Kerenkov, Solaris Sector, SinTek Colonial Development HQ
All was right with the world. Edward Limpkin knew his place in it, and he'd rather be here, down in the basement of the CoD building, than anywhere else.
He'd checked in, so that the CI in charge of the company's computer systems knew he was here. He walked briskly down the office corridor, smiling to himself and whistling a happy tune, as impersonal cameras tracked his every step. He pushed the door labelled with the name of CoD's network administrator - more like a psychologist and programmer rolled into one, as all he did was handle problems which arose with the department's CIs - and said hello to the person sitting there, behind an unassuming metal desk, plugged into a computer terminal with a opto-jack.
"Hi!", Limpking said cheerfully and shot the admin in the face with his own personal pistol.
As alarms started blaring throughout the building, Limpkin pushed the slumped body from its chair, and used the hardware override to cut the building's CIs from the building's system - a failsafe built into the network during times when CI engineering was still primitive and people feared the inevitable robot uprising. With a whine, all terminals in the buildings shut down.
Still whistling, Limpkin connected the datacube to the administrator's terminal and with a few quick keystrokes, began uploading its contents onto the main server.
He kept whistling, even as security charged the room and mercilessly gunned him down.
Through the neon lattice of the CoD Dataweb, a red ink flowed, as the sophisticated expert program seeked out and attacked all servers related to the division's activities. Offsite backups were attacked and defended by autonomous daemon programs, using codes pulled from the mainframe. Computers of customers, contract enforcement services, transportation and logistics companies and even private employee machines were sought out using logs and other data found on CoD's central servers. Even despite SinTek's security CompInts hunting the program package down, stopping data wipes and recursively reconstructing documents, the damage was too widespread. It wasn't irreversible, of course, but rebuilding the databases, cost simulations, client correspondence and logistical arrangements meant that CoD would be unable to compete in several important frontier tenders that were just about to close.
At the same time, prearranged webmail messages were released from several servers, alerting several dozen news agencies of a shootout in CoD's offices,and trading programs began attacking SinTek's stocks on the Solaris Exchange.
SinTek Galactic Main Officer, Kerenkov, Solaris Sector
"We have identified the body used during the attack - it's a Maitabtsu Type 23 Assault Frame, though modified somewhat. Unfortunately, no Maibatsu transponders were registered at the location, which means the local police had to resort to image tracking through monitoring cameras, with less than stellar results...", a CEID officers droned on about mundane details of the investigation into untimely interruption of living for Edward Limpkin, director of colonial development, "...we know the perpetrator split upon exiting the building, and also had several auxilliary drones with him. Judging from the behavior of the two main bodies and the auxilliarz swarm, we seem to be dealing with some sort of distributed CompInt, since there were no control transmissions detected and..."
The man was rudely interrupted by a flood of information reaching everyone at the boardroom through the Datasphere. He received it, too, and instantly connected to CEIDs servers, requesting situational updates. Within seconds, he managed to ascertain the situation - he's seen such things done before. Unfortunately, he wasn't sure the people inside the room could hear it.
Fortunately for him, the first move of the day belonged to the building's security team, which charged into the meeting room and began evacuating SinTek's leadership to a secure location.
A chorus of agreement rose from around the table. “With the caveat however,” added Zer, “that we should keep this operation low-profile for the time being. Our objective should be to stabilize with minimal force, set up some sort of government, then get the hell out.”
The Antares tore toward the face of Majella, her pristine hull glinting in the light of the faraway sun. Around her clustered a squadron of Shrikes, small automated craft under the control of the Antares' shipmind. They came in fast on unpredictable nonballistic trajectories and peppered space around Majella with bright flurries of autolaser fire, clearing the way for the big warstar. The Antares herself followed her little friends, all batteries firing, frying anything in orbit it could reach that looked like a weapons platform. It was standard operating procedure for the USSF: if a satellite's function could not be immediately identified (and how could it, with so many different types being employed across the galaxy?), fry it. Better safe than sorry, and primitive geosynchronous ComSats were a dime a dozen anyway.
In the wake of the Antares came more parasite warcraft and nimble escort craft loaded with long-range weapons and then, finally, half a dozen big USMC assault ships; Crater and Blue Ridge, Alamo and Bunker Rock. They held the first wave of the liberation and pacification forces, United Solarian Marines plus their heavy equipment and interface gunships and fighters were packed into their armored bellies. The cutting edge of the human counter-strike against lawlessness and the depredations of the fringe.
But the Antares held the USS' foremost vanguard. A mere two companies of picked men – tasked to achieve their objectives at all costs. They were FORCE operators; 150 men and women assigned to disrupt the operations of warlords and other factions on the ground. Until the rest of the marines arrived on their landers they would be outnumbered a thousand to one, maybe more, but despite this they conducted themselves with a brash, self-confident swagger – a trait cherished and cultivated by FORCE, which recruited only the best of the best of the best.
The Antares did not have any landers assigned to it. Nor did it carry any other planetary interface craft: rather, the elite troopers would be inserted (if you could call it that) with drop pods; smooth capsules catapulted out from specialized electromagnetic launchers which would, for lack of a better word, fall like artificial meteors toward the planet below and disgorge their content only after their inevitably cataclysmic impact.
The fact that those contained inside those capsules were fully expected to survive this shock kinetic insertion spoke to their qualities: FORCE troopers were far from human. Although this elite organization within the USMC was so radically individualized that barely any of its operators could be compared, they did share a single unifying trait: they were radically enhanced men and women who leveraged high-tech to a point well beyond the bleeding edge. They wore combat armors, exoshells and hardsuits, and in many cases they simply were the machines they wore, and they would enter the planetary atmosphere blazing a trail of plasma fire, to impact the planetary surface with the kinetic equivalent energy of many megatons, and they would emerge from the rubble with all guns blazing.
The unspoken assumption, of course, was that they would not be intercepted by weapons fire from the planetary surface. For scant few moments, the de-orbiting FORCE capsules would make great targets for any orbital defenses remaining on the surface of Majella 3, and despite all the efforts of the Antares' shipmind and the phenomenal ECM abilities it had at its disposal a lucky hit could never be ruled out. This was something the FORCE operators knew all too well as they entered their drop shells. Grimly, they attached their bypass links into the pods' computer systems. Sometimes risks just had to be taken.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-13 07:51am
Spaceport, Lochley Landing
Lochley's Retreat, The Outback
Rana and Sara finished stowing away their bags of personal effects in the spare cabin they'd be sharing. Due to the size of the ship there were three spare rooms, with Rydia and Maria to take up the other room, giving both couples a bit of privacy in the voyage to come. For Sara there was nothing but anxiety and a palpable sense of excitement about what was to come, but she felt better able to deal with it now that Rana was at her side.
They were packing away clothes when the Dorei woman, Vanrya, appeared at the door. "You two have a visitor," she said, with a hint of apprehension that was off-putting. "Please follow me."
Looking toward each other, Rana and Sara did so. Vanrya led them to the side airlock and out to the hanger, where a lone individual stood, exchanging a look of distrust with Balthier. They immediately bowed their head in deference to Lord Fisher, who gave a stiff nod in reply. "I will not ask where you are going," he stated plainly. "If you were to formally tell me I would feel obligated to order the Strahl barred from takeoff."
"So you say," was Balthier's fairly cold reply. "I'll be inside when you're ready to go," he said to Sara before heading up the ramp, motioning for Vanrya to follow.
"So if you do not wish to know where we are going, Your Lordship, why did you ask for us?", Sara inquired.
"I have been informed that the two of you have become.. close. I wished to extend my hopes to you. And..." He looked to Rana. "I had an inquiry to pursue with you, Sister Shaheen."
"Yes, Your Lordship?"
"The night of the Governor-General's reception, you slipped away from the others," he began. "And you managed to leave the dress piece of your gown behind."
"Ah, yes..." Rana looked to Sara. Their minds' link allowed her to impress upon Sara the need for discretion without alerting Fisher to it. "I admit, Your Lordship, that I am not a lady of society and, with due respect to my dear Sara, the dress was something I found cumbersome and...."
"It was a Lady of the Ebon Blade, wasn't it?"
Fisher's question cut straight through Rana's pretension. She caught herself from letting her jaw drop but her surprise was easily detectable. "Your Lordship?"
"I am an Admiral before I am a peer, Sister Shaheen, you needn't constantly refer to me by my style," he answered initially. "And my question remains. It was a Lady of the Ebon Blade, wasn't it? That would be the only reason you would attempt to hide what happened."
"What is a Lady of the Ebon Blade?", Sara asked, having felt a familiarity with the term she couldn't quite place.
"They are mercenaries," Rana answered. "Women with ESP talent trained in combat and other arts to function as hired assassins, spies, and interrogators. They recruit from the helpless communities of the galaxy, seizing young girls to mold into new members with targeted and constant brutality. They are also incredibly secretive and have been known ot kill anyone who learns too much about them."
"I imagined your Order knew of them," Fisher remarked. "Likely for the same reasons I do."
"Forgive me, Your Lord... Admiral, but I only sought to hide their existence to protect you. The Ebon Blade dislike being known by officials in powerful states. They fear your intelligence services and military power."
"Then i am afraid they are quite late, knowledge of their organization exists with SIS," he answered. "Though I do not think they would be so bold as to order the killing of the Director-General. Far too public and, of course, he is a formidable man and likely quite capable of avoiding such an attempt. Anyway, that has confirmed my suspicions. Undoubtedly Pendleton, or at least private citizens there, hired the unknown woman to retrieve de la Poer. I won't keep you any longer, then. Wherever you are going, be careful." Naturally he already knew... but as he stated earlier, he didn't want to hear it confirmed, as he was already very close to stopping them with his authority no matter how much Sara believed it necessary. "God be with you."
"Thank you, Admiral. May the Goddess stay with you as well," Rana answered. She let go of Sara's hand long enough for Sara to give him a thankful hug, ruffling his duty uniform a little.
Fisher cracked a thin smile, showing some paternal affection for her, and watched as the two boarded the Strahl. The door shut behind them and Balthier parted the hanger, aware the vessel was soon to launch.
Inside the Strahl Rana and Sara made their way to the cockpit. It was fairly cramped, just enough room for the helm and navigation seats and an observer seat. Balthier was in the pilot seat and Vanrya beside him. Over the intercom they heard a growling, deep voice make some barely-intelligible words, not anything either knew, followed by Kaylee confirming their drives were ready.
Above them the hanger door opened. Automated displays gave him a departure vector. Balthier's hands moved over the thruster control. A slight vibration filled the deck plates as the anti-grav liftoff drives brought the ship skyward and out of the hanger. Again they held hands, looking at each other, while Balthier's hand moved to his sublight engine controls and turned them on. A stronger vibration filled the ship as the sublight drive wings folded outward and locked into place. A moment later they fired and the Strahl accelerated rapidly, zooming past the skyline of Lochley Landing and toward the sky above. The time seemed to flash by quickly as they saw the atmosphere thin through the cockpit and disappear in favor of the black void, distant stars just little pinpricks if that.
"It'll be about twenty-five minutes at full acceleration to get to the hyperlimit," Balthier remarked. "Until then there's nothing to see, so why don't you finish getting settled in? We'll be to Pendleton in two days."
"Two days?" Sara stared at him, puzzled. "But, it takes two days just to get through the Gap..."
Balthier looked back at her and smiled. "Normally that is quite true. But the Strahl is a special girl of a ship. Those shoals will pass by quicker than they do for other ships. So, go ahead and get settled in, then speak as you must with Quinn and the other ladies, we'll need to have our plan together by the time we get to Pendleton."
Near Acker System, The Outback
Kara was not one to give outward signs of emotion, usually, but even she sighed a breath of relief as they emerged from the Gap Shoals and into the Pendleton network hyperlane near Acker. She changed their orientation to keep them in the lane and programmed the ship to come out of hyperspace in Acker.
As the ship spent the final twenty minutes of the trip to Acker, she went back to the engine compartment and double-checked everything. Her drive was intact... but wasn't in any shape to go back through the Gap. The GT-1250s weren't built for Shoal trips after all and her drive needed major overhaul before she could dare a return attempt (unless she got a ride on a carrier vessel at least, which was highly unlikely). Given the paucity of parts likely on Pendleton, her circumstances, return with her ship seemed unlikely. But she had known that going in.
After emerging from hyper at Acker Kara found a Plutoid body to establish a low orbit over. She was only a few miles above the edge of the atmosphere, but such was necessary to ensure that the Plutoid's gravity well masked her ship's admittedly-light mass on any mass-based sensors of passing ships. With her drives off-line for her to work on she would have a reduced energy profile, reducing risk of detection by IR scanners unless in close range, and she would detect such a threat before it got to her.
The hyperdrive needed time to cool down. The energy resistance of the Shoals had nearly overheated the drive coils and the energy regulator looked like it had two, maybe three transits left in it before it was completely fried. Other parts showed the tell-tale signs of strain that came with excessively-long hyperdrive trips or trips through Shoals. She'd be here for a short time, it seemed, but that suited her well given what Kara was to do next.
"So it's torture time?", Nikki asked drolly as Kara strolled into the passenger compartment where Katherine de la Poer hung by her wrists, completely naked. "I wondered how long you'd last before you got the urge."
"Shh, Nikki, I'm busy," Kara said irritably. While she'd certainly enjoy a session of playing with Katherine, feeling the waves of pain and pleasure coming out off her body through a mental link, she had other things in mind. "Have you completed preparations?"
"One stealthed hypercom line to Pendleton coming up," the AI answered. "The exact line you requested is ready for contact."
"Good." Kara activated the holographic transceiver on her end. It showed nothing for the moment. But once the hypercom element was beamed outward as a signal toward Pendleton, she got a near real-time image. When a woman answered, her humble demeanor visible through her hologram hovering before Kara, Kara stated, "I need to speak to Walter de la Poer immediately. Tell him it is about his daughter."
The woman nodded and disappeared. Soon a thin, gaunt face appeared. "Who are you? What are..." He seemed to notice Kara for the first time and stopped, as if a flicker of recognition came to his mind.
