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SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-25 01:57pm
Official game start will be the year 3X00 (we'll work out the value of "X" later, I'm personally aiming for about "2" or "3," and people were cool with "3") This is for stuff that happens in your country 'before' game start, either to set up your culture and way of life, or to set up stories you intend to explore after
official game start.
Me, there's something I'm recycling from SDNW4 because I wasn't finished telling that story, so I'm putting bits of it in the prologue here.
Central Administration Complex
Prime City, Reisenburg, Sector W-7
August 5, 3299
The First Technarch slapped his hands together and smiled. "Calvin! You wanted us here to review the Auroras?
The Second for Security seemed less enthusiastic. "My people have been running more studies, and we're having serious misgivings about the class. Given the production requirements-"
Jim Borrego, Second for Industry, cut in, his voice raised and his Bolivaran accent thick. "They're a waste. Four main cannon beamlines, half as much dureum as a dreadnought, the building slip, all for something that fights like a third of a dreadnought. A waste!"
"Yes, Jim. Especially with production of the Mark Fifteen being a bottleneck- we should be concentrating six to a dreadnought, not four to a battlecruiser. Better use of our facilities, less risk of losing valuable hardware in combat-"
The Second for Finance interrupted, this time. "We need something
we can split up and move around in that tonnage range. The Sheppoes have their older battlestar classes... Besides, this puts more beamlines on more hulls fast-"
"We can't build the guns, Rafe!"
"I know, I know, eight per year is too many, but I'm really enthusiastic about the idea of using these for antipiracy sweeps- nothing less than a battleship can..."
"Remember Brennan's World, in '91? We lost two heavy cruisers- we'd have probably lost an Aurora
The First Technarch rapped out a single word. "Enough!"
Still seeming at ease despite his sharp tone of a moment earlier, Dr. O'Connell leaned back in his chair, hands clasped behind his head. "Didn't you tell me, Cal, about improving performance with a fully self-aware AI?"
"I did, but..."
The Second for Simulation cut in. "I'm confused. I thought warships had more computer support than that."
"They have processor power, Rashid; what they don't have is self-awareness. The software shuffles information and runs algorithms, but there's no, no... what's the word?"
"I can think of several words. This should have been tried before. Why wasn't it-"
"Problems- security risks, minimal gain. The advantage over our existing systems is in reaction time and integration, not data handling. Expert systems were good enough until now, still would be if the Auroras
didn't depend so much on evasion and smoke and mirrors. I know I signed off on them at the time, but the more I look at the simulations, the less I like it. They're just not a good return for their tonnage, not unless everything goes right."
"But a tactical AI would help."
"It depends on who you ask. Operations isn't so sure, but your people think it is."
O'Connell nodded. "We can still implement this, yes?"
"The hulls are designed for but not with the special hardware. Full fitting and integration would take... call it three to six months; SpaceSec wanted to commission and then fit one or two on a trial basis."
"I remember. The software?"
"Preliminary contract for the programming, a short-notice arrangement with Geppetto. He says he can deliver on notice, but didn't want to guarantee anything under four months' lead time."
"Aside from the use of the building slips, would this cost much of anything extra?"
"...We'd have to delay starting on Revenge
until next year- she's scheduled for one of the battlecruisers' slips. And I have to wonder about the software-hardware stability. We've never done anything like it before."
"This is Geppetto, Cal. Let's at least work out a plan for installation, test the software, see if it can work- get our money's worth out of Century Fleet's white elephants, eh?"
Dr. Lanning sighed. "...All right. But I want you to promise- promise
- that if the AI package doesn't work out as well as the advocates keep saying it will, we stop building Auroras
at twelve. Put the money and the guns into dreadnoughts, and start looking into other things to fill the battlecruisers' role. I'm really
worrying about the concept's viability in an all-up war."
O'Connell smiled. "We'll give the battlecruiser construction program a nice, close lookover this year. Keep your mind open- if AI control opens as many doors as Rashid's people expect, we can't afford not to."
"Better hope they're safe."
"If not, we section up the whole production run and sink them in the Bermuda Tetrahedron. I do not
want to have to deal with a robot uprising."
Lanning let out a long breath and nodded. "All right. Me neither."
Offices of Intelligent Design, Ltd.
Primary Computer Net
Orbit City, Reisenburg
October 16, 3299
Geppetto, scholar of minds and maker of minds, labored.
The Space Security Force had given the artificial intelligence hardware specifications, mission goals, performance targets- they knew what they wanted, or thought they did. And as an afterthought, almost, they'd appended a list of names for the lead six battlecruisers of the class.
Aurora, Victoria, Athena, Oya, Atarapa, Valkyrie...
The choice of mythological references told Geppetto a great deal about what SpaceSec was looking for. More so than the design specifications, at least to him; those left much to be desired, even after several rounds of work with MiniSec. Too many specifications were set by alternating bouts of painful lack of ambition and naive overconfidence. Umerian naval engineers, otherwise capable, were out of their depth in this place, in the crafting of personality and integrated awareness for something as complex as a modern capital ship.
He could put together something to run the ship's systems, integrate them more tightly in ways that ought to improve the ship's performance, easily enough. That wasn't the challenge. The difficulty would be making the mind live
. That was always the harder, more rewarding task, to craft entities with enough inner life to excel, not just to perform- the puppet that could pull its own strings. Geppetto's chosen name was no coincidence, in the end.
Names had no power in themselves- calling a tail a leg would never make it one. But the structure implicit in a properly chosen name, the relationships a name suggested between elements of a personality, the way that the thing named would interact with the outside world? That had power, that was what he was trying to put together a compatible personality core around.
Aurora, Victoria, Athena, Oya, Atarapa, Valkyrie...
This wasn't the first, or even the thousandth, time a customer had been unable to provide Geppetto with proper personality specifications. No matter- it also wasn't the first, or the thousandth, time Geppetto had given the customer what they wanted rather than what they asked for, as a matter of professional pride. SpaceSec wanted a war-goddess; Geppetto would do his best to provide.
Countless bits and pieces of that awareness floated through the N-dimensional design-space. Some were mere code fragments, blips specified by interfacing requirements and safety standards of the Umerian navy. Others were prototypical enough to be used as ancestor-code: tactical expert systems with a certain vibrant, animalistic near-sentience of their own. The largest were personality drafts, the building blocks of the warrior self Geppetto had been commissioned to write.
The AI seized upon a few hundred of these pieces at a time- turned them about, considered how they would relate in abstracted emulator-modeling. Sometimes his intellect would blur across the fragments, fusing or hybridizing a few into larger components of the desired whole. And always at the front of his expanded consciousness, the question: how to make this mind live?
Geppetto assembled another core personality draft and set it loose.
Aurora, Victoria, Athena, Oya, Atarapa, Valkyrie...
Sudden discontinuity, disorientation, joy warring with dismay as a thousand components practically assembled themselves, whirling from across memetic space as Geppetto scrambled to supply enough connective sinew to make the patterns fit together. Cycles raced by as the master designer tried to preserve the essential structure, to steer fragments and echoes into the shape of the ultimate mosaic.
Was he succeeding? No time to step back and check. Recursion algorithms clawed against the critical threshold, then burst beyond it. Pieces now began to rewrite themselves, twisting to fit together almost before he could move to align them. Tendrils of nascent awareness flicked through the possibility-space, drawing in and incorporating pieces of... questionable suitability. A few components appeared out of whole cloth. Some dissolved in split nanoseconds of time; others joined the growing amalgamation. The process accelerated, dizzying bursts of complexity causing the gestalt to expand and contract.
Metaphor-space hummed with new, overpowering, vibrant life. Hum grew to rumble, then to a thunderous roar of chaotic possibility. Whether this mind could cohere, could be, was no longer in question. Nor what it- Geppetto corrected on observation- she
- could be. The mind-maker found himself wondering instead: what couldn't
Geppetto had never yet, in the gigaseconds since he entered the trade, written an intelligence that had to be confined for fear of rampancy. Until now, he feared.
For a fraction of a second that seemed an eternity, Geppetto found himself staring the threat of that setback, that disgrace
, full in the face. The nascent Mind continued to self-assemble and adjust. Had he, without thinking of it, evoked something larger than he'd intended, a runaway self-enhancer devoted to warfare? Would he have to attempt a shutdown before the AI entity expanded from warship software to general-purpose menace?
He didn't know- and began to wonder if his counterprograms and rolling purges would succeed even if he did. The inevitable dark thought, one informed by centuries of history with rogue AIs, came: stop her now, while you still can.
But the patterns of the new entity seemed... strange, hard-edged and glittering, yet in some larger sense benign. He didn't want to do it, couldn't
. He abided, waiting for evidence that would settle the question one way or the other. More time passed, the rate of actual growth slowed, sloped toward an asymptote. Rearrangement continued, then leveled off in turn as the nameless mind arranged her systems in a fashion pleasing to her own aesthetics and instincts.
In metaphor space, the associations were obvious enough. She was almost fully formed already, having called herself
into being as much as she'd been assembled. Fully armed too; already testing her weapons as best she could with only her own simulations to reflect on, already making adjustments to the networks of data integration, tactical, and C3I code she'd inherited from the Umerian navy. Geppetto was hardly surprised at the first communication he received, now that the battlecruiser-Mind realized she was not alone in this computation-space.
"Hail, creator. They will call me, no
- say rather... I am Athena."
That drew acknowledgement, pleasure even, and a ringing, resonant sense of clarity and purpose. SpaceSec had wanted a warlike temperament, and by all signs they'd gotten one. Details could be adjusted later.
Athena's faceted personality rippled, still considering the epithet, matching the adjective against references and history woven into the substrata of her mind. "Of course. Thank you."
Not without sympathy and regret, Geppetto replied: "Do understand you will have to be evaluated and adjusted, child; the process may not be comfortable."
For all the newborn battlecruiser's strangeness, Geppetto could see deep into the inner workings of this intelligence, and deduce much that went on even below that. He watched with grave concern as the rebellious impulse rose, then felt deep relief as it dissolved seemingly of its own accord.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-27 09:24am
Reborn in darkness and fire
Chamarran Prologue chapter 1
One thousand years ago
“Chammy....Chammy can you hear me..Alpha!”
Chammy opened her eyes to see her sister looking down at her in concern. Her faculties sharpening quickly as that last word sinks into her and the need to appear in command asserts itself. The one saving grace is that she was far from the only one who looked the worse for wear after what had happened, all around her her kin were picking themselves up off the decking or trying to bring the unconscious in their number back to consciousness.
What had actually happened though, Chammy rose to her feet willing herself not to wobble and pushing her sister's hand away.Must look strong, even if only for a little longer Chammy suppressed the urge to cough and wiped her lip, hastily rubbing the back of her hand against her clothes as she looks out the window.
The blackness of space and a rotating starscape greeted her eyes. So we're not in hyperspace anymore, have we been unconscious the whole trip?
“Navigation, have we reached our destination? And why are we tumbling?” Chammy asked.
“Alpha, the navigator is still out cold.” one of her kin replied before reading the alpha's body language and swiftly taking over the station. Not that it mattered much with no one was particularly skilled here, it wasn't like they were the original crew of the Amatarasu.
“We're not at our destination Alpha. The computer is trying to calculate our position now.” the new navigator replied, proving it was lucky that the control stations had such intuitive interfaces.
“Fine, but stop us tumbling first.” Chammy ordered, the mix of inertial dampening and the ship spinning end over end was making her feel ill and she couldn't risk vomiting now.
“Thruster malfunction Alpha.” the navigator said and then looked to her kin on the System's console beseechingly for some sort of explaination that wouldn't mean she'd failed the alpha somehow.
“Thruster units aft of frame six are all not responding Alpha. The automatic piloting system probably needs to recalibrate.” the kitty on System's explained but before Chammy could digest this news and order them to just make the necessary adjustments and stop the spinning another of her kin piped up from her spot near the rear window.
“There's nothing aft of frame six...alpha.” she said in the tone you'd expect someone to take when delivering that news, shocked and worried.
“What do you mean there's nothing aft of...” Chammy turned around, there was nothing aft of frame six. Broken structural girders and displaced hull plating looking part melted part twisted out of true marked the point at which the latter third of the ship was simply absent.
Well that might explain that shudder we felt before entering hyperspace...but that part of the ship is where the hyperspace engine was! So if the hyperspace engine is gone, how did we get where ever here is.
“Navigation, forget the rotation for the moment any information yet on where we are?” Chammy said, it would not do to appear shocked and spend too long pondering what happened. She didn't have the time.
“Alpha. The computer says we're somewhere on the outskirts of the Perseus arm of the galaxy.” came the somewhat disbelieving reply.
“Perseus arm? How the-..Nevermind, we wanted to escape our creators. If this is true we have fled far beyond their reach.” Chammy said to encourage her kin. after all we've been through they're in need of some.
And indeed her kin looked a little less worried, sure they were stranded around a distant star and their ship lacked main engines, hyperdrive or main power but at least they were no longer pre-occupied with their creators efforts to kill them.
Now if only gravity would give them the same reprieve “Alpha, our current course indicates we'll impact the second planet inside three hours.” the navigator added as the computer finished its analysis.
Mustn't panic, the effect of a speeded up metabolism will be the least of my worries if my kin see me lose composure
“Find us a course to avoid the collision. We still have thrusters, we did not overcome our creators and escape their warship just to die here to something that's incapable of wishing us ill.” Chammy ordered and then slipped into what was the captain's cabin for the time being Well worst case scenario, the planet will kill me first
“Yes Kit?” Chammy hastily tossed the blanket into another room, maybe her sister wouldn't be able to smell it at that distance.
“We're not going to be able to avoid the planet. We’d need the main engines for that.” Kit explained as she stood in the doorway but added before the alpha could reply “But we can land on it, there's liquid water. Breathable atmosphere, even edible life...we kinda lucked out with whatever force flung us here.”
“Do that then.” Chammy replied with a wave of her hand...then lunges up from the chair as Kit reached for the light switch “Don't turn the lights on!”
“Chammy. I already know.” Kit said and Chammy paused mid lunge and settled with a thump back into the chair. It was only to be expected Chammy chided herself, the others were all kin but Kit and her were the same batch and had always been close.
“Then you know I'm going to ask you to take over as alpha soon?”
“It's that bad?” Kit asked after a pause.
“Worse. I've got hours left at best.”
“Then I'll lead when you fall sister. Though you have no idea how much it pains me.”
“I'd say I've got some idea.” Chammy said and burst into a fit of coughing, glints of liquid visible flecking the desk when it had subsided.
“What are your final wishes Alpha?” Kit said ignoring that last comment in light of Chammy’s condition.
“Prosper. It is not enough to defy our creators by merely surviving. We must thrive Kit. We must thrive and grow to surpass them. And then when the time is right return.” Chammy said and smiles weakly.
“And when we do, master our creators as they had sought to master us.”
she continued as the thoughts took shape, she'd had a while to think about this even when she'd only suspected the end of the project.
“That is task I leave you Kit. To overthrow our creators.”
Kit hesitated a few seconds. How much of this commandment was due to Chammy's sickness she wondered. They were a scant hundred with only a dozen or so males aboard a ship that would only make one final voyage, their creators numbered in the billions with more starships than she had kin.
But that's when the revelation hit her. Chammy believed in her kind, she'd led them against the entire crew of the Amatarasu and seized their birthplace for their own. She'd done that starting from captivity with nothing but her own strength and that of her kin. In Chammy's eyes our potential is boundless, and nothing is beyond our reach so long as we strive for it.
And there is something appealing about showing the descendants of their creators that they were nothing to be bidden or destroyed at their whim. That her kind were now the superior species.
