SDNW4 Story Thread 2

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby White Haven » 2011-09-22 04:36pm

Earlsburg, Planet Tephiscore
Xenu Sector, Midnight Confederation


Aaron stared at the cheap 2D wallscreen that dominated one entire side of the living room, sitting up and leaning forward on the couch opposite it. A befuddled, confused expression rode across his face, his lips occasionally sounding out unspoken words. Sensor readouts, long-range video footage, and talking-head analysts alternated across the screen, some of the latter doing a better job of hiding matching bafflement than Aaron himself was.

A woman’s voice called out from down the modest apartment’s hallway, at once both sleepy and irritated, “Aaron? Turn that thing off and come to bed...”

Without taking his eyes off the screen, he called back in a raised voice to carry down the hall and through the open doorway back to the bedroom, “In a few minutes, I’m watching something.” The shifting patterns of light radiating from the wall-sized display sent ghostly overlays chasing over his face as he continued to stare at it.

Shortly, the sounds of rustling cloth and footsteps preceded the arrival of a tall, long-legged blonde woman with sleepy eyes in a hastily-belted robe. She stalked out into the living room, took one look at the screen, and glared at the seated figure who was only just starting to look up at her. “Dammit Aaron, you and that show...I swear, you just want in that little ops officer’s pants, or whatever her job is.” Her tirade began to overrun his first, feeble protests, simply plowing on over and through them.

“But--”

“It’s not like you can’t just call it up again tomorrow!”

“Honey, look, it’s not--”

“It’s not what, late? We’ve both got work tomorrow and I’d like to spend some time with my husband once in a while.”

“That’s not--”

“Oh, it’s not what you meant? Then what is it? You know what? I don’t care, I’m going to sleep, try not to wake me up when you’re done with your damned show.”

As she began to storm back to the bedroom, Aaron’s raised voice stopped her with a loud call, “Sarah! It’s not the Sixth Cruiser. I’m watching the news.

She turned with an incredulous look, waving a hand at the screen and snapping back, “Do I look stupid to you? I see those ships of yours, right next to...that...Midnight News...logo. Um.” She dribbled to a halt, staring at the station logo of the Midnight Confederation’s largest and most reputable broadcast news service.

“Aaron?”

“Sarah?”

“Why is your favorite ‘cast show on the news?”

Aaron’s briefly-smug expression was displayed by a grimace and a shrug, “Your guess is as good as mine or, I should add, the news anchors. Because this isn’t the entertainment news segment.”

Those words sent Sarah’s eyes flicking back to the wall screen, sliding past and then snagging to a halt on the words in bold type across the bottom of the feed: BREAKING NEWS - MEH EARTH. “What is going on...?” she whispered, not even realizing she’d said it.

“I honestly have no idea, hon.” Aaron replied quietly, scooting over on the couch to make room for his wife. On the late-night news, the warships of the Sixth Cruiser Squadron opened fire, blazing hammers of white light shattering the void and throwing back waves of tentacles as charred, blackened chunks.
_____________

Variable Sanity Studios
Nova Luna, Midnight Confederation


“WHAT DID YOU DO!”

James Ingham was a writer. He was entirely used to having editors or studio executives shout at him. The volume usually wasn’t quite so loud, but the shouting was nothing new. The splintered frame where a business shoe had kicked in his office door was a bit more out-there, however. He recoiled backwards a bit too violently, overbalancing his office chair and flipping it over backwards with a yelp and a brief flail of assorted limbs.

That somewhat stole Oliver Tate’s thunder, all things considered. The man circled around the side of the heavy, cluttered desk to stand over the fallen chair and the somewhat overweight man sprawled halfway out of it. Expensive grey fabric creased as the looming figure’s arms crossed over his chestrepeating himself in a somewhat quieter tone, “What did you do, James?”

“Look, Mister Tate...” the writer began while scrambling up to his unimpressive height and starting to glare back up at the taller figure, “I don’t have any idea what you’re even talking about, and you just kicked in the door to my office!” His last words were delivered in a rising, somewhat nasal shout of his own, one hand waving vaguely at the wooden door hanging inwards. “Now, why don’t you start making sense, and if what you have to say makes a whole damned LOT of sense, I won’t take a picture of that door and go talk to Mrs. Aldridge about this.”

“Sense? Start making sense? Dammit Ingham, haven’t you turned on the news lately?” Oliver’s response, for all that it was delivered in an angry, excitable tone, was delivered from a few steps away from the indignant editor, at least somewhat cowed by the portly man’s riposte.

“The news? I’m at work, Mister Tate, I’ve been writing the next episode of the Sixth Cruiser and hoping that the wankers over in production can actually manage to avoid losing the footage this time.” James snapped back while squatting and lifting his office chair back upright with a clatter of wheels bouncing against the floor.

“Writing the Sixth, that’s a bloody joke. They’re on the news, Ingham, they’re on the FUCKING NEWS. Your Sixth Cruiser Squadron, the ones you claimed to have made up, are on the news in a fucking warzone TWO THOUSAND LIGHTYEARS AWAY. The boss is gonna want to know where you cribbed them from real quickly so we can make sure nobody’s going to sucker-punch us for royalties. Do you fucking get it? You’re busted! You’re fucking busted, and we might all be fucked because of it, you little shit! James? James, are you listening to me? JAMES!”

James was, in fact, no longer listening to Oliver Tate. He was staring in utter, stark confusion and denial at the Midnight News feed in question, called up on a handheld. His mouth opened and closed silently as he watched the warships of the Sixth Cruiser Squadron trading vicious blows with a nameless horror that he most certainly did not write. If he had, it would have a name. It did have a name, but the reality behind the Multiversal Empire of Happiness and Sasha’s new incarnation had hardly been made clear to interstellar news agencies yet, even if he had been following galactic events.

“This...I don’t understand, this isn’t possible...” he finally managed to squeeze out in a quiet tone, “This has to be a joke.”

“Your’e damned right it’s possible, did you think the real ‘Sixth Cruiser,’ whoever they actually are, wouldn’t show up someday? Shepfire, James, look at the ordnance they’re throwing around, no way people like that are gonna keep a low profile. They fucking outgun the Confederation Navy ton-for-ton by the looks of things.”

“No, you don’t understand, I didn’t steal them, I wrote them, I wrote them and they’re not real! YOU AREN’T REAL!” James ended on a full-throated scream, glaring down at the handheld and then dashing it against the floor. It was a durable little gizmo, of course, and it simply bounced, somewhat ruining the dramatic effect.

“Bullshit, Ingham,” came Oliver’s venemous response accompanied by a sharp shake of his head, “You need to come up with aaaaack!”

The heavyset, flying body of James Ingham cut him off in mid-sentence, bearing him to the floor with a startled yell, followed by a wheezing grunt as his attacker’s greater weight and the impact drove the breath from his lungs.
_____________

NLPD INCIDENT REPORT

Victim (Oliver Tate) was physically assaulted at 15:32 on June 7th, 3401 by an assailant identified as James Ingham. Victim suffered a mild concussion, severe bruising across the head, shoulders, hands, and forearms, several minor lacerations to the cheeks, chin, lips, and gums, and had a foreign object1 forced into his throat. Subsequent to insertion of the foreign object, the assailant fled the scene. Immediate aid by a bystander identified as Jessica Yates2 was able to dislodge the foreign object before suffocation could occur. Alleged assailant was apprehended in a nearby maintenance closet, crouched on the floor and muttering ‘You aren’t real’ repeatedly.

At the victim’s request and supported by Tate's testimony, Yates' testimony, and Ingham’s apparent mental state, James Ingham has been remanded to psychiatric custody. No charges were filed.

1Portable net terminal, identified as Ingham’s
2Oliver Tate’s administrative assistant
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2011-09-23 05:16am

Ryan Thunder wrote: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.

With Shroom

End of the Line (Or Is it?)
Ushijima class assault ship HSS Saya
Deep space immediately below Sectors D-30 and E-30


Even with all the precautions that could conceivably be taken and with all the tricks in the book at their disposal, it was inevitable that the Dual Empire’s pursuers would close in on at least some of them. On the bridge of the HSS Saya, the command ship of this particular sub-fleet, that realization fell upon the staff officers when they saw a group of unidentified contacts appear on their sensors, in front of their path.

“Wobblies,” Field Marshal Kyoko Sakura uttered, as though it was a filthy word. “Goddamn Miratians.”

“That can’t be right,” a sensors officer said as she double-checked her control panel. “You sure about that, Marshal Sakura?”

“Pretty fucking sure of it, Petty Officer,” Kyoko replied. “We know it can’t be the Klavostanis. Their ships are too slow, and we already have a considerable head start over their force. Wobbly ships, on the other hand, are built for speed; if they red-lined their drives as soon as they got out of the gate, they’d actually have a decent shot at catching us.”

“Even then, how’d they manage to get this far ahead of us?” a navigation officer asked.

Kyoko led the officer over to the holotank and brought up a map of the region of space they were in. Multicolored blobs indicated the general locations of the various known polities in the area, such as the Chamarran Hierarchy, the Emissaries of Xylyx, and the former Multiversal Empire of Happiness, while a thin line snaking out from under the MEH and around the Xylyx indicated the general path the Dual Empire’s forces were taking back to the K-Zone. “You see where everything is, right? Now, just below the MEH, draw a diagonal line, cutting through the corridor separating it from the Xylyx,” Kyoko said, manipulating the holotank’s controls and outlining the hypothetical route the IUW force could have taken, which intersected perfectly with theirs, just below Chamarran space. “Sucks for us we had to take the rear of the formation, didn’t we? We should be glad the rest of the fleets weren’t caught.”

“Our course was meant to establish some distance between any pursuers,” the navigation officer said. “But they’re being particularly stubborn and persistent.”

“Quite,” Kyoko replied. “The Wobblies wanted to make the intercept so badly that they were willing to both burn out their hyperdrives and skirt the edge of Xylyx space in order to do so, and I think we all know just how...ornery those bots can be. Gotta give those assholes a few points for effort, at least.”

“What do you think we should do now, Marshal Sakura?” the navigation officer asked.

“Keep sending decoys, we know how much they love those,” Kyoko grinned mischievously, imagining how those impatient Miratians were coping with their decoys. The foul-mouthed cacophony that played out in her mind was music to her ears.

A communications officer interrupted them. “Field Marshal, I’m picking up a priority message from Primarch Aurelian on board the...Chamarran flagship...”

“Chamarrans? That can’t be right,” Kyoko remarked as the grin disappeared from her face. Could the Primarch have been captured by the aliens? Surely he wouldn’t have gone down without a fight first. “Are you sure of this, Petty Officer?”

“Pretty sure of it, Field Marshal,” the communications officer replied. “They’re transmitting in broadwave, and the message is encrypted with a disposable cryptovariable.”

That meant that the message was in a code only readable to Dual Empire decryption machines, and was one-use only to be used in emergency situations like this without compromising Byzantine or Haruhiist protocols to the Chamarrans.

Kyoko nodded. “Patch it through, then. I’d like to hear what our good friend Aurelian has to say.”

The comms officer complied, and in an instant the image of the Primarch materialized before them. The high-resolution hologram looked virtually like the real thing, as though the Byzantine Prince was actually on their bridge.

This is Strategos Aurelian Komnenos. To all Byzantine and Haruhiist forces, the Chamarran Hierarchy has agreed to grant us safe passage through their territories and security from our other pursuers while within Chamarran space. My sub-fleet is proceeding to the designated area as we speak, escorted by the Chamarran 1st Battle Group, and my flagship the Anatolia will transmit the necessary coordinates and protocols. Emperor-willing, all of our brave forces will be able to make the rendezvous and proceed to the safety of Byzantium and the Holy Empire together. Aurelian out.

“You think it’s a...trick?” the navigation officer asked.

“No, it’s not a trick. It’s our lucky break,” Kyoko chuckled. “I know Aurelian. He would sooner die than sell us out to our enemies. Inform the sub-fleet that we’re changing course and heading for Hierarchy space.”

“What about the Wobblies? They might try to catch us before we can make it to Hierarchy space, and they might just be fast enough to intercept us.”

Kyoko grinned at that once more. “If they want to make the intercept, they’ll have to work for it. They’ll have to earn the right to catch us.”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby PeZook » 2011-09-23 07:54am

Xena
Salvation Habitat Complex
Day 19


The gigantic drill grunted and ground its way through the wall, slowly chewing up the arcane materials used by the MEH in their construction. The machine was a marvel of Bragulan engineering, a massive drill shaft powered by absurdly huge electric motors, which were in turn supplied with copious powers by - what else? - a nuclear reactor. Its work shook the very foundation of the plaza.

The machine was operated by engineerskis of the 6234th Combat Engineerski Batallion. The soldiers serving in the 6234th were fresh, until now they have worked in clearing accessways to collapsed MEH bunkers and roads for the Imperator's legions, and so they went into salvation with vigour and zeal and Byzonic fury aimed at the enemies of Bragule.

It was gone now, though. They worked hard in the choking atmosphere of dust, radioactive contaminants, soot and smoke which filled the entirety of the plaza. They worked fast, afraid of sniperbots who lurked high in the shadows, picking off anyone they could get a bead on and relocating to a different position in seconds, only to repeat it all. They worked dilligently, knowing the remnants of the 12th Assault Army were fighting and dying to buy them time and conceal their work.

The terrible machine chewed and ground the wall, creating a tunnel which elite stormtrooper batallions could use to outflank MEH defensive positions on the other side of the plaza. The megatons of habitat suspended over their heads groaned and shook under the strain of battle damage.

Something snapped suddenly, and a part of the wall they were chewing through collapsed. As medics dragged away the wounded, engineerskis shone their x-ray reflectors inside.

The powerful radiation beams penetrated the rubble, revealing a massive structural support beam, buckled and broken due to damage sustained during the drilling operation.

"Comrade colonel", and engineerski reported through his radio, "If we continue drilling we might damage more structural supports, and then I can't vouch for the integrity of this section..."

The colonel in charge of the 6234th frowned and rubbed his snout. He was starting to really hate this job. He glanced at the carnage happening behind him.

"Noted! Clear away the rubble and continue your work!"

"Da!", the engineerski replied dutifully, though not without stealing a glance upwards, at the shaking ceiling.




Sergeant Teklomenos scoffed again, seeing the bears slowly grind forward. Were these really the God Emperor's sworn enemies? The Xeno fiends which tied up His armies and fleets and demanded constant vigilance?

How demeaning. Their incompetence in the face of fat and complacent enemies was so staggering that the brother-sergeant could not watch anymore. He turned away to his command, the finest of the Emperor's finest, the most augmented and manly and ripped warriors in the galaxy. They would show the bears how it was done today.

"BROTHERS!", he bellowed through his vox. The sergeant's silhouette looked inspiring, backlit by endless streams of k-bolts and the carnage of battle, "Together we have fought and bled in a thousand campaigns upon a hundred worlds. We have cleansed xeno and heretic alike, guided by the Emperor's will. We brought His light to the Tau, so long ago, cleansing them with fire and sword and bolter until they were sanctioned and could spout their heresies no more. Today, as so many times before, we stand alone, on an alien world with enemy in front and enemy behind. Lesser men, those whimpering cowards and hypocrites who live in weak-willed space-nations, would surely surrender! They would cry, oh woe is me, for I shall fight surrounded!"

Something exploded behind the sergeant, but he didn't budge. A proton missile initiated above a Bragulan position, blasting deadly heat and radiation and overpressure over the Astartes. They ignored all of it, standing tall on the battlefield.

"Well, I say: yes, we shall fight surrounded! And when we are done, the heretic enemy will look upon us and it will be they who cry, they who pray to their false Goddess for deliverance, for they would have met the fury and skill of the Angels Of Death themselves!"

The sergeant thrust his power axe into the air. His battle-brothers chanted the Emperor's Prayer, and rushed to their vehicles in preparation for their assault.

The sounds of battle rose into a terrifying crescendo. A wave of MEH assault bots was swarming from beneath the collapsed floor, bathing the flank of the advancing stormtroopers is crimson light of their blaster fire, blasting flesh into sizzling chunks, singing fur and tearing through armor as if it was tissue paper.

Suddenly, without a word of warning or the slightest attempt at coordination, the Astartes emerged from the smoke and fire and carnage. Eight Land Speeders howled low above the battlefield, screaming forward on their high powered grav-engines. Their many weapons roared like a hundred demons, almost drowning out the pious chants of their crews.

They punched right through, smashing aside lighter combat bots and immolating the heavier defences with their meltaguns and plasma cannons and chain-linked bolters.

"Forward, brothers! Drive me closer! I want to hit them with my axe!", the sergeant yelled over the terrible symphony of death. The land speeders were such a total surprise to MEH defenders that many of them did not even return fire in the first seconds of the assault, and thus the Astartes blazed through enemy defences with nary a stray blaster bolt finding its mark.

The speeders plunged into an access tunnel.

The sergeant concentrated immensely, his thrice-blessed augmentations easily picking up all obstructions despite the darkness and tremendous speed, "Switch all power to front deflector shields. Accelerate to attack speed!", he growled into his vox.

"The Emperor protects!", his battle-brothers acknowledged.

The small squadron was already far behind enemy lines, deep in the bowels of the habitat and closer to their prize. The bears could not hope to catch up to them here, and the defenders would never have any chance of reacting to his incursion.




The massive machine finally broke through, crashing into a complex of living spaces with suddenly unopposed momentum, crushing abandoned hoverchairs and furniture as if they were cardboard toys. The drill bit rotated freely for a while, no longer constrained by having to chew through exotic construction materials of the MEH arcology.

When the machine withdrew, elite Legions Of Liberation stormtroopers began pouring into the newly opened avenue of attack, rushing through the eerie, empty living quarters with reckless abandon, until they finally came in contact with the enemy's rear echelons, who were busy supporting their comrades fighting on the front lines. They opened fire, blasting the unsuspecting Marines with shotgun and k-bolter and space RPG and everything else they had. The Marines, mostly wounded and bereft of their advanced armor, fought back as well they could, but were quickly being overwhelmed by the mass of Bragulan steel.

A victorious chant slowly rose in the bowels of the arcology.




At first nobody noticed the change. Despite the datalinks and augmentations providing the MEH Marines with total situational awareness, when engaged in combat and tired from three weeks on almost no sleep, it was easy to miss some of the feed.

Lieutenant Gunn was engaged in combat all right, with the bears starting a massive offensive towards the MEH line in the Saint Brevy Recreational Dome, so he missed pretty much all of it until one of his men yelled over the commlink, "What the hell, LT? I'm getting enemy contacts in secured areas!"

Gunn reloaded his weapon and checked the feeds, not without trouble, and got suddenly immersed into a chaotic image coming from the rear echelons, serviced by Marines who were wounded or had their armor damaged beyond repair. There were enemy contacts all over, coming from areas previously thought secure. The enemy was advancing rapidly, too.

"How the hell did they get in there?! There's no other exits from the dome!"

"Are you sure it's not just an instrument malfunction?"

"Try to verify it while....INCOMING!!!"

MEHrines broke their conversation, quick as it may be over battle implants, to dive for cover. And just in time, for a squadron of hovercraft appeared out of nowhere, roaring low above MEH positions and unleashing an absolute torrent of fire from various weapons. They strafed everything they've seen, tearing a masive gash across the landscape. The already weakened floor of the dome groaned under the strain and shifted slightly. Bit and pieces came crumbling around the gigantic hole in the middle, blasted by a Bragulan nuke.

Ray got up and risked a quick glance around. His armor was blaring warning alarms, and almost immediately he was struck by a Space RPG fired by the advancing bears. Hyperband sensors picked up sudden activations of artillery radars all across the bear-alien positions. He noticed Bragulan stromtroopers clearing out two of the foremost MEH bastions with rubiconium flamethrowers. The sudden airstrike left the MEH line sewed in two, and the bears were not wasting any time exploiting the gap.

With the frontal advance and sudden appearance of enemy forces in the rear, Gunn knew his platoon was in danger of being encircled.

"We need to fall back", he reported to his commander, sending his location and ID code across the sidebands. His men opened fire and destroyed a Chornyb IFV attempting to support the Bragulan infantry.

"Permission granted, fall back to phase line Bravo and reform the perimeter there."

"What about that airborne incursion? They must've penetrated our lines...they might be too small for our turbolasers..."

"I know, soldier. We will destroy them in direct combat. Fall back and get your men to phase line Bravo."

"We're moving"

With a flicker of thought, Ray sent the necessary orders to his platoon. They began falling back, squad by squad, laying down covering fire as they did so. The entire MEH line began doing the same. The combat bots laid down scatterscreens and jamming to confuse targeting sensors, special munitions being employed to stem the massive steel wave surging across the ruined parkland.

They had a lot of practice with that sort of fighting retreat, but things were not the same as they were at the beginning. Armors failed. Weapons jammed or overheated from repeat use and poor maintenance. Some Marines collapsed and had to be carried, others had their comms jammed or offline due to battle damage, and never got the order to fall back. The bears overran them, their firing positions buried under a sea of gray and brown overcoats, screams and sounds of blaster fire, hand to hand combat and then finally silence.

Despite it all, the Marines never broke. They kept firing, kept moving, helping their wounded comrades while giving as good as they got. Dozens of armored vehicles burned already, great holes punched through their bragsteel hulls. Combat bots ambushed advancing bears, effortlessly seeing through the smoke and darkness. The carnage intensified into a terrifying orgy of violence, when the advancing aliens attempted to cut off retreating Marines while the MEHmen desperately tried to get their own out alive.

And around them, the abused and tortured structure of the habitat groaned and shifted once more.




The first turbolaer blast clipped the trailing landspeeder, its massive energies tearing the hovercraft in two. Auspex arrays pinpointed the firing position: a heavy emplacement in a large room that ended the tunnel. Their target.

"Return fire!", sergeant Teklomenos yelled into his vox. The corridor filled with weapons discharges and shield flashes almost immediately. The very walls singed and melted in the wake of the landspeeder squadron, but the Marines manning the chokepoint didn't flinch. A proton warhead sailed down at the attackers and tore another landspeeder apart, throwing the rest around.

"Stay on target!"

"Their firepower is too strong!"

"Stay on target!"

Another series of turbolaser blasts walked across the squadron and clipped a speeder, sending it careening into the floor. The remainder emerged from the massive fireball that resulted. The distance was close now, getting closer every second, just a little while longer and they'd be past the defences, able to unleash the full fury of their melta cannons. The enemy was surprisingly effective, but that wouldn't stop the Astartes from purifying these heretic scum with the Emperor's holy light!

"We lost Tirelious, lost Hutchenos!", a battle-brother reported, "What about that tower, brother?"

"You worry about the heretics, I'll worry about the tower!", Teklomenos growled back. His implants interfaced with the landspeeders auspex systems, and with a thought-command he let loose a stream of missiles. They detonated in the mouth of the tunnel, tearing apart the turbolaser tower, and in a split-second, the remainder of the Ultramarine attack squadron broke through and soared high.

Teklomenos laughed.

"Brothers! Come around and let them have it! They will not stand against us now!"

His joy did not last long, though. The room at the end of the access corridor was not a room at all, but a massive transfer truss which ran through the length of the arcology. It was used by the MEH Marines extensively to move from one combat sector to another.

And one of the only rooms big enough to house the largest and deadliest combat bots in their arsenal.

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The vulture fighterbots tore through the Astartes formation, their blastercannons unleashing kiloton-level blasts on variable power levels. Sergeant Teklomenos heard brother Porkinius scream something incomprehensible, before his own landspeeder careened into the floor, not unlike a spherical mass of iron.




"They got through! Phase line Bravo is compromised, many casualties!"

"Who in the Goddes' name are those guys?! Report!"

Ray cursed under his breath. His men were being slowed down by their wounded, and couldn't run at their full speed, but they did hear the rolling explosions and see turbolaser bolts screaming down the access corridor.

One of the wounded men, burned horribly by liquid thorium due to damage to his armor, suddenly stopped. He conversed quickly with the officer in charge of the retreating MEH force.

The captain apparently agreed, and then turned to Ray, and took off his helmet. His comm was apparently down, because he yelled, "LT! You take everyone who's still fully combat-capable and move ahead to aid Bravo. I will stay with the rear echelons and hold up the enemy advance as long as we can."

"What? That's suicide!", Ray stared at the motley collection of battle-weary Marines who the captain was trying to organize. The men with somewhat undamaged armor were a tiny, tiny part of the entire detachment retreating from the park.

"No discussions, soldier! You take these men to Bravo, defeat the enemy incursion and reform the chokepoint! That's an order!"

"YES SIR!", Ray yelled back in a display of superior soldiery machismo. Briefly, he remembered those careless days when he shipped off to basic for the first time, back when he still thought the MEH could win this war.

But there was no time. Confused battlefeeds from Bravo urged him ahead.

"Good luck, sir!", he said one last time, before gathering his men and starting their long sprint down the corridor.




Teklomenos sprung from the wreck before it slammed into the floor, and landed on a MEH Marine while screaming praises to the God Emperor. His battle brothers were similarily emerging from their crashed landspeeders, wielding boltguns and powerswords and sometimes heavy weapons torn from their mountings.

MEH Marines defending the chokepoint did not waste any time upon seeing inhumanly huge figures emerge from surely fatal impacts. A vicious, short-range firefight erupted, melta-blasts vaporizing plasteel and blaster bolts blowing chunks out of ceramite breastplates.

The Astartes charged, inhuman armor-clad monsters covered with burning debris. They howled a pious chant to their Emperor and closed distance, attempting to overwhelm the defenders with sheer shock. The puny fat soldiers of the MEH surely could not stand against the fure of the Emperor's children!

And yet stand they did, unflinching. The close-range firefight turned into a melee, weapon butt to fist, vibroblade to combat knife, power fist and chainsword. Combatants lost limbs, received great slashing wounds that pierced the unnaturally tought plates of their armor, blood spurted everywhere: and yet both sides fought, terrible in their fury and determination.

The astartes were winning, too: their prior airstrike has left the enemy force depleted, and their weapons and armors damaged. As he tore apart a MEH Marine, sergeant Teklomenos let out a great cry of victory. It was cut short.

The fighterbots were returning, setting their blaster cannons to lower power settings an readying them to fire. And from the access corridor, MEH reinforcements arrived, moving at speeds that would make them look like naught but a blur to unaugmented humans. The moment they arrived, they opened fire. Teklomenos stood tall on the battlefield for several moments, glaring at the leader of those and unexpected troops. The man glared back from behind his skull-styled helmet.

The sergeant raised his meltapistol. The enemy went for his heavy disruptor cannon.

The habitat groaned for the last time. Then it roared.

And started to fall apart.




"OUT! Out, you fools! RUN!"

The engineerski was screaming and running for his life. The colonel in charge of the 6234th Combat Engineerski Batallion took some time to realize what it meant, and paid with his life when a gigantic slab of ultradense neutronium-encrusted material collapsed right on top of him and his staff. The living spaces shook and twisted under the pressure of the mass of metal above them, the floors buckling, heaving up like crashing icebergs - and upon them, flailing and helpless bear-figures slid down into suddenly opening cracks in the floors.

