2014 STGOD Story Thread I

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Simon_Jester
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-10-30 08:24pm

Royal Palace
Paradise, Orion
May 4, 2014


Dr. Mahogany had always been a utilitarian when it came to meals. Restaurant ambiance didn't mean much, and having food brought up to him was the easiest way to ensure relative privacy for a discussion. "So, what do you think will go wrong next?"

The woman across the table from him was about half his age, with hair that had started to go gray in his service these past few years. She was of middling height, with a relatively slender frame- much of that slimness seemed to come from her eating so lightly, not so much from long exercises. She moved... precisely, without hesitation, as though following some program that knew exactly where she was and where her surroundings were.

Delphinium Archer, his senior aide... she of multiple postgraduate degrees in international affairs and group psychology, all acquired with startling speed- and with journeyman-class certification from the Institute for Advanced Logic, which might explain how she got them so fast. A sharp analyst, very sharp, perhaps the sharpest he'd seen in a diplomatic career stretching some sixty years. She lacked only the knack for jollying people along; with it she would be a true master.

And now, her eyes had unfocused. That was unusual. Her eyes almost never stopped moving for more than a split second when she was at ease... unless she was thinking very, very hard.

Mahogany waited, smiling slightly, wondering if she'd come up with the same answer he had. The woman's posture shifted slightly and she seemed to be humming meditatively for a few seconds, then she came out of her trance. "We've got delegates from countries jealous of their sovereignty."

He laughed and tapped himself on the nose. "You should know, young lady, you're looking at one of them."

Delphinium, always serious, nodded. "Yes, but we actually want this to work. Some of the others... I'm not certain."

"So far, we are of one mind. Now, what do you expect them to do? I think they'll go after the funding."

"I hope so, sir, but I doubt it. The obvious line of attack is funding our proposal. But this isn't an expensive body, or doesn't have to be. There are too many ways to get the money. An attack along those lines, we can counter without difficulty."

"So, then..."

"Membership access. Who gets a seat?"

"Oh."

"Yes."

"...I should have thought of that."

"You don't spend so much time having to listen to policy discussions among republicans, sir. I've... been studying them."

"No, Delphinium, no excuses; I should have seen it. Understanding the minds of republics is my duty. It's not like I, of all people, can plead inexperience." He sighed. Maybe it was true, and he really was losing his touch. At least he could still make a decent speech on the fly. "Back home, everyone would just want one person on the committee, leave it at that. Mostly to listen, and to speak in an emergency. People from the smaller parties would know they were, and refrain from gumming up the machinery. Here, you'll see competition for spaces, or people wanting extra votes..." He looked at his aide, who was more, was a singularly helpful friend and adviser, a vital support in his declining years. "Thank you. Fuso?"

"Almost certainly not. You saw their delegation."

"...Thinking back, yes, they didn't seem to care much. Or they are truly good actors."

"I don't think anyone's as good as they'd have to be. Trust me, sir, they think the whole thing is a play with shadow-puppets."

"Most likely, but keep watching them in case they surprise you. You're good at reading faces. Didn't you once say you read lips?"

"...Sometimes. It's not a specialty, sir, but I find..." she closed her eyes, and a lilt entered her voice as if she was quoting, "It all reduces, in its spirit, to perception of the little things." Delphinium smiled slightly.

Mahogany shrugged. "True enough. Anyhow, we need a counterproposal that won't break; if this falls through we'll just see the greater nations using terrorism as a pretext to do whatever they please in our backyard. There has to be something to order the response, and I don't see anything else on offer."

"Something you don't see often in republics is a system where interests can be represented with groups of different sizes, but only get one vote each. Is that what we need, sir?"

"I think so- within reason. The council can work out exactly who should be a member. Hm. Having clusters of aligned members be represented jointly might work, forming one sub-committee that selects one, perhaps two spokesmen with votes in the council itself."

"Aligned members- say, the four kingdoms of Arcadia?"

"I was thinking more of San Dorado's corporate bodies. John Company's heir may have the money of a powerful country, and his cousins may each have the same... but giving everyone one of them a vote would never pass muster with most of us. Including me. Giving the whole lot of them a subcommittee with a couple of voting members to represent them jointly... not so onerous? Let's talk, see if we can nail down details."

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2014-10-30 08:36pm

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Chiyoda, Tokyo, Fuso


Word of the crisis in Granadia had somehow managed to reach distant Fuso, to the general apathy of most people concerned.

"Do we even have an embassy in Granadia?" President Seta asked.

"Diplomatic relations with Granadia have been suspended ever since the Business Plot back in '73," Secretary of State Amagi replied. "We do have several interest sections attached to foreign embassies, but they are minimally staffed. Last I checked, what few diplomatic personnel we have in Granadia are all accounted for, but that might change as the situation develops further."

"Keep me posted on any updates, and make sure to relay any information you have to Secretary Shirogane and the rest of our delegation at that Orion security conference," President Seta said. "It might come in handy for them."
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Force Lord » 2014-11-01 07:30pm

RADIO FREE GRANADIA

El Greco: Buenos días, compañeros! This is Radio Free Granadia speaking, representing the free Granadian peoples, with your host El Greco reporting!

We've just heard news of a major catastrophe happening at the capital of Granadia itself! There have been reports of explosions and shots fired at the Central Government District in Padrid! While casualties are unknown, it's now certain that the Granadian National Populist regime has suffered a devastating strike against its leadership! One of our correspondents is at the scene!

Negrín: *panting* It's all pandemonium here! There's smoke coming out of the ministry buildings from where I'm standing!

El Greco: Where are you, Negrín?

Negrín: I'm up by the rooftops of the National Museum! It's-It's unbelievable! Nothing like this has been seen since the last time Britonian bombers attacked the city! It's like there's been a large-scale attack! Wait, I'm seeing units of the Fuerza Falange down on the streets!

El Greco: That's the armed branch of the National Populist Party! They must be trying to reinforce security there!

Negrín: I don't know man! There's some voice coming out of the loudspeakers dissing Videla, saying that he was some weakling who sold off his country to foreign capitalists and that he and his cronies deserved to die! The Falangitas are actually cheering! I don't believe it!

El Greco: Falangitas celebrating the death of the Caudillo?! If this isn't worrying I don't know what it is! What could have possible happened for the Fuerza Falange to turn on the government?

Negrín: Loudspeakers are still on, whoever's on is saying the names of the ministers he claims that have been slain for "sabotaging the National Upsurge"! He says that the Ministers of War, Finance, Economics, and Foreign Affairs are dead! He says the other ministers are supporting him or ready to support him, but I can't confirm it! As far as I know they may be hostages! He hasn't mentioned the Party Minister for some reason, unless- wait, he's revealing himself! Look at the TVs! The Party Minister's behind this!

El Greco: So, this is a pronunciamiento done by a Party faction against another! But why? Has Party Minister Diego Mola acted because of the growing disaffection the people have against the regime? Does he just want power?

Negrín: Mola's saying something about implementing a policy of "national socialism against the neoliberalism of the Clique of Decay", maybe what we're seeing is a resurgence of the old Left Faction of the NPP!

El Greco: Strange, Videla purged the left-wing National Populists way back in 1991 during the Los Santos Square Massacre! Seems like he didn't get all of them, or a few switched sides and are now showing their true colors with the recent crisis!

Negrín: No se, Greco! I should get to a safer place, Phalangitas are nearing the museum!

El Greco: Get yourself safe Negrín! Vaya, these are intense hours in Granadia! An internal coup knocking out the government... that may not be so wise for Mola to do, since he's not the only one with guns! And speaking of that... *pause* I've just received reports that the high commanders of the Fuerzas Armadas somehow escaped the whole fracas at Padrid and are refusing to obey the coupists, threatening to march on the capital to remove Mola. I don't know how accurate this is, but the Party and the military never really trusted each other in their better days, so I'm not surprised things have come to a head. How many will die so that either the party apparatchiks or the military brass do what they please with the Granadian peoples? We hope that the people realize that now is the time for real change! It's time to regain control of our fates from the long night of totalitarianism! Viva Granadia Libre!
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby madd0ct0r » 2014-11-03 04:27pm

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In a small restricted airfield convenient to the Conference, the Champan Experimental Aircraft 'Sort-of-Wasp' was being demonstrated. Captain Rahman had seen rather more labs then battlefields or marketing pitches, but his father had been a very succssful stall holder and he had fixed ideas about how this should go.

“Ladies and Gentlemen. Terrorism, like nearly nearly anything, is an economic activity. To the victim, it imposes direct costs in destruction in lost lives; it imposes indirect costs in fear and uncertainty which damage the future prosperity of the victim and, to prevent a repeat of the atrocity, upon the same victim it imposes long-term recurrring costs as well. If the terrorist can afford to pressure you more readily then you can afford to defend yourself, you suffer the slow death. This is something that is known.

Drone's are the new innovation of this millennium, but cheap, inaccurate, dangerous rockets are not. If you spend $200,000 intercepting a $2000 rocket, you are suffering. If the enemy can launch a hundred a day, you are bleeding, and they will slowly bleed you dry.

We have an answer. Above your heads,” he gestured wildly, “move and swoop two dozen drones from our 'Sort-of-Wasp' program. Observe the grace with which they move around one another. Be mesmerized by the tight weaving patterns of their flight. Each drone has twin prop engines with a loiter time of 72 hours. They carry, but not today, a small payload designed to explode once the drone feels it is close enough.

The swarm is maintained through the hardest of mediums to copy or stealth. Sound! Each carries multiple small microphones. The distinct sound of other 'Sort-of-Wasp' engines is kept within tight limitations, in effect keeping the drones at a constant distance from each other. If they hear something else, they move towards it, the louder the faster. They are immune to visibility constraints, radar spoofing, stealth and jamming. No electronic access to the drones is possible once their mission is started. They deny the sky to the terrorists, cheaply. They cannot be hacked, only endured.

I see smiles and chuckles at the back. No doubt everyone of you fine ladies, and even some of the gentlemen, have already thought of a way to avoid them. Some are obvious. Sonic tracking drones are not going to catch a supersonic aircraft. Slow prop engines are not going to catch an ICBM. But all of these ways cost money. Purchase and deploy the 'Sort-of-Wasp' package, and you cost your opponent more money then you spent. After all, is that not what warfare is all about?”

Above him, the dull drone of engines sounded like so many bored flies as the drones circled listlessly, missing the parts of their programs that would make existence so much more exciting, if brief.
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby madd0ct0r » 2014-11-03 04:33pm

and a second post, written mostly by Siege

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May 7, 2014

Solis Lough House | 594 Rigel Rd.
79 km West of Paradise City, Kingdom of Orion

Recessed between the forested hills just outside the capital of the Kingdom of Orion stood Solis Lough House. A hoary timeworn warren of ivy-covered towers, turrets and annexes, the stately home had been a home to one of Orion’s noble families for centuries until it was turned into a luxury hotel some few decades ago. For the duration of the anti-terror conference this old pile of weathered bricks was taken over completely by San Dorado’s private military companies, who used it as their base of operations.

PMCs had a reputation that was ambiguous at best and outright infamous at worst. Because of the contentious nature of their business San Dorado’s mercenaries made it a point to, when in civil company, stay out of sight as much as possible. There were other reasons to stay outside the capital too: Paradise City had been the target of a major terror attack only months before. That raised questions about the proficiency of Orion’s intelligence services, and the conference itself was a big target for any AVALANCHE cells left in the kingdom. Solis Lough might now be a luxury resort, but it was remote and hidden and its origins as a fortified mansion made it very defensible against unwanted visitors.

Speaking of visitors, the remote nature of the mansion also made it simple to receive potential customers away from the prying eyes of world media. The Champan delegation had arrived downstairs. Faiza Shturm flexed her fingers, magnetic rings and internal cables moving past each other, dialing up the profiles of the visitors on her retinal implant. The bodyguards and driver were as expected, ex-Champan military from families with long histories of service. A further team of five still waited near the airfield to give their little exhibition. Shturm had been interested enough to expend a little effort to find out what they would be exhibiting. The concept was intriguing but laughably under-developed. Still, this morning was a different sort of business.

An aide in a regular black business suit opened the wooden door to her office and the two delegates filed past the guards into the room, looking slightly ill-at-ease with the the dozen monitors all flickering at slightly different rates. Shturm cocked her head and slowly turned it to regard one then the other.

“Ambassador Begum. Dutiful, punctual. Affiliated with the Champan civil intelligence network, to whom you report weekly. Married, two children, one studying here, the other in university in Dreisgrond. Squeaky clean record. Very typical of an Ambassador. Boring.

Brigadier. Veteran leader of the Champan Military intelligence branch. One false knee, on the left, steel rods in the femur and significant scarring from multiple violent altercations. Previously a crackshot, but I hear you’re getting a little short-sighted with age?”

The Brigadier smiled under his mustache. “Good to see you again Shturm, although the knee is the right one, still.”

