SDNW4 Story Thread 2

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Karmic Knight
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Karmic Knight » 2011-10-21 11:26pm

Space Elevator Bank, Nitro Zone, Capital Planet, Sector B10
Roughly 3 Months Ago

The Capital Planet moved through space with no mind headed towards the opinions of its inhabitants, making no special note of today as mattering in the grand scheme of things. Foreign Affairs Clerk Justin Gabriel tended to agree with the general lack of importance as he went through the long and arduous process of securing a place on one of the massive Space Elevators that slowly lifted and landed on the Capital planet, carrying things that people did not want to pass through Knights of Order jurisdiction as they approached the network of habitats the hung around the Capital Planet’s space.

As Gabriel continued through the queues and various security apparatus, human travelers through the Space Elevators were discouraged as they cost more than their weight in cargo to lift, he began working out what exactly the Grandmaster would require of him, he had passed on thinking about this for the exact occurrence he currently dealt with.

By Gabriel’s personal account, he would either be talking about the amount of activity the Kingdom had been up to in recent months or about something that Gabriel couldn’t even comprehend. The dichotomy was something he developed when working with the Knights, they were either entirely predictable of off the wall fucking insane, no middle ground.

As his elevator approached the Loading/Unloading Bay, a Knight whisked him to a private section of the Elevator, leading Gabriel to a private shuttle that took Gabriel to the real seat of power in the Mandate, the Novalith Commandship Ecclesiastes.


Gabriel was led to a briefing room on the Ecclesiastes where the Grand Master, Lucas De Beaumanoir was waiting with two other people. The first was identifiable as the Knight-Commander General, Warmaster Maurice De Bracy, oddly away from his commandship the Prince Regent or Paycheck. The other man was unknown, but he had the air of a contact within the Pius Dei Network, the organization that recruited Gabriel into the Knights of Order.

“Grandmaster, Warmaster, to what do I owe the pleasure?” Gabriel said, knowing that the two would already be a step ahead of him in plotting, and would happily ignore the connection Gabriel had to the conversation and simply charge on without him, “I take it Mr. ,” he allowed the moment to hang, “has something to do with calling me from the planet at this time of emergency.”

“Emergency?” the Grandmaster asked, “What emergency is happening on the surface, ‘rice? Harris?”

“Before the Grandmaster get’s ahead of himself, I am a liaison with the Pius Dei Network, Mr. Harris,” the unknown man, Mr. Harris, said to both the Grandmaster and Gabriel, “Mr. Gabriel refers to the,” Harris paused, “increase in autonomous paramilitary organization by the Kingdom in recent months, as well as the more militantly anti-Knight organizational structure being pushed by King Sheamus. Am I correct?” Harris did not wait for a response, “This is not to say that this is not something that was taken in mind, but forces outside of our control are pushing this to be needed now.”

“And what, pray tell, is ‘this?’”

“I was getting to that Mr. Gabriel,” Harris sounded hurt, “For too long you have been the only connection the Mandate has with the outside world. The Knights are in desperate need of a communication vessel to the outside world, and more importantly are in need of an actual department, division, ministry, what have you. We need your experience in the foreign affairs department to secure us someone to head this directorate, yes, the Directorate of Foreign Involvement. The Pius Dei Network also requires what you believe is needed from the zone of space that will become our embassy and foreign affairs centralized location.”

“Yes,” the Warmaster said, interrupting, “We need to know as soon as possible, so preparations can be made and a location can be chosen.”

“The Pius Dei Network can move quickly Warmaster de Bracy, much more quickly than you realize, Mr. Gabriel, if you could simply provide the needed parameters, the Network can make use of this quickly and have the project well under way.”

“Mr. Harris, Maurice, I will not have this become a pissing contest between organizations. Mr. Harris, the Pius Dei Network, and it’s connections will handle the acquisition and clearing of the location. Not another word of this will be discussed until Mr. Gabriel has laid out the ground parameters.”

“Well, thank you Grandmaster,” Jushin Gabriel said, “The objective of the project, I assume, is to have a useful location to position both defend against and not connect to any of the constituent states. We know that embassies will encourage interaction and interaction includes espionage. The location choice will issue forth an understanding of the Mandate based soley on its location.”

“These parameters, along with logical assumptions made by the Pius Dei Network, have lead to a location to be chose, work begins on clearing it of inhabitants as we speak, which leads to the next portion, Grandmaster.”

“Ah, yes, well, as we plan to have a new Directorate, we will need a Director to lead it, and this is where you come in, we don’t want to lose your status within the Kingdom just yet, so you’re out as a candidate, so we need an idea for who to contact and bring into the fold.”

Jushin Gabriel responded without hesitation, “Jack Abrashroom XIII.”

“Mr. Abrashroom?”

“Mr. Abrashroom comes from a distinguished Nova Terran family, he is sufficient for the needs of the position and he is mercenary enough to work for us. If you want someone closer to home, a Mr. James D. Chadwick, a Tiefling from the Dungeon can be a properly loyal Deputy Director should the need arise.”

“You have given this much more thought than you appear,” the Warmaster said.

“Well, Warmaster, it is a simple question, who would you want to be your boss is a common enough question I ask myself constantly as I have to deal with annoying shit, pardon the language.”

Mr. Harris spoke, “The Network is capable of bringing in Mr. Abrashroom under more or less dubious circumstances as needed, we are willing to burn some influence in the Cradles in exchange for Mr. Abrashroom’s loyalty.”

“As of now that is not necessary, we can take the hit to our budget to hire him under legitimate circumstances. Speaking of which, Eccles, initiate contact with the UN and Mr. Jack Abrashroom XIII, offer him a longstanding position within the Knights of Order as well as lodging et cetera.”

The Shipboard AI said nothing, and the Grandmaster assumed compliance, “So, with this settled, Mr. Gabriel if you have nothing else to discuss, you a free to leave.”


Da Bronks Space Habitat, Sector B10
Slightly Less Than ‘Roughly’ Three Months Ago


Within hours of the decision being made, the Pius Dei Network (really the Knights of Order Paladins) had secured the chosen location for the Knights of Order, burning money to secure the entire real estate of the Space Habitat da Bronks. The habitat was built around the outer edges of system B10003, and was one of the more troublesome locals and host to a rather independently minded and very gruff populace. The decision was made by the Network to send in the elite shock Knights to secure the actual habitat for habitation by the new seat of Foreign affairs.

Crow T. Robot, one of the many soulless abominations chose particularly for that reason to lead the relocation of Da Bronks in habitants would have sighed had he been capable of doing so. The people of Da Bronks had been less than happy when news of the sale of their hunk of habitation was made public, granted this may have had more to do with the large contingent of shock Knights such as Crow than with the fact that their homes were being demolished.

The shock Knights worked their way through the cityscape of Da Bronks, with teams demolishing the buildings they had just cleared of life. The removed citizenry was then shuttled off to transports that took them to places where they would not be in the line of fire of the Knights of Order. Crow, having a clock run down, once again amplified his voice to announce to the public, “Leave da Bronks. This area has been claimed by the Knights of Order, therefore we would like to implore you to Leave da Bronks. Abandon all buildings, they are about to be demolished.”

“If you leave da Bronks we’ll give you fudgicles,” lied Tom Servo, also one of the soulless shock Knights in command, “We have mortgage subsidies if you just move to New New Mexico.”

The mobile command moved through Da Bronks without comment, having had their broadcasted request again ignored by the people who were attempted to loot the habitat. Eventually Servo and Crow came across a man standing in the middle of the street, prompting Crow to say to Servo, “I’m a pretty good judge of people who aren’t going to leave da Bronks, and this guy is one of them.”


Crow stopped the convoy and addressed the man, “Sir, I’m sure by now you’re aware of our leave da Bronks program. So you’re interaction with this convoy is in violation of the Most Holy Legion of the Knights of Order’s”

As Crow spoke an auto-turret swong around and tracked the man.

“Mandate in this area of space, as such. Your life is forfeit.”

The turret fired, killing the man.

The operation continued unabated.


Shuttle En Route to former Da Bronks Space Habitat, Sector B10
Two Weeks Ago


The shuttle was ferrying very important personal, at least, if his paycheck was any indication. Jack Abrashroom XIII was being paid very much to be the Director of Foreign Interaction for some fringe organization, the Most Holy Legion of the Knights of Order. It was so backwater that he had actually had to look for it three different times just to discern the location of his new source of income.

He had been contacted by UN officials offering him a post in the edge of civilized space, beyond the Centrality, and nearer to the Commune than he originally felt comfortable. The officials who negotiated his contract had been more than willing to offer him as much money as he could ever want in exchange for his signature, and it hadn’t taken that much, he was only informed post-negotiation that he was much more sought after than he expected. Still, Abrashroom made a lot of money, and he was more than happy to have that money, and a title like Director on his resume.

Unfortunately, Abrashroom ran into a small problem, his Deputy Director, some devilish, not d(a)emonic no sir, looking guy who introduced himself as James D. Chadwick. Chadwick was consistently more informed and better trained than Abrashroom in every fashion, and worked to get Abrashroom to actually be good at his job. During the flight over, one of the many conversations the two had went thusly:


“Look, Deputy Director Chadwick, James, I don’t know why, but the whatever,” “Knights of Order,” “Right, Knights of Something, hired me to run this joint, when it should be you. Why?”

“Well, I don’t know Director, you have the lineage, the training, the connections, but none of the knowledge, which I guess is what I’m going to provide. But most of all, I’m awful at making decisions sir, central to this is the name of our new location, as it’s currently an unnamed facility.”

“So we get to name it ourselves huh, excellent, tell me when we can see it visually from the shuttle.”

“Conveniently, we can actually see it now.”


“A few proposals currently exist, including the Hotel something, there is some debate amongst the construction crews as to wheter it should be California or Mario.”

“No need, there is only one name I can think of for that barren piece of real-estate, the Schoolhouse Rock. “

Schoolhouse Rock, Sector B10
Present Day

Two weeks with James had been perfect for Director Abrashroom’s work ethic, it might also have been a part of the fact that he was now at the fringe of civilization, closer to the Commune and the Centrality than home, that spurned him to be the best he could be. The Directorate was taking shape, with people being imported from various locals that Abrashroom could name and know offhand where they were.

The barren ‘cityscape’ of the Schoolhouse Rock proved to be the biggest depressant on the habitat, no one working on project was willing to put up prefabricated buildings that would just be pulled down to make room for the embassies located on the Schoolhouse Rock upon completion of the project. This combined with the clearing of Da Bronks involving demolishing the entire skyline result in the the scant few buildings were posts for the Knights of Order to base things out of and the actual equipment to build the centers.

As the project proved to shape up admirably, the Directorate drew up the final piece of the project that could be done without a bit of flexibility, the drafting of the intergalactic notice of diplomatic openness. The end result was broadcast by paying the Most Serene Republic of Newslyvania a small fee to broadcast it, and send it to automated repeating stations used by other news sources to allow it to hijack them for total galactic coverage.

Message From the Director of Foreign Interaction:
Wideband Transmission from the Directorate of Foreign Interaction, Most Holy Legion of the Knights of Order wrote: To the Governments of the Galaxy:

The Most Holy Legion of the Knights of Order have decided that, with the increase in galactic interaction and communication of recent years, the Knights of Order need to join this interaction to assert the sovereignty and place in the international fraternity.

To support this declaration of sovereignty, the Knights of Order shall issue forth an offer of embassy establishement on the newly christened Schoolhouse Rock (Coordinates Enclosed). Contact the Directorate of Foreign Interaction through the channel disclosed.

Any national entities with communications with the constituent governments of the space mandated to the Knights of Order may apply to the Knights of Order for compensation in moving physical personal between locations, as per Article H. III of the Treaty of Constituency (KKoO), Article H III of the Treaty of Constituency (Goblingrad), Article H III of the Treaty of Constituency (Hoblin), Article H III of the Treaty of Constituency (Koboldia), et cetera, the Knights of Order reserve the right to maintain inter-galactic relations for the territories of the Knights of Order Mandate.

Director Jack Abrashroom XIII
Director of Foreign Interaction.
This is an empty country and I am it's king, and I should not be allowed to touch anything.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Force Lord » 2011-10-30 11:13pm

To think that, only three decades ago, thirty-one years, to be exact, the Lost Century ended. I feel old.

How many times had I seen beggars littering the streets of our most developed worlds? How many times did we have to deal with bands of desperate people, many of them former military members, looking for work? How many strikes, mutinies, and riots we had to put down? How much bickering between glory-hounds in the Party led to blood being spilled on the streets?

Back then, I was just another bureaucrat, one of the paper-pushers that no one cared much about. Not a day passed in my office that I wouldn't peek outside the window and see crowds holding banners demanding that the Party do
something, anything, to help their wretched lives.

Needless to say, the Party was a step slow, and that was during the best of times. During the worst of times, however...

"To cut spending on social services, and raising taxes without any sort of cushioning for the population in this time of crisis, all to pay off the State debts, is madness! Madness I tell you!", shouted the District Centralizer of Sacken District. "The current State policy does not have my support or those of many others in this House!"

Angry shouts of approval were nearly universal in the House of Centralizers.

I was then the personal secretary of the Chief of Congress himself. I had attended this Congressional meeting due to his request, as he felt that it would give me experience in handling Congressional matters. Back then, the ruling dictator and most of the Party Council had been the victims of a terrorist attack, and incapacitated. In their stead, the remnants of the Party Council governed, but the real power had passed to the Party Congress. That day, the main item of discussion was the recent decision by the Center of Economics to simultaneously reduce social spending and raise taxes in order to pay the national debt, which had skyrocketed in the years before the Great Crash of 3270. Needless to say, such a decision was bound to cause tension. And the tension that day in 3310 was so hot that it could be cut with a knife.

"And where else do you propose we cut spending? The armed forces? With the Dual Alliance threatening our borders?! You should be sent off to an reeducation camp!", declared the Watchman of Aybeem Sector.

The words of the Aybeem Sector Watchman led the Centralizers to jeer, boo, and hiss at him. He paid them no heed, uncaring for their protests. His fellow Watchmen joined the cacophany of screams, this time against the Centralizers. I risked a glance at my boss, who was most displeased at this display. He muttered something that I couldn't understand, perhaps a curse.

"Order! We shall have order!", shouted the Whip of Congress, banging his hammer hard against his desk. "This infantile show will get us nowhere!" But no one paid heed to him. Some began to shout, "Duel! Duel!", effectively demanding a new Battle of the Choices, even though that would end up the sixth such occasion in two months.

The Chief of Congress lost all patience at this moment, and bellowed, "If this continues, I may have no choice but to close this session, because it is clear that many members of this body are only interested in their own glories! I demand all the assembled to control themselves!"

And yet the bickering continued. I myself was angry, and I would have commited some drastic measure to uphold the orders of my employer had a voice of true authority had not revealed himself.

"What is the meaning of this?!"

I glanced to the source of the voice, and I saw the man that was to be later Dictator of the Centrality... the one I would later have to turn against.

"I come here, expecting Congress to be useful for once, but it pains me to see it again live up to its reputation as an useless institution! Shame on you fools!"

The Watchman of Aybeem Sector stood up, courting disaster.

"And who are you, Successor, to tell us what to do? You have no power!"

There were a few isolated gasps. They were the wise ones.

The Successor did not respond, but his cold stare towards Aybeem's Watchman told everything. They held pure murder. I experienced goosebumps, fearing what would happen next.

A laugh came from the Successor's mouth, enough for the arrogant Watchman to take a step back.

"I find your lack of
tact insulting, Watchman." He then lifted his hand. The Watchman suddenly grabbed his throat, and began to choke.

"This, is the price for speaking out of order! And this shall be your fate, if you keep acting like agents of chaos!" He closed his fist, and a sickening cracking sound was heard. The Aybeem Watchman was thus dead.

"This man called me Successor. Well, his information was out of date! My predecessor has died of his injuries moments ago. This now makes me Dictator. As my first act of this new authority, Congress shall be dissolved! The last remnants of the old Centrality will be swept away!"

The assembled erupted into an uproar. Some shouted "Absolutist! Absolutist! Absolutist!"

"I am aware of your fury, gentlemen! Let it be known to you that the feeling is mutual! Now, experience the force of my contempt!"

I realized that I had to get out of there. Turning to run, I could hear the doors being blasted down by what I knew were CSB SWAT forces looking for blood. As I turned to the emergency exit, I found myself blocked by none other than the new Dictator. I remember what he said to me perfectly.

"Why so hasty, Mr. Secretary?", he said. "You shared my frustrations with Congress. Therefore, I'll make sure you will live, but only if you agree to work with me. Deal?" He stretched his hand. Having no choice, I took it.

Thus was the reason I survived the Massacre of Congress.

This man was none other than Gabriel Enduvos. Even this early in his career, his reputation as a harsh, draconian, fearsome individual was well established. For the rest of his life, he would rule the Centrality in a reign that would make even Richter the Terrible shudder.

As for I, he made me the General Secretary of the Centralist Party. I would serve Enduvos for nearly a century, until he went too far.

I am Viso Fredon. I have loyally served the Centrality for all my life. I would do anything to preserve it. Even if it means eliminating those who take Dovan's principles to an intolerable extreme.

And now, these days, I, with the help of two helpful friends, am trying to make sure the current Dictator does not walk the dreaded path of Absolutist Centralism.
An inhabitant from the Island of Cars.

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Kartr_Kana » 2011-11-02 11:01pm

HCNV Steady
Sublight in shoal space near the Balcora system

The humming blue beams of pseudo-electricity coursed between the Steady and her prize. Designed to force even hardened equipment to shut down, the paralyzer beams ensured that captured vessels wouldn't be able to escape their captors. While the paralyzer beams locked down the We Were Never Here a docking tube reached out and fastened itself to a hatch on the smaller vessel.

Stephanie pulsed a command through the 'Net, <Boarding party go when we make the jump to hyperspace.> Handing off the connection to her nav officer to handle the final coordination, Stephanie opened a burst transmission from Chimera station. Moments later she was stalking down to the boarding hatch.

The crew of the We Were Never Here were being shepherded up through the flexible docking tube, hands secured in front of them by high-tech manacles with standard sensory depriving hoods over their heads. The crew was mostly unharmed, a couple of bruises from where they'd bumped into the docking tubes ribs. Since they hadn't resisted the Naval Infantry securing them hadn't been rough. Once they were safely through the docking tube Stephanie motioned to the Petty Officer and he removed the hoods. Once they could hear again Stephanie spoke, her glare communicating as much or more than her words.

“While I am convinced that you are spies, bumbling and inept ones at that, my superiors feel that you are a microcosm of a mental absent nation rather than spies. So you will spend the rest of your time aboard this vessel under guard in the senior ratings mess. We will have troopers in the room monitoring you and troopers outside with orders to shoot if you poke so much as the tip of your nose out without my say so. The room will also be under guard by cyberwarriors, so don't think any hacker types amongst you will do anything more than get brain fried.”

With that Stephanie turned back to the petty officer and waved him off. The Steady was already underway for Balcora and with no contacts on scope, the Lt. Cmdr decided to head to her ready room to take a look at the initial reports from the techs and boarding party. The BattleNet was already quietly humming with rumors about what was over on the captured vessel.

Capital ship docking bay, Chimera Station
Balcora system, Sector Y-19

The massive doors finished sealing themselves roughly the same time as the technicians confirmed solid seals between the Steady and Chimera Station. The We Were Never Here along with a prize crew had already been transferred by tractor beam to a secure holding area in another part of the station. Lt. Cmdr Stephanie i Soban was the first off her ship as she went to report to Admiral Krosof. She had already given orders that the captives were to be brought station side and turned over to the Marine detachment already standing by. They were in combat gear so didn't bother saluting her, and she didn't really care as she still had to explain to Krosof what had happened.

Meanwhile back aboard the Steady the Naval Infantry had captives on their feet and were re-shackling them. The remains of the snack provided to the captives was several tables away. The troopers were being routinely careful, though perhaps a little more vigilant today. After all it wasn't every day the ships captain accused captives of being mentally ill spies and implied that they were crazy enough to do, whatever it was they had done to get the Lt. Cmdr so bent out of shape. These nutters might just be crazy enough to try and stage a breakout using plastic sporks and serving trays. That tall fit and frankly good looking red head at the back kept glowering at them like she might try it and a couple of them even thought she might be able. Though if they'd been asked they would've admitted they wouldn't mind being “under” her if you know what the meant.

Once on the station they were handed over to the Marines. One by one they were put on carts and hauled off. After a winding and circuitous route through blank corridors they found themselves in what appeared to be a conference room. The Marines unshackled them and stepped out, leaving a team to cover the captives from the rooms corners. Here O'Leary and her crew waited for roughly half a terran hour, before the doors at the other end of the room opened.

Admiral Krosof had received Lt. Cmdr Stephanie's report in person and had to admit she did have a point. The sheer amount of sensors and sensor spoofing technology, not to mention all the other highly advanced gear and no cargo space to speak of pointed to either thrill junkies out for an exciting ride or an EWAR team out to probe another nations sensor networks and response times. Sadly with the general level of inShroomsanity present in their home nations it was a fairly even toss to which scenario was actually correct. That made Krosof chuckle as he thought: Maybe I should just flip a coin to figure out which scenario they represent, it's probably what they'd do!

Still Krosof was in a difficult situation, if it was just a bunch of joyriding thrill seekers they could cool their heels for a few months and then get sent back to their homes, minus the ship. However if it was a governmental team, then that meant espionage and that carried quite a different outcome. If it wasn't handled correctly this could very well spin out of control and lead to a public relations disaster, not to mention the destruction of any future bonds between Hiigara and these particular neighbors. With the recent debacle in the Outback, Hanson, commitments on Pendleton, the MEH war and an uptick in Karlack activity another situation was the last thing Central Command wanted.

Oh well might as well see the hand he'd been dealt. With that though Krosof strode through the conference room door flanked by a pair of Marines with Lt. Cmdr Stephanie and a casually dressed big game hunter in tow. Stopping at the head of the table he looked over the faces now appraising him and stated:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am Admiral Krosof i Manaan, you've already met Lt. Cmdr Stephanie i Soban and this is Mr. Smith no Kiith.” Seating himself Admiral Krosof continued before anyone had a chance to speak up. “Now Lt. Cmdr Soban has leveled the charge of espionage against you and I'm afraid the contents of your ship and the data you provided us with is also not helping your case. Care to explain yourselves?”

