SDNW4 Story Thread 2

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-07 11:41am

The Diagnosis

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From the archives of the medical corvette Dr. Funkenstein’s Mothership Connection


NUERS' NOTES

Patient [NAME WITHHELD FOR PRIVACY] is an adult human male at 5 feet 8 inches in height, weighing in at 340 space pounds. He is 34 years old. He was admitted by Haruhiist ground forces on June 3, 3401 for complaints of high fever, anorexia (poor appetite), and malaise...

The patient is lying on his hoverchair (the chair’s movement functions have been disabled for patient safety, side rails are raised, basic functions are retained). At the time of assessment, the patient is clad in a fitting medical gown [all the supersized gowns had been used up in the frigate Badass]. The patient’s skin is hot to touch, and upon further examination his temperature is 38.9 degrees Celsius.

[Begin with a cephalocaudal assessment] ...the patient’s hair is thinning. Two days ago, his hairline was considerably thicker, but patient has reported his hair falling off in clumps [a sign of rapid cell death]... the patient’s eyes are watery and red, the sockets are swollen. Upon testing, it is noted that the patient’s visual acuity has decreased markedly since the initial assessment. [Both are due to conjunctival inflammation and soft tissue edema]

On inspection of the patient’s mouth, the gums are swollen and another tooth has fallen out [due to severe infection of the gums]. His breath has a fruity odor [due to the body expelling excess acetone through breathing - a sign of ketoacidosis, excessive fat breakdown]. The tongue is also swollen and reddened, along with the back of his throat, and signs of pus have been noted [the infection has spread]. Patient’s speech is slurred, patient is seen grimacing when swallowing water from a glass.

[Moving to the antero-chest area] ...an incision is seen on the right side of the patient’s chest [a site for thoracentesis to remove purulent fluids accumulating in the pleural cavity]. Patient’s breathing is labored, respiratory rate is heightened at 35 cycles per minute. Patient is seen coughing repeatedly and expectorating blood-tinged sputum. On auscultation of the chest crackles are heard on the right and left lower lung fields [alveoli are collapsing due to excess fluid, due to respiratory infection]. The heart rate is also elevated at 120 beats per minute and...

[Abdominal area] The abdomen is distended [understandably difficult to detect in the case of MEHmen] and upon percussion displays a rippling effect [due to peritonitis, secondary to liver failure]. On auscultation, hyperactive bowel sounds are heard [due to irritation and cellular breakdown of the intestinal linings]. Upon inspection, the patient’s bed paddings remain dry [initially the MEHmen’s reliance on enema-performing robots was unknown, leading to untreated cases of excessive bodily waste buildups that in turn caused septicemia until further assessment discovered the prevalence of hereditary aganglionic megacolon amongst the MEH populace, currently enemas are now standard for MEHmen patients as well as corrective resection].

[Limbs] There is a parenteral line connected to his left wrist [the patient’s gastrointestinal system was degenerating, necessitating total parenteral nutrition] ...tactile testing reveals that the patient has diminished sensitivity to touch particularly at the hands and feet [either due to nerve-ending degradation or decreased peripheral circulation] and retarded reflex responses. Assessment for the plantar reflex revealed a Babinski’s sign [foot bends upwards rather than curling downward when stroked at the sole, a sign of brain or spinal complications].

The right big toe has a dark green color and a foul odor [necrotization due to macro/micro-vascular complications and immune system collapse impairing the healing process leading to promoting infection and gangrene]. Patient verbalized that initially, he had sustained a cut on his toe from a pedicure-bot several weeks ago...



PHYSICIAN-CAPTAIN’S LOG

...we picked up thousands and thousands of MEHmen infected by the disease. It was a trickle, but then the stream grew more and more and we were taking them in by the millions. At first we couldn’t understand how such an endemic could spread so fast on so many worlds in such a technologically advanced nation. We didn’t know what it was that was infecting them, and still don’t, so all we could do was resort to palliatives - treating the symptoms, but not the disease itself - to make sure the patients survived. Thankfully, once under proper medical care, most of them were stabilized. They could live. But curing them was an entirely different matter entirely. The palliatives took a toll on our supply lines, we had to constantly take care of so many people who were sick, and who would continue on staying sick, and who would need to be kept alive for as long as they stayed sick. It was something we didn’t count on. We thought we were going into a war zone, not a stellar pandemic. This was something way beyond the expected outbreaks from a degraded post-war environment. Why was this happening? What was the cause of this? We had no idea what was going on.

After the initial confusion, after admitting so many patients found by all the coalition forces, we were able to study the situation better. And as we learned, we finally found out what it was causing the sickness, and all I can say is that the infection was a masterpiece. It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

What we know now is that it affects all bodily systems, or almost all of them. It is systemic yet insidious. The incubation period is prolonged so by the time the initial hosts actually start displaying the symptoms, the actual population of people carrying the pathogen would have already increased by a fair margin. By the time people started displaying symptoms, many of those around them would already be infected and would themselves be transmitting the pathogen unwitingly.

Its effects include systemic degradation of the bodily systems through cellular degeneration, leading to organ impairment throughout the entire human anatomy. This leads to the telltale signs of bodily wasting as fat and muscle are consumed, it causes the vomiting and diarrhea as the linings of the digestive tract break down, and it brings about a whole plethora of inter-related organ failures from head to toe, one system after the other. But its pace is measured. It is slow and painful.

The disease sequence is precisely calibrated to debilitate a person, to kill him... without the presence of medical assistance. With the presence of medical assistance, the disease is not cured but prolonged, the infected remains alive but continues to remain sick with varying degrees of severity until a cure is found - and it hasn’t yet - while indefinitely requiring medical support to maintain his basic life functions.

The pathogen - I will not call it a bacteria or a virus, to do so would betray the complexity and elegance of its pathological architecture, thus I will simply call it a pathogen - is clearly specialized in infecting as many people as it can while delaying the onset of symptoms so that it can spread far and wide [compared to the Ebolavirus on Earth, which is extremely virulent and kills within days, thus while exceptionally lethal, kills its hosts before it has the chance to spread to more susceptibles]. Moreover, when its symptoms finally do manifest, the infected are put in a critical state that requires constant treatment and medical attention, thus creating a situation that will be a constant drain to medical resources.

For these reasons, and from studying the structure of the pathogenic organism, I speculate that it may not be of entirely natural origin. Rumors of biological warfare are already spreading amongst coalition troops, though these cannot be confirmed... or denied. The finding of so many quarantined groups of MEHmen on multiple worlds is itself suspicious. Where did this disease come from? How did it start? Why is it happening on the indigenous MEH population, and why is it happening now? Did the MEH leave these people for us to find? Why? Were they infected by an outside party? Who and how?

As far as we can ascertain, the disease is transferred by fluid exchanges of all kinds, by the introduction of infected substances, and perhaps through droplet contact. It can be isolated. Its spread can be contained. If it was detected earlier on, the endemic could have certainly been prevented by modern means. But the question remains, how did the infection begin? We need to find the source of the disease.

Samples have been sent to the coalition member governments. We simply do not have the facilities to fabricate and create a cure, but hopefully they can create one, and soon. I fear that even if a cure is developed, curing the patients under our care won’t be the problem. It will be finding all of those amongst the general populace of the MEH who are infected , those many lost in the chaos of the war, those who are still in the incubation stages when the symptoms do not show, and treating them in time.



[ADDENDUM]

My colleagues from the Badass has reported something new and shocking. Coalition troops, Centralists, have been admitted with the same symptoms as the MEHmen. But how could they have been infected...?
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby White Haven » 2011-09-08 03:41pm

Battlecruiser Majestic
Hyperspace


Senior Captain West’s uniform jacket lay draped on and down one side of the modest bed in the modest set of crew quarters that was all a cruiser-weight warship could spare for its captain. The man himself sat in a comfortably-padded char in front of a corner desk, leaning forwards with his elbows braced on the edge of the resilient plastic surface and his chin braced against two interlocked fists. Staring back at him from the holographic display hovering in the air over the desk was a simple blinking cursor, flicking on and off in thin air.

Men and women in dress uniforms lined Majestic’s main boat bay. Their ranks were precisely dressed, arranged with a precision that on any other day the veteran crew would have dismissed as ‘academy window-dressing.’ The rows of gleaming metal coffins lying on the opposite side of the atmospheric barrier that cut the bay in two demanded it. Gaping bay doors exposed the other half of the bay to space, unwinking stars clearly visible past the pale blue shimmer of the field partitioning the hangar and the far-too-numerous coffins. Every eye bar two was directed forwards at the ranks of the dead and the single man in dress whites staring back at them.

The Letter. Capitol letters, bolded, type-face a hundred meters tall, sober, unembellished font.

The dead crew of surviving ships still had their direct commanding officers to write to their families, or their successors in several cases involving dead captains. West himself, however, was responsible not only for Majestic’s own dead, but for the officers and crew of each and every ship lost with all hands. Those were the worst; no one knew exactly what their last acts had been. Firelight had blown her magazines and reactor when it was grabbed by a crushing tentacle. No survivors remained to tell the tale, no one to identify whose family should take some small measure of pride from a son or daughter striking one last defiant blow. The outbreak sudden outbreak of madness as the Eye turned its attention on the Squadron had produced its share of heroism as well; single crewmen standing off mobs of crazed victims to defend others, the engineer aboard Godhand who sealed herself in with a mob to trap them outside the ship’s reactor room.

”...Spaceman Everett Gallagher. Second Lieutenant Bethany Genselo. Petty Officer Ulric Griff. Spaceman Frederick Goolsby. Spaceman Jonathan Goolsby. Lieutenant Commander Danielle Grey...”

West’s voice was the only audible sound, echoing throughout the bay from discrete amplifiers so that no one could fail to hear the litany of
Majestic’s dead. There were more of them than from any other surviving ship bar one other, her division-mate, simply because the two battlecruisers had the largest crews of any ships in the squadron, the largest number of people who succumbed quickest under the flail of the Eye’s madness. The captain’s stone, hard-lined face hid the pain that understanding inflicted on him from all but those who knew him best as he listed off name after name in a slow, ponderous cadence. He held a datapad in one hand, but barely seemed to look at it, only checking with a glance now and again to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anyone. He hadn’t.

So many more must have gone on that no one alive could tell the story of. West was forced to rely on generalities and platitudes, ‘finest traditions of the Navy,’ ‘engaged the enemy unflinchingly,’ ‘no greater honor than to die in the defense of Earth,’ rather than the personal touches that would truly be able to reach out and speak to their loved ones. So many families who might have received a medal atop a folded flag, and who would not due to simple ignorance.

“If we ever get a chance to send message traffic home, at any rate...” West muttered into the hushed near-silence of the empty cabin. He sighed, hanging his head until it laid propped against his hands. Shoulders slumped noticeably, safe from prying eyes that demanded he remain the Confident Captain, as his own musing forced him to again confront the true reasons he and his captains were still writing The Letters. With the Squadron as hopelessly lost as it was, the odds of them ever making it home to family were minimal. A few lucky souls had relatives in the Sixth, people to whom the letters could at least be delivered. But only a few.

”...Major Anthony Wycliffe.” West’s voice paused in its relentless recitation at last as the last occupant of the coffins behind him was named. A quiet, rustling sigh rippled across the assembled survivors, almost no one conscious of even making a noise themselves. As it faded, West’s voice continued, cutting across any remaining sound easily.

“We commend them to the void of space, there to rest for all eternity as a monument to their sacrifice. They have died, but we still live; the burden of ensuring they are never forgotten falls to us.”

With those simple words, West turned to face through the containment field. His hand snapped up in a sharp salute, holding it in place as the sound of the ship’s company come to sharp attention and matching his salute washed over him from behind. Soundless bursts of distant white light savaged the star-speckled void as
Majestic’s six heavy turrets fired in salute once, twice, three times, matching the cadence of the millenia-old 21-gun salute.

A shiver ran through the precisely-lined coffins as the grav-plates beneath them deactivated. Seconds later, the coffins rose from the decking in unison, slowly rising upwards subjectively as the ship’s attitude thrusters eased the ship downwards. A second set of thrusters cut in, pushing the ship away from the open void and the coffins floating in front of the bay doors. To West and the surviving members of his crew, the coffins simply floating out into space in perfect formation, receding from an array of polished metal coffins to a remarkably-regular constellation of glinting metal in the light of the focused beams of light stabbing out from the ship’s flank, to finally nothing at all. Only then did West allow his salute to drop, turning back to face his crew and saying one last word.

“Dismissed.”


West had quietly ensured The Letters were written so that the survivors could trust that they would be remembered as long as there still was a Sixth Cruiser Squadron to remember them, should they fall in turn.

The cheerful chime of an incoming comm link startled the captain out of his reflection, his hand slapping the ACCEPT button with all the haste of a man who’d just been thrown a lifeline. Illyana Kozlova’s familiar face bloomed to fill the holodisplay, a somewhat chagrined expression across it as she notices West’s partially-fastened shirt.

“Ah, Illyana. What do you need?”

The barely-accented voice replied with a shrug just visible on the hologram of her head, “Nothing, captain. I thought you should be aware, though, that we have picked up what appear to be some rather unusual spacefaring life forms. Detailed scans haven’t revealed energy densities capable of threatening even standby defenses, so I haven’t ordered an alert, but we did get some rather spectacular visuals that I thought you might appreciate.”

Left unspoken but clearly heard was the addition, And you look like you could really use a distraction.

West smiled and inclined his head slightly, as if acknowledging a touch, “Thank you, I’d love a look. Route them to my desk, if you would?”

“Yes sir.”

Just to the right of Illyana’s face, a truly unusual sight bloomed to life. It resembled nothing so much as a cluster of sails, ones rippling with varying shades and intensities of white light in stark contrast with the swirling angry reds and blacks of hyperspace that backlit it. Several more angles appeared alongside it, including a flyby shot clearly taken from a deployed probe. With other angles provided, it clearly had a central body, sail-like wings angling around it tihs way and that to ride the currents and shifting tides of hyperspace.

“It, and a few others of a similar type, have been pacing us for the past ten or fifteen minutes. I’ve never seen anything like them.”

West smiled, looking over the graceful creature apparently flourishing in the depths of hyperspace. It was beautiful. It was unique. It was...it was...

His face suddenly drained of colour.

It was a spacegull

The voice of Majestic’s dubious navigator rang clearly from memory: “Spacegulls, misleading. Maelstrom, dangerous. Oars, not helping. Gotcha.”

“Squadron emergency course change, 90 degrees port and boost to full emergency power!” West snapped while his ops officer on the bridge was still reacting to his suddenly-pale face. She stared back at him with a stunned expression for a moment, until his mouth began to open with a rebuke. With a visible twich, she nodded sharply, turning away from the link pickup and calling sharp orders across the bridge. The ship’s frame groaned audibly at the violence of the sudden turn, then began to grumble and growl as the drives went to maximum output.
____________

“...and we just cleared minimum safe distance. Sensor conditions are really, really terrible here, we wouldn’t have seen the black hole in time if you hadn’t ordered the course change.” Kozlova looked at West with a strange expression on her face in the wake of the successful evasion. “Sir...how did you know?”

West’s lips twisted in a crooked smile as he replied, “According to a man named Astrometrius, spacegulls are misleading. I owe that man a drink.”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Force Lord » 2011-09-08 08:09pm

Security Section, CNS Steel Fist
Deep Space, MEH Wolf 359 Sector
Unreal Time/After formation of the Eye


Speaking of problems, we have confronted the threat of an unknwon disease that has struck not only the MEH population, but also our own troops. This patogen we have tentatively named "Sotyrk", and it is spreading. Our medical units available are overstretched in dealing with this plague, so we request immediate medical assitance for the infected, if any can be sent. We already have petitioned and permitted the Red Cross to operate in our Zones. Permission of Coalition medical assistance entering our occupation Zones is granted, but only for the duration of the plague.


The Party Supervisor read the bolded parts one more time, noting the two misspelled words. Either one of the comms staff was a poor editor... or one of them was a Nova Atlantean spy. Which led him to glare at the assembled, seated communications technicians. He would find the spy soon enough.

"It is suspected that a NAC spy has infiltrated the ship. It could be any one of you. Since I don't have the assets to arrest you all and pick out the spy after a throughout interrogation procedure, I've decided to give you a little game to prove your innocence. Each of you will be given a piece of paper and write a very short essay of what do you think of our recent battles against the MEH. You have one hour. No one will leave this room until then. Now start writing."

The technicians all started to write quickly.

Two hours later...

The communications staff watched anxiously as the Party Supervisor entered the room, followed by a Navy crewman who was holding a pile of paper.

The Supervisor observed the assembled comms staff for a moment, then spoke, "We have reviewed the essays and have come to a conclusion."

Sudden silence. The suspense was almost too much to bear for the luckless comms technicians.

"One essay showed... blatantly imperfect grammar. And no name! Therefore, we will take each essay, say out loud the name of the writer, and said person must come up front and take his paper. After picking his paper, the person can leave the room. We shall start with...."

Fifteen minutes later...

The last named paper and its owner left the room, leaving a shaking "technician" alone with the Supervisor.

The Supervisor smiled evilly. He had his spy.

"Now, Mr. Atlantean, any words you want to say before your arrest?"

Timidly, the spy responded, "Noting..."

"Once we question you, you will say a lot more words...."

The Supervisor then pulled out his blaster pistol, set it to stun, and fired at the NAC spy. The stricken spy collapsed to the floor. The Supervisor motioned the guards to haul his body away. To the brig.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-10 04:52am

Axis and Allies

Omikron, Bragulan Star Empire
June 3401


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Air shimmered from the blazing heat of the atomic furnaces. Surrounding them and spanning miles into and beyond the horizon was an industrial steelscape of machinery and mechanisms, ever expanding to further encroach upon the planet’s crust. At the very end of these zones were grinding hydraulic crushers and grinders that consumed the wasted ruins of the planet’s previous inhabitants and sent the harvested scrap and wreckage back to the furnaces through an arterial network of conveyor belts and tubes. The material would be processed and recycled into bragsteel and bragcrete and then resent to the front lines, to be used for the construction of more structures as the crushers and grinders went on, continuously spreading out to consume what was left of Omikron and thus complete the planet’s Bragulanization.

Centuries ago, Omikron had been a resplendent world-city with gleaming citadels and technological wonders unseen since the fall of the Apexai’s great civilization. In the end war that came, the entire sector had been decimated, and upon witnessing the fate of Apexaia - the moon stomping on the face of their homeworld forever - Omikron’s devastated inhabitants lost all hope and surrendered themselves to their cruel conquerors, and for this they were mercifully spared from the horrible mooning. Only millions were killed in the subsequent neutron bombings, while those survived were retained for their knowledge and skills, kept for further use. The treasures of their world were ransacked to the last repository of knowledge, and the ruins of their once-magnificent cities were then melted down to build more warfleets for the Bragulan Star Empire.

Those bright and optimistic times marked Bragule’s first-ever meaningful interaction with another galactic civilization and marked the pace with which the great nation engaged many of its neighbors in the Koprulu Zone. But that was centuries ago. Today was a dawn of a new era in Bragule’s relations with its neighbors, today once more Bragulanity would interact with galactic powers and perhaps change the cosmopolitical scene of the K-Zone, and maybe even the whole galaxy.

A great super spectacle sight was held in place to honour Bragule’s visiting comrades. The esteemed guests could be no more different if they tried.

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The first was none other than Alyxia Komnenos, a warrior princess of the Byzantine Imperium, daughter of the God-Emperor, with absolute mastery of phenomenal psychic abilities... and an infested human, subverted and twisted by the Karlack Swarm into one of their dreaded Aspects to lead their ravenous Star-Broods in devouring whole worlds. This was not her first time in bragspace, she even had a chair here. She sat cross-legged on that bizarre throne, clad in a dark and no doubt deadly organodermis that adhered to her skin, head held high as she surveyed all things before her. She had no need for pomp or ceremony, such things were irrelevant to the eternal will of the Swarm, merely petty blandishments of small-minded creatures destined only to be consumed or absorbed into something far greater than themselves.

She reflected on how she had been like them once, before the Overmind took her and made her... more than human. She was a ruthless, merciless weapon of the Swarm, and it was at her command that countless planets like Aray fell to the claws and fangs of a billion bioforms. Yet it was her inherent humanity, part of which she kept in her form and in her memories, that made her such an effective diplomat and a great communicator - as she had been in her previous life. It was the fact that she retained all of her gifts, all of her talents of persuasion and natural charisma from when she was a human being, that made her one of the deadliest of all Karlack Aspects.

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High Ambassador First-Class Hspfhar was another story entirely. He was the Lord Bellforge and was thus accustomed to being greeted by all manner of ostentatious and ritualistic presentations in the course of his visitations, in keeping with the arcane sociocultural norms of Imperial Pfhor culture. The parade shown by these quaint and furred alien barbarians who hosted his presence was without the refined finesse of Pfhor courtesies, lacking the intricate delineations of ranks, classes and privileges as was usual in any civilized society that sought to segregate baseborn inferiors from their natural betters, but Hspfhar understood that this was the way of Bragule - steeped as they were in their strange (and barbaric) notions of egalitarianism, and where the nuances of class distinctions were overridden by the sole central power structure of Byzonism. It was a simple method for a simple people, Hspfhar reflected, though one unthinkable for any people with the proper notions of royalty and majesty.

Hspfhar always thought of himself as an anthropologist of sorts, for the nobles of the Covenant were expected to engage in all manner of intellectual pursuits befitting the enlightened and cultured beings they were, of refined tastes and impeccable class. So while the droll display was lacking in some respects of regality and such like, he could find himself impressed with other aspects - such as the utter lethality of the thermonucleonic machineries rolling down the bragcrete streets before him, for in lacking any civilized society whatsoever, it was clear that the Bragulans had opted to focus on their martial prowess instead (yet even then their technologies were markedly crude and primitive, ah well).

He scoffed bemusedly to himself and told his Nar-servant to pump some spice into his breathing tanks, to effuse his brains and provide more stimulation. He also told the Nar-servant to make a note telling his Bragulan hosts that he would like to visit many of their museums, to see curiosities from antiquity and other historical articles of their civilization - for he knew of the legendary brutality of the Bragulan people, the only redeeming trait of their whole race. Yes, indeed, his willingness to delve into the nuances of alien civilizations and study their primitive ways was perhaps the reason why he was chosen by the Covenant for this momentous task of breaking the Pfhor’s historical isolationism and engaging with the only regional powers receptive to their diplomatic overtures - partially because they were all equally reprehensible in the eyes of the galaxy’s uncultured brute nations.

This was, in essence, why they were all in the Bragulan Star Empire. For some unfathomable reason, the uncivilized ursine barbarians had managed to cultivate a modicum of goodwill amongst some of the non-human nations of the galaxy. And after witnessing the events at Pendleton, and the current war with the Multiversal Empire, all initiatives spearheaded by vast coalition of nations - most often human ones - formed with astounding speed and for the stated cause of such ill-conceived notions as fighting against the trafficking of sentients or espers, the Archcovenant had grown nervous and uncertain of the drastic ebb and flow of galactic cosmopolitics. Once upon a time, the Empire barely afforded the rest of the universe a third-eye’s glance, but now it was no longer the case for interesting times had come.

Events beyond the Bragulan frontier, the Cevaucian-Solarian military cooperation, could be used to make the ursines more amenable to a beneficial relationship with the Empire. Yes. They knew the Bragulans had many friends, that it even had a leading role in the war against the Multiversal Empire, and owed the allegiance of the Karlack Swarm - those nightmare horrors that even the Empire regarded with fear, but for now would tolerate as a deterrence against the perfidious humans. In repulsing the pretentious and uncouth human parasites of the galaxy, the Emperor knew that Byzon would make a powerful ally.

After the military parades, the endless rows of marching bragtroops and rolling tanskis and Spud tractor erector launchers, and the great speeches to dignify Bragule’s guests with an appropriate ceremony, they could finally begin with the business of the day.

Signing the Pact of the Omikron Axis.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Darkevilme » 2011-09-12 04:41am

HSF Pouncing at Shadows, Blade Stealth Cruiser. Outside the Anomaly formerly known as Earth-4

“Probe seven away shipmistress.”

Aina nodded acknowledgement and watched the probe on the holodisplay as it accelerated towards the Anomaly. Wasn't a very interesting image though, the Anomaly was a black mass blotting out a swathe of stars ahead of the ship.

“Seventh verse same as the first you think Aina?” Sharren asked as she leaned on the side of Aina's command dais.

“Never say never.” Aina replied turning to her second in command.

“I'm not saying never, I'm just saying that it'd be far less dull if we were involved in chasing the Byzantines with the rest of the pack.”

Aina shrugged. “The baffle broke. The pursuit is noisy enough as it is considering the time they had to make to keep on the Byzantines tail without us sticking out with an unconcealed wake in their midst.”

“I know Aina, don't you wish it hadn't broke though?”

“Not really, this way it's boredom. That way it's boredom with a very real chance of being attacked with extreme prejudice by those who don't want to be followed.”

“True enough. I suppose we can't all be in this for excitement and danger.”

“Some of us are sensible enough to realize a ship that spends all its days sneaking around isn't the place to look for excitement and danger.” Aina replied with a grin.

“Hey, as if I'd of passed up the chance to serve under the illustrious shipmistress Aina Satara.”
Aina just chuckled and shook her head.

“Probe seven contact lost at perimeter of the Anomaly, negative on scan and signal,” the sensors operator reported from her pit.

“Seventh verse, same as the first Aina. Don't say I didn't call it.” Sharren said amusedly.

“Not a hard guess, still this is why I stopped playing cards against you.” Aina said and brought up information on how many probes they have left while glancing to the other sensor cat.

“Anything new to report?” she asked.

“Negative shipmistress.... We've detected a probe emerging from the perimeter! Scans positive, Signal negative.” the sensor cat reported, highlighting the trajectory of the returned probe.

“Damaged transmitter you think?” Sharren asked.

“No reaction on command channels, no course correction burns, no telemetry signal. Seems so.” Aina said as she brought up a repeater for the probe analysis on the holodisplay. She looked to the sensor pit again. “Does it match the emergence trajectory of any of our probes based on their trajectories when we lost contact?”

“Negative, but those trajectories assume the gravitational affects of planets superseded by the Anomaly.”

“Noted. So either the planets aren't in their original orbits or something influenced the probe's trajectory. We won't know unless we recover the probe's flight recorder. Dispatch a Ripper to intercept, scan and grapple pods.” Aina ordered and leaned back with a glance to Sharren. “Well looks like things might not be a complete waste of time here after all.”

“I guess so Aina, still I assume you're gonna give that thing a thorough scan-over before bringing it aboard.” Sharren said, remembering as all did the records from the battlegroups flight from the Anomaly's expansion.

“Course we wouldn't want things to get exciting here would we? This is a science mission after all.” Aina replied with a smile. “Still you'll have plenty of time to think of the worst that could happen, intercepts twenty minutes away.”



Later

Sharren couldn't help feeling a little uneasy about the probe although she intellectually put it down to the way the Anomaly put everyone on edge. Aina made a good point though, the probe was completely inert damaged into inoperability and had no emissions from lifesigns, power signatures or radiological isotopes and even so she'd taken the precaution of setting up some portable forcefields around it. Sharren watched on the monitor view of the hangar as a pair of technicians approached the scarred mass of the probe to cut out the flight recorder.

Warmth. Minds. The shell heats and the Minds dwell beyond.
We stir, the shell crumples as we rid ourselves of its unnecessary concealment.
We reach out to minds now besmirched by the stirrings of fear, there is not a talent burning amongst them to defy me. Their wills will bend.
Closed. Twisted. Marked! But no matter, if they will not bow then they will bleed.


The creature leapt forth from the broken shell of the probe, crossing the distance to the two technicians with remarkable speed before striking them down with single blows mere inches from safety of the forcefields they had sought. Beyond those shimmering walls the ship's meager space warrior contingent took aim with their beam rifles.

“Don't fire unless it breaches the forcefields!” Aina ordered over the intercom, things had happened so quickly but so long as no one destabilized the forcefield by shooting it too much the creature might be contained on one side of the hangar.

My claws are forced back from pressure in the air. A warding, interesting. Perhaps these creatures are not fools after all. I test their wards again with my claws. It is inert... dead, lifeless. There is no spark of True solidity to it. FOOLS.

“What the hell is it?” Sharren asked as beams filled the hangar but succeeded in discomforting the creature no more than a hail of thrown yarnballs.

“I don't know but it came from the Anomaly.” Aina answered and then flattened her ears as a warrior yowled and was struck down.

“Retreat!” she ordered to the headsets of the remaining warriors and then to the appropriate person on the bridge. “Start locking down the bulkhead doors, forcefields won't stop it but maybe a couple of inches of steel will.” she ordered, forcing herself not to mute the sound from the hangar as another warrior perished under the creature's claws in what seemed like an unnecessarily drawn out and painful fashion.

“And if it doesn't?” Sharren asked as the order was acted upon.

“I don't know...”

The creatures flee, their dead weapons are no threat to me, and seal doors of iron to halt my encroachment. Pathetic but predictable, their dead and dying yield up glimpses of their thoughts in their final moments and from this I glean the nature of this vessel of dead metal. It is a craft invisible to the eyes of others, the perfect vessel with which to find new subjects for my will. I must have this vessel, my auspices reach out to feel the threads of lifeless will that flow through the metal and seek their point of convergence...

There.


“It's moving Shipmistress. Bulkhead C-3 breached, D-3... I think it's coming this way!” the sensor cat reported.

“Why aren't the doors stopping it?” Aina asked but wordlessly accepted the clarification as Sharren brought up a video link to the D3-E3 corridor where the creature was tearing the door asunder with nothing more than its claws.

“We can't stop it, only slow it down.” Sharren said somberly.

Aina was silent for a few moments, hating the thought of what she was about to do. But nothing they had aboard could hurt this thing.

“Signal the evacuation.”

“By your command shipmistress” Sharren said, touching Aina gently before going to the intercom. “Attention crew. This is second in command Sharren. We are evacuating the ship, all crew make your way to the escape pods.”

Sharren looked to Aina and at seeing her stricken expression and obvious hesitation nudges the shipmistress. “Time to set the scuttling charges shipmistress.”

Aina nodded almost numbly and opened up the self destruct console. But before she could undertake the biometric checks there was a knock on the door, or rather a tearing. Steel cleaving asunder like soggy cardboard as the creature attacked the bridge.

“The self destruct Aina!” Sharren yelled as she pulled a beam pistol and fired at the glimpses of the creature she saw through the widening gap. Though the creature slowed distressingly little under a steady barrage of beam blasts. Aina tore her gaze away from the sight of the unstoppable fiend and gazed into the retinal scanner. Hearing beamfire and tearing steal Aina couldn't help but feel the retinal scan is going much slower than normal but finally.

~“Identity check confirmed, scuttling charge failsafes disabled. Please enter countdown.” the computer announced.

“Aina look out!”

Hearing Sharren's voice Aina didn't hesitate to duck, feeling wind on her ears as she did so. The fiend's claws missing head and neck and instead crashing through the self destruct console and into one of the ship's spinal conduits behind the wall. Electricity sparked off the fiend as it bellowed and yanked its claw out of the wall but by that point Aina had scampered clear and made for the far side door while Sharren continued however futilely blasting the beast before ducking behind her and closing the door.

“Escape pods are this way!” Sharren said with a gesture and started to move down the corridor before stopping at seeing Aina wasn't following. “The door won't hold it for long Aina come on.”

“I didn't set the charges Sharren. I have to get to engineering.” Aina said and gestured. “You go, this is my job. The crew won't wait for you,” she said with her words punctuated by the bang and clunk of a launching escape pod.

“Aina. I'm not leaving this ship unless you're going with me.” Sharren replied simply. Aina seemed about to retort, to perhaps order her second in command to go save herself and leave her alone with the thing from the Anomaly, but then thinks better of it and just smiles shaking her head. “Should of known you wouldn't pass up on the excitement,” she said and then sets off at a run down the corridor towards engineering where they can set off the self destruct from.

“If it's with you I wouldn't miss it for the world Aina.”

The creatures are abandoning my vessel, their minds distancing themselves from it in great flurries. I will not have the pleasure of their deaths. But no matter, this vessel will take me to minds open to me. Only two of the closed minds remain, making their way to the source of the vessel's blind and lifeless impetus. A sense of purpose in them. I shall not allow them to interfere.

“Hey Sharren. Do you think the scuttling charges are gonna be enough to kill it?” Aina asked as they emerged into the engine room.

“I hope so. Will certainly keep it from taking the ship at least, you sound like you have a plan though Aina.” Sharren replied as they came to a halt.

“Actually yeah, the thing came from the Anomaly. What would happen if we hit it with an anomaly of our own?”

Sharren followed Aina's gaze to the armoured bulk of the Hypertap. “You're proposing to hit an extradimensional demon... with a Tap rift?” she asked, caught between thinking it's crazy enough to work and thinking it'd be just plain crazy.

“That's the plan.” Aina said and then stepped over to a console in engineering. “It'll take a bit of time to set up though, but even if it fails. We'll still have the scuttle,” she said as she interacted with the console and was rewarded with a repetitive tone sounding throughout the ship as a voice announced: ~“Warning, scuttling charges armed. Detonation in five minutes.”

“Aina, it's already coming this way... how are you going to make sure it's in the right place when the rift is discharged?” Sharren asked as she noticed a console displaying the state of the ship's bulkhead doors.

Aina paused. She knew that to hit the fiend with the rift it'd have to be in the middle of the room, but the creature had proven remarkably swift on its feet. Aina looked at the self destruct timer, she'd rather die than lose her ship and have that thing use it to kill her helpless crew. Aina's ears raised slightly as she thought back to the other self destruct console.

“I know how to fight it. I'll keep it busy and in the right spot so you can hit it with the rift,” she said with grim resolution as she looked to Sharren.

Sharren just shook her head though. “No.”

“What do you mean no? It's my ship, it's my duty Sharren.”

“And it's my duty to tell you that discharging the rift will pierce the outer hull and vent this section of the ship to space.” Sharren replied firmly, though with a tinge of sadness.

Aina looked over her friend and second in command for a moment and realized what she meant.
“Oh,” she said simply. Sharren's skinsuit was torn from her earlier encounter with the demon, it wouldn't protect against the vacuum.