"Hello, Mr. de la Poer. I am Kara. You didn't know my name before, I was just some little slave girl who's mother you bought off the market, fresh from the pirate vessel that had abducted her entire family from their homeworld. You might remember my mother, though... after all, you did shoot her through the heart." Kara saw the man search his memories briefly before continuing. "You still don't remember? You don't remember how you let the Ebon Blade take me? You don't remember pulling your pistol and shooting my mother through the heart when she resisted? Well, just in case you still don't, let me give you motivation to remember." She stepped to the side so de la Poer could see Katherine. "I took your daughter from the Anglians, Walter. They would have likely hanged her. If you force me to, well, by the time I'm through with her, she'll wish she had just been hung."
"Wait, don't do..."
His pleas fell on deaf ears. Katherine looked with wide eyes as Kara took out the gag in Katherine's mouth. She then pulled out her agiel and pressed it to Katherine's side, just below the right armpit. Given the high power setting it was on, it was no surprise to her that the scream that erupted from Katherine's lungs was deafening... and certainly heard on the other side of the hyperspace channel. She didn't look back to see how Walter de la Poer was reacting, nor did she hear his pleas. With a grim and determined look she used her device to make Katherine suffer for several seconds at a time. After about twenty seconds and three distinct presses of the device, she pulled it back and looked to the hologram. "You know what I am capable of, Walter de la Poer. After all..." A bitter half-smile appeared on Kara's face, enough to chill de la Poer. "...you helped create me. Now, I am on my way to Pendleton, and I will return your daughter to you, mostly unharmed, in exchange for you. Try anything and Katherine's death will be lingering and exquisitely painful. I will be at the Montalban Port in 24 hours; be there, ready to surrender, or Katherine will suffer in your stead." Without letting the man answer, she turned off the hypercom with a touch to the projector's base.
"Oh dear," Nikki said. "You're going to torture him to death in here, aren't you?"
"That is too good for that man," Kara answered. "But the suffering I subject him to will be at least some small compensation for what he did to me." Kara looked back to Katherine. She allowed herself a smirk. "Did you know, Katherine, that you were supposed to be in my place? Oh yes..." Kara smirked. "It was your father's deal with the Blade when you were newly-conceived, part of the arrangements he made to get New Anglia out of Pendleton the last time. If he did not procure a suitable candidate for the Blade by the time you were 12, you would be the one taken. As it is, your father quickly found a sacrifice, though in the end it was I who was taken, not her. But still.... I thought you should know." She drew closer to Katherine's face and could feel the heat radiating from it. "What I did before was a little taste of what was done to me by the Blade. Now, if your father is half as loving as you think, he will come for you... and I will let you go. If not... well, you shall learn more of what happens when a girl is recruited into the Blade. And you won't enjoy it."
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-13 11:02am
The proverbial collective sigh of relief was palpable to anyone looking - even Langston was glad to be rid of three potential security hazards with unknown capabilities. Nervous smiles and hurried walks swept through the staff of Langston House as Unit 7 and his entourage moved towards the exit.
It was a similar thing with constables running skyhook security, and space traffic controllers. The diplomatic yacht was a thorn in everybody's side, its visit being unannounced, its capabilities unknown. Of course, the dock it way staying in was monitored throughoughly by the Empire's intelligence-gathering drones in an attempt to gather clues about its construction and possible armament.
Within two hours of leaving Langston House, the yacht was cleared for transit through the gate and disappeared.
One anomaly the military crew of the gate's control centre noticed before once again ceding their stations to usual civilian personell was that the energy used going out was much less than the one going in. And the dialed gate was a most peculiar thing indeed.
New Anglia Warp Terminus
"Outside activation!", the call was similar throughout the known universe for reasons unknown. As New Anglia's gate began to spin up and spit incadescent energies into the void, service technicians and AIs quickly verified the transfer's codes and flight plans. It was a standard callout from the Altacar Empire, a transfer batch of ships. One position was flagged by the controlling AIs, though.
"Clear the transfer. Stand by traffic control."
The gate whirred and flashed, opening the portal. It started to spit out an assortment of ships: freighters, passenger carriers and private yachts. The flagged ship was immediately painted by the Terminus Defence Squadron, and attempts to verify its class or signature all failed. It was small, about the size of a transit yacht, though exotic particle readings indicated an incredibly dense and powerful energy core.
"Unknown contact, please identify yourself", came an automated query generated by the traffic control AI.
There was no response for a second, almost prompting the Royal Navy patrols to fire warning shots across the yacht's bow. Suddendly, the ship began sending data packets, which included the flight plan and cargo declaration.
"Heave to and hold station next to Transfer Control Buoy 2", was another automated response, which was followed immediately. The customs people would have one hell of a problem figuring out what to do with that ship: the flight plan it transmitted indicated it was going towards the Outback, but the route was completely absurd - as if it deliberately avoided known hyperlanes. Stated destination - Lochley's Retreat. Stated allegiance: The Collective.
Where trouble for Altacaran authorities ended, ones for the Anglians were just beginning.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-13 11:15am
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?”
"The Pendleton situation is intolerable. How New Anglia allowed a backwater state to fester is beyond me. Reports of Pendleton's mischief had long circulated for ages, and New Anglia for some begotten reason chose to ignore them up till now. The Imperium would have simply deployed a full battlegroup headed by a Battle Barge or a Battleship or both, and threatened Pendleton with orbital bombardment if its wishes were not complied. We would have burned the planet if they continued their defiance.
But indeed, your idea of a joint task force is indeed appealing to me. The pooling of resources will improve the efficiency of surveillance of Wild Space. The Inquisition should be able to find ways and means to assist in the creation of this agency.
And yes, tomorrow will be fine. How about a tour of our vessel after the festivities? I hear the navy crew are keen to watch this... game your Brigadier was suggesting...."
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-13 05:01pm
Jarkon - Capital City, Janus Colony, Wild Space
"So why exactly are we robbing a bank?" Azaan asked as the small group of mercenaries approached the Central Bank of Janus Colony. "No amount of money we steal will be worth the heat we'll get from this." Cirak threw a quick glance in Azaan's direction before replying.
"We're not going to rob it. Our mysterious employer simply wants some data from the banks mainframe. He said he needed to confirm some suspicions. And don't worry, with how much he's paying us, the heat won't be a problem." Cirak seemed confident that this was an easy job.
Azaan simply looked at his boss, he trusted him, Cirak had never failed them before. "Alright. Lets get to it then." He said and the six men entered the bank. A large skyscraper that housed not just the bank, but other facilities and housing as well.
The first thing one would notice upon entering the bank lobby was the rather large amount of armed guards and security devices, such as cameras, sensors and high security locks on all the doors. This might have been a bit much, but this was Wild Space, such things were quite normal here.
One door stood out amongst the others. It was red and had two guards were stationed near it.
"Thats where we need to go." Cirak said and pointed at the red door. "Azaan, you ready to work your magic?"
"Yes." Azaan answered and moved towards the door. Cirak and the others followed. The two guards quickly noticed them and one lifted a scanning device, he was just about to turn it on when Azaan suddenly stopped.
"There is no need to do that. The Director is expecting us. Just let us through." Azaan said with a smile. "Comply!" He added in a rather intimidating way.
The guards seemed confused for a moment, but then one of them punched in a code in the terminal next to the door, which promptly opened.
"Thank you." Cirak said and the mercenaries stepped through the door and into the large corridor. Azaan was last to go through.
"Carry on with your duties." He said. "We were never here." With that he went through and the door closed behind him.
"No null fields. Don't you just love wild space?" Cirak laughed as they moved through the corridor towards the bank directors office.
"Technology like that, luckily for us, is expensive and hard to come by." Azaan answered with a grin.
A few moments later they were in front of the Directors office, the two guards there were easily subdued by Azaan's talents. They dropped their weapons and received a sharp blow to the head as a thank you. Najrds Cirak and Azaan entered the office, much to the Directors surprise, while the rest of the men stayed outside.
"Greetings." Cirak said and pointed his gun at the Directors head. "Would you be so kind as to activate your terminal and access the mainframe? Please." Cirak was rather polite, but his approach was rather intimidating, and it made the bank Director twitch and nearly fall out of his chair.
"Who...who are you?" The surprised man asked.
"Thats not important. Do what you're told and you'll live." Cirak answered and took a seat in one of the leather chairs. Azzan simply stood their pointing his gun at the Director.
"What? I can't do that..." The bank director was confused and scared.
"I'm a patient man, but I can simply kill you and hack your mainframe. It will simply take longer..." Cirak was now getting irritated by the man. "The choice is yours."
"Fine." The man answered and punched in a sequence of keys into the terminal on his desk. "You have access."
"Smart choice." Azaan said and pushed the man out of his chair. He took his place and hooked up a small device to the terminal, within seconds the device flashed and the face of a bald man appeared on the display.
"My work will be done quickly." The AI said and the face vanished, replaced by a stream of data.
"Interesting choice of AI for our employer isn't it?" Cirak said to nobody in particular.
"The bastard couldn't be more mysterious if he tried." Azaan grumbled. "Our own AI was more then capable of finishing this task."
"He insisted." Cirak said. "And he's paying us...so I don't see a problem if he doesn't want us to know what he is looking for."
The display flashed again and the bald headed AI appeared.
"Security systems are more complex than expected. It will take more time. Estimate: Five minutes." It said and vanished again.
"Damn it. Hurry up you piece of shit!" Azaan shouted. "My power will not keep the guards occupied all day."
In the corner of the room, the bank director was sitting and watching the two men and their AI. He seemed to be in a state of shock, but the men ignored him.
"Damn. If this will take a while, I should check in on our cyborg friend." Cirak said and retrieved a small device from his pocket. He pushed a few buttons and activated a comm link to Marek.
"Marek! This is Cirak. Status!" Najrds spoke, but got no answer. "Marek!"
"He's not answering." Cirak said. "I don't like this."
"Maybe he turned of his comm. You know what he's like..." Azaan said and leaned back in the chair. "If there was a problem, he would have called."
"I don't know. I have a bad feeling..." Cirak said but was interrupted by the AI, which flashed onto the display again.
"It is done. I have the files. You gentlemen should leave this planet as soon as possible. The locals will not like this." With that the AI deactivated and the small device flashed, signaling it was ready for removal.
"What does he mean by that?" Azaan asked.
"I don't know. Lets just get Marek and leave. Hopefully he has completed his task." Cirak said. "The Governor should have been an easy mark."
"FOOLS!" Suddenly the bank director shouted. He was now standing up, his eyes showed no fear, his face looked emotionless. "You will..."
He didn't manage to finish the sentence as he was interrupted by a plasma blast to the chest, which threw him back against the wall.
"Shut up!" Azaan said as he took the small device that carried the AI and placed it into his pocket. "Are we leaving?"
"Yeah!" Cirak answered and then his eyes widened in shock. The bank director was getting up again.
"What the fuck!" Azaan shouted moving back towards the door, his gun pointed at the man with a hole in his chest.
"You shouldn't have come here...Human!" The man spoke. "That AI will not leave this world and neither will you."
"What the hell are you?" Cirak shouted pulling out his own gun towards the man.
"I am a mere servant." The man said and moved closer.
"This doesn't make any sense..." Cirak said. "Who...?"
"This world will be your grave." The man shouted and spat green bile at Cirak, who dodged it by a millimeter. He then returned the favor with plasma fire. Azaan followed and pretty soon all that was left of the bank director was a pile of ash, blood and green bile.
"What the hell is going on here?" Azaan asked.
"Fuck if I know." Cirak answered. "Lets just get out of here."
"Boss!" One of Cirak's men burst into the office. "We have about a dozen guards coming down the corridor."
"Fuck!" Cirak shouted and suddenly as if to confirm his irritation, an alarm sounded.
"This isn't good." He said looking at the pile of remains on the floor.
"When the dead start walking..." Azaan said clearly confused by the events that just took place. "What can make a man survive that?"
"It doesn't matter." Cirak said. "Right now, its time for us to do what we do best."
"Shoot people!" Azaan finished his sentence.
"I hate it when you do that." Cirak frowned.
"I know." Azaan said and ran out the door. Najrds followed and soon the sounds of gunfire could be heard.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-13 06:17pm
Command Deck, HSF Nightshadow, sector D24
“Realspace translation completed, fleet spread nominal: 2,000 kilometer dispersal. Primary target on scan 100,000 space kilometers ahead.” announces the Adjutant as the tactical and exterior holoscreens form in the air around the command dais.
“Signal the fleet, standard assault formation. Severance and Seuss will begin launching our drone cover and commence bombardment of enemy assets. Bring the Nightshadow to combat status.” BattleMistress Sesh looked around from her command dias as the crew sprang into action, counting to herself mentally. When she reached 9 she feels the subtle rumble shudder up through her ship and a momentary impulse towards the back of the ship as the fusion drives kicked in. Not a bad time though not the best either. The other effects of the switch weren't so tactile, appearing only on monitors as the hyperspace tap comes online and the main guns start to build up the vast energy reserves they required.
Thirty seconds after orders were given the first missiles from the carriers Severance and Seuss become visible tracking across the tactical map.
Sixty seconds after that the first ork vessel exploded under the battering fists of a half dozen nuclear detonations. By this time the external camera view was flashing constantly as ork cannon fire splashed against Nightshadow's shields and Sesh waved for it to be shut off.
“Battlemistress, beam cannons fully charged. Bow shield layers down by 50% due to enemy fire,Shere Khan and Rajah are experiencing similar fire intensity.” The adjutant reported as she looked up at the dias expectantly.
“Rajah and Shere Khan may fire at will, we will hold fire and increase speed. We will remain on course to Ghazka's spacestation.” Sesh settles back as the rumble from the engines further intensified. Though Orks were not known for subtlety, she could not help her concerns that someone might have missed something in the analysis of Ghazka's assets and this brazen charge was reliant on the analysis being accurate.