With that Admiral Krosof leaned back in his chair and waited, while Stephanie glared daggers at her prisoners now sitting unbound in a personal interview with the Admiral. Meanwhile Mr. Smith was apparently ignoring everyone while sticking old fashioned wood and graphite pencils in the space-steel ceiling, a smiley face of pencils stuck in a space-steel ceiling...

"Our Country won't go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won't be any AMERICA because some foreign soldier will invade us and take our women and breed a hardier race!"

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Simon_Jester » 2011-11-05 06:10pm

Elysian Hero-Trireme Far-Go
On the Beaches of an Unknown World*
The Month of Augustus, 4153 AUC**

*Sector B-26

Stentor the Loud, herald of the Elysian hero-astrogonauts, was ill content as he stomped down the beach. Great had been the mirth of his celebrations with the cat-eared star-nymphs of remote Chamarr, epic had been his drinking, and equally epic was the skull-pulverizing aftermath! The hammering of the shipwrights' carpentry and smithing, the clang of bright-edged adamantine and mithril of the weapon practices, and even the sound of his own earth-shattering voice, whose very whispers were like unto those of the bellows of ordinary mortals, did ASSAIL his ears and the peace of his mind and heart!

Thus did he move about along the beach, seeking quietude. Instead of what he sought, he found something entirely different. For while this had not been immediately apparent, and is seldom mentioned by chroniclers of the race of the nymphs, not all of that hospitable and be-tailed race are womenfolk. Some are, in point of fact, male, though they are seen but seldom and are rarely allowed to take positions of COMMAND and authority!

This particular being was a particularly ignoble specimen, slight of build and cringing of demeanor. It is said that he was one of the nymph-expeditionaries' meteorologists, there to make a survey of the meteors among that constellation so recently disturbed by the arrival of the great MEH. Yet whatever his trade or birth, he was truly an inferior example of intercosmic manliness.
After some moments of irritating speech which did discomfit Stentor's ears, he forgot himself and did shout forth at full blast!


The cat-eared pseudoman then FELL, deafened by the terrible force of Stentor's titanic bellow, fainting in shock. The herald walked away, shaking his head in disgust at the display of inferiority, and surprised no more at the enthusiasm of some among the nymphs for his hero-comrades.

Elsewhere, gentle listeners, behold two of the great warriors of the band of STRONGGO, discussing these matters! Ajaxalon the Lesser and Manius the Fit, having performed their share of the carpentry-toil, sat on the beach, devouring a meal of fish, spring water, and the succulent seaweeds of this strange moonworld, all wrapped together in a fashion demonstrated the night before by the nymphs.

"Yeah. None of them came out of the nymphs' ship until later. And some of 'em aren't so lame, but it's weird, they never say anything or do much without one of the nymphs telling them to. They're so, so..."

Ajaxalon nodded. "Whipped?"


"Verily. Indeed, do many of the menfolk of the felinoideans need a great manning up."

"Hmmm. You remember the weird stuff the Cunts used on New Orleas?"

An Earlier Chronicler wrote:Claudius turned his head.

It was Manius. On his shoulder was a Metallian’s pilium.

The Stalker’s insectile eyes of glowing red narrowed. Then its face exploded.

It fell to the mud, finally dead. Claudius gasped for breath and was pulled up by Manius. He slapped Manius’ back. Claudius shook his head in disbelief.

“Attaboy, Mannie.”
Days passed. They patched together a line, somehow. The crazed androgynes and berserkers, the terrifying war-machines and turbowrestlers, kept hammering them. The Elysian army fought. Fought with the lassiters of their Ajax tanks, with colossal siege engines flinging exploderizing doom upon the Cunts. They fought with heavy machine guns, light machine guns, and submachine guns. They fought with longrifles and revolvers, with claymore mines and claymore swords, with bayonets, shovels, clubs with big rusty nails through them, with fists, feet, and teeth.

They held, for a while. Until that day...


MacAdder swore. "Shite! Every Cunt in the world's comin' at us!"

Claudius, in a nearby foxhole, fiddled with the radio. "I dunno. I think half of them are hitting the other side of the ridge."

"Close enough! Too bloody close!"

Through the blasted wreckage of the great forests they'd fought over, the Cunts charged. They'd long since roided up- roided again, and again, each time with stranger and more unstable concoctions known only to their wise men and procured by the most belligerent among the clans. Most were armed only with massive hand weapons and with the dreaded Connoltean wrist-magnum, strapped to bulky fists that clenched with unnatural rage and hostility. Some of the chem-berserkers sprayed wildly inaccurate blasts of fire through the trees as they ran. Others didn't even bother. They just kept charging.

Line up... breathe...

The heavy slug from Claudius' longrifle smashed through a berserker's leg. The barbarian's face contorted in pure, elemental fury, and the huge man started hopping on one leg. Claudius fired his longrifle again and again, as wristmagnum bullets whirred over his head.

"Shit! They're not going down!"
They kept running. Kept screaming. Their skin turned strange, sickly colors. Their eyebrows were terrifying, their pants were turning purple. They weren't even human anymore- they were the penultimate warriors, here to ram the power of the warrior down Elysium's throat. They breathed only the air that smelled of combat- of cordite and blood and spilt intestines. The life that flowed in their preposterone-charged bodies WAS NOT THAT OF THE NORMALS. The marrow in those bones was of a different composition. The blood in those veins was of a different consistency. The brain waves in their minds were of an unknown frequency. A frequency measured in kill-o-hurts.

The Elysians kept shooting, firing off shoulder-pilums, throwing grenades. The Cunts didn't even care. They kept running. Kept screaming.

As Claudius was getting ready to throw another grenade, his time ran out. A barbarian hauled him up out of his foxhole, and the grenade fell from his hand. The Cunt didn't even bother with weapons. He just headbutted the legionnaire backward into a tree, screaming and thumping his chest with fists the size of large hams. Then the barbarian exploded.

MacAdder screamed his own blasphemy-riddled reply, his Glaswegian accent impenetrable and irresistible in its fury. Lowland steel sliced out in a gleaming arc. The Cunt's arm fell to the ground, its last twitches triggering a few wrist-magnum rounds that kicked up sprays of sodden leafmold. And the betattooed ferocitoid simply... stood there.

"Your arm's off!"

The berserker gave a funny lopsided shrug as if to dismiss the flesh (and bone) wound. Then he lunged, foaming from the mouth, with the serrated spikehatchet in his remaining hand. MacAdder parried desperately, fighting for moments with his sword. The Cunt was more than strong enough to beat him with one hand tied behind his back.

At the other end of the trench, Manius emptied his heavy machine-rifle, blazed away with the minispike shotgun he'd taken off a barbarian earlier. He knew it wasn't enough, couldn't be enough. The bullets ran out, and he flipped the gun around in his hands to smash faces with the stock. But it didn't matter. This new bunch was invincible, it was all over, but he'd die like an Elysian soldier, looking the Cunt in the eye as he raised the chainsaw to murderize him...

The shout came from behind. So did the javelin- not an ordinary, tube-launched pilum, but one thrown through the air at the barbarian rushing him. The javelin exploded. The barbarian exploded, and so did others all along the line. The shout came again.
"THIS! IS! ELYSIUM!" The indomitable general brandished his spear. "SHORE UP THE LINE!"

And Manius knew he was saved, by the elite metahoplite guards of general Stronggo himself. Those who could still muster the strength to cheer, did.

Time passed. MacAdder bound up his scrapes and bruises. The medics looked at Claudius; they thought he'd probably be OK but took him away to keep an eye on them. Manius was at loose ends. So many gone, from the androgynes, the stalkers, everything else... the horrible, endless war. It couldn't be over, he kept waiting for the other sandal to drop.

So he started looking for metahoplites again. Now they were dispersed all over, backing up the ordinary legion as only the hero-vanguard could. Most of them were too loud, too giant-sized, too strange to really talk to, but he found one working- grinding out adamantine blades on a power-whetstone. This one seemed more approachable. More normal. More... boring, maybe. Manius walked up to him.

"My name's Manius. Want a hand?"

"Sure. I'm Crispus, son of Petrus."

"Gotcha. You know, you really shouldn't be standing like that, against the pressure. You could throw your back out..."

The general waved a hand at the boxes piled up at Manius's side. "WHAT IS THIS?"

"We found them on the Cunts, sir. You know, the really hard to kill ones. I don't know what it is; some new steroidoid of theirs, probably."

Rock Stronggo glared at the cases. One, at the top, was open. Contained within were eleven silvery canisters, of a type he had seen before in the hands of traders from the distant techno-magocracy of Sumeria. What was unusual was the labelling.
What was this strange substance? There was only one way to truly know. The son of Ironbeef opened the canister, ignoring the dismay on Manius's face and waving to command silence. He took a cautious sip of the contents.

For a moment, nothing happened. The general set it down on a nearby rock and paused, looking off into the distance. Stronggo grunted and shrugged, as if to dismiss the alchemical substance. He turned to his guardsmen.


His men rushed about in obedience to his commands. All eyes left the rock, and the plunder of their battle. Quietly and unobserved, the open can of Umerthirst left on the stone began to grow chest hair.

And so it was that Manius the Fit first came to the attention of the great general ROCK STRONGGO and his band of hero-comrades, later to be recruited into their adventures.
Ajaxalon nodded. "Aye, Manius, I remember it well..."

"I wonder what would happen if we gave him some of that?"

"You have some?"

"Hades no. I know Quadroptolemus stuck a few cases somewhere in the hold, though. Said it was emergency planning."

"For times like this, mayhaps!"

"Yeah. We could give it to one of them and see what happens."

The heroes went forth, returning to their covered ship where they did LOCATE the hidden compartment in which Quadroptolemus the arch-farmer had stowed the alchemical concoction. There they retrieved a single gleaming canister of the beverage, and struck out for the nymphs' camp so as to find one of the oppressed and be-whippéd menfolk of that race, who did cringe slightly and mew incomprehensibly at the sight of Ajaxalon's warlike visage and wall-like bullshield.

"Here. Try this."

Aye, then did the sad-eared creature begin to CHANGE and MUTATERIZE before their very eyes! For the strange potency of the Sumerian brew did interact most strangely with the genes once woven into the very flesh of his race by unknown gods, who had once aspired to conquer the race of Man with them as instruments. Heir to a specific and perhaps unfortunate combination of these bloodlines, the felinoid form was now charged with menergies most foreign to its nature!

Soon the cat-being had become less like unto the aspect of some foolish, feeble and pampered house-pet, and more like unto the aspect of some ferocious, large and predatory feline.
Without the axe...
Not without trepidation, Manius the Athlete did WAVE unto the xeno. "Uh, hi. What's your name?"

"GrrrRRGH..." quick as thunder, the ferocified stranger did lash out to seize a passing flydragon with one paw and haul it into his mouth. "...NOMF."

"Grrghnomf. That's... that's a good name."

"Rrrrgl." The vicious tiger-man stalked off toward the Elysians' covered ship, his belongings in paw.

Ajaxalon turned to Manius. "Think you he means to join our crew?"

"Uh, I guess. I know I'm not going to argue with him..."


Ptilinopiclesius, wise man, augur and auspex trained in the holy ways of the high Ephors of fair-bosomed Elysium, did harken.

"Yes, General?"

STRONGGO, son of Ironbeef, nodded respectfully to the holy man. "WE SAIL TOMORROW! WHAT OF THE OMENS?"

"I shall see, but it will take time."

Ptilinopiclesius went forth, staff in hand, peering about him into the sky in all directions. For like all augurs, it was his sacred task to learn whether a course of action should proceed, favored by the gods, or be abandoned, for fear of their wrath. And like all augurs, he did obtain this most mysterious information by observation of the flight of birds.

The wise-bearded one roamed the beach for long hours, splashing out into the surf, or clambering up into the trees of the jungle. He squinted, he craned, he peered, he pondered. At last he did TRIP over a plank of wood being shaped by Ferricles, the arch-craftsman!

"Let me help you up."

"Thank you, my son. I have struggled long, and my wits are sore beset."

"What could be the matter?"

"To take the auguries on the worlds ruled by the Pantheon, this I know. Aberdeen, Metallia, Glasgow, Krydonialopolis, New Orleas, Athea, fair Elysium itself... all have their birds, which are known to me in their ways, habits, and mystical significance. But here? Look- do you see that bird?"

"The three-winged one, with the ultraviolent plumage?"

"Indeed, the very one. What does that bird mean? To what gods is it holy? I have struggled long..."

"You know?"

"Aye, but it has taken me many days, and many hours on this day as well, to become sure. And look there."

Ferricles looked forth, and saw the warrior-officer of the NYMPHS, head of the exploratory vessel's milito-vigilant securitators. Behold the strange xenos as she draws her beampistol, as she RAYS the fluttering creature from the skies! Behold her pounce upon the carcass and take it back to the camp of the nymphs, in true felinoidean fashion!


"You see, my boy. It's hard enough knowing what that bird means when it's flying around, but what does it mean when the bird is killed, and eaten by a nymph?"

"Yours is a difficult trade, holy one. I am glad I only have to worry about such things as wood and adamantine metalloids."

"Thank you. But come, we must make counsel. I have strange tidings."

Ferricles did thus ESCORT the wise man back to the great roasting-fire at the center of their camp, where various fishes and beasts were ably grilled and roasted on spits by the Elysian grillmasters. Around the firepit were gathered the chiefs of the expedition- STRONGGO son of Ironbeef, Ajaxalon the mighty, Astrometrius the cunning, and many others. But not only chiefs stood round that counsel, for the great astrogonauts were bold, free men in the DEMOCRATIC traditions of their people! Aye, surrounding the chiefs and wise men were there diverse follower-heroes, exercising the rights of free Elysian citizens to behold the counsels that decide their fate!

Ptilinopiclesius did clear his throat. "The patterns are clear, general. Most of the gods smile on us, but only... most. We seem to have incurred the anger of..." the augur hesitated.


"...Neptridon, sir."

Then did indomitable STRONGGO stand still like a statue of bronze for some moments, after which he did smite his brow with the flat of his hand, with a thump that did resound off the trees of the forest and the rocks of the beach.


Great then was the anger of STRONGGO, and he did battle manfully to contain it, until at last he strode forth and battered down a nearby tree with his fists. So calmed, he returned to the council fire.


"It would seem, my lord, that the great tentaculous star-beast we did battle with some days ago was in fact of a species smiled upon by the god, for reasons mysterious and not to be pondered by sane mortals. And in our celebration, we neglected to perform any rites of sacrifice or propitiation such as might inspire mighty Neptridon to forgive us for slaying the creature and feasting upon its flesh. And now, alas, we face his displeasure. Indeed, I believe he has CURSED our voyage, fating us to sail the stars for fully ten years ere any of us may set foot on the worlds of belovéd Elysium once more!"

Many others were discontent, or did exclaim in awe! For the wrath of Neptridon is terrible to contemplate even in the comforting shallow-spaces of Elysium's mighty empire! How much worse would it be in the great deeps of the void, to incur his ferocitous furor, flinging foam like flechettes and flattening frail frigate-barks with terrible stellar winds, like unto those of some colossal nova? Contemplate, if you dare, the deadly meteor storm, the shock waves which give pause even to the magneto, the hyperspace-beasts, the terrible Strains of Andromeda, and the myriad other perils of the stars!

But even among the unknown and unimaginable, the hero-phalangites of Elysium were undaunted. Ajaxalon the Greater, who stands like a wall in fight, famous throughout the nine vectors for his seven-folded shield made from the hide of the Arcturan megabull and bronze worked by the cunning smiths native to the forbidden island of Stabilicum, nodded. "So we are cursed to wander the stars among the barbarians for ten years. I don't like it, but... so be it. We will bear our fates like men!"

Among the general mutters of assent, Astrometrius nodded. "But there is one critical piece of information, which may spell our highest hopes, or our lowest doom, my friends, one thing which we do not know! Ten years... on which planet?"

And STRONGGO, mighty STRONGGO, was sorely PERPLEXED.


"We are fated to be unable to return to the fair bosom of Elysium for ten years, aye, but ten years on which planet? Yea, do different planets revolve around their suns at different speeds and periodicities! So on the one hand, we might be cursed for ten years of the frozen-helium world of Bluto, bickered over by scholars, deemed to be a planet on one side and notaplanet on the other. This would be a hideous fate, for it would then be many millenia before we could return home, and we would surely all die in foreign constellations. But on the other prong of the trident, we might be cursed for ten years of the swift-spinning molten-metal world of Hermercurious, which would be over quickly and trouble us not, for the ten years would be long over ere we could return home, barring some miraculous engine that would propel us infinitely faster than our existing oars!"


Manius, arch-wrestler of Connolteans and physical trainer to heroes, nodded in assent. "So, we just... take it as it comes?"

Ptilinopiclesius smiled. "Wisely spoken, young one. We will take this as a mission from the gods! Aye! A ten year mission! To seek out new life, and new barbarians! To go boldly, where no trireme has gone before!"

Thus ends this tale in the saga of the hero-astrogonauts of the warband of mighty STRONGGO, and the great star-argosy Far-Go. Of what came to pass next, you already know. Aye, the Elysians did wander the stars for some days before coming upon the stranded foreigners of the Sixth Cruiser Squadron, in straits so dire that these strange warriors were forced to such demeaning acts as those of STOPPING, for to ask directions. And aye, it is whispered that the navigator Astrometrius did thus AID the cruisermen, guiding them wisely, not to where they wanted to be, but to where they needed to be, to win glory and renown, such as would gain them honor in the eyes of the myriad worlds!

Nor was this the end of the hero-band's adventures, as I shall tell you all, gentle listeners, come the day.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Zor » 2011-11-06 09:18pm

Occupied MEH

They began to appear in Nova Atlantean occupied territory, a number of men and women began to appear, and their numbers gradually expanded. Volunteers of MEH extraction who did various things to aid in reconstruction and oversee the rebuilding of their society. They were the Reconstruction Volunteer Labour Corps. They wore white shirts, blue vests and pants and baseball caps and always carried a communicator/tracking system on hand. They were employed in a variety of roles, from repairing damaged machinery to taking care of the orphans which the invasion produced in no short supply, as well as handing out informational packets. Somewhat unusually for MEH born beings, they were generally quite thin. Those who interacted with them generally discribed them typically saw them as being somewhat unusual having more or less uniform ways of speaking and a constant cheerful and pleasant manner to them. For their efforts, a number of Marks ended up in their pockets. There was also the fact that some 99.9% of them were prisonners of war that the Commonwealth authorities had deemed fit to re-enter society, which was officially classified as a minor statistical anomally.

Provisional Counterterrorism Corps boot camp, Occupied MEH

Master Optio El'kan kept pace with the new century of recruits as he passed by a marker and slowed down. "Centruy...HALT!" With that a hundred and twenty recruits carrying backpacks stood down and managed to neatly stop. He quickly checked his watch. "A definate improvement over yesterday's morning run, not that you should interpret this as an excuse for future laxity. In any case i am turning you lot over to Clausewitz for Firing practice." He pointed to the firing range and moved over to an waiting Iceskink "Best shot gets a lift back the mess for lunch with me, worst is on latrine duty tonight."

"SIR, We get you SIR!" They corused and took to their stations, taking out their Deathcasters and. Another century ran by under the supervision of a Posthuman instructor, part of the new legions of the PCC. The lot of them were a respectable group of recruits, even though he wondered how much of their volunteering for service had been installed. They were a quite keen lot on the whole and it was somewhat odd to think that recently the Brags were dragging them in chains into processing facilities. They would be quite useful in terms of putting more boots on the ground to assist in keeping order, even if the top brass was going to restrict their gear to infantry level stuff.
Last edited by Zor on 2011-11-21 08:49am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Steve » 2011-11-21 07:49am

Written by me and Siege yesterday, though since SDN was down we couldn't post it.

An Afternoon in Sunny Anglia

Palace of Parliament, Westminster
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia


The ivory shuttle arced down toward the surface of the Anglian capital planet as just one of many, distinguished only from the hundreds of similarly-shaped craft by its diplomatic livery, the priority permissions it used to navigate the densely packed airspace, and the pair of Gloucester Meteor fighters painted in the ornate red white and gold livery of the Garter Knights that flanked it. Ahead of the trio rose the spires of Parliament, slender monuments of neo-Edwardian architecture that breached the clouds over the capital. It was the center of political life in the Star Kingdom, and together with the royal residence at Westminster Palace its most heavily defended locations.

From the luxury of the opulently furnished passenger compartment, Lyra Saxon couldn’t help but admire the view of the capital city. Even from its busy skies Westminster appeared... More subdued, than the capital of the Sovereignty, and all the more regal because of it. Gone were the stratosphere-piercing arcologies and the kilometer-high smartvertisements, the constant thrum of the datasphere against her implants or the massive, ever-present purple hue of the titanic gas giant Solaris, the mere overbearing sight of which could induce claustrophobia even from the spaceous freedom of orbit. The skies over Westminster were, apart from the swarm of shuttles, free and blue and quite pretty to behold. It seemed... Lyra wondered about that for a moment. ‘Quaint’ was the term that first came to mind but it didn’t seem right, not quite. Self-confident, rather. Here was a place that had found its own pace, without the burdens of rampant transhumanism and breakneck progress-at-any-cost that, to her, made the Sovereignty so frequently tiresome. She smiled a little at that. Lyra had wondered why Sinclair had picked her, of all people, to go and make advances to the Anglians, but now that she was actually here it made sense. The average Solarian wouldn’t see this place the way she did, wouldn’t respect its ways of doing things as much.

The expert hand of the onboard computer, a personality cloned off the main awareness of the diplomatic cruiser in orbit, piloted the shuttle down on a precise trajectory toward the landing pad on the Westminster side of the St. James River, on the outskirts of the halls of parliament. It touched down lightly. Lyra stood up and straightened her suit; a mental command and part of the shuttle’s hull, the part displaying the Seal of Solaris in silver, simply disappeared, force screens seamlessly reshaping themselves into a comely set of steps that lead down to the ground below.

