SDNW4 Story Thread 1

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-07-16 07:03am

[Teleros, if you don't mind, I'm gonna magick up a Bragulan Embassy on one of your planets.]
Imperial Bureau of Galactic Vigilance wrote:Agent Spozavik, the Bragulan spy, receives an enconded message from his handler. The message reads: "Comrade, congratulations! Your wife gave birth to octuplets!"

Spozavik resigns himself to melancholy... it's been a long three years since he left Bragule.
IMPERIAL BRAGULAN EMBASSY, Altacar 3

Image

The Altacar Empire was one of the few human nations to have relatively cordial relations with the Bragulans. And by cordial relationship, it meant that their communications were terse, abrupt, and strictly to the point, pure business and little else. But the Altacar were very much into business, great space traders as they were, and so they alotted a piece of land for the Bragulans to build an embassy. Unsatisfactorily for the Bragulan planners, the piece of land the Altacarians alotted them was not a fortified mountain range that would've dwarfed the Himalayas of Old Earth, but merely... a simple piece of land. With some trees on it. Nonetheless, the Bragulans made do and it did not take long for a chrome-armored pyramidal fortress to emerge from that plot of land, with a surrounding wall topped by heavy K-bolter turrets, and squadrons of Stalag gunships patrolling the skies around it.

The Bragulan diplomats assigned to Altacar were all members of the Imperial Bureau of Galactic Vigilance, the largest spy agency of the Star Empire. To them, the heavily armed and fortified embassy was a little piece of Bragule, a home away from home.

Image

IBGV Agent Vsvlgyrod Spozavik put on his human-style hat and adjusted his human-style tie with some difficulty, owing to his un-human-style Bragulan paws. Satisfied with how it finally turned out, he put on his jacket - filled with freon cooling, a necessity in these unbragulanly warm human climes - and trousers, and went out of his little apartment room. Quickly, he made his way out of the fortified Bragulan embassy, past the myriad security check points under the overlooking snipers nests and shocktrooper outposts, and soon found himself leaving the meters-thick blast door that was the gate of the diplomatic building.

Once again, he found himself in human territory amidst all the deviants and ideologically impure perverts it entailed, but he did not despair. Agent Spozavik steeled himself, for he knew his many years serving the IGBV on unbragulan human worlds such as Altacar 3 was for the good of all Bragulanity, whose survival he was utterly dedicated to. Thus, for Bragulanity's sake, he adjusted his green hat and boarded his ride that took him to the local Altacarian Trade Ministry building.

"Nick Weiner, at your service," greeted the human he was meeting, a puny human whose head barely managed to reach Spozavik's snout. The human offered his hand, and Spozavik took it and shook it, trying his best not to dislocate it.

"Dryznyl Shpechtkov, diplomatic trade liason for the Imperial Bragulan People's Department of Limited Foreign Interaction and Human Affairs," Spozavik said, giving out his false cover identity to the puny human. "A pleasantly warm uncomfortable human day to you, Mister Weiner."

The human laughed. Spozavik narrowed his eyes at him, and the human stopped laughing. Then the human quietly sat down and offered him a seat, and Spozavik likewise sat down on the seat specially brought for him, one capable of bearing the weight of a Bragulan of medium-build. Spozavik placed his attache case down beside his chair, not far out of reach from his hand.

"So," the human started lamely. "We're here to discuss the Bragulan Star Empire's reciprocation of the recent Altacar vowel shipment to the famine stricken regions of the... Rygnskrgnvk system, yes."

"Yes," Spozavik replied tersely. Now that he was seated, he took his time to examine the human. This Nick Weiner. Could he be a counter-espionage agent from Altacarian intelligence? Or maybe a sleeper from CEID, for the treachery of those humans from the Sovereignty clearly knew no bounds. His name, Weiner, was that not a kind of sausage? Sausages were one of Spozavik's favorite foods. Such a coincidence for a man - a human man - to be named after a kind of sausage. Bragulan spies never ignored coincidence...

"Good, I understand the Bragulans intend to send shipments of raw materials to Altacar as part of the repayment. Minerals and resources not so commonly available in these parts of the galaxy."

"Yes," Spozavik nodded. As part of his cover as a Bragulan diplomat, he was unarmed. But he didn't need a weapon to kill this Mister Weiner, only his bare Bragulan hands to throttle the life out of him and claw his face out. Spozavik considered that as an option, if ever this Weiner turned out to be a CEID spy.

"I see..." Nick Weiner cleared his throat.

"But it has been decided by the new administration of the Imperial Ministry of Plentiful Supply and Demand Regulation and Registration, who replaced the previous members now undergoing de-education, to made additions to our shipment to Altacar as a show of Bragulan gratitude."

"What kind of additions?"

"We will be adding not merely raw materials, but also processed goods and the best in Bragulan consumer products!" Spozavik proudly said, maintaining his persona as a trade liaison person.

"Um..." the Weiner scratched his head. "What process goods and consumer products, exactly?"

"Why, Bragulan transistor-powered electronics, vacuum-tube colored telescreens, even nuclear locomotives!"

"Transistors? Nuclear locomotives? Vacuum tubes?" Weiner's mouth was wide agape.

"Yes, yes. I understand you humans are unused to such superior quality of Bragulan engineering," Spozavik allowed himself to grin, showing his fangs and canines.

"B-b-b-but those kinds of things haven't been used for - for ages! Like, from the middle of the 20th century back on Old Earth!"

Spozavik laughed at the silly human. "No, rest assured that Bragulan transistors and vacuum tubes are far more advanced than anything humanity could've designed in the 20th century, back on your old country. Unlike your miniscule nanotechnologies and quantums and anti-matters, Bragulan machineries are durable, made out of stainless steel! Such samples are so strong, and heavy, that if used in this building they'll break your insufficient flooring, crash through the next floor, and crush unsuspecting bystanders who happen to be below. Yet despite this, it will still function perfectly!"

"I, uh, I don't know what to -"

"Do not worry, I know this comes as a shock to you as your consumer products which also tend to expire within a given time frame, so your capitalist-minded materialist populace will be forced to buy allegedly newer and better products newly released. Why, in the Sovereignty, it is said that their consumer transhuman body systems and organs likewise have to be replaced every few years. Can you imagine that?" Spozavik barked in laughter. "But Bragulan products? They can last for centuries! Some of the vacuum tubes we're using today are the same ones we used back in your 20th century! Just like your toaster's grandmom, as the saying goes."

"Just like your grandmom's toaster..." Weiner repeated blankly.

"But aside from that, we also have consigned a shipment of paper, several metric megatons of paper," Spozavik continued. "I hear paper is a rare commodity in the human worlds. You hardly devastate your forests anymore, with these so-called environmentalist groups calling for their protection. Cutting down entire forests in human worlds is punishable, no? They say in the Sovereignty, trees chop you!"

"Why, yes, actually. We haven't used paper since the 21st century..." Weiner tried to recall. "I think after the Amazon-something got burned down back on Old Earth, or something. Paper's actually quite rare, and of all the... uhh... great commodities you've mentioned, I think the paper will be the most profitable product."

"Indeed?" Spozavik raised an eyebrow.

"Yes. Despite the environmental laws, there are large segments of the population who prefer using paper over the Three Seashells, so there is a high demand for paper even if it's not so available. I think origami also sells for thousands of credits per folded sheet..." Weiner did the mental math, and slowly his distraught face went back into a much more happier - or at least less devastated - look. "Hmm... I think this can work, as an in-demand alternative to the Three Seashells and as high-value origami. Yes."

"It's a deal then!" Spozavik stood up and grabbed Weiner's hand with a massive paw.

"Yes! Yes!" Weiner yelped as his arm was nearly shaken off.

To be continued...
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by K. A. Pital » 2010-07-16 07:20am

Commune, planet Das Kapital, outskirts of Commune space

Comrade Vector moved in a stream of military nanites. The military fog supplied from the Alienation was of the NX-03 variety - especially resilient to hacking, but with limited self-reproduction capabilities. When facing hackers preventing your own weapon from falling into enemy hands was more important than overwhelming the hacker with sheer might.

The lush forests started to change. Here, in a small patch of space, crooked and strange lifeforms - some plant-like, some closer to animals - were either dead or dying. Those which were still alive were in pain. Vector thought of disassembling them in an act of mercy, but he knew such an act was irrational. The enemy was close. No time for compassion.

Something looking like a typical utility fog tried to attack Vector's shroud. It took some time to figure - the attacking fog was the typical "citizen companion". The most simple type of nanorobotic mechanisms of the Commune. This guy apparently hacked into the common fog and opened - or added, which was also quite likely - self-replicating functions. He also killed a few Commune citizens recently, apparently because he needed to examine their nervous links - he tried to see if the higher-ups in the colony had some access functions the hacker yet did not discover. These tricks took him decades - Vector skimmed through the dossier before embarking on the mission. The bioweapon designer came here almost half a century ago. What was he thinking about? Have these years of life in the Commune not changed his mind from malevolent ideas to something... more peaceful?

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The battle between the trees was short. Military-grade nanites of the Commune had some limited subatomic functions, whereas the common fog stopped somewhere at the molecular level. That aside, while Vector's nanorobotic shroud could survive several thousand degrees of heat for a short while, the usual utility fog could not and started to melt and wither away once Vector applied heat using lasers which he carefully constructed inside the giant body before coming here.

Following the escaping foglets, his shroud soon found the perpetrator. He was quite inventive and tried to scramble resources to put up a good fight. Hacked swarm consumed the trees, the ground, everything. Alas, it was in vain - the Alienation cut the hacker's energy supply from orbit a long time ago. They found which station he was leeching from and changed the protocols.

Finally the man himself fell into Vector's hands. His fog was scattered, reprogrammed by the crack team from the Alienation orbiting above or destroyed. The hacker tried to run away with the last remains of his "power", but failed - military fog already infected his body and took his nervous system under control. He couldn't move.

Vector came right in front of the man.

- Labuj. I am commisar Vector, Supreme Soviet authorization S781239, Mirage authorization P017875, - he did not speak, but transmitted right into the man's auditory nerves. - You have committed grave offences: murder of the mind, hacking and hazardous use of nanomaterials, cruel and unusual experiments on living beings. You are sentenced in absentia by the Mirage to capital punishment. However, prior to the execution, we are obliged to run a final check, - Vector explained.

He contacted comrade Omega in orbit.

- Comrade Omega, as an individual capable of extrasensory analysis without mind injury, would you please be my witness in this case, No. 7-X-65701060112, - this the hacker heard, but the next Vector added solely for Omega. - You always wondered just how the hell we in the Mirage decide to consume minds? Have a look.

Omega keyed her mind-reading powers on the man - trying to do it from orbit was somewhat challenging, but not that much of a problem. He couldn't really resist, being fully incapacitated by Vector's military shroud - he couldn't even tremble from fear. She tapped not too deep... but even the very first memories astonished her. What the hacker planned was far worse than what he did. In his own crooked world, following his own - utterly hideous - moral compass, Labuj thought that he was doing mankind a service. He was working to create a homo superior. He certainly knew that clouds existed, but he dismissed them as weak, because they were no longer subjected to biological evolutionary pressures. His mind, which spent decades on creating deadly plagues and viruses of various kinds, probably could not adapt to a peaceful life and forced him to try and create a new one. Created a malevolent purpose out of nothing... out of habit.

The worst part was his idea to unleash the new nanotechnologically augmented virus onto some undeveloped planet. Omega collapsed on the inside - so hideous seemed the thought. But it was there. The man could not hide it, not from a telepath as powerful as her. That he, clueless about the vengeance that the Mirage could unleash, killed a few dwellers of Das Kapital seemed child's play compared to what he planned.

- Vector, - Omega spoke after several minutes of grave silence. - You can add mass murder conspiracy to the list of charges. All other charges are obviously confirmed. Please... make it quick. I can link you to my experiences.

- Thank you, that is unnecessary, I fully trust your word. Submit your experiences into the criminal repository onboard and beam them to the Mirage. And yes, I will make it quick, - Vector replied.

He waited for several seconds. Omega, as a ship captain with few ties to the Mirage, never participated in this before. But he knew something she did not - there was a dark side in the act he was about to perform. The military nanites started disassembly of the man standing in front of him, trying to gather maximum information from the very object they were destroying. In a sense, it was immediate clouding - the person died, but his experience, memories - all memories, including childhood ones! - were captured and translated to Vector. In a certain sense, he consumed his entire personality. And for the sake of Marx, these people were not born bad. Usually they were made into what they were by circumstances. And you could see that there was someone who loved him... old memories of the hackers were already being unearthed. Soon Vector discovered just how he hacked the system. Then he discovered all about his life on Das Kapital. Digging deeper, he saw the man working at secure facilities in faraway worlds. And yet deeper, a young, aspiring scientist was ready to cure the world. But along the way he made some wrong choices. Deeper - and the hacker stood before Vector as an innocent child. Finally all information ceased. The flow came to an end.

The hacker ceased to exist. His flesh, bones and his pathetically weak fog that he wanted to use as a weapon were scattered and turned into mist by Vector's merciless shroud. It was the ultimate death of the mind, even though all his knowledge was now Vector's. This is how the Commune learned. The enemy was not to be killed - that way you gained little understanding. He was to be consumed, understood and analyzed. Only this would allow true understanding and a true solution... I'm rambling, thought Vector to himself. This guy's story is nothing out of ordinary. There were worse hackers; there were misguided communists, zealous aliens, malevolent computer intelligences which met the same fate at his hands. Their evil nature made it necessary, but Vector always wondered if there could have been a way for them to make the right choice.

Slowly he rose from the ground, calling the shroud back.

- Omega, I believe you could send my shuttle here. Thank you.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-17 12:07am

Glowworm-class Transport Tranquility, outbound from Persephone, Sector Y-6
January 16, 3400
1550 Hours, Eavesdown Mean Time


Once they cleared low orbit over Persephone, John brought the rest of his crew up to the bridge and locked the door. He hooked his thumbs in his suspenders, rocked back on his heels a bit, and reviewed them. Gav was still sitting at the controls; he’d changed clothes, but the only way you could tell was that the neon green had been replaced with orange. Brecht was mostly calmed down by now; he was slouched up against the doorframe. Olivia and Sammie were on opposite sides of the room, looking about as usual- Livvy with just a hint of a smile cracking a stone face, and Samantha smiling widely even when no one else could find anything to smile about. She knows engines, and... figure she keeps the rest of us from getting too grim now and again. Two for the price of one.

He drew himself up and started talking. “Now, we need to offload this gear somewhere in the Badlands, and I reckon I can think of a few would take it. Question is, how do we pitch it?”

Samantha raised her hand. “I have an idea.”

The captain grinned. “Shoot.”

“Well, I looked at the specs. We’ve got three bottles of programmable nanites for making organics. But the lockouts mean it’ll turn out mirror-images of everything complicated. Whatever Fox wanted it for, that means it can’t do. So... what’s simple and organic?” That earned her blank looks. “Alcohol, silly!”

“You sure about that?”

“Yeah. It can’t turn out medicine, or even food, but it’ll still be able to break stuff down and make ethanol from it. You pour in water and, heck, pretty much anything made of carbon into those babies, feed them power, and they’ll give you alcohol. Real simple, won’t go wrong.”

John thought that over. Something about the idea of using what had to be a massively expensive piece of machinery as a still struck him as off, but... would it work? Could he convince a buyer that it would work? Organic chemistry wasn’t his strong suit. Wasn’t Sammie’s either, but he’d trust her to check her references.

Gav, whose knowledge of science was very much limited to the needs of navigation, looked nervous. “How much alcohol are we talking here?”

“Well, they’re designed to work as food reprocessors, so they work fast... say, a few thousand kilos a day? Maybe... I’d have to try it, but I’d bet on a hundred liters an hour, at least.”

Enough to get an army drunk... Then it all clicked in John’s head, who to sell the fabricators to. “...Nazdreg.”

Brecht blinked. “Who’s Nazdreg?”

Olivia fielded the question; it was fair enough, since that was before the merc’s time. “Ork warboss, Blood Axe clan. Willing to trade, if you can find something he wants. And...”

Gav finished the sentence. “For a magic box that can make hard liquor out of anything? He’ll trade.”

Brecht might be as smart as a sack full of cement about most things, but some questions he knew to ask. “You trust him?”

That deserved an answer, so John gave it straight. “Bout as much as I’d trust a baby to a pack of Zuggan marauders. Don’t matter now. Umerians catch us with government goods, we lose the ship.” Not happening. Not... not happening. John would trade in his immortal soul to keep flying; he’d deal with orks and step away with a song in his heart if that was what it took.

His answer had been good enough for the big mercenary. Brecht grunted. “What’s the plan?”

“Some of it’ll have to wait till we can get a good look at the local terrain from orbit. Brecht, you go and make sure everything in the armory’s squared away and ready to use.” The mercenary grinned; he unbarred the door and sauntered out down the hall.

“Sam, you get on checking to make sure the fabbers can make alcohol like you say. Time it- need to know how fast, too. You said you’d need water and organics. Anything special?”

“Nah. Got a few liters of old oil. That should do fine for a test...”

1615 Hours

John and Livvy led two passengers, the old man and the rich young one who looked like he was slumming, forward from their quarters aft on the lower deck and up the stairs. Rounding the corner he saw Brecht, who nodded to him. There was a big toothy smile on his face; he hefted the small plastic bottle he was holding by the neck. John caught a whiff of alcohol. “Good stuff, captain; should get a bottle from Sammie y’rself!” He strode out of sight; a minute later he heard the hatch clang as the big man returned to his bunk.

