SDNW4 Story Thread 1

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by PeZook » 2010-07-09 05:46am

Teleros wrote: "Capital." The Empire's foreign minister turned to study Unit 7. "Tell me though, what other information have you got with you? We appear to have much of this information already," he lied, "and it's well known that your nation places a high value on this sort of archival information. I would be derelict in my duty if I did not try for a fairer trade for the Empire, you understand."
"We expected you would realize as much. I have therefore been authorized to offer manufacturing specifications for our advanced Type VII quantum foam processing units in exchange. However, in this case we would kindly request the following movies from the early Diaspora that you should have in your libraries.", Unit 7 flicked his wrist and a list of titles appeared in the air, "I am sure you will consider this more than a fair trade, seeing the multitude economic applications of miniaturized QF processors."
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.

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 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-07-09 08:30am

HMNS Lochley's Retreat, Planetside
Lochley Landing, Lochley's Retreat

With their abilities active again Rana had known something was wrong. She was too far away from Syrandi to communicate with her directly and privately instead she had only her own senses to go by. Those senses told her the direction to go, and she did.
Sara followed her closely. "Rana?"
"Stay back, Sara. Tell Sister Syrandi there is a presence here, a strong one, toward the north." With the dress limiting her leg speed, Rana reached down and pulled it off, leaving only the bustier and gartered stockings. "Here," she said, handing the dress to Sara after unclipping her beamsaber from the belt. Others moving by stared - and given Rana's partially bare thighs they couldn't really be blamed - as she ran off.
After a moment, Sara placed Rana's dress in a nearby bin and ran off to follow her.

Back at the reception, Fisher, Syrandi, and Tarkington were still standing around as Fisher tried to get notification of what was going on. "Master Syrandi?" Trinande stepped up and bowed her head respectfully, looking anxious. "I... I cannot find Sister Rana or Lady Sara."
Syrandi concentrated and felt their presences further away, moving out of the building. She felt others, in the distance, of particular power. "To the north of here, in the direction of the spaceport, what is in your facility?"
"More administrative buildings and...." Enlightenment dawned on Fisher's face. "The brig. This is an escape attempt." He opened up his phone to talk, but all he got was static. "Communications are down. Excuse me..."
He went away, leaving Syrandi with a very severe and very angry looking Tarkington. "Your Excellency, those Sisters here are ready to aid you," she said. "I have one awaiting us in a vehicle outside."
"No, I... I doubt that will be nec...."
Before Tarkington could finish his refusal, the sound of a distant explosion made the structure rumble.

The first explosion made Katherine look around wildly. "What's going on?"
"Our way out," Kara answered. She slipped Nikki back into her pocket, having just used her to knock out communications in a roundabout fashion (making massive numbers of comm requests to tie up the system's computer controls). "Follow me."
"But the explosions were..."
"...a distraction." Kara grabbed Katherine's wrist and pulled her along. Paddington's vehicle was around the corner; she ordered Katherine into it and slid in herself. It was a motor pool vehicle keyed to Paddington's biometrics and thus impossible for her to use... under normal circumstances. She found a slot and inserted Nikki's drive into it. The AI immediately overrode the "dumb" computer control systems and brought the electric motor to life, permitting Kara to drive away.
They moved past the administrative buildings and toward the spaceport, the very limit of the hanger and storage area. As they pulled up, Kara was on her radio again. "Trigger it."
Several moments passed, after which the wall ahead blew apart. Katherine cried out in momentary fright from the closeness of the blast while Kara calmly brought the vehicle to a stop. "Head through." Kara removed Nikki's drive and again placed her in a pocket, slipping out of the driver's side seat. As she did so she turned back toward the base, her hand going to her weapon.

Katherine turned to, curious to see what Kara was looking at. A single figure was running rapidly toward them, a woman in a violet formal bustier with white garter stockings and undergarment. The object in her hand flashed alive with a crackle, revealing an energy blade the same color as her clothing, and prompting Kara to ignite her own beamsaber. The pitch black blade stood at the ready as the younger woman quickly closed the distance, after which she brought it up to clash against the purple blade of her attack.
With her jaw clenched and her mind intent, Rana went on the attack. It was not the passionate, fiery style Tor de Lema her former master Shayera had favored but Jeyn de Lema, an offensive style that emphasied balance of attack more than ferocity. And she knew she had to win now; she could sense the woman's allies coming toward them, to aid her.
And then she felt Sara.
Her opponent could sense what had happened. Kara smiled widely. "Get the girl behind the bushes!", she cried out to the shadows, and her invisible allies within them, before resuming her attention to dueling Rana.
Rana screamed in anger, and fear. With all her might she pressed at Kara. She did it quickly enough that the telekinetic blow threw the woman backward. She turned, intending to go to Sara's immediate aid, to get her out of here....

But Kara had been prepared. After moving backward she had brought out her agiel. She lunged forward, catching up to Rana in the split second Rana went to turn back to face attack. The device pressed against Rana's bare upper shoulder, causing the young Sentinel to scream in terrible agony. Before Rana could fight off the pain Kara grabbed and twisted her hand, forcing her to drop the beamsaber. Then, for further effect, she jabbed the agiel into the back of Rana's neck, intensifying the sense of pain as the agiel's effects traveled throughout Rana's CNS via the direct contact to her spine. The prolonged contact of five seconds, combined with the setting of the device, was enough to take all energy out of her; Rana collapsed to her hands and knees. Kara grabbed a fistfull of her dark hair and pulled her head up, re-igniting her beamsaber and bringing the black blade close to Rana's throat. "Girl! I know you're there!", she called out. "Come out of the bushes or she dies!"
"No!" The cry came from a nearby area, the hedge used to pretty up one of the minor office buildings on the base. Sara stood up from there, in full view. Immediately some of Springer's men came for her. "Please don't kill her," Sara pleaded.
Smirking, Kara grabbed Rana and threw her into the grasp of two more of Springer's men. Jack Springer himself was looking from Rana to Sara and back, recognizing both. "Been looking forward to killing these bitches," he said gleefully. He also noticed Katherine and made a fairly bad bow. "Lady de la Poer, Mr. Springer at your service. You might..."
"I do, Mr. Springer," Katherine said. She turned to where Sara was staring at her, wide-eyed, as Springer's men led them along. "As for her, shoot her and be done with it."
"Later." Kara motioned toward the wall, also taking Katherine by the arm. "Mr. Springer, take the Silver Moon woman and 'Sara' to your hanger and do them there, quietly. Lady de la Poer and I have to go, before the Anglians successfully lock down the entire system."
"With pleasure." Springer motioned to his men bringing along Sara and the mostly-unconscious Rana. "Bring them along."

Katherine watched with satisfaction as Sara was pulled away, content that her treacherous (ex-)slave would soon be dead. She followed Kara, at a fair run, to a ship in the open, a personal transport ship. "Are you sure that vessel can get us back to Pendleton through the Gap?", she asked pointedly, worried its hyperdrive wouldn't be up to the challenge.
"It's been there before," Kara stated simply as she took out a device. Pressing a button, the ship's door opened and a ramp slid out to provide entry.
"How much did my father pay for you to free me?", Katherine asked, suddenly worried her father had bankrupted their family just to get her back.
Kara looked back and smirked. "What makes you think I'm working for your father?"
And just like that, she pressed her agiel to Katherine's chest. Her hand caught Katherine's open mouth before her scream could erupt from her pain-seized lungs; together the partial suffocation and the agony from Kara's agiel served to render Katherine unconscious within five seconds.
Still smirking, this time with self-satisfaction, Kara picked Katherine up and brought her up into her ship. She had a waiting set of restraints for her; once Katherine was safely locked into a restraint frame, Kara went to her cockpit. She placed Nikki's drive back into its usual place, letting the AI take over as central computer for her small GT-1250 private cruiser. All pre-flight checks had been made; without signalling the tower she immediately fired her engines and raced through the sky.
"Anglian Star Cruiser, rear arc, one hundred degrees," Nikki said. "They are moving to intercept."

A moment later a voice came over their radio. "This is HMS Leviathan to unknown cruiser, heave to and prepare for tractoring."
Smirking, Kara pressed her engines to the limit.

Springer and his men had arrived back at the hanger just in the nick of time, as the local police began swarming it in response to the explosions. His other men had hopefully gotten away from their distraction explosions but he couldn't help that right now; he had two people to kill. He had them brought into the center of the hanger, the lights kept low to avoid attracting police attention. This meant there were shadows in some of the corners and underneath his own ship, a TDY-3000 cargo transport with numerous "smuggler" modifications. Not, of course, that Springer minded it as he watched his men deposit their prisoners before him.
There was a part of him that reconsidered killing them, though not for noble means. Sara was a beautiful girl, clearly, and the Silver Moon woman was obviously a powerful ESPer. The Collectors or the Karlacks would paid good money for any ESPer, and any underground brothel runner would love to put Sara before his clientele as a whore. Money could be made...

"Uh, boss, this chick is coming to," said one of his men, who was looking over Rana with a weapon as Sara held her close, both on their knees. There were tears of guilt and fear in Sara's eyes, fear not just of death but of Rana's death with her, and of having caused it by following her when she shouldn't have.
"Oh fuck it." He reached into his holster, pulled out his gun, and began to level it toward Rana. His finger tensed on the trigger.
But he didn't shoot.
His men stared. "Uh, boss?"
Springer grimaced. His gun began to lower. With anger and disbelief he complained, "God dammit, this has to happen again?!"
From the shadows behind him, he received a reply.
"Well, I should think a man as clumsy as yourself would get used to having guns placed against his head," Balthier remarked as he emerged from the shadows, gun still leveled straight at Springer's skull.

Springer's men might've acted, but Balthier wasn't alone. A green beamsaber flashed into existence in the shadows behind one pair of men, Quinn quickly using his weapon to slice through their rifles and render them defenseless. Another man had a similar experience to Springer, a gun pressed to the back of his neck by Vanrya.
Two of Springer's men, with guns leveled at Rana and Sara, might yet have done something. But as they backed up they found themselves hitting an obstacle. They turned around to face a solid wall of brown and white fur. They looked up... and up... and up.... until they finally found the dark eyes and sharp teeth of Umarbacca looking back at them. "A Bragulan," one of them two henchmen whispered in fear, losing bladder control in the process with an obvious damp spot appearing on his pants.
The guy beside him, not to be outdone in terror by his buddy, found himself doing Number 1 and Number 2 in his pants.

"Your reputation proceeds you, Mr. Springer," Balthier continued. "And given the disagreeable nature of it and your rather terrible sense of hospitality toward these two young women, I would like your permission to go through this fine vessel you have and retrieve equipment and parts I find valuable."
"Fuck you, Meidan."
Showing only the slightest scowl, Balthier pressed the gun more tightly against Springer's temple. "Now now, no need to be crude. That was a request; I won't ask again. I will simply shoot you and leave your body for the Anglians to find, along with all the proof of your involvement in this evening's events."
"Yeah, you're gonna shoot me," Springer laughed. "I know your reputation, Balthier Meidan, you don't have the balls to kill men like this, you're too much of a dandy, an aristocrat playing pira...."
Balthier smacked him across the head, knocking him unconscious. "I also dislike the prospect of a dungeon," he remarked afterward. "Killing a man that the new Governor-General will undoubtedly wish to see hanged isn't the best way to stay out of one." He looked up to Springer's men. "Now, you gentlemen have a choice. I can have my crew knock you all out and leave you for the authorities to find. Given you are all rather obviously pirates and have just attacked one of HIs Majesty's Naval Stations, I expect you will all face the gallows if you are not spaced. Alternatively, you can allow my crew and I to escort these young ladies out along with the parts we have already removed from this ship and arrange for Springer here to be found here, dead or alive does not matter to me, by the authorities when they inevitably begin an examination of the starport. This at least gives you the chance to live in freedom as opposed to your likely fates if you refuse. Do we have a deal?"
The five remaining men looked toward each other. Nods were exchanged.
"Very good. Now, please, carry your boss into the vessel and wait there. We shall be going shortly." He nodded to Vanrya, who joined Umarbacca in filing them all into the TDY-3000, three carrying the unconscious form of Springer with them. Shortly after they stepped down Marissa came out, looking around and frowning. "Why was I not permitted to join in battle?", she asked contentiously.
"This was no battle, my dear valkyrie, simply a negotiation," Balthier answered. "Has Kaylee gotten the parts we need?"
"Yes, and some extra she believes will sell well to cover the cost of this expedition to Pendleton."

Sara, who was busy holding Rana, heard Marissa's words and looked up. "Sir, you are going to Pendleton?"
"I have been contracted to fly a young lady..." Balthier, looking toward Sara, put two and two together immediately. "...whom I suspect to be you. Ms. Sara Pontcaire, I presume?"
"Yes, I am," she replied.
"Ah, well, we do have some things to talk about. The transport fee, for instance. But this is hardly the time or place. Let me take you back to the Strahl, where we can converse on issues of transport and compensation..."

"That was a rather close one."
"Not now, Nikki," Kara remarked as she maneuvered her ship hard, avoiding a missile hit enough that her cruiser's turret guns could take it out. They were racing toward the hyperlimit with a flight of Anglian Comet fiighters pursuing, firing openly with their Pulse Gun armament. Kara's deflectors were down by a quarter but still holding, her maneuvering sufficient to keep some of the fire off.
As she piloted, Nikki operated the pulse gun turrets built into the cruiser. They were sufficient to keep the Comets off. But coming up behind them, with enough speed to catch up, were two Starfires from the Leviathan, itself still a distance behind. If those ships joined in, with their extra banks of pulse guns and missiles, Kara was doomed.
"How long until we can make hyperspace?," Kara asked.
"Hyperlimit is still ten minutes away at full burn," Nikki answered.
"We don't have ten minutes!"
"You could try to transit now, but with them shooting at us and with the extra stress from the gravity well, we might not..."
Kara didn't wait for her to finish. She reached for the hyperspace controls. Seeing Kara wouldn't be persuaded against it, Nikki immediately ran the necessary astrogation calculations and maneuvered the ship appropriately. Pulse gun fired rippled over their deflectors as the hyperdrive, already spooled up, finished final powerup sequence.

Kara pressed the second activation pad. The ship shuddered violently as the hyperdrive submersion field formed around it, fluctuating from the closeness to the star of Lochley's Retreat. There was a flash and...
They were in hyperspace.
"They can follow us you know," Nikki pointed out.
"They can't catch us though," Kara answered. "If they try, find a system on the route we'll beat them too and where we can find a planetary gravwell we can hide around. I'm going to be in the back securing the prisoner."
"She is secure, Kara... oh, you mean 'secure' her as in 'strip her naked for playtime'," Nikki remarked in a fairly sarcastic tone.
"Well, maybe playtime for her," Kara stated with a devilish grin. "But I need de la Poer intact if I'm to use her to get to her father."
"Ah, I see. So only light playtime? Is there such a thing as 'light playtime' to you Ladies of the Ebon Blade?"
"For training purposes," Kara answered as she slipped into the backroom where a still unconscious Katherine de la Poer laid cuffed to a wall. "Honestly, though, I'll be too busy doing other things to take the time to properly play with Katherine here."
"Hrm, that's rather a relief. The resulting screams are rather tiring for me."
"There aren't that many screams," Kara protested as she cut Katherine's top away. "I have them in gags.... usually."
"The times when you don't are only the most tiring. I would say that, as a bodyless AI, I don't see the point - beyond the application of pain - in what often appears to be a bizarre combination of lesbian sex and torture, but I suspect most organic humanoids would not either. And, admittedly, I'm not sure what the big deal is about sex of any kind..."
"Sometimes the pain is the point. Now, keep monitoring for pursuers or contacts, I'll be back on the cockpit shortly. I have to finish getting our 'cargo' ready for display."

"This is completely unacceptable!"
Fisher did not flinch from the Governor-General's rage as Tarkington let loose. His face was becoming purplish with a deep rage by this point as he stormed around his new office. "I should hold you and your staff personally responsible, Lord Fisher!", Tarkington proclaimed. "This is what you consider the most secure Imperial facility in the Outback? Something that mere pirates can raid so brazenly and...."
"This is not the work of 'mere pirates', Sir," Fisher pointed out immediately. Tarkington's glare could have burned him alive, as hot as his anger was, but he did not immediately rebuke Fisher for interrupting. "The investigation is ongoing, but this required a sophisticated AI program, likely a sentient one, to pull off. And given the removal of the ESP Null Field, we must presume our attackers were in part or in whole ESPers."
"And what about those sapphists you paraded before me? Hrm? They are ESPers. How do I know this was not some plot..."
"Please, Sir William, stop before you embarrass yourself. As much as they sometimes annoy by blundering into Imperial jurisdiction, that Dame Syrandi and her Sisters would perpetrate this act is an accusation so preposterous that it defies thought." Fisher put his hands together. "We have communications back. We have confirmed seven dead so far, including a young Crewman found stuffed in the trunk of a motor pool vehicle he had checked out yesterday, a vehicle located by one of the breaches in the Base's wall. He was assigned to the brig area. We are currently revieiwng records of his entry..."
"Could Pendleton have launched such an operation?,' Sir William asked.
"They have ESPers, and they have connections to local pirates for manpower.... it is quite possible. Even if the personnel who performed this act were not, it's entirely likely they were hired for it by Pendleton. What rem...." His base-network commphone beeped. "Pardon me, Governor?"
Tarkington waved him off, showing his assent to the interruption.