Waiting for Lyra was a distinguished old gentleman in a formal business suit, a well-dressed Dorei man of teal-complexion beside him. He stepped forward and gave a gentlemanly bow. Lyra easily recognized him as Reginald Baden-Grey, Lord Prestwick, Anglia’s well-respected Foreign Secretary. “My greetings to you, Senator Saxon, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government,” the old gentleman stated. “I would hope your flight was enjoyable?”

“Enjoyable and pleasantly uneventful, my lord” Lyra mirrored his bow from the last step. “Permission to set foot on Anglian soil?”

“Oh, heartily granted, Senator,” Baden-Grey answered. He gestured to his colleague. “Allow me to introduce Djalra Samarta, Minister of State for the Koprulu Zone.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Lyra shook both their hands, then eyed the minister speculatively. “I imagine yours is quite the involved job, sir.”

“Indeed it is, Senator,” Samarta replied. A Denasi Dorei through and through, he further remarked, “Though I consider it an opportunity to serve my Prince and my Emperor.”

Lyra reflected briefly on the strained relationship some of the Dorei had with their Anglian sovereigns and how in certain ways it mirrored her own relationship with her president. She nodded with a wry smile. “I can certainly relate to that, sir.”

“The Prime Minister regrets he was unable to attend in purpose,” Baden-Grey stated. “But he is currently having a meeting with His Majesty and some of the Privy Council. He will be here soon enough to meet with you. In the meantime, let us go to my office to begin our discussions.”

“By all means,” Lyra inclined her head fractionally. “Lead the way.”

The Foreign Office was located in the Kelvin Offices on the Admiralty Grounds. Here Lord Prestwick and his Ministers and Secretaries of State commenced their business in running the foreign policy of their Empire, including the operation of hundreds of embassies and consulates across known space and dealings with similar embassies and diplomatic missions in Westminster itself. Lyra was treated to what was known by Anglia’s experts on such matters as Carolinian design and decoration, a staple of the 28th Century when the Kelvin Offices were built and named for Princess Caroline, a Duchess of York and daughter of George XI who had in her time become a respected architect and decorator in Anglian society. The design was, to a Solarian, evocative of ancient Earth, though at the time it had been seen as a “modern” invention and an attempt to diversify the neo-Edwardian design of the capital city with a new look. White and gray marble and tile joined with well-placed paintings and artifacts of the Foreign Office’s history. One prominent display showed the original copy of the Sampson-Kahn Accord that saw the Trill absorbed into the Empire as the Trill Commonwealth. Another had a transcribed copy of the Hyperspace Treaty that ended the terrible First Dilgrud War, personally signed by the Prince-Regent the Duke of Prestwick as George XVI hadn’t yet reached majority age to rule. Portraits of prominent Foreign Secretaries stretching back to those of ancient Great Britain adorned both walls as well.

Once reposed to Lord Prestwick’s office, with beverages provided by the domestic staff, the elderly statesman settled into one of his sofas and gestured for Lyra to take the other. “So, Senator, you have come a long way from Solaris, and I think the reasons why shall be most intriguing for both of our states. Shall we begin discussing them?”

“Very well.” Lyra had settled down in an undeniably comfortable sofa. She brushed an imaginary speck of dust off the burgundy lapel of her suit jacket as her mind accessed the digitized briefings Olympic had provided before she’d set off. “There are several matters that my government would like to discuss with yours. The most immediately important one of these is that President Sinclair wants to explore a potential... diversification of the Sovereignty’s regional alliances. As you know our primary ally in the Koprulu Zone proper at this time is the Byzantine Imperium. Now, our relationship with the Imperium is strained at the best of times, but their recent alliance of convenience with Byzon’s Bragulans is of immense concern to us. The Imperium has assured us this alliance is a transitory affair, but the simple fact that the God-Emperor would align himself with the Bragulans at all gives rise to concern over the reliability of that particular strategic partner.”

Lyra massaged her chin. “Furthermore, we would like to hear the opinion of the Star Kingdom with respect to the war against the so-called Multiversal Empire, and specifically the role of the Imperium in that war.”

Baden-Grey listened to her quietly, not even making a sound as he gently sipped at his tea. He had imagined this was the likely point of Lyra’s visit; the Imperium’s dalliance with Byzon threatened the entire structure of the K-Zone, which in turn posed a threat to the Empire’s interests in the Outback if it resulted in either the Imperium or the Karlacks being freed to be more aggressive there, not to mention Bragulan interference within the League of Free Stars. He, of course, had his own instructions from the PM on how to respond to various considered overtures.

“His Majesty’s Government has found the uncharacteristic behavior of the Imperium concerning the Bragulans to be most concerning,” he remarked. “And we regard the balance of power in the K-Zone to be important to our own interests - it is why we have endeavored to stay out of that region’s affairs to maintain the existing one. Certainly, if the former balance no longer functions, we would be amendable to a more... active policy to restore it.” Speaking carefully, Lord Prestwick took another sip of tea. “As for the so-called Empire of Happiness... His Majesty’s Government participated in the conflict to uphold our legal argument that states which indulge in slavery and piracy are legally hostis universalis. But we have come to regret that for practical reasons; the coalitions that participated were badly constructed and the Imperium especially proved to be a disruptive, untrustworthy partner. As for their barbaric behavior... we can only sigh and see it for what it is; the natural behavior of such a savage state.” After all, in the entire history of the Anglian Empire, the kind of bombardment the Imperium and Haruhiists had employed had only been done a few times in the Outback to Karlack-infested worlds like Salkton.

Lyra managed to bite her tongue before all too readily agreeing with the Foreign Secretary. She was there after all as a representative of the Solarian government, so her personal opinions in this case mattered little. “I sympathize with your latter statement, even though I suspect it is in large part the result of the... unique outlook on matters of war, I suppose, that the states of the Koprulu Zone unfortunately share to one degree or another.”

She saw the look Baden-Grey was giving her and held up her hand. “It is true that the Imperial adventurism has caused arguably justified galaxy-wide antipathy and ill-will. But we are concerned about the implications for the balance of power. The Imperial fleet has returned in a state best described as ‘bruised and battered’; the Imperium has allied with Bragulans for reasons that are beyond us, and the Byzantine state now owes a debt to the Chamarran Hierarchy. A Hierarchy, I might add, that is but one of several polities toward which the Bragulan Star Empire has made diplomatic overtures. Pfhor warships have been spotted inside Bragulan space, and we have reliable intelligence that indicates that Bragulan warships operated alongside Refuge and Eoghan starcraft in the course of the war. These are all reasons for concern.”

“We have also noted with concern Bragulan ventures toward the Refuge and attempts to increase their influence in the Outlands and further.” Baden-Grey put his tea down and looked at Saxon directly. “So, Senator, while we await the PM, shall we get to the heart of the matter? The Sovereignty has reason to approach the Anglian Empire as a potential ally; we too have reason to desire closer relations with the Sovereignty to counter encroachment upon our spheres of influence by both the Bragulans and your erstwhile allies on New Terra, especially in light of their recent uncharacteristic cooperation. You have obviously been sent to investigate the possibilities of a new accord between our governments, something beyond the ken of normal ambassadorial interactions. Have you been empowered to make any overtures beyond basic musings of our mutual concerns?”

“I have the authority to speak on behalf of the President on this subject,” Lyra spoke matter-of-factly. “Any agreement will of course have to be vetted by the Solarian Senate but in this particular matter that will be little more than a formality.” Between her own backers and those of President Sinclair, any accord they come up with was sure to pass into law with little to no fuss.

“Then let us speak further on these matters, and see what we come up with.”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by RogueIce » 2011-11-21 11:12pm

OOC Note: This is set during the time the Byzantine and Harhuiist Fleets have sought refuge in Chamarra, but before they leave

Midgar, Shinra Republic

"This has turned into something of a clusterfuck," said Grand Admiral Edward Clarke.

"Even more than it already was?" countered Grand Admiral Leo Cristophe.

President Cid Shinra held up a hand to forstall further comments. "I think we can all agree that this entire endeavor, though undertaken with the best of intentions, has not turned out for the best. That said, we can only try to go forward."

"I'd say the alliance we have long held with the Holy Empire is no longer in effect?" asked Marshal General Celes Chere.

"That is correct, Marshal. Will, have our ambassador recalled for 'extended consultation' immediately, please. That will be our first step in reducing relations with the Butchers of Sol's junior partners."

"Of course," the Secretary of State replied.

"Moving on, what more do we know about this so-called 'Eye' around Sol and what are we going to do about it?"

"Well sir, we've drawn up a few staff plans..."

Imperial Center, Hyogo, Holy Empire of Haruhi Suzumi

The order had come down, and it was not unexpected. There had been lots of rumors flying around regarding Haruhiist complicity in an attempted genocide alongside the Byzantines, and considerable finger pointing over just who and what had caused the massive psychic disturbance around Sol. To the staff of the Shinra Republic's diplomatic mission to the Holy Empire, the order recalling the ambassador was proof that at least some of these rumors were true; or at least, the higher ups back at Midgar believed them to be true.

For most of the employees and consular staff, that was enough confirmation for them.

"It's certainly going to get interesting around here fast," the Ambassador said to his Consul General. "To be recalled like this is certainly a signal that the alliance between ourselves and the Harhuiists is not long for this galaxy."

"I wish we were all going with you, sir. If the HE had anything to do with the destruction of an entire solar system like they say, I don't see why we should be here at all."

"We don't know that for sure, at least not yet. Though clearly Midgar is ready to assign them some culpability. Nonetheless, there are still considerable links between the Republic and the Empire, so even if Midgar ultimately decides to sever all ties, it will not be done quickly. Which is why you're still here; somebody has to protect our citizens and interests, after all."

"I know my duties, Mister Ambassador," replied the Consul General with a rueful smile. "It doesn't mean I have to like it, though."

The Ambassador nodded. "I know you will carry out your duties with all the professionalism and dignity demanded by the Shinra Republic's foreign service. Good luck, and be well my friend."
"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,
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Force Lord » 2011-11-22 08:53am

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Post by Simon_Jester » 2011-11-25 07:37pm

Previously, in the saga of the Elysians...

Ptilinopiclesius smiled. "Wisely spoken, young one. We will take this as a mission from the gods! Aye! A ten year mission! To seek out new life, and new barbarians! To go boldly, where no trireme has gone before!"
Elysian Hero-Trireme Far-Go
Crossing the Great Starlit Expanses*
The Seventh Ninth Month, 4153 AUC**

*Sector E-29

Many stardates had passed since the noble sons of fair Elysium had waged their great battle against the vile KRAKEN. Many days since their celebratory feasts, games, and disportments with the comely nymphs of those constellations. Many days since their strange encounter with the Sixtus-Cruisers, those fellow wayfarers of the cosmic vastnesses. Many days, in which the great trireme Far-Go and its noble astrogonauts had sailed beyond the reach of the great armillaries and theodolomolites of Elysium in their journey, having rowed thousand upon thousand of megamegaleagues to reach these far constellations.

On the one hand, they had triumphed, and celebrated their triumphs in fashions most pleasing. On the other, they had no idea where they were going! Morale was high, but provisions were low. Weary were the hero-sailors of Elysium, and they did THIRST, for in the vasty expanses of space there is a grave shortage of potable WATER. For a time, the Elysians could quench their thirst with assorted wines and meads from the hold, but these supplies were few, limited in their quantity and mighty in their spiritous quality.

So it was that the crew of the great trireme did squabble among themselves, first in joyous yet drunken arm-wrestling contests, then in less joyous and considerably more drunken arguments, and at last in almost entirely unjoyous and mightily drunken BRAWLS! After breaking up one such brawl with a tremendous belch, the great general ROCK STRONGGO expressed his formidable ill-content.


Astrometrius the ink-bestained, beloved of Mathenerva, did nod. "Wisely spoken, oh bronze-lunged and noble overgeneral. Alas, there is a problem."


"Behold these charts, which we obtained in months past, during the months of Mares and of Venuphridite. By my reckoning of how far we have rowed since our battle with the kraken, we should be in the midst of a powerful sovereign race, ruled by the immortal centaur-philosopher-tyrannoking Chiron! But we have seen no sign of these folk; their messages and signals ripple the ether and subether not, for it is flat!"

"FLAT? THE MEHMEN HAVE SAT ON IT!" Enraged, did STRONGGO brandish his spear in the direction of the constellations claimed by those disgusting and decadent degenerate blubbroideans.

"That was my first thought as well, my lord. But I hold the MEH blameless in this matter. Were it only the effects of the MEH, crushing the subether under the terrible weight of their presence, our arrays would not still detect the goodly vibrations emanating from the queendom of the nymphs, to the east- thence, in the bosom of the Way of Milk, where it is brightest and most pleasingly shaped. So this cannot be the explanation; whatever has befallen the centaur-lords, the MEH is not responsible. Indeed, it is as though the very universe itself has been changed, so that a great empire which once was, is no more!"


"Perhaps. It could be that they are like the mormens and mermoids of remote, sunken Atlantis, who for their hubristic claims to have transcended man and god alike, were burdened for all eternity with the mighty curse of Babble, which robbed them of their grasp of the mysteries of the Alpha, the Beta, and the Gamma. It is said that this was done so that their speech might become incomprehensible among men, lest they unite the myriad races and build great artifices which would otherwise threaten the lordly supremacy of the divinities on Olympus." ROCK STRONGGO grunted in a manly yet agreeable fashion, and wise Astrometrius did carry on.

"But, I say, if this were true, then surely there would be some sign- the serf-citizen-castes of Chiron would be screaming in pain, or babbling like madmen, or possibly on fire. Instead, there is nothing, merely a hole in empty space where this mighty nation with its great fleets and trading worlds ought to be. I know not what could have happened. Unless... perhaps the race of Chiron did not anger the gods at all. Perhaps they merely bored the gods, who have exiled them to some other reach of the universe."

Manius of the robust health did CRY OUT in loud DISMAY at this, and Astrometrius made fast to reassure him. "Fear not, my goodly friend, foremost in calisthenics and arch-wrestler of Connolteans! While many fates may befall us on this long voyage, I doubt that the boredom of the gods shall be one of them. Do you not remember all we have done?"

Manius was reassured at this, and returned to his careful preparation of water bottles for the afternoon calisthenics, from such supplies of water as were left. For Manius knew that one must remain HYDRATED to plumb the depths of space, though all aboard were now concerned about their ability to remain so! This concern spread to STRONGGO, mighty STRONGGO, son of IRONBEEF, who did give potent voice to the danger.


Adonemo the fair-visaged did make so bold as to stride up to the general and the navigator, and to advise them, in spite of his manifest youth. "If our older charts, from farther-off lands, are of no use and show this nonexistent Sovereignty of Chiron, then what of the charts given us by the nymphs?"

Astrometrius of the head full of figures shook his scholarly-bearded head. "I am trying, my boy, I am trying, but their charts are strange, full of cryptic yet strangely adorable characters in an unknown language, tiny pawprint-shaped marks, and countless variations on the word "meow!" I cannot decipher them easily, and much of their value is thus neutralized. I have spoken to the Chamarranoid lion-man Grrghnomf, but he was of no help, for he simply rolled one of the charts up into a ball and ate it." Then did the navigator SHRUG, for he was sorely confused.

Adonemo shed a single tear. "Then... we are lost? Without water?"

"Fear not; there is yet hope. We must find some place to anchor our vessel, that I might take star sightings and deduce where we are, comparing our position to the charts of the nymphs, and to the older charts. This will be slower than our usual methods, of DEAD RECKONING, of sighting off the eldritch vibrations of the barbarians' lighthouse-navibeacons, of judging the currents of the ether by the flight of spacebirds and such, but it will be more sure, and I will find us the path!" Astrometrius did then pat Adonemo on the shoulder and smile reassuringly, and Adonemo was calmed.

And so it was that ROCK STRONGGO did scan the skies and detectulate a passing COMET, at which he gestured with his mighty spear!


Thus did the Elysians pull most manfully to catch up with the great comet, and did place it to their lee, being most careful lest their speed be mismatched and they be SMASHED! Then did they drop anchor, or rather fire anchors from the great ballistae of their hero-trireme into the yet greater mass of the comet, and also affix their ship with various other means, that it might drift neither away nor towards the mass of ice. Some of the bold Elysian sailors did try to remove ICE from the comet, melting it by various means to add to their stockpile of water, and this did quench the thirst, but the water was dirty with diverse carbonaceous chondroid masses of dust and gravel, and also contaminated with ammonia and methane so that it did stink most terribly. The sons of fair-bosomed Elysium did GRUMBLE at this, and there was much grousing and irritability to go with the stinks of this foul cometwater.

Astrometrius then began to make PRACTICE of his skills, prized among the Guild of Navigators of the most blessed worlds. Consulting and consolidating the careful notations of his chartmapograph, the sage began by determining the all-important orientation of the noble vessel, with regards to the magnificent vistas of the Way of Milk, and to the lesser island universes which ORBIT its glory. With the aid of the cabin-boys he spread his great star-charts across the deck of the covered ship, pinning them down with war-darts to examine their broad heavenly vistas. With much scratching of beard and furrowing of brow, the beloved of Mathenerva chose wisely the great arcs of sky he was to examine with spyglass, and with the cunningly-wrought turntable of brass and scored glass that he guarded more preciously than any amassment of priceless oricalchum or omni-glittery Manarkan stardrop-gems!

Examining the stars, fanning their light across darkened obscurity-cameras through mysterious technosorcerous means, the navigator SEARCHED the heavens. In time, his labors were rewarded, for thus did he identify a well-known and mighty star of the zeroth magnitude, spectacular in its white-blue refulgence, so great that were a man to behold it at the common distance between man and sun, its glory would VAPORIZE even the hardiest of heroes in a matter of moments. Aye, this titanic star, superior even to the great star-giants about Elysium herself, doth brilliantly irradiate the study-minarets of the learned nano-alchemotrons and algebraicists of Klavostarabia! Among these scholarly barbarians, the mighty star is called "Rigel." To the legends of civilized men, this star is better known from the forgotten and cthonic pre-paleohistorical days of Earth-that-was. For aye, the great giantoid was then the very ankle of the mighty star-hunter Orion!

Astrometrius set once more to work, pausing briefly to shade out the image of the burning attack ships of some unknown barbalien race. Aye, off the Ankle of Orion did the foreigners burn, as a dread, incomprehensibly ancient GUARDIAN of that constellation did lay into them with the onslaught of heavy death ray and the all-enveloping transnuclear flame of its plasma torpedoes.

Undismayed did the beloved of Mathenerva search the heavens! Again did he seek out other stars, carefully denoting the precise directions to those far-off beacons of radiance as laid out by his sextant. And with a great burst of trigonometry both spherical and plain, the ink-bestained and wise-bearded one now knew, down to the megamegaleague, where in the great voids of the Cosmic All the trireme lay. With this firm knowledge of hard scientific fact to bolster his wits, he returned to the task of wringing SENSE from the incomprehensible charts of the star-nymphs.

Behold wise Astrometrius, as he leaps up from below the deck of the covered ship!

"HA! The books are coded by SMELL! All is clear now!"

"Hurray!" Adonemo the youthful did cheer, as did some others of that company of astrogonauts. STRONGGO, indomitable general of Metallia upon whom the vicious and traitorous hordes of the Myrmidons did break and founder even as their starfaring fleets broke against the indestructible and eternal marble-clad rock of the battleship HERACULES, smacked fist into palm once again with a crash that shook sprays of powdery methane-snow from the comet!


"Indeed. Hmm. Waterbearing worlds seem to be marked thusly... they are few in these constellations, and widely spaced. Perhaps because the worlds of the philosopher-tyranno-Chironians are gone, and surely the centaurs would have settled upon the most habitulable and pleasant worlds... which are now gone from the universe, and no others seem to recall their existence. This realm is now a desert."


"An o-spaces! I obey, my general, just a moment... cabin-boy, fetch me that magnificulator, my sight has lengthened of late... yes. Indeed! Helmsman, over here, if you please!"

And so did the Elysians make for the OSPACES! Aye, a quasihabitable world, sometimes wracked by terrible storms and marauding Klavostarabianoid bedouin, but in this cosmic season, suitable for life! Most important of all, this worldlet's deep-welled springs could surely nourish and HYDRATE the brave hero-comrades, long discontent on their diet of mead and comet-water!

First did they STRAIN at the oars of their covered ship for many long hours, to the beat of the drum, toiling to haul the vessel across the countless leagues. At last, they were rewarded, and did make LANDFALL, dragging their ship up upon the beach of a great freshwater lake. After drinking, filling their many water-casks, and bathing in the waters of the ospaces, some among them did STRIKE OUT inland, to see what might be seen among the palmolive trees and scrub-brush thereabouts.

Strange sights indeed met one pair of the mighty sons of fair-bosomed Elysium, Quadroptolemus the son of Celerius, master of agriculture, and Phylonctetes the linen-corseleted hyper-archer! For cresting a rise did they come upon a great herd of bovine beings. The great bowman made ready to string his weapon and provide a feast for his fellows, but Quadroptolemus stayed his hand.

"Nay, we should feast not on these cattle!"

"Why, are they the blessed beasts of Heliopollo?"

"Possibly, oh peer of murderous Mares."

Phylonctetes waved his spear angrily. "Will slaughtering them cause us to be stricken MAD by some unknown AILMENT, some heavens-sent spongification of the brain?" And lo did the arch-archer bark arrogant fucking laughter at the thought!

"I know not, my valiant brother-comrade."

"Possibly! You know not! Well what DO you know, Quadroptolemus? Tell me, if you are so wise, why we should not feed upon these most excellent specimens?"

"Because yea, it is most unusual for cattle to walk upon their hind legs, as that one does. Or to be clad in diverse armormentations, as that one standing upon the hill above us is. Or, and you will understand that this is a matter of no small import, my stalwart friend, to possess mighty gun-bladed weapons of force, as that one over there does."
...and he appears displeased...

At this did Quadroptolemus undertake to reprove Phylonctetes for his folly and arrogance in the best of ways, the truest of ways, the ELYSIAN WAY. Aye, did the hand of that master of farmers, hardened by his labors in plowing the granite-fields of Metallia and the oceans of Athea, form into a mighty fist, which did SMITE the archer, sending him spinning to the ground. The mighty gunbull put down his formidable weapon and nodded slowly to the archfarmer, who had once more proven his power to save his comrades, by his hard-won skill at understanding reactions of the great domestic beasts!