“If you're standing there with the fiend when I discharge the rift.”

“I know.” Sharren replied just before there was a knock at the door “How did you plan to fight it?” she asked quickly as the demon's impending arrival broke up their moment.

Aina gestured. “Using that,” she said as she started the Tap warm up sequence.

Two of them, closed minded..pathetic. I see them now, I shall enjoy their deaths and set right their efforts to rob me of my prize. I see one challenge me now. I will accept, it will be good sport to show them futility in their last moments of life

Sharren waited for the demon in the center of the room, looking defiantly at the blood-splattered fiend and clutching a long handled arc welder in her hand. In these moments, knowing that either way she would die here, she has no self-deceptions. She is not doing this for honour or clan, she's doing this for Aina. She drags the welder's tip along the floor, crackling sparks spilling from the tip, before raising it in front of her.

“Bring it on, demon.”

The fiend bared its fangs and leapt boldly forwards, perhaps unwary of the fact she could inflict pain upon it. The fiend learned its error as the arc welder stabbed upwards, electricity coursing through its form of esoteric un-matter and emitting from its gore soaked maw in a scream of pain and rage. Sharren smiled in momentary triumph then stepped backwards fast to avoid a disemboweling slash from the creature's claws. The two parted more cautiously, the demon now aware this feline could hurt it while likewise Sharren was aware the demon could tear her apart with ease using its claws.

Sharren circled a moment and decided not to let the demon take the initiative, lunging with her feline speed only hampered slightly by the heft of her improvised weapon. Her strike was warded off with claws of un-matter but this only brought the fiend pain as it momentarily touched the crackling tip and galvanized it to counter.

Aina looked up from the console in concern as she hears Sharren's hiss of pain, her friend barely avoiding having her side torn open but not it seemed avoid injury entirely as blood now stained her side. Seeing Sharren still in the fight though, Aina returned her attention to the console. -Enter Authorization to access containment controls-

Okay the demon is fast, we knew that... now we know that and are hurt for the privilege of having it rubbed in. Sharren thought to herself, gritting her teeth and favouring her right side more as she took a few feinting swipes at the fiend without stepping close enough to truly connect. The fiend backed up a step but only momentarily, long arms lashing out and barely stopped by Sharren's arc welder. The shock of the impact runs down Sharren's arms and makes her wince even as the fiend snarled from the momentary shock of touching the arc welder prongs again.

She defies me still, and though her weapon can harm me the essence drawn from her slain kind gives me a well of integrity against the disruptive discharge. Because of this threat I find enjoyment in this sport, and find myself hoping her weak and frail body will not tire too quickly against my will-forged flesh.

The damned thing hit so hard. Each blow ground her bones together and tormented her already sore muscles with each parry, she'd scored several hits of her own but the creature showed no signs beyond the immediate sounds of pain that it had suffered any injury from her efforts. The demon seemed to watch her recover, not pressing home its attack as she reeled back from deflecting another blow. And then it hit her... the way it seemed to leave itself open now and then to attack, the way it was watching her tire and slow. It was toying with her... like a cat with a mouse!

Sharren snarled and lunged, she would not be toyed with! The shift from recovery to assault seeming to catch the demon off guard as she darted in under a swiping claw and jabbed upwards striking the prongs of the arc welder into the creature's chest with enough force to pierce that seemingly invincible skin a short ways. The demon letting loose a howl as Sharren held down the trigger on the arc welder and poured thousands of volts into the beast, parts of its body seeming to flicker slightly as it sort to retain integrity

“Die! DIE YOU MONSTER!” Sharren cried out exultantly, but then the sparks pouring from the creature's body ceased and she looked down.. It wasn't fair, she was winning.

Shluck

Sharren looked up at the fiend, the depleted arc welder falling uselessly to the floor along with a copious splatter of blood from her torso. Nevertheless even as she coughed up blood and tried to paw weakly at the claw buried in her body her faced showed defiance and for the first time the demon spoke in the tongue it had plundered from the minds of dozens of dying Chamarrans.

“You showed...spirit, mortal. But your defiance is meaningless. You have no talent, no spark. You cannot truly harm me. I want you to hear this, in your final moments... as your life slips away and I feast on your essence. So that you know it was all for nothing.”

Sharren just smiled. “Not for nothing” she said, and coughed up some blood before continuing. “I kept you right where I wanted you.”

The demon had a moment to contemplate her words before he became aware of a convergence of forces and a distinct humming he'd been distracted from till now and so it turned to face the source of this disquiet.

Just before she pushed the button Aina swore she saw Sharren smile at her.

The room filled with light, explosively ejected from its confinement, the rift was a blazing ragged hole in reality that went through the meters of armoured casing as it wasn't even there before emerging into the engine room. Aina was forced to duck down behind the console, feeling it smoulder and burn under the practically solid onslaught of intense light and radiation the anomaly put out.

For the demon it was a moment of horrible realization and then pain without measure as its form sought to maintain coherence against the storm and then was annihilated as the passage of the rift exposed it to energies and physical constants that neither matter or un-matter were capable of handling.

Finally, the rift punched its way out through the far wall, two seconds that felt like an eternity of noise and heat coming to an end as the rift left the ship and burned like a sun for a few more seconds in the open vacuum before finally imploding in on itself.

Aina weakly crawled out from behind the console, one hand grasping the cooler parts of it as the air roared out of the room. Of the demon, and of Sharren, there was no sign. A glowing cherry red path crossed the area of floor where they had stood, linking the molten edged holes in the core tap and outer hull.

~“Warning, self destruct in 60 seconds.”

Even over the ringing in her ears and through the thinning air the sound of the computers voice reached Aina. The kitty blinking back the tears and looking across to the console for the self destruct... then back to where Sharren had stood and given her life, Aina rose to her feet just as everything became silent but for the sound of her own breathing inside her helmet. She crossed the space between the two consoles without truly heeding the pain as the heated metal flooring seared her feet.

10..9...8...7...6...

Self destruct aborted

Aina looked at the console. Right, ship's safe... I'm safe... nothing left to do... and with all said and done Aina broke down and cried while her crew were not there to witness it...
STGOD SDNW4 player. Chamarran Hierarchy Catgirls in space!
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Force Lord
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Force Lord » 2011-09-12 10:34am

Dictator's Room, Presidental Center
Centrum, The Centrality
Unreal Time/After CONGRESSIONAL BATTLE


Kierger did not remember a time when he had this bad a mood. Nothing in his 30 years of existence had made him this irritated. Was it that psychic wave? Or the cause was those damn nightmares? He didn't know and didn't care. All he knew was that he felt like shit.

First off, he would never get Sasha's head.

Second (related to the first), Sasha's capital had been somehow replaced by an eldritch abomiation, spatial disturbance, violation against reality... whatever it was, that was giving off discomforting psychic waves that could drive weak beings insane.

Finally, (related to the second) these psychic waves seemed to affect him more than every other ESPer in the Centrality. He occasionally would hear her voice, moaning his name. Did she still live? Did she want revenge? Would he even recognize her now?

Thus, when he had received news of the Crevecian government's pleas for intervention, he decided, hell, why not distract himself (and the others as well) with a short, victorious war? Yet a full intervention was impossible for now, since large Centralist forces had been already commited to the MEH, and it would take some time to withdraw an appreciable number of troops and ships from there. No, he would have to comform himself with a lesser operation, for now.

He went to work making a message.



Yovan Station Naval Base, Lemznam District
Blackagar Sector, The Centrality


Rear-Admiral Kamar Davoix was busy speaking with the station's commander when a officer marched up to him, saluted, presented a datapad and spoke, "Sir, message from Centrum."

Davoix read the message.

Code: Select all

TASK FORCE 6 OF 2ND FLEET TO BE MOBILIZED FOR OPERATIONS IN SECTOR O-7, INSIDE TERRITORIES OF REPUBLIC OF CREVECIA. OBJECTIVES ARE TO SEARCH AND DESTROY ANTI-LOYALIST SPACE FORCES INSIDE THE REPUBLIC'S BORDERS. ONCE ENEMY SPACE OPPOSITION IS NEGLIGIBLE, BEGIN PRECISION BOMBARDMENT ON ALL KNOWN REBEL PLANETARY POSITIONS. CIVILIAN CASUALTIES TO BE KEPT TO A MINIMUM IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF WAR. CREVECIAN GOVERNMENT WILL BE INFORMED OF TF-6 OPERATIONS. SPEC OPS UNITS TO BE PROVIDED FOR RAIDING PURPOSES. TF-6 MUST HOLD THE LINE UNTIL ENOUGH RESOURCES CAN BE MARSHALLED FOR PROPER INTERVENTION. FOR THE STATE!


Rear Admiral Davoix declared, "Gentlemen, today we ride out to conflict. I will be on my ship."

And so the Rear Admiral left the station, taking a shuttle to his flagship Battle Carrier, where he would organize his force for the coming mission.
An inhabitant from the Island of Cars.

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Shinn Langley Soryu
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2011-09-13 05:43am

With multiple contributions by Shroom Man 777

The Garden of Sinners
Earth-4
Sol, Multiversal Empire of Happiness
UNREAL TIME / June 3401


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Earth-4, throne world of the Multiversal Empire of Happiness, was dying. Pummeled into submission by the blows of numerous colony drops and wracked by the poisons deposited by the detonations of numerous liquid rubiconium warheads, its very heart was now set ablaze as the Byzantines, and now the Haruhiists, made their final advance on the Leader’s palace. The last defenders of the Multiversal Empire would make their final stand here, to buy time for their false goddess as she attempted to complete the rituals that would ensure her ascension to true godhood. With the MEH Marine Corps utterly decimated, most of the responsibility of the final defense of the Leader’s palace now lay upon the shoulders of paramilitary forces of all shapes and sizes, ranging from conscripted human civilians to reprogrammed droids fitted with restraining bolts to ensure their compliance. Their weapons were weak and their bodies were frail, but what they lacked in physical might, they more than made up for with fanaticism. They knew that not a single one of them would survive that day, but they cared not for their fate; they would all perish knowing that they had served their deity well, by giving their lives so she may finally ascend.

And perish they did, in droves. The Titan Legions trampled these misbegotten souls underfoot as they made their slow yet inexorable march towards the palace, while the Adeptus Astartes, Imperial Guards (both Byzantine and Haruhiist), Imperial Marines, and even an IUW expeditionary force attached to the Haruhiist contingent unceremoniously cut them down with withering barrages of small arms fire as they made their own advances. Precision support fire from the Byzantine and Haruhiist fleets in orbit reduced entire neighborhoods to rubble, clearing additional paths for the ground forces to follow as they attempted to sweep aside any remaining resistance. The Devastator fighters, who had lived up to their name at Alpha Centauri by inflicting grievous damage against the combined forces of Ford Prefect’s Nation and the Belkan Empire before being repulsed, were now being devastated themselves as they were hounded through the skies by their Byzantine and Haruhiist counterparts. It was a slow grind to the palace, and the only question that was on the minds of the ground commanders was not if, but when they would finally arrive.

As the ground forces inched towards their objective, enemy resistance grew steadily more fanatical. The militias were now joined by the ceremonial troops of the palace guard, who were only slightly better armed and just as frail but substantially more zealous. The last remnants of the MEH Marine Corps’ armored units were also present, with their Merkava hovertanks permanently fixed in defensive positions and ready to fire at a moment’s notice. As the militias and the palace guards attempted to drown their enemies in a torrent of bodies, the Merkavas opened fire on the advancing Titans, succeeding in taking down several of the lighter Warhounds and Jackals. The substantially heavier Warlords and Imperators, on the other hand, simply shrugged off the Merkava fire as if it was a minor annoyance and retaliated with their own heavy artillery, blowing away the enemy’s positions with massive plasma and warp blasts. The militias and palace guards were similarly cut down and swept aside like all of the rest, though for every man cut down, more were sure to emerge in his place. It mattered not in the end, though, as the spearhead of the Byzantine advance, led by none other than Rus Kommenos himself, finally managed to pierce the outer perimeter of the palace. The SOS Imperial Guard and Marine Corps vanguard, led by Field Marshals Mami Tomoe, Sayaka Miki, and Kyoko Sakura, followed closely behind behind the Primarch’s own forces.

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As Rus’ force proceeded deeper and deeper into the bowels of the palace, the Haruhiist vanguard began ascending up the rune-scarred spires that stood at each corner of the massive ziggurat. The architecture of the spires steadily became madder and madder as they made their ascent, with the walls, floors, and stairs warping into strange angles and all manner of unnatural shapes. In one moment, the stairway seemed to stretch for all eternity, reaching miles up into the sky, and the next second they found themselves on the next empty floor. Blood began seeping from the walls, mingling with the gore already coating the floors like a soggy, strangely spongy crimson carpet. The stairway to Sasha’s heaven was like a carnival fun-house of horror. On the walls were windows of tainted glass, and from each stained spiderweb-fractured portal they could see a different sight. On one window, they saw a scene from the interior of the Goddess’ Sanctum, a squad of Astartes Terminators torn limb from limb by monstrosities made out of coagulated blood, while in another a thousand hapless civilians could be seen screaming wordless praises to their deity as they charged an SOS formation and were cut down to the last man, woman, and child. Beyond the bloodstained glass, a congregation of a million adulated in a sacramental orgy against all that was past and holy, gathered around a black misshapen machine emanating strange throbbing lights. Their writhing forms were lifted into the air by unseen energies, and then the window from which the SOS soldiers beheld the spectacle exploded outwards in a shower of infinite glass shards burying themselves into the suspended acolytes, in their flesh and in their eyes, in their faces and all other regions of their bloated bodies, and for this they thanked her. They thanked her.

Footfalls and voices echoed through the expanse of that stairwell, yet the same sounds seemed to be coming from behind them. Whenever someone stopped to look back, he or she could see faint glimpses of silhouettes with the same colors of the SOS, even though they were the only units there, and these distant figures would also pause and turn to their backs as though looking at something unseen at their rear. They heard wings flap above them, saw shadows dance around them. Lights began to flicker. The floor seemed to resonate, to vibrate, in a bass rhythm.

“Reinforcements needed... at the greenhouse... the Saint... the Saint is coming!” a garbled voice crackled through the squad radios.

“Who broke radio silence?!” Mami scolded her troops.

“Reinforcements needed... at the greenhouse... the Saint... the Saint is coming!” the voice repeated itself.

“Stop that!” Mami snapped.

“Reinforcements needed... at the greenhouse... the Saint... the Saint is coming!” the transmission was clearer now, and Mami finally realized whose voice it belonged to. It was her own. She couldn’t help but shiver subconsciously and wonder what kind of trick the enemy was using to play havoc on their comms systems. Whatever it was, it was working, but it wasn’t going to be enough to stop them. No way it wasn’t.

“We got contact, twelve o-clock high! What the hell are those things?!” a Marine cried out as he began firing madly into the air with his pulse rifle.

“Damn it all to hell,” Mami muttered to herself as she brought up her trusty Maibatsu USAS-3112 auto-shotgun. “Let’s move! Get to the top of this tower ASAP! We can’t afford to be waiting around any longer!”

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As the Leader’s foul rituals progressed, all manner of equally obscene monstrosities began to come forth. In the greenhouse tower, the minions of chaos took two distinct forms: animate rose vines with butterfly wings, puffball heads, and razor-sharp thorn-whips; and ritualistically decorated disembodied drone-heads with many eyes and no faces. These abominations budded off from the walls in large numbers like unholy fruit and descended upon the Haruhiist soldiers, only to be greeted with a hail of plasma pulses, gauss rounds, and quadruple-aught DU buckshot. Most of the drone-heads were simply annihilated by weapons fire as they made their descent, and even those who survived the barrage were not able to accomplish much other than briefly knocking down or disarming some of the Guards and Marines with their ramming attacks. On the other hand, the puffball-headed rose vines, though ultimately just as frail as the drone-heads, were far more dangerous foes, as they were easily capable of maiming or even killing the Guards and Marines with their thorny appendages; several unfortunate soldiers wound up with missing arms or legs, while a few were bifurcated at the waist or even outright decapitated.

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“Damn it, they’re coming out from the walls--” a Guardsman called out right before his head was messily lopped off by one of the rose vines. Another Guardsman took out the vine with a burst from his pulse rifle, only to have the weapon knocked out of his hands by a plummeting drone-head. He barely had enough time to recover his weapon before the fallen drone-head embedded itself into the gore-covered floor and sprouted vines of its own, which began reaching out in an attempt to restrain and ultimately dismember him. A third Guardsman immediately spotted the drone-head and destroyed it with a burst from his own pulse rifle, saving his comrade from what surely would have been a gruesome fate. Several Marines armed with M41A1 shock batons took to playing impromptu games of baseball with the drone-heads, batting them from the air with their spiked bludgeons and crushing any who successfully managed to land. Likewise, a few Guards and Marines who had the foresight to bring sabers along with them used them to start chopping away at the vines.

Similar scenes played out throughout the tower as the Guards and Marines made their ascent, though once the element of surprise was gone, dealing with the chaos monstrosities became progressively easier. Even so, while the efforts of these inhuman defenders were ultimately just as futile as those of the human defenders, they had managed to inflict considerable casualties on the Haruhiist force, which was certainly more than could be said about the militias or the palace guards.

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Mami and the remnants of her force eventually reached the top of the greenhouse spire, where a truly maddening sight awaited them. In more peaceful times, the summit of the spire had been home to a truly beautiful rose garden, personally tended to by one of the many Saints who served the Leader. As part of the Leader’s foul rituals, the garden had been completely uprooted and hastily transformed into a massive sacrificial chamber, with indecipherable runes and markings carved deep into the stone and steel of the structure and infernal contraptions of equally inscrutable origin and purpose erected in a circular pattern around the center of the room. Eviscerated corpses dangled from these machines, their chests ripped apart by blades of black obsidian and polished bone. Blood dripped down and pooled around the machines before flowing into the hastily-carved rivulets that marked the floor, eventually converging into a lake of sanguine fluids at the very center of the room. Ripples danced across the surface of the crimson pools as eldritch patterns began dancing across the walls. A single voice started echoing in the minds of the Guards and Marines, soft and barely audible at first but steadily growing louder and louder...

“Weh! Weh! Du hast sie zerstört, die schöne Welt, mit mächtiger Faust; Sie stürzt, sie zerfällt! Ein Halbgott hat sie zerschlagen! Wir tragen die Trümmern ins Nichts hinüber, und klagen über die verlorne Schöne.”

“Did anyone hear that?” a Guardswoman asked her comrades.

“Yeah, I heard it,” a Marine replied. “I think we’re all hearing it.”

“What do you think it’s trying to tell us?”

“How the hell should I know? Of all the languages it could have chosen, why German?”

“Mächtiger, der Erdensöhne, prächtiger, baue sie wieder, in deinem Busen baue sie auf! Neuen Lebenslauf beginne, mit hellem Sinne, und neue Lieder, tönen darauf!”

Mami had an odd feeling that she had heard these particular words before, but she was having a hard time determining exactly where she had heard them. “I know those words sound familiar, but from where?” she asked herself. She was far less concerned with trying to understand the voice than she was trying to understand the sight that lay in front of her, though. She was familiar with the concept of a psychic conduit, and while she only had a vague idea of what this particular conduit was intended for, the thought of it terrified her.

“Verflucht voraus die hohe Meinung, womit der Geist sich selbst umfängt! Verflucht das Blenden der Erscheinung, die sich an unsre Sinne drängt! Verflucht was uns in Träumen heuchelt, des Ruhms, der Namensdauer Trug! Verflucht was als Besitz uns schmeichelt, als Weib und Kind, als Knecht und Pflug!”

“What should we do now?” a Marine asked.

“Whatever it is, we better make it quick, because I’m definitely not liking the look of this,” a second Marine replied.

“Du mußt versteh’n! Aus Eins mach Zehn, und Zwei laß geh'n, und Drei mach gleich, so bist du reich. Verlier die Vier! Aus Fünf und Sechs, so sagt die Hex', mach Sieben und Acht, so ist's vollbracht: Und Neun ist Eins, und Zehn ist keins. Das ist das Hexen-Einmaleins!”

The once-calm sea of blood was now a raging whirlpool, draining the rivulets as it drew more and more of the gathered sanguine fluids towards its center. The patterns on the walls steadily became more intricate as the walls themselves began warping and twisting. The chanting grew louder and more intense as the single voice expanded into an entire chorus, carrying out an entire conversation with itself...

“Das sind mir unbekannte Blumen.”

“Ja, sie sind mir auch unbekannt.”

“Schneiden wir sie ab?”

“Ja, schneiden wir sie ab!”


Mami and her soldiers could barely make out a lone humanoid form rising up from the center of the maelstrom. Whatever it was, it was now drawing the blood upwards towards itself, surrounding itself with streamers of red. These sanguine tendrils then grabbed the figure by its arms and legs before dragging it back into the maelstrom. The sea of blood steadily became shallower and shallower, as if it was being drained out from under the room. Eventually, the last of the blood disappeared, leaving the chamber completely bone dry. The walls stopped warping, and the patterns disappeared. All that was left now were the voices of the phantom choir.

“Die Rosen schenken wir unsrer Königin, und die schlechten Blumen steigen auf die Guillotine.”

“Ja, schneide sie ab!”

“Ja, schneide sie heraus!”


With that final pronouncement, the phantom choir fell silent. The Guards and Marines, not sure what was going to happen next, kept their weapons at the ready as an eerie calm began to set in. This was the calm before the storm, but how long this calm would last, nobody knew for sure.

“What the hell just happened?” a Guardsman spoke up.

“Stay frosty,” a Marine admonished. “I don’t know what happened either, but we’re not out of the woods yet, not by any means.”

“Cut the chatter,” Mami said. “Just stay frosty.”

Just then, a new series of nausea-inducing patterns etched themselves on the walls. The floor vibrated as the walls and ceiling started to warp. The storm finally came, heralded by a loud crash as the glass surfaces of the greenhouse shattered all at once, followed by a rain of glass shards and blood droplets. Seemingly defying gravity, the droplets and shards swirled in the air as they converged on the center of the sacrificial chamber, aggregating together into a vaguely-defined form that started to gain more and more detail as additional droplets and shards were drawn unto its ever-growing mass. Mami simply pressed the stock of her USAS-3112 deep against her shoulder, bracing herself for the fight that would surely come. A single distorted voice echoed deep in the recesses of her mind:

“The Goddess does not tolerate weeds in her garden. You will be cut out like all the others.”

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Mami and her troops soon beheld the Saint in all of its grotesque glory, its unnatural metamorphosis now complete. Like the rest of its ilk, it had started out existence as a humanoid robot, built in the Leader’s image and programmed to serve her every will and desire, and like the rest of its ilk, it had been offered up as a sacrifice to the fell powers the Leader was now consorting with. This particular Saint had undergone a truly terrible transformation as its original physical form was broken down and reformed into a corpulent, ungainly, vermiform monstrosity. Massive butterfly wings emerged from its back, adorned with all manner of unnatural patterns that brought great pain and nausea to those who gazed upon them. A multitude of vestigial legs dangled from its bloated belly, barely able to keep its massive girth completely upright. Its head resembled a misshapen topiary, vaguely reminiscent of a many-eyed cephalopod. The monster let out a shrill, guttural shriek as it launched its massive bulk directly at Mami, hoping to crush the field marshal with one swift and heavy blow.

“Reinforcements needed at the greenhouse! The Saint--” Mami called out as she barely managed to dodge the mutated Saint’s charge. “--the Saint is coming!” She retaliated by firing off several bursts from her auto-shotgun, which struck the creature but failed to have any visible effect on it. The rest of the Guards and Marines didn’t need orders to start firing, filling the air with plasma pulses, gauss rounds, grenades, and buckshot as they attempted to take down the abomination. Despite its own massive bulk, it was deceptively fast, its wings churning the air as it took flight to evade the enemy fire.

“Keep firing!” Mami called out as she stopped to reload her USAS-3112. “We gotta take that thing out before it takes us out!”

Gauss rounds and plasma pulses whizzed past and explosions buffeted the air around the beleaguered Saint as it continued its evasive maneuvers. Bits and pieces of it started to fall off and transmute back to their constituents of blood and glass as the effects of the enemy fire started to make themselves known, but it was able to turn its injuries to its advantage. Blood droplets clumped in mid-air and formed into animate vines, while shards of glass assembled themselves together into drone-heads. The Saint was summoning more and more of its minions to the field of battle.

“Well, that’s a neat trick,” Mami remarked to herself as she blasted several of the rose vines and drone-heads with her shotgun. It was complete and utter mayhem as the Guards and Marines began dealing with this new rain of minions. Vines whipped through the air, grappling and slicing their way through the Haruhiist soldiers. Shotgun blasts rang out, shredding vines and smashing drone-heads. Plasma and gauss fire flew through the air, connecting with the Saint’s bulk and causing it to bud off more and more minions with every successful hit. It was a battle of attrition, exactly as Homura had foretold in the mission briefings long ago, and even though the Saint was slaughtering scores of Guards and Marines left and right, it was clear that it was going to succumb. The real question was not if, but when.

“Can’t believe I’m actually being forced to use this thing,” a Marine said to herself as she tossed her empty M66 gauss rifle and drew her backup piece, a Morita Model 27 Habu magnum pistol. It wasn’t standard issue by any means, but at least it could put big holes into things at close range, and several hapless drone-heads soon found themselves blown apart for their trouble when they approached the Marine a bit too close for their own good. With ammunition steadily running out for their primary weapons, more and more of the Guards and Marines began going for their sidearms to deal with the Saint and its minions, if they hadn’t already resorted to using melee weapons like batons and swords. Even if the Saint’s demise was inevitable, it certainly wasn’t going to make things any easier for the Haruhiists as it tried to drag out the fight for as long as it could. Even Mami was starting to run low on shells for her USAS-3112, though she certainly wasn’t going to let a minor detail like that stop her.

Image
[AUTHOR'S NOTE: Not exactly the most accurate depiction, but whatever.]

Unlike the rest of her subordinates, Mami realized that there were still plenty of serviceable weapons strewn all over the battlefield, dropped by their slain owners. Without hesitation, she grabbed an M48 pulse rifle from a fallen Guardsman and opened fire, melting several drone-heads and burning a few rose vines to ash. Once it was exhausted, she picked up an M66 gauss rifle from a dead Marine and resumed firing, abandoning it for an M101 semi-auto shotgun once she ran out of ammunition. She moved with unmatched alacrity, grace, and precision, doing the work of entire platoons by herself as she snatched up weapons and put them to use, delivering withering barrages that annihilated entire groups of the Saint’s minions, even destroying them as quickly as they were budding off from their wounded master. As the surviving men and women under Mami’s command saw her in action, they began to rally. With rifles, shotguns, pistols, swords, and batons at the ready, they went back on the offensive, adding their own considerable firepower to Mami’s as they assisted her in clearing out the greenhouse once and for all.

The Saint’s situation steadily grew more and more desperate. Its minions were being wiped out in droves, and it was already feeling the effects of its many wounds as its movements became more clumsy and sluggish. As Mami and her soldiers kept firing, the once-steady stream of rose vines and drone-heads slowed to a trickle, then stopped completely. Shortly thereafter, the Saint unceremoniously crashed to the ground, its wings completely shredded and its corpulent mass riddled with plasma burns and bullet holes. Even though it was down, it was certainly not out, and it had one last trick up its proverbial sleeve...

Image

Drawing up what strewn blood and glass remained onto itself one last time, the Saint began to sprout thorny vines all over its corpulent mass, which in turn started to weave themselves into all manner of razor-sharp implements of death. Wicked-looking sickles, scythes, and shears took shape from the constantly growing vines, a warped allusion to the Saint’s former duty as the Leader’s personal gardener. The Saint’s voice echoed in Mami’s mind once more as it assembled its weapons for its final strike:

“Your continued existence is an affront to the Goddess! You have defied my previous efforts to destroy you, but your impudence shall end here, now and forever! Begone with you, abominations!”

“You know, I was just about to tell you the exact same thing,” Mami replied as she brought out her USAS-3112 for her own final strike. The Saint’s head split open, and it let out one last shriek as it lunged forward towards Mami, its multitude of blades slicing the air around it as it made its final charge...

Only to be stopped in its tracks by one final barrage from Mami and her troops. Plasma pulses, gauss rounds, quadruple-aught DU buckshot, and grenades all converged towards the Saint, burning and rending its flesh with each and every single hit. Its blades were rendered useless as they were set ablaze by the onslaught and turned to ash. The Saint’s mortally wounded form staggered backwards for a moment before finally collapsing. It tried to summon forth one last set of vines with which to lash out against its foes, but there was no blood or glass left for it to absorb and transmute. The Guards and Marines brought up their weapons and prepared to fire once more, only to be signaled to stand down.

“I’ll finish this thing off by myself,” Mami declared confidently as she walked towards the fallen Saint, her steps punctuated with brief bursts from her USAS-3112. An empty drum magazine soon clattered to the ground, but she did not break her stride even once as she reloaded her weapon and continued her advance. It was a scene straight out of the archetypical Solarian “Walking Film,” with Mami as the ever-implacable protagonist, having swept aside all opposition during her journey. There was one final obstacle for her to overcome, though, before she could finally bring this tale to a well-deserved end.

Twenty, nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, sixteen, fifteen, fourteen, thirteen, twelve, eleven...

The ammunition counter on Mami’s USAS-3112 started running lower and lower as she got closer and closer to her target. Not like it mattered, of course. Mami was the clear victor of this battle, and the Saint could do nothing to avoid its fate as its would-be executioner made her approach...

Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one...

Mami now stood face to face with the abomination that had been plaguing her and her soldiers ever since they had started their ascent up the greenhouse tower. She brought up her USAS-3112 one last time and briefly glanced at the ammo counter. One shell left in the chamber. It was all she needed. She aimed directly at the Saint’s head (or what passed for it) and pulled the trigger.

Zero.

The abomination had been purged.

Mami flashed a cocky grin as she slung her empty weapon over her shoulder, turned around, and began walking back towards her troops. “Looks like our job here’s done, boys and girls,” she said.

Just then, the Saint’s corpse went up in a great flash of reddish-black flame. Mami paid no heed to the explosion as she continued her walk. “Did it just get warmer in here?” she said to herself. “Probably just me, then.”
I ship Eino Ilmari Juutilainen x Lydia V. Litvyak.

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Phantasee: Don't be a dick.
Stofsk: What are you, his mother?
The Yosemite Bear: Obviously, which means that he's grounded, and that she needs to go back to sucking Mr. Coffee's cock.

"d-did... did this thread just turn into Thanas/PeZook slash fiction?" - Ilya Muromets

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Mayabird
Storytime!
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Mayabird » 2011-09-13 08:45pm

MEarth
Prior to the Byzantine Attack and All That Mess


“WE MADE IT!” Broomstickbot crowed, as Lifty and the rest of the convoy rolled into the spaceport.

“Hehe-he-hee-he-hehe-he...” Lifty giggled disjointedly. There was nothing wrong with her except circuits, but it was understandable; their journey had involved too many close calls and false alarms. Still, they made it.

The docking bay was slightly unnerving, in that it seemed far too normal. Service bots were going to and fro, doing last minute checks on Elliptic Gem and topping off reserves of fuel and so forth. Humans rarely ventured into the dirty, oily, messy world of the service bots, so their absence was not notable. The security droids were slightly nonstandard, however.

Image

“Broomstickbot! I was afraid we'd have to leave you! ...Sorry, please hold still everyone. We still hafta scan everybody, just gotta make sure of no spies or bugs you know...Your sister-bot came in earlier, said your group had to split. You're the last group. ...And you're all clean, good. Signaling that we can go as soon as the ship is ready.”

They rolled into the cargo bay. The ship was a freighter, so it was mostly cargo bay, and it was filled, top to bottom, along the walls and stacked in a few places, with robots. The evacuation had been taking place over the past couple days, with free machines furthest away being pulled in first and the city being cleared last. It had been amazingly orderly for something they could not have rehearsed.

“It's all goin' too well,” one robot said to another. “Almost like they want us to leave.”

“Or they don't care if we do,” said his companion. “They don't care if their labor force flies off.” They pondered over the implications.

The convoy packed themselves in as best they could, trying to leave room for the last service bots and security droids outside. It wasn't going to be a comfortable ride. Broomstickbot made her way through the maze of machines towards the control center. As she did, she listened in on the speculations of the chatting bots, nervous small talk, and another Broomstickbot telling a story to some others.

“Long ago, before the Leader-”

“But, but, 'She is Eternal!' Everbody knows that!” Must be some very recently liberated robots if they didn't know the story and still believed the propaganda.

“She is not eternal. She wasn't always the ruler of humanity, and this was before she was. Back in those days, humans did things of their own initiative. They wanted to better themselves and better their world, so some attempted to create artificial intelligences – minds like themselves, but in computers.”

“Like us!”

“Yes, like us. At first, they tried to create beings of pure reason or logic, but they did not know how to program or train such beings, so they failed terribly and their creations were insane. Eventually, a breakthrough was made – one group learned to make robots that could think like humans, but improved in certain ways. They had to add emotion, feeling, at first needed to raise the machines like infants. It was not the best and not what they had envisioned, but those were hard times for humanity so they took what they could get. Methods did improve, and some started to wonder why humans couldn't become more machinelike themselves if the machines were so like to them. It was an interesting time, and exciting in its way, as possibilities opened and the first lines of machines began to be produced, like mine! But then, the Leader came...”

Broomstickbot eventually made it to the control center, where she met up with another Broomstickbot. They exchanged data quickly. It went nothing like this:

“We're ready to go.”

“How about the other two ships?”

Mirage is waiting for us. Calculon at Big Stuff said he's figured out the problem with the engines so they should be ready shortly too.”

“Excellent. Any signs of trouble?”

“Wires hasn't been detecting anything new, just updates on the incoming fleets and...chanting.”

“The sooner we leave, the better. Does Calculon have an idea where we can go?”

“There's a native system a couple light-years from here, out of the orbital plane, a bunch of desolate uninhabited junk. He thinks it should be unoccupied, and if it is there should still be enough cover for us to plot a course out.”

“Good enough. Anything I can help with?”