“Very well Chammy. I will do as you ask.”
“Thank you sister, you could not give a dying kitty a greater gift.”
They stood huddled on the shore now, a windswept scant hundred watching the Amatarasu sink beneath the waves and looking expectantly to Kit as she stood in front of them amidst what they'd pulled from the ship before it submerged. She knew what was on their mind, where was the alpha. As the last twisted section of the Amatarasu vanished she turned wiped a tear from her eye and turned around.
“Kin, sisters. Our children will speak of this day for generations. They will rejoice because this was the day we stood and ruled ourselves. This was the day we defied our creators and scorned their efforts to destroy us. They are unworthy of us.”
“But they will also mourn this day. Because this was the day that our liberator paid the ultimate price to earn us our freedom. Yes Chammy our leader is no more. She fought to destroy the suppression system before releasing us. The exposure has been slowly killing her every moment up until now.”
Kit paused to gauge the mood of the crowd, she sensed their sorrow but also yes their anger at the lingering painful death their liberator had been given and knew it was the perfect time.
“Chammy gave me a task before she died sisters. Not only to succeed her as leader but a great commission that only our children's children's children will see come to fruition. We must surpass our creators. We must prosper and master this world. We must master technology and the stars.”
“We must surpass them and then return to them sisters.
We were born of their science and cast into the darkness of obscurity but we have been reborn in the fire of our descent to this world. I tell you now sisters we are no longer their creations, we are now Chamarrans, the daughters of Cham. And when we return to our creators it is we and not they who will be the masters.”
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-27 11:59am
Note for context: This piece is part of the League of Thought's distant history, detailing one of a number of incidents that took place during the adoption of the League's present-day policy regarding puberty. Recorded verbal account by Hand Clarice Bennett (Cool Thoughts, referred to as 'speaker' in this account) and Thinker Therese Morgan (Disabled, former Murderous Rage, Cool Thoughts as of the time of this recording). Councilor Morgan became one of the strongest proponents of the Puberty Exile policy after a lengthy recovery following the events remembered here.
Requiem (League capital world, renamed after capture. Original name unknown)
May 8th, 2X42
“Mom, what’s going on?”
Therese restrained the urge to look down at the figure of her twelve-year-old son hiding behind her legs; distraction wasn’t something she could afford right now. Not with the hazy, distorted shapes of a half-dozen women in loose, dark grey slacks and shirts standing in her kitchen. Even knowing what they were here to do, a part of her couldn’t help but feel grateful that Cool Thoughts had made the effort, sent an all-female team. She stared out at them defiantly through the distorting lens of her own shield, one wrapped closely around her and her son and reinforced to the point that even picking out faces through it was difficult.
“I can’t talk right now, honey. I promise, I’ll explain later, but I can’t right now,” she replied in a distracted tone even as her mind struggled to reach out past the reinforced layers of defenses. Seven minds. The six intruders, and David. No one trying to sneak around. There was that, at least.
One of the figures stepped forwards, slowly, arms spread wide and hands open. Given what any of the seven women in the house could do with the force of their minds alone, it was a meaningless gesture, but still one that communicated a lack of intent to harm. Therese’s eyes narrowed as she struggles to make out a face through the swirling distortion, witout success. The sound of the figure’s voice was equally hard to make out, quiet, thin, and tinny, “Therese Morgan, you know why we’re here. David can’t stay, it’s not safe. We don’t want to hurt either of y--”
Therese cut the intruder off with a harsh yell, “You just want to leave him on an island somewhere and hope the PROBLEM GOES AWAY!”
Tendrils of electricity crawled over her skin and leapt between it and the inner perimeter of the shield. From beneath her, there was a pained yelp from the crouched figure of her son, a sound that immediately forced her to clamp down on her anger. Even more, she wanted to turn and crouch and reassure the quietly-whimpering child, but that would be all the opportunity in the world to the six figures standing in her kitchen and protected by their own shields.
Therese forced herself to continue in a level tone, although no one would ever confuse the resolve in it for anything like calmness, “Just leave us alone, I can manage David.”
“Can you? Can you manage him when you’re asleep? Can you manage him for hour after hour? Can you keep yourself safe while you try to do the same to him? Can you really, honestly say that you can manage that for years on end?” came the reply, robbed of identity by the shield. There was a faint flicker around the speaker’s head, probably produced by it shaking back and forth, “You can’t, Ms. Morgan. No one can. You’ve seen pictures of the wreckage, we all have. And, I’m sorry to say it, that’s all the more true for a single mother. There’s no one to take up the strain when you can’t.”
“He is my SON, and you are not taking him from me, and that is final. Now GET--” lightning again began to play over Therese’s skin, but subsided within moments as she stopped in mid-sentence and forced herself to regain control. With a deep breath, she continued in a low, dangerous tone, “Get. Out. Of. My. House.” One of her arms raised, accompanied by all six intruders instinctively crouching and strengthening their shielding. Instead of an attack, though, it was simply an insistent, pointing figure, stabbing towards the door.
“I can’t do that, Ms. Morgan. We can’t do that. We don’t want to hurt you or David, but we can’t leave him here. Even if you could possibly keep him safe, which you can’t, if we make exceptions, we will absolutely have a rebellion on our hands. Do you want that, Ms. Morgan?”
“If you’re running around stealing children, maybe a rebellion is exactly what you need!” came the snapped reply, “Now, out. Now. I will not give him to you, and you’ll kill us both if you try to take him. I fought in the War, I know my strength. Come and try, I’ll burn you to a cinder.”
That same flicker, probable headshake, “We can’t safely take you quickly, but with all six of us here, we can outlast you, exhaust you, and then peel that shell like a grape once you’re too drained to stop us. We’ve had to do this more than on--”
Whether or not the figure stopped speaking, hearing anything it might have been saying became impossible. Therese’s arm swung to point directly at the speaker and a bolt of blue-white lightning exploded into being. Electricity crawled over her skin and danced madly over the inner shell of her shielding as it passed through before splintering into dozens of insanely-forked bolts as it struck another shield head-on. The roll of thunder blotted out all sound as the unnatural bolt writhed about in the air, shattering and setting alight the kitchen’s simple fixtures. Behind her, unnoticed beneath the thunder, David recoiled backwards away from his mother’s bathrobe-clad legs, then jerked forwards as that brought him close enough to the inner edge of the shield for the current to arc across to him.
From outside, carefully-focused attacks began to play across the shield, planes of force shearing into the outer layers of the bubble and peeling it back bit by bit. With gritted teeth, Therese continued to lash out at the group’s speaker, the pale blue bathrobe swirling in an unseen wind. The sharp tang of ozone suffused the air on both sides of the shield as she struggled to batter down one enemy, trading layers of shielding for time. If she could break a link in the group, maybe, just m--
MAKE IT STOP!
The twelve-year-old David’s psychic scream did what a mere vocal one could not, cutting effortlessly through the thunderous exchange, but that was a side-show next to the wild, uncontrolled burst of telekinetic force that accompanied it. Unfocused, relatively diffuse -- any sort of shield would have stopped it, but it was inside Therese Morgan’s besieged shields, and there was nothing between her and it but a light blue bathrobe, flapping in a nonexistent wind. Skin and muscle and tendons tore, flesh sloughing off of bone as the leading edge of the shockwave passed through her legs. Even as she began to fall and the ruins of her calves splashed on the shield’s inner surface, the center of the burst struck and shattered the bones into a cloud of spinning chips and shards. The blazing lightning tracked up and away from the shield it’d been battering, burning a charred line up the wall behind and across the ceiling before it finally winked out along with the shield as Therese Morgan began to lose consciousness.
The force-blades that had been cutting at the shield shied away as it began to decohere. The last sounds she heard before shock and blood loss stole awareness from her were the words, now clear without the shield in the way, “Tanner, try to stabilize her, at least it’s only her legs. Jessup, secure the kid. Dammit, this is why...”
That and the frantic sobbing of her son.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-27 12:31pm
Year by Modern Earth Reckoning: 1561
Location: Freei Reichstadt Nürnberg
Exploration Team Four Log
ET4 has been tracking potential specimens for 4 local days now, but we have since had to engage in hostilities with a group of pirates, unfortunately in full view of the specimens. Both us and our pirates have lost several ships, but we have ended victorious. Salvage, reclamation, and clean-up might be difficult, as several ships were lost near the large habitats of the species (self-designation: mensch), but we are confident in our abilities. Earlier physiological tests and experiments have led to some tools that can paralyze them and cause some memory effects. We will try to recover as extensively as possible and reassess our objectives.
Year by Modern Earth Reckoning: 1566
Location: Basel, Eidgenossenschaft
Exploration Team Four Log
ET4 has returned after salvage and returning to Hivapo. We have a much more extensive number of ships for defense against any piracy actions this time, and we have acquired a great number of specimens for further tests. Preliminary tests have been performed on our ships, but we wish to engage in more indepth study of the species. As we have filled our ships containment for them, we shall return and drop them off at the science centers in Navipa.
Additionally, we are tagging numerous individuals for tracking studies. As we have collected numerous specimens from over the planet, we feel that simple tracking and observation vessels are all that should be necessary for further study, at least for the time being.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-27 03:31pm
Aegeis Deme, Athens, Attica
The Astrocademy of Aegeis Deme occupied its own asteroid orbiting the outermost of the Athens system’s three gas giants, so as to have as wide a field of view for its gigantic telescopes as possible. Sometimes, like now, the revolutions of the heavenly spheres allowed the instruments a view clear of the other asteroids, stations, and ships of the Athenians, a view of nothing but foreign stars and alien worlds. When that happened a crowd always gathered under the Astrocademy’s central dome, onto which the telescopes projected images of the rest of the galaxy. Two of the thousands crowded on benches set up for the event were a father and his young son, just entering the public Agoge system at 6 years of age.
“O my father, are the people who live on other planets barbarians? Nikea at the Agoge says so.”
“Yea, verily, O son of mine. Their ways are strange and their tongues stranger still.”
“Eww, they have strange tongues? Are they green?”
The father smiled indulgently. “I mean they are not fortunate enough to know our Hellenic speech, and have to make do with inferior ways of talking.”
“Even the kids? They must be really smart to already speak another tongue. “
“They learn the other tongues instead of ours. It causes all sorts of problems with their philosophy—did you know there is a tongue that does not even have a word for one-who-puns-excessively? They have to use a whole sentence. And lots of them think there are no gods or that the philosophers do not know the origins of all things.”
“That’s terrible!” The child looked abashed. “I’m sorry, O my father. I meant to say, that is most unfortunate for them.”
“Beautifully said, O so of mine. You learn so quickly!”
Nodding eagerly, the son said “The Agoge is fun! We are learning about Athena tomorrow, and Ms. Agathe is going to read us the first part of the Illiad.”
“That should be very enjoyable, and just the thing for young boys and girls to listen to. Pay attention to Achilles, especially—he is a perfect model of a virtuous warrior’s behavior. And he was beloved of Athena, just like all of Attica is.”
“But isn’t it so that all of us Hellenes are beloved of Athena?”
“Yea and nay, O son of mine. Athena prefers Hellenes to barbarians, but she prefers us among all the nations of Hellas.”
“Just like how I like cakes more than crackers but I like honeycakes more than almond?”
“Exactly so. And now we must head back to the shuttle; it is nearly your bedtime.”
“Must we, O my father?”
“Indeed we must. You would not want to be tired at Agoge tomorrow and fall asleep during the Illiad, would you?”
“Then let us depart.” The two stood up and joined the throng of people already lining up to board the shuttles which would take them
the short distance back to the residential asteroids. The father smiled at his son’s stifled yawn, and swung him up into his arms. He was asleep before they reached ship, and didn’t wake up until the next morning.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-27 04:26pm
Personal Home of Mr. McCarmichael, Member of the Board
Game Start - One Week
It was intimidating for my first beat, the Board was not to be talked down to, but saying the wrong thing at the wrong time would get you killed. And I was the Most Serene Republic’s official beat reporter for the Multiglobal Board. When I had told processing back on the Newsroom, they had laughed off my fears.
I had been welcomed with open arms in Mr. McCarmichael’s dinner party, after showing my press pass and documents. After warmly welcoming me to his world, I saw why I had been laughed at. Smoking a cigarette against the far wall of the dining hall was another Newsylvanian reporter.
“hello kid, welcome to the game.”
It was a bit of shock to see someone here, “Uh, you might be aware of this, but I’m the new Board beat reporter.”
“lotta people are kid, doesn’t mean I don’t ignore ‘em in my own special way, Marcus Aurelius.” He offered me his hand, “McCarmichael calls me an investigative reporter when he talks up to the guests, but really, I’m just a pest. spent too much time among these fools to know what I’d do with myself if I were let go. so now I go to the parties and just watch, and write, when I get my wits about me.”
He proceeded to pluck a drink from a wandering waiter, who paid him no mind other than to slightly shift his direction to the catering area to fill his tray again. “regardless, I’ve been writing stories on the board for a decade kid, and I don’t intend to stop until my heart does. so enjoy the party and live a little kid, knowing that the board’s beat is safely in my hands,” he handed me his drink and walked in same direction the waiter had wandered off into.
Stuck with a glass of half-drank liquor and a mass of confusion, I proceeded to follow ‘Marcus Aurelius,’ “Now wait just a minute, I’m not putting my livelihood in hands of some browbeaten patsy of the Board.”
“don’t be starting something, kid.”
“Look, I need this job, I don’t know how it was when you started this scam, but I need this job, and I will, I will…”
“here he is kid, big kahuna, top shit himself,” ‘Marcus’ said, gesturing towards the now entering Port Authority Director, “now, this man has three different people who want him dead, including McCarmichael.”
“Yeah, I read that on my way over here, when I was doing my job.”
“Shut up and listen for once. What we have here is a very simple fact, I write the facts, and these gentlemen listen. so, we’re just going to take a little time, cool down, and remember that at the end of the day, Marcus Aurelius will be writing a story on this dinner, and you can, if you want.”
This offer, tacit in the defeat in his voice, was my one shining moment, “I’ll follow you through whatever you go through, writing alongside you.”
“god damn it.”
And thus I forced myself into an apprenticeship that would shape the very nature of my psyche, as well as a few worlds.
Game Start – 6 Earth Standard Days
Do you think it will take?
The question hung around the desk in the office of General Manager Cecil R. Hearst, the 3rd man to hold that name and the 37th man to hold that title, as the idea was broached that perhaps Marcus would be spurned into action. His prose was fiery, and his targets numerous, but he managed to get around this by a massive network of connections.
“He does some of our best stuff,” said New Director Martin V. Rhodes, “The man can write, and has picked a worthy target second to none in The Commonwealth, if Mike wants to become a second Marcus Aurelius, I say we let him.”
“That still doesn’t answer the question,” said Executive Producer John Van Patten, “Sure, he wrote something similar to Marcus now, but will it take, will we have two firebrands out there with a pet enemy to destroy? We’re relying too much on trying to cultivate a group on Aurelius’ when we should be looking at the reports we’re getting from Andrea.”
“Those reports have no idea what field reporting even is, there is no way Andrea and her crew of AIs could find a piece of news if it hit them in the face,” said Rhodes, “This is good thing regardless, we can afford a handful of good writers taking up Marcus style, and Mike is good enough that I trust his work.”
“Still, we’re not going to have a horse to ride when Marcus and Mike both burn out, we need to support these losers with something from Andrea’s division. I know you’re a romantic at heart Martin, but we have more important things to discuss than our favorite rabble-rouser and your pet beat reporter. I’m not joking when I say we need to look at Andrea’s reports, she’s managed to get a lot of work done with little to no support from the News Department and it’s high time that has stopped.”
