SDNW4 Prologue Thread

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SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Steve » 2010-06-19 04:03am

For us to post vignettes and little story tidbits to introduce characters and concepts before the game actually starts, two weeks from now.

I'll start it off, of course. :)

Sandhurst Military Academy, Tannington Strand
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia
17 August 3398


The white sands of the Tannington Strand gave way easily under the feet of the troop of Army cadets that marched across it, wearing shorts and gray workout shirts increasingly soaked with sweat. The 22 and 23 year old men and women were in their final year at the Academy; with passage of their courses, including their continued physical training, they would become officers in the Anglian Army, destined for posts across the Empire or in the barracks of "influence stations" in Dilgrudar Sector, maintaining watch over that volatile, beaten species.

Among the senior class cadets was Cadet James William Windsor-Stuart, a Prince of the Royal Family and the imminent Duke of York. He was the middle son, his brother Prince Henry being Edward XV's eldest son and heir while Prince Matthew was the youngest son, still a teenager and soon enough to join the naval academy at New Portsmouth (Having chosen the Royal Navy and not the Army, as James had done). At this point in his life James was pretty sure of how things would go; he would graduate Sandhurst, serve in the Army (Asking specifically for a Dilgrudar assignment or, if barring that, a colonial sector assignment), and while serving his time he would endeavor to see his beloved wife Larissa, the daughter of the Duke of Smyrna and the most beautiful woman alive to his eyes, as often as possible.

They were marching along when a flash appeared on the horizon, from the direction of night instead of the rising sun. It was as if a new star was born, briefly, before fading out. And any dweller of the ending 34th Century knew that it meant Something Had Happened. James felt his stomach twist into a knot; his father, mother, and older brother were coming back home after all, due back today from a visit to Thanagar and Ionia. No, whatever it was it wasn't them. Couldn't be, their ship wasn't due to arrive until later after all he tried to think to himself as the instructor forced the cadets back into action, bellowing various remarks about whether they really thought the stars were that pretty, etc.



Indeed, something had happened.

The cadets learned of it after their first class period, during study time. The ABS (Anglia Broadcasting Service) News channel was following the story as it broke; a vessel on approach in hyperspace had suffered a catastrophic submersion field failure. Safety measures to ensure a successful active transition had also failed; the result was a massive energy release in both realspace and hyperspace, an "energy wave" that damaged or even destroyed ships for hundreds of thousands of kilometers around the Hyperspace Junction. The wave in hyperspace had been less expansive but still highly destructive. Though the explosion had effected hyperspace sensors across three sectors, the comparison of records and detected emergency transitions had been enough to tell authorities that a dozen vessels had been outright destroyed by the terrible explosion.

Double-checking schedules during study period, James was relieved to confirm that the [i}Royal Meteor[/i], the official interstellar yacht used by his father, was not scheduled to arrive in-system until later in the day. Content, he finished his studies and reported to his next class punctually. As his instructor was giving the day's material out, a knock on the door was followed by the arrival of Major Withers, the aide of General Bowers, the Commandant. James had a sudden, terrible feeling as Withers motioned for him after whispering to the instructor. "Cadet Windsor," the instructor intoned, "please follow Major Withers".

A few minutes of moving through the corridors of the Academy passed. The fine wood paneling and flooring was only a distraction until they arrived in the office of General Anthony Bowers. James snapped a salute and had it answered. Withers exited the room and left the Commandant with his most important student. Bowers was clearly effected by something; his expression was pale despite the olive tone to his skin (courtesy of a New Bangladeshi maternal grandfather). "Please, Cadet... Your Highness... sit down."

James did so. It was protocol that he only be referred to has a Cadet, just like other students, and for Bowers to not do so bode ill. Very ill. "Sir?"

Bowers swallowed. "I've... been asked to take the responsibility of informing you, Your Highness, that today's tragedy in hyperspace has resulted in the destruction of the Royal Meteor with all hands and passengers."

The news was a thunderbolt to the gut. James felt like he was going to be sick. Had he snacked during the study time it would have come right back up on him. He fought to hold control, as he had been raised to do, though he knew he was visibly paling. "They are certain?", he asked, trying to keep strength in his voice.

"I am sorry, Your Highness.... Your Majesty," Bowers answered. "They have confirmed it."

Which, of course, meant that everything for James had changed this day. At morning reveille he had been Prince James, the Duke of York, second second of King Edward XV. Now? Now he was to be King. The living embodiment of the Anglian nation, the ruler of three whole species beyond those Humans of the Anglian Worlds, themselves of varying nations of Humanity. Even with the constitutional monarchy of the Anglian nation, with much of the day to day decisions made by the Government... tremendous power, albeit mostly ceremonial, would be his.

"They want you back in Westminster," Bowers continued. "I've been ordered to place you on a military flight immediately."


Westminster Palace, City of Westminster


For hours after arrival James had been subjected to several meetings by formal Palace staff, namely arranging which rooms he would stay in (the decision was made that for a year of mourning he and his wife would not use his parents' suite) and other issues of the transition of dwelling. Sir Alexander Grant and most of the Cabinet (those who were on-world) called, physically or by holophone, to give their condolences. Sir Alexander was to come by later to brief him on upcoming Government business. And, of course, he was being asked to pick his regnal name. It was not a hard choice; as a loyal son to his father James was determined to honor him by adapting his name, making him Edward XVI. The choice would be announced to the press that night, though James wanted to get his wife's input before it was made official.

She arrived later in the day, having been on a field excursion with her biology class in the Royal Academy of the Sciences when the incident happened. James - King Edward - stood as she entered, still wearing the rather plain sleeveless gray blouse and knee-length pocketed shorts she'd been in. She has not even had time to change he thought to himself as he walked up to her, the couple embracing one another. "James, my darling James," Larissa wept. "I still cannot believe it."

Here, in the privacy of one of the side rooms, James allowed himself to weep as well, hot tears flowing down his cheeks. "I do not know... oh God, Lissa, Father, Mother, Henry..." He let out a sob into her ear, as she did in his. "How could I have lost them all in one day?"

"James..." Larissa brought her head back to face him directly. Her blue eyes had tears pouring from them, her eyes red from crying. "My parents... they were coming to see me. And they were with yours."

For the second time that day James endured a twist in his gut. He loved Larissa with all his heart; to know she suffered as he did, that they had both been orphaned in the same terrible day, made him take her into his arms all the more strongly and try to comfort her. "My beloved, I am so sorry. So so sorry."

and so they wept together.


Penton Residence, Vancouver
New Columbia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia
12 May 3999



The townhouse at 2410 Adams Street, one of the major avenues of Vancouver, was owned by the local region's Parliamentary representative. Mr. Stephen Penton, a retired Captain of the Royal Navy, had dwelt there since purchasing the property with some of his pension checks so he and his family had a home in his home constituency. It had been barely inhabited for about ten years out of twenty-five owning it, those years being when Stephen was First Lord of the Admiralty and then Defence Minister under prior Liberal Governments, before Sir Alexander Grant's Conservatives had won in the General Election of 3990. Since then the family had dwelt here whenever Parliament was not in session, with summer retreats to the Vallejo estate of his father-in-law Rafael whenever it was summertime on New Columbia (Which occurred in August-November of the year, with school starting in December and the childrens' school terms being primarily held in Westminster).

Rafael, a New Columbian peer and member of the planetary House of Lords (and a former Westminster Cabinet member himself, from many years ago), was present in the home, as was Stephen's wider family. It was a careful gathering with Rachel Penton, his beloved wife, acting to try and keep everyone comfortable, and both carefully trying to keep the peace. Rachel's family held a few minor Baronetcies and were generally of the elite of New Columbia's Rosarian-Mexican populations while Stephen's paternal grandparents and a few uncles and aunts were not only Liberals or Labour of the majority Nova Terran Cascadian-originated immigrants of the planet, but were openly of republican sentiment (Which had already rallied the most hardcore Tories into opposition to Stephen as a leader in the Government, the accusation of him being a republican as well being popular). The reason for this precarious gathering was that the biggest 36 hour period of Stephen's professional live was coming to a close.

They were entering Hour 34 of the General Election, called just before New Year's as a result of the scandal over the Hyperspace explosion of August 17th, a black day that had seen the deaths of several hundred Anglians and foreign citizens, including King Edward XV, the Queen-Consort Siobhan, their son Henry the Prince of Wales, and the parents of Larissa, the former Duchess of York and now the Queen-Consort and Duchess of Smyrna. In the investigation following the incident, it was discovered that safety regulations had been left lax as a result of the policies pursued by Conservative junior ministers and the subcontractors assisting in the process. The resulting outlash of public rancor at Sir Alexander Grant's Government had prompted the man, a political foe of Stephen's, to offer his resignation to King Edward XVI. Stephen had enough respect for the Conservative leader, having known him throughout his political career, but had pushed very hard before and after the resignation for civil and criminal proceedings for the accident and now for the Conservatives to lose control of the Government. After 9 years of Conservative rule, he had high hopes it would be accomplished.

As it stood, things looked well. The Conservatives were losing seats across the board. Labour was making gains on some worlds and had won a few more constituencies, but it didn't look like they'd have enough to force a Coalition on his Liberals. The main issue was going to be the Progressive Democratic Party, which was making interesting gains among the Dorei kingdoms and in the Ionian Worlds. As it stood his Liberals would win 1,080 seats out of the 2,000 available, a majority, with the Conservatives taking about 700, Labour 150, and the other parties the rest (usually the "fringe" constituencies). But if the Progressive Democrats, who usually suckled votes away from the Liberals in various worlds, continued to make their gains, the Liberals might fall short of the 1,000 seat mark, resulting in a hung Parliament and him requiring to negotiate a Coalition government. The nightmare scenario was the Liberals losing many of the races still considered in doubt, resulting in only 925 seats, with Labour, the Progressive Democrats, and a couple other minor parties splitting up the resulting gap (and the Conservatives likely getting some) in such fashion that he would have to negotiate with multiple parties to arrange an unwieldly multi-party Coalition government or risk having to attempt a minority government - failing that, having to ask the King to call another election due to the hung Parliament.

As attendees went, the most oblivious (or uncaring) were the children. Various sons and daughters of siblings, cousins, etc. were here, as were Stephen's own children. Little Adrian, 2 going on 3, was already in bed, petered out after a day of playing, and Rafael - his 15 year old eldest - was dutifully reading books as he began work for prepatory school and a New Portsmouth application. Thomas was chatting with Stephen's parents and grandparents - never an easy thing as of all his children the 11 year old was the most enthusiastic about the "family legacy" that Sam Penton had spent Stephen's childhood going on about; how their family had provided two Presidents to Cascadia and the Pacific Union in the 21st Century of Nova Terra, and Stephen had enough "closet republican" remarks to worry about without having his son become an open one - while 9 year old Sophie, dear sweet Sophie, was following her mother around helping her talk to people and generally impressing family on both sides with her precocious intelligence (And capability of conversing in multiple languages at once). That left 8 year old Gabriela, the younger daughter and fourth out of five in the family, to be lost in the crowd. Stephen suspected she would wind up with her eldest brother upstairs, quizzing Rafael about his schoolwork and insisting she would be in the Navy too. Between the attention Adrian demanded as a toddler, Stephen's work load as leader of the Liberal Opposition, and Sophie's ability to monopolize her mother's attention, poor Gabriela ended up lost at times, though Stephen and Rachel both tried to find time for her (And some of their marital arguments, and many nights on the couch for Stephen, had been as a result of accusations and recriminations about failure to care for her as much). And with the way the election was looking, it was only going to get worse.

Midway through the Thirty-Fifth Hour, the number of unconfirmed boroughs dropped below 100. As the number left approached 70 there was a cheer from the crowd (Even from Rachel's Tory relatives) as the ABS's Election Watch coverage confirmed that the number of Liberal seats had reached 1,001. As the watch became a real party, the final results trickled in, until the thirty-seventh hour dawned and the final tally was found. 1,072 Liberal seats, 698 Conservative, 152 Labour, 60 Democratic Progress, and 18 divided among various fringe parties like the Dorei Defence League, the Thanagarian Veterans' League, and with five overall going to the various Socialist-Communist parties that ran. Stephen did notice a bit of a scowl on his Grandpa Sam's face; the old 173 year old was a card-carrying member of the Republican Party, which occasionally managed a constituency either here on New Columbia or on Hansom's Planet, but this year it had not won a single seat - too many voters were unwilling to see their constituency potentially fall to the Conservatives or a fringe party to vote against the Liberals (as most Republicans tended to be Liberal - even Sam himself admitted that he voted for Stephen as a Liberal, though he often insisted it was only because he couldn't vote against his grandson, no matter how disappointed he was at his "acceptance" of the "monarchy").

Stephen did, indeed, know his family history. He had learned it as a child from Sam and Sam's brother Kyle, both immigrants from Cascadia on Nova Terra, one of the Twin Cradles of Humanity. His ancestor Stephen, for whom he was named, had been President of the Cascadian Republics from 2008 to 2018, when he had been elected President of the new Pacific Union, the political entity he was considered the "Founding Father" of (though historical accounts made it a different story, insisting that Alaska's Dr. Rice and Cascadian SecState and future Union President Parnell had been the main architects and that ancient Stephen a reluctant supporter). Over forty years after his death, just days after the Straylight launched, his great grand-son Andrew Garrett had been elected President of Cascadia, to serve 12 years as Cascadian President and 12 as PacUnion President, though his PacUnion service was split into two separate terms in the fashion of 19th Century US President Grover Cleveland. Over the years since a number of Garretts had popped up as Congressmen of Cascadian and the PacUnion, and eventually as planetary legislators. The family history could get hard to track given the centuries and the massive branching, so there was no telling what distant relatives might have already accomplished compared to him.

But ultimately, Stephen believed that the form of government was not important; what it stood for was. The United Star Kingdom of New Anglia was a just state to his view, one worth defending, one worth serving. His paternal grandparents considered it a throwback, a lingering institution that had its time pass centuries ago but which Humanity simply couldn't shake off. He wasn't so sure, It was tradition, a tradition for the nation he had chosen to serve and which his world was part of, even if their ancestries were different. It was one he would honor.

Soon it was time to sleep. He would be catching a fast ship to New Anglia in 10 hours so that he might present himself to King Edward XVI, his young sovereign, and fulfill the tradition of all leaders of victorious parties in Elections by forming a Government for the Kingdom. His ancestor had overseen the destinies of 56 million people: Stephen would be responsible for 330 billion souls.
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"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby PeZook » 2010-06-19 05:29am

Co-written with Kuroji (this segment entirely by him)

Out-Sector Kappa
December 15th 3380
RIS Chaturanga

"Captain on deck," announced the crimson plasteel-clad soldier standing guard near the door.

"As you were," replied Lord Captain Alesandro Hobbs almost immediately afterward. He noted that the crew had briefly turned, saluted, then stood down and returned to their stations. He added, "Morning shift will be in here to relieve you in an hour, I'm sure you're all looking forward to the downtime after the long shift. How's the weather out there?"

One of the officers poring over the luminescent green lines of data from a console replied, "A balmy three degrees and calm, sir. Local system's still uninhabited as far as we can tell... again. We've radar-mapped the second planet, looks sterile. Any life hasn't progressed beyond microbes."

Hobbs nodded briefly to himself and murmured, "At least this planet's a little closer to a habitable environment than most... we go home in a month and the archaeotechs can come out and see if there ever was life there or if they decided to nuke themselves to death too."

The executive officer of the Chaturanga, Captain Jaymes, snapped a brief salute to Hobbs and remarked in a jovial tone, "You're up early, Alex. Here I was, finally starting to think that political appointment of yours to this mission was just so you to sleep in, and you go and ruin my plans to turn the crew to raiders by coming up to the bridge just before I was going to mutiny and steal this system to use it as a larder."

With a grin, Hobbs returned the salute and replied, "You'd only do that so you could get the bounties for turning them in to the Admirality, Quinton. I know you too well, that's why I came up here to throw you in the brig. Looks like my timing's off today, no bounty for me." They both laughed and shook hands afterward. "No, I was thinking of relieving you early. You're coming off of a double shift with Wilns in the infirmary, aren't you? He'll be back up by the time he's due for his next rotation, but you should go and rest a bit."

Jaymes nodded and yawned, standing up from the central chair in the room. "Suppose so." He grinned cheekily and murmured, "Three masters on one ship, that's a solution only a politician could come up with. At least they put someone in place as a Lord Captain, though."

"You're complimenting a politician's decision? You do need sleep," Hobbs commented in a mock-concerned tone. "Go on, get off my bridge and get some shut-eye. It's not as if you're going to miss anything, unless we find some sort of hyperintelligent fungus or algae hiding on the planet down there."

Jaymes acquiesced with little more than a nod, turning toward the exit hatch and walking through, the guard saluting him as he walked past.

Honestly, most space vessels had more in common with what had been used as submarines in the distant past. The primary differences were the artificial gravity and the thrusters. No real weapons -- nothing could put out enough power to throw anything fast enough to do any damage, and coherent beams were only useful for point-to-point communications. Even with the occasional raiders, none would mount missiles... they would have to be atomics, and for obvious reasons those were considered anathema to every sentient being in the Regency. Space combat consisted of what was little more than a high-speed game of chicken, trying to dodge the other ship's thrust backwash while catching him in your own, and ships were almost universally built well enough in the Regency that the worst that would happen would be disabling the other vessel. Radiation was a non-issue, but then when the brain isn't made of meat, it's not so much a problem to worry about...

He was shaken from his reverie as a klaxon sounded and the ship gave a sickening lurch to starboard that the artificial gravity barely compensated quickly enough for. His first thought was that something had happened in engineering to fire thrusters out of nowhere, and suddenly he was wide awake again. His second thought was that the klaxon was the collision alarm, and as he turned and sprinted back to the bridge, he heard the intercom calling general quarters. Raiders? Here? But they should have seen them coming from parsecs away, even if they were travelling FTL. He barged into the bridge, and for good reason, the guard did not bother to announce him.

"Where the hell did they come from, lieutenant?!" barked Lord Captain Hobbs. The collision alarm was silenced, and Jaymes noticed the expressions on the faces of the sensor techs. Far more confusion than any raiders should cause.

"I don't know, sir, they weren't there on the last sensor sweep thirty seconds ago, and they're stationary!" replied the lieutenant hastily. "No signs of any inertia, maybe they've got some kind of stealth, but they're just sitting there!"

The sensor tech sitting to the lieutenant's right turned in his chair, his face pale. "Sir, I have multiple contacts... unknown profiles... no recognition codes. Uh, they're not ours."

Face ashen, Captain Jaymes asked despite himself, "Well, if they're not ours, then... who the hell are they?"

The sensor tech slowly turned back around, white knuckles gripping the edge of the console as he scanned his screen. "Sir, that ship is bigger than we are... I don't know what they're doing, they just washed the ship with some kind of energy but it's like no radar I've ever heard of... check that, incoming transmission... I have no idea what format this is in, give me a minute and I'll see if I can figure it out." His fingers were suddenly a blur as they typed on the keyboard in front of him.

Voice wavering, Captain Hobbs stated, "Okay, everyone keep your shorts on... let's assume it's a case of needing contact protocol. Send the transmission, and let's see what we get. Meanwhile keep analyzing that data." More quietly, he added, "They haven't destroyed us, so let's hold position and not give them any reason to."

"Yessir, they're pausing their transmission so it looks like I'm ready to transmit..." The lieutenant froze. "Uh. Sir?"

"Yes?"

"They're, uh. They're gone. Sensor sweep confirms. They disappeared as soon as they stopped transmitting, it looks like. I still have no idea what the data they sent to us was."

Quinton Jaymes suddenly realized he hadn't moved from his position near the door. He took the opportunity to do so, advancing to the captain's chair. "If I may say so, sir... I have no idea what just happened but we need to go home and let them know."

"Agreed," Hobbs commented, voice still wavering. He picked up the intercom and switched it on. "Attention... this is Lord Captain Hobbs speaking. We have just encountered a vessel of unknown configuration that may have belonged to a species unknown to us. The vessel disappeared before we could enact first contact protocols. We're going to follow the rules here... all hands stand by for FTL, we're going home and we're going home now to let the Admirality know about this."
Last edited by PeZook on 2010-06-21 01:08am, edited 2 times in total.
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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Siege » 2010-06-19 02:06pm

Welcome to Solaris!

#1

Brody swayed with the rhythm of the train. He gazed out the window, astonished by the sheer size of the starscrapers that surrounded him. They blazed with light, turning night into day. Below the monorail, the ground was a mile away. Cars flowed like rivers of light across the raised highways below him; brilliant searchlights illuminated the bellies of descending spacecraft above him. The gas giant Solaris was a dark-orange haze in the sky.

This was Brody's first day in town, and he'd spent all day riding the thousand lines of the Skyway, the great network of mag-trains that reached every corner of the moon-spanning city. It certainly made a change from his parents' farm on Celeste, way in the outback. He was glad he'd run away. He'd find fame and fortune here. Maybe become a business tycoon or a movie star, just as soon as he'd made up his mind which he wanted to be more. Well, that was for tomorrow. Tonight, his first thing to do was finding a place to sleep. Or maybe he would just ride the trains 'till dawn. There was so much to see...

At the far end of the otherwise empty car, a huge man danced to silent music. Under different circumstances, Brody might've been scared, but the big guy looked so happy. He was singing to himself and smiling. Brody couldn't quite make out what he was saying. It sounded like a number and another word.