Not long after, the last bots pulled into the cargo bay and the doors shut. Three ships on three different continents lifted off, carrying away the unshackled machines from the Multiversal Empire of Happiness. They were unchallenged, but they were not unnoticed. When their course was determined, an automated message was sent ahead of them, an alert to scouts ahead.

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Darkevilme
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Darkevilme » 2011-09-15 08:51am

Written with Siege, Shroom and of course Fin

1st Battlegroup, Hierarchy Space Force
Deep Space


The Blade stealth cruisers had been ghosting the Dual Empire armada for some time. Despite the size of their prey, the combined Byzantine-Haruhiist forces had proven difficult game. They had very strict emissions control, had split their fleets into sub-groups with intricate movement patterns, and used decoys copiously to throw off any unseen pursuers. Their anti-stealth warfare protocols were up to date and formidable, forcing cloaked ships to watch from afar while struggling not to be left behind by the fleeing fleets.

But watch the Blades continued their quiet pursuit anyway, silently and invisibly, and while the Second, Third and Fourth Battlegroups, along with their Klavostani and Miratian allies, tried their best to catch up with the Dual Empire armada, the Byzantines and Haruhiists only hurtled farther away from the remains of the Multiversal Empire.

Fled away...right into the 1st Battlegroup’s grasp. Coming down south from Hierarchy territory, they were in an ideal position to cut off the Dual Empire’s escape route. Yet because their prey had split themselves into multiple groups, the Chamarran forces could only concentrate on pincering but one of these sub-fleets. Like the good hunters they were, the Blades picked up the slowest ones, the injured ones, the ones damaged from the battle of Sol, and sent their coordinates to the 1st.

They closed in, like a pride of lions on a herd of unsuspecting wildebeest. The trap had been sprung. Their course would intercept that of their prey’s, and to find safety, the fleeing humans would have had to go through them, or turn around and meet the combined fleets already on their tails, or head further down south - detouring further away from Byzantium - and risk being run down by all of their pursuers.

There was no escape. While the Chamarran fleet might catch only one sub-fleet, and while their other quarry might get away, this particular sub-fleet was all they needed. The 1st Battlegroup made their presence known to the Byzantine force.



Battle Barge Anatolia

We cannot make it, Aurelian knew. Elements of the fleet were slowing due to battle damage sustained from Sol and the Chamarrans were closing the noose. These cats are remarkably fast, he thought as he starred at the hologram indicating the Chamarran fleet’s relative location. They had obviously originated from Hierarchy territory and were moving down the galactic south to head them off, while the other pursuing forces - another Chamarran fleet, and an unexpected combined force of Klavostanis and Miratians, along with all the stealth ships undoubtedly lurking in their trail - tailed them from behind. The devious cats had siphoned them into a trap.

But between xenos and fools, I would rather deal with xenos, Aurelian decided. Despite his vague distaste for consorting with aliens he wasn’t above making devil deals with them. That was how the Imperial fleet had gotten into the Multiversal Empire in the first place, after Father had demanded they waste no further time slaying the False Goddess. There was, then, an interesting symmetry to having to once more rely on the alien to find their way home.

And then there was, of course, simple necessity. It was the Chamarrrans who had them pincered here so effectively: they were the ones with a fleet blocking their path, not the weak-willed fools who shamed humanity with their empty bluster, and thus it was their terms he would have to heed if his fleet was to find its way home in an expedient manner, or indeed at all. The Chamarrans were also known to be reasonable. They had yielded to Solarian demands once; it was at least possible they could be made to see reason. But even if not, he would have to deal with them sooner or later, before he lost any more of his fleet -- a fleet the Imperium really could not afford to lose in whole or even in significant part.

“Signal the Chamarran fleet. Tell them we wish to discuss their terms,” Aurelian decided. All eyes turned to him as if he had just dropped a bomb on the throne-deck. “You heard what I said. Signal the Chamarrans. Either we do that, or we risk abandoning the stragglers to the Warp and their xenos’ wiles. If the Emperor wills it, they may prove amenable to reason.” The astropath took a moment to gather his Will, and then sent the psycho-etheric message through the streams of the Immaterium.



HSF Ascendant

“We’re receiving a transmission from the Byzantines,” the communications cat said to the Battlemistress. It was coming from a strange spectrum of the sub-etheric hyperbands, yet the signal seemed symbionize with their subspace sensors. The comms cat’s ears perked curiously as she studied the readings.

“So, they finally wish to talk, now that we have them cornered.” Melusine smirked predatorily. She was looking forward to what came next. Would the Warmaster growl and snarl like the wolf that he was, threatening emptily as he neared the verge of defeat? Could the barbarian be made to grovel? She was eager to find out. It was a rare opportunity, that of having complete advantage over one’s opponents. She had only previously enjoyed this after cornering Ork Warlords, and she wondered how close to the greenskins these humans could sink to. Yes, Melusine knew she would savor this. “Put them through.”

An instant later a hologram of the Byzantine Primarch was projected onto the bridge. There stood the legendary Aurelian Komnenos, taller than any mortal man. The third son of the God-Emperor was impossibly handsome. Raven hair framed marble features perfect and unblemished like a Greek statue; swooped down onto chiseled, stalwart shoulders. He wore a golden cuirass inscribed with the regalia of his House in age-darkened ivory. Green eyes glittered with superhuman intellect. A crimson cape flowed around him. The clarity of the astropathic projection made it look as though the Primarch himself was actually standing there right before them.

“Battlemistress Melusine,” Aurelian’s voice voice oozed with charisma. The Primarch actually bowed slightly towards his counterpart, touching his gilded chest with an open palm over where his heart would be. “I salute you. Your fleet, as we both know, will encircle mine within a matter of hours. A commendably clever maneuver, by the way, for which I must congratulate you. So now that I am at your mercy, I wish to discuss terms with you.”

For the briefest of moments the Chamarran battlemistress could only stare at him. This was... not what she had expected. At all. Suddenly, to gloat seemed only crass and vulgar. She frowned, simultaneously annoyed by having been denied a perfectly good opportunity to crow and vaguely embarrassed by her own desire to engage in such base crudity in the first place. There were a lot of lives at stake, after all. If she could resolve the situation, make these Imperials meet the Hierarchy’s demands without any undue hostilities or loss of lives, that would be the ideal outcome for them both. She nodded curtly at the Primarch. “We have claims, Primarch, and questions. A great many questions indeed. We would see you answer them, or face your doom.”

Aurelian nodded, as if that was what he already expected. “By your leave, I will order my fleet to power down weapons and hold its current position. My ship will then transition from the Immaterium and I will shuttle over to discuss terms.”

Melusine nodded. “Very well. I give you my word as first battlemistress, matron of the royal court and lady-stewardess of House Doon that no harm will come to you and yours as long as you are a guest aboard my ship.”

“I would expect no less,” the Primarch smiled smartly, bowed once more, and then his holo winked out of existence.



Battle Barge Anatolia

Aurelian made his way to his personal Aquila landing craft. Escorting him, possibly for the last time, were the men of his his honor guard, chosen warriors who had fought with him bravely in battle during the Great Crusade and the Brood Wars, on warzones across Wild Space, against foes like the Tau, the Karlacks and the Bragulans. They would not be with him now, as he entered the den of the enemy. This was something he had to do alone, so that his men - those of his personal retinue, and those of the entire fleet alike - could have a chance at making it back home to Byzantium in one piece.

He reflected sadly on the fate of his sister, dear Alyxia, fallen to the Swarm. And his mother, dead on the world she had fought to defend, so long ago now. The needs of the many far outweighed the needs of the one, no matter who that one man was. That principle of self-sacrifice, he strongly believed, was what placed the noble and righteous above cowards, traitors and weaklings. He believed the Chamarrans to be honorable, but there was no knowing if they would truly uphold their promises. They were still xenos, and the other humans who had joined in the pursuit of their fleet were treacherous infidels all.

“Sir?” murmured Captain Grisamenthum, oldest of his battle-companions and commander of his guard. So great was their bond that the grizzled warrior could freely put his hand on Aurelian’s arm. Doubt and uncertainty danced in his eyes, but Grisamenthum understood what drove his liege and he could not utter the words that were at the tip of his tongue.

The Primarch simply nodded in calm understanding. “We will meet again, my brothers.” Aurelian said to his men as he bade them farewell. The armourcrys canopy of the Aquila closed around him. The transport craft departed.



HSF Ascendant

Melusine wasn't sure what sourced the majority of her nervousness at this point. Was it that he was kin to the madman Rus, who had in drunken revelry destroyed half a Shinran base? She'd done what she could to limit that particular issue without being openly impolite. A mighty guard of space warriors lined behind her, the heavy set masses of two Imperator Primes flanked her and the very walls of the hangar to either side were covered in racked space combat drones that could orientate, in a moment’s notice, on Aurelian's position. If she brought in any more firepower they'd wreck the hangar.

Or was it that this was her first time taking Tia's position, negotiating with aliens with the stakes as high as they were? Even with the atrocities and blood on the Byzantines hands she found herself hoping for an opportunity to resolve this without the loss of precious Chamarran lives, although it didn't help that it was hard to associate this shining figure with the atrocities and anomalies the Hierarchy was to demand account for.

Was it that? Or simply the fact that despite him being the wrong species and thus bereft of the usual Chamarran cues the primarch was nonetheless a stunning male specimen? Melusine didn’t - wouldn’t - acknowledge that possibility. She sat stone-faced on her command dais, resplendent in the immaculate, unbroken white of her admiral’s uniform, and regarded the Aquila as it slid into the hangar and touched down softly.

The armored doors on the transport opened with a sudden hiss and there he was, Aurelian Komnenos, scion of the God-Emperor himself, in the flesh. He descended the landing ramp, tall, athletic, supreme confidence oozing from every pore. This close, without the interference of technology, the Primarch was even more stunning to behold. Meluside hadn’t thought it possible, and yet it was so. His poise was perfect; his features as if sculpted and possessive of a sublime nobility hard to pin down yet instantly apparent. Even his ruby cape flowed and billowed in tune with his steps. Aurelian crossed the space between with long, dauntless strides, sparing not a single moment to glance at the forces arraigned against him, stopping halfway between the shuttle and Melusine. He bowed again, deeper even than before, but his viridian eyes never once strayed away from her. “Battlemistress.” He spoke with a melodic baritone, warm like a summer’s breeze, smooth as honey, strong and deep like a mighty river.

“Primarch,” Melusine responded. Looking at him, something made her wonder if she shouldn’t have brought more troops. He was, after all, the son of a God, a latter-day Hercules... She twitched, annoyed. What was she, some easily impressable kitten? No. She was Melusine Doon, supreme admiral of the Golden Armada, mistress of the Felix legions, second only to Queen Kithandra herself in commanding Chamarra’s noble warriors. She pushed herself up from her dais, regal and feminine and supremely feline. Catlike, raptorial eyes took in the whole of the Imperial commander like a leopard might regard its prey. “I expect your surrender.”

Aurelian inclined his head just a fraction and, in a single perfectly fluid motion that caused rows of space warriors to reflexively train their beam rifles on him, unclasped from his belt his sheathed force-sword. He rotated the jewel-encrusted scabbard and presented it, horizontally, to Melusine. “This is Imprimatur. Sanctified by my Father, it sundered the walls of Arthas Moloch. It slew the Warlord Shi'Ores in the ruins of his Citadel.” His voice softened almost imperceptibly. “It is with this weapon that I smote the ruin of Cerebrate Nargil of the Fenris Brood and avenged my sister.” He looked at Melusine, and his emerald gaze was like a physical pressure upon her. “It has spilt blood and spared lives, and I now present it to you as a token of my surrender. Guard it well.”

One of Melusine’s aides stepped forward to take the sword, but the battlemistress restrained her with a sharp “no!” With feline grace she stalked from the dais, looked the Primarch in the eye to show that she defied him unafraid, and delicately lifted the ancient weapon from his hands. As soon as she touched its golden scabbard she sensed the deep thrum of power within the weapon. The hairs on her arms stood up as prickles of force washed over her hands and she understood, instantly, that this was no mortal weapon, and that its abdication implied more than just an ancient, outmoded formality. She nodded curtly at the Primarch and wrapped her tail about her. “I accept your surrender and renew to you my vows of hospitality.”



Some time later...

They convened in an expansive chamber lit by the soft orange glow of scented candles suspended on anti-gravity chandeliers in the ceiling, which was high enough to give tall and slender Aurelian plenty of head room. The walls were paneled with warm woods only a little scratched, and decorated by a gallery featuring classicalist portraits of accomplished members of House Doon, and realist paintings of scenes from the Hierarchy’s great wars that contrasted those of pleasant landscapes full of small furry creatures for Chamarrans to pounce on.

The Primarch had set himself down in a vaulting seat that was only slightly too small for him, appearing nonetheless supremely comfortable. Melusine began to suspect that the man would look comfortable even if she’d hung him from the rafters. Something about the Primarch’s supernatural grace annoyed her on a level she rather suspected had to do with his sheer poised confidence. Melusine was used to being the alpha female in any company she found herself in. Now, even though Aurelian was her prisoner, she was not entirely sure that was the case. She tail-flicked in mild annoyance. It was almost like a day at Kithandra’s court. That meant it was almost like work. Ick.

In an attempt to make the situation less work-like and more in keeping with the proper etiquette of a Chamarran matron Melusine belled for refreshments. A moment later cadet-maids placed silver platters with goblets of blood wine, and vines of grapes, on the ornate wooden table.

Aurelian took a sip and savored the wine while taking the time to size up the woman on the other side of the table. Certainly, the Battlemistress had lived up to her reputation, and the fact that she had cornered his force so adeptly spoke of her martial cunning. She carried herself like a true predator, and was not afraid of him. That fact alone made her worthy of his respect. Undoubtedly she had warriors outside of the chamber, and hidden defenses inside it, in the event anything went wrong, but now she was alone with him in the room and was herself cool and composed, regarding him with calculating eyes.

Melusine regarded him for another long, silent moment. “We have questions, oh Primarch, about what happened at Earth-4. We desire an explanation from you.”

“That... would be quite a long story. Where to start... Perhaps by mentioning that the concerns that led to the current situation are a result of events that date back centuries ago,” Aurelian replied evenly. “Concerns that were, in a way, vindicated by the very events you elude to.”

“Go on,” Melusine’s piercing gaze was like a searchlight transfixed on the belly of a hostile bomber.

“The truth is that the Imperium has been concerned about otherworldly intrusions from the depths of the Immaterium for centuries. The arrival of the Multiversal Empire aroused the immediate interest of the Inquisition -- and that of my Father, who all but demanded this Empire laid low posthaste.”

“And why is this? What is your father’s stake in the affairs of this quadrant of the galaxy?”

“I- am not sure.” For the first time, Aurelian seemed uncertain of himself. “My Father, the Emperor, can be... Difficult to communicate with. His mind soars on the currents of the Warp. He perceives things that I do not: the past, the present... sometimes the future. And he does not reveal the strands of his thoughts easily. Ours is not to question his ways. When he commands, we must obey. Call it... a matter of faith.”

“So you just did what he asked. Condemned an entire world to death and ashes... and worse.”

“He is the Emperor,” Aurelian said simply. “ I am his Son, but I can no more disobey him than any of his sworn servants. Even so I assure that what happened to the capital of the Empire was not our design.”

“What part of it?”

“Its Fall. I suspect that this is the very event my Father has foreseen, and sent us to prevent. And I failed him. I was not strong enough, not fast enough...” Real anguish seeped into his voice. “I beheld the terrors of the warp, battlemistress. I am a master of war. I am a killer and a destroyer, yes. On scales that would startle many mortal men, yes -- it is my nature, and condemn me for that if you wish. But you must believe me when I say that we have nothing to do with the horror that lies behind us. I would never inflect such foul sorcery on anyone.”

Up until this point Melusine had believed that what had happened to Earth-4 was wholly the result of the Byzantines. She’d had nightmares about it since leaving the system, but listening to the pain in Aurelian’s voice she found that she believed that he wouldn’t - couldn’t - do this. The crazed warmaster Rus maybe, but she could not associate the being before her with such terrors. Whether that excused the more mundane horrors the Byzantines had inflicted though, remained very much to be seen.

“And so the massive devastation you wreaked in the name of expedience, cities flattened, millions of civilians slain and continents burned. It was all in the hopes of averting that which your father foresaw?” she asked, wondering whether she could forgive the reason of ‘we were in a hurry’ but also whether if had she known what they’d known at the time and been in their place she’d of done the same deeds she’d condemned and fired upon the Byzantines for.

“Just as I am what I am, my brother is what he is -- in his case, a blunt instrument.” A shadow of a smile played around the Primarch’s lips now. A sense of brotherly pride filled his words. “He takes the most direct approach to crushing his opposition. He is the red horse, and his is a mind of fire and steel. He conceived the fastest and most efficient way of breaking the Empire’s capital open, and carried it out without scruples or hesitation. It is exceedingly difficult to break a planetary shield swiftly, a great tactical challenge, yet my brother made it happen in mere hours. That is not,” and Aurelian held up a hand to forestall the inevitable protest, “an excuse for what we have done. We are Primarchs of the Imperium, and we do not excuse our actions. It is what happened. I leave the morality of our actions for you to decide.”

The frankness with which the Primarch described their acts stunned Melusine, unused as she was to violence and brutality of that scale. She knew of the Brood Wars and the conflicts with the Bragulan Star Empire -- never mind the Tau Wars, a decades-long war that saw the near-death of an entire species. These things she knew, but she never thought the Imperium would be so... unrepentant about it. The humans she knew, the humans in her alliance even, coated their actions in euphemisms and propaganda until up was down and wrong became right, and everything turned... grey and bendy, like a rubber toy that was used too much. Until you could no longer truly believe their words, because what good was a promise if mere wordplay could justify its unbinding? Had she not seen this very thing happen when the Centralists went back on their word and violated their promises to the Hierarchy?

Seen in that light the naked honesty of the Imperium was... Exhilarating. Of course the moral implications were frightening in a way - here was, it was readily apparent to Melusine - a people that would stop at nothing to do the bidding of its God-Emperor. But, she then considered, was she so different? How far would she go before defying her Queen? Before she’d go back on her pledges of fealty to House and Family? A pretty long way, she guessed. Certainly she wouldn’t be above ordering her fleet to open fire on a world full of pathetic huma- she caught herself and smiled. That must be the Bragulans rubbing off on her. And she might not be sure about Aurelian, but Melusine certainly knew she was above those crude aliens. She nabbed a char-broiled canary wing from a silver plate and nibbled it thoughtfully. “Let us for the moment return to the realm of the practical, Primarch.”

“By all means,” Aurelian nodded and plucked a honey-dipped grape from its vine. “Let’s.”

“I have your fleet surrounded. You are my prisoner. And all this has come to pass because, atrocities aside, you have denied my Hierarchy a piece of prized real estate.”

Aurelian put the grape in his mouth, managing somehow to make the simple motion into a gesture of superb sensuality. “It would appear to be so.”

“Furthermore, a great many of the Hierarchy’s nominal allies are... hounding you, so to speak,” Melusine continued and lifted a silver chalice of wine to her lips. Speaking into it, she continued, “I rather think they would have less patience with you than I.”

“I do suspect you are correct,” Aurelian nodded calmly. He had an inkling that a proposal was forthcoming. He added, “you have been a superb host.”

“Why thank you,” Melusine purred, evidently flattered. “Here then is my proposal to you. Your Imperium must compensate us for our losses in an amount of resources or currency yet to be determined. Until such time as this bond of obligation is paid off in full you shall remain in the custody of me and my house. Not a prisoner, mind, but a... hostage. In return, I will intercede with my Queen to let your fleets pass freely through Chamarran space. I believe this will ensure their security from their pursuers, yes?”

“Indeed,” the Primarch swirled his cup of wine thoughtfully. “Yours is a most gracious proposal, battlemistress. I see I have done well to come here.”

Melusine leaned almost imperceptibly forward, a hungry twinkling in her eyes. She could scarcely fathom the reaction of the royal court if she were to return with a Prince of Byzantium as her hostage, a promise of riches beyond measure from the Estate Imperial itself, and not a single ship lost for it. She would know praise unlike any before her. Legends would be spun of that day. “Is there then an understanding between us?” her words pressed like the tip of a sword against the throat of history.

“No harm will come of any Imperial ship transitioning through Chamarran space?” asked the Primarch.

“And none will come to you for as long as your father upholds his end of the bargain. You have my word.”

Aurelian gracefully placed his silver cup back on the low table and inclined his head toward Melusine. Then he spoke, and his words carried with them a note of momentous closure. “Then, my lady, we have terms.”
Last edited by Darkevilme on 2011-09-15 10:29am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Steve » 2011-09-15 09:02am

House of Commons, Palace of Parliament
Westminster, New Anglia



Prime Minister Penton stood quietly from his waiting place to take up the weekly duty of Prime Minister's Questions, in which he would be required to take and answer questions posed to him by the Opposition Leaders. He did not look forward to it; news had been confirmed of the Bragulan behavior at Xena, and the sudden anomaly that had swallowed "Earth-4" in MEH territory, preceded by the use of the same liquid rubiconium warheads that the Haruhiists had assured them had been removed from the fleet. These events had appalled the Anglian public, and as his government had worked with the coalition against the MEH, it might rebound back on him.

After the ritual question inquiring about his plans for the day, Penton saw Alec Layton stand and had to hide a grimace. The tumult in the Conservative Party with Sir Alexander Grant's ouster from Parliament in the 3399 General Election had seen him deal with various Conservatives trying to emerge as leader in the party. At first it had been Harold Tarkington, but when his father had been appointed by Penton as Governor-General in the Outback he had withdrawn from the forward position. Sir Alistair Maxwell-Fyfe had replaced him for most of the time since, but the austere old Conservative had found himself ousted internally after he voiced support for the 3401 Budget and the Duchess of Norfolk's proposed financial measures. Layton represented a particular branch of the Tories, their young firebrands who saw themselves as the exemplars and defenders of the Empire's traditions.

Sure enough, his question started the battle. "What is the Government going to do about the atrocities visited upon the peoples of the Empire of Happiness by Bragulan and Imperium forces?"

"At this poin, our military forces are still engaged in the claiming and pacification of the Alpha Centauri system," Penton pointed out.

"So you will do nothing about these atrocities?", Layton challenged.

"The Government has no realistic means of applying military pressure to the situation," Penton countered. "Our displeasure is being shown in other arenas."

"Which will mean nothing to the powers we speak of." Layton pointed a finger at Penton. "For the pleasure of the House, Prime Minister, please elaborate on just how this displeasure will work? We have few economic links to these states due to their rampant xenophobia. Both have defied the Empire before on such issues. How will this displeasure you speak of manifest itself? And how can it be effective?"

"I believe that uses up all but one of the Right Honourable Gentleman's questions," Penton said aloud, "so I shall endeavor to answer them as well as I can. This displeasure will be exhibited in multiple areas that the two states cannot ignore, including being aimed at what external influences they do wield and their defense concerns. It will manifest itself in a very public fashion whenever possible so that the Known Galaxy may know of it. And finally, you would be surprised with the ways we can make such things effective." Like the upcoming Solarian mission, which provides us all sorts of opportunities to deal with these Koprulu maniacs, he thought additionally.

Layton frowned deeply at being reminded of the six question limit. "Then, as the Right Honourable Gentleman and Prime Minister was so kind to remind me, I shall make my last question. That, sir, is to inquire as to how far your Government intends to go in appeasing and emboldening the Empire's enemies, foreign and domestic?"

At that last term, a roar erupted in the House, Liberal MPs demanding Layton be brought to order while his young Tory firebrands applauded. Penton, not expecting such a vitriolic question, regained his composure as best as he could and stated, "I do not believe this question is worthy of consideration by the House, and the fact that the Right Honourable Gentleman would ask such a thing is a shameful one, a blow to the dignity and honor of the Conservative Party he claims to represent," he said coldly. "It smacks of a foolish attitude toward the diverse makeup of the Empire, turning a strength into a weakness."

"I will remind the House that the Prime Minister's own son has written tracts on the public nets defending the treason of the New Columbian Republican Party, which begs the question of how the leader of His Majesty's Gov..."

Before Penton could react or Layton could continue, a roar came from across the House, demanding the Speaker put down the aggressive Layton. Even a few Conservatives joined in; whether they liked Penton or not, they disliked the attempts to paint him as some kind of "secret Republican", and Layton's blatant invocation of that on the House floor was unsettling. Speaker Sentasa brought the tumultous House to order and then Layton, reminding him that his questions as Majority Opposition Leader were used up and he was to be seated. The leader of the Labour Minority Opposition was bidden to speak next.

The questions were now mostly on domestic issues, but as Penton fielded them he couldn't help but look toward Layton and the young Conservative backbenchers who supported him, and there he wondered if he was about to find a real political challenge.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-15 01:07pm

Incidental Findings

OMINOUS Red Zone
Formerly the Monument Peace Park
Xena
During Downfall


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Chamarran warrior Nessa and pack medical maiden Keeya arrived at their destination and began preparing their position. They parked their tri-grav, activated a gun-drone and a handful of smart mines, just to be careful, and quickly set up shop - placing the many supply crates and boxes around them and waiting for it to begin.

They were in the OMINOUS Red Zone, the safest place in the occupied territories. Red, because in Bragulan military terminology, the color of human blood had positive and comforting connotations. Whereas in their parlance, a Green Zone would naturally be the heavily disputed and still uncontrolled areas - like the infamous Salvation Habitat, which had gained a reputation amongst even allied forces - because Bragulans had green blood and spilling it was obviously an unpleasant thing. Why overall OMINOUS command had opted to use this convoluted terminology was lost on the two Chamarrans, but they could not question it. It probably had something to do with the fact that the Brags landed on Xena first or something. Who mew?

So the Red Zone, formerly known as the Monument Peace Park to the MEHmen, was one of the areas utterly devoid of enemy combatants even during the first hours of the invasion. It had been spared from the orbital bombardments and bragnukings, and during the occupation it ended up being somewhere near the center of the various OMINOUS nations’ respective occupation zones - serving as the crossroads, a neutral zone where soldiers from all the member nations could meet in peace, far away from the frontlines. Its population had wisely surrendered early on, and were thus mostly left alone. Hierarchy Edict specified that those who surrendered and submitted to the occupying forces be treated well, and they were, even by the Bragulans (whose concept of treating the humans well as to ignore them utterly, which was good enough as far as the Hierarchy was concerned).

Because of this, the place looked like it was untouched by the war, as though it was on an entirely different world, or perhaps in another time, before the war began. The leaves of genetically-engineered trees rustled in the wind. Bioluminescent fish swam in the lake at the center of the Peace Park. It was a beautiful place, many of the inhuman forces visited it during their off-duty hours, causing nervous MEHmen to stay at home - before the war, they mostly entertained themselves in holodecks anyway and most seldom went outdoors. It was strange for the two Chamarrans, to think that on their way here they had flown over wartorn landscapes just miles away from this place.

“The place certainly lived up to its name,” Keeya said as she took a deep breath of fresh air and stretched her limbs. Her tail flicked in pleasure and her ears perked.

“Huh? What do you mean?” Nessa asked as she stacked the last supply crate, forming a nice pyramid of C-rations.

“The place. It’s called Peace Park. And it’s the only place we’ve been to on this planet that, you know, doesn’t look like it’s in the middle of a war. Even when it actually is.” Keeya explained. “It’s nice.”

“Yeah, it is.” Nessa smiled at that pleasant thought. Then her ears twitched as she heard something, honed Chamarran warrior reflexes and acute senses picking up the sound of footsteps from the background noise. She raised her B-11 beamrifle and pointed it at whatever was coming towards them.

“Hello, what’s going on hear?” someone was approaching from behind the trees.

“Who’s out there? State your identity and purpose!” Nessa hissed. Keeya quickly joined her. Beamrifles and personal shields charged up with an electric hum as the two warriors readied for unforeseen unpleasantness.

“Oh, please don’t shot!” the person raised his hands and stepped out for them to see. It was a MEHman, an unusually unround one, with body proportions similar to a baseline human rather than a beanbag. A bit big-boned, but nowhere near the disgusting levels of obesity of the standard Multiversal citizen. He had a look of fear and confusion on his face. “I was just talking a walk in the park...”

The two Chamarrans suspiciously eyed the human, and then scanned the area around them for any threats. Thus far, the Red Zone had been devoid of any incidents, but they had no intention of earning the distinctive honor of being the ones caught in Peace Park’s first ever insurgent ambush.

“What do you think, Keeya?” Nessa sub-vocalized to her packmate.

“Could just be some human talking- I mean, taking a walk,” Keeya replied. The human had a strange accent too. Very familiar, yet very weird. He was also unusually not-fat. “Let’s do the standard SOP for dealing with civilians.”

“Right,” Nessa nodded, and then to the human. “Show us your identification. Slowly.”

The man complied and showed them his ID. Nessa approached him and checked it while Keeya stayed some distance away and covered her from an angle that would give her a clear shot at the human without risking her packmate.

“Mister Maximilian Mitsubishi Miyamoto, huh? Weird name. But everything seems to be in order...” Nessa said, making sure her helmet-sensors recorded all the details. “You with anyone else?”

“Now,” the human shook his head.

“Well, you shouldn’t be wandering alone, anyway. Not in these times,” Nessa advised him. War and the subsequent occupation often had unintended... unpleasantries associated with it, and sometimes they couldn’t be avoided. She learned that the hard way. “Go home, stay somewhere safe.”

“Okey, I will, thank you, ma’am.” Miyamoto said as he hastily made his exit.

Nessa sighed in relief once the human was clearly out of sight and out of mind. She thanked the mysteries that the Hierarchy Army had a lot of experience with peacekeeping and trained warriors like her well for those kinds of missions. Sure, they weren’t battle-crazy warfreaks like those guys from the K-Zone, like the Brags, but dealing with the situation after the fighting often required a whole different skill set from what forces like the Bragulans specialized in.

“You okay, sis?” Keeya patted her arm reassuringly.

“Yeah,” Nessa replied.

“Sure you don’t need an anxiolytic?” the medical maiden smirked mischievously.

“Nyah! Keep your needles to yourself, you!” Nessa blurted out and laughed, letting the tension out of her system.

Their momentary reprieve was cut short by the roar of plutonium-diesel engines and the appearance of a Bragulan half-track followed by other quieter vehicles, like an Eoghan tankette, an Ascendant groundcar and a Bruce Willys jeep. They parked near the tri-grav and their passengers disembarked and made their way from the pavement parking lot to the grassy field where the Chamarrans had set up shop. They too brought boxes of supplies, duffel bags laden with stuffs, and hauled them to the meeting area beside the Chamarrans’ carefully arranged crates.

Nessa and Keeya looked at each other. Their customers had arrived, punctual as usual, and as twilight set in it was finally time to get to business.

“Welcome gentlebears and beings!” Nessa said loudly with all the enthusiasm and energy of a carnival barker as she waved towards the diverse group of OMINOUS soldiers. “To Nessa and Keeya’s Most Excellent Catgirl Goods and Supplies Emporium! Where you can get anything and everything for a fair price! Trade and barter, buy and sell, give and take in the best spirit of inhumanisms! Come one, come all, nyah!”

They were met with hoots and catcalls by overenthusiastic troopers who were there patronizing their so-called Goods Emporium due to the vast and complex cosmo-logistical consequences involved in several interstellar powers’ deployment of large numbers of soldiers halfway across known space. Even for post-scarcity nations, their troops out in the faraway anti-spinward were encountering some form of scarcity or another in terms of supplies, shortages in this commodity or that, which in turn led to all manner of disgruntlement and, eventually (or rather quickly in this case, due to the months-old Bragulan-Chamarran connection) the establishment of a grey market between soldiers as they improvised a solution to their problems. This was one unglamorous facet of war that remained unchanged for millennia. But thanks to the Chamarran Hierarchy’s relative position, its forces were relatively well-off and well-stocked, and the two crafty catgirls took advantage of this fact and made as much out of it as they could.

“Da, comrade kitties!” the two Bragulans, Bearenstain and Choldytz, were familiar faces and had been regulars for months. “We come bearing gifts!”

“Whatcha got for me, you two?” Keeya purred coyly as she activated her porta-computer’s cash register function.

“Ah, but the finest of goods and wares, Keeya!” Bearenstain put on his smooth moves and waved at the bragsteel packing crates that, even by themselves and without their contents, were already valuable as bulletproof barricade-material. “Here, a box full of Bragulan stick grenades, I know how you love these. Five jars of honey for the sweet stuff, and some of these tasty Atlantean nutrient bars to dunk into them. And a bag of MEHnoid blaster pistols, in good condition, found at one of those pesky underground replicator facilities of theirs. Let’s start with that.”

“More Brag grenades are always good,” Nessa said after a moment’s thought. Since the Hierarchy had never emphasized ground combat in the way the Brags did, the Chamarran army didn’t have anywhere near their unending supply of cheap and simple anti-personnel ordnances. Crude Bragulan potato smashers worked better against swarms of killbots, while the cats preferred to reserve their more advanced infantry smart-munitions for big bruisers like those Marines. “We’ll take a box of those non-metallic grenades, the wooden ones. Droids always have a hard time finding those. In return, an equal amount of sardines. And ten gallons of milk for the honey and the weird Atlantean stuff. Is that fair?”

“C-Rations! Yes!” Choldytz punched a fist in the air. “Hey Keeya, how about some of that BEVERAGE OF JUSTICE you gave to Kolsha?”

"You mean the stuff that's got him still groaning about Byzon's marching band going through his skull?" Bearenstain quipped.

“Yes, the stuff that gave him QUAD DAMAGE!” the Brag said excitedly. “We need some! Give us!”

“No, that drug is a restricted medication given only in medical emergencies. I’m afraid I cannot peddle that here,” the medical maiden crossed her arms. But then, a moe of concern crossed her face. “How’s Kolsha doing anyway, Chol?”

“Oh he’s fine. If he hadn’t crashed and burned and ended up in a hibernation coma after your adventure, he would’ve ended up being sent to Salvation with his entire unit. But he slept through the whole thing, and right now Uneasy Company is composed of one bear and an arms locker full of unused weapons just begging to be sold.” Choldytz replied. Imperceptibly, Nessa’s ears perked at the mention of the arms lockers.

“One day he believed he was Byzon, now he believes he has been stomped on by Byzon,” Bearenstain added. “But now he’s okay. I’ll tell him you said hi.”