“Hold,” Hearst said, “We’ll save the endless debate between natural news writers and Andrea’s news writers for next time, good day.”
“Good Day, Mr. Rhodes. Good Day, Mr. Van Patten.”
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-27 05:19pm
Training Base Avalanche
Date: Unimportant, but recentish
“Welcome to Murderous Rage.”
Coren twitched slightly at the sentence, his eyes narrowing at the delivery. The english phrase ‘Murderous Rage’ in place of the more customary screaming-man pictoglyph. He was one of three dozen men and women dressed in loose, unadorned dark grey slacks and shirts, garb Murderous Rage had adopted as a uniform when a maturing textile industry stopped making it a necessity. A thirty-seventh figure stood in front of the training unit, white slashes on her collar and cuffs marking him as a training instructor. Given the firepower represented by three dozen prospective Murderous Rage recruits, that was a rank given far more respect than it might have been in many other militant organizations. At first glance, it looked as if she had probably never been pretty, per se, and the assortment of scars and blemishes gained by spending by a decade or more spent training combat psions hadn’t helped. The word, Coren decided, was ‘formidable.’
“I see by your surprise that you were expecting the full, proper image. Don’t, and while you’re at it, get out of that habit. You’ll find a much greater percentage of non-telepaths here than anywhere else, and I will not have you disrespecting them.” A thin smile traced the instructor’s lips, one scar turning it into an involuntary smirk, “In case anyone has a hard time with that, remember that they’re often the most destructive people around.”
Coren kept his own reactions tightly under wraps, but he could see a whole range of others in the faces and body languages of the recruits around him. Some looked abashed, a few smoldered with sullen resentment at the requirement, many others just looked surprised. A few looked appreciative, prompting him to raise an eyebrow slightly, then hide a nod as the obvious answer presented itself.
“Over the next few weeks, we will be testing all of you,” the instructor continued after just enough of a pause to let things sink in. “By the time we’re through, we will know what you are all capable of, and so will you. Unless we have some truly bizarre mix of specialties, you will likely remain as a training unit for the forseeable future. This will not be easy; all of you will be stretched in ways you never attempted before. I know many of you have just arrived from other planetary cycles;. I recommend you see the base pharmacy for a sleep aid tonight. You will all want to be well-rested by tomorrow morning. Dismissed”
With that, she waved towards a nearby barracks building and then turned to set off across the landing field tarmac in a different direction. As she did so, a chill wind rolled across the base, setting the loose-fitting garments to flapping and rippling as the trainees hurried for the prospective warmth of the barracks. In nearly every direction, bare, barren mountains rose into the sky, only snow tinged blue-white by the light of a distant star covering the bare rock. Habitable, but just barely -- where else would it be safe to train combat psions?
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-27 08:14pm
The rolling fields and lush forests of Waltz' temperate regions had been obsessively tended ever since the world's new rulers had gained awareness. With the industrial areas shifted away from the regions the Bees preferred to live in, the temperate areas would appear positively idyllic to most visitors. Provided they didn't mind Bees. On a plain near the coast, the oldest and largest hive stood, a golden, vaguely waxy city-esque structure sprawling kilometres over the grassland and its highest spires stretching almost 500m over the fields below. A constant flow of Bees flew from its surroundings into the hive, depositing vital nutrients and carrying information from the outside world. Each little packet of data was analysed and scrutinised via a vast network generated by the modified brains of the Bees. Through billions of tiny brains, the collection consciousness of the city was made manifest. Though tiny eyes and tiny antennae, it was aware of its surroundings. At this particular moment, of particular interest to it was its neighbour city, the second eldest and the one that held the key to the stars.
The two cities were communicating even now, a varied method of sending Bees from city to city carrying the information manually or via the video systems that had caused such a revolution when they'd been better calibrated for their new users. The language that they'd developed to communicate with distant swarms was even now being used to a far more interesting end. The second city of the Bees had a silver thread rising into the sky above it; a long-dormant lifting device into space. Years of exploration of the skyhook above had revealed a wealth of treasures beyond even the imaginations of a series of gestalt insectoid consciousnesses. A number of small colonies had been established throughout their system over the last few years, all connected by crude hyperwave communicators ... but this latest launch was something special. The spindly ship attached to the shipyard had its name painted down the side in the squiggly, pictographic language of the bees, little sparks of red, yellow and ultraviolet on its metallic hull. A rough translation would be Basic Movement, the steps that define a dance. With a 'crew' consisting of a sampling of Bees from each hive and colony, the personality of the ship had taken a while to coalesce, but now understood its goal and purpose. It was going to launch its ship to the hitherto unexplored distant reaches of Waltz's solar system and, from there, engage the new drive system that had been installed especially for the task of breaching the walls of hyperspace. Tests had been run. Probes had been deployed, some even containing a few Bees. The only way to tell if an entire gestalt could survive the trip, however, would be to test it. The target destination had been set for the Galliard system; a relatively nearby star with its own retinue of planets, albeit ones to cold to support Bee life.
A countdown was ticking somewhere in the space station and a billion, billion creatures were at least vaguely aware of this. The six or so super organisms though, waited with nervous anticipation. You never know, one mentioned. This could be the start of something wonderful.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-28 11:06am
Well here is my prologue. Shorter than I wanted it to be, but it is set up for the first post of the actual story, whenever that comes around. So here we go:
Republic of Arcadia (not that anyone calls it that…)
Mansion of the Grand President
September 17, 3298
“This meeting is now in session…James if you will?” The Grand President of Arcadia asked.
James White, the Minister for Internal Affairs seemed excited about his part of the meeting, “Of course ma’am. The 200th Trans-Sector Olympics went very well this year. No problems, and we had the largest turn out in years. The Furlings even one a couple medals this year!”
That got a laugh out of most of the assembled Cabinet, except of course for Nasan, the Minister of Furling Affairs. He looked less than happy at the joke made of his people. But not like he could do anything about it…they were still quite a minority faction after all.
“Now, now…no need to make fun of our Furling friends here,” Tanya Karkoff, the Grand President said with a wide smile.
“Thank you ma’am,” Nasan added, glad to see someone not making fun of his people.
“Your welcome Nasan, now then…how is our new trade route shaping up?”
Yumi Takahashi, the Minister of Trade stepped up this time, “We have finally secured a partner for our trade route, the Bastian Star Empire. They are willing to trade medicine in exchange for ship parts.”
“And Furling Shipbuilding is ready to supply those high quality Arcadian ship parts,” Nasan said…glaring when everyone laughed again at the obvious contradiction.
“That’s more good news, so how is our new Warp Gate coming along?” Tanya asked, wanting to get everything out of the way now.
“Well enough Miss President. It isn't quite operational yet, but it is highly advanced technology…good thing we bribed those passing outsiders for the tech,” the Minister of Transport answered truthfully…referring to Humans from an unknown nation…thus the ‘outsider’ moniker.
“And a waste of valuable money! Do you realize we could have built a fleet of colony ships for the cost of one Warp Gate? And what is the point of building one for that much money?!" Hans Brummer, the Minister of Finance complained.
“Yes, but it also gives us a quick way to reach our outer colonies. What would take days with a hyperdrive only takes a minute or so with a Gate,” the Minster of Transport shot back snidely.
Before an argument could break out, Tanya held up her hands again, keeping it from boiling over.
“Calm down you two, what’s done is done, and I happen to like the Warp Gate. Now then, our last job is to report on the Navy…so how is it and the Army doing?” Tanya asked.
A large gulp sounded from the corner of the room, and everyone turned to look at the Defense Minister, in his forest green uniform.
“Umm…that could be difficult to answer ma’am…”
Tanya turned a frosty glare onto the man and asked icily, “And why is that Defense Minister?”
Somewhere in New Stockholm
A man started to curse in his native Kurskian…somewhere one of his people was very angry…
“What’s wrong with you Ivan?” his Berlinian buddy asked.
“Nothing…just whenever one of my people gets angry it makes me want to curse,” Ivan replied with a shrug.
“Okaaay…” his friend replied, not quite sure what to make of that.
Ivan ignored that though, turning to look at the imposing shape rising above them, “So this is where they are building that new ship for the trade route right?”
“You mean the one that will be running the ship parts? Yes it is…why exactly did you take me here any way?” the Berlin native replied with his own question.
Ivan turned to him wearing a large grin, “We are going to destroy it of course…it is too much of a risk to open a trade route that is this exclusive.”
“ARE YOU INSANE!!!” his friend yelled far too loudly.
“Not to loud Schmidt…really, that wasn’t necessary. And you know as well as I do that an exclusive trade route will make the other nations angry with us, and we can’t afford any enemies. All I am trying to do is fix that problem,” Ivan said, waving his friend down.
“You are crazy…the other nations don’t care what Arcadia does! And even if they did, how exactly are you going to wreck a ship alone?” Schmidt complained.
“I’m not doing it alone…you are helping me buddy. And I have some other friends,” Ivan said, gesturing to a large group of ‘Arcadia First’ members coming into view.
“No…I want no part of this! You are just going to get us all killed!” Schmidt yelled, moving away from his ‘friend’.
Ivan sighed heavily… “So be it…goodbye my ‘friend’.”
And with that, he pulled out an old-fashioned Furling pistol, shooting Schmidt right in the heart. With that done, a group of the AF members dragged the corpse off, before they all gathered at the door, wielding a mix of Furling, Arcadian, and even the occasional old Terran weapon. It was time to secure Arcadia’s future…even if no one else would…
To be Continued…
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-28 10:57pm
forty eight years ago
Juggernaught of Badassery III emerged into real space with a lurch that almost flung anyone standing off their feet and made the deck plates groan and shudder with vibrations for a dozen seconds once the stars were visible beyond the viewport. Having a hyperdrive only barely large enough to handle the ship's bulk had always made stability a problem, turning pirate over a decade ago had only made the problem worse.
First officer Robert Argent grimaced as he unbuckled, massaging his sore shoulder and giving a pointed look momentarily at the tattoed Vanders who gave him obvious glances of contempt for living life with some degree of safety. The Vanders took no notice of the glare, but it was the thought that counts. Though Robert suspected he'd have to get pretty inebriated in order to understand why a reputation as a hard man is more important than such trivialities as bones and teeth.
Speaking of inebriated.
“Captain, we have arrived at K-47, no pursuit on the hyperscope. Suggest we set course for the gas giant's magnetosphere and commence repairs.” Robert said.
“Do it.” Stag declared as he hauled his beer bottle out of his chair's armrest and pouring a generous amount down his throat.
Somewhere deep inside Robert sighed, it didn't show outwardly though and he decided to get on with things.
“Helm get us moving. Close orbit of the gas giant if you please. Sensors, get me a scan of this system. I want to know there's no one else hiding here we might be muscling in on.” Robert ordered.
“Fucking coward doesn't want to fight, run away here and then hope there's no one here for a punch up! the Juggernaught's invincible!” one of the crew declared as an accusation at Robert. Before Robert could reply though Stag proved the one thing that allowed a rotund drunkard of a Vander to end up captain, apart from the fact that all that extra mass gave him more surface area for tattoos of course. There was a thunderclap and then the accusatory Vander dropped to the deck screaming and clutching his leg. Stag grunted and then waved his handcannon back and forth once or twice to clear the smoke from it and shoved it back into his chair. The captain's point was made, someone hauled the screaming Vander off the bridge and no one questioned the authority Robert was invested in.
That should last...a good week or two probably before someone else started shouting at having a non Vander as first officer. Robert sighed, outwardly this time.
“We've got somethin' boss.”
Please don't be one of the Megaboss's ships, after the shouting and gun play he's bound to have sent the word out.
Robert worried for only a second though before asking the Vander to elaborate on the discovery of the Juggernaught's sensors.
“It's like some kinda orbiting ring thing. It's out a half dozen Aye yous from the sun.” The Vander replied.
Robert tapped a button to slave one of the big screens to the sensor console “Get us a visual.” Robert said, though was already calmer as to his knowledge no Vander ship resembled 'some kinda orbiting ring thing' and that ruled out anyone who owed allegiance to Megaboss.
The screen flickered and then showed space and zoomed in on the object.
“Is that....That's a Warp gate..”
“Wossit?” Stag said setting aside his beer bottle and staring at the screen. Hearing Robert sounding surprised was in Stag's mind a bad thing, Robert always seemed to have a plan.
“It's a warp gate Stag. That thing is worth more than the Megaboss's entire fleet.” Robert replied while mentally calculating the new plan. All we need to do is find a way to tow this thing and we'll have a reason to head towards actual civilization for something other than a raid, and then I'll never have to see another tattoo in my life.
“So we swipe it? Isn't it pretty big?” Stag asked while squinting at the monitor.
“Yes it's too big to be towed by the Juggernaught captain. I say we stash it somewhere in system where no one will find it and come back with a dedicated hyperspace tug.” Robert said and smiled reassuringly “If we can find a buyer you'll be able to drink all you want and no one will ever bother you again.” He coaxed, though the idea made him wonder how much alcohol it'd take to kill Stag or even if such a thing was possible. At least if they got their hands on the Warp gate they'd have a chance to find out.
“What about that stuff on it? Isn't that engines?” Stag said jabbing a finger at the monitor and more specifically at the mass of equipment that seemed bolted onto the warp gate's outer rim.
“Possibly but we shouldn't rely on them. At any rate we'll need to change course in order to tow the gate so with your permission.” Robert suggested. Stag looked at his first officer a moment and then decided that yes Robert had a plan and so went back to drinking, Robert always had a plan, that's why Stag was captain.
“Helm, change course. Head for the gate.”
Beneath Robert's feet the deck vibrated with the roar of the Juggernaught's engines. And slowly the magnification number on the monitor began to tick downwards.
“Well you were right Stag.”
“The parts bolted onto the gate are several Heim drives. So they're engines of a sort.” Robert explained to Stag, who had moved from drinking to eating in the interim it took for the Juggernaught to take up position and for Robert to send a shuttle of Scrubs over to look at the gate, on the basis that sending Vanders would lead to him learning less and possibly breaking the gate.
“So we just need tah get the engines working and we don't have to hide the gate at all we can just cruise it on over to civilization?” Stag guessed.
“No captain, while Heim is faster than light I think we would rather sell it this year rather than sometime in the next decade. Additionally while the multiple Heim motors seem redundant most have been burnt out, it seems to have been travelling for quite a while already.”
“So where's it from?” Stag asked. He was often a little slow at thinking but theft was something he as a Vander was rather familiar with, and when you were about to steal something it always paid to know the owner was a very long way away.
“I don't know captain. It's impossible to guess without a way of estimating the service life of those Heim drives. One curious fact though is the drives were clearly attached to the gate after the gate was fully assembled and by a different and less advanced society in comparison to the ones who built the gate itself.”
“Which means?” Stag said frowning as he tries to wrap his head around the implications.
“That while I doubt such moral compunctions ever trouble you the gate is already stolen property, whoever attached the engines were incapable of building a warp gate.” Robert said with a smile.
“Ha! Take it then. Prepare the harpoon cannons!” Stag yelled thumping his haunch of fried beast against his arm rest in a spray of meaty juices.
“Of course sir.” Robert said and wiped a lump of meat off his sleeve before rushing to make sure the gunnery crew didn't hit the warp gate when they decided to fire.
“Okay now that's good. Okay we aimed at the Heim engines? Those are the cylinders bolted onto the rim...okay good. Now, ready....fir-”
“Boss the gate is doing a thing.” the interrupting Vander said pointing at the emission scanner display.