Olivia caught his eye; she must be thinking the same thing. Doesn’t prove much that he’s willing to drink it, but if Sammie can use those fabbers to turn used motor oil into something that won’t kill him, the orks’ll love the the things. Biggest difference between Brecht and an ork was the complexion...

Once he was fairly sure he wouldn’t be interrupted by a huge drunk, John led the two men into the galley. Dobson caught up with them just as he was about to start showing them around. “Meals are taken here. Kitchen’s pretty much self-explanatory. You’re welcome to eat what there is at any time; what there is is pretty standard fare. We do have sit-down meals, the next being at about 1900...”

He heard Sammie’s voice echoing down the hall from the engine room. “I think Reverend Glazer has offered to help me prepare something.”

Uh-oh. The Techies didn’t especially encourage religion, and that attitude spread to a lot of the worlds just outside their borders. But like most things they could afford to ignore, they let it alone as long as they could. Glazer being a preacher of some kind didn’t really surprise him, but it wasn’t a complication he wanted to deal with on a run like this. He turned to the old man. “You’re a preacher.”

“Thought the outfit gave it away. Is it a problem?”

Samantha broke in. “Of course it isn’t!” She turned to him, somehow managing to combine an appeal with a look of total confidence. “It’s not a problem, ‘cause... it’s not.”

John sighed. “No, not a problem.” He turned towards the younger man, Conrad... Lakatos? Funny name. Wonder where it’s from? Not looking straight at anyone and pitching his voice as an address to no one in particular, he continued. “Now, as I said, you’re welcome in the dining room any time. Or in the lounge by the infirmary. Apart from that, I have to ask you to stay in the passenger dorm till we hit Praha. The bridge, the engine room, and the cargo bay are off limits without an escort.”

The young fellow looked up at that. “Some of my personal effects are in the cargo bay.”

“I figure you all got luggage you’ll need to get into. Soon as we’re done here we’ll be happy to fetch ‘em with you. Now, I have to tell you one other thing, and I apologize in advance for the inconvenience. Unfortunately, we’ve been ordered by the Umerians to drop some medical supplies on Nguyen’s World.”

Glazer and Lakatos were expressionless; they either didn’t know what the captain was talking about, or knew but didn’t care. Dobson blinked, though. “Nguyen’s World... isn’t that off-lane in the deep Badlands?”

“A bit out of our way, but my pilot knows the whisker routes, and Tranquility’s a handy little ship if you treat her right. We should have you on Praha no more than a day off schedule; day and a half at worst. Is that gonna be all right for everyone?”

The old preacher nodded wordlessly, but the rich boy, Lakatos, looked curious. “Ordered?

“Technarchs say jump...” He looked at the passengers meaningfully. He hadn’t checked to see which of them were Umerians, though he figured Lakatos for one, but this close to the border everyone took them seriously. Worlds farther out could afford to play games, try to balance the Shepistanis off against the Technocracy. Not on Persephone, they couldn’t.

“I see what you mean. What were the medical supplies?”

John shrugged. “Didn’t ask.”

Livvy, bless her, backed him up. “They have a lot of trouble with the orks; warlords overran a whole continent few years back. Probably plasma, synth-flesh, whatever they need to keep up the fight.”

Lakatos nodded. “All right.” Looked like he didn’t trust them much, but John could live with that.

Dobson stammered “I’m supp... supposed to be meeting my wife’s sister. I’ve only got a few days to see her...”

Olivia fielded that one too. “I wish there was another way...”

“Oh, no, no, don’t worry, ma’am. That woman is like a dragon. So if there are any other little worlds in the back of beyond we could visit, or if we could just fly very slowly, you know...?”

That even got a real smile out of Livvy, and you didn’t see those every day. Several of the others smiled wider; Sammie giggled. John finished with one last remark. Need an excuse for keeping hyperwave silence. One last thing, almost forgot- our Glowworm is a solid boat, but she’s not exactly new. We’ve been having interference problems with our hyperwave scanners. I know you may have messages you want to send before we get into the Badlands where we won’t be able to transmit, but we’ve had to shut down our comms, at least until we get to Nguyen’s World. We should be able to correct the problem there, and you can send again once we break out into the Stairway for the final leg to Praha.”

As the passengers nodded, John smiled the bland, cold smile of a liar.

1900 Hours

The bustle of activity as they sat down to dinner faded with the first bites. Olivia closed her eyes as she took her first spoonful of chopped vegetables in mixed grains. “Oh, this is incredible.” She set her plate aside and went for another, then started loading that- probably for Gav, who was still at the controls. They were still picking along the edge of the Great Barrier for an entrance to the whisker lane network; it was tricky work.

Glazer gave a self-deprecating wave of his hand. “Nothing much, but I had a garden at the Abbey. Thought I should bring along what I could.”

Lakatos nodded to the preacher. “Still, very kind of you to share it with all of us.”

“Well, most of it won’t last, except the spices. They’re the important part, you see. A man can live a long, happy life on packaged food if he’s got enough oregano.”

A minute passed; Glazer looked at the captain. Then he shook his head slightly and bowed his head over his plate, silently saying grace. Meanwhile, Lakatos turned to the captain.

“So, does this sort of thing happen a lot? The government commandeering your ship, telling you where to go?”

“Never surprises me when they do. Technocrats,” and John drew out the three syllables in a stark, bleak voice, “that’s what they’re for. Get in a man’s way.”

Dobson looked earnest. “But if the supplies are needed, it’s good, isn’t it? I mean, with the orks, a lot of the Badlands worlds are in bad shape...”

Livvy was done fixing up a plate for Gavin, and she answered the man. “Well, most of the orks aren’t quite as bad as they’re made out to be, you can stand them off if you know what you’re doing, but they’re not the only thing wrong out there. A lot of those worlds- they’re pretty well terraformed, but...”

John was ready to continue, but his voice was harsh; he needed a drink badly enough to go looking up that lot of moonshine Sammie’d made. “The settlers bought terraforming gear, but not enough else. They didn’t start with enough, and they’re too hard to get to for much in the way of trade. Some of them make a tolerable go of it, some of them...”

Dobson broke his train of thought. “It’s good we’re helping, then.” There was a lot he could say to that, and none of it he wanted to burden a paying passenger with. But Sammie was a helpful distraction; she’d been looking at Lakatos from across the table, and now she asked him a question.

“You’re a Doctor, right?” She weighted that title with emphasis that all around the table took for granted; in Umeria, “Doctor” wasn’t a rare title, but it was an important one. If you were a doctor, you were part of the ruling elite, marked above the common citizens, guaranteed respect if not power.

The young man looked awkward. “Oh. Ah, sort of... a medical degree. I was a trauma surgeon on Montblanc, in Alta Vista.”

That was one of the Umerian Core worlds. Not all physicians got treated as real doctors in Umeria, but add that to the fine clothes and the attitude and it meant one thing about the boy. Techie. John spoke up. “Long way from here.”

Sammie ignored him, though. “You seem so young. To be a doctor.”

“I’m…” He trailed off. “Well, you seem kind of young to be a starship engineer.”

“No how. Drives are machines, machines got workings, and… they talk to me.” She smiled and shrugged.

The preacher stroked his chin and nodded. “That’s a rare gift.”

“Not like being a doctor, doing medicine, helping fix people. That’s important. It’s… kind of comforting to have a doctor on board.”

John had been watching the conversation closely, mostly to keep an eye on the two passengers. Dobson wasn’t much to take note of, but the Techie bore watching, and John couldn’t shake the feeling that Glazer was a little more than he let on, too. As Sammie was finishing her sentence, he saw the old man look up sharply. Glazer reached for the salt, but his hand moved too quickly and his elbow brushed the glass of water by his plate. The spill spread across the table, right into Brecht’s lap. He spluttered and jumped to his feet.

“Son of a whore! What the…”

Glazer blinked and looked up at the big man. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry, mister Mauer. I didn’t mean to…”

Brecht glowered down at him, then sneered. “This is your lucky day. I don’t hit old men and preachers. Well, usually not.” The sneer turned into a wolfish grin.

Glazer didn’t seem rattled by that. “Now that was an accident, friend. There’s no call for that sort of language.”

Brecht leaned his hands on the table, still grinning. “Usually don’t. ‘Cept maybe when they give me a bunch of damn fool backtalk…”

John wasn’t going to let that go on. This stops. “Brecht, you will keep a civil tongue in your mouth or I will sew it shut, you understand?”

The mercenary kept grinning, but now he turned the grin on his captain. “You don’t pay me to talk pretty.” He snorted.

At the far end, Livvy had stopped smiling. John looked Brecht in the eye, cold and level. “Walk away from this table. Right now.” For a long moment Brecht held his gaze, then looked away. He hunched down over a bowl of pasta, spooning a pile onto his plate, then slunk off to his cabin again.


Lakatos looked incredulous. His lips moved slightly, then he turned to the captain and asked a question. “What do you pay him for?”

“What?”

“I was just wondering… what is his job, exactly? On the ship?”

John barely managed to stoneface that one. “Morale officer.”

2015 Hours

John was washing up in his cabin when the alarm chime buzzed. A quick pace brought him over to the intercom; it was Gavin. “John, you might wanna get up here...”

The captain climbed the ladder and reached the bridge almost before he’d processed that; he leaned over Gav’s shoulder to look at the display. “What is it?”

“Signal. Space Security just put out a bulletin on us; they have our position figured to within a light-month.”

“Tell me we can duck out of here.”

“We’re close to the entrance, so... think so. Nearest ships is at least an hour away. We’ll be into the Barrier by the time they get here, and we can play tag with them all day in the lanes there.” That stood to reason. Umerian patrols in the Barrier had thinned out lately. He hadn’t caught all the news on Persephone, but it sounded like they’d pried loose a fair chunk of their deep shoal patrol cutters for some op out by Anglia.

Gav continued. “But... even so, someone knew where we were. I’m not sure how much information was in the encrypted part; they may have descriptions.” John launched a blistering stream of curses for a few seconds, then stopped cold. He muttered under his breath. “Reckon we’ve got a mole on board... the damn Techie.” Suddenly it all made sense. The boy was a Umerian plant, maybe tipped off by Fox; the big delicate metal case, a transmitter. He snarled to Gav. “Get Livvy and Brecht up and ready to back me up.”

He yanked the bridge door open and stalked to the cargo bay, keeping quiet and low. There was a man crouched over the metal trunk. Lakatos. John made it down the stairs without alerting the Umerian, made it almost too close, close enough that he suspected a trick. Then again, maybe the boy just wasn’t too alert. Lakatos turned around, and his eyes widened in shock as he recognized the captain.

John grinned. “Forget your toothbrush?” Then he whipped his arm up and cracked the younger man across the jaw. Lakatos fell sprawling to the floor, clutching at his head and glaring at John

“Are you out of your mind?”

“Getting there. What’d you tell them?”

Lakatos staggered to his feet, muttering “Tell who?” His hand dropped to waist height; John’s reaction was a reflex. He drew his pistol and pointed it squarely at the Techie’s face. The boy looked terrified now; he backed up a step and raised his hands.

“I have got no time for games, boy. What do they know?”

“You’re... you’re...”

John was practically hissing now, cold and bitter from eight years on the run after the Independent Spinward Republic fell apart around his ears. “Dunno what I am. You’re a damntechie spy, though. What do they know?

He heard a deep, resonant voice from the direction of the infirmary. “Hate to say it, captain, but I think you might be mistaken.”

John took a half-step to the right, pivoting to keep his gun trained on Lakatos and bring the preacher into his line of sight. “And what do you mean by that?” Is he the Fed?

“I mean exactly what I said, captain. “I beseech thee, think it possible that you might be mistaken.” What if he isn’t a spy?”

Lakatos was breathing deep and fast; his hands were clasped together on top of his head. Olivia had come through the bulkhead; she stood at the corner of the catwalk railing, carbine at the ready. John took a long moment, then twisted the corner of his mouth in something that was not at all a smile. “Guess you’re right, preacher. So, Doctor, if you wouldn’t mind stepping away from that crate? ‘Cos I’m wondering what you’ve been fooling around with.”

The boy’s face was blank; was he still tracking? Must be, because when John gestured with the revolver, he stepped away from his trunk. John called up to his second. “Livvy, keep him covered.” Looking it over... okay, operation like so. The boy had already turned off the code locks, so it was a simple matter to reset it to open. He and Brecht pulled the top off and looked down inside.

Looked at a stack of books, a bundle of towels, some electronic gadgets wrapped in transparent foam... Lakatos must have recovered from the shock of being held at gunpoint, because he barked out a harsh laugh. “What did you think you’d find in there? A hundred kilos of nitrolabe? A gun-runner’s cache? A slave girl in cryo? That’s my luggage!
Last edited by Simon_Jester on 2010-08-17 07:35pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by K. A. Pital » 2010-07-17 04:15am

Commune, Zero. Umerian diplomatic mission.
Image
The giant "U" letter towered above other buildings in this sector of Zero. It was a tribute to Commune-Umerian relations. Few other civilizations had gained enough respect from the Commune to build them a grandiose, fully owned diplomatic tower. But then, it was easily explained - the Commune often had no relations with those "other" nations.

- We would like to note that we have recently authorized the distribution of our common anti-agathics to other civilizations, - spoke comrade Dinaera, - And while negotiations still rage in Zero, the basic laws have been set. However, your government obviously needs to make an informed decision. We will provide a sample for evaluation and testing to your laboratories. After that, if you agree, the shipments from Zero and New Leonov will become regular. A few hundred thousand injections every two months or so.

The Umerian officials sent to the meeting nodded. Umerians hand-picked only the intellectually skilled for official positions, which made dealing with them easier, thought Dinaera to herself - even if the Commune didn't entirely approve of their mode of government.

- I can warn you in advance, however, - Dinaera continued. - The Commune's anti-agathics are radically different from most similar substances in the known Galactic space, which I'm sure you already purchased and tried out, if only for the sake of scientific progress. Our technology's goal is practical immortality... - she tried to think. - No, actually, let me re-word that. The task of our basic model antiagathics is to maintain the human body without major overhauls like clouding for a timespan of roughly one thousand years. After this timespan, major overhauls are required at special clinics. Or clouding.

The Umerian officials were silent. Commune's female ambassador went on.

- Quite obviously, existence which extends to terms greater than two hundred years requires additional functionality that ensures social stability, as well as physical and mental stability of the biological lifeform. The antiagathic mixture fully subdues biochemical urges to procreate, leaving only the mind to contemplate whether it wants to have children or not. Also antiagathics constantly work on intensifying the brain's ability to forget, because the data capacity of the biological brain can be depleted very shortly due to inefficiency of biological methods of aquisition and storage of information, - in Dinaera's lips this could've had a racist undertone, considering her superiority as a cloud, but then again... Commune's clouds were forever linked to the Commune homo sapiens they originated from and were part of the same society. Acknowledging the biological limits was telling the truth.

- Intensifying... the ability to forget? - one of the ambassadors expressed interest for the first time.

- Yes. Like a human forgets useless details. The anti-agathics help the brain to erase very old or useless information. A side effect of that, of course, is that over centuries, the personality changes somewhat. In most cases the changes are insignificant, because the immediate memory keeps the personality more or less intact. However, in cases of people with severe mental trauma, like various violence, war and other stress syndromes, the change in personality after three-four hundred years can be significant. However, it does not burden the human himself at all. We have not yet devised a way to enlarge the brain capacity of biological humans to keep their memory ever fresh, - admitted Dinaera. - Also, the working of anti-agathics sometimes has to replace the human tissue with new artificially constructed tissue to keep the body going after hundreds and hundreds of years. However, that tissue is internally cloned in microscopic volumes inside the body. In no ways it can be considered "foreign".

- And the supply issues... I believe you mentioned the supplies are limited?

- Indeed. The Commune cannot create more than our productive capabilities allow at this stage. However, the population is relative stabilized and immortalized, 99,9999%. This is why we authorize intergalactic distribution now. We balance this effort with upgrading our technology at home. I hope, however, that your scientists, if they consider our gift valuable, can find a way to start a production of similar devices, - Dinaera looked at the man. - We trust your civilization to be sufficiently advanced not to abuse our gift.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by DarthShady » 2010-07-17 08:26am

Janus Colony, Wild Space
Image
Many planets had over the years fallen to the Swarm, infested to the core or simply consumed, leaving nothing but barren rock in the place of a once lush and beautiful world. This time however, the planet in question was of no significance to the swarm, so it would survive the coming storm. This time the Karlack had only one target, one which they needed to destroy fully - the planets inhabitants. There could be no witnessess to what had transpired on Janus, and so they came to end all life on the surface of the planet.

With most of the planets higher echelons of Government infested and answering only to their Karlack masters, much of the Planet's defenses were sabotaged and disabled, leaving the planetary defense forces and the civilians completely unaware of the shadow coming to consume them. Blind and deaf in a raging storm. And then on the very outskirts of the Janus system, light flashed from nearly a hundred Karlack ships exiting hyperspace.

Soon the ships moved to the planet and began to unload their deadly cargo, millions upon millions of Karlack Warriors and Predators rushed forth from their transports, like a tide of death they descended upon the unsuspecting humans of Janus.

The swarm had come and the cleansing of Janus Colony had begun.

Mercenary Warship "Crna Ruka", Somewhere in Wild Space

"Fuck! Fuck!" Sarah shouted as she furiously tapped her controls trying to find a way to escape their pursuers. "They're not giving up."

"Can we fight them?" Cirak asked.