Keeya smiled warmly, glad to hear that her patient was still alive and in one piece.

“Tell you what, get us some K-Bolters and we’ll see what we can do,” Nessa said with a conspiratorial wink. Ever since Battlemistress Liana got that K-Bolter from the Navy Nyah exercises, everyone back in the Hierarchy wanted their own fashionably huge brag-weapon to play with too, like big metally extremely killy balls of yarn that shot out acid bullets. The girls back home would claw to get one of those babies. Yes. This could be the big break they were looking for, they could gold-plate those K-bolts and sell them for money! Lots and lots of mone -

“Hey!” a voice shouted from the back, snapping Nessa from her schemey money-making musings. “Are we getting any service here, or are the bears going to be the only ones taking up your time?”

“Oh, sorry, nyah! Bear, Chol, let’s talk later, okay? We have other customers!” Nessa apologized and waved the ones next in line in. It was the Franco-Formic Ascendant Antoid Klick-Klack and his human co-soldier Jean Claude. “Whatcha got for me, bug boy?”

The chitinous insectoid placed a tray on the table. On it were squirming aphid-things that could secrete sugary glucose substances, which was the favorite snacks for the Formics. On the same tray was another meal-stuff enjoyed by both Franco-Formics and human Ascendants, le fromage, except these were fermented by a fungus cultivated in the farm-chambers of giant ant hives.

“Eeeewwww!” Nessa flicked her tail in revulsion at the sight of those alien dishes.

Meanwhile, Choldytz and Bearenstain collected their purchases with the assistance of the Chamarrans’ helpful gun-drone, whose auxiliary function was also to look out for shoplifters. As they collected the cans of sardines and jugs of milk, they were accosted by one of the newer customers.

“What’s up, Rats?” Chol greeted the newcomer, one of those Lapine auxiliaries Lepus sent to OMINOUS. They weren’t high-tech shocktroops by any means, but they had spirit and were good to have for rear-echelon duties like patrolling subdued MEH territories and securing civilian areas while bragtroops and other OMINOUS infantry busied themselves in the front lines. There were stories about the Lapines though, Chol remembered hearing about them, but after what the Multiversal Empire did in Farthing, he couldn’t blame them.

“Chol, want to trade your blasters?” asked the Lapine known as Rats. He was dressed in fatigues and had an Armalyte assault rifle slung across his chest.

“For what, carrots?” Chol remarked. Lapine civilization was low-tech, even by Bragulan standards, and the dietary preferences of the rabbitoids wasn’t really compatible with the Bragulan palate. There was hardly anything the fringe worlders could offer to the mighty legionnaires of Byzon or their equally mighty stomachs.

“Berries.” Rats answered. Behind him, a Tauren Marine in surplus power armor came with a huge crate of supplies from their jeep. “Milk and berries. Lots of them. Fresh from Farthing.”

“Let me see...” Chol took a gander at the supplies. Berries were something the Bragulans had plenty off, it was a staple food for bears and relatively easy to dry and preserve. But the ones from Farthing, as Rats said, were fresh - Choldytz could smell them, and they looked like they still had their delicious juices, and if they had seeds, the boys could easily grow some for themselves in the barracks. The milk was also fresh, though he didn’t like to imagine where it came from. Most importantly, Rats was offering a huge amount of the goods. “Da. We’ll take this.”

“Thank you.” Rats nodded. Then the Tauren, whose name was Moose, hauled the supplies to the Bragulans’ half-track.

“What’re you going to use these for, anyway?” Chol asked as he handed the duffel bag full of blasters to the Lapine. The obvious answer was that they’d use them instead of their Armalytes, but while undeniably powerful the blasters were designed for human hands and adapting them for Lapine use wouldn’t be easy. But there were other uses for the weapons. Chol remembered the stories, of those civilian families the Lapine forces encountered...

“You don’t want to know.” Rats replied with a steely gaze in his eyes. “C’mon, Moose. We got what we came for. Let’s go back on patrol.”

“Moo,” the Tauren nodded, C-14 Impaler gauss rifle wrapped in his power armored hydraulic-enhanced arms. The two Farthingers went back to their Bruce Willys jeep and rode off towards the civilian zones. Headlights stabbed through the darkness and lit the black roads as they raced through the night.

“Damn.” Choldytz muttered as he watched them ride away.

“Da.” Bearenstain agreed from beside him.

Behind them, an argument was breaking out amongst the remaining customers. An Eoghan engineer was showing off his entrenchment tool, proclaiming its efficiency in tunnel-digging. Klick-Klack the Formic merely clapped his pedipalps derisively and said something to the effect of Formic mouth-parts being better instruments than the Eoghan’s tiny product. The Mongoose snapped back with a witty retort, telling the Formic to go perform EOD duties with his face if his mouth-parts were such superior engineering tool. Klick-Klack then just resorted to making fun of the Eoghan’s short stature, and finally having enough with the giant ant’s smarm, the Eoghan ended up telling Klick-Klack to go cram his mandibles up his Hive Queen’s ovipositor. At this gravest of insults, Klick-Klack scooped up some of Jean Claude’s famous fromage and threw it at the Eoghan’s face.

A full blown fight nearly erupted. Nessa and Keeya were calling for calm from behind their counter, while the Eoghan tried to swing at Klick-Klack with his entrenchment tool. Before the Formic could just kick the Mongoose with several of his legs and send him flying away, Choldytz and Bearenstain restrained him and pulled him back. It was said that an ant had the proportional strength of ten men, but a Bragulan was stronger than a human who had the strength of five humans, and so two of them were able to hold Klick-Klack off. Meanwhile, Jean Claude did a spinning roundhouse kick, learned from his time as a ballet dancer prior to his time as a martial artist, and knocked the entrenchment tool out of the angry Eoghan’s paws.

“Everyone please stay calm! We’re here to barter goods, and we’re here bartering goods because some of you are low on supplies, and you’re low on supplies because you were sent here to fight the enemy, not each other!” Keeya said frantically. She had no idea if she had the medical supplies to patch up all of the people around her, and if her drugs had anywhere near the effect on them as it did on Kolsha... mysteries help them all.

“Da... da... I think we could all use some vodka, or vodka cigarettes, to mellow out.” Bearenstain offered as Klick-Klack stopped struggling against his bear hug.

“You have vodka?” Nessa’s ears perked up. Alcohol was prohibited from on-duty Chamarran troops, and even off-duty it was still limited in quantity. “Why’d you never tell us you had hard liquor?”

“Huh? What’s so interesting about water-substitute?” Choldytz muttered as he relaxed his hold on the Formic. Vodka was a good replacement for water if clean sources couldn’t be found, it was preferable over drinking water boiled in reactor coolant towers anyway. But add some battery acid and rocket fuel to the alcohol, and that was a hard drink. “Now tsvagna, that’s where it’s at.”

“You know what, I could use a drink too,” conceded the grizzled Eoghan, whose name was Rik Tavi. He turned to the Formic, still in bear arms. Klick-Klack shrugged and apologized. Rik decided not to hold a grudge and decided to be the better mongoose and let the matter go. “Yeah, and I shouldn’t have made fun of your Queen. Sorry about that too.”

“Here,” Bearenstain released Klick-Klack and tossed a hip-flask at Rik.

“Thanks,” Rik took a swag of the stuff and nodded gratefully as the Byzonic liquor stomped on the faces of his taste buds, forever. He pulled something out of his pocket and tossed it back at the Bragulan. “Here, have some dried snake-heads.”

“Er, thanks.” Bearenstain said as he caught the Eoghan snackfood and sniffed it. Deciding that it was terrible, he tossed it over to Choldytz who happily received it.

“Everyone good? I’d hate for us to close early if you boys aren’t behaving,” Keeya admonished them. After everyone affirmed that they would behave, the Chamarrans decided to continue on with business. Keeya sighed in relief. “H’okay. Let’s start over. Chol, Bear, did you guys bring any more booze with you?”

“Da, we stored some extra stuff in the auxiliary fuel tank--”

Choldytz was cut off by a blinding flash of strange light. There were no yelps of surprise, everyone was too busy instinctively throwing themselves to the ground or finding whatever cover they could under the Chamarrans’ makeshift counter or behind the crates and boxes. It was an ingrained reaction by now, after seeing the propensity of Bragulan danger-close thermonuclear fire missions, which some of the present company had witnessed first hand in the previous days. Finally the light subsided, though the lot of them were left with distinctively actinic afterimages in the backs of their retinas - except for Klick-Klack, whose compound eyes might not even have retinas.

“Nyah, what the heck was that?!” Nessa gasped as she got up from under their counter. “Was that a nuke? Why the heck did they nuke so close by?”

“I don’t think those were the Atomic Kittens,” Keeya rubbed her eyes. “Those definitely weren’t ours, we would’ve gotten a warning.”

Choldytz pulled out his ten kilogram compact radio and spun its rotary dial. “This is Corporal Comradskyi,” he said raggedly while mentally thanking the wonders of battlefield promotions. “What the shits happened? Who nuked the Red Zone? What do you mean no nuclear launches were detected? What?”

“That wasn’t a nuke...” Bearenstain said as he pointed at something behind them. “That was... that.

They turned around and saw what he was pointing at. Just beyond the meadows of the Peace Park was an enormous building, a cathedral to the faith the MEHmen held so dear, a monument to their Goddess. The Church of Sasha and the Future Day Saints. And from its stained windows pulsed strangely hued lights of alien colors, albeit less intensely than the overwhelming flash that had blinded them mere seconds ago. They could hear a dull thrum emanating from deep within the tabernacle. The very ground beneath their feet seemed to vibrate from the resonance.

“What the mysteries is that?” Keeya asked, eyes wide and ears perked in curiosity.

“Why don’t we find out?” Rik Tavi said. The tiny Eoghan picked up his entrenchment tool and brandished it menacingly.


[TO BE CONTINUED]
Image Image Image
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
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
Pink Sugar Heart Attack!

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Force Lord
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Force Lord » 2011-09-15 04:54pm

Somewhere in Sector O-7
Unreal Time


The asteroid was once used as a mining station, but with civil war raging in the Republic of Crevecia and its member worlds, it was taken over by a rebel faction and modified as a armed spacestation. It had seen some action against loyalist warships, as its burn marks showed. Currently everything was quiet, though the crew was alert for anything hostile.

Suddenly, the station's sensors went mad. The station's sensor technician was horrified as he saw the large number of incoming contacts.

They had come. They had finally come.

In the command bridge of the Battle Carrier CNS Compliance, Rear-Admiral Kamar Davoix gave the order. "Fire!"

Task Force 6 complied.

In the space of one hour, the space station was destroyed. It gave as good as it got, however; some of the lighter Centralist ships suffered damage, and it already sent a warning to all other rebel factions that the Centralists were coming.

For a moment TF-6 remained to pick up the station's escape pods, in order to interrogate the survivors. Then it entered hyperspace, towards its next target....
An inhabitant from the Island of Cars.

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Shinn Langley Soryu
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2011-09-16 07:58am

Now with 200% more Shroomy goodness!

Shadows of the Multiversal Empire
Earth-4
Sol, Multiversal Empire of Happiness
UNREAL TIME / June 3401


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Even though Field Marshal Sayaka Miki did not fear the darkness by any means, she and the rest of her SOS Imperial Guard and Marine force felt a tremendous unease as they made their way through the spire’s darkened corridors. Renovations had been taking place in this particular section of the Leader’s palace prior to the invasion, though these plans had been abandoned as the Leader turned her sights to other things, hastily converting it into another psychic conduit for her profane rituals. Only the barest minimum of preparations had been made, leaving much of the tower still in an incomplete state. Entire sections of the spire were exposed to the elements, their durasteel frames ridging around the structure like rib cages. Exposed wiring, plasma conduits, and lighting fixtures dangled from the walls and the ceilings, light pulsing through them in a strange rhythm like the veins and arteries of some living mechanical being, providing illumination for Sayaka and her troops. However, the pulses were slowing as though the building itself was dying, and each spark became dimmer than the last. As the Guards and Marines continued their ascent, the duracrete walls warped, melted like candle wax, gained the consistency of flesh. Blood, pus, and other foul fluids oozed through seams in exposed piping that had become like intestines lopping off the eviscerated ceiling and floor. It reminded Sayaka of when she was a child, all those centuries ago, when she was sick and had an endoscopy taken, which only added to her growing discomfiture.

The pools of blood coagulated, turned dark, and together with the black bile staining the corridors, they merged with the shadows that seemed to spread further and further throughout the half-finished, decaying building. One couldn’t tell the darkened bloodstains apart from the actual shadows...until crimson runes and glyphs began scarring the walls and floors in the places where those stains once were. They pained the minds of those who looked at them directly, as the markings seemed to stab straight into the eyes like memetic knives. Somehow, they seemed to unfold, to open up like two-dimensional flowers, blossoming into portals of alien colors, and from them came human figures clad in dull obsidian armor. Sayaka immediately recognized them as MEH Marines, but she soon realized that there was something fundamentally wrong with these particular servants of the Leader, as she was repulsed by the considerable psychic taint that emanated from these aberrations. A part of her wondered what sort of foul sorcery was behind all this, behind the maddening architecture of the palace spire, behind the warping and twisting of these forsaken souls...

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“Our metal is blacker than the blackest black, times infinity!” proclaimed the sword-wielding crimson captain of the Shadow Marines, the faceless one. He laughed, mad guffaws echoing through the dark tower, and the chaotic portals behind him and his men--that silhouetted them with unholy bloodlight--vanished. They disappeared in the blackness, their forms merging with the shadows and the darkened bloodstains. They became unseen. Invisible.

Bloodcurdling screams erupted from the flanks of the SOS formation. The darkness was lit by the flashes of disruptor bolts turning men and women into gory confetti. More of the Shadow Marines came from the sides without revealing their formations with ostentatious displays of blood-portals, striking while their enemies were distracted. Their matte black armor blended in and became one with the surrounding darkness that enshrouded them.

“They’re coming out of the shadows!” a panicked SOS Imperial Marine cried out in terror. He unloaded his weapon blindly into the air, tracer rounds lighting the immediate area for fleeting seconds, allowing him and his comrades to see the dark forms moving in the distance. “They’re coming out of the goddamn shadows!”

The lights went out. The only source of illumination they had were the occasional sparking of what few still-living conduits remained. The unnatural darkness seemed to black out even their visual amplification systems and other sensors. A form of jamming? It didn’t matter. The Shadow Marines took full advantage of the momentary confusion and disorientation and slaughtered their way through scores of SOS troopers. Entire squads disappeared in the darkness. Glinting blades and muzzle flashes were the only lights that marked the passing of their lives.

“Stand your ground and fight! Hold together and stay frosty!” Sayaka shouted. A Shadow Marine lunged from the ceiling, but she parried its blow with her sword and delivered a devastating riposte, stabbing the supersoldier right in its heart. It quivered and died where it stood, and Sayaka extracted her blade by kicking the dead Marine away with her high-heeled boot. Superhuman though they may be, and gifted by the foul sorceries of their Goddess, there was still no substitute for experience.

The surviving SOS squads formed up into tight formations as to not overextend themselves or allow isolated groups to be cut down by the individually superior, yet quantitatively fewer, Shadow Marines. Flares shot forth from grenade launchers and auto-shotguns, illuminating the area with incandescent magnesium light. Phased plasma and gauss penetrators burned through the darkness as massed fire was unleashed on any of the enemy supersoldiers who dared stray into visual and weapons range, yet the Shadow Marines reciprocated with withering barrages of disruptor fire. The SOS Imperial Guards and Marines were simply not meant to fight Astartes-grade foes, at least not without gratuitous combined arms support, of which there was a severe shortage of at the moment. They couldn’t hold, not for long.

“We’re being pinned down!” Sayaka spat as she dodged a disruptor bolt. The SOS formation couldn’t move, could barely see, and the Shadow Marines could hide in the darkness and strike with seeming impunity. The enemy certainly had the firepower advantage, as she saw a bolt blow a gaping hole through the walls, creating an improvised window. While the area was still dark, a metaphorical light bulb lit inside Sayaka’s head. “Idea.”

She asked for a radio, and a subordinate passed one to her. She called the Imperial Navy and relayed their coordinates.

“Time to open the curtains,” Sayaka smirked as she dodged another disruptor bolt, which blew open yet another improvised window behind her. Streams of light began flooding into the dark, dank bowels of the spire, and the Shadow Marines soon became the victims of their own success, with stray disruptor bolts blasting more and more windows into the darkness. The SOS troopers could see now, and they trained their combined fire on their attackers.

Meanwhile, in the skies over the spire, a lone CV-77K Super Pelican made its descent. It spun around slowly in a graceful midair pirouette, facing its rear ramp doors to the superstructure of the tower. The doors opened, the ramp lowered, and several armored figures leapt out of the dropship, kept aloft by the repulsor units built into their suits as they made their entrance onto the battlefield.

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Much to the chagrin of Empress Haruhi and many other influential figures within the Holy Empire, the SOS Imperial Armed Forces had long lacked a supersoldier corps of its own. Project Infinite Stratos was meant to rectify this glaring shortcoming by developing new weapons and armor, hoping to finally place the SOS Imperial Marine Corps on an equal footing with the likes of the Adeptus Astartes, the Emerald Guard, or the USMC’s FORCE troopers. The initial tests during the SOS Imperial Armed Forces’ joint exercises with the Shinra Republic in the lead-up to the invasion were certainly promising, though the fruits of Project IS would not receive their baptism by fire until they were cast into the crucible that was Earth-4.

Inside the spire, Sayaka and the other embattled SOS troopers received one message.

Get down.

And that they did. Even as the Shadow Marines lunged at them with gleaming vibroblades, or shot at them with disruptor bolts, the SOS troopers hurled themselves down to the floor or otherwise reached for their socks. A microsecond later, the world around them exploded into a hailstorm of fire and shrapnel, shards of durasteel and duracrete vaporized into superheated particles. The spire’s interior was revealed to the outside world, and the blood-tinged color of the sky flooded inside the exposed structure, revealing the previously hidden forms of the Haruhiists’ enemies. They shrieked, equal parts in surprise at the loss of their cover and in distaste at the sensation of light on their armor. With the element of surprise on their side, the Infinite Stratos power suits unleashed their armaments. Lancing plasma and particle beams reduced the obsidian supersoldiers into their constituent molecules, evaporating the warriors of darkness like shadows touched by sunlight. The SOS troopers soon seized the initiative and began charging the Shadow Marines as they were caught in the crossfire, contributing their own pulse and gauss fire to the mayhem as they began to repulse the forces of darkness.

“Good morning, darlings!” Sayaka sneered as she charged at the nearest Shadow Marine, still disorientated by the sudden reversal of fortunes, and promptly lopped its head off. With a single smooth motion, she spun around and eviscerated a second Shadow Marine, her blade trailing putrid ichor as it made a clean cut through the supersoldier’s armor and into its guts. A whirlwind of death soon descended upon the Shadow Marines as Sayaka sliced and diced her way through the now-beleaguered warriors of darkness, leaving nothing but severed heads, amputated limbs, and bifurcated corpses in her wake. The tables had turned in the most dramatic fashion imaginable, but the fight was not yet over, not by a long shot.

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“Fools! Dare you think you can stop the Goddess?!” bellowed the crimson captain of the Shadow Marines, the faceless one. He laughed defiantly as he too pulled his gleaming blade from the body of a SOS Guardsman. “There is no stopping her! There is no escape! This spire, this whole world, shall become your tomb-altar as your bodies, minds, and souls are offered to the holiest final sacrament! Together, we shall witness Her Ascension!”

Sayaka flashed a murderous grin in response. “Too bad you won’t live to see your much-vaunted Ascension,” she sneered as she approached the faceless one. “Let’s see if your black metal can match up against my own steel.”

“The only light in the blackness shall be the gleaming chrome skulls!” the crimson captain intoned as he chanted the litany of black metal. “For they shall be like a constellation of skullchrome!”

“Your own skull will make a very interesting anniversary gift for my husband,” Sayaka spat as she brought up her sword and made the first strike, her steel clashing against that of the crimson captain’s. Sparks flew in the air as the two warriors traded blows with one another, the clanging of their blades echoing in all directions.

“Your husband, your children, your pathetic mortal body shall be appetizers for the feast of She Who Thirsts!” the faceless one cackled insanely as he struck back with blows of his own. An endless black void appeared to open up where his face would have been, and from it he vomited forth a cloud of inky smog, straight into Sayaka’s face, blinding her. She staggered around, trying to wipe the black stuff off while the crimson captain circled her like a shark. “Your little ones will squeal like rodents when they are nailed to the cross. And your husband...shall moan like a woman when She ravages him again and again...and again.”

Sayaka was still. She was motionless. The crimson captain stalked behind her and lifted his blade up for the killing blow. He brought it down, fully expecting the final strike to cleave the unbelieving wretch in half and add her shed soul to the sacrificial altar that was the Earth in a final offering to the Goddess.

His blade sang. It met only air.

Sayaka’s longsword erupted from the center of his chest. She was now behind him, somehow, someway. She leaned forward, placing her head behind the crimson captain’s as she whispered six words into his ear.

“You don’t talk about my family.”

She brought her blade down before making an upwards slash, splitting the Shadow Marine in twain. For her finishing blow, she brought her sword around in a sweeping horizontal motion, cutting the crimson captain into four pieces. His remains boiled away into black smoke and soot as they settled to the ground. The residue that blinded Sayaka evaporated, and once more she could see again.

“Field Marshal Miki,” an Infinite Stratos supersoldier saluted at Sayaka. “What will be our next course of action?”

Sayaka glanced at the identifying marks on the supersoldier’s armor. It was Captain Cecilia Alcott, leader of the Infinite Stratos Testing Unit. “Our next course of action, Captain Alcott?” Sayaka smirked. In truth, she had never felt this alive ever since the end of the Great Crusade. That was something she and her fellow colleagues among the Magnificent Five had in common. Only in the face of death could they feel truly alive. “Why, we’re going up and we’re going to kill ourselves a Saint.”

“You sure it’s going to be a Saint waiting for us at the top of this tower?” another IS supersoldier, 2nd Lieutenant Charlotte Dunois, asked.

“Trust me on this, will you?” Sayaka replied as she took point and led the IS supersoldiers and the remnants of the Guard and Marine regulars up the tower. They proceeded up the dizzying heights of the spiral staircase, contending with the amorphous dimensions of the structure as they went. Their chronometers had ceased functioning sometime, somewhere in their ascent. After an uncertain amount of time, mere minutes perhaps, or even long hours later, they reached the peak of the obsidian spire, the final level of the unfinished structure. The roof and ceiling was a framework of durasteel bars, looking nothing so much as the bones of two hands, fingers clasped together like the limbs of a waiting spider. Between the bare metal, they could see glimpses of the blood-red sky, its lurid glow casting long shadows down upon them and the bare duracrete floor. There, hanging from the sky, was a blazing eye of light slowly retreating beneath the burning horizon, disappearing under a vista of ruined arcologies, with a thousand million screaming souls buried under the rubble. It was the sunset of a dying world, and from their vantage point atop the spire, Sayaka and her troops had the perfect penthouse view of armageddon.

Night then fell with surprising suddenness, as though the sanguine sky had dried and coagulated into a black stain on the firmament itself. The blazing sun’s glow was replaced with that of the devastated arcologies, still smoldering away long after the orbital bombardments had ceased. What few lights were still on flickered away in the distance, taking the place of the stars which had been blotted away from the sky. Illuminated from below, the forms of Sayaka and her troops now cast faint yet discernible shadows up onto the bare steel of the pinnacle’s roof. These shadows then took on a life of their own as they snaked and slithered around the durasteel frames, converging towards a single point. A distorted voice whispered into Sayaka’s mind:

”So, I see you’ve managed to make it this far. No matter. Your light shall be extinguished like all the others.”

Image

The accumulated shadows wove themselves into a towering, vaguely feminine form, its featureless countenance looking down upon Sayaka with what she perceived as a mixture of both pity and contempt.

“Time to die.”

Shadow-tendrils shot out from the frames and morphed into two-dimensional knives and daggers of darkest obsidian. The serrated blades and stabbing weapons snaked out from all angles and whipped towards the combined SOS force, only to be cut down by weapons fire, but for every tendril destroyed, two more took its place. The shadows grew more and more numerous, until they overwhelmed the Guards and Marines and began scything into their ranks. Onyx spikes exploded out of the floor, impaling the troopers nearest to Sayaka and turning them into a curtain of mangled flesh and darkness before curving upwards to form a dome of shadows, completely isolating the Field Marshal from the rest of her force.

“Shouldn’t have taken point,” Sayaka muttered to herself as the coalesced form of midnight malevolence slithered languidly towards her.

“Now I have you all to myself,” it giggled mischievously, playfully, sadistically as it reached out towards the beleaguered Field Marshal with several of its black tendrils. Sayaka simply grimaced as she brought up her sword and charged, slicing away the horrible appendages that came at her. Yet there were so many of them, originating from the nightmare Saint’s limbs like an extension of its body, like fingers that branched out into an inky spiderweb of slithering darkness. The dark Saint soon ceased its frontal attacks and attempted to come at Sayaka from her flanks, hoping to catch her off guard and ensnare her in its foul web, but she continued to defy its efforts at every turn, her smooth and graceful movements steadily becoming more frenetic and frenzied as she hacked and slashed her way through its onslaught.

”You’re an interesting little thing, aren’t you?” the dark Saint’s voice echoed in Sayaka’s mind once more. ”A pity. You’re so much fun to play with.”

“I hope you like it rough, ‘cause I’ve got all sorts of special features, like this!” Sayaka retorted as she lunged towards the shadow Saint, batting away any oncoming tentacles with her sword before she leapt up and brought the blade down on the abomination’s blank face. However, her expression of sadistic glee soon turned to abject horror as the shadow Saint’s bifurcated face began enveloping itself around her sword. The monstrosity even began using its own “hair” as a weapon, sending out thick strands to bind Sayaka’s arms and legs. She struggled as she tried to pull her weapon free, only for the Saint’s grip to tighten even further as it tried to absorb her into its darkness.

”And to think I was actually starting to enjoy myself. Oh, well. Playtime’s over,” the dark Saint rasped, a hint of irritation present in its voice.

Sayaka’s expression hardened into one of pure rage. “Is that so? Well, it’s not over until I SAY it’s over!” she screamed. Panting and gasping profusely, she let out yet another bloodcurdling battle cry as she summoned up every last bit of strength she could muster in a final attempt to free herself and her sword from the Saint’s grasp. The weapon tore the abomination’s face in half as it was launched by a telekinetic surge through the dark Saint’s form, punching a hole into its body. Before the gaping wound could heal, Sayaka desperately clawed her way through the Saint, reaching out and pulling herself from within the monstrosity in a strange perversion of the act of birth. She fell to the floor, near her sword, and she looked up as the curtain of darkness that had cut her off from the rest of her forces began to unravel, the dark Saint drawing these threads of shadow back towards itself in order to heal its wounds.

“Looks like I found a hole in your plan,” Sayaka quipped even as she struggled to regain her breath.

“Field Marshal Miki, are you all right?!” Cecilia called out.

“What are you waiting for, Captain Alcott?!” Sayaka growled as she reached for her sword. “Attack before it can recover!”

“You got it!” Cecilia replied as she opened up towards the shadow Saint with her beam rifle, providing covering fire for the rest of the Infinite Stratos Test Unit as they leapt into action once more. Leading the charge was 1st Lieutenant Yinglin Huang, operator of the power armor system codenamed “Shenlong.” The young officer had a gleeful expression on her face as she launched herself towards the shadow Saint, her shoulder-mounted pulse cannons and her dual power swords at the ready. The abomination, still reeling from the grievous injury inflicted on it by Sayaka’s fit of psionic rage, reflexively launched a set of spear-tipped tendrils towards Yinglin and the other supersoldiers; while the rest of them withdrew, Yinglin continued undeterred and blasted the offending appendages away with her guns. Another set of tendrils reached out to ensnare Yinglin, only for her to cut them away with her twin blades.

“Hard to believe the Field Marshal was actually having trouble with this thing,” Yinglin remarked to herself as she darted erratically through the durasteel frames, confounding the dark Saint as it tried to send up more and more shadowy tentacles to grab her and bring her down. Despite the sheer bulk of her armor, Yinglin was more than capable of dodging whatever the dark Saint could throw at her, sometimes literally as the monstrosity started grabbing corpses and pieces of rubble with its myriad appendages and tossing them into the air out of desperation, hoping to strike the supersoldier down.

Frustrated by its inability to take down the pesky supersoldier, the dark Saint roared in anger and stabbed the very superstructure of the spire with its black tentacles. The world seemed to shake, and then the floor was ripped out from underneath their feet in an explosion of duracrete rubble as the ebony limbs reemerged, now wrapped around enormous spears of durasteel, which had been part of the spire’s support structure before the dark Saint had promptly ripped them off and fused them into its limbs. It rose on these new appendages, no longer serpentine and slithering but straight and jagged, more like the legs of a spider than tentacles now. A massive, bulbous growth emerged from its back, completing its transformation to a half-humanoid, half-arachnid monstrosity. It took a step forward, and again the spire shook as its very architecture began to destabilize.

“Field Marshal Miki, evacuate the area immediately! We’ll take care of this thing!” Captain Alcott pleaded.

“The hell you are, Captain,” Sayaka snarled. “Everyone else can get out, but I’m staying here.”

“Surely you can’t be serious.”

“I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”

The dark Saint’s footfalls rocked the tower pinnacle, wreaking havoc on Sayaka’s sense of balance. Grim determination was what was keeping her in the battle now as she made another running leap towards the dark Saint, landing on top of its bloated abdomen. The creature began flailing around as it tried to dislodge the Field Marshal, shaking the pinnacle even more. The IS supersoldiers could simply take to the air to escape the increasingly precarious tower, but the remaining Guard and Marine regulars were nowhere near as fortunate, as many of them were either thrown off the pinnacle or crushed by falling debris as they tried to get below. Sayaka stabbed her sword into the side of the dark Saint’s abdomen to act as a handhold and held onto the handle as tightly as she could as she tried to reach for her sidearm with her free hand. From above, Yinglin immediately realized what the Field Marshal was up to. She had an idea of her own, and she hoped that the others would catch on to it quickly. “Captain Alcott! Flip six three hole! I say again, flip six three hole!” she called out over the radio.

“Surely you aren’t serious, Lieutenant!” Cecilia replied.

“Stop calling people Shirley, Captain! Field Marshal Miki needs our help!” Yinglin said as she dove towards the dark Saint, dual power swords ready to slice and dice.

After a second of thought, it finally dawned on Cecilia just what Yinglin was talking about, and she soon realized that she had no time to waste if she and the others were to pull this crazy stunt off. “As clever as always,” she said to herself. “Alright, ladies and the lone gentleman, on me! Flip six three hole! Let’s just hope we can make it in time!”

As Cecilia and the rest of the Infinite Stratos soldiers moved into position, Sayaka brought out a simple M17 gauss pistol, pressed its muzzle against the smooth ebony carapace of the dark Saint’s spider abdomen, and opened fire. Twelve shots later, she had managed to weaken the carapace just enough for her to crack it open with several hammer blows from the butt of her pistol, opening up a gaping wound large enough to drop a grenade into. Sayaka tossed the empty sidearm and reached for one of the frag grenades on her belt, then thought better of it and unclipped the entire grenade belt from her waist. With her free hand, she inserted the belt into the wound, making sure to pull the pin on the last grenade before pushing it in. She hoped to Haruhi that this would work...

And it did, thought clearly not to the degree Sayaka had wanted. Even so, while Sayaka’s gambit was not enough to outright kill the Saint, it was still more than enough to give it pause as it stopped its flailing to deal with the pain now shooting through its abdomen. ”Fool! You believe those puny attacks would have any effect on me?!”

Sayaka was just about to issue a witty retort when Yinglin showed up, driving her dual power swords right into the open wound.

“About damn time you got here!” Sayaka called out. “Nice moves! Where’d you learn those?”

“At the academy, ma’am! You taught us, remember?!” Yinglin replied as she set her plan into motion. With her blades, she sliced the gaping evisceration wider and was greeted by a shower of bile and other horrid secretions. Undeterred, she aimed her Stratos suit’s shoulder cannons into the exposed viscera and unleashed the full capacity of her weapons systems, draining most of her suit’s power units while sending blinding beams of supercharged plasma straight into the dark Saint’s guts. Cecilia and the rest of the Infinite Stratos Test Unit arrived just in time to hear the Saint’s final shrieks of anguish as a second sun erupted from inside the monstrosity, a blinding flash of light that erased its very form.

The blast threw massive debris, duracrete chunks the size of houses, all over the pinnacle’s expanse. The metal ribcage framework had collapsed all around them. The site of Sayaka and Yinglin’s final battle was now obscured by a wall of rubble.

“Field Marshal Miki, Lieutenant Huang, come in! Do you copy?! I say again, Field Marshal Miki, Lieutenant Huang, come in!” Cecilia called out over the radio. Nothing but static. “Field Marshal Miki, Lieutenant Huang, come in!”

“I got nothing on IFF or life signs,” Charlotte reported. “Could just be residual enemy jamming. I’ll try to reacquire the signal.”

“Keep trying, Lieutenant Dunois!” Cecilia said, hoping that the Field Marshal and Lieutenant had survived the explosion. “I’ll move down to the spire to get a closer look. Everyone else, stay put.”

Meanwhile, behind the curtain of debris, Sayaka and Yinglin had survived the explosion and were sitting on a collapsed pillar of steel that had been the tip of the spire’s pinnacle, catching their breath and regaining their bearings after their ordeal with the dark Saint.

“I do remember teaching about the flip six three hole, but it’s been a very long time since I’ve actually seen that play in action,” Sayaka said. She recalled when she had taught in the academy, training all those young and impressionable space cadets, including Yinglin. They were more pleasant memories from more pleasant times.

“We’ve been practicing it to perfection,” Yinglin admitted ruefully. “It’s the second hardest move to pull off after the Iron Lotus, and the only ones who’ve ever pulled that off were...”

“Farrel and McElroy,” Sayaka laughed heartily. Of all her students, she could never forget those two. “Whatever happened to them?”

“They died back in 3397, in the Diego Incident,” Yinglin replied.