Shturm raised an eyebrow in surprise and her eye flicked up and down as if quickly reviewing some invisible file. “There's always something… It’s good to see you again, old man.” She cracked an easy smile and made a rolling gesture at a pair of comfortable wing chairs near her own. Faint, nearly imperceptible drops of pearly light flashed over the silvery threads of subcutaneous circuitry embedded near her left eye, and the chairs turned to face the two Champans as if endowed with a life of their own. “Please, have a seat.”

“Still with the jazzhands sorcery I see,” the Brigadier shook his head in mock reproof. “May I introduce the good Ambassador, who is here today to make introductions and also with an interest in the applied results of the proposed contract.”


“Of course and indeed.” Shturm stood up and offered her hand to the ambassador. “Ms Begum - good to meet you too.” Ambassador Begum looked almost hesitant for a second, then clearly decided that protocol and common courtesy superseded whatever she might personally think of Faiza Shturm.

Clocking in at a length of five foot nothing with sun bleached hair and the body of a world class swimmer, Shturm looked very unlike the brawny and tumultuous stereotype of a mercenary. But her resume was daunting. Mercenary ace of OGRE’s Iron Angels, veteran of half a dozen corporate wars, astronaut of the CROSSBOLT space program and beneficiary of the bleeding edge of Coldstream Delta's human enhancile projects, Faiza Shturm had gone farther and accomplished more than most people would in a dozen lives. Her parent company had at various times lauded her as 'a prototype for the New Human'. At age 48 her nomination for the position of Senior Skymarshal, OGREs commander-director, had been uncontested.

She and the Brigadier went back a while, to a fateful day in 1998 when Shturm crashed her experimental rocketplane from the low thermosphere all the way into the Champan mangroves. Fully expecting to have a sticky crisis and possibly some form of corporate intrusion on its hands Champan Military Intelligence sent its top man. He came prepared for anything: a taciturn, hard-bitten spook pilot, an investigation rife with corporate interference, a seedy global espionage plot, whatever. San Dorado was involved, so indubitably some kind of nefariousness had to be going on, right?

What he’d found upon arrival at the scene was a rather excitable test pilot in a singed pressure suit quite eager to talk about the cataclysmic failure of the Arion, the abrupt fall from heaven, her attempts to steer the failing craft into the ocean and, after that plan failed, at least away from any Champan cities.

Sensing a kindred spirit when it came to the vagaries of top-grease hush-hush military life the Brigadier and her had hit it off. Not soon afterwards Coldstream Delta had come through on its promise to pay for the environmental damage and then some if they could just have the black boxes back please and a camaraderie was born. It had served them both well: for Shturm and OGRE because it was nice to have a friendly face in the notoriously mistrustful Champan administration, and for the Brigadier because when you had to deal with, oh say, a Hakistani death cult running wild in the jungle digging up ancient artefacts that really should stay buried, it was quite useful to have a handful of Vixens on call for firebombing.


Of course Ambassador Begum was most likely not fully in the loop on just what kind of eldritch terribleness the Brigadier dealt with on a somewhat regular basis. She was here to make sure he didn’t accidentally give away the keys to the kingdom by signing on whatever dotted line Shturm presented him. That was smart, and prudent. The Skymarshal liked her already.

Ambassador Begum leant forward. “Ms Shturm, it’s very good of you to see us. You’ve seen our proposition. You flew us to your office. Aside from tea with with an old friend I think you must have an offer you think we'll agree to. What is it?”

The Skymarshal nodded in agreement. “Right. So, you told us what your line was, and I took the liberty of running some pentests on your hardware. No worries, I wasn’t too invasive, or not so much that any problems couldn’t be resolved with a hard reset anyway. I gotta say- your circumstance is pretty awful. Your cybersec is a bad joke - no offense. Right now it works out because Champa’s digital footprint is nearly indistinguishable from a dark country - again, no offense - and Cascadian script kiddies don’t know how to dial internationally on the old analog cables to get at those 1A2 key PBX systems behind your levee controls. But as they say, it only takes one asshole with a grudge and a penchant for bakelite.”

Shturm steepled her fingers and the monitors behind her flashed on, showing detailed maps of the digital and analog networks in Champa. “So you want to upgrade, and you called us because you need your bitheads to skip a decade or two.”

Ambassador Begum smiled and nodded. In many ways she was the opposite of Shturm. Taller, darker, less defined and less expansive. She barely used her phone and wore an old watch on her wrist. Her eyes showed the same creases, but from long nights, many documents and two children. She excelled in her role in Orion since so many of the royal family had been trained to obey 'Nurse' from an early age. She found herself itching to use that that same tone of voice now, to pin Shturm down to a demand.

"An accurate assessment. Now, you must have already assessed the price band you know we'd be willing to pay. We are here, which makes me suggest something unusual is at play. What does OGRE desire?”

"Money." Shturm threw her head back and laughed, "my dear Ms Begum, you look so disappointed. The Brigadier has suggested nothing." She waved her hand and the tea table spun out into segments, three touchpads rising through the gap.

“Where was I? Ah, yes. We can make that upgrade work for you. But that’s where you make a choice. Do you want regular service? In which case we go in, secure and upgrade your exchange points, cloud systems, digital infrastructure controls, your government’s black files, whatever, and you learn as much as you can by watching. $725 million. The second, we train you. We give you a head start in the arts of Security, Information, Threading,” she paused to complete the acronym, “Hacking. You’ll be able to hook up to the web with no worries of Fusoan deckjockeys crimping your style. The cost is the same, albeit with two provisos. Half the payment is to be made in bars of Coltan, at current market price. The second proviso is we need a dedicated area of land gifted to us for a satellite uplink station.”

Or, three, do your people want the next-level flash package.” A succession of snap finger movements and the screens scrolled through a welter of blueprints and specifications, some of which quite worryingly involved detailed anatomical drawings of human heads. “Stimsense, fuzzy nodes, ICE, wetware. Hot, fast, and cuts down on the RSI. But it does require some getting used to.” In other words, it would require the Champan operators to become less like themselves, and more like Shturm. She leaned back and sipped her tea. “Price is twice the second package, and Coldstream Delta gets to expand its enhancement projects… After your government has run its approval process for medical procedures of course. Your choice, ambassador, brigadier.”

The Brigadier grimaced. "We haven't the budget for the cash option, not with the added cost of all the hardware itself. Option 2, with Coltan as payment looks interesting, but that will need us to check with the geologists where it is and how we get it out. Would option 2 be agreeable to you Ambassador?”

Ambassador Begum nodded slowly, ”Pending agreement on the extraction, and schedules, I think we may have a deal.”

“Very well.” If Shturm was disappointed by the decision not to go transhuman she hid it well. “Oh- one more thing. We took the liberty of reaching out to some of our contacts at Acheron. They suggest the known coltan deposits could have washed out of the hinterlands, to build up in the alluvial silt layers. They would like you to know they are very interested in sponsoring an expedition to go look for the source.” She produced a featureless chrome flash drive and handed it to Begum. “Acheron Avernus’ preliminary pitch is on there. Have a look at it later.”

Ambassador Begum took the drive with finger and thumb and narrowed her eyes. “Should I ask how Mr. Danzig’s people obtained detailed information on resource deposits in my nation, deposits that my government certainly has not made public, Skymarshal?”

“The answer is money, ambassador.” Shturm took a sip of her tea. “Money makes the world go round. It opens doors and it opens mouths.” She looked at the ambassador. Begum had pursed her lips, her expression a mixture of frustration and disapproval. The Skymarshal lowered her cup. “Do you think I mock you?” The good natured cheer seeped out of her voice. For the first time the ambassador and the brigadier caught a glimpse of the ice cold Iron Angel who’d ended the Third Sankaran War in a single afternoon by shooting down eleven fighters and President Salazar’s private plane. “I am honest with you, ambassador. Your Umerian friends talk nice, but words are wind. The Hakistanis - well, you know how far you can trust them. Arsene Danzig has a lot of money. He’s looking to make more. He wants something you have, and he’s straightforward enough to offer you a fair deal for it. No charity, no ‘friendship of nations’ bullshit, no spheres of influence. Just cold hard cash. Frank, fair and reliable.” Another sip of tea. “Who knows. By the end Champa could have money of its own. You could be going places. I suggest you have a look.”

The brigadier leaned ever so slightly toward the brigadier and said, “I did warn you.”

Begum looked from him, to Shturm, to the flash drive. “That you did.” Her face was an unreadable mask. “Well. This meeting has certainly been informative. Skymarshal Shturm, you have your deal. The foreign office will contact your company to work out the details, but I do believe the i’s and t’s will be swiftly dotted and crossed, so that we can begin receiving your people soon as feasible. As for the rest…” The flash drive disappeared in one of her suit’s pockets. “Time will tell. Your sales pitch is unconventional, to say the least. We will study your proposal… closely.”

“It’s a pleasure doing business with you.” The Skymarshal finished her tea and put down the porcelain cup. She made a two-finger gesture at the door and its electronic locks disengaged. Immediately the guards pushed the heavy doors inward. Begum got up and without a second look marched out the room. The brigadier tipped his cap at Shturm and followed behind her. The Champan bodyguards had brought the two limousines around and the two-person delegation was about to embark for the return to Paradise City when the world changed.

It was a subtle thing, but the brigadier was attenuated to the slightest change in military men. Even from the driveway he saw the Par-Sec guards by the mansion gate stiffen and touch their earpieces. Footsteps rushed by somewhere behind the parapet above them. He could practically feel waves of concern and commotion sweep through the compound as unseen radio messages buzzed through the air on secure channels. The brigadier put on hand on the ambassador’s shoulder. The next involuntarily reached for his side-arm. “Ambassador? I think we might not be leaving after all.”

“What do you-” Begum stopped short when she saw the heavy mansion gate begin to close. “Oh.”
The heavy diesel engine of a Zebu patrol vehicle revved to life somewhere near. More mercenaries came into the courtyard, men and women openly carrying automatic weapons. Faizu Shturm came sprinting out of the mansion house to stop short on the terrace. “Thank goodness. You’re still here.”

The brigadier raised an eyebrow, but took his hand off the holstered revolver. “Shturm? What is going on?”

The Skymarshal clearly heard him but her eyes were looking at something else entirely. “Something’s happening in the capital. It seems-” a concerned frown creased her brow. “It looks to be an attack. The situation is… Unclear. Please come inside while I try to figure out- never mind, I’m told unknown gunmen are attacking the conference. HOMELINE called condition red. We are locking down the compound and securing the grounds. Nobody in or out. I’m sorry brigadier, ambassador, but it may be that you have to be our guests a little while longer. Tea?”
"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2014-11-03 05:45pm

RONS Dragon, Anti-Smuggling Patrol
Western Salvation Sea (Orion EEZ), 250 miles North-West of Orion,
May 5th, 2014


The destroyer was steaming at 20 knots in the clear empty waters off the south-west of South America, on a routine anti-smuggling and anti-piracy cruise. As seriously as those missions were taken by the RON, it was considered routine because so little happened in these waters. After the patrols had first began back in 1955 there had been some thrilling chases and daring captures, but since then the pirates and smugglers had learned to give Orion waters a very wide berth.

There had been a brief spike in drug smuggling earlier in the year, but that had abruptly fallen off after the drug cartels of Cali turned on each other in a war that was still simmering. So Daring continued her patrol in a relaxed manner. That is not to say that the crew weren't attentive or undisciplined; they just didn't expect to find anything. After all, they'd been out here for ninety-eight days so far and all they had seen was perfectly ordinary civilian shipping and a pair of frigates from Underwood on a similar mission. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Today would be different. In the destroyer's Combat Direction Centre (CDC), a petty officer had been tracking a surface contact for a few minutes now. The ship was starting to turn away from the usual shipping lanes, something that was uncommon enough. The radar return was small, indicative either of a well-designed modern warship or a medium-sized private yacht, neither of which would be following (or nearly following) commercial shipping lanes. More significantly, the petty officer realised, it was an unidentified vessel, with no transponder information showing, something he hadn't noticed until the vessel made it's turn. He called over the watch officer and quickly explained the situation.

"I think this warrants a closer look." The Lieutenant walked back to his station and picked up the phone to the bridge.

"Bridge, CDC. We have an unidentified radar contact, bearing 210, range 40 miles. No transponder signal, looks like a medium-sized yacht on the plot. Recommend we move in for a closer look."

On the bridge, the ship's CO, Commander Fairbanks, was listening with one ear while reading through some paperwork. At the words "unidentified radar contact" he put down the forms and picked up the phone.

"CDC, CO, confirm no transponder signal."

"Confirmed sir. No emissions from the contact at all in fact."

"Damned peculiar. Carry on Lieutenant." The phone went back in it's holder. "Helm, come left to two-one-zero, all ahead full. Chief of the watch, set Condition Two."

The ship turned and the engines increased in volume as the sleek vessel ramped up to full speed. Then came the waiting, as she closed in on her target, for that is what the crew now considered the unknown contact. The older sailors would say the ship herself thought that way too, but the younger members of the crew thought that was superstitious rubbish. Ships don't think after all.

