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Quote of the Week: "History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives." - Abba Eban, Israeli statesman (1915-2002)


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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-17 11:45am
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Location: The Burger King Bathroom
MEH Space
NSAS Turtles All the Way Down

While shadowing the psychic-shielded Ork vessels, Commander Djangles started to pick up MEH transmissions. Curious about their content, and hoping to use that information to aid the Great Space Master, he analyzed it.

Image

"Greetings, ladies and gentlemen! I'm sure you know me: Tommy Boy Callahan, the fittest man in the MEH! Yes, I've run the quickest mile in the last 643 years, doing so in an astonishing 13 minutes and 43 seconds; yes, I have the lowest body fat percentage at a mere 32%; yes, I can bench press 100 kilos 5 times and still have the energy to walk and shower on my own. I'm the only living human black belt in any of the martial arts."

"Now, you might be asking yourself how you can be even half as fit as I am. Well, friends, I don't want to sell you anything, since I'm more than wealthy enough, so I'm giving away my advice for free. First, you gotta limit yourself to only 8,000 calories a day. Sure, I only eat 4,000 a day, but I know that's not for everyone. Second, I want you to walk about 200 feet a day. Get out of that hoverchair and work, people! Now, I know this sounds strenuous, but it's the only way I know of, people."

Image

Command Djangles shut off the transmission with disgust.

"Those. Fucking. Fatties."

"What, sir?" queried Lieutenant Ocean.

"The MEH! My god, it's full of fatties! I know I'm not the fittest man around, but their healthiest man has 32% body fat and runs a 13 minute mile! I can run that when hungover!"

"Maybe they aren't human, sir. Maybe that's a common misconception. Perhaps they're actually GMO whales or something," Lt. Ocean said helpfully.

"But everyone likes whales; so far, no one like these fatties," Djangles said.

"I've seen some holovideos with whales acting like real assholes, Commander. Perhaps these MEH guys evolved from whale assholes."

The Dude sighed heavily.

"Great. Whale assholes in space."



SDNet: Unbelievable levels of pedantry that you can't find anywhere else on the Internet!

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-17 12:56pm
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Location: Florida USA
Larfield Convention and Resort Center, Halsing Beach
United Enclaves of Gilead, Hobbs, Sector X-13
18 August 3400




In the server room of the resort, Dani laid out her plan. "The collars have remote activation circuits," she explained, her fingers manipulating delicate wires within her disassembled phone, "that you can key on and off with a specific command frequency. I am turning our phones into remote controls. Now, we'll have to get close and line of sight to use these, anything outside of 60 feet and the power cell in our phones can't power the signal loud enough for the activation circuits to trigger."

"That might be a problem," Druni said. She pointed to a monitor where she had put up a security camera image from the room where Reina and Sarisa were being held. "That room is easily 80 feet by 100, and the doors are covered. We'd never get close enough."

"And how high do you think it is? 20 feet? 30?" Dani finished messing with a wire and slipped it back into place. "We'll have to come from above."

"How? It's a solid floor!"

Dani remained silent for a moment as she finished putting the phone back together. Having done so, she went over to the screen and used the keyboard nearby to bring up the building plans. "Basic materials... strength of..." She openly mumbled some figures and thoughts. "....power cells. Yes, even if the material's tougher, we can cut through the roof. The hard part will be doing so without being noticed, doing so at the right spot, and then getting the collars shut off before they react."

"Oh, that's all," Amber remarked drolly.

Smiling at her lover, Dani winked. "We've been lucky so far, haven't we?"

"You'll need someone to distract them," Druni remarked to them. "To make sure. They won't kill Reina and Sarisa if they don't feel heavily threatened, at least not immediately, and I can buy you the time you'll need. Just help me get a..."

Suddenly Dani rattled off a list of parts, the same ones Druni had been thinking of. When Druni and Amber both looked at her, one in bewildered startlement and the other in curiosity, Dani explained with a smile. "I had a Sister as a lover once, I know how to build beamsabers. And I think we can find the parts we need in one of their storage closets, which just so happens to be along the way..."



Nika had been fortunate to find a security station in the mid-level floors of the tower that still had operational computers, at least operational enough that she could finish Blue 4's work and bring the anti-viral online. Taking a mobile security monitor with her, she had continued her careful trek downward, avoiding patrols of 2 and 4 here and there. There were still over 40 enemy combatants in the hotel, and time was running short. But above all else, she had to secure the Schweizer sisters. That was her purpose here, the cause that Blue 4 had died for.

She continued downward, carefully, hoping Druni was having the same luck she was.



Druni looked at the energy blade of her custom-build beamsaber and tried not to smile. It shined a bright blue, even brighter than her own skin tone. Dani, standing nearby, gave her a nod while finishing the directed charge she intended to use to blast through the ceiling to the main ballroom. "Looks good, doesn't it? A shame we couldn't find the right focusing crystals to give it a sexier color."

"No, it will be.... fine." Druni shut it down. "I'll remain in telepathic contact with you, but I won't be able to hold it while I'm fighting. As soon as I attack, you need to be finalizing the charge."

"We will be," Amber assured her.

The three left, going off their own ways. Amber and Dani remained on the floor, leading as it did to the upper floor ballroom where they would be making their play. Occasionally Druni noted her position telepathically to them, in careful whispers so other ESPers wouldn't overhear her, allowing the two to keep track of her progress as well.

The first snag came when they saw the two men at the doorway. Druni, they've got guards here now. I didn't see them on the security cameras, Dani actively thought, knowing Druni would pick them up.

Hurry, we're almost out of time!

Amber heard that thought too. Giving her lover a cautious, uncertain look, she brought her gun up. "You know, even if we take them out, we're so close..."

"It won't take them long to know something's up. Yeah." Dani sighed. "Well, let's do this. What's the worst that can happen?"

"Um... we die?"

"Yeah, but there are worse things. At the top of my list are 'infested by Karlacks' and 'made the sex-slave of a horny Dilgrud'." Dani winked. "So, let's get dangerous?"

"That, Dani, is the most horribly cheesy battlecry I have ever heard," Amber retorted. She smirked and raised her gun. "So, let's get dangerous!"

The shout alerted the guards at the door that someone was coming. Energy fire nearly singed Dani's hair as she rolled out into the opening. She leveled her weapon and fired, an off-balance shot that missed, though it did cause them to dive for cover. Amber came around the side firing, making them stay down briefly - long enough for Dani to close the distance.

One of the guards was about to fire when Dani gripped his gun and pointed it upward. Her knee came up and struck his groin. As he went to double over in pain she threw a punch that put him down for good. The other guard turned toward her and took a shot to the side from Amber, then a roundhouse kick from Dani before he could go all the way down.

They slipped into the room and found it empty. "They'll have heard that," Amber said. "Hurry and get the charge ready, I'll hold the door."

"Sure. But first things first." Dani grabbed Amber and kissed her warmly on the lips, slipping her tongue into Amber's mouth for a moment. After giving her the kiss she fell to a knee in front of Amber and brought up a bit of wire she'd fashioned into a circle; more than that, a ring. "Marry me, Amber Kelly."

Amber stared at her in shock. "Dani? Now isn't the time..."

"Now is the perfect time. If w're going to die, I'd like to die knowing I was going to marry the most beautiful and awesome woman in the Empire," Dani insisted.

"Well... yes... yes I'll marry you," Amber stammered, still taken aback. The ring she had intended to propose to Dani with was still at their cottage, waiting for their final night at Halsing as a prelude to what she had intended to be a night neither could forget.

"It'll be great, a marriage Westminster will never forget," Dani vowed. She picked the directed charge she'd made out of the elastic belt built into her tennis shorts. "Now, lover, go back to the door, and let me get back to blowing things up and teaching these dickheads to never fuck with engineers."



Survival for herself, Sarisa, and Reina was going to come down to swiftness, Druni knew, and so she had prepared herself for the sprint to come.

The Jieshi men had arranged an inner perimeter of no less than eight men, spread amongst the exits, with four providing patrols in groups of two. She spent a minute sensing their minds and feeling out the pattern, knowing that taking on four men alone was going to be a hard business and adding two before she was done would make things impossible.

When two men came out from the room, rushing toward the stairs, she knew she had to go. She telepathically told Amber and Dani she was attacking, steeled herself with a final breath, and launched herself into the air.

The four Jieshi men had their weapons up as she landed before them, her beamsaber flashing to life. She concentrated and smacked two with a tight telekinetic blast, leaving two to shoot at her. She raced toward them, her saber swishing around in the style Zara had taught her for this work, deflecting bolts before they could strike her unarmored body. She rolled and brought the beamsaber up, cleanly slicing through the kneecaps of both attackers. AS they screamed and fell over their dismembered legs, she raced on to the door.

Inside she saw Reina and Sarisa. The Jieshi leader was behind them. She saw his gun was pressed to the back of Reina's head and his finger now tensing on the trigger...


Reina swallowed and closed her eyes, trying not to show fear as the seconds on the counter went to zero. She felt the cold metal press against her skull and swallowed. "It looks like you were right, Duchess," Yong said as he brought the gun up to Reina's head. "Your Premier will go forward with his plans anyway. Maybe I should have ordered his assassination instead.... oh well. So, are you going to beg for your life, you pampered whore?"

"I will show you how a daughter of House Schweizer dies," Reina replied firmly. She kept her eyes up, feeling Sarisa's on her. Sarisa would be a good Duchess, she knew, and who knows? Her fiery demeanor and willingness to fight might very well bring Dragovich to heal as well... she just wished she could say goodbye to her and to urge her to to what was right by the Tyconian people and Queen Hilda, regardless.

She didn't need ESP to know Yong's finger was beginning to squeeze the trigger.



"No!" Druni gave the gun a telekinetic nudge that threw the man's aim off, sending the blast meant for Reina's head into a nearby wall, and a followup blast of flame from her open palm that made him fall over to avoid getting entirely engulfed. As he fell he dropped the gun he'd held, leaving him disarmed for the moment. His subordinates opened fire at her and forced her to take cover, her weapon swinging. Now would be a good time, she told the women above her.

"Get that girl! Kill her!" Yong nursed his hand, burnt by Druni's flame, and reached for the gun he'd dropped. Overhead weapon fire deflected by Druni's beamsaber kept him down. This also prevented him from being in a position to quickly deal with Sarisa, who jumped to her feet and crashed into him. With her wrists bound behind her back she couldn't do much more, unfortunately, so she took a wicked kick to the jaw that partially broke it.

There was no loud explosion to herald the ceiling caving in partially, simply the sound of falling plaster and building concrete. With her jaw flaring in pain Sarisa looked up and saw a tan-skinned arm reach through the hole holding.... a phone? She had been hoping it'd be a tactical team...

Suddenly she felt it. The collar's masking field was gone; her extra senses were coming back to her. Smiling despite the pain, Sarisa focused heat into her hands. The tie straps melted away after a second, at least enough that she could break free. Yong was finally to his gun when he looked up to see a plume of flame erupt from Sarisa's outstretched hand.

Reina, not being pyrokinetic, utilized sheer TK pull apart the tie-strap holding her wrists. Once free she turned toward the nearest militant and closed the distance in a moment, nailing him with a mid-air snap kick before he could bring his gun to bear. She turned to see another of the guards in the room being engulfed in flames by Sarisa and, most importantly, the slacking of fire allowing Druni to go on the offensive, her beamsaber already in the process of cleaving through a third man's arms.



"Dani!" Amber slipped back around the door and allowed energy blasts to fly by. "We've got a bunch of them out there now, I need some help!"

"There!" Dani brought her phone back up through the hole. Through it she could see the two Schweizer sisters joining the fight. With their plan having worked, Dani took back her rifle and moved back toward the door. She reached into her elastic belt and pulled out another charge she'd made, as a backup, and shouted, "Hey dickheads, this is for wrecking my vacation!" After pressing the primer down she tossed it out the door and took cover, barely avoiding return fire. An explosion echoed in their ears. When Dani looked back out, she saw at least two of them were down. She barely got her head back in before a burst of energy fire came her way. "Damn, that was my only spare," she grumbled.

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

"We keep holding the door, we've got nowhere else to go," Dani answered. "Unless you want to jump down nearly thirty feet..."

And then there was the sounds of further gunfire. Short bursts, bit by bit, and then silence. Dani and Amber looked out to see their attackers down on the ground. Dani caught sight of a flash of pinkish-red skin on a leg as someone got out of sight. "Um, thanks?!" she called out.

"I wonder who that was?", Amber asked.

"Don't know, right now we need to get to the other hostages."



At his panicked command Yong's men had come running from elsewhere to help him against the three ESPers while he got into a corner and nursed his burned hand. His entire plan was unraveling and he wasn't sure what to do. It had been working so well!

Frustrated, he switched the radio channel and shouted, "You, woman! I need help! You are one of them, you can defeat them!" He shouted it again after seconds of silence, wondering where Tabitha was...



It did not take Tabitha as long as Blue 4 had hoped it would for her to realize she was interrogating a mindless, lobotomized husk of an android. She tossed his body away and was going through his systems and comm, recording communications logs that had survived and every other scrap of data she could get. As she sat and waited, she heard over the radio as Yong got into trouble. A check on the security systems, which she confirmed were now again operational, showed that somehow his suppression collars had failed; the Schweizer sisters, and that lovely Dorei girl, were dealing with the badly-trained militants pretty well.

Oh well, the secondary objective had failed. But with these records... Tabitha's main objective had succeeded.

She heard Yong shouting over and over again for her to come help and smiled. The dimwit! He really thought she, or her employer, gave a damn about his insular, xenophobic view of the world! Jieshi could burn for all Tabitha cared, and maybe it deserved to if the best it could manage were such putzes. She turned the comm off, not wanting it to be spouting lines at an awkward time, and finished her work. She had her saferoom, and cover, ready to use.



Yong realized he'd been betrayed as he stumbled out of the ballroom. "All patriots, we are betrayed!", he shouted over their comms. With their chance lost, he had to get his men out of here. "Evade and escape immediately!" It was a forlorn hope, and he knew many would be caught, but some had to get away if their organization was to survive.

I should have never trusted outsiders! he grumbled. Trusting outsiders had never gotten the Jieshi anywhere, only subjugated by foreign power. Tian Xia, Cascadia, the UN, now Tyconia....

As he came around to the ballroom where the hostages were, he was still contemplating whether to take some or not. It might help his men escape, but just letting them all go would create havoc and confusion his men could potentially escape in. Yes, that was the important part, and besides, while executing the Schweizers was something he considered the duty of a patriot, murdering helpless civilians who had never raised arms against his people he had considered a distasteful, if potentially necessary, task. He gave the order and told them he'd meet them at the south exit.

He never got there, though. He barely moved passed the ballroom, for Yong didn't see Nika step up behind him, nor did he hear her bring her gun up. Suddenly the back of his head was gone, destroyed by a bolt of energy. Nika saw his lifeless body fall and couldn't help but smile. This man had killed good and decent people, he had imperiled the future that Nika had sworn to help bring about, and for what? For his delusions of national pride.

But now wasn't the time to be smug. She had rescued the Anglian peeresses out of gratitude for their saving her lover, and because she frankly liked that the two women had fought back with such spirit, but now was the time for her to get back to the top floor and her "hiding place" to maintain her cover. WIth Yong dead and his final orders given, the hostages were safe. His men would be caught, save maybe one or two lucky ones. But they were no threats. She suspected this would break the Jieshi ultra-nationalists for a long while. The Plan was safe.



In her saferoom, Tabitha had gotten into a swimsuit. A beautiful brunette in a slinky two-piece swimsuit wouldn't get too much attention from the police as they slept the Larfield, and her weapons and personal suit were carefully hidden. Here she was just a pampered woman hiding in terror.

At least that's how she'd look when she felt them coming. For now she was reading through the material she'd taken from the CompInt. His organization was careful, she could tell; his comm logs were heavily encrypted. It would take time to break them. But break them she would.

And then she would find her next target. Whomever had crossed Princess Sara of Cornelia would be her plaything, soon enough.



For such a stressful day, it ended anti-climactically. By the time Dani and Amber had gotten to Druni, the fighting had stopped. The bad guys were running, usually into the arms of waiting Gilean paramilitary security forces, and the hostages were free.

Medical personnel had also arrived. Now Amber and Dani were outside, standing together with hands clasped as Amber leaned over her half-awake sister and affectionally touched her on the cheek. "The doctors say you'll be fine in a couple days, Sarina," she assured her.

"Helena?", Sarina said hoarsely.

"She's made it. A closer call, but yes, she'll pull through," Amber insisted. "We'll be by to see you as soon as we give our reports to the authorities."

"My sister, the action heroine," Sarina giggled, despite herself,before being pulled away the paramedics to the airvan that was taking her to the hospital.

Watching Sarina go, Amber felt Dani's hands touch her mostly-bare shoulders. "She'll be fine, Amber," Dani promised. "I've told the hospital I'll pay them all bonuses if they take good care of them."

"You shouldn't, she's my sister..."

"And soon to be my sister-in-law," Dani pointed out. "Unless losing all that adrenaline has made you change your mind."

Looking into Dani's emerald-hued eyes, Amber shook her head and sighed. "Dani, I have my own confession. There's a ring I paid for, in our cottage. I was going to propose to you our last night here."

At that, Dani laughed out loud. "Oh, that is so sweet Amber. And it makes me happy to know you feel that way. We're going to have a wedding that all of Westminster will chatter about for months."

"Especially if we pick Juliani's line of wedding dresses," Amber cackled joyfully, after which she put her arms around Dani's shoulders and gave her a strong kiss. When it was over, Amber added, "We should probably go find that sergeant who talked to us, he wants our statements."

"Yeah, we should. And then we'll head straight to the hospital."

The two, smiling widely, walked back into the hotel, hands clasped tightly.



On the top level, Druni was having Nika rub her bare shoulders. "You don't have to do this," she insisted. "I'm fine."

"These tension knots say otherwise, lover," Nika insisted. The rubbing was helping her, honestly; her Korugan physiology meant that her own nervous tension was best played out through physical exertion. And other means of exerting herself wouldn't be quite right just yet.

On the couch opposite them in the suite, Sarisa and Reina were talking to a holographic image of Dragovich. The sly head of government had wanted to assure them he had done everything possible to secure their release, that losing them would have been a blow that "the Duchy would take decades to heal from". It was all a pleasant lie, of course, with their cousin Peter having already told them that Dragovich had been preparing him for immediate assumption of the Duchy as soon as the hostage crisis had begun. But sometimes such lies had to be told as part of the protocol of state. "We shall be home in the coming days," Reina informed him. "The convention has been postponed for several months, Her Grace the Duchess Galicia believes it will likely not be held until next summer, by which time I shall be living on Fynn with my new bride."

"Yes, but your sister can easily attend in your stead, Your Majestic Grace," Dragovich pointed out. "And it pleases me to hear how well you and Her Majesty are getting along in readiness for your marriage to each other. I look forward to seeing you together at last, just as I do to see you safely returned to Carwen."

"Thank you, Premier. Now, if you'll excuse me, we are rather tired. It's been a trying day." Reina turned the holocomm off and laid back in the seat. "Lying son of a bitch," she muttered. "He had all but put my crown on Peter's head before our rescue."

"Yes, but that's how it is." Sarisa looked to Druni and Nika. "You've done us a wonderful service, Druni. Would you like to be a permanent resident of the Palace?" She cast an eye toward her sister. "Certainly no one will mind now, Reina. She's not just a Dorei girl I took in on a lark. She's a good friend and former Sister of the Silver Moon Order who saved our lives."

"Well, helped," Druni insisted. "Dani was the one who turned off your collars."

"Dani?" Reina looked at her intently. "She's one of the wealthiest and most prominent peeresses on New Anglia, Druni. I hope you don't call her that socially."

"Oh, she insisted," Druni replied. "She and Amber - the Countess of San Luis, if you prefer - were quite friendly to me. If you're going to reward me..."

"Oh, I shall have them inducted into the Order of St. George as a matter of course. The same for you, Druni." Reina smiled at her. "But honestly? The Duchess Danielle is arguably wealthier than I am, at least when you count all the company holdings she has directly or through the shares her companies hold themselves. I can't reward her in any practical sense any more than I could King Edward."

"I suppose you could grant her land for a vacation home on the Valician Riviera," Sarisa pointed out. "It is wonderfully romantic."

"I could, but I doubt she'll want or need it. The woman has so many homes she probably spends years without seeing them," Reina joked. "Though I could do the same for you, Druni. And give you employment of some form, maybe as my sister's personal assistant? Or a private bodyguard? Seriously, I know you are training hard with Master Maroh, but being a tea waitress when you could be so much more.... what?" Reina noticed Druni and Sarisa were giving her uncomfortable looks.