“Unidentified hyperspace signature detected, emergence in twenty seconds.” announced the Adjutant. Sesh lets a little of her worry show at last As if the universe had decided to answer our question she thinks to herself “Rajah and Shere Khan will move to optimum firing positions on projected emergence point of unidentified signature.”
A moment later a new blip appeared on the tactical display “New Ork vessel confirmed, battleship displacement, and it's moving to intercept us.” the Adjutant announced tensely. On the tactical display Sesh watched as the ork vessel ploughed through a barrage of missiles from the Severance without sloughing appreciably and then opened fire on the Nightshadow's by now weakly shielded bow. Heavy cannon shells punching through energy and metal both to detonate beneath the skin of the Nightshadow.
“Damage report.” Sesh asks, taking this inevitable set back in stride.
“Multiple penetrations on the port side, bow cannon inoperable, casualties on twenty decks.” replies the adjutant without looking up from the reports flooding in.
“Distance to target?”
“In firing range now battlemistress.”
Sesh smiled as despite the casualty report and the damage to her Nightshadow she'd just watched their assailant wink out as the other two battleships in the Chamarran task force turned their attention, and their beams, on it. She was about to order the strike when...
“Incoming transmission from target.”
“On screen.” Sesh orders and then immediately regrets it as a green mishappen face snarling in anger appears floating in the air front of her “Back off kittez or me an' may boyz start killin every kitteh we got here.”
Sesh is unresponsive for a moment and then does her best to look seriously “Of course mister Ghazka, we would not dream of risking the hostages you have taken of our own kind. We will submit to your demand.” she says as civily as she can, hiding her smirk. She turns to the adjutant “bring us about, prepare transmission 4 to broadcast at my mark.” she says and then looks back to Ghazka, who looks incredibly pleased with himself...oh if only he knew, knew that they knew exactly where he was at this very moment...
“That's roight, run away kitties with ya tails between ya legs. Cause i'm Ghazka, the biggest baddest ork EVAH! You aint hardah than me, no ones hardah than me!” He yells and then blinks as Sesh holds up a hand “that's enough of that, Adjutant, Fire.”
“YOU LYING BIT-”
The Beam only stopped half a second on the shield of the station then struck at the base of the spire and immediately began walking up the armoured surface, peeling open the side of the structure and opening hundreds of decks to space before it finally reached Ghazka and put an end to his days of piracy and slave taking. In the much less armoured cargo modules wrapped around the stations middle and under spire the orks picked themselves up and shrugged off the momentary daze, turning with blood thirst on the captives of various races they were to watch over.
“This is Battlemistress Sesh of the Chamarran Hierarchy to all ork vessels and personnel, Ghazka is dead. Surrender is your only option, if even a single further Chamarran life is lost I will see to it that not a single one of you will live, we shall melt your ships and station to slag and throw them into the sun, we shall erase ever last trace of your existence till no one even remembers your name.” The announcement went out on all frequencies and all orks heard it, their ships fled with chamarran cruisers in pursuit as the battlegroup closed around the station where ork bloodlust was cooling remarkably quickly. The battle was over.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 12:02am
The Sekitimi was a tramp freighter, an old NenAltKik military vessel sold to private interests; it was currently under the Tlaka-acal Ajaka. He was an old hand at this and was making the same old route to Umeria to sell the wares of the Sheletsa Export Company in the fringe worlds. This time, he had an enormous supply of the most banal of goods: fashion clothing made by a budget factory in the NenAltKik that liberally 'borrowed' inspiration for human fashions from Anglia's criminal cultures; tons of silverware made from industrial plastics that were poisonous to moxli and kipaktli, but might not be toxic to humans; porn vids pressed onto dataslates from around the galaxy; and, what Ajaka was growing to hate most of all, cheap electronic crap. More virtual reality sets, more flexiscreen monitors, more cameras, and more junk that even the poorest Tlali-descended couldn't be paid to use. The only thing of even slight value in the hold was crates of recorded Tlali entertainment programs, translated for human benefit- and even there, the programs were mostly ones that had already sold poorly in NenAltKik space, and were now being tried for their appeal to a completely different and alien species.
Ajaka knew his entire cargo was worth more as scrap than as finished goods in any portion of NenAltKik space; hence, he took it to Umeria's colonial worlds. While most tales of their poverty were exaggerations at best and outright lies at worst, the fact remained that their government didn't do much to supply the colonials with luxury goods. And, so, Sheletsa Export Company moved in to fill that gap. It might not be the highest quality, but at least it was affordable and improved their lives, so everyone came out on top. Right? Of course.
And, so, the old Sekitimi skipped into the atmosphere of Brennan's World, the Umerian colony closest to the NenAltKik. When they landed, they would ship the goods to the store by electric land freighters, not by any flying machine. It cut costs considerably, and it's not like anything was perishable. Sure, it increased the risk of attack by crimepacks, but that's why you hired ex-Keta kipakt mercenaries. They got to keep their power armor, and they were usually equipped with a power maul and carbine, making them more than a match for some human criminals with their tiny guns and swarm tactics. Hell, most crimepacks didn't even bother to try to steal from the SheExCo anymore because they knew it ended in vicious dismemberment.
Ajaka sighed as they pulled into dock and started unloading the freight. He oversaw the Umerian crew putting transferring everything into the land freighters, along with his kipaktli mercenaries. One of them, Kwitzpal stood resplendent in his power armor, turned on his external speakers, and spoke to the Umerians without an autotranslator.
“Listen, we have everything here tagged and tracked. We'll find out if you try to take home anything without paying us properly, and SheExCo doesn't take kindly to thieves. Besides, I think the only thing you'll really want is the porn vids, and you can just download stuff for free off the network, okay?”
Kwitzpal wasn't trying to sound threatening, but his rasping and deep voice certainly didn't inspire a sense of congeniality among the dock workers.
After unloading the ship, Kwitzpal and two of his fellows, Xitepan and Kwitlapilhweya, got onto the back of a flatbed freighter and followed the other one. The trip was uneventful for the veterans; Kwitzpal and Kwitlapilhweya were both ex-Keta soldiers, but Xitepan was ex-Tukwali and a higher rank than either of the others had been.
“Keep your eyes open, friends, never know what we might run into,” Xitepan advised.
“Old man, we know what we're up to,” Kwitlapilhweya said, she being the youngest and lowest in rank.
“The gangs may have changed; if they have too many youths in charge, they might be stupid and try to attack us. Keep an eye open and be ready for action. I don't know about you, but I swore to Imakwa when I made this contract. Can't fail the Old War Club Lord, can we?” Xitepan asked.
“Never!” the other two replied in unison.
And the freighters moved through the streets of the capital of Brennan's World, [City]. Xitepan's HUD kept flashing up gang graffiti and matched it to their databases. All of them known and all of the individual members he caught in his HUD would simply look and let the freighters pass after catching a glimpse of the kipaktli in power armor. Even though there were only three of them, they could easily dispatch dozens of crimepack members, and the men on the street knew it. And, so, miles of road passed uneventfully.
Until, that is, they passed into yet another neighborhood and Xitepan's HUD didn't recognize the gang symbols.
“Heads up, we have a new crimepack here. Just be on alert. Ready your carbines,” Xitepan said, his usual good humor leaving his voice.
His eyes darted around, trying to ply anything from the surroundings to keep from being ambushed.
There. In front. A group of human adolescents, armed with small arms.
“Possible hostiles ahead. Power up shields and carbines. Ready makwahwli for battle.”
A sudden roar of electric engines as a vehicle shot in front of the freighters and another one slammed into the freighter carrying the kipaktli; Kwitzpal was thrown off the freighter entirely, while the other two were knocked off balance.
“Damnation! Slaughter them all!” roared Kwitzpal, as he struggled to his feet. Xitepan was already on his feet and firing off bolts of energy at the humans; he switched his speaker on and spoke in the humans' language.
“No mercy! No quarter!”
Kwitlapilhweya was up and running toward a tightly packed group of humans and strummed on the power to her makwahwey; the humans tried to disperse, but too slowly. She swung, and the arc of her power maul cut through many of them; even without the matter-disruption field, they would have had lethal wounds, but instead they were torn to pulp by it. Kwitzpal was now up and firing upon the vehicle ahead, taking out the wheels, then smashing apart the cab with his makwahwey. Already, the humans were retreating en masse, terrified that in only seconds, 12 had died and their vehicles were completely destroyed. The kipaktli assessed the situation quickly and righted their own freighter.
“Victory is ours, Kwitzpal and Kwitlapilhweya. Ten to fifteen dead, both vehicles destroyed, and all of us alive and unwounded. My shields never dropped below 86%; you two?”
“74%, because I fell off the fucking freighter,” snarled Kwitzpal.
“82%, because that group I ran into was firing all their small arms at me.”
“It appears there are no further crimepack ones here. Let's get the hell out. Maybe we won't have to deal with them ever again after this,” Xitepan said, looking for signs of enemies.
“We better get a bonus for this shit,” Kwitlapilhweya muttered.
And so they made the drop-off.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 12:44am
"Wow," Colonel Shaham remarked, "This is... wow."
"Serious nanotech reliance," Th'andra said, examining the table. She pushed on it, tried to move it, pull it, and finally --tentatively at first-- sat on it.
"Better hope the nanobots have more than a fifth-grade sense of humor," Arik said.
Th'andra ignored the comment. "What do you think?" she asked.
"They seem amenable," Shaham said. "I suppose we can request a regular diplomat be sent here full-time."
"They seemed curiously uncurious, too," Th'andra noted.
"The curiosity of the terminally patient," Shaham said, looking at the information scrolling by on the screen he'd conjured up. "They're functionally immortal. Anything they want to learn they can get by observation. And by not asking questions, they get a more... authentic reaction to things, I guess."
"So, what do you think?" Th'andra asked with an impish smile, "Immortality? The nerve link?"
"Huh," Shaham grunted. "We could do a lot of this stuff if we wanted to at home."
"Except for a few cultural issues," Th'andra muttered.
"I don't know, this wouldn't have the drawbacks that open cyborging would have," Arik countered.
Th'andra was thinking about something else, though.
"Imagine," she said suddenly, "the prospects of immortality for the Alliance," she said. "No more natural deaths; population will continue to grow at a geometric rate."
"Well... especially if the people who are immortal stay reproductively fertile through their continued lifespans," Arik said. "That's a big limiting factor for our tech."
"Restricting reproductive ages to a brief 30-year span early in life is probably a good thing," she said. "Imagine of all the old ladies from 45 to 110 kept spitting them out as quickly as the young gals did."
"Some of them do, just artificially," Arik reminded her. He got an announcement on his vidscreen keyed... to his own genetic signature. Efficient, he admitted silently to himself. "They've dispatched a ship to Tsonarr with a diplomat in exchange, and asked if I could warn the First Governor to be ready."
"I'll patch something through to the ship," Th'andra said. "This is a really good system, I have to admit," she said as she studied her own display. She was poring over history and philosophy of the Commune as a social entity. "They went beyond giving workers control over the means of productions," she said with a smile, "The workers are the very engines of production. She made the call to the communications officer back on Lt.Cdr. Savan's Avenger, who relayed the information back to the Alliance. She also recommended a permanent Ambassador be appointed, since the Commune seemed friendly enough to their overtures.
Andreka Province, Tsonarr
"Acknowledge that transmission from our agent," First Governor Darkhressek said. The Media Directorate chief looked to his boss, the Representative from Vet'charek who held the Media Directorate portfolio. The slightly portly, older zhulescu nodded and the man got busy.
"The Ambassador we've been discussing?" the zhulescu rep asked.
"I suppose," Darkhressel said, rubbing his temples. "I just don't want this to seem to be an... I dunno, an insult, I guess."
"To the Commune?" Representative Resken asked with a grin, "Or to our Ambassador?"
"To the Commune," Darkhressek said with a wave of his hand as if he were shooing away a pesky insect, "I agree with your evaluation of Ambassador Narrotte."
"The survivors of the House Djeris have been insufferable for decades," Representative Resken said, "And since we came here, they've been making noises again." He leaned forward and spoke with mock surprise, "I don't think they know they lost their empire three hundred years ago!"
First Governor Darkhressek smiled. "Oh, no, my friend, remember, we are the continuation of proud Djeriessi heritage," he said, "Unless it's Midweeks. Then I think the official line is that had we supported the Djeriessi Hegemony in its hour of need, we wouldn't be having these problems today!"
Rep. Resken shook his head, an ironic smile on his face. "Well, the prince of Illorion will have a proud duty to attend to, and while he can be annoying, he is professional. We'll get him on the shuttle by morning?"
"He's already looking forward to it," Darkhressek said. "Thank you for your support in this."
"Well, I already gave my vote in exchange for the military expansion bill," Resken said. "But we do need to make outside contacts and expand the economy beyond internal government contracts. It's unsustainable."
"Yes," the quicker we can get some contacts and rub elbows and make trade, the better..."
*** *** *** *** *** ***
"Good day, Ambassador..." the Central Alliance Customs official's brows knitted in consternation. Was there an error on the documentation..?
"Eleven," the man said, with a smile. "Yes, it's correct."
"Eleven," the Customs Officer repeated. Well, there was that couple on Andraszar-III that named their kid, what was it... Purple, right? Some color... "Very well, sir, welcome to Tsonarr, Capital of the Central Alliance."
"Thank you," the man known as "Eleven" said. He was greeted by the Alliance Foreign Minister, an androgynous-seeming alien of a type he'd never seen or categorized before. She --the alien gave off a somewhat feminine vibe-- was diminutive of height, coming up to chest level of an average human male, which was currently what Eleven was appearing to be. She had very coarse, thick black hair and dark glasses, and what appeared to be some sort of thermal control garment under her clothing. Very little of her skin was exposed, and what there was appeared to be pasty white.
"Greetings," she said, giving a close-lipped smile and offering a hand. Eleven shook her hand and immediately gained a great deal of information-- the alien would normally prefer a damper, cooler environment, probably subterranean. The hands were quite strong, and instead of a thumb there was a powerful clawlike appendage that came from the wrist. The fingernails were thicker and covered the fingertips almost entirely. Adapted for digging, Eleven surmised correctly.