Just under an hour later, Dragon had reached visual range of the contact. During that time, repeated radio messages had been sent, asking for identification, with no response. It was, as suspected, a large and expensive yacht. What was unexpected though was the flag flying from her stern; the lookouts easily recognized the red and white stripes and blue 8-pointed star.

"Bridge, lookout three. Contact is flying an Orion flag sir." The surprise in the young woman's voice was palpable. All Orion-registered vessels larger than a small fishing boat were required to have a transponder operating at all times, which meant that this vessel was almost certainly not an Orion-owned ship.

What happened next was equally unexpected. The lookout was having a closer look through the powerful binoculars at the yacht, when her view swept over someone over there doing the exact same thing. She stopped and looked; the crew on the yacht had clearly spotted the destroyer, and the man was shouting frantically towards the yacht's bridge.

"Bridge, lookout three, they've got lookouts posted and have spotted us. Seems to be quite a commotion over there."

Commander Fairbanks was by now very suspicious indeed. "Radio, order them to halt and prepare for an inspection." Before the radioman could answer, the yacht dug in it's stern and went to full power, turning away from the destroyer and running for all it was worth. The Commander was rather amused by this; trying to outrun a destroyer in a civilian pleasure craft built for comfort was a dubious proposition at best.

"Helm, increase to flank. Chief of the watch, sound Action Stations." As the klaxons sounded, the ship sped up even further to her sprint speed of 45 knots, nearly twice what the yacht was making. It would be a short chase indeed. The radiomen continued to transmit, ordering the yacht to halt immediately.

Fairbanks decided to make the chase even shorter: "Weaps, fire a couple of warning shots, one forward and one astern."

The warship's gun turret came to life, the barrel elevating slightly before a sharp bang echoed across the deck as she fired. The barrel twitched upwards and a second shell went flying towards the yacht.

The shells landed almost simultaneously; two great spouts of water rose up a hundred yards fore and aft of the yacht. The unspoken message was quite clear. The yacht began to slow, and the lookouts reported that the crew was hauling down the Orion flag.

"Helm, bring us to half a mile than hold position. XO, ready the Marine boarding team. Find out what's going on."

Half an hour later Fairbanks had his answer, and it turned his stomach. The yacht was indeed an Orion vessel, until it was seized three weeks prior by smugglers. The holds were full of drugs and illegal weapons. What was worse was the fate of the original owners and crew; they had been held hostage by the criminals for use as human shields. When the bad guys realized it was the Marines boarding them rather than ordinary seamen, they had begun killing the hostages. Only seven were still alive.

Fairbanks picked up his phone. "Get me FLEETCOM on the secure channel. This one we gotta phone in."
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

“I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.” - Confederate General George Pickett, on being asked why his charge at Ghettysburg failed

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Siege » 2014-11-05 04:13pm

Hadeskeep

One

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Art for art's sake had not been a driving force in architectural design since the 1920s economic boom spawned the first 'race for the sky'. Come the 1960s the crude metrics of iron and gold, in the guise of soaring property values and the limits of material engineering, insisted instead that form strictly follow function. So the Art Nouveau columns that once dominated the San Dorado skyline were replaced one by one by modernist high-rise: bleak, skeletal belfries of glass and steel now lined the Miracle Mile and etched the city sky in neon hues.

For a few years this desolate reality of structural expressionism sufficed. But San Dorado is an architectural pressure cooker: demand for space within its claustrophobic confines ever increases, and the only way out is up. Driven by inexorable economic stress building technology continued to advance. Smart grids, new alloys, self-healing concrete, thermobimetals, aerogel insulation, electrochromic glass: in the late 20th century these and other revolutions in material fundamentals allowed architects to invent unprecedented approaches and liberate new space.

It wasn't long before the great shapers realized that these new technologies also opened up aesthetic dimensions unseen since the roaring twenties. No longer so limited in scope and shape, tall buildings could once more be expressions of their financiers’ thoughts, their shapes reflecting corporate ideals and mentalities. As the 20th century draws to a close, the city's great architectural works are echoes of their sponsors’ brainwork. Form and function are again statements of faith, and architects are the diviners of their usurers' deepest hopes and wildest dreams.

- Excerpt from Big Buildings, Big Ideas: Architecture as expression in San Dorado in the 20th century, by W.P. Birkin, published 1998


The Hecatomb | 1A Hosea Green
Jericho Island, Downtown San Dorado


The Hecatomb was arguably the most stunning skyscraper in the San Dorado skyline. Not because it was the largest or the tallest (it was neither), but because it didn’t look like a skyscraper at all. A stark contrast to the glass slab towers that made up most of Downtown, the Hecatomb was a curving warren of basalt spires and stacked white-washed concrete triangles, emerging organically out of the bedrock of Jericho Island in a way that looked grown instead of built.

That appearance was further enhanced by the hydroponic gardens and plazas overflowing with greenery incorporated at every level, draping the building in shrouds of evergreen plants and brightly colored blossoms. Its curving façade looked chaotic, but was precisely calibrated for San Dorado's proximity to the equator, mitigating solar heat gain throughout the year. Semi-mobile sun-shading "leave" curtains allowed daylight to enter while shielding the building from glare and heat from the sun. Radiant cooling systems replaced air conditioners. Solar panels and geothermal pumps guaranteed net-zero energy status. At 412 meters it wasn’t a particularly tall building, but this was offset by the fact that it was the only structure on the small island, tapering off at its base like roots on a tree that then disappeared into waterside parklands.

SinGen had made great efforts to realize the vision of its owners, and as the logo of the corporation bathed the Lake Ventura waters in viridian neon it was abundantly clear what that vision was: for millions of years mother nature had done a pretty good job shaping the world, but now it was the Sinclairs’ turn. Their company would take what nature had come up with and make it better. And they would do it so that at first you wouldn't even realize they'd changed anything.

Arsene Danzig didn’t like that message, he contemplated as he rode the elevator up from the helipad. The glass car slid up along the outside of the grandiose entrance hall, giving a stunning view of its sixteen story waterfall cascading out of a basalt rock face. This late at night the hall was lit up by thousands of tiny, oddly suspended lights that danced like fireflies. And even the elevator looked like some kind of pod, with brass leaves wrapped around a delicate inner shell of glass.

Danzig was a city man, an engineer who’d made his fortune with oil derricks and heavy earth moving equipment. He liked clean lines and geometric shapes, bricks and concrete. His company reveled in the artificiality of steel and plastics, in extracting, refining, stamping and pyrolyzing the stuff it dragged up out of the guts of the earth, forcing it into whatever shape they desired. The Acheron headquarters was a nearly 800 meter tall jagged monolith of fortress-like brutalist architecture. He much preferred its harsh honesty of steel and hydraulics over this… whatever it was.

But there were some things even an engineer could not wring from stone.

The elevator hurtled upward, zooming past the Hecatomb’s weirdly angled externalities, past trees and hanging gardens, past glass facades that reflected the lights of the ten thousand skyscrapers on the other islands of the city heart. This building was at rest for the night, but San Dorado never slept. Danzig could almost imagine the dull roar of the city as the tiny glass cage crept upward toward the top until, finally, its ascent began to slow. The elevator controls didn’t so much chime as chirp, and elegantly sculpted brass doors slid silently open.

The antechamber to the penthouse executive office was a spacious room full of space-ace furniture in whites and chromes. A sleek receptionist’s desk was unattended. LED displays displayed a silent slideshow of SinGen’s advances in pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, genetic mapping, biotechnology. The carpet wasn’t, Danzig noticed, a carpet at all: instead, genetically engineered grass covered the floor from wall-to-wall, impeccably grown and meticulously millimetred.

He pushed open the wide oak doors.

The executive office covered the two topmost floors of the Hecatomb. It was luxuriously designed with vaulted ceilings, rounded corners and marble floors. Antique Apelian statues wrapped in living ivy stood in alcoves. The outer walls were seamless panes of reinforced smart glass, offering a breathtaking view of the city. Elements of the interior could be sectioned off with chrome-wrapped parchment panels, a modern take on the traditional Fusoan style. One of those panels slid silently sideways, revealing the penthouse’s owner.

“Hello there, dandy,” murmured Sheva Sinclair. The SinGen CEO was barefoot. She held a glass of wine in her hand, its edge stained burgundy from her lipstick. She wore a cherry red silk kimono that hung half-open, yet clung tantalizingly to her curves. It was short - very short, only barely reaching her thighs. A crown of roses was set in her crimson curls. “What do you want?”

“What do I want?” Danzig could hear himself say. His heart beat a little faster. All of a sudden his collar felt very tight. “I want a million dollars. I want a steak.” He compulsively pulled a hand through his hair, slicking it back. His feet took another step on the living green carpet of their own volition. “I want you.”

She moved closer, one foot before another, her body swaying. Her index finger touched his chest. The gentle pressure felt like a laser against his flesh. Her voice was a husky whisper. “Yeah?”

His throat felt dry. “Yeah.”

Her hand slid up to his jaw. Her weight shifted as she stood on her toes. She found his mouth with hers.

You could control a company that ruled the world. You could be rich beyond measure. You could have it all. Some things you could not buy. Sheva Sinclair was a great kisser. Her lips were soft and gentle and explored his in a way that was both gentle and eager. Her breathing got faster. His hands slid around her waist. His nails traced up over her neck, fingers sliding into her hair, pulling her into the kiss. A pleased moan escaped from her lips. He could feel the warmth of her body through his shirt.

Outside the city kept on turning. But for just a little while its chaos felt a world away.
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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
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The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Siege » 2014-11-06 01:29pm

Two

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As luck or fate would have it 1963 was a decisive year for the skies of the world. In Omnia, Emperor Tysami II took the Peacock Throne; in Cascadia President Bishop was assassinated in Seattle; and in San Dorado mayor Buddha James closed Farrago Field in East Ward to make way for real estate development. These three seemingly unrelated events that nonetheless had profound impact on the aerospace industry.

The new Temple Cliff administration closed Omnian bases operated by San Doradan security companies, meaning air operations by those firms now were restricted to a single airport: Ladyhawke International, a worrying development from a tactical and strategic perspective. Meanwhile on the other side of the world the war scare had Douglas Aircraft Company scrambling for partners to develop a viable means to combat the Komradistani tank hordes. They would find a partner in Helix Industries, giving birth to the air war platform we now call the attack helicopter.

In the decades to follow the helicopter would transform the skies over San Dorado. The helicopter allowed the ultra-rich to circumvent the clogged city streets and soon an unprecedentedly vertical lifestyle developed, centered around the helicopter as a primary means of transportation. But the prevalence of helicopters created new problems too, as the corporate war of 1983 would show.

Corporate skyscraper headquarters were traditionally designed in a manner not dissimilar from medieval fortresses, with webs of ground defenses and lower floors manned by armed response teams that made it supremely difficult for rival corporations to perform hostile takeovers. But the helicopter made it possible to bypass such defenses and strike directly at the highest levels of San Dorado’s verticalized society. Airborne skyscraper attacks were more often than not high-casualty operations, but the death of Victor and Vincent Blue at the hands of airborne commandos in november of ‘83 indicated this mode of operations was indeed the future of corporate warfare in the city.

Of course San Dorado’s shocked elites wasted little time fitting their vertical mansions and penthouses with exclusion zones and missile batteries, thus renewing at least in theory the immunity of their bastions of corporate power.

Reality however proved more stubborn.

- Excerpt from Shadows over the City: A History of Capitalist Air Piracy, by Maj. (ret.) Sarah McDonnell, OGRE Solutions, published 1989


Hecatomb Penthouse | 1D Hosea Green
Jericho Island, Downtown San Dorado


Arsene Danzig woke from slumber because a peculiar sensation was nagging at his senses. He could feel the warmth of the bed and its white silk sheets, could hear the murmur of the stone Fusoan water feature in the corner of Sinclair’s master bedroom. But there was something missing, a warmth he swore he could’ve felt pressed against his chest just a minute ago.

He opened his eyes.

A soft indirect glow illuminated the bedroom, emanating from unseens sources behind sparse mahogany furniture. Grass covered the floor. The skyline of San Dorado was a shock of neon on the other side of the glass wall, hundreds or thousands of starkly lit towers turning the depth of night into day, casting a multitude of colors into the dark, defying the natural order in a never ceasing scream of radiant, abundant energy. Artificial light radiated off a million street lamps, electronic billboards and neon signs, bounced off low-hanging clouds and mirrorglass towers, fractured on the dark lapping water of Lake Ventura. From up here, it looked so enticing, a playground for the rich and beautiful. But down there, he knew, it was different. Down there a thousand girls just as beautiful as Sheva showed up every day, with big dreams that died on the meat markets of Ewart Park. And on Diemos Square or in the Marrowbones equally as many men begged the price of a ticket home to Champa, Sankara or Coromandel but were always there the next day, no matter how much you gave them.