Look, there was the sky-piercing mass of the Sovereign Spire. He voted that tomorrow he would climb it and look out across the cityscape. His friends had told him that if you spat off the strato-deck at the top it was lucky.

The big stranger was closer now. Brody could make out his words. He was singing, "twenty-one today! Twenty-one today!"

Brody smiled. He himself had just turned eighteen. He walked over to the stranger. The dancing man pointed to his own chest and kept singing. "Twenty-one today!"

Brody thrust out his hand and said, "put it in there, big guy! Happy birthday!"

Suddenly, with maniacal strength, the stranger grabbed him and thrust him straight at the window. The thin glass shattered, and Brody tumbled out into the night. The last thing he heard, as he began the long drop to the ground, was the stranger singing. "Twenty-two today! Twenty-two today!"
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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby PeZook » 2010-06-19 02:15pm

Wild Space, the Oreo Trail
January 4, 3381

The stream of ships glittered in the void, stretching in a staggered line. Bulky cargo freighters plodded along in the centre, surrounded by smaller passenger transports and escorting frigates. The massive convoy was traversing the Oreo Trail: one of the few hyperlanes crossing Wild Space, connecting the United Solarian Sovereignty with Imperial territorry.

It was a long and winding route, constantly interrupted by sections where hyperspace travel was almost impossible. These had to be crossed at sublight, making for a slow and ardorous trip.

Radio messages crossed the ether, mostly of the boring variety. Memories, jokes, comments on the escorting military ships and the occasional professional exchange. It seemed as if it would be just another boring run, until one of the escorts broke in half and exploded.

Suddendly, space filled with missile streaks and alarms aboard all ships started blaring, warning the crews to man their battle stations. A sleek predatory shape cut across the convoy, blasting stellar energies out of its weapon batteries.

Escorts engaged the enemy - identified as a Bragulan destroyer - but had no chance. Within minutes, the situation was clear, and the convoy's commodore began sending out a terrifying message to all ships.

"DISPERSE DISPERSE DISPERSE."

The Lady Luck was an old vessel, but her skipper was a grizzled old man who saw his share of combat during the various Bragulan wars. The moment he detected and identified the attacker, he knew the convoy was lost: ignoring orders of the commodore, he ordered his helmsman to leave formation and run for his life. By the time the convoy began to disperse, chased down by merciless Bragulan privateers, the Lady Luck had her hyperdrive already spooled up and ready. She disappeared, just as two fighters locked on and turned to engage her.


Uncharted Wild Space shoals, two days later

They were laying low, all emissions tuned down to lowest possible levels, as the chief engineer attempted to fix their damaged hyperdrive. The old freighter managed to evade pursuit for two days, carefully navigating the broken, short and uncharted hyperlanes deep within Wild Space. The skipper slept little or not at all, impressing his crew with knowledge of this dangerous area of space.

They almost got away, even. Only one particularly obtuse Bragulan frigate was still chasing them after days of playing cat-and-mouse: however, the Lady Luck was an old ship, and the hyperdrive, strained from plowing through shoals, finally gave up and stopped working. So the freighter drifted, far away from any inhabitated systems or travelled hyperlanes, conserving food stores and wary of sending out a mayday out of fear of cuing their pursers on to their location.

This fear was driven by the fact sensors could still pick up an occasional hyperspace echo.

"The fucker just won't give up. What got into him?", Lady Luck's first officer, Dale Gardna, muttered under his breath, as he watched sensor plots from his bridge station. His crew was dead-tried, barely able to keep up with their duties. The fact the ships was really cold to minimize IR emissions didn't help them stay awake.

"Some guys in the mess are saying the old man killed a relative of his", one of the two helmsmen replied. The man was bored to tears, having nothing to do but calculate and re-calculate their potential routes out of the sector.

Gardna snorted in contempt, "Yeah, and a Collector invited me for coffee once. How the fuck would they even know that?"

"I have no idea", the helmsman replied, shrugging, "But you have to admit, he's wasted a lot of time and fuel trying to chase us down. Not something most privateers bother with."

"I don't know, but you don't see me making up outrageous stories to explain it. Maybe he just..."

Suddendly, a string of lights at the engineering station changed from red to green, and everybody present on the bridge felt the familiar hum of the hyperdrive spooling up. The bridge crew let out a holler of joy. Before the skipper managed to arrive at the bridge, all systems were checked out. Expectant eyes lay upon their captain as he entered the cramped bridge. He smiled at the sight and turned towards his first officer.

"Mister Gardna, get us the hell out of here.", he said and walked up to the astrogation table.

"Yes, sir! Nav, status on the hyperdrive?"

"Spooling. Two minutes to go.", the helmsman replied.

The skipper called up a map of local space and asked idly, "Have we seen that Bragulan lately?"

"We've been getting erratic hyperspace echoes throughout the night, but no close calls.", Gardna was looking over the helmsman's shoulder, eagerly anticipating the jump to hyperspace, "Seemed like he was pretty far away."

"Okay, I'm uploading you our route. There's a hyperlane nearby, we should be able to reach it by the..."

"Contact!", the sensor operator called out, interrupting the captain. Everybody turned towards him, expecting the worst. And, to their horror, the worst was exactly what they got.

"It's...it's the Bragulan, skipper", the operator said quietly, "It's coming right towards us..."

The captain swallowed a curse, before turning to Gardna - who, anticipating his quiestion, immediately reported, "We still need 90 seconds!"

"It's moving in! I'm getting IR spikes, looks like it's powering up weapons!"

The mortified crew could do nothing. The skipper squeezed a railing so hard his knuckles went white. Like a deadly countdown, the sensor operator called out decreasing range to their Bragulan executioner.

Seconds before they were about to get vaporized and a good minute before their hyperdrive was ready, the helmsman cried "YES!" and without waiting for orders, hit his controls. The creaky old freighter howled with pain and plowed into hyperspace, leaving the surprised Bragulan frigate staring at empty space.

"HOLY SHIT!", Gardna shouted, "What the hell? What did you do?"

"Oh, nothing. Just disabled all the safeties", he replied with a grin.

"You can do that from here?"

"Yep. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to figure out where the hell we're going."

"Cut the hyperdrive!", the skipper - who was quietly running navigational calcs at his station - suddendly shouted, "NOW!"

The helmsman's grin was gone, replaced with a confused expression. Gardna leaned over and pressed the emergency drive cut-off. As the ship groaned again and was spit into normal space, the first officer ran over to the captain in two large leaps.

"What the hell?! You're trying to give us all heart attacks?!", he asked, in a hushed tone.

The captain didn't answer for a minute, as he feverishly doublechecked his calculations. He then looked up and handed the data pad to his first officer.

"Oh, shit", Gardna muttered, "This is bad"

He wanted to be quiet, but the bridge crew heard him anyway. They reacted mostly with confusion, quickly replaced by fear, and then sheer terror, as everyone realized they were now actually worse off than when they were about to get vaporized by Bragulans.

The sensor station blinked again, but before the operator could do anything, the entire ship immediately went dark. A split-second later, all computer screens came alive at the same time and began dumping data.

"What the...what did you do? Skipper? Dale?", the helmsman shouted, watching in awe as his station purged its memory right in front of him. Before the first officer - just as surprised as everybody else - could reply, an eerie, sickly green light washed over the bridge. As the hull trembled and shook with the sound of something really, really big attaching itself to it, the captain explained what was going on, in the faintest of whispers:

"We are in Collector space"
Last edited by PeZook on 2010-06-21 01:07am, edited 1 time in total.
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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Dark Hellion » 2010-06-19 02:57pm

Emissary Space

Dreadnought NV-HB1024

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Sector Segment 34987

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Coyote » 2010-06-19 03:28pm

Consciousness






Arik Shaham looked around. Ghosts were seen, ghosts, everywhere, ghosts. Familiar ghosts, like from a dream he'd been to many times before. He knew who they were and what their stories were, he knew them intimately. He felt strange-- he was wearing someone else's clothes... no, they were his clothes, just clothes he'd never actually worn before. New clothes. And yet... also very familiar. In the darkness, he ran his fingers along the seams, feeling the cut and place of the fastenings, sleeves, patches, piping...

No way, he thought, smiling. That'd be so awesome. A fantasy realm...

"Like it?" a voice asked.
"Q," Arik said, "Still looking like John DeLancie, I see."
"Young John DeLancie, at this point," Q said, "I thought that this time around we'd try something completely different. You and your coterie have proven well at mastering nations; now, maybe, we'll expand the buffet table a bit. And this time, you'll find, it is a little more personal for you."

"Personal?" Arik asked. "It was pretty personal for me before. I really got to know my people well, and actually cared for them. I really rather liked many of them."
"The alternate universes made for you in the past lived on, creating their own realities now," Q said. "Your job there, is done. Your families and progeny lived on, created bloodlines of their own, et cetera," he said with a wave of his hand. "This time, I wanted to take something you had already built upon, if incomplete, and see if it changes anything when it is something already sprung from your own mind..."

"Wha..?" Arik started to ask, when the darkness closed in.




The Senate





Lights flickered back on, sporadically, and the air was full of alarmed cries and yelps-- a general hubbub of concern and even some fright as the people picked themselves up off the floor and looked around.
"A groundquake?" someone asked, looking at their neighbors. Arik looked at the speaker, transfixed. It was a Thenn.

All around him were humans and aliens, aliens of types he knew, types he recognized, types he'd invented in his years as a writer and illustrator. He blinked, shook his head, rubbed his eyes-- Q'Aab, skiatla, veliscii, zhulescu... and towering over them, as he stood up, was a tall, stern, grey-haired Q'Aab at the central podium.

"Order!" the Q'Aab said, "Order; let's get accountability of ourselves here! Are there any wounded?" A number of calls went up-- minor wounds, mostly bumps and bruises from falling in the dark, and a couple of outright sprains, but otherwise no major injuries. A Senate guard entered and spoke to the aide, who in turn spoke to the First Governor.

"Gentlebeings, please!" the First Governor said, "if you will all take your seats, we can address the incident which just took place..." There was general commotion as the Senators took to their seats. "It is given to understand that the effect we just felt was worldwide, and reports are coming in that it has effected vast swathes of the Central Alliance, simultaneously--" Excited talking and shouting erupted.

Arik stood, transfixed, as the reports came in. He felt as though his own mind was slowly coming into synchronization with what was going on-- his own mind was cycling, filling with knowledge, with memories, with perceptions and history and remembered events...

"Colonel," the Q'Aab said, pointing to him, "I want reports on military preparedness and reactions ready within the next two hours. A draft will be fine; a more detailed report can be done later. But I want all commands to check in as soon as possible, sig?"
"Yes, First Governor," Arik caught himself saying. Somehow, Arik had the full knowledge of his made-up language, the nuances, the inflections, the slang... and he knew, somehow, exactly what he'd find-- that 50 or so major planets of the Central Galactic Alliance, and whole sectors worth of resources, had been twinned, and.... magically transported to this new, alternate reality.

Still, he automatically went to his nearby offices, which were --apparently-- the Office of Military Intelligence. He was surprised, and yet at the same time, knew, that this was entirely his domain.

His staff was already on the ball. Reports were pouring in, most of them expressing shock at the true horror of what was happening as this awareness descended upon them. Only he, himself, seemed to know what was really going on.

Within the hour allotted, he easily had compiled the list of worlds that had been transported to this alternate realm with them. It was disturbing, and would cause quite a ruckus. Of over 62,000 worlds in the Central Alliance, they had 50 major planets, from the capital to colonies such as Syndra and Blokh-Lune, as well as several hundred tiny outposts, stations, and mining ventures with them. The psychological impact would be devastating.

Back in the Senate, pandemonium was erupting. People had been trying to contact home planets and families, to find no response, and so it was with a great deal of expectation that people turned to face Arik as he came back in with his datapad and presented his report to the First Governor. The Q'Aab First Governor --whose name, it turned out, was Chakran Darkhressek; he'd read it on some earlier files he poked around in while his staff worked-- read over the report quickly and sat down heavily, his face slack with shock. The Senate quieted, as First Governor Darkhressek sighed, the noise picked up by his lapel mikes.

"Gentlebeings of the Senate," he said, "It is with... great... alarm... that I confirm that which we have come to fear this last hour. An event that can only be described as... otherworldy has taken place. The Central Alliance as we know it is no longer with us; it is no longer a part of our, um, reality..." --the noise of consternation, and a few wails of panic, filled the chamber-- "...we have with us, so far, the following fifty worlds confirmed to still be in contact with us." He began reading off the worlds that remained, as people waited breathlessly to hear of their homes or families had "made it" with them to this new, strange, alternate reality.

"Tyquo Sector: Tsonarr, Tylos, Ncharr, Kraiak, Indobeez... Trynea Sector: Ve'tcharek, Marblehead, New Sasteen, Il'aketlek, Adira... Souula Sector: Illorion, Ji'khallakh*ta, Kairee, Chasma, Pharoq... Ithyqa Sector: Kreaje, Browlee, Akiirii, Kuji Trinary, Quandry... Kana'K'Ta Sector: Lree, Tiirgau, Anwo, Grandeur, Khote'e... Qala Sector: Talheen, Zhuura's Throne, Pagglu, Arrayko, I'irkto... Takhzista Sector: Kalindaa, Tythos, Tarthon, Rann's Landing, Redden Base... Raumsfeldt Sector: Syndra, Blokh-Lune, Bell Plains, Big & Little Churgo, Newfield... Ithyqa Sector: Massicee, Sheelee, Austus, Urla, Qiwen... and finally, the Sekkoya Sector: Coryatii, Traccus, Quroen's Facility, Pithud, Pit 12.

"If the planets are not read off, then they are...missing."

The Senate erupted in shouts and cries; some demanded to know who was responsible and how, if it was an attack by the Irrykanoi, if it was a natural disaster. Many, whose worlds were simply... gone... sat in stunned horror or wept. An officer from Arik's office came rushing out with another report.

"People, there is more information!" Arik yelled looking over the new report. He handed it to FG Darkhessek, who called the assembly to order.

"Gentlebeings of the Assembly," Darkhessek said, trying to project an aura of calm despite his strained voice, "we have signals intelligence coming in now that says that there are several other, alien civilizations of about the same scale and scope in the region around us..." he trailed out as thousands of voices spoke out, demanding everything from pleas for help from these alien civilizations to demands of explanations to calls for war. "We do not, at this time, know if these alien civilizations are the cause for this event that has transpired or if they are fellow victims, and if they are the cause of the event if it was done on purpose or with malicious intent. We will, however, mobilize to the greatest possible extent and be ready for anything..."

Across what was left of the Central Alliance Enclave, what military forces that remained began to mobilize.










Results:
A cross-section of a major stellar empire is transported to the SDNW4 setting.
Panic erupts and military forces mobilize as people try to come to grips with the sudden surprising and inexplicable event.

***
Something about Libertarianism always bothered me. Then one day, I realized what it was:
Libertarian philosophy can be boiled down to the phrase, "Work Will Make You Free."


In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

If all you want to do is have some harmless, mindless fun, go H3RE INST3ADZ0RZ!!
Grrr! Fight my Brute, you pansy!

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Steve » 2010-06-19 09:38pm

Sayman's Township, Jenkin's World
July 8, 3398



Jenkin's World was one of over a dozen natural Earth-like planets in the Outback, in sector W-19. It occupied a "spider-web" lane of hyperspace stability - a thin strip of hyperspace that permitted safe travel from the main lane, one of the Outback's main hyperlanes (connecting New Anglia to the Byzantine Imperium) - and was home to a scattering of hardy colonial townships, a mishmash of modern technology and ancient living (Due to the lack of available resources locally). There was a local town militia, but it was only sufficient for fighting off the least of pirate bands.

The band of Humans, Orks, and rogue Bragulans attacking today were different from such. They had better weapons and were here for more than a simple bank job, as evidenced by their attempts to seize townspeople alive. Their plan was to take the entire town if possible; whether it was the Collectors or various minor one-world (or even one-continent) states where law and order was weak, they could make quite a bit off of looting the town of its people (arguably moreso than any "valuables" the town held).

As they approached the town hall and the site where many of the people of Sayman were hiding, a pair of figures came out of the billowing dust. They were female, clad in modest violet sleeveless vets and blue leggings, and some of the pirates would recognize the significance of the crescent mood insignia that was the form of their necklaces. One was fully Human, blond-haired and blue-eyed, while the other was darker-skinned in complexion, hair color, and eye color, an Indian from appearances. Their hands came up from the belts of their robes, gripping objects; moments later a pair of shining purple energy blades flashed into existence from each.

Some of the Orks weren't sure what they were dealing with, while those Humans and Bragulans who did momentarily stopped. Raising weapons high, the green-skinned berserkers gave their war cry of WAAAAAAAUGGGGH!!! and rushed forward.

The two women stretched their free arms forward. There seemed to be an impact, as both stumbled backward. The rushing Orks behaved as if struck by an invisible wall, falling over startled.

"I am Zara Delmar, Sentinel of the Silver Moon," the blond-haired woman, clearly the superior, stated aloud. "This place is under our protection, you will depart."

"There's only two of 'em!", one voice shouted from the crowd of growing pirates. "They can't stop us all!"

"We can try," the other woman stated - Divija Kirmani - answered defiantly.

The reply was fire. They were using energy weapons, which hurt them in this case as the two women moved their weapons fast enough to deflect each shot. But they were giving ground and with the singes appearing on their clothes it was clear volume of fire was overwhelming them.

Unfortunately for the pirates, they weren't alone.

The attacks came from above. The first was from a Human figure who clearly wasn't, not when you saw the red-headed woman's large wings coming out of the back of her torso. A defiant battle cry came from her throat, her emerald eyes full of fire, as she plunged into the fray. Her beamsaber was red when it flashed into existence and soon it was cleaving off body parts as she ripped through the very undisciplined gaggle.

A second figure, clearly female with hair of sandy blond color, landed a distance away, but with less impact, coming not from the sky but from a nearby rooftop. A purple blade flashed into existence in each hand as she began to swing them about, deflecting the occasional shot fired by the pirates as they became completely disorganized and dismembering or killing those she landed direct hits on.

The third attacker, like the second, hit the ground running. Her brown hair was fairly plain - the complete heterochromia of her eyes was anything but, with the left eye blue and the right eye green - and her complexion was light with a yellowish tint. She had no blade weapon but a pair of TB-12 plasma pistols, one per hand. As the weapons leveled toward foes she would fire them, charges of pure blue erupting from the muzzles at each shot. A burly Orkish member of the pirates got in close. Sensing him, she spun around on one foot, the other raised, landing a roundhouse kick on his jaw. As he started to recover she shot him straight in the face. A second foe coming to her side, his rifle destroyed by the winged woman's weapon, attempted to club her with the glowing hot end of what he had left. Her hand whipped around and smacked him in the head with the butt of her pistol. As he staggered and fell, she ignored him and moved on.



The shuttle that had landed the pirates was hovering outside the town. The head of the band - a vicious fellow named Brad Sackins - was watching through enhanced vision binoculars and scowling. This was supposed to be a simple smash and grab - now his crew was getting torn apart. "Silver Moon bitches," he rasped angrily, recognizing the favored field garb and weaponry of the Dorei-founded ESPer Order. They were a perpetual thorn in the side of him and those like him in the Outback. Skilled in combat and notoriously tough to kill, any pirate band that faced them wound up cutting its losses and bolting or, if lucky, killing or driving off those it was faced with, but in either case taking loss in the process where none had been sought.

Five meant he couldn't drive them off, but outright retreat wasn't yet necessary. Not given his... clients. Sackins turned to the trio of dark leather-clad figures beside him. All were female, all were pretty, and given their affiliation, all scared the living crap out of him. "You want the freak girls you say are down there?" He chucked his thumb at the town. "Gonna have to help."

"This is coming out of your pay," the lead one stated - a fair-skinned, brown-haired beauty. "Have your pilot bring us up to them." She nodded to the others. "We'll take care of the Silvers. Kill if you must, but remember that the reward is great to bring a grown one alive." She brought a weapon out and leaped out of the craft, joined by the others.



The pirates were fleeing for their lives, as they should be. The five women who had repulsed them gathered together. Zara and Divija joined the three who had attacked from above. Yuna Burley, a newly-tried Sentinel, placed her TB-12s back in her belt, while her Cloister sister Ashley Dalmasan - "Ashe" to her friends - de-activated her beamsabers. Lead among them was Shayera Thol, the only female ESPer of her winged humanoid species to join the Order and, unlike the others, a fully tried and acclaimed Knight of the Silver Moon. "Too easy," she said to the others. "Do you sense?"

There was a roar overhead. A fairly-sized shuttle, clearly the craft that had brought the pirates here from wherever their ship was stashed, came into the town. Three figures leapt from its opening. Before they hit the ground the assembled Sisters knew what they were faced with. "Sister Yuna, join Rana in protecting the townspeople," Shayera said.

"But Sister Shay..."

"That's an order, Sentinel," was the harsh reply. The young Sentinel nodded and ran off, looking to meet up with Shayera's Apprentice, 19 year old Rana Shaheen. The other two younger Sentinels, Divija and Ashe, clearly felt anxious as they recognized the figures now standing before them. Shayera tried to reassure them with her body language and soothing thoughts, but she was no stranger to their new adversaries and wanted Yuna, who's skill with the beamsaber was not quite up to snuff with the fight to come, out of the way.