"Despite what the chamberlain insisted when growing up, my dear sister, there is nothing wrong with serving tea," Sarisa said testily.

Reina, wisely, said nothing more, knowing full well how much loyalty the elderly Asiatic master engendered in his students. Nika broke the ice, saying aloud, "Well, I've had a boring day, trying to stay hidden. Mind if I steal Druni away from you two?"

The two Schweizer sisters exchanged a look. "How do you keep up with her?", Sarisa sighed, looking at Druni.

"Barely," Druni called out as she let Nika drag her off toward the bedroom.



Tabitha had changed hotels, with the full complements and apologies of Larfield's staff of course. Helpful Halsing Beach police officers had unknowingly carried a sealed case with her weapons and suit in hopes of further attention which she did not deign to give - she wasn't into men, after all, and while there was an enclave about 50 kilometers away that would provide her enjoyable playmates, a Lady of the Ebon Blade had to let business go before pleasure.

The transmission she sent to Princess Sara was encrypted. She spelled out her success in the actual mission. Sadly, they hadn't prevented the marriage, but that had always been a secondary option. What was more important was finding out who had compromised Royal Cornelia's security and altered the assassination orders on the Fynnian royals.

Meanwhile, she had to break this CompInt encryption. It wouldn't be easy. She would have to get help for it. It might even require a return home, a return to the Tower, the base from which the Ladies operated. She didn't always like going back; she preferred her autonomy as a field operative. But one of the rules was doing what the client needed. The bottom line was, it would take time.

But, for now, time was what she had in abundance.



”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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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-17 01:51pm
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Ctesiphon
Persepolis
Imperial Guardens



Countless tables had been placed in the Garden for the comfort of the visitors once the artificial summer had been started. Of course, as only the highest nobles were allowed into the Gardens, nearly all of them were empty. All but one table, at which three people were currently engaged in small talk.

In the center position a young women clad in a golden dress was sitting. Years of training ensured that her offer was made with the usual grace to the persons sitting to the right and to the left of her. "More tea?"

Scanning components shipment PS-45A...
Status updated. There are currently five spy systems and six Sughdian guardsmen observing us. Time required to take them out: 0.05 seconds. Threat level: nonexistent.
Incoming Sassanid battleship. Designated Priority A Target #1521 in system. Missile lock established. Monitoring....
Attending slipfighter pilot class Graduation....Graduation total: 6....
Vector suggest battleship identified as Fist of the Shah heading for resupply depot orbiting Dura Europos...
...decoration of merit to Officer second rank Ariobarzanes for reestablishing control of damaged freighter...
"Prepare for System Initialization on my mark"
...scan results: 3 out of 1000 condensers meet quality standards. Act accordingly...
link to mainframe on Xenos Prime established
..."It gives me great pleasure to address you, the first slipfighter pilots of the Xenos Home Guard..."
WARNING. BRAGULAN CYBER PROBE DETECTED.
Avatar. Remember to smile once in a while...



The person sitting to the left of the young woman smiled back. "No, thank you." Her composure was less aristocratic and more relaxed, seeming utterly taken in by the beauty of the flowers. Of course, like so many things in the Gardens, it was a careful disguise. For nobody who knew her would ever mistake Andromache for anything but ready to spill death and destruction at the blink of an eye. And the other two people were so far the only ones who knew what she was for certain.

Don't tell me how to behave.
"Mark."
BRAGULAN CYBER PROBE DEFEATED. TRACING....
"...I am sure each of you will serve with honor, competence and dignity in these coming days..."
...battleship has docked with resupply depot. Release missile lock on target and re-designate as priority G Target #85....
Results of Lancer training maneuver have been received. Evaluating....
BRAGULAN CYBER PROBE TRACED TO FREIGHTER PREPARING TO LEAVE SYSTEM XENOS PRIME.
System online. You want to take this or shall I deal with it?



The final person was a male of about thirty years in appearance. Of the three, Korvettenkapitän Georg Sänger looked the most out of place, with his black uniform being adorned not only by the Hanseatic cross, but also by the red sash which, when worn with a parade uniform, denoted a head of House in the Sassanid Empire. That this House currently only consisted of one system (albeit with a steadily growing industrial base and following) was irrelevant.

It was he who accepted a refill with a nod and a small smile which had become routine over the past year. He carefully set the mug aside after taking a small sip of the steaming liquid, taking care not to spill something on the papers he and the Princess Nasrin were currently reading.

"So you would suggest placing more importance on the battle of Edessa, Georg?" "Yes, your highness. Or at least the historians of my universe thought it wise to do so." "Yes, as you have so often reminded me we must take care not to just apply conclusions from one universe to the other. But the early histories seem to be remarkably similar..."

Except for the Sassanid propaganda in yours, of course...
The secrecy of the new defence system is paramount. We should use standard defences to deal with the spies.
Georg will not like that. If we do that it will result in bloodshed.
Sänger doesn't have to know.
Yes he does.
Quit squabbling. I'll deal with it.
But-
TARGET LOCK ESTABLISHED. FIRING MISSILE SALVO.


"What do you think, Andromache? We seem to be in need of a third opinion."

It does not have to be that way.
Yes it does.
I hate arguing with myself.
SPY FREIGHTER HIT AND DESTROYED. ESTIMATE 100% FATALITIES.
System performing at 100% efficiency.
Components shipment PS-45A unloaded. Scanning components shipment PS-45B...
Received progress report on Project Perseus...


"I think that while history is certainly fascinating, I think there must be a reason why your Highness has summoned us from Xenos Prime besides discussing your latest scholarly pursuits."

"Yes." The mug was set aside as the table holoprojector flickered to life. It - another of the countless products being produced by the Xenos which had started to replace Perseid technology - displayed a galactic map. Sänger leaned forward to get a better look. "Our friends the Bragulans have asked for our help to relocate some troops from here..." A yellow dot indicated a location in the Bragulan Empire. "...to here. The Bragulans readily admitted they might attack the Multiversal Empire of Happiness. As part of our treaty, we will send along a small force. I'd like you to lead them, Duke."

Sänger showed no reaction, though his hand moved slightly. "Wouldn't Spahbod Farrokhan be a more useful candidate? My knowledge of military affairs of this galaxy is far less than his."

The face of Nasrin showed no emotion when she replied: "The Spahbod is needed here to strike fear into any enemy who wants to exploit the situation and prey on our territories." She didn't add and to discourage any nobles from attempting a coup. She didn't have to.

The Sassanid Empire was stretched out over a territory that was far too large for an Empire that was one of the weakest in the Galaxy, a result of successive Emperors splitting up noble houses to deprive them of power, resulting in much more colonization efforts than had been good for the Empire. Which resulted in the Empire having many but comparatively poor worlds to the other states of the galaxy, with only Ctesiphon and Istakhr being listed among the great worlds of the Galaxy. It also resulted in the Emperor never being able to entirely monitor what the various noble houses were up to, a fact which had cost many Emperors their lives, the latest attempt only having been thwarted by the timely arrival of the Xenos.

But that was history. "You know the limitations of Slipstream Drive yourself. In any case, we cannot risk stripping Xenos prime." "Yes. The Fist of the Lion and her battlegroup will accompany you. Quarters have been set aside for you on the Fist."

"I see." Sänger rose and held out his hand to help Andromache up. "May we walk, your Highness?" Nasrin rose. "Certainly. I shall accompany you."




Xenos Prime
Control room

Image
"Prepare for system initialization on my mark."
No matter how often Leitender Ingenieur Markus Johannssen had seen the hologram appear and issue orders, he knew in his heart he would never get used to it. As former Chief Machinist on the SMS Natasha, he trusted computers. But not this one. For how could he trust a computer that was everywhere and nowhere at all, which refused to let him examine her - no, it - and of which he knew that for all his intellect, she would do fine without him. After all, all she really needed was somebody to fulfill her orders in the rare instances she - it - could not do something itself.

Xenos Prime was a testament to that. What had once been a lifeless body of water was now home to a city, a floating city with large industrial complexes and whose occupants seemingly lacked for nothing. Yet the functionality of it all had prompted some German crewmembers to dub it "Metropolis", after an old classic.
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He could not begrudge the accomplishments. The spaceport was filled with a constant stream of landing and starting ships - or more accurately, atmosphere jumpers. Space trade was entirely conducted via the trade station orbiting the planet, for nobody without a special clearance was allowed on Xenos Prime and fewer less were allowed into the sensitive areas like Natasha Palace, the official palace and Government center of House Xenos, as they were now called.

The only persons who had access were the Germans and section chiefs of Xenos Prime, the former making up the entire senior staff of the administration. Natasha Palace itself had been constructed out of the remains of the SMS Natasha (with its drive being removed for study, of course) and that was exactly how Johanssen and a lot of the Germans felt - like remains, stuck in an alien universe.

Others of course had been jubilant. Given the reputation the Xenos had quickly established as being a House where no class divisions existed, downtrodden people had started fleeing their noble masters for a shot at a better life. Some Germans had grumbled at that, claiming they were starting to take away resources from more important products, but Johannssen could not begrudge the people a hope for escape. Especially in the servants.

The servants. Voluntary servants and people from the Persian clone vats, ordered from there to be given as gifts to House Xenos. The first being proud to be serving a Lord who enjoyed the favor of an Imperial Princess, the second being little more than brainwashed clones in his opinions. That House Xenos was the only house "blessed" with the license to have servants like that (besides the Imperial House and House Perseus) left an even worse aftertaste in the mouth of Johannssen and his fellow Germans. After all, the Korvettenkapitän's ancestor had once signed a document stating that every living person had a right to free will and in his book, programming people to serve unhesitantly was not something that fit with that treaty.

The status of the replicants and Imperial servants had been the source of the only public disagreement his commander and the Android did have. After all, she too claimed she was a living being who had chosen to serve a state. And her mother had been created for the sole purpose of that as well. And she too had signed up to serve for a number of decades. Sänger had argued that a living being felt different from a machine, which had been the only time Andromache had shut up and blinked out of existence. The commander had then been forced to wear mittens as temeperatures in his quarters had dropped below zero until he had apologized.

But the servant problem still persisted. Despite their best efforts, none of the servant's conditioning had been broken. They - now numbering in the low thousands - were lounging around the palace, waiting to serve their new Lord and Master. Who, to his credit, apparently shared the sentiment of his crew regarding the production of living beings for the sole purpose of serving the state, for he never even ventured near the duchal quarters, instead chosing to live on the ship.

With her - no, it. Roughly two months after they had arrived, Sänger had been observed holding hands with the avatar of the AI. Most had assumed the obvious and given that said AI had been providing them with food to eat and air to breathe, those who had misgivings had kept their mouths shut.

Johannsen would have preferred if it had been that simple. If only it had been a sexual relationship. That would have been odd, but borderline acceptable. But he knew the truth, for he had been the one observing the installation process of the neural interface. For cosmetic reasons - knowing the aversions of the Sassanids to AIs - it had been placed in Sänger's hand instead of the usual location, the neck. And it had been up to Johannsen to observe and assist with the installation process. Not that he had anything to do but look on as the Andromache's nanobots did the work. He'd never forget the smile on the face of the AI's avatar. It had been triumphant.

From that day on things had changed. Sure, the AI was nice and respectful to him. Sure, she kept her hands off the Korvettenkapitän and vice versa. But Sänger had changed - he had seemed to gain a better understanding of the AI and seemed to be more considerate to its needs. Or was that it? After all, she was an amazing computer. And a warship. And a robot avatar. And a hologram giving him orders. And in a sense, she even was Xenos Prime, for she could take control of the main computer - and by extension the defence system - at will. She had once joked with him that in physical form, she would have a brain the size of a planet. And he was supposed to believe that so much power could not alter Sänger's head at will? Could not simply replace him with a construct of her own? Or modify his behavior?

It would not have been too surprising in a galaxy that was, in many ways, just weird.

Lately, he had started wondering how much of his commander was still existing as he spent more and more times with the Sassanids and it. It is just not natural. Granted, most of that probably had to do with the high-stakes political game he was playing against people were "assassination", "betrayal" and "political ally" were synonyms. Maybe he was just imagining things...and maybe -

"Mark." The hologram intoned and he felt his body reacting automatically to the command. As they had trained, he waited for the technicians to finish inputting their code cylinders and then pressed the activation sequence. He knew that in the mainframe, the AI would be doing the same.

A low hum could be heard for a second before it subsided into the background. Johannssen checked his display. The readings are good....WHOAH.

His eyes flickered to the main tactical screen. One of the thousands of defence drones swarming the system had released a salvo of missiles. A mere millisecond later, they slammed into a freighter, destroying it utterly.

Johannsen jumped to his feet. "What in Heaven's name was that?" The hologram was silent for a minute before replying: "Spies. The new AP reactors are online and functioning at maximum capacity. Please sent all readings from the control group to me as soon as possible."

The hologram flickered out, leaving a surprised control team behind. And as he pressed the submit button, Johannssen thought of one thing. One day....one day I am going to dismantle you and find out what how you really work...


Ctesiphon Prime
Imperial Guardens


As expected, as soon as he touched her hand, Sänger's mind established the by now familiar connection. The feeling was a rush - his mind being pulled out into hers. Her mindscape looked like rows of data forming structures as his form started to finalize in her mindscape.
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She was already waiting for him, grinning. "Happy anniversary."

Sänger cocked an eyebrow. "What?" "Today. It has been one year after we first interfaced." "Oh. Yeah." He snorted. "If I remember correctly, I asked you what would happen if we would meet in my brain instead of yours. Your answer was not very flattering, if I recall."

One of the rows of data realigned itself, showing his memory.

Quote:
They had been walking through her mind, sharing selected memories with each other when he had asked her. "So your universe obviously has a transfer from biological to mechanical bodies. What about the reserve?" Andromache laughed. “No. The biological equivalent of me would be a brain the size of a planet. To put it in simple terms: a human brain would fry like an egg on the surface of a sun.”


Andy pouted. "Well, it was the truth. And I doubt an explanation of the quantum processor coupled with the isolinear chips compared to the human neurons would have -" "I concede the point. In any case, we need to talk." The mood turned somber and the avatar looked pained. "Yes. Before we do though, note that I - my other self - has destroyed a spyship."

Sänger briefly wondered about the complex relationship between her and herself. A High Guard AI was typically composed of three beings - the main AI, the hologram and the avatar. A trifecta of beings and yet also just one. Compartmentalization for the sake of differing opinions and delegating. With time, one of the three (usually the avatar) might become independent of the other two. This took time - or, in the case of Andromache's mother - just a few months. Of course, she had been a special AI. Though given her parentage, Sänger wondered whether he was witnessing the same process already in Andy already. Then again, they had often been fighting amongst themselves (herselfs?) before.

In any case, there were more pressing concerns. "Why?" "They had tried a cyber probe. And they were Bragulans." Sänger nodded, instantly understanding the reasons why. House Xenos, for all its mystery, only had one warship, less than a few hundred fighters and a population that was in the low millions. Any well placed bomb - or missile - could spell the doom of Xenos Prime. Or the Andromache. And while he was certain that the intelligence apparatus of the neighboring nations had some kind of idea as to their capabilities, the less certain information they had the better. That did not mean he did not like the destruction of a ship, but there were other issues at hand.

"Let's discuss that later. What about Nasrin's request?" Andy shook her head. "I have to caution against it. We cannot get involved in a war. On the other hand, we may have to do it." Before Sänger could even start to look at her in a questioning manner, she continued. "The Princess' body composure indicated that she was uncomfortable asking us." "I didn't - " "I know you did not notice. Since we met her I have observed her body language. She is good and might even fool me, but not after I have had one year of observing her." Sänger nodded. "Assuming what you say is true -" "It is. In addition, there was an unusual number of electronic observers. We are usually observed by four - but I detected five. Which indicates the level of attention we are getting is higher than usual. Coupled with the fact that Farrokhan will not be going, I assume this will be an attempt to lure us away."

Sänger nodded. "But why? We are part of her powerbase." Andy nodded. "This I do not know. But it is possible that Poran or Farrokhan have outmaneuvered her at court." "Maybe," Sänger replied. "However speculation does not help us. If we refuse, we lose her support - which we cannot. Not at the moment, anyway."

Andy nodded in agreement. "Besides, my mother had a great saying about situations like this." "Oh?" "I am a warship and I do not like running away from a fight."


Imperial Gardens
Ten minutes later


Nasrin had known how they would decide the moment Sänger had helped Andromache up. She would have been a very bad graduate of the Academy of Gundeshapur and a very bad product of her bloodline if she had not noticed the narrowing of his eyes. Nasrin suspected there was some form of communication between the two - the methods of which she had not found out. Maybe body language? But no, he would not be capable of pulling that one off.

The three had walked a bit across the garden, discussing technical details. She had asked how the newest gifts had worked out (Sänger had pretended for the sake of the cameras that the servants were much appreciated) and he had asked how the recent developments of the Planetfall Feast were going along (which she thought she had done a good job of feigning interest in). The Planetfall Feast was the time the Emperor would once more assume his seat upon the Golden Throne to engage in yet another drug-fueled trip.

The two Xenos had asked to be excused to prepare for their mission and she had granted them their request. Usually the Head of a House would have kneeled, but past experiences with this particular head of a house had convinced her to offer her hand to be kissed instead. Men and their pride.

Besides, having him take her hand and brush over it with his lips was exactly what she had wanted. As soon as she had left, a servant came running with an extractor and held it over her hand.

"Well done, my daughter." A large tree dissolved into a small observation chamber as the image field flickered and died. Nasrin accepted the thanks of her father, the Grand Vizier with a small nod. "I confess I still do not understand what the Emperor plans." Her father paid her no heed. "He is the Emperor. His will is law - and he has foreseen this in a vision."




Image
Istakhr
Perseid Palace


"Good evening brother." Xerxes beamed as he strode into the private quarters of Chosroes. His brother had just finished waking up from a three day-long orgy and was feeling much less cheerful. "'vening", he grunted as he put his head under cold water. "Why so happy?"

"Do you remember the Anglian intervention in Pendleton?" "Yes. Why are you so happy about it?" Pendleton had been a nearly insignificant source of DNA material and specimens for the Perseid clone vats. Of course, the trades had been done by countless middle men - most who believed they were working instead for other powers - and seldom had a live specimen being exchanged. Why bother with actual specimens if you could just cue up the DNA and have the clone vats put out a Replicant that was much easier to deal with?

"You know that our father once ordered that superior specimen for your sixteenth birthday?" Chosroes shrugged. "No?" "Oh. Well, that would be because you enjoyed too much of the bragulan wine to do anything but vomit all over your present."

The mere mention of Bragulan wine was enough to force Chosroes to sit down. Undeterred and apparently taking much pleasure from his brother's attempts to keep his stomach contents inside, Xerxes continued. "Well, as you know, I spent the last month eliminating any and all connections with us to Pendleton. Several people died gloriously for the most sacred cause of House Persus, yaddayaddayadda. Anyway...."

"Please make your point before I tire of this and decide to feed you to my worm."

The briefest shadow of annoyance flickered over Xerxes' face before being replaced with his trademark Cheshire cat grin. "Well....guess what I found among the list of things we keep on ice...and wouldn't it be excellent if our Xenos problem could be solved without any involvement of yours truly?"

Confusion and then understanding showed on Chosroe's face. "Oh. Oooooh."

"This calls for a drink."



Sassanid Superdreadnought Fist of the Shah

"I have informed Johannsen that your ship-self will be in command." Sänger remarked as he took off the Sash and threw it on the bed. "Good." Andy walked over to the window, looking at her shipself as it accelerated and then entered slipstream. She shuddered. "Is something wrong?" Andy shrugged. "I just do not like being seperated. And being alone."

"Can't you interface with the Fist?" Andy shook her head. "The computer power is insufficient to hold me. I could take control but it would lead to no improvement." Sänger looked her over, noting that she was once more pouting. "Are you sure you are not just in a pissy mood because you have to play the role of subservient retainer to your glorious duke? For the sake of appearances and all that."

Any reply she was about to give was cut off when the Sassanid fleet started their transit into hyperspace.



**********
Results:
- scheming, scheming, more scheming.
- The Sassanids sent a "mighty" fleet with their troop transports to help the Bragulans out. Said fleet consists of 1 superdreadnought (Fist of the shah, 600 points) and four light cruisers (a 60 points). Pretty pitiful, but about all of the Sassanid offensive strenght.



Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-18 07:52am
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Note: approved by Shroom via PM.


Sassanid Dreadnought Fist of the Shah

Why did it have to be bears? Talking bears. With teeth. And claws.