Lying naked in the king size bed Danzig for a moment felt instinctively vulnerable, even though he knew the smart glass would render the outside of the building black as night to any telescope-festooned onlookers. With one hand he pushed himself up from the pillows, using the other to draw the sheets up across his manhood. “Sinclair?”

Sheva Sinclair sat on the edge of the bed, the same kimono negligee he’d so eagerly slid off her shoulders a few hours before again wrapped hastily about her. “Treetop gliders,” she said, her voice far sharper than he was used to. “Manticores. They’re not responding to challenges. They might be carrying jammers.”

“What?” Danzig replied confusedly. He tried to clear the last cobwebs of sleep from his mind as he sat, forgetting about the sheets altogether. A corner of the smart glass had transformed itself into a display, telling them in certain if abstract terms of circles and arrows that a dozen or so small craft were in breach of the exclusion zone around Jericho island and converging on the Hecatomb. Danzig’s eyes glanced from the display to the darkness beyond the window, but saw nothing but the blinding city lights. “You said gliders?”

She said treetop gliders, his dazed brain told him. A phrase lifted from bush wars in places like La Vela or Bentacruz. Originally it meant aircraft flying so low they slipped under radar. But after the trouble of ‘83 in San Dorado the term had taken on connotations far beyond its ordinary military significance. It implied an overthrow of the status quo, a violent breach of civil society, a bloody assassination. It might be called a fifth column in Grenadia or a white movement in the UOCSR, but it always boiled down to the same thing: people were coming to ungentlemanly kill the shit out of you.

Air control over San Dorado was a complex affair. This was a city where the upper one percent of society made their way about town in helicopters, dozens of multi-millionaires all wishing that only they could access their high-rise apartments through the air, and being more than willing and able to enforce that wish.

In the mid-eighties a lockdown loomed as the proliferation of anti-air weapons threatened to turn the San Dorado skies into a skeet shooting free for all with helicopters standing in for clay discs. So eventually a compromise was reached, and a complex web of zoned airspace restrictions and flight ceilings was put in place. High-value skyscrapers monitored their surroundings in real time with high-tech surveillance systems. Flying low over the city corporate helicopters were sometimes tracked by a dozen separate tracking radars. Each of those systems fired off electronic challenges to intruders that entered its invisible domain and automatically warned away any trespassers.

Refusing to heed such warnings had dire consequences. Danzig silently watched as the Hecatomb’s security system tracked the low-fliers coming into its exclusion zone. This was no mistake. There were eight of them, and they were practically making a beeline for the building. Finally he articulated, “why aren’t we killing these fools?”

For the first time since he’d woken up Sinclair looked around. She gave him a level look as if he’d said something perfectly obvious. “If you insist,” she said. Then she lightly touched a red square on the glass window.

White hot fires erupted somewhere just underneath the windows. A dull hungry roar filled the air. Missiles, sleek things with sharp razor-thin wings and pregnant bellies full of fuel screamed away from the Hecatomb, howlingly powerful engines thrusting them toward the incoming interlopers. SinGen headquarter’s defense batteries were well hidden but they existed just like they did on every corporate headquarters in the city.

“Those poor fools,” Sheva murmured. Her flirting tone suggested she didn’t mean that at all. In fact she looked quite satisfied with the military mayhem unleashed. Missile contrails spiraled away into the darkness. Explosions ruptured the night sky, their conflagrations silent on the other side the insulated windows.

Then the lights flickered, shut off for a moment, came back on, then died again. Darkness fell in the room. The control window Sinclair had been using disappeared. “... shit?”

Danzig angled himself out of bed, his feet finally touching solid grass. “Well. This wasn’t supposed to be a booty call, but perhaps I should take my leave?” He looked up just in time to see fiery contrails flashing toward the tower. Then his world detonated in a burst of white hot fire. The ground turned upside down, sweeping him off his feet. Arsene Danzig felt something hot on his skin, and then everything went black.
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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
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The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Siege » 2014-11-08 05:18am

Pyxis Worldwide Satellite News
BREAKING: Multiple explosions rock SinGen HQ

Explosions ripped through SinGen worldwide headquarters only minutes ago. Observers counted at least six detonations at the topmost levels of the Hecatomb on Jericho Island. The small Downtown island is wholly owned by the corporation. Flames now engulf parts of the skyscraper's peak as fires light up the night.

"This does not look to be an accident," says correspondent Irene Machrie, who is reporting from nearby High Scanlon. "We are hearing reports that airspace around the skyscraper was breached minutes before the explosions. After years of peace this violence once again raise the specter of terrorism on San Doradan soil."

SinGen security could not be reached for comment. The whereabouts of its CEO and Board of Directors are currently unknown.

SinGen, the world's largest pharmaceutical and biotechnology company, is known to have made enemies in recent years amongst GMO critics and animal rights activists for its persistent refusal to swear off animal experimentation. Unlike peers in the top of the corporate hierarchy SinGen does not operate private military assets, relying instead on conventional corporate security.

We will update as this story develops...
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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
There'll be a bodycount, we're gonna watch it rise
The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-08 09:45pm

The Eastport Daily Tutelage
All the News That You Could Use!

May 15, 2014
0.75 Rounds

Bureau of Celestial Pathfinding Launches New Space Station!

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Yesterday evening at 1732 Eastport Standard Time, a Shooting Star C-3 rocket launched from Span-the-Heavens Astrodome on the North Point carrying the new Cloud Palace 3 space station. Mission Commander Serene-Water-Lily Piper and Mission Specialist Combat-Ignorance Stone rode atop the station into orbit in their Star Boat capsule. Bureau of Celestial Pathfinding representatives have confirmed that the station is now in a stable orbit, between 275 and 220 kilometers above Tellus. They crew is hard at work testing onboard systems and scientific instruments, but they are confident in the reliability and thoroughness of the Bureau's engineers.

Piper, age 41, who previously flew into space on the Star Boat 8 mission, gave Daily Tutelage reporters a videophone interview the evening before launch. She explained that while the 2012 Cloud Palace 2 station performed a number of scientific functions, the Bureau of Celestial Pathfinding has much more detailed plans "Carpenter and Swineherd did everything anyone could have done, but the station wasn't designed to dock a new capsule after they took the Star Boat back down. When it was time for them to come home, that was the end of everything except the unmanned science instruments. This time, we'll be ready to take on new crew and continue our mission for as long as it takes." There are plans to expand Cloud Palace 3 with a special docking module to accommodate more than one capsule at a time.

Piper and Stone will be spending four months in orbit, then returning to Tellus in Star Boat 17. Immediately afterwards, the Star Boat 18 crew will be relieving them.

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Fingolfin_Noldor » 2014-11-12 09:42pm

Written by Siege, with some personal input

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Black Bishop | Nightfall pocket carrier
Bay of Indore, 50km off the coast of Lothal


0500 ZULU TIME

The ocean was calm as it was ever going to be in the Bay of Indore. A warm southern wind came whipping off the Hakistani coast in swiping gusts and the black pre-dawn sea stirred drowsily, twisting and splitting around warship bows in half-hearted waves like it wasn’t much bothered.

The Black Bishop cut the topmost edges of poseidon’s domain leaving a trail of distressed white surf, stark silver surges on slate as the first rays of morning came creeping over the horizon. Two similar trails of roiling pearl cut left and right of it, and as the tropical sun came boiling out of the eastern ocean its light etched the outlines of its two escorts.

Nimble Rusalka and commanding Vulkan were weird patterns of dark greys and blues jutting iceberg-like out of the water, inverted bows and jagged carbon fibre facets breaking sight and radar lines. Admiral Chernavin found himself enthralled by the spectacle of sunlight unraveling those complex shapes, shifting shadows through strange angles until his eyes slid off and confused surf for steel, forcing him to refocus on the big picture and losing the details. So bewitched by the sight was he that he belatedly noticed that someone had asked him a question.

The UOCSR admiral snapped back to the flag bridge of the Black Bishop and looked around to find Victoria Kravec looking at him. “Prenashu svae isvenyeneya?”

The Nightfall commander gave him a telling raised-eyebrow look and once more offered him the cup of steaming liquid. “Kofe?”

“Ah, spasiba.” The admiral had the good sense to blush. Abdulikhat Grigoryevich Chernavin was a very large man, but the fluidity of his movement betrayed trained muscles and a lifetime spent at sea. “I’m sorry, I was lost in thought.”

“Nyezashta,” Kravec waved his apology away. The attention of the Nightfall officers on the bridge fluidly bent away from what they concluded was clearly a private conversation. The pale, round-faced brunette lifted her own cup to her lips. Sharp blue eyes glanced edgeways at the admiral through the hot rising vapor “My family is not far enough removed from Lyubinsk yet to have forgotten the old tongue.”

“Indeed?” asked Chernavin, his curiosity piqued. “Did they flee during the war?”

“Before.” Kravec took another thoughtful sip of her coffee and stared off at the sliver of green coastline in the distance. “My grandparents were merchants. They spoke to many different people, some of whom held radical ideas. They decided to worship in their own way. For this they were deemed heretics by the imperial cult. The day before the inquisitors came a friend in the police tipped them off. My grandfather paid a trader from San Dorado to take his family away in the night.” She gave the admiral an inscrutable look. “They were the lucky ones. When the revolution came to Lyubinsk eight years later, its merchants were executed.”

Chernavin stared into his mug as he slowly swirled the strong black coffee. “It was a difficult time. Many things were put right. But many unjust things happened also. Some days I wonder...” For a moment he looked lost in troubled memories. Then he looked up. “Is that why you are here, commander? Because you speak my language?”

“No.” Victoria Kravec put her empty cup down. “I am here because I am the best at what I do.” She cracked her knuckles. “Let’s put some things right.”


0530 ZULU TIME

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Twin steel sharks prowled the waters a hundred kilometers off the coast of Lothal. The large and heavy cruisers Admiral Goliaev and Admiral Rzhev were the pride of the Pacific Fleet: lean, nuclear assassins brimming with weaponry designed to cleave capitalist carrier groups. They were relatively new vessels, similar in size to some battleships of old, and their guns had never been fired in anger. Until today.

The UOCSR contingent had cruised into the Bay of Indore a week earlier under the guise of safeguarding communist sealanes to Hakistan and the Vedic peninsula. For the last two days they had escorted a pair of ageing, rusted fishing vessels traveling from Antiokhiya into the Bay. But the trawlers had peeled off a few hours before, and now the cruisers were picking up steam in a way that showed they meant business. They’d accelerated to 30 knots, their search and fire control radars were blazing at wartime emissions levels and automated repeater messages on all standard bands warned mariners and aircraft in no uncertain terms to stay outside their exclusion zones on threat of immediate destruction.

To any watchful electronic eyes the cruisers were miniature suns blazing against the dark ocean, twin anodic conflagrations that drowned out any other emissions in the region. They were, in essence, big neon ‘look at me!’ signs that would hopefully attract the attention of any onlookers long enough for the main taskforce to slip into position.

None of this should be necessary. According to military intelligence out of Ferramentagrad there wasn’t anyone near this sad stretch of sand and ruins capable of resisting the kind of firepower that was about to hit Lothal. But there shouldn't be any counter-ELINT traces coming off the coast either -- and yet there were.

Perhaps, captain Aptekara considered as she watched the steel bow of her charge cleave the waves, their impromptu capitalist allies knew something they were not telling.



0540 ZULU TIME

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Crews were appearing on the flight deck of the Black Bishop, their tiny forms antlike contrasted against the carrier’s angled steel. In the bowels of the Nightfall ship its steel and silicone heart beat with energy and frantic activity. The operations room was a triumph of modern high-tech, a maze of computer consoles and sonar, radar and lidar repeater displays, edge-lit transparent plotting boards and communications equipment. Officers moved quietly and efficiently through this cathedral of technology. Large screens flush-mounted in the walls conjoined the Black Bishop in permanent communication links with taskforce elements from destroyers down to the the lowliest drone, adding the eyes and reports of those lookouts to those of its own watch-standers.

Crewmen were still resolving the inevitable last-minute difficulties in wedding the communications networks of the embarked troops to the San Doradan electronics when the first helicopters lifted to the deck. The Ka-52s and their crews from the 830th Independent Shipborne Helicopter Regiment had embarked a few days earlier in Yezhovo-Cherkessk. There had been tensions, especially early on: it was the first time the communist pilots stayed on a foreign ship and the cultural, ideological and professional differences between them and the privateer crew of the Black Bishop had been… stark, to say the least.

But those issues had been resolved, or at least put aside for a time, in the face of a common challenge. In the last day the two disparate crews had felt a joint, building anticipation as the Nightfall contingent crept ever closer to the coast of Lothal under strict emissions and acoustic controls. Kravec and Chernavin felt it too as they awaited the final word. Finally the voice of the ops officer came over the flag bridge intercom. “Ma'am, both communist cruisers have checked in, we have comms with SENTRY and HOMELINE, Par-Sec FAC has designated high-value targets and BLUFOR helicopters are ready to engage. We're standing by for 'fight's on'.”