"I am Foreign Minister Nisho Veena," she said by way of introduction, "I trust your journey was a pleasant one?"
"A minor deviation from our established mission parameters," Eleven said amicably.
Minister Veena nodded, and led him to a waiting car. "You have bags?"
"What possessions I brought with me can be transported later," Eleven said. "There are few things I need with me."
"Excellent," Minister Veena said. They had a few aides and security types around, maintaining unobtrusive presences. She gave him a quick overview of the Capital Center Government District, directing the autopilot to swing past a couple of the more interesting landmarks that jutted up from the massive cityscape. "As much as there is aboveground, there is below," Minister Veena informed him. "We try to keep the land from becoming too cluttered; we've seen what happens when growth runs rampant and we end up with cityscape planets."
"It is sobering when one realizes that they must artificially generate life support on the very planet their people evolved on," Eleven said with a friendly smile on his otherwise impassive features.
"The make-or-break point for a civilization worthy of the name typically comes well before then," Minister Veena said with casual ease, as if discussing the weather. Which, in a way, they were.
Eleven gave her an appraising look. Definitely female. "Yes," he said, "Make or break."
"Here we are," Veena said, smiling as she spoke. Eleven saw a brief flash of a line of serrated bone that appeared to be her teeth. The car pulled up to a nice, wide platform where they got out. Eleven looked around-- he didn't truly need to look, directly, but he went through the motions.
"You don't find the gravitic drives to be detrimental to health?" he asked politely.
"Not at all," Minister Veena said, "If they pass directly over you, there's some sort of high-energy magnetic affects that can be detrimental, but that's it."
"Interesting," Eleven said as he filed the information away and followed her and her aides to the towering structure they'd stopped at. They were several dozen stories in the air, but Eleven could easily see the sky around him and grav traffic below, if he looked. Pollution was negligible, but not totally eradicated.
"We maintain the surface streets as pedestrian walkways," Veena said as she guided him to the Diplomatic quarters. "MOst of the service and support stuff, industry, is belowground. Express lifts can take you down there, but a lot of places are off-limits to non-employees. Safety regulations, I'm sure you understand."
"Of course," Eleven said. "Employees."
They entered a room that was large and comfortable, and clearly an office. "This is for your reception staff," she said, "You have an unofficial, off-duty type office for any work you wish to do at home. Beyond that are your private quarters. It is set up for basic needs plus secure communications. Enter whatever scramble code you want, the security & encryption drives are closed-loop. Beyond that, I have staff that can help you move in... well, 'bots, actually, but you can contact my office--" as soon as the key words contact my office were spoken, Minister Veena's personal AI automatically transmitted her office's contact information to Eleven, who was able to intercept and unscramble them (a basic and unencrypted file) "--if you need anything. Please," she said, "Feel free to contact my office if you have any questions or needs at all."
"Thank you," Eleven said, smiling at the courtesies extended. The Alliance did not have anywhere near the amount of nanotech that the Commune did; however Eleven would not be hampered. His surrounding fog would be more than sufficient to see to any needs he may need-- which would be few. "Pardon me, Minister," he asked, "I do have one question. Would you, normally, be so personally involved in meeting a newly arrived foreign diplomat?"
Veena smiled, glancing over the top rim of her dark glasses momentarily-- he saw large, deep, dark glassy eyes adapted to darkness, which quickly disappeared back behind their protective lenses.
"Normally? No, I would not," she admitted, "But you are our first foreign contact in this new realm. I couldn't resist." She straightened. "We will have a formal reception tomorrow evening, where you will meet the First Governor. Welcome to the Central Alliance."
Eleven cordially greeted, albeit without a great deal of fanfare (that comes tomorrow).
A permanent Ambassador assigned to the Commune, who will be arriving soon.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 01:16am
by Agent Sorchus
A couple days later, the Meeting Place; Aurora Shipyards, The Centrality; Last week of 3399
They were meeting in an open deli near one if the few schools on the station. Youth of all stripes were passing notes and exchanging pleasantries, while the older students exchanged more exotic information; gaming id's, sweet and viscous gossip and other more explicit sundries.
Luis sat there picking at the half eaten lunch, with one eye on his new associate. Cedric was sort of surprising, dressed in black leathers and had grown his hair out to ridiculous lengths. Some students seemed to recognize him regardless, apparently he was some sort of musician.
Cedric had the list he had wanted, but he was being insufferably slow and meticulous in reviewing it.
Luis just couldn't stand being so exposed while completing a private back-scratcher. So he interrupted, "You see the list is good, ain't it? SO why don't we get this business done with so we can get to more pleasant occupations."
"Oh. Yes we should be good. Now I can get ya one nearly full case of the same as before. And ya know, if your fellows are willing to do some more for my friends and I, there is an extra half case to retain your services. Interested?"
"Fair words, I'll have to talk to the fellows though." The reminder to keep his cool found it's way to the top of Luis' thoughts.
And so they finished their meal, Luis mostly keeping his cool despite Cedric's damn fans. Spoiler
A Night of importance
Constable McOwen shifted from foot to foot, a take out baggie tucked under his arm that was destined for the offices night shift. It was getting cold. "Damn friggen snitching twitch. Probably to caught up by the smoggies he's nested in. I got better things to do, like busting juves listening to that Party proscribed Eoghan music."
Footsteps. The snitch was in. "Oi ya little bastard, I hope for your sake you remembered to bring the list of dealers ya talked to, since I last saw ya a month ago."
"I dids, officer. But it ain't going to do ya much good, only one dealt with me at all straight. Alls the others are to worried about getting caught. So I got two names that almost dealt, and the one guy who ain't afraid. Good enough yes? Then give me the detox, I ain't staying for your peachy conversation Constable."
They traded, and the snitch legged it off.
"By God do I hate ya Willie, and as the Party is my witness one of these days your gonna find yourself in a word of hurt.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 07:04am
The landers accelerated hard away from the safety of the Bunker Rock, rocketing their cargo of USMC troopers and their heavy equipment toward the planetary surface. Close below them now was the blue and green serenity of Majella-3, their target as the initial wave of ground pounders of operation BLIND MICE.
7th Expeditionary Force was the spearhead of the grandly titled 'Liberation of Majella 3'. Fleet intelligence, provided by CEID agents in place, informed them that the assorted warlords had nearly a million troops on planet, but confidently asserted that they were widely dispersed on counter-insurgency operations against the myriad guerrilla groups that had sprung up in response to the annihilation of the central government and the rise of the warlords.
The analysts were positive that one concentrated strike could liberate Majella and spark a pro-Sovereignty uprising. But then the analysts were safe in the armored belly of the Antares and what did Star Force or CEID know about ground warfare anyway? They were leading in fewer than 150,000 veteran marines -- few of them had any illusions about the relative ease with which they were supposed to achieve their mission, and they noisily cursed their commanders as the formation hit atmosphere.
The dropships screamed into the troposphere at breakneck speed, leaving trails of fire and a thundering succession of supersonic booms in their wake. Inside their holds, the marines of the 7th Expeditionary were battered together despite the high impact harnesses that secured them in the Bullfly's crowded belly. They couldn't see it but a further five assault craft were in close formation around them.
Alarms flared in the cockpit of the Bullfly tactical lander as its ECM suite detected the first pulses of ground to orbit targeting TADAR and a scattering of heavy missiles erupted from hidden launchers. At the behest of its pilot the dropship's unintelligent computer simultaneously broke into the datanet to deliver a warning, probably redundant, to the orbiting ships, and engaged in hard evasive maneuvers, straining its gravitic drives to shake off the Majellan weapons. Something antiflash white and dazzlingly fast zoomed by the cockpit windows. “Evil Eye, this is Phoenix One-Two-Tango,” flashed an unfamiliar but cocky voice across the datanet. “Vampires inbound from Bravo Charlie Five Zero heading into Kilo Mike Juliet. Moving to intercept.”
“Roger that Phoenix One-Two-Tango,” came the instantaneous reply from the Ops Center aboard the Antares. “Be advised Badger Flight, you have vampires incoming, identified as six Sierra Kilo Alfa Six-Sixxers. Friendlies are moving to intercept.”
The White Shark space superiority fighters hadn't stopped to wait for confirmation, instead zipping ahead to face the oncoming missiles, their plasma cannons tracking the projectiles. A hurricane of light lashed out at the missiles as the fighters engaged, vaporizing first one, then two of the incoming weapons. "Two down, four remaining...” the lead pilot reported calmly. “Two.... one.... last one's going wide."
The drop ship rocked as the last missile exploded 300 meters away. The pilot switched to the status display - no red lights, a couple of ambers on the primary APU. She was about to thank her guardian angels when a response to the attack arrived from the fleet in orbit. Thick fingers of fire lanced down from the sky, a mass missile strike courtesy of the Bunker Rock. Where the plasma-sheeted kinetic projectiles touched the hidden launchers massive fireballs ballooned out as the raw energy of their impact annihilated earth and steel and flesh in an orgy of destruction and overkill that set the surrounding forest ablaze.
The launchers fell silent, and the landers rocketed over the burning inferno at treetop height, slamming forward on their overpowered gravitic drives toward the drop point not far from the capital city. Within minutes they settled down onto the wet grass of what had once been a sports field on the outskirts of St. Gerard. No sooner had the dropship's ramp slammed down that the first combat vehicles roared out, Blackbird hovertanks and Ranger IFVs which zoomed off on their suspensor skirts to secure the surrounding terrain. Behind them followed the infantry in BS-300 variable threat response battlesuits. Leading one of several companies of hard-suited marines was Lieutenant John Baylor, who hollered commands across the tac-net as his troops jogged down the loading ramp of their Bullfly. He watched them disperse to their assigned positions, then walked over to the M6S2 Blackbird that served as his command vehicle, where he was joined by his NCO. Sergeant Rico Alders wore the same excited grin he always wore after a drop. “So. We're in for a proper fight this time, yeah?”
“I bloody hope not,” Baylor snorted. “Hopefully the brass are right for once and this'll be a walk in the park. I'd hate to have come all this way for a fair fight.”
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 07:53am
Pendleton, Lee, Astaria District
"We are sorry. Your brother's freighter was, apparently, hijacked and reprogrammed along the way. We have reasons to suspect he was already dead when his ships performed the suicide run."
Oliver Gill slumped heavily in the leather chair. When he at last returned from his voyage to Collector space, the last thing he'd expected was to hear about the death of his brother in some sort of suicidal attack. He buried his face in his hands, desperately trying to fight back the tears.
Jason Cuttberth let the diplomat grieve for a while. He understood the man very well: his family made great sacrifices during the last Anglian occupation of the planet. This is why he was so surprised when Gill straightened up after barely a minute, his face a stone-cold expression of anger.
"So it's begun, then? We can expect the Anglians and their lapdogs to be here any day now."
"Yes, we think so. We have not received the regular status updates from Lochley's Retreat, which means there probably was a system-wide communications blackout. They are on their way."
"Then give me a rifle and a serf unit to command", Gill spat out with anger.
Cuttberth sighed heavily, "No, sorry. We can't waste men like you on the front lines - we have slaves for that."
"Then give me a different assignment! I don't care which, as long as I get to kill Anglians!"
"The government wants you to act as a liaison officer with the Collectors.", Cuttberth retrieved the appropriate documents and displayed them on his monitor, "Coordinating both our fleets."
"What? Why? I'm not a naval officer!"
"You know best how these machines think, Oliver. And...", Cuttberth lowered his voice, as if there was an actual threat of their conversation being heard somehow, "Frankly, they don't trust them. You'll take a specially selected BOSS team aboard their flasgship with you as insurance. Should something go wrong, your orders are to seize the ship."
It was an admirable showing form Gill that he managed to keep from showing too much of how shocked he was, "You intend to betray them?"
"Only as a last resort.", Cuttberth tapped his desk in a nervous tic, "We must take all the necessary measures to ensure the survival of an independent Pendleton, and the damn robots don't have anything to lose if they leave us out to dry."
"I'm not sure why you need me on this operation...won't I be a liability?"
"On the contrary. You are a natural choice - you already showed up onboard a Collector trade station, they know you're a diplomat, they're used to you."
Oliver Gill leaned back in his chair again. He felt exhalted, and - though he tried to hide it - more than a little scared. His imagination, though, was already running wild, showing him as a hero of Pendleton, the man who ensured the survival of the Free Republic...and, he had to admit, he'd have a great view of the upcoming battle.
"Okay", he finally said, "I'll do it."
"Excellent! Time is short, though. Your team is already assembled, you should meet them as soon as possible."
"Thank you for this opportunity. I will not fail the Republic.", Gill said, standing up, and taking his coat from Cuttberth's house slave.
"Of that I have no doubt. You come from a very proud family, after all."
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 10:35am
by Force Lord
Abandoned space station, Deep space
Novadon Sector, The Centrality
A lone ship was speeding towards a dilapidated structure, a former research station that was the site of genetic experimentation, and an accident that led to its abandonment. The ship was passing around the station's walls before finding a suitable hangar to land on. A hammer and sickle could be seen mid-ship.
It's pilot was one of the last communists left in the entire Centrality, and it's most wanted: Derek Lidd, the Saboteur.
He had escaped from Foxa Sector, where he helped local rebels attempting to assasinate Admiral Groven. Unfortunately, the Admiral was elsewhere, and they only succeded in blowing up the bridge of his flagship. He fled the scene as soon the deed was done, and only learned about the Admiral's survival from the Central News Network. He knew that the CSB would be looking for him, and thus fled to his hideout, which happened to be the space station he was now on. He was not alone, however.
"Comrade Lidd! Still in one piece, I see.", shouted happily Sigmund Dosk, another communist and Lidd's right-hand man.
"Ah, it was not too difficult. The Cents are getting complacent," responded Lidd. "But they are easily frightened. I imagine Enduvos is having a fit."
"That is an understatement", said Dosk. "The entire regime is searching everywhere for you." He then added, somewhat reluctantly, "Are you still sure we have to leave? This place is remote, and we can-"
"No. We stick to the plan and stay mobile. Remember that the regime is very good in finding where we hide."