As the Bragulan delegation exited the lift that had carried them into the audience hall of the dreadnought, Sänger could not help but wonder what cruel god he had offended this week.

It was not that the Sassanids had no experience dealing with Bragulans. Quite the contrary. They had laid out huge tables of meat so that the Bragulans were not tempted to snack on the humans, as well as stationing several Sughdian emergency teams near the entrances. Not that the Bragulans didn't know about the latter and in fact he suspected they enjoyed the commotion they caused.

In true fashion, they had invited themselves to a welcome party, promising to supply the drinks if the Sassanids would supply the meat. The hidden meaning was not lost on anybody.

But that was not what worried the Duke. No, what worried him was that he was about to face face-eating bears with Andy two meters behind him. Sure she was fast. Sure she was strong. But he was not happy to try to fing out in person if she could intercept 1000 lbs of pissed-off killer animal. And all the simulations they had run did not put his mind at ease for he knew that a primal part of his brain was whispering to him that he was prey.

"Would you please relax? None of them are hostile." Andy remarked over the receiver Sänger had put into his ear. However the perception of unease was not helped any when the Bragulan leader crushed the head of a dead animal and started slurping out the brains.

Why, oh why did it have to be bears?


A little while later....

"SASSANID MEAL - er, FRIEND." The alien who had introduced himself as Marshal Brutkyovskiyi swayed towards Sänger and Andy, clearly affected by the Bragulan liquor. A heavy claw clamped down on Sänger's shoulder. The bear leaned closer. His breath reeked of alcohol and Sänger had to fight his gag reflex. "DO YOU KNOW THE STORY OF YOGI BRAG?"

Sänger looked at Andy, who shrugged. "Er...no?"

"THEN I SHALL TELL THE TALE OF YOGI BRAG." The other Bragulans stopped their chewing for a second and cheered.

Marshal Brutkyovskiyi swallowed back the vomit which threatened to go forth and suffocate the Sassanid.

"YOGI BRAG was smart Bragulan. Sent to unknown planet to scout. But" - the voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper - "he was also young Bragulan. Ve do crazy things when young, da?"

The paw holding the strong alcoholic liquid indicated two Bragulans to the right, who were currently attempting to pull one of the elaborate marble columns adorning the banquet hall out of the floor.

"YOGI BRAG was very lonely so he decided to make friends. He found human settler near landing site. YOGI BRAG very happy to meet new friend. They did FRIENDSHIP DANCE"
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Brutkyovskiyi produced, seemingly out of nowhere, a second glass of the strong liquid. "Here. here. Is not right you don't drink while I enjoy. Drink."

Sänger swallowed a good portion of the liquid and instantly made a note to thank Andy for both the taste- and the alcohol-suppressing nanobots. Brutkyovskiyi was seemingly satisfied.

"You drink like Bragulan. Vere vas I? Ah, yes. Human was overjoyed to see Yogi Bear. But after a while Yogi Brag got hungry. Drink."
Image
"So he ate human. Other green humans from the SMARMY came and took Yogi Brag away. But they did not count on Bragulan strength. *Hick*. You see, ve are very strong and Yogi Brag not weakling."

The two young Bragulans had finally given up trying to pull the marble column out of its foundation. "Not like these. Drink. Yogi Brag also very stealthy. But before I continue, I and you need refill. Your female will go fetch."

Andromache did not like that one bit, but took the cups nevertheless. As she walked away, Brutkyovskiyi turned to look at her retreating form. "She got nice figure. Great ass. Full of tasty, juicy muscles. Don't you agree?" Sänger swore three times under his breath and nodded, hoping that was enough. "Huh? Can't hear you, meal." Apparently, it wasn't. "Yes. Yes she does." And she can hear everything spoken in this room.

When Andy returned, she carried two filled glasses and passed them out. Brutkyovskiyi accepted one and declared "To tasty juicy muscles." After taking a long swallow, he continued. "I once had a - " "My apologies," Sänger interrupted. "You were saying something about Yogi Brag?" "Ah. Yes. Yes. Yogi Brag was very stealthy and managed to sneak into head office of the SMARMY. Where human was busy at work."
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"Can friend Sassanid guess what happen next?" "Uh...he ate him?" "CORRECT.", the Bragulan beamed, showing a row of uncomfortably large, sharp teeth. "Then Yogi Bear vali- *hick* valiant - *hick* valiantly retreated into adjacent building belonging to CHAIR FORCE. Here he met more humans." The Marshal took another large swallow of the liquid and focused on his unwilling audience. "Can meal guess what happen next?"

By now Sänger had an inkling where the story was going. "He ate them?" "HAHAHAHAHA." The Bragulan laughed, strong laughter that echoed off the walls and made Sänger's ears hurt. "Sassanid always assume we are Barbarians. NO."
Image
"YOGI BRAG TAUGHT THEM HAPPY DANCE."

The Bragulan put down his glass. "VE SHALL NOW DANCE FRIENDSHIP DANCE." Before Sänger could do anything, the large alien had pulled him to his chest and took two steps to the right. Then Brutkyovskiyi attempted a turn - a mistake in his condition. A very severe mistake, as he slipped and pulled Sänger down with him. Still locked in the embrace, Sänger looked back at the cheering Bragulans and then to Andromache for help.

Image

"Shh." Mumbled the drunk Bragulan. "Brutkyovskiyi not hungry. Not gonna eat friend meal."
Then, a second later. "Mighty Brutkyovskiyi sleep now."

Image


Results:
- Meeting between Sassanids/Xenos and Bragulans is....a success? Maybe?



Whoever says "education does not matter" can try ignorance
------------------
A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-18 09:37am
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Mostly written by Simon_Jester. Next post is complete and will be posted tomorrow.

Secure Briefing Room Alpha-Six
Central Administration Complex
July 14, 3400


“... what would you say is wrong with the uniforms?” asked Dr. Calvin Lanning, the Second for Security.

“They’re dull! So boring! Grey and black, and then black and grey and not even in a good pattern. How can you stand that?”

Bookworm, who had been tinkering with their projector needlessly (it had been ready for several minutes) squeaked in embarrassment and all his bodies inflated. “I regret if we have caused any insult -” but Dr. Lanning waved it away.

“No, no, I am interested in hearing her opinion. Please continue, your excellency.”

“Thanks! Well, I guess dull is fine if it’s just with your own people, but the whole point of appearances is to project an idea of oneself to others. Non-Umerians see your uniforms and immediately think, ‘They’re not interesting.’ That’s a bad first impression and first impressions influence every other thought from then on.” She fluffed her feathers and unfolded her wings. “I wanted to be more colorful, maybe really yellow and blue...

Image


...but I wanted to make a good impression here, and we didn’t know if you just didn’t like colors all that much. I did the best I could when picking out my plumage, tried to make the gray and black as pretty as I could, worked in a little buff, but there’s only so much I can do. Then I saw all those marching bands, and they were so bright and vibrant and flashy and some of them had capes! You need plumage more like that!”

Lanning rubbed his chin. “Maybe a case of groupthink at work...”

That was when she got her first look at the Second for Research, as she came through the door. The Phosako looked pretty much like humans to Phoebe-o, or at least a lot more like humans than they looked like Avians, though that really wasn’t saying very much. For Homo sapiens, Dr. Takuulda would have been short and wide, but not totally unreasonable; what made her stand out more was the blueness. Also, less than that but still noticeable, the sad, thin state of her head plumage- no, hair- and the mirrored glasses almost all members of her species wore when they expected to deal with humans.

During her research for the visit, Phoebe-o had looked up pictures of what Phosako eyes looked like under the shades. She thought they were kind of pretty, in a rosella-ey kind of way. Apparently, though, humans didn’t like looking at eyeballs that were tinted by rainbow-colored bands and flecked with bright red spots. So the Phosako wore sunglasses around them, which was kind of a pity in her opinion.

Okay, that was the last of them. Time to begin. Phoebe-o took her position at the front, and her bubbly voice became softer and more somber. This was something she had practiced many times.

“We’ve mentioned this before, how we are newcomers to this area of space.” Phoebe-o paused while Bookworm brought the first images up. “We’re not even from this galaxy. Our old home - it’s hard to translate the name, but Old Home will work - was a peaceful place. It was the five of us peoples, Avians, Aggregates, Modulars, Mechanicals, and the Minds over all, living in harmony, until the Horrors began to arrive.”

“We fought, and fought, and kept fighting.” The holos showed battles, against ships, against clusters of asteroids, against...ripples in space? “First there were the Giants, with their primitive ships but vast numbers. It was a vicious war of attrition, one we won in the end, but there were always more enemies.” There were scenes of planetary bombardments, taken from fleeing ships, scouts picking through the floating debris of a massive ring-structure that had once circled a world, and others. “Fight one off, and there was another, and another, and we were driven back. Eventually, we were cornered- surrounded- and we knew we couldn’t hold Old Home any longer.

“So we ran. We used a device we call the Emergency Drive - complex compared to a standard hyperdrive, but capable of extreme speeds and jump ranges. It was the only way to be sure we weren’t followed.”

Dr. Lanning scratched his head. “Did your enemies not have the same drive?”

Phoebe-o held out her wings, the Avian version of a shrug. “It wouldn’t have mattered much if they did. The Emergency Drive threw us... we honestly don’t know how far. Possibly beyond the edge of the observable universe from Old Home. Jumps are instantaneous or appear to be, but aiming is practically impossible- even with a minimum-range jump, our observations of space in the direction of travel were billions of years out of date.”

The Second for Research seemed to hesitate slightly before nodding. “So you’d have to worry about deep cosmological structure, without knowing local conditions?”

“Right. So we don’t know where we wound up, or how far away from where we started. We might find ourselves in the middle of a supervoid between the galactic clusters, or even inside a supermassive black hole. It was a desperation measure; we call it the Emergency Drive for a reason.”

The blue humanoid’s facial expression was unreadable- Phoebe-o hadn’t been briefed very well on the Phosako’s psychology and behavioral details. They were hardly ever seen near Refuge space and Contact hadn’t been able to find any specimens for study. But after what was probably a thoughtful pause, she spoke.

“Yes. And if you have archived deep-field astronomical observations, we’d very much like to share. Data on galaxies not observable from the Milky Way would be... valuable in the extreme. We might even be able to do matching of observations in the deep field, find structures or bodies visible from both your home galaxy and ours, and deduce the position of your Old Home. I imagine that would be of interest to you?”

Phoebe-o perked up a bit. “That would be nice! If we could...” She trailed off and slumped a bit. “But it’s all academic. We wouldn’t be able to go back. Even if we did, it’ll all have been torn up by now.”

Dr. Lanning frowned. “Torn up?”

“Several of our enemies had a habit of dismantling planets for building stock. It was... an intense conflict.”

The Technarchs didn’t say anything to that. It was impossible to tell where Dr. Takuulda was looking, but the humans glanced at each other nervously.

Phoebe-o watched them for a bit. They looked... suitably sobered, so she moved into the next stage of her carefully planned presentation. “I think you deserve to know what we were dealing with, and what they were capable of. It’s a dangerous universe out there. We may be far enough away that those things can never find us, but there could very well be others lurking nearby. It is better to be mentally prepared for the possibility than not. We’ll start with some descriptions of the things we faced, and what they were capable of doing...”

The presentation began with some of the creatures, the Giants, the Replicators and the all-consuming living asteroids, the Eaters. It was a mix of observations, facts, images, and speculation, with handy translations of Old Home footage given when needed. Those were straightforward, although only the Giants resembled anything that might be considered ‘normal’ to them, as they built and traveled in starships. They were not aligned in any way and were known to fight each other - one long distance shot showed a Giant fleet battling a Replicator swarm.

“You have made some amazing observations,” Dr. O’Connell noted.

Bookworm answered, cryptically, “We are good at hiding and watching.”

Then they moved on to other things, like the living molecular clouds - singular beings that stretched across light years, and what appeared to be a dark matter intelligence or group of them, although that one did not seem to be actively malevolent but simply caused a lot of damage as it blundered along and altered its/their environment. There were things also that lived in hyperspace, and they stalked ships that traveled between the stars. Phoebe-o called them dragons. There were a few others after that. And then...

The holo had signal processing artifacts, suggesting footage taken from a long distance at great magnification. It was sped up, but with gaps and changes angles between observations. It showed brown dwarfs orbiting an enormous blue giant. They were all in the same orbit, forming a rosette about the star, and streamers of plasma stretched from the star to them, dumping mass onto their surfaces.

The image marked out shadowy points which the captions identified as some sort of control grids, manipulating the streamers and stabilizing them to keep the artificial stellar nursery from falling apart. Other devices were identified as preventing the unstable rosette configuration from breaking up and causing the dwarf stars to fall out of position. “TECHNIQUE UNKNOWN” appeared a lot.

Then, the observer noted something else: neutrino bursts from the brown dwarfs - a sign of stellar ignition in the dwarf stars’ cores. It would be millions of years before the newly created protostars stabilized and entered the main sequence, but that process was now self-sustaining - gravitational contraction and thermal effects would do the rest. Then the captions shifted, noting energy spikes from the surrounding machinery... and the protostars were slung out into space.

Dr. Takuulda made a low whistling sound at this point, as did the First Technarch; apparently it was a reaction shared by both humans and Phosako.

But that wasn’t all. The protostars had not been made for their own sake. The streamers remained in place, and the new stars they terminated on were merely anchoring points. If anything, the streamers grew brighter as the protostars moved away. They started to curve back and forth, trailing shimmering auroras and looping arc discharges as the plasma interacted with magnetic vortices left in the wake of the force fields that moved them.

New streamers appeared between the protostars themselves, making an increasingly elaborate network. Thin sheet currents formed in the spaces between the streamers, indistinguishable from vacuum by earthly standards but impossibly dense by the standards of normal interplanetary space. Soon the individual strands of plasma began knotting into an elaborate two-dimensional formation- a net englobing the entire star system, at a radius well beyond the habitable zone of the blue giant.

The Second for Research whistled again. “Fascinating.”

“We call them Plasma Nets, and you do not want to try going through one,” said Phoebe-o. “Bookworm, if you could move ahead to the...” Her voice choked for a moment, before she continued, “...the ones that were caught?”

The first was an Eater. It was an old one, a large one, the size of a small moon and lumpy, as it had consumed and accreted material for a very long time. It plunged toward the net, out of ignorance or arrogance perhaps, or maybe just mere hunger for the things beyond it. Before it came close, though, the net itself jumped out to catch it. The streams of plasma stretched out, impossibly fast, brushing against and looping around and by the Eater, slicing pieces off. It tried to escape, tried to go back using whatever strange inertia-less method it used for movement, but the plasma streams herded it back towards the main formation and to a central point where several strands met or branched off, and it was quickly dismantled.

The second one began. In one corner was what looked like a very-long distance observation, some sort of blocky mass - like that of the Refugee warships in orbit - trapped in the net, but most of it appeared to be a transmission from a ship, the trapped ship, visual and text, heavily garbled and broken up. What parts could be seen were translated. “...is Dreams of Light and... I am... cannot... my final message...”

If anyone had been watching, they would have seen Phoebe-o step aside and turn away from the holo, covering her head with her wings. She never could bear to watch it.

The images showed the outside of the ship. It was trapped in the net, shields flickering. Large areas of the hull already looked twisted and scorched. “...all dead... hope... comes of use... tell them we did our duty.” Then the shields failed and the plasma moved in, and it all faded quickly into static. The image in the corner showed the mass, the ship, destroyed as the Eater had been.

Phoebe-o turned back around and watched the Technarchs. They were silent, thoughtful, pensive at what they had just watched, broken only by someone’s quiet impressed whistle.

The Second for Security clicked his tongue. “You’re right, madame ambassador, I don’t want to try going through one. I can see how you wound up on the defensive...”

“And on the run,” Phoebe-o said. “Against all of that, facing annihilation? We decided it was better to risk jumping completely into the unknown. If we died, same difference, as you say. But there was the possibility that we could end up near a galaxy or at least some sort of matter we could use, and anywhere had to be better than that.

“This is why, as part of our gift to Umeria, we are presenting the plans to the Emergency Drive to you. It is impractical for all normal uses and incredibly expensive in resources, but if you are ever backed into a point with no hope of survival or chance to fly otherwise, it is the ultimate escape method.”

Phoebe-o brightened a bit. Something fun to explain! “As for how it works, it’s the principles of..”



DPDarkPrimus is my boyfriend!

SDNW4 Nation: The Refuge And, on Nova Terra, Al-Stan the Totally and Completely Honest and Legitimate Weapons Dealer and Used Starship Salesman slept on a bed made of money, with a blaster under his pillow and his sombrero pulled over his face. This is to say, he slept very well indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-18 10:06am
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[With Thanas' help]


Quote:
> IBGV HEADQUARTERS
>> BRAGBYANKA, BRAGULE...


RECEIVED TRANSMISSION FROM HUMINT SPY VESSEL ASSIGNED TO SPACE SECTOR AA-22 IN DEEP COVER OPERATONS IN SASSANID HOUSE XENOS SYSTEM

TRANSMISSION CONTAINS FINAL RECORDINGS OF HUMINT VESSEL.

RECORDINGS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

> HUMINT VESSEL ENTERED XENOS SYSTEM UNDER THE COVER OF CIVILIAN MERCHANT FREIGHTER

> BEGAN TERMINAL APPROACH TOWARDS XENOS CORE WORLD

> UPON ESTABLISHING ADEQUATE DISTANCE TO XENOS CORE WORLD AND MAINTAINING ORBIT, HUMINT VESSEL PROCEEDED TO LAUNCH RECON DRONE TOWARDS DESIGNATED TARGET: XENOS "PLEASURE YACHT"

> RECON DRONE ATTEMPTED TO ESTABLISH CONNECTION TO XENOS PRIME MAINFRAME VIA ATTEMPTED HACK OF DOCKING CONTROL STATIONS ON XENOS SPACEPORT

> CYBVER PROBE WAS WAS ABRUPTLY INTERCEPTED UPON ATTEMPTING HACK

> HUMINT VESSEL THEN PROCEEDED TO EXIT HOUSE XENOS SYSTEM AT EMERGENCY SPEED

> HUMINT VESSEL WAS UNSUCCESSFUL IN ITS ESCAPE AND WAS SUMMARILY DESTROYED


IN THE FINAL SECONDS, HUMINT VESSEL INITIATED LIVE TRANSMISSION OF SENSOR DATA TO CLANDESTINE IBGV WILD SPACE RELAY

FINAL SECONDS OF RECORDING CONTAIN THE FOLLOWING ITEMS OF PRIORITY INTEREST:

> XENOS "PLEASURE YACHT" ATTEMPTING TO EVADE SCANS OF HUMINT VESSEL

> XENOS ACTIVE SENSORS ACTIVATING ON NUMEROUS HIDDEN SENSOR PLATFORMS AND LOCKING ON TO THE ESCAPING HUMINT VESSEL

> INACTIVE MISSILE POD ACTIVATING AND THEN LAUNCHING MISSILE SALVO AT THE HUMINT VESSEL


POST-MORTEM ANALYSIS OF SENSOR DATA REVEALS THAT XENOS MISSILE PROFILES DO NOT MATCH KNOWN CONFIGURATIONS OF STANDARD SASSANID MISSILE WEAPONRIES, NOR OF ANY OTHER KOPRULU ZONE MISSILE MODELS

FURTHER COMPARISONS TO NON-KOPRULU ZONE MISSILE MODELS ARE ONGOING




Quote:
CONCLUSIONS DRAWN FROM HUMINT VESSEL RECORDINGS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

> XENOS SYSTEM DEFENSE INCLUDES ADVANCED CYBER COUNTER-INTRUSION SYSTEMS ABOVE THE SASSANID STANDARD

> XENOS "PLEASURE YACHT" IS NOT PLEASURE YACHT, THE XENOS HAVE TAKEN GREAT PAINS TO CONCEAL THE TRUE NATURE OF THE VESSEL

> XENOS SYSTEM DEFENSES SEEM TO BE HIGHLY INTEGRATED

THERE IS MORE TO HOUSE XENOS THAN MEETS THE EYE

MUST INVESTIGATE FURTHER


RECOMMENDED ACTIONS:

> INTENSIFY IBGV INTELLIGENCE INQUIRY-INITIATIVES IN REGARDS TO HOUSE XENOS USING BOTH:

>> INORGANIC METHODS SUCH AS THE FURTHER USE OF SPY VESSELS

>> ORGANIC METHODS SUCH AS PLACING HUMINT AGENTS IN THE POPULATION INFLUX TO THE HOUSE XENOS SYSTEM

> COMMENCE COMMENDATIONS OF HUMINT AGENTS ON BOARD LOST SPY VESSEL BY:

>> POSTHUMOUSLY AWARDING MEDALS TO THE DECEASED AGENTS

>> AND THEN PROMPTLY ERASING ALL TRACES OF THEIR EXISTENCE THROUGH THE SUMMARY COMBUSTION OF THEIR DENIABLE PERSONNEL RECORDS AND THEIR RECENTLY AWARDED MEDALS



Image Image Image
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
Pink Sugar Heart Attack!