Fisher took the call. His jaw clenched as he received the report from the other end and thanked the giver. "Katherine de la Poer," he sighed. "That was their target."
Tarkington scowled. "She was scheduled to have her sentencing before the King's Bench just before our invasion launched. I'd intended to carry out the death sentence she was looking at along with those of other Pendletonians taken in the suppression.... do you think they will find her?"
"She was most likely on that GT-1250 that escaped from the system earlier," Fisher pointed out. "We have corvettes vectoring in try and intercept them, but there are many minor hyperlane paths in this area and with the other fleet elements arriving... it is highly likely they will get away."
"I want the captain of the Leviathan placed before an inquiry," Sir William stated. "He should have been capable of intercepting that ship."
"The pilot was fairly good, he did all he could..."
"It was not a request, Admiral, it was an instruction," Sir William pointed out. He still looked, for all the world, like he would order the impromptu obliteration of Pendleton if given the opening. And not just Pendleton, given his next remark. "And what of that fool Taskins? Will his government even be capable of aiding our's? Or is it so riddled with corruption that the guilty parties that remain will simply go back underground?"
That Fisher couldn't answer well. The planetary government's police apparatus wasn't the best... "I shall ask President Taskins to ensure full cooperation."
"This shouldn't be like this, you know," Tarkington muttered. "If those damned meddlers back on Earth hadn't stuck their noses in, this world would be under Anglian rule. And we would not have pirates running amok!" Looking like he had more to say, Tarkington waved Fisher off. "Go, finish your night Lord Fisher, we will reconvene in the morning."
Lord Fisher respectfully bowed his head and went out the door.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Siege » 2010-07-09 09:15am

Founding Father Hank dies in accident... Again
From the Sovereign Suns news & entertainment desk

Sidney Hank is dead after his private shuttle exploded shortly after leaving the headquarters of his company earlier this afternoon. The wreck occurred in the Runaway Towers district on Solaris Major.

Sources with the GSPD said the explosion is most likely due to a faulty superconductor trench. The shuttle was reportedly overdue for maintenance. Mr. Hank was the only passenger in the vehicle, and no others were injured in the explosion and subsequent crash.

Going by earlier instances of Mr. Hank's untimely demise, he can be expected to resume his duties as CEO of Pan-Empyrean Positronics and ambassador extraordinaire as early as tomorrow at the soonest...

Villa Straylight
Geostationary orbit around Solaris


Eyes shot wide open, gazing at the world through a haze of greenish goo. For a moment sheer panicked disorientation gripped him, just like all the innumerable times before. He drew a ragged, shaky breath of hyper-oxygenated air from the mouthpiece attached to his face, then heard the familiar gurgle of the rapidly draining vita-chamber and he realized where he was. Two thoughts formed almost simultaneously in his brand new brain. The first: I hate it when that happens. The second: dammit, that was my favorite suit!

He couldn't help but giggle, partly because of the trauma of being so abruptly yanked from one instance into the next, and partly because of the insane mundanity of that last thought. Muscles that had never been used before spasmed briefly as information pulsed through neural pathways for the first time, and he briefly struggled to retain his balance on the slippery surface as the last of the sickly green incubation fluid drained rapidly from circular chamber.

With the hiss-and-click of hydraulics the glass walls parted. A rush of dry and warm air hit nerves that had never experienced anything of the sort before, causing goosebumps all over pearly white skin. The remaining slicks of greenish goo evaporated quickly, and Sidney Leon Hank IV staggered from the vita-chamber, out onto the heated marble floor of the cloning/imprinting facility deep in the bowels of the Villa Straylight. He used an unfamiliar hand to steady himself as he looked at the rows of dimly lit tubes with brand new eyes that had a hard time adjusting to the ambient light. For some reason his vision wouldn't remain stable, and the laboratory blurred before his eyes. Momentarily the dizziness threatened to overtake him. He closed his eyes and ruthlessly fought the oncoming wave of nausea down.

“What,” he croaked, and he barely recognized his own voice. “What?”

“Welcome back,” the pleasant voice of Dionysus seemed to come out of nowhere, and Sidney could've sworn there was a pedantic smirk in its voice. At least the CompInt didn't use the neural link. The last thing he needed right now was an overlap of awareness. “I'm afraid your previous instance has come to an abrupt and unfortunate end. Your car was blown up.”

“Son of a bitch,” cursed Sidney. “I really do hate it when that happens.” He took a few steadying breaths, and the dizziness slowly faded as his imprint familiarized itself with its new body. He massaged his neck. “Time-loss?”

“A mere thirty-two seconds,” Dionysus replied, and the CI was obviously pleased with itself. “You were still in contact with the mainframe, and datasphere connectivity was excellent this time. In point of fact, as of this moment the wreck of your car has yet to hit the ground.”

“Great,” Sidney grumbled sardonically. Thirty-two seconds, he thought. Beat that, Jesus-Man. A small drone approached carrying a bathrobe, which he gratefully accepted and wrapped around his naked body. He blundered drunkenly toward the exit of the automated laboratory, passing rows of slowly maturing bodies suspended in similar tubes as the one he had just stepped from. No matter how many times he went through this process – many dozens of times by now – a new body always took some time to get used to. That was just the way it was: the mind needed time to adjust to its new environment. A heavy bronze door swished open, revealing a spacious bathroom behind. He stumbled forward, gripped a porcelain washing basin for balance, and looked into one of the mirrors.

A tall, handsome and very much younger face than he was used to looked back at him.

“Huh,” he commented, and rubbed an unfamiliar – but chiseled – chin. “Different face?”

“I thought we'd try something new,” Dionysus replied.

“Interesting,” Sidney stretched a little, and was rewarded with a very satisfactory rippling of muscle. “Oh. I'm ripped. Sweet.” He tried a few quick movements and was surprised by the speed and precision with which they came out. Frowning, he concentrated on his eyes and found out he could track individual dust motes, and indeed choose which part of the spectrum to watch them in. Come to think of it, there was an acuteness and brilliance to his hearing he was definitely unfamiliar with after spending nearly two centuries in an aging body. “Hmm. Combat model?”

“Don't be silly. This isn't the Founding -- it is unlikely you will need to tear Bragulans in two this time. It's just a minor set of biotechnic upgrades. Please do try and keep in shape this time?” the CI replied dryly.

“Hmm,” Sidney replied noncommittally. “ESP?”

“I think you'll remember we agreed that wasn't a good idea?”

Sidney smiled a little - another first for this body, judging by the cramps shooting along his jaws. “Maybe I changed my mind?”

This time the CompInt managed an actual digital sigh. “You didn't. If you did, I would know about it, remember?” More businesslike Dionysus continued: “I've loaded the standard memory package. You have the same communicators and neural links as before. I have also taken the liberty of informing the authorities of your unfortunate passing. As usual the formalities surrounding your fortuitous return from the dead will take several hours to resolve; I have therefore canceled your agenda for the rest of the day.”

“Yeah, I guess,” he replied absent-mindedly. Then something came to mind. “Ah crap! I had a reservation at Chinta Ria tonight. Dammit! It took forever to get on that guest list!”

“No fifteen minutes ago you were quite spectacularly killed,” the CompInt pointed out. “If the worst consequence of that is that you missed out on dinner in a fancy restaurant, some would call that getting off lightly.”

Sidney cocked his head in the mirror. “I suppose you have a point there,” he admitted and opened a walk-in closet filled with clothes tailored exquisitely to his new body. He picked out a shirt of midnight blue silk and began putting it on. “Any idea what did me in this time?” he asked.

“The destruction of the shuttle was covered by several camera angles. According to my analysis of the relevant footage it was struck by a M212 HIMAT multi-purpose missile mounted with a HIAB low-yield plasma warhead. The presence of advanced ECM is evident from the fact that neither the shuttle's self-defense suite nor those of the building engaged. Given the sophistication of the defenses of Pan-Empyrean HQ and the difficulty inherent in suppressing them to this extent, as well as your recent... squabble, I would have to say that the most likely culprit is...”

“Goddamnit.” Sidney had followed the train of thought to its logical conclusion. There was only one likely suspect. “CEID. And that means...”

“Indeed,” Dionysus affirmed.

“Get me another shuttle,” Sidney scowled.
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 Story Thread 1

Post by Siege » 2010-07-10 04:30am

Presidential Palace
Senatorial District, Solaris Major


The wide oaken doors crashed open, and this time President Victoria Sinclair had to admit to some surprise. Barely more than three hours had passed since the assassination, and she'd expected this moment to be at least another day away. Nonetheless her guards had received their instructions, and although they stiffened a little none of them tried to stop Sidney Hank as he stomped into her spacious office wearing an expression that could only be described as 'quite angry'.

“Oh! Black hair,” purred President Sinclair. She retrieved a cigarillo from the box on her desk and lit it. Blowing strange cuneiforms of smoke into the air, she smiled. “I like that.”

“You had me killed,” glared Sidney.

It wasn't a question, Victoria realized. Then again, it hadn't been very hard to figure out either, had it? Who else could it have been? She nodded. “I did indeed. Surely you're not surprised, I-”

“You told me as much, yes. Thank you, I had noticed.” He crossed his arms. “What the hell did you go and do that for?”

Sinclair shrugged. “A point had to be made.”

“A point? You call that a point?!” Sidney was outraged. “Do you know how much that bloody hurt?” It hadn't, not really... Or if it had, Dionysus had edited out the trauma. But there was no way Sinclair could know that.

Even so, the president airily waved his outrage away. “Oh, don't be such a pansy about it. You've done this plenty of times. I knew it would be just a temporary inconvenience...” She narrowed her eyes. “But hopefully it's enough incentive to make you think twice next time you think you can mess with my plans.” Victoria's face darkened. “Otherwise I might have to shut down your CI next time.”

Sidney snorted. “I'd love to see you try.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You don't think Olympic could do it?”

“I know he can't,” he said conceitedly. “And I'll do whatever I feel is best for the Sovereignty. If that means torpedoing your ill-conceived bills, that's what I'll do.”

“Ill-conceived!” bristled the President, and she half-rose from her chair. “It was a genius plan that would make the Sovereignty that much easier to rule, and boost my popularity in one fell swoop! And you totally ruined it!”

“It would 'boost your popularity' only by silencing damn near everybody who doesn't already agree with you!” Sidney yelled exasperatedly. “That's not actually boosting your popularity!”

“It is in every way that matters!” the President retorted angrily. “And anyway, I'm the democratically elected head of state! Why can't you just accept you don't always get your way, you domineering geriatric?!”

“Oh you didn't just-” Sidney fumed and planted his fists on her desk. “You smug arrogant egotistical bitch!

“Look who's talking you subversive, self-righteous pig!” By now she too had planted her fists on the desk, and they were both angrily leaning forward.

“Narcissistic feminista!”

“Elitist monument to bourgeois taste!”

“Smarmy fascist!”

“Will you shut up when I'm pontificating!”

“You dispatched assassins to kill me! You're not allowed to take the moral high ground!”

For a moment they simply glared daggers at each other. Then, suddenly, Sinclair grinned. “You know, Sidney, there's a future for you in motivational speaking.” She abruptly sat down in the gigantic expanse of leather that was the presidential chair.

Taken aback by that, Sidney frowned. “You know, I think I'll take that as a compliment.” He decided to sit down as well. He glanced at Sinclair and scratched his brand new chin. “So, now what?”

Victoria Sinclair settled her elbows on the desk and let her head rest on her hands. “Maybe we should talk about it in a more informal setting,” she smiled. “Let's say over dinner?”

Sidney looked at her levelly. “Did you notice that this conversation just took a really weird turn?”

She laughed and leaned a little closer, which accentuated her curves in an aesthetically most pleasing manner. “I happen to know for a fact that a table just freed up at a trendy little restaurant down-town. Would tonight suit you? This tale might still have...” Victoria Sinclair smiled in a way that seemed entirely too innocent, especially considering she did just order him assassinated. “A happy ending?”

Sidney simply stared at her. “You know that by any reasonable standard you're completely, psychotically insane, right?

“Ah, sanity. The hob-goblin of little minds.” Sinclair laughed again. “So. What do you say? It might be silly, but at least it's a way to settle our differences?”

Sidney shrugged. “You know, I think I resolved interstellar crises by means a lot weirder than this... But I'll be damned if I can think of any right now.”

Her smile widened. “Is that a yes?”

He shook his head and threw up his hands in mock defeat. “Fine. Why the hell not. It's a date.” He looked at her. “Crazywoman.”

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 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-07-10 06:19am

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

Stephen entered the door from the Palace of Parliament side feeling fairly tired and irritated. He'd endured a fairly rancorous PM's Questions with the Conservatives howling over the taxation changes he was promoting - aided by the findings of the Duchess of Norfolk's Exchequer Reforms Report - and had endured some barbs at policies regarding the Outback. The Conservatives were accusing him of diluting the Empire's power of action by inviting so many neighbors in and that he should have made acceptance of Anglian annexation of Pendleton a prerequisite term for any such involvement. There were, indeed, indications that the Empire Star Republic would challenge the Anglian annexation, though none of the other powered opposed it for obvious reasons (the difficulty of maintaining power there being the most obvious).

Finally... there was the news that came afterward, that a band of pirates and mercenaries had struck HMNS Lochley's Retreat during Sir William's reception and made off with Katherine de la Poer, the Pendletonian official arrested on the Tantalizer and convicted of piracy and sentient-trafficking. This was an embarrassing blow to the Kingdom's prestige and demanded a full response. Members of the press were already demanding an immediate invasion of Pendleton and some even called for New Anglia to occupy the city of Lochley Landing and force its government to permit Anglian direction and jurisdiction in the investigation, in clear violation of the Outback Treaty of 2991 with the United Nations. It was not a policy he intended to enact despite these pressures, for obvious reasons.

"Your weary father has returned home, children," he pronounced drolly as he came to the main den. Rafael was busy with schoolwork, Thomas with his reading, while Gabriela and Sophie were looking at an online catalog of some sort. The boys paid him little heed beyond a head nod and "Hey Dad". His girls, however, jumped up - Sophie still clutching her datapad - and accepted a hug in each arm. "Papa, can I get this done?", Sophie asked.
Stephen looked at the image. It was of a young woman, he'd guess anywhere from 15 to 20, with rather bright and blatantly unnatural violet hair. "You want to dye your hair purple, Sophie?"
"No, Papa, I want a gene for it," she stated.
Stephen's mouth hung agape at that. Cosmetic genes were available - if rather pricey - and he'd known people who'd had them before. They weren't as favored as "permanent dyes" since a gene stayed in someone's genetic material forever, meaning descendants could inherit it and wind up with a blatantly artificial hair color, while "permanent dyes" merely altered the hair at a chemical level (though required constant, quarterly re-treatments lest the body's natural genetic material restore the pigment chemicals to their natural state). "Well, Sophie, I mean, what if you decide you don't want purple hair when you're older."
"But Lindsey Sampson got it done," Sophie answered, "and she looks so great!"
"That is her parents' decision, Sophie..." That, of course, prompted The Pout from the older girl's face. Stephen felt his heart twist a little and tried to resist the temptation to just give her what she wanted (and that is often the result of 'The Pout'). But he was saved from an unwise decision by the touch on the shoulder. He looked up to see Rachel beside him, wearing a fairly plain sleeveless white blouse and miniskirt. He stood to his full height; his left arm wrapped around his wife's waist and gripped her left hip while their lips met each other in a short kiss. "Hello darling."
"Hello," she answered back. "So Sophie told you about the hair gene?"
"The answer is 'No', Stephen," she answered. "I will not have Sophie looking garish like that, no matter what Ms. Sampson lets her children do. The woman's a menace anyway."