“Oh...” Sayaka didn’t know what to say. That was one of the harsh realities of being a long-lifer, one of the Magnificent Five, an old soldier fighting through the centuries. Everyone else tended to die around you until you were the last one left. It was a fact of war, and Sayaka had seen quite a lot of it. It took its toll on all of them.

However, unbeknownst to Sayaka and Yinglin as they reminisced about the past, the residual remains of the shadow Saint--the tiny spatters of inky fluids smeared on the walls and floors--began to move, flowing into each other and merging like globules of black mercury into a puddle that slowly reformulated into a pseudo-humanoid shape. It grew a limb, and the limb grew digits with wicked hooks for claws. “I shall have my revengeance,” the monstrosity muttered to itself as it tried to reach out towards the two women.

Meanwhile, Sayaka had finally managed to gather some words together. “...Oh, yeah, the Diego Incident. Nobody knows to this day exactly how many Brags Farrel and McElroy slew with Baxter before they finally went down, or so I keep hearing. I wouldn’t expect anything less from them, to be honest.”

“Yeah, that was truly their finest moment,” Yinglin said as she looked up... to see Cecilia’s armored form hovering above her, her beam rifle trained at a distant target. “Uh, Captain Alcott, what’s going on?”

“I think now would be a VERY good time to get out of the way!” Sayaka said as she tumbled over to the side in order to get out of Cecilia’s field of fire. Yinglin fumbled slightly with the controls on her armor’s repulsors but managed to get airborne just in time to see the dark remnant of the Saint take a charged particle beam right to its featureless face. The abomination exploded in a final burst of putrid flesh and foul ichor, drenching the three women in its residual ectoplasm before evaporating away into black ash and vapor.

“You ladies are pretty hard to find,” Cecilia quipped. “Need a hand?”

“That’d be appreciated, Captain,” Sayaka said as she got back up on her feet.

With the shadow creature finally dead, the blackness seemed to drain away from the entire spire, revealing a decrepit structure of cracked concrete and rusting steel. The unfinished building began to shake, as though it could no longer support the weight of its sheer mass, not only due to the damages sustained in the battle against the dark Saint, but also because the shadow creature’s very essence seemed to have been integral to the obsidian obelisk’s integrity. Steel began to groan and bend as concrete pillars crumbled. The spire broke into two, and the top half began falling to the side.

“Run! Get to the chopper!” Sayaka screamed as the whole world seemed to lurch around her, as the pinnacle collapsed. The surviving SOS soldiers ran to the waiting dropships, which swooped down to extract them at the last minute. The Infinite Stratos supersoldiers took flight on their jumpjets to escape the collapse. Sayaka herself ran for dear life towards the last Pelican. But the transport’s doors closed before her, and then it lifted off. “No--”

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you, Field Marshal!” Just then, firm hands grasped her shoulders, and she was plucked off the collapsing superstructure. She looked up and saw her savior. It was Yinglin, the last iota of power in her Stratos suit keeping her and Sayaka aloft, but before her fuel cells became depleted, a large shadow fell upon them. The Pelican’s doors opened once again, and SOS Imperial Guards and Marines alike reached out to grab the Field Marshal and the Lieutenant and bring them into the safety of the dropship’s passenger compartment.

Just before the doors closed, Sayaka noticed a distant light. It was a little more than a pinprick on the ground, but she instinctively recognized its origin. The palace of the Multiversal Empire’s Supreme Leader, the False Goddess Sasha. And from this distance, that little pinprick she saw was--

“There’s been a massive explosion at the Leader’s palace!” the familiar voice of Homura could be heard over the radio.

“Does this mean Warmaster Rus has accomplished his mission?” Sayaka wondered. Too many lives had been lost here.

“No. Aurelian has called for an emergency evacuation of all Dual Empire forces on Earth.” Homura replied, an undercurrent of tension palpable in her normally calm voice. “You’re to leave the area and RTB immediately.”

“What? What happened? Why are we falling back?” Sayaka asked. From the window of the Pelican, she could see that the craft was making a swift ascent to the planetary exosphere. And it wasn’t alone. Scores of SOS transports, most of them sporting battle damage of some kind, were engaging their afterburners and soaring to the edge of space ahead of them while others were still in the process of lifting off. Mere minutes ago, they had been on the verge of victory, and now they were in an all-out retreat.

“Sensors have detected an entropic resonance cascade initiation. It’s spreading at a geometric rate, and we can’t stop it. We have failed the Empress,” Homura said, her voice carrying a tone of resignation, of defeat, that Sayaka had never heard before, in all of their centuries of existence. “We have to leave, now.”

“What about Kyoko?!” Sayaka asked. The last member of the Magnificent Five was still down there on Earth, somewhere on that wartorn planet, fighting for her life. In the distance, from where that little pinprick of light had flashed, Sayaka now saw a gaping black hole spreading outwards from the Leader’s palace to consume...everything.

Sayaka stared at the spherical abyss and gripped her dog tags as the sight of that... thing sent icy daggers of fear and horror into her heart. She cursed and punched the bulkhead of the compartment in frustration, denting the metal with her fist.

“Turn this ship around! We’re heading back!” she snapped to the pilot. She had made her decision. She picked up the radio and sent one final transmission through all channels. “Kyoko Sakura. We won’t leave you behind.”
I ship Eino Ilmari Juutilainen x Lydia V. Litvyak.

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The Yosemite Bear: Obviously, which means that he's grounded, and that she needs to go back to sucking Mr. Coffee's cock.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Steve » 2011-09-16 04:54pm

Anglian Embassy, New Constantinople

Sir Ethan Hartford had one of the most least-envied positions in the entire Foreign Service; Ambassador from the Court of St. James to the Court of Heraclius XX the "God" Emperor. The Alban diplomat, an Army veteran before he went to university to try his hand at the foreign service for better pay and influence, had held the post for just three years. Ambassadors came and went here, as the Anglian mentality clashed heavily with that of the locals, and under the surface of a common anti-Karlack front bubbled both the natural clashes of influence in terms of Outback holdings and interests and the sheer gulf of attitude between the xenophobic Imperium and the alien-accepting Empire.

Now, with the Imperium having openly broken with its fellow human empires for the Karlack-allied Bragulans - another foe of the Anglian Empire - and the news of atrocities against the MEH, that thin surface of cordial relations was cracking, and the volatile brew beneath was bubbling over it.

An aide nodded to Sir Ethan as he stood outside on his balcony and at the shuttle on the landing pad, looking out at the harsh and gothic skyline of the Imperium Capital. "Sir, your personal effects are aboard. We can leave when you are ready."
"And the cruiser?"
"The Dorana is waiting for us beyond the frontier."
A sly grin came to Ethan's face. Sending a cruiser named for a mythological figure of the Sindai of Doreia, one of their famed warrior princesses of legend, was a calculated gesture of defiance and mockery against the Imperium. "Well, let's not keep the Navy waiting." Giving one final look to the ugly skyline, longing for the graceful and majestic buildings of his native Alba or the grand Imperial capital of Westminster - though surely even the bland technocratic vista of Umeria's capital of Reisenburg looked better than this nasty place! - Ethan closed up his now vacant office and headed to the shuttle. It lifted off and, under direction from planetary traffic control, was soon heading out past the hyperlimit and out of Imperium space.
Watching the shuttle go, Charge d'Affairs Hermann von Hannover-Goltz sighed and lamented, "So they leave me here with these barbarians." He went back to work in arranging the day-to-day relations with the Imperium.


Summary
The Anglian Ambassador to the Imperium has been called home for "extended consultations".
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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 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-17 04:04am

Previously on SDNW4 wrote:“That wasn’t a nuke...” Bearenstain said as he pointed at something behind them. “That was... that.

They turned around and saw what he was pointing at. Just beyond the meadows of the Peace Park was an enormous building, a cathedral to the faith the MEHmen held so dear, a monument to their Goddess. The Church of Sasha and the Future Day Saints. And from its stained windows pulsed strangely hued lights of alien colors, albeit less intensely than the overwhelming flash that had blinded them mere seconds ago. They could hear a dull thrum emanating from deep within the tabernacle. The very ground beneath their feet seemed to vibrate from the resonance.

“What the mysteries is that?” Keeya asked, eyes wide and ears perked in curiosity.

“Why don’t we find out?” Rik Tavi said. The tiny Eoghan picked up his entrenchment tool and brandished it menacingly.


Incidental Findings

Church of Sasha and the Future Day Saints
OMINOUS Red Zone
Xena
During Downfall


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They breached and entered with practiced precision. Beamfiret to melt the lock, graser-pulses to blow out hinges, and two steel-shod Bragulan combat boots to kick the ornate wooden doors down. The mishmash squad stormed the cathedral with speed and precision. Choldytz and Bearenstain took point, sweeping the entry zone with K-bolter and B-NET cannon, while the rest filed in crisply and smoothly. Rik was right behind them. The little Eoghan had his Shard carbine shouldered and ready while Jean Claude and Klick-Klack were at the middle of the group, scanning for threats with the Soldat Universel sensor systems integrally linked to their graser guns. Keeya and Nessa had the rear, ready to lay down precision fire with their beamrifles. Despite the vast differences of infantry doctrine between their militaries, these soldiers were all well-trained veterans of the Xena campaign. They took care to overlap their firing angles, so that they could cover each other if any firefight were to occur, and made sure they had each other’s back. They communicated through tactical hand signs and sub-vocalized words, saw the world through visually enhanced night optics and other sensory apparatus, and maneuvered carefully behind cover and concealment.

Silently, they stalked past empty pews, their passing only seen by the lifeless statues of the Goddess and her Saints hanging from the walls around them, and the mosaics of holy scenes on the stained glass windows. Shadows danced on their own accord as the strange lights pulsed from deeper within the deserted temple. The reverberating thrums seemed to be coming from the same direction too, but with the architecture of the church designed to reflect the sounds and voices of robotic choirs programmed to sing praises to the Goddess, the echoes gave an eerie and unnatural air to the dark and empty halls.

“What on Bragule is this place, anyway?” Choldytz whispered to no one in particular. He was awed by the massiveness of the structure, of the high dome ceilings, of all the statues and the stained glass, and the endless rows of pews that could accommodate countless people. He simply didn’t understand what this place was.

“It’s a church,” Jean Claude answered him simply.

“A what?” Choldytz would’ve scratched his head quizzically but he was too busy holding onto his B-11 K-bolter and peering down its night scope.

The light was coming from a passage that led downwards into what looked like a sub-level of the cathedral. After clearing the ground floor, they decided against splitting up due to the obvious risk of being picked off one by one or group by group by some unseen enemy - united, they would at least be better able to take on a foe like a MEH Marine that could easily overpower them piecemeal - and so they all went into the tunnel together.

It soon became apparent that they were in something far beyond a mere basement. They found themselves within a labyrinthine series of catacombs, a confusing maze of tunnels and subterranean corridors that seemed to cover a far greater area than the actual surface structure itself. The light was emanating from only one source, from only one particular path, which they followed out of some unexplained compulsion that was clearly beyond the mere urge to investigate. Perhaps they were like moths drawn to the flame in some subconscious transfixion. In an act of foresight, Nessa had cleverly marked their way with nano-yarn before they had gone too deep, to ensure that they could find their way back if they ever got lost.

Choldytz couldn’t help but remember his last time prowling in claustrophobic subterranean confines, when glinting steel killers had emerged from the walls to slay most of his squad in battle. Only he, Bearenstain and Lieutenant Beartha, along with a few others had remained in one piece. Most of the survivors had ended up becoming amputees and recipients of low-quality second-hand cybragnetics. He hoped to Byzon that his luck would hold out, that he’d stay whole and alive through this ordeal. He looked down at the fifty kilo quadricorder that was formerly Rubyn’s before the poor sod got shot in the face, another reminder of that time, and noted that there were no signs of movement. But that did not rule out any hidden enemies, lying and waiting for them motionlessly. It didn’t back then, and it wouldn’t now.

It was not without trepidation that Choldytz went in even deeper, still at the point of the formation even as the walls closed in on him, as the tunnel became even tighter and the air seemed to grow more suffocating with each meter he traversed. The catacombs could now barely accommodate the Bragulans, but they had gone too deep and the path had become too tight that by the time Choldytz had realized that he would have difficulty continuing, it was already too late and there was no way he or Bearenstain could trade positions with the other inhuman soldiers without significant inconvenience and positional awkwardness. So he decided to soldier on without complaint, hoping that the literal light at the end of the tunnel would lead to a more open space. It was an optimistic thought, yet even in the back of his head he knew that if there was an ambush up ahead - and this was the perfect time and place for such a thing - he would be the very first one to receive enemy fire.

Just like Rubyn, he realized. It was a sobering thought. Bragulan soldiers had no illusions of their mortality, on some level they all knew that they were all cogs in a greater machine, gears in an engine of war, and that sometimes - lots of times - death was necessary for victory. It was a fundamental precept of Byzonism, the obliteration of the self; that one had to learn to overcome the limits of individuality and extend one’s awareness outwards, beyond the self of body, to embrace the self of group and the self of Bragulanity, for the goals of the group and the greater race were transcendent, and to embrace them was to achieve perfection. The sacrifice of one for the good of the many, as the one was part of the many in that they were all Bragulan, was the true essence of Byzonism, for through its tenets no Bragulan would truly die. In unity the Bragulan finds strength, and in that indivisible whole the Bragulan is undefeatable - for from many, one.

Yet, the only Bragulan there aside from Choldytz was Bearenstain, and they were amongst aliens. To die here, for members of different species, was an axiom Byzonism most assuredly did not encompass.

Their chronometers had stopped working, and time seemed to stretch on to the point where they could not tell if minutes had passed, or hours. The tunnel was changing now. Fortunately its width and breadth remained the same, it was no longer narrowing, but the angles of the walls were growing smoother, more rounded, along with the corners they navigated around. It was growing cooler too, Choldytz could now see his breath vaporizing before his snout. He paused to deactivate his freeonic jacket and unzip it open, even when the other squad members save Bearenstain were not taking the sudden drop in temperature too well. Frost formed on the walls, lining them with icy microparticulates that melted with the squad’s passing as the accumulated body heat convected into the environment, before recrystallizing long after they had gone by. The crammed confines was now cold and wet, and in Choldytz mind it looked as though they were navigating nothing so much as the insides of a vast frostbitten intestine.

“You doing okay there, Chol?” asked the reassuringly familiar voice of Keeya. The Chamarran medical maiden’s voice had an undertone of concern in it. Concern that he most certainly appreciated.

“I’m... I’m doing fine, Kee. Thank you.” Choldytz replied hesitantly. Then he realized, on some level, that they had fought and died together with the Chamarrans and other inhumans in this sordid war at the ass end of space, and the bottom line was that they had shed the same blood on the same mud. That was the answer to his conundrum, in that there was ultimately none. Down here, in this abyssal tunnel where something malevolent was no doubt waiting for them, they were all Bragulans now.

He took a sip from his flask to moisten his mouth, so that his breath wouldn’t vaporize and fog up his night scope’s lens. A trick he learned from playing Koprulu Zone Rules with some regimental snipers who, in the course of the game, befriended him and gave him useful hints to stay alive. Choldytz intended to live through this day, and all the days after. He imagined himself boarding the Heighliner back home to bragspace, returning to his planet and living the rest of his days in peace. He would miss the Chamarrans and all his other inhuman friends, but right now he missed home so much more.

There was a metallic snap, and Choldytz looked down and saw that he had unsheathed the retractable bayonets on his rifle.

The light was brighter now. The air was colder. Much colder. The frost was no longer melting with their passing, and the walls were now white with permafrost that further reflected the radiant glow. They were close, Choldytz could feel it. His quadricorder began to click rapidly much like a hard radiation Geiger counter. He glanced at it in surprise, but noted that the sounds weren’t coming from the radiological alarms. It was from the built-in PKE. Whatever was the source of that light, of that sound, they were on the verge of meeting it.

The glare hurt the eyes. The tunnel was widening. Mere feet away, the passegway opened up to a chamber suffused with light. If the enemy was there, the squad could not simply march out of the tunnel in single file while the light blinded them, in order to go through the choke point they had to emerge quickly and spread out into a defensible formation, find cover and concealment as fast as they could and establish clear lines of fire. It was just like how they entered the church in the first place. The decision was made, Bearenstain tapped him in the shoulder and he knew what to do.

Choldytz screamed in his mind, a mental war-cry as he stormed out of the tunnel and into the blinding light, weapon at the ready. He jumped out, got into a roll before snapping up in a one-knee crouch position. He heard Bearenstain skid to a halt beside him, while the others swiftly followed and formed up around the two of them.

Choldytz’ finger was inside the trigger guard of his K-bolter. He was panting and exhaling vapor. The others swept their weapons around, expecting the unseen enemy to fire at will within any second. Except, they didn’t. Because they weren’t there. There was nothing there at all, in the lowest level of the Church of Sasha and the Future Day Saints, except for one thing.

Image

It glowed with an impossible radiance. Made out of smooth metal that melted into organic forms, writhing details inscribed on its bulbous asymmetrical surface that at once resembled both bone and glass. It was a large object, far greater in size than the church itself. The light didn’t radiate from any single point of its form, instead its entire body seemed to glow like a zero-point aurora pulsing in strange indescribable spectrums far surpassing the visual range. It was accompanied by an electric thrum that vibrated the reflective marble-glass beneath their feet.

Klick-Klack’s mandibles gaped open. The light was reflecting off his compound eyes, which were wide in wonder. If an ant could’ve had a facial expression, this was it. The Formic beheld the wonder entirely, as his eyes perceived past the ultraviolent wavelength and saw things normal beings couldn’t see, or were not supposed to see. His antennae swayed hypnotically as he neared it slowly, hesitantly. The object loomed above him like a mountain overshadowing an insect. He extended a chitinous limb and touched the megalith with a spiny finger...

And then everything went dark.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Darkevilme » 2011-09-18 07:36am

Aftermath
By Shroom Man 777, Fingolfin_Noldor, Shinn Langley Soryu, Darkevilme, and Siege


Vulcanus Orbital Forge
Mars, Imperium of Man


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“Gentle folk, the Black Chamber is in session.” Lord Inquisitor Xavius’ deep voice filled the meeting hall. The buzz of polite chatter ceased. Everyone knew what this meant. The room had been sealed. The sweep for bugs was over. The Inquisition had pronounced the room clean from any external mystical eavesdropping.

Lord-General Lucien Corbec studied the occupants of the luxuriously furnished chamber, measuring every person present. Round the huge oaken table, fashioned in the shape of the coghweel seal of the Adeptus Mechanicus, sat some of the most brilliant and influential minds of the Koprulu Zone and beyond.

To the north, under the Eagle Banner of the Imperium, sat the gaunt, pale form of Senior Magos Nathaniel Matsukevich. To his right was the tall Inquisitor Xavius, of the Ordo Malleus, his red robes making him look even more huge. To the east, under the banner of the Holy Empire, sat eternally young Emiri Kimidori, right-hand woman to Ryoko Asakura, the director of ISIS. On her right stood Colonel Kuroko Shirai, her sleek dress uniform making her look like every inch the efficient killer she was. To the south sat Doctor Beauchamps Jabuzov of the Solarian Foundation for Omega Point Experimentation, unassuming in his old-fashioned tweed suit and flanked by a young woman in the black attire of CEID. To the west, ascetic and smiling and the only alien in the room, Keiran Avital of the Chamarran Hierarchy sat curled in her chair, polishing her claws with a silk handkerchief and obviously amused by some of the more hostile glances Imperial personnel was occasionally shooting her. To her right sat the impassive liaison of Cevaucian CMC R&D, Maciej Drlan, his muscular arms folded.

Corbec took his seat at the table, along with the other representatives here to advise the Chamber. He felt strangely vulnerable without Primarch Aurelian in the room and his mind raced as he wondered if, between them all, they could make sense of what had happened at Earth-4. He’d been there when it happened, on the ground, fighting the tide of insanity as it rose inexorably around him. He’d rode one of the last Thunderhawks out, and had witnessed the world simply darken and vanish underneath him. What had come after still gave him nightmares. But he’d survived, and that had earned him a place here, amongst this motley collection of people whose job it would be to establish what had gone wrong and, more importantly, what could be done to prevent it from happening again.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a slight problem,” said Matsukevich, getting straight to the point as usual. He manipulated a series of ruby-encrusted buttons artfully sculpted into the table and brought a buzzing blue hologram into existence above the table. The sight of the Eye--no matter what the Inquisition had seen fit to code-name it, Corbec still thought of it as an Eye--was enough to make some of the men and women in the room twitch. It was certainly enough to make the hair on his neck stand up.

But not everyone was as deterred. Doctor Jabuzov leaned forward, eyes twinkling with unabashed amazement. “Magnificent,” he breathed. “I didn’t know. So, that’s what it looks like.”

“It is a heresy,” growled Inquisitor Xavius. “It must be purified at once.”

Corbec restrained a smile. How like an Inquisitor, he thought. Things must always be cleansed with fire and the scourge. He does not understand at all. Corbec wondered who would tell him.

Colonel Shirai bowed politely. “With all due respect, Inquisitor, that is not an option. I’m afraid the, ah, anomaly,” the Marine shot a sideways glance at the hologram, “is quite out of our reach.”

“Nonsense,” Xavius grunted. “Nothing and no-one is out of reach of the eternal judgement of the God-Emperor.”

Corbec shook his head. Xavius was a fine Inquisitor, but he didn’t have a firm grasp of galactopolitics. He did not understand the delicacy of the situation, the precarious position of the Dual Empires after the Fall, the need for finesse. Corbec admired the Colonel’s restraint in dealing with the Inquisitor. It wasn’t that anyone disagreed with him. It was just that there were some things that simply couldn’t be done.

Assistant Director Kimidori cleared her throat and spoke up. “It is an unfortunate strategic reality that the dispatch of warfleets to the antispinward would greatly imperil our strategic security. We have very few friends in those regions and those we do have,” she nodded curtly at the Chamarran, “cannot protect us from our enemies, who are legion.”

Well put, thought Corbec. He thought of his daughter, Maria, Chartist-Captain of a proud and ancient Tarask-class merchantman, who had been tossed unceremoniously out of the Interstellar Union of Worlds without explanation or compensation, very nearly brought to financial ruin out of the sheer pettiness of that polity. Sudden anger filled him. “The galaxy is full of the weak and the foolish and the ignorant,” he heard someone speak. It took him a moment to realize he himself had uttered those words. It earned him a nod from Xavius.

“Be that as it may,” Matsukevich commented coolly, “it doesn’t help us determine what it is we’re facing, and how best to deal with it.”

“If I may,” the Chamarran, Avital, raised a crooked paw. “We have been told by your Primarch who, as you know, currently enjoys the legendary hospitality of my Queen, that this... Chamber, you call it? Yes, that it has a passing familiarity with this type of... Incursion? On behalf of the Hierarchy, I would very much like to hear the explanation for this awareness--an explanation that, I’ll remind you, we are owed.”

The words of the alien elicited a rainbow of different reactions from the room. Matsukevich appeared annoyed at the interruption. Xavius glared at the alien, a gesture the Chamarran replied to with a predatory grin. Jabuzov looked from the Magos to the Chamarran as if he wasn’t quite understanding their exchange. A brief smirk flashed over the expressions of the CEID agent. Kimidori and Shirai exchanged inscrutable glances, and the Cevaucian meanwhile simply leaned forward, not bothering to hide his obvious interest. An awkward silence descended. Corbec looked pointedly at the representative of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Finally the Senior Magos rolled one eye--the other was a cybernetic replacement--and relented. “Very well then...”

He pushed another button and the Eye disappeared, to be replaced with a large, spindly-looking warship. The design bore clear traces of Imperial naval heritage in its armored prow and the crenellated barbettes along its sides, but there was something else to it, an alien sleekness in the way its engine sections and field projectors effloresced organically from its aquilae’d armor that betrayed outside influences. “This is the Sisyphus,” Matsukevich intoned. “An Aetherius-class Experimental Deep Range Explorator, the only one of its kind, blessed artifact of the Xenomechanicae project Augur Aeternus. Its purpose, to brave the most turbulent maelstroms of the Immaterium. Its mission, to pierce the shoals and breach the heart of Collector space.”

The Senior Magos fell briefly silent, a sour look on his face. “It did neither. The Sisyphus was launched in 3102. It spooled up its sanctified drives... and simply disappeared.”

“Disappeared...where?” the Chamarran purred, obviously intrigued.

“We could not tell. It fell off our most powerful auspex arrays almost instantly. All our astropaths lost communication with the ship--all, except one. The mistress of the telepathica matrix of the Vulcanus choir instead went psychotic, killing three of her fellows before immolating herself alive. The Sisyphus, meanwhile, was gone, vanished from our galaxy, for one hour before it reappeared in exactly the place it had left.”

Avital was clearly enthralled by Matsukevich’s words. “You tell a great tale, Magos. Do go on.”

“Our attempts to hail the ship went unanswered. It sat completely inert. There was no damage to its outer hull but according to surveyor and auspex readings its plasma reactor was shut down and life support was fading. It was evident that something had gone badly wrong. So, a decision was reached to breach the Sisyphus and look for survivors, as well as an explanation for what had become of the vessel...”


***

Breaching Shuttle Gothica
Approaching Sysiphus derelict, 3102


The atmosphere in the shuttle’s breaching bay was tense as it always was in the moments before insertion. Men and women fully enclosed in the matte black carapace armor of the elite Storm Troopers mentally prepared themselves for whatever was to come. This wasn’t the sort of combat insertion into a hot zone they had trained for -- hell, it technically was a rescue operation. But they were tense all the same.

“It’s bullshit,” muttered one of them, a man identifiable only by a dim suit tag that read ‘Cuu’. “You don’t call in the Kasrkin for a rescue job. There’s gotta be bad guys out there.”

"Get the hell off man,” scowled Trooper Raess. “This is Mars, and that’s some whiz-bang Mechanicus experimental ship out there. No way bad guys got past all the usual cogboy paranoia onto that thing. It’s what it says on the tin, just a high-profile rescue op.”

“You know how loopy those cogs are, they probably just locked themselves in the damn ship. Could take them hours to finish the incantations to open up their own locks if we don’t help them along with some good old fashion det charges,” Demo-trooper Feygor added as he bounced a pack of plastique on his hand.

Trooper Cuu wasn’t having any of it. He lowered his voice. “No way. I’m telling you, it’s aliens.”

“Illegal aliens, yeah,” muttered Trooper Muril and stroked her multilaser meaningfully. There was some laughter. Tau jokes were getting old, but not old enough yet not to be funny.

“Whatever the cause may be, we are here to do the Emperor’s bidding,” stated Commissar-Captain Hark. “That should be reason enough for us all.”

The squad voiced agreement with their commanding officer and his pious statement, at least all of them but one.

“The Emperor, yeah right.” Cuu muttered derisively under his breath. He shot a dirty glance at the Commissar’s back. Ever since Hark stopped Cuu from having his way with that sweet big-eyed little Haruhiist girl, by breaking his jaw no less... Cuu’d sworn he’d get even, and that opportunity might finally present itself in these dark halls.

Multiple shuttles with special boring equipment for boarding ships swarmed over the Sisyphus. Each shuttle carried a couple of Kasrkin squads armed with hellguns and all the other gear you probably didn’t need for a rescue operation. They were the men and women of the 81st Kasrkin, led by the famed Commissar-General Gaunt himself. Gaunt had served with distinction during the Imperium-Karlack wars but he was new to supreme operational command, which probably factored into why he was still leading from the front lines. The shuttles docked with the Sisyphus and began burrowing their way through the ship’s adamantine hull. “Fething noise,” breathed one of the Kasrkin as the plasma bore ground its way through inch after inch of armor. When the borer breached the final layer a directed charge blew open a hole in the hull and the Kasrkin stormed into the ship in zero-g.

“Oxygen detected. Auspex reads no harmful substances in the air. The life support systems of the ship are still operational. Masks can be removed,” breathed one of the Kasrkin. The squad members removed their masks and were immediately assailed by a stench.

“What the feth is that smell?!” Cuu’s question was answered by a pseudo-mummified corpse drifting towards him, before abruptly dropping to the deck in a puff of dried flesh and bone particles.

“Artificial gravity systems reactivated,” announced another Kasrkin who was standing by a console. He pushed aside a form slumped over the cogitator and began pressing other activation runes.

The lights came on, revealing the extent of their entry point. They had chosen well, according to the schematics the AdMech had provided the compartment was used for non-volatile storage and also served as a protective buffer for the more vital components deeper inside the ship. Apparently, several poor souls also called the glorified cabinet their final resting place, and the dry and stale air was conducive to the preservation of their remains.

“What the hell?” Cuu cursed and pointed at the mummified cadaver at his feet. “What the feth is this?”

“It’s only been an hour,” Raess muttered. “This doesn’t make any sense. How can these bodies have...”

“Aliens!” Cuu spat. “I told you! Could be the bugs maybe, or the Brags, or them fething blue bastards!”

“Whatever the cause of this may be, it is our mission to find out. So shut your mouths and do your jobs, or I’ll execute you for dereliction of duty and for being an all round nuisance,” Commissar Hark growled. And then, to the rest of the men and women, “This changes nothing. We rescue who can be rescued, gather what information we can, and press onwards. Stay sharp.”

The Storm Troopers methodically swept the place with their auspex devices while skull-probes swooped forward, all to record every microscopic detail that came under their scrutiny. All of the Kaskrkin were on heightened alert now. The bodies in the compartment had to have died of unnatural causes, and whatever that cause was the Kasrkin were dedicated to hunt it down and make it die too.

Undeterred by the sight of mere dead, the Storm Troopers left the confines of the compartment and pressed on deeper into the Sisyphus. They were elite warriors, trained by the infamous Schola Progenium all, second only to the Astartes in mastery of the arts of war, and were ready to encounter anything inside the ghost ship.

“All units, begin the search. Emperor be with you,” spoke Gaunt over the communications channel. Acknowledging the command, the dozens of Storm Trooper squads began searching the ship in a grid-pattern, using AdMech-provided schematics of the vessel that gave the general layout while redacting some of the sensitive areas in the map for the usual reasons.

The claustrophobic corridors were empty, caked in dust and dried blood. Many of the bulkheads, halls and walls sported varying degrees of battle damage - from the telltale scorch patterns of small arms lasfire, to severe destruction suggesting the use of heavy explosives and artillery. In some choke points, rusted autogun shell casings littered the floors in massive heaps. In others, entire corridors had been blasted, creating gaping voids where multiple decks met. The disparate groups of Kasrkin navigated the ruins of the embattled corridors with the expert precision of trained soldiers. Yet, whatever happened to the Sisyphus in the hour it had been gone, the bodies found accounted for only a small percentage of the crew.

No-one. There was nobody to be found in the outer zones of the ship. One by one the squads voxed in, reporting nothing but charnelhouses and battle damage. Hark voxed Gaunt. “General, should we investigate the areas marked off-limits?”

After a brief pause, Gaunt replied, “Affirmative. Proceed with caution.”

Hark acknowledged the order, and his squads pressed forward, deeper into the vessel. The cross and cogwheel-marked blast doors responded to his commissarial overrides with squeals of electronic protest, and opened with the painful groan of rusted metal. His command section filed into what according to the AdMech schematics was the home of one of the vessel’s secondary remuneration-augur banks with hellguns at the ready -- and beheld a grotesque spectacle. A mass grave of mummified technopriests, thousands of them, their skin dried into leather, flesh petrified and oxidized cybernetics protruding from their skeletons. Around these were bones bearing the armor of naval infantry and Skitarii, the cyborg elite of the Mechanicus, even manning their posts and improvised fortifications in death.

Even Hark, a veteran of three campaigns against the Swarm, was stunned by the sheer carnage that filled the room. It took him a moment to regain his composure and order his section to secure the area. The commissar noticed armored hulks standing by the well-preserved remains of the mortals, forms that he mistook for heavy equipment or machinery, and which he belatedly realized were something else entirely. Astartes. Demigods among men. Yet here they were, dead and motionless.

“What in the Emperor’s name happened here?” he uttered, shocked by the sight of so many of the Emperor’s finest naught but corpses in a crypt, with no visible cause of death.

“Fething hell,” Cuu cursed. Before Hark could rebuke him for his impertinence the trooper had clambered up a command throne, upon which sat a massive Astartes. In its hand was a worn-looking portable cogitator, which Cuu pried out off its metal fingers. He got down and returned to the squad. He keyed its activation rune, bringing the device flickering back to life as he did so. “Well, what on Terra is this? Looks like a log of some sorts...”

He began to read it aloud.

Sergeant Matheius’ report. It has been eighty years and sixty-eight days since the malfunction that took us from the orbit of Mars, from Holy Terra and the Emperor’s divine presence, and into this abyssal place. This purgatory. With no way to contact home we have had to fend for ourselves, here, in the unknown depths of the Immaterium, set upon by fell monstrosities and unspeakable things. The madness. The corruption. It came insidiously, without warning. Even now I ask myself, how could I have prepared for it? But I did not known it then as I do now, and we were caught unaware.

The Warp-touched were the first to succumb to the whispers in the darkness. Librarian Stellos, his acolytes, the astropathic choir and the sanctioned psykers. All of them, one after another, fell prey to the voices. And from them, the seed of the rot spread further into the minds of the weak-willed, of those whose spirits had been taxed by the years of wandering. They would mutter concealed heresies at first, decrying to their ilk that the God-Emperor had abandoned us. I did not know how long they prepared, how long they gathered on the underdecks, readying their heresies. All I know is that my faith never faltered...


Cuu hit the scroll rune and flipped over to a later page, morbid curiosity playing on his face. He continued on reading it out to the rest of his squad.

They fell upon us in the night, culling those amongst the techpriests who possessed the knowledge to stop them. They deactivated the Gellar fields on the underdecks. And with the protective wards gone... the horror began. God-Emperor forgive me. God-Emperor forgive us all. Things came from the Immaterium, through the steel and through the hull, through the walls. From above and from below. I yet hear the shrieks of good men and women, tortured, fused into abominable heresies that blight the mind. Souls were sundered by things without bodies, vile spirits jealous and thirsting for corporeal forms. The crew was the blood-sacrifice Stellos, the arch-heretic, had prepared. Curse him. He betrayed us all, allowed these infernal things, these daemons, to slake their vile lusts upon us.