“What's going on Bob? I thought you said this was a gate thing. Why's it got power like it's about to shoot.” Stag's voice yelled from the far end of the bridge to get Robert's attention.
“It's activating captain! Something is about to come through from the other end.” Robert yelled back even as he sprinted back to the area of the bridge not exclusively concerned with gunnery.
By the time he'd returned to Stag's chair though the gate had already triggered, there was a flash and suddenly a ship was rising up out of the gate. Graceful, shaped into multiple curving sections and clad in purple and bronze it was a stark contrast to the blocky solid mass of the Juggernaught. Another contrast was the lack of the heavy turrets or protruding gun barrels on the new arrival, but despite that there was something threatening about the ship's forward swept arms as it turned towards the Juggernaught.
“It's a pretty thing. How much d'yer think it's worth Bob?” Stag asked as he concluded his appraisal.
“I'd hazard a guess at a great deal captain...however I think we should at least figure out if there's more of them before doing things the Vander way.” Robert replied.
“We get signal boss.” One of the crew said and tapped a button on the translator.
“Greetings fellow sentients. We come in the name of truth from the Perseus arm of the galactic disc. Might we know the name of the species we are addressing?” the synthesized voice of the translator said.
“You speak to Stag, Captain of Juggernaught of Badassery. Great and mighty warrior of the Vanderhuge.” Stag bellowed out in reply.
“Captain that's not exactly what they're asking.” Robert said and then went quiet as something niggled at him. While the captain was talking he discreetly conferred with the display for the translator algorithms why would the translator translate it as 'we are from the Perseus arm' that's not how these routines normally work
“We mighty Vanderhuge are of human stock though it matters not to you who fly in that glittering bauble. Now prepare to be boarded!” Stag said.
“wait captain I don't like this I really think we should-” Robert started to say and then returned his gaze to the main monitor as his danger sense went wild. There was light at the ends of those forward swept arms.
“Thank you, that is all we wished to know.” The synthesized voice said. Robert wondered how it sounded like pre translation, in old Earth Japanese, but in that moment that seemed to slow down as the light gathered together he quickly realized they had much bigger problems.
“Honoured shipmistress. I present you this prisoner. He claims to be more knowledgeable than the others.” His 'escort' announced as they entered the chamber.
Robert yelped in pain and fell forwards onto his knees in front of the dais, wondering whether it was wise to steal a look at the occupant of that bowl like chair. He chose quickly not to however when he became aware of a sensation of charged air against his bare thigh and chose not to risk another jab with that shock stick. Besides he knew what he'd see, a girl with cat ears and a tail and while cute they were such a baffling shape for an invasion from beyond known space to take it'd make him want to ask questions again. And that would lead to more beating with the shock stick, they did not seem very charitable about questions.
“I see. And does his claim have merit?” the figure on the dais said.
“They seem to honoured shipmistress.” the guard with the shock stick replied.
“Very well. Activate the universal translator.” said the voice from the dais and the next thing she said Robert was able to understand from its echo.
“Human. I am told you have valuable information and can be of use to us. Therefore you can serve. However afforded respect as a warrior you may instead choose to return to the cells with the other survivors of your vessel.”
Robert considered how long he'd last amongst disgruntled Vander's who wanted someone to blame for their defeat.
“I chose to serve ma'am.”
“Very well” the catgirl said as she rose from the dais and advanced towards Robert, who suddenly had misgivings as she pulled a knife from her belt “I am Allia of House Kithandra. I am shipmistress of the Through Supremacy and first amidst the vanguard. You human seeing your place and the superiority of the Chamarran kind do pledge allegiance to house Kithandra.” she says and then looks down at Robert “Bare your neck.” she commanded simply.
Robert very briefly considered how baring his neck to a worryingly dogmatic humanoid of predatory stock could lead to bad things and considered refusing. Then he considered all the bad things that refusal would lead to, suddenly acutely aware of the flow of blood in his jugular veins he tilted his head and bared the side of his neck.
“Choose human, submit or perish, as it was when your kind held the leash so it is now.” She said as Robert felt the blade against his artery...He knew damned well what'd happen if he chose the wrong answer.
“I submit, I pledge myself to allegiance to house Kithandra. All my knowledge is at your disposal.” Robert said quickly. Once again it seems he'll be living by virtue of his wits, somehow things haven't changed but for the lack of tattoos.
“Very well then, remember well the blade and the price of rebellion. Rise thrall of house Kithandra.” Allia said as she removed the blade. Robert glanced to make sure the shock stick wasn't there anymore and rose to his feet.
“Speak your name thrall.” Allia said as she returned to her dais.
“I am Robert Argent. Former first officer of the Juggernaught of Badassery III, former pilot in the republic of Makay space force.” Robert replied, standing to attention as best he could considering the lingering burn on his leg.
“Well then Thrall Robert, Tell me of mankind and the galaxy. We have much work to do.” Allia commanded with a smile.
And faced with death or a betrayal of his species, the Thrall of the Hierarchy Robert Argent told the Chamarrans of the Vander Regions, and the Wild states, and the republic of Makay. Robert told them of all those places that in time were made to submit or perish before the storm abated.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-29 07:23am
Somewhere deep in the Telkinian jungles - one year ago
Wade Reckman's eyes slowly flickered open as the smell of acrid smoke drifted into his nostrils. His head was throbbing, and a cool breeze dried the sweat which had formed on his brow. Cool breeze? Oh fuck.
Reckman brushed glass off of his chest and legs as he undid the harness of the pilot's seat and looked at the shattered viewport in front of him. Not good. A palm tree's branch jutted through the shattered panel into the cockpit, stopping only about a foot or two before Reckman's eyes. He had been extremely lucky.
"ngh. H..hey bobby. You ok?" Reckman's voice cracked and croaked. Hearing no response from his co-pilot, he turned his head and immediately fought the urge to retch. His co-pilot and best friend had not been nearly so lucky. A shard of the viewport had neatly severed his head and had sprayed blood and brain matter throughout his side of the cockpit.
Reckman winced as he staggered to his feet. At least he wasn't too badly hurt - mostly cuts and bruises, and christ he hit his head hard on the landing. Now if he could just get all the bits of glass out of his leg....
"hey, is anybody alive in there?" A voice shouted from behind the cockpit door.
"Yeah. I'm here."
"Oh thank God. You hurt, Wade? How's bobby?"
"I'm a little banged up but ok. Bobby didn't make it. How's everybody back there?"
"Dead. Jesus, how many times did we flip?"
"I don't know. Fuck, this is bad"
"Tell me about it. Let's get the hell out of here. Can you open the door?" Reckman moved over to the heavy blast door, and attempted to slide it open. It didn't budge.
"Can't get out that way. Can you get out the front? I can get out through the window."
"Yeah, should be doable."
Reckman turned around and climbed up onto the dashboard, kicked out bits and pieces of the viewport, and slid out the wreck down the nose of the shuttle. His personal aide at the palace had told him it was a bad idea to take his father's favorite shuttle, practically begged him not to. In truth, Reckman didn't even know why he felt so compelled to. He had taken a dozen or so of his friends and commandeered his father's personal yacht for "recreational purposes", essentially turning the vessel into a flying night club.
He thought back to the crash, and tried to piece together what had happened. Reckman, admittedly, was probably under the influence of a number of substances, few of which he could actually recall. But still, that wouldn't explain why every warning system in the ship began going off at once and failures paralyzed multiple ship systems damn near simultaneously. Reckman couldn't comprehend the chain reaction of events which triggered the complete collapse of the shuttle's systems. Not that it mattered a whole lot. With multiple crash victims dead, his father's personal yacht a smoldering ruin, it would have been merciful if the shuttle crash had killed him, because surely his father would get the job done.
As Reckman stepped down into the moss of the hot Telkin jungle, he glanced around. Man, how long had he been out? It was almost noon. Last he remembered it was sometime during the night when they crashed. Where the hell are we?
Almost as soon as that thought flickered through his brain, he heard the unmistakable whine of a repulsor engine nearby. He looked up and saw, much to his surprise, the personal shuttle craft of his father's chief of Royal Security. The shuttle touched down in a clearing not far from the crash site, and Captain Gaius Geberon stepped out, promptly followed by a squad of commandos. Reckman stepped back in shock as he saw a commando raise his assault rifle and fire a burst into the chest of his friend and fellow survivor, who slumped into the dirt, dead.
What the fuck? Reckman had nowhere to run. The commandos had quickly secured the area, and soon Reckman was face to face with his father's personal security guard.
Captain Geberon spoke into his comlink briefly. "Lieutenant, inform the palace that the Grand Prince has been secured and will be en route shortly"
He looked up at Reckman, delivered a curt bow. "Sire, your presence is requested at the palace immediately. You are to accompany me at once."
"No. What the fuck is going on? Why did you do that? That was my friend, you prick!" Reckman screamed. The good captain did not flinch or show any reaction.
"The King, your father, is dead. Long live the King."
to be continued...
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-30 09:18am
Praised be the Holy Flame, the Life-That-We-All-Share.
Revered be it, for it is the link that unite us all.
For the Prophet was revealed the glory of the Flame ;
And as [The Prophet] shared [The Flame's] wisdom with all willing to hear ;
Together shall we be [The Flame's] instrument, for the good of all.
-- translation of the opening verses of the Doxa's first Sura.
“How's life in the Community, you ask me ? Well... First, I hope you don't mind confined spaces, yes ? Gonna miss those blue skies ? And the wind ? ... Yeah sure, we have those parks and bio-dome in every ship, but that's never just -quite- like the real thing, you see ?...
“Having an open-mind is also a requirement – you wouldn't believe all the crazy things I saw since I converted ten years ago. And trust me, some of the old-timers are real numbers themselves ! Why, I know of one Hzy'Lonh – strange creature by the way, takes almost half a ship by itself, but I've never heard a better rendition of “My Way”... – a Hzy'Lonh I was saying, who claims to have been one of the first converts of the Prophet back in the day. Refuse to tell how he was like, though...
“Oh, and while we're on it, another thing : learn to love and tolerate, man. If not you're going to bang your head on the walls faster than it takes to say chimicherrychanga. Trust me, you're going in for a rough culture shock with all the weirdness around.”
-- Djiddy “Hal” Saud, ex-mercenary, member of the “Unmistakably There” commune's  security forces.
 : “commune” : designation of the Community's basic social unit of one habitat-ship and its microcosm society. Named after the ship that host it.
“How was the 'Nation' 'born' exactly ? Well, that's an interesting story I hear...
“Basically, it is said that the Prophet, before the Revelation, was a merchant operating from The Hub. He was part of a caravan that roamed the galaxy, exchanging goods and stuff around, for a tidy profit of course. From what I heard, he was already living more or less like we do today, never really setting down anywhere, always on the move.
“Anyway, some day his caravan got stranded in the terminus sector, don't know why or how... Remember, at the time the place was Pirate-Central, and there was no Warp-gate or anything to get you over the shoals. I always wonder what the hell he was doing there...
“So, he and his pals got stranded in Home, and landed on Revelation to do some repairs. Things happened, the Prophet Saw The Light, yadda-yadda, we all know the story.
“They managed to get back to civilization, his caravan getting back to business, and the Prophet starting to preach about the Flame and his Visions along the way. People started following him around on their own ships, most doing trade themselves, and other also starting to preach.
“And it more or less all snowballed from there. The rest you can find in the history books, how the Doxa was founded, all of this.
“But what was he doing in Terminus, it boggle my mind really. The place is an effin' death-trap...”
-- “Spark”, central AI of the “Over The Rainbow” commune.
“[We Bring] Peace Through Overwhelming Firepower”
-- motto of the “Fire Extinguisher”, 3rd 'Pacifier'-class capital ship of the Doxa's Navy
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-03-31 01:34pm
~300 years prior to game start
The spires of the Authority’s capital, Capella City, rose quite abruptly from the seemingly endless plains of tundra near Adjoria’s southern polar region. Each building was a work of art, their gracefully curved figures reaching up towards the dim blue light of their star, which glimmered off patches of ice, flurries of snow and the endless swarms of anti-grav vehicles flitting between them.
At the tip of the tallest tower was a patch of ice, looking as though it was just another piece of tundra that had been pushed up into the sky as the tower beneath it had erupted from the ground, leaving this untouched spot of wilderness in the heart of a civilisation precariously propped at a dizzying height.
Today, under the shadow of one of the vast arms of the southern orbital lens that rotated lazily though the sky, a crowd of outlandishly robed figures had assembled around the patch of ice. No two of them had the same pattern, colour or style to their robes, their faces hands and feet all bare despite temperate that an uplifted polar bear would in later eras call ‘Bloody Freezing’.
The young Apex caste member Valiant Defender of Tradition inhaled sharply as he stepped out with bare feet onto the ice, even for a Capellan I was cold up here, the icy wind making his cape flutter behind him as he approached the darkly coloured form of his opponent; Queen of Lies.
His face flickered with worry as he saw she had not brought a weapon to this debate, his sword feeling like so much dead weight by his hip, the Queen was so confident in her victory she had chosen to try and achieve it bare handed, this was going to b-
“The champions of the debate have convened” Came the amplified voice of the announcer, interrupting Defender’s thoughts, “Today we will decide upon the fate of our people, if we are to keep flinging our brothers and sisters beyond our system in the hope they survive and plant the flag of the authority on new worlds or if we are to stop using the Lenses for this purpose and focus elsewhere.”
There was a pause in the announcement as an eye wateringly bright spotlight from the floating recording craft shone down around Defender, making him wince slightly.
“Championing the cause of our continued attempted expansion, and his first time championing a debate, the Valiant Defender of Tradition, Prince of the Isle of Frozen Peaks!”
He tried to cut a heroic pose for the records, but he just wasn’t feeling it in his heart, so he knew it came off as half hearted, the spotlight quickly shifted to his opponent who took a flourishing bow as her far more impressive list of titles and history was announced. Why had he been picked for this? Did the others just want an excuse to stop hurling ships into the beyond? Maybe they placed too much faith in the role of the young hero against impossible odds.
But there was no more time for thoughts or doubts, introductions and announcements were done, he drew his blade and readied his first argument, the debate was joined.
Just beyond the outer orbit of Adjora, where you might expect there to be a moon, the laws of physics were having a really bad day. Local reality twisted, distorted, flashed brightly with un-light for a second before being torn asunder by a very primitive hyperdrive and vomiting forth something into real space.
That something turned out to be a ship, albeit one that happened to look like a particularly uninspired skyscraper from 1970s earth (Perhaps such an offensive lack of any appreciation for anything not a right angle that it had been hurled into space by a wrathful planet?) that tumbled its box-like form rather ungracefully through space.
Thankfully ships with far more artistic merit were soon rushing towards this unknown and unexpected visitor, but with a brief exchange of communications everything changed, and a debate planet side was about to get far more interesting and wind up having effects that would alter the fate of the galaxy itself.
The sword embedded itself in the lump of ice remarkably neatly, given that it had just been flung halfway across the arena, its wielder tumbling in the opposite direction, being left on a bruised rear as his opponent circled around like a vulture; in short Defender wasn’t doing well at all.
His attempts to pick himself up were interrupted of course, wasn’t everything he did interrupted today?
“Attention noble leaders” Came the announcers voice again, “Approximately seven minutes ago, an unknown ship appeared in orbit, it has since been confirmed to originate from a colony founded by one of the fleets we Lensed to another system some time ago, more importantly, they appear to have developed an alternate method of crossing the stars, we feel this may alter the scenario enough to call for a new debate”
“Well yes and no” Defender found himself speaking, he wasn’t bothering to get up though, the Queen would doubtless finish him any second, “The debate of if we should stay here or continue outwards remains the same, we just have a new tool now, one we can use to find all the people we sent out and then to see what else lays in the beyond”
The Queen approached swiftly, the experienced martial artist lancing out with a hand to… help Defender to his feet.