"No fucking way." Sarah answered. "We have six Reapers and two Slicers on our tail. If we drop out of hyperspace...We'll be dead in seconds."

"You do realize they are faster than us, and that they are catching up to us." The cold voice of the ships AI, nicknamed Black Beauty by the crew, answered. "We don't have to stop, they will be on us in two minutes and then...they'll simply pull us out of hyper."

"Don't you think I know that?" Sarah growled. "How long to the meeting place? Our employer better be there Najrds."

"Considering how important this information is..." Najrds seemed lost in thought for a second. "He'll be there. And he said he would help us with our current predicament."

"Unfortunately...we won't get that far." Black Beauty said with a sigh. "The Karlack Ships are extending their tentacles, they'll pull us out of hyperspace kicking and screaming in thirty seconds."

"Fuck!" Najrds shouted. "We can't let them board us. Sarah, pull us out - we'll fight them. Beauty, send out a distress call."

"But..." Sarah was about to argue but then she realized, they had no choice, dropping out on their own was safer and they could at least try and put up a fight. "Alright. Here we go..." Within seconds "Crna Ruka" was back in real space, outnumbered and surrounded, but not giving up - the ship activated her weapons and readied itself. Seconds later with bright flashes of light, their determined pursuers appeared.
Image
The Reapers rushed towards the mercenary warship firing their powerful Omega energy weapons and launching salvo after salvo of deadly torpedoes. Explosions littered the lone ship as it desperately tried to fight back, launching salvo after salvo of missiles and firing its own beam weapons at the Karlack ships.

It was in vain though, even a powerful ship such as the "Crna Ruka" could not stand up to the relentlessness attacks of the Swarm for long.

"We're dead." Sarah said.

"Not yet." Cirak shouted at her. "Don't give up. Maybe we can..."

He was interrupted by Black Beauty mid sentence. "Several contacts exiting hyperspace, right on top of us. Its..."

Space flashed as the newcomers transited out of hyperspace to join the party. Within seconds they opened fire with their Plasma battery's and Lance guns, lighting up the space around the "Crna Ruka". But much to the mercenaries surprise, these new arrivals were targeting the Karlack Ships. Weapons fire and explosions erupted all over the place as the Karlack focused their attention on the new threats.

Realizing that they were out-gunned, the Karlack made a strategic withdrawal, and soon their ships disappeared into hyperspace. Much to the relief of the crew of the mercenary warship.

"I never thought I would be glad to see these bastards..." Najrds joked. "Talk about good timing."

"They're calling." Sarah said. "Voice only."

"This is Inquisitor Toraq of the Imperium of man! Prepare to be boarded! We're coming over to retrieve our AI."

"As employers go...we could have done worse." Najrds smiled.

"Yeah right." Sarah frowned. "I don't care as long as we get paid."

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by K. A. Pital » 2010-07-17 09:08am

Central Alliance. Comrade Eleven's official reception.

Eleven listened to one centuries-old song to himself - recorded in his mind. It went roughly like...

In my left hand a "Snickers", in my right hand a "Mars"...
My PR-manager is Karl Marx.
My face is a Madonna, inside I'm just decay...
Down on your knees, folks, orchestra, play...

CAPITAL...


His enhanced memory blocks - a function which was mandatory for all Commune ambassadors to other civilizations - already consumed tons and tons of information about the Central Alliance. The local network was very useful. It contained too much for his mind to consume without overloading - even the Commune's engineers were not gods. But the same engineers wrote special programs and protocols which started by first analyzing the finer aspects of the language, then starting to rapidly accumulate key knowledge through successive context-searches, related searches about the most important political and cultural events in the history of a civilization, and finally, transmit this knowledge to cloud Eleven.

This system was called mockingly called by the Commune's programmers "Lamarck" - as it was meant to "adapt" a single member of the species into another species very rapidly, being the opposite of the perceived slow effects of darwinian selection. The Lamarck protocol allowed Commune ambassadors to rapidly become knowledgeable enough about a culture that they could, technically, pass for an average citizen of that civilization. Of course, more obscure trivia remained outside the scope of the ambassador. But what he gathered in the few hours before the official meeting was more than enough. The meeting itself went well.

He was looking straight at the First Governor opposite the table. Veena was somewhere among other officials, but the cloud kept noting her presence from time to time. Eleven thought that the governor must be thinking - how does that thing eat? Eleven spent some time to thank his hosts for the evening, and only then started talking about real questions.

- I am genuinely interested in the plans of your civilization, now that you were transplanted here, - said Eleven, cautiously selecting the right words. - The event we have witnessed with your transposition is most unsettling. Our scientists have been investigating this transposition, but as of now, the results are not satisfactory. As you can understand, the appearance of a whole new Kardashev-III civilization in this sector has a certain... destabilizing potential.

As if the galaxy wasn't already destabilized, thought Eleven, but he left that to himself.

- If you could explain, at some length, what are the Central Alliance goals after the transposition, I'd be most grateful. I gathered a picture from the information about your history, but that picture is obviously incomplete. You have suffered a shock transposition in space, which can cause unpredictable consequences. As you obviously understand, this is not only my concern alone, but also that of my superiors.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by PeZook » 2010-07-17 10:02am

Deep space, sector Q25

"Captain to the bridge!", the ensign's voice sounded so incredibly worried that captain Edward Tyler, commander, StealthStar BBQ-76, sprung from his berth as if his ship came under attack.

He stormed onto the bridge still in his undershirt, pulling the uniform tunic over it. A glance ascertained that the ship wasn't in battle - but, curiously, half the bridge crew was physically gathered at the sensor station.

"Report!", Tyler barked. He was starting to get a bit confused. The situation didn't ring any of his alarm bells, and during his service aboard Wild Space patrol ships, he learned to pick up a lot of simple clues.

"Sir, there's something wrong with our sensors", the ship's first mate - a kid fresh out of the academy - sounded just as worried as the ensign manning the sensors.

Captain Tyler cocked an eyebrow and walked up to the crowd. He took a glance at the screen and grabbed a space jack to connect himself to the ship's computer.

"Zac, status update", he requested of the ship's AI. He felt something akin to a digital sigh.

"As I was attempting to explain to ensign Cobb here, there is nothing wrong with our sensors. We picked up a massive hyperspace transit moving through our grid square. Here.", the AI bombarded the captain's implants with data packets.

"Holy shit...I can see why the kid freaked out..."

"Yes. An object this massive moving at hyper through the shoals shouldn't exist.", the AI agreed, "At least not anywhere else in the galaxy."

"Get me on the line with sector command."

"Right away"

-------------------------------------------------------
+++CLASSIFIED TOP SECRET+++
++PRIORITY ONE++
+STEALTHSTAR BBQ-76+

Monolith w/escort detected in transit across sector Q25. Headed galactic west across Shoal space
Image
JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Siege » 2010-07-17 10:44am

Capital City of St. Gerard
Majella-3, Wild Space


The Liberation had ceased being a Liberation about twelve hours into the campaign. At that point the Free Militia or one of its guerrilla associates had initiated a fusion device that had taken out a full city block, thousands of civilians and, more importantly, two full companies of United Solarian Marines. None of the analysts aboard the Antares had anticipated the locals even possessing such devices, much less use them in such a flagrantly self-destructive manner, and were still at a loss to explain either. Not that it would have mattered if they could: the Overwatch had blown a fuse when it heard of the loss of so many soldiers. Not minutes later the first heavy landers penetrated the atmosphere, delivering their cargo of DGI-11 drones and HK-72K2 Terminator main battle tanks to the battlefield below.

At the same time, the city of St. Gerard was reclassified from a 'contingency zone' to a 'full spectrum battlefield'. That meant, in layman's terms, 'anything goes'. The USMC had brought in its big guns; mass missile strikes rained down on targets that had previously been considered too civilian objects; collateral damage was now deemed acceptable if it meant the remaining pockets of resistance were brought to heel. Although no-one would admit it aloud, the remaining civilian population of St. Gerard was now considered very much expendable.

Strangely enough, considered John Baylor, no-one seemed to have bothered to ask what the point of any of this was. How could the population be expendable if the objective of the entire operation on Majella was to 'liberate' the population? Liberate them from what, anyhow? Violence? Because the way he looked at it, the USMC was doing a hell of a lot more violence to the planet than any of the militias could possibly have managed by themselves. In a matter of hours, entire swathes of the capital – what remained of it, after the Paladin Group had nuked its space-port and a third of the city – had been transformed into lanes of rubble by concentrated marine firepower. Tens of thousands of civilians were fleeing the city in terror, but even more were locked in by the fighting. They were in particularly deep shit, because both the marines and the militias were opening up with everything they had, causing some really quite spectacular feats of destruction in what remained of the city center.

From the command cupola of his Blackbird Lieutenant Baylor watched the stream of refugees moving toward the rear of the USMC lines, and felt a pang of sympathy he knew he wasn't supposed to feel. He was a Replicant, a bio-engineered soldier, born for war and to be, well, not unfeeling per se, but at least calm, cool and collected when it came to the issues of civilians caught in an active war zone. And yet he couldn't help but feel sorry for the hundreds of men, women and children whose only wish right now was to get as far away from the noise and violence as possible, leaving all their possessions behind.

On a hill in the near-distance, maybe a dozen kilometers away, sat the ruins of the Capitol Building. It had once been a gaudy white post-classical building adorned with columns and domes reminiscent of the First Blossoming, the galactic golden age immediately following the Diaspora. Now though its facade sagged and many of its domes had collapsed. The Capitol had stood at the very edge of the blast wave caused by the bombing of the planet by the Paladin Group, and it had taken heavy damage in the process. The ruins were now the headquarters for the warlord commanding the Free Militia, a certain August Bulfinch who had styled himself 'field marshal' in the typically grandiose manner of dictators and despots everywhere.

Fire lanced down from the skies, and the air above the Capitol Building burst crackling into blinding white light as the theater shield deflected the energy of the mass missile strike into the atmosphere. John gripped the rail of the cupola to steady himself when the tornado-gale backblast of the strike washed through the street. The refugees yelled as many of them lost their balance and fell. For a panicked moment it looked as if the mass of refugees, their nerves frayed by the constant warfare, might stampede, but the marines under Sergeant Alders managed to forcibly restore order, yanking the fallen bodily to their feet, aided by the mechanical muscles of their hardsuits. Baylor sighed and returned his attention to the ruined white building in the distance. Despite the efforts of the orbital artillery the Capitol was still standing, its shield adequate enough to disperse multiple simultaneous missile strikes – another technology that the analysts insisted shouldn't be present on Majella. And yet, there it was. Baylor was certain Star Force could melt its way through that shield, but then knowing the USSF they'd probably annihilate half the continent, a level of overkill the USMC obviously wasn't yet prepared to risk. No, if they wanted Bulfinch dead – and it very much looked like that was what the Overwatch wanted – they were going to have to do it the hard way.

There was a slow, rumbling noise not unlike that of continental plates colliding, and suddenly one of the low-level habs to the left of the streets began to implode in slow motion as something slow, inexorable and utterly massive plowed its way through it. The first thing visible was a gigantic cannon that slid from the cascading clouds of dust like the snout of a gigantic metal beast. Behind it followed a vast dozer blade and then the massive armored bulk of the HK-72K2, a small mountain of plaz-steel bristling with pretty much every weapon a war fighting machine could conceivably need. Behind it more similarly massive shapes powered forward, demolishing an entire row of buildings simply by driving through them. The first Terminator tank swung its main turret toward the capitol as its massive tracks ground the concrete ruins of the former hab into dust. The secondary turret and its heavy plasma guns, Baylor noticed, tracked the nearby streams of refugees. He rolled his eyes as a stream of data hit his vehicle's antennas and was filtered into his own implants. John switched to A Company's tac-net. “Alright marines, the panzerjockeys are here,” he said and his Blackbird rose up on its suspensor-skirts, nimble and utterly diminutive next to the enormous mass of the Terminator. “Let's go kill us a warlord.”
Image
SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
There'll be a bodycount, we're gonna watch it rise
The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-07-17 12:18pm

[Hey Teleros, I couldn't wait and decided to go ahead with posting. If anything is wrong or inappropriate, just tell me so I can edit/fix it mang!]


Continued!
IBGV wrote:Agent Spozavik, the Bragulan spy, walks into the office of Sidney Hank one day and asks, "Hey Sidney, would you want to work for Bragulan intelligence? They pay pretty well."

Seeing Sidney Hank go purple with shock, he quickly adds: "Hey Sidney, could I borrow a glass of sugar?"

Because Agent Spozavik is smart enough to know that people only remember the ending of a conversation.
SOMEWHERE in Altacar 3

Image

'Trade liaison Dryznyl Shpechtkov' finished his meeting with Nick Weiner. The meeting went well. Agent Spozavik didn't even have to tear the puny human's face with his bare bear Bragulan claws. He left the Altacarian government building and went back to his ride, a luxury AltaCorp hoverlimo extensively modified by the IBGV to be extremely well-armored and well-armed, with repeating K-bolters concealed under the headlights, and side-spraying nuclear flamethrowers behind the anti-gravity hubcaps. The hoverlimo sped across the Altacarian cityscape, bypassing traffic and zipping by an oversized MacMillan holo-advert.

In the plasma-proofed vehicle, Spozavik relaxed himself and took comfort in the luxurious space of the vehicle. For humans, five could fit in a single seat of the limo. For the considerably much-broader Bragulans, it could only sit two. But aside from the various IGBV-planted listening devices placed to ensure their own operatives don't defect or utter treasonous things, Spozavik was all alone in the backseat of the limo. He opened a tiny refrigerator and poured himself a drink.

"You shouldn't be drinking on the job, you know," a voice said to him, and Spozavik wondered if it was his shocktrooper-chauffeur, but it wasn't. The voice came from a cathode ray tube telescreen emerging from the seat beside him.

"Gryznk, what a pleasant surprise," Spozavik finally said when the telescreen finished emerging from the seat beside him. Even outside the Bragulan Star Empire, it seemed that the telescreens were still omnipresent. "What news do you bring?"

"That Collector ship has left the system."

"It has?" Spozavik asked, rhetorically.

"It has." Telescreen Gryznk answered, also rhetorically.

"So it has."

"Yes, it has." Telescreen Gryznk sighed and rolled his beady Bragulan eyes at Spozavik. "Our sensor-ships detected it leaving mere minutes ago."

"And where is it heading?" Spozavik gave up stalling and finally asked.

"To Pendleton." Telescreen Gryznk answered. "Our sources heard that the Pendletonians came to the Collectors to ask for aid against the Anglians, and the machines said yes."

"I see," Spozavik's eyebrows rose. "That's not like the machines. Tell me, where did your sources obtain this information? From Wild Space rumors, or the trader grapevine?"

"From insiders in the Pendleton government, and from monitoring the Pendleton slave stocks, the Collector bank accounts and their slush funds."

"I see again," Spozavik muttered. He lowered one of his eyebrows, but kept the other brow raised. Just in case.

"All aspects of Bragulan intelligence, not just the IBGV, are closely watching the Collectors, Spozavik. At least, we're closely watching what we can watch from the Collectors. Their technology is lightyears ahead of everything we've got, and even the Sovereignty and their little pet grey alienoids - those damn Apexai - can't match them. But those Collectors just keep on frolicking about Wild Space, trading information, buying slaves, and whenever we try to grab one of them, they just vaporize our agents. And even when we get them, they even vaporize themselves to prevent capture. Out of spite!" Telescreen Gryznk went on. "But if we ever end up getting our hands on a piece of that Collector tech... those technoarcheologists at Bolshaya Chernovyi will end up eating their own shit, I tell you!"

"So, you want to capture that Collector ship heading to Pendleton?" Spozavik ventured a guess.

"No, of course not!" Telescreen Gryznk laughed, his head bobbing in the telescreen. "We don't have any warships that far out, you should know this."

"Then what?"

"Then you get your butt down over to your shipping associates, and tell them to relay orders to our trader associates in Pendleton," Telescreen Gryznk commanded, pointing at Spozavik in the telescreen. His grubby finger poked at Spozavik, but thanks to the telescreen's screen, he couldn't actually touch Spozavik. If it were a 3D hologram, it might've been different, but this was merely a 2D display without even technicolor. Gryznk was in black and white. "Tell them to watch the Collector ship, watch it good, and relay their recordings through comm-net to our next-nearest outpost so even if they get caught or blown up when the shooting starts, we can still get the data we need. This might be a rare glimpse at a Collector ship in combat, and we need to know as much of it as we can if we're ever gonna grab a piece of their technology. We need to know what it can do, how much damage it can dish out and how much damage it can take so we can figure out just how many nukes we'll need to cram up their mysterious metal mothers-"

"I get the picture," Spozavik responded, cutting Telescreen Gryznk off.

"Good, and you better get it developed." Telescreen Gryznk retorted, and then the telescreen retracted back into the seat cushion.

Agent Spozavik shook his head and rapped the glass separating him from his shocktrooper chauffeur. The glass slid down and the chauffeur leaned back to face him.

"Sir?" the elite Imperial Legion shocktrooper asked.

"Take me to Interstellar Spaceways."

Image

They arrived at the neatly polished slick glass and concrete corporate HQ of the big interstellar shipping company. Interstellar Spaceways, the company that owned the Queen of Space, the vowel-laden cargo vessel bound for the Bragulan Star Empire. Agent Spozavik walked into the edifice of materialic capitalistic humanistic greed and took the turboliftalator to the top floor, and then strode into the main office of one Samuel "Sammy" Isaacson. The CEO of Interstellar Spaceways.