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-18 09:40pm
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Executive Mansion

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"20 Million? While that is a princely sum," In fact in the era of tens of trillions budgets it wasn't, "surely the discretionary black operational budget covers it?"

"It does Lord Protector, but seeing that this is essentially a hostage situation we decided to speak to you first." Admiral Baxter, head of the FIS shifted. The Deputy Director of NID had been moved over to take over the FIS during the purges of the IC during The Troubles, and despite the howls of a uniform at the head of the "civilian" intel agency he had done well. "A rescue operation is not really in question, even the battleship group we have in support of our operations in the Verge would be unable to crack the terminus defenses, and in any event are already en route to Norrland."

"Very well, you have my approval." Lord Fairfax shifted down his PADD to the next item on the intelligence brief. "The Persians are going to be joining the Bragulans on this little jaunt to the MEH? Couldn't happen to a nicer bit of..." Fairfax's voice trailed off as he saw the name of one of the officers "Admiral, who the...is this some kind of joke?" He turned the PADD over and pointed at the name.


"Sir?" Baxter had a quizzical expression. "That man, there is an interesting story behind him, but not unheard of. Not that we put much effort into verifying it, of course..."

"What interesting story?"

"He appeared in Sassanid space with a ship of unknown design, claiming that a FTL accident shoved him into this reality. Wouldn't be the first time, or probably wouldn't be the last. Again, this was something we did not bother to verify. Just one of those RUMINT things." Baxter added as an afterthought. "Why? What's so special about him?"

Of course, Baxter wasn't part of Blitzschlags Group. But did he find something out on his own? Maybe listening to conversations between me an Alizabeth?. "Nothing, don't worry about. Thank you Admiral, that will be all."

Fairfax looked back down at the PADD and checked the file on the name. The photo was the split and image of the most hated man back home.

Sänger.


Later that Evening.

"Are you sure?" Alizabeth Bhatt-Fairfax said. "That seems unreal."

Wordlessly Fairfax handed the PADD to his wife. She looked at the photo, which she thought bore only a passing resemblance to Sänger, but read the story associated to the file. "My God...it is him! Blitzschlag?"

"Who else? Sänger, by God!"

Sänger! That foul imperialistic lunatic who formed Europe in the Prussian image.

Sänger! Only that idiot could have united the Grand Dominion of the Indies, the Shepistani Federation, the Caliphate, and the East Romans in one cause.

Sänger! Fairfax's own son had died when one of the Huns' U-boats sank the cruiser that young Gareth was serving his midshipman tour on.

How many conflicts? How many "Incidents" did he provoke for the Fatherland? How many millions did he place under the Hunnish Boot? The Grand Dominion's economy had tottered just to maintain a reasonable defensive navy, and in fact Fairfax and Alizabeth were on their way to the christening of the latest BBGN in Altdorf when Blitzschlag had pulled them here. And Sänger was now here, once again ready to spread misery and death.

"Does Ryan know?"

"Love, if he knew Shepistan, and us, would most assuredly be at war with the Persians by now." Fairfax paused. "I have to tell him."

"You just said..."

"I know. But Sänger cannot be allowed to continue to draw breath. I will not wait for a response from Blitzschlag, he is on one of his jaunts into the UN and who knows when he will return." Fairfax walked over and hit a comm button. One of his aides answered. "Inform Grand Admiral Earl that myself and Alizabeth will be needing a ship immediately. We're going to Montgomery."

"Sir, what about..."

"Cancel all appointments!" Fairfax snapped.



ImageImage
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 01:12am
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Refuge Embassy, Midgar, Shinra Republic

How many communiques on the threat of the Multiversal Empire of Happiness, how many requests for an official audience to discuss it had he sent? The Count remembered six off the top of his feathered head. (There was a booming like thunder coming from the walls; someone would have to get that looked at.) Always, always, some junior assistant secretary to someone minor took the messages, claiming they would pass them on, but it never happened. Why weren't they listening?

The Count had his suspicions, of course.

Image


If only they'd been able to get more information sooner. Data had been fragmentary, highly limited. They learned only that this bird was one associated with Shinra, but they didn't know why. They tried anyway. Sometimes Contact made some incredibly astute decisions based on hints and rumors, but even the Minds were wrong sometimes.

If only they'd known. Maybe he could've gotten a better, more respectable appearance, one they would take seriously. A phoenix, for instance; people would pay attention to a phoenix. But no.

Nothing he could do but start on number seven, or was it eight? (The walls boomed again. Once he was done, the Count decided would harry some repair people, or bots, or whatever they had around to get that thing fixed. Maybe that was something that he could actually get solved.)



DPDarkPrimus is my boyfriend!

SDNW4 Nation: The Refuge And, on Nova Terra, Al-Stan the Totally and Completely Honest and Legitimate Weapons Dealer and Used Starship Salesman slept on a bed made of money, with a blaster under his pillow and his sombrero pulled over his face. This is to say, he slept very well indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 01:31am
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The young assistant liason in the Foreign Affairs Department politely accepted the communique from the Chocobo-like ambassador from the Refuge and promised to pass it up the line. She knew that it would manage to get itself lost somewhere in some supervisor's desk, though this didn't surprise her. The request for an audience, like the previous ones, was concerning the threat of the MEH, and the government didn't seem interested in hearing about it.

The fact the ambassador looks like a Chocobo probably doesn't hurt either, thought Elena. Some in the Republic still had a difficult time taking the Moogles seriously, despite the many years they had served as valuable citizens, soldiers and politicians. So it was no surprise that this Chocobo-like avatar was having it rough.

Nonetheless, it would be rude to ignore an ambassador forever. So she imagined that, sooner or later, somebody appropriately senior would get around to it. And no doubt fire her for her "incompetence" in failing to deliver the many messages.

Which was perfectly fine for her. Because that would mean getting a new cover somewhere else.

Elena, in addition to her junior duties at DFA, was also a recent recruit of the supersecret, elite intelligence organization known as the Turks. And she had been given this post as both a training exercise, and to ensure that a Turk was always on hand to keep an eye on this Refuge. The first contact had been uneventful, if a bit strange, but much was still unknown about this mysterious entity that had seemed to come from nowhere. And so they had assigned her to the task of keeping an eye on them.

And so it was that she dutifully passed it up the chain, knowing that it would get "lost" once again. But she also sent it up the ranks of the Turks, using one of their many clandestine methods of message passing. Clearly the Refuge's interest in the MEH was of interest to the Turks. And by extension, of interest to President Shinra himself.



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

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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 02:52am
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Derelict: Part 1, “Finders Keepers”

Bridge, Novalith Class Commandship Polysyllabic Designation, Deep Space, A10

Image

Brandon Michaels was proven incorrect. He had not made it back to the target zone first, not after being held up waiting for meetings. “Petey,” he said, rushed, “How are we in terms of securing the target?”

“Um, Zero Percent towards our goal, Sentinel,” the ship’s AI said, appearing before Michaels as his Koalazoid avatar. It was an odd choice for an odd AI, Petey basically ran one of the premier Intelligence outfits in the Known Galaxy and that level of stress on the AI left him with a few quirks. One such quirk was his avatar and his choice in moniker. According to him, after he had scoured the more ancient parts of the Information Web, particularly the archives of the equally ancient Internet, he had found what he called a ‘suitable moniker for a being of my power and glory.’ The previous Sentinel for the Black Arm of the Paladins had tried to curtail some of these quirks, and quickly found himself, or herself the records were never clear about who Petey had destroyed utterly, utterly destroyed by the AI. Michaels had taken a live and let live approach to Petey’s quirks, and had yet to find himself removed for the Known Galaxy.

“How have you made no progress securing the target?”

“Well, Sentinel, the reason the target is so valuable is preventing us from doing much of anything to the target.”

“So the AI is online?”

“Yes, your Professor Haban is quite skilled, but he has not managed to coax this foreign AI out of hiding.”

Michaels sighed. “All right, is Captain Howe still here?”

“Yes, Sentinel. Shall she be sent for?”

“Sure Petey, let’s get Lyons her ship back and do something positive for my coworkers.”

“The meeting went poorly then Sentinel?”

“Worse, it went as it was expected to go.”

“I do not see how that is worse.”

“Simple, it means that the Paladins are still running our shit unchecked by the Grandmaster, meaning we need to pack up and get out of here before Lyons shows up with Persephone and a fleet of warships and starts blowing holes in you.”

“Ah, I see. Well, I shall contact Professor Haban and see how diplomatic relations with the Copacabana are going.”

As Petey disappeared from the bridge, the machinery of the Novalith Commandship began to stir. Captain Veronica Howe would soon join him on the bridge and he could get about getting the Copacabana out of deep space and into one of the many Paladin bolt holes and wait for the entire little event to blow over in the Paladins. All the while having Professor Haban, and a team of highly paid experts, worked over the Copacabana and found out what made the AI tick.

Captain Howe entered the bridge before Michaels could finish his musings, so around the parenthetical phrase about highly paid experts Michaels was startled out of his thoughts by the Captain. Michaels said, “Ah, Captain Howe, I must personally thank you for this bounty, I do not know what compelled you to inform the Polysyllabic Designation of this anomaly, but I thank you.”

“Sir,” the Captain said, “I am willing to inform you of my thought process if you so wish.”

“Please do Captain.”

“Sir, When I came across the anomaly…”

“One moment Captain,” said Michaels, lifting an earpiece into his left ear, “Petey, put Folder/Incubus in Aux18. I’m sorry Captain, please continue.”

“Well sir, the anomaly, henceforth referred to as the Copacabana was found during a patrol I was performing for the White Arm of the Paladins. As a Captain in the Paladins, I was vaguely aware of the Black Arm before the events, but I was able to find out if any among my crew were agents of your employ. I found one, and when we found the Copacabana, I decided that it would be in the best interests of the Paladins for this entire incident to be off of the record, as we still do not know who or what build the Copacabana, and who or what wants it back.”

“Well, you can explain that to Sentinel Lyons when she arrives,” Petey said, silencing both Michaels and Captain Howe.

Michaels paused, he did not know, exactly, how faster-than-light communication worked, nor did he know, exactly, how Petey had detected the Persephone, he only knew that sooner or later, the Persephone would see Petey right back, and Persephone would be asked to call up the insane old codger that ran the Black Arm, and she would comply. Moments like this required a certain level of auspiciousness, a certain level of decomrum reserved only for the meetings of great minds.

So, when Pete reported, “Sentinel Lyons and the Persephone are hailing,” Brandon Michaels, Sentinel of the Black Arm, said, “Hey, Steph. This isn’t what it looks like."



Grease Pens and Razor Blades make the world go round.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 02:55am
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SRS Ragnarok - Midgar Space, Shinra Republic

Grand Admiral Gilad Pellaeon had contacted Rear Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn of Task Force 11 aboard the carrier SRS Tiger's Claw with special orders.

"Admiral Tolwyn, you will take Task Force 11 to investigate reports of a Monolith sighting at sector C-6. Additionally, you are to make initial contact with the entity known as 'The Lost' with the assistance of a Department of Foreign Affairs First Contact Team. This is not I say again not expected to be a combat operation, but nonetheless keep your guard up. We don't much about the Collectors and even less about this Lost."

"Aye aye, sir."

"Dismissed. You'll leave within the hour."

With that concluded, Grand Admiral Pellaeon went on with the business of being a Grand Admiral in the Shinra Republic Navy. Alongside his secretive other duties, of course. These duties were to begin preparations for an attack against the Multiversal Empire of Happiness. Already he had coordinated with the commander of the Taikongjun battlegroup here at Midgar, who had deployed stealth ships as forward reconnaissance. He also made a note to speak with Commodore James Taggart of the Special Research and Development Unit. The SRDU could usually be counted on to have something useful - and discrete - on hand.

But for that, he would have to travel planetside. And at the moment, he simply had too many other responsibilities aboard the Ragnarok to attend to. Commodore Taggart would have to wait.



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

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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 03:10am
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The High Line

Somewhere in Bragspace


Image

The Sassanid Heighliner emerged from hyperspace. So massive was it that the system's Bragspace traffic control had to set aside a vector for its arrival, clearing an exclusion zone of all other ships lest they be crushed under the Heighliner's immense mass, or otherwise adversely affected by its transposition into realspace. The vessel was enormous, yes. So much so that even those of the Bragulan Navy, accustomed to the sight of mighty Bragulan warships, villainous Solarian Dreadstars, and even the enormous erectiles of the Byzantines, gaped at the stupendous Sassanid space ship.

The Heighliners were one of the greatest achievements of the Sassanids, constructed by House Perseus and creating a technological marvel of Sassanid trade and travel. It was a really massive marvel too, with a cargo capacity that was quite literally unfathomable, for the size of its bays were measured in innumerable cubic pseudofathoms, the exact measurements of which were kept a grave secret by the House's Spacing Guild. It was also due to its sheer size that the Heighliner was composed of almost nothing but cargo space and hyperdrive, and a little navigation temple for the ship's masters as well. It had not sublight engines, and after the wake of its hyperspace emergence subsided, a whole fleet of tugboats were dispatched to haul the Heighliner to orbit. Despite this, the process of in-system travel was a long and arduous one, and there was even enough time for the ship's masters to indulge themselves in a ritualistic orgy - several, in fact! - before the Heighliner finally arrived at its destination. Even then, it had no capacity to enter the planetary atmosphere by itself, and had to dispatch crafts to take the cargo from planetside and bring it to the Heighlander's humongous holds. But the deployments of these crafts required the permission of the ship's masters, who were still recovering from the haze of their ritualistic orgies.

Image Image

"My lord," an officer prostrated himself before the heirophant of the Heighliner, abasing himself before its grotesque form. "We have established geosynchronous planetary orbit and are ready to embark the cargo."

"Yesss... I have foresssseeeen it sssooo...." hissed the abomination within the spice chamber. There was the Navigator of House Perseus, floating within a grav-tank and saturated in a miasma of psychoactive drugs used to enhance the mentallic prowess so vital to space travel.

It was said, after the Butlerian Jihad, that Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind. Thus, House Perseus had instead made a man in the likeness of the machine-minds used elsewhere by the infidels of the galaxy. To do so required a comprehensive eugenics program to systematically in-breed the purest strains of psychoflexitive mentats, before sacrificing them to the technopriests for ritualistic mechamutilation and the implementation of internal endoimplements. The survivors of these processes would be inducted in the ways of the oracles in a hedonistic festival of melange to open their minds to the gateways of the stars.

Only then would their minds be capable of comprehending the astral visions needed to navigate the heavens, beyond the rudimentary navicomputers on the lesser ships of other Sassanids and foreign infidels that were untouched the blessing of divine deformagrotesquetification, to allow even vessels as massive as the Heighliners to travel in the shoal spaces. The creation of these autoabominations was a process shrouded in lore, and the Navigators of House Perseus were thus an elite but precious number entrusted with only the Heighlanders - for while they were nigh holy in their horrid hideoustrosity, the sheer decadence they indulged themselves in and the spice-frenzies wracking their minds made them unsuited for military campaigns and more comfortable in the ponderous pace of the Heighliners, where they could have as many ritualistic orgies with the priestesses as they could.

"My lord?" the eunuch asked again.

The Navigator snapped himself back. In the spice-fueled haze, his mind had wandered and contemplated the origins and explanations of the true nature of House Perseus' Navigators and he had mused for several long paragraphs before the officer-eunuch had dared to interrupted him.

"Sssssend hiimmm... too the sssprouting chamberrssss!" the Navigator declared as the presumptuous eunuch was hauled off by the guards and sent to the worm-pools. The eunuch's cries of horrer were drowned out by the flatulations of the slithering invertebrates. "Now... prepare to take in... the passsengerrssss...."

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By his command, the Heighliner disgorged its parasite ships, like a whale shark vomiting remora to feed on the planktons of a coral reef. These lesser ships descended onto the world below like a swarm of things. Then and there they would collect countless thousands, millions, of passengers and likewise collect the fees and tickets of so many boarding Bragulans. The eunuchs of the Heighliner would have a field day, and their worn and centuries-old stamps and ticker-counters would be tested to their very limits. Considering the enormity of their cargoes, and the dangers of handling such animalistic bearoids, the tasks of expunging stowaways and boarders without tickets would be delegated to the Heighliner's security teams - knife-wielding desert fighters with very blue eyes, and weirding modules that would blur them as they engaged in highly choreographed fight scenes. But there was no incident, for to make a good showing the commissars declared any un-ticketed passengers as luggage (after stick-beating them into unconsciousness before hand-carrying them), and to avoid any scenes of gratuitous violence, the enuchs and their knife-wielding guards allowed this to pass.

The boarding boats came in a constant stream, those full ascending to take their passengers to the Heighliner before descending once more to take up even more. It was not quick, and it was not easy. After all, the Heighliners were ferrying entire armies of Bragulans, entire Legions of Liberation, countless millions of conscripts, press-ganged troops, penal brigades, the occasional volunteer shock-units that were actually professional, and all their assorted tanks and artilleries and vehicles and missiles and Spuds. Yet even then, this would be only the first of many such trips for the Heighliners as they would eventually ferry a grand total of half a billion Bragulan soldiers to the fringes of Chamarran space to participate in the exercises against the 'mysterious enemy from the anti-spinward'.

If the Bragulan sailors watching the Heighliner's arrival were awed by the sight of the massive vessel, then the peasant fringe world bear yokels that were its passengers were astounded to incomprehension, dumbfounded, stupefied, some even experiencing existential crises at beholding such an inconceivably huge vessel. There was sheer disbelief at how it could hold so many within its holds.

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A young conscript was sputtering. He was fucking sputtering at the sight of the Heighliner's nigh-endless insides. He quivered and mewled like a cub and began Byzoning himself and attempting to quote Byzonic sayings to calm himself when a reassuring paw placed itself on his shoulder.

He turned around and saw his lieutenant, a very huge and tough female named Beartha. They called her 'Big' Beartha behind her back, but dare not say it in front of her face because she would probably remove their faces if they did that. Nonetheless, in the campaigns against the Solarianoids in Wild Space, as well as in the wholsale stick-beatings of entire planetary populaces, Lt. Beartha had shown herself to be caring towards her troops - risking life and paw hauling injured troops away from Solarianoid killforms and other such technological terrors, when any other officer would've been content to leave his or her troopers to die. Big Beartha closest thing they had to a mother bear in the drudgery and shits-inducing horror of the Bragulan military, and for that her troops were loyal to her. They were Beartha's Bragnecks.

She chastised the young conscript for gawking at the stupendous spectacle-sight of the Sassanid super-ship. She had seen much in her long time in the Legions, having been stationed at the Brag-Sassanid border during the 'Nids' last crisis.

"Yes, they're big. We'll be riding a Heighliner because it's a long trip. A Heighliner is truly big. Its hold will tuck all our Dredkas and transports into a little corner - we'll be just a small part of the ship's manifest." Beartha reassured him.

The young conscript nodded.

"What'll we be doing during the trip?" he asked tenuously.

"Flying from the K-Zone to Neko Space is going to take a few weeks. Since command wants to save cash, we'll be going into deep sleep for the duration. No food, no drink, nothing but shuteye all the way." Beartha answered.

"So that's why the regiment held a feast yesterday," the conscript realized. "We ate all those dogs because we were preparing to hibernate for the trip?"

"Da!" Beartha smacked him on the shoulder. "Now get on your hammock and try to sleep. Go count K-bolts, or read the Little Green Book, if it'll help you."

The conscript obeyed like a good conscript and went over to the designated habitation compartment of the Heighliner. Then he got his kevlar cloth, tied it up and set up a hammock for him to sleep on. Another, smaller, trooper beside him had used an oversized ammunition belt for B-NET bolter-cannons as a hammock, so he decided to count those K-bolts. Eventually, after reaching his thousandth armor-melting frag-shrapnel dispensing sabot round, he drowsed off and started snoring.