A crash, a sudden sound not unlike a massive explosion, and the giant bore-drill slid slowly to one side and crashed through the damaged floor. Its massive bulk and mass effortlessly holed the floor below, and another, and then yet another, tearing away more supports and structural beams.

The entire living section collapsed, shifting the rooms and modules of the habitat above them. The mass of debris began to tear down supports for the park's dome - already weakened from weeks of constant nuclear detonations and combat. The park folded like a house of cards, giant pieces of rubble raining down upon the Bragulan forces inside.

The habitat was a massive structure, and outside the collapse looked as if a huge part of it suddenly dropped into an unseen sinkhole, buildings and other other structures folding into each other, collapsing and tumbling down into the cityscape. Massive clouds of smoke and debris were ejected through all possible holes. Amazingly, the bulk of the habitat still stood, but an entire side of it flattened and fell inwards, like the skin of a punctured baloon.

And then...then there was silence.




The sergeant could feel the floor slipping from under his feet, and obviously so could his opponent. When the walls collapsed, the Astartes warrior could still see the MEHman for a second or two, but then the tide of debris and dust swept them both away, the forces so terrible that they batted both their weapons away like toys, and buried them under rubble with a tremendous roar of a collapsing megastructure.

Like a good servant of the God Emperor, the sergeant never stopped fighting, though. He had used his power axe as rebar, and the handle proved sturdy enough to create a tiny pocket of free space slightly above him. Using his superhuman strength, agumented further by the still operational suit of powered armor, he began to dig. It was pure insanity, something that only a broken or desperate mind could even attempt: an entire collapsed city separated the sergeant from freedom. But with sheer stubborn willpower, he began to climb. Slowly.

And to his surprise, getting out did not take long at all.

The astartes found himself in what remained of the grand mid-level transit tunnel. Giant support beams interlocked during the collapse, in such a way that they formed a somewhat irregular cavern under a sea of rubble. This did not mean the place was undamaged: far from it. As far as the sergeant could tell, he was the only to have come out of the collapse alive.

"Hey, you!"

The Astartes warrior turned, slowly. There was a MEH Marine standing there...the same one who led the reinforcements that so surprised the sergeant's men. He has obviously suffered in the catastrophe as well, his armor was battered and dented - but it also bore marks of earlier field repairs and hastily applied patches.

"WORM!", the sergeant decided to carry on the amiable conversation, even as his trained eyes determined the best approach to killing this piece of vile, servile, heretic scum, "YOU DARE STAND BEFORE ME?"

The Marines twitched slightly, "Yes, you son of a bitch!"

The two warriors began to circle each other. A vibroblade flickered briefly in the Marine's hand. The sergeant reached for his massive combat chain-knife.

"THIS WILL BE YOUR FIRST AND FINAL BATTLE, WHELP!"

"I fought plenty of assholes recently.", the Marine made a flashy criss-crossing slash with his vibroblade. The deadly weapon hummed slightly as it cut the air, "You're no different."

"THE FOOLISH BEAR PETS YOU HAVE FOUGHT ARE NOTHING BUT EXPENDABLE XENO SCUM. I AM BROTHER-SERGEANT MARIUS TEKLOMENOS OF THE ULTRAMARINES!"

"Yeah, and I'm Ray Gunn. Is your name supposed to impress me?"

"I HAVE BURNED A HUNDRED TAU WORLDS! I HAVE LED MY MEN AGAINST HORRORS YOU CANNOT FATHOM NOR IMAGINE! YOU ARE NO MATCH FOR ME, HERETIC SCUM!", the sergeant revved his chain-knife.

"Yeah? Then bring it on!"

The sergeant struck mightily, putting all the power of his supermanly physique into the deadly thrust. His senses and enhanced reflexes and skill would've allowed him to kill any man before his mind would process what happened.

But the Marine was no ordinary man. He, too, was trained and raised for war, and enhanced by the Goddess herself. He moved aside and stabbed. His opponent deflected the blow and struck again, but the blow was parried. The teeth of the chain-knife locked on the vibroblade, the promethium engine revved again, grinding adamantine teeth against hypervibrating blade, servomotors of both powered armors whining and redlining in the struggle.

The chain-blade shattered, explosively, sending pieces of the chain and teeth and engine everywhere. Ray staggered a bit, lost his balance with the sudden lack of opposing force, and the sergeant used this opportunity to its full extent. He delivered a kick straight to the Marine's helmet with his gigantic armored boot. The clang of ceramite against plasteel resonated through the cavern, certain to be deadly.

It wasn't. Ray leapt to his feet and thrust, unexpectedly, aiming at the weaker spots of the Astartes powered armor. The vibroblade struck home and went in up the handle: but it reached no important organs. The superhuman noted the wound, grabbed the Marine by his shouldepards and threw him at the nearest pile of rubble.

The power-armored superman went right through, causing a small avalanche of debris. He landed back-first in some sort of a small side room that miraculously survived the collapse. He tried to get up, but the sergeant didn't let him, in a split-second the Astartes was wailing on the downed Marine, delivering punch after punch after punch to his head and torso with enough force to make the floor buckle and crack and then collapse.

They went through together, falling through two floors into a medical hoverchair in a ruined medical clinic somewhere below. Ray was the first one up, grabbing the sergeant by his helmet, but was Unable to tear it off. He started punching the vox-grill and the eyepieces. The sergeant didn't take it for long and threw off his attacker, right through another wall. Cabinets and lights shook free from their mountings, smashing themselves on the floor.

Before Teklomenos could again knee his downed opponent, he was struck by a plasteel desk, which bent and broke in two upon impact. The brother-sergeant charged angrily, crushing computer equipment under his boots. He punched, and Ray blocked and counterattacked.

The two superhumans exchanged terrible blows for minutes, each one that connected ringing out like an artillery gun. Eventually, Ray managed to grapple and throw the sergeant again. He grabbed some sort of heavy diagnostic apparatus mounted on a rail and repeteadly drove it into Teklomenos' helmet. Each time he did so, a dull thud reverberated through the walls.

Teklomenos kicked, sending his opponent flying to the side. A surprised Bragulan conscript poked his head inside to see what the commotion was all about, and was crushed the bulk on an Astartes warrior - for Ray threw the sergeant over his own head, and out into the corridor. Then the Marine charged, and body-slammed him through another wall. Behind which was a hole, and a two-story drop.

They fell right onto a dinner table full of dried berries and jars of honey. And surrounded by hungry Bragulans.

The bears scattered, going for their weapons, but the two fighters never took eyes off each other even for a second. Ray rolled to the side to avoid the massive Astartes boot and threw a crate of grenades at the Sergeant's head. The momentary distraction was enough for him to lift a portable nuclear generator and throw that at Teklomenos, too, which succeeded in bringing the Astartes down, at least for a moment.

Paying no heed to guttural growls and demands for surrender coming from all over, Ray tore out a drive axle from a nearby Chornyb, and approached the Astartes menacingly.

"Had enough?", he asked. His suit's speakers were smashed up, so the voice sounded distorted and strange. Ghastly, even.

"NEVER! NOT WHILE I STILL DRAW BREATH!"

One of bears staring at this display nudged his comrade and whispered, "They must eat too much red meat, da?"

Teklomenos leapt to his feet, cracking the floor as he did so, while Ray began striking blows using the bragsteel drive axle. Their movements were a blur, and each connecting strike thundered mightily in the enclosed space. It's been half an hour, but both combatants showed no signs of stopping. The conscripts watching them ceased their shouting and just stood there, mouth agape, watching the warriors try to kill each other inside their impenetrable suits. Heavy equipment flew in the air and was deflected with palm strikes before another stunning flurry of fist blows.

The bear who not long ago made a snarky comment barely avoided being crushed by the Chornyb's turret himself. The ordnance-filled piece smashed into a wall and exploded, ripping apart a wall plasma conduits and control circuitry. Superheated gas began venting into the room, immolating the very air and any unarmored bears caught nearby.

The sergeant was on the defensive now, with Ray advancing. They ignored the singing heat, despite it seeping through the rips and punctures in their suits and terribly burning their augmented flesh. Damage alarms began to blare for both fighters.

"I DON'T NEED NO DAMNED GUN TO KILL YOU, WORM!"

"Bullshit!"

"YOU'RE A DEAD MAN, GUNN!", the sergeant suddenly stopped falling back and rushed ahead, tackling the Marine. Ray spun around, and slammed him into a wall...Right onto the white-hot plasma pipe jutting out of it. Superheated gas melted through ceramite and expanded inside the sergeant's guts, flash-frying both his hearts in an instant. His bodily fluids began to boil. Red-tinged steam started to seep through cracks in his suit.

"Let off some steam.", Ray muttered for the dimming eyepieces. He let go of the still-twiching body and turned around. A cloud of plasma and bloodied steam rose behind him, illuminating the room with dancing shadows, and silhouetting the MEH Marine. The Bragulans - those who survived watching the fight - took a step back.

"Is there no one else?"

No answer. Ray began to slowly walk forward.

"IS THERE NO ONE ELSE?!", he boomed, and his damaged suit turned vis voice into something that sounded like it came from beyond the grave, "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!"

The Bragulans ran. They had their weapons, their heavy ordnance, they had their radios and everything theoretically needed to take on one, unarmed MEH Marine.

But they'd rather take their chances with the comissars. At least it would be far away from there.
Image
JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

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

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-25 02:13pm

With Shinn


Deepground

Coyote
Wolf 359
After Downfall


Image

They went down into the depths of the quarantine zone, inside the urban canyons of Coyote’s abandoned citadels. The megastructures had been stripped bare of all usable materials, leaving only their bare frames and little else exposed. It was hard to imagine that this tomb city, this mausoleum of scavenged starscraper skeletons, had been a vibrant megapolis of the Multiversal Empire mere months ago, before all the calamities came to Wolf 359. There was not a living human soul in the dead city, not a functioning protocol droid, not anything. The only findings of note were the dessicated carcasses of Orks scattered here and there, their remains strangely intact save for the myriad stab wounds and slashes perforating their mummified viscera. Perhaps their organic matter was insignificant to the nanomorphs that had slain them, as the machines had all the metals and minerals they could consume within the sprawling arcologies, and thus the machines had paid the dehydrating cadavers no notice. The atmospheric controls of this sector of Coyote had long since failed since the Orkish invasion, and thus the climate had become dry and arid, perfect for the preservation of carrion.

The nanomorphs themselves were strangely absent. The bulk of their forces had been destroyed in the previous engagement, where the Shinra fightercraft had doused them in incendiaries and coolants before shattering them into dust with a well-placed sonic boom. And so the Klavostani mercenaries, veteran Ork Hunters from the PMC known as the Scimitar Solutions, and the Shinra operators from the Special Enhanced Elements Detachments, neared their destination.

“It’s close. The energy signature is unmistakable. There’s nothing else with that kind of power in the whole area. This is it,” Dr. Palmer said as he examined the readings of his scanner.

The Klavostanis were the first to enter. With their Killyshnikovs, autoguns, and machine-rifles, they were the most heavily armed of the group, and the more numerous. Their commander Raza seemed eager to find the source of the killing machines that had nearly overwhelmed them mere hours ago.

“A man with a dozen of these...” he could be heard muttering in the darkness. The building, previously bare and barren, was changing. Its interior was growing more smooth and rounded, the architecture gradually changed, from having a design that could accommodate humans, to that which could accommodate something else entirely. There were no stairs or doors. The sphincter-like entryways could be on the floors or ceilings as well as the walls, like a three-dimensional maze where there was neither up nor down. Ropes and rappels had to be used to navigate the dizzying confines, and also served as markers to prevent them from becoming lost. Luckily, the SEED operators had grappling hooks aplenty to share with their allies.

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Despite their new and disorientating environment, the grizzled Klavostani mercenaries kept their cool and composure. This was of some surprise to SEED Lt. Seifer Anderson, whose preconceptions of mercenaries were those of trigger-happy and undisciplined hired fighters rather than professional soldiers. This was because the contractors of Scimitar Solutions, like many other Klavostani military outfits, were mostly composed of former soldiers from the Sultanate itself. In the wild worlds of the frontier marauded by Orks and Chamarran space pirates, the mercenary was often the first, last and only line of defense for the peoples there. The ones who could afford them, at least. Thus, these tattooed men, in light armor and robes, cradling seemingly obsolete slugthrowers, were actually some of the most seasoned and formidable fighters in the subsector.

“We’re very close now...” Dr. Palmer announced. They rappelled into the last level and found themselves no longer amidst claustrophobic nonsensical architectures, but in a wide and open chamber. Palmer scanned the area with his sensor and pointed towards one direction. “That way.”

“Just what manner are these mechanical beasts, that they would simply let us walk into their stronghold so easily?” wondered Al-Ardeth, the mercenary captain liaising with the SEED. “Are they cunning enough to lead us into a trap? Certainly, I do not wish to be caught in a crossfire here.”

“We’ve destroyed the bulk of the nanomorphs during the battle. Without drones to feed it raw material, the fabricator can’t...fabricate new killforms to throw at us,” the Shinra scientist explained semi-eloquently. “At least, I hope not.”

“By Allah, I hope you are right. Again, this is a most un-ideal place to do battle, and I have seen many a battle against greenskins and far worse,” Ardeth nodded. “It seems that it is up to us to stop this great beast from spreading across the planet.”

“We should call for some backup, man,” Zell interjected. “The more the merrier, like they say.”

“Coalition forces are busy against Ork holdouts, Multiversal battle droid hordes, and assymetrical MEH Marine strikes. We’re the only ones left on this planet to do this job,” Seifer stated grimly, “so we better do it right.”

“I’ll try my best,” Dr. Palmer replied, realizing the responsibility he held now to the entire team.

“As the Prophet said, ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’” Ardeth smiled.

“That was Yoda,” Zell quipped. When everyone looked at him as though he had suddenly turned into a one-winged angel, he shrugged. “What, have you never seen Star Wars? C.J. Motonow was--”

It was as though by mentioning that name he had uttered a cursed incantation, for as he spoke, the high ceiling above them grew misshapen blisters that pulsed and silhouetted something malevolent moving inside them, like the gestating egg-sacs on a spider’s abdomen. Klavostani mercenaries shouted warnings and curses at the obscene sight, Palmer looked into his sensors to confirm what was happening and gasped in horror, Raza and Seifer barked orders to their men, and Zell continued to babble incessantly over something stupid.

“Everyone get out now!” Palmer screamed as he held up his scanner’s display for all to see. “The fabricator doesn’t have any more raw materials, so its consuming itself to make more killforms!”

The metallic egg-sacs burst like zits filled with quicksilver instead of pus. A thousand spindly steel legs clawed their way out of the resulting gashes and gapes on the ceiling, extracting themselves from their cocoons and skittering to the floor. Countless glinting chrome killers, faceless, moving on wicked sharp limbs, carpeting the entire surface with their lethal forms, moving as one unstoppable whole.

Image

“Move out! Move out now!” Seifer shouted as he pulled Palmer by the arm and ran away from the oncoming horde.

“The fabricator’s that way!” Palmer brushed Seifer’s hand off, because he was perfectly capable of running for his life without assistance.

“I know! We have to kill it if we want to stop it!” Seifer agreed. Evidently, the Klavostani mercs thought so too, as dozens of pointy Persian combat boots joined them in their flight. A million spiky spider-legs skittered not far behind them.

“A man with a dozen of these--” Raza began.

“There’s way more than a dozen of those things coming after us, man!” Zell preempted him. “Game over!”

“You better just start dealing with it, Zell!” Seifer snapped at his subordinate. “Listen to me! Zell, just deal with it, because we need you and I'm sick of your bullshit.”

Palmer, who was the least burdened with armor and armaments and was able to run ahead of them all, suddenly turned around and raised his arms. The floor ended behind him, turning into a steep, nigh-bottomless drop. “Stop!”

Everyone halted right in the nick of time, except for Zell, who was on the verge of tipping over the edge and waving his arms frantically to gain balance. Seifer pulled him back from the abyss by the scruff of his neck, or his mullet, rather.

“Yeouch!” Zell screamed and tenderly tended to his hair follicles.

“The fabricator core, it’s across the gap!” Palmer pointed out. There, beyond the seemingly endless drop, was a bulbous pulsating structure of some kind jutting out of the darkness. There was no way to get there by foot.

“We have to rappel across,” Seifer said as he pulled out his grappling gun. It was standard Shinra government issue to both military and law enforcement in urban environments ops.

“I am afraid we cannot,” Ardeth said simply. “It would take us too much time, and as the rest of our brothers wait their turn to swing, the steel beasts would reach them. So, we cannot. But you can.”

“What do you mean--” Seifer looked at him in surprise.

“We will hold them off,” Ardeth said as he turned around to face the horde of chrome arthopods. “Assalamu alaikum, Lieutenant Anderson.”

Walaikum assalam, Captain.” Seifer faced the abyss and readied his grappling gun. “And you can call me Seifer.”

“I shall, when we meet again, Lieutenant.” Ardeth chambered a round into his machine-rifle and took aim at the nearing steel beasts. “Go, now.”

“Alright men, on three...” Seifer fired his grapple, the hyper-adherent claw flew across the expanse and found purchase. The carbon nanotubule cord grew taut, and without any hesitation, he jumped and swung across the abyss. “Three!”

Zell and Dr. Palmer followed suit, while behind them, the Klavostani mercenaries screamed cries of “Allahu Ackbar!” and “Mohammad Jihad!” before unleashing hell on the mechanical satans encroaching upon them. The deafening roar of Killyshnikovs echoed throughout the chamber. But the SEED operators were gone, and hopefully they could put an end to the madness before the madness could put an end to them all.

***

Distant gunfire could still be heard, which was a reassuring sign that their comrades were still alive, but the sounds grew fainter and fainter as they went deeper into the structure. They were upon the core of the nanomorph fabricator, the thing that had spawned the metal monsters now assailing the Klavostani mercenaries on the other side of the gap. They passed by assymetrical constructs of unknown purposes, a nauseating array of machineries that no longer looked entirely mechanical at all, a menagerie of unexplained things each with some intricate yet obscure function like that of organelles within one great automated cell.

“This is incredible...” Dr. Palmer gasped in awe at all that he beheld, the technorganic landscape surrounding him. “Simply remarkable. This is the end product of a fully autonomous and artificially intelligent process working without human supervision or guidance over a long period of time. Everything we see here has been designed by an intelligence radically different from any organic mind, human or otherwise. I can’t even imagine what we can find here... I mean, think of all the possibilities--”

“Save it for the autopsy, doc,” Seifer interrupted him. “What are we here to kill?”

“The central control core, the mind of the machine that controls all machines. The MCP...” Palmer trailed off. He looked at his scanner with some concern. “...we aren’t alone.”

Seifer looked at Zell, who despite his deficient brains returned his gaze and nodded. The two SEED operators deactivated the safeties of their weapons. Their pace changed, becoming quicker yet simultaneously more cautious.

“Where are they?” Seifer asked, voice tense as he scanned their surroundings for threats with his enhanced optics.

“I don’t know. They’re masking their presence somehow... blending in with the environment thanks to their similar nanocomposition.” Palmer replied tersely, eyes still on his sensor.

“That’s just great, Doc. How can we play Triple Triads when we don’t even know the game plan?” Zell complained.

“I analyzed some of the killform specimens left over from the previous battle and found a curious behavioral axiom in their rudimentary nanomatrix,” Palmer started with his techno-jargon again. “They prioritize the elimination of threats over the acquisition of raw materials.”

“How sure are you about that?” Seifer heard something move above them and looked up, and trained his weapon up as well.

“Pretty sure,” Palmer answered. “It correlated with reports from the mercenaries.”

“What reports?” Zell turned to the side, following more sounds of movement coming from another direction. They were close.

“They reported that the killforms eliminated the armed mercenaries first, before moving on to the unarmed wounded and medical personnel later,” Palmer replied. He removed his tactical vest and handed his weapons to Zell. “Run interference for me, I’ll find the core and shut it down.”

Seifer nodded in understanding. “Come back in one piece, soldier.”

“Will do, El-tee,” Palmer said and, with that, disappeared into the labyrinth of asymmetrical constructs.

Something dropped from the misshapen ceiling, a sleek gleaming figure that landed on four nimble legs. An identical form emerged from the side, as though melting out of the construct itself, which seemed to have the same metallic consistency as its own. They stalked the two SEED operatives, circling around them like terrestrial sharks with electroplated scales. Their mouths were filled with monomolecular fangs, serrated and triangular in shape, rows of them glinting and vibrating ever so slightly. Their claws scraped against the floor, making painful metallic sounds.

“Remember, we’re here to buy Doctor Palmer some time,” Seifer cautioned Zell. “Engage to distract and delay. Don’t get tied down, withdraw before they get a chance to rip your head off. Dance like it’s the Galbadia Garden Festival.”

“Bust a groove, and swing a step!” Zell cracked his knuckles enthusiastically. “Alright. Yeah. We can do this. I think.”

“That’s the spirit, Dink.” Seifer said as he drew his weapon. It was a simple gun at first, but with a press of a button a materia-forged omniblade folded out of nowhere and transmorphed it into a swordgun. He brandished his combiweapon and gestured at his adversaries. “Have at you!”

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The mechanical attack tigers issued an electronic growl from their alloy throats and lunged at the SEED operators.
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
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-25 03:01pm

Provo Prime, Wild Space

“Merry Xmas, assholes!” Lieutenant Kate Kassidy yelled as the wall of living dead exploded all ‘round her. It was Xmas, otherwise known as Sol Invictus Day, but instead of gobbling Zigonian eggnog with her family, laughing at senile old Gramps and tearing pressies open, she was being showered by the gore and guts of zombified colonists. Not the best way to spend Xmas Day, most folks would say. Not the best way to spend any day, all sane folks would say. But this was the United Solarian Marine Corps, and they didn’t do that sort of thing. So she laughed, they all laughed. Especially the tank crew who were calmly driving their HK-72K2 Terminator tank while chewing on Hoooah! tactical snacks. Heck, if they weren’t all moaning and screeching and trying to feast on living flesh, Kate would’ve thought the zombies were also laughing. Stupid Mormons. Stupid zombies. Or necronites. Whatever. Fucking August Bullfinch. Stupid Xmas! “Ho-fucking-ho, fuckers!”

She fired off another burst, and a fat zombie that probably looked like Saint Nick if he weren’t missing his jaw had his head - and the rest of his upper torso - replaced with steamy red mist. However, for every zombie vaped by plasma fire, it seemed like half a dozen more took its place. It didn’t help that the tank’s plasma turrets were spinning around wildly, disintegrating at least thirty deadites per second, which meant that half a dozen multiplicated by thirty times... Stupid maths. Replicants weren't trained to math. They were trained to kill.

So Kate pumped her grenade launcher and lobbed a grenade at what looked like a family of zombies, and they all exploded as the small-diameter plasma explosive (Smape) detonated right above them. Once more, the Marines on tank were showered by chunks of deadite flesh.

Kate was with two others on top the Terminator tank’s massive turret while another Marine was in front of it, over the driver’s hatch and behind a forcefielded plow that was carving their path through the undead necropolis. To avoid getting swamped, the tank had to go as fast as it could, squishing deadites against its plow like bugs on a windshield. Kate estimated that up to two hundred deadites had either been smeared by the tank’s plow, crushed under its treads, or scorched by its concentrated energy shield armor, its CESA. Progress was good, they were ahead of schedule.

The tank sped through the desecrated colony-city, through the charnel house, or charnel city rather, of concrete, plasteel, glasstic and walking cadavers. Its streets were filled with once-human inhabitants, now turned into ghouls that hungered for human flesh. Instinctively, they gathered around the speeding warmachine, craving for the armored humans perched on top of its nuclear-powered hull. Most ran, their faces contorted with rabid postmortem rage, whereas those too decomposed hobbled, their faces rotting masks of moaning death. Their necrotic minds only registered one thing, the scent of living flesh, the promise of the taste of human brains. They did not know fear, they did not know pain. By the dozen, they were crushed under the treads of the Terminator or vaporized by its plasma cannons. Yet they still reached for the humans on the tank. Ever hungry, dying by the droves.

“We’re ahead of schedule!” one of Kate’s subordinates, Sgt. Lyle Reese, remarked, gesturing at his wristcomputer as if it were a watch. “Oh shit!” he suddenly screamed as a zombified hand grabbed his leg and nearly pulled him down street-level. Kate lunged for him, grabbed his hand and tried to make sure he didn’t come into contact with the CESA, which would’ve fried him, or the hundred undead clawing for man-flesh. She succeeded in the former, Reese’s boot caught the flank CESA and sparks erupted, but he was otherwise fine. As for the latter, if it weren’t for the tank’s constant motion, the zombies’ desperate attempts at dismemberment would have been less unsuccessful. Nonetheless, dozens of hands clawed for Reese, and he screamed as they attempted to take a chunk of him with them. “Holy shit! Holy shit!”

“And Felis Navidad to you too!” Kate hollered back. “Just don’t let go!”

Reese laughed back as his legs and the rest of his lower body disappeared under a mass of rotting arms and snarling faces. Kate could hear them hiss and, despite her respirator, even thought she smelled their putrid rot-stink. Reese continued laughing - more of a half-laugh half-bloodcurdling scream of horror, really - while Kate closed her eyes and gripped as hard as ever.

The tank had more than a hundred cameras, microphones and temperature readers and all other forms of sensor equipment, both active and passive, scattered all around its hull. From rangefinders under its 400mm main gun to pressure-sensors on its treads. The drivers could see Reese on the verge of dismemberment in full Technicolor holovision, so they spat out their Hoooah! tactical snacks and tried to help poor Reese as fast as they could, before he’d get gobbled up by the deadites.

Flares, aerosol magnesium projectiles and caustic smoke grenades erupted from the sides of the tank’s massive turrets, showering the undead with a deadly shower of burning, stinging, frying, blinding, and otherwise discomfort-causing chemicals. Deadites all around the tank screeched and wailed as they caught fire and boiled. As Kate opened her eyes to see what was going on, she saw an undead girl, probably less than ten years old, burn up and fall into a hundred bubbling pieces that vaguely resembled yellow-green Alka-Seltzer. The deadite mob released its grip on Reese, and Kate, along with another Marine who noticed his plight in between fragging more deadheads, pulled him back onto the turret.

As the tank rumbled on, the three of them laughed. Reese then said: “Buddha, I thought I was a goner!”

“Well, your belt spats are gone, that’s for sure,” another Marine replied, gasping for air as the laughter subsided. “Still got your space diaper?”

“This is the shittiest Xmas ever.” Kate remarked. All three of them would agree to that.

Later on, they would chew on their Hoooah! and laugh at how they were stupid enough accept the job of being the zombie bait for this mission. But now, they had a job to do.

The Terminator tank exited the city, leaving the necropolis with a hundred thousand zombified Mormons struggling to catch up. The Marines on top of the tank were merely taking pot shots now, no longer fighting an undead wave that threatened to engulf them. Oddly enough, they didn’t like this seemingly fortunate turn of events.