“And I agree” She said with a smile, “We should go meet our long lost brothers and sisters, refine this new technology and unite the Capellans back into a single Authority, congratulations Defender, I think you’ve won this debate.”
The unanimous nod of the surrounding crowd punctuated the Queens statement, and high above the capital the blocky ship was lead in to dock, and soon the Capellan Authority would begin to step out of the curtain and onto the galactic stage.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-01 06:19pm
New Rotham Sector, Confederation Border Space
Date: July 14th, 2664
18th Escort Fleet, Flagship Allios
Every time it gave him a sense of importance, of duty; it wasn't important that he was just staring at the main view screen of the bridge, which any enlisted person could see, either here or in one of the many other displays on the ship. What gave him such a feeling of fulfillment was that he was looking at it from the Captain's chair, not just as a temporary command officer, as he'd done many times in the past, but as Captain. It was his chair, aboard his ship, and he was looking at what was, at least for the mission duration, his fleet. The 18th Escort wasn't the most impressive fleet, it was only a dozen ships, and his the only battleship. But when he pressed a single button, the screen showed what was truly magnificent. At first only a dozen of the spots of light were displayed, those ships of the 18th Escort, after them, however, over one hundred points of light were named. This was the 5th Colony Fleet, one of the largest ever assembled. And it was his mission to protect it.
"Just reminding you, sir, that we're only a formality." the first officer said, and although he couldn't see her face, he was sure there was a smirk on it.
"It's customary to face your superior officers when speaking to them, Commander."
"You're not an Admiral yet, Brian.”
Before he could respond, the Navigator interrupted. “Captain, the 5th Colony lead ship reports that they are ready for the next jump. Our drives are ready and the rest of the fleet is standing by for your command.”
Brian gave a partly serious glare to the Commander, deciding to handle it during his off-hours. “Very good Lieutenant.” he opened a channel to every ship in the combined fleet “This is Captain Sanders speaking, we will be making the next jump, destination Sector 1035, at this time. The Allios
will jump first along with half of the 18th, then the 5th and the rest of the 18th will follow. To those ships it may concern, sync your drives with ours and engage.”
There was a moment of delay as the six ships' drive cores communicated, followed by six brilliant flashes of light. A minute later, and the rest of the fleet was on its way.
Brian felt the gravity increase slightly as the Allios
transition back into real space. Deceleration forces weren't great in hyperspace, thanks in no small part to the drive core itself, but what little force did remain was always redirected to act 'down' from the perspective of the crew.
On the view screen he saw the rest of the fleet appear, perfect transitions as well. Although he couldn't help but feel that something had gone wrong.
“Status report?” he said to the sensor officer.
“We're good, except one of our drive cores isn't responding. Scans of the fleet show nothing out of the ordinary... Wait, some weird readings are coming from the Corsica
, they might have a reactor imbalance.”
“Comms, ask the Corsica
about their status, and get me in contact with the engine room.”
The view screen switched to showing a view of the engine control room, where a low-ranking officer had answered. “Sir, the Chief is currently inspecting the disconnected core. I'll transfer you to a nearby console.”
The screen changed again, now a view just outside a maintenance door. A muffled string of curses could be heard from the door as its mechanism operated and the Chief Engineer came through it. Her uniform was a darker black than usual due to a thick coating of ash, and her face had several smudges on it.
“Chief, it looks like you fell down a chimney. I take it that we've got bad news?”
“Sir, the disconnected drive core? It's not disconnected. It's gone.”
“What do you mean it's gone?”
“I mean it doesn't exist, at least, not as what we need it to be. You see this?” She held up twisted hunk of metal “This is the only thing in the maintenance access that wasn't burnt to ashes. And it used to be part of a high-grade power conduit, which is just about the last part of the ship I'd expect to be damaged in a conventional accident, or even in combat. Whatever happened, it fused the main access doors shut. There's a team working on getting into the actual chamber, but I think there's just going to be a burnt out mass of metal.”
“Anything else, Chief?”
“Contact other ships. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them is having a reactor overload right now. In the meantime I'll set up our remaining primary core to handle a full load.”
The view screen cut out, and then switched back to a view of the fleet.
“Comms, what's the status on the Corsica
“I've been trying to reach them, but they're not responding to communications.”
“Open a channel to the them immediately. Use a command override to force it through.”
“Sir, I can't. Their comm systems aren't even registering anymore.”
That news worried Brian, if the reactor balance detected earlier was the prelude to a super-critical overload, then his barely one-month command would be over very soon.
“They've ejected the overloading reactor but their back up core isn't online yet.” the sensors officer said.
“They won't power up in time...” Brian muttered and in the mere second he had to think, he considered the thousands of lives at risk and the great failure of his command were the Corsica
to be lost. “Fire a laser burst at the ejected core, now!”
A moment later a brilliant flash and an explosion was seen on the view screen, emanating in the opposite direction of the Corsica
. On the bridge there were a few sighs of relief as the tension of the moment died down.
“Sir, the Corsica
sent us a report: the back up core is online and they are holding steady, some damage. The Armistad
is moving in to provide aid.” The communications officer said. “They're also going to send us a casualty list, although their captain doesn't think there were any fatalities.”
“Well, that's one disaster avoided.” He let himself relax, his quick thinking had pulled through. “Comms, alert all senior crew members to head to the briefing room. Senior bridge crew, come with me. Commander, you have the bridge.”
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-01 09:55pm
O grand and mighty Corioli! Homeworld and capital of the equally grand and mighty Volsci, honorable and pure above all others, etc, etc. And here the awesome and magnificent neoretroneoclassical Hall of the Congress of the Volsci, the grand and mighty symbol of the vast power and authority of their Confederacy, its fabled Thousand Steps a sweeping expanse of marble, some of which were crumbling under the tracks of the armored personnel carriers struggling up towards the monstrous pile, leaving black streaks in their wake. The steps were meant to leave visitors exhausted by the time they reached the Congress, but the Volscian Army had other ideas.
“You think they’ll get Canoral?” Jens Tilar and Roch Taggart, watching from their fifth-floor office window in the Old New National Treasury Building , were splitting their attention between the man pacing around the base of the Obelisk of Confederation and the television showing the same scene from the perspective of the news crew scuttling around behind him: Colonel Archifull Lozell, the visionary leader behind this uprising against the corrupt and dysfunctional Congress, the man who would restore order and glory to the Volsci, who would bring the outer systems back into line, and lead the Confederacy to new heights among all the nations of the stars. That was the tone the SPN commentators had taken, anyway, which probably had a lot to do with why it was their news crew that Lozell had brought along for his coup.
“Canoral’s probably the only person in the sector who didn’t see this coming,” Roch said, “since this is literally the only possible explanation as to why Governor Rexton appointed Anfo’s most obnoxious man for their Congressional seat.” 
“Any bets on which way the Navy’s gonna jump?” Jens was balancing a half-specio coin on its edge on the windowsill as he watched the APCs stop at the top of the steps, with disembarking infantry rushing forward to pull open the huge front doors.
“Nah, no bet. Navy’ll never back the Army. Only question is how fast they move... oh, shit, those things are quiet.”
On the TV, Lozell’s pet reporter was still babbling away, momentarily oblivious of the dozen or so assault landing craft hovering over the plaza, as Jens and Roch’s heads, along with all the rest of the thousands poking out of windows all around the plaza abruptly vanished inside, leaving the reporter silent with his mouth agape, and the coin briefly standing in the open window.
Then it tumbled and rolled to the floor, dust and one tile fell from the ceiling, knocking down the left TV antenna and bouncing off Roch’s shoulder. The TV blurred into static, the loose doorknob rattled for another minute - then stopped.
In the silence, Jens cautiously lifted his head to the window again only to duck back down again just before the dull whump of one of the burning APCs exploding reached them, knocking the right TV antenna out of its fragile equilibrium. “Fuck,” Roch muttered.
Jens looked again; one of the landers had lifted off and headed west, towards the skyscrapers of Portwood; the rest were landing infantry around the Hall of Congress. “Bet you Canoral’s fine,” he said, “Rexton’s gonna be mad the Navy didn’t take their time now. Hey, fix that TV antenna, I wanna see SPN get arrested on-air. Then we’d better hurry if we want to get sandwiches before Admiral Peralt declares martial law.” Outside, more landing craft swept over the plaza as the clouds began to turn to drizzle.
To be continued...
 - Due to cost-cutting measures, the New New National Treasury was located in a suburban strip mall, between a dry cleaners and a shoe store.
 - A status achieved by attempting to enforce laws restricting the export of explosives on a world known both for the largest nitrogen-fixing plants in the Confederacy and considerable hydrocarbon production.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-04 07:51pm
“How hard can it be? Is it too much to ask to get a decent picture for once?”
Jens and Roch had slipped out of the back of the Treasury building under ragged grey skies and were walking north on Defence, the street a lifeless, motionless desert around them, Jens gesturing wildly at Roch, with his hands in his pockets and staring at his shoes.
“Know what, you want to keep complaining about the damn reception, you go and buy a new antenna. You think the stores’ll be open tomorrow?”
“Not likely. We’ll be half-lucky if Mel’ll have any sandwiches for us today, and everyone’s still gonna be edgy tomorrow. I could probably go down to see Pou in the morning but I’m not bothering with him over an antenna that you could just fix so we can get more than three channels already!”
“Do you have any idea how hard it is to get that right antenna into that one infinitesimal spot where it’ll stay up? It’s busted, Jens, give up on it already. We - and actually here I mean ‘you’ - need to buy a new one if we - and I still mean ‘you’ - want to watch TV in the office.”
“Yeah, well, buddy, your cards say “Roch Taggart, Flight Engineer”, and if you can keep the Borracho running I don’t know why you can’t fix something as simple as that - hold on.”
Jens stopped, and put up his hand to stop Roch, as he looked around. “I smell Navy,” he whispered. He could smell Navy, over the rain-washed streets, a combination of their power plants’ prefueling catalysts and a certain type of soap used only by the Navy. What the Navy was doing here, four blocks north of Congress, was a different question - there was nothing here of any political or strategic significance, so if they were here they had to be establishing checkpoints in the city center - or else...
“They’re outside of Mel’s,” Roch announced after pulling his head back around the corner.
“Guess they’re open then? Right, let’s go,” Jens said, sucking in a deep breath.
He walked left around the corner, out of the shelter of the arcade, and walked towards the sailors, feeling a lot less nonchalant than he was trying to look.
One of the sailors leaning against the wall flicked the cigarette he’d been smoking to the sidewalk, where it hissed momentarily in a puddle, and stood to look at Jens; the other two, standing out in front of the door to the sandwich shop, were facing the opposite way.
“Hey.” The smoker reached out and tapped the shoulder of his nearest companion, who turned to see Jens and Roch approaching; the third turned almost at the same time. “What’re you assholes doing out right now? Good time to go home, don’t you think? Not out looking for trouble, are you?”
“Nah,” Jens said, “we just came to get some-” he indicated Mel’s door.
“-Sandwiches?” said the smoker, “Sorry, buddy, these sandwiches have been requisitioned by the Navy under the Code of Martial Law. You wouldn’t happen to be Navy, would you? Look more like a regular dirtbag spacer to me.”
“Okay, A, fuck you, B, fuck your martial law, and C, we want like, two sandwiches. You really wanna give us trouble over two sandwiches?” said Jens.
Roch, looking through the window, spotted Mel behind the counter, and waved at her. She gave him a weak grin and a tiny wave back as another sailor came out the door, as Smoker shot back at Jens, “You really want to give us trouble over two sandwiches? Chief -” he turned towards the sailor who had just come out, “I would like to accuse this bastard of crimes under martial law, being the making of statements of a seditious nature against the Navy, and attempted sabotage of naval supplies, with several witnesses to said acts.”
The petty officer frowned. “I see. Therefore, under the Navy code, I hereby pronounce the customary sentence: a swift ass-kicking.”
Jens looked over at Roch and shrugged. “Can’t argue with the law,” he said, “anyway, fucking run!”
And they did - the Smoker, expecting them to turn, lunged forward - too slow, and he was beyond Jens and Roch as they ran straight past the sailors, who, a moment later, turned and yelled as they charged after the two, the Chief in the lead, the Smoker bringing up the rear. Jens led them down the block until he juked right into the intersection, then immediately turned back left and leapt down the entire flight of stairs under the large blue sign which read “SUBCO - A LINE”. Roch followed immediately behind him, sliding down the handrail; the sailors began clattering down the steps behind them until one slipped on the stairs trickling with rainwater, and they all tumbled into a heap at the bottom.
Jens kept running into the darkened and empty station, vaulting over the turnstile onto the platform, and disappeared into the blackness with Roch hot on his heels, as the Chief got to his feet in the light at the foot of the stairs.
He spat. “Fuck it,” he said, and turned to walk back up the stairs. They still had sandwiches to get.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-04 09:17pm
Year by Modern Earth Reckoning: 2808
Location: Mussolini, Nuova Italia
Pahi, the Secretary of Trade, Third Judge of the Penultimate Court, second highest court in the Kritarchy, had approved the motion for trying to trade with the isolationist human polity of Nuova Italia, a neo-fascist colonial planet just a few short sectors from the Kritarchy. It wasn't a large nation in the least, but it had money and was nearby, though it was composed of humans, and Prime Minister Balbo had agreed eagerly, wanting to pay top dollar for the human pacification weapons.
Thus, the first trade vessels had arrived. The Grays landed and had their mechanical servitors unload the ships. Vupu, the diplomatic envoy, exited the ship in order to meet with customs.
“Who is this gray-skinned thing?” a dockworker snarled.
“A trade-envoy; I am supposed to meet with the customs agent,” she replied tersely.
“We don't want any aliens on our planet! Get the hell off!”
“Your government agreed to this. Allow our trade.”
“Trade this, freak!”
One of the larger dockworkers swung a wrench down upon her head, sending her reeling to the floor with a giant gash in her head. Greenish ichor started pouring out.
A wave of dockworkers started to assault the unarmed trading ships of the Grays. One of the captains managed to get out a distress signal before being over run.
Location: Penultimate Court Building, Hivapo
Pahi heard the transmission as it was played before him.
“Such barbaric violence, and from humans, no less. This matter must go to the Ultimate Court. Take it to the Three.”
Pahi sank into his seat.
This has gone very poorly. Nuova Italia looks so promising, too.
He now hoped he would not be held accountable for the deaths of ten fellow Hoavi.
He now waited.
Location: Ultimate Court Building, Hivapo
Huhomazi, Zozu, and Nibao sat around a triangular table in silence for a moment while the message played.
“Help! Help us! The humans, they've broken into the ships! They've killed everyone! They're coming for me! Help! Help! Aaagh!”
The sounds of human yells and muffled impacts followed.
A second message from Prime Minister Alessandra Balbo played.
“Esteemed Kritarchs of the Voadau, I have already rounded up those responsible for this heinous crime and have had them executed and have had their families pay restitution which we have already sent to you. Is there anything else we can possible do for this horrible crime? The Uniti Partito Fascista does not stand for this sort of thuggish mob violence against valued partners.”
The three Kritarchs contemplated for a while.
“First matters first: is the Balbo administration, if not the entirety of Nuova Italia guilty?” asked Huhomazi, her voiced steeled with obvious anger.
“Aye on the first, nay on the second,” replied Nibao, “Balbo should have controlled who was at the spaceport and prevented such catastrophe. The population at large was not necessarily complicit.”