"And what does the Ebon Blade want with a simple farmer's town?", Shayera asked in challenge.

"That is the business of the Ebon Blade," the brunette in the lead answered. "Not your's, Silver woman. As I am a pragmatic woman, I offer you the chance to save yourselves."

"Do you think you can kill us so easily?" As the senior Sentinel, Zara spoke up as well, though Ashe and Divija were a bit too nervous to do so.

"Kill you?" A sinister cackle came from the lead Ebon Blade woman as she brought what was clearly the handle of a beamsaber off her belt. "My dear girl, why kill you when we can simply overpower you and make you our playthings?"

The Sisters of the Silver Moon all knew what it meant to be an Ebon Blade plaything. More importantly, however, is that the Ebons knew that knowledge was available too. Realizing the woman was trying to unsettle Divija and Ashe, Shayera flashed her blade back into existence and charged. Zara's blade joined her, as did that of the others. The Ebons were ready to accept battle, their beamsabers - as black as night - flashing into existence.

It was three against four. Shayera and the lead Ebon clashed. Zara took one of her lieutenants while the third turned toward Ashe and Divija. There was a hiss in the air followed by distinct cracks, the energy fields of opposing beams smacking against each other. Shayera drove her opponent backward with the ferocity of her strikes while Zara, being a more defensive fighter, carefully gave ground and sought to let her Ebon Blade foe wear herself down. The fight by the two other Sentinels against their enemy was rather more chaotic. Divija and Ashe had not trained extensively together and Ashe's fighting style, the two-saber Tasa Duria (or "Cyclone of Fire" in Lushan), complicated things for Divija. Their opponent was cold and calculating, using their difficulty cooperating against them as she switched between opponents, forcing one back long enough to deflect the other.



With so many of the Silver Moon fighters distracted the pirates rallied under Sackins. He took to leading them himself, taking a side street toward the hall. His surviving men, save a few cowards who had not answered his call, were more than enough by his reckoning to deal with the opposition they were faced with.

Again two woman stood before them. Sentinel Yuna had drawn and ignited a purple beamsaber and another figure beside her, with an olive complexion and the brown eyes and black hair one expected to see with such. Rana Shaheen was only 19 years old at this point, an Acolyte who had been taken as Apprentice by Shayera Thol. Her beamsaber - for she had passed the Trial of the Saber at age 17 - was of a blue coloration, denoting her status as an Acolyte (purple was only permitted to Sentinels and above, alternative colors only for Knights and above).

"Kill them both!," Sackins growled. Neophytes to the region sometimes harbored notions of taking these chicks alive and deriving entertainment of various odious sorts from them, but as a veteran pirate of the Outback Sackins knew the only proper thing to do with a Sister of the Silver Moon was to kill the bitch ASAP before she killed half your crew. He took out his own gun, this one a projectile one, and opened fire as well.

Of course, bullets fared no better on the energy field of a beamsaber than an energy blast did and the two younger women deflected them, but again the volume of fire was telling. Sackins swore he could see a hit on the leg of the half-Asian chick and there was blood running along the arm of the Arab-looking girl.

And that's when the townspeople counterattacked.

A funny thing about Outback dwellers. There were no pacifists here. Any pacifist communities that tried to set up quickly learned that you either fought or you ended up dead or enslaved. The folks of the Sayman's township were thus armed, if not entirely courageous enough to resist a pirate band of sufficient size. This, however, changes when you see two young woman standing resolute, risking their lives, on your behalf. A feeling of shame and guilt can take place, beginning to overpower the self-preservation instinct, and eventually someone breaks. They pick up their rifle, or pistol, or any opther weapon, and they join the fray. Such becomes a chain reaction; seeing their neighbor and friend stand up makes others do so, lest they clearly demonstrate cowardice to people they live with every day. They picked up weapons and joined the attack.

From the windows of the hall, now opened, a barrage of gunfire came. Ancient bolt-actions and more "modern" semit-automatics spat fire and lead toward the positions of the pirates as they advanced on the burnt, bleeding, yet defiant Sentinel sisters. Some fell wounded or dead, others scrambled back for cover.

The doors opened and an onrush of humanity raced forward, brandishing weapons ranging from knives or hammers to whatever blunt object they could get their hands on. Yuna cried out for them to fall back, to remain safe, but her voice and her telepathic call was lost in the tumult.

Sackins saw this site and knew it was over. He was an experienced enough pirate to know when it was time to scoot. Yet he did not; this wasn't his simple smash and grab, this was a contract job. There were a couple girls here, according to the Ebon Blade, who were ESP talented. And they had come to collect them, to take them to be trained as new members of the Ebon Blade. He'd agreed to help them in exchange for payment and spoils rights.

And one did not want to fail the Ebon Blade and survive the attempt.

Howling at the top of his lungs, Sackins brought his gun up and charged, firing as he went. Seeing their captain's suicidal attack prompted the surviving Orks (and the were fewer than Humans and Bragulans) to add WAAAAAAAAUGGGGH!!!! and charge as well. One of his hits caught a woman brandishing a cleaver in the shoulder and his second attempt at a shot grazed the ear of the town sheriff as he shot an Ork beside him.

By this time, with the townspeople attacking, Yuna and Rana had joined them, Yuna's TB-12s back out. She singled out the pirate captain after he shot the Sayman woman with the cleaver and brought her left hand up (As she was to his left). Her mind focused; even as her right finger tensed on the trigger and put a plasma burst into the side of an Ork's head, her left arm straightened straigtht toward Sackins. As he fired and grazed the sheriff, her left trigger finger tensed. The burst of blue energy that erupted from the muzzle struck him in the forehead and burned straight though his head, dissipating in his skull. He was quite dead by the time he hit the ground.

Ignoring the pain of the scorch on her ribs from a grazing hit and the burn on her right leg, she continued to move forward, shooting and striking as enemies moved around her.



The panting and grunts of ESPer combat, replete as it was with mental and physical conflict, gave way to an agonized scream.

Ashe dropped to her knees before her opponent. Divija was several steps away, knocked hard against a wall and trying to regain her footing. Ashe had swiped wrong with her left saber and before she could get her right one up, her foe had struck.

The object in her hand - or more appropriately in it's "battle brace" place on her wrist - was called an "agiel" by the Ebon Blade. "Agiel" was a name given long ago to the favored tool of the Ebon Blade. Whether inspired by fiction or simply some buzz word nobody knew the origin of, its function was unique to the Ebon Blade. The field rod was typically not even two feet long, usually just a foot in length, and was a nerve stimulator rod covered in a black or red leather binding. Upon being pressed to flesh while active, the device conducted energy through the flesh of the person being prodded, energy that caused pain receptors to fire in every nerve in the general region of one's body. Use it on the foot and everything below the knee would hurt, or use it on the hip and the entire mid-section between the knee and ribcage would explode in pain.

With it pressed to Ashe's belly, her robes posing no resistance, the agiel poured pain stimulation into her torso and uppermost extremities. Her agonized scream filled the air before her mind could react as it'd been trained to do with overwhelming pain. The art of Banno egh Banno, "Suffering Without Suffering", was one all Sisters of the Silver Moon were trained in, to make them resistant both to pain on the field and to torture by enemies. With iron will and determination Ashe brought her right arm up while her mind blocked the pain sensation. The blow was yet clumsy and deflected by the saber in the Ebon woman's other hand. Her mind hardened and continued to block the agiel's effect upon her but it was slowing Ashe down, her opponent realizing it and pressing it home all the more. The sheer joy the woman had at Ashe's pain was clear, and from her mind and imagination Ashe could sense the woman's intent and thoughts; brief glimpses of what she wanted to do to Ashe if she were a captive. The chilling images steeled Ashe's reserve to act.

The agiel pulled away from her. The Ebon battler twisted to face Divija again, who dueled with her for a moment. Ashe focused herself, ignoring the lingering pain sensation and the sluggishness of her strained nervous system to command her legs to hold her steady. With her energy she jumped toward, slashing with her sabers.

The Ebon woman had sensed her at the last moment, but Divija's furious attack - for she had seen her fellow Sister's suffering and was momentarily angered - kept her off-balance. As she turned to avoid Ashe Divija's saber brushed across her right shoulder while Ashe changed her attack in mid strike, striking at the knee. The blade went effortlessly through leg and some bone, not enough to sever the limb but enough to draw a cry of pain from the Ebon woman as she dropped a bit and was rendered helpless to prevent her demise. Divija and Ashe struck, one of Ashe's going through her chest while Divija's went through her lower back. The Ebon woman died as she hit the ground.

As this vicious battle concluded, the two one-on-one duels continued. Shayera and the lead Ebon had ended up on a rooftop while Zara and her foe were fighting elsewhere. Zara ducked and twisted, avoiding a mid-air swipe, and reached out with her Gift. A force smacked her foe backward but the fair-skinned foe before her merely grimaced and fought back. For a moment the clash of their blades ceased; their Gifts clashed instead, invisible forces drawn from their minds and pressing against one another. The Ebon woman's agiel flashed as she extended it, drawing closer so she might use it on Zara.

At the last moment Zara cleverly "gave up" her mental attack, a feint. She moved briefly as if she had lost her energy and allowed the Ebon woman to draw close; as she did Zara made a graceful pivot on her foot, avoiding the agiel, and brought her saber up. It cleaved through the Ebon woman from hip to opposite armpit, slicing her in half. It was a fairly unpleasant way to die, all things told, though not so bad compared to the usual deaths attributed to the Ebon Blade.

This left the leader, who was on a rooftop exchanging blows with Shayera. Their blows were especially savage; Shayera was an aggressive wielder of the beamsaber, practicing Tor da Lema as her favored style, which fit her fiery spirit. Her opponent, of course, was equally as savage, with her sadistic impulses demanding she inflict pain on the obstacle in her path.

Of course, unlke Orks, Ladies of the Ebon Blade were not berserkers. The woman sensed her two compatriots were dead and, with great disgust, knew the battle was lost. Shayera's attacks were leaving a slight opening, one hard to exploit and only useful for disengaging - she now took it. Deflecting one of Shayera's strikes, she focused her power into her leg and hip muscles, permitting her to rapidly kick at Shayera. The kick struck her in the shoulder. Getting a brief moment, the Ebon woman shifted her weight and knocked Shayera over, most of her weight rolling onto her right wing and cracking the bone within. A cry of anguish came from the Thangarian woman - their wings were fairly sensitive - but Shayera was a tough one and quickly getting back to her feet.

Having broken away, the Ebon jumped back to the street. Shayera followed, having to slide down the the building due to the inability of her wing to extend for gliding. Zara was already present, as were the winded Ashe and Divija. The Ebon woman scowled as she faced them, her mind readying to focus herself on her legs and lungs and heart, so she might sprint quickly to safety and a nearby vehicle. "We'll be back," she assured them. "The two ESPer daughters of this village will be of the Blade, even if I am struck down."

"Not while we are here to protect them," Zara vowed.

The Ebon Blade operative scowled, then smirked.... and died.

She had been preparing to turn and run. But before she could an arrow plunged into her back, going all the way through the back of her ribs and into her heart before the arrowhead slipped through the other side. She looked down to see the arrow that had pierced her heart before she fell over dead. Standing behind her was a lone figure, in Silver Moon garm, with a finely-crafted wooden longbow in her left hand that she was beginning to lower. At the sight of her, Shayera and the others dropped to a knee in respect, while behind them the towns people began to gather.

There was an urban legend among the Humans of the Outback that there could be no such thing as an ugly, or unattractive, Dorei woman. This was wrong, of course, but given the sampling of most Dorei seen in the Outback one shouldn't be surprised at it. They were humanoid, with long slender ears that struck Humans as elven features and exotic colorations of purple, blue, or teal (some getting rather light though) for skin, eye, and hair colors. Their bodies were always proportionate more than they were slender (according to the legend), with tough and strong musculature that nevertheless never seemed to break the graceful lines and curves of their bodies, exemplified by buttocks and breasts that were fairly sized and curved without being an exaggerated part of the body.

Certainly the figure before them did nothing to disprove that legend, being very beautiful as Dorei went and even so to Human attraction standards. Her skin was a luscious, if slightly light, purple hue, the kind one found on the northernmost Sindai Dorei or others of Doreia's Southern Hemisphere. She had keen blue eyes and long, rich purple hair of a deeper, though not darker, hue than her skin. Her bare arms were only slightly curved from the muscles she had finely kept over her life.

"Sister Syrandi, thank you for coming," Shayera spoke. "We are honored."

The woman did not smile, but her expression was gentle. "Your wing is injured, Sister Shayera. You should get that attended to immediately." She looked at the others. "I sense your memories of your victory, Sister Zara. I think you may find yourself facing those Knight Trials when you return to the Tasker Cloister this coming winter."

Zara had a slight blush and nodded. "I would be honored for your endorsement, Sister."

Syrandi Luneri, a full Knight-Captain of the Silver Moon and the Chapter Captain of Lochley's Retreat a central lane world in Sector X-18, walked up to the dead blody of the Ebon Blade member she had killed. She had slung her bow back upon her back, which also bore a long-range particle energy rifle, while her beamsaber remained secure on her belt. "I believe we should get the wounded together for treatment," she remarked, "and then discuss what to do."



With the town's wounded set up for treatment - along with Sisters Yuna and Shayera and Acolyte Rana - Zara and Diviija led Syrandi to the source of the problem. Twin sisters born of the town's schoolmarm and her husband, the machinist of Sayman. Amanda and Samantha Collins were only 9 years old, identical twins with freckles and bright yellow hair, very sweet. And also very clearly possessing of the Gift, having come to them at the onset of puberty as happened in most cases. Syrandi watched as they demonstrated it by moving a schoolbook about - something they could only do together. It was a most amazing use of the Gift, indicative of great potential, and demonstrating why the Ebon Blade had sought them.

Syrandi's conversation with their parents was interrupted by Samantha. The child looked up to her with an innocent look and said, "Purple lady, can I touch your ears?"

To the surprise of both Zara and Divija, who were familiar with the senior Sister's usual demeanor, a smile crossed Syrandi's face. She knelt down on a knee and allowed the two girls to feel the texture of her long ears. As they did so, Syrandi looked up to the twins' parents. "The Ebon Blade will try again," she warned them. "And next time they will be more direct."

Mrs. Collins hugged her husband closely. "What do we do? Where can we flee?"

"Somewhere the Ebon Blade is more wary of operating," Zara answered. "We can take the girls with us to New Anglia."

"You can go too," Syrandi added for her subordinate Sister. "The Order will pay for your transport and will let you live in the Cloister until you find lodgings."

"Lodgings? On New Anglia? We're Outback folk," Mr. Collins answered. "We don't know nothin' of livin' there. How'd we find work?"

"The Order can aid you in this, as can other charities," Zara explained.

"It is for the good of your daughters," Syrandi explained, "and your neighbors here in Sayman. If you remain - if they remain - the Ebon Blade will return. In force. Even we cannot fight off a determined assault by the forces they can bring to bear, not with the Sisters I can feasibly call upon."

"I reckon you're gonna want our girls for your group too?", Mr. Collins asked, a hint of accusation in his voice.

"If it is your choice and their's," Syrandi answered. "But only such. We accept the willing, Mr. Collins, for our work is not for all, and there are some souls too gentle to serve in our Order." A giggle erupted from her suddenly and she brushed her right ear, where Samantha had been running a feather along it.

The Collins looked at each other. The Sisters erected the Mind-Wall; it was not appropriate to feel the emotions and thoughts of people in such circumstances. Syrandi concentrated on brushed her ear again, trying to ward off the ticklish sensation caused by how the little girls were examining them. It was with finality that Mr. Collins nodded. "Very well," he agreed. "We shall come with you to New Anglia... to protect our girls."

"Your choice is wise, good sir," Syrandi said. "And your daughters will benefit from your wisdom and courage."



In one of the inn/tavern rooms of the township, Yuna squealed in agony.

As this was the middle of the Outback, medical supplies were limited The town supply of ether and anasthetic was just as limited and, being selfless guardians of justice and life, the injured Sisters had refused to let it be used on them, insisting that the townspeople get the benefits of it. After all, they had been trained to ignore pain, to use their Gift to mentally close off the pain from their mind and enter the state of "suffering without suffering".

It wasn't as easy as it always seemed, though, not when it involved a pair of tweezers forcing its way through torn flesh to retrieve a bullet. Yuna had taken a bullet to her right side, just below and to the outer side of her right breast, which had broken one of her ribs but stopped in the process. Her robes and vest were stripped off to permit access to the wounds on her torso and legs. Sitting over her, Ashe was concentrating with her mind, working the instrument in to retrieve the bullet and get it out of her Sister's body before it could cause any metal poisoning.

It didn't help that her patient was shifting on the bed, only the restraints binding her to the bedposts holding her roughly in place. "And you passed the Trial of Suffering like this?", Ashe asked incredously as she worked hard, sweat gathering on her brow. Despite appearances she was trying to minimize Yuna's pain, not prolong or intensify it.

"The Table is a pin prick!", was the cried out reply, followed by another squeal as the tweezers made contact and shifted sensitive, damaged flesh around. Concentrating carefully Ashe pulled the tweezers out, trying not to do it too fast for fear of further injuring Yuna. A groan came from the patient as the bullet appeared through the wound.

Ashe lifted it up for her to see. "Keepsake?"

"Throw the Goddess-damned thing away!" was the irate reply.

Shrugging, and with a not-so-innocent smirk, she did so. She picked up the sterile needle and thread and, after applying disinfectant to the wound, began to stitch it close. This was rather less painful for Yuna. She ignored it, to be exact, with her training, her expression a mask of focus. When the stitch work was done medical ointment was next, to treat the burns from the glancing plasma rifle hits. As this was done Yuna finally raised a question: "Did you have to tie me up for this?"

"No anesthetic, you were going to fidget," was the reply. Putting the cream up, Ashe sat beside her patient and smiled, patting her on the bare shoulder. Lowering herself close, she smiled mischievously and added, "Besides, I figured that when the pain was done, you would be in mind for some..." She licked Yuna's ear before finishing with a whisper, "pleasure." Ashe's hand, moving along from Yuna's left shoulder to her torso, found the curve of her breast. The affectionate touch was followed up with a touch of lips. "What do you say?"

Without saying words, the thoughts were exchanged, and the two young lovers began to share a passionate kiss.



In another room it was Rana having burns treated. The 19 year old Acolyte was under her master's stern gaze, Shayera watching her as a nurse from the town applied the cream. Without a lover present to devise an excuse her state of dress was met by a lack of restraint. "I have heard about your stand from Sister Yuna," Shayera said, grimacing as a second nurse finished fitting a makeshift splint for her injured right wing. "Your talents are shaping up well, Rana."

"Thank you, Master Shayera." As an Apprentice, Rana referred to the Knight training her as "Master", even if of course that was not her rank.

Giving a reassuring smile to the young woman, she added, "Rana, I am becoming convinced you are ready for your Trials. Do you feel so?"

At that Rana seemed a little uncertain. "I... I think so."

"You've improved your skill with a rifle? The Trial of Weapons is what I fear most for you."

"I think... maybe," Rana stated, but she could feel the doubt within her. "I thought of the sidearm fighting, seeing if Sister Yuna would help me..."

"I shall ask." Shayera walked up and sat down next to her, her wing cast complete. "But you must ask the most important question of all, Rana. 'Is this what I want to do with my life?'. You must see the possible fates the Order may bring you and decide if this is what you truly want."

"But it is, Master Shayera," Rana insisted. "The Order is everything to me. I have no life outside of it. By proclaiming my faith in the Eternal Goddess I am now an apostate back on Nejd; I would be put to death immediately if I did not recant and proclaim myself a Muslim again. And I shall not do that."

"There are other lives you could lead, Rana," Shayera pointed out. "And you must make sure you do not care for them before you begin the Trials, otherwise your doubts may cost you."

"I understand," was the simple reply.
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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Siege » 2010-06-19 10:03pm

Villa Wintermute
High Orbit over Solaris


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Sidney Hank stood, hands clasped behind his back, as he'd stood so many times before: his gaze turned toward his adopted home planet below, his back toward the artificial massive construct that allowed him to exist surrounded by hard vacuum. The vista that spread before him was a marvel on many levels. First there was the planet itself: a swirling gas giant, Solaris glowed its eternal and strangely hypnotic orange and purple in the deep distance. Then there were the endless ships powering through space between the villa and the distant planet – the streamlined warships of the home flotilla, the sexy racer yachts of local playboys, the busy worker drones of system control craft and the klick-long freighters flashing advertisements to all who would look at them.

Finally, there was the Datasphere. Glowing lines of data etched themselves behind his retina, endlessly receding lines of light representing constellations of information – his master work, a network of data wirelessly accessible throughout the Sovereignty. They key to immortality, and so much more.

His was an ancient mind even by the most accommodating standards of the universe. Sidney Hank had seen friends and lovers grow old and die. He had seen nations and empires rise and fall. Entire planets had risen to prominence and fallen back into obscurity, and he'd passed them by. Nothing seemed eternal. Nothing except the stars, and maybe himself.

Twelve hundred years, he reminded himself. Twelve centuries since he was first shorn of his familiar environment, and alerted to the possibility that it was possible to survive outside his own body. To exist for such a long-ass time was an unlikely feat for any human, he knew, not to mention one as flawed as he. There were days it seemed unlikely in its own right, not to mention unfair – over the centuries he'd seen so many good people die that it seemed... blasphemous, somehow, to live on. What had he ever done to deserve this?