Sophie tried The Pout anyway. But while it worked on her mother on many issues, it failed on this issue.
"Maybe when you grow up," Stephen said sympathetically.
"She'd better not," Rachel insisted. "She'll look foolish when she goes to university."
"But what if I don't want go to university?", Sophie inquired earnestly.
"Where else would you go, Sophie? Not the Navy," Gabriela pointed out, now jumping into the conversation and bringing up her favorite subject. "They'd never let you in with your hair so weird."
"It's not weird, lots of kids are doing it!", Sophie protested. "Besides, you just talk about the Navy so Raffie will play with you!"
"Do not!"

"Girls." Stephen crouched down again and put a hand on each of his daughter's shoulders. "No fighting, not over this. You can each do whatever you wish when the time comes, but for now, please listen to us on these things. That includes no genes, Sophie." He looked fairly sternly at her. "If you do well at school this term, I will consider letting you get dye work done. Now..."
"Heavens, no! Sophie is far too intelligent to go around looking like some air-headed girl chasing the latest fad," Rachel said angrily.
Stephen looked back to his wife. "Darling, please, if she does well in school there's no harm in letting her try it and..."
The worsening scowl on Rachel's face told him that not only was his plea falling on deaf ears but that it was becoming increasingly likely he would face the cold shoulder that evening when it was time to go to bed. Thankfully one of their house servants, the butler Lionel, stepped in. The brown-and-gray haired man, a wiry-framed fellow with a very fine accent, remarked, "Sir, pardon the interruption, but Lord Prestwick has come and needs to see you. He assures me it is urgent Government business."
"We'll talk about this later, okay?" He gave Rachel a little kiss on the forehead and walked to follow Lionel to the guest parlor, looking very relieved.

The relief, however, did not last. Upon meeting Baden-Grey, his Foreign Secretary immediately produced a dispatch from Ambassador Shropshire straight from New York City on Earth and the Anglian Embassy to the UN. "They can't be serious," Stephen muttered.
"I'm afraid they are, if only as a stalling tactic," Baden-Grey answered.
"Appealing to the UN for an invocation of the Outback Treaty? Like that will save them?" Stephen slumped into a chair, rubbing at his temples. "Like I don't have enough pressure from the Tories on the issue of Lochley Landing. Do you realize the consequences if the UN does something so ridiculous as to uphold the Pendletonians' request?"
"It would not be well, Sir," Baden-Grey agreed. "Our allies would fall away from us overnight and we would have no choice but to leave Pendleton as sovereign."
"It would also give the Tories further ammunition to argue for us to withdraw from the Treaty." Such arguments had come up before, spearheaded by what was known as the "Imperial" faction of the Conservative Party; it would open the door for New Anglia to begin formal annexation of planets in the Outback but, dangerously, could result in the UN and other powers using economic and even military force to defend the sovereignty of the Outback Statelets. "Is there a danger here, Reginald? Do we face the prospect of the UN being so foolish as to let that pack of slavers retain the sovereignty they have frequently abused?"
"I am confident they will rule against them," Baden-Gray stated. "Pendleton has become an argument against the Treaty, after all, and the UN places great stock in maintaining a balance of power in the Outback. No, I suspect they will reject the Pendletonian appeal... but they may not reject an appeal by the Empire Republic to require us to turn Pendleton over to a multi-national mandate for eventual restoration of self-rule. Given the momentum the annexation impulse has in Parliament..."
"Yes, it will be a political headache," Stephen noted. "But one we can manage. Thank you, Reginald, for letting me know. We will have to keep ahead of this."
"You are welcome, Sir. So..." Baden-Grey had a little smile on his face. "I couldn't help but notice your look coming in. Trouble?"
"Sophie wants purple hair," was Stephen's blunt reply. "Specifically, she wanted it gene-modded. And Rachel will sooner see her head shaved bald than Sophie given an artificial hair color by any means, even temporary."
A drawn out "Ah" was the reply. "Well, Minister, I shall speak to you at our weekly Cabinet briefing. Good luck with the family."
"Thank you, Lord Prestwick, because I think I will need it," was Stephen's reply.
”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 Story Thread 1

Post by K. A. Pital » 2010-07-10 09:21am

Commune capital planet, Zero
Comrade Sigma carefully surveyed the visitors with his visual sensors. It could observe everything around itself with a 3600 degree vision – very few of the Commune’s clouds had capabilities that advanced. It required a lot of learning and even special external programming to master and cope with the flow of information. Most of those who chose to become nanomorphs usually just copied their brains, their cell structures and the like to more or less imitate human biology. It was natural for their minds, whereas learning truly posthuman abilities outside immortality itself was quite hard. For this very reason the Mirage existed – it had access to the edge-cutting scientific developments inside the nanotech field, and offered external programming to nanomorphs who were willing to serve the Commune in more ways than being just a citizen.

The Zero spaceport was perhaps the most usual spaceport – the complete absence of workers aside. It was specifically designed by the Commune engineers not to confuse the ambassadors and visitors with too alien a system that reigned in the so-called “calm” Commune worlds.

- We are glad to welcome your delegation to our capital city, - Sigma spoke softly. - You are all welcome to follow me, that includes those who have came here to establish a permanent diplomatic mission and those who are here for a temporary visit.

He waited a little, as if something was going to happen. And something happened indeed - the air suddenly became foggy. The visitors could notice that the fog came up from the ground. It concentrated for a minute or so, creating something that looked like a large helicopter.

- We are trying to cut down on electromagnetic emissions, - said Sigma with a shy voice. - You see... our human comrades complain about adverse effects of antigravity flyers and other such machinery on their biology. We try to keep their use to a minimum, that's why we shifted to helicopters despite the obvious inefficiency. But rest assured, it will deliver us to the city quickly enough.

The visitors occupied soft white seats inside the cabin.

- If you don't like the white color, just inform me, - spoke Sigma from the front seat, - and I'll fix it.

But the delegation, like many others before them, did not complain - respect, etiquette and all that. The helicopter had no doors, just holes, which were closed by the same utility fog after everyone was inside. Then it rose into the sky, and a beautiful panorama of the continent-wide city opened to the eyes of the Central Alliance diplomats. The machine was pretty fast for a helicopter, though nothing too fancy. Soon it reached one of the skyscrapers which looked just like an ordinary supertall building common for all galactic civilizations, especially humanoid ones. They landed on the rooftop - after they left, the helicopter dissolved in the same fashion as it appeared. Sigma led them through the corridors of what looked like a diplomatic hotel suite.

- This is the place where all official embassy representatives, mission members or any other diplomats and representatives from other civilizations live, - Sigma explained as they passed doors to rooms that must have been very large. - I will now show you your room.

They entered a very large hall which was absolutely empty - and it's floor and ceiling were uniform and white, just like the corridors. In the end was a huge window.

- Now, you have been granted access to the utility fog network in this city, - Sigma said with an absent look, as if he was occupied with something, and some of the visitors felt a little uneasy. - No need to worry. I will explain the basic rules. Nanoassemblers can provide you with anything you want - food, furniture, entertainment - just name it aloud with a preface "ASSEMBLE" and the system will react. Nothing too exquisite, but there are duty-free luxury shops in the spaceport where you can buy items made in other civilizations. To return, you can just use the "ASSEMBLE: TRANSPORT" command on top of the roof and then use "DESTINATION: SPACEPORT" command to fly there - or choose any other destination. Let me see... - Sigma looked at the empty room.


The room transformed - a large red conference table made of the same fuzzy-looking, concentrated and hardened fog just grew out of the floor, as did the sofa, chairs, a huge infodisplay on the wall opposite the sofa. Sigma ordered the seats to grow right under the men.

- I would also like to inform you that, of course, the process could be more efficient if the system could know your preferences, but that would require tapping into your nerves, - Sigma explained. - You are breathing the utility fog dispersed in the air, and if you feel you want to receive video, audio or other information directly into the brain bypassing the biological sensory system, you can just command the system LINK: NERVE. After that you would no longer need the display to see the news or interact with us. You would still need to use it for home calls via Galactic Net, because the nanotech system of the Commune has no direct access to that network for security reasons. Also, as part of the usual offer, I understand that your delegation is still not immortal? The Commune offers to all permanently working diplomats an infusion of our typical anti-agathic nanobot swarms. We offer it for free, because we find it convenient to work with the same individuals over centuries. However, you can decline.

Sigma turned around.

- You can experiment with the system. To get a guide, just command ACCESS: NANOTECH GUIDE, and the system will display the guide via whatever your chosen information display method is. I am sure you will find the utility fog most interesting. We ask you to refrain from using complex queries and some high-level system commands - we just recently opened them to the general public. They require a lot of energy. See system help for more. If you need my assistance, call Sigma NO 1897890670900654 on our network - I will appear as soon as possible, or another comrade will help you. The Supreme Soviet is not far from here, consult the map for directions.

Finally the Commune's representative finished his introductory lecture of sorts and started to lose his humanoid shape rapidly, turning into a liquid blob composed of a more advanced type of nanobots than the utility fog covering the room walls. However, the two systems apparently had no problems combining - the man literally dissolved in the floor and vanished. The Central Alliance delegation was left to their own devices. The infodisplay was brightly lit - on it, a picture of a pill was displayed. The description read: "Free anti-agathics for diplomatic mission members. Order them now via the net".

While the Central Alliance men came to terms with what they saw, while their ships stood still in the Zero Spaceport, a small October-class frigate on the Commune border has changed its course. It has been commanded to follow to the Central Alliance and deploy just one diplomat - a single Commune cloud, as usual procedures demanded.

Shinra Republic outskirts, Wutai sector

The small colony on one of the sector's habitable planets was a most peaceful one. One day a strange visitor came to the planet on his private ship - an old small merchant vessel probably bought from some intergalactic trade cartel. The man was only carrying one suitcase. Some folks said he was just a mad tycoon who decided to live out his last years in travel, others speculated he is after the planet's mineral riches.

The visitor settled in a hotel - and a few days after he arrived, he came into the Central Square with the suitcase.

- Citizens! - he said, and suddenly his voice became stronger, as if magnified by some technical device unseen. - I have come from the Commune. I come in peace.

He opened the suitcase. Inside was an odd-looking white clay which was held stable by a magnetic field or something like that.

- You may know that in the Commune, no man would oppress his fellow intelligent being. We live in a society that cherishes three things - liberty, equality and justice. And in one thing all citizens of the Commune are equal - we do not cower before the face of time. Our research has created anti-agathics that can give humans true immortality. You may already know this. But know also that anyone who accepts the noble ideals of communism becomes a Commune citizen. How, you might ask? It is easy. Just take this anti-agathic, forget the worries of mortal men and become a part of our great Commune! Be what you are - intelligent beings, not tools. Come! Immortality is a gift we offer freely to those who want to become a part of us!

Some passed by ignoring the man, but a few here and there stopped and came closer...
Lì ci sono chiese, macerie, moschee e questure, lì frontiere, prezzi inaccessibile e freddure
Lì paludi, minacce, cecchini coi fucili, documenti, file notturne e clandestini
Qui incontri, lotte, passi sincronizzati, colori, capannelli non autorizzati,
Uccelli migratori, reti, informazioni, piazze di Tutti i like pazze di passioni...

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-07-10 10:00am

Chapter Sunelis, Lochley Landing
Lochley's Retreat, The Outback

Rana was escorted into Syrandi's office by Trinande, who bowed respectfully as she went past. Much to her relief she was now in proper vest and leggings instead of the formal dress Sara had gotten for her - most important of all, she was in proper shoes and not high-heels.
Syrandi was similarly dressed and waited while Rana gave a head bow in greeting. "Knight-Captain Syrandi, I am here at your request," Rana stated.
"You were brave last night to go rushing off like that," Syrandi answered. "I heard you got into difficulty, what happened?"
"It was a Lady of the Ebon Blade, Sister," Rana answered. "I dueled her briefly, but she sensed Sara's presence and betrayed it to her allies. When I turned to get to Sara and protect her, I was struck in the back by her agiel. She... she made me pass out." Rana bowed her head. "I failed, Sister, in my duties. I could not achieve Banno egh Banno in the fight as I should."
"It is not easy to do, Sister Rana, for any but the most trained and skilled of Masters," Syrandi pointed out. "But that it was a Lady of the Ebon Blade is an important piece of information. You are to be commended for this."
"I... do not feel like I should be," Rana admitted. "I nearly got Sara killed. I.. have let my feelings for her become too strong."
"Truly?" Syrandi stood from her chair and walked up to the younger woman. "I sense your attraction to her as doubled again."
"She is quite bold when she sets her mind to it," Rana said. "And her friendliness, her sweetness... I feel complete with her."
"Then you are in love with her."

Rana seemed to struggle with that description. "I... I believe so. And I know she is now in love with me. But I, we, can't be. We have known each other so shortly..."
At that Syrandi grinned a little. "My dear Sister Rana, love has its own timetable. I can feel it in you and you are wrong to try and suppress it."
"It would be foolish to let it go through," Rana argued. "My life is in the Order. I may be called upon to die at any time, and it would only bring Sara pain."
"Whether you admit the love or not will not change the pain she feels. She will still have loss," Syrandi pointed out. "And she will have regret for having never been with you. Just as you would have if she were to die this moment." Allowing a sad smile on her face, Syrandi placed her hands on Rana's shoulders. "There was a young woman I knew once, Rana. Her name was Yamia and she was from Hargano, as I am. We entered the Order as Initiates, we fell in love as Acolytes, and for many years we were lovers and Bondmates." A tear came to Syrandi's eye as she finished the story. "And then I lost her. She went missing while on a mission in Wild Space, never to be heard from again."
Rana let out a breath, sensing her superior's sorrow. "I... am sorry, Sister Syrandi."
"There has been a hole in my heart since she has been gone, Sister Rana. But even in my most intense grief, I am consoled by what memories remain of her. Every moment together, every advancement Rite we attended together and every time we had each other in our arms, warms my heart and soothes the wound of her loss. I shudder to think of how much it would hurt if we had not enjoyed love together, if it had remain unpursued." Her eyes focused intently on Rana's. "Go to Sara, Rana. Admit what you feel. And let it go from there. That way, if all goes wrong, you will at least have memories of one another."

Sara re-entered her room in the Sunelis Chapter and let out a sigh. After resting, she had spent much of the rest of the day finalizing her agreement with Balthier for transport to Pendleton. He had been a charming fellow and, she sensed, had genuine concern for her welfare, making the comment that he believed she should not be going and offering to instead ferry one of the Sisters to investigate in her stead.
But none of the Sisters knew Pendleton, not like Sara did. She knew the homes, the places, where the de la Poers and the traders they dealt with lived and met. And she knew the questions to ask... she had to be there.
It occurred to Sara that Fisher would not be pleased by her choice either, nor the fact that she had spent so much of the funds she had for this. He would argue as he had for months; it was a fool's errand and would not get her family back, she had to have faith instead that Pendleton would be invaded first, etc. But she could not leave this to others; she had to know.
Her dress was mostly intact, thankfully, despite the rough and tumble night they'd had. She removed it to return to her closet (And eventual cleaning), then went to work on the rest of the gown. She was getting back into the simple Order-provided garments when her door opened. She turned to see Rana, who entered it. Rana looked at her directly as she closed the door behind her. "Hello Rana," Sara spoke, sensing with what ESP talent she had that Rana was mentally occupied. "I'm... I'm glad you're okay. I was so frightened for you last night. I thought I'd gotten you killed."
"You didn't," Rana answered simply. She kept looking at Sara with an intensity that drew Sara's attention, such that she stopped before pulling on her vest. "I thought I would lose you. But I didn't... I don't know why, Sara, but you were right last night. It is like we were two separate halves, incomplete, and are now whole from having met."
Sara thought her heart was skipping a beat at hearing Rana say that. She stood there, beside her bed, and looked at Rana intently. "It's amazing, yes. We just met and yet I already feel like I could not live without you. I... I don't know why..."
Rana walked up to her. They were about the same height so looking eye to eye was automatic. Their minds became further linked as Rana lowered the barriers of habit she kept around them and the air between them grew hot, almost electrifying in the energy they felt.

Rana's arms came up. One wrapped around Sara's bare shoulders, the other her waist, her hands settling on Sara's soft skin. She pulled Sara in close and their lips met. Sara didn't resist the embrace or Rana's kiss, only making a low moan as the kiss grew stronger.
When it ended, Rana brought her hands up to Sara's head. One moved through her bright golden hair, the other touched her cheek affectionately. "I love you," Rana admitted.
"I know," was the reply. "And I love you."
Their kiss resumed.
”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 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-07-10 11:15am

His Holiness Crocodilus Pontifex Mourns Untimely Loss of Senator Hank

The Pope of Space's Papal Holo-Seal

VATICAN CITY, ZIGON 5 - The explosive demise of Founding Father and Sovereign Senator Sidney Hank of Solaris has affected not only his primarily human constituency in Solaris, but also the reptilian peoples of Zigonia as the Pope of Space himself presided over a mourning mass in St. Reptilicus' Basilica at the Vatican. In the novena, where the Pope led his mellow congregation in chilling out and partying, the Reptilian Catholics also took time to pray for the soul of the dearly departed Sovereign Senator.