And so it was that the Elysians did encounter the strange herds of MOOAH and BRAHMINBRAHAM, those patriarchs of bovinity, prophets of the exile-race of BOS! For lo, these cattle were not as the cattle of ordinary men, which are stupid and docile. Nay, they were intelligent and cunning, like the tricky wildebeestoid of Hookla VII- only more so! Thus were they at once both cattle and herdsman, led by their patriarch-bulls in search of new lands, far from the loathsome and blubb'rific MEHmen.

Wiser and cooler-headed men among the hero-band some efforts to SOOTHE these foreign tribes, and convince them that the foolish outbursts of Phylonctetes reflected NOT upon some ignoble urge to feed upon their kind among the rest of the band of mighty STRONGGO. The general himself showed good cheer, for there was plenty of water and forage for astrogonaut and herd-man alike!


"...What hall?"


With this, the son of Ironbeef did SMITE a nearby tree with his terrible sword, causing it to topple and at once providing a great ridge-beam for the construction! Others among the experienced shipwright-carpentronicians of his band set forth with saw, adze, and diverse TOOLS, hewing various woods from the ospaces and shaping them into a temporary feast-hall- nay, a MESS HALL, into which only the noblest of warrior-heroes and wise counselors might be allowed!

The minotaurianoids laughed mightily at this spontaneous act of construction, which so differed from the terrors and fear of obliteration with which their patriarch-prophets had led them away from their own homeworld! Aye, they too aided in the building, laboring like the men of the now-wrecked ecumenopolitan and mighty-walled planet-city of the TROJANS, or like the great mega-oxen of far Arcturus!

And so, by nightfall, did hero and bull-man alike sit under a wide-spanning roof of heavy timbers. One of the Elysians spoke. "Tell us your story..."

The bearded bull Mooah, shipmaster of these free-ranging cattlemen, explained.

"My people live among the stars some light-centuries from here, against the spin of the galaxy." He made to POINT into the sky, in the very direction from which the Elysian hero-band had sailed since discovering the vast and soporific empire of MEH. "We came to Bos hundreds of years ago, to live and prosper in peace on a secluded world, among stars free from war and chaos. Our fields are green, watered by our forefathers. The land is beautiful, and we live in balance with nature, in moderation rather than excess.
A paradise!
Quadroptolemus thumped his hand on the table. "Aye, it sounds most Arcadian!"

"I do not know of these Arcadians, human. But I fear the time of Bos may be coming to an end. New humans have come, disturbing the fabric of space and boasting about their warlike prowess and massive strength."

At this did Ajaxalon the Greater, prince of Cosanostria, broad and thick like unto a wall, scowl. Aye, and then did the timbers of the mess hall CREAK in fear. "The MEHmen."

"Indeed, less-small one. Some weeks ago, a robot emissary of these people came to our world, proclaiming that for their pleasure they planned to exterminate the remote greenskins, who have been both troublesome and helpful to we Taurens at times. And that was when I knew for certain. War was coming to our stars, and the Empire's hunger for conquest and mastery would doom our peaceful race. I thought to myself: "A storm is coming.""

"How did you know?"

"I felt it in my guts. And I knew I had to lead my people away from the green hills of Bos, off to more distant pastures."

"In your guts, you say?" The Elysians did PONDER this. Well did they know of the art of HARUSPICY, of divining the future from the entrails of cattle and other such living stock. Normally, this would require an oracle to slay the beast in order to examine its bowels closely, but here was an oracle who was himself a cattle, and could thus perhaps divine the future from his own entrails, without need to resort to such means!

Then did invincible STRONGGO, son of IRONBEEF, nod approvingly and strike a nearby stone with the adamantine-shod ferrule of his mighty SPEAR for emphasis!


There were many "ayes" among the mighty-thewed heroes of Elysium. Stentor and Ajaxalon the Lesser clapped their hands and called for the heroes and herdsmen to share assorted meads and breads, as well as the fruits of the strange trees of the ospaces.

And for some time did they water there, for like the Elysians the bull-men were weary from their long travels and the great rush of shipwrightsmanship by which they had constructed a veritable ARMADA of vessels in which to depart their beloved homeworld. Aye, seldom in the history of the metacosmic universe have cows build so many vessels, so quickly!

The tale of the prophet-bulls is well known, how they led their chosen people from the fair world of BOS, after numerous SIGNS and PORTENTS that the great round shadow of the MEH would soon fall over their blessed land! Indeed, fearing that the ravenous HUNGER of the MEHmen would set its eye upon them and degenerate even unto the sin of cannibalism, so did the pious MOOAH and BRAHMINBRAHAM lead some chosen few of their people forth through the spacedeserts and barren rockworlds, through shoal and nebula, through trial and tribulation, to find the UNPROMISED LAND, one which had never been theirs before but would have to do now, for the weight of EVIL was soon to fall upon their beloved Bos.

And lo, this tale is WRITTEN in the sacred books of their cow-people. As is the punishment which befell the whalemen for their sins, by which entire worlds of their race were devoured by bears, assailed by the mighty zweihander-heroes of SHINRA and the silver-chased and lassiter-prowed vessels of Arabia, hideously beguiled by the siren-sorceries of forbidden Atlantis until their people were transformed into mormaids and murmen themselves, or even dragged into the very pits of darkest Tartarus by the foul necromancy and wrathful might of their strange and unspeakable cthonic pseudodeity, who goes only by the eerie and unnatural name "Sasha."

Aye, these punishments are recorded in loving detail, to disturbing length, in the books of the Bos-dwellers. But that saga, of the books of OXODUS and MOOTERONOMY, is not the saga of the fair sons of Elysium led by ROCK STRONGGO, and so shall be told another day, by other men. Fare ye well, gentle listeners.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Steve » 2011-11-26 05:43pm

Co-written with Siege and Zook.

Shroom Fighter - The Final Round

McCarthyville Arena, Killnyn
Bragulan Dependency, Wild Space

R. Julia was no fool. He didn’t get to become lord of Shadoshroom by being such. He knew the battle was unlikely to be won, and it was time to cut his losses. He motioned to Sadat to follow and barked an evacuation order that would only go to his valued lieutenants; the useless worms of his security forces would be left to die, a fate befitting failures. “Are the nerve gas canisters readied?” he asked.

“Yes, Lord Julia.”

“Good. We shall set them off as we fly away,” he answered.

The two figures entered the passageway leading from the battle-torn arena, but they didn’t go unnoticed. Stephen saw them go and turned to Syrandi, who had just put a lethal arrow from her collapsible longbow into a security trooper’s heart. “I’m leaving you in charge,” he said. “I’m going after Julia and putting an end to this barbarism.”

“The Goddess watch over you,” Syrandi replied, restringing her bow as she did so.

Talim jolted with a start when the door to the torture cell opened and Granny entered. The bulky hold hag looked across the short distance to the restraint frame where Zara was held. “It appears that some fools have attempted to attack glorious Lord Julia’s tournament,” she cooed. Behind her, more of the children in Granny’s “Youth League” could be seen. “Come and join us, dumpling. You will all watch as I put down this little bitch and then we shall go defend Lord Julia.”

“You don’t have to follow her,” Zara said aloud, looking at the children. “You can try to flee. To get away from her.” A surge of pain went through her, causing Zara to cry out, while Granny finished removing the control from her pocket.

“You will not be tempting my darlings away from me, wretch,” the crazed woman cackled. “They will see you and your kind for what you are; weak simpletons who deserve what gets done to you.”

Her ESP was suppressed, but Zara refused to let the machine stop her. She stopped the cry of pain and focused everything into keeping her thoughts in line. “What she offers you is a life of never-ending pain and slavery. Ahhh!” The intensity went up. Zara forced a breath in and used what strength she had left to continue speaking. “Together you’re stronger... you can beat her...”

The machine was turned up to maximum, preventing Zara from speaking as the impulses seized hold of her body and caused her chest to stop. Not even a breath could be had with how she was seized up.

“I’ll squeeze the life out of you,” Granny rasped. “I’ll silence your wicked tongue before you pollute my dumplings with your....” And then suddenly she was the one who couldn’t speak, all of the air leaving her lungs and throat..

Talim rose to her (admittedly low) full height. Her hand was outstretched and psionic energy emanated from her, a vacuum that was asphyxiating Granny as surely as the torture machine was suffocating Zara. The other youths gasped in shock, but none raised a hand to protect Granny. They just looked stunned.

“I may be weak,” the young Feelipeeni girl said, “but you just want to make me weaker. I’m leaving.

Granny dropped the control as she stumbled forward, trying to reach for Talim. The pain stopped shooting through Zara. But before she could speak, she was treated to the sight of one child, and then another, and then another, coming forward to kick at Granny. A host of vile abuses would now get their due retaliation.

Talim stopped pulling the air from Granny and went over to the dropped control. She looked at it intently for a moment and then hit a button on it. The metal latches holding Zara’s wrists and ankles retracted. Weakened, she fell out of the frame and hit the ground on all fours, gasping for air. As she hit the floor, Zara felt her gifts once more. She focused on her own body, making the aches recede, knowing she needed strength now. She could sense the powerful gathering of ESP nearby and knew that it included her Sisters. They had come to rescue her!

Standing up, Zara looked at the children beating their “Granny” senseless and called out, “Leave her! We must flee!”

At first the children didn’t pay heed, too busy wreaking their vengeance, but Talim suddenly shouted, “We have to go! We have to get away from them!” This broke most of them out of it, and all looked over to Talim as she stood beside Zara. “We’re being rescued, aren’t we?”, she asked Zara.

“We are, but we must get to my friends. You can sense them, right?”


“Then let’s go.” Zara took one step forward, testing her strength, and found herself able to take another. The children parted for her and gathered at both sides to follow.

A hacking cough from behind them turned into a laugh. “Run all you want, you brats,” Granny rasped. “Glorious Lord Julia will have the last laugh. By now he will be having the nerve gas dispensed. You will all die.”

Security troopers, elite ones from Shadoshroom itself, stood between Stephen and the ship pad that would serve as Julia’s escape. He focused on them entirely, trying not to think too hard on what he felt about them. Above all else, he had to keep those thoughts in check.

His beamsaber flashed emerald as it deflected energy bolts and bullets alike - the magnetic field such weapons used was sufficient for that - and invisible force replied, knocking over the troopers left and right. An entire squad went down in seconds, just for a second to come up in front of him and need taking down as well.

In his hurry, he didn’t make sure they were all unconscious, and as he passed the second group Stephen realized, too late, that one was getting back up and going for his sidearm.

Sensing the attack and turning, Stephen never got a chance to finish off the security trooper threatening him. A distinct gunshot went off and the trooper fell, a bullethole in his skull that could only come from a genuine 2411 Colt. From behind curling whisps of gunsmoke emerged the grim-faced Duke of Death, holding his signature pistol up. A short but respectful distance behind him followed two young women, more like teens really, in catsuits that would have made Nisa blush. Stephen lacked any sense of telepathy, but he didn’t need it to sense the bloodlust come off them. Eclipse marauders. Just the kind of people you’d expect to find hang around the Duke, Stephen figured.

“Holy Man”, the Duke growled, and lazily tipped a gloved finger to his hat.

“Gunslinger”, Stephen replied with a slight nod.

“Yer a long ways away from yer dustball home.” The Duke’s lifeless eyes gazed at Stephen, dark and bereft of all emotion. “I reckon ya’ve got a score to settle.”

“As do you.”

“Well, time’s a wastin’.”

Neither had anything more to say. They did have a third squad coming up to deal with, though. And seconds later, they were off to chase down the Lord of Shadoshroom.

This was nothing like the infiltration of the palace back on Toutaine. Nisa was both terrified and exhilirated to be involved in this massive fight, even if there was little combat to be seen as she and Vincent slipped through the corridors below the stadium. She could sense the people around them and where they were clustered. Their destination had grown closer.

Guards awaited them at the door. Nisa raised her hand to zap them, but before she could summon forth the energy to create the electric arcs Vincent’s hands snapped up. His guns began firing and bullets ripped through both figures until they collapsed, dead. Nisa could feel their minds fade as death claimed them and forced herself to quiet her senses, finding the experience terrifying.

Once in the room the attendants were no challenge at all. She and Vincent disabled them with quick and easy hand-to-hand moves. A couple of the beds were occupied by barely-alive fighters. “Getting them out is going to be hard,” Vincent remarked.

“We can’t leave them though,” Nisa replied. She concentrated. “I’m alerting some of the Sisters to come by. But where is...”

She stepped into a side ward and saw him. The green-skinned Shroomka with IVs pumping powerful anesthetics into his body, which was still tightly restrained. She went forward and began unrestraining him. Vincent looked at her cautiously. “Sure that’s so wise?”

“We have to get him out of here,” Nisa answered, removing the chest and arms straps that held him tightly to the table. “We’ll just....”

There was a shrill inhuman roar. Before Nisa could react a powerful green arm reached up and clobbered her, knocking her to the side easily. Shroomka sat up and ripped himself free from the other restraints. Vincent went forward to help Nisa and took a full hit to the ribs that sent him flying, Shroomka barrelling past him and toward the door.

“That could have gone better,” Vincent muttered, nursing his now-broken ribs. “He’s on the loose now!”

Sadat didn’t know what hit him.

One moment he was walking up the gangway to Julia’s personal ship, the next he was getting a punch in the face. He stumbled backward and hit the ground in shock. He looked up at his brooding master and asked, “Why?”

“Ensure the nerve gas is deployed,” Julia insisted. “Only then will I release the lockouts on the other shuttles.”

Sadat looked on in shock, but before he could speak the door to the launch bay flew open. Two figures stepped through, the fire converging on them from Julia’s guards beings topped by a transluscent energy field. Gunfire barked in reply and brought them down one by one. He looked over with wide eyes at the Duke of Death and one of the ESPers who had attacked the arena. “Lord Julia, I presume,” the robed man said, raising an active beamsaber.

“Sadat, go do your job,” Julia commanded. “And as for you worms...” He looked into his vehicle and nodded.

From within a deadly-looking combat droid stomped out, toting a weapon and looking very dangerously competent with it. “Legion, annihilate these fools,” Julia commanded.

Light glinted off the optics of Legion’s automatic shotgun. The robot mercenary casually sidestepped a dead body, never letting the sights drift, even slightly, off Stephen and The Duke.

The Duke, on his end, replied in kind. His signature 2411 was trained on the assault frame’s head.

“What a meeting”, the robot snarled sarcastically, “A real hall of fame, this place.”

“So you’re working for Julia too,” Stephen murmured. His beamsaber came up in a posture for both defense and offense.

“Oh, please. Are you really that incapable of appreciating subtlety and deceit?”

“If you know what’s good for you, Legion, you’ll step aside.”

Stephen’s remark drew nothing but what looked to be a contemptful whir in Legion’s optics. The Duke snarled. “Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid.”

Suddenly, from behind Legion, Sadat took off for a side exit from the bay. This drew Stephen’s attention slightly, giving Legion what he thought was an opening. He opened fire, as did the Duke. And the battle was on.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Mayabird » 2011-12-04 11:27am

Refuge embassy
The Centrality

“I have a hypothesis,” Epaulette exposited, “on the prevalence of the epithet 'BALLS' that I have observed is quite common among humans. I believe it has to do with their redundant testicle. We Avians of course only have one, as that is all that is needed and it saves on weight – after all, who needs redundancy when you can fly? However, humans have two, and located in the same place as well so it can't be effective as a backup in case of trauma – a kick that would get one would get both – and the overproduction of hormones and seminal fluid must lead to a strange obsession with their organs. Staffer, what do you think?”

“I think that's crazy,” said Staffer, not even looking up from his work.

“Sometimes I do ramble on crazy topics,” noted Epaulette. “But in this case I insist...”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Force Lord » 2011-12-04 03:36pm

McCarthyville Arena, Killnyn
Bragulan Dependency, Wild Space

Almost there...

Francus could see the silhouette of the launch bay. His escape was assured.

"Not so fast, Watchman."

Francus froze. But how?! He looked back, and saw a woman holding a blaster coming up to him.

"You think we'd just let you go? In the name of the State, you are under arrest!", declared Fivi, her pistol aimed at Francus.

Francus barked, "You won't take me back there! Not now, not ever!" He then did a TK push at Fivi, throwing her to the ground some feet away.

Right in the path of three more guards... who Francus realized were undercover CIS agents!

Shit. He ran, his ESP-amplified speed allowing him to get the better of the four agents.

He ran for the launch bay, seeing a side entry...

Lord Redav knew his quarry was right where he wanted him to be. The main entrance of Julia's launch bay greeted him.

It was already blasted open. Inside, he could see the guards firing at what he knew was his former teacher, flanked by none other than the Duke of Death himself. If he could smile, he could had.

Activating his beamsaber, he waited while Julia exchanged pleasantries with his pursuers, activating a beacon in his armor in the meantime. He sensed that his Hunters were nearby. Perhaps they expected Francus to find his way here. Or were they waiting for him to advance towards the hermit? Only one way to find out.
Steve wrote:“Legion, annihilate these fools,” Julia commanded.
Who is the fool? The fool, or the fool who has a fool do his foolish work for him? Redav mentally slapped himself, knowing he was paraphrasing his old master there. He had no time for such sentimentality.
Steve wrote:Suddenly, from behind Legion, Sadat took off for a side exit from the bay. This drew Stephen’s attention slightly, giving Legion what he thought was an opening. He opened fire, as did the Duke. And the battle was on.
Redav calmly walked inside, his beamsaber in a offensive-defensive position. He sensed his Hunters behind him, cloaking fields deactivated and beamsabers unsheathed. It was time.

"I have been waiting for you, hermit..."

The beacons were going crazy. It could only mean one thing.

All team leaders, target location has been triangulated. Location has been confirmed as the launching bay, outside and inside. All teams must make a beeline to the target immediately!, Corbas ordered telepathically.

Whiskey Leader copies, moving in.

Tango Leader recieves, gunning for target.

Foxtrot Leader complies, going fast.

Corbas then activated her holoprojector to communicate with the stealth force in orbit.

"I need an armed stealth Dronehawk on the skies over the target area now!"

"Affirmative. Black Dronehawk is being sent. ETA three minutes."

"And make sure our SF group is being made ready for an emergency!"

"SF is in readiness. Emergency response would take five minutes at least. They await your go signal."

"Not until we're in serious trouble. Out."

Corbas then moved out, her ESP-amplified speed taking her to where the endgame would be...
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by KlavoHunter » 2011-12-04 11:46pm

[GODDAMN UNREAL TIME is in full force, people- this is after the Battle of Alpha Centauri, and after Downfall on MEH Earth]

Immediately Post-Downfall
ETA 8 Hours to MEH Sol
RKS Yavuz

The physically assembled Admirals from the four fleets gasped at the ghastly sights the FTL sensors of the stealthships had yielded, as the Byzantine orbital bombardment of Earth’s familiar continents went on without respite or mercy, until the very planet itself collapsed into a screaming psychic vortex. One staff officer pitched over and vomited, causing another to also lose his lunch. Fleet Admiral Sulaiman Ziane’s hand shook visibly even as he made the twitchy little gesture to close the video feed. A drop of crimson trickled down from the Miratian force commander’s left nostril. She scratched her nose, saw the blood, and swore under her breath as she grabbed a cloth from somewhere in her uniform to clean it up.

“I apologize, gentlemen. When the Byzantines invited themselves to this war, I had thought I had steeled myself to see genocide, but this... We didn’t know they had a psychic weapon like this.” Ziane paused, having to rub his forehead as a headache came on. One of the sideband displays from his turbanputer alerted him that the null-field within was working at maximum strength.

Noticing the pause in the senior admiral’s presentation, Admiral Abu Bakaar pithily spoke instead. “Perhaps this is what happens when humanity lets itself be led by immortal, undying psychic gods of war. I know the Byzantines and Haruhiists have fought bitter wars against terrible enemies for centuries, but so have we, and we haven’t done... this.” Neglecting to mention, naturally, the attempts that had been made to nuke flat the Ork Kore Worlds - but that was centuries ago, and besides, the WAAAGH! was dead.

Admiral Wenli Yang, commanding the Umerian contingent, rubbed the back of his head and averted his eyes from the display. “I’m not sure it was deliberate. What if it was... some kind of accident? It’s hard to imagine that happening because someone did something right- even if the thing was a strategic weapon.”

“My advisors doubt it was a Byzantine weapon that did this,” Commander Kay interjected, “The Empire here has... what are we calling it? Trans-dimensional technology? It seems more likely that it was something they did. But they seem to be human beings like us; this can’t be something they did lightly.”

“The MEH, do this themselves? Are you trying to tell me they reverse-engineered a psychic weapon from scratch, in little more than a year, after admitting no knowledge of ESPer powers? That must’ve been one hell of a scientific wild-ass guess on their part, if so.” Klavostani Admiral Abu Bakaar interjected disbelievingly.

“We aren’t sure that the weapon was ‘psychic’, actually, or even that it was necessarily a ‘weapon’ in the strictest sense. They’re telling me--” she paused, “look, I’ll send you a document.”

Third Technarch Holloway, who’d decided at the Planetoid to accompany the Umerian squadrons all the way to the front, scratched his chin. He stared into the abyss of sickening, chaotic sights on screen. “Some of those patterns look... a little familiar.”

“Sir?” Yang looked at him with confusion and worry. Many of the officers present felt the same, but didn’t voice it. Holloway shrugged.

“Kind of ancient history. You’re not cleared--no, changed my mind, you’re cleared for Nightmare Purple now. I’ll explain later when we get out of this mess. The Byzantines have been tied up in... psychoactive anomalies before, that’s all I’ll say for now. They may not have touched it off, I hope not, but I bet they know more than they’d like to admit about it.”

Abu Bakaar and Kay exchanged glances. Holloway looked at the table for a moment, then back at Yang, his eyes flat and his posture tensed. “I think we need to get in closer.”


“Closer. This reminds me of things. We need information- what we’re dealing with. And unless the Byzantines turn helpful on us, we’re going to have to get it ourselves.”

“Ah... you’re sure?”

The Third for Security grunted. “Yes.”

“Even so... I recommend a halt in place at least ten light-years out. Whatever this is, we’ve seen it expanding rapidly. If it starts pushing out along the hyperspatial dimensions, I want a head start when I start running away.”

“Naturally, Admiral. It’s your division.”