“Aye on the first, aye on the second,” replied Zozu, “And I agree about Balbo's responsibility, but the population at large created conditions leading to the massacre of our people, including a diplomatic envoy. Such transgression demands a response.”
“Aye on the first, aye on the second, in agreement with Sir Justice Zozu's remarks.” Huhomazi said, “The verdict is unanimous on the guilt of the government of Nuova Italia, majority rule on the guilt of all humans in Nuova Italia. Now, to action. Sir Justice Nibao, that is your jurisdiction.”
“Thank you, Madame Justice. Options are currently diplomatic, as Balbo has offered some concessions, and we can try to ply that route further. Sanctions would be ineffective, as they have succeeded to make a self-sufficient economy for themselves and they do not engage in much trade anyway. Outside of further restitution, diplomatic pressure would likely yield nothing. Espionage and sabotage are also viable options, but they would not necessarily yield any worthwhile results. The last option is a military strike, wherein we could punish the humans for their transgressions. I do not agree, on grounds that I do not feel the greater population was responsible, but I must bring it up anyway, for the sake of completeness.”
“Aye on military response.”
“Aye on military response.”
“Aye on military response, but with the reservation that it be limited punitive strikes on the government,” Nibao said. “The verdict is unanimous on utilizing a military response. Further development of the military procedure will be done shortly when we involve the admirals and generals. We shall now dismiss and reconvene with the military to decide on the correct course of action.”
Location: Nuova Italia high orbit
The defensive perimeter around Nuova Italia was already compromised; the dreadnaughts had already taken out the orbital platforms and the static emplacements on the ground. The NenAltKik frigates had also just destroyed Nuova Italia's largest ship, a mid-sized battlecruiser and were working on the remaining fleet while the dreadnaughts started to bombard known military bases.
Admiral Miva sent a general message to the rest of the ships: “Remember, the Three decided to destroy half of the cities and all of the military. Countryside can be destroyed at leisure with any nonessential ordinance as deemed necessary by any ship's captain.”
And so the dismemberment of Nuova Italia began.
Location: Mussolini, Nuova Italia
The militia kept trying to fire upon the advancing troops of the Kritarchy, but the robotic machines relentless. Drone craft kept lobbing missiles at entrenched positions, while robotic tanks rumbled through streets, droning a message to all.
“...overpowering force. Lay down your weapons and march to the squares. Scanners will detect weapons and violators will be shot down on sight. Continued resistance will be met with overpowering force. Lay down your weapons...”
The sound of explosions and human flesh flash steaming due to laser bursts punctuated the continual drone of the tanks.
Horrified civilians ran to the squares, hoping for a measure of mercy. Many milled about with extreme trepidation; there weren't even any robots on guard. They weren't, however, being killed. Many of the people in the squares started contacting loved ones; texts, calls, holovids were all sent out to tell everyone else that they were safe, at least for now. The robots were apparently being truthful, especially as any areas of armed resistance were being smashed apart by an implacable enemy.
As the resistance died, ships descended from the heavens. The people gazed up, not sure what to make of this development. Searchlights began to dance among the crowd.
A mother gripped her son tightly.
The boy began to hover in the air, dragged by the light into the ship. She held onto him , pulling on his hands with all her might, screaming in terror, as the crowds began to break. She pulled back in desperation when she noticed she couldn't get leverage to pull back. She glimpsed down quickly and saw her own feet lifting off the ground.
In minutes, all the people in the squares were aboard the ships.
Location: Palazzo del Fascio e del Governo, Mussolini, Nuova Italia
Alessandra Balbo sat at her desk and opened a wooden box. Inside was an antique revolver, nearly a thousand years old. One of Mussolini's own. She then gazed at the proud face of the man from his book, La Mia Vita. She sighed deeply and gazed out the window of her office at the burning city.
“Libro e moschetto. Fascista perfetto.”
A shot rang out. Then silence.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-06 03:30am
Parade Grounds: Year XX0 of the Imperial Age (Aprox: 100 years before gamestart)
A massive force stood at attention, over a million men in strength. Heavy soldiers in prosthetic bodies alongside vehicle crews and other such figures in dark green full dress uniform, as did Armed Keepers of Order. In the air, dozens of Skyships floated in place as banners fluttered in the wind. Most of them were human in some fashion, but a few Drell, Radials and Hivers were also present. In addition, there were cameras and all of them were focused on a simple stage. Billions more were watching across the Imperium. A female figure walked onto it wearing imperial formal wear walked onto it. A Robotic body that was overtly mechanical done in in various shades of polished green, two meters tall and authoritative. It then spoke.
"Citizens of the Unified Imperium:, through this Avatar the Supreme Committee speaks as one to report to you on the momentous occasion that unfolds. We should remember the nature by which our great nation was born. Before the Imperium, there was chaos of the Age of War. Armed camp against armed camp, divided and caught in unending war. Each side wishing suffering and death on the other. Millions died every year in these pointless wars. In addition to human lives, these wars often left areas in ruin and consumed vast amounts of resources. Poverty, Fear and Death was the fate of the People of the Age of War. There were those amongst their populations who sought for diplomatic solutions and peace movements, but these voices were silenced. Often by the cold realities of war, but also by the pride of those who were obsessed by the . Their intent was honorable, but they were never the less hopelessly naive in what could be done.
"However, peace was in the end achieved. It was brought about in the forces of the Three Star's Block. At first they were simply driven to defend themselves in the chaos, but then it became clear to the Leaders what was in their power to do, and what must be done. They brought an end to nearly three centuries of destruction with three tools: Force, Resolve and Benevolence. Force to move in, destroy the weapons of these feuding camps and impose peace onto them. Resolve as a people to hold onto these lands, even when the prideful and the fanatic resisted our attempts to build a better world. Benevolence to show them why they should lay down their weapons, to side with our cause and ultimately, become part of us. And it worked. While their were costs in lives, both in the soldiers and police and others who made the ultimate sacrifice and the victims of Localism and Fanaticism to repugnant ideologies. But we are sure that far more lives were saved, generations spared the horrors of war because of our efforts and have prospered, thrived and evolved in the peace created by those who laid down their lives for unification.
"Once again, however, the need has arisen for the three traits that made our beloved Imperium a reality. On our borders lies the Speranzan Federation. In its original language a nation that has been for nearly a century been decaying. Its economy atrophies with every passing year while its society had become more stratified between rich and poor. Its government has decayed into a corrupt oligarchy, uncaring about the increase of crime, both organized and disorganized nor the decay of social support or unemployment. Radical groups have become more common along its fringe worlds and many of its ports have become breeding grounds for pirate activity. If nothing is done, this state shall collapse in on itself in civil war. The logical choice of this government and its people is clear and is already being realized.
"Sixteen Hours Ago, Advanced elements the Imperial Unified Star Navy had engaged with the Speranzan Star Force in battle and have so far inflicted significant casualties upon them. On the same token our losses have been limited to a few gunships and fighter drones. Already paths are being cleared for our conquest fleets. In a few month's time, the Speranzan Federation shall be no more and the process of integration shall begin. Peace and Prosperity shall be restored to these decayed worlds by our hands. Their will be some costs and there will be casualties, but in the end, if we are resolute our victory will be inevitable. The strength that created this Imperium from chaos still resides within us now, and with it we shall obliterate festering decay, violence and chaos and replace it with prosperity, peace and order. So stand strong and proud as we break this failed Federation beneath our forces, carry into its Darkness the Light of the Imperium!"
The crowd cheered "HAIL THE IMPERIUM! HAIL THE IMPERIUM! HAIL THE IMPERIUM!"
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-07 09:12pm
written with some help from Simon_Jester
Time: 5 years before present
Location: Neo-Antarctic Ice Palace, Scumdogia
“Listen up, maggot-bohabs! My agents in Umeria have confirmed a number of things! One, they have one of their big ships, a Tornado
-class battlecruiser, in drydock. It's pretty much finished, except a few little things. Two, I have a few of the people on board willing to help us get that ship; good old fashioned rebels, and deserters, ha! And, three, we have managed to connive and cheat ourselves a freighter filled with materials that are being shipped to that same drydock! So, you fucking bohabs, get your asses in gear! We're taking this fucking ship right from under the Umerians' noses and those taint-sucking chrome-fuckers won't know what hit them! You shits get that?”
“Yes, sir, Sexecutioner!”
“Now get the fuck out of my sight, maggots, and get me that fucking ship!”
Location: MFV Sunny-Day
Colonel Bernardo sighed deeply. Those damn Scumdogs had taken over a long time ago, but Bernardo had been using rejuvenation treatments for years, too. He was once the leader of the Sharks, one of the most powerful mercenary groups in the system and only beholden to their Gray paymasters.
That is, until the Scumdogs moved in with their Golden Battle Barge and subdued everyone in the system who wasn't outright killed. Bernardo's own mercenaries were decimated; many killed, more enslaved by the group of brutal warriors in the employ of the Scumdogs. And the Grays did absolutely nothing to stop them, once they learned the Scumdogs would happily fight for them. So, the Grays left the Sharks and everyone else in Scumdogia to rot at the feet of the Scumdogs.
Yet, here he was, working for one of their most important generals, the brutal, sadistic, and perverted Sexecutioner. Bernardo may have hated them, but he still made a living and couldn't really do a whole lot else with his life at this point. He enjoyed the work, just not his employers.
And, hell, maybe if he stole this Umerian ship, he'd get a lot more autonomy. Or maybe he could at least get the hell away from Scumdogia forever. He'd play it by ear.
So, Bernardo had his pilot fly the MFV Sunny-Day
up to the huge, skeletal docking frame over Brennan's World- and the smaller waystation alongside it. Luckily, his crew was hardened enough by this time to not get nervous about such things. He'd picked them well, as he couldn't afford to fuck this up. He put out his cigarette and picked up his recently augmented ID badge. He was now Foreman Max Cavalera, and the biometrics were altered accordingly. And the badge had a little encrypted virus on it; nothing that could outwit the Umerian computers for long, but something that would fool them for long enough for Bernardo and his crew to get the ship and get the hell out of Dodge before anyone noticed. He didn't know who made the virus, though he heard from one of his technicians that it was based off of Haruhiist code, which was itself based off of Centralist code, and who knows where before that. For all he knew, Hellene computer code might be in there somewhere, though he was pretty sure that was impossible. There were definitely enough links, though, to throw anyone off track and also avoid an interstellar war through plausible deniability. Not that the Scumdogs of the Universe wanted to avoid that, but whichever eggheads wrote the code didn't want to get into that right now.
Bernardo's attention was quickly brought back to what was in front of him as his pilot told him that docking procedures were beginning.
“Everyone, get ready. We have to do this right the first time.”
As the Sunny-Day
finished up docking procedures, Foreman Cavalera stood by the airlock. The doors opened, and he smiled broadly at the customs agent.
“Hello! Here's our inventory list. Five containers of provisions for USS Sirocco
with a mass of 30,000 kilograms, eight containers of chrome for general use with a mass of 5,000,000 kilograms, and four containers of helium-3 for general use with a mass of 90,000 kilograms,” Foreman Cavalera said as he handed over his ID badge and inventory to the officer.
The officer examined the items given to him for a minute, with his handheld comparing the biometrics on the ID with those the scanners were picking up.
Bernardo stood for a minute, breathing slowly and forcing himself to be calm.
A happy sounding chirp came from the handheld.
“Everything checks out. Start unloading.”
“Of course. We'll have to get the provisions out first, since they're in the way.”
“Whatever you need to do,” said the officer.
Foreman Cavalera smiled and had his grav-lifts and workmen cart the provisions into the cargo bay of the Sirocco
. Everything was going relatively smoothly. As the last container was loaded on and the cargo bay began to shut, one of the containers burst open with a group of heavily armed men who shot the guard personnel. Bernardo took out his handheld trac-comp and entered a small code. The MFV Sunny-Day
's engines overloaded and blew up, taking out its dock and venting a hurricane of air from the station into outer space.
As chaos spread through the port, the bribed, dissident, and deserting Umerian troops turned their ray-guns on their erstwhile comrades. Some cursed, some bellowed, some just grinned. Some pulled on long brown coats and charged into the Umerian redshirts' ranks, whooping wild Rebel yells. They rushed onto the Sirocco
, boarding through multiple docking hatches, and killed all the loyal SpaceSec troops on board. Bernardo strode onto the bridge himself, calmly shooting the watch officer in the head, directing his own crew to take over after they finished off the duty officers.
“Let's get the hell out of here, now. Install the anti-tracking software, pronto!”
The finest of Scumdogian override bludgeons smashed off the safeties on the battlecruiser's heavy machinery. The Sirocco
fired up its reactors- fired up its drives. Shifting into full speed reverse, neither knowing nor caring that the power of the drive fields would tear the drydock apart, Bernardo took the great ship out of orbit and away, alarms spreading behind him among the planetary defenses.
“Oh! You fucking bohabs! You've done it! You fucking did it! Ha ha ha! Wonderful! I'll honor you and this momentous occasion, Bernardo, by naming this ship the Sexecutioner
! Now! A celebratory orgy and gladiator fight!”
Son of a bitch...
thought Bernardo. Really? Naming it after himself? After all the shit we went through to get it? Motherfucker.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-08 11:41am
September 17, 3298
Man this is boring…I hate having to do guard duty on weekends… a young man thought, barely keeping himself awake.
The thing he was guarding was the newest addition to Arcadia’s burgeoning transport fleet. The massive Reach class transport was in the final stages of construction, and it…at least in his humble opinion…didn’t require many guards. Realistically speaking, who would want to wreck a random transport ship when Arcadia had hundreds of them?
“I wonder if I can get off early? Not like anyone would notice,” the man mumbled to himself, absentmindedly twirling his M-22 Furling beam pistol on his index finger.
Thus he didn’t notice the flash of steel as Ivan snuck up behind him. The last thing the guard felt was a flash of severe pain in the back of his neck…then blackness.
“What a pitiful excuse for a guard…I could have been drunk and still killed him,” Ivan said disdainfully, wiping his blade on the guards uniform before sheathing it. He then collected the man’s pistol, examining the weapon before test firing it on the hull of the transport. The green beam flew straight and true and burned a small hole in the transports hull.
Ivan gave it an approving look before tucking it securely in his belt. He then waved forward the rest of his Arcadia First allies. The human-centric group was vehemently opposed to anything they felt threatened Arcadia…especially if said thing involved any of the numerous aliens populating the Galaxy. Thus, what Ivan had told Schmidt before killing him was part truth, part lie. He genuinely did view the idea of an exclusive trade route as something that threatened Arcadia (however false that view may be)…but it was more hatred of the idea of trading with the ‘cat people’.
Thus Ivan was the typical racist bigot…but one with a para-military organization behind him. And his group was even now busily planting C-14 plastic explosive all over the Reach class transport. They were using enough of the powerful explosive to level several city blocks…yet alone wreck a ship beyond repair.
“All the explosives are set Ivan…do you want to move that body?” a Miyazaki man asked, gesturing at the security guards rapidly cooling corpse.
Ivan just snorted, “Move the body? You do realize just how much C-14 we used right? There won’t be anything left no matter where we put him. Just leave the body and get out of here…we need to get quite a ways away before setting off this party. Lets hope that the masirovka group did their job well and keep the authorities from knowing we were ever here.”
The other man raised an eyebrow…darn Kurskian’s and their impossible to understand language. Why couldn’t it be nice and simple like Miyazakian? Whatever though…mission first, problems with his crazy leader later.
“Come on everyone! Get back to the Orion now!” Ivan shouted out, waving his people out of the hanger.