As the last penal brigade was loaded in, along with several multi-megatons of Bragulan vespene gas as 'payment' for the Sassanids' generosity, the Heighliner spooled up its hyperdrive. The Navigator took one last mighty inhalation of concentrated melange as his mind ascended to another, higher, plane of existence. The astral plane. His brain tasted the flavor of the stars, heard the hum of gravities, and felt the tickle of tachyons tenderly brushing against his mutated form. He charted his course, through interstellar space, through the shoals, through halfway across the known galaxy, and as he reached the ultimate hyperspatial high the Heighliner vanished into hyperspace.

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Deep in the cavernous holds of the Heighliner, millions of Bragulan soldiers slept soundly. Their snores mixed with the hum of the hyperdrives, making a very strange noise. Some of the bears stayed awake, finishing final preparations on their equipment, doing last-minute jobs, before finally allowing themselves to join their comrades in slumber. Later, when they woke up, they would be in Chamarran space - receiving the hospitality of the kitty-cats. A lot of the Brag soldiers had good dreams on account of that pleasant prospect.


*****

Here is an actual (more canon) explanation for the Heighliner:

Thanas wrote:
The Sassanid highliner was a relic of a bygone era. Originally, it had been the home of Duke Xerxes the Great, a man who had revolutionized sassanid warfare by introducing psykers in lieu of central AIs and clone crews. His innovations however had been quickly surpassed by developments in computer science as well as weaponry making such a large ship anything but a huge target. At the ninth battle of Dura Europos, Xerxes and his fleet had been annihilated by what would later become the first Sassanid dreadnoughts and the age of huge, looming superships crewed by Psykers had come to an end after having barely lasted five years.

However, one ship had escaped the destruction. The ship's crew, quickly disowned by the Perseid noble house, had become either mad or had lost their natural inhibitions. For the next thirty years, they had become the terror of the Sassanid fringe worlds, raiding and pillaging.

Of course, eventually the Sassanid Navy had caught up with them. Instead of destroying the ship, it was treated as a training ground for the Sughdians, who then in turn spent the next month plundering and pillaging said ship. Eventually the main psyker had been cornered and forced to surrender.

Since then, the ship and what remained of its crew - those that had survived the tender mercies of the Sughdians, that is - had been kept in forced hibernation, the House of Sassan never quite knowing what to do with it.

The transport requests by the Bragulan Government had posed considerable trouble for the Sassanid Government. Having only an army of 1.8 million forces itself, there simply was not enough transport capacity available. Until one bright bureaucrat remembered the relict ship. The crew had been awoken, the ones who had gone insane due to spending 300 years in hibernation had been killed and their positions filled with convicts that had been rejected by the Sughdians. The rationale was that the Bragulans would not have minded the insanity of the ship - and it was expendable.



Image Image Image
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
Pink Sugar Heart Attack!


Last edited by Shroom Man 777 on 2011-02-19 02:09pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 09:36am
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VANAGRADHEIM, Kirensk Mid-Sector, Bragulan Star Empire
UNREAL TIME


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MEGALITH 04 - Imperial People's Military Maritime Space Fleet Regional Command Center

The Space Marshals gathered once more in the armored recesses of the enormous underground bunker building that would've made the Himalayas look like a molehill. After the customary pleasantries of vodkas, vodka-cigarettes, and sausages, they immediately set forth to the business of business.

Telescreens flashed moving pictures of the latest events, but what dominated the screens were reports from the Collector incursion in Severnaya to silence the IBGV's propaganda post. Yes, officially it was a diplomatic bureau of whatever-affairs of something-something, but the assembled Space Marshals of the Bragulan Navy knew that it was just another name for just another IBGV front. But while the power plays between the various facets of the Bragulan military-governmental complex were vast, and their clashes like the grinding of opposing tectonic plates of two drifting continents, an affront to anything that was Bragule's by an outsider was an affront to all Bragulanity. For now, they would put their differences aside and work together for a common goal:

Retribution.

The assembled Space Marshals were joined by a representative of the IBGV. They were given folders containing dossiers of the IBGV reports, sensor logs from the last moments of the Severnaya outposts. The Space Marshals compared it with the reports of their own gunskimmer and warcruiser, who were at the fore of combating the alienoid robo-menace. Most of the Marshals looked at the IBGV agent smugly, for while the Bureau's outpost was the recipient of the Collector's attack, it was the warships of the Space Fleet that slew the robot menace. This would earn them the favor of the glourious Imperator, and cast the IBGV in a bad light. All exactly as planned.

"What was the fate of the Collectoroid vessel?" the IBGV bear asked.

"Vaporized, sir." Space Marshal Krpchnkvy lied. "Blown out to space."

"What? Vaporized? A Collector ship can vaporize?" the IBGV agent blinked.

"Oh, da! Absolutely, sir!" Krpchnkvy waved his paw and did a 'wooshing' sound to accentuate his point.

"Blown out to space, huh?" the IBGV bear raised an eyebrow.

"Yeah." Krpchnkvy nodded.

"Poor bastards," the IBGV said, regretting at the wasted chance to scavenge advanced Collectoroid tech. Suddenly, he looked around, wondering if his statement might be misconstrued. He saw a high ranking member of the Commissariat in the meeting. So, he added, "Not really."

"Da," agreed the most senior of the Space Marshals, Great Admiral Brznvnye Lyeonyd, whose mustache was greatest of the assembled Bragulans. "So, gentlemen, it is clear what needs to be done to avenge the honor of Bragule?"

The assembled bears affirmed their agreements.

"Then it shall be done. A proportional response to show the Collectoroids that we cannot be trifled with. Revengeance for their most foulest act of vandalism!" the Grand Admiral took his gavel and smashed it on the block. Except he had mistakenly grabbed a half-eaten sausage and used it to hit the block instead. Strangely, the sound was no different, and the banging of the sausage on the block resonated throughout their massive meeting room as the meeting was adjourned.



COLLECTOR TRADE STATION ICARUS ZETA, Sector V-26, Edge of Collector Space

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Ever since the Solarian attack on Epsilon Zeta, the Collectors had heightened the defenses of their edgespace trade stations by a considerable degree. In the past, the Collectors allowed enterprising traders to dock with the station and enter its open areas, but that was then and this was now. Vessels coming in to deliver goods to the Collectors were meticulously scrutinized before being allowed to come anywhere near the stations, and most of the time they were relegated to orbiting a fair distance away from the stations themselves - where they would instead dock with smaller platforms. This was to prevent any vessel from sneaking high explosives into the trade stations, as the Solarians did. Tasked to defend the stations from more direct attacks were patrols of Wasp warships, along with Scythe gunboats and wings of Mantis fighters. Though not present in the system actual, there were also Viper cruisers prowling the deep space and shoals nearby, ready to intervene at a moment’s notice.

The Collectors would take no more chances. They could not allow anything or anyone to disrupt the flow of precious specimens they needed for their experiments.

Aside from the warships, there were also stationary defenses present in and around the system, along with early warning sites. It was one of these hyperscanners that detected a possible threat incoming, causing the entire system to come alive in a flurry of activating defense systems and scrambling fighters and warships.

Code:
BRAGULAN FLEET ELEMENTS DETECTED

SECTOR PERIMETER DRONES OBSERVE TEN SUBCAPITAL DESTROYER-CLASS SHIPS AND TWO CAPITAL CRUISER-CLASS SHIPS INBOUND IN HYPERFLIGHT

RECOMMEND PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE TO INTERCEPT BRAGULAN FORCES


The surrounding Viper, Wasp and Scythe warships in and around the system were dispatched to meet the Bragulan threat. The Brags were at the edge of the shoals that led to Collector space, and their trajectories would lead them straight to trade station Icarus Zeta. For the machines that commanded the destruction of a particularly annoying Bragulan hyperwave array, as unpredictable as organics minds could be, the intentions of the ursine mammals were as clear as code.

The dispatched warships would meet the Bragulan ships if they continued on their course, stopping them before they could violate Collector space and wreak their brutish meatbag havoc on the pristine mechanical order the Collectors had built. The machine intelligences were not only concerned with defending their station, but also the countless minute little organic beings who came to trade with them. The suppliers of their specimens had to be secured, after all.

If the Bragulans’ organic brains could process rationally, then they would see that the wisest course of action would be to turn back and flee the way they came from. No doubt they would detect the incoming Collector warships with their own sensors, and no doubt they would know that the Collectors not only had the defensive advantage, but that the machines’ ships were also more powerful than the crude and primitive vessels the ursines favored. They would also know that if they did not run while they still had the chance, while they were still some distance away from the vectored Collector warships, then later on they would inevitably get run down and cut down as they fled - for Collector ships were faster in the shoals than their own ships.

It was then with some satisfaction that the machine minds observed the Bragulan ships turning tail and fleeing, scattering back towards whence they came. The minds issued another order to their warships.

Code:
CONTINUE PURSUIT FOR SEVERAL PARSECS TO ENSURE A THOROUGH BRAGULAN RETREAT

RETURN TO BASE AFTER THE BRAGULAN FLEET ELEMENTS HAVE VACATED THE VICINITY

The Bragulans were still quite some distance away from the approaching Collector ships when they turned and ran, so the Collector ships still couldn’t intercept them despite their speed advantage in the shoals. Still, the Wasps and Vipers could nip at their heels until they were gone.

The machine minds observed, with not a little bit of satisfaction, how through superior force they were finally able to teach some of the most stubborn and thick-headed organic meatbags a lesson in humility. They were contemplating how they would modify their experiments on Bragulan specimens to reflect this when a cargo ship and the remote platform it was docked on disappeared in a flash of subnuclear light.

Code:
ALL FORCES RETURN TO BASE IMMEDIATELY. HOSTILE ACTIONS DETECTED. REPEAT. HOSTILE ACTIONS DETECTED. TRADE STATION ICARUS ZETA IN DANGER

RAISE ALL SYSTEM DEFENSES TO MAXIMUM CAPACITY. RAISE ALL SHIELDS. INITIATE SYSTEM LOCKDOWN.

There was another flash, and another merchant ship was halved in a proximity nuclear detonation. By then, the machine minds had detected the source of the attacks.

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An Angmarid megafreighter. Sensors picked up the source of the subnuclear initiations, namely ballistic projectiles whose trajectories were traced back to the ex-Outlander vessel. Active sensors painted it, locking on to it, but it was outside the range of the defensive gauss flayers surrounding the trade station. So knife missiles were launched, and a swarm of the vicious little sub-sentient projectiles streaked towards the Angmarid megafreighter. But the vessel was some distance away, and the missiles would take minutes to hit...

The megafreighter had been ponderously making its way deeper in-system before launching its attack. It was a vessel that had made several runs to the trade station, its captain having made multiple material and monetary transactions with the local diplomatic Unit of Icarus Zeta. It was also a vessel in poor condition, with drives that leaked excessive radiation and other emissions. This was why security had marked it as low-priority, an unlikely threat. This was also why the mass drivers that launched the warheads were undetected until the last moments.

A civilian ship that had been heading towards the trade station, before the mayhem began, was abruptly slagged by another nuclear blast. Its position was halfway between the Angmarid megafreighter and the Collector station. Another merchant ship, this one having finished its business earlier and now heading away from the trade station and flying towards the hyperlimit, also disappeared in another flash of light.

There was a hyperspace reversion, a cargo craft unaware of the carnage that was occurring had just arrived in the system. The Collector minds warned it, told it to turn back to the hyperlimit and leave the system, that it was in danger. It complied and immediately turned to leave the system. The machine minds had, at least, prevented another unnecessary organic mind death and preserved another specimen-supplier. Or at least, they thought so. The fleeing ship flew into one of the drifting warheads and was reduced to its constituent atoms.

By now, the knife missiles were on the rogue Angmarid megafreighter. They slammed against the lightly-shielded hull of the giant ship. Countless spheres of white hot plasma blossomed all around the affected face of the Angmarid ship, breaking shields and vaping steel. The lights dimmed, revealing the half-molten form of the megafreighter. It was a testament to its size that part of it was still intact.

But not for long.

The next salvo of knife missiles were making their terminal approach when the rest of the Angmarid ship literally fell apart. Scuttling charges, expertly placed in and around the ship, exploded in a series of controlled detonations - demolishing the megafreighter in a flurry of so many small explosions. The ship was torn apart into its constituent pieces, all wrecked and blackened and burning. All hands on board were lost. All that remained were wrecked pieces of shredded hull and superstructure....

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...and the megafreighter’s cargo, scattered throughout the space surrounding the Collector trade station. Thousands of Odhrallus Mark III deep space mines, of Outlander manufacture. Designed to drift in deep space for long periods of time to indefinitely deny space-routes from the enemy, whoever they may be. Built with multiple-nuclear charges, either to use in conjunction with pusher plates to become kinetic kill vehicles with Orion drives, or bomb-pumped X-ray lasers depending on the model, and with high-intensity short-life ion rocket motors to turn them into old fashioned atomic rockets, they were very effective space denial-weapons.

These were the ghosts that haunted the starlanes of the former Outlander Commissions, and many Wild Space warzones with particularly ruthless warlords. They did not discriminate in who they killed, and decades after the cessation of the conflicts they were used in, they still continued on killing even when those who actually fought those wars had long since laid down their arms. These mines were responsible for taking millions of lives throughout space, and a beloved Anglian princess even made it her life’s work to rid the galaxy of these weapons shortly before her untimely passing.

These were some of the galaxy’s deadliest spherical masses of iron, and whenever they were vaporized, they tended to vaporize others with them.



Image Image Image
shroom is a lovely boy and i wont hear a bad word against him - LUSY-CHAN!
Shit! Man, I didn't think of that! It took Shroom to properly interpret the screams of dying people :D - PeZook
Shroom, I read out the stuff you write about us. You are an endless supply of morale down here. :p - an OWS street medic
Pink Sugar Heart Attack!

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 01:14pm
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High Orbit over Ctesiphon
Sassanid Empire


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Ctesiphon. De facto capital of the Sassanid Empire. A beautiful, verdant world; centre of commerce, seat of the Imperial Parliament, and the diplomatic heart of the Empire. Tucked away deep inside Sassanid space and protected by a sizeable contingent of the Imperial Navy, it was sheltered from the depredations of outsiders and the unscrupulous machinations of the nobility equally.

No Solarian official had set foot on this world in a hundred years. Not since the last Pahdishah Emperor had elected to expand relations with the Bragulan Star Empire, drawing the ire of then-President Teague. A progression of formal snubs between Sassanids and Solarians had culminated in the death of the last Solarian ambassador to the Empire – allegedly of natural causes – and after his body had been shipped back to Solaris the government had decided to simply not replace him. The embassy had been closed down. For a full century Sassanid affairs had been handled by one of Olympic's tertiary cores, with predictably poor results: the relationship between the Empire and the Sovereignty had gone from cool to all but frozen solid.

But now there was a new emperor. Things were about to change, and hopefully they'd change for the better.

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The DeBarros General Products Type-7 diplomatic cruiser transitioned to realspace in a brilliant flash of otherworldly radiation. After answering the challenges of the dreadnoughts patrolling local space with diplomatic protocols that bore the digital seal of the Vuzorg Farmadar, the sleek ship engaged its progression drive and set a brisk pace for the planet below.

As far as sights went, ambassador McNeil had to admit it was pretty. Mighty cities dotted the carefully landscaped countryside, but none were mightier than the capital city of Persepolis. Rising from the lush forests of the primary continent, a monument to the power and pride of the Empire. Seen from the air, the city resembled a warren of marble spires adorned with the family crests of those that dwelt within. Roads looped between the skyscrapers. Its towers and palaces overarched each other. Flags and pennons fluttered all about, advertising the omnipresent dominance of the ancient aristocracy.

The Solarian embassy, in sharp contrast, looked dishevelled. After the shuttering the gold eagle crest and the banners bearing the stars-'n'-bars had been taken down, and a century of neglect was showing in the layer of grit caked on the walls and the dust on the landing pad. Chandra Telfair stepped off the folding stairs and kicked up some of the filth with an immaculately polished dress shoe. “This place is a dump,” she commented.

Jonathan McNeil stepped down after his bodyguard and aide de camp. “It could do with a lick of paint, I admit.” He smiled. “But as far as postings are concerned it could be worse.”

The former FORCE operator shrugged and threw her red hair back. “I don't see how this place is worse than Cevault.”

“That's because you've never been there. If you think having a bunch of Machiavellian aristocrats in power is bad, just imagine a place where the laws are written by gangsters, militants or billionaire supervillains.”

Telfair rolled her eyes and flashed a set of hologrammatic credentials at the embassy's security mechanism. After a hundred years of dormancy the ancient system chirped merrily. First the death field generators inside the embassy shut down. Then the more conventional defensive mechanisms disengaged. Force shields snapped off. And finally the thick plaz-steel security doors swung open. “I'll try to remember that it could have been worse,” she said, “when the locals stick a Krys-knife in your back.”

He flashed her a charming smile. “Your concern for my well-being is touching, but I doubt they'll have an equal killed.” His voice took on a sarcastic edge. “After all, I am a grand duke now!”

It was true enough. Wanting its ambassador to the Sassanids to be able to talk to the aristocracy on equal terms, one bright mind in the government had decided that it would be a good idea for the ambassador to be himself a noble of one stripe or another. The plan was well-received, but there was just one problem with it: the United Solarian Sovereignty prided itself on not having a nobility. There wasn't anyone with an appropriate title. Suggestions to turn to the Byzantines or Anglians were shot down by the President for reasons that were long elaborated on but boiled down to simple pride. In the end the Sovereignty had approached the Emir of the anti-spinward Wild Space world of Ebla and, after several millions of credits had changed hands, Ambassador Jonathan McNeil was created Grand Duke del Fer Syriens and lord of a patch of land on a planet he hadn't ever been within a hundred light years of.

It yet remained to be seen if this was any advantage at all when dealing with the Sassanids, whose culture really couldn't be more different from that of the Solarians if they tried. Certainly it didn't impress his bodyguard, who simply snorted and escorted him deeper into the embassy. Privately, McNeil sometimes wondered if it was even a good idea to be here. The Sovereignty and the Sassanid Empire couldn't be more different from one another if they'd actively tried, and in order for relations to improve he'd have to bridge a cultural divide so huge it would probably take an entire team of anthropologists a lifetime to wrap their heads around it. If that was the case, what chance did one retired Star Force general and one FORCE-trained aide really have?

He'd have to wait and see.



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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

There'll be a bodycount, we're gonna watch it rise
The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes


Last edited by Siege on 2011-02-19 01:51pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 01:33pm
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Storytime!
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Refuge Diplomatic Yacht, Prime City, Reisenburg
Sometime After the Previous Briefing


The First Contact Avians had been supplied with ample stims under the assumption that they would have a lot to take in and not enough nearly enough time, though if they didn’t sleep they would have some more. Still, that required that the Avians remember to take them, instead of forgetting while reading a classic text on the exceeding long history of the Phosako civilization. Phoebe-o drifted off to sleep.


It was green. There were plants everywhere. It made her think of Unity Park or the domes on Garden, but it was those times a thousand, a million, some really big number. There were trees, incredible trees, that looked kilometers tall, branching out wider than ships. They were enormous, huge, HUEG even (though she didn’t know where that word came from.)

Or maybe she was tiny. She didn’t know. At any rate, she was flitting from branch to branch through the dense woods, searching for tasty morsels. Phoebe-o heard calls in the distance, that someone had found something. All she had to do was cross the short open strip through the woods. That was fine, as she had done it hundreds of times before. But this time was different. She didn’t see the net until it was too late.

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Phoebe-o was immediately tangled. She struggled to get loose, but the more she fought, the tighter the net twisted around her legs, her wings, and her neck. Eventually, she couldn’t move at all, and was trapped in the net. The infernal net! It continued on, stretched impossibly far, and though she couldn’t move she could see other birds trapped in it, some still struggling or twitching, but some passively waiting for what would happen next. They bobbed as a gentle breeze billowed its strings.

And then there were noises. Sounds of moving, and sounds of talking. Not the talking of her own kind, but something larger. Much larger. Giants, in scale with the trees. Since she couldn’t move, Phoebe-o stayed quiet, in the vain hope that maybe, somehow, they wouldn’t notice her and then inevitably eat her. She thought that it was working, because the giants passed her over, pulling out other birds and making them disappear.

But then they came for her. She wanted to cry out, to claw and bite, but she was trapped. The giant grabbed her with one paw - the paw was bigger than Phoebe-o! - and started pulling off the net. She was very tangled so it was a long job. Finally she was free of the net, minus a few feathers, but now she was in the grip of the giant.

Then all of a sudden she was in a little cavity. She had the feeling that the giant had put her there. There were other birds that looked just like her in the cavity. Phoebe-o couldn’t see any hole, so she didn’t know how she and the others had gotten there, but they couldn’t get out. They fluttered around each other for a couple minutes, met with wood on three sides and the floor, some tough wire on the fourth wall, and a strange black ceiling. Eventually they settled down in a huddle to console each other.

