoughts to would show up on the mind probe. Where would that get him? His thoughts strayed to the Vault of the Sleepers. A pistol shot to the back of the brain, most likely.

He struck with sudden speed. Lightning flashed from his hands, dozens of branches of lethal sorcerous energy tearing through the outer layers of the siblings' shields and ricocheting off their core defences. Green witchfire blazed from Sadara's hands, consuming his shields. Lemon yellow beams from Kalen's hands pierced his ravaged defences and ate a whole in his chest about thirty centimeters in diameter. The necromancer fell.

"Damn," said Kalen. "What a fucking waste."

"Yes," said his sister. "Don't get to sentimental brother dear. That happens and we'll end up like this too."



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Nazar in Exile


Lacana Twiceborn eased out of the tangle of her spouses' limbs and left the bed. She walked over to the bathroom and closed the door, triggering the shower and stepping into the warm spray. She stood under it, luxuriating under the hot water for several minutes before turning it off. She toweled off, grabbed her uniform off the floor of the darkened room, and put it on. Her luminous golden eyes easily pierced the darkness. She took shadow cloak and left the room.

She walked down the long corridor toward the observation gallery. Lines of padded chairs a cluster of tables filled the room. On one side a window dominated the wall, showing the great cyan and violet striped bulk of the gas giant and the glittering rings around it. She placed her hands on the back of a row of seats and stared.

She heard boots on the deck. "The view always struck me as cold," said a harsh female voice, "but I have no eye for beauty. Can't sleep?"

The other woman stopped beside her. She was half a head taller than Lacana, who was fairly tall herself. Both women shared olive skin and dark brown hair. The other was more heavily built than the former Internal Security assassin, but her most striking feature was a black half starburst tattoo that covered the left side of her face.

"Anxiety," Lacana said. "A bad mix with empaths. Hard enough sleeping with someone tossing and turning, let alone with her beaming her troubles into your mind."

"The coming battle?"

"Not for me, the children."

"The Hellbrood," said the other. The women in Lacana's group marriage had children only infrequently, but over five hundred years that did add up. And then there were the grandchildren and great-grandchildren and so on and so forth. Most resembling their parents with a gift for sorcery, elongated lifespans, and a desire to prove themselves. They were, to generalize, a bellicose and dangerous bunch that had earned a name of their own to go with their famous parents.

Lacana smiled faintly. "Yes, the Hellbrood. The odds favor at least one of them dying."

"And the others aren't worrying?"

"Dianna does, but locks it up. Incaradine accepts it on the same level he accepts that he will be sending his old comrades and former lovers to their deaths. And Savaya is Zarkos."

"And for her battle is a right of passage to be proud of."

"Yes. And you?"

"I live for the opportunity to kill," she said. She laughed. "I would prefer to kill Slavers, but I'll take what I can get." She laughed again. "Perhaps there will be a few like minded sorcerers there for me to kill. The Lords of Blood in ancient Russia, Rhaivan Hellborn and his coven, the Naomar Kordassi, the Slaver Lords, they are all the same. Surely the oligarchs will have a few ambitious scum who have sunk to that depths in their staffs. Hells, maybe they've got a live Slaver pushing things along. Maybe Kadeastraum wasn't on that ship when it blew."

"Perhaps," said Lacana. "Or someone crawled out of Rhaivan's castle when Zerakis destroyed it. Or a Blood Lord's scion is plotting in the darkness. Or a maybe there's a clone of Daemonstraum masterminding things from the deck of the Enslaver. We can speculate endlessly."

"Do you think I'm mad?" asked the other.

"Yes, a functional kind of madness" said Lacana. "I think that nineteen days being raped and tortured in Slaver hell was bad enough. I think five years as Daemonstraum's captive would inflict terrible damage. I think if you had healed you would have his mark removed from your face and choose a name other than Prize of War."

"Truth," said Prize of War. "Tell me, if you had to do it over again, would you made sure you would have died instead of being captured?"

"That's not a fair question," said Lacana. "I escaped after only nineteen days. Nineteen days of rape and torture and watching my husband go through the same. What are the odds of it going that well? Of even having my mind left after nineteen days? Dianna was worth nineteen days, if that's your question. Yes, I would again if that's what it would take to keep her, but to risk Slaver captivity again with different results, I would die first."

"Five years and keeping my own mind is a good, no a great result by the standards of Slaver captivity," said Prize of War, "but I would choose death instead of it again.

"Why are you up?" asked Lacana.

"The plan," said Prize of War.

"What about it?"

"It reminds me too much of what the Slavers planned for the Resurgency. They hurt us and we crushed them in three years."

"It's not quite the same thing. The rest of the war planning is based on it failing."

"I know. It looks like it will work. Even if it doesn't, we have other measures that will give us a good chance. I still worry."

"I can't wait to hurry up and kill those Slaver spawn and get this over with."

"The waiting is always the worst."



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She was naked, helpless, weeping. The Slavers laughed as she struggled feebly in the restraints as they readied their instruments of rape and torture. Before they would be finished with her she would sustain injuries far too gruesome and severe to survive. Sorcery and advanced science would drag her back from death's door so she could endure it all over again when they wished. Their was purpose beyond punishing her and allowing the Slavers their sport. Cruelty beget cruelty and the Slaver Lords had long studied the art of abusing and molding psyche's in their own maimed and horrific image. From them she could hold no secrets and they would not be finished until she was a full member of their ranks. But that was the future, the present was filled only with violation by jagged edge steel and endless pain.

Dianna awoke screaming. Strong arms held her gently but firmly. "Easy my love," Incaradine whispered on her right. "You're safe."

Savaya gently stroked her cheek on the other. Weakness was a thing Zarkos left behind in childhood, or so they liked to believe. It was shameful to see in one that you loved and a Zarkos who still loved someone who had produced such a shameful display would pretend not to see it. By the code and morals Savaya had been raised by, she shouldn't even be in the room if she still loved Dianna.

"Zha ha beloved," said Savaya. "We are here." Five hundred years had left their mark on the Elvindar warlord and her reassuring touch told the truths that her lips would not speak.

"I'm okay," she said, sitting up in bed. "Lacana?"

"Out," said Incaradine. "Anxiety. She wished to allow us to sleep." He smiled. "A bad choice in hindsight." He brushed Dianna's ink black hair away from her face, his fingers lingering along the shock of white hairs near the front.

Dianna cracked a smile. "It's been nearly a year since the last one. At least I'm getting better. Maybe one every two years in another five centuries."

Savaya smiled and shifted slightly next to her. "I would kill them again for you, if I could." Words that came easier to a Zarkos than 'I love you'. Her spouses knew the truth that lay behind the words.

"Not every problem is solved by killing," said Incaradine gently. Truth, even if one that few would expect a killer so blood soaked and joyous as Incaradine to utter.

"Here I am, my children and grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren ready to go into battle, dreaming about old wounds," said Dianna. "What does that say?"

"Even if our minds had not met in Slaver hell, my beloved torturer, even if the bond between us had never been forged I would be able to tell you the truth behind that. It is easier to deal with old familiar horrors than the new one of sending your family into battle know that some may die. The waiting is the worst. We will endure, as always."

"Together," said Savaya, "as always." She leaned over to kiss Dianna and lingered for a moment before turning to kiss Incaradine. Flesh moved against flesh and for a while all fears were forgotten.


Departure Gate
The Realm Beyond Hell



The sorcerer finished his meditations and looked up at his floating tower of bone and orichalcum, an arcane engine built from death and the plunder of worlds. After ages of effort, it was finished. He rose to his feet, having restored his strength.

Fatigue did not touch his flesh, but he felt it lift away from his mind. He was close now, so close. The engine was finished and now only the last of the work was left. The easiest part.

The sorcerer began to draw The One Power to his creation. Blue-white ghost lights flared along its length, forming a glowing ghost pillar that seemed to hold up the night sky. One way or the other it would be all over soon. He would take what came his way, regardless of what it might be. Inertia drove him now, more than anything else. He did as he always did. Life tasted like ash in his mouth. He lived now more to deny even the smallest shred of victory to long dead enemies. Hatred, as the old Free Federation half-joke went, was sacred.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-03-23 06:40am
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The Senate
Sandresha
The Free Federation



President of the Senate Solem walked down the corridors guarded by praetorian elites and riddled with sensor devices. Security measures, already strict, had become iron clad with the reemergence of the Black. Solem had no desire to end his life on the edge of a Shadowknife's blade. Rhodan, no longer assistant minister, trailed in his wake.

"Nothing in a week?" Solem snapped.

"Nothing from the Black in a week," Rhodan replied. "Terrorism and dissident activity, particularly in the holdout world like Nazar or the Gorgon Cluster, have increased."

"How bad?"

"Nothing that can't be handled but its increasing."

"Of course it is. They smell blood. What about the White Winds?"

"The Directorate is the one with moles there. Not part of my purview."

Solem sneared. The doors in front of them opened. Senior military officials of three different species rose up and saluted. Solem waved them off. He was in a bad mood and since he could destroy every career in the room, everyone swallowed their pride and sat.

"Where's Charven?" he barked.

"He was assigned to the Fifth Fleet," said Fleet Admiral Sehasshen, "after his removal from the Strategic Board." Following the defeat of the Black the Senate had centralized military control under its own auspices. No one wanted the rise of warlords capable of threatening the government and it also meant high ranking scapegoats were close at hand. The navy had a round of promotions for its battlecommanders to fill and had become the senior and dominant service as a result of the crucial role it had played in defeating the Black loyalists.

"Right," said Solem. "You had something you wanted to discuss."

"Yes sir," hissed Sehasshen. The sithi gestured and a holodisplay filled the room. "Our analysis of the situation indicates that the Black must intend to defeat us in a swift campaign aimed at destroying our military or seizing the political leadership. Since all chains of command run directly through the Strategic Board and the Senate, destroying the Senate effectively decapitates our military and political chains of command and fragments our military and political systems. Given the current political situation-" a euphemism to Solem's naked power grab, "it is likely that there would be considerable friction between the various local political leaders." Which was to say that the Liberals and Conservatives would be at each others throats. "Militarily speaking, we would reorganize under senior leadership. The overall damage to our war fighting ability and perceived legitimacy would be considerable."

"Yes, yes, I know," said Solem. "Get on with it."