"A pleasantly warm uncomfortable human day to you, Mister Isaacson," Spozavik said with his typical growling guttural Bragulan accent.

Sammy looked up from some holograms on his desk and looked at the Bragulan in surprise. His mouth gaped and he tried to articulate something quite inarticulate. ""Oh... oh.... oh! Mister Shpechtkov, I didn't know we had a meeting scheduled today!"

"We didn't," Spozavik replied bluntly.

"Ah, well, I see. Very good then, no matter, have a seat, Mister Shpechtkov. What brings you here on this most auspicious day?" Sammy regained his composure, and his Altacar politeness, and gestured Spozavik to sit.

"Thank you," Spozavik sat down on one of the chairs. It creaked, and felt like it was about to break under his weight, so he decided to stand up. Seeing this, Sammy also got up, not wanting to be rude to his guest. Not that Spozavik minded, he wasn't going to be long anyway. "I came here to informally thank you for all that you've done for the Bragulan Star Empire, Mister Isaacson. The starving populace of the Rygnskrgnvk, the men, women and small children, are eternally indebted to your diligence and quick action in sending those vowels posthaste. You have our gratitude."

"Oh, you're welcome, of course. More than welcome. Our services will always be open to the good Bragulan people," Samuel Isaacson beamed. To earn the gratitude of the Bragulans, of all people, was very heart-warming. Potentially, it could also be very wallet-filling. "Just give us a call, and we'll be ready to do what we can!"

"Yes, very good. The Imperial Ministry of Plentiful Supply and Demand Regulation and Registration and the People's Department of Limited Foreign Interaction and Human Affairs have decided that approaching Interstellar Spaceways was the right choice," Spozavik said, flattering the company's CEO.

"The company tries its best to not just meet our clients' expectations, but exceed them as well," Isaacson replied, using his best corporate-talk PR jargon. "To go above and beyond the... capabilities of other space trading companies."

"I see," Spozavik smiled, showing his fangs and canines. His mission was to send a message to the IBGV's people in Pendleton, to give instructions regarding the imminent Collector ship. But as a diplomat, it would be unbecoming of him if the transmission to that slaver shithole ended up being traced back to him. He obviously needed proxies to do it for him, associates who he could rely on. The IBGV had plenty of that. But, again, as a diplomat, he couldn't just deal with any Wild Spacer trader, or crusty space gypsy. To maintain his cover, his contacts would have to appear respectable and proper - like the kind of people a diplomat would associate with. Yet these contacts had to be able to do what needed to be done. In this case, deliver a message to a faraway world, indirectly, through a hyperwave node somewhere the Altacarians and Sovvies couldn't eavesdrop on. Thus, his associates in the shipping industry would be perfect. "What other capabilities does Interstellar Spaceways have that these other lesser companies don't?"

"Why, a lot. You name it and we've got it, Mister Bragulan!" Isaacson spread his arms wide.

"Good, good. Because I have been wondering if we could expand the services Interstellar Shipways currently provides the Bragulan Star Empire." Spozavik said slyly. "Does your company deal in, say... intersystem couriers?"

Image
Image "DO YOU WORSHIP HOMOSEXUALS?" - Curtis Saxton (source)
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by PeZook » 2010-07-17 04:02pm

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Pendleton, Lee, Astaria District
Bleak Castle

"Yeah", Eli nodded enthusiastically, "I know it's not exactly what you expected, but that's the deal. We don't know the layout of the ship, we have no idea what sort of capabilities those machines have, their numbers, force dispositions or even the most basic architecture of their computers."

The room felt silent for a moment. To Gill's surprise, not a single one of the gathered BOSS agents winced at Eli's colorful description of their upcoming task.

"Of course", Eli continued after a dramatic pause, "Doing the impossible is what we specialize in"

"All right, I think Mr. Gill had enough encouragement for the moment", colonel Parkhurst saved Gill from further abuse, "We have been ordered to defer to your authority for the uration of the assignment, but I think it would be best if you let us do the operational planning."

As the initial shock was wearing off, some of Oliver Gill's legendary composure began to find its way back, "Just a minute. I want some input into this thing. Don't try to sideline me!"

"Of course", Parkhurst smiled, "You will provide invaluable intelligence on the Collectors that will be essential to the success of this operation. We can't pull it off without you."

Smirks amongst the BOSS operators showed quite clearly what they thought of Gill, and he himself wasn't an idiot.

Whatever, I will take all the credit anyway, he though to himself.

"But of course! Let's get started right away."

Montalba Spaceport

"Flight Tango Bravo Eight Six Niner, you are cleared for landing at pad 43. Switch to channel seven and follow instructions of descent controllers."

The jagged, black ship glided elegantly through the atmosphere, only partially following the instructions. It avoided all traffic with trivial ease - mostly due to the fact Pendleton introduced strict travel restrictions after the suicide attacks against its orbital installations, so LEO traffic was minimal, but also thanks to its almost unnatural agility.

At ground level, swarms of BOSS stormtroopers flooded the pad 43 complex, and began herding the usual ground crews outside. They manned the control areas and deployed several hidden heavy weapons. They were here, ostensibly, to provide security - however, should the fragile alliance with the Collectors break down, they'd disable the ship and take it via force.

The preparations were done quickly and efficiently - and right on time.

The hangar doors opened. A low rumble filled the open space, as the ship gently lowered itself towards a perfect landing.

Commander Jellico watched the scene unfold from the elevated ground control station, where he had access to all the dock's security systems. There was something about that ship - either its uneven predatory shape, or perhaps the way it did not communicate with flight controllers at all...or maybe it was the utter lack of a cockpit or hatches? Jellico shook his head. It wasn't the time.

"Inform the ministry they have arrived. I'll go greet them at the pad.", he instructed his subordinates, who for some reason seemed awfully glad it wouldn't have to be them who'd do the greeting.

On the pad, the ship hovered silently above the ground, before extending its landing gear. It took a few minutes a previously unseen ramp appeared and touched the ground, exposing bits of the craft's jet black interior, and spewing a white halon fog.

Our of the fog, a figure emerged, dressed in a leather jacked, pants and dark glasses. It was a human - at least as far as Jellico could tell.

Image

"Gre...greetings!", the BOSS officer said, with just a bit of stutter, "I'm colonel Jellico, here to provide security for the dock."

The man looked around. Jellico tried not to gulp, seeing that he looked directly at the hidden weapon positions BOSS set up around the hangar.

"We will provide our own security", the huge man answered. Jellico could sweat he had a slight smirk on his face. BOSS troopers reeled back a few steps as more than a dozen skeletal figures descended from the ramp, toting giant guns. Jellico raised his hand, signalling his men to stand down.

"With all due respect, sir", he said slowly, trying not to stare at the robotic killing machines eyeing his men with unflinching, red sensor globes, "I have my orders. We are at war, and the threat of sabotage is a very real one. One can't be too certain."

"Very well", the human-like Collector agreed, which surprised Jellico a little - shouldn't he have argued a bit more?, he thought. The Collector continued, "I am supposed to meet with representatives of your government to discuss the strategy."

"Fine. Would you please wait here while I arrange transportation?"

The Collector nodded. Jellico retreated a few steps and began to make arrangements through his radio. He could already see this was going to be a very long day - on one hand, he was glad the things have finally got here, but on the other...what the hell were they expecting to accomplish against the Anglian armada with one tiny ship?
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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

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

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Pollux » 2010-07-17 06:29pm

January 3400, Pfhor Prime
Palace of the Ambassadory, High Minster Hlsfard's Office


Hlsfard sighed. This Pendleton thing was getting out of hand far, far faster than he had, in his pessimism, expected it to.

"So, the Inquisition has confirmed that an "intervention" is inevitable at this point?" His three eyes searched the face of his Minister of Anglian Region Relations, which, as always, was impassive and emotionless as ever.

This little whore is going to have my job one day, he reflected. If there even is a soul in there, he hides it well.

"Yes." Minister Pfhsnan, in addition to not displaying any sort of emotion ever, was famous for his taciturn mode of speaking.

"Well, great. Amazing." Hlsfard hurled himself to his feet, and began pacing his ornately-decorated office quickly. "What are the prevailing feelings of the Archcovenant on this matter?"

"About half support defending Pendleton, the other, nonintervention. Some even support entering on the side of Anglia."

"That wouldn't be half bad for our image abroad..."

"Sir?"

"Pfhsnan, if the Empire would just give up playing this ridiculous game of half-allowing, half-proscribing slavery, and just get rid of it, I swear to you, half of our enemies would disappear overnight." Hlsfard paused for a moment, and shook his head.

"No, no, that's not quite right. Our foreign enemies would disappear. It would mean civil war here. You knew that much, at least."

"Yes, sir."

"Who exactly is supporting intervening on Pendleton's side?"

"Many nobles, practically all of the Church."

"Feh. Doesn't surprise me at all." Hlsfard seated himself once more, pulling a crystal cup and a bottle out of his desk. "Still, I'm not completely giving up hope yet."

"Sir?"

"You know as well as I do that the Archcovenant is nothing more than a little costume ball the Emperor holds to make the little nobles and corporates feel important." He poured a brown, fizzy liquid into the crystal cup, which shimmered and sparkled when the beverage touched it. "The real decision will be made by the Council, which is what I'm worried about."

He drank, gulping down the fizzy stuff with gusto, slamming the glass down onto the table when it was empty.

"The Council is mostly nobles, and I know that many of them wouldn't mind at all if slavery was to be "reinstituted" tomorrow. And since you have told me that the clerics are so united, that means that the Church is probably cooking up some sort of official proclamation as we speak, which will push the fence-sitters over the edge."

He poured himself another glass, and drank more sedately this time.

"I'll do what I can, of course, but... Pfhsnan, I'm afraid we may be heading for war here."

"I'm sorry, sir."

"Yeah, so am I." He drained the last of his drink, and stood once more, turning to face the holographic galactic map that dominated one of the walls of his office.

"So am I."
"Minnesota has 10,000 lakes. This is roughly 4,000 times more lakes than people."

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Lonestar » 2010-07-17 11:54pm

Image

Dominion Defense

"No contribution" to Pendleton Operation
Space Marshal Reinsch confirmed today that that Grand Dominion will "in no way, shape, or form provide material or logistical aide to the Anglican-led Pendleton Operation." Citing tight operating budgets, Reinsch also stated that observers deployed would be limited to Shepistani vessels...[More]

No new capital hulls until FY3403
As the economic situation in the Grand Dominion improves the procurement budget for the War Ministry has risen for the first time in 73 years. 12 CLs will be ordered for the GDN, as will 4 [Medium hull] Space Assault Star Cruisers, the first such vessels ordered in 40 years. The War Ministry has confirmed that "over a hundred" smaller craft are being order, although no knew capital vessels will be ordered until "at least FY3403". Instead a comprehensive upgrade program for the Star Dreadnoughts[Ultra-Heavies] will be started, under the broader purview of the "Fleet Rehabilitation And Modernization"(FRAM) program....[More]

RESULTS: 12 new CLs, 4 Medium vessels, a hundred smaller vessels, and +50 pts to Ultra heavies announced. Details forthcoming.
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-07-18 12:09am

Vessel Strahl
Approaching Pendleton System, The Outback
22 January 3400



The lounge beside the ship's kitchen was where Quinn gathered the others to take part in their investigation. Rydia and Maria sat on one sofa while Rana and Sara took another; Vanrya stood to herself and Quinn took a chair. "We will masquarade as two separate groups. Vanrya and Rana, you will masquerade as smugglers looking to gain funds by spiriting slaves off-world before the Anglians arrive," Quinn said quietly, nodding to Maria and Rydia. "I will be the contact you introduce as reference. If I need to show status, I shall introduce you two as my personal slaves."
"What are we going to be looking for?", Maria asked.
"The trader that handled my family's sale is a man named Alex Danton," Sara said. "He has worked with the de la Poers for years and I'm sure he's still planetside, looking to sell off his slaves to avoid trial by Anglian authorities."
"He would not get out as quickly as he can?", Vanrya asked.
Sara shook her head. "Honestly, I don't think so. So much of his wealth is tied up in the slaves he owns or has rights to that he would lose much of his worth by doing such. And it is unlikely he could off-load them, most slave-owners would be trying to sell of their slaves to the most daring or to the government, not buying more."
"Then he may still have your family in his custody," Quinn stated. "We will have to investigate thoroughly."
A question came from Rydia next. "If I may? What kind of slaves would we be masquerading as?"
Quinn and Vanrya exchanged uncomfortable looks; both turned to Sara. "Well..." She swallowed and lowered her eyes. "Young ladies like ourselves can sometimes be taken as personal maidservants or governesses for children. That said, your unique.. colorations and general attractiveness would also make you potentially valuable as escorts."
"You mean prostitutes," Maria remarked.
"Yes, though not in the most crude fashion. You would not be made to street walk. You would be kept for hiring out to clientele from high society."
"I would like to avoid having to appear with them," Quinn remarked. "We should not leave openings for an astute observer to detect our ruse."

"Danton has been fairly cautious, from what I know of him," Sara stated. "But I don't know if he'll have reason to distrust you. I mean, everyone on Pendleton should know they are facing imminent invasion, there is no reason for them to fear Anglian spies finding out about the restoration of slavery because they already know."
"Nevertheless, if the need is there, Maria and I will do what is necessary," Rydia promised.
"I pray it will not come to that."
A few more points were covered, though the discussion was interrupted by the sudden sensation of a hyperspace transition. Curious, They headed toward the cockpit where they found Balthier and Umarbacca in the pilot and co-pilot seats. Ahead of them, in the far distance and magnified for convenience, was a blue planet that Sara recognized immediately as "home". "Well, we are back here," Balthier noted, "and far sooner than I'd ever hoped to be. Any plan on where to land, Ms. Pontcaire?"
"Sweethaven," was her answer.
"Ah, that lovely town. Not far from Montalban, but relatively quiet. Hoping to avoid attention are we?"
"Yes, and..." Sara stepped a little closer and watched one of the screens at Balthier's station show a shot of the area. "Danton's estate and the de la Poer estates are actually between Montalban and Sweethaven, here and here." She indicated the estates' rough positions on the screen. "If my family are at either place, it will be easier to get to them from a berth at Sweethaven."
"Very well, we make for Sweethaven. Do buckle up, and stay away from our video receivers, I would dislike having to explain your presence should some orbital traffic controller recognize you."
And with that, Strahl continued on her course to the planet Pendleton.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Dave » 2010-07-18 12:39am

Corian Shipping (Departures) Office
Edra, Ojofu sector (K:12)

"The Whippet still hasn't shown up in United Sectors."

"Still? It's been nearly a week!" complained Coalan, the manager.

"I know, but our client is complaining it never arrived." replied Maura. "I requested the harbor records and they didn't see it either."

"Pirates, you think?"

"I'm afraid so. Do you want me to put in a notice with the Navy?" she asked.

"Yes." he said, dejectedly. "Shard it, that's the third one we've lost in a month." he said in a flash of anger.

"Long-Tailed Kite didn't make port yesterday either."

"What?! Another one?"

"Now, now, it's too soon to be pointing fingers. It could just be a slow day in hyperspace, or the client hasn't signed for the cargo yet, or any number of things." said Maura, trying to calm him down.

"Crak. Forget it. I'm going to take lunch."

"See you later, then."

Coalan locked his workstation and headed out. The sun was shining and the sky was clear. The air was a coolish 30 C, but he wasn't planning to be outside long. He headed down the street, away from the cluster of low blocky concrete buildings that formed the Corian Shipping campus and towards the small temporary bazaar inside the area enclosed by the more permanent stores. Here almost a dozen small open air stalls stood arranged in a circle, with various banners and signs offering things like telecommunications devices, slogan-emblazoned clothing, festive noisemakers for the upcoming holidays and fast food.

It was at one of these last stalls that Coalan stopped. He asked for a cold reting meat sandwich, topped with various vegetables and sauce. The stall-worker pulled the meat out of the cooler, sliced it into wedges and threw on the various garnishes. He thanked the worker and paid, swiping his card against the stall's built-in reader. Sitting down, he took a bite and tried not to think about shipping schedules and pirates. His mind wandered. Maybe...

He knew it was wrong. It was a controlled substance, illegal. He'd been trying to quit for a month now. But it really made him think clearer and focus...

He had finished his sandwich and found himself walking out of the mini-bazaar towards the alleyway between the clothing shop and "Gorrdo's Specialty Organic Food Store." He moved into the dark alley and rapped quietly on the back door of the foodstore. The faded and chipped green door opened a moment later with a slight creak.

"Hullo, friend." said Gorrdo, the soft light of the alleyway illuminating him better than the darkness inside the back room of his store. "Something special I can get for you?"

"Uh, yes. Ah..."

Gorrdo chuckled. "It be ginger you be wanting, I presume?"

"Yes. Um..."

"One moment." The shopkeeper disappeared inside his store, returning with a small tin of powdered ginger.

Coalan lunged for it. greedily, all tact lost now that he was in sight of his prize. The shopkeeper held it just out of reach, tsking, and quoted a figure. Coalan's eyes bulged but he withdrew his wallet from his belt and counted out most of its contents.

"Thank ye, friend." and the tin was handed over. "Was there anything else you be wanting?"

"No. Thank you!" cried Coalan, and he turned deeper into the alleyway. He turned a corner at an alleyway intersection, and, looking around in the gloom to make sure no one could see, took the tin in his hand and tapped out a few decigrams of the light-brown powder into his other hand. Leaning back, he opened his mouth, moved his tongue up and let the powder slide out of his hand into the hollow where his tongue would normally rest. Coalan licked his hand clean and closed his mouth.