Admiral Yvette Markson steepled her fingers and leaned forward onto the table. “My orders do not concern risking His Majesty’s Fleet on a fool’s errand chasing down the barbarous Byzantines, nor charging headlong into an uncharted psychospatial anomaly. As soon as this meeting is over, First Fleet will be turning back for Alpha Centauri.” Well, at least none would have to worry about the spatially subdued system from being punished by raiders, with their reinforcement of the Tianguonese, the millions of Klavostani troops on the ground would have no fear of the skies suddenly no longer being friendly. Even with the unexpected reverses and betrayals that'd marred the Coalition effort, the Anglians were as close to implicitly trustworthy as it got in this universe.

Fleet Admiral Sulaiman Ziane set down his drink, the shockingly painful headache that’d come after looking at what had been MEH Earth finally subsiding. “Ladies and gentlemen, Klavostan’s course of action is clear. Even the Chamarrans blame the Byzantines for this, and did so with live nukes, they weren’t pulling their punches or sheathing their claws. We have an... unprecedented agreement... with their Queen. The least-damaged ships of our fleets will be proceeding on an intercept course, and we will demand their unconditional surrender when we catch them. We know better than to accept anything less from the Byzantines, for they have no shame.” He sounded confident while he said it, but Ziane felt nervous at putting his fleet on the other side of Chamarran space.

Force Commander Kay nodded, her face tight. “They don’t seem to be willing to stick around to be held accountable for their actions, either. Hunting them down will get us better intel on what happened and give us an opportunity to finish what they seem to be too cowardly to conclude on their own. If we catch them,” she added, almost as an afterthought.

At the Umerians’ corner of the table, Yang stirred. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

Kay’s eyes narrowed down to slits. “It may not be the best idea, Comm--excuse me--Admiral, but it’s the right idea. All that’s needed for evil to triumph is for good people to stand by and watch,” she spat the last few words.

The blue-haired Umerian, looking suspiciously Haruhiist, sighed and rubbed his neck again. “I’ll take your word for it, ma’am. I’m terrible at crusades. Had my zealotry out with my wisdom teeth. Have fun, though. Looks like I’ll be poking- what was it, sir?

Holloway shot a glance at Yang, who flinched. “Uncharted psychospatial anomalies. People, I can’t tell you what to do, but if you want to go chasing their battlefleets and demanding answers at gunpoint you can do it as well without us as with us. Someone’s got to keep an eye on that thing, and it might as well be us.”

Kay folded her hands together on the table in front of her. “We wouldn’t hold it against you.”

The Technarch smiled slightly, the hint of teeth startling against his swarthy face. “Good. One thing- I won’t try to talk you out of it, but do you have any idea what a mess you’ll be in if you actually manage to catch them short of the Koprulu Zone?”

“I don’t think anybody’s under any illusion that this is going to be simple, Technarch.”

“Fair enough. It’s between you and your government.”

“I believe that covers just about everything. Thank you for sticking by us in such trying times.” Standing, Ziane went about the table and shook the hands of his fellow senior commanders. It was another of those warm anachronisms Klavostan stubbornly stuck by, in an age when this meeting could very well have been conducted via long-range communications. Some things are too important to not give their appropriate weight in ritual, when we are alive and so many others are now not. “Force Commander, if you wouldn’t mind joining us for a little last-minute planning..?”

“Let’s do it.”
"The 4th Earl of Hereford led the fight on the bridge, but he and his men were caught in the arrow fire. Then one of de Harclay's pikemen, concealed beneath the bridge, thrust upwards between the planks and skewered the Earl of Hereford through the anus, twisting the head of the iron pike into his intestines. His dying screams turned the advance into a panic."'

SDNW4: The Sultanate of Klavostan

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Simon_Jester » 2011-12-15 11:54am

Titan-class Dreadnought USS Hyperion
Flagship Eighth Dreadnought Division
ETA 6 Hours to MEH-Sol Anomaly Perimeter

Among the less often admitted motives behind the Technocracy’s expedition to the Multiversal Empire’s four systems was the desire to plunder its advanced technology. Reports of spectacularly powerful weapons, reactors, and screen generators, along with a wealth of competent yet docile computer technology, had attracted the greed of that technophilic nation. A greed for knowledge, a greed for capability and understanding. A greed for SCIENCE!, of both mad and calm sorts.

So of course, the fleet had departed with plenty of technical experts. Not nearly enough to do all the work that the Umerians hoped to need, but enough to make a first rough cut at assessment, analysis, and reverse-engineering of the Multiversal Empire of Happiness’s equipment. Swarms of them, far more than usual. And as flagship of the expeditionary fleet, Hyperion had a truly remarkable concentration of SCIENCE! officers.

Some of whom were about to understand things they had never expected, or desired, to know.

Dr. Gomez met his friend at the coffee dispenser, watching the man try to convince it to give him a cup of tea with little success.

“Hi, Arthur. I’ve recommended to the admiral that we stop at fifteen light years out, not ten.”

“You’ve seen the expansion curves, then?”

“Yes. The reality excursion zone... could go strongly superluminal, couldn’t it?”

Arthur waved his hand back and forth. “Maaaybe. It depends on the medium of propagation. In the hyperwave bands it’s got a very... spiky spectrum. Almost fractal. Quite entrancing, really.”

“I wouldn’t look too close at it if I were you. I’m beginning to think those curves are, ah, mentally unhygienic. Some kind of memetic pattern. I saw a graduate student marking up a printout and chanting something on the way here.”

“That’s hardly unusual.”

“It is when he’s marking the printout in blood. I called security.”


“I also asked Engineering to dial up the null field projectors by about an order of magnitude. We’ll see if that helps.”

“It should. The anomaly plainly has magnetopsychodynamic aspects."

"At the risk of stating the obvious, we need outside input on how to cope with the dangers if any entity characteristic of the excursion zone comes after us.”

"Yes. The zone, it's something... weird. And it doesn't look good."

Arthur nodded slowly, then cocked an eyebrow. "Who are you going to call?"

"An old colleague, now working with a private contractor firm in the Empire Star Republic."

Repurposed Fire Station
Gotham City, Gotham Planet
Empire Star Republic
Y Minus 24 Hours


Egon set down his portable and unfolded out of the chair to his full height. The others gathered round.

“What’s happening?”

"It’s from Matt Gomez. I went to graduate school with him, back in Umeria. He joined SpaceSec- er, the Umerian navy. He’s wondering if I remember my theories about scaling up particle-heterodyned ectoplasmic suppressal systems to trans-kilometric acceleration lines."

Pete waved a hand. "Slow down, Egon."

"Picture a proton pack the size of a small stratoscraper."

"That's a lot of protons."

“Yes. I have some sketches, actually- and he’s offering to hire us to go work with his people on implementation.”

Winston’s eyes shot open. “Wait... isn’t there a Umerian fleet out fighting the ‘Empire of Happy’ or whatever they call it? Is he asking us to go jump into...”

Egon shook his head. “It says here that we’d be based out of another star system and wouldn’t have to come within a hundred light years of the Sol anomaly.”

Pete Venkman looked up. “How much are they going to pay us?” He leaned over to peer at the portable. “...That’s a lot of zeroes.”

“We should do it.”

“I hear you, buddy, I hear you...” Pete couldn’t take his eyes off the screen.

“I think we should get some closer readings. This is the biggest psychospatial anomaly I’ve ever seen.”

Ray nodded vigorously. “I’ve been checking with Rutherford and their subspace observatories are saying nothing!

Winston scratched his head. “Nothing is news?”

“Yes! They have no idea what’s going on out there! It’s very exciting!”

“Because it’s so big?”

“Right. It’s creating influences like nothing anyone’s ever seen before, even from this far away. Our instruments are spotting it on the low-band PKE grid. It’s got to be the biggest psychospatial anomaly in recorded history.”

“Uh, what about those messes we got into back in the eighties?”

Egon cut back into the conversation. “If my analysis is correct, the pseudo-Sol event makes the Destroyer look like a poltergeist. It only threatened one planet.”

Winston shuddered. “Yeah, so what would we be doing anywhere near it?”

The strange light in Pete’s eyes glimmered as he turned to his teammate, every line of his posture trying to soothe the man. “A hundred light-years, Winston.”

“That’s about a hundred times closer than I’d like!”

The Umerian immigrant raised a finger into the air. “Technically, we’re only about eight hundred parsecs from the anomaly...”

“I know!

“But still. The possibilities are staggering. The implications for science...”

No one else on the team was sure how Egon managed to get reverb on the word ‘science.’ It had to be a Umerian thing.

“I’m thinking more about the implications for our bank account. Remember the N-dimensional torque wrench?”

“That would have worked if you hadn’t stopped me!”

“Right. And it did a number on all the other stuff in the storage closet, didn’t it?”

“Hmph. I still think I can find those computer parts.”

“You’ve been saying that for weeks. Anyway, we could use the money, and if we’re not flying into the, ah, war zone, why not?”

“All right. I need to make sure some of the special gear is packed, but... can we make the next Xenu Spacelines flight through the warp gate?”

“To where, Klavostan? Uh... probably. I’ll check.”

“I wonder if they’ll give us a discount rate if we clear up their thetan problem...”
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by White Haven » 2011-12-16 11:16pm

The Outback
Sector W-18
Y minus 48 hours

Anyone who lived anywhere near the Outback shoals or the Koprulu Zone as a whole knew certain things to keep a close watch out for. The wildly-radiating flares of Bragulan sensor contacts on approach, the ponderous, cathedral-like war engines of the famously-coarse Byzantines, the titanic, awesome silhouette of a Collector monolith.

The unique signature of massed Karlack bioforms on the move.

Border posts and monitoring stations across the Empire Star Republic’s shoalward border began picking up what looked almost like a slow churning of the shoals themselves. A navigational hazard, and one that would degrade sensor performance still further than normal. It wasn’t long, however, until one border outpost got a clearer look by virtue of simply being positioned a touch farther out than the rest. The shoals weren’t churning at all. Something was emerging from them, sliding slowly into view.

Many somethings.

The Karlacks were moving.

Deep Purple Facility
Y minus 31 hours

Wayne Gregory sat at his desk, staring down at a raft of border-post logs from the past fifteen hours. Some had Scarlet formatting, some Midnight. All showed parts of the same whole. Specifically, they all showed the nearly the entire navy of the Empire Star Republic was on the move, redeploying radically at breakneck speeds. Assets from one sector were shifting to another, to free up those assets to move to cover yet a third zone. There were, in fact, few formed units tagged by border sensors that were not in motion.

This is it. Warren thought as he copied the collected reports onto a secure portable. He began to stand up, hesitated, frowned, and settled back down again. With a wry smile, he shook his head and muttered, “I’m not nearly as sneaky as he is...” while typing a quick, boring, and utterly pointless report. After a quick glance to ensure that it wouldn’t communicate something it shouldn’t, he tapped a key and sent it flicking away across Deep Purple’s secure network, flagged for the attention of the Director of Operations.

That done, he settled back to wait, and not for long.

Several minutes later, the door to his office whispered open and closed again, admitting the familiar, white-haired figure of Director Naismith. The analyst waiting behind the desk stood upright and extended a hand holding a small storage drive towards his visitor, speaking up at the same time, “Director. This’s the full take from the border posts, I just finished putting it all together. They’re taking the bait, about as well as we expected. They’re moving fast, too; you’ll want to look over it yourself, but my recommendation is to move Y up by eight to twelve hours. They’ll be as extended as they’re ever going to be by then, and they’re already starting to send out patrols toward the decoys. If we wait too long, we run the risk of being blown too early.”

Taking the drive in hand, Naismith frowned in thought for a moment, then nodded, “I’ll want to double-check behind you to be sure. Assuming you aren’t full of shit, I’ll greenlight the updated Y.” He paused for a few moments, then tilted his head aside, expression softening a touch, “There’s something else, I see?”

He always knows... Wayne thought with a slight, wry twitch of his lips. All he said, though, in a quiet voice, was, “My niece is chief engineer aboard HMS Sabre. It’s all real, not a plan, not an idea. I’m sending her across the border. I’m sending her to Brooklyn, and she doesn’t even know it.”

The barest hint of a smile flickered across Naismith’s face in answer, the older man gesturing at the holograms hovering over the surface of the office’s single desk. “Check again, more closely this time.”

With a surprised expression displacing his somber mood, the other man dropped back into his seat and began paging through files until a link from the planned duty assignments list for HMS Sabre opened up one particular entry.
His eyes flew down the list until they came to rest on one glowing line hovering midway down the list: HMS SABRE - SCIMITAR-CLASS CA

After a long, slow exhalation, he looked up from the list to find himself alone in his office once again.

0350 Zulu, 1642 Mystryl Time, 2522 Nova Luna Time, June 8th, 3401

Operation NORTHWEST PASSAGE overtly began with the simulated tick of a digital clock pretending to be an old-style analog. Fleet commanders across the Midnight Confederation and the Royal Kingdom of Scarlet received innocuous-looking priority messages instructing them to open previously-delivered sealed orders. No unified go-code sent them, they were simply pre-programmed fleet coordination notices. Flag officers across both navies authenticated, unlocked, and read their orders. Then read them again. Then just sat there a while looking at them.

Then they got to work.

Communications blackouts descended over the main fleet bodies of the Royal Kingdom of Scarlet and the Midnight Confederation. Battle-tested, professional, and primed for a fight after recent clashes, fleets began to move within the hour. Not some of them. All of them.

The Royal Navy had just recently rolled over the Confederation defenses of a world just shy of the Empire Star Republic border. All three numbered fleets had just barely missed trapping a Confederation battlefleet and forcing engagement. Without warning, and less a task force made up of roughly a third of First Fleet’s strength, the entire force lunged into hyperspace on a course for the Empire Star frontier. Several smaller patrol task forces trailed after them, angling inwards from patrol routes carefully engineered to be nearby.

The Midnight Confederation Navy had massed far from the front lines, regrouping and assembling a counterattack out of sight of their counterparts in the Royal Navy. That counterattack was destined never to fall. Instead, the massed ranks of the Confederation Navy, less the vast majority of their dedicated electronic warfare platforms, translated up into hyperspace from their rally point and began to blaze a trail for another section of the same border.

The colors were going to war.

Republic Tower
Gotham City, Gotham
Empire Star Republic
Y Plus 2 Hours

The Secretary of Commerce spread his hands. “So, Madame President, you see the problem.”

President Fiona LaGuerta tapped a finger on her desk. The feeling of concern was a bit rarefied, but it was there. “I see. You don’t want our firms stuck in a bidding war with the Solarians.”

“We might win, we might lose out and get bounced out of the sector; it’s a tossup. We need some kind of lever...”

A telephone rang.

Not the smart-headset clipped to her ear, not any of the three separate computer interfaces on the broad desk. A veritable telephone, linked to the wall by, of all things, a physical cable that looked like an Atomic Age period piece. One of the most heavily secured communication lines in the ESR, even harder to tap than the supposedly unhackable backbones of the great financial networks used by Gotham’s famous Shield District banking firms. It was the Quintagon-Tower security hotline, accessible to a select handful of senior military officers, and used only in an emergency.

A few days earlier, that phone had rung to alert her to Karlack activity in the Outback. Had that swarm made its move?

“Jack, I’m sorry-”

“It happens.” The Secretary shrugged, and LaGuerta picked up the phone. She listened briefly.

“You’re- you’re not kidding. Both countries, the whole fleets... I’ll be right there.” She put down the phone, grabbed her portable, and strode out of the office at something barely short of a trot, calling over her shoulder: “Jack, let’s try for Friday!”

Plunking down into a grav-limo seat while Gotham Planetary Police speeders cleared a corridor for the presidential vehicle, LaGuerta flipped open her portable. Immediately, she saw the messages piling up from the Joint Chiefs, from Deep Space Warning. It was true. The Midnight and Scarlet fleets were on the move.

She reviewed what she could find and make sense of, highlighted the rest to check with the naval staff, and watched kilometers of ecumenopolitan scenery streak by the window. Soon, the grav-limo flew out into a clearing, broad and with no structures over thirty or forty stories- all defensive installations, mostly shield projectors for the local node of the continental defense screen. The only major building in this area was... there, breaking out of the clouds, the massive five-sided stratoscraper which served as administrative headquarters for the Republic’s armed forces.

The Quintagon.

An aide met her at the docking port. “Madame President, if you’ll come this way...”

She strode to an express lift tube, down several dozen floors, and to a well-furnished conference room. Holographic displays limned the walls in tangles of multicolored light as a massive collection of Navy brass stood, staring at a tangle of vectors and flashing icons in red, green, and blue. She cast around, looking for- there.


One of the admirals separated from the crowd around the big display at the front of the room and headed for her. He cocked his head. “Short form, ma’am?”


“We thought the MCN and the RSN were massing to have it out again somewhere in Scylla, like I said at the last briefing. The MCN seemed to be licking their wounds, in particular. Instead, a few hours ago, their major fleet concentrations both jumped into hyper on courses for our space. The State Department hasn’t gotten anything useful out of Nova Luna or Mystryl.”

“How much are they throwing at us?”

“Looks like their Sunday punch. The Scarlets may be holding a few things back; we’re not sure, their deception schemes are pretty good. The Midnights- the only thing missing from their fleet is the deception schemes. They’re burning straight for us, no questions there. Not much in reserve, on either side. I’ll be honest, it looks like an attack.”

“And us with the fleet out of position to handle the Karlacks-”

“We’ve been talking about that. We can rally most of our fleets within the next twelve to eighteen hours, but we’re badly outgunned against the Confederacy, and their line of flight ends in the capital.”

“Right.” The president squared her shoulders, knowing that she’d probably wind up getting stuffed bodily into a bunker by the Secret Service soon enough. “So, the current plan?”

“Mass all the fleets in this sector at the capital and try to make the Confederates break their teeth on the planetary defenses, if it comes to that...”

“It looks like they’re heading for Buffalo.”

“Almost. It’s right in their path. The local squadron will just have to hang on and hope for the best- we can’t reinforce them in strength and in time.”

“...I understand. What about the Scarlets?”

“We have enough ships to fight their fleet, but they’re in the wrong place. The frontier fleet is too close, for one- we’ve already ordered them to keep distant contact after they’re sure the RSN is going to cross the border. We want them to pull back, trade space for time while we move more fleets out of Hudson sector, as you see here...”


“But that aside, me and some of the others actually recommend we send Fourth Fleet this way...”

“Into Scarlet space?”

“As a diversionary attack. We can’t get them into position to intercept the Scarlet main fleet before they punch deep into our space.”

“Going on the offensive at a time like this? Admiral, I have to ask, why?

“Ma’am, this entire situation feels wrong. The Scarlets and the Confederacy might sign a ceasefire, but their cooperation can’t be very tight. If we can convince one of them that the worst of our counterstrike will fall on them, and that we’re not afraid to start hitting them back right away, they may fold. With the navy out of place like this, that means hitting the Scarlets.”

“You’re talking about sending an eighth of the starfleet charging off in the wrong direction.”

Gillard swallowed. “It’s your decision.”

She closed her eyes for a moment. It didn’t seem like the safe course, even though she could read the map herself and see the transit times. And what if it was all just a mistake of some kind?

LaGuerta tensed neck muscles a fraction more, ready to shake her head... and then the anger hit her. What the hell did those people think they were doing, jumping out of the dark against a peaceful neighbor like this? Even on the off chance that this wasn’t what it so very obviously looked like, even if it would all turn out to be the biggest misunderstanding in the Spinward Expanse since the Hyena Rumors, there was a lot to be said for teaching Queen Eleanor that her people didn’t have the intellectual property rights to “invasion scare.”

“Do it.”

LaGuerta sank back into one of the conference chairs as she realized that if the Scarlets didn’t back down- and it looked like they wouldn’t- she’d just decided the fate of an entire star system.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by White Haven » 2011-12-18 08:37pm

Border Monitoring Post BMP-TETH-72
Coreward border of Tethyr sector (V-19)
The crew of BMP-TETH-72 were all at their posts, even the ones who were supposed to be asleep. That would doubtless play merry hell with the watch schedules later, but flash-priority traffic has a way of putting people on edge, especially when it indicates a state of unexpected open warfare. There was, to put it mildly, more than enough for the post’s sensors to watch, in any case.

There was, in fact, precisely one Empire Star Republic fleet within the reach of their sensors that was not lighting up as it transitioned to hyperspace and became visible to long-range sensors. That fleet, a small system-security force, was tagged with a ‘location probable’ marker. Everything else was moving in a variety of interesting directions. More to the point, they were moving in the reverse of the last set of interesting directions they’d been moving in over the past few days. Until shortly after the flash-warning came in, they’d been moving spinward, taking up positions facing the shoals. Now they were reversing that trend, blazing back where they’d come from at high speed and taking the sector’s normal complement of mobile fleet units with them.

Except for one contact. That one, a young sensor specialist named Jessica Bryant realized, wasn’t shifting in bearing more than a few degrees, but was growing substantially stronger at an unsettling pace. After checking her figures hurriedly, she called out with deceptive calmness. No one was truly calm, not in a situation this unexpected. “Contact Sierra-3401-772, evaluate as standard ESR heavy fleet, steady on course for border crossing within five light-years of our position.”

Silence rippled outwards through the small crew of the border post in the wake of that report. Sensors pointed every which way, which meant the crew of the border post knew full well where their own fleets were; burning corewards good eighty-six light-years away. So were three of the Royal Navy’s patrol task forces. On any other day, a fleet the size of the one they’d just picked up on an invasion course would have had a demonstrable deathwish. it was going to cause problems.

“Relay to Central Command, extreme priority.”

New Colossus-class Dreadnought ESNS Vindicator
ESR Fourth Fleet, Battle Division
Heading for Icewind System

The damage control bunker was quiet. Damned quiet, except for the occasional whir and beep of the telltales... and Spaceman Morris drumming his fingers on a rack module casing, staring at the wall. For the third time in the past hour, he turned to the rest of the crew.

“So we’re gonna give the Reds a few gigatons of ‘fuck you,’ huh?”

Petty Officer Meetz glared at him. Coldly, levelly, she said “That’s the plan. Now shut up.”

Stomachs twisted in anxiety about what could be going wrong back home- huge battlefleets hurtling into the heart of the Republic, the Navy split up and out of position. Scuttlebutt was that the ‘Karlack fleet’ had all been some kind of trick- they’d disappeared within an hour or two of the invasions.