"As a result we have brought troops to the capital and reinforced system and nearby fleets. We have disrupted any attempt to breach to the Between anywhere in orbit. Directorate specialists have been brought in. Planetary fortifications have been increased. An attack cannot reach here without being detected and defeated long before it becomes a threat and even if it could, it would be futile. So we turn our attention to other likely areas of attack.

"The Terrani are too badly outnumbered and their ships are too weak to pose a serious military threat. Our assets in that area will remain at a sufficient level to discourage aggression. Regions with a history of loyalty to the Black have had their garrisons reinforced. The Elvindar boarder, given House Panther's many "volunteers" during the Civil War, has been reinforced. This ties down many of our assets, of course.

"In order to achieve victory, the enemy must defeat our ability to make war. This means an assault on most heavily industrialized systems, with warship production being key. The Black, wherever they are from, will have a very long logistics chain. Only by conquest can they hope to alleviate that." Sehasshen pointed on the map. Several systems glowed gold.

"These systems fit the bill and are within several jumps of our far frontier. The Black could attempt to engage us in battle, defeat us, seize these systems, and then hold off our counter attack. This would give them a foothold in our space. Even with their new ship designs, the numbers are against them. Such a hope is grossly optimistic.

"And even if they succeed, it only buys them time. Free Federation space is too big with too many shipyards and convertible facilities. Even if their numbers are on the high end of our projections, demonstrate extreme levels of skill, and enjoy good luck they will last at most five years before we grind them out of existence based on attrition. Even if the Lios and Zarkos become difficult.

"So you're telling me they can't win," said Solem.

"There are no absolutes in war, Mister President. The numbers don't favor them. They obviously think they can, probably by an overly optimistic appraisal of their chances of triggering a domestic uprising. There is no guarantee sir, but they can commit suicide by attacking us at anytime they choose and they are certainly dead if we find out where they are basing. They have to attack or they die, simple as that. So they'll throw the dice and attack us here, hoping to score big victories back to back and have a chance. We are ready. The chrono is ticking. They are dead men."

Solem nodded curtly in approval. Rhodan was not so sanguine. He knew the enemy too well. They were not inclined to fool themselves about how well they were loved, instead taking quiet and foolish pride in how much they accomplished despite being feared and despised. They had something else planned.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-03-26 11:34pm
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Nazar in Exile



Thousands lined the observation galleries and millions watched on monitor screens as the fleet prepared to leave. They sat anxiously in their homes or in break rooms or pressed up against armoured windows. The excitement was palpable as they watched lean dark shapes of Reaper battlecruisers prepare to slip their moorings and join the other Grand Alliance vessels.

With a silent gust of vapor the two kilometer long warship Hope drifted free. Thrusters nudged its course as it slid slowly forward, out of the docks and toward the void. They watched as it glide silently away and then saw the flare as it engaged its main drives at a fraction of full power and begin to burn towards the outer system. Night's Reign slipped it moorings and began to move.

"So which one is Sus-Elararian on?" Incaradine asked Nalhen as they watched the departure from an observation gallery.

"I don't know," said Nalhen. "No need to know."

"And you don't know where your chosen are?" asked Incaradine in a bemused fashion. Behind him his sensor net showed Rumour and Whisper smiling at the exchange. Both women were tall and dark haired, Rumour with golden skin and Whisper with white marked by black tiger stripes. They had been worked together since before Incaradine was born, wrecking havoc and ending lives wherever needed.

"I choose not to look closely," said Nalhen. "Stop testing me. Isn't there someone you can kill to work off that anxiety?"

"No," said Incaradine. "I already checked. And I already tried sex."

"In some ways you are a very predictable creature."

"Yeah," said Incaradine. "Of course when part of that is always having a nasty surprise waiting for the enemy, that's not too bad."

"Yes," said Nalhen, "although your sister by adoption seems to have outdone you."

"Well, she didn't get 'Lord of Battle' hung on her by accident. And it is a thing of beauty. I think I can manage just being confined to the execution stage of the plan."

"You are confident."

"With good reason. You aren't?"

"Live long enough, you will see hope die," said Nalhen.

"Nice," said Incaradine. "Kind of like my life, but in reverse. Why do you bother with all this then? If hope is futile?"

"It is. Applied intelligence, sufficient power, and long range planning work much better. Hope puts people on their knees in churches, begging figments of their imagination for help that will never come. My way builds stellar nations that endure."

The Great Necromancer stalked away. Incaradine turned back to Whisper and Rumour. "Brilliant man, defender of humanity, feared in hell, etcetera, etcetera, but not so great to have at parties." They smiled back.


Reaver Class Battlecruiser Chainbreaker
Sinnaleese System
The Free Federation



The honor guard met Fleet Admiral Charven at the airlock. A dark haired young women wearing a lieutenant's insignia saluted and approached. "Glad to have you aboard sir."

"Thank you," said Charven. "I was expecting Forcecommander Selivan."

"Security protocols sir. If you'll come with me." She turned around and marched down the corridor, the honour guard with their very functional weapons closing around Charven.

The fleet admiral clenched and unclenched fist as they approached a scanning station set up ahead. A cluster of sensors and several armatures equipped with sinister needles were aimed at section of corridor. Opposite of the sensor cluster was a shield of armourglass and a operator at a control panel. "This is new."

"Yes sir," she said. "New protocols. Checking for alphas. You understand."

"The price we pay to be assassin proof. Alright, let's get this done." He clenched his fists again, took a deep breath, and stepped forward. The armatures split up, heading towards different parts of his body.

"I'm sorry sir, this is in case they have new stealth tricks. It does hurt like a bastard." The armatures snaked forward and then struck like coiled cobras. They sank needles into his flesh, one into his left shoulder, another to his middle back, and third into his left thigh.

"Fuck!" Charven swore.

"Sensors reading normal," said the operator behind the shield. "Tissue samples being analyzed. Normal. Starting sterilization cycle."

"Are we done," Charven hissed through clenched teeth.

"Yes sir," said the operator. "You passed."

"What a surprise," he said. "Now my I go to the bridge and take command of my fleet."

"Of course sir," said the lieutenant. Charven clenched and relaxed his right fist. "Right this way."



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Nazar in Exile


"Three speeches?" Incaradine asked Lamech as they walked down the corridor. "Three raping speeches? Who in blackest depths of the Slaver Hells approved that?"

"One from the senate, one from Nazar, one from the Free Federation," said the vampire with a slight smile on his lips. "Three. And I believe it was the Senate that decided on that, in the end. You know that democracy thing you Free Federats think is so important?"

"Then why did you and Nalhen make yourselves accountable to an elected government when setting up the Nazarian Domain?"

"We were drunk," he said. "I swear." He grinned, showing his fangs. "Anyway the politicians have mandated three speeches so the number of speeches shall be three."

"You know," said Incaradine, "we are politicians."

"Speak for yourself. I'm a godless, bloodthirsty barbarian savage, half drunk on power no man should have." They both laughed.

"Seriously," Lamech said after a moment, "I arm twisted the Senate into keeping their's short. Do the same and we can get this shit over with."

"And you?"

"The personification of brevity, I swear."

-------------------------------------------------------------------

They numbered in the hundreds of thousands and they stood ready at their departure points. They were human, sithi, and kordassi, Lios and Zarkos Elvindar. The wore uniforms and armour, carrying or attending to weapons of war. They were the leading edge of the Grand Alliance's sword, the warriors that would strike a mortal blow against the White tyrants.

Relays and holo projectors carried the words and images of the speeches so that all could see and hear. In one bay Incaradine hovered in front of thousands, in another Lamech, and in the third First Consul Lesenessh Mahass. The soldiers were eager, the young ones because their whole lives had lead up to this point. The old veterans hungered to reclaim their own. They shared one driving will, one irresistible purpose. They would not be denied. They were also, somewhat impatient to get going.

Lesenessh was no fool. The blue-green scaled sithi was lean for one of his species and age, as sithi grew throughout their lives. He would speak first, as agreed. The speech was more for the billion watching and the trillions who would watch in the future. History had its own demands.

"We stand," he began, "on the labor of five centuries. For five hundred years, everyone from the most brilliant scientist to the humblest maintenance tech have worked for this day. This day. You carry all our hopes and dreams upon your shoulders. We know you will safeguard that trust.

"Two millenia ago Zerakis and Nalhen lead their followers into exile. The sithi made them welcome and the course of history changed forever. We would never again be dividable by species, but by values. We are their heirs, the free peoples who would fight to defend themselves and their neighbors. Our enemies were the tyrants and the would be slavers ruled by greed, for whom the galaxy and its peoples were nothing but plunder waiting to be taken.

"We return not to kill, but to liberate. Not for revenge, but for justice. Not to destroy, but to build and restore. What was done cannot be undone, but something stronger and greater can be built in its place. That is the future, a future that all will partake in, not just a privileged few. That is our will and so must it be!"

A roar answered him, half because it was expected, half because they felt it. Incaradine's sensor net fed him the responses and he waited for it to die down before speaking. The twisted empath felt their impatience and their blood lust washing over him. It was a warm feeling and he responded to it. "I'll be brief," he began. "We are not alone. Our arts have improved throughout our long exile and their's have degraded. Celene Nightfire made this plan. It will work. I will be leading from the front, the blood of my blood will be taking up arms to fight this fight. We will win.

"We will play the blood price for this victory. We cannot fall back upon weapons of mass destruction to make this easy. We will have to kill them the hard way and we must take prisoners and be careful to spare civilians where possible. This will cost us in blood, but it is necessary for victory. There are no cowards in our ranks, but no one here wishes to die. Some of us will die on this battlefield to spare many of us from dying in future battles. This is a hard thing."

"We are Free Federation!" he thundered. "We are Elvindar and Nazar! We have done the impossible. The merely hard is easy! We shall break the enemy! We shall win this war!" More applause and cheering. He had played it well, but then he had a lot of practice and an empath's sensitivity to his audience's mood. Lamech's telepathic gifts would give him similar advantages.

As the roar died, Lamech picked up where Incaradine had left off. The vampire warlord wore night black articulated plate. A slim, slightly cured short sword hung on his belt. His shadow cloak twisted in a non-existent wind.