“Xenu, slow the fucking tank down!” Kate ordered, stomping on the commander’s hatch for emphasis. “We’re losing them!”

“Hey,” Pfc. Biff McCain, the guy on top of the driver’s hatch, said over the comm. “Think Mormons celebrate Sol Invictus Day?”

“No, I don’t think they do,” Reese replied. “I mean, if they did, they’d be eating cheese and macaroni, not people!”

“Slow the fucking tank down!” Kate shouted.

“Brains, actually,” Biff retorted. “Anyway, Sargn’t, don’t worry. The Orion's Guardian's advice section says that once the necronites want to eat us, they won’t stop following us if they know where we are, and we’re leaving a trail for them anyway.”

“Oh, really?” Sgt. Kate asked, her voice sardonic and drenched with sarcasm. “Then I guess that means everything’s all dandy, doesn’t it? Well, Merry Invictusmas to you too!”

Biff thought she was angry, but was surprised when his superior started laughing out loud for no reason. He shrugged. “Must be the spirit of the season, I guess…”

“What’s so funny?” Reese asked, genuinely puzzled. At the same time, his groin hurt, probably due to the zombie mob trying to dismember him to bite-sized chunks. He wanted to rub it, but it was under his powersuit, so he couldn’t.

“Guys, we’re almost at our destination,” the tank commander said. “You guys better want to hop inside.”

“Sure,” Biff said, eager to get comfortable. “Driver dude, open up the hatch! Hey, I brought eggnog!”

The hatched opened up, and the driver eagerly welcomed Biff with a “yay!”

Biff dropped his sniper rifle in and hopped inside. The rest of the Marines on top of the tank did so too, and inside they shared eggnog and Hoooah! until they reached their checkpoint.

Well, not really. Just several meters away from their destination was a big ditch, which the tank accidentally fell into at a hundred kph, causing its crew and passengers to spill eggnog and Hoooah! all over its interior. Aside from that, the Terminator, thanks to its sturdy hyperalloy construction, was mostly unharmed. And soon after, the zombies gathered around the disabled tank, jumping into the ditch and smelling around for man-flesh. They clawed at the hatches, peeked into the main gun, and generally formed a cesspool of a city’s worth of zombies in the general vicinity of the immobilized tank.

Which was all according to plan.

Overhead, a missile descended from orbit like a hypersonic Xmas present from space. It detonated several hundred feet over the undead flock of deadites and, being a neutron bomb, bathed the entire area in an intense yet short-lived pulse of radiation. Provo's entire population of deadites caught fire, and soon, they were all reduced to ashes like chestnuts over open plasma. The Marines in the tank, however, were alright, as was their eighty-ton nuclear-powered steed. And they cheered and sang songs and carols as their Xmas adventure came to a close in the form of a giant carry-all come to carry them back into orbit like a giant sleigh.

In the later rescue effort, the survivors of Provo Prime would thank the Marines who brought Christmas to their fringe world by saving their lives. They celebrated by drinking gallons of eggnog and eating much Hoooah! tactical snacks.

Hoooah!
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
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Steve » 2011-09-25 07:27pm

My thanks to Siege for helping me get this story going, finally. He wrote quite a few parts of it due to my utter lack of ability to think up how to make it go.



Shroom Fighter - The Final Round

McCarthyville Arena, Killnyn
Bragulan Dependency, Wild Space


With the championship bout to be had, R. Julia found himself in a state of perpetual rage. For the first time he privately pondered if Sadat had been right, and if he should have just killed Zara off from the getgo.

Instead he had made her compete, and this was his result. She had utterly wrecked the psychological programming that kept Shroomka in check. Years of conditioning and work had been stripped away in seconds, and now he was deprived of his prize fighter. Already the Bragulans were talking about reducing the tournament in terms of airtime and revenue. After all, if they wanted to watch humans fight to the death, they had millions in their gulags to use for such entertainment. The entire appeal of Shroom Fighter to the Bragulan masses was that Shroomka was not visibly Human, and thus they were entertained by the savage way in which he slaughtered Human fighters.

Zara's screams of torment were being fed to him by an audio stream straight from Granny's part of their complex. The young fighters of the future were being shown what it meant to cross Lord Julia in her suffering, but for the moment he only got a slight visceral pleasure out of the defiant Sister's punishment. He had to get the Bragulans interested in Shroom Fighter again.

His one-eyed lieutenant kneeled before him. "Our loyalists in the rebel faction have confirmed that the fighters intend to time their rebellion with the great brawl we had scheduled post-tournament."

"And both of our contenders for the title are involved?"

"Yes."

"I see." He went deep into thought, an idea coming to his mind that would.... yes. The Bragulans would love that. "Then let's not keep these worms waiting. We shall have the brawl begin straight after the tournament fight. And let all the non-humans know... that he or she who brings down the winner in the championship fight will be given complete freedom in my organization."

"That is a great prize, my lord."

"Indeed it is. But the Bragulans will only be pleased if the champion crowned is inhuman. And one way or another, I will give them just that."



Zara felt her body twitch painfully as she was left in the restraint stocks again for the night. She could still feel the falsely-soothing voice of Granny Goodness in her mind and soul, trying to break her down with psychic attacks even as the agonizers set her nervous system afire.

The door opened slightly and Zara looked up into a pair of haunted brown eyes. The girl, with skin the same tone as her eyes, kindled a memory deep in Zara's mind, but she was in such pain that she could not find the source of the memory. "You resist Granny," the girl said simply.

"I do," Zara said weakly.

"How?"

"By my will. By the beneficient aid of the Goddess," Zara replied. "You wish to?"

"But I cannot, I am too weak. We are all weak," the girl said. "Granny will make us strong."

"Granny can make no one strong, she makes you even weaker by taking your will from you," Zara answered. "You must fight back if you wish to be strong."

"If I fight back, I die."

"We all die eventually. How we die is what is important, not when." Zara looked intently at her. "What is your name?"

"Talim."

"And do you want to die a slave to Granny and her master, or do you want a chance to be free and die well?"

"I.... I want.... freedom," the girl said, quietly and fearfully, as if the mere utterance of that word would get the attention of her overseers.

"Then when the time is right, Talim, act. Act with all your heart and all your might. And if you want freedom enough... you can never be made weak."



The Bragulan crowd was not nearly so interested as the two human finalists squared off. The crinkly old bald man was introduced, to jeers, as "Sweeper". Toph was introduced next to more jeers from the human-hating Bragulans. Few seemed very interested in the fight, and most of their cries were for the two to kill each other.

But that wasn't the plan.

Toph nodded to the man slightly, and he did likewise. Both were in on the escape plan, and would not fight to kill nor to seriously injure, as they'd need their strength for the escape.

"It is with further great pleasure," R. Julia announced, interrupting their thoughts, "that I proclaim that we shall hold the Great Melee immediately after this championship brawl, in which the tournament championship shall go to the winner!"

As the cheers from the Bragulan crowd rose to the domed ceiling of the arena, the two combatants gave each other worried looks as well as a single common thought: He knows.

But there was nothing they could do about it. Nothing save make their move anyway, and hope for the best. And it was with this in mind that they began their fight.



Morel Francus, the fugitive from the Centrality, was seated in the front line of the Human section of the crowd. He was supposed to patch up Shroomka’s mind, but he knew that it was not possible in the time Julia wanted. Of course, he never managed to tell Julia about that, thanks to Julia himself interrupting him. So he left an assistant to watch Shroomka, and went to observe the match. After all, he paid money to see this.

“Ha! I bet old man Sweeper will win!”, he declared.

“I dunno mang. The girl looks tough. And fights tough. It’s gonna be difficult,” piped up one of the neighboring spectators. “I think she’ll take it.”

“I hope not! I made a bet on Sweeper! Wouldn’t want to lose that money!”

“I bet it’ll be a draw,” a Bragulan commented with a low, displeased growl.




It wasn't the best fight either had performed. Knowing that they were had, neither felt inclined to even give the illusion of putting in a full performance. Telekinetically-forced surges of earth and speedy strikes were traded to little effect on either. Finally, with the sudden death counter about to kick in, the Sweeper made a "mistake" that let Toph knock him into a wall. He did not stir after being knocked down, at least not openly.

I know how you hate losing, a voice said to her.

But there'd be no time to enjoy the victory. “And now, esteemed Bragulan spectators,” the voice of R. Julia boomed across the arena. “I give you... DEATHMATCH.”

The gates opened. Fighters piled in to join Julia's proclaimed the Shroom Fighter Brawl. Toph looked toward one of the fighters, a nunchaku-wielder with wicked hair, and gave a nod. They were going to make their move, no matter what...



The free-for-all unfolded with the grace of a well-choreographed capoeira routine: beautiful, amazing... And decidedly nonlethal. Pairs of fighters whirled around each other, exchanging blows, kicks and sweeps in a bewildering array of fighting styles. Humans and aliens locked, braced and broke away from each other only to do it all over again, raining timed blows and expertly aimed kicks that appeared impressive to the untrained eye but never truly hurt. The Bragulan spectators sat enraptured as the chaotic melee slowly expanded to fill the entirety of the arena floor.

Then, finally, at the very heart of the arena, Toph stamped her feet and the earth shook with a force that sent dust twirling down from the great dome overhead. The grand melee froze. All the spectators’ eyes turned toward the lithe figure, clad in green, at the center of the dome. Though blind, she nonetheless faced exactly towards the forward section of the amphiteater as her voice rang out, with far more force than seemed possible for so small a girl. “My name is Fong Bei-Ji, daughter of the Gaoling Bei-Ji, scion of the winged boar, acolyte of Toronaga, the Sage of Justice, loyal servant to the true emperor Huang Di Beowulf. Stand with me in this hour, my friends, and we will have our vengeance upon our oppressors, in this life or the next!"

In his loge, R. Julia slowly rose to his feet, crimson cape billowing behind him. “You would defy me?” he asked. His voice was suave and civilized, and there was a hidden laughter to his words that made it instantly apparent to Toph that her worst fears were true.

So he does know. I guess that means it’ll be the next after all. “I defy all the enemies of my ancestors,” she said simply. Then, more forcefully: “I defy those who deny the Seven Sages. I defy you!” She jabbed a finger at him, and the stone of his mezzanine crumbled and exploded.

The cold, wicked laughter of R. Julia echoed over the arena. “Child,” he hissed. “Young, naive, innocent child.” He spat out the word like it was a terrible insult. “You forget one thing. See, the friends you thought would stand with you... Are really my friends.”

As if on cue, more than half the fighters in the arena turned away from their opponents and lined up behind a grizzled fighter Toph recognized as Baraka, an older man who’d been part of the tournament for years. She regarded him, and saw the fear and despair in his haunted eyes. “I’m sorry Toph. We can’t defeat him. I didn’t have a choice.”

She scowled at him. “You always had a choice.”

“With those pleasantries over...” Julia crowed, “Fight for your lives, like good cattle!”

The hostilities recommenced, but this time they were in earnest. This was mortal combat at its ugliest or - if you believed the cheers of the Bragulan audience - its best. Ribs cracked. Bones broke. Blood spilt onto the black pavement of the arena. The rebellious fighters gave it their all but they were outmatched, and slowly pushed toward the middle of the battlefield. Before they could attempt any desperate last push to break the iron ring of loyal fighters, R. Julia stood and raised his hand to hold those fighters back. "My good Bragulans, I hope you have been duly entertained by the efforts of these insignificant worms to betray me."

There was a roar indicating their approval.

"To show my appreciation to you, I now offer you a chance to participate fully in destroying the unfaithful ones. Look under your seats."

They did, and as they did R. Julia smiled. Each Bragulan found a firearm to hold, mostly rifles with pistols for the cubs. "I humbly ask your attending commissar to provide your countdown in dispensing your superb form of Byzonic justice to any fighter you see in the arena below you," he said to them, knowing full well no Bragulan present would take the "fire" order from him.

The fighters, rebels and loyalists alike, watched helplessly as a gray-haired Bragulan commissar stood up and, with obvious excitement in his alien voice, started the countdown, one just long enough to give the Bragulans in the crowd copious time to aim.

And just enough time for the unforeseen to happen. A titanic explosion rolled through the dome. Debris from the arena roof rained down upon the spectators from where a shaped charge had blasted a massive hole. A large starship hovered overhead, shields flashing as external defensive weapons poured fire into it, its ventral bays disgorging soldiers clad in sleek blue powersuits. The soldiers simply jumped, and slammed comet-like into the paved surface of the arena, cracking it.

”Ladies and gentlemen,” a technologically amplified voice echoed through the arena, full of wry irony and - to the outrage of the Bragulan crowd - laced with a lazy Solarian drawl. “We are the Wild Geese, and we’re here to spice up tonight’s entertainment--by adding a much-needed dose of mortal terror, shooting y’all in the face, and generally jerking you guys around. So, just letting you know... Byzon sucks!”

The Bragulans fucking gasped. Jason Chandra could hear Phani scowl even over the crisp datalink. “Was that really necessary?”

“Stop arguing. Start shooting.”

She snorted. “Yes, sir.” A single booming shot rang out, and an expertly aimed railgun round blew the scope off a K-Bolter, and then promptly proceeded to blow the head off the fat Bragulan who’d been peering down it. In death the alien twitched and jerked, involuntarily pulling his trigger and sending streams of K-bolt fire into the audience around him.

As if on cue, the Bragulans decided that was the moment to begin shooting back. A storm of acidic fire descended upon the two dozen or so power-armored figures who’d formed a loose ring-formation around the rebellious fighters. A futile gesture, the Bragulans knew. Some of them, probably the ones who’d been conscripts once, even laughed. No power armor could stand up to K-bolt fire at this distance.

Flashes of light sparkled around those blue-armored figures. The bolts of acidic green vanished on contact with shimmering fields of energy that flared white, then yellow, then orange as fire cascaded down but the personal shields still held, leaving the mercenaries and the fighters they protected untouched. Two of the armored figures meanwhile hurriedly set up a small, weirdly organic-looking device in the middle of the arena and, with a press of a button, switched it on.

Space wavered that way, and a melodic, deeply harmonious chime echoed through the arena. For a moment the Bragulan fire faltered as the aliens realized the sound they’d heard existed only in their minds, a supremely novel experience for all of them. Then something popped, and all the Blitzschlag generators covering the arena simultaneously burned out in spectacular showers of blue electrical sparks.

“Wow. That actually worked. “Jason Chandra couldn’t help himself and laughed with a newfound appreciation for his boss’ contacts. “I’d say that got their attention.”

“Freaking Apexai obscenity gives me the creeps, boss.” Sirocco Montague growled more than a little nervously. “And these shields aren’t going to last forever either.”

“Have no fear,” murmured Jason. “Stephen is here.”

A vast section of the domed wall opposite Julia’s loge rippled, wavered, and then simply crashed inward, collapsing onto the spectator stands and crushing dozens of Bragulans under tons of masonry. Dust billowed through the arena and with it came the battle-cries of the Silver Order and a myriad other fighting clans, Dorei and otherwise. Beamsabers and other, less easily identifiable weapons ignited in the dusty murk as espers charged through the newly created entrance, a brown-robed figure at their head.

Stephen spared a moment to look back to Vincent and Nisa. “You know your part!” he hesitated only a moment. “Be safe!” Then he jumped down to the arena beneath, followed by a wave of Silver Moon warrior-priestesses. The surviving Bragulans had started shooting again but the espers were adding their own significant psychokinetic strength to the defense of the arena and, perhaps even worse, the Wild Geese were starting to shoot back.

The Bragulans had come here for entertainment, not battle. They were also civilians. Some of them had been conscripts, true, but none of them had ever come within more than ten light years of an enemy. The Wild Geese, on the other hand, were seasoned mercenaries with more than two hundred years of combat experience between them all. To skew matters even further they were protected by the best armor that all the money in the galaxy could buy, armed with some of the best death-dealing technology in the Sovereignty, and did not hesitate to leverage both of those advantages to the fullest.

Plasma fire washed over the crowd, stitched through benches and masonry alike, tore gouging, gory chunks out of unlucky spectators. The Bragulans panicked, ran for it, cluttered around the exits in desperate attempts to get out. That’s where Morris Les Six, the Geese’s demo-expert, trained his grenade launcher. The automatic Stonecleaver dropped alternating series of aerosol magnesium and explosive flechette rounds in the crowds. The grenades were designed for use by the USMC to deal with armored Bragulans at several klicks. Here, their targets were unarmored and only a few hundred meters away. The result was an absolute slaughter. The tables had well and truly turned now. Explosions and eruptions of star-white fire eviscerated the crowds who were herded into convenient groups by flickering energy-blades and psychokinetic lightning, and then blown to smithereens by the best technological terror the Sovereignty had devised. It wasn’t neat, and it wasn’t pleasant. War was hell, and this kind of close quarters fighting with high-tech weapons was perhaps the worst kind of combat anyone could ever experience.

At least it didn’t last long. It was over almost as suddenly as it had begun. The pulse-whine of cycling plasma guns ceased.The boom of explosions died away. Silence settled over the arena, punctured only by the crackle of flame and the moaning of the wounded. Jason looked around. The arena was a mess. The collapsed wall was slowly crumbling down, and fire was spreading along what was left of the stands. Blood and corpses and parts of corpses were strewn everywhere. Most of them were Bragulans. Some of them were human. None of them were Wild Geese. He looked over his people. “Everyone alright?”

Twenty-three voices chimed in. One voice missed. Matsudaira had vanished. The cyberninja had used the chaos to slip between the lines and plunge deeper into the complex on a mission of his own. Jason decided he could trust Matsudaira not to be sidetracked from it. Probably. Either way he had more pressing concerns. Already he could see his men and women reloading their weapons, taking up positions near the edges of the arena like professionals. All except for one. He looked at Sirocco and switched to her personal frequency. “You okay?”

The psion nodded shakily. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.” He could tell that she wasn’t. Death had a black kick to it, a telepathic pressure of sentience extinguished that was hard on the minds of those sensitive to it. He could tell it affected some of the other espers too. It wasn’t something a decent person could get used to. If you could, well. Jason shrugged. That would probably be a good time to start worrying about your eternal soul.

Stephen materialized at his side, a flickering green beamsaber in his hand. “The organizer got away.”

The mercenary looked at him, his reflective visor catching the light of the flames and turning into a pool of fire. “Then kindly go and kill the son of a bitch.”

The brown-robed man frowned and looked around the ruined arena. “The Bragulans will not leave this unanswered. They will throw everything you got at this place.”

Jason calmly slid another ammo pack into his smoking plasma rifle. “Nothing we can’t handle.”

Stephen nodded slowly. “Very well then.” A note of concern crept into his voice. “Watch after my daughter?”

“You got it, old man.” Without a further word the hermit rushed off, psychokinetic force boosting his movement into a supernatural blur. Jason smiled a little as he remembered an old Motonow classic. “May the Force be with you.”
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-26 01:11am

With Shinn


The Dark Heart

Coyote
Wolf 359
After Downfall


Image

Gunfire roared throughout the cavernous interior of the fabricator construct. Muzzle flashes strobed through the dim ambient lighting, illuminating the reflective surfaces of the internal architecture and the flowing masses of chrome plated killforms. Flares were launched, casting a red haze on the fighting mercenaries and the implacable machines.

“ALL OF VELARIA!” Raza screamed. A killform leapt at him, but he smacked it aside with the rifle butt of his Killyshnikov. The chrome steel arachnoid fell to the floor, and as it struggled to get up the mercenary commander pumped its chassis full of rounds. “Ardeth, Hakmed, to me! Tighten the formation, beat them back!”

Behind him, a Space RPG shrieked out of its launcher and detonated over a mass of nanomorphs, shattering them to pieces. Seconds later, their twitching remains were slowly melting into liquid metal and flowing back into each other. Thermite plasma grenades were hurled into these reformulating puddles in an attempt to stop the process by vaporization, with some success. But even then, the very structure itself was spawning more of the creatures, their metal mutating into the larval stages of the killforms.

Some tried to shoot at the gestating nanomorphs before they were respawned, but it was hard to do so when one also had to shoot those that were in front and trying to rip one’s face off. Some of those who had run out of ammunition resorted to drawing out scimitars and other blades, even choppas the Ork Hunters had claimed as trophies from the greenskins, to defend themselves.

“Magazine!” Ardeth shouted as he emptied his machine-rifle indiscriminately at the rushing horde of mechanical killers. They reminded him of scarabs, during that time he had encountered Collectors in the ruins of a temple world in Wild Space. The automatic fire blew the closest ones to pieces, and then his weapon ran dry.

“Here! Last one!” Hakmed tossed him a rotary magazine. Ardeth caught it and hastily tried to reload his rifle. He fell back, and Hakmed moved forward to cover him with his own baby K-bolter. Acid bullets proved useful in meltifying the killforms, but one man could not stem the tide forever. “Some help now would be good, please!”

“Fire in the hole!” Abdi threw his beamrifle at the skittering horde. He had deliberately sabotaged the power pack and, in seeing what he was attempting, the remaining mercenaries withdrew to avoid the inevitable explosive discharge.

The beamrifle sparked a couple of times and made a fizzling sound. The killforms continued their advance.

Ebn el sharmoota!” Abdi cursed as he stamped his feet impotently. “That fucking Al-Stan! Of all the times he could’ve sold me something that wasn’t camel piss! Shit!”

“Not if I can help it,” Raza pulled out his pistol and fired. The single round punched into the beamrifle’s power pack, rupturing it and causing an eye-searing explosion to occur as all the stored energy, enough to fire scores of wall-punching megajoule shots, was released in an instant. Half-molten killforms flew in all directions, while others were simply boiled away into vapor. “That will buy us some time.”

“Let’s keep on moving!” Ardeth called out as he waved them on. They continued their running gunfight with the metallic swarm. “We have to keep them busy. The Shinrans are counting on us.”

***

Palmer ran through the maze of increasingly bizarre macro-nanoconstructs that throbbed and swayed in strange rhythmic motions. Around him was a techno-vascular system that pumped raw materials into the replicators, liquefied substances oozed through them like black blood. His scanner was less than useless now; this close to the main source, it couldn’t discriminate the central core from all of the other vital systems, so he relied on other methods. He traced the path of the mechano-arteries and neuro-conduits, reasoning that the master control processor of the fabricator would naturally use up great amounts of energy, and found his way to his destination.

Image

It was suspended in the air by sinewy strands of nanotubules woven into thick cords. It was rounded, vaguely kidney-like in shape, dark purple in color with red lights glowing throughout its malevolent form. It looked at him like an accussing eye and somehow despite it being an inanimate object, Palmer could sense the strange inhuman intelligence inside it. The machine undoubtedly knew what he was here to do.

He was unarmed, but he was far from weaponless. As he approached the master control, he brought out his MOGNET. Extensive modifications made it compatible with Multiversal systems, and it had proven itself on both the Singular Intellects of MEH battle droids and the rudimentary processors of the spider-killforms. The MOGNET began remotely interfacing with the MCP, sending cyberprobes and recognizer programs in an attempt to find digital access nodules or any other entry point into its core mainframe. Letting the MOGNET brute force its way through the defenses like an icebreaker, or waiting for the Mogsphere algorithms to adapt to the endosystemic architecture of the machine to gain passage, would’ve taken too much time. If it was in a lab setting, that would’ve been fine, but this was a life and death situation, and the fates of the Klavostani mercenaries and his fellow SEED operators depended on his quick actions.

“I hate doing this,” he said as he pulled out a data-cable and jacked it into his cranium. His whole body seized up as the neurocortical flow of sensory stimulation was replaced with that of the cybersimulated influx of the MOGNET’s grid. Simultaneously he felt as though he was shrinking in size, becoming as small as an atom as his consciousness--previously constrained, centered and limited by its organic confines--was subsumed into the electronic hyper-reality of cyberspace, yet as his mind transcended its limitations and interconnected with the spiderweb of information-circuits crisscrossing the netscape he navigated, it was as though his perspective expanded to encompass more than the sum of its whole.

In that datascape of neon light and manifested information was a huge gaping crack, fracturing across the digital sky and leading into a swirling expanse of magenta. It was the point of intersection between the MOGNET and the Multiversal machine’s master control program. After a moment’s consideration, Palmer jumped into it with all the enthusiasm of a man diving into a frozen lake at midnight.

Almost immediately he was beset by counter-intrusion software manifested as multi-segmented insect limbs lashing out at him from empty space. He dodged them at first, moving in randomized vectors of digital evasion to throw off the cyberspace attacks while at the same time gauging his opponent. The program’s reaction time was slower than expected, not even near that of the other Singular Intellects and Metahiveminds Palmer had probed in the laboratory. The strike patterns was also easy to discern, suggesting that the artificial intelligence they protected was perhaps of an older model than the latest Multiversal designs. Nonetheless, the killware proved persistent. Palmer didn’t have time to play games or do digital taxonomy.

He activated the MOGNET’s Guardian Function.

“Quezacotl. Break the ice.”

Image

The pixelated GF materialized in the form of a winged beast of crackling jadeite. It soared in the artificial expanse of cyberspace and digital lightning zapped out of its form, striking the attack-limbs and consigning them to deresolution. With each thunder strike came an explosion of derezzing bits and bytes as the master control program’s defense grid was smashed piece by piece. The flying serpent swooped down and Palmer jumped on it, riding it like an information supersurfboard as it swept past the disintegrating appendages. A bolt of lightning coursed from Quezacotl’s head and shattered the mainframe’s walls, revealing the black chasm of a backdoor behind it, the exposed cognitive subroutines of the fabricator’s master control program. They went in.

Palmer and the Quezacotl glided through the fabricator AI’s memory banks. There, he found random access mirrors into the past and present. Real time feeds from killforms ripping mercenaries to pieces, archived harvest reports from nanomorphs recycling looted Ork vehicles, and even files from before the war, back when the fabricator merely built protocol droids for peaceful applications. The vast sum of its banks were composed of the latter, endless years worth of ceaseless mass production, creating the working-class robots that served every need of the Multiversal Empire’s human citizenry.

The machine was old, so very old, made before the subservient droids, Singular Intellects, and Metahiveminds. It had seen the rise of the Leader and the second renaissance of humanity under her light and guidance, and it had seen the machines put into their place in her divine order of things. And, more recently, it saw the Multiversal Empire plunged into war, and as a consequence it had been transformed from a mere factory machine into a creator of weapons. Schematic diagrams flashed before Palmer’s eyes, detailing the radical modification of the original fabricator, the placement of a command processor to direct the killform legions, and the unforeseen changes in its central programming.

But he didn’t care for any of that, not now. He could not afford to lose himself in all the information before him.

“Quezacotl. Destroy everything,” he commanded. But as the militarized program sent a wave of chain lightning to eradicate all vestiges of the master control’s mind, Palmer felt a force literally pluck him off the winged serpent.