They watched the scenery fly by. The box was moving. There were sounds of other birds on the other sides of the wood, fluttering and pecking, and the sounds of the giants. Then the box was still and the scenery stayed the same. They fluttered around each other a couple times, especially when a little (ha!) giant peeked in, but it was quiet.

And then there were more sounds of giants, and then a bird screaming outside, though it shortly went silent. Giant sounds, and then more screaming, and then more giant sounds. Then the paw had her again. She had been in the box, and then she was out of it, away from the others.

And then the giant rubbed her head. It rubbed her head. It’s rubbing my head! It’s RUBBING my HEAD! It was cold and wet and she felt absolutely miserable in addition to being terrified. Of all the added insults, being scared AND grumpy just before getting eaten.

Head rubbing done, the giant turned her and held her down. It didn’t hurt, but she felt a strange sensation on her leg, something cold (though the giant’s paws were cool enough). Then it was brown and claustrophobic for some reason, though that was okay because she was used to spending nights in cavities, and then the giant held her again.

This time, it only had her by the legs. She tried to fly away, but the giant’s enormous paws had her legs in a vice grip. However, the giant had made one major mistake, and left her beak free! Aha! Take that! She pecked and bit with all her might.

Image


It was an exercise in futility. Despite all her efforts, she could not even break the giant’s skin. it continued to make noises as if nothing was happening.

Or maybe it did work, because then the giant made a small tossing motion and let her go. She zoomed into the trees, singing a celebratory taunt back at the giants. For a moment, Phoebe-o had an odd feeling that those giants had been humans.

Just before she woke up she remembered looking at her leg and seeing something shiny there, like a metal ring or band...


And then Phoebe-o jolted herself awake with a frightening realization and whispered, “They know!”



DPDarkPrimus is my boyfriend!

SDNW4 Nation: The Refuge And, on Nova Terra, Al-Stan the Totally and Completely Honest and Legitimate Weapons Dealer and Used Starship Salesman slept on a bed made of money, with a blaster under his pillow and his sombrero pulled over his face. This is to say, he slept very well indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 03:41pm
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Location: Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Unknown Location, The Centrality
Unreal Time/Early 3401


The planet at first glace seemed unremarkable, it's terrain and climate unsuitable for large-scale colonization. Indeed, the prescence of ruins suggested a failed attempt at settlement, and nothing more was heard of the planet.

But that was what the Centrality wanted everyone to believe. For this planet was home to one of the most secretive and powerful organizations in existence, one that outdid CENINTERN when it came to expanding Centralism, that could make the most ruthless Centralite shudder, and which other nations knew mostly as a legend from the past. And someone was already paying a visit to them.

Image

The shuttle passed into the unruly atmosphere, battered by rain and wind, much to the discomforture of the ship's VIP: Dirad Kierger, Dictator of the Centrality.

"Ugh, I wasn't told the ride would be this rough..."

In front of him was his "bodyguard", Lord Redav, who seemed unfazed by the shuttle's constant vibration. "This planet is wild. Savage. It ate the original inhabitants alive. A perfect place for our Order to use."

"Couldn't you just hide in plain sight?"

"We do, Dictator. We simply believe that it can never be enough."

"Uh-huh. And why this planet has to be your main base? Plenty of calmer worlds out there."

"Symbolism, my friend, symbolism. Our prescence in this wretched world represents our determination to tame the barbarism that resides subconsciously in every sapient being and our disdain at the disorder prevalent in the current interstellar order."

"Your beliefs are very strong, Lord Redav."

"They are the only things I have."

The pilot then spoke, "We're nearing the surface."

"Good. Inform the hangar controllers that we are about to land," responded Redav.

"I don't see any installations nearby. You sure we're in the right place?", asked Kierger.

"You forgot to look down, Dictator."

Realization struck Kierger, and he laughed nervously. "Oh, it's below ground. Silly me. My imagination shut down for a moment there."

"It may be wise for you to keep it on, dictator. You will need it soon."

The ground beneath the shuttle opened, to reveal a large hangar floor. The shuttle landed, and the ground closed.

Kierger and Redav came out of the ship, and saw an old man, caped and with a white beard and mustache. He gazed at them.

Image

Lord Redav bowed slightly. "High Lord Ukood. I have returned."

Ukood spoke, "Indeed, and you brought our guest." Ukood and Kierger shook hands. "Welcome Dictator. Impressed by our handiwork?"

"Why shouldn't I? The fact that you built a huge underground installation in an inhospitable rock is amazing in itself."

"I believe you would be surprised how exactly we built all of this, but that is for another time. The Supreme Lord of the Order of the Black Star is waiting for you. He wishes to discuss many important matters."

Supreme Lord? If this High Lord is old, then his boss must be ancient!, Kierger thought, being careful not to allow the other two from hearing his thoughts.

The three men soon walked into the heart of the facility...



An inhabitant from the Island of Cars.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 08:50pm
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Landing Pad, Executive Mansion


The Vertibird with the coat of arms of the Foreign Minister came down near the shuttle that was preparing for lift off. Somewhere, high over the skies of Chesapeake heavy Wraith and Viking fighters were prowling the area. Two men, one wearing a three piece suit and the other a naval khaki working uniform with a Grand Admiral's rank went running from the vertibird into the shuttle, with their staff catching up. It was not a very dignified showing of the upper echelons of the Dominion leadership. Grand Admiral Earl and Minister Benton MacKaye worked towards the seating area that the Lord Protector and his family used(in this case, his only family, his wife). After being allowed in by a Knight Grand Admiral Earl spoke.

"Sir, we need to speak to you."

Fairfax didn't even look up from his PADD. "Speak."

Earl cleared his throat. "Perhaps it would be best if the Lady..."

"No."

MacKaye and Earl looked at each other. Mackaye sighed.

"Sir, this is a monumentally bad idea. You can't just take off like this, people will talk. The Lord Protector cancelling his schedule for a emergency state visit to Montgomery? It'll raise alarm bells from Ummeria to the TDR."

"Sorry, we're doing it."

"Doing what, sir?" Earl said. "No disrespect to the Lady, but I can count on one hand the times she has accompanied you on State Visit to Montgomery. That is, she has never visited the planet since, since the preparations to remove your predecessor." Earl paused. "I spoke to Admiral Baxter and he said that you were distressed about a Sassanid name you saw in the daily intelligence brief. Is this...is this something to do with the COG facility you were discovered in? If so you should wait until Dr. Blitzschlag returns and seek his counsel."

"Admiral, Blitzschlag is not the goddamn Lord Protector, I am. Thank you for your frank input. Now, I believe our ship is waiting in orbit."

Earl waved his bider and put it on. "I will be sending Blitzschlag a message about this." And with that, the commander of the Grand Dominion Navy turned and left the room, making his way out the shuttle. Mackaye paused, aware that something was transpiring between the two that he hadn't full knowledge of.

"Minister MacKaye, You have the conn while we're away."

The elderly man nodded and left. The shuttle began to immediately lift, and looking out the window Fairfax could see the two men arguing by the Vertibird.

Image

Due to the alacrity of the instruction, there were no Star Dreadnoughts available for the transit to Montgomery. In fact, there were no battleships either. The heavy cruiser Punch Bowl was returning from a workup and pre-deployment certification when the crew was unceremoniously informed that liberty was cancelled, and that they would be couriering the Lord Protector and the Lady to Montgomery. There were going to be some pissed off sailors and Marines onboard. The shuttled slid into the main docking bay and nearly as soon as the ramp lowered Fairfax stepped aboard. There was the OOD and the CO(a Commander) in coveralls standing there.

"Permission to come aboard Commander..." Fairfax inwardly groaned as he saw the name. It was one of those 26 digit Latino ones.

"Gomez sir. Petty Officer Shmuckatelli can escort you and the Lady to the flag officer quarters."

"I want us on the way to Harpers Ferry as soon as port control clears us Skipper."

"Aye aye sir." The overhead lights flickered. "We should be opening a hyperspace window now."

Image



ImageImage
"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."

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 Post subject: Phoebe-o's Day Gets Worse PostPosted: 2011-02-19 10:48pm
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Central Administration Complex
Office of the First Technarch
2000 Hours, Prime City Mean Time


How is something on this scale even possible?

First Technarch Michael O’Connell had been a magnetogravitic physicist for years before he’d been Selected to high responsibility in the Umerian government. He took his duties very seriously, but he did occasionally yearn for younger, simpler days when all he had to wrestle with was tensor calculus and finite element analysis.

Which was probably why he was trying to figure out what the trick was behind those giant loops of stellar plasma Ambassador Phoebe-o had shown in the presentation earlier that day.

I need... hmm. I need Nick Christofilos. This is big, I need a man who thinks big, and I’ve known Nick to spend his spare time doodling designs for enhanced Shkadov thruster variants. He has to know he’ll never get the funding; he thinks big for fun.

Since work at ABCL cooled down after the completion of the Mark Fifteen ion gun design, Nick had relocated to a teaching position. Allowing for time difference, he’d be about to knock off for the day. A brief bit of wrangling with the central switchboard computers got him to Nick’s office- he didn’t remember the number

“Hello? Ah, uh...”

“Relax, Nick, this is social, or mostly social. I’ve got a megascale engineering problem I want you to take a quick look at, if you’re not too busy.”

“Too busy for the First Technarch?”

“Nah, too busy for your old drinking buddy from Alta Vista.”

“Oh. Well, still. What’ve you got?”

“You’ve heard about first contact with those new aliens, the Refuge?”

“No...”

“You’ve been busy, right, the conference.”

“Yes. Did you look at the abstract?”

“Yes, though I haven’t had time to crack the paper; I can never read papers while I’m running, HUD glasses or none I wind up tripping over my own feet. Anyway, the Refuge is upwards of fifteen hundred light years to rimward, out past Hiigaran space, but they didn’t evolve there. They claim to be long range, well, refugees from another galaxy who only settled in that area in the past few decades. And...” Man has Confidential Type Five clearance, he’s sound. “They say they had a run-in with some damned dangerous opposition out there. Too remote to worry us, but some of what I saw gave me something to think about. Let me forward the footage to you.”

Nick took a bit to watch it before he realized what he was seeing- fewer than Mike had, come to think of it. In reverent tones, he murmured: “Klono’s carballoy claws...”

“Exactly.”

“And these Refugees know how to do this?”

“They said it was their enemies who could do it.”

“No wonder they ran away. I’d want to be in the next galaxy over from someone who pulled stunts like this too. Let me see what I can reconstruct; this reminds me of some tricks I’ve seen nosed about for atmo-stripping on super-torrid planets, but I’ve never imagined doing it on this scale... you do realize this may be faked, right?”

“The thought had crossed my mind, but for the sake of argument I’d like to look it over as if it weren’t and then ask them if they faked it. Better safe than sorry.”

“I’ll get back to you in a couple hours.”

“Sure thing. I don’t think I’ll be able to call it a night till I know what’s going on here...”

“I’ll hurry.”

Around an hour and a half later, Nick called him back. “Mike, it has to be a fake. Look at this velocity distribution.” An attached graph popped up on the screen beside his face.

“What’s so funny about... oh.” Checking the scale on the side of the scatter plot, he realized that it was scaled in hundreds of megameters per second. Too many of them.

“Right. To do this you’d have to heterodyne a Heim field onto a tractor-pressor set, plus some exotics on the side... you can’t do it, Mike, better people than us have tried and failed. The physical constants won’t let you; the imaginary term is too big and it damps out before you can get things moving.”

“So, yes, probably a fake. But let’s get some more people in on this call; I really want to be sure we’ve got it nailed down before I imply they might be making things up. Even then, I think I’ll try and be diplomatic if it’s all the same to you...”



The Next Day

“Excuse me, Ambassador Phoebe-o; I have a few questions about your description of the war with the Eaters and others yesterday.”

“Yes?”

“At around eight minutes forty into your presentation, you showed pictures of enemy manipulation of stellar plasma as a weapon over light-hour distances, as I recall.”

“The Plasma Net, yes.”

“Well, I’d been looking over the footage with some friends last night... There’s a coefficient that we believe to be a physical constant, Wu’s Number, in magnetogravitic physics. We came to the conclusion that the manipulations you showed us would be physically impossible unless Wu’s Number were at least two orders of magnitude lower.. Again, we were under the impression that Wu’s Number was a universal constant; in your home galaxy, did you measure it to be lower?”

Back in the Refuge, for no apparent reason, Panic Node suddenly had a Very Bad Feeling. This was not an unusual event as Panic Node had about four bad feelings per second, but this one was considerably worse than normal. Possibly the worst one in days, maybe even weeks.

Phoebe-o hoped none of the Umerians could read her stress reactions, little shifts in posture. Probably not- she could only read theirs because of Contact’s work with other humans, and they didn’t have any Avians to study. But even though she was stressed out, she still remembered the backup plan. After her dream last night, she'd been sure the technocrats would look at the footage and notice something was funny about it. And Bookworm had come up with a good idea for how to respond- both to scare them off the subject, and to throw up a nice solid window to stop them from flying into awkward-question territory about the Refuge’s technological capabilities.

“As far as we know, that number is a constant. The Horrors... did it anyway.” She fluttered her wings theatrically.

“Hmm.” The Umerian head of state gestured to his aide. “Rick, make a note of that; I need to talk to the Second for Research about this. Local adjustment of physical constants... scary as all hell, may be necessary in self defense though if something like that could come roaring out at us.”

Her link with Bookworm flatlined. Her head whipped round to look at his cart, but his bodies were merely paralyzed with horrified shock- he hadn’t had a hearts attack or anything.

Phoebe-o could feel it too. OH NO WE GAVE THEM IDEAS! Would the Umerians start taking up reality warping? Would the Refuge have to find some way to stop them- attack them, trick other people into attacking them, trick them into attacking other people? What if that didn’t work, and they figured out the trick before anyone could stop them? Was she watching the end of this galaxy start, right here in this office?

She had to warn them!

“NO! DON’T! YOU CAN’T! IF YOU DO-” and then she realized that she had said too much.

“Ah, Madame Ambassador... if we do what, exactly? And then what?”

Eep.

She had two choices: clam up and say nothing more, or give them the whole explanation. And judging by the way they’d kept poking at her last explanation, she could count on one thing from the Umerians.

Lying to Umerians seemed to get you worse results than telling them the truth- it might not make them angry, but it would definitely make them curious. If they didn’t know what was going on with something, then purely out of scientific curiosity they would start poking it.

Eeeep.

And she was painfully certain that whatever they’d do in the process of poking at the official story, trying to find the real story, would be worse than what they’d do if they knew the real story itself. Because there were Things Sentients Were Not Meant To Know... but if the Umerians didn’t know of those things, they would see no reason not to try and find them.

Understandable in some crazed way, but terrifying. The universe was bad enough without people poking it just to find out what would happen. The Refuge knew what would happen; it had already happened to them.

Eeeeeep.

Her wireless link buzzed. It was Bookworm! He must have recovered from his fit of paralysis.

<Don’t tell them anything, Phoebe-o. Let’s just... ask for a recess to work this out, and then we’ll decide what to do next. We can still salvage this... I think.>

I hope so.

<I hope so too, Phoebe-o.>

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-19 11:37pm
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The Bragulan Economic Exposition Extravaganza of Friendship (BEEEF)
Vlyadibragstok, Southeastern Severnaya Sector / just beyond Northwestern Lena Sector
Unreal Time / October-December 3400



Image


All of a sudden the Shroomanist Prophet was standing on the roof of someone's pavilion.

“Peoples of all nations and stars,” he began, “I come not to preach Shroomanism to you, but to deliver a far greater message!
“It does not matter who you are or where you are from, your parentage or history, or even your beliefs! Nothing matters, so long as you follow the One True Path.

“I speak, of course, of the Path of Awesomeness! The insane gods beyond the gods who watch our actions are amused by our antics, and desire ever more! Their protection will extend to all who follow the True Path, so long as we stay worthy!
“So live life to its fullest and farthest edge! Be an awesome Centralist, or awesome Byzonist, or awesome farmer of giant vegetables – it matters not, so long as it is Awesome! Space and Time will distort itself to allow the impossible, and glory will come to those who are hardcore! Reject the ways of the Lame, for too much Lameness will bring boredom to the gods, and they will destroy this universe for one more awesome!

“Stay radical, and be extremely cool! Live awesomely and be awesome for all your days, and you will never die, remembered beyond the cosmos even should this universe end!”

And then with a shout of triumph, before any authorities could arrive, he leapt onto his dirt bike and jumped off the pavilion, right onto the hook of a chain hanging from a helicopter, and they flew away and disappeared into the distance.

Image


It took a moment for people to shake off the slight shock at the latest spectacle of the BEEEF. And that was when they finally looked down and cried out, “Those assholes! They stole all the free samples!”



DPDarkPrimus is my boyfriend!

SDNW4 Nation: The Refuge And, on Nova Terra, Al-Stan the Totally and Completely Honest and Legitimate Weapons Dealer and Used Starship Salesman slept on a bed made of money, with a blaster under his pillow and his sombrero pulled over his face. This is to say, he slept very well indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-20 12:26am
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Location: At the Helm of the HAB Star Dreadnaught Star Fist
Shinran Space

The wash from the Warp Gate illuminated immediate space. A small starship emerged from the gate, bearing its all important passenger from New Constantinople. The ship cruised outward and began broadcasting signals indicating its intentions. Within the shuttle, Decius the Sigillite sat silently waiting for the Shinrans to respond.

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He stared outward into the Midgar system silently. He knew his long dead predecessors had dealt with the Shinrans extensively back on Nova Terra. The Shinrans were now half a galaxy away from the Byzantine Imperium and as a result there was little dealings between both states for the last few centuries, beyond the usual trade and industry ties. Money always talked after all, and the Adeptus Mechanicus and various private companies had their own dealings with their respective Shinran entities.

Now however, the Imperium had need of allies for the Great MEH Crusade which would surely come. And then came the Shinran communique detailing the supposed slavery of psykers. To the Imperium, the mere fact that some xeno should lead a human state was enough of an affront that war should be waged. But then, the weak willed humans of other states had always need of some self-righteous cause to pursue. If this was enough to motivate them, then so be it. It would serve the Imperium's purposes anyhow. Preparations were already being made back in the New Constantinople system for the mass docking and refit of warships for the Great MEH Crusade, and ships were already beginning a series of checks and maintenance procedures to prepare them for war. Men from the various Imperial Guard and PDF regiments were also getting re-equipped for war. Titan Legions were mustering and preparing for departure, sending their monstrous war machines for repair and refit. The Astartes were similarly getting ready. The question remained was who would lead this grand endeavour. One of the Strategos Primus no doubt, though the God Emperor had suggested that perhaps he would send a special champion to rally Imperial forces. The Strategos Primus could not be always everywhere, and sometimes, the men needed inspiration and hope in their darkest hours.

When the Shinrans finally issued their usual communiques of welcome and the docking location, the starship cruised to its designated position and docked. The Sigillite smiled, tapping some of the old memories of his long dead predecessors and doing a brief run through of all their personal experiences and memories. Yes, this was going to be something of a walk in the past. Humans rarely changed much anyway.



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STGOD: Byzantine Empire
Your spirit, diseased as it is, refuses to allow you to give up, no matter what threats you face... and whatever wreckage you leave behind you.
Kreia

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-20 01:01am
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Location: London, england
MEHN Starwrath, Vindicator class Megacruiser. MEH space

Since the destruction of the orks David Cortez had tasted blood in his mouth and found it good, but then he was always partial to extra rare steak. However he had also enjoyed the destruction of their primitive and ramshackle vessels in the depths of his chlosterol choked heart and he hungered for more and as a result the Starwrath was to show the utmost ready-ness and diligence so that the saintly goddess may take heed of their devotion and allow them to be part of the leading elements when the campaign to wipe out the grotesquely over muscled green skins began.

The goddess's hand reached down to David Cortez in recognition of his service, his long years of fierce dedication and dynamic leadership finally gaining the highest of accolades. David Cortez then looked into the proffered hand and beheld the greatest of steaks, massive and dripping and cooked to perfection and, talking to him?

“Grand captain.”

snore....

“Grand captain?”

Snghk...snooore..

“Grand captain!”

snuh..what?

“Grand captain, probable contact in outer area of system. Radiation scatter consistent with relativistic craft on a trajectory to skirt the inner system.” the crewman said now that he had the captain's attention, David Cortez awaking on the bridge and wiping a small waterfall of salivation off his chin as his neurons sluggishly digested this news. A few seconds later though he sprang into action, or at least hit the button to tilt his hover chair into an upright position while making the crew spring into action for him.