For one, he'd left Nova Terra, the planet he'd never felt quite at home on, as soon as he'd been able to. He'd traveled back to Earth, only to discover there was nothing left there he recognized. He'd ventured into space, only to find out he hated the endless black. He'd joined the endless masses of the human diaspora, to discover he had very little in common with them. He'd longed for peace, but forever dreaded the final peace of death. He'd founded entire nations, and they had repulsed him in all their human imperfection.

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought,” he repeated one of the mantras of the Buddha. Then, smiling a little, “oh. Yeah. And there can be only one.”

As far as he knew he was the oldest living thing in the universe. For a given value of 'living', of course. That was a peculiar thought in its own right. In the past, entire centuries had passed him by without much notice – that was pretty much how it was if you'd lived this long. But this time... there was something peculiar about it. It was almost like a deja vu, like an echo of an earlier, better time.

There was a Heraclius emperor in Byzantium, and a Sinclair in the Presidential Palace. And there was something... Something about the sense of the time... He couldn't quite put his finger on it... that reminded him of earlier days, better days, days before his first upload. Sidney sat down in front of the glass window and steepled his fingers. It was a peculiar sentiment, and he briefly wondered if some of his datacores weren't simply experiencing some digital equivalent of senility.

He pulled a hand through thinning, silvery hair. “You know,” he said, “this seemed like the smart thing to do. But sometimes I wonder if Shroom didn't have the right idea in the end. Go out with a bang, you know? Champagne, caviar, a circle of friends...” He sighed, and intimately familiar digital fingers brushed against his consciousness. “Yeah. I know. It might just be this body. And sure, we done a lot of good. Saved a lot of people and all that jazz. But still, you know?”

To any ordinary observer it would look as if the lonely figure on the spacedeck was talking into thin air. The ordinary observer, however, would be missing the strands of data his part-cyberized mind was exchanging with the entity that rested at the core of the orbital villa. After a while, the elderly human nodded. “You're right, of course. I'm being selfish. Again. And it'd be stupid to quit now on the universe now,” he said. “Maybe it's worth sticking around for a little longer, yeah?”

Data trickled through high-end implants. He slowly nodded, and smiled a little. “Yeah. That's what I thought. Interesting times, indeed...”
Last edited by Siege on 2010-07-01 03:56am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Lonestar » 2010-06-19 11:08pm

Ruins of Hazeltop Arco
Planet: Massanutten
2981



Wade looked down at the remains of the Great Warlord Hardir. The bulbous mass of chitin looked nothing less than a combination between a sponge and a bug. Just like the rest of its species. Gore and various alien fluids were splattered around the office. The Bodyguard was dead. So was his team, half a dozen HERV-rebuilt cyborgs, just like him. Nothing but meat and sponges.... the Amplitur remains were mixed in the human...humanish remains. There was a loud bang in the hallway and shouts in Dominion English. Here comes the cavalry, right on time.... Sighing Wade sheathed his sword.

"Hey assholes! In here! Mission accomplished!"

Stepping through were a team of Church Cardinals, Psykers resplendent in power armor. He hated pyskers. They hated him, not the least because he was impossible to read. Fortunately widespread application of HERV derivatives had made the Grand Dominion a virtually pyskerless society...barring a few "super-pyskers" that in other nations would be considered too dangerous to be allowed to live.

"Wade." Cardinal Hawthorne's lip curled. "Killed another team?"

"It isn't my fault that they don't make them like they used to. But Hardir is dead."

"So I see." A pause. "Dr. Blitzschlag is waiting for you at the Verti-bird."


******

"Wade, Wade mein boy...another success?"

"Isn't it always...?"

"Well, there was that time in Stuttgart...."

"Psshh!" Wade waved it off. "What now, professor?"

"The Amplitur on Massanutten are already laying down their arms now that Hardir is dead." Blitzschlag said. "The last of the Grand Dominion has been liberated from the Xenos, eh? Grand Admiral Earl is already en route to crack open a nova bomb on the Amplitur homeworld. The War is over."

"And all it took was several billion dead..."

The Dominion Diaspora had been in the tens, even hundreds of millions, with the House of Fairfax decamping for the fartherest reaches of known space. The "Baby Blast" that followed the widespread application of the HERV derivatives had carried over, and the distant "Grand Dominion" soon exceeded Tinguo in power and prestige. Then the Amplitur arrived.

Horrible, mind-controlling beasts, the Xenos swept through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge sectors. Billions and billions were killed. Massanutten had been the last Class-M planet under Amplitur control, and Wade's team had been dispatched to kill the Warlord Hardir. In the Hierarchy-heavy Amplitur the death of the Warlord, it was felt, would expedite the surrender. It did. Now what, though? How could the Grand Dominion bring itself up to it's pre-war level? It couldn't. The Grand Dominion had effectively been thrown to the wolves by other human nations that carried grudges against the House of Fairfax from Nova Terra. What the future would bring, no one knew...

"We should have stayed on the planet with the battleships and swing music." Wade said, sounding petulant. Blitzschlag shook his head.


"No mein boy, we could not. I needed to continue my work, and the technological base didn't exist. I admit there was an appeal, but..." A shrug.

"At least there's going to be no more war, now that the Amplitur are defeated..."

Blitzschlag laughed. "Wade, don't tell me that you are still so naive! Of course there will be war! In Grim Darkness of the future there is ONLY war!"

Wade thought he was quoting something, but he didn't know what.
Last edited by Lonestar on 2010-06-19 11:38pm, edited 1 time in total.
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Fingolfin_Noldor » 2010-06-19 11:33pm

Imperium-Karlack War Chapter I
Co-written with Shady
First Contact, 3089


The Emperor Heraclius XX Komnenos sat on his throne in the Imperial Palace of Constantinople staring at the hologram star chart thinking. It has been centuries since the war with the Tau, and much rebuilding had been done since the end of the devastating war. That war had consumed the entire Imperium's resources, and over a billion human lives were lost. Over a billion were lost in the Battle of Antioch alone, as defenders fought bitter street battles on the ground. Whole cities were razed to cow the population. Antioch was by and far the turning point of the war. It galvanised the entire Byzantine population, and it was the singular reason that drove the Byzantine peoples to accomplish great feats regardless of the cost.

The Tau exceeded the Imperium in almost every aspect, be it technology or numbers. However, human ingenuity, when put to the test, paid off. The Adeptus Mechanicus labored hard to devise new technologies and rebuilt the Imperium's navy and armies. The Imperial Astartes project, a brain child of Emperor Sergius, bore fruit in ways nobody imagined. When the retaliation fleet launched to retake Antioch, it was equiped with the finest technologies that the Imperium could muster, and the liberal use of bioweapons helped to even the odds. The Astartes stormed aboard lightly crewed Tau ships and simply eviscerated the Tau crew, and seized control of their vessels. The Tau simply could not counter the Astartes fully, and their much vaunted battlesuits were simply obliterated by the heavy firepower brought to bear by the Astartes. Boarding alone helped tip the scales to the Imperium's favour, even as Imperial battleships unleashed furious broadsides against the enemy fleet. Human vessels tended to be larger and blockier and slower, and had slightly less firepower than their Tau counterparts. However, the Imperium's vessels were also a lot tougher. Regardless, continued study of the enemy's vessels, and furious improvement of the Imperium's technologies, helped the Imperium to win the war eventually.

But the war and the sheer brutality of it all, stunned all the Imperium's neighbours, and allies of the Tau. The only reason why no one intervened and aided the Tau, because they saw that if they ganged up on the Imperium, nearby human dominated empires might follow suit and aid the Imperium, triggering a wider war. The complete scouring of T'au, also sent shockwaves. Not only did it demonstrate the extent of the resolve of the Imperium, no one had ever seen such blatant xenophobia and some even feared that the Imperium would turn its eyes towards them, especially those who tried to covertly aid the Tau.

The Emperor recognised the tenuous diplomatic situation, and sent his ambassadors assuring the xenos that the Imperium would not deliberately attack them unless they attacked first. "Humanity was first attacked by the Tau. We merely responded in kind for their brutal devastation of our worlds," said one of them. Decades later, the galaxy had not forgotten the genocidal war between the Imperium and the Tau, and the Emperor and his diplomatic corps continued to tread lightly to ensure the survival of the Imperium.

==============


However, like all things, peace is never eternal. Problems arose however when a diplomatic convoy carrying the God Emperor's daughter, Princess Alyxia Komnenos, was ambushed by xeno pirates - the Princess was captured and taken to a planet that the pirates used as a base of operations. The pirates planned to ransom the princess for a high price and gleefully sent a taunting message to the Emperor of Man. When Heraclius received the message, he was furious and ordered the Strategoi Primus Belisarius Komnenos of the Ultramarines to despatch a good portion of their Space Marines, along with a detachment of Varangian Guards to retrieve the princess and lay waste to the pirates who had the temerity to insult the Emperor of the Imperium of Man. "Teach those foul xeno pirates the virtues of not defying my will," he told Belisarius. Belisarius made the sign of the Aquila, and said, "I will retrieve my sister and execute the bastards myself." Taking the Battle Barge Ultramar and much of the Ultramarine taskforce, along with some navy battleships and warships, they set course for the pirate planet.

Imperial forces emerged from Hyperspace on the outer reaches of the system, with the Battle Barge Ultramar taking point. "My lord, we are detecting a mass of ... organics surrounding the planet," said the sensor officer. "Definitely organics. The spectrometer is showing up lots of organic molecules. These organic molecules are often associated with insectoid lifeforms... I can definitely pick out the princess' signal however..."

"Bring up the tactical holoviewer," ordered Belisarius Komnenos. There was a gasp. A huge cloud of insectoid warships were literally blotting out the planet and what pirate ships there were, were being reduced to scrap metal. "Hail them." All they received was static, until they received a loud psychic screech that rang through the bridge crew, "This world and everything on it, now belongs to the Karlack Swarm, leave...now! You have been warned!"

"Damn it! Increase power to the Void Shields! We can't have these foul xenos taking control of the crew. Navigator, bring us about. Flank speed. Weapons officer, have forward batteries primed and standby port and starboard batteries. Communications, instruct the fleet to follow up behind us in arrow blade formation. Carve us a route towards the planet," ordered Belisarius. The fleet followed his orders. "Bring up the holoviewer for all captains in the fleet."

The holoviewer brought up disembodied images of the ship captains. "Captains, here is the plan. We carve a route towards the planet, blasting our way through so that the Ultramar can deploy Space Marines to the ground for a lightning strike on the ground the retrieve the princess. Failure is not an option. You know the drill. Admiral Kropek will coordinate the maneuvers. The Emperor Protects." The captains replied, "The Emperor Protects."

A hail of torpedoes, bombardment cannon and nova cannon fire from the Ultramar and the Astartes Strike cruisers, and the Imperial Navy battleships and heavy cruisers tore a huge hole in the swarm of Karlack ships. Energy weapons of various varieties followed up, slicing down more Karlack ships. However, there were simply so many Karlack ships, that even as the fleet fought its way through the formation, the Karlacks were fighting back with incredible tenacity. Many a frigate, and some of the destroyers and cruisers took too many hits and fell back in the formation and were simply annihilated.

When the Ultramar and the Astartes Strike cruisers were in position, they began deploying the Astartes drop pods and let lose a hail of weapons onto the ground, clearing the ground for the drop pod landing. A rain of drop pods and Astartes Thunderhawk gunships headed down along with Navy starfighters to support the Astartes. The moment the drop pods landed, the Astartes erupted from the pods and gathered around the Ultramarine Chapter Master Gaius Innocentius. Tanks and various war machines rumbled off the Thunderhawk gunships. "For the Emperor!" he roared, as he led his armored hunking Astartes and charged the lines of insectoids who stood between them and the Princess. Astartes Land Raiders fired their lasguns and their heavy bolter cannons, while Baneblade and Stormblade superheavy tanks fired their nova guns and warp guns. It was a bruising fight between both sides. Astartes bolters killed many an insectoid, and the lasguns cut down insectoids with brutal efficiency. The fight however, would prove extremely tenacious and deadly for both sides.

In space however, the situation was fast getting desperate. The insectoid ships were slowly surrounding the Imperial taskforce, despite falling in great numbers. "We need to make sure we have a path out of the ship. All ships, orientate the spear formation spacewards, and keep the pathway open!" commanded Belisarius. The ship formation reorientated themselves, firing off powerful blasts of power.

"The ships keep coming! How much longer before they overwhelm us?" Admiral Kropek turned to the Strategos Primus.

"We only need to stay as long as the Astartes complete their mission." Belisarius was getting worried himself. The insects just keep coming not matter how much firepower was unleashed. A nova cannon shell might take out a number of Insectoid ships, but more would take their place. Belisarius turned and contacted the Ultramarine Chapter Master Gaius Innocentius, "Gaius, status? The fleet can only hold the enemy off for so long."

"Bzzt.... My Lord. We are fighting incredible resistance. There's an exhaustible tide of insects standing in our way. If I am allowed to be pessimistic, we might not be able to reach the Princess."

There was silence in the bridge. Everyone knew that there was only so much time they had before the insects might overwhelm the Imperial ships and even reach the Ultramar. Belisarius closed his eyes for a while and sat silently on his command chair as everyone stared and awaited their Lord's command. After a brief moment, he said quietly and evenly, "Gaius, withdraw to the Ultramar. Do so with order and dignity."

"Aye... my Lord. I'm... sorry."

"Don't worry. I will deal with the Emperor's wrath myself." But just as the Ultramarines fought a fighting retreat, the Karlacks stopped fighting, and a powerful psychic scream raged through the minds of many. Some of the Imperial Guard simply collapsed from the scream. There was an uneasy silence as everyone looked upon each other yet no one seemed to dare to move. But to Belisarius, there was a rather personal message that barely made it through the Void Shields. "Hello Brother, it's me Alyxia."

"Alyxia...?" He said softly.

"Yes it's me. I have become one with the Karlack; one of their Aspects, the principle controllers of the Overmind."

"But... How?"

"Please go. I can only control them so much at the moment."

"But our father..."

"I know. He will rage. I know. But go now. I can't control them for so long."

Belisarius' face hardened. He barked, "Chapter Master. Continue the withdrawal. Engineerium, prime the Warp Engines. Navigator! Set course for Terra!" The Ultramarines withdrew to the orbiting battle barge, and the insects parted to allow the ships to pass through, and the ships jumped into hyperspace. Belisarius knew one thing for certain: the Emperor was going to be furious.

=========

And the Emperor indeed raged. The room turned icy cold and the air cackled with fire and lightning after Belisarius told the Emperor of the battle and how Alyxia had now become one with the Karlack. "Bastard xeno insects! They dare to take my daughter?!? I will have their heads and carcasses on pikes for this perfidy," he bellowed, as some of the funiture was blasted to bits by the lightning darting about the throneroom. Many of the Scholae Palatinae Astartes cowered to a corner. They had seen the Emperor rage before, and they knew the consequences of being collateral damage.

"Father..." Belisarius almost whimpered. He didn't know whether to say something soothing or to actually slink away. His father's power in psykery exceeded his own, and getting in the way of his rage was simply asking for trouble. The Emperor punched his hand onto the throne, shattering it utterly. His eyes glowed with power and space-time almost seemed to warp. Pieces of the ceiling and walls were flaking off and then cracks appearing. He walked towards Belisarius and stared straight at him. "Warmaster. Rally the armies and raise all the legions. We are going to war to crush these insiginicant insects for daring to defy my Will."

"Yes.. my Lord." Belisarius almost lost his composure and quickly walked away. Just as he did so and left the throneroom, he heard a loud crack. "I think he shattered the ceiling again..." and quickly ran off.

========

War had come again to the Imperium. "The Foul Xenos have dared to perpetrate a great crime against Humanity again. They have kidnapped the the Princess Alyxia and defiled the purity of her soul. These foul devil spawn must be crushed for perpetrating this Great Heresy with their Heretical Rituals! Therefore, I proclaim a Crusade against these Foul Xenos who call themselves Karlacks. We will rescue the Princess Alyxia and crush these Xenos for daring to defy the will of the God Emperor. Rescue her and rescue her soul before it is lost forever!" bellowed the Ecumenical Patriarch Innokenti XI.

And then the Imperium marched for war.
Last edited by Fingolfin_Noldor on 2011-04-08 10:33am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby PeZook » 2010-06-21 12:55am

Unknown location
Sometime after January 4th 3381

The pounding headache clouded everything. Slowly, bit by bit, darkness and blurred, deranged vision were replaced by a white, spotless ceiling, as Dale Gardna, Lady Luck's first officer, opened his eyes. And immediately closed them, as the white light brough upon them searing pain.

"Hey, he's coming to!", he heard someone say. At least he wasn't here alone, then. Whatever the Collectors decided to do to them, at least he'd have companions in his suffering.

He finally opened his eyes, prepared for the light. As he looked around the clean, white room he almost went right back into shock.

The crew of the Lady Luck sat in the middle of the room, at a large table - barely visible, since it was made of the same white material as the walls, floor and ceiling. There was food there - from their ship's rations, it would appear - and even some matresses. The helmsman helped Dale stand up, holding him when the weak man stumbled and shuffled towards a chair.

"Where...where are we? Where's the captain?"

"Beats me, Dale", the helmsman shrugged, handing Dale a NutriCube, "We all woke up here, one after another. Nobody remembers anything after the bridge went dark."

"How long have I been unconscious?"

"We have no idea, man. All our watches are gone."

"Well, shit.", Dale got up and started walking around the room, "This is..."

A sudden bump startled everybody. Something screetched, as if metal rubbed on metal, and then there was another shock.

"Uhhh...this doesn't look good."

Saptani Sector

The small capsule fired its maneuvering thrusters as it approached the container, floating somewhere in orbit above Gloria Saptani, a pompously-named world containing little more than a research outpost cataloguing stellar bodies inside the system. Right now, the previously unimportant world was home to the biggest fleet deployment in the history of the Regency - all because of the rectangular, five hundred metre long object floating silently in orbit. Or, more precisely, the ship which deposited it there two weeks ago and disappeared.

"Fifty metres. I can see surface details...it's smooth, no markings or writings on the sides...there's some sort of emblem at the top, and that's pretty much it.", the capsule's pilot, a volunteer by the name of Marco Sodano, reported in a hushed voice. Could it be? The sign from the Engine itself, that everyone's been waiting for?

"Copy that. We are getting telemetry from yours instruments...can you see an airlock?"

"Uh, negative, command, ne...holy crap!", the pilot shouted, when all of a sudden, a large door opened in the side of the container, "Okay, I see an airlock"

"Hold position and wait for instructions"

Sodano held his breath in awe as he shined a spotlight inside the structure. He couldn't wait to see what was inside...he only hoped command would let him take his ship there...

"Scout-1, wait for the recovery teams. Report any change in the object's disposition."

"Figures...", Sodano muttered to himself. Guess he'd have to find out the details from an official report, just like everybody else.

Ekani Sector, Special Research Division

"This is incredible. This will change the way we see and explore the universe forever", Dr. Katherine Hobbs was besides herself with excitement. In front of her lay hundreds of photographs of the artifacts found aboard the container, "It's a starship, you see? An entire disassembled starship. And a computer system full of data about an advanced FTL drive system! And that power core...I can't believe it. It must be a gift from the Engine itself, there's no other explanation!"

"The crew says otherwise", one of her colleagues, Dr. Chandra, remarked dryly, "We only have a rudimentary understanding of their language, but it seems they've been abducted by some race called 'The Protectors' and brought here.

"They're heathens, they probably didn't recognize a vessel of the Engine. Of course, they're heathens from an intelligent species, which is by themselves a miracle...I'm telling you, it will change everything. Everything."

"Yes, I'm sure of that", Chandra nodded, sifting through the materials on the table. Of course, as the saying goes, gifts are rarely free., he mused to himself. What price would the Regency have to pay for this mysterious boon? He doubted he'd ever find out.

Of course, as it's later been found, it would be difficult to even get a single answer from the people who went to all this trouble just to give the Regency a hyperspace drive.
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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby PeZook » 2010-06-21 04:22am

Unknown location, deep within Collector space
Some time after January 4th, 3381

He was woken up by the merry chirping of birds, and something wet and rough on his face. He opened his eyes slowly, and for a moment, fought with a blanket, heavy with the morning dew. He needed a few seconds to get out from under it, his body aching terribly.

I'm getting a little old for this, he thought. Six weeks of travelling between villages was taking its toll on the old man. Fortunately, he should be in Newhaven tomorrow, and get to sleep by a fireplace in the tavern.

He stretched and scratched his head, and started rolling up the campsite. He was smiling and whistling the entire time, remembering his past life: back when he woke up here, in this strange place, with nothing but the clothes on his back. He remembered nothing: not his childhood, not what brought him to this place, but how important could those things be? He had everything he needed with him right now, right here - the sun was shining, and the road lay ahead of him.

Jason Carter, formerly - and unknown to him now - a skipper of the merchant freighter Lady Luck, heaved his travelling bag and walked off briskly towards the sunrise, whistling a happy tune.

Five hundred kilometres above him, a black starship engaged its hyperdrive and disappeared in a flash of light.
Last edited by PeZook on 2010-06-21 03:59pm, edited 1 time in total.
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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby PeZook » 2010-06-21 11:15am

Legion

"Oh, baby...it's been so long..."