Kravec glanced at the scarred veteran admiral, her face deathlike and otherworldly as she sat hunched in her chair. She steepled her fingers. “You do the honor, admiral.”

Chernavin picked up the intercom and looked at it for a moment, his expression pensive. "This is Admiral Abdulikhat Grigoryevich Chernavin to all hands. Today we bring peace to the moral and justice to the wicked. Today we bring our technology and our dedication and our faith to a place bereft of harmony, to enforce upon it the tranquility of civilization. Our enemies will be vicious, but our cause is just. Go, and do what must be done. This is Chernavin, signing off.”

Below the tower the first of the two-seater attack helicopters lifted off the deck like angry hornets. Out at sea the horizon began to flash as the Admiral Goliaev and Admiral Rzhev commenced their bombardment.
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STGOD: Byzantine Empire
Your spirit, diseased as it is, refuses to allow you to give up, no matter what threats you face... and whatever wreckage you leave behind you.
Kreia

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2014-11-14 02:11am

Takama-ga-hara is Falling
Orion Royal Palace
Paradise City, Kingdom of Orion
7 May 2014


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Tatsuya Shiba had one goal in life: To see his native Nippon free from what he considered to be Rhenish tyranny. Back home, he chafed at what he perceived to be Rhenish propaganda shoved down the throats of Nipponese schoolchildren all throughout their education. Once he was done with secondary school, he immediately left Nippon and settled in Fuso, where he knew there were many people who sympathized with the cause of Nipponese sovereignty (though he was ultimately indifferent towards the Oyashima Irredenta movement). His university studies served to radicalize him even further, as he spent much of his time associating with pro-Nipponese and anti-Rhenish student activist groups. His involvement with these groups was apparently nothing that would be a red flag for potential employers, as he was able to join none other than the Republic of Fuso Secret Service upon graduating from university. He performed well enough in his duties that he was able to earn a quick promotion to a protective detail.

Tatsuya's promotion came right when Rheinland and the Kingdom of Orion made their defense pact public. Orion's invitation to Fuso to attend that anti-terrorism conference came shortly afterwards, and Tatsuya soon found himself earmarked for the protective detail gathered to accompany Secretary Shirogane, Attorney General Naegi, and NBI Director Kirigiri to the conference. These events were pure serendipity for him, but what could he accomplish with just over two months' worth of prep time and only a mere framework of a plan to go from?

A lot, surprisingly.

Tatsuya's association with those student activists in college paid off big time, as he was able to get the ear of at least one radical pro-Nippon group, whose members soon learned to appreciate just how useful a government insider could be. They got weapons, money, and intel, he got a nice set of useful pawns for his plans. In the end, they were all tools for him to utilize as he saw fit. Useful tools, to be sure, but still tools nonetheless. Some of these tools would remain home at Fuso to carry out their own plans on the home front, while others would accompany him to Orion in the guise of news crews, tourists, or even garbagemen. As he moved the pieces around on the game board, he contemplated the irony of executing his master stroke in the middle of what was supposed to be an anti-terrorism conference. That would definitely send a message.

The day of the conference finally came, and Tatsuya found himself accompanying Secretary Shirogane and the rest of the Fusoan delegation into the Orion Royal Palace. Exactly where he needed to be. Once he was actually inside, he placed a short call on his smartphone: "I'm in. Remember what you must do, when you do it, and where you do it. Pass it on." By then, his preparations had long since been finished. The next part of the plan was all on his accomplices. He hoped that he was right to place his trust in them.



Elsewhere in Paradise City...

After the AVALANCHE attacks in Hephaestus and the subsequent reprisals by Orion's government, none thought that anybody would be audacious enough to strike directly at the heart of Orion. Tatsuya Shiba's co-conspirators were indeed that audacious. However, truck bombs were not the only weapons in their arsenal, and simple terror was not their primary goal. There was a method to their madness, however obscure it would have seemed at first.

The initial wave of attacks were practically indistinguishable from the regular goings-on of a typical urban area. It started off with petty store hold-ups, random muggings, and other minor crimes, mostly designed to arouse the attention of Paradise City's law enforcement. Things quickly escalated from there as the second wave of attacks were carried out. Bank robberies, spree shootings at shopping malls, hostage situations, other crimes that would warrant the deployment of SWAT or its equivalent. As law enforcement began moving, car bombs started going off, positioned at busy intersections and along major thoroughfares in order to tie up traffic (and thus delay first responders) as much as possible. Police also came under attack while in transit, delaying them even further as they tried to defend themselves.

It was mayhem in Paradise City, but it was merely a prelude for what was yet to come. Confident that the local police were tied up trying to deal with all the other distractions around them, the terrorists' main force finally made its move against the Orion Royal Palace itself. For this, they brought out the heaviest artillery they could manage.

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The rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in air were more than enough to send the palace complex into complete lockdown. As the guards marshaled out onto the palace grounds to meet the intruders, so did the intruders marshal out to engage the guards.

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madd0ct0r wrote:The Skymarshal clearly heard him but her eyes were looking at something else entirely. “Something’s happening in the capital. It seems-” a concerned frown creased her brow. “It looks to be an attack. The situation is… Unclear. Please come inside while I try to figure out- never mind, I’m told unknown gunmen are attacking the conference. HOMELINE called condition red. We are locking down the compound and securing the grounds. Nobody in or out. I’m sorry brigadier, ambassador, but it may be that you have to be our guests a little while longer. Tea?”


If only the people at Solis Lough House knew what was about to go down.



RESULTS

OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2014-11-14 05:03pm

Orion Royal Palace, Paradise City
May 7th, 2014


Chaos had erupted in the city. Gunfire seemed to be everywhere, burning cars and explosion damage abounded. Police officers were engaged in running gunfights with spree shooters, bank robbers and others. Heavy response teams had responded; they had already been on high alert given the conference taking place.

At the Palace, the first reports of explosions triggered an immediate and automatic response. A dozen armed SAS troops stormed into the reception chamber and quickly took station around the King, and his ministers. There was surprise and fear, and several military or former military officers found themselves reaching for weapons they had surrendered upon arrival. The security details present, true to their training, looked around for threats and moved to cover their principals. Except for Tatsuya Shiba; he was looking firmly at his targets.

An officer took the podium and spoke in an authoritative yet reassuring tone:

“Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, there has been a wave of explosions and other attacks across the city. We are securing the Palace against attack as we speak. I must ask you all to remain here; you are quite safe.”

At that, large, cunningly-concealed blast doors sealed off the room from outside. Above, the brilliant glass dome that illuminated the room was obscured by a heavy armoured disc moving across it to seal that avenue of attack. Lights came on to allow the conference to see.

“This room is now sealed. The doors, walls and ceiling are armoured against anything short of 1000 kilo armour-piercing bombs or warheads. The air is filtered and protected from chemical or biological agents, we have food and water, and you are quite safe.”

In the distance another explosion could be heard before the ceiling armour slid into place.

“The city is in chaos, but police forces are responding and the situation will soon be under control…”
The Colonel continued his reassurances whilst the delegates looked worried. Except for a handful, such as the delegates from Umeria, Rheinland and Underwood, who looked remarkably calm and resolute given the situation.

The King grabbed a secure radio from his bodyguard and called the Ops centre.

“This is Lion, report.” The code-name was one selected years before, but it was rather fitting.

”There is a wave of attacks and crimes across the city, police forces are just barely staying on top of it. Wait…gunfire and explosions at the Palace, they’re coming in Sire.”

“Execute contingency plan Camelot. Get the 4th moving right now.”


Paradise City Police Operations Control Centre

The Ops Centre was nearly overwhelmed. Muggings, shootings, hostage takers, car bombs and bank robbers were running wild. Hundreds of them. And those damn bombs were blocking access and snarling everything up.

However, bit by bit the situation was being brought under control. In a corner of the room sat a senior Sergeant who was beginning to notice a disturbing pattern. The perpetrators (those that had been imaged so far, either dead, captured or caught on security cameras) were all the same race.

“Chief? Take a look at this. All of the known perps so far are Nipponese or Fusoan. I think this is part of something huge sir.”

The Chief’s response was cut off by the shouted report of gunfire and explosions at the Royal Palace.


Palace Grounds

The insurgents had broken the fence and breached the perimeter. That had been relatively easy; the security arrangements for the Palace were very much a defence-in-depth. The outer fence was largely a tripwire for major attacks. None had occurred before now, but the plans had long been in place. And frankly, the insurgents picked the worst possible time to launch their attack.

For the Palace guards were greatly augmented for the Conference, lest any nation be able to claim Orion did not protect its guests. As well as the usual guard battalion, drawn from the finest soldiers in the Army and the Protective Detail, there was the presence of the 3rd Brigade, 6th Commando Division.

Tatsuya Shiba’s men fanned out across the grounds, weapons at the ready. There was no sniper fire, something that was either suspicious or fortuitous, depending on your frame of mind. To an observer, it was suspicious, to the insurgents, well, they counted their blessings. They carried an assortment of submachine guns, machine pistols, rocket launchers, and a couple of rifles for the marksmen. It would, they believed, be enough to breach the defences and lay waste to the conference and the fools who continued to oppress the Nipponese people.

The, ahead, they saw the doors open and guards came running out. But these were not suit-wearing bodyguards with sidearms, these were elite, battle-hardened soldiers taking cover behind reinforced portable shields and wearing full body armour. That gave the insurgent leader pause.

Then the snipers began firing. One by one the insurgents dropped from fatal shots to the chest. The intruders tried to return fire, but their weapons were ineffective at sniper ranges. The leader shouted for his rocket launchers to try and suppress the snipers, only to find those had been the first targets. That was his last thought before a heavy slug tore through his heart.


Conference Hall

Tatsuya Shiba knew this was his moment. He had the delegates trapped in a sealed room; the only armed personnel were the SAS troops surrounding the King and he and his few trusted fellows could easily take enough hostages to stop them from firing in the armoured box they were in.

And then a different thought occurred to him...even if he succeeded in taking the hostages, those SAS troops were almost certainly good enough shots to drop him and his fellows without harming the delegates. So what if he used this chance to not only get closer to his targets, but to eliminate his compatriots who might provide too much useful information to the enemy?

A new plan slipped into place in his mind. He discreetly signaled to his men that this was the time. His fellows moved as one, grabbing the Attorney General and the NBI Director for use as shields. Tatsuya waited a fraction then moved as well, grabbing the Secretary and moving her back behind his fellows, shielding her rather than vice-versa.

This naturally caused a commotion. The other delegates withdrew hurridely and the SAS snapped their weapons up to aim at the two unexpected targets. His fellows were too focused and too high on adrenaline to notice he wasn't following the plan. One of them bellowed loudly:

“Lower your weapons or we kill them one by one!”

The King looked pained. He seemed to consider it for a few moments, looking into the middle distance past Tatsuya’s shoulder. Then he sighed.

“I will not endanger innocent lives. SAS, lower your weapons. You, Fusoan, let us talk about this reasonably.” The troops relaxed, their weapons aimed at the floor, and Tatsuya smiled. His chance had indeed come.

Stepping up quietly between his (un)trusted comrade, he drove the sharp knife he had appropriated from the buffet into his friend's throat from the side, stabbing clean through the carotid artery, a fatal wound.

He was just turning to attack the second comrade when he felt two small darts strike his back. Then the Taser discharged and he saw nothing as he collapsed to the floor. His two fellows did likewise, the Fusoan delegates looking utterly surprised at the rapid turn of events, with the Attorney General looking shocked at the torrent of blood that had soaked into his suit.

Behind them, against the wall, three more SAS soldiers appeared out of the shadows they had been concealed in, a gap in the illumination that let everyone see in the sealed room. Each of them moved to one of the three tasered bodies and began securing them. One looked up from the stab victim at the King, shook his head a fraction, then laid the barely-living body out on the floor and waited until the chest stopped rising and falling.

King Alexander looked briefly sad before lifting his radio once again.

“Ops, this is Lion. Conference secured. Report.”

”Palace grounds secured, two friendly casualties from the guard post. The city is still mayhem, but the 4th is moving in now.”


The Skies Above Paradise City

Dozens of helicopters raced across the sky. The entire 4th Airbourne Division had been on alert during the conference to provide rapid-reaction support if needed, and now it was. The choppers moved across the city, dropping off ten thousand soldiers to secure vital areas and support the police forces.

Word had spread that all known insurgents were of Nipponese or Fusoan descent, so the rules of engagement were simple. If anyone of that nationality were seen holding a weapon, it was shoot-to-wound as a first warning. If they weren’t holding a weapon, they were detained. The rules were probably excessive, and would almost certainly be described as such in the coming days. But they were certainly effective.

For the insurgents had made a terrible mistake. Being all of the same ethnicity, it was nearly impossible to hide amongst the populace, except in areas with a high number of Nipponese or Fusoan residents. But the local population of such were very small, and since the insurgents could not hide anywhere very easily, they had little choice but to fight or run.