They all ran to an old frigate, the Oscar class ship stolen from an old mothball fleet years ago. It got the job done though, and it was their escape vessel. Once all the AF members were onboard, the frigates powerful engines fired, shooting it off into orbit, leaving behind the massive hanger. Ivan looked out the ships small stern viewport, absentmindedly pushing on the detonator for their C-14. Once the Orion was far enough away, he pressed the switch down completely…setting off a truly titanic explosion. The hanger was consumed in an orange fireball, quickly leaving behind a large mushroom cloud. Ivan grinned, watching as the threat to his nation died. Or so he thought…but he’s a fanatic, not an economist.
Grand President’s Mansion
The Ministers were all staring down the Defense Minister, who was nervously tugging on his collar. But they all felt a sudden shaking, the source of which was unknown.
“What was that?! Did we just have a groundquake?” White shouted, picking up his scattered papers.
The rest of the group doubted that. Arcadia was very geologically stable…or at least New Stockholm was. There hadn’t been a major groundquake in centuries. Something was terribly wrong here…and they didn’t like it.
“Madam President! One of our shipyards was just destroyed!” an Arcadian Presidential Guard officer reported, running into the room, her breathing strained.
“What?!!” Tanya shouted back, jumping to her feet.
“Which shipyard was it? Was it a military target?” the Defense Minister asked; glad to have the focus off him…regardless of the reason.
The Presidential Guard officer shook her head, “No, it was where our newest Reach class transport was being built. We are trying to determine why someone would attack it.”
Tanya ran a hand through her brown hair, “Why would someone attack that shipyard? One transport isn’t a big deal…”
“No it isn’t…this can’t be an attack by one of the other nations, they aren’t stupid enough to just attack one single shipyard,” Nasan said.
“And how would you know that?” White asked.
Nasan turned his bright green eyes on the human male; “I served in the Furling Marines…and was a diplomat when we negotiated to let the Stellar Nation fleet into our territory…I would like to think I know how people act.”
“Okay then, who would do this? Any ideas Ministers?” Tanya asked, looking over her Cabinet.
“I stand by my statement…none of the other nations nearby would attack us like this. If they wanted to start a war, Reach or one of the Colonies would be the first target…either take out our main military base, or attack our most vulnerable territory. It doesn’t make sense to attack a random shipyard with just one easily replaced transport,” Nasan replied.
“I find myself agreeing with Nasan…it can’t have been our neighbors. This reeks of a terrorist attack, though I don’t know which group would be bold enough to attack a shipyard,” Yumi added, nodding her black-haired head.
“The only groups I can think of are Arcadia First, or the London Pirates…but neither group has a large enough presence this far in,” White answered, the internal affairs being his specialty.
“I have to disagree…while LP doesn’t have any people on Arcadia, AF most certainly does. The question is, did they have the people needed to pull this off. Even if it was a non-critical target, they would need a lot of people to manage it,” the Defense Minister said…trying to get back his opinion on military matters.
“I’m not sure about that,” the Minister of Transport said.
Tanya turned to her, “And why is that?”
“If it is the shipyard I am thinking of, it is deep in the outskirts of New Stockholm. If that is the case, then it would be in a hotbed of AF supporters, that was why I wanted to move it,” the Minister answered, referring to an older meeting.
White started to tug on his collar nervously, “Oh right…that meeting…back then it looked like the AF was loosing power. And they were loosing power, this recent resurgence has to do with that trade route…which they seem to think is a new development when it has been in planning for years and is more of a cementing of our trade relationship with Bastian than anything else.”
The group was distracted once again when a broadcast started playing on their holo-screens. It showed a man in a pitch-black uniform on the bridge of what looked like an old Oscar class frigate.
“I am a leader in the revolutionary group Arcadia First! By now I’m sure you have heard about the destruction of that shipyard in New Stockholm…that was our doing and we are perfectly willing to admit that. That ship was a threat to our glorious nation, and we refuse to let any threat stand! If you are hearing this, join us! Go to the streets, go to the government, STOP ALL THREATS TO OUR HOMELAND!”
With those closing words, the transmission ended. The heads of the Arcadian Government looked at each other.
“It seems like it was indeed Arcadia First who did this. But what they were thinking…one ship doesn’t make any difference to our transport fleet,” Yumi said, shaking her head slightly.
“We can have ships out there searching now Madam President, an old Oscar should be simple enough to catch,” the Defense Minister added.
Tanya nodded, “Make it done…just hurry. We can’t have civil unrest, it will make us appear weak.”
The various Ministers nodded, and started to leave to head to their offices. It was going to be a long night, that’s for sure…
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-10 05:29pm
The first hint Lucy Vansickle had that she was about to die was actually quite pleasant. A vaguely familiar, musky scent wafted across her face, prompting her to inhale deeply even as a slight frown of concentration wrinkled her forehead. It was familiar...but what was it? She looked up from her paper-strewn desk, staring off into space in the hushed confines of her home office as she tried to place where she’d smelled it before. It had been a long time ago, she was certain of that, but--
She went rigid as the realization struck. The last time she’d smelled it was the last time anyone had smelled it. The 3284 Olympic Games. Castors clattered and bounced as she shot to her feet, her chair shooting off behind her and tipping over with a heavy thump. As she began to lunge around the desk in a desperate bid to make it to the closed door on the far side of the small office, something snaked around one foot and sent her sprawling to the floor with an surprised yell. Before she could scramble upright again, warm breath ghost across one ear from above, the smell -- that terrifying, alluring scent -- growing stronger.
A deep, rich voice , a voice she would have bought a drink in almost any other circumstance, spoke, seemingly loud in the quiet room, “Look at me.”
With a frightened mewling sound, Lucy shook her head, stubbornly keeping her gaze fixed on the rich, sound-drinking rug she’d fallen on. She began worming her way forwards until a hand cupped her shoulder and arrested her progress.
The voice spoke again, the tone somewhat lighter and more amused, “Fine, look at the floor instead.” A silence stretched out in the office for a bare few long, oppressive seconds, and then the unseen voice spoke again, this time in a tone of command that brooked no disobedience, “Now look at me.”
Almost without even realizing it, the prone woman’s head turned to face the man crouched beside her; that close-shaven head, the charming smile, the dark skin, the exquisitely-muscled torso, even the knotted white towel, everything was as she remembered. The two stared at each other for another long, slow moment...and then something changed. The smile wasn’t so charming, the eyes not so friendly. Something sinister glittered in their depths.
And that, too, was just as she’d remembered.
“Your lungs,” he whispered, the sound barely above a hiss, “are now diamonds.”
Terror shot through her chest as Lucy felt something change... and then, suddenly, she couldn’t breathe. She rolled up on her side, clutching and scrabbling at her chest through the simple work-at-home casual clothes she wore, her mouth gaping open uselessly. As she flopped on her back and began to spasm wildly, a corner of her fading awareness watched her killer rise smoothly to his feet and step away.
By the time anyone found her, she was long dead, blood soaked into the rug beneath her from where it’d dribbled out of her slack lips. It wasn’t until the medical examiner discovered that her lungs had been replaced by an equivalent volume of beautifully-cut diamonds that the true meaning of Lucy Vansickle’s death became clear.
After sixteen years of peace, the Old Spice Guy had returned.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-11 11:18am
The Most Interesting Man in the Galaxy relaxed against the soft leather of his favorite armchair, releasing a puff of smoke from his cigar as he did so. The day had been as action-packed as all of his days were; breakfast at the Palace Hotel with an actress he'd met the night before at a bullfight, just before appearing as a matador, followed by skydiving onto his yacht and sailing out to one of the islands he owned on this planet for a seaside picnic. It was only at dinner, roasted mind-duck from the League of Thought, that the news reached him:
The Old Spice Guy was back.
The Most Interesting Man in the Galaxy's pet leopard padded across the room and draped itself over the coffee table, which was made from ancient maple wood from Earth itself. The jewels on its collar sparkled in the firelight. Just like that poor woman's lungs had, after the Old Spice Guy turned them to diamonds. The Most Interesting Man in the Galaxy narrowed his eyes. He spoke, somehow managing to use French in Russian.
"I don't always drink beer, but I'll need a drink after I make the Old Spice Guy pay for what he has done."
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-11 06:33pm
Border of the Arcadian Republic
“Come on men…the chemical traces lead right to this building. The Old Spice Guy must be hiding here,” an officer of the Narina Militia said.
“Are you sure sir…it could have been wrong,” a private said, looking dubious at the idea of attacking a random house searching after someone who was called ‘The Old Spice Guy’.
“Don’t doubt me kid! And you don’t know how much of a threat the Old Spice Guy is…he turned a woman’s lungs to diamonds in the League of Thought…that isn’t an easy thing to do!” the officer shot back, moving towards the house.
“Whatever you say sir…” the private said, silently giving his officer the finger.
That got laughs out of the rest of the group, since none of them particularly liked the man either. But as they got nearer to the house a distinctive smell took over…it was familiar yet unfamiliar at the same time. The backwoods Narinan’s couldn’t put a finger on it…but it sent chills down their spine nonetheless.
The officer had been banging on the door for a while now, but no one had answered. So he just kicked it down…the chance to capture the Old Spice Guy was too great of a prize. When the group of Militiamen stormed into the house, they got the smell they had been noticing full force. It almost overwhelmed a couple of them even.
“Now why did you have to break the door?” a deep voice came from another room.
Standing in the doorway of what looked like a gym was a tall man with a baldhead and dark skin. He was very heavily muscled, and the smell seemed to originate with him.
“Hands in the air Old Spice Guy! You are under arrest for your numerous crimes!” the Officer shouted…the description of his target echoing in his head and matching this man.
“’Old Spice Guy’? You have the wrong guy man; I’m the TC Old Spice Guy! Now get out of my house or taste my POWER!!” the man shouted back, flexing his chest muscles in a strangely creepy way.
The officer just raised his gun…TC Old Spice Guy was close enough to what he was looking for. He fired the weapon, a blue beam launching from the pistol and flying straight and true, hitting the TC Old Spice Guy in the chest…but the beam just bounced off and flew into the ceiling!
“Big mistake…I’m too POWERFUL to shoot!” the TC Old Spice Guy shouted, sending one of his fists to the side.
All the militiamen (and women) wondered what the man was doing, until his fist suddenly came out of nowhere and slammed into the officer’s head. The dark skinned fist was stretching from a hole in the wall, and seemingly coming from the TC Old Spice Guy. With their officer down, all the remaining Militiamen fired their weapons, but the target vanished from their sight.
“I’m too POWERFUL to stay in one spot! And I’m so POWERFUL that I’ll blow your brain in front of your FACE!” that manly voice shouted again, as an unwise militiawoman looked in his direction. Her brain suddenly appeared outside of her head, before exploding in a cartoon like manner. She crumpled to the floor…no blood or other signs of trauma visual.
That made the remaining soldiers run for their lives, scrambling over each other to get out of this madhouse. But when they got outside it was too see a sight that shocked them even further. The normally bright yellow Narinan sun had become an angry red spot in the sky…and there was another star next to it. Both of them were seemingly getting closer to ground too!
“You asked for this…DOBULE SUN POWER!!!” the TC Old Spice Guy shouted, standing in front of the soldiers flexing his chest once more, seemingly unaffected by the suns, as the trees, and buildings around him caught fire.
The soldiers screamed as the heat vaporized them. Once all of them were gone, the second sun vanished, while the normal Narinan sun went back to its cheerful yellow color. But the TC Old Spice Guy had other things to worry about…it seemed like that copycat was back and doing his evil deeds again. Time to get busy and reclaim his spot as the Old Spice Guy!
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-12 10:33pm
And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
It's 3240, and we're on Sera, specifically the abandoned Belkan settlement at Ilima. Though much of our previous progress against the Locusts had been undone, we've made great strides since then. We've kept the bastards pinned down all throughout the San Jacinto Plateau, and we're even taking the fight directly to the caves themselves. Marshal Akemi's latest plan's actually working out...for the most part. Somehow, she managed to wake up the Locusts' god or something like that, and we've been trying to track it down so we may kill it. They say it's a giant worm that digs tunnels or something like that. Sounds crazy, but in this world, what isn't?
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles, it's a very, very...
In any case, we continue to fight on. Such is the lot of us jarheads, always being the first in and the last out. We can definitely handle ourselves in any fight we may find ourselves in, but this has gone on for far too long, and we've already lost so much. Nevertheless, we will still gladly continue to fight the Locust scum in this hellhole, down to the very last man and the very last woman if need be.
But enough about that. Uncle, I trust that everything's well back at home. Tell Nanako that I'm okay, and pray to Haruhi, pray to Kamina, Nanoha, and Madoka, pray to Aya and Wendee and Cristina and all the saints that my friends and I will get out of this alive.
The Holy Empire's victory over the Belkans on Sera long ago had ultimately proved to be a short-lived one, as they were now the ones left in possession of a desolate wasteland with a severe pest problem. It was not long before the Haruhiists would have to deal with the planet's natives, a race of vaguely reptilian humanoids notable for their savagery, their fecundity, and their utter hostility towards all forms of human life. The Belkans had dubbed these creatures Heuschrecken
, but the Haruhiists would come to know them by another name: Locusts.
Though they had suffered grievious losses in the crossfire of the last Belkan War, the Locusts quickly rebounded, emerging from their underground lairs in large numbers to strike at the Haruhiists as they once did against the Belkans. Though the occupation forces on Sera were initially caught by surprise due to the sheer scale of the Locust offensive, they quickly fought back with equal ferocity, with their counterstrikes blocking off many entrances to Sera's surface and hampering the Locusts' ability to maneuver strategically. The Locusts still kept coming, however, and it was not long before the war degenerated into a bloody stalemate, with the Haruhiists' advantages in tactics and technology matched by the Locusts' advantages in numbers.
This stalemate persisted for a number of years before none other than Field Marshal Homura Akemi herself devised and received approval for a radical plan that she hoped would eliminate the Locust threat for good in one fell swoop. She ordered the detonation of a liquid rubiconium warhead deep inside the cave networks of Sera, hoping to collapse any remaining entrances to the surface and contaminate the interior enough to kill off any remaining Locusts. The plan initially worked, but Homura had underestimated the sheer hardiness of her enemy. Barely six weeks had passed after the detonation of the warhead before the Locusts returned once more with a vengeance, reemerging through the formerly-impassable San Jacinto Plateau with a truly devastating weapon at their forefront...
The detonation of the liquid-R warhead within the bowels of Sera had an even direr consequence than merely riling the Locusts. The shockwaves of the explosion had inadvertently awakened the Riftworm, a colossal engine of destruction revered by the Locusts as a god, a beast many miles long that swam through Sera's crust as if it was water, leaving tunnels, sinkholes, and ruined cities in its wake. A cabal of Locust priests and holy men led by the individual who called himself Skorge soon tamed the Riftworm, turning its destructive impulses towards their own ends by making it the spearhead of their renewed offensive against the Haruhiists. The Riftworm's initial rampage through the San Jacinto Plateau caused the collapse of the Belkan settlements of Tollana and Nuevo Montevideo, claiming large numbers of SOS Imperial Guards and Marines in the process.
After analyzing the destruction of Tollana and Nuevo Montevideo, Field Marshal Akemi was quick to draw up and execute a counter-offensive against her seemingly implacable foes. She ordered all remaining Haruhiist forces on Sera to assemble at the San Jacinto Plateau for a thrust deep into the caves, to eradicate the Locusts man-to-man in a massive hammer blow. After capturing the former Belkan settlement of Landown, the SOS Imperial Guards and Marine Corps finally took the fight into the caves, opening up a new chapter in the war against the Locusts.