The Catholic Church's doctrine states that the immortal soul does not get transfered in the uploading processes now commonly used in post-beings all over the galaxy, thus with each and every expiry of any being's individual mortal body, the soul likewise ascends into the afterlife each and every time.

"Sidney Hank is a good man, and his great acts of kindness have ensured his place in the afterlife," the Holy See declared in his mid-noon mass where he blessed Sidney Hank and granted the indulgences purchased by Senator Hank's estate.

The traditional mourning mass takes place on a typical Catholic Church by the beachside where prayers are rendered and incense-fueled rave parties are done in the sand and surf. For Catholics and Zigonians who can't go to the beach, due to distance or because their planet lacks a beach, mourning mass services are also provided by local Vatican Burger branches where the holy acts of partying and getting your groove on are transubstantiated with that of eating a Vatican Burger and a side order of baluted Aduk eggs.

All over the Sovereignty, particularly in Solaris, Zigonians of all Catholic orders have filled the beaches to participate in the masses dedicated to Sidney Hank.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-07-10 02:46pm

BRAGULE, Bragulan Star Empire



Capital of the Bragulan Star Empire. World throne of the Imperator, Darvyl Sagatantron Byzon. Home to billions of Bragulans, the center of an indomitable star nation encompassing countless suns claiming innumerable worlds and moons, all under the protection of the great nuclear fist of its military. The pride of Bragulanity, their true homeworld and cradle of all Bragulan life. Home of their glourious past and bastion of their bright future. Jewel of the Empire.

Glourious Bragule.

A polluted planet blanketed by industrial wastelands, where the dead sky is black from the toxic emissions of towering smokestacks and spewing chimneys, with factory complexes spanning beyond the horizon, covering denuded mountain ranges with steel and smoke and fire, with enormous siphons that drain solid, semi-solid and liquid wastes into poisoned oceans. A world that stands as a testament to the iron will of the Bragulan peoples and their unstoppable march forward, a monument to their enduring and ever-toiling spirit. A brilliant achievement of most patriotic glory to Empire and Imperator, the culmination of centuries' striving for perfection. A perfection achieved.

Mighty Bragule.

Unlike Solaris or Holy Terra or Earth, or any other insignificant human planet, Bragule had no facade. No false pretensions of wonder that only served to hide what was beneath the surface, the true face of their kind. Bragule had none of this, for Bragule was truth. Bragule was the ultimate victory of the Bragulan people, the ultimate victory of the Imperator, and his victory was truth itself. Bragule was thus a sample of Bragulanity in its purest - it's true form.

An ignorant human would question this, an ideologically impure Bragulan may even doubt this. Some would say this was madness. But this was not madness.

This was Bragule.


The rumbling soot-clouds of the Bragulan sky began to rain acid. From the hardened glass and plastic windows of crammed housing complexes and one-room homes, the corrosive raindrops gleamed in the air as beams of light shone through them. Lights from the Patriotic Ministry of the People's Truth and Ideological Purity's holo-projectors, which beamed out from the surface of the planet to project amorphous and ambiguous visages onto the clouds themselves. These massive hologram faces filled the skies, and with garbled omnipresent voices that came from great airship-megaphones, they spoke as one - and all of Bragule listened to them.

The People's Truthful Bi-Daily Ideologically Purified Accurate Information Broadcast to the Proud Patriotic Bragulan Listeners of Planet Bragule begins thusly:


RYGNSKRGNVK, Kirensk Sector - The sub-sector system of Rygnskrgnvk faces the worst crisis in decades as an unexpected depletion of vowels occurs ahead of schedule! The Rygnskrgnvk system is known for the unfortunate vowel shortages that occur periodically, however this season the Rygnskrgnvk system has yet to fill its stocks for the vowel reserve and an unexpectedly early vowel depletion has left the system in a very ungood state - the Imperial Ministry of Plentiful Supply and Demand Regulation and Registration reported this week.

Vowels are an important resource to Bragulans throughout the Empire, and systems like Rygnskrgnvk do not have their own vowels and rely on vowel shipments out-of-system to supply their needs. However, this unforeseen shortage presents a great challenge to the Bragulan Star Empire as the present Fifty Year Plan has only allocated limited spare vowels for Rygnskrgnvk, as the vowels have already been evenly redistributed to Bragulan systems throughout the Star Empire. Thus, the Imperial Ministry of Plentiful Supply and Demand Regulation and Registration has gained permission from the Imperator himself to work with the People's Department of Limited Foreign Interaction and Human Affairs to seek supplementary vowel shipments from the nearby Altacar Empire.

Normally, such an interaction with an alien and human polity would be heavily scrutinized and persecuted by the Bragulan Star Empire - but those authorized by the Imperator to interact with the Altacarians are the very same members of the Imperial Ministry of Plentiful Supply and Demand Regulation and Registration whose impudent shortsightedness was responsible for the vowel famine on the Rygnskrgnvk system. After the vowel shipment arrives, these perpetrators will be removed from the Imperial Ministry and sent to one of the Bolshaya Chernovyi sector's numerous correction camps for de-education.


GUGEFEZ, Urumansk Sector - The Emerald Guardsman Zhyvel who, with his elite comrades, heroically stormed a human conspirator stronghold, has recovered from the injuries he sustained in glourious combat. Guardsman Zhyvel was incapacitated not by the insufficient and inadequate human weapons and attacks, but by cowardly and sniveling human treachery in the form of a poisoned donut. Sent into a coma by the vile pastry's toxins, Zhyvel nonetheless continued on fighting for his life even when in the hospital bed, struggling with every inch of his Bragulan will to survive the deliciously baked human deprivations!

Guardsman Zhyvel and his team's heroic discovery of the human donut conspiracy in Gugefez has led to a severe crackdown on illegal human trade in the Star Empire, with the Imperial Bureau of Galactic Vigilance reprocessing several individuals suspected to be involved in trafficking donuts in the black market. Likewise the Bragulan Starfleet has destroyed a number of unflagged vessels suspected of carrying poisonous donuts in both Bragulan and Wild Space. The Bragulan authorities have declared that any attempt to sap and impurify the precious bodily fluids of the patriotic Bragulan people will be met with fierce and swift retribution.

The dramatic and speedy recovery of hero Guardsman Zhyvel will be celebrated with parades and an awards ceremony, with Guardsman Zhyvel and his comrades decorated for their valor and heroism in the defense of the Empire, the Bragulan people and the Imperator.


ALTACAR, Altacar Empire - The emissaries of the People's Department of Limited Foreign Interaction and Human Affairs have received word that the faraway puny human nation of Anglia is moving to wage war against the equally puny human nation of Pendleton over the issue of slavery. On this grave galactic matter, Imperator proclaims the Empire's indifference to the insignificant affairs of these distant polities, and notes that unlike the petty and squabbling humans Bragulan kind has advanced beyond slavery and instead chooses to involuntarily conscript ideologically impure deviants to do glourious patriotic labor for the greater good of all peoples, and for their own good too - a lesson that both the nations of Anglia and Pendleton should strive to learn.

Truly the galaxy would be more harmonious and better off if other star nations opted to emulate the ideologically purified ways of Bragulanity, thus eliminating the need for puny human nations to squabble amongst each other.

This has been a bi-daily broadcast from the People's Truthful News Group with patriotic news of the people from throughout the Bragulan Star Empire, and with selected uninsignificant news from the rest of the galaxy deemed worth consideration.

Last edited by Shroom Man 777 on 2010-07-11 03:16am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Norade » 2010-07-10 02:57pm

Sector 16-13-02
Exacorp Sector, Capital Sector of The Federal Republic of Industrialized Sectors
Dronescorp Manufacturing

The yearly televised conference in which the legislature will present the yearly budget is projected larger than life in the center of a small round table surrounded by the six head executives of Dronescorp Manufacturing the main contractor for large naval vessels and smaller armed parasite drones. After the contract for the massive Expansion-class as well as the new government they are expecting an easy year on the manufacturing end meaning it would be easier to schedule refits for older vessels. In the old days a lack of profit from new orders would concern such a board but profit is no longer a concern for anybody in a nation that is near post scarcity for everything by computational speed. The main reason to watch the budget at all is tradition and to get a head start on blocking in when slips will be open for projects before the official numbers are handed down.

They had tuned in just at the end of the infrastructure budget, a now largely meaningless thing since resources are abundant and nearly free labor droids are ever maintaining the habitats, the only reason for even catching the end was to see what resources might be tied in the construction of new habitats. That and it came right before their own budget.

The hologram speaks shortly and the crisp well practiced voice of Minister Lloyd Hendraugh is mimicked to perfection by the display's speakers. They might all be tucked into a neural interface for this, but the short time span and the cultural bias to face to face meetings makes this entirely easier. The introduction to the budget for new fleet procurement is done and they all take out palm sized computers to record and block in the budget.

The man displayed in perfect holographic detail speaks and says, "Authorized for construction this year are twelve, block two, Sir Hector-class Battleships, twenty-four District-class Cruisers, sixty Drone-class corvettes, and lastly two-hundred Meteor-class Missile Craft. In addition to this an additional thirty-six sir Hector-class Battleships shall be refitted to block two standard. No new ground units are slatted to be required at this time."

The execs around the table nod slightly as their pads take down the data and block in a working build schedule after which the display clicks off and the lights in the room slowly brighten. Their main job for the year has just been finished and it's time for a well prepared lunch and a massage after one of the hardest working days of the year.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Master_Baerne » 2010-07-10 08:44pm

Her Ascendant Ladyship's Government Announces Budget - Federal News Service

Speaking from Firmament Palace, Her Ascendant Ladyship Sikala II finalized this year's proposed budget, which will focus on funding the continued integration of the colonial Lorica and Jame's World Sectors into the Federation. Tax subsidies for corporations operating in the sectors and for those owned or operated by colonial citizens are being expanded, as is Federal funding for industry. The Grand Duke of Inception, Her Ascendany Ladyship's Minister for Finance, reassured Core citizens that no social programs have been cut to support integration.

What has been cut, according to Admiralty spokeswoman Lieutenant-Commander Victoria Smithson, is the Navy's budget. Instead of the planned expansion of the heavy forces, this year's procurement will focus mainly on light and mid-range units, specifically a prototype for a new class of heavy cruiser, tentatively named the Pike-class, fifty Sabre-class ships, fifty Morghann-class light cruisers, and one hundred corvettes. This, according to Commander Smithson, "will enable the Navy to expand its policing role dramatically, and will not endanger Her Ascendant Ladyship's subjects."

RESULT: Construction of 1 100-point experimental CA, 50 75-point CA, 50 50-point CL, 100 20-point CR. Total expenditure 8,250 points. Army recruitment will net 100,000,000 Regulars, at a cost of 3,000 points due to their having elite kit.
Conversion Table:

2000 Mockingbirds = 2 Kilomockingbirds
Basic Unit of Laryngitis = 1 Hoarsepower
453.6 Graham Crackers = 1 Pound Cake
1 Kilogram of Falling Figs - 1 Fig Newton
Time Between Slipping on a Banana Peel and Smacking the Pavement = 1 Bananosecond
Half of a Large Intestine = 1 Semicolon

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by KlavoHunter » 2010-07-11 01:09am

Lochley's Retreat
January 3400

The unexpected arrival of a warship of significant size always attracted a great deal of local attention, and certainly this vessel was making no attempt to hide itself as it decelerated from hyper at the system's edge. Long before it was close enough to be painted by any serious targeting sensors, however, the New Anglians had identified the ship as the Kilij, a known Klavostani mercenary ship operating in the Outback under Captain Yakup Meni. The refit obsolete heavy cruiser was, while formidable, no real threat to the system, even if it were not home to a growing expeditionary fleet. No threat, indeed, as the commander of the system defenses would discover, whilst conversing with the captain, conveying the summary of his orders verbally, whilst a digital copy was also transmitted, and soon passed up along the hierarchy of the Star Kingdom to its intended recipient.

FROM: Ahmed Koca, Foreign Minister of Klavostan
TO: Lord Prestwick, Foreign Secretary of New Anglia

Word of the upcoming occupation of the "Free Republic" of Pendleton is welcome news to the Sultanate. Having been repatriated enslaved Klavostani citizens in the past during similar operations, the Sultanate has paid for and offers the services of the mercenary ship Kilij in subduing Pendleton, and in then returning any Klavostani citizens home.
"The 4th Earl of Hereford led the fight on the bridge, but he and his men were caught in the arrow fire. Then one of de Harclay's pikemen, concealed beneath the bridge, thrust upwards between the planks and skewered the Earl of Hereford through the anus, twisting the head of the iron pike into his intestines. His dying screams turned the advance into a panic."'

SDNW4: The Sultanate of Klavostan

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Zor » 2010-07-11 02:47am

Commonwealth Ministry of Defense procurements
Star Navy
One Atlantis class Dreadnought ($500, entering service in 3405)
Three Nelson class Battleships ($900, entering service in late 3402)
1 Akagi class Carrier ($150 points, entering service early 3402)
1 Kusenagi class Cruiser ($150 points entering service early 3402)
10 Godslayer class Destroyers-($1000, entering service in 3401)
15 Tercio class frigates-($750, entering service latter this year)
15 Xiongnu class frigates-($750, entering service latter this year)
1,000 RX-50 Tigershark fighters ($200 Points)
400 Bullshark class Assault gunships ($200 points)

$100 additional Regulars
$150 additional Posthuman Soldiers
$50 Advanced Maritime Warfare Program
$100 Slayer Program

CSNS-Emancipator High Orbit, New New York, Darwinia Sector
January 3400

Two Star Captain Tradewind lay back in his chair as she jestured to one of his bridge crew and the tractor beam was disengaged after receiving confirmation that the the local port authority's tugs had her captured craft in tow to be gutted and reclaimed. She was among one of the highest standing Tau in the Navy, having receiving command of a spacecraft two years ago. Most of the Kor caste (and those of the Twilight Caste of primarally Kor background) were employed in the civilian merchant craft that usually operated in or near the Commonwealth's boarders, although for the last century an increasing number of Air Caste individuals were joining the Star Navy. Getting command of something larger than a frigate was a feat in of itself for any organic, most of the commanding officers in the Star Navy these days were Posthuman, for the simple reason that they could sit in the command chair for a long long time. Most of her career in command was spent hunting down pirates and doing the occasional rescue job, but she handled things as well as possible, even if this job she was glad to get over.

What she had in tow was a pirate carrier, a converted old bulk freighter which was limping towards the Badlands. The Emancipator came across it as its crew fell out of hyperspace to effect repairs after taking a considerable beating. While its few remaining fighters tried to put up a defense, it was ultimately in no shape to fight and surrendered. The pirate crew was captured and had been inturned in the brig, but what was more notable was the fact that this ship carried a fair number of people, nearly 21,000 in total excluding some 4,000 dead found in depressurized cargo bays and most of them were human, although a few others including some Trill, Chamarrans and even a couple of Bragulans. Despite the efforts of the civilized powers, there were a few areas in which slaves were sold, as cheap labour in pirate bases, as gladatorial fighters by a handful of undergroud rings on seedier worlds, playthings and so forth. Kept penned up in row upon row of cages and fed tables scraps and emergency wafers made from a series of rundown emergency recylcing units save for a few prized examples. Her craft was now packed with thousands of people while medical staff were working around the clock to check up on the health of these captured individuals and do what they could for them. That said, there had been scuffles especially given that one of the craft that these pirates struck was Byzantine and they collected from them nearly four hundred individuals. The pirates were to be reprogrammed and the captives were to be given accomidations until arangements were made for their repatriation. Either way, she would be glad to have them off his ship.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by loomer » 2010-07-11 03:24am

New Louisiana, Orleans Division, Edgard Parish

"GO! GO! GO!" The voice was staticky through the headset as Albert leapt free of the VTOL transport's doors with the rest of his men, freefalling down towards a port facility bordering one of the three great oceans that dominated Acadiana. At this height it was little more than a concrete dot, even with the image enhancements his helmet provided, and the chill penetrated even the thick, self-regulating dropsuit he wore. Falling beside them as a large metal tube, an equipment drop-pod. It was expensive gear, but a job this important warranted it.