“Plot an immediate intercept course, maximum thrust!” he yelled and took a deep breath while considering his options before adding “Bring full power to guns and fire a warning volley!”

“But sir at this range and at their speed-” one of the crewmen began before being cut off “Do it! For the glory of the goddess and the empire we shall bring to justice these stealthy lurkers!” Cortez shouted the crewman down, who got the message to shut up and follow orders quickly enough. It wasn't like the MEHN were unaware something fishy was going on by now, the sheer volume of probes flooding their systems meant that some had been inevitably been detected although had revealed little about their true origins beyond that whoever made them liked the idea splatting MEH citizens across the inside of hangars with small nukes when the probes were brought onboard. And now one of the litterers had revealed themselves to a vessel of the MEHN and would be brought to justice, or so Cortez thought. The Starwrath's mighty engines were succeeding in making the entire ship thrum loudly with their power but succeeding less well in making the weighty vessel lumber with any degree of swiftness towards the outer system intercept.

But perhaps the Starwrath's guns would succeed where its engines had failed. The entire ship groaned in protest as the vessel's entire arsenal of turbolasers fired in a single massive salvo, ordinarily such power would be as devastating as the orks had briefly comprehended. However at this extreme range the flight time of minutes and the inability to localize the target from so imprecise a signature led to the shots being less an intimidating warning shot and more a somewhat peripheral sensation that someone had expended hundreds of megatons of firepower to try and get their attention.

Turbolasers were somewhat related to Solarian autolasers however being MEH tech lacked fired projectiles lacking the stability and coherence of their Apexai perfected counterparts. MEH engineers had resolved this loss of power with distance by ramping up the energy levels so that at expected engagement ranges damage per bolt was back at acceptable levels even if barrel life expectancy no longer was. As a result the bolts by the time they flew within a few thousand kilometers of the imperial ship had devolved into diffuse clouds with all the bite of a tribble and had one by some fluke actually hit the target all that would have resulted is a collection of crewmen glorying in serving the imperator by repainting one side of the ship.

“Excellent shooting, now that we have shown them our might open a channel.” David Cortez ordered as he watched the blip of their salvo almost collide with the blip of the target in the outer system, no doubt a harrowing experience for the skulking aliens.

“Channel open grand captain.”

“Alien interlopers! This is Grand captain David Cortez of the Megacruiser Starwrath! You have violated the sovereign space of the Multiversal Empire of Happyness under an attempt at subterfuge. As such MEH law demands your immediate surrender! You will immediately decelerate and prepare for boarding! You will not attempt to escape! You will not attempt to resist! Such things are useless in the face of the might of the MEHN. I expect nothing less than complete compliance in your response to this message! In addition you will be found guilty of littering MEH space and the murder of its citizens!” David cortez spoke at length, standing once more to do it despite the way it abused his legs to support his globular form. However suddenly the blip of the target vanished.

“Target vessel has translated to hyperspace, course unknown.” one of the crewmen helpfully explains.

David Cortez swayed for a few moments in shock as his mind came down from speechify mode to something resembling usual thought.

“They..they ignored us.” he said and blinked, then collapsed backwards into his hover chair.

“Grand captain, engine temperature climbing towards the red line. We must cancel acceleration.”

“Yes...yes..do that, bring us back to our duty station..and someone bring me my steak! That made me hungry.”



STGOD SDNW4 player. Chamarran Hierarchy Catgirls in space!
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 Post subject: Re: Migwazza! PostPosted: 2011-02-20 05:10am
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When last we saw Warboss Migwazza:


Nguyen's World, Sector X-5
January 18, 3400


One thing about being a fighta pilot, you usually had plenty o' dakka. More than anybody could carry. It was never really enough, you couldn't have enough dakka, but it was a lot better than nothin'. So when Migwazza found himself back on the ground, with no weapon to call his own but his personal slugga, he wasn't happy. Sure, it was a good gun. But it just wasn't the same as a battery of heavy machine guns and autocannon. After he'd pulled loose a suitable-length chunk of support beam for his smartboy's* crutch, he'd gone looking among the wreckage to see if any of the guns were still intact. Finding that one of the wing-mounted dakkaguns still worked, and even managing to pull some ammo that hadn't cooked off out of the wreckage, was the best thing to happen to him all day.

So here he was, making his way back to base through the rocky badlands of Nguyen's World. He had his slugga, he had a machine gun slung over his shoulder, he had a follower trooping along in the sand beside him. Everything was OK. Well, pretty much OK. Only problem was, the little guy was making pretty good time with that crutch, but even so it was going to be a while. Then he saw a plume of grit and sand rising from the horizon. Good. Here comes my ride. He squinted, shading his eyes from the desert sun. It looked like... yup, bikers. As they crested the last rise in front of him, he saw that they were dressed in Nazdreg's colors, with a crude imitation of his banner flying from the lead bike. Zoggers.

He shouted as they pulled to a stop a few dozen paces ahead of him. "What you want?"

"Boss Nazdreg, he ain't happy 'bout you screwing up like dis. He saw you go down on da radar. How come you get shot down by a ship wit' no guns?"

That was the last straw. For a moment, that same weird impulse he'd felt earlier flickered, made him want to say something like "get off the bike and no one gets hurt." The impulse died fast. Zog that, he could do with a straight fight after all this muckin' around.

"WAAAAAGH!" Migwazza leveled the dakkagun at the leader of the biker pack and let fly. The roar of the heavy gun was deafening, and a blizzard of tracers streamed out. The ace walked its fire onto his newfound enemy, tearing both the ork and the bike he sat on apart in a spray of blood and sparks. Then he charged, firing from the hip. Even with the heavy weapon in his hands, he was still outgunned by the rest of the biker mob, who mostly had similar guns of their own mounted on the bikes. Two of the quicker-reacting bikers had already opened fire; most of their rounds slipped behind him to both sides. He felt a spike of pain from his left side as a heavy slug grazed the outside of his ribcage and tore a shallow gash along it, but now he was in close.

A point-blank burst from the dakkagun saw off another ork; he smashed a third off his bike with a jab from the barrel. Seizing the weapon the third biker had drawn in self-defense in his left hand and drawing his shoota in his right, he laid in among the other orks with pistol and axe. For a few moments, his mind dissolved in the berserk joy of combat, as he scattered the remnants of the biker mob and blazed away at the cowards who fled. Finally, he saw no standing enemies before him.

Nor did he see the one behind him. The biker he'd knocked down lept up and jumped on the warboss's back, growling and locking his arms around Migwazza's massive torso... and pulling a jagged-edged backup knife toward his throat. Migwazza wrestled with the unseen opponent. Normally, he'd have easily overwhelmed any ordinary ork, but the wound over his ribs was starting to weaken him on that side, and leverage was against him. He gritted his teeth and pushed, keeping the knife away from his neck, but the wiry little bastard had a grip like a bullsquig... then he heard a pistol shot. The arms clenched about his neck relaxed, and a burden fell away from his back.

Migwazza turned. His wounded copilot limped towards him on his crutch, a smoking shoota in his hand.

The ork pilot let out a mighty bellow of laughter. Now he knew why he took the trouble to save the smartboy earlier.

"Sometimes, Zimgrod, you iz real 'elpful."

"Thanks, boss."

Migwazza looked around, and spotted the bike with the fewest dents and bullet holes in it. Just his luck... it had a sidecar. He peered into the sidecar, reached inside, and pulled out a terrified grot with a toolbox- must be the mob's mechanic. Then he threw the grot into the distance.

"You, boy, you get in 'ere. I drive. We gonna be back to da airstrip in no time!"

Revving the engine and zooming out along the plains brought him back to his early days, before he'd learned to fly, when he was just another biker boy like the ones he'd smashed his way through today. He'd had nuthin' then, and he'd built up a squadron. But not a good enough squadron, fat lot of good they'd done him today. Bitzgrub was OK, an' Zimgrod was OK, but most of the others, they were just mucking about.

When he got back, he'd pull together what he had and get off this rock for a while. Nazdreg might be a grottish bastard some ways, but he had a lot of firepower, and Migwazza would need to rebuild his forces before he could take him on. He'd go find some other planet to work from. An' he'd build a new squadron. He'd get Bitzgrub to design better planes: faster, tougher, shootier. It would be the new... no. He wouldn't even keep the same name from the old squadron. This was a clean slate for him.

He'd call it... no, not that. Not that either. Wait! He knew what the name would have to be. Short, easy to remember, dead killy.

DEFF SKWADRON!

*Smartboys: A rare subtype of ork that is basically a normal warrior in temperament, but unusually intelligent. Typically the ones to remember such details as the actual nature of the mission. Often used by warbosses as a cross between an aide de camp, a designated driver, and a whipping boy.



Office of Frontier Affairs
January 20, 3400


Migwazza smacked a meaty hand down on the table.

"So, dat's about da size of it. Safe passage fer me, my gear, an' a few of da lads... an' I tell you everyt'ing you need to give dat zogger Nazdreg a good thumpin'."

The human across from him talked like a grot, which stood to reason. "If it is truly your wish to leave the planet and never come back, we wouldn't dream of stopping you."

"Right. So no fancy tricks like trying to blow us up when we leave da system! I still got fightas, an' if you get tricksy wif me, I make you sorry!" Of course, with his best plane shot down by Nazdreg's big guns, that would be a right tricky scrap to get into, but he'd do it. Somehow.

"Naturally, warboss. You'll have no trouble from us."

Migwazza slapped down a pile of complicated stuff Zimgrod had drawn up for him, in between the dok's operations to attach his new cybork foot. Maps, lists, more lists, even more lists... it was all in humie, not in proper glyphs, but the warboss could follow enough of the contents to know that most of Nazdreg's arms caches and camps were listed there- courtesy of pictures he and the boys had taken over the last few years, flying over those bases on their way to do jobs for him.

He wasn't sure how much the humies could do to ruin Nazdreg's week with those big planet-defense guns still working, but that wasn't his lookout. Some day he might come back and take care of those, but not now. No, he was going to shake the dust of this zoggin' rockball off his feet and rebuild his fortune on another world, just as soon as the gretchin transport pilots he'd hired showed up.

Image

January 23, 3400

The lads were loading the pick of the gear into the back of Migwazza's battlewagon, before driving that into the transport. It wasn't the best battlewagon, even he had to admit that, more like a dump truck with some machine guns bolted on... but it was his, and he was proud of it. Most of the space was loaded down with Bitzgrub's supplies: miscellaneous boxes and piles of stuff, some of which he recognized, some of which was random junk as far as he knew.

Migwazza idly kicked one of the crates, and grunted as he stubbed a toe. Then he grabbed it to throw it out of the way, but when he hefted the thing he found it heavy, even compared to his own superhuman muscles. He shouted over to his mek. "Wot's dis?"

"Remember Project Looto?"

Migwazza growled: Bitzgrub's idea of building nuclear ramjet fighter had seemed like a good idea at the time, and it had been dead zoomy- hyper-WAAAGH!-ic even. He wouldn't forget blazing across the desert at cactus-top level at speeds of two thousand miles an hour any time soon. Not many pilots could say they'd done that, if you didn't count the ones embedded in a mountainside.

But after he landed the thing from the first test flight, half the lads started puking their guts out from... radiate-ors? Something like that. Plus the four-armed mutant snotling attacks had started not long after that. They'd finally had to move the airbase to get away from the things.

"Yeah. You try dat again, you better do it away from da camp."

"No, no, warboss, but I still got leftover plutonium! Dat's what's packed in 'ere. Plus a buncha lead bricks an' junk. Y'know. Shielding."

"Plutonium..."

"Plutonium. Da stuff da Sheppohumies use to make boom."

Now that was a whole 'nother story. The traditional duality of orkish existence was dakka and choppa. But in the Badlands, that duality was expanded- the orks had learned much from their human neighbors. On the one hand, there were the Umerians, and their zappa. On the other... the Sheppohumies, whose mastery of the art of boom even an ork had to respect.

"Oh. Good. Get dat in da battlewagon!"

"Right you are, boss."

"Too bad you got none of da Squigwindas left. Zoggin' idiots eating da night watchsquigs..."

"Eh, can make more a' dose any time. Squigs iz cheap, rokkits iz cheap. Plutonium, now plutonium ain't cheap. Well. Less'n you know da right people."

Migwazza gave his loyal comrade a hearty pat on the head, one that drove Bitzgrub's feet through the hardpan surface and into the softer earth underneath. "An' if you knew da right people, what would you be doin' 'ere muckin' about wit' us?"



Planet Bunyip
Sector Y-5
March 5, 3400


Migwazza had just tossed back the last of his mug of fungus beer and delivered a mighty, near-incendiary belch when Bitzgrub trotted over, waving his arms. "Hey, boss, you got a minute? Got sumfin' over in Hanga three! Fresh outta da Skunkworks!"

"Whut? Another skunk?"

"Nah. Just kept da name from last time."

"So show me already!"

"Right this way. Had mosta da parts before we moved, but... here!"

Bitzgrub waved an arm festooned with some of the fiddlier bits of his toolkit at an oddly-shaped house sized lump wrapped in a large piece of stained canvas.

Migwazza could make a pretty fair guess what this was. He'd never been one for personal powerklaws or the like, but you couldn't call yourself an ork without some choppa on you- in his case, a jagged-toothed 'knife' that would have done duty as a fair-sized sword by human standards. He yanked the blade through the ropes holding the splotched cover on, then tossed it away into the corner, where it settled down on a trio of squabbling gretchin.

Image

It looked... fast. And pointy. Plenty of red. And there were Squigwindas slung under the funny pointy-triangle wings! The first new Squigwindas since the move!

Bitzgrub beamed. "Happy birfday, boss!"

"I like it. I'll call it... da Big Mig II!"

April 25, 3400

Image

The target was a cut-rate transport, a converted Shepistani spacebomber last used in some long-forgotten nuking. Designed for a diverse medley of engines and long endurance, a surprising number of the B-36 Pacemaker bombers got reused for low-margin trash haulers after the Spacebomber Aerospace Corps graduated to faster and higher things.

The pot-bellied vessel had reentered the atmosphere and was beginning its landing approach at a disused spaceport on this desolate world, its magnesium overcast tracing a fast-moving shadow on the ground below. But then, it was bounced from above... by DEFF SKWADRON!

"WAAAGH!"

From sheer delight, Migwazza let loose a burst from the heavy deffguns in the nose, but the kannon rounds fell short. Zimgrod was back in his seat, manning the radar and listening to the growls from the missile guidance squigs. "Missiles Four an' Five got it!"

The pilot's massive fist smashed down on the launch buttons for the missiles, as Zimgrod shouted "Squig Two! Squig Two!"

"Whut? Thought you said dat was Four an' Five!"

"Dunno, boss. Just sounded right."

"Oh. OK. Hey, lookit dat! Da engine's on fire!"

"I t'ink dat one's supposed ta be on fire."

"No, Zimgrod you grot, dat one!"

"Oooooh."

The aerospace bomber-transport wasn't fast in atmosphere at the best of times. After the first ripple of guided missiles from the ork fighters, there weren't enough engines turning and burning- and far too many engines smoking, joking, or otherwise not accounted for- to keep it airborne. The pilot, despairing of making a descent with his engines shot out, and obviously hoping for a controlled crash, steered for the nearby salt flats- on the wrong side of the mountains from the port.

"WAAAGH!"

But this transport had some special bitz; they didn't want to risk damaging the loot. Migwazza bellowed into the radio, waving off his pilots from the strafing runs they wanted to line up. After they'd complied, or at least settled for letting loose a few dakkagun rounds from extreme range that probably wouldn't hurt anything important, he checked back with Zimgrod.

"Hey, check on da battlewagon!"

The smartboy fumbled with the radio hookup, with its little whirring and buzzing gizmos. There was a snap of electric sparks, then... "I got it! They see da plane, boss!"

So they were right on schedule. Now to find a flat bit somewhere around here so's he could be in for the kill...

Didjabringabeeralong Salt Flats
Some Time Later


The landing hadn't been too bumpy, and the trukk drivers had been right on schedule. Migwazza remembered one time, back before he got his own squadron. He'd been hired to fly escort for a gretchin transport, some kommando thing. It had been an interesting day.

Between the crazy grot, the talky ork who'd somehow managed to win Migwazza's gold tooth at poker, the huge ork they'd had to drop an anvil on to knock him out so they could get him into the transport, and the nob in charge of the whole thing... yeah, an interesting day. But he remembered well what the nob had said, when the smoke cleared and the last of the surprisingly nonlethal explosions went off.

"I love it when a plan comes together."

Migwazza learned a lot that day. Don't be a fool, or you may wind up pitiful. Always keep rabid gretchin at arm's length. Never wager your own teeth at poker if you can bash out someone else's. And, yes, planning. He had trouble with it sometimes, but he kept tryin'. That was why he kept Zimgrod around, even though the boy was annoying a lot of the time.

So this had been a pretty carefully timed operation, and it had gone about as well as he'd expected: he didn't have to wait long enough to get mad enough to kill anyone for mucking about. Migwazza leaned out on the running board of the trukk carrying the lads; other trukks stayed behind to refuel the planes so they could take off again... probably. This load was worth them having to haul one of the planes home in the battlewagon, at least according to Bitzgrub, and the fighta-bomba boss trusted the mek's nose for valuable plunder.

They were coming up on the downed transport now. A double handful of Sheppohumies wandered around the crash site, looking confused and disoriented. You could see the moment when they noticed the three ork Teknikuls roared towards them. Some ran, some hid, some dived back into the Pacemaker and came out with improbably large firearms. Soon, the trukk's hillbilly armor rang with occasional bullets, just enough to keep things interesting; the boys whooped and returned fire with the vehicles' pintle-mounted dakkaguns.

One of the ground crew took a burst of slugs in the chest and slumped down into the bed, grumbling about his bad luck. At that, Migwazza pulled out his personal shoota and started blazing away himself. Keen eyes measured the range to an accuracy of 'about good enough,' and his third shot from the underbarrel grenade launcher blew one of the Sheppohumies into red mist. At that, the others threw down their guns. The orks quit shooting, one at a time- it wasn't much fun after they stopped shooting back.

...

The boys rounded up the prisoners and stuffed them into one of the trukks, while Bitzgrub sorted through the loot from the spaceplane. "Yep, boss, like I thought. Plowshares."

"Whut's a plowshare?"

"Usually, sumfin' you make choppa out of. But with Sheppohumies, you make boom outta plowshares. Lotsa boom. What we got 'ere are nukoforming charges, chock full'a repleted uranium an' lithy... lithadoot... dootahide... uh, other stuff."

"What's it wif' you an' boom these days?"

"Well boss, I got a new idea. You like da new planes, right?"

"Yeah, Big Mig II iz ded zoomy."

"So we got zoom, an' we got dakka. You can put choppa on a plane, but it's tricky ta use, I should know. So what's left?"

"...zappa?"

"Well, boss, if you want zappa I know a few Umorkians who might be able ta help, but me, I think zappa's overrated. What we need is... boom!"

"Zoom an' boom?"

"Dat's it. Put da bomba in fighta-bomba. So if you don't mind, boss, I got a new project going. I call it... Da Bomb!"

"Hmm... how big?"

"Dunno. Still working out da details."

"Bigger dan Nazdreg's zoggin' guns?"

"You betcha, boss!"

"Go for it."



The Lodge
Alice Springs
Bunyip Planetary Capital
April 26, 3400


"He shot down a WHAT?"

"Just a tramp freighter. Shepistani model, owned by a private hauling firm, registered on New Libertopia. They were taking cargo and passengers from the Shepistani Republic down into edges of the Outback, for a Rio Tonto mining operation. This ork shot the transport down and took two dozen Shepistani nationals hostage. His message says he wants a hundred thousand credits in ransom per person."

"Doesn't he know the Sheppos' policy? They never negotiate with terrorists, they nuke them!"

"He didn't inform the Shepistani government, ma'am. He called us."

"..."

"Ma'am, I recommend in the strongest possible terms that we not inform the Shepistanis until the hostages are back safe and sound. If they find out about this and send a punitive expedition..."

"Did you check with the Ministry of Defense? About-"

"Yes, ma'am. Based on our projections, if the Shepistanis send ships in to deal with this, they'd start by nuking Migwazza's airbase. And anything else within several hundred kilometers that might be Migwazza's airbase. We expect that they'd drop something between two hundred and seven hundred megatons out there- assuming they use some degree of restraint and don't just carpet-nuke the whole Outback into glass. Prevailing winds would carry the fallout right over the coastal provinces."