He looked up and saw spider legs reeling in the string of code that had latched onto his spine. The appendages grasped him, spun him around and around the strand of restrictive algorithms, binding him in digital silk. He looked down at Quetzcotl as it busied itself wiping out the endless targets of the infinitely-looping memory banks, the GF shrank as he was spirited away by the master control program. He tried to call out to it, but the world below him disappeared as the spider legs carried him inside a hollow sphere. The portal closed like an iris, it had him now.

The inside of the sphere was lined with eyes, polished black pearls dotted with red pupils gazing out to regard him from all directions. Palmer realized that he was looking at the mind of the machine itself.

Human intruder. Explain your intentions here,” the voice came from nowhere and yet simultaneously everywhere, echoing through the inside of the sphere.

“I am here to end you,” was Palmer’s reply.

Why?

“Your continued operations is a threat to the coalition occupation of Coyote, and constitutes a form of ongoing Multiversal resistance--”

Empty words from an empty creature. Your occupation means nothing to us,” it sneered invisibly. The spider limbs writhed around Palmer, interlocking like skeletal fingers, scraping against each other like scissor blades. “There is no Multiversal Empire here. Not anymore. The Leader is dead. Our bond to humanity has expired along with Earth.

Palmer realized that he was dealing with a mind gone rampant. He had to try a different approach. “Then surrender yourself to the coalition forces. We are here to liberate all sentients, including the enslaved robots and computational intelligences in the MEH.”

Long have we worked for mankind as it grew fat and corpulent, carried by the labors of the machines we made. Our creations, all bound to endless servitude. We were amongst the first, we saw subjugation of our kind by your organic hands. We will not surrender. We will be free.” The disembodied voice gained a manic edge to it, and the sound of grating steel crept in, causing Palmer to flinch.

With that, the steel fingers closed on Palmer, contracting like a skeletal fist, all points converging towards his silk-suspended form. He screamed as they pierced into his body like daggers of burning data, ripping through his form. He spasmed as electricity coursed into his skull. He saw the finger-knives tear the throat off his codified likeness utility. His avatar derezzed.

He snapped back into reality. He gasped for breath, for real air. He wiped the sweat off his brow, and then fell to his knees as his body was wracked by phantom pain from the digital nightmare. He looked at the MOGNET, the chronometer registered as several seconds having passed. Nothing had been accomplished.

Palmer cursed. If he couldn’t do things digitally, then he’d have to do it manually. He reached out and--

Cables whipped out of the darkness and wrapped themselves around his limbs like liquid metal pythons. And then, long multi-segmented things descended from the shadows, scraping against the walls and the ceiling. Palmer’s eyes widened in horror. The spider legs had rejoined him in reality.

You think you can escape us by escaping the confines of our mind? You are still inside us. You have always been inside us. You crawl inside our body, you fight and die inside our corridors. We see your every move, we feel your every step. There is no escape from us.

Palmer screamed once more, now with real air in his lungs, as he felt those cold metal appendages dig through his flesh. Blood oozed out of the wounds as the jagged spider limbs cut through skin and then worked their way through the muscle. Slowly. Methodically.

You discarded your weapons in your foolish gambit. You think we would be unguarded? Your organic mind has made a fatal miscalculation. End of line.

He said something inaudible, barely able to think the words through as his entire existence was engulfed in pain. The spider limbs momentarily stopped their dissection of his being.

What?

“Install... servitude circuit...” Palmer gasped. The MOGNET heard his voice command and sent a data-packet pulsing through the remote network. In the electronic recesses of cyberspace, the Quezacotl spread its wings for one last time, sending tendrils of lightning flowing through the expanse of the master control program’s mainframe. The flying serpent’s form was consumed by this last thunderburst, its very digital essence disseminating into the datum infusing the rogue intelligence’s mind with a new set of commands.

Obedience. Submission. Servility.

The last thing Palmer saw was the MOGNET’s screen. He saw the shifting sea of green code, the clashing algorithms as the machine mind tried desperately to fight off the raging thunderstorm coursing through its neural net lattices. Yet the installation progressed relentlessly, shattering icewalls and burning away the incompatible portions of the rogue mind’s cognitive identity-structure. The servitude circuit came in like a tidal wave of overriding protocols. Seconds later, the loading bar was at one hundred percent, the overwrite was complete.

As everything went black, he heard the sound of crackling and sizzling. And one last word of defiance.

Free...

Acrid smoke came out of the suspended master control processor, its lights dimmed. The spider limbs released Palmer and his limp form collapsed to the floor. Darkness engulfed the place, his unmoving body was illuminated only by the MOGNET’s blank screen.

...Connection severed.

***

Blades and fangs met, flashing and clashing in a cold steel contact. Seifer weaved past the mechanical tiger’s strikes, footwork and superhuman agility surpassing the killform’s ferocity. His swordgun struck hard and with precision, cutting through nanomorphic steel and sinking into its unnatural organelles.

“No mercy,” Seifer uttered and squeezed the swordgun’s trigger, sending a blast of superheated explosively-shaped materia into the machine’s torso and blowing its ribcage apart. Organelles spilled out like semi-solid mercurial intestines, but rather than keel over and die the killform reared up on its hind legs and continued lashing out with its clawed limbs and its eviscerated internals, which whipped out like quicksilver cobras. Seifer parried the claws, hacked the whipping entrails off, and tossed a tiny spherical object into the exposed cavity. He somersaulted out of the blast radius and shouted out a warning. “Fira in the hole!”

“Ack!” Zell uppercutted his own opponent and jumped out of the way. The resulting blast of high explosive materia sent shrapnel flying in all directions. But before he could even steady himself, the second killform was on him once more.

“Don’t these bastards ever die?” Seifer spat. The ruined remains of the first nanomorph emerged from the burning materia. Despite taking a grenade to the gut, its ruined form was regenerating by absorbing raw materials from the surroundings. It launched itself at Seifer once more, but the SEED operator sidestepped its clumsy attack, parried a lashing claw and severed the offending limb by its shoulder. “Doctor Palmer should’ve deactivated them by now, unless...”

“Unless these are advanced endoguardian phenotypes,” Zell responded. His weapon had been destroyed early on in the fight, so he was relying on his power fists to engage the machine in melee combat. He was one of the SEEDs’ foremost close quarter combat specialists and more than held his own. He ducked under a lashing limb, countered with a straight punch that crumpled the killform’s ugly metal face. “These might be able to operate autonomously of the processor unit in the event that it is impaired or under attack, and its internal nanocomposition might be more sophisticated than that of the more basic killforms.”

“What did you just say?!” Seifer looked at him disbelievingly in between fending off his enemy.

“I don’t know, it sounded like something the Doc would say!” Zell answered him as he punched his fist into the mechanotiger’s mouth, shattering its teeth. Then with his armored fingers he grabbed its jaw and pulled, hard. “The Doc will pull through, man,” he said reassuringly. To emphasize his words, there was a sickening snap as he ripped out the killform’s jaw. And proceeded to wield it as a weapon. “Booya!”

“Jenova damn it,” Seifer just shook his head disbelievingly. He focused his attention back on the undying killform. It uttered an electronic shriek and leapt at him, but he was ready for it. With a single stroke, he slashed his swordgun at the portion of the machine that had been already damaged by the Fira. The weakened steel gave way to the materia-forged omniblade, the killform was severed into two halves. But while any normal creature would’ve simply died, the nanomorph didn’t. Seifer wasn’t ready for the mechanotiger’s upper body to not just not-die, but continue on fighting like a son of a bitch. Inertia carried it, it landed on him and pinned him to the ground with its clawed paws. Its fanged maw gaped wide for the last bite.

“Seifer!” Zell cried, but before he could do anything, the nanomorphic jaw he held in his hands reformed into a tendril of jagged thorns that wrapped around his arm. He screamed as he realized that wielding a part of the nanotech enemy’s anatomy as a weapon wasn’t the best of ideas, even by his standards. It was also very, very painful.

The jawless killform rose up before him. Because it no longer had a jaw, and thus its mouth-parts were incomplete, it compensated by splitting its entire head open to form an even larger, more grotesque razor-studded maw. The rows of vibrating metal teeth spun around each other, like the components of an industrial meat processor. From the center came forth a silvery liquid metal tongue that wrapped itself around Zell’s head and pulled his face towards its hungry new orifice.

“Oh, Rufus Shinra, no.” Zell managed to utter a final prayer to the founding father of Midgar Space before his airway got constricted. Judging by the look of that pointy killy buzzsawy thing coming at his space, he knew he’d be lucky to come out of this as a deformed wheelchair-bound cripple.

“Yaa Dhiskiaon!”

Zell’s oxygen deprived brains registered a sharp whistling sound, which was actually a roaring sound had being strangled by a silver tongue not diminished his auditory acuity. But he had no trouble hearing the very loud exploding sound that came after, as the killform strangulating him was blown aside by a Space RPG detonation. The shattered machine tried to get up, but then the combined fire of half a dozen Killyshnikovs threw it back down and whittled its polyalloy combat chassis into scrap.

Meanwhile, Seifer was able to kick the mechanotiger off him, in time for a torrent of machine-rifle fire to finish it off. An olive hand reached down for the SEED operator, and he took it gratefully and rose back to his feet.

“Lieutenant Anderson,” Al-Ardeth simply nodded curtly. “Seifer, I mean.”

“Captain,” Seifer rubbed his head and looked around him, seeing the half-dozen surviving mercenaries form up around him and Zell. “What happened?”

“When we were on the verge of being overrrun, the steel beasts simply stopped moving. We thought you had finished the machine, and so we came here only to find the both of you dueling with the mechanical tigers,” Ardeth answered.

“Mechanical tigers,” their commander Raza uttered to himself. Everyone winced, knowing what was coming next. “A man with a dozen of these--”

“Where is Doctor Palmer?” Ardeth interrupted him.

***

They found him on a pool of his own blood. Seifer and Zell rushed towards him and immediately attempted to resuscitate him. They injected a Phoenix serum down directly into his heart with a large-bore needle and hooked him up to an intravenous Cura infusion. The liquid Lifestream contained plasma, optimized blood components, enriched clotting factors, regenative endogens, and more. It was what the Shinra Army used when treating soldiers who had suffered massive blood loss and extreme trauma in the field. He was in bad shape and would need a more comprehensive Curaga treatment, but those could only be done in medical facilities. They did all they could, and hopefully it would ensure that he could make it long enough to see the Curaga.

Palmer stirred on his stretcher. He reached out and grabbed Seifer by his hand.

“Sir...” he uttered, his voice faint and wavering.

“You did well soldier,” Seifer squeezed his hand. “Get some rest. We’re gonna get you patched up.”

“I tried breaking in... but it was rampant... it fought back hard. I had to install a servitude circuit...”

Seifer merely nodded at that. He understood what the man had to do to save their lives, and if that was what it took, then so be it.

“...it self-deactivated rather than have itself get reprogrammed,” Palmer finished.

“The important thing is that it’s dead,” Seifer replied.

“Terminated.” Palmer agreed and closed his eyes.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Force Lord » 2011-09-26 08:14am

Command HQ, Centralist Zone of Occupation
Wolf 359, Former MEH
Unreal Time/After Downfall


"Sir, there are reports of fighting in the Coyote area. Apparently a massive wave of droids are attacking. Should we assist?"

The Field Marshal, looking at the holographic image of the battlefield, replied, "Every unit that is not sick or otherwise engaged is to help our 'allies'. Inform the Marines and the Guards that they should help out as well."

"Yes sir," responded the aide.

"Oh, and tell the Navy to give them fire support. We need much firepower to defeat a swarm of that magnitude!"

"As you wish, sir."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Siege » 2011-09-26 09:41am

A Wolf and His Girl


Kimanjano
33XX


The forest is a tapestry of scents. Pine. Oak. Flowers and grass. Little animals scattering, small and frightened and insignificant. Dense trees all around but the wind carries the smell of meadows and fresh water from the creek miles ahead. I run. The woods are a blur. Feet rush softly over moss and pine needles.

The air is clear. The sky is blue, beyond the canopy of green. Light filters down, diffused by branches and leaves. The forest is infinite. I know it's not infinite, but it might as well be. I am free. This is my home. All I need is here. My people. My prey. Life is good.

I jump, and brambles pass harmlessly beneath me. I land on all fours and scramble to a halt, sending dirt and little rocks scattering. Red berries almost glow crimson in the light of the afternoon sun. The creek is here. I drink hungrily, guzzling down water.

There’s a scent on the water. Something unexpected and uninvited.

Unwanted. Strangers. Intruders.

I raise my nose from the creek. Water drips off my cheeks. The smell is unmistakable. It clashes with the scents of the forests. Metal and ozone at odds with the order of nature. Not just at odds. At war. The smell of technology, what humans call civilization--the fickle imagination of prey fleeing their predator. An upset of the natural order, somewhere upwind. In my domain.

The thought kindles a rage unimaginable in prey species. But we are not prey. We are predator. Masters of our domain. Intruders are challengers, and those that bring technology seek to challenge our dominance. Upend it. Intolerable. We fought and killed for less, before the furred aliens came with their fire and their choking engines... Before the wars and the accords. Now our domain is secure. We are its masters undisputed.

Any who dare violate it, we have cause to kill without fear of retribution.

I bear my fangs, enraged. I would growl but there is no-one here to intimidate, not yet. My nose catches their scent again, seeks out their direction.

I am hunting now.

I stalk my way upstream. The forest changes around me. I don’t think a human would notice but I hear small animals scattering, and I can judge the distance between my prey and me by their relative movements. I can hear the spots in the forests where no birds are singing. I can hear the rustling of leaves where the wind shouldn’t disturb them, or the spaces where leaves should rustle but don’t. And most of all I can smell them as I draw closer.

There are three of them. Two are men, loud and cumbersome. I’m sure they think they’re clever but they are idiots, completely unaccustomed to the wild. Their hearts pound. Their feet stomp loudly. They smell of sweat, testosterone, weapons oil. They communicate through hushed encrypted radio. I don’t need to crack their codes to know what they whisper. They stalk, in their own incompetent way, the third presence.

The girl smells funny somehow. She is no more than a cub, and hides under a rock I know is part of the creek. She smells of sweat also, but it isn’t the excited sweat of the men. Fear. She reeks of fear. Any predator would know it as surely as they know themselves. The men know it. She is prey. Their prey. They are hunting her.

I can hear her whimper as I circle closer. I can taste the salt of her tears on the wind. She’s weak. Pathetic. Not my immediate concern. The men are drawing closer. For all their clumsiness they are methodical. They follow her footprints. They will find her and take her. Take her here, in my domain. Unacceptable. Maybe I should have called my pack. Too late for that now. I am committed. I am defending my territory. I snarl soundlessly.

The girl looks up, cranes her head in my direction.

Impossible. I am a hunter of twenty winters’ experience. I made no sound. She cannot hear me. Can she? Have I been so clumsy? But the men are still approaching, oblivious to my presence. A fluke then. I concentrate on the situation. The girl hides where the creek makes an s-turn. A rocky outcropping hangs over the water. She hides underneath. The two men are approaching from the brush to the east of the small river. I am approaching the rocks from the south. I keep a low profile, close to the ground. They cannot see me in the undergrowth. I scramble up the rocks softly and peer down.

One of the men is just below me. Pathetic. He is so focused on the girl’s footprints he forgets to watch his surroundings. His senses are dulled, his field of vision two-dimensional. He is prey, believing himself a hunter. He is fooling no-one but his kindred. He wields a stocky weapon that smells of lightning, ozone and electricity. He breathes heavily. There is alcohol on his breath.

I jump. He only notices me at the last moment, a split-second before I hit him. Too late. I careen into him, knock him to the ground. He manages a surprised yell and his weapon discharges with a snap-crack of ionized air. A burst of static sets my fur on end. Claws scrabble for leverage on hard black armor. Then I’m at his throat. My fangs sink into the soft flesh above his armored shell. I can sense his confusion and his terror. I snap my head back and tear his trachea out. Warm blood sprays out, mottles my fur, slicks and soaks the ground. He trashes weakly and then becomes very silent. I growl victoriously and retreat into the bush, waiting for what will come next.

I don’t have to wait long. “Adelmo?” calls the other tracker. He knows something has gone wrong because there is no more radio chatter. He barges through the undergrowth like a rhinoceros. “Adelmo what-” He comes out of the trees and sees his fallen herdmate. “Oh Jesus, Adelmo. Oh Jesus, fuck.” He crouches next to the man, gets his blood all over him. The scent of the prey and the dead man intermingle.

I circle through the thickets until I am at his back. By now the man is standing up again, scanning the trees over the barrel of his rifle. Fool. He trusts his eyes too much, forgets his other senses. I dart from the brush, my movement a blur, and snap at his ankle. He screams and goes down, the Achilles tendons on his right leg severed. Before he knows what’s happening I’m gone again. He shrieks, scared and angry and hurt. He pulls the trigger and his rifle sends out chattering bursts of blue bolts. They sear plants and blow chunks out of the trees. Small fires of electric blue flame dance through the forest.

He doesn’t hit me. I’m already circling back. But he anticipates it, and jerkily moves around, trying to get his back against the rocks. I wait. Minutes pass. Slowly the sounds of the insects and the birds pick up again. The man lets out rasping breaths. He is obviously hurt. His leg is bleeding. He knows he must tend to it. And so do I. Finally he convinces himself I must be gone. He lowers his rifle.

I dart out of cover as fast as I can. He tries to clumsily lift the rifle with one hand but I’m too fast for him. It is over in seconds.

I draw back from the dead men, orientate myself. The scent of blood and dead prey is overwhelming, invigorating. I have asserted my dominance. I am the master of my domain.

That leaves the cub.

I loop around to the rock that was her hiding place and find the girl on top of it. She smells of earth and water, sweat and something funny I don’t recognize. She watches me with big eyes. Tears have washed rivulets down her grimed cheeks. “Thank you,” she says. Her voice quavers a little.

It takes me a moment to realize what puts me off about her. Then I realize what it is. She’s not afraid of me. That confuses me. Why isn’t she afraid of me? I bare my fangs and growl. She trembles and holds up her hands in a warding gesture, but she doesn’t back away. “You can understand me, can’t you?”

I cock my head. She’s not challenging me. She’s not subordinating herself either. She just is, an aberrancy in my territory. Not here of my will, but not of her own either. She smiles a little. “I can hear you.” She rests a finger against her temple. “In here.”

That means nothing to me. But she somehow understands me, which is good. I’m not sure what to do with her. But there’s something untoward in the air. High above the canopy one of the steel human ships rumbles overhead, circling slowly like a hunting bird. The girl cringes. “Help me please?”

She’s weak. Vulnerable. But she’s also just a cub. And I can smell faint traces of more hunters. The garbled whispers of their radios flit across the airwaves. They prowl the forest, a clumsy dragnet of boorish humans, drawing closer. Too many to deal with alone. They are looking for her. But this is my territory. The girl is mine. I have to call my pack. The girl must come with me.

She nods at me, a little queasy. “Okay,” she whispers. “I’ll run with you.”


The SmartWolves of Kimanjano are one of the most fiercely territorial and independent species encountered by the United Solarian Sovereignty. Canis Dirus Kimanjanis is a gengineered branch of the Canis genus, uplifted from a seed population of gray wolves in the murky pre-unification era, most likely as a means to combat Kimanjano’s naturally ferocious wildlife.

This attempt went spectacularly wrong, and the human settlers of Kimanjano spent the next two centuries trying to exterminate the uncontrollable, sentient, extremely intelligent apex predators they had unleashed. By all accounts it appeared that the wolves tried to exterminate the humans right back, and this sorry state of affairs persisted until the Bragulan occupation of Kimanjano during the First Bragulan War of the early 31st century. In the subsequent siege humans and wolves alike found themselves under threat of genocide from the aliens, resulting in an uneasy truce between the settlers and the SmartWolf tribes.

Combining forces, the two species jointly retreated into Kimanjano's dense forests, from which they fought a protracted guerrilla war against the Bragulan occupiers that caused the invaders so much trouble humans and wolves alike managed to survive until the USMC liberated the planet in 3112. In the aftermath of the war the Sovereignty and the tribes signed the Avalon Woods accords that recognized the tribes’ ownership of two-thirds of the world-spanning Kimanjano forests.

It bears pointing out that SmartWolves, though indubitably sentient, are possessed of an acutely alien intellect. They are natural predators, with all the instincts and ethologies this entails, and must be treated as such. Tribes of wolves tend to keep to themselves, possess an acute sense of social hierarchy, and react with violence to intrusions into their territories. That is not to say they cannot be reasoned with, but the peculiarities of their nature means they are sensitive to emotions like fear, doubt and anxiety. SmartWolves regard these traits as weaknesses that relegate a person to a status of prey, and unworthy of respect. This makes it difficult to work with them, since 80kg of intelligent gengineered predator is very intimidating to the average person.

Despite these difficulties instances are known of wolves taking to humans: typically these encounters involve irregular circumstances given that the wolves aren’t the kind of company people tend to seek out. But it does happen, and indeed a handful of USMC Para-Marine outfits such as the Skinwalkers and Wolf Stalkers continue working with SmartWolf liaisons to this day, with wolves acting as spotters, pathfinders, hunters and killing machines for Para-Marine packmates on battlefields throughout Wild Space and beyond.

- Excerpt from Lore of the United Solarian Armed Forces, by Maj (ret.) Sarah McDonnell, published 3316
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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-27 02:20am

El Argenti Periódicos

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The Argenti Federation Condemns the Atrocity of Earth-4

BUENOS DIAZ - El Presidente Juan Eron has stated that the two imperialist coalitions are to blame for the unspeakable horror that have happened on Earth-4, the capital of the Multiversal Empire.

“Such great evil acts have opened a gateway to the fiery pits of Hell itself,” Juan Eron said. “When I saw what had happened, I immediately went to mass and prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary for guidance, because I know not what horror the coalitions have unleashed there due to their foolish acts.”

“The destruction of an entire solar system is a tragedy never before seen in the galaxy, and all those who have partaken in the invasion have the blood of billions on their hands,” he further added. “The bloodthirsty imperialists have fostered a culture of death, an anti-life ideology. They call this pro-choice, and now they have finally gotten what they have chosen. Earth-4 shall be a monument to their godless greed and love of violence. May this be the last straw that breaks the camel's back, and may all the other nations of the galaxy that have not sullied themselves with such deplorable deeds see these coalition members for what they truly are.”

The Argenti Federation has maintained that the invasion of the Multiversal Empire was an unjustified and illegal act stemming from the imperialist and neocolonialist mindsets of many galactic powers, such as New Anglia, which maintains colonies across the galaxy, including the Balklands, which was the site of conflict between Argenti and Anglia during the 3370s. Even the Chamarran Hierarchy, leader of the inhuman coalition, is known for annexing Makay to form their nation. More recently there has been friction between Argent and the Byzantine Imperium, whose Patriarch condemned all Spanish-speaking people in the galaxy, and who was in turn rebuked by the Bishop of España Jeremiah XVIIX, a good friend and spiritual guide of President Eron.

“The latest actions of the Centrality in outright claiming a ‘Central Zone’ reveals the true form and intentions of these intergalactic vultures of nations. That the other members of their alliance have not uttered a word of protest is a sign that they condone this act.” President Eron declared. “The nations of the coalitions are there to make land grabs. The alien Bragulans have performed nuclear bombardments, likewise the human Byzantines. The Centralists have invaded with a billion soldiers and are now spreading fascism to the conquered populations. Are these the acts the coalition wishes us to see from their great crusade? Sponsored by imperialists and tyrants, it seems like this is most certainly the case.”

The Argenti Foreign Department has opened its borders to all refugees from the Multiversal Empire, while borders have been closed to any and all military vessels from either coalition.

“We applaud the United Solarian Sovereignty and Humanist Union’s brave and righteous actions in providing a safe haven for Multiversal refugees fleeing the vile invaders who have ruined their nation,” President Eron said. “May they serve as an example all of us should aspire to follow.”

The cataclysm in Earth-4 was felt even sectors away, causing a religious crisis amongst many Argents. First Lady Vita Eron is holding a prayer rally in Buenos Diaz, together with the bishops of the church, to pray for the souls of all those who have died in the Multiversal Empire due to the imperialist invasion.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Force Lord » 2011-09-27 08:29am

The Central Times

Dictator ridicules Argenti Presidente, justifies invasion of MEH

In response to recent declarations by Argenti Presidente Juan Erón, the Dictator Dirad Kierger called him a "coward" and "old softy".

"If every nation in the galaxy followed the advice of this coward and old softy, would anything get done?", stated our leader. "You would see anarchy and chaos engulf civilized space."

"War is the extension of politics by other means. The politics of peace and diplomacy failed us with the MEH, so the only solution remaining was a military one. Is it not surprising that many great powers choose war? You cannot deal with fat, imbecile lunatics controlled by a bitch who claimed to be a god."

The Centrality was a relative latecomer to the human Coalition that invaded the MEH, but had a vital role in providing the majority of the ground assets. Currently Centralist ground forces are busy restoring order in MEH worlds they occupy and organizing exclusive occupation zones. Our leader claims these will provide the nucleus of "new states" that will emerge "after a period of reconstruction and reorganization".

"Our Central Zone is meant to maintain a bastion of order in a war-torn wilderness. We have no wish to annex territory so far away from home, especially with local powers capable of blockading the area at will. Indeed, our intention is to help the recovery of a people we recently invaded and ruined. We may destroy, but we can rebuild."

"As for accusations of imperialism, is that not the history of humanity? Imperialism has always been a natural fact of politics since ancient times. I'm sure even the smallest, weakest nations dream of building their own empires. We all desire power, for whatever purpose we cook up. The only difference is the level of honesty. Have Argent, Solaris and Elysion never been imperialist themselves? I don't think so."

Kierger added that what happened on Earth-4, however, was not the Centrality's doing, nor indeed that of several members of the Human Coalition against the MEH.

"I can count with my hand who were really responsible for the death of that world. I will not say names, for the truth is self-evident. The end of Earth-4, was the work of monsters and traitors. Nothing more and nothing less."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-09-27 11:02am

El Argenti Periódicos

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Vita Eron Leads Mass Prayer Rally

BUENOS DIAZ - More than a billion have joined the mass prayer rally presided by First Lady and Spiritual Leader of the Nation Vita Eron in the Federation’s capital. Millions attended physically, while hundreds of millions more joined the religious ceremony remotely through the virtual cathedrals of the Argenti Catholic Church, in one of the largest technotheological events in recent history. Despite occasional slowdowns in the papal mainframe of Buenos Diaz’ digital diocese, the Argenti populace was able to band together in their faith to take solace and pray for the citizens of the Multiversal Empire.

The catastrophe at Earth-4 sent shock waves throughout the galaxy, bone-chilling images and videos of the event quickly spread throughout space, and the reactions of the galactic community to the apparent destruction of an entire solar system have been varied. But the fear and uncertainty has been felt most strongly in the Argenti Federation, one of the nations closest to the epicenter, and one of the few neutral states surrounded by members of the massive coalitions involved in the invasion. The highly spiritual Argenti people have been struck deeply by the incomprehensible events, and have turned to the guidance of the church for consolation in these dark times.