The landing was flawless, their chutes opening and sending them down with relative ease, the drop-pod barely even cracking the concrete as it landed while they scrambled to undo their harnesses and ready their rifles. This port serviced half of the occupier's naval forces, and if they could blow the fuel tanks the entire place would be unusable for months... And then, with a series of cracks, he fell, screaming in pain...

And the helmet visor flipped up again, leaving him panting and sweating in a sim-chair for the sixth time that day. At his side was an elderly man, white haired and leathery skinned, shaking his head. "None of you can handle this. Every time, you are too slow to release your chutes, land wrong, land in the wrong place... You will be the end of us all. Run it again!"

Just simulations. Fucking simulations.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by RogueIce » 2010-07-11 04:25am

Stas Bush wrote:Shinra Republic outskirts, Wutai sector

The small colony on one of the sector's habitable planets was a most peaceful one. One day a strange visitor came to the planet on his private ship - an old small merchant vessel probably bought from some intergalactic trade cartel. The man was only carrying one suitcase. Some folks said he was just a mad tycoon who decided to live out his last years in travel, others speculated he is after the planet's mineral riches.

The visitor settled in a hotel - and a few days after he arrived, he came into the Central Square with the suitcase.

- Citizens! - he said, and suddenly his voice became stronger, as if magnified by some technical device unseen. - I have come from the Commune. I come in peace.

He opened the suitcase. Inside was an odd-looking white clay which was held stable by a magnetic field or something like that.

- You may know that in the Commune, no man would oppress his fellow intelligent being. We live in a society that cherishes three things - liberty, equality and justice. And in one thing all citizens of the Commune are equal - we do not cower before the face of time. Our research has created anti-agathics that can give humans true immortality. You may already know this. But know also that anyone who accepts the noble ideals of communism becomes a Commune citizen. How, you might ask? It is easy. Just take this anti-agathic, forget the worries of mortal men and become a part of our great Commune! Be what you are - intelligent beings, not tools. Come! Immortality is a gift we offer freely to those who want to become a part of us!

Some passed by ignoring the man, but a few here and there stopped and came closer...
Two individuals who took note of the man were local constabulary officers. Upon seeing the white clay and hearing it presented as an anti-agathic - not to mention the call for local Republic citizens to become citizens on the Commune - they reported in to headquarters.

"Central, 5-26."

"5-26, Central."

"Central, be advised there's a man in the square calling on people to become citizens of the Commune. Subject is holding a white, clay-like substance and identifies it as an 'anti-agathic'."

"Roger, 5-26, stand by."

This was not the first time Commune shills had come by this area, the officers knew. There had been numerous reports filed on similar activities within just Wutai Sector alone. The response was usually the same, and so Central's directions to 5-26 and his partner did not come as a surprise.

"5-26, Central. White clay-like substance is likely nano-technological in nature. Take appropriate precautions. Advise subject that public display and usage of nano-technological items is against Republic law. Hold subject at location. 5-15 is enroute to your location."

"5-26, roger." Donning their helmets with in-built air scrubbers, to the two constables approached the Commune man. Upon seeing the approaching constables, those curious few who approached retreated a safe distance away.

"Sir, we need you to place that substance back in your case."

"I am but a peaceful traveler from the Commune!" protested the man.

"Yes sir," replied the lead constable. "However, using nano-technological items in public is against the law. It is considered a public health hazard. You need to secure it back in your case, and hand it to us." Holding up a small hand scanner, he continued before the Commune agent could reply. "You'll get it back, sir. We just need to ensure the integrity of your storage medium."

The Commune man relented. He had, after all, come in peace. And getting into an altercation with the local constables would not be in keeping with that at all. After putting the white substance back into his case, he handed it over to the constable who had spoken to him. The constable took it, and began running his scanner around the item. Apparently satisfied with the results, he handed the case back.

"Thank you, sir." Hearing an approaching vehicle behind him, the constable turned to see the approaching transport. It was decorated with the insignia and other markings identifying it as being as constabulary transport. Through his helmet mounted comm, the officer could hear, "5-15 on scene."

Another man wearing the uniform of the constabulary approached. As he drew closer, the insignia identifying him as a lieutenant was visible. "Good afternoon, sir. I'm Lieutenant Daniels. My officers have already informed you it is against the law to use nano-technology in a public area?"

"Yes they did. But I am merely offering the gift of immortality to the people."

"That may be, sir. However, we have no way of knowing if it is beneficial or harmful. Which is why we do not allow any such items to be used in public. I am sure you can understand. I'm afraid we'll have to ask you to leave."

"But my hotel, my things..."

"Don't worry, sir," the lieutenant interrupted him. "Just tell us the name of your hotel and your room number and we'll take care of it." As the first two constables moved into escorting positions behind him, the Commune man knew he had little choice but to comply. He told them the information they wanted to know. The lieutenant took a radio from his belt - purely for show, as he could have easily passed on the information through his helmet comm - and relayed the details to Central. As the lieutenant helped the Commune agent into the back of the transport, the first two constables returned to their own transport. Together, they drove back to the spaceport where the agent had landed.

Upon arrival, a third constable transport could be seen. The Commune man's bags were also resting against the side of his ship, watched over by two more constables. The lieutenant offloaded the agent and led him over to his ship. "I have to advise you, sir, that you did violate Republic law today. However, as an alternative to arrest, we will allow you to instead leave the system." Taking a datacard from one of the constables who had transported the man's belongings, he handed it to the agent. "This card contains information pertinent to the registration and safe use and display of nano-technological items. Should you or anyone from your government wish to return, it is advised you follow these instructions to avoid any incidents in the future. You should also be aware that, if your intention is to 'recruit' Republic citizens to join your nation, you must also notify and register with local authorities. This is to insure that proper information can be given to any wishing to emigrate, such as the requirement to renounce Republican citizenship should they wish to assume the citizenship of another nation." Stepping away and gesturing to the ship's entry hatch, he concluded. "Have a safe flight, sir."

Silently, the man loaded his belongings and boarded his ship. Moving back a safe distance, the lieutenant and his four constables watched as the agent took off. Notifying Central one final time, they left to resume their duties. Central, meanwhile, notified a local patrol ship, which followed the agent's ship at a distance. After the Commune ship departed Republic space, the patrol ship notified his controllers and resumed normal duties.
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This is the price of war,
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And we risk all that is pure..." - Angela & Jeff van Dyck, Forever (Rome: Total War)

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The war continues on..." - Angela & Jeff van Dyck, We Are All One (Medieval 2: Total War)
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by RogueIce » 2010-07-11 05:09am

SRS Pioneer - Vector, Shinra Republic

Captain Peter Scott, captain of the light carrier Pioneer and commander of Task Force 26 stood on the bridge. His convoy had formed up: a group of transports and cargo ships to be sent to The Outback, where they would assist in relief, recovery and repatriation efforts after the Free Republic of Pendleton was destroyed by New Anglia and her allies. Escorting them would be the Pioneer and the two frigates which normally made up TF 26. They would also be augmented by six Patrol Corvettes detached from the local sector defense forces.

As the ships formed up to begin their journey to the Outback, Captain Scott's console lit up. A message had been received from the Naval Base command. After reading it over, he smiled. Their primary course plan had been approved: they would jump to the Holy Empire of Haruhi Suzumiya and then take the "straight line" approach to the hyperlane which would carry them to New Anglia's HMNS Lochley's Retreat. And an added bonus: they would be joined by a force of SOS Navy ships, eight of their destroyers and twelve frigates. Well, that'll make this a lot safer, mused Captain Scott. And it'll be interesting to operate with them, even if it is just a simple transit run. Of course, once they had gotten to Lochley's Retreat, things would be much more interesting. According to DFA, there were set to be a rather large force of Royal Navy and allied warships participating in the operation. He wasn't sure yet what role the Pioneer and ships with her would play as of yet, but he did know they would acquit themselves well.

Settling back in his command chair, he passed the message along to his senior staff and the other ship commanders. Within minutes, the Pioneer and her group of followers jumped into hyperspace.

Leaving Shinra Republic space for the first time.
"How can I wait unknowing?
This is the price of war,
We rise with noble intentions,
And we risk all that is pure..." - Angela & Jeff van Dyck, Forever (Rome: Total War)

"On and on, through the years,
The war continues on..." - Angela & Jeff van Dyck, We Are All One (Medieval 2: Total War)
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." - Ambrose Redmoon
"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." - Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-07-11 06:05am

Lochley Landing Spaceport, Lochley Landing
Lochley's Retreat, The Outback

A new day dawned, and with it the prospect of opportunity and danger. Rising and cleaning himself in the fairly small shower stall attached to the captain's quarters, Balthier put on his favored suit and clambered up the stairs from the living quarters - which were below the cockpit and fore of the cargo bay - into the main halls linking the cockpit to the rec room/kitchen and the cargo bay. In the rec room he found the others, assembled and ready as planned. "So, Pendleton," Vanrya said, speaking from her seat. "The last time we were there..."
"We got shot at," Balthier remarked. It was a story all had taken part in except for Quinn, who hadn't joined the crew yet. "But there's a fairly nice young lady who misses her family and who has offered us twenty thousand pounds up front and ten thousand more afterward."
"I thought the girl only had thirty thousand to her name?", Kaylee asked with concern. "I remember hearing that pretty well last night."
"Yes, and after you retired I offered her installments upon the rest. I wouldn't want to leave the poor lass penniless, after all," Balthier pointed out, "and a fine girl like her will find an occupation and earn sufficiently to give timely payments, I am quite sure."

"Syrandi Luneri offered you compensation from the Silver Moon, did she not?" Quinn sounded fairly more concerned than Kaylee, almost hostile. "Why take money from a girl with no means to earn more?"
Balthier didn't need ESP to sense Quinn's irritation. Though no longer in the Catholic Church's Order of St. Michael the Protector, the ex-monk still took his vows and prior beliefs seriously. "It seems the young lady insists on paying her own way, Friar Quinn." The 'Friar" title was one Quinn disliked, but it was a good way of telegraphing his own offense at the implication he was taking advantage of the poor freed slave girl. "And I had offered to accept only ten thousand pounds now, but Ms. Pontcaire insists on paying most of it. She has some ideas about paying debts up front instead of deferment that are admirable, if perhaps foolish. Though if it bothers anyone I should gladly refuse to accept more than 10 or 15 thousand..."
"What shall we do when we get to Pendleton?" It was a good question and surprisingly cognizant for Marissa. Of course, she immediately had to remind everyone of her eccentricity (to be generous) by adding, "Will we be hunting down the foul fiends holding Sara Pontcaire's family to put an axe through their heads?"
A growling sound came from Umarbacca. In his native Bragulan he voiced that he was in full agreement with Marissa's proposal, preferably the part about killing pathetic Human "vagabonds".
"Nothing quite so dramatic, Ms. Moonbeam. And I'd rather avoid excessive bloodshed if it can be helped, the Pendletonian fleet will be on fairly high alert I imagine, which could make an emergency escape a tricky proposition."

Balthier looked to Vanrya and Quinn. "The only persons on this crew who were not seen when we were last on Pendleton were you two. I am afraid you will have to take point in sniffing out the clues our client has need of to find her loved ones."
"Cover identities?", Vanrya asked.
"I've had some thoughts about that. After all, we are going to be looking for slave traders to deal with." Balthier frowned. "And the best way to make contact with a businessman is to do business with him."

Chapter Sunelis

Syrandi listened as Balthier outlined his plan. She could sense some of his trepidation - he was, after all, a fairly decent fellow, if still quite the rogue - and his reluctance to forward it was clear. "So, you will need 'slaves' then," she sighed. "And I suppose you seek some of my Sisters for this role?"
"You did graciously offer assistance," Balthier answered. "As reluctant as I am to pursue this line of action, it is for the girl's sake."
"You would not be the first person to ask my Sisters to sacrifice dignity and experience suffering for a greater good," Syrandi pointed out. "Your cause is just and, for all that you are an outlaw, your goals are pure. Excuse me." Syrandi drew in a breath and concentrated. Balthier knew the look of a concentrating ESPer when he saw it and remained quiet to permit her concentration.
Two minutes later two young women entered the office. They were Human ladies but with unique coloration; one had green hair and the other blue. "Sisters Rydia Feyan and Maria de Leon," Syrandi stated. "This is Balthier Miedan, captain of the vessel Strahl. He has a request to make of you."
The two young women turned their attention to Balthier. He shifted a little uncomfortably, knowing what he was about to ask, and a tad irritated Syrandi had not brought the matter up herself. "I will be taking Ms. Pontcaire to Pendleton to find her family," he told them. "Given they were set to be sold we will be looking to interact with slave traders on that world."
"So we are to be the slaves," Rydia asked.
"I would rather not, but if we cannot find another angle it may be necessary. You have my word I will not leave you to suffer in a Pendletonian slave pen."
"Your word is unnecessary," Maria answered. "If the cause calls upon us to suffer, we shall suffer."
"If the cause asks you to suffer needlessly, Sister Maria, I shall have strong words with him."

"Go and get your things together, Sisters, and may the Goddess bless your courage with success." Syrandi watched them go off. "They will do whatever is necessary, Balthier, and due to their Bond they work well together. Please, do not let them suffer and die in vain."
He stood up to depart, or rather to wait for Maria and Rydia to get their things together so he could take them to lodgings on the Strahl. As he stood, he remarked, "If I have my way, Sister, this little mission will be quite short on both. And if I may ask..." Balthier looked to her from the door. "Do you always assign couples to go on missions together?"
Syrandi smiled at him, but it was not a happy smile, more a bitter one. "Mostly, yes. You must understand, for us and other ESPers, being lovers is something more than a mere emotional and physical attraction. There is a spiritual element, and in being together the minds began to blend. It helps in situations, then, to be with someone who's thoughts have been your thoughts."
"A good explanation, Sister, but not the full story, is it?"
"No." Syrandi shook her head. "If the Goddess calls upon a Sister to fall in Her service, then she should be with one who loves her, and her lover in turn should be able to say goodbye and not have her soul wracked by not knowing what has happened."
"Speaking from experience, then." Balthier lowered his eyes a bit. "You haven't given up on Yamia, I suppose?"
"She is alive somewhere," Syrandi answered. "And I will find her one day."
"Honestly, given where she disappeared? It would be far more merciful if she were passed on." Balthier nodded to Syrandi. "By your leave, Sister Syrandi. I shall be by tomorrow to pick up Ms. Pontcaire for our departure."

On the floor above, Sara sprawled out across her cot and gasped. Rana's hands glided sensually over her hips and thighs, her tongue and lips caressing her Sara's neck. In her mind she felt Rana acutely and further pleasure, as the connection between their minds caused the pleasure of Rana's touching and kissing to loop back and forth between them.
After making her way down Sara's body, from neck to breasts to navel, Rana was making love to her again, drawing more gasps and moans from Sara as she twitched and stretched. As had happened for most of the last day, the link between their minds grew stronger, bound by pleasure and the relaxed borders. Emotional love and physical pleasure brought their minds into a state of melding into a coherent hole, experiences and memories intermingling as Sara had never felt before.
As a girl, with Katherine, their love-making - kept shamefully quiet from Katherine's parents - had only resulted in the loop of shared pleasure, as a result both of Sara's underdeveloped ESPer power and Katherine's intentional restraint, her unwillingness to open herself to Sara. But Rana's mind was different, more open to her, and it permitted her full entry. She felt Rana's own thoughts as her's, the memory of her world of birth and the backward customs there, how she had escaped it with the help of the Silver Moon and devoted herself wholly to good works in the name of the Goddess who's worship would earn her death by thrown stones on her world of birth, at the hands of her own relatives even. Sara thought she could feel the memory of a veil on her adolescent face, the blow of wind across the deserts of the Nejd, the call of the muezzin to daily prayers, just as her own memories recalled the expansive fields of the de la Poer estate, the switch of her master striking against her backside for misbehavior, and the first stolen kisses with Katherine when they were barely teenagers. She felt animated by Rana's passion, emboldened by Rana's courage, and strengthened by the great spirit Rana possessed, honed already in battle and training.