Another tech muttered. “Too bad we’re not back home...”

“We’d take eighteen hours getting there- a day late and a dollar short. This way, they have something to worry about. Now, run through that checklist again- I want the repair remotes in top form.”

HMS Polehammer
Claymore-class dreadnought
Scylla sector (U-19)
Rear Admiral Theodore King grunted quietly as he finished reading the flash from central command. As much as it wasn’t unexpected, it was disappointingly far away. A central position would have allowed him to respond far quicker...but moving to a central position would have revealed that Task Force 12 hadn’t departed for ESR space with the rest of the fleet. The time for concealment, however, was over.

“Captain Aken, get us to the Icewind system as soon as possible, there’s an ESR fleet inbound with a head start.”

“Aye sir,” came the simple reply, the younger man turning and snapping out a series of crisp orders. “Lieutenant Saunders, please signal the task force to form up on the flag and take navigation data from our feed. Astrogation, plot a least-time transit to the Icewind system, destination subject to change as tracking updates arrive. Redline the drives, we’re going to be late to the party as it is.”

The flag bridge bustled into activity quickly, experienced hands dancing over controls, voices murmuring into throat mics. In the space of a few minutes the twenty-six ships of Task Force 12, RKS Royal Navy, formed up around Polehammer and vanished into hyperspace.

Reserve Gunship Base
High orbit above Shadowdale
Tethyr sector (V-19)

On another other day, the ready reserve gunships maintained by the Royal Navy would have taken hours to fuel, arm, and crew. On this particular day, however, crews were waiting on-station, gauss rounds were pre-loaded, and ground crews stood ready to fuel the ranks of reserve Thors. The hangars aboard the reserve base were sparsely-populated, many of their normal occupants deployed forwards to support the offensive. The sounds of sudden activity echoed through the bays, clashing with the hooting alarm that had triggered it all. None of the gunship crews knew where they were going or what was going on, but a scramble alert wasn’t something to be ignored.

The rough, deep voice of the base’s flight coordinator, an older man sent to the reserves after finally failing a regular physical, cut through the loud bay on the station’s intercom system. “All hands, all hands, this is Trayler. Word’s come in from Command, we’ve got a Yorkie heavy fleet on course for the border, and Intel doesn’t expect them to stop. Current course projections show them heading for the Icewind system, but even if they change course, Icewind’s a nice, central location to redeploy from. You’re rebasing there with full war loads, and a high probability of a serious fight on arrival. I won’t lie to you, you’re going to be heavily outgunned. Your job is not to take on the enemy fleet yourselves. Even if the whole sector’s gunship reserve could make it there in time, that’s only 35 wings, and the odds are that a good chunk of them will be held back to cover other possibly-threatened systems.”

There was a pause, long enough for pilots to start exchanging hard looks, before Trayler’s voice broke in again, “No heroics. Buy time. Go for engine damage, go for disabling shots, go for the cheap mission-kills, do whatever you can. The Navy has a task force inbound, but it’s going to be late. Make sure Icewind’s still there when the Navy arrives, and support them when they do. I wish I could go with you, but the Navy says no, so that’s that. Do me proud.” His voice thickened audibly towards the end; he cleared his throat, then hastily added to cover it, “One last thing. I had a quick word with Admiral Waldrop in BuPers. As of this moment, you are all officially Strike, not Reserve. It’s the least she can do for you; it’s not much, but at least any of you who don’t come home...well, the Navy will take care of your families. Trayler clear.”

Silence followed the end of the address, pilots exchanging long, slow looks, ground crews looking at the gunships they were servicing in a new light. The pause drew out uncomfortably, until one pilot suddenly began to grin and punched another in the shoulder. “You hear that? Strike! Last one to Icewind buys drinks!”

Another quickly replied, “Wait, for the wing, or the whole group?”

With a mischievous grin, the first called back, “Guess!” before sealing his helmet and clambering up the ladder to his waiting gunship.

That exchange, and others like it in other parts of the cavernous base’s hangars, broke the awkward silence and spurred flight prep back into motion. Fifteen minutes later, five forty-craft wings spilled from the flanks of the station and began to burn for the system’s hyper limit.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Shinn Langley Soryu » 2011-12-19 09:14am

Charlie Foxtrot
Planet Alpha Centauri, Multiversal Empire of Happiness
Early June 3401

Previously on SDNW4 wrote:Several Fort class system defense cruisers dropped in on the other side of the Belkan formation, sandwiching them against the defensive platforms as they opened up with their own guns and spat out their own considerable fighter complements. The Belkans soon found themselves mixing it up with their MEH counterparts, all while they were trying to make it through the massive torrent of enemy fire being poured out all around them. It was a truly grim situation for many of the surviving pilots, but they all had the determination to keep going. They would do their part for the Coalition, and they were more than willing to fight to the last man in order to achieve their objectives. The only question that remained was how long they would hold out.
“Incoming message from Belkan flagship Scinfaxi,” one of the signals ratings aboard the FROD Force flagship MFS Mighty Penis reported to Commodore Coffee. “Twenty percent of Belkan aerospace forces already lost.”

“Looks like those loudmouth flyboy assholes got in way over their heads on that one, am I right?” Commodore Coffee said. “We wouldn't be very good allies if we just left ‘em there to get slaughtered, though. Very well. Launch the Gundamns!”

Several minutes later...

[Recommended soundtrack: Mayhem - Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War]

Time to dive into the fireworks!


In what would be one of history’s greatest ironies, the Gundamns of the Ford Regional Overall Defense Force, the very same ones that had been so vociferously maligned by certain officers of the Imperial Belkan Aerospace Force, were now coming in to help save the Belkans from their inevitable demise against the system defenses of Alpha Centauri. The mecha raced towards the battlefield with all possible haste, hoping to save the beleaguered Belkan fighters from their fate...


Some of the heavier elements of the Gundamn force were equipped with armed booster assemblies; in addition to providing a significant speed boost, they also packed enough firepower to rival most dedicated gunships. These Gundamns were among the first to arrive on the scene, and they were among the first to draw blood against the MEHmen by opening up with every single weapon they had. While most of their missile shots went wide due to the Fort cruisers’ ECM, their beam cannons and railguns still managed to strike true, punching through the shields of the fat fighters and even taking a few of them out with this initial barrage. The weakened survivors were easily mopped up by the Belkans, though there were still many more fat fighters to deal with, as well as the Fort cruisers and the defense platforms.

“Reinforcements are already here? Who'd they send us?” Dominic asked.

“IFF confirms that they're FROD Force,” Anton replied. “I say again, the reinforcements are FROD Force.”

“Those incompetent fools?!” Detlef cried out. “They're just going to get themselves killed going up against the fatties!”

“Rot Leader, shut the fuck up already!” Captain Bernhard Schmidt, leader of the 8th Tactical Fighter Squadron “Grün," interjected as he nailed one of the damaged fat fighters with a pair of missiles and several railgun bursts from his Hornisse strike fighter. “Just keep fighting!”


The booster-equipped Gundamns stood back and continued to provide support fire as the rest of their comrades charged into the fray, swords ready to cleave the fat fighters in half. Standard FROD Force doctrine emphasized flexibility, with many of their combat units capable of filling multiple roles; even so, specialist units still existed, and even Gundamns optimized for close-quarters combat had their uses. Needless to say, the MEHmen were quite surprised to see a bunch of mecha with beam sabers and anti-ship swords charging towards their fighters. Confident in their ability to take on the Gundamns, the pilots of the fat fighters began disengaging en masse from the Belkan force and turned to engage the FROD Force reinforcements, with the Fort cruisers shifting their fire accordingly. With the MEHmen distracted, the Belkans now had their chance to make a break for it; they would be back, but most of them still had to rearm first.

“The fatties are going for the FRODs!” Bernhard noted. “Let's get ‘em!”

“Strike fighters, split off and finish up the platforms if you have munitions to spare,” Anton ordered. “Everyone else, follow me. We’ll try to draw off any remaining enemy fighters and lead them towards the FROD Force while we retreat to the carriers to rearm.”

“But won’t that leave the strike fighters vulnerable?” Detlef asked.

“Don’t worry, Colonel Fleisher, we’ll be fine,” Dietrich interjected. “We can do this.”

“You all have your orders,” Anton said. “Let the justice.”

With that, the Belkan formation (or what was left of it) split up as per Anton's order, with several squadrons going back to work on the platforms while the rest drew the furball towards the Gundamns during their withdrawal. The MEHmen caught on to the Coalition’s ruse soon enough and ordered several of their fighters back to cover the platforms, but by then it was too late. With the Fort cruisers and the overwhelming majority of the fat fighters either turning to engage the Gundamns directly or following the bulk of the Belkan force, the actual strike team was more or less able to wreak havoc once more amidst the orbitals, with just the defensive platforms to worry about.

“All units, form up and stay alert,” Dietrich ordered the other members of the strike team. “The lasers fire in unpredictable patterns. Take them out before they take you out.”

“You got it, Boss,” Bernhard and Colonel Dimitri Heinreich, leader of the 51st Tactical Fighter Squadron “Indigo,” simultaneously responded.

FILE PHOTOS: (left to right) Four Hornisses in the colors of the 8th TFS “Grün,” a Greif in the colors of the 51st TFS “Indigo,” and a Gespenst and two Falkes in the colors of the 126th TFS “Silber”

The combined forces of Grün, Indigo, and Silber Squadrons numbered only thirteen aerospace craft of varying types, with Dietrich Kellerman’s Gespenst leading a formation of four Hornisses, four Greifs, and four Falkes. All the other Belkan squadron leaders had called him crazy for insisting on using such an ancient machine in the war against the MEH. His response: “It's not about the age of the machine, it's about how you use it.” He was going to prove to all the nonbelievers that despite its great age and relative lack of technological sophistication, a simple Gespenst could still take on the biggest and baddest of the MEH's war machines and win.

Dietrich proved to be a true master of his craft, deftly guiding his Gespenst through the worst of the defensive fire and surgically disabling the turrets as he passed by them, leaving them open to be destroyed in detail by the rest of Silber Squadron. Bernhard and Dimitri also acquitted themselves well, guiding their own squadrons through the fire and steadily whittling down the enemy’s defensive capabilities by targeting generators, sensors, and other vulnerable components. Within the course of a few minutes, defensive fire from the platforms was starting to decline, though with weapons running out, plenty of turrets still remaining, and a few squadrons' worth of fat fighters starting to bear down on them, they would not be out of the woods just yet...

"I’m out of ammo! Winchester!” Bernhard cried out. “This is Grün Leader! All Grün craft, RTB!”

“This is Silber Leader. All craft, disengage and follow Grün,” Dietrich ordered. “Most of the enemy fighters should still be busy engaging the reinforcements, but remain alert nonetheless. Evade if you can.”

Despite the MEHmen’s best efforts, though, the diversion was still largely successful, with the majority of the MEH system defense forces now either tangling with the Gundamns or attempting to chase the retreating Belkans. The Belkans were concerned only with escaping and made no real effort to engage the fat fighters, redlining their ion engines, pumping as much remaining power as they could into their ECM systems, and performing wild evasive maneuvers that would take any pursuers straight into the path of the Gundamns. The Gundamns themselves covered the Belkan retreat to the best of their ability, with the majority running interference by closing in on the fat fighters and engaging them at point-blank range with their swords. Such tactics were decidedly unorthodox, but even the Belkans could not deny their effectiveness; thanks to the efforts of the Gundamns, the remnants of their force could finally return to the carriers, refuel, and rearm before diving back into the fireworks once more...

“Gault Leader to Scinfaxi!” Anton called out over the radio. “We’re coming in hot! I say again, we’re coming in hot! Have the Aigaions ready to pick us up! Bring the Hresvelgrs to the front and have them provide covering fire!”

“Affirmative, Colonel Kupchenko,” the canned reply of the Scinfaxi’s signals officer came in.


The P-1112 Aigaion escort carrier was an invaluable component of the Imperial Belkan Navy, capable of providing a mobile base for a complete Imperial Belkan Aerospace Force fighter squadron; as such, large numbers of these craft made up the bulk of the Belkan contingent deployed to the MEH, escorted by equally large numbers of the venerable Hresvelgr gunship. As the rag-tag remains of the Belkan strike force made haste towards the Aigaions, the Hresvelgrs began lumbering to the front of the Belkan formation, ready to put up a wall of fire that would dissuade any pursuing fat fighters.

“Alright, we got incoming bandits right on our front door! Let’s roll out the red carpet for ‘em!” a Hresvelgr weapons officer called out. “Fire at will!”

Seemingly on cue, the retreating Belkan fighters scattered to the sides, leaving the pursuing fat fighters fully exposed to the incoming barrage from the gathered Hresvelgrs. Missiles, railgun rounds, and energy beams tore right through the enemy formation, with the excess fire spilling over into the ongoing battle between the Gundamns and the main MEH force. With their sixes finally cleared and the Hresvelgrs standing by to screen against any further pursuers, the Belkan fighters started to land aboard the waiting Aigaions. The maintenance crews would have to work extra fast if the planned second wave was to be launched on time, though...
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Force Lord » 2011-12-19 10:05am

Central City, Centrum
The Center Sector, The Centrality

Tagdef Borlon, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, was not a man given to joviality. He was rarely seen outside his work, which made him a less visible figure than Fredon or Tredell. That did not mean he was not ambitious. He simply was more discreet about it.

Right now, he had just finished talking with a CSB wetman assigned to eliminate a troublesome planetary governor who entertainted delusions of becoming an independent petty dictator. Secession, even the smallest ones, was intoletable in the Central State. Since Fredon and Tredell weren't around, Borlon was left to give the order. Now that that was going to be taken care of, Borlon resumed his diplomatic work.

Things were still tense internationally. While the commonly-named "MEH Stomp" was winding down, the events at MEH Sol, general international condemnation against the Byzantines and the Haruhiists, and the inevitable consequences of the Centralist intervention on Crevecia and the organization of Occupation Zones on MEH Wolf 359 meant that problems abounded. A commited Centralist such as Borlon would be aghast at such disorder reigning in the cosmos, and he noted with some disquiet that his own nation, for cosmopolitical reasons, had a hand in creating it.

He therefore decieded on an idea that would help defuse tensions, for a while at least. He doubted it would be taken seriously, but there was only one way to find out.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by White Haven » 2011-12-19 10:29pm

MCNS Heretic
Malleus Sector (T-17)

“Point Zulu in five minutes, Admiral.”

Heretic’s flag bridge was a quiet place, doubly so when the black-uniformed figure of Admiral Yureh was brooding into the main holo-plot. No one wanted to be the one to attract his attention unnecessarily, not at a time like this. Yureh’s flag lieutenant, a slim, tall man with close-cropped brown hair, was the one to finally do it with that simple report. Point Zulu. The border crossing into Empire Star space. The point of no non-embarrassing return.

Given the massive assembly of naval power embodied by the ordered formations of warships glowing in the depths of the holo-plot, the point of no return could reasonable be argued as nonexistent.

“Thank you, Edward,” came Yureh’s simple reply, any irritation he may have felt at the interruption carefully masked from his voice. After a pause filled with a frown at the plot, he added, “Disseminate maneuver plan Zulu-Bravo to the fleet, execution time synchronized with...make it Cromwell’s arrival at Point Zulu. I’d like to brush off that little pocket fleet near the border early, if we have the opportunity.” The odds were against anyone being in position to notice the precise timing of the course change, but Confederation admirals lived and died by anonymity. Cromwell’s captain might not appreciate being used as the time-setter, but Yureh made a habit of never choosing the same ship twice.

In the plot, the glowing ember of Point Zulu crept steadily closer to the gleaming light-codes of the massed Confederation fleets.

HMS Queen Eleanor
Scylla Sector (U-19)

The Royal Navy faced a more difficult strategic situation than the Confederation; accordingly, Admiral Gregory Atlas was busy setting up a finely-coordinated deployment plan rather than just staring moodily into a holographic plot. In any sort of normal operation, this would have been taken care of days in advance, weeks for some navies. This...was not a normal operation. Many navies couldn’t have managed anything more than ‘scream and leap’ given the same amount of time. Most navies, however, haven’t spent the last several hundred years in a constant state of low-intensity warfare to keep them sharp. Both the Royal Navy and -- as much as Atlas hated to admit it -- the Confederation Navy were up to the task.

And it was quite a task. It wasn’t a question of having the firepower; this early in the operation Atlas’s forces were concentrated to a degree the Empire Star couldn’t even dream of. No, the problem was thornier; how to bring a vastly-outgunned force to battle in deep space without the time-sink of a lengthy stern chase. True, the Yorkies had a reputation for never backing down from a fight, but the ESR border fleet’s throw-weight relative to that of Atlas’s combined force would make it less of a fight and more of a question of backing down from a hurricane. On the other end of the spectrum, there was a timetable to consider. He had the forces to envelop the entire area and force an engagement that way, but not the time; the longer the whole operation took, the worse things would get.

A mix, then. Direct enough to make the whole engagement occur in a timely manner, sneaky enough to trick the Empire Star fleet commander into letting him get too close.

“Put the fleet on, as soon as we cross the border,” Atlas began, transferring a heading to the tactical system that would put the combined Royal Navy forces on a course that would take them to spinward of the Empire Star fleet, and even more to spinward of the actual objective. At the same time, the line that flashed into place in the holotank dipped beneath the elliptic, putting the primary objective system some distance outside a plane between the course-line and the ESR fleet.

“That’ll put us right around here,” he pointed into an area of the map, which obligingly flashed blue, “At our projected point of closest approach. That’s far enough away that he shouldn’t quite be spooked into running, at least not yet. Admiral Freya, you have operational command of the fleet’s carriers. I want your decks hot and ready to launch at minus thirty to closest approach. If they rabbit, launch and pursue, your gunships should be able to overhaul easily at that short range. Given our relative positions by that point, they’ll be running where we want to chase anyway, so a stern chase becomes viable if we can catch them shy of Brooklyn. If they don’t, I want you to launch anyway at plus seven minutes. Let them relax a bit, get them positioning themselves to shadow us rather than run away, then punch in their faces. Admiral Tern, you’ve got operational command of the battle-line units, and your orders are much the same, with the caveat that you’ll need to keep a clear line for the gunships to mobilize. They’re our best chance of catching the Yorkies napping, I don’t want a dreadnought in the way of a strike group to spoil it.”

He stared at the plot for a few moments, then nodded to himself before continuing, “If we catch them before they make hyper, and I think there’s a good chance we will, the gunships need to slow them down, keep them from lining up for any sort of a coherent hyperspace transit, even try to interdict en-masse if needed. Go for engine damage if you can. Once the line units get there, Admiral Tern, I need a strong presence in hyperspace to drag anyone back out who tries to translate up and make a run for it. Your discretion as to how, but keep the Yorkies pinned down.”

Atlas met each holographic image’s eyes once, looking from one to the next, before finishing up in a serious tone, “Remember, this is a secondary objective, but a high-priority one. This fleet’s very well-positioned to make trouble on our way back out, and I’d rather not have them waiting. Dismissed.”

Minutes apart, both fleets crossed the border into the Empire Star Republic and swung to their new headings.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Ryan Thunder » 2011-12-22 11:14am

INSANITY - Kasiban Institute, Centre for Exotic Psychology and Neuroscience, Nova Miratia

Director Tastia couldn't believe the support she was getting, or rather, the alacrity with which it had arrived. Within hours of the Emergency Analytic Assembly's conclusion that the Eye was a psychic phenomenon, she'd found herself the new manager for hundreds of personnel, with even more to arrive in the near future. Test subjects, test administrators, 'psyker's, 'psyker' specialists, and even some personnel from the Expeditionary Force.

She'd physically cringed at the sight of the Eye. Even as a projection it almost instantly caused migraine headaches.

Her new mission was hardly simple: determine the nature of the Eye, determine if it could be reduced or controlled, investigate applications for psykers in the armed forces, and review integration practices for psykers in Miratian society.

She would waste no time in carrying it out.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Akhlut » 2011-12-26 12:14pm

Now that several months had passed since the Feelipeens and NenAltKik opened up trade relations, there had been a sudden influx of exotic animals to the Feelipeens. Many zoos were expanding enormously, as they sought creatures that would surely be showstoppers, while farms and ranches wanted new sources of meat. However, there was also a trade on the grey market for exotic dinosaurs for the wealthy elites in the Feelipeens; corrupt congressmen, merchant princes, and gang lords all wanted the newly available dinosaurs for pets, as symbols of power and wealth and prestige. However, whereas zoos and farms at least had some ideas of the facilities needed and the security required for such dangerous animals, the private owners tended to be much more lax, leading to very dangerous situations for the common man...

Sibugay, Feelipeens

Matahomestar Falafel, leader of the dreaded Hexagons, stood on the balcony of his mountain jungle compound and observed the workers moving the holding crate of the melanistic botau; the creature was very rare and very dangerous, and therefore, very expensive. Falafel was more than happy with that, though, as he liked dangerous things. This would be a fine addition to his collection; he enjoyed his tigers, his lions, and the Fenris wolves from the Byzantines, but this would be the crown jewel for his collection. It was a 20 foot long, 8 foot high predatory killing machine.

The workers pushed the crate up to the enclosure door, while the botau eyed them through the hyper-acrylic windows. The workers, in a foolish rush, opened the crate's gate before the enclosure's. The botau's head swiveled, looking keenly at the slight gap, less than half an inch, between the enclosure and the crate. It leaped, pushing the crate away from the enclosure. Falafel saw the crate shoot backwards and quickly lifted his binoculars to see what was going on, as he was too far away to hear anything.


The security raised their tazers and tranquilizer guns, but the botau moved like quicksilver, hopping upon a security guard and snapping his head in its jaws and pulling upward quickly. The man's flesh was stripped from his skull, leaving a screaming wretch for a few agonizing seconds. The botau was already running back up the path whence it was brought in and easily jumped atop the 30 foot wall surrounding Falafel's compound, bounding off into the surrounding rainforest.

Falafel dropped the binoculars on the floor and turned around, grabbing a snifter and slugging down the cognac in a single gulp before dropping it. Crystal exploded at his feet into a million shards. His personal bodyguards glanced at each other nervously.

A giant vein throbbed on Falafel's forehead and his right eye twitched nervously.