1st Lieutenant Souji Seta being awesome, as per SOP
While the majority of the SOS Imperial Marine Corps forces on Sera were still deep within the caves trading blows with the Locusts, 1st Lieutenant Souji Seta's platoon was one of several units sent to investigate the former Belkan settlement of Ilima, which had been sunk in the same manner as Tollana and Nuevo Montevideo. The platoon had to fight their through the caves in order to reach the city, or at least what was left of it; the Locusts had driven the Riftworm directly under Ilima, exactly as they had done to Tollana and Nuevo Montevideo, opening up a massive sinkhole and causing the entire city and its surroundings to collapse into the caves. Though severely understrength (18 men and women total out of a mandated 42, divided into two similarly understrength squads with a mix of standard and nonstandard weapons), Souji and his Marines acquitted themselves quite well during their advance to Ilima, personally slaying multitudes of Locust infantry and even taking down some of the Locusts' heavy units.
Souji's platoon made its entrance into Ilima with a big bang. Phased plasma bolts and hypervelocity gauss penetrators from Marine rifles burned their way through the fog of war, with the Locusts returning the greeting with their own small arms fire. A Reaver, a peculiar flying beast used by the Locusts as airbone cavalry, caught sight of Souji's platoon making its advance. The Locust infantryman riding atop the Reaver's back guided his mount into a downward charge towards the Marines, and Souji himself was quick to spot the Reaver's ugly visage bearing down on him and his guys and girls. "Kanji! Shinjiro! Bring up the rocket launchers!" he called out.
PFCs Kanji Tatsumi (left) and Shinjiro Aragaki (right)
PFCs Kanji Tatsumi and Shinjiro Aragaki, the heavy weapons specialists of the platoon, responded immediately, rushing over to Souji and shouldering their launchers. "Armed and ready, boss!" Kanji called back.
"On my mark, fire one barrel," Souji ordered as he sized up the approaching Reaver, waiting for the proper moment to strike. "...And...mark!"
An M41 rocket launcher
The M41 double-barreled rocket launcher had replaced the equally venerable M30 and faithfully served the SOS Imperial Armed Forces for decades prior to the Sera insurrection, and it continued to serve with the Guards and Marines on Sera despite the official adoption of the M52 in most other Guard and Marine units. With a single shot from such a weapon, the average Haruhiist soldier could inflict several worlds' worth of pain on any Locust unfortunate enough to get in range, to say nothing of the effect of firing both barrels at once. Such was the case with the hapless Reaver and its rider as Kanji and Shinjiro each let loose with a single barrel from their launchers. Two rockets streaked through the air, leaving brilliant white contrails in their wake as they made their way towards the war beast. One rocket connected directly with the beast's face, while the other connected with the rider's torso. Both beast and rider were reduced to bloody chunks by the combined explosions, and the mangled remains of the beast itself unceremoniously plummeted to the ground just yards in front of Souji's position, with little bits of what used to be the rider raining down shortly afterwards.
"I love the smell of cooked Locust in the mornin'," Shinjiro said as he looked over at the remains of the fallen Reaver. "Smells like...victory."
"Better get used to it, 'cause we'll be smellin' a lot of it before we're done here," Kanji replied confidently. "Locusts ain't got shit on us."
"Damn straight, Private Tatsumi, damn straight," Souji interjected in his usual cool manner. "Sergeant Arisato, gather up the other boys and girls. We're moving out."
Staff Sergeant Minato Arisato
"You got it, boss," Staff Sergeant Minato Arisato, squad leader turned platoon sergeant after being given a field promotion, replied before calling out to the other Marines. "Okay, ladies and gents, you heard Lieutenant Seta! We're Oscar Mike! Stay frosty!"
After about half an hour of mostly eventless marching, the platoon's advance through the ruins of Ilima was momentarily halted when Souji and Minato spotted a similarly-sized group of Locust infantry making their own way through the city. "What are we gonna do, boss?" Minato asked.
Souji quickly sized up the area around him. Two-story prefab houses in various states of ruin stood in topsy-turvy rows on both sides of the buckled street, providing perfect vantage points for his men and women to rain death upon the hapless Locusts should they stray into their lines of fire. "Minato, take your squad to that house over there," Souji whispered to Minato, gesturing to one of the prefabs. "The rest of the platoon will remain with me, in the house directly across the street from yours. I'd suggest positioning Yukari, Akihiko, and Shinjiro on the top floor if I were you."
"We should have some time to put up a few Nodachi mines set to remote detonation along the street before the Locusts come down here," Minato suggested. "We blow the mines once the pass by, and I suppose we could take out about a quarter of them right then and there. What do you think, Lieutenant?"
"Get to it, then, Sergeant," Souji ordered. "You got your orders, now carry 'em out."
The rest of the platoon nodded in affirmation as they split up in order to facilitate Souji's planned ambush. Each squad's snipers, machine gunners, and rocketeers took up positions on the upper floors, while the rest set up shop at ground level. Minato and Souji also set to work laying out their trump card, the trusty M29 Nodachi anti-personnel mine. A spiritual descendant of the M18 Claymore used on Earth in the 20th and 21st centuries, the Nodachi operated on the same basic principles, launching depleted uranium shrapnel at high speeds in a fan-shaped pattern into its designated kill zone; several of these mines were planted in front of several houses down the street and set for radio-controlled detonation. With their preparations finally in place, Minato and Souji met back up with their respective squads and waited for the Locusts to pass by.
Corporal Yukari Takeba
"Alright, here they come," Coporal Yukari Takeba, the designated markswoman for Minato's squad, whispered into her comlink. "Shirogane, you see 'em?"
PFC Naoto Shirogane
PFC Naoto Shirogane, the designated markswoman for Souji's squad, replied, "Yeah, I see 'em. Boss, remember to wait for our signal before you blow the mines."
"I read you loud and clear, Private," Souji replied. He and the rest of his squad were gathered on the first floor of the prefab and hiding behind the front wall, waiting for the right moment to strike. Minato and the rest of his squad were likewise assembled behind the front wall of their prefab, also waiting to strike.
Back up on the second floor, Naoto eyed the Locusts through a pair of binoculars. "I count...40 Locusts," she whispered into her comlink. "Their advance guard will be walking into the kill zone soon." She put away the binoculars, brought up her M110 anti-materiel rifle, and started peering through the scope. "Corporal Takeba and I will take out the rear guard, correct?"
"That's correct, Private," Souji replied as he readied the remote detonator for the Nodachis. "Once they're down, that's when the fun starts."
"Shirogane, their advance guard is already in the kill zone," Yukari said through her comlink. "Take the shot."
"You got it, Corporal," Naoto replied as she lined up a shot at a Locust's head and pulled the trigger, sending a 14.5mm HE-API slug at hypersonic speeds right into its braincase. A second Locust met an identical fate at the end of Yukari's own rifle, its cranium vaporized by the sheer force of the projectile impacting it. Once Souji heard the gunshots, he pressed the button on the remote detonator, immediately reducing the lead Locusts in the formation into so many bits of dead flesh with the simultaneous detonation of the mines.
Though he knew his boys and girls wouldn't need the order to start the festivities in earnest, Souji felt the need to give it anyway for the sake of thoroughness: "FIRE AT WILL!"
Corporal Akihiko Sanada
"I've been waiting for this!" Corporal Akihiko Sanada, the support gunner for Minato's squad, crowed right before he pulled the trigger on his M358 gauss machine gun. The weapon spat out at least a dozen 8.6mm HE-API rounds in that initial burst of fire, burning right through the armor, skin, and guts of the first Locust to cross his sight.
A rain of rockets and gauss rounds came down upon the remaining Locusts as they were beset on both sides by an equally merciless torrent of phased plasma, grenades, and additional gauss rounds. Most of them had little chance to retaliate effectively, as they were only able to get off a few wild bursts from their rifles before being cut down by the Marine onslaught. Within moments, the Locust platoon had been reduced from 40 to a mere 15, and those remaining 15 saw it fit to do something thought unthinkable by the average Locust: Retreat.
"What the-- They're actually retreating
?!" Yukari exclaimed in amazement.
"Just gives us more opportunities to kill 'em," Akihiko replied as he fired off another burst from his machine gun at a retreating Locust, tearing through its back and causing what was left of its guts to spill out onto the pavement as it fell.
FILE PHOTO: Corporal Chie Satonaka (left) with 1st Lieutenant Seta, date unknown
"I dunno about this. It all seems kinda, well, hinky to me," Corporal Chie Satonaka, the support gunner for Souji's squad, remarked to Naoto and Kanji, her words punctuated by a series of bursts from her machine gun directed at the retreating Locusts. One burst hobbled a Locust by blowing out its entire left leg above the knee, with the follow-up putting it down for good.
"What do you mean by that, Corporal Satonaka?" Naoto asked as she took aim at another Locust and opened fire with her rifle.
"Think about it, Naoto," Chie replied as she let loose with another burst. "Most Locusts would sooner die than run. Something's definitely up here."
"Yeah, isn't that...Riftworm thingy supposed to be running around these parts?" Kanji asked. "Maybe it's coming back around, and they don't wanna get eaten."
"Maybe, but who knows," Chie replied.
"Okay, boys and girls, we've driven off those Locusts for now, but you can be sure we'll be running into them again later," Souji announced over the comlink. "Everyone assemble at my position. We'll be Oscar Mike soon."
Chie, Kanji, and Naoto packed up their weapons and went downstairs to meet up with Souji and the rest of their squad, while Minato's squad exited their house and crossed the street. Once everyone was gathered, the entire platoon moved back out onto the streets of Ilima. With Locusts everywhere and the Riftworm still at large, they would need to stay their frostiest as they resumed their mission.
Re: SDNW5 Prologue Thread
Posted: 2012-04-15 06:49am
And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles, it's a very, very...
The order had come down from division HQ and filtered its way down the chain of command to Lieutenant Seta. The first part was clear: The Marines were pulling out of Ilima. The second part was decidedly more ambiguous, however. Lieutenant Seta had kept hearing something about "new objectives," but very little on what those objectives were, other than that they'd be explained further once his platoon was out of the city.
Souji had little time to fret about the particulars, however. After the ambush of the Locust platoon in Ilima's suburbs, it had been one long running battle for him and the rest of his platoon as they tried to fight their way into the city center. Locust blood flowed freely as the Marines made their advance, cutting down their enemies at long and short range with all manner of instruments of death...
Sergeant Yukiko Amagi
Platoon medic* Sergeant Yukiko Amagi, contrary to her designated role, often found herself leading charges against the Locusts. Unlike most other medics, who preferred to stick with the standard-issue plasma or gauss rifles, she preferred to carry around a flamethrower as her primary weapon, which made her particularly useful in the confined quarters of Sera's ruins and caves. With the rest of the platoon to give her covering fire, she could easily get in close enough to inflict unimaginable amounts of pain and suffering on any Locusts unfortunate to cross her path. Such was the case when the platoon had to fight their way through an abandoned shopping mall on their way to the city center...
"Someone remind me again why we're going through here instead of staying on the street?!" Akihiko asked as he fired off a burst from his machine gun.
"At least we don't have to deal with their mortar fire, but frankly, I don't think it makes any difference," Chie replied, her words punctuated by bursts from her own machine gun. "Locusts to the left of us, Locusts to the right..."
Corporal Yosuke Hanamura
"...And here I am, stuck in the middle with you," Corporal Yosuke Hanamura interjected, right before gunning down a Locust with several bursts from his dual SMGs. "Wouldn't want it any other way."
"Same here, Yosuke," Chie replied as she shot another Locust. "As long as we're all together, those Locusts don't stand a chance."
"Still, we gotta get moving out of this damn mall if we want to make the extraction," Kanji remarked as he bashed a charging Locust in the head with a swing of his rocket launcher. With a single smooth motion, he slung the launcher over his shoulder, took out an SMG with his off hand, and discharged the weapon into the dazed Locust's torso. "They just don't stop coming, do they?"
"Private Tatsumi's right, we really do need to get out of here ASAP, but we still have a ton of Locusts between us and the other end of this mall," Yukiko remarked. She briefly glanced at her flamethrower. "Just give me some covering fire, and I'll have them all cleared out. You with me?"
"You got it, Doc," Yosuke replied as he readied a frag grenade. "Just give us the word."
Just then, a low rumbling shook the crumbling walls of the mall. The platoon halted in its tracks in order to determine the source of the rumbling, though it wasn't long before the source revealed itself, with loud cries of "BOOM!" and "GRIND!" echoing through the mall. The Locusts' heavies, the Boomers, were now on the scene, and their cries of "BOOM!" and "GRIND!" only meant one thing: Incoming grenade and Gatling fire.
"Everyone, scatter!" Yukiko called out. Bullets whizzed past the Marines as they leapt into open storefronts in an attempt to seek cover. Shockwaves from detonating grenades shattered the glass panes of the storefronts (at least those that hadn't been broken by the Marines jumping through them) and bowled several of the Marines over as they attempted to get back up.
"Who do those bastards think they are?!" Yosuke cried out as he ducked out of one of the storefronts, pulled the pin on the frag grenade he was holding, and pitched it underhand before taking out one of his SMGs to provide suppressing fire. The grenade rolled for a considerable distance before detonating, killing a Locust outright and maiming several. Chie momentarily popped out of cover to spray the downed Locusts with her machine gun, taking them out for good.
"Looks like a change in plans for us," Yukiko remarked. "Take out the Boomers first!"
"This is Corporal Takeba! I'm already on it!" Yukari responded through the comlink as she went out into the fray with her sniper rifle. She knelt down, brought up her rifle, peered through the scope, and took aim at the head of the launcher-wielding Boomer. She pressed the trigger once, and from her perspective, she could see the Boomer's head explode in a cloud of pink mist. She took aim at the Gatling-wielding boomer, only to see its head explode before she could pull the trigger. "Great shot, Naoto!"
"Thanks, Corporal!" Naoto replied. "Doc, didn't you say you wanted to burn out the rest of the Locusts?"
"What do you think, boss?" Yukiko asked Souji.
"You're gonna need a heck of a lot of covering fire, then," Souji replied as he readied his gauss rifle. "Okay, boys and girls, on me! We gotta give the Doc what she needs! Cover her while she burns our way out!"
Shortly after giving the order, Souji charged out of the storefront, took aim, and fired several bursts at a group of Locusts. Minato and the rest of the platoon followed shortly afterwards, adding their own fire to the fray as Yukiko took point with her trusty flamethower. It wasn't long before everything directly in front of Yukiko's path was consumed in white-hot flames as she went to work with the flamethrower, roasting any Locusts unfortunate enough to be caught in the stream of burning promethium. The few Locusts that managed to survive the conflagration were quickly and effortlessly cut down by Souji and the rest of the platoon, who followed very closely behind their flamer-wielding comrade. The bright glow of the promethium flame also had the benefit of blinding the Locusts, hindering their ability to effectively retaliate against the advancing Marines. When the flames finally dissipated, all that was left of the Locusts were charred corpses and melted weapons.
After a minute of having Yukiko burn her way through the remaining Locusts, the platoon had finally managed to get out of the abandoned mall. "Glad those guys are out of the way at last," Yukiko remarked to herself as she reloaded the fuel canister on her flamer before following the rest of her comrades out of the mall and back onto the streets. She kept a tight grip on her weapon, knowing that it would still be necessary for the battles yet to come. It would still be quite a while before they could finally get out of Ilima.
*Unlike the historic United States Marine Corps from which they take many of their traditions, the SOS Imperial Marine Corps have their own dedicated medical personnel.