"I am the barbarian who defends civilization. So it has been since my first battle, so it is now. Those things that were great in man I helped nurture, those that would prey on him I helped destroy. My purview is wider now, but my motives have not changed.

"I will lead the warriors of my own blood, the chosen of Nalhen, and all the greats of the Grand Alliance. What stands against us? Not the Devourers, who would have consumed the galaxy. Not Daemonstraum, who would have enslaved it. Just misers, would be slave drivers, their lick spittles, and their chain dogs. I see nothing that can challenge my might. I see nothing that can stand against us. Let there be no more words. Now it is time that we act."

He flung out his hands. In front of him a great rip opened at the departure gate, a hole into night that spewed chill mist. He drifted down towards it. Frost was forming on the floor. He raised his hand. "We begin!"

A wordless shout answered him. Lamech, Cunning Loki, turned and walking into the Between. Behind him and at a dozen points nearby, others began to do the same. Laughter drifted through the void. The White would never know what hit them.



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House of All Stars
Myashuetha
The Grand Court of the Stars



The ruling princes of all the houses of the Lios Elvindar slowly walked into the council rooms. They wore simple white robes over their flamboyant finery, a reminder that in this place somber consultation was the order of the day. Most of the men and women in the room had fought the Slaver Lords five centuries ago, their enhanced lifespans and potent life preserving sorcery holding the ravages of time at bay.

The room was dark and circular, illuminated by a single shaft of white light projecting from the top of the room. It was as spartan as their dress consisting of a plain table of white stone surrounded by worn smooth wooden chairs. The Lios had met here since before the birth of Caesar, settling their most dire disputes and addressing issues of common interest. None of them were surprised to be here. They knew this day was coming.

Eyes turned to one of their members, dressed just as simply as the rest of them. Shepheran Nes Elemenathis, Ruling Prince of House Phoenix, largest and most powerful of the Lios Elvindar nations felt the weight of his fellows regard. "No one will weep for us when we are gone," he quoted. "They shall reap the benefits made possible by our sweat and blood but they shall not mourn us."

He paused. "They were wrong. We mourn them, although we came to the realization too late. We knew their character and we know the character of those that now rule. House Phoenix erred badly when we urged others not to become involved in their civil war. The definition of wisdom is learning enough from our mistakes that we do not repeat them. We are prepared to correct our error."

Zalahana Senn Merinias, Ruling Prince of House Manticore raised her hand to signal that she would speak. Fifty years ago the Chinese had encroached on territory House Manticore, a small and militarily weak house, claimed as their own. The situation quickly escalated and broke out into a large scale battle. Manticore had slaughtered the Chinese both in space and on the ground. They had become much more militaristic and wary of the Terrani in the aftermath. "You are proposing that we join with the Lords of Death against the White Usurpers. The Terrani covet our territory and the White has superior numbers. How is this course not suicide?"

"The Americans and the Russians have committed themselves to a friendly posture towards the Grand alliance," said Shepheran. "The Canadians and Europeans will follow their allies' lead. We will maintain a sufficient force in reserve to discourage adventurism by the Terrani."

"You've been in contact with the Lords of Death," said Zalahana.

"Yes," said Nadrian Essetai Morenais, Ruling Prince of House Panther. "They have been in league since the White bombed the Vault of the Sleepers."

"You knew," said Zalahana.

"Yes," said Shepheran. "Involvement was kept to minimum to prevent leaks, but it was deemed prudent to inform the Ruling Prince of House Panther to prevent the Panthers from doing something imprudent."

"How long?" asked Evillana Senn Cariveth, Ruling Prince of House Griffin.

"Since the day the Vault was destroyed," replied Shepheran. "We have funneled intelligence and a modest amount of resources their way for five hundred years."

"So you are committed," said Zalahana.

"They will make us beggars or slaves," said Shepheran. "They have already discarded even the pretense of responsible government. Whether it is dictatorship or oligarchy that emerges, it does not matter. They will eat the Terrani, because the Terrani are weak, and then they will devour us. House Phoenix and House Panther will fight."

"I have," began Lanerasa Nes Cellerithin, speaking slowly, "seen the horror of Daemonstraum. In the flesh as he bestrode the battlefield and his minions fought and died out of fear of his wrath and desire for the rewards he could bestow upon them. These Whites, they are nothing compared to him, Slavers who poison their own nests so they may remain rip wealth from their neighbors. I remember the Grand Alliance as well. I faced Daemonstraum to preserve it. It preserved us and everything of value in this spiral arm. The White are nothing compared to the Slaver Lords. And that is my answer."

Around the table the ruling princes nodded. It was decided. The might of the Elvindar would go to war.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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Reaver Class Battlecruiser Chainbreaker
Sinnaleese System
The Free Federation


The flag bridge of the Chainbreaker was buried deep in the guts of the ship, protected by screens that could take multiple multimegaton nuke hits and nearly indestructible plates of adamantium armour. Naval officers and specialists were cyberlinked to advanced computers and comm systems, processing a mountain of data for their seniors that was displayed on holo displays and repeater screens. Fleet Admiral Charven sat impassively in his chair, plugged into the data stream.

"Sir!" said a specialist seated at a com station. "We have a report from Navinna."

"Stream it," the Fleet Admiral ordered.

The data came and with it the fate of the Free Federation. A huge fleet had jumped into range of Navinna's long range monitors. Precisely how big was unknown as they were putting out a massive amount of jamming and the use of stealth shrouds to hide their exact numbers. Clever of them. Hide their true strength, since they couldn't hide their presence.

"Display star map on main holo. Plot the Black Fleet and all systems with substantial ship building or support industries and facilities within two full jumps." A huge mass of stars appeared floating in the air. A sinister red dot glowed near the ceiling. Pearlescent dots were scattered around it.

"Refine," said Chavren. "Assume minimal distance jump from out of detection range. Deduct that distance from one hundred fifty percent full jump capacity of a Reaver class battlecruiser. Remove all locations more than that distance from Black Fleet." Stars faded out, leaving only a small cluster.

"Expand target systems," said Chavren. The few remaining stars burned brightly. It was a small enough selection. There were several good targets, but only one worthy of a desperate, all or nothing plunge. "Prepare the fleet to go for Goytha within twenty four hours. Coms, signal all ships from neighboring systems that make it within that time frame to join us, my authority as Fleet Admiral."

"Yes sir," the young woman said.

"Signal all fleet elements in the vicinity of Goytha, except those that can reach Goytha within twenty-four hours, to mass at Karind. Move mobile elements from the Elvindar boarder to Karind."

"Sir?"

"The Elvindar did nothing, except for Panther, during the First War. They won't do anything in the Second. If we don't beat the black at Goytha, we'll need a strong local presence to keep them down."

"Yes sir." It was a respectable gamble. Even if the Black struck somewhere else, they were in a position to intercept and harry them from Goytha. Goytha's own system defences would add to their strength, which was stronger than the Black were likely to be. Even if they lost, they would extract a high price in blood and there would already be another fleet massing for another strike at the Black before they could recover or jump much deeper into Free Federation Space. It was a beautiful plan. The right move. Chavren smiled.


Arack City
Silvergrass
Former Nazarian Domain
The Free Federation


Junas Nalvado looked at his watch again. He was late. Nalvado tried to be a forgiving man, that's what the Lord would want him to be, but he wasn't a patient man. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, reciting a calming mantra. He rolled his shoulders and tried to relax. He opened his eyes and his gaze swept the restaurant. No sign of him.

An elegantly dressed young man in a dark suit with golden cross cuff links walked towards his booth. He stopped the exact and proper distance from Nalvado of a subordinate carrying a message to his social superior. "Mister Nalvado?"

"Yes?" said Junas.

"My principal sends his regrets. He will be unable to meet with you today."

"I see."

"He did also convey a message me to give to you, in private."

Nalvado nodded. His guards let the young man advance, after subjecting him to a discreet sensor sweep. "Thank you sir," he said after taking a seat next to Nalvado. A privacy screen would prevent all sorts of eavesdropping. The young man reached into his jacked and activated a device of his own. Business could be cutthroat these days, even when it mixed with religion. Perhaps especially when it mixed with religion.

The young man looked Nalvado in they eyes. Junas found himself looking at a pair of skulls swimming within an ocean of darkness before they resumed normality. "My principal extends his regrets. James Talemont won't be joining your organization."

Nalvado felt his blood ran cold. "You killed him."

"He declined to do the right thing. Measures were taken."

"He was a man of God."

"He was a man. Who loved money and decided to support tyrants." He looked over at Nalvado. "Are you having second thoughts?"

"No, I just don't like it."

"You're not required to like it. It is, in fact, preferable that you hate it. The Laws of Iron are unkind. I have instructions for you."

"Why do you think I will carry them out?"

"Because your masters have shown their true face. Cancelled elections, seizure and arrest of so many prominent Liberal Party supporters and their companies. Do you prefer a dictatorship or an oligarchy? Those are your choices now. Or resistance. You are committed. Either way, they would kill you. Even if you betrayed me they would still kill you because they would scan your mind and see the treason. And destroy everything you ever tried to do."

"You're right."

"Of course I am." He got up and picked up his jammer. A small data crystal was left behind. "Have a nice day."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana


Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-04-21 08:09am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-04-11 10:22pm
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Location: The Tower at Charm
House of Many Doors
Tezingal System
Free Federation Space
Near the Boarder with the Grand Court of the Stars



The House of Many Doors was nearly two thousand years old. It had begun as a trade station between the Sithi and the Elvindar and had grown and expanded since then, the old replaced by the new. Throughout most of its history it had been a center for trade and diplomatic meetings, helping secure the peace and prosperity of both nations.

The Civil War changed that. Now it was a naval base, its vast facilities turned over to service and maintain a powerful border fleet and serve their crews. The facility itself was mostly unarmed, but protected by powerful defences. Layers of weapon platforms surrounded the House of Many Doors, making it a strong point that any fleet would hesitate before challenging. Even with ships sent away to deal with the Black invasion, a powerful fleet remained stationed here. More than enough to deal with an attack from House Panther, even if they were joined by several other houses.

There is no hiding the jump signature of a large fleet from military grade sensors in the same solar system. Lean and graceful Elvindar ships sprouting sail and wing like radiator fins for their energy sink networks, broke into real space. One and a half kilometer long cruisers were joined by smaller frigates and destroyers as well as massive two kilometer long battleships. Their hulls were spell reinforced steel, inferior to spell reinforced adamantium but equal to or superior to that of any other ship. The graceful ships relied more heavily upon beam weapons and defensive screens than Free Federation ships, but other than that they were much alike.