Jose Bayani Raoul Adolf de El Santo was riding his moped up to the mountainside plantation; most of the work was performed by automated machines these days, but Jose was a mechanic for those machines, after all, human mechanics these days were cheaper than robot mechanics. Jose was pushing his moped to its furthest mechanical limits, though, as he was late today; too much liquor last night for his wife's birthday meant he overslept. He prayed for an impromptu intercession from his family's patron saint.

Oh, mighty El Santo, please have Jesu deliver me from this tardy day like you delivered the Professor's daughter from those vampires!

As Jose took the corner, he saw a tall, dark shape in the middle of the road. He tried to steer around it, but overcorrected and the moped flew out from underneath him, smashing into a tree.

"Ay! Dios mio!"

The botau looked at his moped, then back over to him. It walked over and gingerly smelled the moped, but curled its lips up, exposing rows of razor sharp teeth and backed away, clearly disgusted with the moped. It then looked at Jose quizzically, turning its head one way and another while looking at him.

Jose smiled nervously and chuckled a bit.

"You're nice, aren't you boy? Just let me get my moped and get out of here. Please?"

Jose was very confused; he was a mechanic, so all of his education was in electrical systems and mechanical systems with absolutely no biology whatsoever. All he could tell was that this was a dinosaur, which made some sense, he thought, since those dinosaurs were trading with the Feelipeens now. Though, now that he thought that, he was wondering if he offended one of the visiting aliens now.

"Hey, sorry if I pissed you off, mang, let's just let bygones be bygones. I've got to get to work, so, uh, bye?"

He got up, only slightly scratched from wiping out on his moped. The botau made a reply.

Jose was even more confused now, approaching the botau a bit more closely.

"Hey, I don't understand. Do you speak Feelipeeno? Maybe English? ING-UH-LISH? FEEL-UH-PEEN-O?"

The botau took a step forward, still trilling its call.

"HELLO?" Jose said loudly.

"HELL-O?" chirped the botau, its voice sounding hollow, like a parrot's.

"So, you can speak English!" Jose cried happily, walking toward his moped. He turned his back to the botau for a second to see what shape it was in. His last sight was a flat tire, as the botau hopped on his back, sinking a nine inch claw through his ribcage, puncturing his heart.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by KlavoHunter » 2011-12-28 01:09am

RKS Hashshashin

"It just takes away the fatigue. There's no time to dream!" complained Ensign Tarek Negrouz, out on his first patrol cruise. His more experienced shipmate just smiled. "There's no need to dream during a war. At any rate, you'd only have nightmares."

Captain Tarek Negrouz blinked awake as the tank-bed slid back into the upright position, the seals gently popping to equalize with the ship's atmosphere, the metal door swinging open. There were no dreams in the tank-bed, but he swore he'd just vividly dreamed that brief encounter he'd had earlier in his career. That was fine, because in his real bed the one time he'd tried it in the past days, he was indeed traumatized by the nightmares that'd come. When he had gazed into the Eye of Terror as it was born, it, too, had gazed back into him. The Djinni-class stealth's reinforced Null-Fields and other psychic defenses for concealment purposes had served the flotilla well, if not perfectly at the relatively close range they'd been at, voyeuristically peeking into the MEH Sol System as the onslaught of the Coalitions went on until... all hell broke loose on Earth, literally.

Tarek had sort of hoped that tailing the Chamarran Grand Fleet was going to be the most metal he'd seen in one place at one time, but this war had proven him wrong. The combined fleets of the Byzantines and Haruhiists fled like thieves in the night from the murdered solar system, and the orders of the closest unit of Klavostan's eyes and ears had been to set fresh and close on their tail out of the chaos. Shaking themselves free of their incomprehending shock, or worse, in the case of the sensor officer who'd gouged his eyes out and then inconsolably wept blood when the sights still wouldn't go away.

And it turned out this tail chase was destined to be a long chase. It'd been a long time since Klavostani ships had ventured out this far to spinward, not since the Emissaries had declared their dominion over their little corner of known space. The hyper lanes and space conditions had drifted semi-predictably naturally, and the Eye of Terror's opening had quite unpredictable effects as spacetime clenched a little tighter in fear. The Imperials had to be absolutely desperate to evade capture if they took this long path around the back of Emissary space.

Today was the day, after a full week of long hyperspace travel. The Janissary marine guards at the doors of the bridge barely nodded, long since having dispensed with far more formal rituals, no crisp 'Captain on the bridge!'. The long chase would pay off when the vast bulk of the Klavostani stealther fleet would draw closed the net from the front, having looped the opposite way around Emissary space, and had some time to emplace stationary unmanned sensor platforms as well. They would see the true form of the Imperials' fleets this day, not just ghosted, obscure clusters of contradictory sensor signatures. Captain Negrouz cursed softly to himself under his breath as those first sensor returns were coming in. "Command will need to see this..."

RKS Yavuz

"... There are six of them," Fleet Admiral Sulaiman Ziane whispered to himself. The same number of fleets as he commanded right now, an awe-inspiring amount of firepower and responsibility. The brutal combat at Zeus had left an entire fleet's worth of ships bearing damage, once the Royal Klavostani Star Navy had re-organized and replenished themselves to continue on. If not for the knowledge that the Byzantines had themselves fought through two rather more savage battles, and barely run from the heart of an erupting psychic anomaly, he would be even more apprehensive about such a chase. The six separate Klavostani battlefleets fanned out, in formation still, and with their slight lead ahead of the Imperials were starting to herd them into a trap in space, where the Miratians or Chamarrans could then seal the Imperials' last route of escape. That was the theory, anyways. In practice, the involved parties had no recent experience at such a massive coordinated multinational operation, and sloppiness was evident. It would have to do - at least the Miratians were keeping pace. The Chamarrans were much more distant, in both spacial distance and in demeanour of communications and cooperation.

As the hours passed, the gnawing unease in Sulaiman's stomach grew into a deep dread as the courses of the Imperial fleets curved undeniably Coreward. He had his orders, and the assurances of the Sultan himself that the Chamarrans had made their opinions on the Imperials clear. For all that, in command of the greatest force of the nation's military so far from home, he may as well be the Sultan, though he thought that not in hubris, but weighty responsibility. A single mistake with this much amassed blood and treasure could ruin the nation in a single night.

Then, the Imperials made a course correction that left no doubt as to what was happening. That was too directly a course towards Chamarran space to be some sort of evasive course... Unless their only objective was to avoid the Klavostanis and Miratians, and not worry about Chamarran contacts. A cold horror ran up Sulaiman's spine. Was this all part of some pre-planned betrayal? Or was this just the sheer chaos of a war unlike any other since 3042? Could two fleets that had just been firing on one another form ranks alongside one another that easily? Or were the Chamarrans playing coy by the Laws of Space to let the Imperials go, and were not seeking battle?

A bad decision now is better than a perfect decision too late, Sulaiman reflected, hedged his bets, and took a deep breath.

"Force Commander Kay, if you're seeing what I'm seeing, this pursuit appears to be rapidly falling apart. If you're willing to make your last attempt to apprehend the Imperials now, we'll support you if we can, and then withdraw in an orderly fashion together. This area of space is no longer safe. Fleet Admiral Ziane out."
"The 4th Earl of Hereford led the fight on the bridge, but he and his men were caught in the arrow fire. Then one of de Harclay's pikemen, concealed beneath the bridge, thrust upwards between the planks and skewered the Earl of Hereford through the anus, twisting the head of the iron pike into his intestines. His dying screams turned the advance into a panic."'

SDNW4: The Sultanate of Klavostan

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by Force Lord » 2012-01-03 03:22pm

The Central Times

Former enemies invade Empire Star Republic!

In perhaps the most galling act in interstellar history, the Royal Kingdom of Scarlet and the Midnight Confederation, for the longest time intractable enemies, have somehow setteled their differences and mounted an unprovoked invasion of the Empire Star Republic. Experts are completely clueless in figuring out why both would even invade the ESR, let alone end their seemingly endless rivalry in order to do it. The Central Government has not formulated an official response to the invasion, though frantic meetings between the Dictator and his top officials have been reported to be taking place. More news as the situation develops.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by White Haven » 2012-01-05 01:15pm

Buffalo System
Gotham Sector (U-17)

The hyper wake generated by a force the size of the Confederate combined fleet was hardly conducive to hiding. Accordingly, no one in the region was terribly surprised when the majority of the Midnight Confederation Navy dropped sublight just outside the hyper limit. Rather, no one was surprised that they’d arrived. Where they arrived came as an unpleasant surprise to the system’s vastly-outnumbered defenders.

Specifically, it was nowhere near the hastily-laid minefield that covered the fleet’s projected emergence locus. Even understrength as they were, the electronic warfare elements attached to the three Confederate fleets were more than sufficient to mask the last-moment course change that dropped Yureh’s force high above the elliptic for long enough to catch the defenders off-balance.
MCNS Heretic

Admiral Ezekiel Yureh, in command of the combined fleets of the Midnight Confederation Navy, couldn’t help it. He started to chuckle as the fleet’s recon elements began assembling a coherent picture of the deployments of the system’s defenders. That earned him more than a few odd looks, but no one spoke up about it. Finally, a tactical specialist got the joke and tried to smother a snort. That drew Yureh’s attention, a smile cracking his face.

“Yes indeed, Mister Vallane. We just outfoxed each other, on their part by accident.”

It was true. Yureh’s steady course and last-minute fakeout had given the defenders time to lay what was to all indications a viciously dense minefield around their original, projected emergence point. He’d bet on that, and the fleets arrived ‘above’ and ‘behind’ the minefield, in the perfect position to stoop down on the Empire Star fleet lying in wait to exploit the chaos of a mined hyperspace transition.

The plot, however, showed otherwise. Rather than lying in wait near the minefield, the waiting defenders where huddled in a tight formation, wreathing the heavy defensive fortresses with warships to thicken their fire. The minefield sat alone just outside the hyper limit, a forlorn hope dropped there to cause casualties rather than a component of a serious attack on the Confederation Navy force. They were, in short, nowhere near where Yureh had projected would be their optimal positioning for an attack on his fleets, and thus also nowhere near where he’d positioned them to counterattack.

“Well...that was anticlimactic. Put me on an open channel, route through Alexander and boost the broadcast so it’s got system-wide coverage.”

A brief bustle of activity culminated in Yureh being handed a slim, wiry headset, which he settled into place comfortably before nodding at the signals officer. His next words were broadcast in the clear, blanketing the star system.

“This is Admiral Ezekiel Yureh, Midnight Confederation Navy, to the officers in charge of the system’s defenders and defenses. You are hopelessly outmatched. I hold no ill will against you, and do not relish the thought of killing men who have no real opportunity to fight back. If you abandon and scuttle, you have my personal word that you will not be harmed in any way or taken captive or hostage. Be aware that while I have no great desire to kill you, neither will I hesitate to do so in the course of my mission. This offer shall remain open even in the event that you choose to fight; any vessel that cuts power will be allowed a reasonable time to set scuttling charges and abandon ship.”

His voice took a harsher tone for one last sentence, “Equally, you should be aware that any attempt to exploit this offer to attack my forces will be met with extremely lethal force. Yureh, clear.”

The reply was not long in coming.

“If you want to start something, start it here.”

“About those stereotypes...” Yureh frowned at the plot as he digested the Yorkies’ belligerent response. On one hand, he had more than enough firepower to reduce every last armed vessel and fortress in the system to ash with minimal casualties of his own. On the other hand, he didn’t have the time to do so. With another chuckle, he again keyed up the channel and spoke, “Have it your way. I’m afraid we’re late for another appointment, but I’m sure we’ll have a chance to continue this conversation another time.” With that, he cut the channel and pulled the headset off while giving a curt order, “Get the fleets into hyper on course for Gotham. We don’t have time for this.”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Post by White Haven » 2012-01-08 10:24am

HMS Direwolf
Brooklyn Sector (U-18)

Normally, Flight Lieutenant Grace Caparelli hated hot standby. Stuck in a sealed flight suit in a cramped gunship with two other human beings, all three of them whiling away the hours of alert status with increasingly-terrible jokes. Plus-ten was comfortable enough; sure, she’d still be stuck in a hot flight suit, but her helmet would be off and she’d be in a ready room, not the tiny crew compartment. Flight crews were stood up for deployment alerts more than most anyone on a line-ship even realized, and nine times out of ten they were just stood down again after some uncomfortable waiting.

This time was different. Tension and eagerness displaced boredom and discomfort. Word from Group command was that this was for real, no shit, absolute 100% chance of a full multi-carrier strike. Launched from hyperspace, in the first full operational deployment of the new SLAM2 system. This was, to put it succinctly, the Real Deal, and that put an entirely different face on the waiting.

Finally, endless, eternal minutes later, the command channel went live again, Group Commander Enrico Chavez’s voice coming though more clearly than it ever would after launch, “All wings, SLAM2 launch in one minute. SLAM2 launch in one minute.”

Preflight had been done some time ago. System checks were already complete; Grace’s eyes flicked over the status indicators anyway out of pure reflex. Rows of steady green lights stared unblinkingly back at her. Beside them, ghostly numbers bloomed into existence on her helmet HUD. 00:48

She swallowed once, quietly, last-minute tension fluttering in her stomach at the realization that her wing was going to be in the first launch wave and probably the vanguard of the strike itself. She shook her head slightly to clear it, careful to keep the movement subtle enough that her suit helmet wouldn’t reflect it. It wouldn’t do for the two other members of her flight crew to realize how nervous she was. She was an experienced pilot, but the sheer scale of the launch and scope of the mission put everything she’d done prior to shame.


“Alright, you two know what to do. Get ready for a bumpy ride, the transition from Direwolf’s hyper field to our own is always rough. Terrence, set up the hyperdrive generator under computer control, no funny business trying to be ‘more efficient’ this time, not in the middle of a launch like this.”


The cockpit hummed and throbbed as the small gunship’s overpowered drives and reactor came to full power, the rumbling snarl muted by the noise-canceling gear built into the helmet comm gear. Still, it rippled and buzzed through the bodies of each and every crewman aboard the ready gunships. The numerals continued to tick down--and then froze.


The glowing blue numbers suddenly turned red at the same time as they stopped counting down. At the same time, Chavez’s voice snapped sharply through Grace’s earpieces, “Abort launch, abort launch, all wings power down to standby loads.” After a brief pause filled with as many curses as there were gunship crew, he added, “We’ve got a failure in one of the SLAM2 booms. Can’t launch in hyper, don’t have the time to slow down and do it in n-space. You’re all being retasked as reserve elements and close cover when the carriers drop sublight with the capital ships.”

“Son of a bitch.”

The SLAM2 systems on the other eleven fleet carriers of First and Second fleets, Royal Navy, worked as designed. Watching sensors saw the hyper field strength of eleven contacts suddenly begin to rise with no attendant increase in speed, spiking up to preposterous levels indicative of much larger ships. Barely a minute later, hundreds, then thousands of contacts began to hash superluminal sensors, disgorging from the abnormally-large signatures and streaking away towards the nearby Empire Star fleet. At the same time, the whole fleet altered course and formation, swinging around onto the same course line but in a formation that left a wide gap for the significantly-faster gunships to steam through.

Canis Arctis was a lonely place with the entire carrier’s decks’s empty. All but the experimental Hermes wing. Wing Commander Francis Jackman’s pilots and crews hadn’t even been stood up at all, their craft were technically in maintenance storage. Once the string wings were clear, though, Jackman had pulled the craft from storage onto the decks, gotten the ground crews to prep them, and was now in one of the ready rooms along with some of his flight crews. With the other nine wings launched, there were more than enough vacant ready-rooms to go around.



“Dammit Jackman, you made this game up.”

Jackman replied with a grin as he threw down a hand carefully devoid of any aces, “Could be. Could not be. You lot still agreed to play it, so who’s looking more foolish now?” As he spoke, he slid a small pile of plastic chips across the table to join an already-impressive mound there. While making a show of counting them, he asked, “So, another hand?”

One by one, his opponents, pilots, crew, one ground crew chief, all threw in a few chips to the center of the table. The man in the worn coveralls of a crew chief remarked, “Shit-all else to do until the strike comes back, even with your birds on-deck.” After a brief pause, he tilted his head aside, “Why are they on-deck, anyway?”

Jackman answered with a shrug as he started to deal, “In case. Sure, Warlow might not want us around. Sure, the damned birds are first-gen testbeds, nothing I’d really want to take into a fight. But wouldn’t we all just look like assholes if we were needed and they were all still in storage?

New Colossus-class dreadnought ESNS Mauler
Flagship, ESR First Fleet
Y Plus 3 Hours

Admiral Jack Ellis suppressed an urge to run a hand over his shaven scalp. He wasn’t soft or careless- border patrol on the edge of the Red-Blue Remilitarized Zone wasn’t a job for weaklings. He’d lost count of the number of times his ships had shooed Scarlet and Confederate patrol groups away from the border, how many reconnaissance flights and monitoring operations First Fleet had done over the years. He knew the Reds, and the Blues, and he’d been expecting the Scarlet fleets to move for weeks.

But he’d been as surprised as anyone else in the Republic a few hours ago, when the combined Scarlet battlefleet broke to coreward from their base around Argosy, instead of moving to roll up the Confederate positions opened up by their victory and the MCN’s strategic withdrawal. What the hell was going on over on Mystryl? With the Karlacks howling in the Outback, now of all times they decided to come charging through the border?

That charging rhinoceros of a fleet had already barged past the hyperspace beacons and perimeter stations at the surface of ESR-claimed space. And they were coming in loaded for Bragulan: something like fifty capital ships- a lot of them light, but still fifty- nearly a hundred cruiserweights, and an enormous ball of fog that might be a mob of gunboats or might be a figment of his computers’ imagination. Something like five or six times the Republic frontier fleet’s tonnage, headed not quite straight for him, but only about half a radian off.

His orders were thankfully clear- get the hell out of the way. Reinforcements from Hudson sector, drawn away from the Karlack threat to spinward, were on the way. If they could form up in enough mass and push in behind the speedy Reds, catch them against the forces mustering for the defense of Brooklyn sector, they might just be able to put the whole mob into the nutcracker.

They just might.

Admiral Ellis’ main plot showed dozens of light-years of space, distances that fleets would take hours to cross. Nothing that happened on that screen could take immediate effect, there was no urgent danger to life and limb when the shimmering thread of the Scarlet battlefleet’s course projection began to shift. Nothing urgent about the death sentence passed on so many of his spacers as the invading armada twisted about, slowed a fraction, then picked up speed, a rippling mist of uncountable gunboat contacts spraying ahead of it... all headed directly for his outnumbered frontier command.

Thor-class gunship
Strike CV2

The hazy smear on Flight Commander Edison Cramer’s C3 display vanished suddenly, replaced by a rapidly-populating scatter of individual contact IDs. A few seconds later, his wing leader’s voice crackled in his helmet comm system, utterly redundant, “Tracking updates incoming. Strike targets as previously assigned. Anyone without a target, you’re on CAP and opportunity.”

“Thank you, mother,” Edison’s systems operator muttered across the little gunship’s internal comm net. Edison turned a snorting laugh into a cough until he could check that he wasn’t transmitted, after which he just snorted and shook his head. Then characters began to salt the C3 pane. His trained eyes flicked through the formation, seeking out the proper code...which then flashed white just before his eyes landed on it. CV2. Carrier Two. Without precise knowledge of the target fleet’s makeup, and with very limited pre-strike planning time, the Royal Navy strike had been divided up into preplanned groups, so that all that was needed was a set of last-minute target designations. If there hadn’t been any carriers, CV2 would have been turned loose as cover. As it was, it had a target.

A different voice came through his earpiece, this one a more familiar one. “CV2, we have our target. Assume we’ll be under heavy fighter attack for this one. With any luck, they’ll have bombers on-deck, but we can’t count on it. Winston, Pendergast, your wings are on fighter cover. Take snapshots at CV2 if you can, but that’s not your primary. Hendricks, Kamarov, go for disabling shots if you can. Hyperdrives primary, sublights and bay doors or hangar retaining fields secondary.” Strike Commander Allison Fetter’s voice was cool, calm, almost detatched in even through the interference of hyperspace as she delivered last-minute instructions. And then the numbers were flashing down towards zero and Edison’s gunship flashed down into realspace along with four wings of Royal Navy gunships in close proximity to an Empire Star carrier.

Had they been alone, that would have been a death sentence. They were not.

Edison’s plot went wild at first as not hundreds but thousands of RKS gunships exploded forth from hyperspace. The signatures of hostile fighters already in space and waiting hashed it even more until he cursed and scrambled across a few controls. Abruptly, the thousands of friendly gunship contacts were replaced by a few dozen icons representing each strike and a percentage beside each. At a flash of light on another, much tighter-focused sensor display, he wrenched the gunship through a punishing corkscrew that the inertial compensators couldn’t entirely damp out, his own body straining at the restraint harness as a flight of Yorkie fighters swept past with guns blazing. The gunship’s hull shuddered and twitched as the close-defense railguns opened fire, sending rapid-fire bursts of high-speed projectiles chasing after the attackers even as Edison pulled out of the spin and back on course for an attack run.

He grunted in satisfaction at the sight of a flight of five covering gunships looping in to pick off the Empire Star fighters that’d just taken a shot at him, but the main focus of his attention was on the increasingly-detailed threat profile the strike’s assorted sensors were assembling on the carrier rapidly growing in his forward view. With a gentle touch, Edison altered course to swing beneath the field of fire of one point-defense battery, only to snarl a quick curse and reverse the correction as another battery positioned to cover the gap he’d slipped into opened fire and was dutifully tagged by the tactical network. Unable to position his craft out of the field of fire of the strange, pulsing energy weapons, he instead began swinging in a tight, erratic spiral, swinging in and out of curves without warning while retaining the same rough course. The four veteran pilots that made up the rest of Cramer’s flight followed him in, each dancing through a hail of fire in a fluid, sinuous evasive pattern.

And then there were three.

A hail of fire slashed laterally across CV2’s line of attack, a number of striking gunships vanishing in clouds of vapor or tumbling out of formation and shedding debris. The carefully-coordinated attack began to unravel into frantic evasive maneuvers as fire from an unengaged ESR cruiser sliced across the carrier’s own defensive fire, making it nearly impossible to set up an attack run on one ship without the other cutting the strike to ribbons. No order to abort had been given, though...and then Edison’s eyes widened as he realized that one of the suddenly-missing gunships was Alexei Kamarov’s, the commander of Edison’s own strike wing. His mouth began to open, a finger keying up the wing-wide channel, when his trained eyes plucked a crucial bit of data from the chaos of evading gunships.