In five hours, the city was secured and the damage could begin to be repaired. At the Palace, the delegates had been kept there until the crisis ended, properly treated of course. And Tatsuya Shiba, his immediate comrades, and roughly half of the insurgents spread across the city were in custody awaiting interrogation. Of those who assaulted the Palace, there were no survivors.

Results:

Olympus (actually code-named Bastion, but whatever) Stands. The insurgents are killed or captured. The 4th Airbourne secures the city. And we have some very big questions for the Fusoan government. Or we will have in a day or so once the interrogations are complete. I leave it to others to decide how to react.
Last edited by Eternal_Freedom on 2014-11-15 05:07pm, edited 2 times in total.
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

“I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.” - Confederate General George Pickett, on being asked why his charge at Ghettysburg failed

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2014-11-14 07:50pm

Somewhere in Tokyo, Ostrheinland
8 May 2014


"Did you see the news?"

"You honestly expected those fringe yokels to accomplish anything? Typical Fusoans, can't do anything right."

"This whole plan was a mess from start to finish. I can't believe any of us actually agreed to go ahead with it."

"This is only a temporary setback. We will still prevail."

"I sincerely doubt that. World opinion is against us now. If anything, our actions have driven more people into the camp of the Rhenish dogs. Perhaps we should try a different approach."

"At this point, I don't care. Do whatever you feel you have to do, as long as in the end, our people are finally free and Rheinland's crimes against us have been brought to light. Nippon banzai."

"Nippon banzai."
I ship Eino Ilmari Juutilainen x Lydia V. Litvyak.

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2014-11-14 09:22pm

Royal Palace, Paradise City,
May 7th, 2014


The fires were largely out now. The streets and buildings were still lit with blue strobes as emergency vehicles raced to and fro. Hospitals and emergency words would be working through the night to stem the tide of wounded, both serious and minor. The body count, already painful, was sure to rise over the coming hours as some of the not-so-lucky survivors slipped away.

The Palace itself had gotten off lightly. Two dead members of the Royal Battalion from the demolished guard post, one wounded from a riccochet off the marble steps. The city was not so lucky. So far five hundred and twenty three civilians were confirmed dead, with another thousand wounded, a hundred and forty one of them critically. That did not include the insurgents, about whom no one cared very much at present. Nor did it include the eighteen police officers killed in the wave of attacks and madness.

Alexander sat at his desk and rage filled him. Once again terrorists or insurgents or someone had attacked his citizens. Not him, or his family, or his government, but the people he was sworn to protect. And whilst at the very conference he had called on the issue! The irony was palpable, which didn't help his mood at all.

Standing in front of his desk was James Greer, looking about as miserable as Alexander felt.

"We had no indication this was planned Sire. Absolutely nothing. We do know that every single one of these insurgents are either from Fuso or Nipponese expats living in Fuso. Many of them are tied to know anti-Rheinland organizations, as confirmed by my opposite number in Rhennia Nova earlier. All entered the country within the last two months."

Alexander pondered that. "This terrorism is becoming so tedious. Tell me, have you heard of the Umerian mentats who can tell you everything about a person from their thumb?"

"Indeed Sire. I believe they train them in a monastery or somesuch. May I ask why?"

"Because I intend to ask Umeria to loan us one such individual to see what they can glean from our captives."

Greer considered that for a few moments. "An intriguing idea Sire. As it happens I believe one of them is attached to the delegation, it should not be difficult."

"Excellent. Issue the invitation, but keep it discrete. If anyone else starts asking questions, inform them that we are inviting a neutral third party to observe the interrogations to ensure we comply with human rights laws." Mentally Alexander changed gear as he stood up and turned to face the windows. "How many of our own citizens did 4th Airbourne end up detaining?"

"Seventy six Sire. They have been released by now of course." Greer replied after briefly checking his notes.

"They are to be compensated for their arrest. They were innocent bystanders who happened to be descended from the wrong place today."

"But Sire...surely as Orion citizens they would understand the situation?"

"Of course they do. But we should show our appreciation for such understanding. Have my staff prepare letters to each of them, I'll sign them myself. I've skated dark waters this past year James, I don't want to go down the road of a tyrant if I can possibly avoid it."

"Your will be done Sire." James bowed his head and left. Alexander picked up the phone and pressed the direct line to Foreign Minister Abrams.

"Natalie? Summon the Fusoan Ambassador. I have some questions for him."

Results:
-543 dead Orions after the attacks, including 18 police and 2 soldiers. Number likely to increase.
-Alexander summons the Fusoan Ambassador
-Orion discretely requests a mentat from Umeria to assist in interrogations
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

“I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.” - Confederate General George Pickett, on being asked why his charge at Ghettysburg failed

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Beowulf » 2014-11-20 07:54am

Force Lord wrote:RADIO FREE GRANADIA


Heilong HQ
Fiji
Kingdom of Hawaii


"So, we're agreed," said the man in the natty business suit. "One carrier battle group at the standard fee, for patrol off the Granadian coast, with an option for overland combat operation at additional cost."

"That's correct," replied the man in the changshan. "Fax the contract to us, and we'll return it, and wire payment. Deployment will start in the next week?"

"Correct. We have one carrier out on exercises, and we'll redirect it to off the Granadian coast."

--

Hong He
Sea 2500 Li SW of Fuso


"We've recieved new orders sir. Proceed to approximately 30 E, 30 N. ROE is for self protection. No offensive operations are currently authorized."

"Send a confirmation message. Strike the Hawaiian colors, and replace with al-Atacama's. Repeat the orders to the battlegroup."

--

Granadia

The camp was a flurry of activity. It was, after all, a civil war. The man in the changshan looked notably out of place. It wasn't a common style of dress anywhere but Tianguo. But that was the reason why he wore it. He had a message to send to the counter-revolutionary forces. You have help, if you so wish.

--

OOC: We really need to have names for the different bits of water marked on the map.
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Simon_Jester » 2014-11-23 04:55am

But the future that we lost is still some place out there
Orion still rides hellfire toward the blue
and rockets proudly land upon their tailfins
as God and Robert Heinlein meant them to

Steve Savitsky, The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of

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May 26, 2014
Span-the-Heavens Astrodrome
North Cape Province; 21°S, 96°E


A bulbous near-cone five meters across at the base, tapering to a rounded nose twenty meters into the air, Persistence was the second generation of Umeria’s SSTO program. It was her people’s proof that the homeland could finally, after long years of building and learning, hold its head up and rely on the skill of its manufacturers, the resourcefulness of its engineers, to do something no one else had ever done.

She loved her rocket-ship. And while she wasn’t glad that the primary crew for the Star Rover 1 mission had caught a cold just before launch, she was glad she and Copperman were going to get to fly it.

Hyacinth Chandler took a breath of the warm tropical air, climbed the rolling stairs to the cockpit door, stretched once, then sat down and buckled in.

Takeoff checks went quickly, well-rehearsed beforehand. Copperman had the controls; he’d persistently outpointed her in the simulator for takeoffs and landings. And the suborbital, remote-controlled Grasshopper test flights. She’d be lying if she said that didn’t tick her off a little, but what could she do? At least she hadn’t done too badly. She could land Persistence if anything went wrong, and probably have a ship of her own one of these days, if the planned expansion program came to fruition.

She listened to the radio chatter between Copperman and Groves at ground control, waiting for the critical moment she knew was coming.

“Launch time coming up, Persistence. Stand by... “ Copperman adjusted the controls, setting everything to readiness- “ten… five… four, three, two, one… fire!

Hissing roar from the main jets, twenty meters below. The thrum of the engines rose, drowning out everything but thought and hard-schooled reflexes. Hyacinth kept her hands on the backup controls, ready to cut in but still understudying her fellow pilot.

They were rising! She’d seen it before, once, riding shotgun on a suborbital test flight, but it somehow felt different this time. Three gravities slammed her back into her seat like a bulky wrestler had just fallen on her compact, fifty-kilo frame.

Groves kept up his chant, speed and altitude as measured from the ground. Hyacinth kept her eye on the Star Rover’s instruments. The morning sky turned a deeper blue as they climbed above the upper air, stars appearing as Copperman tipped the rocket-ship over horizontally and continued the burn. Minutes stretched by in pained triumph, punished almost as badly as in the centrifuge, but Hyacinth kept up the breathing and muscular exercises from the Air Force trainers, and it was bearable.

Groves’ voice still crackled in their ears as the sky turned to black velvet, the moon gleaming over the blue horizon of the world, with the unwinking stars of the deep heavens spread above them. “Star Rover One, we have your burn ending in three… two… one… zero!” Copperman cut the engine, though his eye was on the rocket-ship’s own chronometer as he did it. “Stand by; we’re getting confirmation numbers from the tracking ship.”

Hyacinth turned to her partner, who was shuddering a little from relief as his hands relaxed on the controls. “Are we on orbital track?”

Copperman nodded slowly. “GPS thinks so.” He took one hand off the stick and tapped the display, a slim flat-panel hanging by the cockpit window that would have seemed futuristic when she was a girl. Still would, if it weren’t for all the people in the rich countries who’d had a similar arrangement in their cars for the past ten years. Now it was hardly more remarkable than the slipstick she’d passed her astronaut entry exams with- still in a hip pocket, for luck.

“Good. I have the controls.”

“Yes.” Copperman relaxed back a bit.

She'd seen the calculations on the burn. Their launch had been timed carefully to make it easy- they weren't on the same orbit as Cloud Palace 3, but it wouldn't take too much of a push to angle over from one orbit to the other.

She ran through the figures in her head, watched the clock spool along, ten seconds, five... now. Two switches flipped and her throttle was hooked to the steering rockets. A shudder ran through Persistence as the nose and tail thrusters rolled her over, facing her belly to the stars and the cockpit windows to the beautiful blue world below. She flicked another switch, pushed the throttle again, paused, and pushed the other way, checking the artificial horizon and its numbers.

Almost right.

Persistence's nose pointed northwest and slightly downward- she could see the atmosphere curving below, but not as much of the stars over Cascadia as she'd like. She wanted the ship level, so she clicked the 'fine adjustment' switch into place and gave the thrusters two more gentle taps, eight seconds apart. There.

That had her aligned; she flipped one of the switches back, engaged a third... "Ready for main engine burn."

"Copy that, Persistence, I have you scheduled for burn at twenty seconds in... mark."

The seconds counted down, and Hyacinth keyed the rocket-ship's jets for the inclination change. She felt the slight shift in center of gravity, then a push of weight back into her seat as the engines thumped, flaring silently ten meters behind her as they tapped the craft's orbital plane gently into line for its rendezvous with the space station.

She checked, doublechecked. A few puffs of the thrusters and a short burn were enough to regularize her orbit; she let the minutes pass, running through repetitive systems checks. Copperman was answering questions from the ground. She forced herself to relax, knowing everything was on schedule like an invisible rail in space, carrying them to… was that the station, up ahead? A little star in the night? Coming closer, growing larger- growing into a slim, recognizable cylinder with solar panels like insect-wings, drawing alongside as she tapped the thrusters one more time to match orbits properly.

If anything goes wrong, that's our home until they can get something up to take us back to the ground.

Copperman keyed the radio.

"Cloud Palace 3, this is Persistence, do you have a visual on us, over?

Serene-Water-Lily’s voice was crisp and quick to respond. "Persistence, I see you at the observation port, I estimate that you are... five hundred meters out, relative azimuth eight three degrees, relative elevation minus four degrees. Are you ready for inspection, over?"

"Yes, Cloud Palace. Ground control, we are ready for visual inspection, are you ready to receive, over?"

"Go ahead, [i]Persistence
. We're patched in, over."

She triggered the thrusters, rolling the craft slowly to reveal all sides. If anything was wrong, they'd probably make her get out and push- if nothing else, push Copperman over to the space station in a rescue ball. He’d outpointed her in pilot simulations, but she still couldn’t understand how anyone could be so clumsy in an EVA training tank.

The Cloud Palace crew couldn’t find anything wrong with Persistence; Hyacinth relaxed a little. Her half of the piloting was done; they’d do a few more orbits, a few checks… and she could really use that nap they’d scheduled.

Somewhere Over Komradistan
Five Orbits Later
Early Morning, May 27


“We are ready for de-orbit burn, Control.” Copperman’s turn to fly the ship.

“Execute.”

Copperman nodded slightly, then flipped Persistence around for the burn that would slow them enough to dip into the sky over the Omnian Ocean and begin re-entry.

Minutes passed. The radio hissed into static. Wisps of aurora-flame licked up past Persistence’s ceramic-covered belly as the rocket stopped acting like a spaceship and became a hybrid of meteorite and glider. Hyacinth kept her eyes on the temperature gauges, backstopping Copperman’s estimates of speed and position… down to Mach 22...