And they were there in number. Not only the vast majority of the fleet of House Panther and a few minor houses, but the even larger fleet of House Phoenix. And House Griffin. And House Stormdrake. And, in fact, every House. And they were not alone.

Gliding alongside them were Zarkos Elvindar warships. Their ships were dark reflections of their Lios brethren, built along similar lines but with barbed blade and dragon winged radiators projecting from dark hulls. There were not a small handful, the refugees that had joined the Lios when their houses collapsed and were scattered, but many. The surviving houses that lived as raiders in the great dark had joined their cruel might to that of their cousins.

Fear gripped those manning the House of Many Doors. Their sensors did not reveal the precise strength of the invading fleet, stealth shrouds and jamming obscured that, but they knew enough. They were completely boned.

Battle stations sounded. Crews on leave scrambled to get back to their ships and emergency disembarking procedures began. Defensive screens and shields were raised, point defence clusters activated, and electronic warfare systems turned to full power. Powerful sensor arrays swept space as warships assembled for battle.

A massive energy spike appeared just a light minute away from the House of Many Doors. The combined Elvindar fleet reappeared in the wake of the energy spike, having completed their short range jump. Countless weapon arrays were trained on a much smaller number of targets. D-scramblers churned space, disrupting any jumps within half a light hour. There would be no escape for their prey.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-04-25 07:28am
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Reaver Class Battlecruiser Chainbreaker
Goytha System
The Free Federation


The Fifth Fleet, more than one hundred and fifty warships, took up positions near the Goytha's famous shipyards. Seventeen different facilities had been carved out of the rock of Goytha's asteroid belts and wrapped in a defence system that could shred an attack squadron. Raw materials were shipped in from moons, planets, and the rest of the belt, fueling industries that served civilians and military alike. Goytha was a hard target to crack and well within Free Federation space. Only someone desperate or daring would try to do so.

Fleet Admiral Charven was well aware of this. It was as obvious as the Black presence in the outer system. "Refine the data," he barked. "This junk only tells me that something is there."

"I'm sorry sir," said Lieutenant Strann. The pale woman was nervous. "They're wrapped in a shroud and jamming the hell out of us. We can see the shroud and their EW emission, but everything else is almost impossible."

"Do better!" Charven snarled. "I need to know how many of them are there. If its a large enough fleet I need to stay here and protect Goytha, but that means staying here and letting them escape hit somewhere else. Every minute you delay is another minute they can spend recharging their jump drives! Now get me some sister raping data that's worth something!"

There was dead silence on the flag bridge. "Move the fleet closer. Program a micro jump to a half way point between our current position and theirs. Full d-jamming after emergence so they can't jump on top of us and a full scan at closer range."

The bridge erupted into a flurry of activity as the preparations for full fleet maneuvers began. Strikecommander Krane, a thin, dark haired man, approached Charven. "We may not be able to get good data, even from that range. The shroud encountered by Battle Group Vok was quite effective."

"Then we'll have to make an educated guess," said Charven. He knew that Krane was trying to temper him. The grape vine must have communicated his acquisition of Presidential disfavor to some of the officers of the fleet by now. They would expect him to be rash and glory hungry in a desperate attempt to salvage his career. He smiled inside. The truth was somewhat different.

The Fifth Fleet disappeared and then reappeared in the outer system, completing their microjump. D-scrambler fields were activated and powerful sensors were trained on the shroud, which was mostly visible thanks to its own sensor jamming emissions.

Patience was required now as the lightspeed delay would affect many sensor systems. Charven accessed a direct link to his ship and squadron commanders, but there was little to do there. Despite the poisonous erosion of nepotism, politicking, and corporate influence the navy was still a professional organization. His people knew their business.

"Results back sir," said Strann. "We've been able to refine the data."

"Send me a direct link," ordered Charven. Data streamed to him, pinpointing counter measures emissions, analysis of the results of degraded scanning beams that managed to penetrate the shroud's weak points. Calculations and interpretations based on the retrieved data. A small fleet, masquerading as something larger.

"Plot a jump just outside their scrambler range," Charven ordered. "Full battle stations, prepare for maximum acceleration as soon as we emerge from jump. Weapons armed, screens at full. We will engage the enemy." And victory would be his.

House of Many Doors
Tezingal System
Free Federation Space
Near the Boarder with the Grand Court of the Stars


The Elvindar fleet closed in on their prey. Beam weapons flashed through space as the opened fire at long range with multiple weapons, each squadron picking a separate target on which to mass firepower. The screens on the defence satellites attenuated or absorbed most of the first volley while suffering only minor damage to their armoured hulls. Ten seconds later the second volley fell upon them and overloaded already taxed energy sink systems and burnt through damage hulls. To a distant observer new stars would seem to have been born and died suddenly as the satellites blazed and died. Scraps of metal and cooling gas drifted through space. The Elvindar continued to close.

The disembarking Free Federation ships assembled themselves into a fighting force as the Elvindar closed. They were too few to have any chance against so many. A transmission, cracking from the jamming that filled the void, was picked up and forwarded to the commanders.

Their was no image, only words. "This is Shepheran Nes Elemenathis, Ruling Prince of House Phoenix, speaking for The Grand Court of All Stars and the Grand Alliance. Surrender and you will be treated with the dignity and rights granted to every citizen of the Grand Alliance. Resistance is pointless and futile. I urge you to think of the lives of those under your command and your responsibilities to them. If I must, I will kill you all. You have it within your power to prevent that."

Targeting beams painted the closest warships. Beam turrets on the Free Federation vessels locked on to their targets and fired. Range and force fields attenuated the beams before Elvindar energy sinks absorbed their fire. Fire was massed on two cruisers and such was the weight that even their defences failed. Energy sinks were locally overloaded, the arcane shields failed, and laser burned through their hulls.

The Elvindar retaliated. Eight Free Federation vessels died under the storm of high energy lasers and another two were seriously damaged. It was enough for Battlecommander Shen. "We surrender!" He beamed down the comm. "We surrender! Stop this!"

The firing stopped. The brief and completely one sided Battle of Tezingal had cost nearly ten thousand lives and left a gaping wound in what had been a Free Federation strong point on the Elvindar border. The White would want heads on platters to answer for this disaster, perhaps even literally. For the Grand Alliance, everything was going exactly as they desired.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-04-27 05:03am
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Location: The Tower at Charm
Calidore City
Sanhereel
The Free Federation


"This is pointless," said Slayer Rike as he looked down across the street. "No one worth our time is clumsy enough to go to this place. A restaurant with Slaver War era memorabilia? Why not hang a sign around their neck that says 'malcontent'."

The Master Slayer got out of his chair and paced the small apartment. The other man, a compact and pale Security Directorate Captain by the name of Anzar Dwelt, shrugged. "It's worth doing. Besides, we might get lucky."

Rike sneered. He wasn't in a mood to suffer fools. "Who knows, I might get lucky and Night's Edge will fall out of the sky. Or I could try something that might work better. These men will have played knife in the dark with the Slaver Lords, or been trained by men who have. This wont work."

"I keep forgetting you are that old. Don't look it."

"Darkhold trained necromancer," said Rike. "We're a dying breed."

"You guys had quite the rep in your day."

"We earned it."

"The Black still lost."

"Yes it did. Too bad you don't even know how much losing the war cost you. Or what really happened. I bet you believe that the Lords of Darkhold somehow had and then lost absolute power."

"Sound like a sympathizer."

"You're a fucking genius," said Rike. He walked back to the window. "I pulled the trigger for the Grand Alliance during the Resurgency and the Avalon War. Sent Slavers on the express route to hell. Then came the Civil War. I took the Black coin."

"Why?" asked Dwelt, his gaze darting away from the magnified images of the Wolves' Den's patrons to the Slayer. "I mean, they fucking tried to take over the state."

"That's what they say now. Winners write the history. They would say they tried to prevent an illegal power grab. Elections always occurred during the Slaver War. Democracy survived Darkhold's rise and Daemonstraum's assault, but not the White government."

"It's a temporary measure."

"Sure it is," said Rike. "Perfectly legal. Of course, with so many arrests of members and supporters of rival parties, I'm sure there will be a strong opposition left to protect our cherished government institutions." Rike snickered. "Do you know why the White won?"

"Go ahead and tell me. This should be good."

"They talked. They talked to the White Winds and played on their rivalry with Darkhold and their second place status. They talked to the navy and promised more ships and promotions while they stroked their egos and inflamed their discontent about being less recognized than Darkhold's necromancers and the Guard Legions. They played on the divide between what the Free Federation had become and the old warriors who had fought and beaten the Slaver Lords twice. And where was the Black?

"Many of them were dead. Incaradine was trying to hold onto the Zarkos with both hands and keep the peace. Other retired from public life. Most of the rest had concerns other than which political party would win the election. That was there mistake. They didn't see how much money could buy until it happened. And then when the White went to rewrite the constitution, well none of their talking about how they would run things when in power had been treasonous but it was enough to make a lot of people support treason now. And the state burned. Because Solem and his ilk wanted more money and power and the Black was focused on holding things together and doing their jobs. They didn't anticipate a corporatist party would do a naked power grab until it was happening and Solem had paid for the groundwork. And look where that got him today? Dictator in all but name."

"A problem for those above my pay grade."

"Spoken like a true slave."

Dwelt flushed and rose to his feet. "Take your best shot chain dog," said Rike. "Just remember that I've taken the skull from a Second Circle Slaver Lord."

"You might remember which side your fighting for," hissed Dwelt.

"The side that put a gun to the head of my friends and colleagues. That's how I got unretired. I'm fighting for the same government that nuked the Vault of the Sleepers after the war was over because it knew that many of the inhabitants would be sympathetic to the Black. Execution for a political crime that people in stasis never had a chance to commit."

The door opened and Vorlar Kadril stepped in. "I can hear you through the walls," he said irritatedly. "And the Vault was unfortunate collateral damage during the storming of Shadowcatch."