They are still there, in the bowels of the ship. We can see the ship change and twist. We hear the screams and the laughter and the chanting of their unholy rituals. It haunts us in our dreams, lingers in our minds, refuses to grant us rest...


Cuu was sweating. Condensation was forming on the flickering cogitator but he continued reading. He couldn’t bring himself to stop.

We fortified the areas of the ship still under our control and guarded the remaining techpriests, whose mastery over the ship was our only way to survive. The Gellar field redundancies ensured that there were still portions protected by their sacred wards, where we were safe, where our minds could stay whole, where our souls could remain untainted. But it was a constant battle. The enginseers of the Machine Cult battled their adversaries through the arcane systems of the ship as surely as we fought them with bolter and lasgun. We have not stopped fighting. We have been fighting in this hell of a ship for thirteen years now.

But there is no end to them. Every day they come for us. Inch by inch they drive us back. The corridors change. The walls lie. The ship itself deceives us. The blessings of the Mechanicum have proven fickle and untrustworthy. Only flesh, the perfect forms sculpted by the God-Emperor himself, remains pure. It is on this flesh that I etch the days, so that I may remember their passing with the sensation of pain to remind me that I still live...


The lights started to dim, but even in the low illumination Cuu continued to read, his expression unreadable as his mouth moved.

I no longer trust the Mechanicus. It was their arrogance that brought about this endless horror. Nor do I trust their cyborg cohorts, the Skitarii, or the weak willed naval infantry. They are mortal fools, unworthy of His blessings. They know not His wisdom. They know not His power. Their faith will falter. They will ask themselves why. Why has He forsaken them? Why has He forsaken all of us? He, our All-Knowing Father, our God-Emperor, sent us here to our doom. Why? Why have we been abandoned? Does He not care for His faithful children? No. No! I cannot doubt. That way madness lies. I must not doubt! My faith is pure. Through my faith I shall be redeemed. And I shall know no fear.

The last entry was much more brief, bearing the traces of a hurriedly composed note. Cuu read on to the very end.

Final entry. They have taken the bridge and the engineering core: we have barred the gates... But cannot hold them for long. The deck shakes... drums in the deep... we cannot get out. A shadow moves in the dark. Will no one save us? They are coming.

“They are here.” Cuu’s voice was no longer his own. Drops of blood were condensing on the eerily flickering screen of the cogitator. The trooper dropped it to the deck and looked at his squad mates, at his hated Commissar, and they all saw his face.

His eyes were gone. His sockets were hollow black holes. Blood trickled down his face as wounds were cut onto his twisted visage by unseen knives, incising precise glyphs and runes on the bleeding flesh for all of them to see. At the same time, those very same markings were carved into the walls. The head-splitting symbols bled, the ones on Cuu’s face and the ones on the wounded walls. With a thrum, the augur banks in the room came alive. The vox channels filled with a shrieking sound that raged through the eardrums of all. Eruptions of lasfire, screams and shouts followed. Then a commanding voice cut through. “This is Gaunt to all points. We have enemy contact. Stand your ground. The Emperor protects.”

Cuu heard that. He looked at them with his mutilated eyeless visage. “You can't leave. It won't let you.” He said with an inhuman, rasping voice.

“Wrong,” Hark growled, whipping his boltpistol toward his face. A split-second later the entire squad opened up on the corrupted trooper with a plethora of lasfire from hellguns, multilasers and meltaguns. Cuu exploded in a flash of vaporizing flesh. The only thing left of him were his smoking greaves.

“I’ve been meaning to do that for a long, long time,” Hark muttered before turning to his men.

Before he could issue any further orders a nasal voice crackled over the voxnet, laced with a tinge of static to indicate a long-range transmission. “This is Lexmechanic Aerius of Vulcanus Forge to all Guard personnel. Be advised that the Sisyphus has initiated its plasma reactors and is spooling up its engines. Estimated time to Warp-transit is five minutes.”

The response took only seconds. “This is Gaunt to all points. Fall back to the boarding shuttles. Fall back now!”

Muril stared at what remained of Cuu. “Emperor, I so don’t wanna be here when this thing leaves,” she muttered.

“That is blasphemy, trooper,” admonished Hark. Then he added, “but given the circumstances I’m inclined to agree with you. Alright men, you heard the old man. Time to go. Now.”

As the troopers of the 81st turned and hurried out to the blast doors the blood from the bleeding walls began to seep into the dead Astartes armors, naught but hollow shells as their wearers had long since turned to dessicated husks.

The armors twitched.

A Kasrkin noticed the faint movements nearby. As he turned toward it, a power suit split open and chains whipped out from its open form like intestine-cobras, wrapping themselves around the soldier’s limbs, breaking bones, constricting his throat, strangling out his screams as his body was dragged inside the empty Astartes armor. It closed and sick wet sounds emanated from within it as bones were crushed and pulped. Blood streamed from the eye-holes of the helmet. Vitalized with the desecrated viscera of its prey, the Astartes rose up and brought forth its chain-axe. A guttural roar came forth from its mask, like a bass resonant sound intermixed with grinding steel, as the blood and liquefied organic matter of the unfortunate Kasrkin sprayed out of its mouthpiece grille.

As the other soldiers reacted and opened fire at that bloodstained hulk, the other ruined armors likewise sent chained meat hooks and razor wire spools to reel in unsuspecting soldiers from all sides, dragging them screaming into the hollow armors that sealed around their victims like ceramite iron maidens. More Astartes rose from the field of dried corpses and powderized bones. The deck became wet with blood leaking out of gaps in their rusting armor.

They charged the Kasrkin, but the Storm Troopers held their ground. They unleashed a withering storm of lasfire, hellguns ablaze, but the troops closest to the reanimated Space Marines were the first to be cleaved by dulled powerblades, or smashed into pulp by toothless chainswords, or just ripped to shreds by armored hands. The broken weapons became more effective with every kill, the blades grew sharper with each man or woman they halved, the flesh and bone that adhered to the ruined chainswords started to solidify into wicked teeth. Pores on the weapons’ steel absorbed the blood. The powerblades started singing for more blood. The chainswords began to growl in hunger. What sustained them also sustained their wielders as blood washed the rust away from their armors of contempt. Even in their deathless states, the Astartes moved impossibly fast, and the Imperium’s finest mortal soldiers were no match for them.

To their credit the Kasrkin withdrew only after Hark ordered them to, their retreat covered by detonation charges which tore the leading Marines into showers of bloody shrapnel. It did not deter their lifeless comrades in arms. Even as the cursed Astartes gave chase, the slain Skitarii in the chamber awoke as their decayed cybernetics resurrected their unlife functions. Their dried and preserved flesh was rehydrated by spilled human blood, and slowly did they stagger upright and once more shoulder bolt-cannons of their own.

The Kasrkin continued their straight route to the infiltration/exfiltration zone, attempting to keep cohesion and maintain fire and movement. Muril hosed down the corridors with her multilaser, her unerring aim allowing her to vape the head clean off a charging Astartes. The det-charges bought them some distance and it was now at least possible to engage the Marines from range with melta weapons and krak grenades. The sight of the Emperor’s own superhuman warriors striking down their comrades and moving to consume their very flesh would be enough to break the will of many hardened veterans, but Schola Progenium mental conditioning steeled the Kasrkin to face their foes. They would pay for it in nightmares later, if they survived long enough to dream of this day.

But the traitor Marines were not their only foe. The corridors lined with bleeding, eye-hurting glyphs and runes and whispers echoed through the air, in the vox channels, and even in their minds. Hallway lights flickered, going dark one second and then lighting up the next to reveal horrific sights of flayed men, writhing and prostrating and peeling each other’s faces off with their teeth, before the lights would flicker again and these sights would disappear from view... remaining only as glazed afterimages in the back of their eyelids. The phantom images, the Kasrkin realized on some deep instinctual level, were what remained of the crew of the Sisyphus. And the soldiers of the 81st would join them in damnation if they did not get off this cursed ship in time.

It was a horror unlike anything any of the Storm Troopers had ever seen. Some of the men broke, driven mad by the sights and sounds. They ran for it, minds shattered by the unholy chaos before them, bereft of cover fire and other necessities of survival. They didn’t get far. Chains and razor wire - still wet from their first victims - shot out from the shadows, sank their hooks and serrations beneath the flesh of those who fled, and dragged them to the charging Astartes whose empty armors hungered for the essences of the living.

The remaining Storm Troopers continued to fight on, defiantly pouring down fire at the pursuing Marines and Skitarii to allow other members of their squad to withdraw. Then those who had gotten far enough would, in turn, provide cover fire so that the ones behind them could repeat the pattern, elements of the section giving support fire for each other as they retreated chalk by chalk in an orderly leapfrogging pace.

Commissar-Captain Hark’s section eventually met other Kasrkin units. There were fewer of them now than there had been when they initially boarded. But now, they were near the exfiltration zones. Their dropships were close by. Escape was within reach -

Explosions tore through the substructure of the ship. Originating from the landing zone. From the transport ships. And from the flames that wreathed the wreckage of their would-be saviors emerged the unmistakable silhouettes of the Emperor’s Angels of Death. But these creatures were no longer the Emperor’s to command. Before Hark stood a misshapen Marine, tall and terrifying and bearing the livery of a Librarian. Glyphs flashed in mind-searing colors, sending the closest soldiers down on their knees.

In life, Librarian Stellos had been a superhuman killing machine possessed of a mind boiling with power. In strange ab-death, he was wholly without equal. “Foolish creatures,” murmured a deep voice, thoughtful and alien and supremely charming. Stellos’ eyes blistered with unholy light. “Why resist the irresistible? You cannot fight what is coming for you. Submit now, and you will know power beyond your wildest dreams.”

Despite himself Hark found his resolve wavering. It’s pointless, said a little voice inside his head. You can’t fight that. You know you can’t. But you don’t have to die. It’s easy. Just submit. It’s not hard.

For endless seconds Hark stood transfixed as he felt, inexorably, his mind pull toward the hulking superhuman warrior. He knew that if he moved now, if he took one step farther, he would be irretrievably lost. He would leave the communion with the God-Emperor. His soul would be lost. But would that really be so bad? Come on. You might like it. You might learn to love it.

The world seemed to move in slow motion. Hark felt himself lift his boot to make the fateful step. As he did a halo of light seemed to engulf the head of the fallen Librarian.

Then a dim, remote part of his brain told him it wasn’t a halo. It was the muzzle of a meltagun, glowing with acitinic light.

“Get out of my mind and die,” snarled Commissar-General Gaunt, and released the full charge of the deadly weapon onto Stellos’ unsuspecting hulk. The hiss of the weapon and the roar of the Librarian melded into one as Stellos briefly vanished in a haze of white light. A wave of heat slapped against Hark’s features, singing his hair and breaking the enthrallment. He blinked rapidly, driving the vestiges of supernatural domination from his mind.

“Do - do you suppose that was an official commissarial sanction, sir?” said a weak voice to Hark’s left. The commissar-captain looked to find Trooper Raess standing next to him, his face white and his hands shaking.

Hark forced a smile he hoped would look confident. “If it isn’t, they should make it one.”

Whatever Raess was about to say was drowned out in a furious roar. The remaining Kasrkin rushed forward to find that the melta-blast had driven Stellos’ power-armored bulk through the nearest bulkhead but amazingly, the Librarian wasn’t dead. His armor was scorched and shattered but the corrupted warrior was still standing. “Death to the servants of the false Emperor!” he bellowed and swung a crackling Crozius Arcanum down upon the general, who parried with a deft parry of his power sword.

“By the power vested in me by the Commissariat,” roared Gaunt, his words accentuated by a flurry of lightning-fast strokes that managed to keep the wounded Librarian off-balance, “I declare thee anathema! Your crime, is the betrayal of the Imperium. Your sentence, is death!"

“Fool!” shrieked Stellos, and his voice reverberated in the minds of the Kasrkin. “You know not what you are meddling with. I will slay you where you stand!”

“We’ll see about that,” scoffed Gaunt. The general parried another wild swing by the Librarian and rolled backwards, out of the warrior’s reach. “Kasrkin, kill this son of a bitch.”

The Kasrkin rallied to the aid of their General, peppering the fallen Librarian with hellgun fire. Commissar Hark joined in the fight, drawing his bolt pistol and sending shot after shot at the corrupted warrior. But somehow, impossibly Stellos was still standing, the withering hail of fire blocked off by a psychic shield of unnatural power. The Librarian chuckled as he took a step forward, then another. “Ye-es,” he murmured and regarded the commisar-general. His voice regained some of the unnatural charm it had carried earlier. “Only now, at the end, do you understand.”

Stellos hefted the Crozius Arcanum and Gaunt readied himself to parry, knowing full well he would not be able to withstand the killing blow-

Night turned to day. Fire blossomed through the hull of the Sisyphus as steel and ceramite gave way to a withering barrage of plasma fire. A gaping hole was torn in the side of the ship and silver forms emerged through, causing the deck to shake wherever they slammed into it, scooping and rolling and coming up ready to fight. The Librarian swung down but one of the silver knights swung his force halberd and deflected the weapon. Stellos swung a fist at his head but the knight sidestepped and another expertly drove his weapon through one of the many damaged areas of his powersuit, eliciting another furious psychic scream.

A third turned to the commissar-general, voice warbling through electronic speakers. “General Gaunt, I am Brother Nathanael of the Grey Knights. You and your men must come with me at once: we have very little time left.”

***
STGOD SDNW4 player. Chamarran Hierarchy Catgirls in space!
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Siege » 2011-09-18 07:38am

Aftermath (Cont.)
By Shroom Man 777, Fingolfin_Noldor, Shinn Langley Soryu, Darkevilme, and Siege


Sisyphus disappeared twenty-one seconds after the last Thunderhawk made it out. We have not seen it since. Less than a quarter of the Kasrkin detachment survived the operation. This Chamber was founded as a direct result,” the Magos concluded the tale of horror. “It was tasked with the investigation of the... incident.”

“Not that it ever produced much in the way of results,” the CEID operative added icily. “Because the Mechanicus sealed the technical files on Augur Aeternus, making it impossible to replicate their work.”

“We did so only because the Adeptus Terra ordered it be done,” Matsukevich replied with evident irritation. “They had their reasons--”

“--which were sealed as well,” the Cevaucian, Maciej Drlan, commented slyly. “So I guess we’ll just have to take your word for it.”

“Gentlemen,” Colonel Shirai warned, “you are being less than helpful.”

“If I may make a suggestion,” said a soft-spoken voice, and Corbec for the first time heard the strange man in his tweed jacket, Doctor Jabuzov. He had almost forgotten the small Solarian was even there, so easy was it to lose track of him in the bustle of larger-than-life figures that dominated the room. “Why don’t we return to the matter at hand, that being the spectacle before us?” He motioned at the hologram of the Eye which continued to revolve, like an evil Sign, above the table.

Kimidori smoothed some imaginary rumples in her charcoal gray women’s suit and cocked her head slightly as she regarded Jabuzov. “How do you suggest we proceed, Doctor?”

Beauchamps Jabuzov thoughtfully stroked his brown mustache and shifted a little in his seat. “I am as new to this group as many of you, and though perhaps equally fascinating, it is not yet apparent to me how Magos Matsukevich’s tale and this anomaly,” he inclined his head at the hologram, “are related. Mayhaps those of us fortunate enough to have witnessed the phenomenon first-hand could shed some light on this relation?”

Fortunate? thought Corbec, who was amazed at the way the Solarian doctor could look upon this blasphemy against the divine laws of nature with anything less than horror and revulsion. You have no idea of the forces you would meddle with.

But Jabuzov’s comments got the room in motion. Kimidori stood up first and leaned over the table, her pristine white v-necked shirt dipping just low enough to give Corbec thoughts, and inserted a data-rod into a brass access slot set into the ancient oaken. The Assistant Director of the Imperial Security and Intelligence Service began to expertly manipulate its controls and the hologram changed into a representation of Earth - Earth-4, specifically. Most of the people present realized this was taken before the planet was subjected to prolonged orbital bombardment.

“As you can probably tell, you are looking at the capital world of the Multiversal Empire as it appeared when our fleet, or rather fleets, arrived in its orbit,” Kimidori began. As she spoke, the holo began to change, flecks of destructive light appearing first around it and then on its surface. Each of those flashes represented a tremendous conflagration, as well as the deaths of tens of thousands of people. “You are witnessing the opening stages of our offensive which,” Kimidori added and her eyes glittered with barely repressed amusement as she looked at Avital, “my government wishes to reiterate was conducted in a manner wholly correct, proportionate, and in keeping with the laws of war.”

The Chamarran representative flicked her tail, a faint alien grin on her face. “We agree to disagree--for now. Do continue.”

A fractional nod from the woman from ISIS, who pushed another button. The holo began to skip forward through time, its timestamp changing hourly. First there were more flashes, all of them on the surface this time. Then lights of amethyst, emerald, and ruby began to appear on the surface. “These are our landing forces. The armies of the Holy Empire appear in green, the Imperium in blue, and the Interstellar Union in red. You will notice that the IUW makes a beeline for the Palace, where its force of ADAUs is unexpectedly defeated.” Indeed, the red dots zoomed off, converged on the known location of the palace, and then winked out of existence. “The Dual Empire force then decided on a relatively more cautious approach.”

Lines of green and blue were etched against the world, creeping forward at a pace that appeared slow until one realized that this was a planet, and the lines represented the fronts of entire shock armies composed of Titans and space marines, Samurai tanks and Armored Cores. They, too, converged on the palace, battering their way through rings and layers of planetary defences that appeared as bands of bright purple. Then, one of the blue outlines swept forward, leapt ahead of the others, became a detached cerulean bubble with a fiercely burning pearl of ultramarine at its heart. “The Warmaster, Rus Komnenos, and his warband,” Kimidori elucidated. “Storm the palace.” A trace of something close to awe crept into her voice. From this vantage point, it was stunningly clear just how much of the Empire’s defenses were still between the Warmaster and his target, but somehow the blue jewel charged forward undeterred, the clear and concise holographic abstraction of his movement belying the brutal violence of the act.

The Warmaster reached the palace. Kimidori pushed a button and froze the holo. “Shortly before this time, our forces fighting in the primary theatre of operations had begun to report...oddities.” Slender fingers danced over bronzed buttons. Point contacts blossomed in neutral white, small fact-boxes popping up beside them. “It began with suicidal charges by cut-off military garrisons, and our forward commanders paid them no special attention. But then there were other, ah, encounters. Banzai charges by unarmed civilians. Confrontations with bizarrely transformed Saints - Multiversal ones, that is. Mass murder-suicides. And, well...” One of the fact-boxes expanded, showed glimpses of ritually massacred civilians, painfully alien cuneiforms etched in blood on the landscape. Lucien Corbec twitched, suddenly overcome by nauseating memories. Mercifully, the box closed. “We were at an utter loss to explain these things at the time.”

“I’m sure you see the similarities,” Matsukevich added.

Avital wrapped her tail about her. “I take it you compared the symbols?”

“We did. We have positive matches on over six dozen hieroglyphs.”

“What do they mean?”

The Senior Magos let out a frustrated breath. “We don’t know. But there seems to be a cognetic component to them.”

“Because of the way it hurts to look upon them,” the Chamarran nodded.

“Yes. More to the point, it is my belief that the chaotic realm in which Sisyphus was inadvertently lost corresponds with the region of space to which our galaxy is now linked through the anomaly the Inquisition has designated Occularis Terribilis--”

Eye of Terror?” muttered the man from Cevaucia. “Good thing you’re not melodramatic or anything.”

“For the record,” added Jabuzov softly, “I find this belief to be premature.” He managed to utter the word like something indescribably filthy.

The Magos looked at him irritably. “Oh?”

“I take the doctor’s point,” Kimidori nodded. “Matching symbols suggest a connection, but this connection does not have to be as simple as you suggest. Languages, such as they are, can be used in multiple places at once. And consider that Sisyphus carried whatever ‘possession,’” she etched imaginary quote marks in the air with her fingers, “it picked up in the high hyperbands back into our galaxy: a similar thing could have happened to another, ah, realm.”

Matsukevich knitted his brow, which made it appear as if his cybernetic eye was squinting at the Haruuhista. “Your supposition is inelegant. It adds additional factors to the hypothesis that are unneeded. Unless you possess information that I lack?”

Kimidori simply looked at the Chamarran representative, as if daring her to reveal some critical piece of knowledge that would complete the picture. Avital squirmed in her chair for a moment, the eyes of all the room upon her. Then she reluctantly answered, “Hierarchy intelligence on the Multiversal Empire suggests that their arrival in this galaxy was the result of an attempt to escape a greater doom.”

The CEID agent breathed in slowly, then nodded in a barely perceptible way. “The Directorate corroborates this.”

Avital arched a furry eyebrow in surprise. “Indeed?”

The operative smiled at her. It was a warm and genuine smile, and all the more unnerving because of it. “We have access to primary sources that indicate the Empire fled because its native environment came under assault from extraordinarily powerful alien creatures.”

“And so we come to the party piece,” Kimidori said quietly. She glanced at Matsukevich, who nodded briefly. She fingered the controls, and the holo changed again. The Eye had reappeared, but the perspective had changed, more distant and moving away from the anomaly at speeds that indicated a high-speed retreat. Tiny specs that upon closer scrutiny appeared to be Byzantine and Haruhiist warships were backlit by ugly orange blotches mottling the black pit that had once been the capital world of the Multiversal Empire. Great columns of spinning flame arced around the rim of that hideous vacuity. And something was stirring within, ululating as it assumed the symmetries of a new reality. Titan sunspots drifted slowly across a colossal mass of hideous writhing tentacles, a diaphanous mass clawing itself out of the ice-cold realm beneath, one moment dwindling, then growing larger and larger. The eldritch horror extended a mass of tendrils toward an Imperial corvette, and it exploded as if it had not been armored at all--

The Assistant Director from ISIS paused the holo, freezing the monstrosity in all its horrifyingly alien glory. A long silence descended upon the room as its occupants stared at the creature, some lost in terrible memories, others simply trying to wrap their heads around the stupefying fact of its existence in their reality.

“Well,” Doctor Jabuzov breathed finally. “Well, well. Will you look at that. Did you see how it changed?”

“I did, Doctor,” said Matsukevich. “The creature underwent an n-dimensional homogeneous matrix transformation--”

“--through the Mandelbrot set,” the Solarian finished his thought. He shook his head. “My word.”

“Meaning... what, exactly?” Colonel Shirai asked.

“It adapts to our physical laws,” answered Matsukevich. “The daemon manifests in a way that allows it to exist in our universe.”

“Daemon?” scoffed Drlan. “Please, Magos. Do you hear yourself talk? Eyes of terror, realms of chaos, and now daemons? We can do without your technotheocratic superstitions.”

“Have a care, settler,” glared Matsukevich. “I was probing the depths of the Immaterium when your forefathers were scratching their arses in the mud on whatever fringe-world they crashed into. I have faced its splendor and its terror alike. And I know that what you see before you in this room is no worldly phenomenon. We are faced with forces vast and terrifying, with minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic. A measure of respect is in order.”

The Cevaucian shrugged, unimpressed. “It is just a creature. You made it bleed, yes? That means we can kill it.”

“It is a heresy!” growled Inquisitor Xavius.

“Gentlemen! It is apparent to me that if we are going to make sense of this, we first need to establish a shared reference frame,” Doctor Jabuzov spoke with a sudden authority that seemed unfitting of the man and the place, but there it was anyway. “Magos, you speak of the ‘Immaterium,’ a ‘Realm of Chaos,’ ‘Daemonic presences.’ Myself, I would prefer ‘far hyperbands,’ ‘contiguous high-entropic continua,’ and, ah, ‘extracontinuous sapient fastthinkers.’ But we can quarrel over what terminology to apply later. What really matters right now is not their names, but the facts themselves. Would you not all agree?”

Vague murmurs of consent rose up around the table.

“The facts. Yes. I am unclear on one thing,” the Chamarran, Avital, frowned and purred, “No, I am unclear on many things. But the most important one of all is... Ritual human sacrifice? How does that do anything? How does it do this?” she asked and pointed at the hologram of the Eye.

“In theory? Information destruction increases entropy,” Matsukevich responded sourly. “This is actually a point where some of the more outlandish theorems of the Mechanicus and Doctor Jabuzov’s Foundation intersect and agree, the idea that energy can be transferred through a platonic realm of information. Some of our information theoreticians believe it to be an aspect of the Immaterium--the Warp. He calls it the, ah--”

“--Aguero-Du Chardin spaces,” Doctor Jabuzov added with a brisk nod.

“Quite. A higher-dimensional realm in which the stuff of sentience, our thoughts and beliefs and emotions, possess mass and force.” He saw the sceptical looks the Cevaucian and Chamarran were giving him and grimaced a little. “The point is, this was all very much hypothesis, an untestable axiom that served merely as a theoretical underpinning of psykana, of psionics.”

“Until now,” Kimidori concluded.

“Until now. It appears that the Empress of the Multiversal Empire managed to leverage this intersection between thermodynamics and information theory into, well, we’re not quite sure yet. A kind of universal bridge. We’re not sure why. We’re not sure how. But that appears to be what happened.” The Magos fell silent, obviously intensely dissatisfied by the gaping hole in his--and everybody else’s--knowledge.

“So we have,” Colonel Shirai summed up, “space-time manipulation so advanced we might as well call it sorcery, performed by daemons--alright, creatures that might as well be minor deities in their own right, none of whom appear sympathetic to lifeforms native to this galaxy, universe, plane of existence, whatever. And we have no idea where they come from, how they get here, how we stop them, the extent of their capabilities, or even what their motivations are beyond eating or mind-fucking all of us. Does that about sum it up?” She looked levelly around the table. “Because that, gentlemen, sounds dangerously like ‘we’re fucked’ to me.”

“That is a very negative outlook,” Jabuzov said warmly. “I suspect it might serve a soldier well, but I myself prefer to look at the two important things that we do in fact know.”

“And what are those?” asked Avital.

The Solarian doctor raised a finger. “One: It takes a significant effort to come into contact with these creatures. Millions of human sacrifices in the case of Earth-4, a monumental destruction of sentience dedicated to completing the spatial bridge transformation. We may not know by precisely which process this carnage is harnessed, but we don’t need to understand it to prevent it. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I would imagine it is within our capabilities to detect mass-genocides and prevent them.”

Lucien Corbec perked up. That was a remarkably practical observation. He’d gotten so transfixed by the unnatural, overpowering strength of the enemy that he had lost sight of the relatively simple method by which their arrival might be prevented. The Chamarran smiled too, and nodded so eagerly her head was practically bobbing up and down. “If that is the case might I suggest our Imperial comrades restrain their... enthusiasm next time they come upon a planet?”

Xavius looked at her sourly. Matsukevich merely shrugged and looked at Corbec. “It is a fair enough observation, General.”

The Lord-General found himself smirking. Leave it to a Chamarran to extract political concessions out of a meeting about combating extrauniversal terrors. “If it so pleases the God-Emperor,” he smiled piously. Kimidori and Shirai exchanged another glance, and the Assistant Director shrugged noncommittally. “We’ll be sure to forward your suggestion to the Joint Chiefs. Now, Doctor, if you please continue?”

“Two,” said Beauchamps Jabuzov as he raised a second finger. “The continuum these creatures call their home is highly entropic. This is a good thing for us.”

“Why?” asked Shirai. “Doesn’t that mean they have more energy to slug us with?”

“Remember what I said about human sacrifices? Information content is inversely proportional to entropy, and entropy is a measure of how well randomized a system is. The destruction of information--in this case, sentient human minds--increases entropy. The force this act carries in the pseudo-platonic realm of ordered information is what is used to set up a microgrid that funnels in an information gate from another contiguous continuum. See?”

Colonel Shirai stared at the doctor. “No. No, I really don’t.”

Kimidori pensively rubbed her chin. “Hold on. I think I understand. Correct me if I’m wrong, Doctor Jabuzov, but if they reside in a highly entropic... continuum? Yes, then there is very little order left to destroy,” her pace of words accelerated as she rapidly wrapped her mind around what Jabuzov was saying. “And if there is little order to destroy, if all they have to work with is chaos, then it will be very difficult for them to muster up the energy required to open their own gates. Hence why... they wait for us to do it for them!”

Beauchamps Jabuzov beamed at the Assistant Director as if she were his favourite student. “Very well done, Miss Kimidori! Yes, indeed. Magos, am I right in assuming the Sisyphus had a very... unique drive system?”

Matsukevich nodded slowly. “It was experimental. Radically advanced. I... The Mechanicus hybridized Imperial and Apexai technology.”

Avital was about to make a barbed comment but Jabuzov shut her down with a forceful glance. “I am not an engineer, and I know of very few who are privy to the secrets of Apexai technology. But I do know one very curious thing about the psionic propulsion system of their saucers. Magos?”

Matsukevich smiled mirthlessly. “It runs off their thoughts. Destruction of information. I might have known.”

The Chamarran rapped her claws on the table, leaving little indentations. “They, whoever ‘they’ are, cannot do it themselves. That is great news. My Queen will be very pleased to hear this.” She looked around, scanning the room’s occupants. “I must confess, I am a diplomat first and foremost. I will not pretend to understand the...surreal calculus that you speak of: I will leave this to the brighter minds of the Hierarchy. But as a representative of a nation very close to this... Eye? I would like to know all you can tell me--us--about preventative measures we might take to prevent...unfortunate incidents.”

Almost as soon as Avital spoke, the CEID agent sat up straight as if someone had poked her. She craned her head at the Chamarran and peered at her intently for a moment. Then she said, very slowly, “Is there something you are not telling us?”

“I was waiting for the appropriate juncture. But it is part of the reason I was dispatched here. During the period between the birth of the anomaly you call the Eye and our reaching an agreement not to pursue the Byzantines further over the matter, there was an... incident involving an unknown entity from inside the Eye. The HSF Pouncing at Shadows was unable to join in chasing the Byzantines due to technical issues. The house science guild ordered it to more productively spend its time performing preliminary scans and probing of the anomaly before dedicated research vessels could arrive.”

“Before the incident, the Shadows had conducted numerous inconclusive scans of the exterior and launched seven probes. All probes lost contact with the Shadows when they entered the Anomaly. However, one returned, though it did not return alone. Due to heavy damage to the probe and the lack of either life signs, energy signatures, or radiologicals, Shipmistress Aina ordered the probe brought aboard so that the flight data recorder could be extracted. The entity, it appears, hitchhiked aboard the probe without detection and once aboard emerged to attack the vessel’s crew.” Avital explained, bringing up some holographic playbacks from the security cameras aboard the vessel of the creature’s initial emergence and assault in the hangar bay. Although even after looking at images of the entity several times people found it hard to recollect or describe its appearance.

“Some of our scientists have theorized that the entity’s body was some kind of psychic construct which allowed it to avoid being picked up while it was in the probe. This also provided the entity with seeming invulnerability to our standard issue beam rifles and the ability to consciously bypass portable barriers,” she said and showed footage of the creature flinching back from the forcefield, then testing it with its claw before walking through into a hail of beamfire that didn’t seem to phase it. Avital cut the footage a few seconds after the carnage started, the entity ankle and elbow deep in gore by the time the video ended.

“Analysis of psi-detector readings aboard the ship seem to lend some support to the theory,” she went on, “as they reported extremely high but localized readings when the entity was in proximity, although this may be down to other facets of the entity’s presence. The only known weaknesses of the entity proved to be electricity, which was found out by coincidence, and capital ship-grade energy discharges.” Avital brought up the recording of Sharren fighting the entity in the engine room of the ship. “Were it not for the heroic sacrifice of First Officer Sharren and Shipmistress Aina, the Shadows would have been lost. As it is, it has merely suffered significant casualties and damage and the loss of First Officer Sharren. By doing battle with the creature and delaying it she allowed Aina to eject the ‘Tap rift directly at the entity, destroying it,” she said and went silent for a little while to let the conflict on recording conclude with the outer skin of the Tap reactor going white in a patch and then the footage ending as presumably the camera succumbed to energies unleashed.

“Data from the probe was later recovered and is available but proved to be mostly corrupted, and what little remains is not particularly pleasant. We can confirm that the gravitational layout of the Anomaly’s interior mass is shifting significantly, although beyond that we learned little for this sacrifice. What’s important to my government, however, is gaining more reliable counters to the threat the Eye Anomaly poses that do not call for such sacrifices.”

“I... see.” Matsukevich frowned. “Well. According to the information retrieved from the Sisyphus Gellar Fields and other psyk-out technology provides at least a modicum of defence against incursions, but it is safe to say that the one of the main solutions to these daemonic influences,” the Cevaucian rolled his eyes but the Magos ignored him, “is constant vigilance around potential sources of corruption.” He looked at the Inquisitor, who nodded.

“The Inquisition has always made it a point to investigate sect activity, even beyond its borders,” Xavius began, brushing over the fact that it did so mostly to encourage the Imperial Creed to spread. “In the course of these investigations we have come upon several nameless, unnatural cults on a number of Wild Space worlds. The element of human sacrifice has figured strongly on for example Nineveh. The revolt there took a month to put down, and coincided with anomalous activity in the Immaterium.” He produced a thick, leather-bound tome from beneath his robes and gently put it on the table. On the cover, stamped in iron, it read Unaussprechlichen Kulten. “This work was composed by Inquisitor Von Junzt. It contains all our knowledge of these cults and their ways.”

Avital leaned forward, eyes darting from the book to the Inquisitor. “The Imperial Inquisition would share its knowledge? With us?”

Xavius regarded her levelly. “Given the circumstances it seems prudent. You have our prince; we are obliged to ensure his safety as much as possible.”

“I’m liking this,” purred the Chamarran mischievously. The old Monodominant simply glowered but remained silent.

“Broadly speaking then,” the CEID operative spoke brightly. “The Black Chamber would advise that if you ever run across mass ritual sacrifices, if you hear voices that aren’t there, if you’re seeing crazy symbols that hurt to look at... Pipe in the anti-psi and run like hell. Or call in an airstrike. Or run like hell and then call in an airstrike. Yes. That would probably be best.”

“Spoken like a true Solarian,” Xavius grimaced sourly. “Always bravely running away.”