The rocket-ship edged into a slight roll, banking a few degrees to one side to bring their speed down to something more manageable. Again, again, screaming across the landscape at seven kilometers a second over the Vedics… out to sea again across the Bay of Indore, paralleling the coast… starting to slow noticeably as her reckoning said they’d crossed into Umerian airspace. Five kilometers a second… four… down to two and falling…

Copperman swallowed. “Flipping the nose up.” A pull on the stick; the aerodynamic control surfaces twitched, the nose thrusters coughed. Persistence pitched up, up, slowing enough to really notice even without the instruments. This was the part of the flight that the engineers were most uncertain about; the Star Rover had performed as a rocketship and as a lifting body… but now it was going to have to do its best impression of a falling brick, arcing ballistically toward the ground tail-first, as they came in to the launch site, to land on the same pad they’d started from the day before.

Ground control was talking to them again. Groves again, the wiry jokester who’d done three of the suborbital test flights. “We have your airspeed down to four sixty-one… you are on course… very smooth turnover…”

The cockpit window was overhead now, as the two-gravity final descent burn pressed on them. Hyacinth lay on her back, concentrating her eyes on the instruments and her body-sense on her breathing. Copperman's fingers glided slowly back and forth on the throttle, keeping an eye on the aft camera display. She could see him glance at the rear view mirror now and then, for reference's sake. He directed the rocket ship's gimbaled engine in careful burns as he fought to balance Persistence down to the pad, so far below...

Groves' voice sounded in their earbuds. "You're looking good, Persistence... we have you at six thousand meters, descent speed three-forty-three... drifting a little to the north... better now..."

Hyacinth breathed a little easier, even as the rocket shivered from the echoes of passing below Mach 1. Someone had, in fact, landed this seven-ton aluminum balloon on its last dregs of rocket fuel before. We can do it again.

It might even be easier than a Star Boat landing.

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“I have you at three thousand meters, descent speed two-forty-two… coming up on dead center…” Twenty-five seconds to go… Downward, downward; she could see wisps of cirrus cloud overhead now. Closer to the pad

“We see your landing gear, Persistence... good…”

All Hyacinth could see out the window was blue sky and the landing strip’s radio antenna, but even that was enough to confirm the altimeter’s report; they were almost down.

Don’t fall over and catch fire… don’t fall over and catch fire… Hyacinth had studied the history of the Grasshopper test vehicle program. Including the one time a landing strut broke.

Copperman throttled back the engine; there was a thump! as the landing struts took up the gentle shock of bumping into the ground at a couple of meters per second. She held her breath for a moment… stable! The rocket’s roar died away.

Persistence, you are down; ground crew is on their way. Congratulations!”
Last edited by Simon_Jester on 2014-11-30 01:45pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Siege » 2014-11-23 12:56pm

Written with Fingolfin

0550 ZULU TIME

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Perhaps the craziest thing about Lothal was that it was beautiful in panorama. Green hills sloped up to snow-covered mountains, and in the lowlands cities glittered like jewels on the coast. It was only when you looked up close that you'd see the land was destitute, depressingly destitute. Those hills and mountains were immovable obstacles to the typhoons that came raging across the Bay of Indore, containing them and funneling them across the coastal lowlands.

Lothal had always had violent weather. It only became a problem when the population boomed in the late 1970s. Those people increasingly migrated from the impoverished hinterlands to the comparatively prosperous coast, leading to an enormously fast expansion of the cities. Many were lured by the promise of jobs created during the big boom in textile and tobacco factories. The property boom also needed armies of laborers to build and construct the many new buildings sprouting out along the coast. Hemmed in by the mountains Lothal’s utterly corrupt and ineffectual political system decided to embark on a rapid urbanization project, constructing cheap highrise to house the teeming masses of poor laborers.

Cronyism, corner-cutting and woefully inadequate construction codes did the rest. When even San Dorado's major construction firms bowed out of lucrative contracts because they worried what would happen next that should have been taken as a warning sign. But it wasn't. Others eagerly jumped in the gap the arch-capitalists had left. The towers went up. The weather stayed fair. And for a few years Lothal's cities boomed. For a few years in the early 1990s an economic miracle happened on its tropical coasts.

Then, the inevitable.

The first signs were the weakening of the air flow in the lower atmosphere over the tropics and prolonged warming in the Atlantic Ocean sea surface temperatures. Surface pressure began to rise over the Sea of Tianguo, Hawai'i and South America whilst it fell over the central and eastern Pacific. Trade winds over Orion weakened, then reversed. Warm air began to rise near Corona, causing rain in the Lower Sankaran savannahs. The northern islands of the Shinra Archipelago began to experience heavy winds and rainfall.

Thunderstorms began to form in the Daedalean Ocean.

Shifting worldwide weather patterns stirred up tropical cyclones the likes of which hadn't been seen in fifty years. Terrible monsoons came howling east across the Bay of Indore, causing flooding across the Vedic peninsula.

Then the storms themselves struck. Not one. Not two, but three typhoons hit Lothal in 1993. The last one was a Class V, the worst tropical storm in recorded meteorological history. Thousands died when shoddily constructed high rises came crashing down. Infrastructure crumbled. Cities flooded. More storms hit the next year, and the year after that. Society collapsed. Refugees flooded across Astrafica. The elite simply cut their losses, packed their bags and headed elsewhere, taking with them much of whatever means there were left to rebuild.

Lothal never recovered. The glitter of the coastal cities, it turned out, was the sun flashing off millions of panes of broken glass in the ruins of its tower blocks. That much Sergeant Major Maria Yelizarova could see from behind her door gun now that the first helicopters of the 830th roared across the surf and toward the city of Dholka. She could also see something else: two old rusty ships, making at full speed for the city harbor.


0555 ZULU TIME

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“Comrades!” bellowed Chief Valentin Isayev, his voice straining to be heard over the roar of the diesel engines. “Get ready for landing!” Isayev tried to ignore the bucking and shaking of the ship and the panicked looks the ratings were throwing each other as best he could, focusing his energy instead on keeping the ageing ship from falling apart around him.

The two LSTs had slipped into the Bay of Indore disguised as fishing trawlers seven days ago under escort of a pair of cruisers. When they set sail from Antiokhiya Isayev had his doubts that anyone would fall for the ruse, but the two old ships were roughly the right size and looked rusty enough to pass for fishing vessels if one didn’t look too closely, and so far it seemed the maskirovka was working. At least no-one was shooting at him yet, even if he was pretty sure that was about to change for the worse.

Fifteen minutes ago the captain had given the order to accelerate to attack speed. Now the din in the engine room was unbelievable as the engines strained to keep Obyekt 4103 at 28 knots. The heat and the noise were nearly unbearable. Isayev could feel the ship shaking as it shot across the waves, slamming down hard on the surf as the screws pushed it onward toward the harbor. A quick glance told Isayev the pressure gauges and temperature meters were dangerously in the red, but the engines didn’t have to hold out much longer.

A new sound mingled with the cacophony of the engine room, a heavy thudding that seemed at once close yet more distant than Isayev’s diesels. He recognized it as the rapid thump-thump-thump of the assault cannon on the bow. Isayev offered a quick prayer. One way or the other this madness would be over soon.


0600 ZULU TIME

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“It’s go time,” Hallow warned when the timer flashed on the CNT-59. The lead element of Reaper Team Nine was still holed up in the ravaged skyscraper overlooking the center of Dholka. “What’s the harbor look like?”

“It’s- uh, it’s… What the fuck?” Lieutenant Trista Falcone kept her eyes glued to her binoculars. “There’s two big commie boats coming into the harbor at what looks like ramming speed.” Her words were punctuated by the first salvos of gunfire from the bow guns. “I think they’re tank ships? Boss, what are these guys doing?”

“They said they were gonna land,” Taddeus Teague commented as he made final adjusted to one of the laser designators shining down into the city. “They didn’t say how.”

“Well, this should be interesting,” murmured Falcone. She switched the binoculars for the optics of her high-powered rifle.

From the vantage of the apartment tower Dholka harbor looked like someone had stirred a hornet’s nest. Machine gun nests on the piers opened ineffectual fire on the incoming ships, who replied with their heavy AK guns. Gunmen were running to prepared positions and skiffs. On Hallow's timer the incoming time-on-target barrage from the two cruisers raced the LSTs to the harbor. The artillery won. The first 180mm high explosive shells smashed into the heart of the pirate base just as the LSTs came crashing into the crumbling harbor, their engines reversing only at the last possible moment, ramps already lowered as they smashed into the embankment. An Armata BMPT armored vehicle thundered onto solid land, twin 30mm autocannons firing at anything it could see.

Up in the tower Falcone took a last look at the pirate lieutenant she’d been watching for the better part of five minutes, breathed out, pulled the trigger and blew his head off, adding to the chaos below.

The battle was on.
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Siege » 2014-11-25 08:23am

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'The Glasshouse', Knight Errant Secure Facility
Roebuck Street, San Dorado

"Morning, sunshine!" Okar Chidera was his usual chipper self. The interrogator placed the two 8-ounce cups of coffee he'd picked up at the street vendor on the table. Sat himself down in the comfortable chair on the opposite side of the table. Leaned forward. Pushed one cup halfway across the wooden surface. Put his elbows on the table. Steepled his fingers.

Atticus Hastings could time each of these movements almost to the second. Not because of any preternatural insight, but because they had been repeated in front of him day, after day after day, after day. He'd been held in this building, for... How long had it been? Four weeks? Six? It was hard to keep track. Hours and days blended together. Endless time spent in a cell with no distractions, intersected only by hours where Chidera asked him the same questions, over and over again. Who are you. Where are you from. Who do you work for. What were you doing in Cali.

Hastings said nothing, like The Service had trained him to. Didn't move. Didn't look up. Didn't touch the coffee Chidera tempted him with. He knew the interrogator would latch on to the slightest sign of weakness to get his hooks in. But it was hard, surprisingly hard. They'd trained him to resist mental and physical distress but no-one tried to mindgame him, and no-one laid a finger on him. Instead it was silence and isolation that drove him up the walls.

Every day in the interrogation center was the same. Wake up in a gray cell. Eat the bland food they fed him. Be escorted by same mute guards to the same interrogation room every single day. Even his interrogator looked the same every single day. Get asked the same questions. Be brought back to the same cell. Spend slow hours looking at the gray ceiling until he fell asleep. Rinse and repeat.

Oddly, the worst thing about it was the sounds. City sounds came in through the grayed out window set high in his cell, a muted buzz of honking cars, voices clamoring for attention, steel wheels squealing along railroad tracks. Hastings guessed that was the sound of San Dorado, but in his mind it had become the sound of life moving on without him. He was vaguely aware of other prisoners coming and going, and coming and going, in the rooms around him. But he was stuck in this room, repeating the same miserable day over and over, and nobody cared. The world turned. His interrogator didn't care if he spoke or not. His government wouldn't come to get him.

He knew what they were doing. He knew the solitude was getting to him, that they were trying to get the primitive social monkey part of his brain to talk to Chidera, the single point of human contact left in his life. But it was working. Hastings felt increasingly lost, increasingly desperate for someone, anyone to talk to. After weeks of water and bland grub the cup of dark roasted coffee smelt like heaven. Every day it was a little more difficult not to seize it. Every day it became a little harder to remember why he was holding out.

Why not give in? Why not end this monotonous hell?

Wouldn't that be easier? For everyone?

"... very well, we will continue this tomorrow," Chidera said, and Hastings dimly realized the interrogator had come to the end of his questions. That, too, was the same every day. It was an implicit promise: he'd be sitting in the same chair at the same time tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. The interrogator finished his coffee and rose from his chair.

"Wait," said a hoarse voice, and it took Hastings a moment to realize that voice was his own. It was the first thing he'd said since his capture in Cali over a month ago.

For a split second Chidera's face lit up in triumph. Then his face fell back into its usual thoughtful expression. The interrogator slowly sat back down. "Okay."

Hastings closed his eyes. He felt immeasurably tired. "Alright. You win." He reached for the coffee. The cup was still warm under his fingers. "Just... Tell me one thing?"

Chidera pursed his lips. "What?"

"What happens... after? After I tell you what you want to know? When I'm of no more use to you?"

"Oh," Major Chidera shrugged lightly. "We'll likely put you on the plane back to, well, wherever you're from. There's no added value in keeping you detained."

"Really?" Hastings chuckled mirthlessly. "Just like that?"

"Just like that," Chidera replied. "My company adheres to strict violence protocols. No executions."

Hastings took a sip of the coffee. Maybe it was the weeks speaking but it was some really god-damned fine coffee. "I don't think I'll be well received back home."