"Your hearing's augmented," said Rike. "Of course you can hear us through the walls. I was rearguard during the retreat off Shadowcatch. Care to tell me how an armoured, underground facility away from the fighting caught a couple of stray nukes after I left? I thought not."

"Stop bitching Rike and get back to working."

"You think my eyes have to be on that building for me to monitor it? No wonder it wasn't until after the war that you got rank."

"Stop trying so hard to provoke my people," said Kadril. "It won't work and I won't buy self defence even if it did. I would just shoot you myself. You pissed away your amnesty with this bullshit, so stop fucking whining. You can work or be shot for treason, your choice."

"I take it telling the truth to members of my team and honest expression of opinion have become treasonous. How unsurprising. Since I got strong armed by you when I had the amnesty and was in Elvindar space, I'm not exactly overwhelmed by the protection it offered."

Static shrieked through several command frequencies. "What in Daemonstraum's name was that?" Kadril barked.

"That would be my people blowing up Directorate planetary headquarters from the inside with a nuclear charge," said Rike. His left hand was surrounded by an intense sphere of jade light as he pointed at Dwelt. The Directorate agent's shields collapsed instantly and the organs in his torso were reduced to the consistency of runny oatmeal. Blood poured out of his mouth and he spasmed. "I told you there were consequences to trying to rape the Slayer's Guild. If you had remembered the old days better, you might have listened."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana


Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-04-28 07:24am, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-04-28 10:03pm
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Location: The Tower at Charm
Calidore City
Sanhereel
The Free Federation


Kadril went for his pistol, his hand a blur of motion, as he leapt to the side. The ancient skills had been kept sharp with continual practice. Don't aim for the head, not against a sorcerer of Rike's power. It was a harder target and his shields would be stronger there. Shoot him in the chest, weaken his shields and wound him, and then finish him with a head shot when he was down. Zerakis's bones, he wished he had a death whip.

A blue-white disruptor beam shot from Rike's right hand and tore into his shields. Brilliant jade light flashed around the necromancer's left hand as he invoked a rupture effect. Pain shot through Vorlar as his right hand was magically flayed down to the bone, only a few bloody orichalcum wires and strips of muscle holding the adamantium sheathed finger bones together. His gun fell from his dead hand. Rike was rushing toward him.

As a rule, close quarters combat didn't favor sorcerers. An augmented soldier didn't have the study of sorcery eating up his practice time and could match the sorcerer's enhancements with his own. Add in shield piercing arcanetech weapons and it meant that dedicated sorcerer-killers with the right equipment could end up with a long skill lists. Internal Security's Witch Hunters had been the most famous of these and Kadril had been one of them. Orichalcum blades popped from his wrists, blue-white lightning crawling over the orange-gold metal. He sprung forward.

Rike leapt back, smashing through the window to stand in mid air. He drew a pair black bladed adamantium shortswords out of his shadow cloak, orichalcum rune circuitry running down the spine of the blades. Kadril followed him into the air, his spellwire and power crystal implants generating the forces necessary for him to fly briefly.

Rike dodged to the side, out of the reach of Kadril's blades, and then darted in to stab the Directorate agent in his right shoulder. The blade pierced body armour and skinweave to cut through reinforced muscle and glance off bone. Blood poured from the wound for a brief moment before it the vessels clamped off and coagulants flooded the local area.

Vorlar cursed and spun. His right arm was weakened now, he could barely lift it up. Autoinjectors were pumping healing agents into his flesh to undo the damage. If he could just hold out for a few more moments he would start to recover. Rike's eyes blazed orange-red.

A stream of blazing bolts erupted from the Slayer's eyes and tore into Vorlar's damaged shields at close range. If the disruptor beam hadn't ravaged his shields and the sword strike added to the damage, the shields might have held. Part of energy of Rike's bolts leaked through as the bolts struck Kadril in his left shoulder and burned through armour and flesh. Pain killers and stimulants flooded Kadril's body as his left arm was severed.

Reaver Class Battlecruiser Chainbreaker
Outskirts of the Goytha System
The Free Federation


Space rippled and distorted, heralding the arrival of the Fifth Fleet. Then the Free Federation ships appeared. Ten Reaver Class Battlecruisers leading a fleet of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers numbering one hundred and sixty vessels.

"Sensor readings?" Charven asked impatiently. His career, his life, and the life of all the people under his command depended on the answers that he would receive.

"We're active," said Strann. "We should be able to rip right through the shroud at this range."

Charven feigned patience. "Results coming in," continued Strann. "Shroud is being dropped. Oh gods."

"Link me," said Charven snarled. A direct data feed connected the fleet admiral to the results. The Grand Alliance fleet had abandoned its shroud and its closely packed ranks were breaking up. D-scramblers were being run full strength from their largest capital ships, which included thirty odd-Reaver based hulls and twenty Zarkos Elvindar cruisers. The massive form of the Sun Eater was at the center of the formation. One hundred and twenty four warships, on average each one much more powerful than his own ships.

"Hades," said Krane. "That's more ships than we though they had period."

"Sir," said a comm officer. "There's a transmission for you. Drone routed."

"Put it through," Charven said calmly.

The image of a stern faced man wearing the almost black shade of green worn by the Nazarian Navy filled the screen. Gold glinted on the shoulders of his uniform. Charven didn't need to look for his rank markings. "This is Grand Admiral Arelan Sus-Elararian, Thrice Chosen by Dread Nazan, commander of the Grand Alliance fleet. You are defeated. Escape is impossible. Preserve the lives of your people and surrender. Your only other option is to die for no purpose."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana


Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-04-29 07:00am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-04-29 11:24pm
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Location: The Tower at Charm
Calidore City
Sanhereel
The Free Federation


Kadril twisted in the air, trying to circle Rike and slice him up with his right arm blade. Rike retreated up and back, but not fast enough. The Slayer knew it. He dropped his swords, which floated by him obediently. Beams of blue light shot from his hand and smashed through Vorlar's shields to shatter adamantium reinforced bones. The Directorate agent fell.

Vorlar's mind swam as he tried to sort out why the world was swimming around him through haze of the chemical cocktail in his veins and the pain. The world's spinning because I'm falling, he realized. He tried to focus the power to reinforce his shields and arrest his fall. Impact.

He hit the road and bounced up two meters before coming back down. He was screwed, he realized. He pushed off with remaining hand, agony shooting through his body. Then everything stopped working and he fell bonelessly.

Rike landed next to him, his swords in hand. "You were warned," he said. "The Slayer's Guild remembers what it is to be Free Federation. We are not prey."

"Get it over with," Kadril hissed.

"All debts are payable in skulls," said Rike. "You are a slaver's dog and a tyrant's lackey, but once you shed Slaver blood. That has not been forgotten." Rike raised his right arm and the blade came down.

-------------------------------------------------

Reaver Class Battlecruiser Chainbreaker
Outskirts of the Goytha System
The Free Federation


Charven sat in silence. Sus-Elararian was one of the greatest naval commanders of all time. He could win this battle with half as many ships. Maybe a few ships could escape the death trap the Fifth Fleet was in, but he wouldn't have put money on it.

In his closed right hand he felt the cool metal of the effector orb. The arcanetech device was active and cloaking itself. He might need it again, if the next bit didn't go well. He waited another moment and then stood.

"Signal the Black fleet," he ordered. "Ask for terms." A dead silence reigned on the bridge for a moment. They were well disciplined men and women and whatever failings they had, most of them did not lack courage even if the wanted to live.

"Sir?" the comm officer said. "Could you repeat the order? I'm not sure I heard you correctly."

"Ask for terms," Charven repeated. "My life is over, whether it's by a White execution or a Black firing squad. Yours aren't. I'm not going to throw them away against Sus-Elararian for nothing. The state, which isn't even a shell of a democracy any more, will survive this loss. A few more hulls won't allow the Black to win against the Free Federation's industrial might. We aren't going to be able to hurt them badly enough. It isn't worth the butcher's bill. My life is over. Yours don't have to be. Now send to the fleet and ask for terms."

"Yes sir," he replied and returned to his station. Data links confirmed that he was following orders. Charven slipped the effector orb back up his sleeve.

"Sir," said Krane, "I'm afraid I have to relieve you of duty."

"On what grounds?" said Charven. "Cowardice? I'm a dead man either way. I'm just not dragging the rest of you with me. Are you so eager to die Krane? Are you going to throw away all these lives just to take a few ships with us?" Charven's eyes flicked to the guards on duty. Neither moved. "Stand down commander or I'll have you put under arrest. Don't worry. All the blame will be mine."

"Sus-Elararian's replied sir," said the comm officer. "Guarantees of humane treatment and all personnel will be spared interrogation."

"Like I believe that," said Krane.

"I do," said Charven. "They had to have infiltrators with good data access to set this trap. We don't know enough to be worth their time. Comms, signal our surrender and confirm with the rest of the fleet. Power down all reactors to stand by status and stand down all stations.

"Your disgrace will live forever," said Krane as Charven's orders were obeyed and relayed to the rest of the Fifth Fleet. "No matter who wins you'll be remembered as a coward."

"I'm already dead," said Zahn. "There's nothing worse they can do to me. Everyone else has a chance of life. I won't throw those lives away for no purpose and no gain." Privately, the shapeshifter was laughing inside. A fleet defeated without firing a shot. It was a better outcome than they had dared hope, but even with the Elvindar's hopefully successful strike, this was the sideshow. The real fight was elsewhere.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-05-02 12:10am
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Location: The Tower at Charm
The Senate
Sandresha
The Free Federation


President Solem walked into the wood paneled conference room and found Minister Rhodan sitting at the head of the table and drinking Kalex Reserve out of a skull. Two praetorians looked on impassively. Rhodan straightened. "Mister President."

"Take your ease Rhodan. Someone has to."

"Thank you," the man returned to slumping. Solem approached. The skull was held together with silver wire and then a sealant was applied internally so it could be used as a drinking vessel. Letters across the brow proclaimed "Unknown Member of the Third Circle."

"You're drinking out of a Slaver's skull? Rather old fashioned."

"Always wanted to. It's one of Incaradine's trophies."

"That must have set you back a lot, even on your salary."

"Not really. Price has dropped through the floor. If the Black win Incaradine will want his possessions back and will be making the law. And who would want the Lord of Vengeance looking into their personal affairs? So yeah, I picked it up pretty cheap, all things considered. What's he going to do, have me shot twice?"