"But where? The Cents already have eyes in every nook and cranny we can find.", Dosk aid despondently.
Lidd thought about that for a moment. The station housed refugees and insurgents, mainly communist, that survived Centralist repression. They banded together and decided to fight back, but the Party was too strong to defeat, and they had to move place to place in order to stay alive. Right now, this space station housed about a 100 people, a number too small to affect the Centrality in any large way, but a bit too large for the bootstrapped communists to evacuate quickly. This, and the fact that now the CSB was hunting them, meant that there was no place in the Centrality to seek shelter anymore.
Maybe the time is not right. Maybe we can't overthrow the Centralists by ourselves. But we can still save ourselves!, Lidd thought. And then something ocurred to him. Of course! Why didn't I think of this before?
"It's different this time. For we are going to the Commune!", Lidd declared.
Dosk's eyes widened. "What? You're suggesting we leave the Centrality entirely?"
"Think about it Dosk. All we've done to the Cents is pinpricks, and we haven't made a damn difference here. If we go to the Commune, we can actually do something meaningful with our lives, and not just run forever."
"But Lidd, isn't that basically giving up?", Dosk said.
"Dosk, we've tried and tried and tried, but the Party isn't even dented! If we can't do a thing here, then it's time we cut our losses and go elsewhere.", Lidd explained. "And the best place for us communists is the Commune."
Dosk realized that Lidd had very good points, though it still pained him to realize that all they've done was for nothing.
"Should I tell the others about this?", asked Dosk.
"Yes, and tell them to start packing up. We're leaving in about a couple of weeks.", responded Dosk.
Result: An exodus of surviving communsits from the Centrality is about to begin.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 02:40pm
Janus Colony, Wild Space
The door slammed shut and with a hail of plasma bolts coming through just seconds before it was closed. The mercenaries had no choice but to retreat back into the bank directors office. More and more guards kept coming at them. They were trapped like mice in a box, and the exterminators were on their way to finish them off.
"Fuck!" One of the men shouted. "What the hell do we do now? There is too many of them, we'll never fight our way through them."
"I don't fucking understand." Azaan said. "Its like the whole city militia is after us. Bit of an overkill for bank robbers."
"I don't get it either, but I think they know we're not here to rob a bank. Whatever is going on, it has something to do with that." Najrds Cirak said and pointed at the remains of the bank director. "That thing wasn't human. Plug in the AI, it has a lot of explaining to do. I'll call Sarah, we'll flatten the planet if necessary, but we're getting out of here."
Mercenary Warship "Crna Ruka", in orbit over Janus Colony
Sarah was Cirak's right hand woman, the commander of his ship and one of the most skilled pilots in wild space, and right now she was real busy. For some strange reason the inhabitants of Janus Colony didn't want them near their planet anymore. Several corvettes and a large group of fighters were converging on their position, weapons hot and ready to stir up trouble.
"Weapons ready?" Sarah shouted at her subordinates on the bridge of the "Crna Ruka". She wasn't happy. They weren't expecting this and the colonists almost caught them with their pants down.
"We're ready. Although I don't understand..." The weapons officer said.
"Who cares?" Sarah shouted. "If they want a fight, we'll give them one."
Within moments gun ports opened up and a flurry of energy weapons fire and missiles streaked towards the colonial attackers. They returned in kind and space above Janus Colony was soon filled with energy bolts and small explosions. As fighters and others small ships assaulted the Behemoth that was the mercenary warship.
"Don't they know, we do this for a living!" Sarah said with a smile. "Damn fringe world yokels!"
"We're getting a transmission from the planet." One of the men said. "Its the boss."
"I bet he's responsible for this." Sarah frowned. "Patch him through."
A few moments later, the main display on the bridge shifted and Cirak's face appeared.
"Sarah we need immediate evac. Now!" He shouted and kept glancing to the side. Weapons fire and people shouting could be heard in the background.
"Why don't you explain why these fuckers are shooting at us first!" Sarah shouted.
"No time! Send our fucking evac now." Cirak shouted and ran off the screen. The transmission ended.
Sarah pushed a few buttons and soon a burly looking man appeared on the screen. "Sargent, ready your men for planetary incursion - the boss needs evac." She said. The man simply nodded and the image disappeared. They were professionals and he knew better than to ask questions at a time like this. "Lets do this." She said to herself and began maneuvering the ship closer to the planet.
Central Bank, Janus Colony
"You should have told us about this, you damned AI! I'll have a word about this with our employer!" Cirak shouted at the reactivated AI. "But there is no time for this now. Find us a way out or I'll fry you right now!"
"Working on it!" The AI answered.
"The door won't hold them forever boss." Azaan said with an irritated voice. "And my powers can't stop so many of them."
"Calm down. Evac will be here soon." Cirak said. "We just need to find a place they can pick us up."
"There is an elevator on the floor above us. It goes all the way to the top of the skyscraper. I can secure access." The AI interrupted their arguing. "I'm sure you can climb the roof from there."
"Efficient, isn't he?" Cirak said. "But how do we..."
"Let me take care of that boss." Azaan cut him off and pulled out a small black strangely shaped piece of metal - it resembled a sword hilt. He looked at it for a second and suddenly a dark purple energy beam extended from it. He then proceeded to climb the directors table and soon got to work on cutting a hole through the ceiling.
"I hope that works." Cirak commented. "We don't know how thick that is or what its made of." Dust and debris were falling of the ceiling so Najrds decided to turn his attention to the door. The newly arrived militia men were strangely quiet outside. He didn't like that. He knew they were getting ready to storm the room. With a loud crash of concrete a small part of the ceiling fell to the floor and revealed a hole to the floor above.
Najrds and his men didn't waste a second, they climbed through and were soon in the elevator and on their way to the top of the building. And just in time, an explosion rumbled and with a deafening noise the door on the directors office was blasted inwards and a dozen militia men stormed the room.
"What about Marek?" Azaan asked as the fast elevator went up. "We can't just leave him."
"There's no way to get to him. If he doesn't get out on his own, there is nothing we can do." Cirak sighed. A few seconds later they had reached the last floor of the skyscraper, luckily there were only apartments here and very few people at this time of the day. They rushed into one of the apartments and got working.
"We need to blow a big hole in the side of this building." Cirak said and helped on of his men prepare the explosives. A few seconds later his radio crackled with noise.
"This is Black 9, inbound on your position. Someone said you needed a ride boss." The shuttle pilot said.
"Track my signal and be ready, come down on the explosion and make it fast." Cirak said. "Ready?"
"Yes." Azaan answered. "Get to cover."
A few seconds later a massive explosion ripped out the side of the building. Making a convenient hole for the shuttle to approach. And it did, flying through the high buildings of the city, the black shuttle approached the skyscraper skillfully and maneuvered into position, opening its rear hatch. "All aboard." The pilot said over the radio. Within moments the small group of mercenaries jumped onto the small ship, that was now almost leaning against the building.
"Did you get Marek?" Cirak asked as he stormed the cockpit. "Black 7 has him and are already on their way back to the ship, as are we." The pilot answered and within seconds the shuttle was blasting its way out of the atmosphere and towards the big ship they called home in orbit. "She never looked so pretty." Cirak commented with a smile. "Tell Sarah to ready the hyper drive, we need to get the fuck out of here, and fast."
Mercenary Warship "Crna Ruka", in orbit over Janus Colony
The Mercenary Warship made a graceful turn and accelerated out of the system, towards the hyper limit. A flurry of corvettes, fighters and other small ships followed her like a swarm of flies would follow a bull. The bull however was retreating but had no problem with returning fire. Space was filled with weapons fire and small explosions as unfortunate colonial fighters got to close to the ships point defense system.
"These poor bastards are no match for us." Sarah didn't like retreating from a weaker enemy. "Why does Najrds insist we leave?"
Silence was her only answer, as the bridge crew were busy doing their jobs, this wasn't over yet. They had to get to the hyper limit. A couple of minutes later, Najrds entered the bridge, he didn't look happy. He was clearly exhausted, small drops of sweat were running down his cheeks. "Get us out of here. Now!" He shouted as he approached Sarah.
"We're not at the limit yet." Sarah answered calmly. "What the hell happened on that planet?"
"The whole fucking place is infested. That fucking asshole withheld information from us." Najrds was clearly not happy. "That AI accessed the planets data network through the banks systems. There is some kind of Karlack experiment taking place here. That...was what our employer wanted to confirm. The fucker didn't care if we get eaten in the process."
"Shit..." Was the only answer Sarah could manage before she was interrupted by one of the crewmen.
"Contact! Lots of Contact!" The man was almost shouting. "They're exiting hyperspace at the limit. They're cutting us off."
"Identification!" Cirak ordered, but he had a growing suspicion he wouldn't like the answer.
"They're...oh fuck me." The crewmen was now clearly panicked. "Karlack Reapers, at least thirty and..."
"Show me." Sarah shouted and began furiously punching commands into her console. "Shit thirty seconds to the limit. And they are waiting for us."
"That just means we will be leaving under fire. Just like the last job." Cirak said as the central display flickered. "Last time we weren't dealing with the fucking swarm." Sarah added as the display came to life and showed them what nobody ever wanted to see.
"Punch it!" Cirak shouted and a second later the mercenary ship disappeared into hyperspace. Several Reapers followed. "There are days when I absolutely fucking hate this job..." Najrds said with a heavy sigh.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 04:11pm
by Shroom Man 777
VANAGRADHEIM, Kirensk Mid-Sector, Bragulan Star Empire
MEGALITH 04 - Imperial People's Military Maritime Space Fleet Regional Command Center
The planet Vanagradheim was located within an outlying system of the Kirensk sector. Unlike great and mighty Bragule, the world had not yet been Bragulanized to such an extent that its oceans were filled with acid waste, nor was its surface an urbanized wasteland filled with sprawling block buildings and communal shanty-houses, and only a mere half of the planet's forests had been chopped down to supply paper to the bureaucratic bureaus of the Empire. But the planet Vanagradheim was more than just a world for the Empire to fill with its ever-growing population or some rock with resources to extract, for it served as the Imperial Bragulan Navy's command center for the Kirensk sector, and thus a vital strategic link between mighty Bragule and the fringe worlds. News from the Imperial periphery and beyond tricked down through Vanagradheim, filtered and sifted before being forwarded to Bragule. Then, on the Imperial capital, the Imperator's world throne, decisions would be made and commands issued, transmitted from the core outwards to the mid-sectors, and from Vanagradheim sent outwards to the faraway fringe fleets.
MEGALITH 04 was the Imperial Bragulan Navy's primary headquarters on Vanagradheim. It was a grand bunker that was, in truth, really a hollowed out mountain range, for the ever-practical Bragulan defense planners had calculated that one mere mountain was not enough protection. On top of that, and on top of the range itself, the mountains were armored in Bragulan Steel, and fortified and festooned with defenses - such as great nuclear missiles the size of skyscrapers, disguised to look like statues of the Imperator himself.
On Old Earth, the Megalith would have stretched from Dublin to Reykyavik!
Deep in the Megalith, the Space Marshals of the swift Imperial Navy's home gathered. Arriving by turboliftalators that brought them from the surface and delivered them deep down into the hardened reinforced brag-crete bowels of the bunker, passing by hallways with corners marked by meters-thick blast doors, and finally disrobing their freonic overcoats and settling down into an oval meeting room where the frigid air conditioning allowed the gathered Bragulan officers to shed their chlorofluorocarbon-cooled coats and sit down in relative comfort. Frost began accumulating on the great mustaches of some of the Bragulans assembled, while mist came forth from their nostrils with each exhalation as they greeted each other, some exchanging handshakes while the more familiar commanders gave each other bearhugs.
Drinks were poured, and under the everpresent telescreens and the great portraits depicting the visage of Imperator Darvyl S. Byzon and other pictographs of great scenes from great wars (such as a celebrated scene with Bragulan warships dropping a moon on the Apexai homeworld, a picture one can find everywhere from the classrooms of small schools to the chambers of the secret police), the Space Marshals of the Imperial Navy began their discussion.
"The Space Marshals of the Imperial Navy begins their discussion," declared the most senior of the Space Marshals, Great Admiral Brznvnye Lyeonyd, whose mustache was greatest of the assembled Bragulans. "Space Marshal Krpchnkvy, what news do you bring us from the nine vectors of the known and unknown universe?"
"Most disturbing news, Great Admiral," the youngest of the Space Marshals, and most clean-shaven of the assembled officers, Vigos Krpchnkyv replied. "The humans are on the warpath."
"Which humans?" the Great Admiral raised a great furry eyebrow.
"Many humans!" Krpchnkyv exclaimed. "To the northern vectors, the ones called Anglians begin preparations to invade the slaver Pendletonians."
"Pooh-bah!" the Great Admiral scoffed. "We care not for those far-flung fiends. What of our greatest enemy, the Sovereignty?"
"They too have begun offensive actions in the Wild Space world of Majella," the young officer replied. In response, many of the Space Marshals began harrumphing in disapproval at the Sovereignty. "Under the undoubtedly false pretense of pacifying some disturbance or another."
"Obviously this is a sign of Sovereignty expansion into Wilder Space, unacceptable!" said another mustached Bragulan, a bellicose one with an enormous belly. "They mean to extend their sphere of influence deeper into the neutral zone, to gain an advantage over us! As a means to more rapidly strike into the heart of sacred Bragulan territory and decimate our patriotic brethren, no doubt!"
"Yes, Space Marshal Gralkynvch is most reasonable in his astute observations," Great Admiral Brznvnye Lyeonyd nodded sagely and stroked his mighty mustache. "Marshal Krpchnkyv, please elaborate further on the happenings in Majella."
Marshal Krpchnkyv pressed a button on the wooden table and a great telescreen lowered itself from the ceiling for all of them to see. The cathode ray tube screen began displaying the world Majella in glourious technicolor, and along with it were graphs and charts and diagrams depicting the forces of the Majellan defenders and the Sovereignty invaders arrayed against them.