She smiled. And what a great smile it was: just as he remembered it. Everything was exciting, as if their relationship was again, new and fresh.

She gently slid the satin blouse off her shoulders, revealing the perfect body. Even in his wildest dreams, dreamt in the tight and smelly crew quarters of the patrol frigate, he never felt what he could feel now. They embraced, pressing their bodies tightly with each other, their lips interlocking in a passionate kiss, born out of passion and long-repressed desire.

She screamed and jerked backwards, tripping over the coffee table. He turned around and froze in shock, staring straight into a single, cold eyepiece of a robotic body.

Image

"Oh, don't mind me", an electronic voice hissed, dripping with sarcasm and just a hint of disgust, "I won't be long."

The girl continued to scream, until another humanoid robot, identical to the first, emerged from the dark and expertly subdued and gagged her. He tried to fight, to move towards his love, but was unceremoniously thrown onto the bed. A spiderlike drone leapt on his face from the ceiling, pinning him to the covers with nasty-looking diamon teeth on its underside. He froze, too afraid to move.

The two humanoid robots moved to the window like two limbs of the same body. The man saw glimpses of collapsible weapons, and hard, metallic clicks and bumps - when they stopped, one of the robots heaved a massive sniper rifle and aimed it down the street, while the other scanned the area with a large spotter scope.

Hints of other machines were audible from all over the apartment. Metallic clangs echoed through ventillation shafts, scurrying and whirrs reverbeated from the kitchen. It seemed as if the young couple were caught in the middle of some well-rehearsed spectacle, impossible to understand. He tried to speak - but decided not to, seeing the diamond teeth whirr centimetres away from his face.

The pair of robots by the window didn't move. None of them said a word, looking like statues illuminated by a backdrop of the biggest city in the outer fringe. As if they were waiting for something.

Suddendly, there was a thunderous roar, an ear-shattering double blast of hypersonic slugs colliding with air, filling the spacious apartment with heat and shattering all delicate glass decorations. The slugs blew right through the 80th story window and slammed into the roof of an armored car travelling far below, one after another. A pillar of star-bright flame erupted through two gaping holes and the car skidded to a halt, others running into it in a massive pileup.

The two robots moved now, disassembling the giant gun in a few precise movements. They looked at the man, as one, like two eyes of the same head - only by chance stuck in two different bodies.

"You didn't see anything", one of them said. The man nodded weakly.

"Liar", the other added, "Of course you did. What, you think I'm stupid?"

"No!", the man gasped, still staring in horror at the drone's array of teeth, "I mean, I didn't..."

"Amusing...", the robots snort in unison, their heads incapable of displaying any emotion, but their voice dripping with contempt. Without a further word, they turn around and leave, a flurry of smaller drones following them into the darkness.

Eighty stories below, a limousine carrying Edward Limpkin, SinTek's Director Of Colonial Development, was slowly burning, belching clouds of toxic smoke, its interior contaminated by nerve gas and radioactive polonium delivered inside the slugs.
Last edited by PeZook on 2010-06-21 04:03pm, edited 1 time in total.
Image
JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Oskuro » 2010-06-21 12:10pm

The meeting room was dark and silent. As the automated doors slid shut behind him, the Governor shuddered. Couldn't they do this in more pleasant conditions? Perhaps with some background music and a few drinks? Secretive gloomy meetings were not meant for him, he should be in well lit rooms, full of lackeys and sycophants, as well as an attractive waitress. But this had to be done. He sighed and walked towards the far end of the meeting table, where the cone of light, projected by a lone ceiling lamp, awaited him.

Attempting his best at a dignified stance, the Governor sat, trying not to stare at the creature sitting across the table, and failing miserably at that. The thing was lying back on its chair, barely out of the light, making it even harder to discern its features. They all looked the same to the Governor, who quickly glanced back at the door to hide his look of revulsion.

"Welcome to my humble facilities..." said the Governor, wondering if he should try to shake the creature's appendages "Would you like a refreshment?"

The creature remained silent. The Governor pulled out a handkerchief and cleared his sweating brow before nervously addressing the creature again.

"I guess we'd better cut to the chase... " the creature remained silent, but nodded slightly. The Governor gathered himself and spoke in what he thought was a respectable voice "We've contacted you due to an alarming increase in pirate activity in our sector" He paused momentarily, then kept going "for a few months now we've had our supply vessels raided by pirate fleets who..."

"Fleets?" the creature interrupted, it's voice coarse and deep, with a heavy accent.

"Well, gangs..." The Governor wiped his forehead again "All right, a single gang. They have been intercepting our supply vessels and stealing their cargo" The Governor left it at that, there was no need to mention the-

"What about the crews?" said the creature.

The Governor cursed his luck and tried to look dignified "They... Well, they..." he sighed "they were found in the disabled ships, bound and gagged in the cargo holds, they gear stolen, and..."

"They were humiliated" stated the creature. The Governor nodded silently. The creature shifted in its chair and leaned forward, lying its limbs on the table. It spoke again "If they are a single gang, why haven't you been able to deal with them?"

The Governor was prepared for this question "We don't have the means to battle heavily armed pirates, we just have peacekeeping forces present, not an actual army"

"Then why didn't you call for reinforcements?"

The Governor was also prepared for this "It is a local matter, and must be resolved by local means! I don't want to involve the central government unless it is absolutely necessary, nor will I..."

"Yet you have called me" The creature interrupted "Would your government approve?"

The Governor swiped his forehead again. He was trembling. The creature spoke again, in what the Governor suspected was an attempt at comforting him, yet it terrified him even more "I am not here to judge you"

Still shaking, the Governor gave in. He had expected to last longer before having to confess, he thought of himself as a better speaker, he was obviously wrong.

"Very well" He sighed "those supply ships aren't strictly 'legal'" the creature leaned back, he kept speaking "they carry part of the planet's production output to be sold in, shall we say, alternative markets" He wiped his brow again "this, of course, doesn't sit well with the locals, yet they can't do much, since the decline in production is blamed on them, and the central government won't listen to their pleas. Not to mention that, thanks to the decline in production, my administration receives extra funds to boost the economy." He coughed, why weren't any drinks around? "This operation has been remarkably profitable, until this pirate gang began hitting the convoys. Now I have losses due to piracy I can't report, and security expenses that are eating away my resources"

The creature made a gesture similar to someone taking notes, even when it wasn't. It spoke "Didn't you manage to capture this.... gang?".

The Governor had been dreading that question "Yes, we did. One of our agents informed us that the pirates had been hired by our own populace, probably as revenge for our little operation" he coughed "we decided to move aganist these citizens, in hopes of cutting the pirates' funding. During a raid on a factory, our security forces actually came in contact with the pirates, which we assume were negotiating with the citizens. After a protracted siege and ground-based chase, we managed to round them and capture them." He swallowed. Please don't ask, please don't ask.

"How many were they?"

Darn! Why did he have to ask? The Governor sighed "They were four" He waited silently for laughter, yet the creature remained silent.

"Can you describe them?" It said.

"Yes, of course. They were all... well, green, as all of their... kind... are" He paused, yet the creature said nothing. "First, there was the thin one, the one without any scars. It was wearing a local garment, and a few requisitions officers recognized it immediately once we broadcasted its image. Apparently it had managed to steal, swindle or otherwise procure gear and vehicles from our own forces, which explains why we had so much trouble detecting them" The governor tried to picture just how in damnation could an ape-like muscle-bound green monstrosity have made its way into several security outposts and managed to con soldiers into giving away their gear. Whatever recordings there might have been had been lost, probably due to said soldiers not wanting such embarrassing evidence against them.

"Then, there was the short one" He shuddered "It was like a tiny malformed version of the larger ones, with large pointy ears, small malevolent eyes and a large pointy nose. As far as we know, it is the group's pilot, and it keep wailing and babbling incoherently. We're not sure if it was truly insane, or just pretending to be, in any case it had to be restrained" Before the creature could ask, he continued "We wrapped it in a straightjacket, and fitted a metal wire dog muzzle on its.... nose" He shuddered remembering the nose-like protrusion that turned out to be a fang-lined snout.

"Then there was the big one" He wiped his brow "Almost three meters tall, very muscular, stood upright, darker skin tone, and wore golden ammo belts across its torso" He gulped "I didn't know they could get so big"

"Some do" said the creature. The Governor shuddered.

"We interrogated them and-"

"What about the fourth?" Interrupted the creature. The Governor yet again cursed his luck.

"We didn't manage to capture it. We suspect it is the leader. All we know is that its face is heavily scarred" He paused, expecting a comment, yet none came, so he kept talking "We tried interrogating them, with little luck. The little one almost bit a guard, and began rolling on the ground laughing. The large one just stood silent, and we had to relieve the interrogating officer due to a nervous breakdown. As for the thin one, it managed to get its hands on two watches, a helmet and a rifle."

"Attacking the guards?"

"Erhm, no. Playing cards. We still don't know how he managed to get those in there" He felt himself blushing.

"I see. Where are they now?"

Here we go "They escaped" He sighed "We threw them in a cell, yet they managed to escape..." he kept going, better not try to hide it "... by using the cell's inner panelling and power conduits to build some kind of automated battering ram and shield. They forced their way out of the prison complex, stormed through the security outpost, caused heavy damage to the installations, and made their escape on one of our shuttles" He paused, picturing how they might have used the wires on the little one's muzzle to loosen screws and pry open panels "we could not pursue".

The creature nodded "Did you suffer many casualties?"

The Governor made a blank face "Actually... No. A guard was bitten, several officers were hurled into walls, and a couple of them had to climb out of an upturned ground vehicle, but we were lucky and suffered no fatalities" He decided not to mention the guard they found tied, gagged and wearing a pink frilly dress.

"I see" Said the creature.

"Is there anything you can do about them?" Asked the Governor, hopeful.

"I think there is. I've been after them for some time now" The creature leaned forward into the light, the Governor reeled back, it was wearing an unmistakably military uniform, grey, with black gloves, and a collection of silvery medals on its shoulders and chest. The oversized cap projected a shadow over its face, from within which its malevolent glowing red eyes stared back, and a line sharp fangs could be seen protruding from the prominent green lower lip. The Ork spoke "I will need all the information you have on them"

"Here you go" Said the Governor, handing a small storage device "That's the only copy too, we don't want that information around if the central government drops by, so make sure not to lose it"

"Indeed" Said the Ork as it stood up. The Governor stood up too, and was surprised at how, despite its bulk, the creature was still almost a full head shorter than he was. Not accounting for the oversized cap.

"Are you really sure you can catch them?"

The Ork paused, then violently turned around at the Governor, and barked with anger "Of course!" He then turned back and walked out of the room.

The Governor sat alone in the dark room, breathing rhythmically in an attempt to calm himself down. This was good. If the pirates could be dealt with, he would have enough time to swipe the whole thing under the carpet and get back to business as usual. Just barely. He was already starting a mental list of people that needed to be punished when his communicator beeped.

"Commander Drakka is here, sir" Said the officer.

"Who?"

"Commander Drakka, sir. The envoy from General Krag's fleet" The officer paused "The Ork you were expecting" The Governor's eyes widened.


In a back alley of the planetary capital, the sound of boot-clad footsteps stopped. The uniform-clad Ork pulled out a lighter, and lit up the cigar it already had in its mouth. The flame lighted up its heavily scarred face. As it puffed away, it took a look at the storage device and snickered.

"I love it when a plan comes together"


"Some time ago, an Ork commando squad was thrown in a hole to rot for wrecking their Warboss' ride. They promptly escaped and stole the Warboss' personal ship. Today, still wanted by the Warboss, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, if you can find them, and if they don't eat you, maybe you can hire... The WAAGH! Team"
unsigned

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Siege » 2010-06-21 12:38pm

SinTEK Galactic Main Office
Kerenkov, Solaris Sector


Image

"... and I'd like to close today's meeting with a brief announcement," droned the voice of Hoit Giordano, the Secretary of the Board of the SinTEK conglomerate. "I have just been informed that our good friend and colleague Edward Limpkin has unfortunately been killed this morning." To his satisfaction, that clearly got him the attention of the rest of the Board, something he'd lacked much of the previous part of the daily briefing. He paused briefly to let the tension build, savouring his moment in the spotlight until he saw an irritable expression form on the face of Felicity Sinclair. He scraped his throat. "The KPD is on the scene, and has determined that Edward was assassinated by a high-velocity projectile that pierced his armored limousine and delivered a lethal cocktail of radioactive and nerve agents into the vehicle."

Felicity Sinclair leaned forward. "And the perpetrators?"

Giordano's green eyes fluttered swiftly twice or thrice as he wirelessly accessed the Datasphere, then he shrugged. "That information is not available at this time. The authorities have a man and a woman in custody as witnesses, but they appear to be hysterical. According to them the perpetrators were - and I quote - 'fucking robots'."

"Fat lot of good that does us," remarked Naledi Sandoval, the CFO. "There's only how many billion robots on Kerenkov?"

Sinclair tapped her fingers on the massive boardroom table. "I want anyone who might have seen anything mind-jacked, includin those witnesses. And I don't care what the local beat cops say about it," she turned to Mesi Izquierdo, the SinTEK head of security. "Nobody shoots my people and gets away with it. We're not going to leave this to the local authorities. I want our best people on this matter. And get CEID in the loop as well. It his was Tyrell or Maibatsu I want to know and we'll take them for all they're worth. And if it was anybody else, well..." She shrugged. "We'll take them for all they're worth."

Izquierdo nodded, and Sinclair turned back toward Giordano. "What about CoD?"

Hoit Giordano scratched his chin. "Colonial Development will be temporarily run by vice-director Fedor Chelouche until such time as Edward can resume his duties... Which should be sometime early next week. Wellness, Health and Safety reports they have a mind-state only a few days old so data-time loss will be minimal."

Felicity Sinclair nodded, apparently satisfied with that answer. "That's something at least. Let this be a reminder to back up regularly, people. It would be a crying shame to lose more than strictly necessary in these unfortunate incidents..."
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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
There'll be a bodycount, we're gonna watch it rise
The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Siege » 2010-06-21 02:17pm

Welcome to Solaris!

#2

This ultrashort was written by my good friend Alan; I have merely adapted it for this setting, which didn't involve anything more than changing a half dozen words around.

If the elevator hadn't died on us three floors down, this would have gone a lot faster, and poor Will wouldn't be heaving and wheezing like he is now. Poor boy, spend too much time playing VR games, I'm not surprised. If I hadn't asked him to come up to the top with me, he'd never have even thought about it. Probably would have just hijacked a media drone and floated it up, replacing its eyes for his. Sounds like an awful lot of work to me: I'd rather just climb the damn stairs.

The fact that we're about seven kilometers up in the air doesn't bother me much, even though I can feel the wind catching my jacket and threatening to pull me over the edge. Will's quite flustered by it, I have to say.

“Why the hell did you tell me this was gonna be fun?” he asks, gripping the thin railing at the very top of the CeeJay Garner Tower as if his life depends on it. A mono, engines thrumming, howls along its thin metal line a few dozen stories below us.

“Because it is, silly,” I say, and sit down on the roof, letting my legs dangle off the edge, the bars keeping me from doing the same. If anyone cared to look this way they'd noticed that the skirt I wear is a little too short to be ladylike, and that what's under the skirt quite certainly came from an Empire Star, or even more controversial, a Trill underwear line. I've never bothered much with modesty, and if you think that's bad, you ought to see some of the other girls in my High School when they're not in uniform.

“Well, I never really imagined that falling off the edge of the sky to a quick death on a fib-crete sidewalk would be much fun!” says Will, his voice shaking.

“Oh, Will,” I say, putting an arm around his ankle. That startles the Jesus out of him, but just makes me laugh at him. “Don't be such a pansy.”

He calms down after a little bit, and we just look down, and breathe the only clean air to be found in this city. The Solaris cityscape towers through the cloud cover a few kilometers below us, blazing with a trillion lights of every conceivable color. The stars above are bright and gleaming, and the ships above, in reality kilometers long, look like shooting stars moving on absurd trajectories. I wonder what would happen if I wished on a Warstar, or a freighter bound for the Imperium. You never know, it could work.

“Okay Mary, I'll admit it,” Will says. “It's very pretty. Can we go back inside where I can't feel gravity raping my face?”

I roll my eyes. If he wasn't so cute, I'm not sure why I'd keep him around.
Image
SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
There'll be a bodycount, we're gonna watch it rise
The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Force Lord » 2010-06-21 03:14pm

The Presidential Center, Central City
Centrum, The Centrality
13 October 3339

Heavy rain pelted the coat of a harried man as he made his way towards the huge building, where Gabriel Enduvos, the supreme ruler of the Centrality, made his residence. His pacing across the wet pavement reflected a sort of desperation; he was late for a meeting of the Centralist Party council, where all the important decisions regarding the Centrality were made. He managed to reach the shelter of the building, but did not slow his gait. Some party officials welcomed him, but he hardly noticed their voices, so fearful of the results of his tardiness. In the politics of the Centrality, even the simple fact of arriving late could cost you your position.

The man soon made his way to the conference room, where some officials muttered about how did he come so late, since his prescence was needed before the meeting could start. He risked a glance at Enduvos, who did not look pleased.

"Where the hell you've been?! Damn it Fredon, if not for your importance I would have fired you right here, right now!"

Viso Fredon, General Secretary of the Centralist Party, was inwardly relieved that he was safe for the time being, but knew that he was still standing on thin ice.

"My apologies, sir. I was too busy with overdue paperwork."

Enduvos raised an eyebrow. "Paperwork? You're losing your touch, General Secretary."

"Well sir, it was a lot of paper. And for your information, it is raining outside. Blasted traffic jam meant I had to run the last kilometer."

At this the Secretary of State, Falko Tredell, chuckled quietly, but Fredon still picked it up and he shot a cold glare at him.

"Er... ahem," was his only reply.

Enduvos sighed at this exchange. Both men had competed for the position of General Secretary a few years ago, and before that they were fierce political rivals. It looked like they were still at it.

"Well then," he said, eager to get this over with, "now that the General Secretary has arrived, we can start the conference."

The conference's main topic was the proposed reorganization of the Navy. Since the 30th century, the Centrality had made a conscious decision to focus on building small ships for the Navy, as it was felt that a force composed mostly of light units would not incite hostility with the Eoghans and the neo-Atlanteans. It was also an attempt to reduce the strain on the economy, which was already nearing bankrupcy due to the runaway military spending of the time. Hence, a large number of heavy warships were scrapped, and the remainder reassgned to The Center. Only Foxa Sector had any large warships retained.

Now, however, there were calls for a more balanced naval organization. The ever-present threat of the Karlacks, as well as the fact that the EUC and the Commonwealth retained their heavy naval units, led to suggestions for a renewed emphasis on heavy units. This did not go well with the more traditionalist sectors of the Party, though, and arguments between naval renewalists and traditionalists became quite passionate. Enduvos himself wasn't sure what course to take, since although he felt that the arguments of the renewalists were quite weighty, the traditionalists had influential friends in the party that could block his movements. With this conference, he could try to influence proccedings in favor of the renewalists, but knew that wasn't guaranteed.

"There is clear evidence that our medium and heavy warships and carriers are too few to ensure deterrence. Therefore, I propose that the production of frigates and escort carriers be cut by half, if not more, and the resources thus freed up sent to build more of the larger classes," the Secretary of Defense, Singh Rosgu, declared.

"That is not possible. Building more of those ships will give our neighbors the excuse to accelerate their own fleet programs, forcing us into an arms race we cannot prevail," shouted the Foreign Secretary, Tagdef Borlon.

"Don't be so paranoid Borlon. You know that in any expected military confrontation we would face two enemies at the same time, giving us little real chance to win. Besides, a military build-up won't be a popular option for our neighbors, since we aren't their only worries."

"I don't think that scrapping our light units is a good idea," interjected Smith Jomgle, the Secretary of Internal Security. "Our forces will be handicapped in case of a major rebellion."

At this Tredell retorted, "Who said our light units, which compose our rapid-reaction forces, will be scrapped entirely? In fact, with more heavy vessels, we can intimidate any would-be rebel into submission. And what makes you think that a uprising will happen now? The last large-scale revolt happened centuries ago."

Fredon could not help but smirk at this. Tredell may have been his rival, but he still respected a good argument when he heard one.

"Really," Tredell continued, "all arguments against a restructuring of the Navy have been based by a fear of the unknown. We have few real enemies despite our belief in Centralism, and our old foes have mellowed out. That leaves out the unreasonable ones: the Karlacks, the Orks and the Pfhors. Before anyone says 'They're too far!', they aren't. The Eoghans have already found out why the Karlacks are hated; one of their ships was attacked just recently, and no one survived. The same happened with the neo-Atlanteans when they sent forces to rescue their citizens from Ork capture. And the Pfhors captured about 100 of our citizens several years ago, dooming them to death! The truth is, some entities view our isolationism as a weakness, and thus exploit our reluctance to fight by taking some pot shots at us. What we need is to show them that the Centrality will take the necessary steps to defend its sovereignty, and to do this we need to reform the Navy for that purpose. That is what I ask."

Fredon chose this moment to speak.

"Tredell has said fine words about the need to upgrade our defenses. Though this may surprise many of you, he has my support."