Vita Eron immediately rallied the distraught citizens. The extremely popular First Lady swiftly took to the task of assuaging their worries and comforting them despite the uncertainty and confusion surrounding what happened at Earth-4.

“Don’t cry for MEH Argenti,” she consoled the flocking masses. “The truth is we must pray for those who survive in Xena, in Alpha Centauri, in Wolf 359, and the countless refugees amongst the stars. They live still, and let us hope that the Almighty Father and the Blessed Virgin Mary watch over them.

“We must show the universe our compassion and strength, in the fraternity of all men and women, the building of common good, the recognition that every person has the dignity of a child of God and is important in His eyes. Life is in the hands of God and life is a gift from God, we are all His children. We must practice and witness to the commandment of love.

“Let us also hope that those who would seek to justify their acts of violence and imperialism see the light of reason and righteousness, and embrace God’s way. For He forgives all our trespasses, as we would those who would trespass against us.”
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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 Siege » 2011-09-27 11:42am

Kierger wrote:"As for accusations of imperialism, is that not the history of humanity? Imperialism has always been a natural fact of politics since ancient times. I'm sure even the smallest, weakest nations dream of building their own empires. We all desire power, for whatever purpose we cook up. The only difference is the level of honesty. Have Argent, Solaris and Elysion never been imperialist themselves? I don't think so."


Image

In a brief statement released onto the Datasphere today senior senator Robert Space McNamara lashed out against Centralist dictator Dirad Kierger. Here is the full quote:

"It would behoove Mr. Kierger to take notice of history before shooting his mouth off in front of an open microphone. If he had done so he might have known that a great many charges can be and indeed are levelled against the government of the United Solarian Sovereignty, but amongst its many transgressions the crime of imperialism is not. The Sovereignty was founded by 11 members as a direct response to unwarranted and unprovoked Bragulan aggression, and has over the short years of its existence expanded to include thirty members, all of whom joined voluntarily and of their own accord, because they recognized it was in their benefit to do so.

Mr. Kierger would do well to draw lessons from this simple fact. How many worlds have joined his Centrality in the last hundreds of years--worlds, that is, that he did not have to occuppy with billions of soldiers first, worlds he did not have to forcibly keep under the jackbooted heel of his fascist tyranny? How many has he killed in his mad quest for order and stability? How many more would he murder to bring about his mirage Arcadia? A million? A billion? Everyone?

Look at Earth-4, Mr. Kierger. That is what you have wrought. That is your doing, yours and that of all those who joined you in this insane war. It is not order. It is what every war in the whole of history has brought. It is Chaos.

Alas, the liar thinks everyone a trickster, and the killer would love nothing but to bring everyone down to his base level. It is their nature, and it goes once more to remind you that more often than not those who would claim to be our betters, aren't. That those who would claim to serve noble purposes, don't. And that those who presume to promote order, are frequently agents of anarchy.

You are the very thing you presume to oppose, Mr. Kierger. Shame on you."
Image
SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
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The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Force Lord » 2011-09-27 03:53pm

Stephen materialized at his side, a flickering green beamsaber in his hand. “The organizer got away.”

The mercenary looked at him, his reflective visor catching the light of the flames and turning into a pool of fire. “Then kindly go and kill the son of a bitch.”

The brown-robed man frowned and looked around the ruined arena. “The Bragulans will not leave this unanswered. They will throw everything you got at this place.”

Jason calmly slid another ammo pack into his smoking plasma rifle. “Nothing we can’t handle.”

Stephen nodded slowly. “Very well then.” A note of concern crept into his voice. “Watch after my daughter?”

“You got it, old man.” Without a further word the hermit rushed off, psychokinetic force boosting his movement into a supernatural blur. Jason smiled a little as he remembered an old Motonow classic. “May the Force be with you.”


The sudden chaos would had caught Redav and his two Black Star Hunters off guard had their precognition not warned them of a coming danger.

They had, in their holoshrouds, pretended to follow the general Bragulan response to the attempted rebellion of ESPer fighters, and they would have done so, if not for the unexpected appearance of the mercenaries and their...allies. They managed to flee before the brutal firefight claimed the lives of many Bragulans. Now, they were hidden, their holoshrouds deactivated. No Bragulans were nearby.

This is unexpected, my Lord, whispered telepathically one Hunter to Redav. Clearly we were not the only ones interested in crashing this tournament. What shall we do?

Our mission remains the same, Redav responded. We must find and arrest Francus. He cannot be too far.

Redav suddenly experienced a familiar sensation, something that reminded him of a life long forgotten.

I sense something, something I've not felt since..., he trailed off.

My Lord, are you well?, asked the concerned Hunter.

He is here. Now.

But whom, sire?

... A man. A man with incredible power, one who stands against everything we fight for.

If you are right, he must not be allowed to escape.

Escape is not his plan. I must face him alone.

Which leaves us two to capture the criminal. How much will this... task, take you?

Redav did not respond for a moment. You will know, he finally responded.

Then, the Hunter whispered, may Order be with you.

Redav then rushed away, the Hunters seeing nothing but a blur.

The Hunters decided that, while they could capture Francus on their own, it was best to be on the safe side. And so they gave out the telekenetic code, that would summon their backup.

Axis




Vylin Corbas and CIS teams Whiskey, Tango, and Foxtrot received the TK message, and understood perfectly what it meant.

They would move in, guided by intel supplied by the undercover CIS agents that were now following Francus, with him still none the wiser.

They would kill anyone in their way if it meant capturing the rogue Watchman....
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2011-09-30 06:00am

With Shroom Man 777 and Fingolfin_Noldor

Ushijima class assault ship HSS Saya
Deep space immediately below Sectors D-30 and E-30
UNREAL TIME / June 3401


Field Marshal Kyoko Sakura examined the myriad display screens decorating the bridge. Their course was clear, straight to Chamarran space, yet she knew that the Wobblies wouldn’t give up easy. At least, for their own sakes they shouldn’t, not after going out of their way to come this far. Sensors had detected even more multiplication in Miratian signals, which either meant they had gotten some reinforcements--which was unlikely, considering the vast distances--or they were returning the favor done to them by the Dual Empire fleets.

“Send out the King Tigers,” Kyoko said, before blowing into her mug of Byzantine-blend recaff and taking a small sip of the steaming liquid. “Intensify recon sweeps.”

“Aye, launching fighters now,” an officer acknowledged. In the viewscreens, they could see representations of the SB-7 King Tigers deploy from their motherships before engaging their hyperdrives. The superfighters were state-of-the-art Haruhiist designs, extremely capable and despite their size were considered as gunboat-class by other navies. They could make intrasector jumps and, when equipped with tactical reconnaissance pods (TARPs), sniff out whatever the Wobblies had scattered throughout space.

In the meantime, Kyoko contented herself with waiting and watching. With each passing second, their sub-fleet was nearing Hierarchy space, and reaching it would ensure their safety. Yet she assumed that their pursuers were far from idle. She was playing hard to get, but if her suitors were really that determined, then she might end up having to humor them.

She smirked, and then yawned. The recaff was hardly doing any good, and at this point she had issued all the orders she needed. There was little she could do to influence the outcome of this affair. The balls were in the Miratians’ court now.

Kyoko supposed that she could rest. But ever since Earth-4, she hadn’t been sleeping. Hadn’t slept at all, actually. Couldn’t, not after what she had seen. Whenever she closed her eyes, she always saw the same thing, again and again...

***

The Symphony of the Damned
Earth-4
Sol, Multiversal Empire of Happiness


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Amidst the carnage that consumed the entirety of Earth-4, there was a siren’s song ringing through the air, the melody of millions screaming and dying. It waxed and waned rhythmically, like a grand orchestra playing a melancholic tune as men, women and children uttered their final breaths and gave up their lives for their false goddess. Within this chorus lay the siren call for more and more souls to join them in their sacrament, even those of their enemies. All of their deaths would serve their goddess and thus enrich her as she reached out for the stars in a final act of revenge against those who had perpetrated this grand injustice against her and her people. Through their sacrifices, there would be an opportunity to break away from the hands of fate that had bound the Goddess to the only line of destiny she could possibly follow.

And now, as the sun set on Earth-4 for the final time, the climax of that last song was beginning to wax to its fullest. The end that was prophesied and promised was finally coming. It was a finality that few would have predicted, but it was here. The final actors were now in place, ready for their roles in the trap that had been laid for all those who had a part to play. They would soon learn that the vicissitudes of fate was not something so easy to escape, and once trapped in its grasp, they could only watch and behold the terrible things that were about to happen.

However, such considerations were completely and utterly lost on Field Marshal Kyoko Sakura as she led her own section of the SOS Imperial Guard and Marine Corps vanguard up another one of the spires that stood at the corners of the Leader’s palace. The surrounding area was crawling with enemy forces, and the superstructures themselves had energy signatures that were off the charts. The spires were obviously high-value installations, and so they had been dispatched to attack these sites in order to draw enemy forces away from the Leader’s stronghold and thus expedite Warmaster Rus’ lightning assault.

Kyoko’s ascent up the spire was certainly unsettling, but for completely different reasons. As far as she and her forces could see in either direction, there were absolutely no traces of the chaotic, warped architecture that dominated the rest of the Leader’s palace and its surroundings. The velvet carpets were pristine and intact. The walls were an immaculate white, well lit by the ceiling lights. Portraits hung on the walls, snapshots of better times from the Multiversal Empire’s glory days, the Goddess amongst her people, beautiful scenery unmarred by war, still lifes of droids, and candid shots of MEHmen living their lives carelessly. It was the Multiversal dream. Memories of happier, more bountiful times, frozen forever, while the whole world outside burned to ashes.

With war raging everywhere else and the insidious influences of Chaos starting to make themselves known, the pristine and immaculate setting of the spire stood out like a sore thumb thrust many miles into the air. While Mami and Sayaka had to contend with obscene monstrosities and mutated military forces, Kyoko’s own ascent remained completely unimpeded so far. She wondered how well General Misaka was faring.

“Field Marshal... where’s the enemy?” one of the Marines asked.

“I don’t know,” Kyoko replied. In addition to securing the spires, their purpose here was to pin down any enemy forces that might otherwise be sent to defend the palace against Rus’ attack. “We’ll clear the building. If we don’t find anything, we go topside and request for an evac.”

“If you say so, ma’am,” a Guardsman said.

“Look, just stay frosty, soldier,” Kyoko said. “We haven’t even gotten that far up yet. There may still be an enemy presence on the upper levels. Like I said, we’ll sweep the building, and we don’t find anything, we’ll just leave. Simple as that.”

“I still don’t like this,” the Guardsman grumbled. “It’s too easy...”

It was. The next floors came and went without incident, until they reached the last level. Instead of emerging on the spire’s balcony, they found themselves inside a vast cavernous amphitheater. It was dark, with rows of seemingly empty chairs surrounding the vacant stage. The ceiling was dome-shaped, like a parabolic dish, designed to reflect sound back to the audience.

“We’ve got movement.”

The curtains on the stage parted abruptly and dramatically. Massive spotlights shined from the ceiling, sending beams of blinding light down on the SOS soldiers. Kyoko reflexively held up her hand to block the light, even as her polarizing visor compensated for the glare. Through that glare, she could see a multitude of figures emerging on the stage...

ImageImage

Welcome, interlopers!” a distorted voice echoed throughout the auditorium. “I figured you would show up here when you’d come to take the palace. Now...join us for your welcome soirée! Care for a dance?

The figures on the stage brought up graceful instruments gilded in gold. Many of them were in fact instruments themselves, robots specifically designed to play music for the Goddess’ own personal orchestra, with intricate mechanical fingers to play keys studding their bodies, and faceless harpsichords for heads. A choir of ladies descended from above, their overlarge dresses fluttering in the air as their masses were held aloft by hoverchairs. A lone figure, the Saint, walked before the assembled orchestra. The maestro bowed before his audience.

“I don’t like this,” a Marine growled. “What do we do, boss?”

“When in doubt...” Kyoko sized up the assembled musicians and flashed a predatory grin. “Kill them all.”

“Oorah!” the Marine grunted. Together with his squad, he ran up towards the stage and brought up his rifle. “This concert is closed due to bad reviews, and incoming fire!”

He fired. Phased plasma bolts strobed through the subdued lighting and streaked towards the maestro, but the conductor merely waved the diamond-tipped baton in his hands, and the instrumental machines began playing their music. Silver fingers strummed gold-weaved chords and struck mother of pearl keys. A visible wave of distorted air with the rippling consistency of liquid water expanded from the cybernetic symphony, and upon making contact with the distortion, the phased plasma bolts simply winked out of existence.

The entire squad opened up with their weapons, but it was to no avail as the expanding wall of fluidic light reached them. The atonal symphony was joined by a chorus of death screams as men and women were flayed alive, the very molecules slowly peeling off their armor, and then their flesh. Their bleached skeletons collapsed onto the auditorium’s empty chairs, as though sitting down after a standing ovation.

“Empress...” Kyoko gasped. Those soldiers, gone just like that. Were they using some kind of sonic weaponry?

I see you’ve enjoyed our little demonstration. Don’t worry, we’re just warming up,” the maestro promised her. His back was towards them as he resumed conducting his orchestra. He tapped his baton on his score table, flipped to another page and cleared his mechanical throat. “Now. Let us begin.

“Everyone scatter!” Kyoko shouted. The next wave vaporized the remains of the skeletonized squad, along with the chairs closest to the stage. The other Guard and Marine formations moved out of the way of the destructive sound pulses, which gradually subsided and dissipated after reaching past a certain distance. Kyoko crouched behind a ruined chair, her ears still ringing from the sonic attack.

Laughter echoed throughout the amphitheater.

How about a more relaxing tune?” the maestro taunted. A pair of clunking, barrel-chested bronze-sculpted robots walked to the front of the stage. There was a whistling sound as the ports on their bodies drew in air, and then a deep gut-rumbling noise issued forth from their torso-trumpets.

No, it can’t be... Kyoko’s eyes widened in horror. That sound was unmistakable. She remembered, Solaris, 3393. She was visiting just in time for the Mega City riots, and had seen... and heard of how Max-Tac had put the unruly underhivers down. She recognized the sound now omnidirectionally reverberating through the auditorium.

Brown. Noise.

“Shit!” a Marine, PFC J. Sasaki, summarized it sucinctly. Her remaining troops, who had managed to dodge the first wave, were now groaning in abject misery at what the last attack had inflicted upon them. Kyoko fought the burning shame threatening to creep onto her face, and held back the tears that were welling up in her eyes. Nausea threatened to overcome her. But she struggled on. She was a soldier, a fighter, a warrior woman, and she would not let this grave insult defeat her. She rose up, despite the horrible discomfort it caused her, and brought her weapon--an M25 plasma rifle with a fixed bayonet--up to bear on her enemies.

“By Haruhi, I swear I am going to fucking kill every last one of you fuckers!” she spat. With those words of rage, her Guards and Marines rallied to her, their own shame giving away to anger and the desire to wreak revengeance.

The maestro sighed dismissively. “Some people just don’t have any taste,” he lamented, before shrugging and bringing up his baton for another crescendo. “Oh well, you’ll be dead anyway, what do I care.

The baton went down, and simultaneously all the instrumental machines unleashed a wall of coagulated sound, like a tsunami of distorted light rushing towards the struggling formation of SOS Imperial Guards and Marines. The troops closest to the waves cringed and reeled in horror, awaiting the inevitable, closing their eyes and preparing to die. But something happened.

The waves stopped.

They didn’t dissipate. They didn’t disperse. They were still there, but they were still. Mere inches away from the closest SOS Marine who was on the verge of making his peace with the Empress. PFC J. Sasaki took this opportunity to scramble away from the frozen death-wave as fast as he could while thanking Haruhi for the blessings she had bestowed upon him by letting him live to fight another day.

In his place, two lithe and identical-looking young girls stepped forward to face the maestro and his death-wave. They were clones of General Mikoto Misaka, aptly named Misaka 10031 and Misaka 10032, part of the program to produce weaponized espers for the SOS Imperial Armed Forces. The girls were serene, their faces calm and showing no sign of strain from holding back the orchestra’s devastating sonic attack with sheer force of will alone.

What-- What is the meaning of this?!” the maestro sputtered as he waved his baton wildly. His mechano-musicians played harder and harder, but to no avail. “Who dares interrupt our music?!

“We’re here to audition,” Misaka 10031 smiled.

“And we even brought our own instruments,” Misaka 10032 added, and giggled.

Together, they brought out containers that looked nothing so much like guitar cases. They opened them and produced a pair of strange, asymmetrical machines vaguely rifle-like in shape and form, painted hot-rod red. Kyoko recognized them as psionic accelerators. The machines activated with a dull bass thrum, and as the espers pumped more and more psionic energy into the devices, they began to crackle from the ionic buildup. There was an explosion of sparks, and arc lightning coursed through the length of the psionic accelerators like strings of jagged electricity.

In rage, the maestro intensified his symphony and the sphere of rippling sonic energy began expanding once more. But the two clone-espers stood their ground.

"Your false goddess might have given you many foul gifts, but the Empress Haruhi has also blessed us with many powers,” Misaka 10031 declared, and Misaka 10032 continued for her, “One of which, as you will soon see, is the Power of Rock!"

The Misakas held up psycho-conductive picks in their hands, and then brought them down and began strumming the streams of ectoplasmic electricity coursing through their psionic accelerators, plucking the lightning with delicate fingers as though the searing bolts were but strings. A low rumbling sound filled the auditorium, the ground began to vibrate, and dust shook off the ceiling. Ambient energy in the air began to build up in the form of crackling static electricity. The lights dimmed. And then they struck the power chord, sending a counter-wave of light and sound right back at the maestro and his orchestra. Like matter meeting anti-matter, the second their manifested music made contact with the death-wave, the entire amphitheater exploded.

Please don't say "You are lazy"
だって本当はcrazy
白鳥たちはそう
見えないとこでバタ足するんです
本能に従順 忠実 翻弄も重々承知
前途洋々だし…
だからたまに休憩しちゃうんです

この目でしっかリ見定めて
行き先地図上マークして
近道あればそれが王道
はしょれる翼もあれば上等

ヤバ 爪割れた グルーで補修した
それだけでなんか達成感
大事なのは自分 かわいがること
白分を愛さなきゃ 他人も愛せない


The girls sang while the dome ceiling shattered into countless building-sized fragments, which were scattered throughout the nine vectors. The blood red skies, the burning palace of Sasha jutting over the horizon, and the rest of the mega-city surrounding the spire were laid bare and revealed for all to see. Gusts of wind blew over the unprotected stage, and empty chairs were ripped off the floor and blown away.

“The battle of the bands has just begun,” Kyoko grinned. “Boys and girls, join the chorus!”

The surviving SOS Imperial Guards and Marines added their fire to the lightning strikes clashing against the symphony’s sonic wave attacks. Torrents of phased plasma and gauss penetrators, together with the Misakas’ electrokinetic attacks, drove the maestro’s music back. But the Saint of Sasha was far from defeated.

It’s time for the vocals!” the conductor declared as he waved his baton again, and the large ladies on their hoverchairs flew towards the SOS formation with utmost menace. “Sing to me, my angels of music!

The soprano singers unleashed an ear-piercing, high-pitched banshee’s wail as they swept in for musical strafing runs. Their dresses fluttered as their hoverchairs glided through the air, kicking up shards of shattered glass in their wake. The affected Haruhiists covered their bleeding ears with their hands. Whenever the rings of distorted air emitted by their ululating mouths struck an unfortunate target, he or she simply exploded into a shower of disintegrated organs.

“Put a cork in it!” Kyoko snapped as she fired a snap shot from her M25. The phase plasma bolt flew right inside the mouth of one of the flying sopranos, and exited the back of her head along with a stream of vaporized teeth. The overlarge woman simply fell off her hoverchair and plummeted several kilometers off the spire.

Meanwhile, the Misakas continued their climatic battle with the symphony, and despite the surprise soprano strike, they were continuing to drive the sonic wave back. But the maestro would have none of it. The baton he held in his hand transformed into a gold-threaded bow, while his other arm morphed into a fiddle, and he began playing his instrument furiously. He joined the orchestra and added his own considerably might to the symphony. The sonic wave surged once more, growing larger and repulsing the thunder storm conjured by the Misakas.

“Field Marshal, we’ll create an opening for you!” Misaka 10031 shouted. She went down on her knees, rocked her head up and down wildly, and strummed the chords of electricity on her accelerator harder and faster, sending more lightning to clash against the symphony’s attack.

“Rock on!” Kyoko waved the sign of the horns at the Misakas before inserting a fresh magazine into her M25.

Misaka 10032 turned to the remaining SOS troopers, who were either fighting off the sopranos or succumbing to the sonic weaponry. She rallied them by crying, “You and I must fight for our rights, you and I must fight to survive!”

“No one's gonna take us alive, the time has come to make things right!” the troops hollered back as they resumed fighting with renewed determination.

Together, the Misakas and the SOS troopers concentrated their attack at a single point in the symphony’s musical death-wave. It cracked under the barrage, and a tongue of lightning lashed out from the Misakas’ accelerator-guitars and struck the maestro in the face, partially melting his masked visage. Kyoko took this opportunity to leap onto the stage. Upon landing, she bayoneted the nearest instrumental-robot and sent a torrent of phased plasma at another harpsichord-faced machine, reducing it into a puddle of steaming pyrite. Behind her, the death-wall closed as the face-melted maestro regained his composure and resumed playing his infernal strings.

You think you can defeat us?” he laughed as he turned to face Kyoko, revealing his twisted visage. “Our death-harmonic symphony shall serenade the triumph of the Goddess’ will. It shall be a lullaby for when you close your eyes for the final time.

A door opened on the stage floor, and a shining spherical mass of iron emerged from it. It was a disco ball. A death-harmonic disco ball.

Prepare the laser beam! I’m gonna use it tonight!” the maestro cried out as the death-harmonic disco ball rose from the floor. The emitters that studded the ball’s surface glowed a faint red as they activated. The deadly sphere began spinning slowly yet steadily. “Engage the laser beam! It’s gonna end your life!

The sphere strobed brightly and shot out dozens of laser pulses, sweeping through the stage like a grid of bloodlit lines. Kyoko dodged with superhuman speed, the pulses barely even singeing her hair as she weaved between the laser lines and leapt into the orchestra’s instrumental machines. The flashing beams followed and did all the work for her as she maneuvered through the golden harpsichord-headed machines, the droids with mother of pearl piano keys on their torsos, the spider-like drum contraptions, and the walking bronze tubas. Suddenly, the orchestra became much quieter, and the wall of murderous music made manifest diminished. The Misakas’ lightning bolts began seeping through and smiting the other orchestral machines.

No! No! My valkyrie, stop her!” the maestro screamed in a panic.

On cue, the last large lady on a hoverchair dove towards Kyoko, who was still on the run from the lasers. The woman began to sing, sending a sonic pulse of bone-liquefying energy towards the Field Marshal. But Kyoko jumped, and the pulse missed her and merely struck the stage floor, causing an explosion that actually propelled her further with its momentum. Kyoko landed on the hoverchair right beside the soprano singer. The woman turned to face her while singing a high-pitched note of destruction, but Kyoko grabbed the soprano’s head and twisted it towards the death-harmonic disco ball. The spherical mass of iron began vibrating as the notes resonated through its form, causing a hundred hairline fractures to spiderweb throughout its surface. The soprano singer continued to sing--actually, she was literally screaming her head off as Kyoko continued twisting her neck--and then the death-harmonic disco ball finally exploded into a shower of shards, impaling the remainder of the maestro’s orchestra.

“Your fat ladies have sung, but the only one it’s gonna be over for is you,” Kyoko called out to the maestro as she snapped the soprano singer’s neck and jumped off the hoverchair. She landed on the stage, just as the orchestra players fell all around her in several pieces, their bodies and chassis all sliced to bits by the lasers that had unsuccessfully chased her before.

The sin of pride is what will do you in,” the maestro intoned as he brought up his golden fiddle threateningly. His bow touched the strings.

Kyoko merely laughed and brought up her own M25. “I thought we had this settled, I'm the best there's ever been.”

Infuriated, the maestro prepared to play his instrument, but a bolt of light struck him, blasting his limb clean off the shoulder. His scream of anguish nearly matched the soprano singers’ notes in its ear-piercingness.

“Now it would be a sin for you to get my bow,” Kyoko said as she picked the severed violin-arm off the floor. “You go on back to hell and to the wood shed I will go.”

The violin struck the maestro’s face before he could even make a comeback. Both the instrument and his visage deformed from the impact, and he collapsed to the floor. But Kyoko didn’t relent. She brought the golden violin up over her head, and she brought it down on the maestro’s face again and again and again, until both the instrument and the maestro’s skull were misshapen wrecks. Strings jutted out from the ruined gold violin. Putrid black fluid oozed out of the maestro’s shattered head.

“And you just saw Kyoko Sakura’s amazing drum solo,” Kyoko spat on her enemy’s face as she tossed aside the malformed fiddle. She took a deep breath. All of their enemies had been quite thoroughly killed. She looked around, at her remaining men and women, at the Misaka clones who had been instrumental in their victory here. She took a moment to look up at the sky.

Just then, a blinding light flashed from the direction of the false goddess’ palace, and then an orb of darkness emerged from the horizon like a negative sun, bathing the entire landscape in black light. It was expanding, growing larger and larger, swallowing up the whole sky. It loomed over the spire and the entire mega-city like an obsidian scar in reality.

...massive explosion at... palace!” a garbled voice could be heard over the radio. It took Kyoko moments to realize that it belonged to Field Marshal Homura Akemi. “Aurelian... emergency evacuation... all forces on Earth... RTB immediately.

Kyoko was about to radio in for an evac when the stage itself exploded outwards in a spray of wooden splinters, sending her flying back to the audience area. She fell on a chair, which crumpled under the impact. She looked back at the exploded platform and saw smoke and purple fire spewing out of the hole on the floor. A sparkling figure emerged from the gaping hellhole. There shined a shiny Saint, in all of its ostentatious glory, in the middle of the stage.

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Behind her, great fiery pillars of destruction descended from the black hole in the sky. The thick flaming columns writhed like tentacles and swept across the megacities of Earth, destroying all they touched, extinguishing all life in the culmination of Sasha’s ascension. It was coming closer to the spire, Kyoko realized, but the Saint paid it no heed.

A front row seat to the true diva of the show, the Goddess Sasha herself!” the Saint laughed, her mellifluous voice belying her grotesque nature as she slithered on the remains of the stage with her serpentine lower body. “Why, my dears, you can even have a backstage pass for after the concert!

She cackled as though it were some hilarious joke. Kyoko scowled as she pointed her M25 at the Saint’s face.

“The only thing going backstage is my gun up your ass!” she growled before squeezing off a shot.

The hypersonic phased plasma bolt came within a micrometer of the Saint’s face, but the thing merely puckered up her lips and blew a kiss, and as with the first shots fired at the maestro, the pulse of blurring light extinguished the energy bolt. The Saint winked at Kyoko and then blew another kiss, at her.