An icon labelled ‘L5’ that had just dropped from hyperspace on top of the cruiser that was giving his own strike so much grief. The cruiser that was also tagged as ‘L5.’

Light Five. Their strike was late, and that delay had cost CV2 a number of good crews and birds, but they were there at last. Edison keyed up the channel again, this time snapping out orders with greater confidence, “Cramer here, Kamarov’s down, I’m assuming wing command. Free evasion until my mark. L5’s on-station, give them a few seconds and that cruiser will be busy.”

Freed of the constraint of an attack run for the moment, the gunships of CV2 leapt into a series of frantic evasive maneuvers, diving and swirling in a pattern of Gordian complexity on his plot. As soon as he took command, that display had shifted from showing only his own truncated wing to a more zoomed-out view of the entire wing’s survivors. The overall C3 plot showed that the rest of the wing was following suit...and within the space of ten or fifteen second-shaped eternities, the crossfire spraying from the Yorkie cruiser vanished, the embattled ship too busy dealing with its own problems to attempt to shield the carrier.

“Cramer to wing, resume strike.”

Suiting action to words, Edison’s reefed his own gunship out of a tight turn and onto a more restrained pattern similar to his earlier erratic spiral. A light began blinking amber on the outskirts of his peripheral vision; the wing’s gunnery specialists were working together on a firing solution. When it went green, it would be his responsibility as wing commander to take the shot.

As the gap between CV2 and its prey fell towards effective lance range, another gunship vanished from his plot, then a second, defensive fire taking advantage of the relatively sedate pace of the attackers’ evasive maneuvers in the run-up to a massed strike. Cramer’s jaw clenched; he’d always hated losing crews, and even this new to the job of wing commander he still felt them as the vanished from what had so recently been a plot that only showed the four other craft of his flight. Ahead of him, Hendricks’ wing took their shots, blazing cobalt lance-fire stabbing deep into the carrier from the thirty-odd remaining gunships in that wing. The carrier’s shields burned with a strobing blue corona as they fought to ward off the needle-thin beams flickering in and out of existence like flashbulbs. By and large they succeeded; only a few beams kissed the hull, and those were attenuated to the point that all they could achieve was superficial damage.

That paved the way for Edison’s wing. The fire-control light flashed green at last, Edison’s grip tightening on the controls. He glanced at the range counter, an unseen grimace tracing his face from inside the helmet. Still outside optimal range, but the localized shield disruptions opened by Hendricks’ wing wouldn’t last long. A third gunship blew apart, this time slowly enough that the crew compartment’s escape charges blasted it free of the disintegrating wreckage. The numbers flashed downwards. Edison wrenched his own craft through a tight half-roll, just enough to avoid an Empire Star fighter that never even realized he was there. The thumping chatter of the close-defense railguns juddered the hull again; the fighter’s trace winked out. He glanced over again. Outside of optimal range, but close enough, and the shields wouldn’t remain degraded long.

His thumb flipped up a transparent shield and stabbed down on the controls that triggered not his own craft’s weapons, but every weapon slaved to central fire control across the wing. The actual firing of the weapon was silent, just capacitor banks discharging through an energy mount heavier than any craft the size of a simple gunship could power. Waste heat seeped through the spaceframe as the pulse-lance fired, followed by a rise in pitch of the thrumming sound and sensation coming from the fusion generator as it began to refill the capacitors.

The effect on the carrier was a good deal more dramatic. Thirty-three beams stabbed from the surviving members of the strike, and the vast majority of those blew clean through shields left vague, hazy, and porous in the wake of the first attack run. Beneath, they stabbed deep into the aft quarter of the Empire Star carrier, armour vaporizing and spraying into space amidst a spray of atmosphere. Flames sprayed into the void for several seconds before emergency systems came online to contain the air leaks, but that was secondary. As Edison pulled up and away to set for another pass and give the wing’s lances time to rebuild a charge, the carrier staggered in space, engine rooms on fire or wrecked from deep, penetrating strikes. A more heavily-armored ship might have shrugged it off, and the ship was far from disabled, but the sudden strike had left her limping.

The strike commander’s voice cracked across CV2’s network suddenly, snapping a quick order, “Pendergast, retask to strike, Winston, you’re alone on cover. Cramer’s opened up a hole, get in there and kick it in before they can compensate.” Edison’s first thought as she began to speak was at least she’s still alive, followed by a flush of pride. A quick glance at the target’s status confirmed it; something in his strike had knocked out one of the aft shield generators, leaving a small but noticeable gap where the carrier’s shields weren’t destabilized, they were missing. He glanced over at the charge indicator for his own lance, biting back a curse as the glowing red 13% failed to suddenly jump upwards. A moment’s further thought brought his finger down on the wing channel, quickly ordering, “Wing, Cramer. Run cover for Pendergast; with any luck we’ll be in position to tail in on his strike if it takes long enough for our lances to charge; if not, we’ll get him through.”

HMS King Ulysses
Crown-class Command Ship

Admiral Freya’s flag lieutenant, Stephanie Winters, gave a quick summary as she handed over a pad containing the raw numbers, “Strike leaders are reporting heavier-than-expected defensive fire, although their fighters aren’t as effective defensively as we’d feared, so it roughly balances out. No major surprises yet, although if our strikes are in there for too long unsupported the butcher’s bill isn’t going to be fun.”

Freya frowned as she paged through the highlights, her mind working furiously behind a trouble face. Finally, she set it down on the railing around the flag bridge’s main holoplot, refocusing her attention on Winters, “Tell Sandiego to remain in hyper on arrival, have our own carriers drop sublight. Direwolf can launch then. Once the battle-line has things under control, Sandiego’s wings hyper out and recover in hyper, at which point we’ll rotate her sublight and Cressida into hyper to recover hers, then finish off with Ballmer. Let’s not do recovery ops where we’ll be under fire if we don’t have to; SLAM2’s going to save us some lives today.”

Winters gave a curt nod and split off to relay Freya’s orders while the older admiral turned to face the plot with a frown. Before the younger woman could get too far away, Freya called out again, “And signal Evans with the PTFs, we’re definitely going to need at least his deck-loads after this. Tell him to launch now and signal for a replenishment, we’ll have the deck-space by the time they can get here.”

Damn, she’s cold...she’s right, but so cold. Winters thought privately, outwardly just giving a curt nod and a “Yes ma’am.”

HMS Seraphim
Crown-class Command Ship

The gunships launched by First and Second Fleets were transmitted back a wealth of data, something that the specialized command and control facilities of a Crown-class fleet command ship was well-equipped to make use of. Admiral Marianne Tern watched it closely, intently, particularly the flags that blinked into existence alongside more and more of the Empire Star warships as gunships raked and stabbed at their flanks. Their formation was ragged and splintering, each ship under siege by a gunship strike group, no vessels left unengaged to come to anyone’s rescue. Even more important, however, was the growing number of ships that were tagged for heavy engine damage and, in only a few cases given the difficulty of determining such, disabled hyperdrives. She began laying target points, relative positions tied to different target vessels.

Midway through muttering something about ‘need more dreadnoughts,’ one of the Empire Star heavy dreadnoughts pinged for attention, a new code sprouting from its icon with a tag that drew a grin to the admiral’s face. Total Engineering Casualty. That could only mean a serious reactor shutdown, given that the ship the tag was applied to was still in existence. With that ship no longer in danger of fleeing the field, Tern reassigned the target points she’d anchored to it to other targets nodding to herself as she finished tagging all the still-hyper-capable heavies with multiple Royal Navy dreadnoughts.

“It won’t be this easy at Brooklyn, but I’m sure as hell going to enjoy it while it is...”

Shaking her head slightly to banish the idle musing, she tapped a few controls and keyed up a channel to Rear Admiral Gearhart, in command of the remaining heavy warships attached to First Fleet in the absence of the detatched Task Force 12. A few moments later, a gruff, aged voice that Tern knew quite well was at odds with the youthful-looking, blonde-haired officer responded into her earpiece, “Gearhart. Go.”

“This is Admiral Tern. I’ve got enough heavy capital firepower to free your divisions up for a different mission,” she spoke quietly, the lightweight headset easily picking up her words. Now if only it were so easy to ensure that no one’s feathers were ruffled...Gearhart was notoriously touchy.

“Another mission? Admiral, I’ve got twelve front-line battleships under my command, what else do you want us to do but engage the enemy?” A low growl almost seemed to thread around the words, even though Marianne knew it was her imagination.

“And I intend for you to. Your battleships have a speed edge in hyper, ever since they were refitted with the hyper generators from the Claymore project. Not a wide one, but enough. I want your divisions hovering in hyperspace as part ready reserve if we run into any nasty surprises, but mainly to catch and drag back to realspace anyone who tries to make a run for it.” Tern gave a nasty grin, unseen on the audio-only channel, and continued, “A dozen battleships should be able to hold them down quite nicely if they object to taking their medicine.”

A pause drew out mid-conversation, long enough for her to start questioning whether the link was still active. Finally, Gearhart’s voice rumbled in her ear, “Agreed. If they try to get away from your dreadnoughts, we’ll be ready and waiting to do the real work. Gearthart clear.”

As the channel broke, Tern’s lips quirked in a wry smile, murmuring to herself, “If he wasn’t such a damned effective line commander, someone would have spaced him years ago.”

CV2’s original target was little better than a hulk by now; most of her engines were shattered, her hyperdrive had been cored, a lucky hit had burst a control run and slammed one of the flight bay doors shut hard enough to buckle the damaged plating and tangle it shut in a mass of splintered framing. Edison, however, had other worries. The remainder of the four-wing strike had joined up with one of the larger wolfpacks harrying one of the massive, heavily-armed Empire Star dreadnoughts; the difference in active and passive defenses between it and the carrier they’d originally been tasked to strike was enormous.

He couldn’t even tell how badly damaged it was, what the gunners were trying to target, even optimal firing points were all growing vague. Almost his entire attention was focused on keeping himself and his mangled wing intact. He’d already run through most of the Book; by now he was writing new pages, tearing them out, folding them into paper airplanes, and throwing them out the window as decoys. Every so often, when the green fire-control light and the green lance charge lights agreed with one another, he’d hammer the master firing trigger and send a fresh volley of needles stabbing in at the beast.

And they were hurting it. The dreadnought’s shields were a memory by now, a faded wisp that only occasionally wafted together in enough force to give the strike any trouble. Tiny molten craters pockmarked the hull, legacies of where the massed pulse-lances had chewed into -- and sometimes through -- the heavy armour beneath. It was slow to turn by now, maneuvering thrusters and main engines alike serving as easy targets given the need to scale them up to power a ship that large. A few areas even had degraded point-defense coverage. But there was so much fire spraying from defense batteries that it was difficult to credit any serious impairment to the dreadnought’s capabilities, at least from the cockpit of a gunship.

A threat indicator blared for Edison’s attention and his face went white; the onboard tactical systems had recognized that one of the ponderously-heavy main batteries was angled just ahead of his current flight path. The entire wing’s path. He threw the gunship into a sudden hairpin turn, yelling into his headset as he did, “Wing, scatter!”

For some of them, it was going to be enough. For himself, Edison could tell, it wasn’t. He saw, as if in slow motion, the projected path of his frantic evasion, saw the sudden glow building in the barrels of the heavy energy mount, saw the projected firing path, saw it all intersect...

Saw the flank of a Royal Navy dreadnought exploding out of hyperspace and soaking up the cone of nuclear force on its shields without a twitch. He swept past the blocky, bright red letters that spelled out, ‘HMS Halberd’ across the broadside. Impulsively, he spun through a quick barrel-roll and flashed running-lights in salute while relieved shouts cluttered the comm net.

The one thing Acting Wing Commander Edison Cramer never saw was the orphaned flight of Yorkie fighters that took advantage of his distraction to shatter his gunship like an egg with a spray of meson bolts. Point-defense fire from Halberd cut them to shreds seconds later.

HMS Halberd
Claymore-class Dreadnought

Unlike a gunship’s cramped, ‘dumb’ tactical plot, Captain Julian Intaki’s holotank was both large enough to comfortably display the entire battle and constantly monitored by expert systems and tactical staff alike to ensure that it didn’t succumb to information overload. At the moment, it was projecting two different displays at once, most of the real-estate given over to an overview of the battle as a whole while a smaller section was focused on a zoomed-in view containing Halberd, her cousins Zweihander and Warhammer, their screens, and their prey. The three dreadnoughts had stormed out of hyperspace on top of the heavier Empire Star capital ship, relieving the gunships which were even now breaking for safety now that their task was complete.

“Weapons, disabling shots. Target engines and heavy weapons.” Intaki gave a cruel little chuckle as he gestured at the zoomed-in plot, “The carriers have been kind enough to strip off their shields, after all. It would be down--”

The sound of air hissing through bared teeth coincided with the sudden flickering lnes of hostile heavy-weapons fire, tracing between the cornered Empire Star ship -- the tactical plot helpfully tagged it as ‘DN - New Colossus’ -- and all three of the surrounding Royal Navy heavies. They were without their normal screen, simply because nothing cruiserweight had any business being as close to a hostile dreadnought as the engagement plan demanded Halberd and her sisters themselves be. The captain’s head snapped around to look at the pale-faced sensor specialist who’d made the sound, calling out in a tight, controlled voice, “Status, Mister Horston.”

“Still gathering data, sir,” the reply began, his fingers still flying across the holograms that wreathed his station, “But they’ve got some hellacious weapons on that thing. Easily better than ours, sir.”

Halberd’s tactical officer spoke up as well with a notably calmer voice, “She’s fighting dumb, though, the gunships must have done a number on some of their fire-control interlinks. It looks like most of their mounts are knocked back to local control and they’re splitting fire. Good thing, too; Horston’s right. Their heavy mounts have an unpleasant edge over ours.”

Even as the unpalatable revelation played out, the trio of Royal Navy dreadnoughts opened fire, tightly-coordinated beams kindling to life and raking molten furrows across the unshielded hull of the damaged ESR ship. The blue-white beams tracked across the hull, probing for weak points in armour, converging on heavy energy mounts and holding steady to blot them away forever. One undamaged New Colossus might well have been able to put up a fight, even against three Claymores. Half-crippled and shieldless, it wasn’t even a contest.

The same was true elsewhere. Intaki’s eyes narrowed as first a battlecruiser- battlecruiser? Not with that firepower- and then a pair of cruisers vanished in the flares of hyperspace transitions. They weren’t gone long.

Their wild, flaring re-entry was a good deal less controlled than their exit had been. Each was ripped back out of hyperspace, having had its hyper field overwhelmed by sheer brute force, the battlecruiser dragged back out between a pair of flanking battleships, the cruisers forced sublight by one each. And now that the prey was aware of the trap... Right on time.

“The flag is transmitting in the clear, addressed to the ESR force, Captain.”

“Put it on. I want to hear this.”

The familiar, deep voice of the commanding officer of First Fleet -- and, as Force Admiral, the entire combined attack group -- emerged from the bridge’s intercom systems, mixing iron with a touch of conciliation, “Force Admiral Gregory Atlas, to all Empire Star ships. By now you know that you’re trapped and overmatched. Any ship that discontinues combat will not be fired upon. Your crews will be allowed to abandon ship on the condition that your ships subsequently be scuttled. Any ship incapable of scuttling herself will be taken under fire and destroyed. Any individuals evacuating from ships that have ceased combat will not be harmed. My forces will be instructed to leave your crews unmolested and not seize any as prisoners. If your own beacon systems are unable to signal for recovery, we will relay the appropriate signal at our earliest opportunity.”

His voice took on a harder note as he continued; it was easy enough to visualize the man’s face tightening, that familiar clenched jaw. Intaki had served as helmsman years past, and the man’s mannerisms hadn’t changed much since then, “I have no wish to kill anyone more than I have to, but I will not hesitate to do so if necessary. Any attempts to take advantage of my offer in an attempt to either escape intact or ambush any forces under my command will be met with the harshest possible response. Atlas clear.”

The only immediate response was a carrier under heavy fire from a division of Royal Navy heavy cruisers. The ship and the tattered remnants of her fighter complement immediately ceased fire and began transmitting both their intent to discontinue combat and a request for recovery of lifepods before a possible reactor failure. The captain frowned; he was far enough away and out of the chain of command in any case, it wasn’t his business. Still, this would be the test case. He watched the plot tensely, only half paying attention to the increasingly-ineffective fire of the Empire Star dreadnought floating nearby. Lifepods and shuttlecraft began to spill from the carrier in very short order, prompting a slight nod and a reduction in Intaki’s tension. “That turnaround was too fast to be a ploy. She must have been prepping to abandon already,” he murmured, only half realizing that he’d spoken at all.

The heavy cruiser division’s commander seemed to agree, all four ships closing in around the carrier and tractoring escape pods into yawning boat bays.

HMS Trantor
Scimitar-class Heavy Cruiser
Boat Bay

The tension was palpable. The captain had taken the step of assuming the distress call was genuine, extending the hand of peace. Now...would it be met with a hand, or a fist? Trantor’s marine contingent was still hastily redeploying from counterboarding and damage control stations across the ship to the boat bay itself, excepting a skeleton crew that was more a tripwire than anything else. For the moment, though, the single armored platoon that was normally tasked with boat bay security was the only backup available for the painfully young-looking lieutenant standing in front of them -- and to the side.

Corporal Vanessa Boehr barked a laugh in the privacy of her own helmet at that thought. The Navy boy had set up right in front of the marines until the sarge had ever-so-respectfully suggested that ‘Sir, the Lieutenant may wish to move out of our field of fire in case this is a ruse.’

No so privately. She flinched as the sergeant’s dry, sarcastic voice sounded throughout the platoon communications network on a private channel, “Something funny you’d like to share, Corporal Boehr?”

Ah hell, I must have been keyed up. I hate this new comm gear. Outwardly, she only said, “Just saw the Lieutenant standing well off to the side, sergeant.”

Before it squelched, the corporal heard something that sounded like it wanted to grow up to be a snort. After a few seconds of silence, the sergeant’s voice came back over the network, “Carry on, then.”

At that point, the first Empire Star escape pods and shuttles began to drift into the boat bay in the tractor beams’ grip. Vanessa’s grip tightened around her rifle, sweat slicking the palms of her hands before wicking away into her armour’s liner. Is it a trap? Are we being boarded?

The Lieutenant was walking forwards, extending a hand towards the senior officer off the first escape pod. Vanessa wasn’t paying attention; she was trying to watch everyone, waiting for the first glimpse of a weapon, a suit of combat armour, any sign of a backstab. The Empire Star Republic officer pointed to a shuttle just passing the atmosphere shields, still talking to the Royal Navy lieutenant, who then pressed two fingers to his comm earpiece. When the sergeant’s voice crackled over her helmet comms again, it was addressed to the entire platoon, “Alright, Yorkie marines coming out in the next shuttle. Keep your eyes open, but they were nice enough to tell us first, and they’re supposed to be leaving weapons behind. They’re still in armour, though, nobody get twitchy.”

Vanessa reflexively checked the charge status of her rifle -- good, full charge. It had been five minutes ago, but you never knew. There were enough shuttles and escape pods in the bay to carry enough troops to give her platoon a nightmare, and if this wasn’t played straight...

The shuttle’s rear hatch dropped to the deck with a hiss of pneumatics and a clank of impact, followed by the heavy tread of combat armour. The first figure passed into view, Vanessa’s gut clenching at the sight of hostile battle-armour...but its hands were empty, and no suit-mounted weapons were in evidence. Still, she stayed tense; there was always the chance that the first one or two troopers would be sent out unarmed to put people off-guard. But as more and more disembarked empty-handed, she finally started to unwind, smiling a bit maniacally in relief.


“Reports coming in...either they’re playing a seriously deep game, or we’re not actually being boarded.”

“That’s always a plus. Next thing, you’ll be telling me I should buy a lottery number,” Trantor’s captain answered with an absolutely deadpan voice and a neutral expression.

His XO matched it perfectly, “Seven, sixteen, eight, twenty-two, twenty-four, iota.”

“I’ll take it under advisement, thank you. Meanwhile, please signal the flag that we are not up to our necks in Yorkie marines and that counterboarding operations may be premature.”

“Of course, sir. Shall I cancel the self-destruct as well?” came the reply, again delivered totally deadpan.

And Commander Jason Graves lost the game. He and his executive officer played it every so often. The first person who had to ask lost. And something like that...he had to ask. “I do hope you’re not serious.”

With a sudden flash of a grin to dispel the carefully-schooled neutral expression, the other man responded, “Of course not, but thank you for the point.”

HMS Queen Eleanor
Crown-class Command Ship

As the drama played out aboard Trantor and her division-mates, the battle around them began to wind down. Damaged, lamed, surrounded, often crippled, Empire Star ships ceased fire one by one. First only a couple, typically the most damaged. After a point, though, it became endemic. No one was going to escape, and many of them were going to die if they pressed the battle to its limits; that much was painfully clear. Not only die, but die in vain given the force arrayed against them. Not an easy thing for a proud military to admit... but easier than pointless suicide. The only tense moment came when the now-empty carrier that’d been first to disengage simply blew in half, splinters of wreckage racing outwards behind a pulse of radiation. The still-shielded Royal Navy ships rode it out unscathed, but one nearby Empire Star cruiser took a relatively minor slap.

“We’re on a timetable,” Atlas reminded his staff, “I want that entire Yorkie fleet scuttled and their crews seen to as quickly as possible. No prisoners, no passengers, but make sure they’re all properly supplied to float for a while. We have neither the time nor the capacity for dealing with distractions right now.”

With that, he turned back to the flag bridge’s expansive plot, frowning into its depths and murmuring, “ won’t be this easy again.”
Chronological Incontinence: Time warps around the poster. The thread topic winks out of existence and reappears in 1d10 posts.

Out of Context Theatre, this week starring Darth Nostril.
-'If you really want to fuck with these idiots tell them that there is a vaccine for chemtrails.'

Fiction!: The Final War (Bolo/Lovecraft) (Ch 7 9/15/11), Living (D&D, Complete)Image

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