"The Sovereignty's Star Force has deployed one of their Atrocity-class ships to lead the attack on Majella. Along with it are several of their robotic Gangster cruisers and assault-transportation ships for their ground forces," Krpchnkyv elaborated. "The brave Majellan defenders are outmached, though they are superior in the numerical disposition of their ground forces, they have no space assets to speak of and their defensive and offensive planetary weaponries cannot hope to match the Sovereignty's. Thus, the conventional aspect of combat is already a foregone conclusion. The unconventional aspect, however..."
"Hrm, the Sovereignty's own force disposition is not suggestive of some massive penetrating force to expand into Wild Space, and seems more in keeping with their traditional police actions," another Space Marshal, who only had a trace of stubble on his chin, commented as he examined the gigantic cathode screen hanging from the ceiling.
"But comrade Brachtsknv, that's obviously what those humans want you to think!" guffawed Space Marshal Gralkynvch with his four chins. "Is that not right, Admiral Krznytskhtv?"
"Indeed," the aforementioned admiral agreed. "At first they will start small with this police action to deceive us. Then over time they will increase the forces they send to that world, under guise of counter-insurgency, and eventually they will turn that planet Majella into a forward staging point against our glourious Bragulan worlds, with their ships with names such as Atrocity and Genocide - atrocities and genocides directed against our patriotic Bragulan peoples, our brethrens! We cannot let this stand, the balance of power must not tip against our favor. Bragulanity must prevail!"
"DA!" came the chorus of the other Space Marshals who until then had merely listened. They were roused by Comrade Krznytskhtv's screed.
Finally, Great Admiral Brznvnye Lyeonyd spoke: "It seems obvious that this antagonistic act of attack by the Sovereignty, as Marshals Brachtsknv and Gralynvch have so correctly surmised, goes beyond the humans' usual pathetic police patrols. With the information the Imperial Bureau of Galactic Vigilence (IBGV) has provided us, regarding the Sovereignty's covert smuggling of those dreaded donuts to poison our citizenry, and the alarming military postures of many of the human nations and the offensives they are undertaking, the Space Fleet must act decisively to safeguard the safety and security of the Bragulan peoples from further human deprivations."
Then, with a slightly hushed voice: "The Imperator is most displeased by the Sovereignty's latest transgression... how the humans have impurificated the precious bodily fluids of our comrades with those poisons they smuggle, and now this latest affront. Thus, the Imperator has decided that the humans be rebuked and shown the error of their ways."
With that conclusion, the meeting of the Space Marshals went into recess. The midday meal was served, great sausages which the Bragulan officers began to nibble at, and a side-dish of caviar made from Karlack eggs cleansed through nuclear pasteurization - a delicacy, for the atomic sterilization process made the Karlack eggs glow in the dark. As the Space Marshals smeared the Karlack eggs onto the sausages that they ate, they likewise discussed the war plans to be used against the Sovereignty. They talked with their mouths full.
After the recess, the Space Marshals finished their meeting and made their decision.
They would unleash the Bragulan fleet.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 07:25pm
Sovereignty Consulate #701 had been built rather hastily. It was little more then a collection of prefabricated modules quickly lashed together. At least the meeting room was up to standards. There was a set of twelve Veriform suspensor chairs around a rosewood table. And of course, a thorough installation of various bugging devices in all of the guest quarters. Lady Anethga had given everything a thorough inspection. Even though the Chamarrans had given no cause to be suspicious, there was a difference between being friendly and being stupid. She was waiting in her stateroom onboard the Frigate Antioch. She'd been told the Chamarrans would be arriving soon, and she intended to be ready.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-14 11:41pm
The Sabre-class heavy cruiser ANS Droits de l'Homme, under the command of Senior Captain Joseph Murat, was running stealthed at half-power, cruising through the starry black in search of something to do. Nothing unusual for an Ascendant cruiser, especially out in the colonies, where piracy was rampant and would be until the area became prosperous enough to warrant a heavier commitment from the Admiralty. What was unusual about the ship named for the document that started the French Revolution was its background noise - a constant, low murmur of depressing poetry coming from the exec. Until, with depressing regularity, Captain Murat would say -
"For the love of God, man, just shut up. We're all well aware of what the God-damned raven had to say, God-dammit." And there would be quiet on the bridge for a few minutes. This constantly unfolding drama, which the ship's bookies were predicting would end with the exec being 'accidentally spaced due to an airlock malfunction' made Lieutenant Gabrielle Simpson, CO of one of the ship's five reconnaissance gunboats, extremely happy that she was a Starfighter Corps officer, and not on the bridge often. Rather, she was on a bridge, but a small one with only two other people on it - her sensor and weapons officers, respectively. Shutting off her comlink as the Captain really got into swing, she swiveled her command chair around to speak with her crew, such as it was.
"Right, then. Commander Leboeuf" - the ship's EWAR chief - "thinks he's spotted something over thataway, by the asteroid. Naturally, being expendable, we're going to check it out, and hopefully not die in the attempt. Though if we do, I will expect you gentlemen to comport yourselves with the decorum required of any of Her Ascendant Ladyship's officers." This last was straight from the manual, and everyone chuckled slightly at the sheer bombastic pomposity of it. "Now, that said, we'll have the fighters in the tubes for a rapid reaction force, and Gunnery promises they'll keep the missiles hot. Let's get this over with." Turning around, Gabrielle ignited the ship's drive system and flew slowly out of Droits de l'Homme's number three launch tube, another gunboat slotting into the place she'd just left. Fifteen minutes at maximum stealthy speed, and they were within range of what the bespectacled, energetic EWAR officer had termed 'something that's either interesting, or in my head.'
"Jacques?" Gabrielle addressed her sensor officer as she switched off the gunboat's engines, reduced emissions to a bare minimum, and settled in to wait as the small ship drifted past its target.
"There's something there, Madame. Couldn't say what, but its radiating a lot of stuff."
"Right. Active sensors on my mark... mark."
"Ah, got it. Not a ship... more like half of one. Looks like one of the old Stilletto light cruisers, or the bow of one. Want me to tell the ship?"
"Please. Looks like our dear Commander Leboeuf found yet another remnant of an old war."
"Indeed, Madame... but a targeting pulse just missed us." This was the weapons officer, a petty officer by the name of Ernest Blaquart. "Looks automated, but still."
"So noted. Jacques, inform the Captain; Ernest, keep us in one piece. I'm going to get us a bit closer." And closer they did get, dodging depressingly predictable automated targeting lasers designed for use on unstealthed warships, not for an almost-invisible speck like Gabrielle's Marie Sanglant. Coming to a stop a bare fifty kilometers from the wrecked warship, Jacques shot upright, a look of alarm on his face.
"Madame, this is... apparently, if I'm reading this code right, this has been here for a century. It was carrying... something something something, I can't make it out, maybe Commander Leboeuf will have more luck, but we're picking up a request from the ship's captain to destroy every piece of the ship immediately. Something about failing Her Ascendant Ladyship - that'd be Sikala I, not the current Lady Ascendant - and it being essential that no one repeat the experiments."
"This is ridiculous, and also above my pay grade. Pass all that along to the Captain, mention the automated weapons, and tell him we're staying on station. This ship was one of ours, and we owe it to whoever was aboard to see that they at least get a proper funeral."
OOC: Ooh, something creepy floating around in space! Huzzah!
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-15 10:37am
Pendleton, Lee, Astaria District Bleak Castle
The massive structure towered over the city of Lee, a reminder of the everpresent eyes of Pendleton's state security apparatus. An ancient organization stretching back through at least a millenium, the BOSS was an epitome of what the Free Republic was. Its agents fought the occupying Anglian forces in a massive insurgent campaign ; They organized the post-occupation cleansing of traitors and collaborators ; They watched the nine vectors of the galaxy for threats against the freedom of the Republic and her people, and ensured the vast legions of serfs remained docile and loyal.
In essence, the Free Republic was ruled as much from Bleak Castle as from the House Of Peers: for those who understood how to fight against those more numerous and better armed than yourself were an irrepleceable, priceless resource for the small star nation too obtuse not to become a thorn in the side of more powerful star-nations. And now, they would write a new chapter in this distinguished and glorious history.
Oliver Gill was led inside the towering structure only under heavy guard of humorless and faceless agents. He was spirited deep into the bowels of the castle, which was actually a mostly decorative building topping a vast complex of underground bunkers.
"Here we are.", one of the faceless troops said finally, after a hundreth turn into a corridor much like all the others. Gill realized that even if he wanted to, he had no way of reaching the exit from this point, "You can plan the operation from here. You will be provided with everything you need, just signal us through the internal network."
The troops left, and Gill steeled himself. He was supposed to lead these people...a group that was, without a doubt, far more experienced at this sort of thing than he could ever dream to be.
For this reason, he felt relief upon seeing a familiar face inside the room. Eli Rothco, the man who assisted him during the mission to Collector space, looked at him and smiled.
"Welcome to the lion's den, sir", the huge man seemed amused with Gill's obvious nervousness, "I'm here to make this easie on you. And provide the muscle if the mission requires it, of course."
Gill smiled as well, "Damn, I'm glad to see you.", he said - quite sincerely. The huge man was a cybernetic masterpiece, loaded with implants that made him almost an unstoppable juggernaut. His presence made Gill feel instantly at ease.
"Let's get to work. I'll introduce you to the rest of the team that will be going with you."
Both men moved from the spartan antechamber to a larger - though still bare - room. There, Gill met a carefully selected group of BOSS operatives - best of the best, and each one an expert in his or her field.
"Gentlemen, lady", Eli began, a bit theatrically, "Meet our commander for this suicide mission."
Gill smiled awkwardly and shook the hands of everyone gathered. He felt insignificant under the gaze of those seasoned operators: from the files he'd read he recognized - amongst others - Amanda Hutchkinson de la Sorbonne, the best electronic warfare specialist on Pendleton, Colonel Joseph Heart, a fighter ace and hero of the Uprisings against Anglian occupiers, as well as a real treat - Catherine Parkhurst, BOSS second in command Pendleton's wordlwide marksmanship champion.
An awkward silence fell inside the room, as Gill's team stared at their new commander, and Gill himself was awestruck at the resources he was granted. For a miniute, the trust conveyed in him by the government of Pendleton seemed overwhelming...and then, seemingly, Eli's words managed to reach his brain.
"Suicide mission?", he asked cautiously, making a less than stellar first impression on the team.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-15 03:51pm
Argenti Parliamentary Complex, Argent 14th January 3400
“The Chamarrans haven’t done anything overtly hostile thus far. Indeed, they haven’t done so in the past THREE centuries. Why do we feel the need to antagonise our neighbours at every turn?” protested Cornwell.
“Nevertheless, this is an important development. We have also received intel that Chamarrans have begun construction on several ships. Possibly for a new battlegroup. Now why would they need a new battlegroup?” countered Wards.
“Enough.” Jonah’s icy voice cut through the turmoil.
“Here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to assume that the Chamarrans are not hostile. No one here is to antagonise our Chamarran friends. That means no slandering them in public or sending death threats to the ambassador.” Jonah held up one hand to forestall the inevitable protests of the more xenophobic members of his Cabinet. “However, we are going to keep a very close eye on their navy’s movement from this point onwards. I believe our intelligence networks are up to the task?” said Jonah as glanced at Dulec and Wards. Both nodded in response.
“Now then, to our next item in this meeting: the proposed additions to our fleet in the budget.”
“The navy will be very grateful for this, Jonah.” said Wards.
“I imagine Admiral Stukov is already rubbing his hands with glee at the prospects of ten more new battleships for his line of battle.” replied Jonah.
“Indeed. He conveys his sincere appreciation for funding the construction of these ships so generously,” Wards chuckled.
“Pah, you do know this is going set back some of our more ambitious terraforming projects in the Hawkins sector?” said Jim Novaksi, Finance Minister, darkly. “And the pricetag for the New Kuching incident have not been fully quantified.”
“Not to mention the Libbys are already raising a stink about the way you rammed those appropriations into the budget at the last minute.” added Cornwell.
“Nothing they can do about it. We still have the majority in the Assembly. Besides, the Socialists can be counted on to support us.” said Jonah. “Still, the Chamarrans build-up is a timely reminder that the galaxy is still a dangerous place.”
= = = = =
Jonah settled on his comfy chair in his personal office as he rubbed his head to relieve the tension that was building all day. One of these days, I'm going to need to take a break...
His desk comlink interrupted his moment of peace.
“Sir, the President is on line one.”
“Put him through.”
The hereditary president face appeared on holo-vid. “Jonah, what’s this I hear about our neutrality in the Anglian-Pendleton conflict?” Hereditary President Davis Harold cut straight to the point.
“Mr President, I believe the Anglians have the situation well in hand. Besides there are already-”
“Jonah, you know as well as I do how those bastards preach about the virtues of slavery day in and day out. I demand that we at least do something to help eliminate this stain on the galaxy.”
“Mr President... Davis, with all due respect, any help that we send will most likely be too late to be of any use to the Anglians. This is one conflict we could do without. Not with New Malaysia being as restive as it is. Furthermore, the Anglians already have plenty of help.”
The president sighed at his words, seeing that the PM has no intention of changing his mind. “Jonah, I respect your decision in this matter. But for the record, I formally protest our neutrality in this matter.”
“Your objection is noted, Davis.” said Jonah, and gave the president an innocent smile.
The president scowled at his remarks, and cut the connection.
Unknown location, New KL
“Your latest plan to stir up New Malaysia has failed,” the dark figure on the holovid remarked.
“My lord, the plan was but one step towards our glorious independence. We have shown that the Argenti imperialists are not infallible. Already our ranks swell with eager recruits willing to die for the cause,” the tattooed man prostrated himself in front of the screen.
“See to it. I hope to hear news of your success soon.”
AFN Nighthawk, Sector D24
Captain Benson sighed as he sat in chair, cursing his luck for the 99th time that he was assigned to this mundane job of monitoring this middle of nowhere Ork space station.
“Wishing that you were back on Kerwan, captain?” said the youthful voice of Zayate Jirah, his co-pilot for the past four years.