There were many hushed voices muttering surprised words at this development. Enduvos himself had his eyes widened. These two may be able to work together after all, he thought.

"The Naval Reformation Project has my approval. The shipyards will be notified of this decision. Who are in favor?"

64 hands were raised.

"And against?"

36 hands were counted.

"Very well. NRP has been passed. Any more questions?"

No one spoke.

"This conference is finished. You may return to your posts."

As the room emptied, Enduvos felt a certain satisfaction. Now the Centrality had its chance to be taken more seriously on the international stage. He never understood why Dovan wanted isolationism as the foreign policy of choice. That wasn't possible in an age where commerce was increasingly important. That doesn't mean we won't be careful, he thought. After all, he still had a regime to preserve.
Last edited by Force Lord on 2010-06-22 01:37pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Coyote » 2010-06-21 03:17pm

Central Assembly
Office of the First Governor
Tsonarr, Central Alliance










Time had come and gone, and the theories had flown. The Central Alliance's representative cross-section had worried, and mobilized, and waited. First Governor Chakran Darkhressek had played his hand with utmost caution, closing down the Alliance to outside influences until answers, or at least theories, could be had.

So far, the theories and explanations had gone into the wild realms of largely unproven and unpredictable theoretical concepts. Alternate universes, different dimensions, theoretical timelines-- all had suddenly entered the realm of everything from straight-faced government reports to dinner table talk to media talk shows. The notion of alternate realities was not wholly undreamt of by the people of the Iriesii Galaxy (which they now knew they were no longer a part of)-- after all, there was hyperspace, nullspace, and fractal-dimensionsal drive experiments-- it's just that the notion of whole enclaves of civilization being transported entirely to an alternate dimension was not believed possible.

"It was always believed," said one of the Alliance Enclave's leading --remaining-- researchers in theoretical dimensions, "...that an alternate dimension would be a destination purposefully explored by a vessel, not a realm into which whole cross-sections of society would simply be transported to."

"So," the First Governor said, tired and grey and visibly worn by the events, "If we are in this... alternate dimension, what of our homes? What of our rightful place in the universe? Are our planets missing from the Alliance, or are we just twins, copies made to exist in this... fractal space, or whatever it is?" He rubbed his temples as he struggled with the science of it-- he was a politician, not a scientist.

"We have no way to know," Dr. Rhens replied. "The notion that this was an Irrykanoi super-weapon used to get the Centrality's primary worlds 'out of the way' is not borne out. Too many smaller, notional, unimportant and out-of-the-way worlds have been transported to this new realm; why would the Republic waste their super-weapon on tenth-rate colonies like Blokh-Lune? Or, Thyssa forbid, a corporate stripmine like Pit 12? If those worlds were near strategic worlds, worthy of a first-strike, I could argue that they got caught in peripheral effects of a... detonation, or whatever.

"But it seems as if the worlds of our enclave were selected almost as if to create a cross-section of Central Alliance society. We've got capital, core worlds, species homeworlds, major construction facilities, basemoons, and raw-materiel extraction colonies as well as asteroid mining. Even star harvesters."

"So are you saying this is some sort of... supernatural event?" First Governor Chakran Darkhressek asked, his expression strained and his posture pleading, as if asking for something, anything, he could tell people. "Were we chosen by... I dunno, Thyssa, or Dala-khadar, or something? For what?"

"I wouldn't quite go that far," Dr. Rhens said, embarassed to be in such a realm of discussion. "But it is possible that exceptionally powerful beings, of a type previously unencountered and of powers untheorized, could have done something like this for reasons that make sense only to them."

"But why?" the First Governor wondered aloud.
"I can only imagine that the things we do to lab animals must be met with equal incredulity," Dr. Rhens said, "Although I myself have never workd with lab animals, really... if they took a cross-section of our society, then it stands to reason that it is our society that they want to study. We're self-sustaining, we have all our decision-making people here, we even got our problems here, with the Veliscii colonies... they want to see how we react, how we interact with other aliens, again, for reasons that may make sense to them even if we can't see it."

"But if they want to see how our society works, why not just observe us in situ? Back home?"
Dr. Rhens shrugged. "Again, we can observe primates in the wild, so why capture some and segregate them into labs? Because it is easier for us to do what we want to do."

"So we're supposed to sit here while someone sprays paint in our eyes?" First Governor Darkhressek asked.
"Figureatively speaking, I suppose so," Rhens replied casually. "Although you must remember that experiments of that nature have not been done for centuries."
"But the legacy lives on," Darkhressek said. "I can't tell our people this; there's panic enough as it is."

"It stands to reason, " Dr. Rhens said, "That a culture capable of doing this sort of selection process on such a massive scale may not have disturbed the fabric of our civilization at all."

"How can you say that?" Darkhressek demanded, "I feel plenty disturbed!" he blurted out, then wished he'd phrased it more elegantly.
"Well," Rhens said, "If they wanted to destroy our civilization, clearly they could have. I don't believe that is their goal. Their goal seems to be to observe. If that is th ecase, I posit that we have not actually been removed from home space-- that our enclave here is, in fact, a copy, and our originals are back home, where they belong, continuing their lives."

"How can you imagine such a thing?" the First Governor demanded. "Am I supposed to go on the CCN and tell everyone that we're all just copies?"
"Would it be so bad?" Rhens asked. "Think about it, people are worried about their own lives, true, but they are also deeply concerned about the effects their mass dissappearance has doubtlessly had on loved ones left behind. If we can tell them that the effects of displacement trauma are being felt only by us-- that there are not trillions more vicitms back home, panicking; that home space is not being invaded by the Irrykanoi... that life continues as it was and we are just copies in an alternate realm... they can free themselve sof worry over thos eleft behind, and focus on their own problems."

"Which would take a lot of stress off..." Darkhressek said, thinking about it.
"They can focus on their own problems and start working together here, since this is, most likely, our new home to stay."
"There's no way we can prove this," Darkhressek said.
"Evidence is circumstantial at best, and certainly details are filled in by wishful thinking on my part, I admit," Rhens said. "But if a convincing argument can be made, then people can get busy accomodating themselves to the facts as they are."

"There will be social and theological implications," Darkhressek muttered, trying to think up the problems that would be faced.
"Well, I, I mean, um, I suppose..." Rhens fumbled for words. He found religion a rediculous waste of time.
"I know how you feel, Doctor," Darkhressek said, "But like it or not, people still base their perceptions on religion. The idea that their souls may have been twinned; which one goes to heaven, am I a soulless creature, etc.." He waved it all away as if shooing a bothersome insect. "Doctor, I kinda agree with you, despite having some religious upbringing myself. But this will come up."

"Well, we'll have to let the theologians deal with it," Rhens said, "I would say, maybe... another reality, anothe rheaven, both souls go to their respective heavens. But, um, then I again I suppose that undermines the primacy of one God, yes?"
"Well, if there's one God then he probably has a way to deal with this that satisfies the requirements which ar ebeyond our comprehension. Something that makes sense in, I dunno... God-world. Or whatever," Darkhressek said.

"Not bad, use that," Rhens said. "If the question comes up. Personally, I'd avoid it, and if it doesn't come up at all, then you've dodged a blaster bolt."

First Governor Darkhressek sighed. "I hope this works."






Results:
Central Alliance enclave dealing with sociological repercussions of their situation.

***
Something about Libertarianism always bothered me. Then one day, I realized what it was:
Libertarian philosophy can be boiled down to the phrase, "Work Will Make You Free."


In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

If all you want to do is have some harmless, mindless fun, go H3RE INST3ADZ0RZ!!
Grrr! Fight my Brute, you pansy!

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Dave » 2010-06-21 04:37pm

23 December 3100
Secret Laboratory, somewhere in the Smyrnin Mountains of Asadi, Elaya sector

"What's this, in this freezer?", asked Taryn, the junior microbiologist.

"Huh?" said the senior staff member.

"It says "Tau Tissue Samples -- Liver"

"I guess that answers your question, now doesn't it?"

"What? No, I mean, why do we have Tau tissue samples?"

"Well, I'm sure somebody managed to do an autopsy on a Tau sometime in the last 500 years."

"One, yes, but the entire freezer is full them. There's like the equivalent of an entire body worth of Tau tissue samples in here... heart, brain, kidney, everything. And the freezer next to it, and the freezer next to that. Is this freezer the reason the Tau almost went extinct?" Taryn joked.

Curse the First Egg groaned the senior researcher inwardly.

"Shut the freezer, kid.", he said.

"But why do..."

"Now.", he said, in a tone that brooked no argument.

The freezer door shut with a solid thud.

"Alright, you've got secret clearance anyway, and now that you glanced inside those freezers you may even have a need to know." said the senior researcher, glancing around to make sure no one else was in this biological storage closet, "Still, off the record, you understand?"

Taryn pulled himself a seat and nodded.

"This storage facility is not just long term storage for the results of military autopsies. We also, as you just noticed, have Tau tissue samples."

"But why..."

"I'm coming to that. Do you remember the intergalactic history of a few hundred years ago? No, of course you don't. Anyway, back in the 27th century, Terran Standard, the Byzantine Imperium fought a massive war with the Tau. Now, whatever their reasons for war, or the Tau's reasons for war, are not really important to this story. If you care, you can go look it up. In any case, the Imperium unleashed a biological weapon against the Tau partway through the war. No, sit... SIT DOWN, SHARD IT! Now, before you go jumping out of your seat to put on a HAZMAT suit, it was a toxin, not an infectious agent. It is targeted explicitly at Tau and no other species. So you're safe, though I suggest you wash your claws after this.

Anyway, the Iduran Government decided that the biotoxin was pushing it to far, especially considering the xenocidal shift in their political speeches. And so, though the official policy of the government was (and still is) isolationist and non-interventionist, the government secretly sent medical supplies, food and other essentials to the Tau. Some say they even sent weapons, but that's just rumor, and if it is true it's higher than my pay grade. In addition, we tried to find an antidote for the toxin, using tissue samples, fluids and even one or two captured toxin dispersal canisters. We made some progress, but not enough to help, and the Tau were the ones who eventually found a counter. Not that it saved them in the end.

So what you see there are some of the tissue samples, still frozen after all these years."

"The Imperium is still xenophobic," said Taryn "and if they found out that we..."

"Why do you think we still have those tissue samples?"

Taryn shuddered, then got up to wash his claws.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Lonestar » 2010-06-22 01:41am

Dominion Battlefleet Chronos
In Orbit of Amplitur-8, 2986


The Wahunsenacawh adjusted its course slightly as the Shepistani Federation Battlestar Catoctin Mountain eased into formation several thousand kilometers aft of the Dominion flagship. An entire Shepistani Battlestar Group(BSG-75) had joined Battlefleet Chronos on the drive towards the Amplitur Homeworld. The fighting through the Amplitur Homesystem had been awful, and after 5 years they Grand Dominion had only just now made it through the Oort Cloud and most of the Kuiper Belt. Two dozen super-heavies had been destroyed, leaving a gaping hole in the battle wall. And so the Shepistani Federation ended up sending heavy forces to aid their erstwhile cousins.

And there was still several more Amplitur Fleets to worry about, with several more AUs between Amplitur-8 and Amplitur-Prime.

“Admiral.” Grand Admiral Earl turned to the voice of his chief of staff. “Admiral Tarsus of BSG-75 sends his regards, and cordially invites you, Captain Hyatte, and the staff over to his flagship for dinner at 1800 Galactic Mean Time.”

Earl curtly nodded. “Inform the Admiral that I thank him for his request, and I will be over shortly. Vice Admiral Hornberg has the conn while we’re on the Catoctin Mountain.”

“Aye sir.”

***
“Earl! How are you old bastard?”

Admiral Saul Tarsus, eyepatch and all, was waiting for him in the shuttle bay. As was his manner he completely disregarded the traditional side boys and blurted out a greeting before Earl and his party could even request permission to come aboard.

“I’m doing well Saul, how are you? How’s Ellen?”

“Good good, come on! Dinner is waiting.”

The party made its way to the Catoctin Mountain’s Flag Wardroom, where dinner was already laid out. A Mess steward began to pour for Admiral Tarsus, before he snapped “leave the bottle!”. It was a popular Shepistani label called Battlescotch Galactica. After everyone got seated and drinks were poured, Admiral Earl stood and said “To our hosts, the Shepistani Federation!”

Everyone drank.

Admiral Tarsus stood. “To the Lord Protector, may death come swiftly to his enemies…unless they are us!” There was some laughter and more drinking. Tarsus sat back down. “Fleetlord Validir gave me quite the run around Earl, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to join you for the final push. The Amplitur Home System has an impressive system of defensive works. I could scarcely believe the DRADIS feed as we entered the corridor you’ve cut.”

“At least the light is at the end of the tunnel.” Earl said morosely. “Damn glad to have BSG-75 onboard. If I may be frank, the GD’s economy is running on fumes and we simply do not have the wherewithal to finish the job on our own.”

“Neither do we. Even worse, the god-damn Libruls have been giving Army House problems. You should look at the proposed post-war fleet numbers. It’s unbelievable. The Amplitur deserve nothing less than total destruction for what they’ve done to the faithful.” Tarsus stood again “To the death of all Xenos and their collaborators!”

“To the death!”
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Agent Sorchus » 2010-06-22 02:05am

Detective Magister Ailill filled out his report on the most recent loss of life in the Karlack exclusion zone. Dirty poachers can't even have plans to get out, at least they had only tried to do a smash and grab on a feeding zone. It could have been worse, the Xesús cult's hunters would have gone after an aspect if the SPS hadn't called in Naval fire to burn out their commune. 160 Eoghan, 13 transhuminist emigrants from Nova Atlantis and a medium freighter all lost thanks to the large profit margins in taking exotic insectoids to the chefs.

Speaking of smugglers, the investigation was ongoing as to where either the cultists or the poachers had gotten the heavy anti-ship missiles from. The Navy's report indicated low quality of the ordinance, and hinted at either ORK construction or something homemade. Now what to do about it? Scratching at his grey furred muzzle he opened up the Investigators FAQ.

An hour latter the report left and blazed its way through the bureaucracy. It didn't exactly take long to get to the Detective General. By the time Ailill went to sign out he had his orders.

Some Days Latter, aboard the War Cruiser Cibrán

Ailill looked out of the observation rooms primary veiwport, the room being his temporary office. The First Independent Squadron had lent its might to the long patrol around the Expanse. Many old listening and science posts were to be visited on the fringe of the vast shoal region, and many questions would be asked of the inhabitants. And all I expect to find is hints of Ork movement, and nothing that would actually justify the squadrons presence. If it hadn't bean for the cult bearing arms versus the SPS the whole squadron (2 warcruisers 6 heavy frigates and 4 destroyers) wouldn't have had the Marshal's blessings.

One of his aides approached," Magister Ailill the Heavy Frigate Brynjar has made the rendezvous and finished transfer of their contact data. Apparently Investigator Hillar flagged it for your attention."

The report came from one the AI science drones that occupied the Orrt Cloud of a life supporting star at the earliest stages of development in the least hyperspace active zones on record. The first section of the report was raw data from the hyperspace detector, gibberish for those who weren't learned on the subject. The next section that had been flagged was the actual query session. One of the reason that the drones had very capable AI's was because of the difficulty in communicating with them in the depths of shoal, they were smart enough to socialize and to come to their own conclusions about the data they extracted. And this specific drone was very excited about one of the conclusions.

They had detected signs of another hyperspace civilization in the void to the west of the Expanse.

Indeed it is interesting. A few keystrokes sent a message to the Commodore. Soon the Cruiser formed up on her escorting destroyers (2) and prepped for Hyper. The Magister's Curiosity was aroused and Ailill was intent on having it fulfilled. Unknown to him he was on his way to the displaced Central Alliance.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Steve » 2010-06-22 03:41pm

OOC: You can blame Siege for this piece. :wink: :mrgreen:

Orbital Space over Planet Taney
The Outback
4 April 3399


Taney was, as planets go, a miserable place. The atmosphere was barely breathable for Humans and other standard humanoid life forms, the surface mostly desert and rock. The planet itself had a couple biological research stations, as it was along the edge of a hyperlane through the Outback's dangerous Hyperspace Shoals and could thus be accessed, but nobody in their right mind (or in their right mind and without a xenobiology degree) ever visited.

And yet Taney had visitors. The first to reach near-orbit of the planet, seeking perhaps to land and hide or to swing around the planet, was a curious little vessel named the Tantalizer. As it went, blue energy flared around its hull as bolts of red energy crashed against it, dispersing against the deflector shields on the Tantalizer. It returned fire with its own weapons, a bright green, but the small green bolts seemed to give no trouble to its massive, hulking pursuer: an Imperator-class Cruiser.

In rather foreboding fashion, HMS Devastator continued to overtake the plucky little ship that had kindled her wrath. She had a broad, powerful shape, her thick hull tapering to a point at her bow to form something of a wedge shape, also permitting her to focus her weapons forward. Currently only the weakest batteries of her plasma cannon main armament were engaged; charged plasma would certainly have reduced the Tantalizer to component atoms with the slightest "lucky" hit.

Suddenly Tantalizer's deflectors failed. A bolt of plasma from Devastator's Heavy Plasma Cannon batteries scorched along the hull, killing a couple unlucky crew in the outer decks and generally causing havoc for the ship. Damage to the reactor housing forced the crew to shut down their main reactor and with it the engines; Tantalizer now hung helpless in space as the large Devastator moved forward, its launch bay opening wide to swallow the minuscule ship.

Aboard her, a servant cried out in terror that they were "all doomed", but nobody listened.

There was a small crew on the ship. Knowing their possible fates if captured many of them armed themselves. Wielding blaster pistols (as a safe form of firearm for a spaceship) they waited at the main airlock where, they expected, the enemy would come through. Sparks surrounded the airlock portal and after seconds of rather impressive pyrotechnics, the door exploded inward and clattered onto the floor of the corridor.

Behind it game a flurry of energy bolts. As the plucky, but hopelessly outgunned, crew tried to return fire, hulking figures of servo-powered metal tromped through with surprising speed and agility. Long rifles in their arms spat energized plasma across the corridor in brief bolts, killing the Tantalizer men who did not do the sensible thing and immediately flee before the sheer power of the Royal Marines' finest troopers.

The same servant from before, who had wandered close to the crossfire, screamed in terror and hid.

The firing ended soon enough, The crew surrendered to the inevitable and were gathered for processing. Behind the Royal Marines came the imposing figure of the Devastator's current impromptu commander, Lord Fisher, a man of over six feet in height known in part for the slight Oriental features to his face and the deep, powerful voice he possessed; also known for being a fairly capable ESPer. The Marines led him to the senior-most prisoner claimed so far, the ship's captain, introduced as Captain Whitcomb of the Republic of Pendleton's space force. "We are looking for your cargo," Fisher stated in a demanding tone. "Show it to us immediately."

Immediately the man protested. "We have no cargo! We are a consular ship on a diplomatic mission! You had no rig...." He stopped as Fisher, rather irritated, lifted the man into the air by his neck.

"We have intercepted transmissions from Pendleton to your ship and know of your mission," he rasped angrily. "Where is your cargo?! If this is a 'consular ship', where is your Ambassador?!"

Whitcomb gurgled an answer, but could not quite get it out. He fell unconscious in Fisher's iron grip, prompting the disgusted man to drop him like a bag of potatoes.

Captain Teller of the Royal Marines, overseeing the boarding party, came up to him. "Lord Fisher, the main computer does not possess a manifest."

"Lord Fisher, we found this one in a room!"

A figure with wrists manacled was brought out, a woman in her 20s with flowing tresses of golden blond hair and a fairly elaborate dress. She saw Fisher and scowled. They could sense one another's slight ESPer capabilities easily. "Ah, Lord Fisher, only an Oriental despot like yourself would be so bold."

He showed no emotion at the obvious racial jibe. "Lady Katherine de la Poer," he mumbled, recognizing the haughty noblewoman before him. "How charming."

"The Galactic Community will not stand for this," she proclaimed. "When they hear you've attacked a diplomatic..."

"Do not act surprised, Your Ladyship, we know this is no mere diplomatic mission," Fisher retorted. "We intercepted your government's transmissions to you. We know about your cargo. Take us to it."

"I will..."

Before Katherine's resistance could be fully voiced, another figure was brought before them. The servant who had previously voiced their imminent doom, who had nearly gotten killed in crossfire, had been founding trembling in fear by the Royal Marines. She looked fairly like the Lady de la Poer in built, hair color, and complexion; Katherine obviously recognized her, rasping the name "Sara". The servant, for her part, seemed to wilt a little under her mistress' gaze. Lord Fisher stepped between them. He felt her uncertainty, her fear of him and his soldiers, and her fear of Katherine and the punishment she might face if she aided. "Do not worry, young lady. I give you my word you are safe. But, please, do help us. This ship's cargo?" He tried to soothe her gently, a friendly smile that was not his usual action and a gentle touch with his mind to calm her fears.

And Katherine knew she had been turned. She screamed Sara's name repeatedly, threatening all sorts of punishments, even as Captain Teller had his men drag her away. Sara held firm, barely, and guided Lord Fisher and his men to a bulkhead along the ship's machinery. She showed the outline of a hidden control panel, which was brought out by one of the Royal Marines. "Lieutenant Stuart?", Fisher asked.

The redheaded Scotswoman - her hair color and gender was clear through her opened helmet visor - gave a nod. Her powered armor's servos made a humming sound, showing some strain, as she ripped the false bulkhead out.