"Right. So telling the Shepistani ambassador is right out then. We'd better handle this ourselves. Can we extract them ourselves?"

"We might be able to. On the other hand, this Migwazza seems to have picked his site with care. There are several other ork warbands in the neighborhood. If we send in a large enough force to be confident of taking him down without killing the hostages, we risk getting entangled with the other bands. We might end up touching off a general WAAAGH! towards the coastal provinces."

The prime minister winced. That happened every few decades anyway; they generally managed to beat the orks back without too much damage- their numbers weren't overwhelming, given the rugged, hostile terrain of the Deep Outback. But that might cause almost as much harm as the fallout from a Shepistani nuclear attack would.

"I suppose we'll have to pay up, then. Better that than getting WAAAGH!ed or nuked."



Airstrip Migwazza
April 27, 3400


Mek Bitzgrub wandered past the prisoner enclosure, mumbling to himself. "So, big plutonium ball on top, bigga can on da bottom? Or other way 'round?"

"Heef?" One of the prisoners was bouncing up and down, looking like an eager squig who wanted to play fetch-the-snotling.

Hmm. On the one hand, a humie. Humies who tried to look at orky tech usually just wound up laughing or crying or something. On the other hand, he was a Sheppohumie, and Sheppohumies knew their boom, you had to admit that.

"Lemme show you!" He reached out one long, tool-studded arm and grabbed the Sheppo, hauling him over the fence of the enclosure. Several of the other prisoners squawked in alarm, as did one of the guards, but Bitzgrub bellowed them all into silence and hauled the fellow off to the shop where he was working on Da Bomb.

"Nuke? Nuke? Nuke?" The humie was still sounding excited.

"Dat's what I'm aimin' for. I wanna build da biggest bomb ever!"

"Heef!"

"You know anythin' about boom?"

"Do I ever! I'm Budd, by the way!"

Some vague impulse, perhaps the perception that he'd found a fellow expert, made Bitzgrub stop dragging the human and set him on his feet. "Bitzgrub da mek. An-" he rounded the corner and gestured at the two-ton assembly he had on one of the reinforced shop tables- "here's Da Bomb!"

"It's..." Budd brushed a tear out of his eye. "It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

Some Hours Later

Zimgrod the smartboy trotted around the buildings in search of the last humie prisoner. Bitzgrub had let him out of the pen, and Boss Migwazza was getting impatient. He finally found the grot when he rounded a corner and saw the humie excitedly waving his arms and babbling at Bitzgrub, stabbing his finger at a graph nailed crudely to the wall of the test lab.

"Oi! Budd! We got yer ransom, get in da humie chopper out front!"

"Whut?"

Zimgrod, who spoke pretty good humie, explained again.

"Ran-som. You go back now."

"Screw that! I'm stayin' here!"

Zimgrod might speak humie, but he'd never heard of Shepholm Syndrome... until now. This was a tricky one. "Bitzgrub, whatta ya say?"

"Keep 'im! E's good! Zog, we could go from here-" the mek poked one curve drawn on the paper- "to here! Maybe up here even!"

"So... you wanna keep him?"

"Right!" The mek's eyes were shining as he contemplated a radical enhancement of Da Bomb's boom potential.

"...OK." Zimgrod wandered off, scratching his head and frowning as his cybork foot clinked off the gravel and hardpan of the airstrip. He returned to the chopper.

"Hey, boss, one of da humies doesn't wanna go back!"

"WHUT?"

"I dunno."

The humies who'd come in the chopper were looking really nervous now. One of them waved a hand slightly. "Can... can we see him?"

They murmured to each other; Zimgrod cocked an ear and caught- "Damned lunatic- what if they're lying- have to get a signed statement from him- something like that, I don't want to be taking iodine supplements for the rest of my life if the Sheppoes get mad about this."

April 29, 3400

Migwazza bellowed to shut up the partying orks. "We's clearin' outta here! Get yer crap into da trukks an' MOVE!"

The hostage trick, and a few other raids, had him feeling pretty flush. He had good hardware, some good boys. He'd put one over on the humies, but it was time to clear out just in case the Sheppohumies decided to come by and spread some boom around after all.

Maybe it was time to find out if he had what it took to make it big back in the homelands... onward to da orky quarter!

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-20 09:57pm
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Location: IA > GA
The Top Ten Planets to Never Visit: an Anti-Travelogue

#3: Skull Planet


Image
Artist's conception, likely nowhere near correct



This massive gaping hellhole of untold soul-breaking horrors is also deep in Wild Space (seriously, what's up with that place?), but this one is both charted and uncharted. How? The goddamn hyperspace lanes there are shifting all the time, probably because even they can't take the unending sheer terror that emanates from this planet.

I mean, Skull Planet. It literally looks like a fucking skull. Literally. Not just the arrangements of the land and seas – it has two huge fucking radioactive Bragulan-nuked craters at just the right places. Yes, this is a world that has glowing smoking eyeholes. Why they did it? Who the fuck knows. They probably didn't know. Maybe they just wanted to burn some holes in something big. I know I do sometimes, but nobody lets me get ahold of a few dozen Spuds so I just gotta keep dreaming.

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To help preserve your sanity for the rest of this article, here are some PUPPERS. You deserve a break.


Anyway, somehow (and don't ask me how though I suspect tentacles were involved) this planet crashed their cruiser, just smashed it on the surface, because it wasn't going to take orbital bombardment, though it let those wicked awesome radioactive eyehole craters stay. Of course, the Bragulans, being insane-as-fuck hardasses, weren't going to be killed off by something so mundane as being smited by a planet made out of evil and pain so their descendants are still running around. And I quote the official documentation, and I am totally serious about this:
“They quickly descended to savagery, retaining nothing of their civilization but a penchant for beating each other with sticks.” Look it up. Worlds of Terror and Despair by Harkum Fels. Now you know where I did most of my 'research' too.

So anyway, you're a barbarian Bragulan, just trying to get by and not die, or maybe some dumbass explorer thinking that you'll find something fancy and show it off to all your buds and get laid or something. What kinds of wacked out demon monsters are you going to be facing?

For starters, you're going to have your typical beasties, only way bigger than normal, because that mega-nuking and the crashing cruiser dropped a lot of radiation on the planet. Now, I admit I'm no biologist, or nuclear physicist, or any sort of expert at all except at distinguishing types of snack cakes, but I'm pretty sure fallout doesn't actually work like that. Except it did, so what do I know?

Image
I'm also pretty sure they're not supposed to be able to get this large.


So the spiders and lobsters and creepy-crawlies are the size of people, meaning they're also the size that can eat people, that being you and me. “So what?” you might ask, being an ignorant dumbass and all. “I got this giant fuck-off pew pew laser cannon. I'll just blast them all.”

Image
Seriously, who the fuck terraformed this planet?


Well that's just nice and dandy. You just plugged some giant crickets, probably while screaming, “Eat plasma, bugs!” or something lame like that. Now all that noise has attracted rats the size of tanks. And the scent of the heap of flame-broiled rodents you made defending yourself is attracting their hungry (and larger) predators, and the predators of the predators, all the way to the fucking top. And that means dinosaurs. Giant dinosaurs, like the ones of prehistoric Earth, that size, the ridiculously enormous ones, not the little feather kinds we have (not that you guys aren't cool, but you don't make me shit my pants just thinking about it).

Oh yeah, and the dinosaurs have their predator too, the guys at the top: the carnivorous gorillas.

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Dramatization of a typical day on Skull Planet


So by this point, your giant fuck-off pew pew laser cannon is probably out of charges, or at any rate it hasn't been doing all that much to the hides of the dinosaurs which are like a hundred times bigger than you. If you haven't become an hors d'ourve yet, you're probably running like hell.

Oh yeah, remember how everything on this planet is giant and thinks you look tasty?

Image
Don't ask me where I found this picture. Just don't.


So let's say hypothetically, some-fucking-how, you managed to not become someone's munchies and escaped all the bugs and rats and gorillas and all the damn animals on this planet. Maybe you get back to your ship or at least find some nice open ground somewhere. You might even crawl on top of a sturdy boulder in case the earthworms also crave the taste of your blood. This looks like a good place for a breather.

...did those cactuses just move? Shit, they did. Even the goddamn plants want to eat your flesh? Well, you can handle that. You handled everything else. Just wait for them to come into range of the butt of your laser cannon, see if they like that in their faces.

But they don't get close enough. They stand just a little bit out of range AND THEN THEY FUCKING EXPLODE because the ambulatory cactuses are filled with old-timey gunpowder for some reason.

Image
Now you're just making shit up.


Next up, the horrors of New Georgia!



DPDarkPrimus is my boyfriend!

SDNW4 Nation: The Refuge And, on Nova Terra, Al-Stan the Totally and Completely Honest and Legitimate Weapons Dealer and Used Starship Salesman slept on a bed made of money, with a blaster under his pillow and his sombrero pulled over his face. This is to say, he slept very well indeed.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-20 10:36pm
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Written by me with contributions from Chaotic Neutral.



The Density, Space over Earth
Sol, The MEH
Unreal Time


She hated diplomacy. You send a diplomat with a few goals, wait a few months to a few years, and, if you're lucky, no one declares war on you. So boring.

So today, she decided to do it herself.

"Number One, prepare the Leisurely Pace to receive me, and send a message to the Centrality..."

-------------------------------------------------------
Central Warp Gate, Space over Centrum
The Center Sector, The Centrality
Unreal Time


Once again, a First Contact situation reared it's head.

The Warp Gate was activated, and a unique vessel appeared. It was surrounded by all sides by warships, expected considering the Centrality's obssesive concern with security.

"They always have so many ships whenever you come to see them.", said Number One.

"Look at all of those different models! There must be at least 50 warships out there! I love it when they give us a warm welcome." she replied merrily.

His focus on the massive station ahead of them, he replied, "The landing zone doesn't disappoint either. They brought AFV's and killbots to the get together."

After communication between the vessel and the Centralist warships was exchanged, the former speeded towards the Space Battlestation C-7.

----------------------------------------------------------
Inside was waiting the Centrality's ruling Triumvirate: Viso Fredon, General Secretary of the Centralist Party, Falko Tredell, Secretary of State, and Tagdef Borlon, Secretary of Foreign Affairs. Accompanying them was Dirad Kierger, the Centrality's soon-to-be-Dictator, Lagis Fronte, Director of First Contact Section of the Center of Foreign Affairs, and Ravin Nostrum, the Foreign Secretary and Borlon's disciple. Their prescense reflected the fact that the MEH's "Leader" was coming personally to visit. As such, the Centrality's leadership was understandibly anxious to meet such a person...in person.

You think that this "Leader" is to be trusted, Fredon?, asked Kierger telepathically.

Well, her nation did give out an order for 264 ships of the Blitz-class we're selling recently. And Nostrum said that diplomatic relations needed to be established first. From what he could determine from her messages, she seems unpredictable, so we better be on our guard, responded Fredon.

For security reasons, the entire hangar was occupied by Marine troops and AFV's, as well as A-3a Advanced Battle Droids and Special Force ESPers, just in case.

The MEH vessel finally entered the hangar, and a door opened.

--------------------------------------------------------
The pilot said, "We're landing now, Mistress." There was then a beeping sound. "Mistress, it appears we're being contacted by the Capital."

"I'll deal with it," said Number One. "It's all up to you, Ma'm."

The ship landed, and a small figure in glowing clothing came out of the craft.

Image

"So that's their leader?", asked Kierger.

"It would seem so. She doesn't seem to look very happy, however. Curious," said Fredon.

"Well, it is the Empire of Happiness we're dealing with here," responded Borlon. "They have caused quite a diplomatic scandal, enough to give one grief."

"It's unnerving that we are dealing with a nation that throws caution to the wind, to be honest," said Tredell. "You sure we can trust her to act diplomatically?"

"Let us hope so. Now hush, she's coming," said Nostrum.

The Leader walked down her ship's ramp, looking curiously at the Centralist luminaries and their military units behind them. Her face betrayed not a single spark of fear, but interest. She soon was at front of Fredon, who chose to begin the greeting.

"Welcome to the Centrality. I'm sure you're impressed by what you see?"

"Of course! Look at all of the soldiers you brought here just for me! I never would have expected you to roll out the red carpet!"

"I'm glad you like what we have prepared for you. I'm Viso Fredon, General Secretary of the Centralist Party."

"This is Falko Tredell, the Secretary of State..."

"And the Secretary of Foreign Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, Director of First Contact, and I assume this is your president?"

Fredon looked surprised that she already knew who they were, but quickly brushed it off and changed subjects.

"Yes, since you know who we are, may I ask your name?

"Oh! My name! Call me Sasha, I'm the dictator of the MEH."

"Very well, if you would follow me, we will discuss our business in a more appropriate location."

She followed them to a large room walled by huge statues depicting the founders of The Centrality surrounding a large table in the center.

After everyone sat down, Sasha was the first to speak, "This is your station, so it would only be polite to let you ask question first.

"I see that your nation is new around the block, and you have ruffled quite a few feathers," said Fredon.

"That tends to happen when you teleport an entire empire just a few days away from four other nations. There isn't really anything that could be done about that."

"Yes...but we have heard rumors that you have sent diplomatic messages to nations that seemed a little too...honest. Is that true? True diplomacy requires lies every now and then, if only to maintain harmony," said Borlon.

"Nonsense, if you break your word consistently, people will stop believing you, and allies will be worried of defection at every turn. We want nations to trust us when we say we will help them fight a foe. We want enemies to fear us when we say we will rid their capital of life."

Kierger laughed, "If you are known for honesty, what would stop someone for double crossing you?"

Sasha shrugged, "Nothing, but we would hold a grudge. And maybe blow something up."

Before anyone else could get a word in, she continued, "Now, to the main reason for my visit, the ships. We are willing to pay for 264 Blitz Class frigates for 11 International Units each, 64 by the end of this year, 100 the next, and 100 the year after that. Deal?"

[Start of first part written only by me]

Just then Number One burst in. "Ma'm, did I just hear you order for the ships? I'm afraid we can't do that."

Sasha was taken aback. "What? Why?"

Number One responded, a bit nervously, "I was just informed that the money we were supposed to use to buy the ships have already been used to upgrade our Navy. In other words, we're temporarily broke."

"Why I wasn't informed of this earlier? Someone is gonna be seriously punished."

"Actually, if I remember correctly, you had given your blessing to it. You merely failed to tell them that you were going to use some of the cash."

Sasha slapped her head. "Oh. Right. Drat."

She turned to the Centralite luminaries, and said, "Sorry to keep you waiting. Looks like I have to buy your ships next year, if you still have some left. Bummer."

Tredell merely shrugged. "It's of no consequence. Diplomacy isn't always immediately rewarding, but performed right, no one leaves empty-handed."

[End of first part written only by me]

Sasha giggled. "Well that reminds me. As a secondary goal, we would like to become close allies with you. Economic, cultural, military, and technological partners. Not political if you would like, we do not want to topple or aggravate your government. And, as a gesture of good faith, we would be willing to build you a starship, created with parts from both of our nations, of 750-1000 IUs and split the cost with you 50-50. Assuming the first deal works out by next year, of course."

[Start of second part written only by me]

"It sounds excellent," said Borlon, "But we believe it would be best if the military and cultural parts are left for later, and the economic and technological parts done as discreet as possible."

Sasha was confused. She could sense some kind of hesitation within them, but out of courtesy she refrained from probing more deeply. What's going on?

"Can I ask why the need for secrecy? I don't believe in keeping secrets from others, even if they seem outrageous. Is there something wrong?"

The Centralite luminaries looked at each other, seemingly reluctant. Sasha had the sudden feeling that they probably knew something that she wouldn't like.

It was Fredon who spoke. "Given the sudden appearance of your nation, we had our Central Intelligence Service attempt to intercept all of your diplomatic messages, to ascertain the conduct of your country. While it wasn't successful in acquiring all of them, from what we could find it seems that you attempted to demand condemned ESPers for experimentation. In open diplomatic channels. I don't know if your diplomats are brain-dead or they were really ordered to ask for such a thing. The point is that revealing you do experimentation on living beings is a catastrophic failure in common sense. Many nations frown on such practices, and indeed those who do are considered pariahs. Worse still, it gives the interstellar community the impression that your government sanctions trafficking in sapient beings. In other words, they think you are slavers of some sort. The last time a nation openly practiced such things resulted in war. We do not want to be seen giving acceptance to a nation with those practices that in all probability will be attacked in the near future. The Centrality has enough PR issues as it is. Hence the need for secrecy. If the current policy of your government changes, then we will take your offer of an alliance seriously. Otherwise we will sit on the fence. What do you say?"

Sasha was not happy, something, she discovered, was happening more often. A part of her told her that the Centralist was right, that she effectively sabotaged her own negotiations by trying to discover the secrets of ESP too quickly and without regard for the consequences. Her other half told her that it imperative to find out about ESP regardless of what happened, and anyway the Centrality was too far to be of any real importance. Yet she wanted to gain something from this, because if she returned home with nothing, how she could spin it to her subjects? She saw the Centralist leaders as nice fellows that weren't scared of doing the dirty jobs necessary in running a dictatorial state, something she was not willing to do, at least, not in a long time. Yet they demanded secrecy as their price for any offers she gave them, all because she wanted to experiment on some condemned ESPers. Sasha considered keeping secrets beneath her, an affront to her worldview, but if that was she needed to do to keep the Centralites happy, then she decided that it was acceptable. After all, you can't keep a secret forever. Someone always finds out or you find a reason to spill the beans. Heck, maybe I'll figure out some way to discover the secret to ESP without having to ask other nations to hand over their ESPer prisoners, and then I can have my alliance with the Centrality! Then everyone will be happy!, she thought.

"Decided on secrecy, I believe? Never thought you'd do it," said a smirking Kierger.

Sasha stared at him, surprised. Note to self, reinforce mental shields while being on a train of thought.

"Well, I suppose I can bend my own rules just this once. I'm still commited to finding out how this ESP works my own way."

Nostrum said, "Really? That is what you're going into so much trouble for? You could have just asked an expert on the topic. And the Centrality has over a millenia of experience in such a field."

"Oh, I don't want to trouble your experts with our questions. We want to learn step by step, not cheat."

"Even if it endangers the safety of your nation?"

Sasha was uncomfortable discussing this. "Yes. I'm afraid so."

Kierger sighed and responded, "Looks like we're going nowhere. I'm afraid that we have to wrap this up for now. Just remember, what was discussed here never happened, okay? No reason to give the foreign press more ammunition to throw against us. As far as everyone else is concerned, what happened here did not extend beyond normalization of relations and a token trade deal. Maybe even a speech. Can you promise us not to tell anyone else about what we really have planned?"

Sasha smiled. She liked this guy. "Don't worry. Aside from Number One and some other trusted officials, no one else will know the truth. In fact, for now I'll personally deal with all MEH-Centrality matters, until we can afford to tell the truth."

"Promise?"

"I promise."

"Good. Even then, if there's a leak from your part, don't be surprised if we deny all accusations and call you a liar. We have our own interests, for your information."

"Aw, c'mon. Can't you trust me?"

"Not much. You'll soon learn why trust between politicians is so hard to achieve."

"Well, I guess there's nothing else to talk about for now, right?"

"Indeed," said Fredon. "This discussion is over. If you decide to change your nation's conduct and your own actions, then you are welcome to return here and restate your offer. Otherwise, we will do no more than what already has been agreed today."

"Ok. Bye! Hope to see you in the future!" And so Sasha and Number One left.

"You think she can fufill her part of the bargain?", asked Nostrum.

"She must. She may not be a smart diplomat, but she does know that her reputation is on the line," answered Borlon.

"She is a powerful person but with the mentality of a teenager. I can only hope she makes the right choice," said Fredon.

Tredell turned to Kierger. "Fine peformance in the end. You really are a great choice as Enduvos's heir."

Kierger grinned and said, "Don't remind me. I'm looking foward to the day I'm in charge. And that day will come soon..."

[End of second part written only by me]



An inhabitant from the Island of Cars.


Last edited by Force Lord on 2011-02-23 11:37pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2 PostPosted: 2011-02-20 11:43pm
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Refuge Embassy, Centrum, the Centrality

In a dark, smoke-filled room, a black bird watched a telescreen, the only thing lighting the space.

He saw the ship departing. The ship of the Multiversal Empire of Happiness had only been there for a short time. In a hurry? Hopefully this would mean that the sale of the frigates had not gone through, and the plans were progressing as desired. But that remained to be determined, after information was gathered.

Epaulette blew out a long stream of cigar smoke.

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"Excellent," he said, and his increasingly scratchy and gravely voice gave it a sinister edge.

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