“You wish. Right now I just want a decent meal. This ship nutri-pack gets less appetising by the day. What would I give for a steak...?”
“It isn’t so bad Captain. You just need to-“
Alarms sounded throughout the cockpit. A pleasant AI voice announced, “Multiple hyperspace translation detected. Ships signature matches known Chamarran ship designs.”
“What the fuck are those catgirls doing out here?” exclaimed Benson, as he watched an entire Chamarran fleet wink into the system.
“Hell I know skipper. Oh look, here’s Chong.”
The sleepy face of the intel officer poked into the command room. “Captain, I hope there’s a good reason for this.”
“There’s an entire goddamn Chamarran battlegroup out there. That reason enough for you?”
“What the- Let me see that.” Lieutenant Chong strode to his terminal to confirm the discovery.
“Zayate, you better be recording every single thing there is to record. FleetInt is going to want to know about this.” Chong said as he scanned through the readings.
“Look, they are opening fire.”
They watched in awe as the first ork ships was split open by nuclear fire from the Chamarran ships, with Ork ships trying to return fire. Zayate glanced at her console and waved the two over.
“Sir, it looks like one of the ships is building up an extremely high energy reading.”
“That’ll be their beam cannons. Nasty stuff that one.”
Their listening equipment then picked up radio traffic between the station and the lead ship. The trio listened with interest at the exchange between the Ork leader and the Chamarran captain.
“Heh, looks like the Orks are threatening to kill hostages.”
“He has no bloody idea what that thing can do, does he?” asks Chong.
Their conversation was again cut short when the lead ship opened fire with the beam cannon, splitting the station in half.
“Nope, and I don’t think he will ever find out.” Zayate replied as she watched the station remnants start to drift apart.
“I think we seen enough. Let’s get out of here before the Chamarrans discover us and use that thing for target practice.” said Chong.
“Couldn’t agree more.”
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-15 05:12pm
Bannerman System, The Outback
21 January 3400
They were a day out from Lochley's Retreat and, as far as Sara knew, were soon to cross the Gap. Balthier said they would be at Pendleton within thirty-six hours but this still did not make sense to her. For now the Strahl was currently above the zenith point of the Bannerman System doing drive checks, as was common for pre-Gap transits. Despite the ship's fair size, at least to Sara, they seemed to have gone unnoticed by the small blockade force already at Bannerman, looking for ships leaving Pendleton.
For the moment Sara was alone. Rana had joined her two Sisters in using the cargo bay for training and the rest of the crew were busy with their own things. After spending some time getting washed in the ship's shower area and dressed she headed to where the kitchen was, considering getting a bite to eat.
She found the kitchen already occupied. Balthier was leaning back in one of the chairs, feet up on tha table, and a half-finished sandwich on a paper plate in his lap. He was in his customary trousers and a high-collared shirt, white as usual but of a cheaper material and with straight cuffs. Sara sensed nothing from him, though she had no reason to expect to due to the under-development of her abilities. Nevertheless, it did surprise her, perhaps because around the Sisters she had gotten used to using her power more often.
She made little noise as she stepped up to the ship's food stores, though it did not prevent her from being detected. "Ah, Sara, come for a snack have you? Please, feel free. I put some of your fee to good use before we left and had the pantry stocked."
Sara replied with a nod and began looking through what looked to be the refridgerator, though the layout of the ship's kitchen had it built in with non-perishable storage spaces. A wrapped object caught her eye, a large fleshy-like thing of brown texturing. She took it out and asked, "What is this? Is it your Bragulan's food?"
That prompted a wry chuckle. "Oh, heavens no, even Umarbacca wouldn't touch haggis. No, I am afraid that is the last of the holiday haggis that dear Miranda's parents sent her as a gift. It is something of a family favorite, I've been told."
"Oh." She returned it gently. She found something that seemed appetizing, a fresh meat and vegetable soup in cook-capable storage container, or so it said. "How do you make this?", she asked, holding it up.
"Put it upon the table and pull out the string on the bottom. Give it about five minutes to cool afterward."
Sara placed it down and pulled the string. The bottom suddenly began to glow. Within seconds the soup inside was boiling. "Amazing, how does this work?"
"I haven't a clue, but it is a rather handy piece of technology. The inventor certainly deserved the millions he undoubtedly made."
With her food cooling Sara went through the labeled drink cabinet. She found a fruit-flavored drink that looked appetizing and took it out. "Mind finding an extra?", Balthier asked politely. She did so and, sensing his intent, lobbed it toward him. He caught it effortlessly. "Very good throw," he remarked while twisting it open. He took a drink and seemed to consider the flavor. "Not wine or brandy, but I try not to drink while we're in space and so this will do."
"If I may, sir, what precisely was the purpose for your temperment toward Lord Fisher?"
She was answered with a diplomatic smile. She could feel that he was looking for the best way to express himself. "All things considered, Sara, I suppose he is a decent fellow, certainly a fine officer. But he is an agent of the law and, by most respects, I am most certainly on the side of the outlaws. Not that I am the usual kind, as the late Mr. Springer pointed out once."
"So I see. Honestly, you do not strike me as a criminal."
Balthier shook his head. "Ah, there is that word. Pardon me if I do not see myself as a criminal but merely an outlaw. I find most 'criminals' to be little more than savage brutes who live entirely by their skill with a favored gun or knife, with the most capable having a cunning that permits them to suppress their sociopathic tendencies sufficiently to enact longer-term plans. So you'll find I dislike being compared to them."
"I see. Well... you are certainly the nicest and most well-mannered outlaw I have ever known, though I didn't know many. Just a few who had business dealings with Katherine."
"Yes, I can imagine."
"Why are you an outlaw then?"
"Because I dislike the kinds of petty rules that the Civil Services of various nations like to foist upon their helpless populaces," Balthier answered succinctly. "So if a group of people order a fine incense or perhaps educational or entertainment material the local government has rendered illegal, I have no compunctions about bringing it to them anyway." He almost added the issue of dealing with pirates who became too violent, but opted not to go that far. "Anyway, it is fairly dangerous, and I sometimes suspect I could end up in a dungeon of some sorts for it, but I don't see the point in dwelling upon it. Honestly, so long as I have the Strahl and a good crew for her - and I do have one, warts and all - I am content with my station in life."
"Truly? You do sound like someone from a fairly high class background."
"Ah, yes, the bloodlines." A smirk crossed his face. "My father is an Anglian, my mother Archadian, both fairly well to do, though she more than he... at least at the time, anyway." He sipped at his drink. "The Baroness Meidan. And I was her bastard son by an Anglian spy, or so they claimed. Despite the similarities of language and culture, my mother's society is not entirely friendly toward Anglia, for much the same reason a mouse fears the cat."
"I have never heard of Archadians, honestly. Which planet is that?"
"Not a planet, but rather a continent, charitably, on a planet that had the misfortune to get the odd name 'Ivalice'.," he explained. "The Principality of Archades is the dominant state on Ivalice and so gets the distinction of its Princes constantly being elected as Kings of the 'Noble' Republic." He let out another of his wry chuckles. "I suppose part of Archades' dislike of New Anglia is they see so much of themselves in the Anglians, but magnified and, arguably, better-mannered. It would explain my mother's dalliances with Anglian men - even after she married a good lad of the up and coming Archadian gentry, of course - and the fact that no matter how much they express fear and contempt for New Anglia, the upper class of Archades always remains completely up-to-date on the latest fashions from New Chatham."
Sara suspected she had hit something of a nerve in her host. "I'm sorry if I brought up any bad memories, Captain."
"Please, it's Balthier. I had enough of ranks when I was in the Royal Navy."
"Ivalice has a Navy?"
"A poor excuse for one," he jibed, "but that is not the Navy I speak of. I was, you see, once a fully commissioned officer of His Majesty's Navy. His Majesty being the late, lamented King Edward XV, may God rest his soul. Of course, now that I say that, I ponder if that is why Lord Fisher and I are at such odds. He is, after all, a fully successful and respected officer of the Service, while I was the illegitimate son of some Anglian civil servant who got shunted off to the navy boarding schools and showed it quite openly." A distant look came to his eyes. "I'm sure Friar Quinn would have all sorts of interesting insights to share with me on the results of parental abandonment upon my spirit, but I prefer not to dwell."
Sara decided to remain quiet for the rest of the meal, allowing Balthier to ruminate quietly on the thoughts and memories she'd brought up. She was done with the soup when Vanrya stepped in. "The drive is ready," she announced plainly.
"Ah, good. You will have to excuse me, dear Sara, we shall be resuming hyper shortly."
"Oh, fine. Though... how do you intend to cross the Gap in a day?"
"Trade secret, my dear," Balthier said as he stepped away to follow Vanrya.
As they made their way forward and up to the cockpit, Vanrya stated, "It was wise not to tell her, you know."
"I know," he answered. Advertising that their ship utilized recovered Collector hyperdrive technology was not in their best interests. "Though they will know something is up."
"You should have just gone through on normal drives," Vanrya complained, following him up into the cockpit. "Then you wouldn't have to explain anything."
"Ah, but with Lord Fisher's fleet within a few days of departure, I wanted to make sure we got as much a head start as possible. Wouldn't want to let secrets impede our client's mission, would we?"
Vanrya didn't give an answer.
Montalban Port Facilities
Pendleton, The Outback
With her personal cruiser located in a different starport an hour's drive away, Kara was ready to begin the exchange. Using her ESPer abilities as needed and hiding a trussed up and re-clothed Katherine in her rear trunk, Kara spent several hours monitoring the area with Nikki's help. De la Poer had not called in the local police or any other authorities and the hanger they were to meet at was clear. "Wish me luck, Nik," she said into the burst-transmission comm line before turning it off and pulling up to the structure. There were no vehicles around it, not that such mattered as de la Poer was quite capable of walking.
Katherine was mumbling bitterly against her gag as Kara fished her out of the trunk. "Oh, pipe down. It's not like I did anything really bad to you," she grumbled toward her captive. She reached into Katherine's mind and showed her a few of the things she'd prefer to have done, using herself as an example - this sufficed to shut Katherine up from revulsion. "Like I said, it is your father's fault," she said to Katherine as they entered the hanger.
A sense in Kara's mind became alert to potential danger. Her ESPer abilities reached out but sensed only one mind, that of Walter de la Poer. He stood in the center of the hanger, in the brightest lights present, wearing a fine suit. He showed a sense of relief at seeing Katherine. Aloud he stated, "Very well, I am here, woman. Release my daughter and my life is your's."
"Do you remember me now, de la Poer?," Kara asked pointedly.
"Honestly, young woman, in the time since the Anglians last left Pendleton, I have killed quite a few disobedient slaves, so I'm still not familiar with your face," he answered.
"Oh, please, like you could forget the one specific case where you worked with the Order," Kara spat in disgust... before she put two and two together.
With a sly smile, he confirmed her suspicion. "What makes you think you are the only one I gave to them," he said coyly. "Now that I think about it, you might have been the fourth... or fifth? I seem to recall the fourth being a brunette... Either way, my dealings with the Blade go back to before the last Anglian invasion. How else do you think we de la Poers survived the Abolitionists during the last occupation?"
A presence suddenly flashed into her mind. It hadn't been there a moment ago... or had it? Cursing to herself, Kara realized how she'd been duped. Her beamsaber flashed to life and she pressed it to Katherine's neck. "One word from you, one movement from whomever it is out there, and she dies."
"Ah, Kara... if only you'd kept that edge...."
The sultry soprano came from behind her. Kara turned and saw another woman, in a leather body suit like her's, with a complexion that was slightly tanned - if still identifiably Caucasian - and dark brown hair kept in a pony tail. "Lady Delilah," Kara said, with some genuine shock.
"You really should have looked closer at our records before you fled the Tower, Kara," Delilah cooed. "You would have known how important Lord de la Poer is to the Order. After all, thanks to him we were given quite a number of successful candidates, even before the bargain with his daughter as the collateral that inevitably led to your induction. Now, before anyone gets hurt..." Her left thumb curved inward.
Energy surged from the ground beneath Kara and her hostage. Hidden carefully beneath the restored floor of the hanger was a stimulator field generator, as it was called, a direct result of the same technology used in the Ebon Blade's favored agiels. At the press of the button in Delilah's hand, the field activated. A wave of powerful agony surged through both Kara and Katherine. Delilah reached out and yanked the beamsaber out of Kara's hand before she could kill Katherine; it clattered to the floor with its black blade still humming with energy. Kara gave her a long, angry look through the pain before she succumbed and collapsed, unconscious, to the floor.
Delilah walked up slowly, unlike Walter de la Poer who ran to his daughter's side. He stroked her face with tears in his eyes before lifting her up, a strain on his older form.
For her part, Delilah looked down at Kara's body. From her belt she brought out tie-straps which she used to bind Kara's wrists behind her back and her ankles afterward. She found and removed Kara's agiel next, throwing it to lie beside her inactive beamsaber. "Tell me, Lord de la Poer... do you have an available utility shed or small home on your estate? Something I could use?"
A look of discomfort came over his face. "You can't be thinking..."
"Oh, but I am. I need a place to deal with Kara and your home is the easiest place to do it. With appropriate soundproofing, of course." Showing no strain, she hefted Kara's unconscious body onto her shoulders. "After all, I wouldn't want to wake you or the neighbors."
De la Poer let out a sigh of assent. They departed, heading for their own transportation to return to the de la Poer estate.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-15 05:12pm
Independent Mining Colony Icarus, Sector N-26
"...which is one of the many reasons we believe what we are doing here is for the benefit of the galactic community at large."
"One of many, Mr. Underbridge?"
"Yes, Mr. Sugimoto, many. And please, call me Mitchell."
"What are some of these other reasons you believe that shoal settlements are a vital part of the galactic community?"
"Well, besides the obvious economic benefits I've already touched upon, there's also the important social aspect of these communities. The shoals are hard, but they're fair, and anyone can come and make an honest living for himself out here if he sets himself to it. The shoals are the last place "true capitalism" flourishes, where everyone is entitled to the fruits of their labors. We get a lot of burnouts from the Core worlds and even your very own Holy Empire out here, and I have contacts in other shoals that tell me that they're always seeing an influx of immigrants."