The effects of the ginger were almost immediate. A warmth ran down his body where the chill had just been. Energy suffused into his bloodstream; he felt cunning and powerful and alive! He was invincible, indomitable, immortal. He could handle the petty problems at work, hell he could tear the ears off a Bragulian! He could hijack an ancient bulk freighter and hunt down with precision every last space pirate in the galaxy!

Fifteen minutes later he came down off his high and crashed. He jumped at shadows, whimpering and moaning in terror at the sight of a small flightless insect crawling on the ground. He had no friends. His job was a dead end, he was broke, and everyone was out to get him. The police were hunting him for crimes he had been set up on, the sun had disappeared forever, he had every incurable disease known to medicine. He wished for nothing more than for the world to swallow him whole and be done with it.

Over the next half hour he slowly recovered his sanity and his composure, and, shivering, he made his way back to his office.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by K. A. Pital » 2010-07-18 06:53am

Commune, Zero. Supreme Soviet seat.
Image

The Supreme Soviet was like a clockwork mechanism. Debates? They ran inside the massive internal network, where instant messages were submitted to be seen by everyone - first everyone inside the chamber of the Palace of Soviets, later by all citizens. This type of debate left no room for backpedaling. People never forgave, neither could they forget - the transcripts were published on the Communet, and woe to him who had slipped and angered the society.

Resolutions? They were usually passed without much haste. Cloud Nine, being the chairman for many decades already (he replaced Vector when the latter quit), resumed reading the agenda.

Today the matter of confusion was Bragule. Bragule. The mighty Bragulan Star Empire that the Commune had virtually no relations with and very sparse knowledge about, sent it an official communique using common tightbeam. The desires of Bragule were unclear, much to the dismay of Commune's planners.

- Bragule? The barbarians! - posted out one of the people's deputees.

- But they adhere to principles that other societies frown upon - a planned economy, and they operate a nuclear energy grid! This is very advanced, despite their archaic mode of government. Bragule is clearly a better acquaintance than most in that sector of the Galaxy, - someone countered sharply.

- So what? Anyone with a planned economy is our friend now?

- Bragule is like a mighty warrior with a tiny head! - posted someone, using colors to stress the point.

- Well maybe then we should help them and be their brain, so to say! - laughed Cloud Nine, and the debate abruptly ceased. Everyone knew how eccentric was the Commune's new leader, but his remarks, especially when he chose to speak them out instead of typing, always came unexpectedly.

- Are you saying we should... use the attempt and ally with Bragule, so that their military power shall serve our goals? This is hideous! Militarism and treachery combined...

- Perhaps not. But Bragule is like an elephant in the room. You can only ignore it for so long. Sooner or later it will turn and it can splatter you... if you are unlucky, - replied Cloud Nine. - Anyway, I see the Soviet is facing difficulties. I propose that we consult the Core.

The hall was quiet. Nobody typed, spoke or tried to send telepathic messages.

- Then it is decided. We will contact the Core as soon as it will have time to speak with us, - Cloud Nine announced. - The session is adjourned. Thank you, comrades.
Lì ci sono chiese, macerie, moschee e questure, lì frontiere, prezzi inaccessibile e freddure
Lì paludi, minacce, cecchini coi fucili, documenti, file notturne e clandestini
Qui incontri, lotte, passi sincronizzati, colori, capannelli non autorizzati,
Uccelli migratori, reti, informazioni, piazze di Tutti i like pazze di passioni...

...La tranquillità è importante ma la libertà è tutto!
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-18 02:59pm

HMNS Lochley’s Retreat, Sector X-18, The Outback

Precisely on schedule, the Umerian Space Security Force commodore strode into Lord Fisher’s office. She saluted to pay respect to the foreign admiral; Fisher acknowledged the salute and invited her to take a seat. Umerian dress uniform wasn’t well designed to impress; the cut of her dress uniform was unflattering, the fabric a dull matte gray, and the decorations and rank badges understated by galactic standards. But Fisher recognized a number of the narrow ribbons on her chest. At least one of them looked to be a high decoration for valor- a point of far more importance than any question of fashion design.

“Commodore Hazarika, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

“Thank you. The feeling is mutual; your reputation precedes you, sir. Before we begin our discussion, though, I must request that the examination of my ships’ drives be delayed for eight hours.”

The admiral raised an eyebrow. The Umerians had had a longer voyage than most of the other coalition detachments, and only their selection of fast ships had made it possible for them to arrive before the lead wave of the expeditionary force departed Lochley’s Retreat. Fisher had spent several days dealing with the allied contingents. The multinational force had acknowledged Anglian command of the overall operation, since they were the only ones with the plans to launch one. But that still left the military commander on the scene to deal with the idiosyncracies of half a dozen fleets. Fisher’s temper, short to begin with, was starting to fray. For now, he kept that under control, at least until he had more information.

“Oh? And why might that be, commodore?”

“Sir, we’re beginning a replacement of the starships’ drive components out of our own supplies from Cornucopia, and your inspectors wouldn’t get an accurate picture of the state of our drives before the spares are in place.”

Fisher nodded. He recalled a memo from the Admiralty some days earlier:
”The Umerian contingent shall consist of the Conductor-class light cruiser Directrix, the FF-6800 series frigate San Dorado, four cutter tenders of the AGP-3600 series (serial numbers 3617, 3625, 3640, and 3651), and the fleet replenishment ship Cornucopia.

“The USSF has advised that USS Cornucopia shall carry sufficient spares to completely replace the short-lifetime parts of the Umerian contingent’s drives many times over, along with machine shops adequate to refurbish used components that are deemed salvageable. This provision was made with the intent of allowing the Umerian contingent to operate in shoal space as long as possible.

“ONI analysis of Umerian shipboard systems indicates that they are highly modular, providing ease of maintenance at the cost of significantly increased volume and slightly increased mass.* This modularity extends fully to the drive, where all but the bulkiest and longest-life engine components can be removed and replaced in a matter of minutes, given the proper equipment. This means that the Umerian contingent can spend a much higher percentage of their time operating in shoal space without fear of drive failure, so long as they are given an opportunity to return to their supply ship for regular refurbishment.

Based on this assessment, and on the fact that their force is weak in starship-level combat units but strong in shoal-experienced sensor platforms, the Admiralty recommends that the Umerians be used as a forward picket for the Bannerman Gap blockade force.

“*ONI speculates that this tends to contribute to the relatively low per-ton combat power of Umerian ships below the wall, as illustrated by comparing the attached file on Directrix to our own New Chatham-class, which has approximately 50% greater firepower and considerably improved survivability in a hull only 15% larger and 35% more massive than that of her Umerian counterpart.”
“Very well, Commodore, provided that your personnel complete the replacement on schedule. The Bannerman task force is relying on your forces’ rapid repair capability; this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate it to the allied navies.”

The Umerian smiled. “Sir, my engineers won’t let you down. I’ll instruct my ships to be prepared to receive your inspection crews at 0900 hours system standard time, on the dot.”

Lord Fisher, as was his habit, probed the woman’s mind, and found that her thoughts were exactly in line with her words. Hazarika was certain of having the drive repairs complete well ahead of the deadline she’d announced- one that was quite reasonable, given the operational plans. “I find your confidence comforting. Let us discuss the deployment doctrine of your forces, and see about adapting it to local conditions…”

Cutter Tender USS Guernsey, AGP-3651

Commander Gowon had an advantage when it came to entertaining Anglians aboard his ship. In the long slow civil war between tea and coffee drinkers in Umeria, Gowon was a firm partisan for the cause of tea. That was an especially good way to win their favor when they'd gotten up early in the local morning. He had the leader of the inspection group in a pleasant mood as they talked details.

“So, what do your crews think of the cutter squadron’s drives?”

The Anglian commander stroked his chin. “Good. Very good, given the mission. Everything’s like new, of course, but that stands to reason since...”

Gowon’s lips parted, showing startlingly white teeth in an ebony face. “...since it is all new. But beyond that?”

“The drive configuration is good- well, not so good top speed, but that’s not what we need here. Interesting choice of alloys for some applications, going through the files. Why so much three-sixteen?”

“To avoid electrical breakdown. It’s a compromise on other properties, but we can handle higher voltages across the plates. We get less pitting and ozone damage- less risk of blowout if we hit a rough patch, and an easier job refurbishing the old parts after we swap them out.”

“Clever. Why don’t you use the same design here on Guernsey?”

“We’re not the ones planning to submerge in the Gap and hover in shoal space for days. Our components are changed out too, as you saw, but the modifications are special purpose for shoal patrol units. We never use them on a ship intended for more than about fifty light year range, and that includes tenders.”

“I can see why. You’re sacrificing a lot of speed under all conditions.”

“And all we get for it is running shoals longer than normal before anything melts down. Not even faster, not by more than a few percent. Just longer” Gowon shrugged.

The Anglian sipped his tea. “Still, it’s a nice trick. Very helpful in this situation. Between the improved drive endurance and your rapid repair capability, you’re keeping up a rotation on the ELINT cutters of... what? Keeping four on station, four in transit, and four in repair at any time?”

“That’s the doctrine. We’re going to push the envelope a bit, though; the plan is for five on station, four in transit, and three in repair. That lets us push the detection and early warning coverage out farther without losing coverage.”

“Hmm. Bit of a speed run for the cutters in that case, no?”

“Under our usual operating conditions, yes, but that’s in the Great Barrier. The pilots can run a little faster than normal here, as long as the spares keep flowing. We should be all right until resupply runs low, and that won’t happen for at least ten days of active operations.”

The man nodded. “I see. Well, I need to go file my report. It’s been nice talking to you, Commander; you and your people seem fairly ready.”

“Well, we couldn’t send much, but we sent our best at the mission... if I do say so myself.”
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-07-18 07:13pm

(Note: this is the second half of last night's post, finally complete.)



De la Poer Estate
Pendleton, The Outback



Katherine had awoken to find herself in her old bedroom, waited upon by one of her father's servants, and with her nicest clothes ready for her. After a night of further rest she had arisen to have breakfast with her father and other guests, then had spent the noon time hours in holocom discussions with the Government on the issue of impending Anglian invasion, including an immediate debriefing of everything that had happened. They maintained her on leave from her relatively junior position in the Foreign Office and, as a consequence of what she said, placed Sara Pontcaire on the list of traitors who were to be shot on sight. Presuming she was alive of course, but Katherine was fairly aware of Springer's failings and considered it possible Sara escaped from him with the aid of ESPers. Ultimately it didn't really matter. If alive, it was unlikely Sara would ever return to Pendleton, and deep down Katherine was convinced this was the end for her nation and people. New Anglia meant business this time, with a Liberal Government that was led by a veteran of the last suppression and someone familiar with how Pendleton's resistance ruined the last attempt at reforming her planet. The appeal to the UN had been stonewalled by their Foreign Secretary's office and was unlikely to get anywhere.

There was, of course, hope that the Empire Star Republic and other states unwilling to see Anglian annexation of Pendleton occur as a matter of principle would win UN support to block it... but even then there was no avoiding the fact that the galaxy was now roused against them. Even if Pendleton was to retain sovereignty in the end, it would only be under conditions, and oversight, that would turn their sovereignty into a sham and would impose abolition completely upon Pendleton, with military force to prevent the general support the slavery institution held from the lower and middle classes from permitting its return the moment foreign occupation ended. Abolitionist leaders would be installed and backed by foreign guns in such a way that no popular overthrow could be feasible.
She felt the need to be by herself. Katherine took to walking around the estate, taking in every scent, every gust of wind, as if it were the last happy memory in her life, for she suspected it would be. She opened her mind for the first time in months.
Unfortunately it wasn't a very pleasant thing. Instead of simply sensing far off minds at mundane tasks, she sensed powerful malevolence mixed with an intense, terrible pain. She snapped her mental barriers back into place to protect herself from these sensations, though her curiosity led her to follow them.
It was the spare storage garage on the estate that Katherine found the source of those feelings. She found the door locked, which was odd, so she walked along the side and found a window, simply to find it too was covered. With her curiosity so strongly piqued, she opted to clamber up the storage boxes and equipment kept along the outside to one of the upper windows, which were not covered.

When she looked inside she soon regretted it. She recognized her rescuer/captor Kara only barely. Her blond hair was no longer so well-kept and tightly held behind her head, but cascaded around her face and shoulders in a disheveled fashion. Kara was the one nude now, standing with arms and legs spread-eagled. Black cables, fairly thick, were connected by latches to what looked to be plain gray bracelets and anklets placed on Kara, while the cables originated from attachments locked into place on support columns inside the structure. The angle was mostly from the front and, though there appeared ton be no major marks on Kara - and no blood at all - Katherine could see she was suffering terribly.
The other woman, Delilah, stood in front of Kara. Katherine recognized the devices in her hands as the same thing Kara had used on her. Just one had been a source of pain Katherine had never imagined possible; Delilah was using two on Kara's bound form, coaxing scream after scream from her, the sounds inside finally audible through the thinner upper glass windows.
Despite all her impulse to get away, Katherine found herself bound by morbid fascination. These Ebon Bladers were known on Pendleton very loosely, after all, and it wasn't often one saw them. She stared, wide-eyed, as Delilah tortured Kara in ways that made her heart freeze and her blood curdle. Despite all her mental defenses, the intensity of the experience and her proximity meant she could feel Kara suffering in a faint, though unappeasing, fashion.

Kara's head raised, with what seemed to be a great deal of effort. And despite everything, she seemed to be looking toward Katherine. She felt her heart skip a beat at realizing Kara was looking right at her. It lost another beat when she felt a weak voice speak in her mind. Come to see what might have happened?
Katherine reflexively shut closed that slim connection just in time, for the torture immediately resumed, and Katherine would have certainly felt it more acutely. She already intended to leave, but as if to prompt her doing so immediately, a second, darker voice came to her mind. Get out of here, you stupid girl, this is none of your concern!
Katherine heeded the voice and began clambering down. As she did so, she heard the first voice - clearly Kara's - return to her mind. Have you asked your precious father about me yet, Kath... Suddenly a terrible wave of pain strung along the mental connection and reached Katherine. She yelped briefly and went to her knees from the intensity of it, all before her mind could cut the link and the pain that came with it.



Delilah stood silently with both agiels pressed against Kara's sweating, heaving body. Kara's screaming would have made her ears ring if she had not been wearing specialized earplugs; with them, she was capable of nonchalantly enjoying every second of agony rippling from Kara's body. "You were trying to project into de la Poer's daughter," Delilah noted. "Just what is your game, Kara?" When Kara remained silent she pressed the agiels against her again. With Kara's coarse screaming drowning out the prospect of actual speech, she switched to sending the message toward Kara's mind. Being silent won't help. You know that you will break soon enough. All I need is the slightest opening.
Kara could not answer until the torture stopped for the moment. You trained me to enjoy the pain, remember?, she answered telepathically, giving her "mind-voice" the cackling humor she would have used in open speech if her exhausted lungs would have permitted it. Funny, you seem to be holding back... showing mercy to me, Delilah?
That earned her a smirk. "Normally I wouldn't mind ravishing you with the agiel, but I'm under instructions to prolong your suffering, not sending you into shock in the first hours of it." She gripped a handful of Kara's blond hair and used it to pull her head back. Smirking, Delilah gave a sensual lick to Kara's neck, tasting the sweat of her handiwork as if it was a delicacy to be enjoyed. "I couldn't help but notice, Kara, that despite having her as a prisoner for many days, you didn't play with Katherine once. That disappoints me."
"It... does?", Kara rasped in reply.
"You showed mercy to her. You showed mercy again." Delilah's face betrayed some hint of rage to it. "I trained you better than that!"
"Didn't mean... to disappoint," Kara answered, again leaning toward sarcasm. "Katherine didn't do anything to me to deserve...."
Delilah responded by inflicting more torture. She tried to breach Kara's mind again but Kara's mental defenses held. It was, after all, what she'd been trained to do. The attempt to torture mercy and compassion out of Kara's soul had obviously backfired but it had left her hardened and able to withstand pain, even to enjoy it. More love taps? was the taunting answer from Kara's mind. Are you actually going to torture me to death or is this just foreplay?

Delilah almost killed her right there. A part of her wanted to turn the devices up to max and to see Kara die screaming, her body consumed in raw agony. But she stopped herself; her orders were clear. Kara was to be broken again, to assure she leaked no secrets to others, and then she was to be tortured to death as slowly and intensely as possible. "You know what my orders are. Trying to taunt me into ending your life so quickly won't work."
At that, despite all the pain in her body, Kara broke out laughing, even against further pain of one of the agiels against her armpit. "...Don't need... to.... The Anglians are coming," she managed through the alternating laughter and cries of pain.
"Oh, I'm not worried about the Anglians," Delilah cooed. "This time will be different, you see."
"Different?", Kara asked weakly.
"Yes." Delilah stepped away from her briefly. Kara's hair was in her eyes, making her unable to see well, though she could at least see Delilah putting up her agiels. But her heart chilled at seeing what Delilah picked up. They were more torture devices, the same technology as the agiel but in different form, made to stick to the body and to be controlled from a remote device.
"I've decided I need a good bath and a meal," Delilah stated. "So I'm cutting this session short. But don't worry, Kara, your suffering is going to continue on through the night." She placed the devices at strategic points on Kara's body. "I'll see you in an hour or two, maybe then you'll finally be out of that early stage of defiance."
At the press of a button, Kara's world dissolved into pain.