After Rana finished making love to her, Sara still wanted more. She had to touch Rana, to taste her, to love her again, in turn. She had to have more of this fantastic experience, one that defied any attempt to put it to words. Rana acquiesced happily to Sara's need to make love, taking her turn to gasp and moan from Sara's hands and lips and tongue moving over her bronze skin and the sensitive parts of her body. She closed her eyes as Sara made love to her again and felt Sara's mind profoundly through the growing haze of pleasure, the gentleness and sweetness of Sara's generous spirit. Her heart seemed to quiver at the power of the love within it for this young girl with her, who complemented her so greatly. Tears formed in her eyes from the intensity of that emotion.
When their love-making was complete again, fatigue overwhelmed the impulse for more. Sara settled herself into her lover's strong arms, laying her head upon Rana's breast, holding Rana's hand with her own. "How did I live before I met you?", Sara asked. The connection between them faded in intensity but did not disappear, rather it seemed their passion had burned a permanent connection through the reflexive barriers of self in their minds, a link that could not be broken. "I feel so whole with you that I can't believe I could function without you."
"I know," Rana answered. "It is like we were created to be together and our entire lives were just a dream until now." Her hand reached through Sara's hair, her fingers gently running through those golden tresses.
"I am scared, Rana," Sara admitted. "I want to save my family, but... I am afraid of Pendleton. Of what will happen there."
"I will not let them take you," Rana vowed.
"That is not what I fear. I fear they will take you," Sara admitted. "I know you intend to join me, no matter what your are ordered to do. And I am afraid that Lord Fisher and Balthier are right, that I should not be going, and that by defying their advice I will lose you."
"That will not happen." Rana placed a kiss on Sara's forehead. "I promise you, Sara, that we will leave Pendleton together. And I will do everything I must to find your family, for your sake and for their's."
Nothing more was said aloud. Their feelings were enough conversation between them, through their Gifts, until they fell asleep together.

HMNS Lochley's Retreat, Groundside

Sir William gave a nod in reply to Lord Fisher's respectful salute. "Any more news, Admiral?"
"Our patrolling corvettes have been unable to find the GT-1250 we believe carried Katherine de la Poer away. The Altacaran battlecruiser Impressive came close enough to get a positive ID, but lost contact once the ship entered the Bannerman Gap shoals."
"How well will a GT-1250 do in the shoals? Will she end up stuck?" Sir William's thoughts were clear to Lord Fisher, especially the dark thoughts and wishes he had for such to be true and for those who had humiliated him so directly to be condemned to a slow and terrible death in the void of interstellar space. It was an understandable, though rather inappropriate, feeling in Lord Fisher's view.
"It depends upon the skill of the person in command." Fisher looked to his digital notepad. "Evidence has made it clear that Crewman Paddington is responsible for the breach of base security."
"So he was a traitor?"
"Given wounds upon his body, we believe he was coerced. Of special importance was a note we found hastily scribbled upon his body, pleading for the protection of two women - 'Margie and Penny' - whom we believe to be his younger sisters Margaret and Penelope." Fisher looked profoundly disturbed at that. "We believe that whomever was responsible threatened the lives of his family."

"He should have tried to warn us," Sir William remarked dismissively. This time, though, he lacked the ferocity of the earlier comment, and Fisher could sense Tarkington's sympathy for the poor young sailor, who had only wanted to serve his country and who had been punished for his transgression of slipping off base far in excess to that actual crime. "I imagine, though, that an operation this sophisticated did not need him... he was simply an opportunity exploited for their purposes. Poor devil. Anyway, what else...?"
"The Lochley Landing authorities found the body of one Mr. Jack Springer in his vessel at the spaceport. Mr. Springer is a known outlaw and suspected pirate with ties to the Pendletonians, though evidence against him has always failed to be substantial. Evidence found in his vessel indicated he was involved. That he is dead would hint that whomever is responsible was cleaning up after themselves."
"Or a disagreement with his accomplices. Either way, good riddance to the man. Keep me appraised of further investigation, I must prepare for my meeting with the Hiigarans when they arrive."
"By your leave, Excellency."

Fisher left Sir William's office and returned to his own. He had his own thoughts, which he didn't dare share with Sir William yet, upon possible perpetrators. He recalled keenly the sense of a powerful ESPer presence when the fields had gone down the night before last; he remembered also that both Sara and the Silver Moon Sister she had brought as escort had gone missing after the reception. A sailor had even found Sister Rana's discarded violet dress, removed - Fisher suspected - so that she could run without restrictions to her legs.
He put in a call to Syrandi; he wanted to speak to Rana Shaheen and confirm suspicions about what had happened. For now, though, he had a conquest to plan.
”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 Story Thread 1

Post by Fingolfin_Noldor » 2010-07-11 10:36am

Siege wrote:It took the space elevator only a few minutes of to transport Messier and his guest down to the office of the Vice President, just one level below the crest of the Sovereign Spire. Sitting down behind his desk, and in front of wall-sized windows that granted a spectacular view over the Solaris city-scape, Messier laid his blue sensor globes upon the Warmaster. “Vell now, Varmaster. I am curious to learn the purpose of your visit.”
The Warmaster set on the chair that was specially provided for him. Most chairs would have simply collapsed under the sheer weight of the power armor. "Well Mr Vice President, as we indicated in our earlier missives, this is largely to be a good will visit. The Imperium and the Sovereignty are at best perhaps mutual allies with common foreign interests, but culture wise, we are pretty much on the opposite ends of the scale. I doubt that can be changed any time soon, given the deep seated suspicion of many things in the Imperium and the siege mentality of many within the Imperium.

But as I said, we have common interests. One would be... slavery. The Pfhor's antics do not amuse us. The Inquisition reports that slave trafficking is rife in the sectors beyond the Imperium's control. As much as non-humans are generally distasteful to the Imperium, slavery of humans, is regarded as abominable. We will leave the individual species to handle their own kind.

It is also worrisome that all manner of riffraff exist on the periphery beyond Imperial control. The Inquisition keeps a tight watch on many known pirate groups, but the Inquisition has only so much resources, and even if some of the border patrol forces are seconded to Inquisition control, they can only do so much. Cut off one head, and a few more pop out of existence, like quantum particles, in the quantum vacuum.

Another would be the orc pirates. While the Imperium routinely cleanses the neighbouring sectors of these foul xeno scum, they seem to keep popping up every anon. The Imperial Navy is rather stretched patrolling the Imperium-Karlack border, and finding these scum require costly manpower and time.

The Imperium however, would prefer joint patrols with the Sovereignty. Our resources are stretched, fighting a low level conflict with the Karlacks, especially when a bunch of their hair brained minds get a bit too independent and stray into Imperial territory. Patrol of the border will ensure that our galactic mercantile shipping remains safe, and our citizens free from the deprivations of scum of all varieties.

I also have a small request. I would like to meet this... Sidney Hank, out of ... personal curiosity if I may."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-07-11 10:37am

SV Paktu Pride
Sector Z-20, Clans of Hiigara
2 Days After Attack on HMNS Lochley's Retreat

The Space Vessel Paktu Pride was an innocuous little vessel, a liner that could only carry about 100 people in cabins with barely enough room for a bed, a night-stand, and a bathroom. It was the kind of liner one took to the boonies of the independent worlds in Sector Y-20, inside the fringe of the Outback, connected to the civilized galaxy only by the minor lanes that extended out from Sector Z-20, through the Somtaaw Corridor - a thin hyperlane that crossed the shoals into Sector Y-20.

The cramped conditions were just fine for one pair of the forty or so passengers on Paktu Pride. Sisters Ashe and Yuna, dispatched by Knight-Captain Syrandi to the planet Hanson to aid the sole Sister assigned there, had passed the time exclusively in their cabin, accepting their dinners through the ship's processor system instead of partaking in the cafeteria of debatable quality. The food didn't taste well either way as it was; the benefit to staying in their cabin was being together as they pleased.
They were half-asleep at the moment, lying in a tangle of limbs upon what passed for a bed in their cabin. Their beamsabers and Yuna's TB-12s, on safety mode, where within TK-reaching distance (not counting the second TB-12, which was under Yuna's pillow), and their robes remained ready for donning if they were necessary; such hadn't been necessary in the 50 hours since they had departed Hiigara.
Ashe laid on top, running her fingers along her lover's shoulder and keeping her eyes closed; given how fatigued they felt, their communication was entirely by mind. What do you think would be so important we would get sent out to Z-20?
I do not know, was the reply thought. Yuna had her hands under her head, her eyes open only partially and some sweat still glistening on her brow from Ashe's love-making of half an hour ago. For Sister Ezria to call for help means it must be something big.
Sister Ezria Tegan was known to them; a Sentinel of 27 years of age and one of the dozen or so Trill to be in the Order. The dark-haired woman had been with them in Lochley's Retreat before. After she committed in indiscretion a year prior, however, as her Rite of Contrition she had been required to accept the lonely assignment to Hanson, a world where the technological level was roughly 19th Century outside of the main city... which was charitably 21st Century in most respects. Far away from the touch of lovers and the amenities of modern civilization, Ezria was finding penance in service to the hard-pressed locals, protecting them from whatever pirates or thugs showed up.
Do you think Sister Ezria is in trouble?
Possible, she was always the mischievous type.
Whatever happens... at least we are together. Ashe lifted her head and placed a little kiss on Yuna's left breast, over her heart. This prompted her lover to bring her arms down, wrapping them around Ashe's shoulders. In this pose, they fell into a comfortable sleep.

Chapter Sunelis, Lochley Landing
Lochley's Retreat, The Outback

Divija finished providing her report to what little Balthier and his crew actually took from The Goddess' Light to Sister Syrandi, after which she was given leave to go to lunch. The New Bangladeshi girl headed to the communal eating hall and put together a meal, consciously avoiding the beef-based products more out of habit than genuine religious belief. She looked around at her other Sisters, including those holding hands or stealing kisses, and let out a sigh.
It went without saying that the vast majority of Sisters in the Order became at least bisexual by function, if they were not already lesbians. Spending one's teenage years in a Cloister with girls of like age and older women who went about in such relationships opened your mind - if it wasn't already open to begin with - and experimentation soon followed, especially given the perks that came with having a lover who was a fellow ESPer. You eventually got used to it. Sometimes you found Sisters to be bedmates, to share physical pleasure with, if you did not actually fall in love and find a potential Bondmate.
Divija was not the usual Sister, though. She had never touched another in that way, nor had she let one touch her. She was, honestly, completely and unalterably straight, such that she would rather derive pleasure from herself than with a fellow Sister.

Thankfully, that was not necessary for the moment. Not given who sat down to lunch with her. Jason Meyer was from New Anglia and, fresh out of school, had opted to become a layman of the Order just as Divija had reached his age. They'd become friends in what cases they could see each other back when Divija was training - when she'd been apprenticed to Syrandi (back when Syrandi was still just a Knight) he had volunteered for the potentially deadly post of Chapter Sunelis just to be with her. That act of romantic disregard for self had, Divija admitted later, gotten him what he wanted; Divija in his bed as a lover.
"They're actually letting that girl go to Pendleton?", Jason asked increduously.
"And she's taking along three of us," Divija answered. "But that is how the Order works, Jason. We help people who need it... even if it means going so far for so little potential gain."
"I know. Well, at least you got to stay." Jason winked at her. "So, do you have a free day? There's a new holovideo from the Gothamites" - the demonym given to the Empire Star Republic's citizenry - "that looks good."
"Sorry, but not soon. I have to arrange for the new parts to get the Goddess' Light in working order, then Sister Syrandi is going to send me with a group heading over to Sector X-19 to tour the local worlds." Divija gave him a sad smile. "But when I get back I can try to make it up for you."
"I'll be waitin'," Jason promised.

Tasker Cloister, New Caroline Islands
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia

In one of the many small-sized suites of the Cloister's living quarters, Zara Delmar slowly came awake while laying upon her belly. Hands ran over her bare backside and thighs, the soft and sensual touch of a lover playfully waking her up. "Hello Hilda."
Hilda Atlan, like Zara a Knight, smiled widely. Her lips pressed against Zara's backside in a kiss to the right cheek there. "Your Apprentice tires you this greatly?"
"Druni will be the death of me," Zara sighed. She had picked a fairly troublesome Dorei girl, Druni Jestani, hoping she could mold the free-spirited and passionate Astran Acolyte into a Sentinel let someone of such talent be lost to the Order. As first Apprentices went, however, Druni was a challenge that a freshly-enrobed Knight should have known better than to take. "But you know what's that like, don't you?"
"I have an excuse with Layla," Hilda answered, referring to her own hellion of an Apprentice. "I promised my father I would apprentice a Fynnian Acolyte if one was available."

Hilda was from the Kingdom of Fynn, the most powerful statelet of Sector X-13, a nation with ties to both Anglia and New France and with its independence guaranteed by both. She was not any normal Fynnian, however; she was the Princess Royal, the only daughter of King Charles IV of Fynn and the younger of his two children.
Also, now, the only living one.
Hilda's Knighthood had become a family tragedy. She had passed her Trials in July of 3398, two months before Zara. Her father, mother, and older brother had all come to be present for her Knight Rite, beaming with pride as she retold to all her accomplishments as a Sentinel of the Silver Moon. As a Sovereign Charles and his family had been faced with the task of holding an official State visit, even with King Edward XV away from Westminster, but a Government issue back home had seen him need to return to Fynn while his wife and son remained to finish their state visit in Westminster and to say goodbye to Hilda. Their ship eventually left as well.
On the 17th of August. The day of the Hyperspace Accident.

The same wave of devastation that had destroyed the Royal Meteor and slain New Anglia's King, Queen, and Heir-Apparent had also destroyed the Fynnian royal yacht carrying Queen Margaret and Prince Richard home. In one flash Hilda had gone from the younger daughter of the King, free to pursue her time in the Order, to the Crown Princess of Fynn, thus the new Heir-Apparent (as Fynnian Semi-Salic Succession laws went only by date of birth, not date of birth and preference toward male heirs as British/New Anglian succession law did). Her time in the Order would be limited; she had already agreed with her Father that she would leave the Order upon finished the 19 year old Layla's training and return to Altair to take up the functions and training necessary for the future Queen of Fynn.

This ticking down of the clock was always there for Hilda, even now as she sat on the bed of her lover Zara. They looked fairly alike; they were athletic, beautiful women with blond hair and blue eyes, even their facial structures were slightly close if still distinctive. They did wear their hair differently; Zara kept her's straight and in pony-tails while Hilda preferred curly hair that cascaded around her shoulders.
The other main difference was in the skin.
Mostly it was the same. Similar tone of white, Caucasian skin. Kept conditioned and thus smooth and enjoyable to touch (and, as lovers, they enjoyed touching each other immensely). But the difference came as Hilda, with a sad expression on her face, moved her hands up from Zara's posterior and toward her back. Zara let out an almost imperceptible hiss of discomfort at the touching of her sensitive back. There, her normally soft flesh became uneven and discolored. Long strips of scar tissue were crossed from shoulder to shoulder and down to just above her buttocks, silent testimony to the flesh that had once been there before being stripped off by tough leather studded with sharp metal, leaving streaks of bloody meat where once a beautiful and toned back had been.
Tears formed in Hilda's eyes as she ran her hand along Zara's whip-scarred back. "I should have been there," she said softly. The connection of minds she enjoyed with her lover brought the sense-memory of the ordeal to her. She could imagine that whip, held by a strong gene-augmented arm, slashing across her own unblemished back. She could imagine the pain Zara had endured.
"It was my duty," Zara whispered back. She felt discomfort at Hilda's hands on her back but said nothing, for she loved to have Hilda's hands on her body no matter the sensations they caused. "And these scars... these are the price I paid."
"Why won't you let the Order give you the surgery?", Hilda asked as she settled herself up against Zara, putting her lips against Zara's bare shoulder.
"To remember," was the reply. "To remember all of those I couldn't save, and that I'll fail to save."

The memories were shared between them. Hilda had been away at the time, assigned to a run into Wild Space, and Zara had been entrusted with the most dangerous mission around - being the bait. There was a sentient-trafficking ring on Lochley's Retreat that had been detected, located in a city on the far side of the planet from Lochley Landing. They had gained a vicious reputation and the authorities, Anglian and planetary, were desperate to take them down. Zara offered to be the bait; a beautiful young woman worth money on the galactic black market and easy mark. A subcutaneous transmitter would lead the authorities straight to the pirates and traders.
But everything went wrong.
As it turned out, the pirates had their own ESPer. He had sensed her abilities - thus deducing her allegiance - and the pirates had decided to send a "message" to the Order. They had put her in a facility with an ESPer null field and gone to work on her, torturing and abusing her with an aim to do it until she perished, then dump her remains at Chapter Sunelis. For three days she suffered until, as the leader of the ring arrived with his ship and prepared to take their innocent cargo aboard, she had overpowered the field, killed her guards, and limped to a computer station to send out her location to the authorities. Anglian Royal Marines had landed as the pirate ship began loading, catching the pirates and slave-traders by surprise. Many died in the battle; those who survived were handed over to Anglian custody by local authorities, brought to justice, and hanged for their many crimes.
Zara had been celebrated as a hero. Lord Fisher had offered to have her recommended for the Order of the Anglian Empire and she had turned it down; she had also turned out being given prize money from the condemning of the pirate vessel. She did not want rewards; service was enough. As it was, what had happened had more than anything clinched the shot she was given at the Knight-level Trials.
But for all it benefited her rise in the Order, for all the glory she was given for the act by others... it had carried a cost. A terrible cost...