"True," said Solem. "I just don't understand how you can be so calm about this. The Elvindar hit us by surprise and every single house has joined the Black. Hell, I'm more scared of them than the Black."

"Very sensible of you sir. There are, after all, more of them."

"Even the Terrani are making noises about attacking us and having joint fleet exercises. This is a problem. If this battle at Goytha doesn't go well. . . ."

"If I've got the time right, it should be starting almost about now," said Rhodan. "It's not something I worry about. If we win, we cripple them. If we lose, they're still fighting a long uphill battle. We lose Goytha and then say the next three, then I'll worry." He raised the skull and took a drink.

"Maybe you haven't been paying attention to the reports. Riots, terrorism, sympathizers in all branches of the armed forces."

"To be expected," said Rhodan. "This is after all, a civil war, and you have been doing a marvelous job of centralizing wealth and power in your own hands. The disenfranchisement of the majority of the Free Federation populace, the increasingly powerful and ethically blind security services, and the concentration of wealth, power, and political authority in a very narrow group is something the populace can be expected to resent. The media's nicely obedient, but you have taken the "plunder the people and the state" part of the equation a bit too far. I'll correct that. Better circuses and the stabilize the working class situation. Nice secure jobs with enough money to raise the kids and the occasional vacation. Problem with you corporate raider types. You don't think long term social stability at all."

"You over step yourself Rhodan," said Solem coldly. "I am master here. I was one of the men who financed the White Revolution and I am now the master of the entire nation."

"You are nothing but my pawn. Let me demonstrate." Rhodan's eyes lifted to the praetorians. "Put him on his knees."

Impossibly strong arms grabbed Solem's shoulders and forced him down. Solem tried thrashing. It was useless.

"They are, quite literally, my slaves," said Rhodan. "The conditioning you approved for the new elite troops, well they'll, also be my slaves. So will you and the rest of the Senate. I will need the endorsement of the legitimate authorities until you nice and legally hand everything over to me. And then you will live out the rest of your life as stupid zombie."

"Oh gods, you're a Slaver Lord."

"Not quite," said Rhodan as he got up. "They attempted military conquest of the Grand Alliance and that failed. I merely waited for the right conditions and then helped certain ambitious people, people like you, seize power and change things. I've been watching and influencing from the sidelines and now everything has been set up to fall into my lap. The Black will fall in however many battles it takes for it to happen and the domestic unrest will justify an iron grip domestically. So you can see, I have very good reasons to celebrate. My ascension is at hand."

Suddenly his eyes went wide. "No!" Rhodan screamed. "No! Get me a data feed and set all forces at full alert!"

"What's happening?" asked Solem. Rhodan ignored him. Sandresha had been secured against breaches being opened up Between, but now one was opening, a huge one. It was theoretically possibly that with enough power a breach could be forced against D-scramblers, but even Nalhen couldn't do that. Not alone. That's when Rhodan realized exactly what was happening.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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The Mosenti Plains
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The Free Federation


Space was rent and an icy mist poured forth. The rift grew wider and taller, tearing and stretching. From it walked Nalhen in all his terrible glory. On either side of him were a hundred black masked, cloaked, and armoured sorcerers of the Thousand Curses. For a moment the task of holding the breach open fell to them. Frozen grass crunched under their boots.

Behind them were another hundred of the Thousand Curses in their rune marked witch masks. With the remainder of their strength, already sorely tried by forcing the breach in the first place, their held up a shield dome to protect the rift to the Between and the emerging soldiers.

Behind them stood another a hundred, grouped into five man teams. Beams and bolts of eye searing brightness stabbed up into the sky as they tore apart weapon platforms and battle satellites. Short lived stars flashed in the sky as defences failed and their targets were destroyed.

Behind them crawled four massive vehicles, little more than power plants connected to shields and energy sinks. Their purpose was to maintain the theatre shields that would prevent the ground force from destroyed by orbital strikes. Columns of fire erupted in the air as beam weapons struck home from orbit. Intolerable brightness and unbearable noise hammered the shields as kinetic kill weapons impacted. The shields held.

Another rank of a hundred sorcerers took up the task of holding the breach. Behind them came another four shield carriers and then eight vehicles that were carrying a battery of six large tubes. There was a moment for the rocket batteries' fire control computers to process the data they were receiving and then they fired. Magnetic launchers hurled their cargoes upwards at transonic speeds and then their engines kicked in. More brilliant blue beams and eyes searing white bolts were fired upwards.

Zarkos Elvindar wearing sinister bat winged flight harnesses and Lios Elvindar wearing vibrant and beautiful flight packs ascended into the air, high powered lance weapons gripped in gauntleted hands. Human and Kordassi piloted tanks and armoured vehicles poured from the rift and Dark Guard necromancers took on the job of holding it open. Clinging to the vehicles were power armoured infantry. Running alongside were the armoured hexapedal dragonforms of the Sithi. More and more came through.

Celene Nightfire, The Lord of Battle, stepped onto the trampled grass. Opening the breach against so much resistance was a feat far beyond even Nazan, but not beyond literally thousands of powerful sorcerers working in concert. She had spent almost all her strength on opening and then helping hold the breach as her seizures held her back from front line duty. Her braid twitched, the silver wire threaded through it gleaming in the shield light.

A blasted hell was in front of her, as they had expected. They had chosen not to exit directly into the city because the D-scrambler fields were weaker here and to prevent collateral damage. They were here to retake the Free Federation, not burn it to ash.

"Center group, advance on the city, neutralize opposition, and take the Senate. Minimal collateral damage. North group, engage the army legions that will come in to reinforce. South group, seize the planetary defence emplacements in the foothills of the mountain. Intact if possible. I will remain with the reserves. You know your jobs. Move!"

The sorcerers had spent much of their strength opening and then holding the breach, meaning that they would only have a fraction of their strength to use in battle until they had time to recover. She did not doubt it would be enough. She had far more than just sorcerers in her army.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-05-05 08:29pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-05-10 03:15pm
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The Mosenti Plains
Sandresha
The Free Federation


Mr'k'ka K'rung sent a surge through his links. "Go," he told his driver. R'ken brought the engine up to full power and sent the massive Vanguard battle tank forward, skimming over the earth at ninety kilometers an hour with the rest of the tanks of the One Hundred Seventeenth Strike Legion. R'ken continued to smoothly accelerate until they hit one hundred twenty kilometers an hour.

Both Kordassi were encased in soft battle armour and almost cocooned into the operating cradles. They looked a lot like armoured toads someone had half buried in junk. Both of them were young adults by Kordassi standards, having hatched in the large ponds on the Terinar Platform and having received extensive education and training once they progressed beyond the tadpole stage and emerged from the pond. They had never seen a Slaver Lord outside of a history tape, never fought in a war before this one. Their instructors had seen live slavers and had pulled the trigger on the enemy and they had pushed their students to extremes to get the best possible performance out of them and imparted all the hard earned wisdom they possessed.

The One Hundred Seventeenth anchored the southern edge of Northern Group's advance and were potentially exposed to fire from Tehendrosh City as well as the army units up north. The city was Center's problem and hopefully the Praetorians and Directorate troops would soon have their hands full and not be trying to holes in K'rung's amphibious hind quarters. War being the bitch she was, K'rung wasn't placing much faith in that.

Missiles streaked by overhead on their way to the enemy positions. Restraint was the order of the day, for purely political and propaganda reasons. K'rung understood and on a certain level agreed with it, but he didn't like it. Blinding light, dialed down to bearable levels before fed to him by his tank's computers and sensor system, flared ahead.

Three mushroom clouds climbed into the sky. Zarana's bones, someone had been able to authorize tac nukes and the other sides missile defence had obviously not been up to snuff. A voice crackled over the overcommand channel.

"This is Trice." Which meant Overcommander Salida Trice of the the Fifth Legion of the Dark Guard, the World Wreckers, which formed the center of Northern Group. The Fifth Legion was also known as Incaradine's Fist and worshiped the Paingiver like he was a god. Even by Grand Alliance standards, the Fifth was known to be heavy handed. "The Lady gave us our nuke strike, we're not going to waste it. We got some of them, a lot of them will still be kicking. Hit them hard and hit them fast."

K'rung didn't need to be told twice. The Vanguard had been a new design, back just before the Resurgency. The technological plateau that had been reached mid way through the First Slaver War meant that the design was still capable. Vanguard's followed the lines of a typical Grand Alliance main battle tank, which was to say sloped adamantium armour and frame powered by a fusion reactor and utilizing a beam cannon as its main armament. A repulser system provided lift and was the core of the drive system. Smaller beam cannons were the secondary armament. Discounting the advanced computer systems, the tank had a crew of two. Variations of this design had been in use for almost an millenia for the simple reason that it worked very well.

Data came through K'rung's links. Large vehicles, likely tanks, were moving forward to engage the Grand Alliance forces. There were still hills in the way that made direct engagement impossible. Sensor traces showed missiles being launched from both sides. His fingers itched around the fire control toggles. If he survived this rain of fire, he would take his first shots on an actual field of battle. His throat was wet. If he survived.

----------------------------------------------

Most of the armour was heading north. The lion's share of the remainder was heading south, to secure the planetary defence complexes. Center Group didn't have much need of it as they were going to secure the city and the Senate. Tanks tended to fair poorly in city fighting and Center Group had plenty of mobile firepower.

Crossing the Mosenti Plains and reaching Tehendrosh did present a problem. It was a city, not a fortress, and this was a surprise attack but it still meant crossing twenty kilometers of mostly open ground and largely on foot. Incaradine raised his right hand. His battle gauntlet gleamed silver in the shield light, the orichalcum tracers connected the black power gems glowing like molten gold. He dropped his hand.

His troops boiled forward, human power armour infantry and Sithi heavy infantry. He ran with them, taking his place at their head. He had exhausted almost all of his power opening the breach and now he was going to spend what little he had left.

He joined with a dozen other sorcerers and formed a force wall ahead of their advance. It would hopefully eat up any enemy fire until they reached the city and were able to take cover. His sensor net registered the success of the nuke strike and that another D-scrambler had been taken out. Good. They still had more troops to bring through and it would be nice if the sorcerers holding open the rift had something left by the they let if close. It could make all the difference.