Walter de la Poer had grudgingly accepted Delilah's request to attend family dinner. Thankfully his wife was gone; she had never approved of his working with the group and would have thrown him out of the house for daring to seat her at the family table. No, only Katherine was left to join him and his ally. They wore comfortable clothing, if slightly formal, while Delilah was a fresh set of leather clothes and smelled fairly clean. Through the dinner she spoke little while Katherine, between furtive looks to her father and his guest, remained uncharacteristically quiet.
"I thank you for the meal, Mister de la Poer," Delilah remarked after finishing her plate. "I have a prisoner to return to, however. By your leave."
He nodded, pleased to see her gone and fully aware she sensed that. Not, of course, that she'd care.
Katherine remained quiet for a short time afterward. But despite his lack of ESP he could tell, easily, that his daughter wanted to talk. "Katherine, if something is bothering you..."
"The woman who freed me from the prison and... took me prisoner. She said something to me back on the ship, after talking to you." Katherine looked her father straight in the eye. "Did you agree to give me to the Ebon Blade?"
He almost said "No". It would be both lie and truth, but it was what he wanted to say. But in an instant he knew Katherine would feel the half-deception and it would erode the trust they had, trust that their circumstances demand be maintained. "In a manner of speaking," he admitted balefully.

Katherine's expression changed to show shock and a bit of feeling betrayed. "Father...?!"
"I was never going to actually give you to them!", he insisted. "But I had to promise them something as collateral. Money alone wasn't enough, especially not what I had available, as our money here is worth so little to the outside galaxy." He sipped nervously at his wine glass. "You have to understand, the last time the Anglians came... it'd never been so bad. BOSS did their usual routine of assassinating sympathizers and arranging for demonstrations and riots against the occupying force, our hidden ships began 'piracy' on the Anglian supply lines and fomenting it elsewhere to keep their ships from spread wide, the bureaucracy kept them rattled and unable to rule, and we'd arranged for a number of slaves to be carefully hidden in the countryside with false papers and loyal guardians to keep them in line, but.... they meant business. This fiery abolitionist of New Anglia, Sir Elijah Lovejoy, had been made Chairman of Oversight for our world. He was a virtual dictator, my dear, a heavy-handed moralistic tyrant who held sham trials and charged good honest men and women of Pendleton with exaggerated crimes of abuse against slaves, aided by the rebellious amongst those slaves we failed to hide on time. He seized the property of even the innocent on the slightest pretenses of connection to the slave markets, suspended municipal governments whenever Anglia's abolitionist fifth column failed to win election - which of course was fairly often - and generally did everything in his power to destroy our nation and render us the latest conquest of the Anglian Empire."
"But he was killed, I remember the stories of the... accident..." Katherine began to put two and two together.
Regardless, Walter continued. "I had, as you might remember, placed a large role in the process of supporting underground BOSS operations, and of hiding good slaves from ruinous emancipation, but he was closing in. And despite all our pressures, we could not get him or his Empire out. Lovejoy had to die, my dear, and he had to die in such a way that his death could not be blamed on us. Such would only have made our subjugation a manner of honor to the Anglian monarchists."
He took another drink before continuing. "I had worked with the Ebon Blade even before the occupation, procuring recruits for them among troublesome ESPer girls. They were the only ones who could pull it off. But they demanded a high price, more than just money or immediate access to ESPer girls. To kill a government official of New Anglia, even clandestinely, was against their practice of doing everything to avoid coming to full public attention. So... I agreed that I would procure for them an ESPer girl of great potential even if it meant giving them you."

Katherine couldn't help herself. She gasped in horror and tears appeared in her eyes. "Father, how could you...?!"
"I would never have let it happen!" He slammed a fist on the table. "No, it was simply to appease them. I would spend my entire fortune to find a suitable girl for them. Luckily, I did not have to." He took in a sigh. "Because I had Sara Pontcaire."
Katherine's mouth hung agape in surprise. "Sara...?"
"She was born around the time you were. And she had every bit the potential you did. By the law I could not see her trained, of course, and I resolved to arrange it carefully, clandestinely, as she neared 12, so that she would be seen as a fitting candidate by the Ebon Blade. But I didn't need to. You always were such a stubborn girl, after all. I knew that if I made Sara your personal servant you would not resist training her to use her gift, so that you could have a playmate to share your power with." Walter smiled. "The plan was perfect... until you grew so attached to her."
"So that's..."
"....why I encouraged you to be distant toward her, yes," he finished for her. "Granted, you ended up recognizing your station and her's after all, but it would have been far too late. Either way, though, I didn't want to break your heart. Fortunately Danton came through. Some pirates had raided a minor settlement down toward Wild Space. They had thought they were hitting a precious metal mine but when they realized they'd been duped they sought to make up for their costs by taking prisoners to sell to us. This woman Kara... she was an 11 year old child at the time, taken with her mother. I bought both, intending to give Kara up instead of Sara. I had to shoot the girl's mother when she resisted. The Ebon Blade were actually fairly displeased with me, it seems they would have preferred taking the mother too for use in the girl's training... but it didn't matter. They had their recruit of high ESP potential and I had fulfilled my part of the arrangement. You were safe."

"Do you know what they do, Father? How cruel they are? How could you get so close to these monstrous women?"
"Because of necessity. To protect our people," de la Poer insisted. "We live in a galaxy that tries to pretend that everyone is capable of being free and which yet enslaves so much of its populaces into dreary labor, keeping them mentally numb through petty leisure and pleasures. They're hypocrites, all of them, and they are afraid of us because in our direct honestly we make clear the true state of things; that some are born to lead and be masters and others are born to be led as slaves."
Katherine gave a stern nod, but this ideology, which had been spoon-fed into her since she could think, now seemed strangely... hollow. After all, by that logic, it was perfectly acceptable for New Anglia to enslave them, wasn't it? And she had committed herself to retaining a free and independent Pendleton. How could her world stand up and proclaim its rights against New Anglia if it held to such a logic? Such had tormented her since she had faced interviews, and debates, with Anglian abolitionists while incarcerated, and given the mood on Pendleton she dare not speak of it.
Her skin still crawled, too. For all of what her father said - and she was fully convinced he was telling the truth - he could have failed. Sara might have died, or proven unfit... Katherine could've been the one taken after all. She might have ended up like Kara, just as the woman stated. She felt the need to go, now, and be alone, and so she asked to be dismissed from the table.
Walter gave a nod in agreement, needing a rest himself after facing the task of telling his daughter the truth of the fate he had almost caused her, a secret he had hidden for almost thirty years from everyone, including his own late wife.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Coyote » 2010-07-19 04:39pm

Outer Frontier
Central Alliance
Patrol Ship 3099





"Oh, shit," the scanops officer muttered.
"Can I get a more detailed update?" the Captain asked over his shoulder.
"Long range ping on one of our E-220's," the scanops said. "Looks big... wait, we got another. Annnd... one more. Definitely three hits, one cruiser size, two destroyers."

"Set condition one," Captain Tuan Raybanks said, sitting up in his chair as the crash arms came to rest over his lap. He set his magnetic crashcup on the side of his chair and spun to face the communications officer. "Comms, give an update burst to the Phaecon and bring all other escorts together."
"Sir," the commops offier acknowledged.
"Do we have triangulation on the approaching ships?" Captain Raybanks asked.

"They appear to be in a defensive traveling formation, transmitting some sort of hails," the scanops offier said.
Captain Raybanks looked at the communications officer, waiting for her to finish updating the situation to their baseship and the other scouts. Her thick, Thenn fingernails danced, clickety-click, over the holoboard. She was the newest member of the crew, and so far proven to be pretty good, but still unproven in a crisis. Until the mass displacement we all went through...

"Decoding now, sir," she said, instantly running the transmission from the approaching vessels through her system.
"Ensign?" the Captain asked after a few segs had passed.
"Coming in now, sir," she said, "All the languages in this... dimension are new, sir, and still being figured out." She nervously ran one hand through the hair on the side of her head, settling her tightly-woven braids behind her ear where her earpiece spoke in quiet whispers. "Language Group 7A, sir. Being assembled and patched through in a moment."

"Seven-Alif?" the weapons officer asked. "There's a 7B?"
"'A' denotes official communication," the comms officer said, "Near as we can tell, but we assume that is the proper form of the language by its use. 'B' denotes language used in entertainment transmissions we've intercepted and we assume it is rife with pop-culture references. 'D' is for stuff still unclassified; regional dialects, language distorted to fit music rhythms, artificial constructs... here we are."

"...this is Magister Ailill of the Cruiser Cibrán, representing the Eoghan United Commons..."

"Send this to Phaecon control and update our status."
"Sir," the scannops officer said, "Thirty-nine-eight and -nine-seven have formed with us," he said, with a wave towards the overhead tactical holo. The blue crosses representing their fellow pickets were at their overwatch positions, each about a million kilometers out.

Captain Raybanks acknowledged with a nod. "Okay," he said, "Anything from the Phaecon?"
"They've set condition one and are responding," Ensign Niaatcha replied from her comm station. "If the alien ship attempts to enter space forcefully we are cleared to engage."

"Affirm," Raybanks acknowledged. "Let's let our visitors know they should hold position until our cruiser gets here."
"Patching through," Niaatcha said, then nodded at him.
"Magister Ailill of the Cruiser Cibrán," he said, "This is Captain Tuan Raybanks of the Central Alliance Patrol Vessel Thirty-ninety-nine. You are requested to hold position until a vessel with Centrality representation can arrive on-station, how copy, over?"



On the Cibrán bridge, three gunboats appeared; each about 3000 tons hull weight at standard g.

Comms officer glanced up, "Commodore contacts are broadcasting ident verbally, synthesized." The lieutenant's eyes were a little wild, a little too wild at that. "Leading contact id PV 3099, Central Alliance."

Commodore Eseld shifted in her restraints to get another good look at the vessels, claws ready and itching over the weapons free keys. Central Alliance? Does that mean that we are now outnumbered by Centrists? Ships aren't similar at least. "Magister, your thoughts please."

Ailill was away in a secondary comms node, out of the way of the orderly bridge routine but easy to contact. He closed his eyes before answering. The whispers teased his mind, but no breath disturbed his fur, just like it always was when he used his mind senses to observe spirits. "Commodore, I do not believe that Dovanists would proclaim themselves to be an Alliance and not a Hegemony. I suggest that we listen to them, for now."

"Noted. I want the Destroyer Pryderi to fall to far rear guard at a quarter light-minute, Conlaoch you are to stay in support. Comms, signal our intent to hold for now."



Patrol Ship 3099 and its escorts waited, until hyperspace rippled and the Phaecon erupted into realspace somewhat behind and above the smaller vessels. While the Eoghan destroyers were easily twice the size of the Avenger-class patrol ships, the Central Alliance cruiser outmatched the Cibrán.

"It's their show now," Raybanks said, easing back in his command chair. His relaxed nature was all show; he was being very careful with the Central Alliance's first actual contact with a new civilization in this unusual space.



CGSV Phaecon

Image



On the bridge of the Phaecon, Captain Shenna Yulo examined the ships represented on the surrounding tactical holo.

"What have we got, Wenz?"
From his chair, Lieutenant-Commander Wenz didn't look up from the datastream projected on his personal holoboard. "We now have a definite identity to Language Group 7, confirming what we've picked up... here is what they look like, based on media we've managed to intercept." He projected an image of the peoples of the Eoghan United Commons.

"Huh," Captain Yulo said, "Well, I take it they aren't some of the rabid anti-alien racists we've been observing," she said. "Patch me through." The communications officer nodded at her, and she spoke in casualy, easy tones.

"Cruiser Cibrán, I am Captain Shenna Yulo of the Central Alliance Navy star cruiser Phaecon. Welcome to our region of space. To what do we owe the pleasure..?"

"Curiosity during a long patrol, it isn't every day one finds something new among the stars," or that a previously unknown civilization has ships that rival the Adeptus Astartes Strike Cruisers. "Captain, may I request permission to board?" With the volume down he told his aids to prep a launch. The internal channel beckoned for his attention, "Yes Commodore?"

"Are you certain that this approach is the best for the commons?"

"Let us just see, shall we."

The reply from the Phaecon was quick. "By all means," Captain Yulo said, smiling. "We'll clear an approach for you on our starboard landing bay. Beacon is being transmitted now." A nav beacon was transmitted as well as a computer graphic of an approach lane, technically unnecessary but visually helpful. "My executive officer will meet you at your convenience. And if I may add... that is a very graceful vessel you have, Magister. My compliments to your artisans."

"Thank you," the Magister replied, a little surprised at the suddenly informal tone of the conversation. But then, Captain Yulo was a military officer, and while apparently trained in first-contact scenarios, wasn't the stuffy or overly-formal type.

The transfer to the Central Alliance ship went smoothly, and the Magister and crewers accompanying him took in every detail of the Phaecon as they flew past. It was a design alternatively both elegant and yet brutal, a sort of trident shape laced with guns and gun ports, mass drivers, and sensor arrays. Its military aesthetic was unmistakable.

Image


The shuttle entered the bay and a polite voice came over the comms informing them that the landing would be carried out by tractor beam. The shuttle was incompatible with the Central Navy docking system, so it was placed gently on an open pad with magnetic docking clamps used for security. The door opened; and the Magister descended with his team, Ork style boss-pole first.

"Welcome aboard," said a tall human male in a crisp military uniform. It was a simple, utilitarian cut of grey with very little by way of flashy accoutrements-- it was the work uniform of a Navy that didn't have time to mess around with pretty things. What does that mean to the rest of us? the Magister wondered.

The man extended his hand. "I'm Commander Ral Tenn. Welcome aboard the cruiser Phaecon." There were a handful of Central Navy personnel present acting as an ersatz greeting party; the patrol group had obviously not intended to meet foreign dignitaries.

"Commander," the Magister introduced himself. "We noticed your civilization out here in an otherwise quiet part of the Galaxy and thought we'd introduce ourselves."

"Glad someone did," Commander Tenn said as he guided the Eoghan party through the crowded and busy bay.


Image


"Although obviously we weren't initially prepared to make contact ... please pardon us if we appear to be a little slow on the uptake, diplomatically speaking," he said with a smile. They were lead through a short but wide passageway full of humans and aliens, all interacting freely. They wore similar versions of the same grey uniform, with only a few variations thereof. The aliens were like none the Magister had ever seen before, although there were some that seemed to bear a remarkable resemblance to the Eoghan themselves.

They entered a large meeting hall where a small knot of more formally dressed Central Navy officers met them. One of them was the Captain of the ship, Shenna Yulo, who had clearly changed into her formal dress uniform in some haste. In the background, one officer was still trying to surreptitiously smooth out his jacket over his t-shirt. Magister Ailill stifled a slight smile and kept what the humans he knew of called his 'poker face'. Introductions were made; a formality to be sure as there were too many officers to truly be expected to remember them all.

"Well, I must admit," Captain Yulo said, "We're glad to finally meet someone here. We have, of course, been monitoring broadcasts to get a... mental picture of the region we now inhabit--" the Magister noted her polite way of avoiding the term intelligence profile "--and I have to be honest, there's been some trepidation on our part. We see a lot of what appears to be anti-alien propaganda put out by humanocentrist states. Obviously this puts us in a very cautious mindset," she said as she glanced around the room. Her meaning was obvious, as humans and aliens of various types interacted freely.

“Luck then has guided your hand, you are almost as far away as you can be from those that you’re concerned about.” Odd that humans knew nothing of the Universe that was dominated by their nations, but the Sensor crew had had their own theories; and it still wasn’t as odd as the Chamaran race or Nova Terra’s parallel human evolution, if only just. “Captain, it should please you to hear that it is not my governments policy to make needless enemies out of others. Right now I have 3 days before my vessels must leave to rendezvous with another group.”

"Good to hear, on diplomatic counts," Captain Yulo said, "We've been seeking to extend trade but wanted to get the measure of our nearest neighbors before signing any agreements."

“As an interim measure of good will I feel it is my duty to leave a member of my staff and a small escort until more permanent setup can be prepared. For now though I am curious about your society and peoples, as I am also sure that you are curious about my own. We should exchange notes...”



At a later Meeting--

“We were wondering if you could tell us more about the gifted? They come up rather infrequently in the notes you handed over, but are never well described. What really makes them gifted?” Commander Ral Tenn had carefully chosen his opportunity to break from the tedium about the proposed temporary diplomat. Magister Ailill’s long furred tail swished, betraying his otherwise stoic “pokerface.” Tenn was beginning to recognize this as a sign of slight personal annoyance.

“There isn’t to much more to say, it is best if I demonstrated what it means to be gifted. Grasp my paw.” Tenn did so, carefully avoiding the climbing claws. “Now focus on my paw until it feels no different from your own.”
Unlikely, fur feels too different for it to be anything like my own hand. Well maybe not…
“Now stretch your hearing. Those murmurs that I know you’re hearing are just the barest of the cacophony some hear. I am lucky for I am not cursed to be subjected to that otherworldly noise until I die, and those voices don’t call for my voice to be ended. I have even heard the fluttering melody that seems to exist where even the stars do not shine.” The paws stealthily slipped out of Tenn’s grasp, “There are people gifted founded in almost all known societies, and their powers vary widely in both strength and scent. The most powerful I can name are human.”

"Strange," Commander Tenn said, clearly unsure how to feel about the revelation. "Very strange. This... this kind of stuff exists only in our fiction."
"Your people have no... gifted?" the Magister asked, curious. "Enhanced mental powers?"
"No," Tenn said, "I could barely hear what you described... we have stories, and someone always claims to have these powers, but they are always revealed to be tricksters."