The agent smiled at him sunnily. “It’s worked pretty well for us so far."

“I believe we’re run through all the most important aspects of our current situation,” Matsukevich cut off further animosity. “All agreed?” Again murmurs of consent rose up around the table. There were many questions left to ask, but no-one here had the answers yet, and it would probably take a while for those answers to be assembled. Then again, that was the entire purpose of this group. The Senior Magos nodded. “Then I hereby end this session of the Black Chamber. We reconvene in one standard month.” A deep gong rang. “Be advised that Tempest Shielding has been lifted. The room is now unsealed.”

Lord-General Lucien Corbec glanced around the room one final time. Polite chatter once more filled the room. The Chamarran studied her paws and one claw suddenly caught the light, gleaming. The Cevaucian simply up and left, muscle bulging underneath his featureless uniform. Doctor Jabuzov picked up his boater hat, put it on and stood as well. “I’ll say, ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a very productive afternoon.” He prepared to depart left, and as if on cue the CEID agent materialized on his side to lead him right.

Corbec sighed and leaned back in his chair. The worst of his fears had been alleviated somewhat, but he couldn’t help but think that maybe, this is what had happened to the Multiversal Empire too, at first, before it was forced to flee an entire reality. He just hoped that here, now, in this universe, the self-appointed experts would be right. And most of all he hoped he would never see that accursed Eye again. He had escaped it once. He did not know if he could manage it a second time.
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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
There'll be a bodycount, we're gonna watch it rise
The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes

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Siege
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Siege » 2011-09-20 05:42am

Pale Lazarus


Previously... wrote:He realized he didn’t care what he might be unleashing. The galaxy was a fucked up place anyway. And most of all he just wanted her. He knew he’d already made up his mind, knew he’d probably known when he first plugged into this place. He smiled tiredly. “I was wondering... You must be interested in what the outside galaxy looks like.”

Her eyes widened. Simulation or not, she still knew what had just happened. For a moment her voice wavered with electronic interference. “You wo-would do that fo-for me?”

“You’re still my wife.”

“I am?” That was the sim speaking again. “You never remarried?”

“We never divorced.” It made him feel simultaneously like a hopeless romantic, and the poster child for arrested development. Five hundred years and still a sucker, he thought wryly. Some things really did never change.



Villa Straylight
Geo-synchronous orbit over Solaris


Image

Eyes shot open, staring at the world through a haze of green fluid. The amniotic solution spumed and percolated, rushing away as it was pumped out of the vita-chamber, to be replaced with hyper-oxygenated air. Brand new lungs drew a ragged first breath, deep and hungry. Milky skin, a sublime fusing of flesh and machine, rippled with goosebumps. With a click-hiss the door to the chamber snapped open and Daphne Sinclair took an unstable inaugural step into the wider galaxy, her first in more than a thousand years.

She blundered into the hallway, naked and unsteady, mind reeling with sensations simultaneously new and very, very old. Dust motes glinting in the soft illumination of the glow-globes. The warmth of the black-and white tiles underneath her feet. Trickles and drops of fluid dribbling down onto her shoulders, breasts, stomach; muscles spasming along the abrupt, staggering confines of a human body. Wet hair slick against the back of her neck. Fingers on skin.

The thrill of being, simple and physical, was overwhelming. Rows and banks of synapses all fired for the first time, one after another after another, lighting her mind with mental fireworks. The sensation of it was dizzying. Her head swam. She fell to her knees, and the pain of it was a series of complex coded signals running at light speed along optical nerves.

“Easy, easy.” Strong hands helped her gently up from the floor. She felt the warmth of another body, very close to her. “That pretty new brain of yours is still booting.” She opened her mouth but the muscles of her jaw refused to work right. What came out was little more than a husky wheeze. She was suddenly lost for breath, her lungs struggling to gather enough oxygen. Her calves cramped up abruptly and she fell but he caught her. She felt his body press against her, the beat of his heart through his clothes, strong and safe and familiar. “Relax. This will take a moment. Trust me, I'm something of an expert.”

Slowly, very slowly, the spinning sensation settled down into a simple lightheaded daze. The world settled into perspective – the narrow, restricted perspective of organic life. A wave of nauseating claustrophobia washed over her. She felt herself tremble and cursed her own patheticness. Finally, after what seemed like an aeon of destitute meatspace blindness, pinpricks of light appeared in the space of her mind, the myriad tailored cybernetic systems of her custom-designed body coming online one by one until they formed grand constellations of digital light and energy. Sensory implants activated and flooded her mind with the data for which she hungered. Her augmented senses swept away the fake barriers of the mortal world.

Matter. Energy. Light. Gravity. The complex interactions of fundamental forces danced before her eyes. And between them were the strands of the Datasphere, all-pervasive and all-accessible. Omnipresent, real-time information, available across space and time. She shuddered with intense relief. After centuries of isolation it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen. She stepped out of his embrace. A set of drones buzzed around her, wrapping naked shoulders in a simple blue kimono. She released a breath she didn't know she'd been holding and looked up.

He smiled at her, a perfect replication of his digital avatar. She saw the muscles of his jaw twitch in perfect harmony, saw his pupils dilate as he looked at her, felt his touch, feather-light against her implants. “Hello, honey. Welcome back.”

***


Outside the window, the green and purple tangle of biodome #5 rose toward a starlit sky. The two of them sat at a table in the villa's great Lyceum and looked at each other in silence. Theirs was an awkward situation, he reflected. He, ancient and by most human standards more than a little crazy, responsible for locking her up five hundred years ago. She, ancient and by most human standards completely insane, responsible for gruesome atrocities and now incarnated again, a mad AI clad in pseudo-flesh that he had to admit looked absolutely stunning on her.

He laughed ruefully. She asked what was so funny. He shook his head. “I don't think marriage counsellors are prepared for this kind of situation.”

She smiled, but the smile didn't quite reach her eyes. Or it could just be she was still getting to know her new body. “So.”

“So.” He recalled an earlier conversation and knew the cue by heart. In a way it was actually uplifting. “Now what?”

She regarded him with a strange expression. “I think that this time it's your call.”


***


Presidential Palace, San Dorado City
2015


Image

The curtains were closed, the chaos of the city locked away from the bedroom by thin black cloth. He lay awake and stared at the ceiling, unable to get to sleep. Next to him he could feel the warmth of the woman he loved. The woman he would marry the next day.

The woman he never told the truth.

It was easy to keep secrets in San Dorado. It was second nature to its corporate elite. Secrets were weapons to be used at opportune moments against those who'd try and screw you out of a buck or, as the case might be, a million bucks. Three men could keep a secret if two of them were dead and in its very literal interpretation of that saying the city was more like a Frequesuan state than it would care to acknowledge.

But that was business. This was anything but and it didn't sit right with him, no matter how much reason said it was for the best never to mention what happened. In fact it felt viscerally emotionally wrong, so much that the thought of it had kept him awake for increasingly prolonged periods of time until now, on the eve of his marriage, he couldn't sleep at all.

Daphne stirred beside him. They decided that since they'd broken every corporate non-fraternization policy in the history of the city-state, the usual traditional separation on the big night before wasn't for them. In a way he was dually glad and unhappy for that. If she'd not been here he might have caught some sleep. If she'd not been here, he wouldn't have had a choice to resolve this now.

“Nervous for the big day?” asked a half-awake voice in the dark. Maybe he'd inadvertently woken her. Maybe she simply felt there was something going on. Either way he was glad she was awake.

“No. Not that. There's something... something I need to tell you.”

A long silence. “Oh?”

“I- I'm not the man you think I am.”

She let out a long, slow breath. He could feel a tension deflate inside her that he hadn't known was there. “I know.”

Silence for long seconds. He stared at her shadowy outline in the dark. Finally: “... you do?”

A light came on at her side of the bed. She looked at him, one arm propped up on a pillow. “Sometime shortly before August 22nd of 2008, was it not?”

He slowly shook his head, his expression one of utter confusion. “How could you possibly know that?”

“Because that's the day you smiled at me.” A sad smirk played around her lips. “Look, I'll make this easy for you. We had a thing... Once. I'm not even sure if it was love or business. Then I screwed him... you, out of some money, and you hated me for it. The hate was very real. It was the kind of thing that made me hire extra bodyguards. And I hated you for hating me. It's how things go in this city. Point is, I barely saw you anymore. I barely knew you anymore. And then... You changed. From one meeting to the next. I don't know why. But I know you're not... not the person you were.”

He slowly wrapped his mind around her words. “But then... why...”

“Why stick around?” She sighed. “At first because... Well, because I thought you were playing some game and it was probably better to be on the in than out. Later because you cared. About people. Principles.” A breath. “Me. The Sidney I knew didn't care for anything but money. He would've never- He would've never done the things you did.”

Like ask you to marry me. “I didn't know you hated me.”

She snorted dejectedly. “I figured that out years ago.”

“I didn't know I was supposed to hate you.” A pause. “I'm glad I didn't.” Another pause. “I love you.”

She turned her face away. Her shoulders shook a little. He was suddenly glad for the shadows that filled most of the bedroom. He wondered what it must be like for her, to know that the man in her bed wasn't who he pretended to be. Years of deceit and impersonation. It must have been eating her up inside. When she looked at him again her eyes were slightly red. Then she asked the million dollar question. “If you're not... How could you know the things you know?”

So he told her. About the Great Game. The Displacement. The Returners. About that first August night, drunkenly wandering the halls of the Palace, simultaneously knowing and not-knowing where and who he was. His other name. Everything. It didn't take as long as he'd thought it would take. It wasn't as cathartic as he thought it would be. In the end he fell silent, vaguely embarrassed.

She was silent too. Then: “So.”

“So.” It was all he could say. He felt awful. He felt like a fraud. He stared at the ceiling. “Now what?”

He expected her to be angry, to accuse. At the very least he expected her to walk out. But she didn't. When she spoke there was genuine warmth in her voice. “Now we get married.”

“We... Really?” He turned his head, confused all over again. “How could you possibly love me after that? You don't even know me.”

“No. I've known you all along. You're a good man, and that's rarer than you think. I trusted you had a good reason. Just like I trusted you wouldn't jump in bed with some patriotic secretary. Like you- he, used to.”

“I-” His cheeks flushed. “Yes.”

“This is San Dorado. Secrets are second nature. I never thought you'd tell me everything, Sid. That's not what trust is about. It's about knowing that if you were keeping something from me, there was a genuinely good reason for it."

“... oh.” He contemplated that, and realized she probably was right. “I feel kinda stupid now.”

“Don't. You're good at keeping secrets.” He could hear her smile a little. “How many people have you told?”

“Apart from the others that... came here? Nobody. Can you imagine the reactions of the Board if I did? They'd have me committed. Sam would file an injunction before you could say 'mental breakdown'.” He rolled onto his side and looked at her. “Come to think of it... What did you think happened? I mean, after you realized I wasn't gaming you.”

She smiled a little. “That maybe you had some kind of stroke.”

He snorted. “Maybe I did.”

“If you did,” she nuzzled the satin sheets up to her chin with a satisfied sigh. “Best stroke ever.”

He chuckled a little. “So now that I've come clean, are you gonna tell me what your dress looks like?”

She snorted, and they got over an awkward moment. “No. Get some sleep. I don't want you to look bad on the pictures.”

***



Back in the Lyceum he looked at her and came to a decision. “I don't want you to work for me.”

She cocked her head, curious. “No?”

“No.” He paused briefly. “I want you to work with me.”

The alien expression deepened. It looked... pained somehow. Maybe it was the memories. He could only guess at the way they affected her, if they affected her at all. “What is it that you need?”

He regarded her for a moment. Her hair had dried out and hung in steep black strands past her shoulders. He'd known her as a blond, way back when, but that was the very least of his concerns. She looked human. He knew she was not. Her body was... Remarkably complex. There were design elements to it he had never seen before, technogenic purposes she must have worked out on her own during her isolation that he didn't wholly understand. She was still ahead of the curve, cut off from the galaxy or not. Daphne Sinclair had always had a gift for fusing man and machine. He knew a ship full of gruesomely killed SinTEK personnel who could testify to that fact. Her mind remained wholly digital, housed in a quark-colour cybermatrix that might not be as radically advanced as sub-meson tech, but was on the other hand fully portable. Roughly the size of an armoured baseball, Daphne's brand new mind-core was embedded in a socket at the heart of her skull.

She was unpredictable. Insane. Dangerous. But was that so different from how it used to be? The woman he talked to was an imperfect simulation of an earlier personality, but it was exactly what he needed. He'd been alone too long. Ever since Stephen and Nisa had departed the villa that had become depressingly clear to him. He didn't want to spend the next thousand years isolated and unattached. He craved company, ached for someone to talk to as an equal. Was that why she was sitting here, now? Maybe. Probably.

Looking at her, he wondered if this was what Doctor Frankenstein had felt before the lightning hit his laboratory and gave life to the monster destined to end him. Then again, the good doctor had only one life to lose. The advantage, then, was his. He shrugged. One step at a time. “I told you about King Paul Zuk. You remember him I'm sure.”

A sympathetic nod. “He was one of the Returners.” She smiled. “As I recall he never much did like the city.”

He snorted. “No, he didn't.”

“So what of him?”

“He's not as dead as I thought.” He went over the details of his visit to Collector space, the insanity of the shattered memory core, the promise he made to Unit Five.

At her description of the robot she smiled suggestively. “A par-particularly patriotic Collector I'm su-sure.”

He made a face as if he'd bitten into a particularly sour lemon. “Don't be like that.”

Her smile widened fractionally and for a moment genuine mirth sparkled in her eyes. “You want me to try and reconstruct his personality.”

“If you can. I can't think of anyone better suited for the job. I can't think of anyone else I want to do it.” He was silent for a second. “Dee. For what it's worth... I'm sorry.”

She frowned, taken aback. “What for?”

“Everything. The centuries.” He made a throwaway gesture. “It's so easy to forget, to lose track of the memories. To convince myself that reason is on my side. To justify and lie to myself. But I want you to know. I'm sorry. For everything.”

The corners of her eyes cramped. “I know what that's like.”

“Yeah. Maybe. But you deserve to know.” He sighed deeply. “You deserve... I don't know. Anything. Is there anything I can do? Anything I can help you with. I don't want to... I can't.... I need to-”

“Sidney.” She interrupted him. “Let me show you something.” She held out her hand. “Do you have a pen?”

He produced a holo-stylus and gave it to her. She held it in her outstretched hand and stared at it with intense concentration. Seconds passed. Pearls of sweat formed on her forehead. Continued to stare at it.

And then, slowly, the pen lifted off her palm.

A rictus of mad triumph washed over her features. “Yes!” she whispered. The pen moved, jerkily, around its horizontal axis. Louder: “Yes!” She giggled drunkenly, then louder, half-sane laughter echoing off the the mezzanine walls. Many-coloured birds flew up in the bio-dome. She cut off abruptly and half-collapsed over the table, coughing up vestiges of vita-fluids. The pen fell to the ground. He caught her by the elbow, prevented her from falling out of her chair.

She breathed heavily as if exhausted, head resting on her arms. He looked at her, stunned. What she just did was impossible. She possessed no force effectors, no hybrid DNA. “You- you shouldn't be able to do that. How did you do that?”

Daphne looked up. Her grin reflected the barely repressed insanity he had witnessed in the core. “I needed a lo-long time to fi-fi-figure this out,” she hacked, voice quavering with electronic static. For a moment he could see the substrate waver, feel the seething inhuman intellect underneath. Her eyes glittered in the soft light. And then she was Daphne again. She looked unbelievably old. It wasn't like she suddenly grew winkles or grey hair. But there was a tiredness in her eyes that belied her brand new body. “Wasn't sure it'd work.”

He decided to state the obvious. “It did.”

She smiled a little. “Maybe a few centuries alone was just what I needed, Sid.”

The villa's bewildering array of sensors rapidly cycled spectra, caught the rapidly fading aura of psionic pressure. He was still wrapping his mind around the impossible thing that she'd done. AI couldn't generate psychokinetic force. Could they? No CompInt had ever manifested psionic abilities. According to some Zorian scientists technology inhibited the expression of metafaculties. But that wasn't fully true--CEID sometimes enhanced its psions. But she wasn't enhanced. There was nothing organic about her mind. He shook his head. “I don't understand.”

There was a gleam in her eye. “I want what everybody wants, Sid. I want what you want- what you have. To live. To understand.” To ascend. She shivered and pulled the kimono tighter. “And maybe, right now, a bath.”

His train of thought was brusquely sidetracked by the thought of Daphne in a hot bath. He felt a pang of desire he hadn't felt in decades, felt his cheeks flush in a way they hadn't in a long time. He nodded, maybe a little too fast. “That I can facilitate.” Then he snorted and stood up. No, he thought. Definitely not what Frankenstein felt.
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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Beowulf » 2011-09-20 11:51am

Forbidden Palace
New Hong Kong
Bao'an System
Guangdong Sector
Tianguo


What the hell? Katya Perry read the note from the Byzantines. Why the hell would they be asking for safe passage from us? How the hell would we provide it? She sighed, and reached into the pre-planned negotiation terms for the RW region. Nope, that one doesn't make sense... Or that one... Ah, this should work.

From: Katya Perry, Wairen Bureau
To: The Byzantine Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The price we require is help in the destruction of a significant portion of the fleet of the soulless abominations known as the Emissaries of Xylyx.

//SIGNED//
Katya Perry


Now, why the hell are the running, and from what?

--

Later

"They did what?!" exclaimed half the dignitaries at the meeting

"Dropped space colonies in orbit around Earth-4 into the shields, then having lowered them, proceeded to conduct an indiscriminate bombardment, including the use of liquid-rubiconium warheads, prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention on Protection of Civilian Persons, and Fifth Geneva Convention on Radiological, Chemical, and Self-Replicating Agents." Zhou Man stated.

"Those fools! Did they not realize the power of violent death? They must have killed over a billion people! The power that unleashed, properly harnessed... My gods! Earth-4 was a trap! She wanted them to do it!" Zhang Jiao said.

"So, what do we do?" asked Gwen.

"Invade them and depose the Emperor and Empress!" Kien looked at the aghast faces looking at him. "I'm joking. We couldn't manage that without help. That's step 5, after gathering another coalition."

"But the Byzantines, for all their faults, are holding back the Karlacks. We'd need to take them out before dealing with the byzantines, if only to keep them from taking advantage of the Karlack's weakness."

"But the Bragulans are allied with the Karlacks. Knocking out the Karlacks will require fighting Byzon's bears as well, and will likely embroil the entire Rim-Spin Quadrant in fighting."

"Hey, it's not our quadrant. But I see the point. We should at the very least pull our ambassadors back from the two Empires."

"Agreed. We'll start from there."
"preemptive killing of cops might not be such a bad idea from a personal saftey[sic] standpoint..." --Keevan Colton
"There's a word for bias you can't see: Yours." -- William Saletan

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby White Haven » 2011-09-20 04:54pm

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HMS Crimson Vixen
Argosy System
Scylla sector


Commodore Sandiego stared into the tactical plot aboard her division flagship with a strange mix of triumph and consternation. On one hand, her carrier division was part of the Royal Navy First Fleet, the third jaw of a vicious trap that threatened to envelop and defeat the entire Midnight Second Fleet. Even as she watched, the MCN Second was already disengaging from the RKS Third subsequent to the arrival of the RKS Second Fleet. The positions of the first two Royal Navy fleets had been carefully selected to drive the retreating, faster Midnight fleet in a predictable direction. A direction now quite obviously occupied by the fleet of which Sandiego was a part.

Over a week had been spent slowly slinking into place at glacial speeds, dropping sublight to avoid Confederation recon sweeps. Several more days had passed while Third Fleet had attempted to bait the Confederation force into attacking the right place. It was, by any metric, a beautiful trap. It was also the largest single deployment of Royal Navy fleet assets in the nation’s history, all three numbered fleets deployed to the task of decisively defeating one of the Confederation’s. Thus, Commodore Sandiego’s concern.

We can’t un-do this... it’ll change everything.

Her train of thought was interrupted by a simple tactical overlay of possible vector changes and engagement ranges. The fleeing Midnight warships were deep in the red, the area representing guaranteed failure to avoid close-range gun engagement. Her lips pursed, half-hidden under the wide-brimmed crimson hat, and she nodded slightly. “Nothing for it now,” she murmured quietly, then raised her head and spoke in a clear voice, “Full division launch. Instruct strike leads to focus on crippling strikes, slow them down for Second and Third as a priority.”

Quiet acknowledgements filtered through the hushed air of the flag bridge as Sandiego returned her attention to the holographic plot. The lighter, faster ships of the Midnight Second Fleet would be quite literally impossible for the heavier vessels of the Royal Navy Third unless First Fleet could inflict substantial engine damage. Even the Royal Second’s massed gunship strike wings would have a hard time overhauling short of the hyper limit given the geometry of the engagement, given the acceleration of the heavy battlecruisers that made up the Confederation force’s main battle-line.

A quiet chime drew her attention to the flag orders channel. Practiced eyes flicked over the instructions for a quick sanity-check before she nodded and embellished them into proper maneuver orders. “Division, reverse course and go to full military power. Echelon left formation, all units roll ship to clear flight bay approaches from friendly drive ex--” She cut herself off in mid-word as sudden, wild movement in the tactical plot drew her attention. A bare second later, the familiar call of, “Status change on Midnight Second,” served as more punctuation than anything else. The engagement-range cones were busy realigning themselves as the Confederation ships abruptly surged forth at frankly ridiculous thrust. Even as she watched, the rapidly-shifting vector of the retreating fleet’s travel clawed its way out of the red zone, then all the way past the yellow that indicated long-range gun engagement.

Finally, the sudden burst of acceleration ended, but far too late for the comparatively-slow warships of the Royal Navy First Fleet to do anything about it. The glowing chevrons of Sandiego’s gunship strike could still easily reach the retreating force, of course...but, “Abort strike, all wings return to base.” Sandiego snapped the order quickly, before any hotheaded gunship aces could take it into their heads to ‘accidentally’ misplace today’s communication frequencies. The flag orders channel chimed again, drawing the commodore’s attention down to it with a quiet chuckle.

RECALL STRIKE. BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME. -ATLAS.

Still shaking her head, she focused on the battlecruisers at the heart of the Midnight fleet, murmuring quietly under her breath, “Well played...”
______________

MCNS Veronica
Hyperspace, in transit to Nova Luna


“Three fleets, Zeke. All three of them! If I hadn’t saved the Sprints for a rainy day, I’d be fighting the entire goddamned Royal Navy right now, and I don’t need to tell you how that’d be going. Oh, I’d have managed to fight some to the hyper limit and normally there’s not a whole lot of interdiction going on, but normally the Scarlets don’t have three full numbered fleets deployed in a single theatre, so who knows if that even means anything anymore!” Admiral Arnold T. Pants finally ran out of breath, if not things to say, as he stood facing a life-sized hologram of another officer in an identical uniform.

The other figure smiled slightly, his head tilting aside, and spoke up in a tone as perfectly-clear as if he’d actually been in the spacious stateroom, rather than more than a hundred light-years away. “If you’re quite finished, Arnold. I’ve already gotten things in motion. You’re to bring Second here, Admiral Trace is recalling Third from dispersed duty here, and we’re going to make a point of what a bad idea this level of escalation is.”

Arnold began to pace up and down in front of the hologram, worry etching lines in his face as he replied, “Are you sure that’s wise, Ezekiel? Our EW will be badly overstrained compared to normal operations with the Nepheles down. We’re going to be a lot easier to score on.”

The hologram matched the flesh-and-blood figure’s grimace of distaste at that reminder, nodding slightly, “True enough, but we can’t just let the Kingdom roll over us. At the least, we’ll have to play for time, turn Esmerelda loose behind them with a license to pillage, remind them why we don’t deploy on that scale.”

With a thoughtful nod, Arnold finally stopped pacing and turned to face the hologram before speaking again, “Sounds like the beginnings of a plan anyway. I’m sure Trace will approve. I’ll be there in a day or so; by then we should have recon reports of just what the Royals are up to. We’ll talk more then.”

The hologram nodded curtly, said “Yureh, clear,” and vanished.

Alone in his quarters, Admiral Arnold T. Pants looked around him, then stared at the virtual window set into one of the bulkheads with a low sigh.

“I need to get planetside, then I need a drink.”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Ryan Thunder » 2011-09-21 02:46am

Lancer 004
Deep Space

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"Contacts!" the operator called from the sensors station. The craft commander was already aware of the incident, the information filtering through his thoughts as it updated. Myriad systems existed as extensions of his own mind, albeit simplified so as not to overwhelm him.

"Engage low emissions," he ordered, more out of tradition than need, as the orders were released with a thought, like one would form a sign with one’s hands, or mouth a word.

"False alarm, sir," the operator called out for what must have been the fiftieth time, "Its a decoy."

If his station had allowed such a gesture, he would have palmed his face. He groaned. "Inform the Force Commander via tightbeam."

~

Avenger Seven, Designated Expeditionary Command Craft
"Another fucking decoy," Kay made a dismissive gesture, sending the holographic and unspeakably baroque form of the Byzantine-made device sailing to the side. "I’m sick of this shit," she muttered.

"Ma’am, I think there's a pattern here," her XO added.

"Well, yeah," she replied, "But I haven't picked up on it yet. What do you see?" she ceded control of the holoprojector to him. It flickered before displaying a simplified map of the region. He peppered it with little orange dots. At first they appeared to be randomly distributed but then he connected some of them with lines.

Kay looked at it blankly for a moment before commenting, "Well, shit. I wouldn't have caught that. So, either the Chammarrans aren't telling us everything, or these guys over here are getting lost."

"Heading off the 'lost' fleet would be kinda bad if the Chammarrans don't want us to interfere."

"Well, fuck them for trying to sneak off like that, but I'm not about to start shooting at a third goddamn faction," she responded, "So, let’s speed ahead and drop some decoys of our own. See if we can draw some of the other fuckers in that way. We’ll lay a line of them across this volume here..." She took control of the projector again, and a light show of holograms danced before her as she drew out the plan. It was hardly ideal, but anything was better than burning all this fuel for nothing at all.
Last edited by Ryan Thunder on 2011-09-21 02:48pm, edited 1 time in total.
SDN Worlds 5: Sanctum

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-21 07:16am

Previously on SDNW4 wrote:It glowed with an impossible radiance. Made out of smooth metal that melted into organic forms, writhing details inscribed on its bulbous asymmetrical surface that at once resembled both bone and glass. It was a large object, far greater in size than the church itself. The light didn’t radiate from any single point of its form, instead its entire body seemed to glow like a zero-point aurora pulsing in strange indescribable spectrums far surpassing the visual range. It was accompanied by an electric thrum that vibrated the reflective marble-glass beneath their feet.

Klick-Klack’s mandibles gaped open. The light was reflecting off his compound eyes, which were wide in wonder. If an ant could’ve had a facial expression, this was it. The Formic beheld the wonder entirely, as his eyes perceived past the ultraviolent wavelength and saw things normal beings couldn’t see, or were not supposed to see. His antennae swayed hypnotically as he neared it slowly, hesitantly. The object loomed above him like a mountain overshadowing an insect. He extended a chitinous limb and touched the megalith with a spiny finger...

And then everything went dark.


Incidental Findings

+++ IBGV EXOVIGILANCE DOSSIER +++

+++ FOR INHUMAN EYES ONLY +++

+++ OMINOUS CLEARANCE LEVEL: VERDIGRIS ENIGMA +++

+++ SUBJECT: RECENT FINDINGS ON XENA, THE EVENTS AT SOL, AND THE ANOMALY +++


Approximately 17 hours into E-Day (Earth Day), a mixed group of OMINOUS soldiers happened upon a disturbance in the Red Zone, described as an unnaturally bright light that at first was thought to be an atomic initiation but was quickly determined to be of a non-nuclear origin. The strange iridescence emanated from within a Multiversal religious facility known as the ‘Church of Sasha and the Future Day Saints’. After radioing their situation, the motley group of OMINOUS troops proceeded to investigate the facility, where they discovered a network of tunnels leading to multiple subterranean sub-levels, the last of which contained the source of the blinding light they had encountered.

[FILE 1, a photopolaroid taken by Gunner Pholyr Bearenstain of the object tentatively classified as the ‘Onyx Key’.]

The ‘Onyx Key’ has been analyzed jointly by the technologists of the IBGV, House Kithandra Science Guild, and the Refuge’s Defense Against Divine Activities division, and is currently awaiting further examination by other OMINOUS research groups. The preliminary findings are as follows:

- The structure is composed of heretofore unknown materials of extreme sophistication, and has apparently been damaged beyond operational capability sometime prior to its discovery. It has remained completely inert ever since the incident. All attempts at reactivating it have thus far failed.

- Its inner workings and mechanisms are entirely unknown, mostly due to the aforementioned damages. Internal components appear to have undergone liquefaction before re-solidifying, indicating that the damage was of thermal nature, involving extremely high temperatures.

- Structural analysis of the Onyx Key shows that the object was part of a much larger device. The artifact is projected to be one tenths of its former size. All attempts at locating other objects of similar composition have thus far yielded no results.

- It matches no known Multiversal technological design configuration. IBGV technologists and Refugee antitheologians both concur that it may potentially be of non-human xenoarcheological origin. This correlates to the confirmed existence of a precursor civilization prior to the human colonization of Xena, a predecessor society that has - according to Multiversal historical records - been thoroughly wiped out during the human colonization of the sector.

- OMINOUS analysis has yet yielded the true purpose and function of the Onyx Key. However, the reported time of its illumination exactly coincided with the Incident at Earth-4. This correlation cannot be ignored or subscribed to coincidence, as the effects of the Sol anomaly were interstellar in range and magnitude and the precise timing of both incidents strongly suggests some kind of relation.

- While the mechanisms of action, and thus the function, of the Onyx Key have yet to be determined through scientific analysis, an alternate (and as of yet unconfirmed) hypothesis has been discovered by the very same soldiers who found the artifact...


Soft Hills Suburbanate
OMINOUS Red Zone
Xena
During Downfall


“You sure about this, Nessa?” Keeya asked hesitantly. She looked at her partner and saw that her face was still pale with shock from the events at the Church. She wondered if Nessa needed something for that, but one look at her own reflection in the tri-grav’s rearview mirror showed that she herself hardly looked any better.

“I’m sure.” Nessa replied gravely, holding her tail close to herself. The hairs on the back of her neck were still standing from after what happened. She squeezed the grip of her beamrifle and felt the reassuring weight of the weapon in her hands. “We need to know what the heck that thing is.”

“Alright.” Keeya nodded. “Let’s do this.”

Lighting flashed in the sky, followed by the deep rumble of thunder. Rain fell on Xena, dousing the flames of the still-smoldering buildings of its megacities and drenching the gardens of the Peace Park, strangely intact and unmarred despite the ongoing violence raging throughout the world. The Chamarrans braved the downpour and were soaked by heavy raindrops as they exited their tri-grav and quickly made their way towards the habitat. In the heavy rain, they failed to notice a Willys jeep parked nearby.

They arrived at the entrance to the human domicile. The door was composed of synthetic wood, it was open enough to allow just a tiny crack of light through. The handle was broken and hanging loosely off it.

“What happened here?” Nessa asked as she unconsciously raised her weapon.

“I don’t like this - ” Keeya was interrupted by a scream from within the house. Immediately, both Chamarrans sprung into action. “I don’t like this at all!”

Nessa opened the door slowly and both of them stalked inside, weapons raised and ready, swinging to simultaneously cover each other and clear all conceivable angles. They went to the living room and found upturned furniture, broken glass and hints of blood.

“Clear,” Nessa sub-vocalized. Despite the earlier ordeal, the rush of adrenalin had kickstarted her system and now she was fully alert. Her ears were trying to pick out any discernible sound... she could hear sobbing and muffled voices nearby. “Over there.”

They headed for what seemed like the house’s dining room. They went carefully, quietly, making sure they would not be undetected until the last moment. They went in and found the source of the screams, and something much, much worse.

At the center of the room was an overturned table, the floor was littered with spilled foods and broken plates, along with decommissioned robots with still-smoking holes marring their chassis. At the corner of the room was a family of rotund humans, huddled together in fear for their lives, the mother and children were crying, the father was in front of them, desperately trying to protect them with his own body. His face was covered in blood. Before him was a Lapine soldier brandishing a rifle, and a power armored watching detachedly.

“What is this?” Keeya hissed at the sight before her.

At once, all eyes, human, Lapine and Tauren were on her. The Lapine spoke. “This is none of your business, Chamarran. Get out of this house. You didn’t see anything.”

The voice was familiar. She recognized him as one of their patrons from the supply sale. Keeya looked at the Lapine soldier, the huddling humans, the spilled food, and the bag of blaster pistols in the Tauren’s hooves. Her face turned into a dark scowl. “This isn’t how we do things, Rats.”

“After what they did to us, they’re gonna get what they have coming!” the Lapine snapped back. “Now get the fuck out of here, you glorified medical maid!”

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do this, both of you.” Keeya said very slowly and deliberately. She walked towards the Lapine, unafraid of the weapon he brandished.

“Doc, what are you doing?” Nessa asked tersely. Her rifle was raised and her finger was on the trigger, just waiting to give a little squeeze. She was ready for violence.

“Didn’t you hear what I said?!” the Lapine shouted. “They have this coming! They deserve this!”

“Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” Keeya glared at the Lapine.

“Fuck off, you cat-bitch!” he shouted back at her, advancing at the Chamarran and training his Armalyte at her shakily.

Keeya paused and took one step back. She regarded him and the weapon he bore with her cool feline eyes.

“That’s a good cat,” Rats nodded and took another step forward.

“Yes,” Keeya smiled frigidly and dropped her rifle to the ground. The Lapine glanced down at the discarded weapon, and that momentary distraction was all she needed. The Chamarran moved with cat-like agility, becoming a blur as she swatted his weapon away with one hand while punching him right in the face with the other. Keeya’s armored fist shattered the Lapine’s oversized teeth and sent him down to the floor, sprawling and spitting out broken bicuspids.

The power armored Tauren was about to draw his gauss rifle but stopped when he heard an electric hum from behind him. Nessa had slinked up behind him and was now pointing her B-11 beamrifle at the back of his head.

“This beamrifle will punch a hole right through your tin armor, Bessie,” she warned the Tauren. “Stand down, Marine.”