Hilda could sense that. it made her tremble and tear up. "They raped you," she said.
"Yes." Tears flowed from Zara's eyes at the memory. "And I let them."
"You could have stopped them."
"I could, but I didn't. I let them do it. I let them do everything to me. I had to wait until they were all there, with their ship, before I could end it. Besides... it was me or the other girls and women they had. Better I be raped than innocent people."
"Zara..." Hilda pulled herself closer and wrapped her arm around Zara's shoulders. Zara's head was turned away from her so she couldn't look into her eyes. But she didn't need to; she could see Zara's mind.
Zara was thinking on it again; she couldn't help but do so. "If I had acted earlier... if I had acted to stop my suffering... they would not have all been caught. Some would have gotten away. They would have hurt others. Innocent people would have suffered because of me."
"You don't know that."
"I do. And better I suffer. I am a Sister of the Silver Moon; suffering is what we do. More than anything else, it is what we are meant to do." Zara finally turned to face her lover. "I would do it again, Hilda. I would do it all again," she wept.
Hilda's teary eyes closed. She gave a nod. That was what Zara was like; so brave, so selfless, even despite that cost. Hilda remembered what she had been like before that ordeal. She had been a gentle soul, sweet to everyone she knew and full of kindness and optimism. And Hilda had fallen so desperately in love with her innocent heart.
And then the pirates had taken her.
Zara was still gentle and kind and sweet... but the optimism, the innocence, was gone. Stripped from her heart as the flesh was stripped from her back, leaving scars just as rough and just as deep. This, in turn, had changed everything. Even her gentleness, kindness, and sweetness were different; instead of being spontaneous, they felt more like intentional acts of balancing. She had gone from being those things because that's how things were to being that way because that's how things should be... and weren't. The universe was no longer a bright place to be protected from dark things for Zara; it was a dark, terrible, horrible place, with only flickers of light that had to be defended at all cost.
Hilda still loved her, of course. Because the things Hilda fell in love with were still there. But everything had changed for them over those three days almost four years ago; nothing would ever be the same again.

"I should get up," Zara sighed. "I have to train Druni with the saber."
"You will get to it, in due time," Hilda said. She placed a kiss on Zara's lips. "But for now, please... lay here with me, and let me hold you... my beloved."
And so they laid there for a time before duty, as it always did, called them away yet again.
”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 Story Thread 1

Post by K. A. Pital » 2010-07-11 10:41am

Outside the borders of Wutai sector
The small taskforce of four Akula-class cruisers passed the dead satellite in majestic silence. The grandeur of space always impressed those gifted with a mind. Even the Commune's immortals who made laughing in the face of deep time a hobby often felt dwarfed by the scale. After all, would the heat death of the universe bring death to them all, regardless of whether they were immortal communists or mortal slaves in, say, Pendleton? Or Shinra officers? But that outcome was hidden in a future after so many years that it was hard to comprehend for small minds. And even for collectives and governments that perspective was too distant to care.

The Commune's ships, unlike their worlds, did not betray any hint of excessive use of nanotechnology - and it was well explainable by that same grandeur of empty space. The tiny nanorobots required a lot of things, among them matter to work with, small distances to move efficiently and fast enough, and finally, lots of energy. Empty space with enormous distances between objects, lack of matter to use and energy which was very sparingly used, for the ship's weapons, life support systems and engines required aplenty, and there was nowhere to take it from in the immediate surroundings. Deadly nanorobot swarms and "red goo", the scary tales that went around about Commune's methods of fighting on the ground, lost their usefulness in space. Instead, ordinary missiles and beam weapons ruled the day. Of course, inside the ship the nanorobots were present, doing their job unseen and almost unnoticed - helping the crew, repairing minor faults and the like.

- Comrade Aurora, we have received a message from one of our emissaries, - the voice seemed to come from nowhere, but filled the bridge and was well-heard in every corner of the ship's command facilities. - Comrade Pentacle, I believe. He was expelled once again. His ship is returning to our squadron and will dock shortly. It is very old and frankly, we should disassemble it immediately after he returns on board. In fact, my opinion is that using old ships to penetrate the borders of nations that enact prohibitive measures on nanotechnology... has proven itself inefficient.

Comrade Aurora, a woman standing at the bridge, it seemed, alone, gave a slight nod.

- I see. How many were returned?

- About twelve during the last six months, - the voice replied.

Aurora pondered on the information. On one hand, the Supreme Soviet just recently authorized the free provision of antiagathics as means of conversion for new Commune citizens. On the other hand, the strategy was not that efficient. Hmm... how would, say, comrade Vector salvage the situation? Aurora smiled. Vector would go alone. He would land unnoticed at some very small military installation with a few tons of clay - a swarm of military-grade foglets, and then he'd suck out the brains of everyone inside. After that, having a full assessment of their psychology, a good chunk of their memory and knowledge, he'd start planning further actions. Or maybe that's how she would behave? No. She never approved of the Mirage's tactics, even though sometimes resorted to them during her former job as a Mirage operative.

- You see, comrade Ou, - Aurora spoke slowly, - I presume we can use this as leverage. Let's prepare a program, shall we now?

The room transformed - a swarm of nanobots constructed a huge videodisplay on the bridge. It was for Aurora to evaluate how the final infotranslation would look.

- Okay, okay, okay, stop flowing around and playing invisible man! - Aurora suddenly became impatient. - You probably know why I keep my human shape most of the time. For concentration. And as respect to our comrades and brethren. You are behaving like brats!

Several clouds rose from the floor where they were previously resting in liquid form - probably more occupied interacting with the ship controls. They were her crew.

- Comrade Ou, you'll write the article, all right? Something really acid. Perhaps, - Aurora rolled the words off her tongue, - "Cultural genocide, luddism or barbarity - what lies behind the oppression of nanorobotic lifeforms by galactic civilizations"! Hot enough for tabloids?

- Looks hot enough, - her second-in-command, lieutenant Ou replied, he had the looks of an old man, shamelessly playing on the culturally ingrained feeling of respect. - I'll try to do my best.

- Now, commisar Rosa, - she turned to the woman. - You're not only good at Mirage errands, right? You are good with visuals, your profile says so. When our last operative arrives, tap into his visual nerves. Get me the best shots - policemen being rude, him complying... Collect all the events into a single shock video. Get it? People should fucking weep when they see that, they should reach for their god damn vodka jar! And of course, the sound. No forgeries, just give the right words the right accent. Okay? And on the background, some tear-jerky tale about a young cloud from the Commune who had been banned from entering these pathetic luddites' societies. Talk about the "menace of galactic luddism rearing it's ugly head" and all that, nothing too alarmist, but... It would certainly strike a chord with cyborgs, CIs and other posthumans in the Galaxy. At least some use from that stupid, even if graceful, attempt at sharing our precious and scarce nanorobotic means of production with others who can't even appreciate the gift! Man, why do we always have to invent ways of salvaging debacles made by the Supreme Soviet decrees? Well, let's start working. Work made the ape into a man, right?

Rosa nodded, so did all the men in the ship soviet present on the bridge. Good, Aurora thought.

Outside the borders of Wutai sector, few hours later
The cruiser squadron started transmitting with tightbeam to the galactic networks. The Commune's emissary, Aurora, knew full well that the story they made would certainly touch a few strings here and there. Of course it would - somewhere between xenoporn and interactive mindfucking games, someone, somewhere would see their report and care.

Commune, Zero
Comrade Sigma remained as calm as possible as he investigated the leeching from the Commune's energy grid on one of the colonies. Das Kapital, hmm, he thought. That's a few hours of flight from New Gagarin, and according to Vector, he went to New Gagarin to talk with Omega. Sigma tried to think quickly. What should he do? Operation Secularis was not yet in full swing. He'd have to report to the Mirage leaders only next year. Which was good. It meant he could just telnet Vector and tell him that he should visit Das Kapital. The job might be grisly, but it wouldn't be the first time for Vector.

Sigma contemplated the action for a few moments. On one hand, Vector had his own plans. Interrupting them was rude. Vector was... one of the old ones. Sigma could only imagine how he survived decades of pain when he started clouding himself - with the very early, very primitive, low-grade nanites. How he spent days in pain while the new, superior tissue replaced his old organs one by one. These years were called by the clouds "growing pain". During this period they underwent intense stress from constant pain. But it couldn't be otherwise - the process had to take years. Otherwise the shock to the brain was too great and there was a very high risk of death or insanity. And what's worse than death of the mind?
Sigma was a young cloud. Even his last-generation, military-grade nanites he got when he volunteered for the Mirage subjected him to several years of constant pain. Not intolerable, no. The machines even tried to use anesthesia as often as possible. But still...

It was not only the scarcity of nanobots and the lack of biological procreation that held back clouding inside the Commune. Many humans feared the "growing pains" and chose to remain in their cozy bodies held ever young by ordinary medical nanites which you could get in any drug depot for free.

But Vector passed through all this at a point when it was probably the least known and least developed technology... and when death seemed a possible outcome. And god knows through what else he had passed... Rumors swelled that he forcibly integrated so much knowledge working for the Mirage, that younger operatives joked about him not being human any more. For who could so easily consume entire human lives, "eat the souls" as someone superstitious would say, and not be driven to insanity by guilt?

Sigma sighed slowly. Perhaps one day he will become like Vector. He knew all too well what kind of minds Vector consumed and why Vector had no guilt plaguing him at all. Of course, consuming another mind wouldn't bother comrade Vector. Sigma started the netdial protocol to New Gagarin orbital yards.

Commune, planet Das Kapital, outskirts of Commune space, two days later
The small colony was typical for the Commune - pre-fab automatic thermonuclear plants were transported and placed over the land from orbit. They were to serve as power sources for the swarms. Biological people usually came with their own utility swarms here, because colonies lacked the necessary density of population to form a planetwide network. Such networks were rather expensive and only the Commune's central administrative and industrial worlds enjoyed them. In the colonies, however, the citizen of the Commune had pretty much the same conveniences as in the core worlds.
One swarm could be his housing, his transport, his means of communication, if necessary, a weapon and a protective devices. Anti-agathics and immunizers kept the biological humans safe from alien biological microorganisms. And clouds... these just feared nothing. Thus the colonial populations had a greater proportion of clouds. Ever-curious explorers, retired Mirage servicemen and others went to the new worlds to explore them for many years - to build infrastructure or to travel through the forests, oceans and lands. No cities... no roads... just citizens of the Commune. These worlds were called "calm" worlds. Often clouds came here during their reassimilation, as if looking for a refuge during the most vulnerable part of their life, when they were plagued by growing pains and still partly biological.

Das Kapital was recently found to be habitable. The conditions were harsh, but they could be tolerated. A lot of rain, but no higher fauna. No predators.

Then what the bloody hell was this, thought comrade Vector. It looked like a huge ... tiger? Perhaps so. A tiger-like being partly made of utility fog, partly from crude organics. So then, someone had hacked into the network, leeched energy and is making monsters on the planet. Just as expected. Sigma was right - he skimmed through the database of newcomers to the Commune, and one of them was not a good guy by all means... a biological weapon designer, long retired, however - god knows from which civilization he came. Seems he thought Commune citizenship is a convenient way to get his hands on nanotechnology and continue his research. Accepted the antiagathic pack, tried to hack stuff, made deadly creatures which already killed a few citizens of Das Kapital. Capital punishment here.

Vector started slowly walking into the untouched, colossal forest of Das Kapital. Perhaps the newcomer did not know that the Mirage could tap into anti-agathics on a secret and secure channel and, with a ship orbiting the planet, could technically find anyone and anywhere. Knowing too little about the Commune is a dangerous thing, Vector thought to himself as he read the geopositional system data. The operation could be dangerous, so a military-grade nonsentient fog transformed and augmented his body, making him quite large. After all, the guy was a hacker - and if he successfully hacked into local nanites, the fight might be ... ugly.
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Qui incontri, lotte, passi sincronizzati, colori, capannelli non autorizzati,
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by CmdrWilkens » 2010-07-11 09:59pm

Minas Tirith
Planet of Arda
Arda Sector
14 Narbeleth IV Age 942

The more things change....Andreneas Wilkens almost thought about laughing. He had lived through so many ages of the world that to be now in this one with all of its new horizons should have brought something new about. Instead it was more bickering, such as right now the dispute raging between at least a half dozen members of the Council of Man this time about whether expanding the navy was worth the price to be paid. Certainly it was an important debate but one that Andreneas was loathe to join, for starters as a Consular Tribune he was denied a vote, and secondly it mattered very little to him in the end. The music would always go on, and he was charged with bringing about the next theme...

Winter I Age 583
Spring 4011 BCE

"It will soon come to a temporary change of things, for the Valinorians are close at hand and the siege has become most straight. Take therefore your flight Onodreth and lie await for me while the ages of the world pass until the firstborn cede their place to the Man. For so shall then the next chorus arise and the place I have been destined to hold will be revealed."

Present time

I will bide my time awhile still but these humans are weaker even than the Edain, vain and prone to all the conceit that accompanies their wondrous technology. Overcoming by slow works of piercing the universe that which I once rose in song to construct. The time will come soon. Then all will remember Melkor, giver of life and eater of death.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-12 01:35am

Glowworm-class Transport Tranquility, on the fringes of the Great Northern Run, Sector X-6
January 15, 3400

John punched the intercom, calling Gavin into the kitchen. The pilot made sure the automatics were engaged, then turned his head. “Yes, oh captain my captain?”

“How long till we reach Persephone?” They’d spent a good long while hiding in the Great Barrier, enough light-days in that it would take a hyperspace-capable search inside the Barrier itself to find them. Flying the Barrier in hyper was a dangerous game, played only by the brave, the stupid, and the desperate- and the orks, who were all three. Eventually, the Techies lost interest in waiting for his crew to come back out again, and John reckoned it safe to go back to their favored port of call.

“Three or four hours.”

For a second he wanted to ask Gav to shave time off that, but there wasn’t any point. After two days, an hour saved wouldn’t do them a bit of good. This catch is burning a hole in my hull. He turned and paced down to the cargo bay. Olivia was using the open space to practice what looked like dancing but he knew wasn’t. In a brawl, she liked to make up in practice what she lacked in bulk, and it worked for her often enough.

She finished a string of moves, then stopped and looked up at him on the catwalk above. “Sir, you think that cruiser ID’ed us?”

“Hope not. You get on the comm. Contact Fox, tell him the job’s done. Don’t go mentioning the strike cruiser, though. Keep it simple.”

“Sir, we’re sure there’s nothing wrong with the cargo?”

“Cargo’s fine. I just wanna get paid.”

“Right, sir.” She climbed the stairs and headed for the bridge. John went looking to round up Brecht and Sammie. Got to get these crates stowed. Don’t want any tourists stumbling over them.

Eavesdown Spaceport, Persephone, Sector Y-6 (near Umerian border).

The Eavesdown docks were busy. Tranquility touched down on gravlev, amid a bustling bazaar atmosphere, packed with all the races of humanity and members of several alien species. In the distance, the sunset glinted off the massive Umerian-subsidized towers of Eavesdown city proper.

John, now clad in a long, faded brown duster, led his crew down Tranquility’s ramp. “This shouldn’t take long. Gav, fuel her up and grab anything we’re low on. Sammie, put us up for departure in three hours.”

“You sure I can’t go shopping with Gav? The phase regulator we bought on Guiyang is still running shiny, but I’m worried about the pinch coil. It’s only ferrite, can’t take the load like the new alloys, and I’d sure love to find a spare...”

“And I’d love to be the king of Anglia and wear a shiny hat. Just get us some passengers.” At the look on her face, he relented a little. “We’ll see about the pinch coil when we’ve got more money.”

“Pinch coil cracks, we go dark.”

“Best not crack, then. See about keeping the load off it; we’ll be running shoals again this run.” He started walking; as Brecht and Olivia followed, Gavin called “Be careful!”

Livvy smiled softly and said “We will.”

Leaving the ramp, John barely broke stride as he slipped a sheaf of fifty starbuck* notes to the customs agent dismounting from his vehicle. The agent nodded and let the trio pass. That was the nice thing about Persephone. Umerian core worlders owned the planetary government lock, stock, and barrel, but when you got down to ground level, most of their officials were just as happy to do little things that they knew the Techies wouldn't like. Like forgetting to do a customs check on a freighter owned by a man who openly wore the symbol of the defeated Independent Spinward Republic.