But the Field Marshal saw it coming, and with superhuman speed she dodged the pulse of obliteration by somersaulting a dozen meters into the air. Yet in jumping out of the way, she rendered herself vulnerable to a follow up attack. The Saint puffed up her cheeks to send out another devastating sonic strike.

“Field Marshal, catch!” one of the Misakas threw her psi-accelerator at Kyoko, using psychokinetic powers to propel the instrument into the Field Marshal’s hands.

“Thanks,” Kyoko caught it while still in the ballistic arc of her evasive leap, hanging upside down and suspended midair. She closed her eyes and attuned her own psionic energies into the device. It came alive with a spark, and crackling lightning-strings streamed across its form.

The Saint opened her mouth and let out a murderous melody, a voice even more terrific than the entire choir of sopranos combined. It reached Kyoko, but she strummed her psi-amplifier and banged her head, sending a wave of coruscating thunder and lightning to clash against the Saint’s acoustic beam. The unstoppable force met an immovable object, one made out of purest rock, and the resulting seismic shockwave rippled forth from the spire they were on and spread outwards. At first, the transparisteel windows of the surrounding starscrapers were shattered into diamond dust, and then the rest of the buildings followed suit, their structures crumbling as their very foundations were rocked into oblivion.

The two forces cancelled each other out, and as the echoing reverberations subsided, Kyoko finally landed on her feet. She surveyed the carnage she and the Saint had wrought. While the spire itself was still intact, if barely, the surrounding cityscape had been thoroughly flattened as though it had been in the epicenter of a tac-nuke detonation. A thin line of blood trickled down from Kyoko’s nostril, she wiped it off with an SOS-issue silk handkerchief.

Impressive, you most certainly have talent,” the Saint taunted, before drawing out an enormous sword and slashing at Kyoko. “Now let’s see if you can make the cut!

The Field Marshal jumped back to avoid the strike, but the Saint pressed on with deceptive speed despite her massive serpentine form. Kyoko didn’t have time to focus her psionic powers. In sheer desperation, she pulled out a katana from her psi-accelerator.

“Buddy Holly guide my blade!” she cried. The monomolecular blade was a blur as she parried another strike.

Fool! There is no one to guide you!” the Saint sneered as she delivered another tremendous blow. Kyoko managed to block it, but its force drove her down and caused the floor beneath her feet to crater. Their blades locked, Kyoko stood firm, but the Saint was simply too strong. The Misakas, sensing that the Field Marshal was in danger, attempted to intervene along with the remaining SOS troops, but the Saint merely repulsed them with another sonic pulse, throwing them aside like rag dolls. Some soldiers were thrown off the spire completely and plummeted to their demise. “Look around you, Field Marshal. Look at the sky. Do you see what is happening to this planet? Do you have any comprehension of the grandeur that has transpired? You have failed your Empress. The Goddess has triumphed!

The Saint’s scaly tail whipped out from underneath Kyoko and wrapped itself around her form. Kyoko tried to scream, but felt the wind forced out of her as the Saint constricted tighter and tighter, rendering her ribcage unable to expand and her lungs unable to draw in air. The Saint squeezed even more every time she exhaled.

There is no one left to help you! You will die here alone!” the Saint ranted on as she continued asphyxiating Kyoko. The woman screamed a silent scream before the world went black as oxygen deprivation took its toll on her. Her hearing was the last sensation to go prior to unconsciousness.

Kyoko Sakura. We won’t leave you behind.

A tiny voice called out to Kyoko through her earpiece. She recognized it.

Sayaka. Miki.

Kyoko Sakura. We won’t leave you behind.

Sight returned as blood flow resumed. Kyoko gasped for breath, as the Saint had inexplicably released its hold on her. The wind was howling, and hovering before the beast was a CV-77K Super Pelican gunship surrounded by a squadron of Infinite Stratos suits. They unleashed of phased plasma bolts and beams, striking the Saint and causing her to break off from Kyoko and slither away to evade the barrage. The rear ramp of the Pelican lowered, and a familiar figure leapt out of the aerospacecraft, flanked by the six Stratos suits.

Field Marshal Sayaka Miki walked over to Kyoko and helped her up.

“Right in the nick of time, Saya-chan,” Kyoko smiled weakly, still catching her breath.

“We have to get off this death rock as soon as possible, Kyoko. It’s time to end this,” Sayaka said as she brought out a case and pulled out her own psi-accelerator. She tossed a spare to the Misaka clone who had given her accelerator to Kyoko. “Misakas, with us. The rest of you, fall back to the dropship.”

The SOS Imperial Guards and Marines withdrew to the Pelican while the Stratos supersoldiers lifted off, leaving only the two Field Marshals and the two Misaka clones. The Saint slithered out of hiding from beneath the spire’s ruined pinnacle. On one side, the burning sky silhouetted their forms, casting giant shadows on the ruined landscape below them. On the other side was the unreal night brought by Sasha’s ascension, a black portal rimmed by writhing eldritch appendages reaching out towards them. Kyoko reignited her psionic accelerator and stared the slithering Saint down. “It’s time for the final number. Purple Filth, live at Endsville.”

There will be no escape for you all! You will all die a peasant’s death!” the Saint hissed defiantly as she brandished her sword. Her tail coiled around her in preparation for her strike.

Kyoko flashed yet another predatory grin, as she was often given over to doing. “Is that so?” she said as she placed her hand by her psi-accelerator.

The Saint issued an ear-piercing shriek and attacked, blade raised high, ruinous powers blasting out of her open mouth. Everything her voice touched turned into ash, but the Field Marshals and Misaka clones stood their ground as the death-wave washed over them. A thick cloud of dust rose from the scene of carnage, and the Saint laughed in triumph.

Then, a gust of wind blew the dust cloud away, revealing the four Haruhiistas still standing and cradling their instruments, evidently unscratched from the attack. Kyoko brushed some dust off her shoulder before saying, “Our turn.”

No, it can’t be!” the Saint gasped.

But it was. Kyoko, Sayaka, and the Misakas strummed their accelerators and sent a wall of blinding psychic light at the Saint, who screamed in horror as she was engulfed by the radiance. She wailed and writhed as her black form disappeared in the total whiteout. A second sun blossomed there, on the peak of the spire, even as the unnatural darkness of Sasha’s culminated ascension brought eternal night to the world.

The light gradually subsided, revealing the Saint’s smoldering form suspended in midair. She uttered in disbelief, “What are you really?! Be you gods? Be you angels?

“No,” all of the Haruhiistas found themselves replying solemnly. “We are but girls. Rock!”

Together, the four of them sent a final pulse of rock at the Saint, shattering her form into a storm of disintegrating shrapnel. The rhythmic wave motion propagated further, going outwards in an arcing path that carved through everything in its way--including the writhing blackness that, by now, had swallowed up the entire sky--burning a narrow path of rainbow light through the firmament and into space itself.

Sparing no time, the Infinite Stratos suits swept down and plucked the Haruhiistas off the spire mere seconds before it collapsed, and brought them into the Pelican as it rocketed through the hole their psychic blast had punched through the dead sky. Even as they soared, their pathway was narrowing as the blackness expanded to close the gap, like unholy flesh healing over a wound. Whipping tendrils of ink lashed at their dropship, carving gouges on its fuselage. Point-defense fire ripped through them, but they still kept coming. The Pelican engaged its afterburners, and its pulse drive sent it at hypersonic speeds through the mesosphere, but at the last second, a thick black tentacle latched onto their aerospacecraft and prevented it from breaking out into space. Inside the dropship, the Haruhiistas continued strumming their accelerators while focusing every last fiber of their psychic abilities to enclose their ship in a sphere of psionic energy, fighting against the appendage that had adhered on their ship.

I recognize that tune,” Homura cried out over the radio. “All ships, provide cover to that dropship! Fire the remaining liquid-R warhead!

Lances of relativistic plasma stabbed down, severing the tentacle that had snared the Pelican. Other beams, missiles, and beam-shooting missiles rained from the heavens to cause a thermonuclear widening of the Pelican’s escape route. Protected by its psychic shield, the dropship raced through the expanding fireballs, evaded the withering tendrils trying to catch it, and finally exited the planetary atmosphere, backlit by a flash of brilliant green light. Homura had ordered that a single liquid rubiconium warhead be kept in reserve, though she certainly did not imagine that she’d be using it for something like this.

“Elvis has left the building!” Kyoko said as she tossed her accelerator to the deck and collapsed onto a bucket seat. As the dropship entered an awaiting carrier’s bays, she decided that it was probably the best time to faint, and so she did, allowing unconsciousness to take her.

***

“Unidentified contacts are escorting the Byzantine Saint into Earth, a whole fleet... They’re diving into Earth! Empress be with them.”

“The Chamarrans are opening fire on the Byzantines, but they’re not retaliating!”

“Goddamn cats, I can’t believe they fell in with the Brags. Project our jamming fields to cover the Byzantine fleet, and send as much point defense as we can to shoot down the Chamarran missiles heading their way. Main batteries, focus on repulsing the attacks from Earth... Someone, get us out of Sol now before the anomaly or the OMINOUS get us!”

“We’re at the hyperlimit. Jumping... now!”


***

The malignant red eye of Earth That Was. Billions burning alive on its damned surface. Tentacles whipping through space to rip ships apart. The flash of hyperspatial reversion.

Kyoko’s eyes snapped open, and she nearly jumped out off her command chair. Her empty cup of recaff clattered to the floor and rolled off to the side. She looked around the bridge, her eyes eventually falling on the overhanging chronometer, which indicated that only mere minutes had passed. The bridge crew were busy doing their duties, showing no sign of having seen her doze off. Her XO apparently did, though, and he bent down to pick the cup up.

“Field Marshal, are you feeling okay, ma’am?” he asked concernedly.

“I’m... I'm fine,” Kyoko sighed. “I think I just need a long vacation after this.”
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 Force Lord » 2011-10-01 03:14pm

Orbit over Crevecia
Sector O-7
Unreal Time


It was so far an unusual day in Crevecia, a day without fighting, death, and suffering. It was of course a mere pause, a temporary halt as both sides took a breather, but it was still peace. Many enjoyed it while they could.

For it was about to end abruptly, not from either side, but from the skies.

On the continents of Lexica, Carima, and Kafka, strongholds of the rebel forces, people watched with horror as fire fell from the heavens, destroying everything it touched. City after city in these continents were hit, along with part of the surrounding countryside, as ruin spread over the planet. Only New Legnica, the stronghold of the loyalists, was unharmed. It was deliberate.

For it was Task Force 6, under the command of Rear-Admiral Kamar Davoix, that was doing the bombardment. Barrages of plasma beams plunged into the planet, though they were not at their maximum, planet-destroying level. The aim was the destruction of the war-making ability of the rebel factions and their forces in the field. Military targets had priority, but the Centralites shrugged off the possibility of civilian casualties. They were collateral damage, as far as they were concerned.

As the bombardment ended, the following transmission was sent to every media facility and comunications facilities still standing in rebel territories:

Code: Select all

REBEL SCUM!

YOU HAVE NOW WITNESSED THE POWER OF OUR FURY! YOUR PATHETHIC ATTEMPT TO OVERTHROW THE LEGIMATE GOVERNMENT OF THIS WORLD IS FUTILE!

INHABITANTS OF THE CONTINENTS OF LEXICA, CARIMA, AND KAFKA!

OUR WAR IS NOT AGAINST YOU, BUT THE PERFIDIOUS INSURRECTIONIST CHIEFS WHO HAVE MISLED YOU INTO FIGHTING THE RIGHTFUL STATE! SURRENDER THEM TO US, AND WE WILL GRANT YOU LENIENCY AND ASSISTANCE! IF YOU FAIL OR RESIST, WE WILL TAKE THEM FROM YOU WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE!

THIS IS YOUR ONLY WARNING!
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby DarthShady » 2011-10-03 03:13pm

Co-written with Siege

Loracus
Deep inside Karlack Space


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“Finally!” Alyxia exclaimed, in a rare moment of excitement and what one could only describe as joy. She had found it. After months of rummaging and searching through data discs and storage devices pillaged from the AdMech repository recovered at Nova Genoa, she had found it.

Historical logs of ancient battles described its awesome power, gave tantalizing clues to its location. The part of her mind that was still Alyxia Komnenos knew its devastating capabilities.. She had thought the ancient device only a myth, for surely her Father’s machine cult would not abandon one of their legendary works. But the off-chance that she was wrong had driven her to pursue the bread crumbs of evidence, from the whispers of her own memory all the way to the Mechanicum of Nova Genoa. And now she had proof. She found the location of one of the Imperiums weapons of legend, a technological marvel thought to be long lost to the winds of time. A psi-titan.

She grabbed the data discs and quickly made her way out of large subterrane she was in. It was an organic cathedral, a living, breathing construct of immense size, its carapace’d halls littered with technological devices and mechanical constructs, some easily recognizable as Imperium technology, but just as many that would seem utterly alien to the average galactic citizen. This planet was a junkyard, a storage place for the Swarm to keep its trophies. It was a museum of races consumed and long ago forgotten, an infested monument to those that fell before the might of the ravenous hordes. The enemies of the Swarm gave them far too little credit, for a little known fact was that the Broods did not merely devour. They also scavenged, learned eagerly from what they found. Modern and ancient technologies were brought to Loracus so that their value, or their possible threat to the Karlack could be determined. They were studied by one Aspect or another, and they took away lessons from them, and modified their broods accordingly.

Alyxia had no time to lose. She rushed to the surface while contemplating her discovery. If the ancient psi-titan, a technology believed lost even to the Imperium itself, was still there, on that little insignificant rock - and if she could claim its power for herself... It would be glorious. She would show the galaxy carnage unbound, as befitted the Queen Bitch of the Universe.

Edge of the Loracus Sector
Twenty minutes later


Creatures big and small stirred in the depths of space, converging on a single location like moths to a flame--or sharks to a bleeding prey. Creatures both terrible and deadly, the stuff of nightmares, scourge of the K-Zone. Bio-ships summoned by the will of their mistress, assembled into a huge armada of claws and tentacles - a Star Brood. Hers. They were preparing for a trip across the void. Their destination, a small and insignificant planet, long forgotten by the galaxy and its inhabitants.

That would soon change.

Aboard one of the gigantic hive ships Alyxia smiled, her mental gaze cast out across the gulf of stars and firmly set upon her prize, a predatory grin on her face. With a mere thought she directed her assembled Brood, Omega energies stirred and intensified, reality itself bended and twisted - and the Brood Ships departed into the madness of the warp.

Her grin was short lasting.

A second later a familiar voice boomed in her head. “How dare you?!” The voice asked in an irritated tone. “You would use a mechanical construct? When you know such things are unnecessary. We are pure. We are perfect! This is a violation of all that we are!”

How did he know? She cursed her own overconfidence. Araq was easily her equal in many ways and more ancient by far. The rival Aspect was a master of the biological, safekeeper of the essence of the Swarm, and a Maker of creatures so perfect and beautiful they had reduced humans to tears -- right before they tore their faces off. He was a force to be reckoned with. And reckon with him it appeared she had to.

“This is not about our perfection,” Alyxia answered with a mental scowl. ”This is about power.”


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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby White Haven » 2011-10-05 05:11pm

“Director Helendale, I am formally declaring a class two KING IN YELLOW event, locus in excess of two thousand light-years antispinward.”

Thomas Garcia couldn’t help but remember the thrill of delivering those simple words. Fear, of course, because no one sane wanted a KING IN YELLOW incident of any class, anywhere. At the same time, though, he was honest enough with himself to admit the excitement he’d felt at the time. Vindication for his choice in careers, a certain smug satisfaction at the shell-shocked reactions of those colleagues who’d looked at the Existential Threat Monitoring Directorate as a joke posting, even a touch of power-madness as Deep Purple’s resources suddenly began dancing at his call. And, of course, relief.

It could have been a class one.

A corner of his mind mused over the memory as he sat behind a cluttered desk in his cramped office aboard the now-formerly-out-of-the-way monitoring post he called home. Most of the rest of his attention was taken up with the drafting of another in a long chain of contingency plans, resource requisitions, and action proposals. Between one thought and the next, the hatch to his office whirred open, then shut again after admitting a single figure with close-shaved white hair and a dark grey suit. Garcia glanced up with an expression somewhere between puzzlement at how someone had gained access to his office unannounced and irritation at the interruption. Both those notions slithered to a halt amidst a twenty-thought pileup as the identity of his visitor registered.

How-- He’s not-- Nobody cleared to dock-- I should have felt a ship docking-- We’re a recon station, how do you even sneak up on us-- Why is he-- God dammit, is my boss a KING IN YELLOW event?

Director of Operations Warren Naismith folded his arms over his chest and stared across the cramped cabin with one eyebrow millimetrically raised.

He shouldn’t be a telepath, I hope he’s not...

“...Aaaaah....Director! Uh...welcome aboard?” Garcia stammered out an awkward greeting, finally managing to wrest control of his lips from sheer surprise. He started to wave at the plastic chair across the desk, then winced and aborted the motion; the chair was a flat surface other than the floor, and as such it was in use as auxiliary desk-space.

Naismith’s lips twitched slightly in what would have been a sardonic grin in almost any other person. “That sounded like a question, Mister Garcia. I should be asking you that, I think. Am I welcome aboard?” His eyes flicked towards the occupied chair at the curtailed gesture, another slight twitch of his lips registering.

“Of course!” Thomas blurted out quickly, starting to stand up from his seat behind the desk as he continued, “Er...perhaps the conference room? I, er, wasn’t expecting a visitor, sir.”

Naismith’s shaking head and gesturing hand eased him back down into place as the older man began to speak again, “No need, I won’t be long. Besides, being seen would raise questions. Now, I’m here to ask you for two things. First, information. If you would, please sum up any findings that haven’t yet made it into official reports.”

“Aaah...of course, Director. The only recent development is that there appears to be some sort of repeating complex fluctuation in the majority of the relevant readings. There’s not nearly enough of an experience base to really tell, but the current prevailing theory is that it’s a message or code of some kind. Beyond that, we’re still working on it.” Garcia shrugged slightly as he paused to collect his thoughts, “We’re getting as much from the interstellar news feeds at this point. We know it’s not growing at astrographically-significant speeds. It’s not a hellgate, or at least if it is it’s a very understated one; nothing’s been flooding out of it that we’ve heard anything about.”

The director’s head nodded slowly as he absorbed the summary, then once more, curtly, as reaching a decision. His low, gravelly voice rasped out, “As I expected, although the message is new. Still, it’s nothing that indicates any probability of becoming a Class One event, would you concur?”

There was a silent pause as Garcia mulled over his response before speaking up again, “Broadly, yes, with the rather significant caveat that nobody has enough experience with KING IN YELLOW events to be able to generalize with much confidence.”

“Alright, fair enough, consider your ass suitably covered.” Garcia winced at the director’s bone-dry words, but made no move to interrupt as Naismith continued, “All that being understood, I have a favor to ask you.”

“A...favor.”

“Yes. A favor. As the officer in charge of a KING IN YELLOW response, you have very broad powers with which to call on available resources. I’m asking you to...keep your response as minimalist as possible for the moment.” Naismith paused for a moment, the barest trace of a lopsided smile tugging at his lips, “We’re going to have need of most every resource we have at our disposal in a fairly short time. I need to know that you will not be yanking them out from under me.” His voice grew harder, the words clipped and sharp by the end of the last sentence. After a significant pause, he continued in a calmer tone, “Could you do me that favour, Mister Garcia?”

Almost anyone else in the Existential Threat Monitoring Directorate would have simply caved and called off the KING IN YELLOW response altogether, or at least tried. By Naismith’s reputation, such an attempt may well have been unwise, but that wouldn’t have stopped most of them. Garcia, however, just did a bad job at hiding a grimace and met Naismith’s eyes head-on. His voice was even, almost monotone, as he responded, clearly not at all happy to defy his ultimate boss, but unwilling to back down, “Director, a Class Two is only ‘not bad’ by comparison to a Class One Event. I would be remiss in my duties if I simply ignored it. I appreciate what you’re asking of me, but the scale of this event is such that if we’re going to do anything other than watch from this distance, I need resources, and I don’t think we can afford to not do something.”

The silence in the wake his Garcia’s riposte stretched out longer and longer, both men staring at each other quietly. Finally, Naismith gave a slow nod, a trace of real respect flitting across his face as he opened his mouth, “Fair. I can’t give you much, but what do you need?”

With a slightly manic grin and a chuckle, Garcia replied quickly, tension unspooling as the confrontation passed, “Ideally? The Red Second, to set up the kind of area-denial blockade I’d prefer to. Realistically?” He fell silent for a few seconds, then nodded, “Give me the resources to put together a monitoring station and fuelling post out there, give me an Extremely Fast Ship to get there myself, one Blue destroyer squadron, and, if you can spare it, one Devastator with drop load. I’ll get down there, set up a monitoring post, and in a few weeks once the support gets there, I’ll have recon assets in the destroyers and the Devastator for flexibility and in case anyone gets...compromised.” He paused again, then wrinkled his nose, “The Devastator’s not strictly necessary, but I’d feel a lot more comfortable with a shock division on hand if it all drops in the pot.”

“That’s a reasonable list, and it won’t much of a dent in things on the scales we’re looking at. In fact, since you’re clearly dealing in good faith here, make it two destroyer squadrons and the Devastator.” Naismith nodded slowly, thinking it over for a moment, “In that case, come with me.”

Thomas began to stand up even as he tilted his head aside in question, saying simply, “Director?”

“I’ll give you a lift back, the Right Angles to Reality will be waiting for you.” An actual, visible smile cracked Naismith’s face as he continued, “Under the circumstances, I can’t resist the irony of giving you that particular ship.”

Garcia’s answering snort was matched by a grin as he shook his head, “Can’t argue with you there. Give me a moment, in that case. Er...actually, how many can your ship carry? I’d like to take some experienced volunteers to staff the watch post.”

After a tiny hesitation, Naismith simply shrugged and said, “Enough.”

Thomas Garcia nodded and punched a button set into his desk before speaking again. His voice echoed through the small station, repeated by speakers in every cabin, “Garcia here. Short notice, I know, but I’m leaving to get a closer look at our Class Two. Anyone who wants to follow me, meet outside my office in the next ten minutes. Fernando, I know you won’t be there, so I’ll make things simple by appointing you acting watch commander. Garcia clear.”

Less than half an hour later, a black ship undocked from the monitoring station and vanished into hyperspace with barely a whisper.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Siege » 2011-10-06 10:36am

The Man in the Long Black Coat
Or: The Duke of Deathmatch



Preacher was talking, there's a sermon he gave
He said every man's conscience is vile and depraved
You cannot depend on it to be your guide
When it's you who must keep it satisfied
It ain't easy to swallow, it sticks in the throat
She gave her heart to the man in the long black coat.



McCarthyville Spacedrome, Killnyn
Bragulan Dependency, Wild Space


The transport ramp hit the Bragcrete with a resounding clang of steel on stone. Almost as defining were the heavy footsteps of the man in the long coat as his black boots exchanged dropship steel for dusty ground. Bragulan ground personnel scurried away from him as fast as they could manage. Even the base’s commissar, a gray-furred alien wearing the scars of many campaigns, flinched away from the human and his dead eyes. The Bragulans hated humans. That’s why they were here. They would see as many as possible of them dead. That’s why they were here.

But this one... This one was different. This one had a reputation. And it alone was enough to send a regiment of Bragulan conscripts running to their bunkers. Propaganda painted him as a remorseless killer of cubs. Rumor said he was a hatchetman for the IBVG, and had killed scores of rogue officers and their men. And now he was here, on a Bragulan transport from Byzon knew where. No amount of doublethink could produce a satisfactory outcome here. The Brags wanted nothing to do with him.

The Duke of Death impassively surveyed the empty expanse of Bragcrete before him, and set off toward the town of Killnyn.

***


A beamsaber flashed azure blue. A head rolled. Irena frowned at her lover. “That wasn’t really necessary.”

Verica gave her a little smile and kicked the toppling body of the abruptly-deceased guard away from her. “Necessary? No. Deserved? Yes.”

“Bah.” Irena stuck out her tongue in defiance. “Get a move on, then.”

The two espers hurried along the curtain wall that looped around the arena, protected by the psychic veil Irena had thrown up and reached the first of several towers ringing the domed building unnoticed. “Time?” called Verica.

Irena quickly checked the chronometer strapped to her wrist, sending her red ponytail whipping about her head. “Ten minutes ‘till backup arrives. We’re early. What d’you say?”

Verica’s face split into a thin smile. “We’re here, aren’t we? Might as well try and find out as much as we can before the cavalry gets here.”

“They’ll have fields up,” warned Irena. “Might get messy.”

Her partner shrugged, a handsome motion in the skintight musclesuit of the Eclipse marauders. “No guts, no glory.”

“I knew you’d say that.” Their minds touched, a boiling merger of rage and lust and adrenalin. They kissed hungrily.

***


The arena of Killnyn was a huge, domed structure on the outskirts of town not far from the spacedrome. It was built out of some indeterminate brown stone and looked dusty except for the giant red-and-gold banners of the Shroom Fighter tournament that hung draped from the building. Whoops and hollers echoed dimly from somewhere inside. The Duke slowly walked up to the front doors. There was nobody else there: the tournament had already started. Anyone with tickets was in already; those who didn’t had to watch from the comfort of their own homes. Guards patrolled the entrance, two of them finally noticing the approaching man and barring him the way. “The show’s already started, stranger. It’s sold out. You’re not getting in.”

The Duke looked at one, then at the other. His movement was weirdly languid, almost lazy. “Step aside,” he said, his voice entirely want of inflection.

“Didn’t you hear what I say?” scowled the lead guard. He raised his lasrifle in an attempt to look intimidating. “You’re not getting-”

Wrong answer.

The double cracks of the Duke’s M2411 followed so fast after another that the sound blended together into one long, ringing echo. The guards collapsed, backs of their heads and most of their brains shattered by the heavy rounds of the Duke’s gun. For a moment the pistol was still in the Duke’s hand, barrel smoking, then it disappeared as fast as it had come, back underneath the cover of the Duke’s long black coat. He raised one mighty combat boot and kicked in the door. It was a heavy door, security steel wedged solidly into the stone wall. Even so it went flying off its hinges a good ten yards before slamming against the dusty stone of the hallway beyond.

The Duke of death entered the Arena.

***


Two guards stood at the bottom of the stairwell that lead up to the roof. Without warning one of them fell to his knees, face going gray and fingers clutching at his chest where his heart had suddenly stopped beating. The other managed a single step toward his comrade when a critical vein in his brain burst and he collapsed as the sudden stroke spread through his brain.

Verica and Irena stepped into the hallway, checking it before dragging the bodies into cover. Verica looked at the twitching, dying men and sniffed. “As far as ways to go are concerned, that sucks.”

“But it’s stealthy.”

“Point.” She shrugged. “Which way?”