"What about the pirates, don't they worry you at all?"
"Yes, the pirates are a genuine threat: life's not easy anywhere, after all. However, I have taken measures to ensure that Icarus will remain safe for many generations to come, as does any responsible station owner."
"What about the Pfhor? You are awfully close to their space, after all, and we all know how they are..."
"Heh. Well, as of the Ministry of the Spade's latest proclamations on the matter, we are "officially" in Pfhor territorial space. Still, I'm not too worried about them - the Pfhor haven't the time to locate the safe routes through this sector, and most of their ships are too big to safely navigate them anyway."
"Well, thank you for your time, Mr. Underbridge."
"Mr. Underbridge is the Overseer of the Icarus Independent Mining Station, in the Veil. This is Sugimoto Tsutomo, Central Imperial News Bureau."
"...and, we're off!" said the cameraman exuberantly.
Sugimoto exhaled heavily, and shook Underbridge's hand.
"Thanks again, Mitchell, for the interview, but I have other things to attend to right now."
"Not a problem. If you need anything more - guided tours of the station, anything at all, you know where to find me."\
Sugimoto clapped Underbridge on the back, and then strode over to where his cameraman was busy reviewing the footage.
"How is it, Chieko?"
"Not bad, boss, not bad at all. Drone 2 got an especially good angle, I think. We'll barely need any post production at all."
"So, we've got the exterior shots, and the interview, what else do we need?"
"Uh, the shots of little kids running around, a few soundbites from the civs, and that should be about it."
"Good. Is Kaijun on that already?"
"Yeah, she's scouted out some people for you and Art to talk to as well."
"Alright then. Sooner we get that, the sooner we can leave," Sugimoto said ruefully.
"Hey, boss, I kinda like it here. Better than what everyone says the shoals are like, anyway, right?"
"Yeah, it's nice, don't get me wrong. But, the sooner we get back, the sooner we get paid."
"Also, the booze is too strong for me here."
"Ah, boss, you're such a pussy!" Chieko punched him in the arm playfully.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Get that footage onto the cards and follow me, I gue- woah!"
Chieko turned to see what Sugimoto was pointing at, through the station windows. It was a small fleet of ships, approaching the station.
"Those look like they're armed," Sugimoto wondered aloud. "Chieko, do we have any drones in space right now?"
"Uh, yeah boss, I can get one over there in a minute or two."
"Right, do that. They don't seem to be hostile." Could this be what Mitchell was talking about when he said they didn't worry about the pirates anymore? "It'll make a nice little shot we can throw in there."
"Alright then, sir."
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-15 06:39pm
Sector 19-19-00 (Sepan Sector)
In the blackness of space flashed two magnificent bursts of energy, tremendous on almost any scale yet mere pinpricks of light on the edge of a vast solar system. These two flashes were followed an instant later by four more, smaller in size but no less impressive. Six warships of the Empire Star Navy had slid into realspace in what was still marked on their charts as an uninhabited region of space.
Deep with in the armored keel of the Republic Naval Ship Phantom, the personnel in the battlecruiser's Combat Information Center quickly digested the torrent of new information showing up on their scopes.
"Captain Walker, we're reading what looks to be a RIS task force, headed by one of their big dreadnoughts, spread out in between these two asteroid belts. They're positioned as if somebody's flying around in the belts, but we're too far away right now to see anything. I'd suggest sending forward scout wings from the destroyers to get a better picture."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Ensign Arnaud, send my compliments to the RIS command ship, and inform her senior officer that this task force stands ready to assit the RIS's peacekeeping actions in this sector. Then signal the Dekalb and the Rector forward so their fighters can get a good look at those belts. I want to see what we're dealing with."
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-15 10:45pm
Strategic Carrier Black Knight
Lochley's Retreat, The Outback
Rear Admiral Kim Paktu stood on the bridge of her flagship staring out the swirls of hyperspace. As commander of 2nd Carrier Group, 1st Task Force, Home Fleet it was going to be her second in command and commander of the 2nd Wing who would be working with the Anglians. The reason the Rear Admiral was coming to Lochley's Retreat was to make sure Commodore Jakasan and his ships were successfully integrated into the invasion fleet. The Rear Admiral was also going to request that she be put in command of the forces deployed to Bannerman, seeing as she would have the largest warships remaining on station in Bannerman.
Hyperspace faded away with the slight jolt of transition and HF-1TF-2CG arrived in system. The Admiral's Strategic Carrier, flanked by her dreadnought and battleship escorts, with the Flak cruisers taking point while the 2nd Wing with her Fleet Carrier and it's battlecruiser escorts dropped out of hyperspace a few million kilometers to the rear of 1st Wing. The commtech transmitted the ID package and a request for an orbital docking slot for the Black Knight. DeckOps registered the launch of a small shuttle from the Karan S'jet, and broadcasting Commodore Jakasan's IFF.
“Notify me if Lord Fisher calls, I'll be in my cabin getting ready for the pomp and ceremony.” the Rear Admiral said, practically grumbling the last bit. The Naval Trooper standing guard at the entrance to the flag bridge heard the Admiral mutter, “At least I don't have to wear a thrice damn ball gown.”
As the Black Knight slipped into her assigned orbit and the crews prepared to go to a “pier side” watch schedule the Admiral's shuttle slipped from one of the hangar bays and headed towards HMNS Lochley's Retreat. Clad in their Dress Blacks the two officers discussed deployment plans for the invasion of Pendleton and possible contingencies if the unforeseen happened such as the Pendletonians actually mustering enough forces to mount a real resistance to the naval forces.
“I doubt we'll even need to deploy the bombers for this mission.” Commodore Jakasan snorted, “Either one of my battlecruisers could handle the Pendletonian 'heavies' by it's self and let the other one mop up the rest of the system defense craft.”
“Never underestimate your enemy.” Rear Admiral Paktu warns, “Pendleton is estimated to have two medium weight cruisers as well as other smaller system defense craft. The Anglians have made it know that they would prefer your carrier group to deal with the enemy craft allowing their Imperator Star Cruisers to deploy ground forces without having to deal with the Pendletonian 'Navy'.”
“Very well in that case I will have the battlecruisers use their speed to rapidly close with the Pendletonian cruisers with orders to render them mission killed as quickly as possible.”
“Commodore authorize the battlecruisers captains to fire their Trinity Cannons at full strength as soon as they have a targeting lock, best to eliminate those cruisers as quickly as possible.”
“Of course Admiral, I will have to have several squadrons of fighters accompany them in order to keep enemy craft engaging the battlecruisers while they're vulnerable.” Commodore Jakasan contemplated for a moment, “What about our Storm Marine transports?”
“They will be under direct control of the Anglian's, attached to the Star Cruisers.” replied the Admiral, “Once their Marines have been deployed they will take up position to conduct precision orbital strikes.”
“And their fighters?”
“Will initially be deployed to cover the Marine landers, follow up missions to focus on close support of Marine units on the ground.” Admiral Paktu smiled, “I'm afraid you won't be getting your hands on any of those Thunderbolt's, Commodore.”
“Ah well it would've been nice, those Marine fighters are mean little buggers.”
By this point the shuttle had reached HMNS Lochley's Retreat and was read to disembark her passengers. The ramp lowered with a hydraulic hiss and a small honor guard of Naval Troopers came down the ramp in lockstep, and presented arms to the assembled New Anglian dignitaries. After them came Rear Admiral Kim Paktu, Commodore Jakasan and their Aide-de-Camps.
One of the Admirals Aid-de-Camps leaned forward and whispered in the Admirals ear, “Ma'am head of the dignitaries is Lord Tarkington, according to the briefing we received once we dropped from hyperspace he has been newly appointed as head of all New Anglian efforts in the Outback. He seems to be rather upset, perhaps even irate, Admiral. Unfortunately I can't tell you why without actually digging into his mind.”
“Thank you, Zicti.” Coming to a halt before Lord Tarkington Rear Admiral Paktu offers a slight bow, little more then a nod of the head and slight bend in the waist really, “Lord Tarkington it is my pleasure to offer the support of the Diamid and Clans of Hiigara. My officers and I are ready to begin discussing tactical deployments, logistics and joint training for this mission.”
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-16 12:11am
Republic Naval Stardock Burlywood
Sector X-19, The Outback
This star system had its own name once, it must have, but no one in the ESN had ever bothered to find out what it was. An explorer in centuries past had named the sole moon of the system's sole planet (an uninhabitable gas ball) after the moon's unusual brown tint, and once the navy built a deep space outpost in the moon's orbit, the name of Burlywood extended itself to the only two things of value in the nameless system. In fact, if the system hadn't sat atop the junction between the two main hyperlanes of the Outback, it is doubtful that anyone would have ever built anything here. As it was, Burlywood's position enabled it to attrack a gothamite naval base, a smattering of repair slips and warehouses to support the trade through the Outback, and a small population of hardy souls in orbital habitats and surface domes.
As Commodore Francesca Cook's looked out on the warships lined up in one long row on the star dock's sole spindly arm and the transports arrayed further and further out, she imagined that this was a lot more activity than this system was used to. Behind her, the base commander whose office she was currently standing in made sure to remind her of this fact.
"We're just not set up for this much activity, Commodore, there's only so fast my crews can go! The hyperdrives on your expeditionary group will all be upchecked by 2100 Standard, but the supply ships are a whole other story. Their drives just aren't built for this, and the last two just trickled in last night. I'll need at least another couple days." The base commander shrugged his shoulders as he finished his report, and Commodore Cook paused for a few seconds before turning to respond.
"Nobody's drives are built to spend two days in the shoals, Commander. Nevertheless, I am confident the fine work your men and women have done this past week will let my ships transit the Gap without any trouble. I'm going to need those logistics ships, though, to keep me from having to rely on the Anglies. Take as much time as you need to make sure their drives are up to snuff. I intend to take the warships of my expeditionary group to Lochley's Retreat as soon as you're done with them, and I'll leave a division of destroyers to escort the supply ships once you're confident in them all." She paused, and her sombre facial expression melted into a grin. "Remember, Commander, if the panic back home hadn't broken so quickly, the Navy Department'd have your engineers crawling through battlecruisers right now!" The commander had to suppress a shudder at the thought.
Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1
Posted: 2010-07-16 06:29am
Capital city outskirts
Majella-3, Wild Space
Lieutenant John Baylor and the rest of A Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Expeditionary, hunkered down inside the shell of a shattered building. Small arms fire was whipping the walls around them as the forces of the St. Gerard's Free Militia pressed in on them. The small twenty-story structure they occupied dominated the only highway in moderately good condition leading into the capital city. Colonel Harabec Weathers had dispatched them to secure it against what had been anticipated to be light resistance.
That anticipation had been wrong.
The first sign of trouble had been the leading Ranger IFV in his convoy going up in a ball of flame as it was struck by a high-power anti-tank missile. His own Blackbird had narrowly managed to avoid the same fate, saved only by its superior defense suite and the reaction of its driver, who had the good sense to maneuver off the street, crashing the hover vehicle through the nearest wall. The remaining vehicles in his convoy had followed that example – but the result of that was that they'd been effectively neutralized, forcing the infantry to dismount.
That had been no more than an hour and a hundred meters from here. In that time the marines had discovered their opposition infested all the buildings surrounding them, effectively bottling them up inside the block of buildings them now occupied. Occasionally a marine would see a target and dispatch it with a well aimed burst of 10mm plasma or a grenade, but most of the time the enemy stayed invisible, content to pepper their building with fire and then dodging out of view again. They had lit fires inside the buildings to spoof the superior IR sensors of the marines' battlesuits, and it was looking like they had more ammo too. The situation was getting worrisome. He was still pinned down, more and more of his marines were taking wounds from the sheer volume of fire tearing into their position, and he still couldn't use his armor without it getting blown up uselessly in the streets.
John Baylor gritted his teeth. His perimeter was about to collapse, but he'd be damned if he'd let a bunch of rag-tag rebels dislodge him from his position. Bloody embarassing, was what it was.
The LT made a decision, and switched radio nets.
“Hello Mike One Two. This is X-ray Two Zero Bravo. Fire Mission. DF Alpha Zero One Zero Two. Enemy platoon or greater surrounding my position. Danger close. Neutralize for five minutes. Over.” The artillery woman's voice came straight back too him, repeating what he had said. Baylor risked a glance through the third-story window and found a target crouched behind a burning shop window, raising a rifle toward the marines. He swung the target reticule of his M116 across the scumbag and triggerd the plasma gun. A bolt brighter than the sun slashed through the brick work and vaporized the torso of the cowering rebel. Baylor grinned and continued firing single shots into the shop for a few seconds before dropping back out of view.
Forty kilometers away on the outskirts of the city, a Seldgehammer self-propelled gun of C Battery tracked its turret right and towards the sky. It then began to fire, slowly, only a round every three seconds.
"Hello, X-ray Two Zero Bravo, this is Mike One Two. Shot. Over," the pleasant woman's voice echoed in Baylor's ears. A timer appeared on his helmet display and began counting down. He quickly acknowledged, ran down from the second story and dropped behind the rubble barricade before switching to his company's tac-net.
“Watch it marines! Incoming artillery, keep your heads down!”
Back on the other side of the city, the first Seldgehammer fired its sixth shot and another gun, five kilometers away, fired its first. The Seldgehammer moved out of its position and headed quickly to a nearby alternate. The rebels had little artillery left for counter-battery fire, but it paid not to be sloppy, so each gun relocated after every shoot.
The first high explosive shell smashed into the ground, nearly blowing Baylor off his feet. They were only 250 meters from the impact, well inside the danger area, but what shrapnel managed to get in the building bounced harmlessly off the marines' battlesuits. The rebels weren't so lucky. The marines of A Company fell back and manned their vehicles, ready to surge out once the music stopped. As they did the high explosive shells continued to pulverize the enemy, bringing whole buildings down on their heads.