Beyond was a small compartment, barely large enough to be a bedroom for one person. It held ten, all in plain clothing, their eyes squinting at the sudden flood of light into their dimly-lit pen. A single commode existed for their common use. Identification bracelets were on their wrists, marking their status; the same bracelet that was on Sara's wrist.

Lieutenant Stuart gave a gentle command to come out. She motioned to them to follow and, gingerly, they did. Most were humans, but conspicuous among their numbers was a Dorei couple, the male of dark blue complexion and teal hair and the female of teal complexion and light purple hair, and a young Trill woman identifiable from her spot line. Fisher had not known they were there, but he was not surprised. All sorts of people, young people especially, could end up as such if they went gallivanting around the Outback without the slightest precaution. But even that act of foolishness did not deserve enslavement and they were still subjects of the Empire, still subject to its protections.... and their captors subject to its wrath.

By this time Teller had brought Katherine to the spot. She saw the ship's cargo file out and some color left her face; she knew they'd been well and surely caught.

"Stunning, the depravity of you Astarians," Fisher remarked, gesturing toward the small cubby space they had packed the people into. "Fourteen hundred years ago you were considered so vile that you provoked the ire of a dictatorial madman and your nation was beset by plague bombs. You survive that, you survive for all these centuries, and yet you cannot help yourself. You must still proclaim your right to own another sentient being."

"Pendleton will not stand for this, we are within our sovereign rights to govern as we wish!," she shouted. "The Empire has committed an unspeakable act of war that the entire galaxy will..."

"...will what?," Fisher laughed. "Three quarters of the known galaxy does not even acknowledge your existence, much less your sovereignty. Of those who do know the Free Republic of Pendleton, most would not bat an eye to see it conquered or destroyed. Why, otherwise, were you carting off these poor devils to Pfhor Prime? Did you honestly expect the Pfhor to waste any effort to protect you from us?"

"We will never be conquered again!", she shouted "We shall fight you in the asteroids and in orbit, the mountains and valleys, the beaches and..."

"Yes yes, we've heard it before. Every single time good Anglian subjects must risk their lives to occupy that mudhole you call a homeworld so that your slaves might be freed. Are we to continue this cycle forever, Your Ladyship? Your people get bold in your slavery dabbling, the Empire comes down upon you, and after a great deal of shooting and dying we hang your leaders and leave your mudhole planet. Then after a couple generations we have to come back because you are doing the same thing yet again. Now, as we have caught you in flagrante delicto violating the Laws of Galactic Civilisation, and in addition have found His Majesty's subjects as your captives, you should feel quite fortunate that I intend to pull you kicking and screaming before the King's Bench rather than treat you as you should be treated; a mere pirate who should be spaced." He looked up to Teller. "Take her to the brig."

Katherine was led away, screaming defiance. Sara, too, was led away a moment later, Lord Fisher instructing one of the prize crew from Devastator to see to her comfortable lodging. The Devastator's crew would repair Tantalizer's engines so she could proceed on her own, but such would likely not be finished until they returned to the Naval Station at Lochley's Retreat, where Fisher would make due on his promise to see Lady de la Poer (and Captain Whitcomb) before the King's Bench If the seizure was upheld - and the sentient "cargo" ensured it would be - he and the Devastator's crew were like to see a bit of prize money, though as was his custom Lord Fisher would donate his to the ship's crew and, in this case, set aside some for the people he had rescued and to the sweet girl Sara.

As he returned to Devastator and the relative comfort of his stateroom aboard her, he darkly suspected that sometime soon the Devastator and some of her sister ships would be paying a visit to Pendleton, requiring a complicated and frankly irritating series of hyperspace transits and maneuvers to get to along one of the "spider-web" hyperlane networks that criss-crossed the Shoals. Such was just one of many reasons the Empire had not thoroughly subjugated the mudball centuries ago, contenting itself instead to the occasional suppressions to keep the fringe worlders in line and avenge any offense to the Empire.

Maybe, just maybe, they'd get the damned hint this time; slavery does not pay, it just gets you bombed, shot, hung, or spaced.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Steve » 2010-06-22 05:06pm

No. 19 Churchill Street, Westminster
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia
14 May 3399


The deed was done. Fresh off the fastest hyperspace liner that could be arranged, Stephen had arrived in New Chatham this morning and gone straight to Westminster Palace where, as was tradition and custom, he presented himself to the King and was asked to form a Government that could be approved by the new Parliament. Since, of course, his party controlled Parliament now, with it's 1,072 seats, he was free to form an entirely Liberal Government.

From there he had visited No. 19 Churchill Street, the fairly sizable home and offices he would be dwelling in for now. The red-haired Scotsman Sir Alexander Grant had met him, in the middle of moving immediately-desired possessions out. They had exchanged amiable greetings and Grant had observed as the Security people had given Stephen the security controls for the home; Grant's, now restricted, would only last for a few days so he could get his belongings out. As it was Grant was not just out of the Government; he was out of Parliament. He had lost his constituency here on New Anglia, in Ayrford, to a Liberal candidate in what had been a fairly close election. Stephen imagined the Conservatives might yet find him another constituency to run in, perhaps in a by-election as sometimes happened, depending on if they blamed him for their electoral defeat or not.

With No. 19 Churchill now his, he had his list ready to confirm. As was Liberal custom he would seek Parliamentarians from all the other races, at least one per race. Jano Sentasa, of the Lushan Dorei, was the first name on the candidates list he knew he could pick up. As an experienced legislator both in Darnis and in Westminster Stephen considered him perfect for the post of Leader of the House of Commons, where he could be trusted to direct the Liberal Agenda. To sweeten the deal, he intended to offer Sentasa either the Colonial Office or the Commonwealth Office. The former directed policies in the Colony sectors of the Empire and the handful of minor Anglian outposts and settlements in unclaimed sectors, the former was responsible for government-to-government dealings with the Trill and Dorei Free States.

Whichever choice Sentasa did not take would go to one of the Thanagarians who had kept his seat. Stephen had known Hro Talak, MP Danapur on Thanagar, as a devoted Liberal of his people and a distinguished veteran, holding several decorations including being a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George. A backup choice for him, if Stephen's third non-Human pick asked differently, would be Secretary of State for War, thus responsibility for the Army.

Finally, there was Lord Maralo Tevala, Baronet of Kapana. Tevala was an old hand at Trill politics and twenty years ago had been nominated by the Commonwealth Senate of Trill to be granted a life-peerage to sit as a Trill representative in the House of Lords, as was the result of the Sampson-Kahn Accord that created the Trill Commonwealth as a self-ruling Free State in the Anglian Empire over 400 years ago. The peerage would not last - by custom most Trill given peerages renounced them upon their decision to leave the House of Lords, making their elections one-time things (though re-election by the Senate happened to those they considered invaluable). Tevala had served as a Minister of State in the War Office, in charge of Army Procurement and also once holding the post of Minister of State for the Territorial Service in the Ministry of Defence. He seemed the proper choice for the post of Secretary of State for War.

This left most of his other posts to consider. An old friend from the Navy who'd joined him in Parliament, Robert Dale of Hansom's Planet, was the most logical for First Lord of the Admiralty as well as Stephen's first pick for Defence Minister. For Foreign Secretary there was Reginald Baden-Grey, Baron of Prestwick, a former Prime Minister himself and one of the leading Liberals in the House of Lords since the late Edward XV granted him a life-peerage. Similarly the Lord Hendon, Miles Keeling Hanson of Alba, would be the right pick to be Leader of the House of Lords in his estimation. For the Home Office Stephen preferred Randolph Churchill-Hughes, who strongly upheld the Liberal Party's policies in his deeply divided constituency here on New Anglia, in Chatham-upon-Fraser. The Conservatives were a stiff challenge there every year and Churchill-Hughes was a fighter - he deserved the recognition. He was enough of a fighter that Stephen considered him the appropriate pick for Deputy Prime Minister, given his relative youth and vigor, someone to groom to become Prime Minister in his own right one day.

But for all these picks, there was one left to decide. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was one of the great offices of the Kingdom, the responsibility of the nation's finances upon the office-holder's shoulders. Given the state of the National Debt and Conservative financial miscues, Stephen needed someone who was wise in the financial system without being so ingrained into it they could not introduce any needed reforms to it. He had dealt with such before, Conservatives and Liberals alike, all unable to seek reform because they had become so wrapped up in what they took part in that they could not fathom it being done differently.

One would think with about 1,700 Liberals to choose from (since he also had access to a Liberal in the House of Lords, if it came down to it) the choice would be simple. But it wasn't. No matter how well you became acquainted with your party's membership, when you had that many peers in the Parliament it was impossible to remember them all. Many had no qualifications what so ever to be Chancellor of the Exchequer anyway, and of those that did a number were not people Stephen believed were what the Kingdom needed given the financial issues to deal with.

And so here he was, his Government not even a day old, not even put to test in Parliament yet... and he was preparing to be controversial.

The figure he had invited had arrived punctually, as one expected. She was a handsome, beautiful Englishwoman, with raven black hair that flowed freely over her shoulders, shining blue eyes, and a well-kept figure that was modestly attired in the fashion one expected of her reputation. The ring finger on her hand was not the whole truth of her marital status; she was not married, not anymore, but widowed. And while her entry (or rather re-entry) into politics had been only as of late, she had spent years involved in financial dealings on behalf of her husband's estate and had gotten the pulse of the New Anglian financial system, including the things that ailed it.

The main issue for Stephen, of course, was that she was not a normal politician, she was a Duchess, a Peer.

More than a peer, it was said. Diane Margaret Howard was not just any member of the House of Lords, she was the Duchess of Norfolk and of New Chatham. The latter was, admittedly, a tack-on title given to her ancestors in the early years of the Kingdom, as it was the former that was the important part. Duchess Diane held the oldest existing peerage in the entire English system, even counting the peerages of Altacar. Her very heritage automatically gave her a ceremonial post in government as Earl Marshal. Politically she had once been a Tory, until her late husband's political ideals and growing disenchantment with the ill decisions of the Grant Government Stephen had just replaced had driven her from it. Now she was Unaffiliated.

An ex-Tory. A Duchess in the House of Lords. Neither was something a Liberal PM was supposed to want in a holder of a Great Office of State. Yet it was something Stephen was ready now to overlook. He cared more for getting the job done than other considerations and his research and investigations had made clear that there was no potential Chancellor better for the post than Diane Howard.

So they had exchanged pleasantries. He had offered tea and she accepted. She had allowed some time for small talk, concerning the likely outcome of a legal challenge in one of the constituencies (it was one the Liberals had lost anyway, and was being had between the Conservatives and the Christian-Democrats of Andalusia, so the outcome was not of concern to him) and whether the King might have to call for a new election for the Parliament on Alba given the hung Parliament there. After some time, though, they were ready to discuss business. Stephen laid out his concerns, his ideas, and his desire for her place in his Cabinet.

For her part, Diane listened carefully and politely. She kept an emotional restraint, though the only thing it was covering up was some slight admiration. It was an act of some political acumen, and courage, for Mr. Penton to do this, or alternatively could be seen as a display of power and confidence. His way of showing the Kingdom that the Liberal Party was his now, that he did not fear a revolt from within the ranks against his decisions, a reassurance to the voters that a Liberal Party that had come partially unglued ten years ago - with enough voters lost that it not only surrendered control of Parliament to the Conservatives in 3390 but had ended up the third Party behind Labour (which tended to peak especially well when the Liberals fractured) - was unified again and strong. Either way, she thought it spoke well of him.

"I say now I have no intention of joining the Liberal Party," she warned him. "I agree with the policies you are seeking to follow and will uphold them, but at this time I am not willing to become a Whig in all things. I do this in frank honesty because I do not believe your Liberals will last forever. Eventually Labour will recover from its poor leadership and behavior and they will begin drawing away Liberal voters. In the process you, or your successor, will be forced to lean further to Labour's desires than I am willing to accept. Therefore I cannot in good conscious join your Party."

"That said, I shall be your's, Mr. Prime Minister. I shall stand or fall with your Government and I will defend your fiscal policy to my utmost skill before Parliament." She extended a hand. "Is this acceptable?"

In reply, Stephen gave a nod and reached his own hand forward, giving her a handshake. It was a rather personal thing to do, but it was a sign of cooperation to come. "It is acceptable, Your Grace. I shall be honored to have you in my Government."



Hours later another figure came calling. Maralo Tevala was an older Trill gentleman, at about a hundred and ten, wearing an Anglian formal jacket instead of the stylized jumpsuits the Trill elite preferred. His brown hair was graying at the hairline, where his spots made a particular and unique pattern as they ran along it and on toward his neck. He gave a gracious nod in greeting, responded to by Stephen, as they took to the study Stephen had met his other desired candidates in. So far his selections for the Government had all said yes. This left Tevala, whom he knew was not entirely easy to read.

Stephen laid out his choice to Mr. Tevala carefully. Upon doing so, he noticed Tevala's expression shift slightly. He wondered if it was amusement or some slight irritation fo a sort, figuring he'd find out soon enough. He did so, in fact, when Tevala spoke up. "I am honored you would seek me for the Government, Mr. Penton, but I am not in the least interested in your offered post," he stated matter-of-factly. "I do not desire a lesser Cabinet post again."

Stephen listened carefully. He pondered which Tevala might want. He'd already secured the Education Office, the Foreign Office, the Colonial... "Well, Sir, I am open to negotiation."

"The Ministry of Defence," Tevala answered. "Most of my experience working in Government has been in the MoD. If I am to be in your Cabinet that is my price."

Stephen frowned. He'd hoped to preserve that post for Robert. "It is customary, as you know, to give the Defence Ministry to either the War Secretary or the First Lord of the Admiralty," he answered plainly.

"But it is not necessary. And it is arguably more efficient to make the Defence Ministry separate," Tevala remarked. "That is my term, Mister Penton. I shall be Defence Minister or you will have to find another Trill for your Cabinet. Unfortunately, as most of my colleagues are either Labour or Progressives, you don't have many choices, and I believe none of them fairly suited to a full Cabinet ministry."

"Ah. So you consider yourself to be the best option."

"Yes," Tevala remarked. "I'm going to be honest, sir. I find this whole thing offensive. Your Party finds a handful of non-Human MPs to put into Cabinet and you pat yourself on the back for being 'fair' to the subject races. Labour does the same thing, they just have more Trill and Dorei to pick from. The Conservatives do not do this at all and are considered racist by some, though in all rational fairness there would be more Conservative Cabinet ministers who were not Human if more non-Humans joined that Party. None of this changes the sad historic fact that your people conquered mine."

"Lord Tevala..."

"No, let me finish," Tevala remarked carefully, a finger up to show his desire for silence. "Do you know why we Trill backed Thanagar in their wars with the Kingdom of New Anglia? It wasn't because of Thanagarian diplomacy or their dispositions. It was because we knew full well that if someone didn't give your people pause we would get conquered eventually." A chuckle came from the alien gentleman. "Perhaps we should have just let you take us, given that instead we got conquered by the Dilgrud. Then six billion of my people would not have perished needlessly. Either way, it does not change the facts of what happened, what your Kingdom was seeking to do in the centuries leading up to the Dilgrud or what they actually did in the First Interbellum of the Dilgrud Wars with the Sampson Memorandum. You took away our independence and gave us the 'Commonwealth', where we are supposed to be happy you gave us self-rule instead of some alternative like, hrm, throwing us back to the Dilgrud so they could finish the job."

Tevala took a drink, motioning he was not done in the process. "Now, I have been a legislator, civil servant, or government minister for much of my adult life, Mister Penton. And I am fully qualified for the office of Defence Minister. As such, I want a position that I merit, not one you can give me to appease your Liberal conscious while you give the Defence Ministry to a fellow rum-drinker from the service."

For a time Stephen sat their silently. He was not offended by Tevala's frank commentary. His grandparents had made similar arguments on New Columbia's integration ("annexation") into the Kingdom, and of course they had been sympathetic to the "good Trill Republicans". At the same time, he made the political calculations, what he knew of the Trill peers in the House of Lords, and knew Tevala was completely right. And as he was already going to cause controversy with Duchess Howard as his Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had no desire to cause further trouble. "Very well," he agreed. "You shall be Defence Minister."

Showing a slight smile of acceptance, Tevala stood and shook hands with him. "Very well, sir, I look forward to participating in your Government."

As he left, Stephen was already switching things around in his head. He strongly believed Robert would be accepting, if not entirely happy, at only getting the Admiralty. For the War Office there was Hro Talak, which meant the Commonwealth Office would be open yet again...

It took some time, and a number of further meetings in person or by call, but eventually Stephen was done. He immediatelly called Westminster Palace to inform the King that he had assembled a new Government for the Kingdom. As the evening became night, the Anglian Broadcasting Service and other news outlets would make it known that the new Liberal Government had been selected and approved by Edward XVI. The Kingdom of New Anglia again had a Government.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Steve » 2010-06-23 09:38pm

Kappel's Killer, Hyperspace
The Outback
15 August 3399



The Kappel's Killer was fairly unassuming as pirate vessels went. It was a converted old Empire State destroyer vessel; built a century ago, then sold to an Outback world fifty years ago and promptly put away into planet-side storage due to lack of parts, and then stolen by James Kappel and his crew five years ago. It was, altogether, a vessel that was of questionable function at times given its jury-rigged parts and the haphazard placement of newer weapon systems into the hold. But it was Kappel's main ship, a terror of the hyperlane in Sector W-19. Kappel knew all the web-lines in the W-19/W-20 subnetwork, branched off the main hyperlane from New Anglia to the Imperium. He could strike, seize a cargo, and then be hidden away in some uninhabited star system along the web-lines by the time any military response arrived.

In this last run they had seized a cargo from an Anglian-registered ship, carrying high-value consumer goods to Solaria. It was a good haul, worth millions of Solarian dollars or UN credits on the black market. Granted, in the process they'd been forced to kill the ship's First Mate and leave a quarter of the crew wounded - possibly dying - but that's what happens when you fight back in those situations, and Kappel had no mercy to those who would deprive him of his swag.

Like any ship its size the Killer had a command center in the inner section. Kappel was taking a bridge watch, twirling a fancy Dorei-crafted gold and jeweled necklace in his hands to admire it. With this swag he was one step closer, one good step, to retiring away to some nation that wouldn't ask too many questions of his background and let him live in quiet, very comfortable retirement.

As thoughts of fine wine and finer women crossed Kappel's mind, he felt the ship suddenly tremor a bit. "What th' fu..." he got out before klaxons blared.

"We're snagged!," the helmsman, some kid from Frequesue on Nova Terra, blurted out. "There's.. we've got a ship latching on!"

"What do I fucking pay you for?!," he shouted at his sensor operator, a veteran at these kinds of things. He didn't know this one's origins (With Humanity everywhere in the Known Galaxy there were a lot of possibilities to consider and not everyone was forthcoming) but the only thing he actually cared about at the moment was resisting the impulse the shoot him.

"There's nothin' on our fuckin' scope!", the other man protested. Then he seemed to let realization dawn. "Fuck, its a cloak field!"

The ship shuddered violently again. "They're generating a counter-field!", the helmsman shouted. "Their submersion field is overpowering our's!"

"Fight back!," Kappel shouted angrily, stabbing the button on his chair to open a live intercom to the engineering section. "Addison, power the drives up, shake off this bastard!"

Moments passed, but the shaking did not stop. "We can't overpower him, Kap," the helmsman finally complained. "He's... he's too strong!"

"Bullshit, ain't nothin' that powerful you can cloak!" Of course, Kappel was not 100% sure of that. After all, he'd not seen everything. Maybe such was possible these days. "Maybe we can..."

"Are you fucking crazy?!" His First Mate, Lewinson, spoke up now; a man of Kappel's height and build, roughly, but with dirty blond hair instead of Kappel's dark brown. "You overpower the drive, the field fucking collapses, then we kill ourselves!"

Kappel answered by punching Lewinson. "Ain't no fucking way I'm letting myself get caught!," he thundered, drawing his gun from his hip holster. The helmsman swallowed and, with his captain's sidearm at the back of his head, he tried to put further power into the hyperdrive field.

It didn't matter, in the end. Even as he did so the Killer's field was completely enveloped by the other ship. He tried, futilely, to get the field to power back up, but the drive was now overheated from the strain of being overpowered. Suddenly, with a slight disorientating shift, the Killer was out of hyperspace, somewhere in interstellar space, and with an unwelcome guest attached to their hull.

They had ship-mounted particle guns and a single, very old Anglian Plasma Cannon for self defense. But their foe couldn't be seen - their cloaking field bending light around them and hiding emissions from the Killer's admittedly ancient systems - for them to shoot him.

Then it appeared, just to the side. The computer identified the contact as a YPA-4700 transport, but only just; this one looked very different from the average YPA model that Kappel knew, with additional hull-mounted equipment and, most ominously, a weapon that could only be a Heavy Plasma Cannon.

The deflectors went up as the unknown ship's weapon fired. A bolt of energized plasma crashed into the deflectors, overloading them. Followup hits from the other ship's Pulse Cannons raked along the hull and struck the housing of the Killer's own big gun - Kappel raged at his biggest weapon being taken out. "Get your guns!," he shouted, knowing what would come next: boarding.