Magister Ailill examined the man's face-- he was telling the truth. How interesting, he noted. "You don't seem the slightest surprised to see so many other humans, I note."
"Where we come from, the notion of humans having been seeded throughout the Galaxy is an accepted fact," Tenn said. "Although it happened so long ago, no one knows why."

Ailill had, indeed, read that much, but was curious to see this human's reaction. "An interesting history; the concern over humanocentric nations is... understandable," he said.
"We try to avoid past mistakes," Tenn said, "But then, perhaps that means we invent colorful new mistakes instead, yes?" he asked with obvious attempt at humor.

"We shall see," the Magister said, smiling in return-- the polite smile, the one without the canines bared.

They were interrupted by the arrival of the Captain, who the Magister had learned as of a species called the zhulescu. "Gentlemen," Captain Yulo said, "I have been in contact with Souula Base, who has in turn been in contact with the capital, and it is agreed that Commander Tenn shall accompany you, with four assistants." She looked at the Magister, and seemed almost apologetic. "These are, I admit, military intelligence personnel. However, they will be in uniform and identifiable as intel personnel. It is the best we have on such short notice."

"The person I am sending is Detective Fionn, a member of my service who has had a distinctive service as liaison officer in several international investigations, and he is bringing a group of inter-service specialists..."







Results:
Eoghan Commons and Central Allianc einitiate peaceful contact.

[OOC: Sorchus and I have been working on this since the "Prologue" thread first got posted! :lol: About time!]
Something about Libertarianism always bothered me. Then one day, I realized what it was:
Libertarian philosophy can be boiled down to the phrase, "Work Will Make You Free."


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

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-07-19 05:58pm

Eel, Pendleton, Libertia District

Image

Agent Spozavik's message to Pendleton had been delivered via courier, using a relay station in Lochley's Retreat in order to minimize the transmission time through the shoals. The IBGV's people in Pendleton had received it just in time too, as it did not take long for the Collector ship to arrive at Pendleton. By then, the IBGV's people were already preparing for their mission. It was a simple one, merely monitor the Collector ship from afar with passive sensors, as to avoid any unwanted attention, and - if possible - observe the Collector ship in combat against the Anglians.

The Bragulans in the IBGV still found it hard to believe that the Collectors had cast their lot with the Pendletonians. The inscrutable machines, of all people? They weren't even people!

But the IBGV knew better than to take the Collectors' actions at face value, or to presume anything of them. The Collectors were collectors, interested only in collecting things they deemed collectible in whatever crazy collection criteria they had. The unfeeling machines did not have any sympathy for the Pendletonians. For all anyone knew, the Collector ship may not even see any combat against the Anglians. They may just as well abandon the Pendletonians to the Anglians at the very last minute.

So, even if the Collector ship did not engage the Anglians in combat, the IBGV's agents in Pendleton still had to observe them. Even if the vessel did not display its firepower or technological weaponry, even without going into battle against the Anglians (or the Pendletonians), whatever actions it may take would still give the IBGV important information on the Collectors. The IBGV had already collected volumes of important information on the Collectors. The only problem was making sense of it all.

But for the IBGV's people in Pendleton, none of that mattered. The IBGV's operation on the planet was relatively small in scale to the normal activities of the organization. All its Pendleton branch did was purchase predetermined quantities of slaves, human preferably but not necessarily, filling up a quota devised through some obscure mathematical formula conceived by the IBGV's Human Intelligence (HUMINT) division. A handful of humans here and there, a fairly small-scale operation that few would notice amidst a planet full of slavers, traffickers, exploiters and other assorted human cattle ranchers. Then when the time came, they would ship these captives off to the IBGV's Wild Space black sites for 'processing'. They would choose the captives with pertinent information on topics of interest to the IBGV, such as the Sovereignty if the captives were formerly citizens of the USS, or some other subject if the captives were something else - and then, through a variety of methods, the IBGV's technicians would extract this information from them however well they could.

However, there was another facet to the IBGV's HUMINT operations on Pendleton. The vast majority of the slaves would be natives of Pendleton, or fringe world yokels born from the Outback, far from the Sovereignty. These would have no information on the Bragulan Star Empire's enemies. Yet, they would have other uses. Purchased from their Pendletonian slavers, these peasants - particularly the young ones - could be molded to a purpose most suitable for the IBGV's plans. They could be indoctrinated and de-educated, raised and re-educated, Bragulanized into human agents of the IBGV. The galactic position of Pendleton would also be advantageous, for it was so far away from the Korprulu Sector where the Bragulan Star Empire, and its enemies in the Sovereignty and the Imperium, hail from that surely it would be too distant for the eyes and ears of the CEID or the Imperium's Inquisition. For quite some time now, the IBGV has been obtaining its human operatives from Pendleton - and other vile places like it.

Human intelligence took a very literal meaning for the Imperial Bureau of Galactic Vigilance.

But now, HUMINT was not their primary concern. The Collectors had purchased massive quantities of slaves in what was Pendleton's biggest blowout sale ever. There were no more slaves to sell, and what slaves were left were now being hidden or spirited away to distant plantations, faraway homesteads or off-world reservations. So the primary concern of the IBGV's people in Pendleton was now Collector intelligence. COLINT.

The IBGV operated a spy satellite orbiting Pendleton. It was a minor thing, unnoticeable, a little insignificant drone that looked like a weather satellite, or a space monitoring satellite, or some multipurpose sensor sat. Because it was, officially belonging to some minor Pendletonian spaceliner company, one that happened to be a front for the Bragulans operating on the planet. In normal times, the satellite could even relay information to the planetary weather network or space agencies. But these were not normal times, and now the IBGV had programmed the satellite to discreetly, innocuously watch the Collector ship.

Currently, the vessel was on the planet, on a starport at Montalba. The satellite drone watched it from afar and above, not directly overhead, but from an oblique angle. It would orbit regularly, not staying in one place as to avoid suspicion.

But it wasn't the only asset the IBGV had on Pendleton. One of their human agents was working undercover at the spaceport itself, as part of the staff. Meanwhile, one of their ships was also in orbit, rigged with passive sensors, officially serving as part of the Pendleton Picketers - one of a few civilian ships conscripted to aid in the planet's defense, to watch the skies for the coming Anglians. When the shooting would start, though, the IBGV spyship would derelict in its duties and instead record the Collector vessel's activities, and try its best to transmit this information to the nearest IBGV station outside Pendleton.

This was the extent the IBGV's Pendleton station could prepare for its impromptu mission. Pretty good for such short notice, but in any normal operation there were always risks and complications, nothing ever went according to plan. But in a situation like Pendleton's, with wary slavers preparing a last-ditch defense, an enigmatic shipfull of machines of indeterminate purpose, and an impending Anglian invasion force, anything could happen.

So the Bragulans on Pendleton did what they could. They waited.
Image "DO YOU WORSHIP HOMOSEXUALS?" - Curtis Saxton (source)
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Steve » 2010-07-19 07:44pm

Sweethaven
Pendleton, The Outback
23 January 3400



After arriving it had taken a day to locate Alex Danton. As it turned out he was due to oversee the launching of a vessel from Sweethaven, which made approaching him easier, yet still complicated. Sending either Quinn or Vanrya and Rana first to speak directly to him would have undoubtedly made him suspicious; thus they had decided on another approach, namely luring him in by letting him eavesdrop.
They waited until his inspection and launch was over before moving in. Danton was getting back to his vehicle when he first heard the shout of "You are being a fool!" Rana had made the shout, walking along beside Vanrya. Both looked the part of smugglers, wearing loose brown and dark garments off cheap material, Vanrya in a Dorei-fashioned sleeveless, shoulderless blouse that resembled a camisole and Rana in a grungy T-shirt a size too small (one of Kaylee's) and a work vest with knee-length cargo shorts.

Quinn was ahead of them. His dress was formal but belied someone of at least some means, the kind of dress meant to look the part. He turned back. "Do I look like a fool?! Anyone with a brain knows the Anglians have the Gap covered, you're just looking to profit off me!" With his gift he knew Danton was paying attention. Pretending to just take notice of him, he looked directly at him, albeit from about twenty feet away. "You, sir? Can you believe these smugglers think I'm stupid enough to think they can get my slaves through the Gap undetected?"
Danton chuckled at that. "You shouldn't worry," he remarked. "Everything will be sorted out well enough." He knew, in fact, that something was up and the government had an ace up its sleeve for dealing with the Anglians, he just wasn't sure what.
"Easy for you to say. I had two girls I was to offload, then the Tantalizer was boarded and everyone stopped buying," Quinn grumbled. "The Office of National Defense wouldn't buy them off me, they won't put them in hiding... if the Anglians land I'm dead!"
"Listen, we can get your girls off-planet," Rana continued, looking to play the part while Vanrya watched Danton closely. "And our asking fee is damned generous compared to the risk!"
"How, precisely, are you going to slip by the blockade?", Danton asked sarcastically. "Any ship coming through the Gap will be literally stripped by the Anglians and their allies."
"How can they strip what they cannot see?", Vanrya remarked, joining the conversation.

Quinn and Danton leveled looks at them. Realization dawned on Danton. "Your ship has a cloaking device?" His tone indicated his disbelief.
"The Dilgrud have a hoard of them," Vanrya pointed out. "It wasn't hard to get one off them."
"A Dorei did business with the race that tried to enslave and exterminate you?"
"That was over three hundred years ago," Vanrya noted dismissively. "I'm concerned with business and that alone."
"How much do you charge?"
"I've got a capacity of ten people in my holding spaces, if they're to be properly secured." Vanrya looked to Rana. "What, say fifty thousand pounds per?"
"What?! You said forty thousand!", Quinn protested.
"So we did," Rana said. "But we were being nice, and since you won't bite..."
Quinn continued to argue with them, haggling over the price offered. Danton remained quiet, but they had his attention, and so long as they did they continued their argument. Finally he seemed to have made his decision. "What if it's only one slave?", he asked Vanrya.
"Only one?"
"Yes. And her owner."
"Would the owner want one of our cabins. We only got a couple," Rana said. "Could cost more."
"Wouldn't be necessary, and the owner wouldn't need precautions for restraint so I think it reasonable if her cost of transport was lower? I believe if you were to offer a cost of seventy thousand my friend would accept?"
"Ninety thousand," Vanrya insisted.
"Seventy-five?"
"Ninety."
"How about seventy-five? I know for a fact the price can't go higher."
Danton had made that remark to ensure a softening of their position. Rana sensed he believed that his friend could not spend more than eighty and so she said such first. "Eighty thousand pounds." Vanrya shot her a scowl of displeasure, which Rana naturally ignored. "And we'll let them stay in one of our cabins, added comfort and... privacy."
"Yes, that will be most appreciated. I will make the arrangements for you. Where can I find you?"
"Hanger C-10," Vanrya said. "Knock four times."
"Very well." Smirking, Danton tipped his hat to them. "Good day, ladies."
To make things look good, Quinn began to haggle again. They waited until Danton was out of sight before moving back toward the hanger. Once inside, they found the others awaiting them. "How did it go?", Balthier asked.
"He's looking to move someone," Vanrya said. "A slave and her owner. Doubtfully him, though."
"Nevertheless, is he coming by to confirm the deal?"
"He will be," Rana confirmed.
"Excellent. We shall have a warm welcome waiting for him."



de la Poer Estate


The fairly primitive wireless phone maintained in the storage garage began to chime, just loudly enough that Delilah was able to hear it over Kara's screams. She left her captive to recover, briefly, from the day's torturing to go to it. "Hello?"
"This is Mister Danton," the voice on the other end said. Delilah recognized the name as one of de la Poer's business partners. "Mister de la Poer says you have need of off-world transport and I may have arranged it for you. A vessel that may have a cloaking device, I will arrange an inspection to make sure."
"Excellent. I will get back to you soon with exact instructions." Delilah looked back to Kara with a wide grin. "Well, Kara, it doesn't look like it matters if the Anglians come or not. I have us a ride out of here and back home. I'm sure you are looking forward to returning to the Tower as well as I am. After all, Lady Melinda has so much to talk to you about, and she still has her heart set on breaking the late Lady Deborah's record of longevity in execution." Delilah touched Kara with a very false softness on the cheek. "Now, where were we?"



HMS Dauntless, In Orbit
Lochley's Retreat, The Outback



Everything was finally in readiness. The main attack fleet was gathered and ready to traverse the Gap; the blockade ships were moving toward Bannerman. All that remained was departure.
Lord Fisher came to the bridge in full uniform, as befitted a man of his rank and station preparing to engage in conquest. He nodded sternly at the boastswain after his arrival was announced by whistle. Ahead of him, through transtanium windows, he could see the fleet arranged. The other five Star Cruisers, led by HMS Imperator herself, the Altacaran HMS Impressive, the Hiigaran carriers, the contingents from the NenAltKik, Shepistan, Gotham, and other states offering aid and paying homage to the task faced by the Empire. This was to be a demonstration of the will of Galactic Civilisation; that no state may proclaim slavery legal and survive its wrath.
"Send to Imperator; Ahead at in-system cruise, move toward the hyperlimit and prepare for transit," Fisher ordered. The Comm officer obeyed immediately, relaying his instructions. Every vessel in the fleet brought their sublight drives to life, creating heat plumes on every set of sensors in the system. And with all the finality of a tidal wave lurching closer to its point of impact, they began to burn out toward the hyperlimit of the system to begin the 80 hour voyage to Pendleton.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by RogueIce » 2010-07-19 11:11pm

Briefing Room, SRS Chimaera - Vector, Shinra Republic

Grand Admiral Leo Cristophe looked out upon the officers assembled before him. His collection of ships and troops had been named Joint Task Force (JTF) Paladin, and together they would execute Operation Alexander. The officers present were the senior command staff of the elements that would initially be deployed.

Rear Admiral Stacy Adams, current commander of Task Force 33 and also serving as the Fleet Commander for this operation. Beside her sat Commodore Adam Perry, who commanded Task Force 14, the assault element of the fleet. Also present was Major General Cecil Harvey, commander of the 327th Airmobile Corps "Red Wings" and beside him his First Brigade commander, Brigadier Cyan Garamonde.

Seated with Leo, at the front of the room, were Marshal "Kefka" Palazzo and Lieutenant General Marcus Anthony, who commanded XIII Corps. Although XIII Corps would not be involved in these initial stages, General Anthony was present as a courtesy. The intelligence officer of JTF Paladin finished his brief and moved back to his seat. It was at this point Leo assumed position at the center of the chamber.

"There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The Independence and Wasp will lead, with the reinforced First Brigade of the 327th embarked. They'll head straight to the capital region of the Doma system proper and make their presence known. The goal will be to see what kind of reaction we can get from comms chatter and other sources amongst the separatists. Any questions?" Seeing that there were none, he nodded. "Dismissed."

As the rest of the officers filed out, Kefka approached the Grand Admiral. "A moment of your time, sir?"

Inwardly, Leo sighed. "If you're going to ask again why I'm taking such a low key approach to start, I've already explained it to you. Yes, the President wants to send us a message. But if I go in there with the Chimaera and a whole gaggle of ships and troop transports, the rebels will go to ground and it'll be that much harder to find them. Right now, there has been no public announcement of what we're up to. I'd like to keep the element of surprise as long as I can."

Kefka still didn't look pleased. Leo suspected the army officer wasn't happy at all. Kefka was definitely the type to begin with overkill and work his way up from there. Either that or he was still annoyed because of the carrier's ESP Null Field. It wasn't common practice to run the field at full coverage when in friendly port. But then, Leo wasn't a common officer and believed in taking every precaution. The fact it also served to annoy Kefka - and thus meant the Marshal spent as little time as possible aboard the Chimaera - was just an added bonus.

For once, Kefka didn't seem inclined to argue the point. He merely came to attention and requested permission to withdraw. After Leo acknowledged and Kefka left for his shuttle back to the surface, Leo had an amusing thought. That null field really does work miracles.

*****

Meanwhile, on the surface of Vector, two 327th soldiers were cleaning and preparing their equipment. Biggs and Wedge were two of the lucky soldiers who would travel with the 1st Brigade of the 327th Airmobile to Doma ahead of everyone else. Not that the pair considered themselves all that lucky; truthfully, they much preferred Wall Market to the possibilities of battle and death. However, like just about everything since they had joined the Army together all that time ago, it wasn't their decision to make.

Wedge picked up his SABR and considered it. The Shinra Adaptable Battle Rifle was one of the newest pieces of gear the Army fielded. Only soldiers of the Fifth AG were issued these, and it was a point of pride that they always be well cared for. Able to be interchanged with any number of different modules for a variety of missions, Wedge currently had his configured as a standard rifle. "So how about that," Wedge began. "The 327th gets to lead this operation. And we'll be right there in the front of it."

"Joyous," Biggs replied with only a hint of sarcasm. "I definitely like this better than being back in the Wall."

"Well, look on the bright side. How often can it be said that the mighty XIII Corps is going to be our back up?"

"Don't talk the Thirteenth." The voice, from behind them, was spoken with a quiet yet deadly menace.

Turning, Wedge saw a tall soldier with the patch of the 131st Infantry Division on his soldier. You could hardly tell it was of the 131st, though, as the 'XIII' of XIII Corps was much more visible along the top.

Biggs stood and moved to face the soldier. "And what if I am?" he challenged.

Before the tall, menacing soldier could reply, a shout was heard. "Sergeant Pullo!"