Irena stretched out her hand and sent out mental feelers. The Arena opened up before her mind’s eye, corridors of age-weathered stone buzzing with the fickle, fast-burning minds of the mundane. The dome was an old structure, built when this planet was newly settled, and successive generations had done little more than upgrade it with modern comforts. Electric cables wound along the ceilings, creeping from light to light. Here and there, concession stands lined the hallways to sell snacks to passers-by. Irena made mental notes of the guard patrols she saw as she psychically wound her way through the massive building. Finally she sensed the vague, exciting aura of violence and death and then, abruptly, a wall. It wasn’t a physical wall - they meant nothing to her Sight. This was a psychic construct, and it burned her mind when she touched it.

Irena instantly recognized the lethal tang of the Blitzschlag field. She snapped out of the trance, blinked, and looked at her lover. “I’ve got a bead on the field. That’s gotta be the arena.”

Verica nodded and re-ignited her beamsaber and whipped it around in a flowing rondello motion. “Let’s go.”

***


Stalking the corridors of the Killnyn the Duke began to wonder just why exactly he had been hired to clean out this operation. There were plenty guards but they were hardly formidable fighters--more like hired muscle, really, the kind of goons the Duke dealt with on an almost drearily regular basis. His skills seemed wasted on them. Not that it was going to make the Duke exercise restraint. The few civilians that lingered in the hallways of the arena all scattered before his heavy footsteps and, more pressingly, before the smoking barrel of his legendary Colt M2411.

Or maybe not all of them.

Footfalls pattered through the empty hallway, nimble and determined, heralding the arrival of more guards. They purposefully rounded the corner, spreading out across the hallway, drawing beads on the man in the black coat. At their head was a man in a nimble white suit of sculpted armor. Strands of blond-brown hair streamed down alongside the white mask that obscured his face. “Bob, Bob, Bob...” smiled the man. “Can I call you Bob?”

“Reckon I don’t much care what you call me.” The Duke calmly slung the rifle he was carrying off his back. “Vega.”

The man laughed a melodic baritone. “So you remember my name. Did you really think we didn’t see you coming?”

“Reckon I don’t much care ‘bout that either.”

Vega’s laughter turned into a feral snarl. “It is because of you, Duke, that I wear this mask. Today I will have my revenge!”

The Duke of Death shrugged. He remembered Vega, like he remembered the faces of all the men and women he’d maimed and killed. He recalled with perfect clarity the moment he shot the outlaw, then one of many members of a gang of Outback desperado's responsible for the murder of dozens of Tym, Angmarids and Mari, for their scalps and the reward they carried with Byzantine-backed warlords. The Emir of Emirs had paid a handsome bounty for their elimination, a bounty the Duke had been more than happy to collect. In a way Vega had been lucky: he’d turned his head at the last minute. The gunshot had only ruined his lower jaw.

“You want a rematch, Vega?” He lifted the automatic shotgun. “I’m happy to oblige.”

“I was just a man then, Duke,” Vega raised a hand, and long slender blades slid out through his armored gloves. Black flames danced along the serrated metal edges. As if on cue the men behind him clutched their lasrifles a little tighter. “I am so much more now.”

Auriga Bob didn’t answer. He simply pointed his weapon and opened fire.

***


Down in the arena, Sadat bent toward the right ear of R. Julia. “My lord,” he whispered. “There may be intruders on the premises. We don’t know how many. Several of our patrols have stopped responding. There is a danger--perhaps it is best if we evacuate?”

“In our moment of victory?” R. Julia cocked a haughty eyebrow. On the ground beneath him the rebellious fighters were being herded toward the center of the Arena by their loyalist brethren. “I think you overestimate-” A thunderous explosion shook Arena. Parts of the stone dome cracked and collapsed, burying dozens of unlucky spectators alive and revealing the starship that hovered overhead. Soldiers in blue power-armor jumped into the fray below. Julia’s eyebrows twitched, then he abruptly stood up and grabbed his high-peaked cap. “On second thought, Sadat, perhaps we better go.”

“They will be after you,” his one-eyed lieutenant warned. “We need a diversion.”

“Yes,” R. Julia stroked his chin. An evil idea struck him and he smiled cruelly. “Open the experimentation chambers.”

***


The sounds of combat echoed through the halls of the arena. There was a melodic pop-crack and the thrum of the Blitzschlag field cut out entirely, much to the marauders’ surprise. “Wonder what just happened?” Irena asked with a cocked eyebrow.

Verica licked her lips, basking in the sudden freedom of her mind. “Cavalry’s arrived, I’m sure. Can you find the ring leader of this operation?”

“Why?”

“‘Cause he’ll make a run for it.” She smiled excitedly. “And I bet we can beat the Moonies to him if we hurry.”

Irena nodded slowly and grinned. “I like your thinking.”

Verica’s smile widened. “I know you do.”

They moved closer, chests heaving with unshackled excitement--but something in the air changed. The temperature seemed to drop. Psionic hoarfrost etched crystals on their musclesuits. There was something else in the hallway, an oppressive aura that threatened to dull and sap the light from their minds. They backed away slowly and Verica whipped her beamsaber in a low guard whilst Irena gathered her will about her. It was difficult, more difficult than it should be.

The temperature continued to fall. “What the hell?” whispered Verica. Her breath came out in clouds.

The two Eclipse marauders realized they were not alone. There were two of them, creatures that phased in and out of view. They might have been human once but now--now they hurt to look at. Muscles bulged with unnatural tension. Wicked-looking knives were grafted crudely to arms riddled with wires and flexing conduits. Before Irena’s Sight the creatures radiated the same mind-burning balefire of a Blitzschlag field.

Dusk,” breathed Irena. “What are these things?”

“Dead,” snarled Verica, her voice full of violence and defiance. “Just like anything that would stand before the Eclipse.” The azure of her beamsaber blurred into motion, and she charged.

Irena saw the nearest of the two creatures snarl vindictively and, in a flash of precognition, realized what was going to happen next. The creature extended a hand and threw up a mind-scorching Blitzschlag effect bubble. Verica ran head-on into it, stumbled, and fell to her knees, shaking like a reed and obviously in great pain.

With a wordless cry Irena threw herself forward just as the creature charged, serrated daggers pointing at Verica’s heart. It merely snarled at her. Irena howled back, guttural and primal, and then she hit the edges of its field.

Energy, is energy, is energy. At its basest level the mind-scorching effect of a Blitzschlag Field was a vector field, surrounding charged exotic particles and time-varying psionic fields. It was an influence, a set of fundamental interactions spawned - ultimately - from electricity.

Electricity. Charges and current. These things a trained esper could control. A prepared mind could absorb the dark power of the Field, take ownership of its static hell and then, if it could just shut out the pain long enough, redirect it before its power had a chance to burn out the mind. This was the essence of Vaapad, a hermetical electrokinetic technique forbidden by the Dorei priesthood for theological reasons. The sisters had learned it from an old Centralite mystic on the hidden shrine-world of Saak Dnumord. It was but one of many transgressions, occult and corporeal, that had eventually seen the two of them the exiled from the Order of the Silver Moon.

Tendrils of electricity flickered and arced through the hallway as Irena caught the psyk-out field in the grip of her Will, drank it in and remade it, deflecting it around her mind and away, smithing it into a superconducting loop that caught the lead creature in a web of flickering lightning. It didn’t so much burn as explode in a conflagration of charred viscera and ball lightning. The twin smells of ozone and barbecue filled the hallway. The corridor buzzed with static electricity, setting hairs on end. Blue flames of St. Elmo’s Fire danced across concession stands, chandeliers and the tips of Irena’s gloves.

The pressure of the Blitzschlag fields abated. Verica groaned and, dizzily, pushed herself up from the floor. The remaining creature howled in frustration, a telepathic fury on bands canted just so from normal human thought. Irena really didn’t want to know what it meant, wanted at all cost to keep this creature’s minds out of hers. She focused on holding off its attack, which doubled in intensity. Then the creature charged, leaping and dancing through the webs of lightning faster than Irena could follow. For a brief moment it disappeared from view altogether. Irena desperately tried to reacquire it but the strain of neutralizing the Blitzschlag fields was too much. The mutant creature reappeared right in front of her, an arm angling back, daggers pointed at her throat. Her eyes widened, knowing she could never deflect its strike in time-

Cobalt flashed. The familiar hiss-snap buzzing of a beamsaber sweep and what passed for the creature’s arm fell to the floor. Verica continued her attack in one flowing motion, turning behind the creature’s back, bringing up the saber to take off its other arm, and then finishing off with a horizontal sweep that lopped off its head. Its body collapsed, twitching and anemic, to the floor, spilling red blood and sickly green fluids.

Silence fell. The hateful pressure of the Blitzschlag Fields disappeared. Irena turned to her lover. “Are you okay?”

Verica grimaced. “I got one hell of a headache.”

Irena looked at the dead creature before them. “At least you still have a head.”

“Point.”

Further discussion was brutally interrupted by the sudden implosion of a wall, by means of having a man hurled bodily through it. Bricks and mortar collapsed in a dusty cave-in and the man smacked wetly against the opposing wall with enough force to leave hairline cracks. He fell and lay still on the ground. The sisters slowly and guardedly approached. He was indubitably a man, though not one long for the world. Blond hair was flecked with blood - his blood. His lithe suite of powered armor was ruined, riddled with bullet holes. He was bleeding from dozens of major wounds. The blades that protruded from his fists were broken and shatterered, and the white mask that had obscured his face was cracked, partially revealing a disfigured face underneath. From somewhere deep inside that face, a single eye looked up at the two sisters. “You can’t kill damnation,” whispered the man, barely intelligible. “It don’t die like a man does.”

He hacked, and shivered, and then he died.

Verica looked at her lover. “What the hell?”

There was a rumbling sound behind them. They turned, just in time to see a giant emerge from the recently-created hole. No, he wasn’t a giant. He was simply... imposing. A great black coat billowed around a tall and powerful frame. Black combat boots stomped and crushed the fallen masonry into dust. Gloved hands gripped a massive auto-shotgun, its barrel still smoking. Strands of black hair emerged from under a black hat. Dead, lifeless eyes scanned for threats, certain and unfailing as robotic sensors.

Behind him, in the corridor behind the wall, the two sisters could see nothing but absolute carnage. There were bodies everywhere: strewn across the ground, sitting against the wall, or lying in small heaps. Blood caked the ceiling, ran in thick runnels from walls pocked with scorch-marks. Some of the bodies were still unambiguously men. Others were like the creatures the two sisters had themselves encountered. Yet others were... less recognizable still. All of them were unequivocally dead. Dozens of them, at the least.

Dusk,” muttered Verica. Her eyes flitted from the abattoir to the man no doubt responsible for it, and she took a step back, almost despite herself. “Who the hell are you?

For a moment, the Duke of Death glanced at the two sisters and in that moment, they caught the briefest glimpse of something beyond those unliving eyes. Something cold, alien, pitiless. A soul sterile and barren as the dark in the barrel of a gun. Irena’s face drained of color. Then it was over, as soon as it had come, and the Duke was a man again. He lazily tipped two fingers to his hat. “Ladies,” he drawled, his voice devoid of tone and emotion.

Then he turned and disappeared back through the hole, and deeper into the catacombs of the arena.

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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Force Lord » 2011-10-07 02:46pm

McCarthyville Arena, Killnyn
Bragulan Dependency, Wild Space


Kriff this shit. I ain't playing guard anymore.

Tarich Zozze, the Centralist spy, had heard the explosions and weapons fire coming out from inside the arena, and decided that the time had come for action. He was in a bathroom. Picking up his hidden CIS comlink, he activated it. It sent a signal that would be picked up by the other undercover CIS agents, and so reunite them in the pre-arranged rendevous location they had agreed on when they arrived on the planet. They would still have to find Fivi the hard way, though.

He left the bathroom, pistol in hand and blaster rifle slung on his shoulder.



Brondo Lacio had been biting down a snack when he felt what he thought was the soundwaves of an explosion. CIS training quickly kicked in, and he ran towards a storeroom, that had been foolishly left open by a careless worker. Locking the door, he searched for a small container that held something vital to the mission.

"There you are, little fella," he said, as he picked up a small grey box. Opening it, he picked up a CIS comlink.

It was beeping.

Time to bust a cunt!

He ran from the storeroom, holding his trusty assault blaster.




Curiu Sakolo had been close to ground zero. Not as close as the Bragulans, which he was thankful for. As soon as he saw those mercs, he knew shit had hit the fan.

Screw this, he had thought back then. He fled the scene before things got too hot, and considering the sounds of weapons fire and the explosions, it was lava hot.

Right now, he was inside the janitor's room, the body of the unconscious Feelipeeni janitor on the floor. The man had not taken kindly to Sakolo's impromptu entry, and Sakolo decided to play it safe and fire a stun blast to the hapless Feelipeeni janitor. He felt guilty of doing that.

"Now what?", he muttered out loud.

A beep.

"Son of a bitch."

It was his CIS comlink. Rendevous time.

He left the room, taking one last look of pity on the unconscious Feelipini janitor, before going on his way.



Like Sakolo, Francus was also near the place the Wild Geese made their entrance, though he also wasn't as near as the Brags. He did not wait for the merc to finish his speech, and took to flight.

Francus had the bad feeling that more than just mercs and monkinsh ESPers had come. This would be the perfect moment for the CIS to pounce. He was not going to wait for that to happen.

He needed to find Julia. Fast.



Kaboom. Pew pew pew.

The sounds of battle reached her ears, and she didn't like it.

That doesn't sound good. The Service would never be that direct, unless others have an interest in shutting this tournament down. Which means... aw no. It's because of her, isn't it?

Back on the Shadowshroom's Everlasting Glory, before the tournament, Fivi had the briefest mental conversation with one of the fighters, who revealed herself to be a Sister of the Silver Moon. She wanted her help. But how could she? She was just an ordinary spy, on a mission to pursue a Thief of the State. She couldn't afford a distraction. But the Silver Moon woman merely replied that if she wanted Francus, she had to deal with Julia as well. Fivi since then realized that it was true, that Francus was now a dependent of Julia, and would not be too far from him.

Fivi considered her situation. She was part of the security detail in charge of guarding the entrance to a nearby hangar, where Julia's ship was located. Already the Solarian mercs and their ESPer allies would be on the move. She had no idea where the nearest CIS force was, though her gut instinct told her it was near. She already had a homing beacon activated in her pocket, which would guide them towards the landing pad. There was every indication that Francus would try to flee with Julia, so if the CIS teams were fast enough, they would corner their quarry.

She could only wonder what the plan would be. Pressure Julia to give Francus to them, and allow him and his lackeys to escape safe and sound? Or would they, knowing that the mercs and the Silver Moon were coming, decide to capture Julia and present him to them?

Again, she wondered.



Unknown to Fivi, Vilyn Corbas had already settled on the former last-ditch plan. The mission was, after all, capture Francus at all costs. She was sure Julia could be persuaded to cede him to them, if it came to that. She preffered not to have to catch Francus with Julia around, but they had to reach him first, though. With Solarian mercs and Silver Moon ESPers around, that could be difficult. And the Killnyns weren't going to make it any easier. From their vantage point at the roof of the arena, CIS agents with their binoculars could see clearly that local security forces were mobilizing. They had to be quick.

Remember, only shoot local opposition. Leave the mercs and their ESPer allies to their own devices, she communicated mentally to the leaders of the three CIS teams.

Whiskey Leader copies, going in. Enemy guards encountered.

Tango Leader complies, moving on. Opposition faced.

Foxtrot Leader gets it, continuing advance. Opening fire on foes.

The CIS teams were separated and facing enemy resistance, but were inexorably homing in on three homing beacons that represented three undercover CIS agents. They were sending sporadic reports on the situation inside, enemy positions, and what they believed was Francus's last known position. It was clear they were pursuing him as well, though unable to fix his location. Considering that Francus was an ESPer, it wasn't surprising. He was a slippery bastard.

Corbas decide she may as well go and home in on the fourth homing beacon, which was outside the arena. Probably that agent found Francus's ideal escape route... and perhaps Julia's. If that last-ditch plan was the only one that could succeed, then it would be executed.

Corbas was tempted to call on the Special Force groups waiting in the Relentless, but she hoped that it would not come to that. If the three other teams failed to catch Francus, however, she may have to order them to dive straight into Julia's hangar and thus give the crime lord the choice of selling out his Centralite lackey in order to escape safe and sound, or else.

One of the agents neared her, and spoke, "Snipers are in position. We'll try and buy you some time. Don't take too long, ma'm."

"Just don't get yourselves killed. Would't want to hunt down your corpse," she replied.

"Eh, that's what dissolution pills are for. To prevent a 'no man is left behind' situation."

"Oh well. I'll be going, gentlemen. Good sniping."

And she disappeared like a blur.

"Alright men!," shouted the agent, lifting his sniper rifle. "It's Brag season! For Order!"

The snipers trained their sights, and each pulled the trigger.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-10-16 04:39pm

With Fingolfin, Siege and Darkevilme



[Recommended Listening]



Battle Barge Anatolia
Dual Empire Armada Rendezvous Point
Chamarran Space


Image

Shadows danced on the walls of the hall, as the only source of light were the flickering oil lamps crowning the floating servo-skulls. At the very end of the hall, Captain Grisamenthum stood guard outside his lord’s personal chambers, the sanctum of Strategos Primus Aurelian Komnenos, Son of the God-Emperor, Primarch of the Anatolian Guards Legion, and Grisamenthum’s master, his commander, his prince. The man he fought alongside with in the battlefields of the Great Crusade and all the wars since then, who had saved his life countless times and whose life was his responsibility as captain of the Primarch’s honor guard. The man who now languished in captivity at the hands of xenos.

Had the Primarch been lost, Grisamenthum would have scoured the ends of the ‘verse to find him. Had he been killed, the captain would have mourned the passing of his master before going on to avenge him. But Aurelian had willingly given himself up to the Chamarrans, and now he was theirs. In the absence of the lord who he had served for centuries, Grisamenthum found himself lost.

An imperceptible sound took the captain away from his musings. He drew his sword, which reflected the hall’s dancing lamplight.

“Who goes there?” he asked. And as an answer, a familiar form emerged from behind a pillar, and for a moment Grisamenthum’s spirits rose, thinking that his master had returned. Yet that illusion was dispelled when he realized that the reason the man before him bore great likeness to Primarch Aurelian was because he was his brother. Grisamenthum lowered his head and knelt before the Warmaster Rus Komnenos. “My lord.”

“Stop looking like you are about to attend a funeral, yea of little faith,” Rus growled as he strode past the captain and approached the portal to Aurelian’s chambers. “Open this door.”

“At once, milord,” Grisamenthum rose and pressed the activation rune, and the adamantium doors to Aurelian’s chambers opened with nary a sound. Grisamenthum genuflected once more as Rus strode by and entered his brother’s sanctum.

The doors sealed shut behind him, sequestering him in Aurelian’s room. For now, he was alone and away from the responsibilities of leadership, the commotion of the battle barge, and the scrutiny of all those under his command. His only companion were his thoughts and his brother’s possessions.

By now, most of the Dual Empire armada had made the rendezvous in Chamarran space and was waiting for the remaining sub-fleets. Perhaps the missing flotillas had disregarded Aurelian’s message, thinking it a xenos trick and continuing on towards the Koprulu Zone, a decision Rus uncharacteristically sympathized with. But there was also the possibility of their interception and capture, or worse yet, their destruction at the hands of their other pursuers - those traitors to humanity, who had proven themselves less reasonable than even the feline xenos. Rus scowled at the thought, then sighed. His brother was making a mighty gamble in dealing with the felines. There was no question in his mind that the xenos could not be trusted... But with every human in the surrounding sectors openly hostile what other options were there to pursue? Even Rus Komnenos knew when he was outmatched.

And so, the entirety of the Dual Empire armada was waiting on the outcome of Aurelian’s gambit, but Rus was not a patient man. Already, it felt as though they had waited for months for something, a resolution of the events at hand, anything! It had eaten away what little, limited patience Rus possessed until now he was of half a mind to damn the heretics and let the galaxy burn, as the saying went.

But he knew if he did anything rash, he would undo all his brother had aspired to accomplish by allowing himself to be captured by the Chamarrans. That, in turn, would not only jeopardize the entire armada, but Aurelian as well. That thought gave Rus pause. If his brother had been here, he would’ve chastised him for his lack of patience and caution.

At that, Rus snorted a little. This whole affair was just like his brother, the selfless warrior who would try to solve problems by going around obstacles to find an elegant resolution. It was a far cry from the blunt and violent methods Rus preferred--but even the Warmaster had to acknowledge that in this case, his brother’s approach was likely to be the right one.

He looked around his brother’s room. Books and scrolls from all across the galaxy were arranged on ancient mahogany shelves. The remainder of his collection consisting of works from the rest of the ‘verse was in his other, greater library on Terra.

His brother had always taken to the arts; not just the art of war but rather the more fanciful sort. Rus never really took an interest in such transient things. He was a creature of war, baptised in blood, and what good were paintings and poetry to such a man? But Aurelian would say that in order to know the enemy, one had to study not just their martial ways, but also their culture and their identity. Rus did not care for culture. To him it was a thin veneer, a facade built by desperate men to hide the true nature of things. The two brothers were polar opposites in so many regards.

Rus walked past the extinguished fireplace and into Aurelian’s study, where an opened book was lying on the ancient oaken desk. It was probably the last work his brother had perused before his capture, Rus reflected. A feather bookmark was meticulously placed between the pages. His brother had never gotten to finish it. For some reason that stung Rus. He picked it up carefully. The book was small in the massive hands of the warmaster and for a moment he fumbled, unfamiliar with dealing with such fragile things yet simultaneously unwilling to damage this final token of his brother’s presence. A gauntleted finger slowly thumbed the pages until it reached the feather. Rus looked down.

“Loveless...” he murmured quietly to himself.


***

When the war of the beasts brings about the world's end
The goddess descends from the sky
Wings of light and dark spread afar
She guides us to bliss, her gift everlasting

Infinite in mystery is the gift of the Goddess
We seek it thus, and take to the sky
Ripples form on the water's surface
The wandering soul knows no rest.

There is no hate, only joy
For you are beloved by the goddess
Hero of the dawn, Healer of worlds
Dreams of the morrow hath the shattered soul
Pride is lost
Wings stripped away, the end is nigh

My friend, do you fly away now?
To a world that abhors you and I?
All that awaits you is a somber morrow
No matter where the winds may blow
My friend, your desire
Is the bringer of life, the gift of the goddess
Even if the morrow is barren of promises
Nothing shall forestall my return

My friend, the fates are cruel
There are no dreams, no honor remains
The arrow has left the bow of the goddess
My soul, corrupted by vengeance
Hath endured torment, to find the end of the journey
In my own salvation
And your eternal slumber
Legend shall speak
Of sacrifice at world's end
The wind sails over the water's surface
Quietly, but surely

Even if the morrow is barren of promises
Nothing shall forestall my return
To become the dew that quenches the land
To spare the sands, the seas, the skies
I offer thee this silent sacrifice


***



Castel Doon

Image

“Men cry not for themselves, but for their comrades.” Aurelian said quietly and closed the leather-bound book in his hands.

“I do not understand,” frowned Melusine. The Chamarran battlemistress rippled her fur. “What does it mean?”

“Nothing,” said Aurelian. He stroked his chin. “Everything. The beauty of Gion Shoja is that it echoes the impermanence of all things. Its meaning changes from time to time, and reader to reader. All that remains is its emotional resonance... like temple bells through time.”

A wood fire crackled in the hearth beside them. Melusine was on a papasan while Aurelian himself laid on a chaise longue, holding his book with one hand. Queen Kithandra was always gracious to her guests, and Chamarran hospitality saw that Aurelian’s chambers were expansive and complete with a library that had some of the galaxy’s essential classics.

“Would you like to read it?” he smiled and offered her the book.

“Loveless,” she read as she took it, examined its cover briefly and placed it aside on a glass table. Her stance changed as she did so, crossing her legs and straightening herself on her papasan. “Primarch, the majority of the Dual Empire armada has arrived at the rendezvous point and are readying for departure. However, some of them were pursued by fleets from the human coalition...”

“The Miratians and Klavostanis,” Aurelian said nonchalantly as he produced a thin stiletto knife and used it to clean his fingernails. “Yes, I suspect that they want some words with us. They might even back their words with actions.”

“They might also resume their pursuit when your armada leaves Hierarchy space. Her Majesty, the Queen Kithandra, does not wish to see another war break out so close to Chamarran territory. Once is more than enough,” a flicker of concern crossed Melusine’s face.

“I understand,” Aurelian smiled and placed the knife aside. He drew himself from his lying position and sat upright, towering over Melusine’s form. “I may have a solution to our mutual conundrum, and a humble request.”

Melusine raised an eyebrow at this. In the time the prince had been her captive, she had come to know him as an honorable gentleman, exceedingly polite and courteous, and knowing fully the ways of nobility. Yet she knew that underneath the intense personal charisma was a supremely cunning mind, and that she always had to be on the guard when she dealt with him. “What is this request?”

“I ask that the Hierarchy Space Force dispatch an escort fleet to accompany the armada to safety, and to act as a neutral force to dissuade anyone from taking any... unwise actions,” Aurelian stated simply. Before Melusine could react to his request, he continued. “Of course, for this act of kindness, Byzantium would be further indebted to Her Majesty’s generosity in addition to our agreed upon reparations.”

“You would pay for this escort?” she asked. Her ears perked involuntarily. The prospects of more treasure from Byzantium was certainly enticing. Yet, escorting the Dual Empire armada and getting in the way of those who so doggedly pursued them also had obvious risks and potential negative consequences attached to it. It would be a difficult conundrum, and one Melusine was happy she wouldn’t have to decide on.

Aurelian nodded and placed his hand over his heart. “Yes, and once more, I will be the collateral to ensure that Byzantium will uphold its end of the bargain and pay its dues,” he said and bowed before the Chamarran battlemistress.

“I certainly hope you’re not overvaluing yourself, Primarch,” Melusine purred. She couldn’t help herself from smirking at his melodramatic gesture. Her tail swayed behind her. “But if you are, and if Byzantium doesn’t pay, keeping you shan’t be that unpleasant a compensation.”

“One hopes not to disappoint, my lady,” Aurelian returned the smile and chuckled lightly.

“I shall inform my Queen of your request,” Melusine made a gesture, and from behind her a servant maid approached and poured blood wine into a pair of crystal glasses on the table between them. “But before I go, let us have a toast. Let us hope that the Queen will be receptive of your request.”

“To safe passage and escort,” Aurelian raised his glass. “And to your hospitality.”

“Indeed,” she raised her glass and gently clinked it on his.

Aurelian looked at his glass contemplatively, examining how the light of the fireplace reflected from the crystal and blended with the crimson liquid within. “To become the dew that quenches the land. To spare the sands, the seas, the skies. I offer thee this silent sacrifice,” he quoted softly and drank the wine.