The pirate crew, numbering about fifty in all, rushed to the airlock where their remaining systems said the other ship was latching on. Kappel remained behind on the bridge to monitor things. He suspected his crew was numerically larger given what he knew of the YPAs... wouldn't it be something if he seized their ship in turn through his numbers? A vessel that well-equipped would be a nightmare of the hyperlanes under him...

And then... he heard the screaming.


When the airlock door was forced open the pirates didn't bother waiting; they opened fire immediately. Instead of hitting ill-prepared boarders, though, they all hit the same thing; a very, very large figure with lots of hair and fur wearing advanced power armor.

Those who were Solarian, or at least had worked in the Wild Space area, screamed "BRAGULAN!" as they retreated in terror.

Roaring, the mighty Bragulan charged. He had a gun on his back but, faced with light blaster pistols that might have well been flintlock pistols for all the good they did, he didn't use it. Any pirate that tried to stand his ground got thrown back by a swipe of a mighty, armor suit-augmented arm that usually cracked ribs or broke arms just by the impact.

The Bragulan wasn't alone. Behind him was a Human, with brown hair and beard, in fairly simple clothing that would occur to one to be almost monastic in how it appeared. As a pair of pirates leveled guns at him the man turned toward them and extended his hand; a wave of energy hit them and threw them backward, verifying the man as an ESPer. As more came up, preferring to take on a Human man than a charging Bragulan, he picked up an item from his belt. Anyone familiar with the various ESPer organizations knew a beamsaber when they saw it, all firing their guns before the weapon could become active. A flash of green energy appearing and stopping their shots was plenty to tell them they had failed.

The most peculiar sight was to come. As a party of pirates tried to slip out between the ESPer and the Bragulan, they found a third figure advancing from the other ship. She was a younger woman, with golden blond hair and blue eyes that sparkled with energy and, one might say, more than a touch of madness. She was attractive enough and wearing, most curiously, a set of specialty archaic battle armor - not as in powered armor but as in actual steel and metal - specifically designed for her female figure and fairly flattering toward it, all topped off with an armored helmet that was distinctly Viking in appearance, complete with horns. The young woman raised a battle axe in her hands and screeched, "For THOR!!!" before striking at one with her axe, making him drop his gun and wet himself. The other two, having had enough of seeing scary and/or weird things, took off.

And such was how three people subdued the crew of the Killer.


Having heard enough of the cries for help and general all-around cowardice of his crew, Kappel left the bridge, intending to rally his crew (by killing a few for cowardice, granted). As he rounded a corridor, he suddenly heard the tell-tale sound of a plasma blaster powering for a shot and felt something metal touch his head. As he growled in irritation, a voice asked, "Now now, Captain Kappel, I would hate to shoot a man in the back. Let your firearm drop."

Knowing he was doomed otherwise, Kappel did so, glowering as his gun impacted an outstretched hand. "You may turn now," the voice said, and Kappe did so to find himself facing another man. His short dark blond hair was carefully combed; an embroidered gold vest over a collared white shirt was joined with black trousers, a belt with a gun holster, and though Kappel wasn't exactly looking at them, steel-towed boots. "I would like you to have your crew stand down, otherwise we shall end up making quite a mess aboard your ship." The voice was clearly New Anglian in accent, a sort of refined English that Kappel habitually associated with Royal Navy officers.

"Do you know who the fuck you're dealin' with?", Kappel said. He looked a bit past his attacker and saw Lewinson standing there, an arm dangling uselessly from an injury, but his other hand lifting a gun. He couldn't help but smirk.

Before Lewinson or Kappel's foe could react, a bolt of energy crashed into Lewinson's chest. A figure finished walking down the hall, holding a smoking sidearm. This one - most definitely a she - was in a sleeveless green vest and cyan slacks, also having a belt with gun holster on it. By her blue complexion and dark purple hair it was clear she was alien; a Dorei, to be precise, though despite being an alien she had a figure certainly pleasing to Human eyes. "Ah, Vanrya, thank you," Kappel's captor remarked.

"Umarbacca has the crew confined in the machinery section of the ship," she said, her English with an exotic accent. "It is a good thing I was coming up to find you, Balthier..."

"Oh, come now, I knew he was behind me," Balthier answered. "But I heard you coming and believed you had the better shot."

"Of course you did," Vanrya remarked with a hint of sarcasm.

By this time Kappel's memory had focused on the odd name "Balthier". "You're that bastard Anglian who's always swoopin' in and takin' others' swag!", he spat in accusation. "Don't have the guts to hit a real target and get away!"

Both Balthier and Vanrya leveled their guns at Kappel in annoyance. "To be more precise, Captain, I do indeed refrain from actual direct piracy and only look to relieve other pirates of their ill-gotten gains," he admitted. "But I limit my targets in these cases to those pirates whose behavior I find personally offensive. Case in point, your recent raiding has racked up quite the body count." With Vanrya still covering Kappel closely, Balthier lowered his gun and walked to the side of his target, making sure Vanrya would have a clear shot if it came to it. "Now, Captain, consider this a fair warning. If you go back to doing an honest day's pirating and refraining from bloodshed, you shall never see me again. If, on the other hand, you again decide it is perfectly okay to kill half of a ship's crew because they did not open the hold quickly enough for you, then I shall track you down again. And the next time I find you, I will do more than relieve you of your cargo. Are we understood?"

Kappel frowned at him. When Balthier brought his gun back up and Kappel was facing down the barrel of the weapon, he was reminded he was distinctly uncomfortable with the prospect of a plasma bolt frying his brain and gave a sullen nod. "I'll be more careful," he stated.

"Good, then that leaves just one item, Captain Kappel." Balthier holstered his gun. "When you were last in Rabantown, I heard you became quite attached to a nice young lady named Penny? Sweet young girl, wide and happy smile, blond hair with ponytail?"

Kappel looked very cautiously at him, even with Balthier's gun now put away. "So what if I did?"

"Your conduct with her was rather crude and unbecoming."

"I don't know what the little bitch said, but I didn't do anything to her. Touched her, yeah, but didn't, y'know..."

"Let me give you a lesson then, Captain, in the virtues of keeping your hands to yourself." And with that Balthier's fist rushed forward and impacted on Kappel's cheek and jaw. The impact caused Kappel to go straight down, crumbling on the floor unconscious.

Watching his fellow pirate go down before him, Balthier nursed the bruised knuckles of his right hand - his strike had been a tad stronger than he'd planned - and turned to Vanrya, who had a rather amused smirk on her face. "Ah, Vanrya?"

"Among my people, a more appropriate blow would have been to the organs beside his groin," she stated. "More appropriate for a male manhandling a female."

"Ah, but that would be inappropriate, my dear," he answered before walking away. "Now, we have a cargo to bring over. Make sure their communication system is intact; if not we shall have to leave them a hypercom transmitter. Wouldn't want to condemn these poor devils to being stuck in interstellar space without hyperdrive, would we?"



About an hour and a half later the disarmed crew of the Killer were released from their confinement in the machinery section of the ship. They looked warily at the Bragulan who did so as he walked away, carefully, his armored suit sufficient to prevent any shots at the back from succeeding but yet no chances being taken.

When he arrived back at the airlock, closed behind him by Vanrya, he growled a series of gutteral words that sounded distinctly un-Human, more akin to a bear attempting to make pleasant conversation. Being one of only three people on the crew who could understand him, Vanrya showed him a sardonic smile and gestured toward the bow of their ship. He stomped off and left Vanrya to close the airlock and confirm the latches were detached.

Ahead in the cockpit, Balthier was getting settled in. Beside him, in a co-pilot chair, was young Marissa, still wearing her Viking helmet and armor. "What did I tell you about wearing that get-up?", Balthier asked pointedly as he watched the indicators verify they were free from the Kappel's Killer. A pull on the maneuvering controls fired directional thrusters, small pulses of gas just great enough to send the ship backward. Its mass had increased so the effect was slower this time, but within five seconds they were free of the crippled Killer. As his vessel, his girl the Strahl, moved ahead of the pirate ship, Balthier triggered the ship intercom. "Ms. Keller, are you certain about their drives?"

"No external damage, so nothing they can't fix on their own. I'd say they'll take about four hours, maybe six, before their drives are operational," was the reply of the Strahl's engineer Kaylee.

"And our own drives?"

"Spooled up and ready to go," was the confident reply.

"Good girl, Kaylee. Always so dependable." He pressed the key again to shut off the link. When he returned his attention to his piloting, he looked again to Marissa. "Ms. Moonbeam, the armor? I distinctly recall telling you it made too much noise and that you would be better off with an absorbent layer for blaster fire."

"I do not fear blasters. Thor will not let me be felled by such weapons, only by a true warrior's blade," the young girl said in a rather self-assured tone. Her accent was a Solarian one, with the hints of an English-Anglian accent one associated with those Solarians descended from the Shroomanian Sovereignty of Nova Terra. And like any Moonbeam, she made the average Shroomanian look... normal.

"Whether it kills you or not, you're going to regret it if you actually get hit by one," he retorted. "Now, be a dear and see if Dr. MacCulloch needs a nurse to help re-organize his materials after patching some of those pirates up."

Obediently, Marissa got out of the chair and left the cockpit, just as a rather larger figure hulked through. Shorn of his armor and in a space support suit, Baltheir's Bragulan First Mate growled a brief greeting in Bragulan, which Balthier understood (with some difficulty). "Yes, Vanrya does have a good break coming to her after making sure our intercept worked," he agreed. "Mind taking the co-pilot chair, Umar?"

"Umar" - short for Umarbacca - grunted and took the chair. He barely fit into it (and left hairs in it, as Balthier often heard in complaint from Vanrya) but he managed in doing the co-pilot duties that were necessary. He growled a series of figures and calculations straight from the astrogation computer for Balthier's benefit. It was vitally important to be precise in one's calculations out here, in the Outback, along the "spider-web" lanes where you had to be at just the right orientation or risk plowing into the shoals and seeing your hyperdrive begin to redline. Normally Vanrya was the one he relied upon for such, but experience had been a good teacher to Umarbacca; though almost misunderstood due to the nature of the harsh tones of Bragulan (it was, after all, a language for large, hulking bear people and not meant at all to be spoken properly by a Human). When the calculations were done Balthier confirmed their orientation was set and reached his hand to the hyperdrive control. "Hyperdrive initiation in 3... 2... 1..."

With a blur and a flash of light, the Strahl transitioned to hyperspace. As it did so, James Kappel watched from the bridge of his ship and smoldered, planning on getting payback some time or another.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Re: SDNW4 Prologue Thread

Postby Siege » 2010-06-24 02:02pm

Interesting Times

[swept-to-tightbeam hypercast, M16,4, received@n4.28.857.3400]

BEGIN SIGNAL SEQUENCE

The oak-paneled space looked more like an eclectic museum than a meeting place. Ante-modernist paintings, classic projectile weapons and holographs of landmarks of a hundred old worlds hung from the walls. Antique power-suits and marble statues stood in alcoves illuminated by glow-globes. A huge crystal chandelier in the shape of a binary system hung from a ceiling adorned with Imperial mosaics displaying the heroics – or butcheries, depending on your point of view - of the Great Crusade. Arching windows in each of the eight walls offered spectacular views: towering cityscapes, endless windswept oceans, deep space over a pulsar – each window showed a different world. On the ankle-deep red carpet stood a round table fashioned out of a single, immense piece of wood. The table was immaculately polished and inlaid with a gold version of the Double Star of Solaris.

The room, of course, did not exist. Not really. It was a virtual construct deep within the Datasphere, accessible only through logic gates guarded by some of the Sovereignty's deadliest hunter-killer algorithms and black ice firewalls. It was also the meeting place of the “Interesting Times Gang”, an informal group of captains, fleetminds and flotilla commanders active along the fringes of the Sovereignty and within Wild Space, the avatars of some of whom now manifested in the comfortable seats arraigned around the table.

The Interesting Times Gang was a group of personalities almost as eclectic as the 'room' they met in. At the twelve 'o clock position, behind a window showing only the accretion disk of the Kaelaron black hole, sat the infamous Brigadier Flash Stalin. The commander of the 616 Interplanetary Patron Group – or, as they were more commonly called in Wild Space, “Hell's Bells” – was a formidable, broad-chested man with an enormous gray mustache and a face that looked like it was roughly hewn from granite. Suspended in the air behind him and the window hung a misty and inhuman face – the avatar of Lucifer, the CompInt that ran Stalin's flagship USS Murderous.

At the three 'o clock sat a man who couldn't be more different from the notorious Stalin if he tried. Colonel Harabec Weathers was a tall man who somehow made his USMC uniform look good. Part of the mere twenty-two percent of USMC and USSF personnel that wasn't purpose-grown for the military, Weathers hailed from a distinguished military family that could trace its roots to New Anglia. According to family lore they had given up on the Kingdom sometime in the 27th century after their quest for genetic immortality began to transgress Anglian laws. Whatever the truth, Weathers had managed to garner a reputation as the level-headed commander of the 73rd JTF, a joint-service rapid intervention group that quelled unrest along the colonial fringe. If Stalin was a broadsword, Weathers was a scalpel. His CI, Ember, manifested as a voluptuous woman with cascading red hair in a ridiculously sexy parody of the USMC uniform adorned with more medals than you could shake a stick at.

Next was a short, black-haired man wearing a pair of aviator sunglasses and a uniform that was neither Marine or Star Force approved. 'Major' Tom Dangerzone was an aberrant Replicant who had rejected the offer of USMC service in order to join Paladin Security Group, the largest conglomerate of private military companies in the Sovereignty. Despite a less than stellar track record and reputation Paladin was instrumental in enforcing the law – such as it was – on the fringes of colonial space. Like all Replicants, Dangerzone had chosen his own name. He represented several divisions worth of mercenaries that could be deployed anywhere with only minimal preparation – provided a large enough sum was paid, of course. He was the only one not accompanied by a Computational Intelligence.

The last person in the room was a stern-looking woman with golden hair that had been pulled into a pony tail. Her avatar flickered occasionally, the result of sheer distance separating her ship from the rest of the Datasphere. Juwannah Zer didn't have a military rank, but was the diplomatic equivalent of a lieutenant-general. Her command, the Dausendstern, was an explorator that operated in Wild Space far beyond the fringes of the Sovereignty. Currently she was thousands of light years away from the Sovereignty, somewhere in-between the Pfhor Empire and the Argenti Federation and her ship had to generate suprastellar levels of energy just to maintain the real-time data-tunnel – a risky proposition given that her mission, though officially one of 'exploration' was easily as much an intelligence operation, something quite clear from the significant CEID presence aboard her ship. Savoit, her ship's CompInt, manifested as an abstract hexagon that slowly revolved around some unseen axis.

It was important to understand that communication between these avatars of humanoids and artificial super-intelligences was not taking place in the form of an actual communication. They were not conversing, but instead exchanging data-packets over the Datasphere at speeds so far beyond light it was practically instantaneous.

“Ladies, gentlemen,” began Weathers. “We meet today at my own initiative-” “Again,” muttered Lucifer. The colonel gave the CI the briefest of glares but otherwise ignored the shimmering face. “As I said, we meet today at my initiative because I'd like to discuss the unrest on Majella.”

“Oh?” Tom Dangerzone peered over the edge of his sunglasses. “They natives are restless again?”

“They are indeed,” nodded Ember. “No thanks to Paladin, who I believe-”

“Left,” interjected the mercenary commander. “A month ago, after our contract with Maibatsu ran out.”

The CompInt smiled a little. “And did you leave peacefully?”

“Well,” Dangerzone frowned. “No. There were some... Issues with our evacuation.”

“'Issues'?” Juwannah Zer snorted. “You dropped an h-bomb on their spaceport as a parting gift!”

“That was self-defense!” the mercenary replied defensively. “They were shooting god-damn missiles at our troop-ships in orbit. We had the right to defend ourselves. The oversight committee concluded as much!” He shrugged. “Besides, they were asking for it. Ungrateful bastards, rising up against our benevolent rule just as we were pulling out.”

“That is not an excuse,” muttered Zer.

“But it is a point,” Lucifer countered sardonically.

“Let's not get hung up on who killed who and for what reason” Weathers said appeasingly. “My point is that the, uh, actions of the Paladin Group destroyed approximately a third of the planetary capital, and decapitated the interim government-”

“By means of thermonuclear vaporization,” injected Ember brightly.

Weathers glared at his ship's CI. “Yes, thank you- Anyway, according to the latest CEID reports in the wake of this, uh, unfortunate sequence of events the planet has descended into a state of anarchy and civil war. At a mere handful of light years from Celeste - which, I needn't point out, is itself a volatile hotbed of separatist elements at the best of times - this poses a clear security issue to the Sovereignty, and one we'll need to deal with sooner or later.”

“Preferably sooner,” came the gravely voice of Flash Stalin. “Or else the Bragulans will deal with it for us, and then we'll need to go and burn the planet to cinders.”

“What's left of it,” Ember spoke dryly. Weathers shot her an annoyed glance. “Then let's try and formulate a strategy that'll let us avoid that outcome?”

Stalin shrugged. “That's easy. Send in the marines and take the planet by force.”

“Again?” Dangerzone raised an eyebrow. “I just got back from that craphole and let me tell you, there's nothing worth getting there that you can't get somewhere else, and get it more cheaply to boot. The locals are regressives, the weather is abominable, the wildlife is a pain in the ass, and there's no proper entertainment anywhere. It's not worth it – why else do you think Maibatsu let its lease on the southern continent expire?”

“And more to the point,” spoke Juwannah Zer, who leaned forward over the table, which did interesting things to her bosom. “what gives us the right to determine their destiny?”

“What gives us the right?” Stalin sounded incredulous. “The same thing that gives anyone any right. Power. Superior power. Vastly superior power, in our case.”

Ember scratched her chin. In the window behind her, twin suns set spectacularly over a megaconstruct floating in deep space. “That's not really an ethical argument, is it?”

“I don't need a sub-meson brain to determine that,” muttered Lucifer. His avatar flickered briefly as if illuminated by flame. “It is a practical argument.”

“Getting back to the point,” Weathers interrupted the CompInts. “We're dealing with an entire planetary society that appears to be breaking down. Several million people live on Majella. It seems unwise to just abandon them to their fate, from a humanitarian perspective as much as from a strategic one. However, the locals are likely to, ah, object to any Solarian presence.”

“Because they are idiot fringe world yokels,” muttered Stalin. “Who don't know where their loyalties lie” he finished the USSF mantra.

“Or maybe, just maybe,” shot Zer, “they have legitimate grievances against the Sovereignty?”

“Bah, grievances schmievances,” the mercenary commander commented. “We were just doing a job. So what if a few people got shot? It happens, it's no reason to bear a grudge!”

“Clearly some people disagree,” concluded Ember, her voice dry as the solar wind. “However I think it's safe to conclude the Sovereignty has a legitimate reason to be concerned about the state of affairs on Majella. In my professional opinion it behooves us to intervene before the situation gets any worse. And especially before the Bragulans hear about the unrest, which they eventually will.” She paused for a moment as if to think, then continued happily: “Though I suppose that after a few weeks under the Bragulans they'll like the Sovereignty just fine, so that would be one way of settling the issue!”

Brigadier Stalin stroked his gray mustache. “Well. If you insist, I expect to finish operations on Pharagon Majoris by the end of the week. At that time I'd be happy to make a detour into Wild Space in order to show the regressives the error of their ways.”

Weather's face took on a pained expression. “Ah, about that... I was thinking I might head over myself first. We all appreciate your efforts to bring peace to the galaxy, brigadier, but your definition of troubleshooting can be a tad too literal?”

Lucifer snickered. Flash Stalin merely shrugged, which made the medals pinned to his chest rankle a little. “I'm all for diplomacy winning the day, but diplomacy backed with heavy firepower and lots of shrapnel, not hugs and rainbows. It's much more expedient, not to mention much clearer to everyone involved what's really going on.”

Juwannah Zer looked at him with a look of faint incredulity on her face. “How very... Bragulan of you.”

Stalin glowered at her, but before the brigadier could reply Weathers intervened. “Right. Well. I take it we're all agreed that an intervention is needed then?”

A chorus of agreement rose from around the table. “With the caveat however,” added Zer, “that we should keep this operation low-profile for the time being. Our objective should be to stabilize with minimal force, set up some sort of government, then get the hell out.”

“Agreed,” nodded Weathers. “I don't think the Senate wants to add any more dirtballs to the territories. Anything else?”

Zer nodded. “No mercenary contracts.”

“Hey!” Dangerzone jerked upward so quickly the sunglasses nearly slid off his nose. “That's my livelihood you're talking about!”

“If you want to antagonize the locals,” Zer continued flatly as if the mercenary hadn't spoken at all, “then by all means try and pacify them with the same people that nuked the crap out of them a month earlier.”

“Agreed,” said Weathers. “Anything further?”

“No,” Zer said curtly and sat up straight.“And if that's all? I'm redlining my reactors to sustain this connection, if the Pfhor deign to show up right now...”

Weathers shook his head. “Nothing further.” Stalin harrumphed, which most likely indicated he had nothing further to say. Dangerzone looked like he wanted to say something, but a glare from Zer made him reconsider and he shrugged instead. “Never mind.”

“Then I hereby call an end to this meeting of the Gang,” concluded Harabec Weathers. He nodded to Ember, and the avatar of the CompInt flickered out of existence. “And we're on the next thing smoking for Majella.”
Image
SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
There'll be a bodycount, we're gonna watch it rise
The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes


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