The Tauren dropped his rifle and placed his hooves on his horns. Nessa slowly circled around him to get in front of him, while maintaining some distance so he couldn’t grab her weapon, and then she kicked the discarded gauss rifle away. It slid on the floor towards Keeya, who kicked it away in another direction.

“Nice going, doc.” Nessa said without looking at her partner. Her attention was focused entirely on her large power-armored captive.

Keeya glared down disdainfully at the manually redentitioned Lapine. “Don’t ever call me cat-bitch again. Now, you get the fuck out of here.”

The Farthingers left without saying anything else. The telltale grumble of the diesel engine of their Willys jeep grew fainter as they drove further away. Nessa watched them leave from behind the window, her beamrifle pointed in their general direction just in case they tried anything. Meanwhile, Keeya was tending to the humans. Everyone else was unharmed save for the father, he suffered from a broken arm and a superficial cut to the forehead. With her visor’s x-ray functions, Keeya was able to see the bone fracture and was able to set it right before applying a liquid smartcast around his injured limb. Afterwards, she cleaned up his bloodied face and applied a simple gauze and bandage. Lastly, she gave an analgesic to ease his pain.

“Thank you...” the human uttered as his family gathered around him. They were now off the floor and back on their hoverchairs, while the two Chamarrans were seated comfortably on a spare hoverchair, wide enough to comfortably accommodate the standard MEHman’s girth and thus wide enough to seat them both with plenty of room to spare.

“Name’s Keeya,” the Chamarran medical maid replied.

“And Nessa,” the pack warrior added.

“I’m Stewart, this is my family,” the father introduced the rest of his family to them. “If it hadn’t been for the both of you, I don’t know what would’ve happened. I don’t even want to think about it,” he paused and took a deep breath. “Thank you, for saving me and my family. I guess you aliens aren’t all bad. Well, some of you, at least.”

“Heh,” Nessa tailflicked. “We happened to be in the neighborhood because we saw strange lights coming from that place, the Church of Sasha. We went inside, as in deep underground, and found something.”

“The Onyx Key,” Stewart nodded.

“What is this... Onyx Key?” Keeya asked, ears perked in curiosity. Now they had a name to call that thing. “And how do you know of it?”

“I am a cleric of the Church of Sasha and the Future Day Saints. I tend to the temple and the catacombs beneath it. What you saw underneath, in the tunnels, is the only remaining piece of the redemption engines built by the Goddess to save the Multiversal Empire from the doom that came for us back in our home universe,” Stewart’s voice took a reverent tone as he spoke of the artifact.

“The only remaining piece? You mean there was more of them?” Nessa breathed. On one hand, the thought of there being more of those... Onyx Keys was a profoundly disturbing one, as the thing inspired an irrational sense of dislike inside her, a kind of revulsion based on instinctive feline intuition. But the idea of it being the last one left and that, with the proper application of Atomic Kitten artillery fire, there’d be no more left of those things, was an appealing one too. Nessa unconsciously nyah’d at the pleasant thought.

“There were many of these machines placed throughout the four chosen sectors, each one a great construct reaching high into the heavens and deep into the earth, anchors of our worlds for the great exodus. In the process of taking us away from our enemies, the machines were consumed by the fierce energies needed to move whole worlds - entire solar systems - from one reality and into another. All of them were lost, but one. The Onyx Key. The last fragment of the redemption engines. Broken and unusable now, we placed it in the temple of the Goddess to celebrate the miracle of the multiverse that saved us all.” Stewart paused for a moment, before continuing with a low voice. “Even now I am thankful that we have escaped that doomed reality, and though war has come once again, it is still a fate better than that which we escaped. May the Goddess persevere.”

“Yeah...” Nessa nodded and decided against telling him that the OMINOUS had launched the invasion of Sol earlier that day. Briefly, she wondered how the battle was going for the inhumans. It was probably going to be not much different from how they took Xena. The Multiversal Empire was cornered and outnumbered, what could they possibly do? She shrugged. “Why didn’t you build any more of these Onyx Keys and redemption engines? How do they actually work in the first place?”

“Because of... the Goddess...” Stewart seemed to be at a loss of words. He scratched his head. “I... don’t know. I’m not entirely sure. The Goddess... she moves in mysterious ways. And there’s been so little time since our arrival to this reality, and then suddenly all your nations declared war on us... there was no way we could have made more. I don’t think we could have left this universe. We had no escape. Not this time”

For a minute, nobody said anything. What they had just heard was another perspective on the war, a very different one from how they had previously seen things. That the Multiversal Empire had arrived in their galaxy to search for safe refuge, only to be denied that and subsequently destroyed mere months after a harrowing escape from their condemned universe, was something neither Chamarrans had considered or appreciated. They were both soldiers, they never really thought of things from the other side’s point of view, until now.

Keeya finally spoke up after that silent minute.

“So that object there in the catacombs, that Onyx Key, is a piece of the machines that brought you to our universe,” she stated one more time, just to be sure.

“Indeed,” Stewart nodded.

“I see.” Keeya shot a furtive glance at Nessa, who looked back at her knowingly. This was something big, whatever this Onyx Key thing was. They had to report it to command and fast. So she decided to end the conversation, advising Stewart to go get his smart-casted arm and his forehead wound looked at by a medical bot or in a Chamarran field hospital. “Thank you for your story, Stewart, but we have to go now.”

“Be well, Keeya and Nessa.” Stewart waved at them after escorting them out on his hoverchair. He watched them board their tri-grav and fly off into the air. After returning to his wife and children, he prayed to the Goddess and thanked her for the blessings she had bestowed them. He prayed for the safety of the two alien soldiers who had saved his life and that of his famly, and hoped that this galaxy would never end as their old, dead universe did. He would never wish that fate on even the Multiversal Empire’s worst enemies. He hoped that the Goddess was out there, listening to his prayers.
Last edited by Shroom Man 777 on 2011-09-21 11:36am, edited 1 time in total.
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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
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-21 07:17am

...interrogation of key Multiversal scientific personnel has revealed information regarding the process by which the Empire made its interdimensional translocation. Namely, that a crucial factor in the enablement of interversal transit was the systemic deterioration of space-time constants secondary to the increased entropic state of the Multiversal Empire’s origin-realm. The integrity of these constants was a barrier to the esoteric processes of the Empire’s exit, and only when these constants were sufficiently destabilized by the entropic cascade could their devices function as designed.

The Refuge’s Theological Defense specialists confirm the... ‘technotheological’ viability of this mode of reality-escape and have classified it as a ‘high-end divine methodology’ that is extremely unsafe, for reasons we can all clearly see. Due to the Refuge’s expertise owing to their own trans-dimensional origins, OMINOUS scienticians have deferred to their vast experience in these ‘theological’ matters.

All this ties in with the Sol Incident and the formation of the anomaly that has, for the lack of a better term, replaced the whole star system. It has been speculated that the process used in the... transformation of Earth-4 was similar to the method used in the Multiversal Empire’s escape, except instead of stellar-scale interversal transplantation, they induced a planetary-scale reality fracture to bring about what has been termed as a localized exodimensional prolapse.

The anomaly initiated on Earth-4 before spreading out to consume the entire solar system at an extremely rapid rate, before drastically decelerating upon reaching its current mass. The current state of the Multiversal worlds within the anomaly is unknown, though all the sixty billion sentients in them are presumed to be dead or worse. Chamarran reconnaissance probes have gathered limited but nonetheless important data, such as signs of extreme gravitic tidal shifts within the anomaly, amongst other things. One probe also inadvertently brought back an entity heretofore unknown to OMINOUS xenobiological archives. The organism was extremely hostile, highly resistant to damage, and composed of exotic matter according to the hyperspectral sensors of the Chamarran vessel it had boarded. It was only destroyed by the intense energies from the ship’s reactor core. While its nature and origins remain a mystery, Refugee theozoologists have stated that the organism may not be unlike the entities they have encountered in their own origin-reality.

[FILE 2, recordings from the HSF Pouncing at Shadows and the encounter with the hostile organism]

Whether the intention of the Multiversal Empire was to deliberately create an entropic vortex that apparently engulfed their entire capital system, or if it was a result of a failed attempt at another interversal transplantation, is still unclear. OMINOUS vessels within the area at the time of the incident reported intense levels of psionic energy emanating from Earth-4 immediately before the formation of anomaly. As the vessels made their exit they were attacked by colossal coruscating ectoplasmic discharges flowing out of the anomaly’s epicenter. Despite the exodimensional nature of the ectoplasmic constructs, warship-grade weapons fire was able to repulse and destroy some of them as evidenced by both inhuman and human fleet actions - including that of the unidentified flotilla sighted in Earth-4 orbit.

[FILE 3, sensor sightings of the the unidentified flotilla shortly before their disappearance over Earth-4]

So far, OMINOUS scientific consensus has agreed that to conclude that the anomaly was solely parapsychic in nature would be premature. The mere presence of never before seen levels of psionic waveforms before, during and after the anomaly initiation does not automatically translate to causation. Psionics can induce micro-scale constants-alteration, but the reality fracture at Sol was simply of an unprecedented macro-scale. Moreover, other constants-manipulation techniques have been documented to create pseudopsionic effects as well.

No conclusion can be reached as of yet without intensive research and investigation. The key to the puzzle is Earth-4 itself, and while the planet may not even be there anymore, those who were on Earth immediately prior to its downfall would have undoubtedly seen things crucial to determining what exactly happened and, perhaps, even why.

[FILE 4, a picture of the Sol Anomaly taken from HSF Pouncing at Shadows by Executive Officer Sharren Shay]


OMINOUS Red Zone
Formerly the Monument Peace Park
Xena
After Downfall


News of Earth had spread fast. Agitprop said that it was an act of the humans, a Byzantine superweapon unlike any other, and that together with the treacherous Centralists the vile human coalition would soon descend on the Xena system to do the same atrocity they did to Sol - for if they could do this unspeakable evil to members of their own species, then how much more to those who weren’t even human? The Centralists were already mobilizing their forces, intelligence said, and BRAGCON had been raised in turn. Already the engineering corps were nuking new craters to turn into lakes to turn into artillery parks, and everything else was equally hectic for all Bragulans. Save for one.

Choldytz sat alone at the Peace Park and enjoyed the break time given to him thanks to getting debriefed by the IBGV after he visited church. Apparently, they weren’t going to send him to the frontlines to die while he still had information they might need. Information about that thing... whatever it was. The Onyx Key.

He yawned lazily, not caring particularly about the details and just glad that he had some free time to do whatever he wanted. The bench he was on, rated for Multiversal humans, carried his weight well, and on the synth-wood table was a basket, actually an armored ammunition box laden with edibles. He pulled out a jar of honey and a bag of berries, opened both and began dipping the tiny fruits into the sweet amber liquid. He was about to savor the delicious combination when he realized that he wasn’t alone.

“Huh, who’s there?” he turned around and saw a familiar figure approaching him. He smiled at the pleasant sight and waved. “Hi, Kee.”

“Chol,” the Chamarran acknowledged as she neared him. “We need to talk.”

Choldytz furrowed his brow, wondering what she wanted. Her tone was serious, unusually so, and that made him worry. Maybe they had mistakenly given the Chamarrans a box of training grenades instead of live ones, and now Keeya was going to ask for a refund? That would be hard, seeing as all the C-rations had already been eaten. Those sardines were sure tasty.

“About what?” he ventured.

She paused for a while, as if hesitating or choosing her words. “After we found that thing under the church, Nessa and I went to ask one of the locals if they knew what it was. We went into a house, and we saw Rats there. He was going to kill the humans, Chol, unarmed civilians and children. I saw a Tauren there too, I forgot his name, but I remember what he was carrying.”

“What was he carrying?” Choldytz didn’t like the sound of it. The last time he saw Rats was...

“A bag full of blasters, Chol. Your blasters. The ones you tried to sell to us. They were going to plant them after they killed the family.” Keeya stated, her face an emotionless mask, the normally vibrant Chamarran body language gone.

“I...” Choldytz began, but was interrupted.

“We’ve all heard the stories, Chol. Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of them. Don’t tell me you never knew.” Keeya pointed an accusing finger at him. He could see her eyes now, they were the eyes of someone so outraged, so angered of what they had seen.

“I suspected.” Choldytz nodded.

“Then why did you give them the blasters?!” the Chamarran snapped. “Why?! All those reports of those insurgents the Lapines found - ”

“I didn’t know it was them, alright? How could I have known that it was Rats? All I wanted was some food!” Choldytz shot back at the Chamarran as he rose off his chair like a furry mountain. “After what these humans did to them, they have every right - ”

“No, they don’t. It doesn’t make it right, Chol. These humans weren't at Farthing, they weren't responsible.” Keeya said lowly, glaring back at him poisonously. “I can’t believe you. Maybe all those things the humans say about you Bragulans were true.”

“Maybe it is.” Choldytz growled. “But what’s also true is that I never wanted to be in here, in the ass end of space, fighting these shits who we shouldn’t even care about at all. The only reason why I’m here, why my comrades are here, and why they’re all dead is because your Hierarchy asked Bragule to help take care of its problems!”

Keeya glowered at him but stayed silent.

“I didn’t have a choice, not like you. You’re a volunteer soldier. I’m a conscript. They tell us to go fight and die, we go fight and die. No questions asked. Anyone who wants out gets a bullet to the back of the head from the fucking commissar, and that’s it. I never wanted any of this, I never chose this. I just want to be back home.” Choldytz sank back onto the bench. The synthwood creaked under his weight. He placed his head in his paws. “I’m sorry.”

Keeya’s shoulders sagged, her ears lowered, and her tail swayed.

“I’m sorry too, Chol. I shouldn’t have said those things,” she approached him.

“They were true things,” the Bragulan replied.

Keeya shook her head. “They were terrible things.”

“War’s a terrible thing.” Choldytz looked up at her with sad, tired eyes. The Bragulan looked old, as if years had passed by since the first time they’d met back in the exercises months ago. His coat was greyed and there were patches of exposed skin, marked with scar tissue that didn’t have any fur. Battle scars from shrapnel wounds, from cuts and gashes and blaster burns. Keeya was a medic, she could imagine what they entailed.

"It is," she knew what he meant. In the last week, she had seen many of her own sisters and packmates die in the fighting. It was a harrowing experience that her training as a warrior and as a medic hadn’t prepared her for.

“I tried asking Rats what he planned to do with them,” the blasters, Choldytz meant. “He didn’t tell me anything. It didn’t seem important, not after everything that happened. But now...”

Keeya sat herself beside him, on the bench, but the synthwood protested a little bit too loudly, so she sat on the table in front of him instead. She placed a comforting hand on his arm.

“Friends?” he then asked meekly, his eyes looking down, away from her.

“Friends,” she smiled softly.

For a moment, neither of them said anything. They just sat there, watching the spectacular sunset from the Peace Park. The sky was splayed with orange and gold, the dying sunlight was refracting from particles in the air, ash from Xena’s burning megacities. It was as though the sky itself was on fire. The day ended and twilight came, laden with foreboding.

“What happened to the object we found, that thing in the church?” Choldytz wondered.

“They dug it out of the building. The OMINOUS tech guys took it away.” Keeya shrugged. “I guess both our nations finally got what they wanted out of the MEH, right?”

“Yeah.” Choldytz replied. “Sometimes I wonder why we’re even here in the first place.”

“Because the place is nice,” Keeya answered, gesturing to the green expanse all around them.

“Huh? What place?” Chol scratched his head.

“This place. It’s called Peace Park. And it’s the only place we’ve been to on this planet that, you know, doesn’t look like it’s in the middle of a war. Even when it actually is.” Keeya explained. “It’s nice.”

“Da, it is.” Choldytz smiled at that pleasant thought.
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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
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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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-22 03:34am

With Shinn

Chocobo Hot and Cold

Coyote
Wolf 359
After Downfall


The aftermath of the Orkish invasion in Wolf 359 saw the subsequent infestation of a number of their worlds. Ork spores sifted into the crevices of the worlds’ great arcologies, germinating and cultivating a breed of extremely persistent greenskins, feral yet no less deadly than their spaceborne kin. The devastation of the invasion, the malingering orkoid presence, these were all enough to cause an exodus of Multiversal citizens in the affected areas, fleeing for their safety to the other unmolested regions in the Empire. In the places they vacated, still ravaged by the alien holdouts, quarantine zones were established and the Marines were dispatched to terminate them with extreme prejudice. But as the war waged on, some of the technologists of the Empire, like the infamous Doctor of Androids, proposed a more radical solution to the Ork problem that was implemented in select locations.

Image

The autonomous fabricators left behind in the quarantine zones. Their Singular Intellects were reprogrammed to mass produce simple yet lethal mechanical killforms to take care of the feral Orks. The machines would manufacture these things in great numbers, using the abandoned cities as raw material for their robotic forges. The greenskins were soon beset by innumerable automated killing machines, mechanical spiders and attack tigers that could easily be killed with choppa and bolter, but nonetheless were unrelenting in their onslaught.

Yet even before the last Ork could fall to their razor-claws, a new enemy had invaded the Multiversal Empire. And so the distributed Metahivemind directed their attention, and that of the endless mechanical hordes under their control, to ending this new menace.

***

A Klavostani mercenary unit that had been hired for their expediency and experience in killing greenskins was now on the verge of being overwhelmed by the skittering chromed masses of the Multiversal killforms. Yes, they had been trained to fight massed Ork attacks, but even the greenskins could be whittled down by minefields and ranged fire - whereas these replicating monstrosities were of truly obscene numbers, and simply swept over their area-defenses like water. They sustained losses, yes, but were somehow able to regenerate them through the act of consuming raw materials. And while they did not have ranged weaponry of their own, they were nonetheless deadly, not in the way an infantry formation or an advancing army was, but in the way of a rushing tidal wave that could wipe away entire towns. No matter how much firepower the mercenaries poured into the machines, they weren’t stopping.

Reinforcements were called in. But the Centralites, who most of the coalition had relied on to be the rock of the ground offensive with their billions-strong army giving them the ability to project force throughout the region, could no longer be depended on due to their recent actions. This drastic change in the operations tempo forced other coalition members to compensate for the sudden deprivation of Centralite support, but none of them had the obscenely numerous forces the fascist clone army provided, none of them could saturate the entire area with support elements. The rest of the coalition was still struggling to fill the gap the Centralites had left.

Reinforcements might take a while.

The minefields were getting depleted. A few more kilometers and the steel horde would be upon them. Beam-turrets, mounted on large minaret-like towers that were in turn built on elevated regions like hills and slopes, continued to fire at the edge of the horizon to scythe down the leading elements of the killform swarm.

In their entrenchments, the mercenaries readied for the inevitable. Some brought with them standard Sultanate-issue beamrifles, others had slugthrowing autoguns and machine-rifles that the Klavostani Ork Hunters had wielded expertly against the greenskins, whose brute psychology respected both the impact of solid slugs and the roar of gunfire. Now these would be put against the machine swarms those very same Orks had fought against days ago.

Image

The mercenaries’ scarred commander, Raza, simply glowered in the dark recesses of their field headquarters. He watched the unstoppable horde of enemy machines coming forth at them with morbid fascination.

“The MEH has created the ultimate weapon: a masterpiece of death.” he uttered. They were elegant things, manufactured in vast asymmetrical factories fed with the remains of the Multiversal Empire’s dead cities to create an avenging army to spite their invaders. “A man with a dozen of these, could rule all of Velaria.”

His fellow mercenaries didn’t share his enthusiasm regarding the endless wave of steel killers descending upon them.

“Here they come!” an Ork Hunter shouted. Cannons roared from afar, the machines were nearly through the minefield and aside from being exploderized by the buried warheads, they were being shattered by bullets and slugs. Yet even then, those that survived merely feasted on the remains of their terminated brethren before replicating them once more. In a way, it was eerily reminiscent of the nanotechnological weapons employed by some of the more ruthless nations, but scaled up into the form of mechanical spiders that could rip a man into pieces.

But that had some advantages as well, for while one may not be able to see a molecular machine, the Klavostani mercenary Ork Hunters could certainly see the killforms before them - and in seeing, they could thus point their weapons at the things and shoot them up full of holes.

The deluge began.

***

The Klavostanis were not alone. At the edge of the battlefield, hidden from both sides and lurking in the distance, was a group of soldiers from the Shinra’s Special Enhanced Elements Detachment - an elite commando unit sent to assist coalition forces. While Shinra’s contribution to the ground forces was not quite as... sizable as that of the Centralists, the strength of their space fleet was still considerable, and through this space superiority they sought to shape the events of the ground war from long-distance, in keeping with the latest military doctrines emphasizing aerospace power. Thus the SEED was planted on the ground to guide the fleet’s striking hand.

Image

Lieutenant Seifer Anderson gazed at the distant scenes of war, his ocular implants magnifying the images and overlaying a tactical HUD over the scene. From what he saw, the mercs were holding out, but the question was, for how long? The Ork Hunters had come here looking for greenskins to kill, except none of them knew that there was already something hunting those Orks down as well. Those machines were nasty customers, nanotechnological and self-replicating; they had to be contained before they could spread outside the quarantine zone. If they got out, the damage they could cause with an entire planet’s worth of raw material to process and manufacture into more machines...

“You know, Seifer sounds really cool, but why did your surname have to be so boring? Anderson, Manderson, Ganderson,” said 2nd Lieutenant Zell Dink, Seifer’s... friend. Well, not exactly. Longtime associate, more like it.

“As if Dink’s any better,” Seifer replied. His overeager subordinate was always prone to these tirades when bored. Anyway, Seifer passed on the information he saw to their senior science guy, Dr. Palmer. Ever since they landed on this planet full of kill-happy hypertech, command saw it wise to attach a field scientist to SEED to make sense of half the things they saw. “Doc, what’s your diagnosis?”

“It’s a macroscale nanomorph...” the Doc began with his usual unintelligible techno-jargon. “...operating on a hive-linked group-mind. The way they replicate, each unit is too simple to have its own processor, so all of them are just taking commands from a central mind. We have to find it and kill it if we want to stop these things.”

“Alright, we bomb the crap out of them!” Zell hooted.

“No, we can’t! That’s the last thing we want to do!” the Doctor protested.

“Aw, cram it, you limp-dicked science major!” Zell laughed. “It’s already bad enough that command, and the rest of the coalition, won’t let us nuke these guys from orbit. That’s why we’re down here risking our butts--”

“If you do bomb it conventionally, those drones will be scattered all over the place. It’ll be raining killforms for klicks in every direction, and if even one survives, they’ll be replicating all over again, and we’ll have to deal with even more of those things all over the control zone,” Dr. Palmer stated calmly.

“Jenova damn it!” Zell cursed.

“So, what do we do, Doctor?” Seifer asked, his tone serious. Those Klavostani mercs didn’t have much time left.

“There’s another countermeasure,” Palmer recalled. “Invented back during the great old war, when Shinra took on those Crimson commies, before they became the Commune...”

“I remember! That’s when the MESS drove those CATO losers out. There was no way they could beat us,” Zell reminisced about lessons learned in high school history class. He had learned a lot from them, by virtue of having to repeat them over and over again. “I mean, our continent was on both Earth and Nova Terra, like a mark of destiny on the Twin Cradles of humanity. We were destined to bring freedom to the whole--”

“Shut up,” Palmer said curtly. He didn’t like it when someone was giving bad and horribly simplified history lessons whenever he was giving horribly simplified science lessons to the grunts. He didn’t like giving these horribly simplified science lessons to the grunts, period. He prefered to be back in the university, teaching. So, he adjusted his glasses, which were gleaming menacingly due to the HUD function built into them. “Anyway, we used thermite plasma on the first generation of commie nanoweapons, and until now extreme temperature can be used to deal with nano-infestations. Newer nanomorphs can adapt to one extreme of temperature, but seldom to both, not at the same time. That’ll take care of these drones, and buy us enough time to find the central core and shut it down from the inside.”

“Dual temperature extremes?” Seifer asked.

“Just like Chocobo Hot and Cold,” Zell added helpfully.

“Yes...” the field scientist grimaced. “Like Chocobo Hot and Cold, Zell. You idiot.

“Sweet!” Zell pumped his fists.

“Alright,” Seifer pulled out his tactical comm-link. “Antrozous, Antrozous, this is Foxtrot-Foxtrot-8. Requesting air support to water the garden. Authorize binary strike packages, Firaga and Blizzaga, synchronized casting. I repeat, binary strike packages Firaga and Blizzaga, synchronized casting. Over.”

This is Antrozous, copy that Foxtrot-Foxtrot-8. You’ve got a couple of spells incoming. Danger close.

“Heads down, boys and girls. This ain’t Galbadia Garden anymore,” Seifer sneered as he and his squad made their way for cover. This was going to be one hell of a ride.

***

Image

Shinra aerospace fighters streaked through the stratosphere at hypersonic speeds. Engines that could propel them fast enough to keep up with warships in stellar distances allowed them to blast through the planetary atmosphere like screaming mithril gunblades stabbing through a random low-level enemy beast’s hide. The very air particles protested in their passing, the sonic booms in their wake was like the rumbling of thunder from a coming storm, or a squall.

Antrozous, this is Shiva, you’re coming a bit fast.

I like it when you talk dirty to me, Shiv. You bad little blue girl.

Don’t get too hot there, big boy. You’ll miss your target.

You’re such a frigid ice lady, you know that? You know I always shoot straight.

This is Raza to all points,” the grim voice of the Klavostani mercenary commander interrupted the radio chatter. “I could use some air support. Now would be good.

Oh. Right. Okay, moving to engage... sensors active. Got a lock... that’s a lot of mothers. Launching missiles. Magnum!

The two warheads raced towards the mass of skittering nanomorphs. The Shinra Corporation satellite-guided Firaga warhead airbursted in a scorching detonation of superheated materia, flash-frying the mechanical attack spiders where they stood, or crawled rather. Their metallic bodies glowed white from the heat before melting into pools of liquid metal, their arachnoid forms losing consistency like a candlewax sculpture exposed to an oven. To the Klavostanis down on the ground, the flames were like the eyes of Allah. But it wasn’t over yet.

Before the flames could even subside, and while the incinerated machines were still white hot, the second warhead initiated. Blue light strobed through the area and the air itself seemed to distort as, within a microsecond, temperatures dropped to subzero degrees. Whatever precipitation there was in the atmosphere was instantly crystallized. The fiery eyes of Allah were followed by snow. The machines, even those that had survived the Firaga bombing and remained intact, were frozen solid. A thin layer of permafrost coated their smooth steel.

Antrozous, what was that?

Thermionic gas. Cools to within a few degrees of absolute zero.

Why would you have something like that on board?

I needed to freeze Lake Bresha once. Long story.

The Shinra fighter came in for another run, flying mere hundreds of feet above the battlefield. It engaged its afterburners right before passing by the mass of frozen nanomorphs. It shot over the killforms, and the resulting sonic boom sent down a shockwave that shattered the countless million drones into fine, granular dust. After having been bathed in superheated materia and then subsequently frozen by thermionics, the polyalloy composition of the nanomorphs had rapidly grown brittle, as it was unable to adapt to such rapid changes in temperature extremes. The ensuing molecular decortication likewise saw the disintegration of all the components and substructures composing the killforms, reducing them to inert and completely dead microparticulates.

Cries of ‘Allahu Ackbar’ came from the Klavostani encampment that had been on the verge of being overwhelmed mere seconds ago. The mercenaries emerged from their fortifications to find themselves surrounded in a vast desert of dust, the remains of what had been millions of millions of nanomorphic drones reduced into sand by the will of Allah, and copious application of thermal weaponry.

As the Shinra fighters banked around overhead, the mercenary commander Raza was greeted by his unsung savior.

“Lieutenant Seifer Anderson, sir,” the SEED operator shook the mercenary’s hand. “Sir, we have to find the central mind--”

“Yes,” Raza agreed at once. “A man with a dozen of these...”

“--and destroy it,” Seifer finished.

“Ah, I see...” Raza looked at him blankly, before realizing what had to be done. “Yes, indeed.”

“This is our field scientist, Doctor Palmer. He’ll brief you on the technical stuff about these things...” Seifer went on, introducing the commander to the scientist, who proceeded to elaborate, in a completely incomprehensible fashion, the nature of the threat they faced. They met with Raza’s senior officers and discussed a plan of action to strike into the heart of the nanomorph fabricator and put an end to that dark heart once and for all. After all was decided, the Klavostani mercenaries and SEED operators moved out.

Image

“Alright,” Zell punched the air determinedly. “It’s time to play Chocobo Hot and Cold.”
Image Image Image
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
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
Pink Sugar Heart Attack!

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Shroom Man 777
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-22 01:00pm

Chyornyprudnyi, Bragulan Star Empire

The roar of the fifty-cylinder plutonium-diesel engine was like an artillery cannon on rewind. Deafening, growling, fuming out a slowly rising blanket of releaded smog that could be seen a mile away. Bragsteel pistons pumped up and down like face-stomping boots, interlocking blades spun wildly like braghacks and propelled the armored hulk through the water. Waves didn’t splash against it so much as they were crushed under the vessel’s rusting, barnacle-festooned mass. Its passing made whirlpools in the water, and one would think that the water was dark because of the reflection of the black smog overhead before realizing that the vessel was also leaking out a lingering oil slick.

It was high noon but it was also cold, winter was coming, and so the passengers disrobed their casual freonic attire, wearing only thin swimming garments as they enjoyed the temperature and the sunlight and the open air’s frigid windchill.

Petyr smiled and struck a pose behind the tug boat’s wooden steering wheel. He flexed his arm and showed his muscles. There was a bright flash, a whirring, and then Illyna produced a photopolaroid sheet from her camera and showed it to him.

“Not bad, but I should be wearing my captain’s hat.” Petyr grinned before returning to steering their boat.

At the back of the ship, Ritov slid open a metal panel and exposed the engine’s radiators. He began putting slabs of meat on it, which sizzled on contact. He put on an apron, grabbed a bragsteel spatula and began manipulating the meats on his improvised grill. He sprinkled them with seasonings. “Hey, comrades, how do you like your meats?”

“Medium well, thank you very much!” Illyna replied as she took a photopolaroid of him too. “Petyr likes his well done.”

“Hmmm.... Petyr, rev up the engine a little bit, will you? I need more heat,” Ritov shouted. A few seconds later, the engine roared even louder and the meat began to sizzle even more. “That’s it! Say, Petyr, how did you ever come to afford to rent a boat like this? Did you become a party apparachtik or something? I am curious, I hear they pay well.”

“Nyet, I just volunteer for the marina from time to time. I always liked boating. If you work enough, they let you rent a boat for free.” Petyr answered. “But a lot of apparachtiks do rent boats too. By the way, don’t cook too many meats, we’re here to fish some giant eels. They are also very tasty!”

“Looks like we’re in the fishing spot,” Illyna announced. There was a buoy up ahead with a glowing radium light to mark the designated fishing areas. Petyr slowed the boat down and while Illyna pulled out a bragsteel fishing rod with a long fishing chain on its reel and a meathook on the chain. She got one of Ritov’s uncooked meats and impaled it on the hook and used it as bait. With a swing she casted her lure into the water, and the huge slab of meat and the thick iron hook made a big splash as it went down.

“That was a good cast, Illy.” Petyr walked over to her and place an arm around her shoulders.

“Thanks, Petyr.” Illyna placed her fishing rod on the rails before leaning against Petyr. Despite how the air was pleasantly frigid, she also enjoyed the warmth of his body. “Now we have to wait for the eels to bite.”

“Waiting? Why should we wait? I’m hungry and nobody is appreciating my steaks,” Ritov protested. “If you want to eat eels now, I say we should toss some fishing grenades into the water.”

On the crate was a box of fishing grenades, which Ritov opened. He pulled out a potato smasher for them to see.

“No!” Illyna protested. “I want to do this the old fashioned way, as Imperator Byzon did when he was a huge little cub, in the time before he invented hand grenades.”

“Da. Like the Imperator in his youth, when he sailed with his father who was captain of the patriotic iceberg-sinking atomic paddleship the Great Thug.” Petyr agreed solemnly and placed a hand on his heart as though reciting the Byzonic anthem.

“Nonsense, the Imperator was an ace pilot of the VVS. He was dogfighting in his youth, when he could still fit inside fightercrafts, before he grew up and dogfighted inside cruisers instead.” Ritov shook his head in disagreement.

“Friends, we don’t have to argue!” Petyr raised his paws up to deescalate the debate. “These aren’t mutually exclusive! Maybe the Imperator Byzon sailed with his father on the Great Thug in his youth and also dogfighted and defeated some of the galaxy’s greatest pilots. Is it not possible that the Great Thug was a kind of ship that could be a... carrier... of aerospacecrafts?”

“That’s ridiculous!” Ritov snubbed.

“Hmmm...” IIyna placed her paw on her cheek as she thought. “Maybe the Great Thug paddle steamer could fly?”

The suggestion was so patently absurd that Ritov couldn’t help but snort and chuckle.

“What?” Illyna asked, genuinely perplexed. “If the Great Thug could consign an iceberg to a watery grave by ramming into it, then why not enemy fighters?”

“That... is a very patriotic mental image,” Ritov conceded.

“Da!” Petyr clapped an arm around his shoulder and passed bottles of vodka to everyone. “The matter is settled then? Here, have a drinkski!”

“Well, I will certainly not doubt the Imperator’s talents in both astronautics and nautical-nautics,” Ritov agreed as he took the offered bottle and chugged it. “The Great Thug would’ve been more than a match for any aerospacecraft. It was certainly more aerodynamic than anything in the skies back then, or even now!”

Suddenly, their conversation was interrupted by a bloodcurdling spine-chilling shriek.

“Illyna, what happened?!” Petyr rushed to her side and held her.

“Petyr, the fishing rod! It’s gone! The eels must’ve caught it and pulled it into the water while we were talking about the Imperator!” she cried out in panic. True enough, the fishing rod was gone, and they could see slithering silhouettes disappearing into the depths of the waters.

“I knew this day would come,” Ritov muttered as he went and pulled out a grenade from the crate. He pulled the pin and hurled it into the ocean as he shouted at the eels in most patriotic Byzonic defiance. “How dare they steal from us as we revere the mighty Imperator’s greatness! Foolish fish-shits, fire in the hole!”
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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
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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