*Author's note: the starbuck is a fairly inflated unit of currency; fifty starbucks is to the citizens of a moderately developed world circa 3400 as ten or fifteen dollars would be in the eyes of an American circa 2000.

Fox's lair was still dingy, but not as cramped as it used to be. John remembered coughing on brick dust a few days after the would-be kingpin's thugs knocked the wall down, so he could expand into the abandoned sub-basement next door. He also recalled the vermin problem Fox got from that; going by the lack of droppings on the floor, that was mostly in hand now.

The little man had kept them waiting, which was only fair; he carefully ignored John and his crew as a street tough led them into his office. He faked a yawn, then looked up. "You're late."

Which wasn’t fair, so John bounced that right back: "You're lying." The thugs tensed.

"What did you just say to me?"

"You're well aware we didn't plan to get here till the end of the week, on account of you couldn't tell us where to find the ship to less than a light-month. And that we've got all the goods you sent us after, intact and ready to roll. So you putting on that act and calling us late means you're aiming to get us all defensive right up front. Which means something's gone wrong. And not at our end, so why don't we start over with you telling us what it is?"

Fox grinned. "Hah. Well, maybe you're not late. Maybe you're just clumsy."

John went cold, but kept his face immobile. Watching his crew from the corner of his eye, he could tell that Brecht wasn't taking that well. As for Olivia, the little twitch of a smile at the corner of her mouth was gone, and that wasn't a good sign if you knew her. "Well now, I am sorry to hear that."

"See, if you'd been fast, you might've beaten the word. And if you'd been careful, you might've not caught the SSF's eye, and there would've been no word. And either way I'd be happy as a gorramn clam. But you're not fast and you're not careful, and now there's a bulletin all over space saying "Rogue Glowworm spotted pulling illegal salvage on derelict freighter Altair Belle.""

"Doesn't ID us. Doesn't lead to you, Fox."

"No. No, it doesn't. But the government lockout on the cargo just maybe might." Livvy shot a look at John. The captain's eyes widened a millimeter.

"Oh, you'd guessed about that? That without the codes, those helpful little fabbers turn out product that any fool with a pocket laser and a broken pair of sunglasses can tell from the real thing? You were gonna hand over the goods with the lockout on and just leave me hanging in the breeze, is that the case?"

"You picked the cargo, Fox. Reckoned you wouldn't hire us for a job you didn't plan to see through."

"Yeah, I picked the cargo, Johnny. But I didn't flash my ass at the law. Deal's off."

Olivia's face was still flat, and she had to know it wouldn't change a thing, but she said it anyway. "That ain't fair."

"Crime and politics, little girl: the situation is always fluid, and…"

Brecht broke in. "Only fluid I see here is the puddle of piss not paying us our wage when we got him what he wanted." The toughs tensed up. John turned his head and locked eyes with Brecht; the big man relaxed, and Fox's guards followed suit.

John spoke again. "Doesn't have to be like this. You know you can still unload those goods. So I can't help thinking there's something else going on here, you going back on your end like this."

"Well, now, could just be that I don't like the cut of your jib."

"Not asking you to like me, Fox."

"What were you, back in the day? Captain John Tamrin, big old soldier, balls and glory, fight for freedom, all that rot. An' now you got yourself a ship, and you think that still makes you a captain. Still a soldier, still a man of honor in a den of thieves." Fox had risen from his seat and stalked around the desk, poking his finger up into John's face.

"But it's my gorramn den and I don't like the way you look down at me. I'm above you. Better than. I'm a businessman; I'm part of the community. I speak and people listen, on account of I've got honest God-fearing people who look up to me. And what have you got? A double handful of freaks and outcasts who still think you're something 'cos they like your tough man attitude. Ha! You're a scavenger, Johnny me boy, a bagman. You come and go at my beck, and I'm telling you to go. Get out."

Time to try smooth. “Now, Mr. Fox, maybe I'm not a fancy gentleman like you, but I do business. And we're here for business."

The broker snorted. "Try the Badlands. They're a lot more desperate and a lot less savvy there. You might find someone who can't afford to hire any random bugger who passed a lab course in uni. Or, of course, they might kill you. But you stay here, and somehow I just know the Umerians will finally track you down. I have… that feeling. Touch of prescience, you know? Got it from me grandma's side."

John wasn't entirely surprised to see the local big shot go back on the deal. But threatening to rat him out to the Techies… wasn't low for him, but wasn't his style. Mr. Fox hadn't gotten to where he was by shutting down his contacts. And if he was willing to do it at all… He just might do it whether we leave or not. Shoot him now? He glanced left and right. Brecht looked like he was about five seconds from grabbing the nearest guard and using him as a club. Livvy wasn't so much as twitching- most would see her as frozen, but a long-service vet looked at her and read "poised." She'd back his play, if he made one.

Figure he tackled Fox and one other before the locals reacted effectively; it looked like Fox wasn’t canny enough to hire the best. In that time, Brecht could probably nail one of the ones closest to him and keep one or two more tied up hand to hand. Olivia would bring down two, might be good for three on a good day… which, best case, left two guns pointed at their backs, plus the guards at the entrance. Not going to work.

"Wheel never stops turning, Fox." He turned to leave.

"That only matters when you live on the edge."

John was feeling grim as he paced back to the docks. The muscle on legs walking beside him didn’t help the mood much, either.

“I don’t understand why we didn’t leave that sumbitch in a pool of his own blood.”

“Can’t get paid if you’re dead, Brecht.”

“Can’t get paid if you crawl away like a bitty little bug neither. What’s my share? Ten percent of nothin’ is...

“We woulda lost, Brecht.”

The jackass snorted. “Well, I guess you’re the expert on that.”

He’d been this angry before without killing someone. Any number of times. He just couldn’t remember the last one. He kept walking; it helped. “You figure this is a good time to rile me? You honestly think that?”

He wasn’t sure whether that would shut Brecht up or not. Olivia (what would he do without her?) cut in at that point. “We’ll sell the goods on Praha, no problem.”

“No good. We know people there, but Fox knows it. And Praha’s too big. It’s crawling with Techies, they could be perched there waiting for us already.”

“You really think Fox’d sell us out?”

“For football tickets, let alone a grudge. Probably has already. It’s like the bastard called it. We’ve got to hit one of the Badlands worlds on the way and hope we can make a deal. We could maybe hook up with... hmm. Two or three people. Got to think about it.”

“Sir, maybe we should just dump ‘em.”

They were close to the ship. John saw Samantha welcoming a man aboard. He said his name, sounding a bit nervous, sort of bumbly. “Dobson” Then he stammered out thanks as she helped stabilize him; he’d nearly dropped his luggage by tripping over the lip of the ramp.

“Livvy, we don’t get paid for this lot, we won’t have enough money for deut, let alone repairs. We’ll be dead in the water anyhow. So we just gotta keep our heads down and find a way to do the job. Pray there ain’t no more surprises.”

He was up the ramp now; he looked behind him and saw Gavin helping a rich-looking man in a dark suit with his luggage. He looked young- twenty-five, maybe twenty-seven?. The man was carrying a bag in each hand; Gav was pushing a large metal box on a dolly, one that looked like a two-man job to carry, possibly three or four. The box had a keypad on the side, probably a lock; it looked expensive. Something special...

The passenger looked at Tamrin through round, tinted glasses, then glanced to Gav, nodding at the box. “Please be careful with that.”

Sammie stepped in. “John, this is Conrad. Conrad, this is our captain.”

They sized each other up; the young man didn’t look any more eager to make conversation than John was. Then he nodded acknowledgement, said “Captain Tamrin,” and went inside to help Gav unload his trunk.

With the two passengers out of the way, John asked Sammie a low-voiced question. “This all we got?”

“One more, captain. Older guy, name of Andre Glazer.”

Once you’d worked with Miss Moon for a few months, you learned to ask certain questions. “He can pay his way?”

She bristled. “Of course he can! Though... I promised him ten percent off on his passage if his cooking turns out good, because he’s a sweetie.”

John did a little mental arithmetic and took a deep breath. Within the past hour he’d wanted to shoot Fox, and he’d wanted to throttle Brecht. If, say, Gav had pulled this one, he’d want to slug him now. It showed in his eyes. “Samantha. Don’t do that again. Not without my say-so, and don’t go counting on getting it. Nothing for it this time, but we need the money. Weren’t you the one talking about the pinch coil just today?”

The girl looked troubled, but nodded. He patted her on the shoulder, then walked inside, calling “Lock her up, Sammie!”

As the ramp whirred into position, for a moment he thought he heard her calling out gently: “All aboard...”
Last edited by Simon_Jester on 2010-07-16 01:14pm, edited 1 time in total.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Agent Sorchus » 2010-07-12 02:28am

Back Alley, Aurora Shipyards; the Centrality; late 3399

Some of the dock workers were gathered in the darkness, faces partially lit by the pipes and obscured by the gathering smoke. The tired expressions they wore were evidence enough of the long hard day that they had gotten through.

“So Luis, got any ideas on finding a new dealer?”

“I donno Mac, Willie has been looking, but the Central Party has been persecuting all those who don’t deal in the Party’s leaf. Too bad to.”

“Maybe we should go ask that man Cedric, ya know Cedric right? Just last night I seen him cracking open a brand new tin. An expensive new tin, real heritage stuff.”

“ Really? That’s … that’s impressive, real impressive. I didn’t think he was that much of a made man though. It ain’t like I know him that much, though.”

“Yeah, know right whatcha mean. All I hear is that he is probably from the Grand Dominion.”

Luis took a might final draw from his pipe. “Any way, that foreman has us working quite early tomorrow so I’s don’t think we’ve the time to find Cedric tonight. Mac, you Willie and I will go talk to him tomorrow, and we’ll wee what we can fet for the rest of ya’ll. Maybe he’s even got a way for us ta earn soma that heritage stuff.”

“Night Luis.” The illuminating glow in front of each face slowly faded, and soon after the shadowed Figures drifted away from the smoky alley.

The Next Day

Luis stepped back into the rain, breaking open the package of chews and passing them over to his compatriots. Willie looked ready to come down with the shakes. Besides the stall was a good excuse to get out of the rain. To much dust in the air from the decommissioning and a few leaking pipes, viola rain on a space station.

They’d asked around work for more dirt on Cedric. Turned out he worked in a commissary a ways off from the docks proper, but much closer to some of the supporting warehouses. The shop proper had almost mastered the arcane art of invisibility by obscurity. Luis knew Mac was worried, and was packing a heat ray. Well he wasn’t alone, Luis felt the weight of the hull cutter with every step. And why not? Cedric was obviously not an entirely honest businessman, and wouldn’t expect anything else.

Cedric stepped into view and proceeded to start locking up. He was a tall augmented red eyed human dressed in a white smoking jacket and matching slacks.

Mac started it, “Hello there Cedric. My friends and I were wondering if ya hae some smokes.” It wasn’t quite a question.

Cedric turned around slowly. Red augmented eyes surveyed the trio, giving up nothing. A definite dealer in the game. “Really, now I don’t seem to recognize any of ya, gentlemen.” The Grand Dominion drawl was reassuring, just like it had been told.

Willlie caught the opportunity through a mouth full of chew, “But good sir, does it matter? We only seek your buisness, not your companionship.”

“Fine then gentlemen, come we’ll deal,” and with that he led them to the cellar and ushered them in. A phospho-lamp stirred the shadows in which they gathered. “Okay what are you in the market for?”

Luis pulled out an empty tin from his damp rain slick. “We’re looking for some more like this; but we ain’t to particular about it, and we do have a taste for the good stuff. Too bad it’s getting harder and harder to find.”

“hm, a 3397 Nova Miratian blend. I happen to be out of anything similar, at best I have some spacer stuff that is really inconsistent or ya get into the real quality stuff, such as some true Homo Sapiens Heritage stuff. 300 credits per gram.”

“That’s quite the pretty penny, especially cause we’re trying to build up a stash. We can buy a little now but we would like to work out a backscratcher to pick up some more on the sly latter.”

“You work in the docks, yes? I do have an associate that should be getting a package in for me; but he has a History, and I worry that this package won’t get through to me. All I ask from you is to bring me a list of tracking id’s from receiving for the next two or three days, that way I can know if the package came through at all. I definitely ain’t telling you more about the package and you really don’t want to have my associate catch wind of you. Depending, on how this goes I might be able to fit you gentlemen in.”

“We’ll see, but for now lets have three tins. And we got the money for it,” Mac flashed a wad of credits.

As Willie sampled the tin to know it was good Cedric scribbled a quick note on the tin lining. He then pointed at Luis, “Meet me there in two days, just you.”

And they parted ways.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Siege » 2010-07-12 08:15am

Fingolfin_Noldor wrote:*snip*
The Vice President tapped his fingers on his heavy metal desk, a strangely human gesture for the cyborg that produced a weird clanging sound. “As you say, our two nations might not get along in every respect, but your concern about the... riffraff that thrives beyond the light of proper civilization is certainly one we share, Warmaster. And it is my firm belief that because the galaxy has allowed these ill-tempered, uncivilized yokels to thrive in the nooks and crannies of the universe, we now face such issues as piracy, slavery and lawlessness in general.”

Arkady Messier focused his sensor globes on Belisarius Komnenos. “It is also my belief that it is up to the nations of the galaxy to clean up their own neighborhood. Which means it falls to us to clean up Wild Space. If we do not, then sooner or later the chaos and instability in the shoal regions will be exploited by our enemies. I believe it was your father who once said, 'civilization cannot be left to develop on its own, for fear that it shall degenerate utterly'. Now,” and a hint of a smile crept into the Vice President's digitized voice, “he of course used the Sovereignty as an example with which to illustrate this point. But permit me to change that to New Anglia and its handling of the Pendleton situation... As we see, a gentle surgeon precipitates festering wounds. Something tells me the Imperium would not have allowed the situation to percolate like this. We should take this lesson to heed, and act accordingly.”

“As such, I believe joint patrols along the Wild Space frontiers are an excellent idea. We should strive to root out the organized crime elements hiding there, and bring the light of civilization to these lawless frontiers. However I wonder if truly the navy is the best way to deal with situations like this. Certainly the USSF has a tendency to resolve its problems through the application of superior firepower.” Again the flickering of a smile. “Which would certainly bring light to these Wild Space worlds, but only briefly, and quite messily so. Perhaps we should create a new joint agency or task force to handle this issue?”

“As for meeting Sidney Hank...” the Vice President accessed the Datasphere, retrieving the pertinent information at the speed of thought. He clucked a tongue he no longer had. “Apparently he and the President are currently... working out their differences... in their own unique way. But I'm sure he'd be delighted to meet you at your earliest convenience. Shall I schedule a meeting tomorrow?”
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 Story Thread 1

Post by Teleros » 2010-07-12 10:04am

PeZook, if you want to do a bit about Unit 7 leaving Altacar, be my guest. I just need to get Urquhart free for some other negotiations, so I've hurried through the departure.

+ Langton House, Asamar City, Altacar 3 +
Urquhart didn't need to see Langton's note to agree to this deal. "I'm delighted that Her Majesty's government could be of assistance to you, Unit Seven. I hope we get to meet again before the General Election," he added as he showed the hulking Collector ambassador out of his office, having handed over a datapad with all the records Langton had been able to collect, as well as the various movies. As well as, although Unit 7 did not know it yet, a brief message.

+ Some Time Later +
"Are those vowel shipments en route?"
"The first ones will be heading to the gate in three hours," Langton answered. "With some examples of modern diacritics as well. Bulk supplies will have to travel via hyperspace however; even taking the shortest possible route, it will take some time to get them there, and they can't leave until tomorrow morning. Four destroyers from Avanna and two cruisers from the Altacar Fleet have been detailed to escort the bulk freighters, as the 6th Rapid Response Squadron won't have finished maintenance until next month."
"Sounds fair enough to me: I doubt we'll see many pirates going after that convoy. Right, what's next?"
Langton's voice sounded almost apologetic. "I'm afraid that Unit Seven's visit disrupted your schedule somewhat, sir. Your next meeting was to be in thirty minutes with the ambassador from the Clans of Hiigara, but you've nothing scheduled until then."

+ Lochley's Retreat +
One moment, there was nothing but empty space. The next, the long, slender shape of HMS Impressive appeared, torch drive flaring as it brought the eight hundred metre warship down to a safe velocity. It would take some time to arrive over the New Anglians' naval base, but giving them plenty of time to respond was the only proper way to go about such things, in Horn's book.
"Translation successful, sir. We'll be in orbit in... two hours."
"Contact the station and request a docking slip: the hyperdrive could use a check-up. And kindly inform them that I'd be much obliged if I could speak with their commanding officer."