He threw back his head and laughed. If he had proposed a plan to send every sorcerer of power out on one mission, one that would exhaust almost all of them completely and leave them easy kills for the enemy, he would have been called reckless and it would have been dismissed out of hand. When Selene had proposed it, it had been received as being brilliant and audacious. He laughed again. Well, he was reckless. Along with blood thirsty and vengeful.

Overhead a flight of drones flew buy. Some of them were spies, others counter measures, and some hunter-killers tasked with directly attacking the enemy's electronic eyes. City fighting was hell. The Grand Alliance intended to lose no more people than it had to in this fight. At least we are fighting some place warm, he joked to himself.

He drew forth his adamantium bladed saber Plaguebringer with his right hand. Jade runes flared to life along the length of the blade. His left hand was not encased in a battle gauntlet. Instead it bore his wedding rings and the rings of power he had forged as a necromancer of Darkhold. Strips of cured slaver leather wrapped around his hand and the base of his fingers to holld a heart shaped amulet securely to his palm. With that hand, holding talismans of love and death, he drew forth his serrated toothed sword breaker Fleshripper. Blood red runes gleamed along its length. "For the honoured dead!" he shouted. "For the future!"

"The future!" his soldiers roared. At fifty kilometers an hour, they ran full tilt towards the city and victory.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-05-29 04:59am
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Location: The Tower at Charm
The Senate
Sandresha
The Free Federation


Rhodan gaped at the display in front of him. Such power, to hold open a rift for so long against so much opposition? Easier now that they had cleared the orbital space above them, but still. . . . He snapped out of it. Crack troops had come storming through the rift and one of the spear heads was aiming directly at him. Attempting to flee Between was impossible, which limited his options.

He signaled Battlecommander Serenday, Commander of the Praetorian Guard. "A Black attack force is heading for the city. You must defend the Senate at all costs."

"Understood. Your will be done."

"Take command of the police and Directorate troops. Take command of anything and everything you need. You must not fail."

"I will not." Serenday killed the line. Rhodan started to pace. What to do, what to do? Then it struck him.

The Black would have to have overwhelmingly committed itself to this attack. Almost every sorcerer of rank was here, forcing or holding the breach and exhausted from doing so. There powers would be at their lowest ebb and they could be killed. The entire sorcerer cadre of the Black, including their leaders, was here to be killed and they were vulnerable. If he could kill them, if only he could kill them, the Black would be ended. Forever.

He needed to find some way of tipping the balance. The Black had planned on dealing the the orbital assets and by the time enough fleet assets arrive everything would be over one way or another. That's undoubtedly why the Black was making a thrust towards the Kormaraq Defence Complex, to help them hold the planet after the battle was over.

He was keenly aware of the danger this attack presented. After all, Rhodan had worked for a long time to completely and totally centralize power in the Senate. Even the military had been splintered and rerouted to minimize the upper ranks' independence. How would the military act if the Black captured the Senate and had them surrender? Where would they turn for leadership? How would the planetary governments and the bureaucracy react? Would they honor the terms? What other body would resist and still be considered legitimate?

His blood ran cold. There was no other source of leadership, no other body. He had destroyed them utterly. And they had suckered him into making his move to destroy the last vestiges of democracy, poisoning the legitimacy of White loyalists. They had anticipated that move, counted on in fact.

He had to win. Here, now, he had to win. Maybe the White regime, his power, could survive a defeat but maybe not. He couldn't take the chance that it would all fall apart, that Zerakis and his heirs would thwart him again. He had to win.

The Mosenti Plains
Sandresha
The Free Federation


Legends about vampires and coffins to the contrary, Lamech hated confined spaces. The fighting cradle that wrapped around his armoured body was a claustrophobe's nightmare, barely allowing him to move his hands while surrounding him in data displays. It was, however, the best course of action. Necessity and the Laws of Iron were harsh masters.

Under normal circumstances he was more than willing to entrust his shield wards and his orichalcum embossed adamantium plate with his personal protection, but right now he had so little power to add to his shields or to spend flying that other methods of travel were better. So he lay in the belly of a Grand Alliance tank, linking his mind with that of two score other exhausted vampires so they could take collective action of consequence.

It was hard work only because he was so tired. He had been the lynch pin of the mind link when they had fought the Great Devourers more than twenty millenia ago. Most of his friends had fallen, and almost everyone there had been a friend, but he had not failed. At the end they had prevailed and they had saved the spiral arm, and perhaps the galaxy, from unimaginable horror. Only seven of them had returned to earth, carrying weapons of power given to them by the Kordassi. The rest of them, including their best, had perished at the Anvil.

The link was steady. He could touch the One Power, felt the blood stir in his veins. Vampires recovered from exhaustion faster than sorcerers, if there was blood available and plenty of blood had been packed. Their collective efforts were weak, but they would be strong enough. Power was molded to their collective will and the telepathic shockwave unleashed.

Several sorcerers acted to try and block the wave, but their efforts weren't enough. It was weakened, but not stopped. The wave didn't kill, but that wasn't its purpose. Ahead of them, among the ranks of White loyalists rushing to meet them, soldiers spasmed and writhed as a their brains received the psychic equivalent of a hammer blow. Some, better shielded than others, threw it off quickly and recovered in seconds. Most took longer, some of them a lot longer. The timing mattered. Every second, in fact, counted.

The psychic assault was timed to strike at the moment of contact between the two forces. While the leading edge of the White forces were incapacitated missiles, hyper velocity slugs, and high energy lasers erupted from the Grand Alliance force. On a front ten kilometers long vehicles were burned open or blown apart. The Grand Alliance tankers and the fire support crews behind them switched targets as fast as they could, taking advantage of momentary weakness to kill as many of the enemy as possible while they were almost helpless. They had gone into battle with a marginal advantage in numbers, but they quickly opened that gap by killing the White at a ferocious rate.

It wasn't a complete turkey shoot. Automatic defence systems clawed some of the missiles out of the sky while quick recovering soldiers began to fight back. The damage, however, had been done. The Grand Alliance had landed a heavy blow virtually unopposed and continued to follow up on their advantage while the White forces fell back to a series of hills to regroup. The Grand Alliance forces stayed in pursuit, killing the demoralized White forces and driving home their advantage. They were doing their part, but without victories by Center and South group their successes would mean nothing.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-06-04 04:54am
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Location: The Tower at Charm
Tehendrosh
Sandresha
The Free Federation


Swooping down like great raptors, the Elvindar wearing flier harnesses were the vanguard of Center Group. High powered lance weapons, many of the ancient relics, all of them sorcerously enhanced, were gripped in their hands. The drone swarms sent target data to their helmets and eye searing beams of brightness blasted the few enemy positions into ash and fragments.

A few tumbled out of the air, their shields overloaded by enemy strikes and their armour breached, but they were swiftly avenged by mass lance strikes. The Elvindar, both Lios and Zarkos, smashed through windows and stormed the buildings on the outskirts of the city, seizing them and clearing them out. Many of them took sniper positions on the other side, ready to burn down the enemy. Very few of the enemy appeared.

Protected by the shield wall, the Grand Alliance shock troops swept forward and took cover in the prizes secured by the Elvindar. Only a few attacks had been directed their way and the shield wall, although unimpressive, had held. Squads of human, Elvindar, and sithi troops darted ahead, seizing new positions and securing the line of advance.

Incaradine stalked through a mechanic's garage surrounded by his twelve bodyguards as men and women stopped and starred. The expert systems wired into his armour was processing an inhuman amount of data and relaying it the Lord of Darkhold. All around him their were reports of minimal resistance as Grand Alliance troops surged forward. Incaradine ordered three sithi heavy infantry companies to take point and reformed a column of human infantry to follow up behind them as support. The rest he left alone.

The Praetorians were mostly deployed around the Senate, but they were well equipped and would fight. Add in the Directorate and police troops in the city and their was a formidable defence force. The best explanation for why their wasn't much fighting as they didn't have time to deploy effectively to the outskirts of the city and had declined to lose a large section of their force by doing half measures. Data from drones supported this conclusion. It was easy enough now, but it was going to get rougher soon.

------------------------------------------------------

Varidan Reeze's kill team ran across the shopping mall in less than ten seconds. Teera Seen smashed an exit through the concrete with a single blow from her charged rune gauntlet and the Internal Security killers poured through. The drones said the parking lot and the space to the next buildings were clear, but they could be wrong. Running full speed with shields that could take a hit or two was the best option.

They blurred across the lot, leapt the street entirely and moved through the cluster of housing towers as a single well oiled machine. It had been so easy to slip back into the groove and the Witch Hunters had been more than happy to welcome a legendary member back into their ranks. It was like getting back on a bicycle.

A golden skinned woman with a long black braid wearing a shadowcloth trench coat was hiding ahead. She took a hand off her rifle to signal him to halt. He repeated it back to his team and then followed her directions to move off to the side. A tight beamed relay showed him Praetorians and police reaction teams setting up ahead. Not something his people could tackle without support. She waited a moment and then followed them over. "Nice to see you again Rumour," he said softly.

She smiled. "It's Reeze right? Under that armour?"

"Yeah."

"Nice seeing you in action too."

"Got any juice left?"

"Wall took the last of it. Running on trinkets and tech."

"And Whisper?"

"Same," said another woman, detaching from the shadow. Her pale skin was marked by black tiger stripes. She held a death wand in her hands, thirty centimeters of adamantine inscribed with orichalcum rune circuits and topped with a silver skull. "Our drones own the area though."

"That won't last."

Rumour smiled. "Incaradine's going to drop the hammer," she said, obviously having received a tight beam transmission. "We're to join the party after it gets started."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-06-04 10:25pm
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Location: The Tower at Charm
Tehendrosh
Sandresha
The Free Federation


Battle armoured Praetorians evicted the occupants of the surrounding buildings as they set up firing positions. Police Reaction Teams were joining them, elite squads trained and equipped for city fighting. They were a holdover from the days when the threat of Slaver terror strikes or invasions had been serious threats and now they were deployed against the Black. The first Directorate troops were joining them.

This was the First Perimeter and they did not expect to hold it. The Black troops were too numerous and too strong. All they expected to do was buy time for the rest of the city's defenders to be readied and organized and that they could do. They could also make the Black pay a heavy blood price before being forced to retreat. They intended to do that as well.