Unconsciously, all three soldiers snapped to parade ground attention. This was a voice that commanded respect, and left absolutely no room for disobedience. The man to whom it belonged approached the trio, and Wedge noted the same 131st insignia on his uniform. Also of great importance were the Captain's insignia and the officer's nametape: Vorenus.

Captain Lucius Vorenus was not an officer - a man - you fucked around with. And you didn't need to be a soldier under his command to know that.

"Is there a problem, gentlemen?" His voice was not a shout, yet nonetheless carried the distinct air of command. The three soldiers replied, in a strong and unified, "No sir!" They could do no less.

"Very well. Sergeant Pullo, on me. We have work to do. You two, carry on."

After a trio of 'Yes sirs' was spoken, Sergeant Titus Pullo about-faced and followed behind his Captain. Biggs and Wedge, eventually, sat back down and resumed preparing their gear for deployment. Neither one would say anything - good or bad - about XIII Corps for some time to come.

Outskirts of the Nikeah System, Doma Sector, Shinra Republic

The Blackjack cruised amongst the stars, looking like any of the innumerable civilian yachts which plied the space lanes on a regular basis. But looks were deceiving, something her captain, Setzer Gabbiani, knew well. The man was a gambler, and today he was embarking on one of the biggest gambles of his career. Setzer himself was no rebel, but today he had been hired by some. He carried them on their way to raid a cargo ship traveling to Nikeah, to strike a blow for the Doman separatist movement calling themselves 'The Returners'.

Not that he was the only non-Returner aboard. A man by the name of Locke Cole had also been hired by the group. An experienced thief, he had been paid to help the Returner troops identify the most valuable and useful of the ship's cargo to be offloaded. It had been decided that trying to hijack the ship and offload at one of their bases was simply too risky.

The Blackjack would not be joining in the effort to disable the cargo ship. Captain Gabbiani knew his ship was perfectly capable of doing so, but the Returners hadn't paid him enough to take that kind of risk. Even with its identity concealed by various forms of electronic trickery, there was always a risk of identification. And so he would board after the ship was safely subdued...and the target's sensors politely deactivated for the duration.

*****

Off in the distance, a small group of fighters and armed shuttles waited for their prey. They didn't have long to wait, as for once the intelligence was on the money. The cargo ship that was the target of the operation dropped out of hyperspace just where it was supposed to, on the outer reaches of the system, far from the assistance of the Nikeah-based defense forces.

The leader of the strike force quickly keyed his comm. "This is the Returners. Lower your shields and prepare for boarding. Offer no resistance and you will be unharmed and free to go. After we have inspected your cargo and requisitioned what we require." The ship would have no chance to acknowledge his orders as full jamming was quickly instituted. The crew's answer would be in their actions as the strike force powered up their drives and moved in.

Not unexpectedly, the crew decided to fight. Point defense weapons opened up on the incoming fighters and shuttles and its shields, such as they were, were raised. This was no ship of war, however, and the meager defenses would hardly repel this attack. Despite that, however, the valiant defenders managed to score a lucky kill.

The strike force commander saw one of his fighters explode and shook his head. That shouldn't have happened, yet it was almost inevitable. The Returner warriors were certainly enthusiastic enough, but few of those who flew with him had much experience. High command had not felt it necessary to assign their best pilots to this run, and that decision had just incurred its cost. The commander quickly targeted the offending battery and blew it away. At least this loss had not gone unanswered.

It didn't take long for the rest of the force to pull the teeth from their target. With his point defenses gone, the merchant captain wisely chose to cut power to his engines and powered down what was left of his shields.

The Returner shuttles quickly moved in and began offloading their troops to secure the prize. Within minutes, the shuttles pulsed their running lights in a predefined pattern. This was the signal that the sensors and comms had been secured, and it was safe to lift the jamming and have the awaiting yachts and other transports move in.

*****

Setzer brought the Blackjack in against one of the now docile cargo ship's external cargo transfer hatches. His would be the first of the vessels to board and begin taking on booty, and the last to leave. Flipping one of his display screens to his cargo bay so he could monitor their progress, he sat back in his captain's chair and waited.

*****

Locke Cole was first in line through the transfer link, and waiting for him was a member of the merchantman's crew. The man wore the insignia of a ship's mate, and was definitely not showing any signs of nerves at being confronted by the rebels.

Recognizing Locke as the team's 'advisor' - his lack of a Returner uniform made this easy enough - he jerked his thumb. "Bridge is that way." Locke nodded and went in the indicated direction. So that was their man on the inside, he thought to himself. Well, certainly explains why they dropped out here instead of closer in-system.

Entering the ship's bridge, he sought out the captain. Spotting the man, he went over to him and smiled. "Your manifest, please." The merchant captain was clearly angry, and in his anger he found a small measure of defiance. Handing over the data card with the ship's manifest, he spat out, "You...you're nothing but a thief!"

Shrugging casually, Locke replied, "Treasure hunter, actually. And right now, my treasure is your cargo." Turning his back to the man, he left the bridge and slid the card into a reader, scrolling through the list to see which cargo was the most interesting and potentially valuable.

*****

Several hours later, the Returners had what they wanted and offloaded their troops. The Blackjack itself picked up a new passenger: the former navigator and inside man who had enabled this whole operation in the first place. Setting a course for the rendezvous point, he could hear the Returner commander broadcast over the comm: "Thank you for your cooperation. You and your crew are free to go." Doubtless the captain would quickly burn his sublight engines for all they were worth to get to Nikeah, and already had crewmen working furiously to repair their damaged transmitting gear. But long before any of that could be a problem for him, Setzer activated his hyperdrive and left the system.

The Returners had paid him well enough, and while he hardly sympathized with their cause for Doman independence and a return of the long displaced monarchy, their money was as good as anyone else’s.
Image
"How can I wait unknowing?
This is the price of war,
We rise with noble intentions,
And we risk all that is pure..." - Angela & Jeff van Dyck, Forever (Rome: Total War)

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-20 02:02am

Corsair-J class ELINT cutter CG-85484 “Heavenly Body
Flying into the Bannerman Gap
January 23, 3400


Junior Lieutenant Paul Choudry, New Anglian Royal Navy, felt a stinging in his nostrils, then sniffed the air... and sniffed again to be sure, because he wasn’t sure he wanted to believe his nose. “Ah, sir? I think I smell ozone.”

The pilot blinked, then nodded across the control board. “Hey, Hana, check it out.” The copilot tapped a few keys to bring up an environmental display, then studied it. “Well within nominal, Dwayne. Had a bit of sparking back in the engine room, but nothing too serious.” Nothing too serious? Choudry shuddered. The Umerian gunboat’s crew were a refreshing change from the stodgy types found in Anglia’s multi-crewed small craft, but sitting in the assistant weapon officer’s seat while they did a speed run through shoal space was… a little too refreshing. They were pushing their craft to the limits to get it out to the picket line within the scheduled eight hours; once there they would relieve another ELINT cutter and begin a twenty hour watch cycle, with the crew sleeping in shifts.

In hyper, the laser operators had nothing to do; Choudry turned to the gunnery officer to ask a question that had been bothering him since he first laid eyes on the cutter. "Isn't the girl on the nose against regs?"

"Huh? No, why?"

"Well, I'd think that…"

A light dawned in the gunner's eyes. "Ohh. I get it. You Anglians don't go for that, do you?"

"Afraid not. The official policy is "No." Just the one word. Has been for hundreds of years, since the days of Fleet Admiral Garrett. Seen as bad for discipline. I'm surprised that they let you get away with it." The stereotypical Umerian core worlder was either an academic or a happy little worker drone; you didn't expect swimsuit models on the side of recon cutters from a country like that.

"Don't know what it's like for you guys, but in SpaceSec, the regs mostly ignore anything the brass can't prove is bad for combat readiness. Some of the wing leaders might try to crack down on it, and sometimes they get away with it, but the control freaks never manage to change standing orders. MiniDef always wants them to file study results, and for some reason they can never find the evidence…" He grinned.

Suddenly, the pieces fit together. I'm on a whole gunboat full of fighter jocks. Even the women, who were usually a bit more restrained, had that gleeful disregard for strict by-the-book methods in their institutional culture- and come to think of it, the girl painted on the side bore an uncanny resemblance to the cutter's EWO. Well, he could live with that; better bold than stuffy.

His train of thought was cut off when the ever-present hum of machinery rose to an uncanny whine. The floor shuddered; access panels rattled in their mounts. Choudry felt the seat vibrating. Why is the ship shaking? The obvious answer was a frightening one: hyperdrive trouble. Having the drive fail here would be miserable. The odds of survival were pretty good, but it would be a long wait for a Heim drive search and rescue craft to find them by homing in on their last reported position. And there was always the risk of a full scale blowout; he had a sudden picture of the last thing he saw being a wave of plasma… The rattle stopped.

The Anglian lieutenant looked around. "What was that?"

"What was what?" The copilot looked over at him, most of her face obscured by the flight helmet. "Oh, the rough patch. That was nothing; you haven't lived until you've chased ork smugglers through the Great Barrier at speed."

Lieutenant Choudry slumped back in his seat. Volunteering as a liaison with the Umerian forces was good for the career… he just hoped he'd survive the experience.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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PeZook
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by PeZook » 2010-07-20 02:35am

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Pendleton, Lee, Astaria District
Republican Government House

"Outrageous!", general Petersen, commander of Pendleton's armed forces, slammed his fist into the oaken table, "This plan will leave the planet itself defenceless!", he stuck out his finger accusingly at the huge man sitting at the other side of the table, "You are intentionally attempting to undermine our defences!"

Unit 7 didn't move at all, "The probability of your limited forces managing to succesfully engage in combat with the main thrust of Anglian assault is neglible. Our operatoinal proposal gives optimal use to your heaviest fleet assets, which will not result in its destruction."

"You proposal uses the people as a missile sponge!", the general spat and looked to the other assembled people - every one of them a high official in the government - for support, "I am sure everyone can cleary see the lunacy of this plan."

"Your analysis is emotional and flawed", Unit 7 retorted calmly, "The primary objective requires destruction of the enemy space force, not preservation of civilians."

"I am afraid I must support the ambassador", the Prime Minister interjected cautiously, "What good does it do us to face the Anglians head on?"

"The 'ambassador'", Jason Cuttberth quipped with obvious irony, "Has neglected to mention the other obvious option. He could just place his fleet in Pendleton's orbit as well, if it really is capable of facing the Anglians..."

"Ambush is a more effective strategy.", Unit 7 replied again. If he wasn't an unflinching machine, he'd be annoyed by now, "Maximizing the effectiveness of our assets."

"Personally, I feel you are setting us up for betrayal, machine.", Cuttberth managed to somehow make the word an insult, "The issue is straightforward, yet you insist on obscuring and muddling it to death!"

"We have arranged a deal. We do not renege on deals. If you require assurances, I will remain on Pendleton as a gesture of good will."

"Enough is enough.", the Prime Minister said before Cuttberth could devise a properly scathing response, "Thank you, ambassador...my cabinet and I will now attempt to come to a decision in a closed session."

Unit 7 stood up and walked out without a further word, and the Prime Minister's office erupted in heated debate once again.

Montalba Spaceport, berth 43

The skeletal machine glanced only once at Gill and his entourage before moving aside. The BOSS 'liaison team' entered the perimeter around the ship's ramp, looking for someone they could talk to and ask the usual questions.

Nobody came forth. The perimeter's guardians simply stood there, entirely motionless, while wisps of argon fog slowly glided to the ground off the open ramp. BOSS stormtroopers surrounding the ship seemed to look at the liaisons with pity.

"I guess nobody's home?", Parkhurst quipped, putting down her duffle bag, "We should wait."

"That will not be necessary", the ship said, "I was instructed to take you aboard."

To say the voice was a surprise to everyone gathered would've been a massive understatement. Parkhurst almost reached for her gun, while Gill shook visibly. All others were looking around frantically. It took them more than a minute to figure out it was the ship itself who was talking.

"The life support systems have been calibrated to your biology. Please, do not waste time."

Cautiously, one by one, the liaison team went up the ramp. Inside was a small room, with jet-black walls illuminated only by a sickly green glow strip. A row of small niches lined the wall, with a few seats - made of the same black material as the wall - further towards the back.

Before the BOSS team managed to take their places, the ship's robotic guardians marched aboard in unison and took place in the niches. The ramp retracted, and the unfortunate souls aboard were locked inside. They could only hear the whine of engines spooling up, as the small ship prepared for liftoff.

"I have a bad feeling about this", Eli said, staring at one of the skeletal robots, standing montionless inside a niche right next to his seat.

The yacht lifted off and soared towards the sky, rapidly leaving orbit. It quickly reached the hyperlimit and left the system, confusing flight controllers and the military alike.
Image
JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

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

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Beowulf » 2010-07-20 06:55am

Lujun expansion bill passes

A bill to increase the size of the Lujun by some 40 million personnel in order to support contingency operations such as the occupation of the slavocracy of Pendleton passed the Ren-da today. This expansion will take place over the next 4 years. It will be in addition to the existing 1% programmed increase in Lujun force size, currently corresponding to 1.6 million additional personnel.

This bill will also not effect the scheduled Taikongjun expansion. The Taikongjun is currently half way through it's 4 year build plan. Remaining are an additional 4-ship squadron of Type 51 battleships, 40 Type 39 cruisers, 40 Type 43 carriers, 5916 J-10 gunboats (4800 of which are for service onboard the carriers), 372 Y-16 and 480 Y-14 transports. The experimental Type 22 Corvettes and the related Type 03 Sloops will continue to be built, until the programmed 32 Type 22 Corvettes, and 130 Type 03 Sloops are completed.
"preemptive killing of cops might not be such a bad idea from a personal saftey[sic] standpoint..." --Keevan Colton
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2010-07-20 11:19am

Eel, Pendleton, Libertia District

Image

"SHITS!" bellowed Bragga, the IBGV's main operative on Pendleton. He slammed his bare bear paws on the desk and headbutted the cathode ray telescreen in front of him. The screen cracked, but in a testament to superior Bragulan engineering the display still functioned and continued to display the image of the Collector ship. Or, rather, the hyperwake of the Collector ship's drives, as the ship had literally left them to eat its dust.

Bragga growled and cut off the IBGV spy ship's feed.

The Bragulan bear fumed, nostrils flaring wide and fangs bared. He wiped a line of drool that was sliding down the corner of his mouth. He was in a dark, damp room in a hidden basement of one of the IBGV's front company buildings, one that sold expired dog food and carnival meat to slavers too poor to purchase proper people-food for their slave stocks. The only light in the room was from the cracked cathode ray tubescreen in front of Bragga.

But suddenly, another source of light, as a door was opened behind Bragga. From the door came a skinny underfed human in a janitor's outfit, with a patch identifying him as a sanitation officer over at Montalba Spaceport.

"Sir, sir!" the human panted. "The Collector ship, it left!"

"I KNOW!" roared Bragga as he threw his telescreen at the human. The human gave a yelp of horrer and ducked as the telescreen narrowly missed smashing his skull open. The telescreen instead bounced off the wall and crashed onto the floor. Yet, remarkably, it still functioned perfectly despite its cracked screen and dented casing. Bragga growled, angered at the fact that he had missed, that he hadn't smashed the puny human's puny face with the thrown telescreen. "Damn!"

Image

"So... now what do we do?" the human ventured to ask as he cowered, shriveling lowly at the floor.

"I don't know!" Bragga roared again, but instead of throwing something else - like his desk - at the human, he instead slumped on his chair. He fumed and pondered his options. Bragule would not take too lightly at the fact that he had nothing at all to report on the Collector ship, aside from it seemingly leaving the Pendletonians high and dry. That was something, an indicator of Collector behavior, but that something was as good as nothing. The IBGV wanted observations on Collector weapons effectiveness against human vessels, such as those of the Anglians. Now with the Collectors gone, he would have none of that.

Or would he?

Bragga smiled slightly. Even though the Collector ship was gone, still the IBGV would find any information on Anglian - and other human nations' - warship capabilities of some value. So that was still something, a something that was better than nothing. Yes, indeed. An observation on the effectiveness of a multinational coalition, composed of a great many human starfleets operating as one, even against a tiny shitworld like Pendleton would give an insight on the greater capabilities of not just Anglia, but of the other constituent nations' starfleets in the anti-Pendletonian liberation force. They would be coming soon, and Bragga's spy satellite and spyship were already in place to observe how they would rout the Pendletonian defenders and ruin their excrements. The situation could still be salvaged, and Bragga could prove to his masters that he was far from useless (since now the operation on Pendleton was no longer functional, as Pendleton's slave market had just evaporated).

Perhaps with this show of his dedication to duty, even in the face of the Collectors' lack of cooperation in refusing to stay in Pendleton so he could spy on them, Bragga might be able to convince his handlers to let him back into the Bragulan Star Empire and give him a cushy desk job administering the executions of ideological deviants and dissidents.

"Um... sir?" the human ventured to ask again, as for a few minutes Bragga had just been sitting there staring at nothing but air.

"Put the telescreen back on my desk, human," Bragga growled as he got off his chair and went out of the room, leaving the puny janitor human to struggle with carrying the telescreen which weighed like a bag of potatoes that had been filled with stones instead.

Bragga went upstairs. There he told one of his other human agents to continue listening in on Pendletonian government communications to see what had changed in their deal with the Collectors, and ordered another human to relay instructions to the spy satellite and spy ship, to tell them to standby and prepare to monitor the ensuing festivities that would soon grace Pendleton.
Image "DO YOU WORSHIP HOMOSEXUALS?" - Curtis Saxton (source)
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Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
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