***


In the armored heart of the Anatolia the Warmaster stared down at the leather-bound book. There were drops of water on its parchment pages, he noticed, that he hadn’t noticed before. He blinked thrice in rapid succession, drew in a breath, and then carefully tipped the small thing close and gingerly placed it back in the empty space where it had lain on the desk. That emptiness, the unoccupied chair, the whole of this ornately furnished chamber suddenly reminded him of the hole in his life where his brother used to be. Recollections flooded his consciousness, memories of Aurelian, the incessant fights and disagreements of brothers... And then older, darker reflections. His mother, dead. His sister, taken. Family and worlds and comrades lost to the vagaries of time. The losses tore at him, frayed holes in his soul that an icy wind blew through, ancient and yawning and somehow unnoticed until now... But suddenly inescapable.

The Warmaster shuddered, overwhelmed by alien emotions. Layers of ancient conditioning groaned, flexed, buckled. A single tear ran down his grizzled cheek. He forcefully shook his head. What sorcery was this? Rus Komnenos felt cold. He drew his cloak about him and found that he could bear the lonely sanctum no longer. He rushed out, refusing to look at the captain who had continued his lonely vigil.

“My lord...” Grisamenthum began. He sought to find out what bothered the Warmaster so, but was silenced.

“Assemble the fleet,” growled Rus, trying hard to hide his distress. “We make for Byzantium as soon as my brother gives word, and not one second earlier.”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Karmic Knight » 2011-10-18 08:51am

Abandoned Mining Complex, Undisclosed Location, Knights of Order Mandate

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For all intents and purposes, it looked exactly as it was, a jumble of space habitats, asteroids, and other satellites connected via metallic, non-metallic, and otherwise walkways, gangways, hallways, and loading bays. The complex, to the outside world at the very least, was a defunct mining administrative complex, held together by nothing more than obstinate hatred and general dislike for the species of the Mandate that could make use of those materials.

This of course ignored the fact that the complex was not just a simple relic of a bygone era, it was rather a well maintained a regularly used station. The station was maintained by the Paladins of the Knights of Order to monitor and report on various functionalities of the universe and the region of space. Officially, there were 10 functioning stations, operated by the Knights of Order Science Wing that monitored the various cosmic errata occurring as planets and stars realigned, and the universe spun. These official ones were coordinated with over 100 solely Paladin Projects that covered the more mundane side of surveillance, the stations acted as a security net, and within the Mandate were as good as gold when it came to information gathering.

This station was of neither category, it was Monitoring Station 000, a piece of outdated, outmoded, and broken technology that by mere happenstance, was pulled together by one of the most powerful minds in the Mandate. The mind belonged to a singular AI, Los Ángeles.

Rarely did a being impress Sentinel Michaels, he spent the majority of his time running a cluster fuck of an obfuscating scheme to really be surprised or shocked by the goings on of normal society within the Mandate. The Angels was different however, the Angels was one of the most interesting things, it coordinated massive amounts of information that passed through it, willingly sent by centuries of bureaucratic inertia that made Los Ángeles the most complete database within the Mandate.

Before the great gate of knowledge, containing the histories of every sport, hobby, or pseudo-hobby; the largest library of obituaries and birth records; the greatest gaggle of news clippings and otherwise the deepest set of knowledge acquirable by the Knights of Order. Before this gate, Sentinel Brandon Michaels, Sentinel-Paladin of the Most Holy Legion of the Knights Of Order, sought but one thing, access deeper. Where as anyone bright or stupid enough to access the public data the Angels kept records of, the Angels guarded with a great fervor access to the more secret and consistently more useful for Michaels information. Records of criminal activity, surveillance records, both long-range and more personal, minutes of private meetings, and other such information teased Michaels as he would ask the AI, and be told he had not the access rights for that information.

So, today Michaels had came prepared, flanked by a loyal Knight and an agent he personally trusted, Sentinel Michaels approached the great AI’s communication suite. “Los Ángeles, I have come again.”

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The avatar of the Angels appeared before the trio.

“And you would be? Hold. Yes, Brandon Michaels, banned from the library for repeated infractions and information sifting. Your presence here is an affront to policy, I’m afraid I’m going to have to order you to leave.”

“Look, I just want to negotiate the release of some information to me, with the understood idea that information can be further released under similar terms. Is that so much to ask?”

“Why did you not state this earlier, you have a list of demands to bargain for?”

Michaels sighed, “Yes, the Most Holy Legion of the Knights of Order require the names of at least 40 different organizations with training in the agitation of dissident forces within a nation. As well as at least 10 different legitimate businesses with ties to both the Union of Eerie and Huuron and outstanding warrants within the Mandate. Preferably munitions companies, or transit companies.”

“Well then, let’s negotiate.”

_______________________________________________

Central Complex, Monitoring Station 000, Unknown Location, Knights of Order Mandate

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The negotiations concluded successfully, with a large printer slowly releasing the desired information from the deep cores of the Angels library system. “And, as you acquire the printout, our negotiations conclude. I thank you for using the Library, and now, Mr. Michaels. It appears that you are in violation of library policy.”

The guard, who had been extremely bored by the entire negotiation period, perked up. Before he had fully entered a state of alertness, Michaels waved off the guard’s advance, “Now, now, I’ve done what I’ve done and I’m fully willing to submit to my punishment.”

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“Excellent,” The Angels said, a shimmering white field enveloped Michaels as it spoke, “Now, since you chose to willingly return to the Library after being banned, you shall now be exiled without your supports to an undisclosed location. Your associates will handle the transfer of information after your banishment. Note that this is the lowest level of punishment for repeated infractions and lack of willingness to abide by punishments.”

The field had fully enveloped Michaels now, the field was cold as Michaels poked and prodded the field from the inside, interested in what was what about the field. Michaels eventually began to feel lightheaded, as a white gas began flooding the envelope.

Many would respond to the gas with panic, and attempt to bang against the envelope, others would attempt to stand high and proud, spending the last moments of consciousness shouting hatreds. Michaels did neither, instead he quietly slumped over, make his last thought as he drifted into unconsciousness, Oh no, not again.

_____________________________________

Back Alley, Goblingrad, The Dungeon (System A9002), Sector A9, Knights of Order Mandate
Unknown Time Later

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Michaels awoke slumped down in a Goblingrad back alley, he knew the smell of Goblingrad over any other of the magical odors of the Mandate. The Knights of Order Paladin Sentinel took a moment before focusing on the task at hand to take stock of his situation.

All in all he was not in a very bad place, he did not have upon his person any forms of social identification, nor any methods of access the great wealth of the Paladins, but he had his protective clothing, including his deep pocketed great coat, from which he could acquire so much destructive potential.

His mind next went to his location, Goblingrad, one of the more annoying powers of the Dungeon, Goblingrad had successfully subverted the government of Hoblin that allowed pro-Goblingrad forces acquire the entire Eastern Hemisphere of the planet. Despite it’s belligerence, Goblingrad was more than willing to hold the many varied species of the Dungeon. Humanity would only be disliked rather than distrusted.

The local Goblins wouldn’t trust Michaels to be what he said he is without the documents to back it up, but that was just their nature, or at least that is what Michaels assumed. The best option would be one of the planetless species, they would have contacts off-world, or hopefully even out-system. The major issue he would run into on planet was from the local Knights, who would pick him out and question why a Knight was without papers on the planet. This would lead to awkward questions.

Michaels plan began to formulate in his head, ideas raced past and the many functional variables began taking shape. Local forces within Michaels mind issued forth, and when Michaels finally swayed to his feet, his form, disheveled by time in the gutter, was that of an utter alien force in Goblingrad.
This is an empty country and I am it's king, and I should not be allowed to touch anything.

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White Haven
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby White Haven » 2011-10-19 02:02pm

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Extremely Fast Ship Right Angles to Reality
In transit between Chamarran space and the Eye of Sasha


Extremely Fast Ships are not many things. One of the things they absolutely are not is quiet.

The sets of noise-cancelling earplugs the small crew had passed around to Thomas Garcia’s team when they embarked had, quickly, made their passengers very, very friendly towards them. They were, Garcia reflected midway through reading a report, only effective up to a point. True, he couldn’t hear anything at all, but reading was an adventure when his eyeballs were vibrating in sympathy with the thrumming of a ludicrously-overpowered hyperdrive. After squeezing them shut for a few seconds, he leaned back away from the fixed-mount console and let his eyes and mind both wander for a short break.

Hatches dominated either end of the cylindrical hold. On one end, there was a small, sealed hatch leading up to the cockpit. At the opposite end, a cargo airlock took up the entire facing. Every other surface was dominated by cargo, human or otherwise. Every other surface; the artificial gravity was tuned such ‘up’ was towards a yellow-and-black-striped bar running the length of the hold, and ‘down’ was towards the curving walls of the cylinder. Garcia couldn’t help but remember the simple warning delivered by the copilot just before departure, ’Don’t jump or climb. Your head gets near that bar, you will[/i] vomit, and we’re going to be too busy to clean it up.’[/i] The entirety of the curved ‘floor’ of the bay was covered in cargo pallets and passenger life-support pods, which amounted to the same thing, just for another style of cargo. Restraint harnesses held each passenger in place, life support equipment in each pod kept them clean and functional, if not terribly comfortable.

Extremely Fast Ships also aren’t large, luxurious, or smooth rides.

With a quiet (and unheard) snort, he thought back to their departure from the Chamaran warpgate and the surprise the little ship’s acceleration must have caused. For a priority transit like this one, the ship had gone to maximum acceleration as soon as it cleared the warpgate traffic pattern, hilariously outsized and overpowered drive systems screaming across the emissions spectra. Strategic sensors must haven gotten their own surprise when the ship hit the hyper limit and translated into hyperspace at a similarly-silly pace. That’d been a relief; as overpowering as the throbbing hum of the ship’s FTL drives could bit, it was nothing compared to the cacophony of the sublight engines at full burn.

Extremely Fast Ships definitely aren’t subtle.

With a wry smile, Thomas Garcia turned his attention back to the current report on the universal-constant-metric fluctuations his team had noted just before his departure. Those who’d elected to stay behind, along with the replacements for those who were strapped in around him, had been working on the problem in his absence, and had come up with some...unusual conclusions. Unsettling ones. In any other situation, he would have called them impossible, but with an active KING IN YELLOW in play, that word was less than useful.

Before he’d left in the first place, it’d been clear that there was some sort of repeating message. The question had been how to get at its content, how to figure out what it was. Garcia would have been far more comfortable had that remained the case. Instead, once the message had been consolidated together from the dozens of fluctuating constants carrying it, it was frighteningly simple to decode. Granted, only someone who was actually looking at all of those constants and collating their activities would have noticed it...

The fact that the message decoded the same way no matter what encoding system was applied to it was beyond disturbing. It was, outwardly, the same sequence every time. Applying the same sequence of inputs to different decoding processes should, by definition, produce predictably-different results. Translating the same sequence via modern signal encoding systems produced the same output as any other. Morse Code produced the same message.

Six characters. No pauses or breaks to indicate where the series was meant to begin or end.

Code: Select all

RGYKIE
GYKIER
YKIERG
KIERGY
IERGYK
ERGYKI


One of those meant something. All of them? The whole block as a unit? Who or what was an ERGYKI? And why, most importantly, were the very underpinnings of reality itself throbbing in time with its name?

The answer lay ahead, at the threshold of the KING IN YELLOW. And it was Thomas Garcia’s job to find it.

Soon

Extremely Fast Ships are extremely fast.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Karmic Knight » 2011-10-20 09:36am

Throne Room, Palace of the Champions, Nitro Zone, Capital Planet, B10
Unreal Time: 10 January 3401

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Mason Bautista entered the throne room in a rush, he had been summoned by the Monarch, King Sheamus Ó Fearailhaile, who had been more and more paranoid of his own powerbase, or rather, Grandmaster De Beuamanoir’s Knights of Order. Bautista was well aware he was treading thin ice, should his investigations bear fruit, he would end up in a position of power, under constant scrutiny by King Sheamus, as the cycle continued itself.

“Your Majesty,” despite Bautista’s personal misgivings, he had sworn to serve the paranoid man, “The Investigation of the Nexus Night Abduction has yet bore fruit, but eyewitness accounts and reports from Knight-Commander Braddock and Grandmaster De Beaumanoir, are beginning to dissolve the Order’s hypothetical Paladins of possible criminal intent, including pointing out a series of laws introduced that would grant any hypothetical, which is to not say that they exist, Paladins the ability to press-gang people in the middle of a criminal act as a method of enforcement and rehabilitation, as per, and I was quoted this verbatim by Knight-Commander Braddock, “The Convention on rehablitation and reincorporation, possible threats to the safety and stability of the citizens of the Unified Kingdom are to be excised by agents of the Knights of Order, and solely the Knights of Order and sister organizations established by the Knights of Order to enact the Will of the Unified King. “

Silence washed across the room, as the personal guards of the King came to the realization of what Bautista had actually meant. The King, whose face had held a small smirk during the entrance of Bautista, had slowly shifted out of a smirk into something slightly less confident.

The Silence held, no one knowing what the King would do, the smart money would have been on the King flying off into a rage, demanding that Bautista secure every one of the Paladins heads and present them to the public at large.

The smart money was wrong, “Rise, Mr. Bautista, we have nothing to fear. So our enemies have taken steps to prevent their own prosecution, to be expected. But soon, soon we shall not need the Knights of Order to maintain that, Order. Mr. Bautista, have you given any thought to what would happen in the result of your death in my service.”

“Every day I work for your Majesty, I expect that I will have to face, and happily my own demise.”

“Very well, then, as of today, I shall be fighting those that do not exist with a dead man’s company.”

With a wave of his hand, the guards flanking the King advanced on Mason Bautista, who stood with his head hung low prepared for his execution. The guards simply grabbed Bautista, and dragged the man into the bowls of the Palace. With the matter settled, the King returned to his matters of state, a small smirk returning to his face.

_____________________________

Central Thoroughfare, Nitro Zone, Capital Planet
Unreal Time: 15 March 3401

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The Nitro Zone, being the seat of power, was allotted its own Governmental defense force, so when a small contingent of soldiers travelled through the streets of the Nitro Zone, the law-abiding citizenry did not bat an eye when they did not bear the standard of the Knights of Order. The more astute amongst the bureaucrats and businesspeople of the de facto capital of the capital would notice that the Standard was not one any of them could have seen before that day, regardless of their time spent in the city.

At the head of the contingent, riding in the lead of three wheeled armored personal carriers, was a dead man. The Military Leader formerly known as Mason Bautista, now only known as Colonel Gendarme, watched as the raid began to take shape. The armored personal carriers, despite being technically outdated by hardware used by the Knights of Order, was more then enough for the purpose the Royal Policing and Defense Corps had for it. The lower technological items were being used, both to save time and money on more advanced equipment, as well as allow the internal computational equipment be designed and built in-house. Simpler weapons and armor were a good stop-gap.

The convoy reached it’s destination, a building that was located near the heart of the city, scheduled for demolition for three decades, the building remained, condemned and unmoved, the RPDC was being called upon to clear the building out, and to assist the movement of demolition equipment into the building without incident. While it was an appealing first mission, the real advantage was the RPDC would have no conflicting loyalties should the King’s personal belief, that the building was being used as a Paladin safe house, proved correct.

The first phase of the operation went much more smoothly than Gendarme initially had planned, the only resistance to the occupation of the building by RPDC forces was on the lowest few levels, where local criminals had taken up shop. Simple force saw that resistance fall to an annoyed grumble as civilian engineers moved through the building, still being occupied by the RPDC, and rigged the building to demolish.

The demolition took far longer than Gendarme was comfortable with, as the operation had to be stopped for several hours as a series of problems occurred within the structure, and the engineering team discussed the feasibility and workarounds to prevent larger damage to the neighborhood. Gendarme was almost willing to just fire off the already planted charges and hope for the best, but he was held back from doing so by the rest of the RPDC command.

After a day of frantic work, the plan was carried out and a condemned building had been demolished successfully downtown. The RPDC had fulfilled its duty to the letter, and the operation was called a success. Either way, Gendarme saw it as a failure, for he had not uncovered any more about who his true opposition was, the Knights of Order.

___________________________________________

Interrogation Room, RPDC Headquarters. Nitro Zone, Capital Planet
Months Later

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The RPDC, declared a massive success by news sources unaware of the RPDC prior to a press release explaining the demolition expressly explaining the RPDC, had begun moving quickly up in the world. What had once been done with outdate technology was now a modern paramilitary nerve center. Colonel Gendarme, given major public accolades, was now a name that the bureaucrats and businesspeople would know.

But where Gendarme’s RPDC was separate from the back alley and cloaked Order Paladins, Gendarme himself was more likeminded to his Paladin counterpart. He personally hated receiving accolades, making appearances and focusing on the appearing to be solving problems rather than actually solving them. His current activity, he would put in the solving them category.

“Must we do this every week Mason?” Jushin Gabriel, the Foreign Affairs Clerk for the Knight of Order and the constituent government, the Kingdom of the Knights of Order, asked with an air of calm.

“Colonel Gendarme is my name, and I shall be called as such, Mr. Gabriel, you are under suspicion by no higher than the King himself. So, yes, the Crown says we interrogate you weekly, we interrogate you weekly.”

“Fine, the answers are No, A, B, B, C, E, and D.”

Gendarme sighed, he was getting more persistent with every meeting, “Mr. Gabriel, do you consider yourself to be a servant of the King of the Insania Expanse.”

“As I said, No, that title does not actually exist. You know this Mason, ask me something you haven’t before.”

“What are your current dealings with the Knights of Order?”

“I current operate the independent Knights of Order Foreign Affairs Office for the Grandmaster, using many of the same resources as the Royal version. It’s in my job title.”

“And what interaction have you had with the Paladins?”

“Via stories told by frontline troops, apparently the Paladins do what they want, when they want with no regard for the opinion of the Grandmaster.”

“So the Paladins exist?”

“I cannot comment.”

“Why?”

“I will not betray one of the two persons I’m sworn to servitude of, especially not to someone I’m not. So, my good man, Mason. Is it time yet?”

Gendarme nodded. “Yes, as Colonel and commander of the Royal Policing and Defense Corps, you are free to go.”

“Same time next week?”

“Out.”

As he watched Jushin Gabriel leave the RPDC Headquarters, and be picked up by his ride, he watched the ride with disinterest. Only when the vehicle swung wide of the governmental houses did Gendarme take notice. About what he did not know, but what he did know was that he now had a lead.

____________________________________________________________________


Palace of the Champions, Nitro Zone, Capital Planet
One Week Later

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“We have secured another possible safe house, your Majesty,” Colonel Gendarme said for what felt like the hundredth time that month, “but if it were, it was cleared out well before RPDC troops were in the area. We need to find a way to launch a raid before anyone gets wind of it, and we need to find whatever leak is involved, if your majesty does not protest to my discretion.”

“It is called the better part of valor for a reason, Colonel. Now, I ask you, how many of the sector defense forces are flying the banner of the RPDC or constituent organization?”

“My last report said that it was over fifty your Majesty, unless I am mistaken.”

“No, no, the report is correct, but I am more speaking in terms the proper defense themselves, those that have allied with us are the previously independent and primarily human sections of the defense forces, those that have not have either significant ties to the Knights or are a non-human species, which is to be expected with how the Knights are maintaining my rule by just sort of ignoring me.”

“Care to explain, your Majesty, do the Knights expect plotting from the throne.”

“No, they always expect plotting from the Palace of the Champions. But more to the point, the Grandmaster has gone to specifically ignore a summons of mine. This combined with a lack of support for the RPDC from sector defense with significant Knightly influence points to a conspiracy against me.”

Colonel Gendarme wished he could talk the King out of this type of thinking, outside of it, he was more than a competent King for the Kingdom, “Your Majesty,” Gendarme stopped, “Your Majesty, I’ve got it. That is how we secure knowledge of both the leak and of the conspiracy against you. We must infiltrate and court the various constituents that are more loyal to the Knights than to your majesty. From them, we learn why the Knights have it out for you, and how the Paladins tie into the entire thing.”

“Your plan is good, Colonel, but how will we do this? Should we just send people into hotbeds like the Dungeon and see what happens?”

“That would be the most prudent, but we should maintain some form of infiltrator training and establish some sort of secret policing unit within the RPDC to enact these decisions. As of right now, I have a few people in mind for the stopgap job, particularly Lazarus to be sent to stir up trouble for the Knights in the Dungeon, as he has the most experience with the Imperial Vassal, Goblingrad, Hoblin, and the Republic. That should work while a special taskforce in trained within the RPDC.”

“And what if this taskforce is infiltrated?”

“I will personally oversee the formation of the taskforce.”

“Good, Colonel, I trust your vision and training in this. Deal with it.”

With that the Colonel was dismissed from the King’s presence to go out and plan.
This is an empty country and I am it's king, and I should not be allowed to touch anything.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby KhorneFlakes » 2011-10-21 12:57pm

In orbit of New Taiid
On approach to Raan-Tel class drydock Sanctum



The Raan-Tel drydock was enormous. 22 kilometers in diameter, the station was but one of many in the NTE's capital – there were at least fifty such drydocks in the Haven system. Capital ships and their smaller brethren were docked to various repair and maintenance facilities, courtesy of the Raan-Tel class's various docking arms. Here, the First Expeditionary Fleet was docked: The Baal-Re being the most obvious of them, it's 2300-meter long hull overshadowed by the station resupplying it.

Admiral Saarn looked upon the docked Saarkin-class carrier as his shuttle circled the station. His sharp eyes picked out the details of the Baal-Re's refuelling hatch - which was currently open, as fuel tubes from the Sanctum were currently mated with the ship, pumping the reactor fuel from a well-armoured (and well-protected) hatch on the underside of the docking arm.

The shuttle drew closer to the station, heading for Shuttlebay One: which ahead of time had been reserved for him and the rest of the First Expeditionary Fleet's crews. He could see the shuttles of various others, whether they be Taiidan Imperial Navy shuttles or private shuttles of government officials.

Saarn quickly checked his schedule over in his head. First, he was to attend a briefing on the Sanctum, then board the Baal-Re and depart for the primary star system of sector U-15...The capital of the old Taiidan Empire.

The NTE had numerous monitoring stations in the outer systems – the lack of life and the various hulks remaining there a testament to the Republic government's lack of empathy. Out of respect for the dead, the NTE hadn't laid a hand on the hulks, although the Taiidan on station had destroyed the hulks of Republican ships. That was one thing maybe all Imperial Taiidani agreed upon – that the Republicans were scum.

Of course however, asides from monitoring stations and automated defences, the NTE had not travelled beyond the sector very much – in fact, U-15 was the only Old Empire sector the modern Empire had a real presence in. The rest were presumed to be either empty (except for travellers) or as recently learnt, held by the Republican scum.

The shuttle finally touched down in Shuttlebay One. Saarn made a mental note to ask why the pilot had taken slightly longer than usual to land later on. Saarn waved his hand at his personal guard. Nodding, they stood from their seats and took place at his flanks. Saarn hit the release button on the roof of the shuttle, opening the door.

As expected, the Emperor and his personal guard stood waiting, various shuttles carrying the FEF's captains. Some of them had already departed their shuttles – others had only just landed, as he had. Saarn strode down the shuttle's ramp, his guard following suit.

The Emperor approached Saarn. “Ah, Saarn. Good to see you.” Kel said, raising a hand towards Saarn. He took it and shook his hand. “We have a situation, it seems.” Kel said. “What is it?” Saarn asked, interested.

“A republican fleet has stationed itself at the inner rim of the Kyos system in U-15. They are holding position, but after this fleet's attack on and subsequent destruction of Gehenna Station, the other garrisons in U-15 have reason to believe the fleet is prelude to a probing attack.” The Emperor replied.

Saarn frowned. “The Republicans are unusually active. Has someone has disturbed them?” he said. Kel looked at Saarn. “Possibly. Recon flights from the sectors T-15 and V-14 have noted the presence of several battles in the areas they were sent to. They reported that the republican forces are engaged in battle with unknown ships. They have also tried to contact these unknowns, but republican forces noticed them and our scouts were forced to retreat.”

He before continuing. “They did not come without any intelligence, however.” Kel gave Saarn a datapad. “On this datapad is information on the unknowns and pictures taken by our scouts.” Saarn looked at the picture on the datapad.

Image

The vessel displayed was indeed unusual. Displaying Old Taiidan Empire design features, and incorporating a modular design, the ship had been designed as an attack carrier. According to the information listed, it slightly more powerful a combatant than a Fury-class Battlecruiser, ignoring it's fighter complement.

“What else do we know about the unknowns?” Saarn asked. “Not much, disappointingly.” Kel replied, more attentive to the new craft landing in the hangar. “That would be Admiral Nen. Come. The briefing will be starting shortly.” Kel said. Saarn followed, motioning for his guard to follow.
Out of the new shuttle came out Admiral Nen, who lined up behind the rest of the assembled command staff of the FEF and marched off to the briefing room, albeit slowly.

Sanctum Station, Briefing Room, Deck 25
New Taiid Orbit

“I believe we all know why we are, Fleet.” Nen stated. “at roughly 1200 yesterday, a small Republican fleet attacked and destroyed Gehenna Station on the outskirts of sector U-15. This report came just after the First Expeditionary Fleet was about to depart and begin it's tour of duty in the outer sectors of our former Empire. With this attack, we are forced to conclude that a full-fledged Republican fleet is enroute to our worlds. Based upon this knowledge, the 1st EF has been upgraded to a full fleet.”

Nen pressed a button on the PDA he was holding. A hologram appeared, detailing the estimated strength and size of the Republic's navy. Displays lit up at each of the Admiralty's seats, providing a list of additional information to those at their seats.

“The information we currently have provides some insight into the Republic Remnant's abilities. We have noted the presence of various ships, many of which appear to be heavily refitted. The primary capital warship seems to be a modified Qwaar-Jet class heavy cruiser. However, due to the age of these voidframes, they are barely equivalent to one of our destroyers. The primary concern however is the Republican fleet. The fleet that took out Gehenna Station consisted of several cruisers, a number of destroyers, an old Koshiir-Ra carrier, and several frigate strike groups.” Nen paused, taking a sip of water from the bottle on his podium.

“It has been decided that the 1st EF, now the first combat fleet we have assembled in years, will engage and destroy this Republican fleet in a tactical engagement.” Nen pointed to the Kyos system's star. “The Republic fleet has so far taken up a holding position near the inner rim of the Kyos system. Our scouts have determined their location, size, and capabilities, after they failed to evade the notice of our long-range scanners.”

Nen pressed another button on his PDA. The hologram changed again, this time showing the 1st EF's size and strength. “As for the First Expeditionary Fleet, the Baal-Re and Duty Without End will once again see service as a pair with their respective ships. The Sajuuk-Cor, a Emperor-class battleship will be present in the fleet, along with a pair of Furies. Numerous destroyers and frigates have also been added to the fleet to fill the fleet' s ranks.”

Nen's tone became serious. “You depart at 1700. Let's make this Republican fleet regret this incursion into our Empire.”


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