Over their heads swarms of droids warred in the skies. Some spied, others jammed their enemies, others hunted and killed other drones. The Grand Alliance ones were winning easily as magically stealthed spy drones were hard to find and the orichalcum etched hunter-killers blasted every enemy out of the skies. As such, the Grand Alliance attack on the First Perimeter occured with the benefit of a few seconds worth of surprise and very good knowledge of the enemy's location.

Swarms of missiles arced over buildings and twisted through streets as they streaked towards their targets. Counter measures in the form of anti-missile laser clusters and scrambler fields took out a few of them, but most hit. Explosions ripped gaping wounds in a score of buidings, wiped out three barricades and turned two tanks into burning wrecks. Hard on the heels of the missile strike came the sithi.

The draconian soldiers wore light armour and potent shield harnesses over their powerful frames. Massive shoulder fired missile launchers, rail cannons, and heavy beam guns were fired as they moved up in a frighting swift charge. They unleashed hell on anything that resembled a White soldier.

A few of them fell, most from multiple small arms hits overloading their shields and then additional hits breaching their armour and inflicted serious and mortal wounds. A few others fell to heavy weapons fire, but the White had lost a lot of those to the first barrage. In a little over ten seconds the leading edge of the sithi charge was in close quarters combat with elements of the Praetorians. Guns were dropped and energized blades drawn. The blades cut through shields, armour, and augmented flesh with ease even when the wielder was not a sithi heavy infantryman. Blood spilled.

Reeze's team rushed forward now, joined by other squads and members of the Hellbrood. Reeze leapt across a street, then up through a second story window, smashed and jumped his way up to the third story, leapt through the fourth story window across the street, passed through the building, and then across again to a fifth story window. His team was half a second and ten meters behind him.

He landed, rolled, and sprung upright. He kicked through the wall to his left, his death whip twisting in his right hand. Two Directorate agents in power armour were just entering the room, shifting positions after having narrowly escaped the missile that had destroyed their previous one. They were fast and knew their business. They never had a chance.

Reeze kicked the closest into the wall as his death whip shot for the other's throat. His target was good, managing to deflect the strike. In response, the death whip coiled around his wrist and spun. The blades sliced through armour and flesh, scoring adamantine reinforced bone.

Reeze kicked the first one in the head before he could recover. Sorcerous runes worked into his boot augmented the blow with a burst of power. The front of the agent's helmet collapsed and blood and brain splattered off Reeze's shields. The Witch Hunter snapped out his death whip again and sent the point smashing through the Directorate agent's breastplate. The disruptor effect fried his nervous system. His twitching corpse fell to the floor. The rest of Reeze's team was securing the building.

Around him, much the same was happening. The sithi charge had minimalized the chance of the next wave getting gunned down in the streets before reaching their targets. Deathwands, beam lances, and rifles were fired to cover their advance as they rushed into buildings to root out the enemy in close quarters. Close quarters that favored the veteran killers and their superior equipment.

The First Perimeter began to collapse on all sides, leaving only a few isolated strong points under attack from both the front and the flanks. Beset from three sides and with their rear in danger from Grand Alliance spear thrusts, they crumbled in a storm of weapons fire. They began to fall back.

"This is Incaradine. Harriers, disrupt their attempts to organize resistance. Reform spearheads, prepare for attack on Directorate headquarters and their next line of defence." He switched channels.

"Offensive ahead of schedule, casualties lighter than expected. Resistance is lighter than expected. Directorate HQ will be under direct attack soon. Significant numbers of D-jammers should be knocked off line shortly. Low priority for reinforcements."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2007-06-06 05:54am
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Tehendrosh
Sandresha
The Free Federation



"Incaradine, this is Whisper."

The legate was motioning his people forward as he received the communication. "What is it?" He was running at twenty kilometers an hour, which meant the White rocket that slipped through their defences hit where he had been five seconds ago. Thunder boomed behind him and blue-white plasma blasted out of the windows of the building's first three stories. The building began to collapse.

"I have confirmation on the drone readings and a tap. They're setting up another battle line. And you had better get some sneaky drones up here. It's raining metal."

"A tap? You clever bitch."

"Us old wolves have our tricks," she said. It was actually a simple trick. She had shot one of the fleeing troopers in the back with a arcanetech stealthed bug and he had carried it back to the enemy lines. "They have a lot of sorcerers on the line and top notch gear."

"As expected," said Incaradine. It was ironic that he had at his disposal the greatest concentration of sorcerous skill in known history and the enemy had more magical power than he did. Of course, give his people an hour to recover and the tables would shift in the other direction but he didn't have an hour. He had, however, other equalizers. He flexed his bejeweled left hand. His sorcerers were not unarmed and he had brought certain specialists with him. Now it was time for them to deliver the victory.

"All units prepare for assault. Witch Hunters and assassin units, target their sorcerers. This is where we pay the blood price. The better we fight the cheaper it will get." He and his bodyguards were moving to the front. There were a hundred men and women he could think of off the top of his head that would be able to take command if he fell. There was no good reason for him not to be at the front and every reason to be there.

The drones and links from forward observers said they were there in force, using the the shielded Security Directorate building as a linchpin of their line. Even if beaten here they could fall back to the built up defences around the Senate. They were taken positions in buildings, in allies, behind parked vehicles and improvised barricades. As expected.

"Assassins, start hunting. All units engage. Begin barrage," Incaradine ordered. Rockets flew from behind the lines, a signal to the defenders as well as a danger. Human and sithi popped up and added the firepower of beam guns and shoulder launched rockets and explosives as winged Elvindar lunged from cover. Lance beams flashed and disruptors whined. Rooms were turned into infernos and vehicles exploded as weapons struck home. Most of the infantry on both sides carried shields and could take a hit or two from enemy weapons before the shields were overloaded.

A thousand Zarkos Elvindar and sithi blurred forward, closing the distance in moments. Nearly a hundred didn't make it, gunned down by the gold and white armoured Praetorians or consumed in flashes of sorcery. The Zarkos struck with killing blades, lethal artifacts of sorcery and science. Impossibly fast and utterly deadly they put centuries of training to lethal use while sithi used their augmented and inhuman strength to much the same effect. For a moment there was confusion. As deadly as they were, they were merely a distraction.

Grand Alliance snipers armed with rune etched orichalcum Devastator rounds fired upon the sorcerers who had revealed themselves. Multiple torso hits were employed to drop their targets where they could be finished by the infantry that overran them. They were one half of the surprise. While they hunted their targets, the other half of the real offensive began.

The Hellbrood, the Witch Hunters, and the Thousand Curses took to the field with all their power. Drained of sorcery, they still had their weapons and the skill to use them. Black rays of flesh destroying death and searing silver light shot from countless rings as death wands were unleashed to slaughter whole squads. Witchfire cannons unleashed vollies of green flame which ravenously tore through shields, armour, and the sides of buildings.

Incaradine leapt through the air towards what appeared to be command center, located conveniently behind an enemy strong point. Head on attack was suicidal. He had faced Daemonstraum. These were men of straw compared to the might of the Great Traitor.

A word ripped its way out of his throat as he struck. "Havoc!" An ancient battle cry, going back nearly a millenia when his ferocity had been legend. Killing power flared in his blades. Their mightiest sorcerer in the building in front of him had his shields almost collapse as he was struck by a white hot bolt from Fleshripper. Plaguebringer flashed with jade light and the sorcerer and two soldiers around him fell, their flesh turning back and sloughing off their bones. Beams and bullets sped around Incaradine. A disruptor bolt and a beam cannon struck his shields directly, depleting them greatly since he couldn't reinforce them with his own strength. A Devastor round struck him in the left lung and exploded, damaging his heart as well.

He came through the window and Plaguebringer bisected the skull of the Praetorian with the gauss gun. Fleshripper blocked and tore through the barrel of a soldier with a beam cannon. The runes on Incaradine's boots flared as he caved in the soldier's breastplate. He drew upon the strength of two score Slaver rings hung around his neck, along with their former owner's finger bones. He shields regenerated and he lunged through the wall and it crumbled before him.

He was The Corpse That Walked, a Necromancer Lord of Darkhold and to inflict a fatal wound upon him would merely slow him. His flesh would have to be entirely consumed or the sorcery that extended and protected his life undone in order to stop him. Until then he was the slayer who was the victor of countless battles. Blood welled up and trickled between his teeth. Pain was his oldest and closest lover. Her presence impaired him not at all. There were three soldiers in the room, one a sorcerer.

The amulet nestled in his left hand smashed through the sorcerer's shields and ruptured his heart and brain. Fleshripper punched through one chest and tore through heart and spine. Black lighting flashed from the battle gauntlet on the hand that clutched Plaguebringer and turned the flesh of the third to dust. His Twelve had finished slaughtering the rest by the time the third hit the floor.

Two of his bodyguard had perished on the way over, despite being men and women equipped with the best and not at all being inclined to dying easy. It was a risk to war and the cost as well. After the battle Incaradine would mourn them as they deserved. Now he would revel in the slaughter with all the joy and ferocity that had made the Senate unwilling to promote him to the Legatate until Zarana herself had appealed directly to them.

"Follow," he ordered. The enemy must not have the time to react to his losses, to counter attack. Speed favored the Grand Alliance, not the White with their rigid command structure. The Slaver rings recharged his shields as they did his weapons, the spoils of battle helping to determine the outcome of another.

A thunder clap hit him like a physical blow and brightness filled the streets. The Witch Hunter teams had succeeded then, breaching Directorate Headquarters and then planting the plasma charges they had carried in their shadowcloaks. Drone sensor relays displayed the gutted shell of the building. Varidan Reeze could always be relied upon to come through.

An explosion bloomed ahead. "Command detachment terminated," came the cold and expressionless voice of Legate Kain. "Slow advance to neutralize any surviving elements. Projections and available data indicate the Senate defence line will be much stronger."

Incaradine grinned like a shark. So many D-scramblers down. His eyes drifted skyward. Was it his imagination or were the clouds gathering above? "Sweep and kill," he ordered. "They know they are glass under our hammer. Let fear start to do its work while we secure our lines and find their weak points." He had lead a thousand offences in the past. It was as if the weight of ages had fallen away, something that not even the training for this operation had done. They were really here. They were winning and soon it would all be over. He hoped the other groups were having as much success.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana

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