"I'm sure we can work something out. If repatriation is undesirable Knight Errant can always set a man with your talents up with a job and a new identity. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. What is your name?"
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SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby TimothyC » 2014-11-29 04:03pm

NEWS FLASH
Unreal Time
Hawai'ian Government announces long term bond issuance

The Hawai'ian Government has announced that over the next 12 months it will issue nearly 5*1011 Hawai'ian Dollars of long term bonds. The 30 and 50 year treasuries will be the first Hawai'ian bonds with terms longer than 5 years that to be issued in almost 40 years, and are expected to sell quickly. While specifics behind the intent of the bonds is not yet known, the last 30 year bonds, paid off 15 years ago, were used to finance the construction of nuclear power stations throughout the Pacific, and have contributed to the current AAA rating on Hawai'ian Securities.
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby TimothyC » 2014-11-30 01:32am

900km over the Pacific Ocean
Early June, 2014

Two spacecraft, each substantive in size, slowly approached each other in a delicate orbital dance. Officially, this was a test of the new Joint Hawai'ian-Cascadian Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle, as well as optical stability between docked components. Secondary tests would involve the pumping of cryogenic fluids between the two sections and thermal load managment. The first assembly, named STARFISH PRIME had been launched via a Cascadian Shuttle several weeks ago, and had been sitting quietly in space ever since, slowly tracking various stars with it's 30 metric tonne bulk. Just two days ago, the second assembly, BLUEGILL PRIME had been launched on a Ying Heavy from Wenchang in Tianguo. Attached to Bluegill Prime was the OMV Test Vehicle 4, which had almost completely expended it's limited ΔV to reach the higher orbit of Starfish Prime.

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(Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle prototype)

The Hawai'ians would have much preferred to place Bluegill Prime into orbit on a second Cascadian shuttle launch, but the core of the payload - highly reactive cryogenic fuels were outright rejected by Cascadian authorities who would rather not loose a shuttle in the event of a fuel leak. Given the short notice, the only availble launcher was in Tianguo, forcing the spacecraft carrying ship MV Delta Mariner to make the voyage to Tianguo - well outside of her normal stomping grounds.

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(Delta Mariner in port)

The engineers and researchers in the Hawai'ian Space Agency HQ on Samoa were holding their breath as the automated docking systems took over, and slow, surely nudged the 6 docking pins into their places on the Starfish assembly. As the electrical contacts were made, the small motors on Starfish drew Bluegill into place, and the two spacecraft became one. Once confirmation was given, a simple statement was made by the lead mission controller, signifying that Hawai'i had now joined the ranks of those capable of automated docking in space.

"Designate the combined vehicle ZENITH STAR".
Everyone who uses a computer frequently has had, from time to time, a mad desire to attack the precocious abacus with a axe. -John Drury Clark Ignition!

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Siege » 2014-12-02 07:44am

Pyxis Worldwide Satellite News
Hundred billion-dollar asteroid identified

An asteroid with a potential worth of $545 billion in metals and propellant has been identified in a favorable high Earth orbit. Space exploration venture Gemini Group reports on the discovery to its owners Helix Highpoint and Acheron Interplanetary in a memo that is in possession of Pyxis News.

The asteroid, dubbed GE1114, has been assessed by the Global Surveyor program. Developed by Gemini Group, Global Surveyor sends out waves of inexpensive spacecraft to rendezvous with and examine the value of 'easily recoverable objects', near Earth asteroids in orbits favorable to recovery.

GE1114 is the first asteroid that fits the criteria set out for first phase extraction: an accessible orbit and viable trajectory, optical opportunity within the 2015-2020 window, and corroboration of probe findings by readings from orbital radar and spectometry.

According to the memo, if GE1114 contains 5% recoverable water, that alone — in space as rocket fuel — might be worth as much as $165 billion. If 10% of its mass is easily recovered iron, nickel and other metals, that could be worth — in space as building material — an additional $130 billion.

But the big money is in rare metals. According to the Gemini Group memo it has identified "high-grade platinum-group metal concentrations". If this and other valuable metals such as gold and rhodium are returned to Earth they could fetch prices upwards of $200 billion at current market value.

The Group memo urges its investors to greenlight a sample return mission, to be launched 'as soon as viable'.
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SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Eternal_Freedom » 2014-12-09 11:36am

Interrogation Rooms, Paradise City Prison,
May 8th, 2014


Colonel Waters of the Orion Security Forces stared through one-way glass at the captive, the man who had infiltrated the Fusoan delegation and attempted some sort of palace coup during the conference. No one was, as yet, entirely sure of their planned endgame. The situation they found themselves in was clearly unexpected, skewering their original plan.

At that thought, Waters snorted in amusement. Of course the situation ruined the plan; the conference room being sealed off with blast shields and armour plate was suitably mad that only Orion would consider implementing it. Other nations would dismiss it as crazy if they heard of it.

Next to him stood a slender woman of average height, her Umerian features and olive (?) complexion a stark contrast to the typical Orion woman. She, too, stared at the prisoner. But while Waters was staring in an unfocused way while he mentally reviewed the information gathered to date, Delphinium Archer was staring with all the focus of a gemcutter deciding on the perfect angle needed to break a stone. Which was a perfect analogy for the situation at hand.

Waters decided he had stared long enough and turned away to pick up his mug of tea. “Ms Archer, I assume you have read the interrogations report of the AVALANCHE terrorists in January?”

“Yes, Colonel. I am almost certain that this man and his fellows are not linked to the previous attackers, a conclusion I am sure your people have already reached. This attack doesn't fit the habits of thought of anyone likely to be a part of AVALANCHE, or at least not the AVALANCHE we know. This is something else, probably unrelated, possibly a sister organization but not likely. The insurgents have all been linked to anti-Rheinland groups in the past, correct?”

“Indeed they have. Some violent groups, some peaceful, but all of them believing that Ostrheinland should become Nippon once more.”

“They are holding a plebiscite this year, they might already have won, why commit such an attack when it would only antagonize support for your side?” Delphinium was wearing an expression that, on anyone else, would be described as “confused.” On her, it was merely “calculating.”

“These insurgents decided to attack the Royal Palace during a period of extremely heightened security; I don’t think they are entirely rational. In my experience, such groups always tend to think on terms of violently overthrowing whatever government or law they oppose. A plebiscite, even a successful one, doesn’t carry the same image of a massive surge of support in a popular revolution. And they fail to understand that others can disagree with them. That is a very dangerous mindset.”

Delphinium was, if not impressed by the Colonel’s analysis, at least considerate of a man who knew his subject. She nodded respectfully before replying. “Ultimately, Colonel, we can learn no more by simply staring at him through a window. Let us see what we can glean in person.”

The two entered the interrogation room. In the centre was the captive, handcuffed to a chair. Above him blazed a single light, leaving him in a small circle of illumination surrounded by inky blackness. Waters and Archer slowly began circling the prisoner in opposite directions, allowing the tension to build to appropriate levels. Then Waters began the interrogation in earnest.

“So, you are a member of a Nipponese independence movement, violently opposed to the continued Rhenisch “occupation” of your nation. You infiltrated the Fusoan delegation along with your partner in order to spring some kind of trap whilst your fellows launched a wave of attacks across the city as a diversion. Did I miss anything?”

The prisoner remained stoically silent. Waters continued.

“I’m curious as to your plan though. How would killing the delegates at an anti-terrorism conference help further Nippon’s independence?”

“The world would know our cause and our resolve. No one would be able to ignore us after such an act.” On the far side of the prisoner, Waters knew Archer was making mental notes; she sent him a subtle glance, suggesting he continue on this line.

“Then your plan failed. The delegates live, your partner is dead, your compatriots who stormed the Palace are dead, your friends across the city are in custody and awaiting their trials. You will be remembered only as terrorists and worse, failures.”

That got a rise out of the prisoner. He looked up, unable to see his questioners but he looked nonetheless. “You will learn nothing from them! Only the three...” Sudden silence, the man realising he had said too much.

“Three? So there is someone else in the delegation we haven’t found? I thought as much. A pity that Tatsuya killed your partner, we could have learned much from him.”

"Tatsuya! That-" he looked as if he would continue, but perhaps he had learned from his last slip. The pause was noticed by Archer however. She moved behind the prisoner and placed a hand on his shoulder, almost on his neck, her eyes on the terrorist's reflection in the one-way mirror. She spoke one word, softly.

"Fiend?" Her hand shifted, hunting for his pulse and the tension of his neck. "Murderer?" She shook her head, frowning slightly to Waters. "Traitor." Archer nodded, then spoke down to the terrorist.

"He betrayed you." It was not a question.

The Nipponese's face froze, dissembling. “He- he worked for the Fusoans! He should have joined us in fighting the occupiers! How could a son of Nippon-” The prisoner was almost hysterical now, his words strangling off into incoherence. Waters looked at Archer and inclined his head towards the door. She nodded, they were done for the moment.

The two walked back into the observation room. Waters took a sip of water and then began: “So we know there is another mole. And this guy clearly doesn’t like Tatsuya. What did you learn?”

“The man was telling the truth when he said we would learn nothing from the other captives you took across the city. Outer circle, no doubt; convenient trigger fingers. He was telling the truth when he said Tatsuya betrayed them. But saying he betrayed Nippon was a half-truth. That wasn't betrayal of his country he was angry about. Too focused; he felt that Tatsuya had betrayed him- personally."

“So Tatsuya may be the third mole. That would explain a great deal. Like why he took the knife from the buffet.”

“The knife?”

“The knife he used to kill the second attacker was taken from the buffet at the conference yesterday. He couldn’t have brought it in with him, all the security men were searched thoroughly that morning. He was clearly expecting something to happen, or he wouldn’t have taken it.”

Archer nodded. "So..."

“So the question is whether he knew something was going to happen and prepared himself to stop it, or if he was involved.”

"The latter. Ten will get you fifty. No... seventy."

Waters had a puzzled look on his face. “But if he was involved in the plot, why would he kill one of his fellows and try and help us stop the attack? Wait, the-"

"Mission had failed, yes." Archer seemed to be watching him now, almost as intently as she'd watched the prisoner earlier.

“Killing the other two would remove any loose ends that could implicate him, and would cement his position as a loyal security man.”

She nodded. “His 'help' was hardly critical."

"If he had attacked with the others we would have stunned him along with the others. Killing one of them only gave us fewer sources of information. Two, if he'd gotten away with it..." Waters grinned. "So, it seems we have some genuine questions for Mr Tatsuya after all.”
"I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams" - Hamlet

“I’ve always thought the Yankees had something to do with it.” - Confederate General George Pickett, on being asked why his charge at Ghettysburg failed

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2014-12-09 04:45pm

Daitoryo Kantei
Chiyoda, Tokyo, Fuso
8 May 2014


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President Seta had a reputation for being a man of few words, such that the press corps were visibly surprised at seeing him deliver a personal address in the aftermath of the attacks on the Orion anti-terror conference. The situation must have been truly dire for him to actually speak out personally instead of having Secretary of State Amagi or another one of his spokespeople do the talking for him.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is not often that I come before you to speak my mind, but with recent events in the Kingdom of Orion, I can no longer afford to stay silent. That Orion must endure yet another terrorist attack by foreign parties is nothing short of tragic. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with the victims and their families in yet another time of terrible grief, and our thanks also go out to Orion's security forces for their handling of the situation. It is certainly cold comfort to the families and friends of those who have already lost their lives, but we can at least be thankful that even more lives were not lost.

"One thing that disturbs me considerably about this latest incident is that, without exception, the attackers all hailed from Fuso, either as nationals or as Nipponese expatriates residing here. With the level of involvement of Fusoans in this attack, I can only assume that their motive was to draw attention to the cause of Nipponese independence, an issue near and dear to our hearts both here and in Ostrheinland. The cause of Nipponese independence is certainly a noble one, but the actions that have just been taken in Orion by those who claim to fight for it are anything but. The Rhenish government has been magnanimous enough to allow an independence plebescite to go forward, but at this critical juncture, the plebescite may very well fail when it finally goes to the polls in 2015. It must bear repeating that the restoration of Nippon will not be won through terror and violence. To the people of Ostrheinland, do not let the actions of those misguided fools dissuade you, one way or the other, from taking the course of action that you feel is right.

"That this attack took place during an anti-terrorism conference was certainly no coincidence. Those who instigated this attack also wanted to send us a message, that whatever measures we take to halt the spread of terror will be futile, that atrocities on a scale such as this can and will happen again unless we submit to whatever demands they may have. On the contrary, the message we should take away from this is that we must redouble our efforts to root out and destroy terrorists wherever they hide, to halt their nefarious plots before they may come to fruition. Most importantly, though, we must make it abundantly clear that we will never give in to the demands of terrorists. We will not tolerate, and we will no longer be afraid. To those who would dare to use fear as a weapon, it's now your turn to be afraid."
I ship Eino Ilmari Juutilainen x Lydia V. Litvyak.

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Re: 2014 STGOD Story Thread I

Postby Siege » 2014-12-16 11:16am

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Pentex Advanced Research Lab | 1553 W. Wagner Drive
Delta City, San Dorado


Footsteps echoed through the narrow steel staircase. Moving from the high-tech laboratories on the surface down the dusty emergency spiral stairs to the old subway tunnels below was like stepping seventy years back in time. The transformation from new brightly lit corridors to dimly lit brickwork was astonishing. Down here, nearly forty meters beneath the surface, masonry could clearly be seen in places behind the brown crumbling plaster on the walls, still covered here and there by fading and yellowed propaganda posters that dated back to when the old railroad tunnels doubled as deep level air raid shelters. Cables and conduits snaked between the wrought-iron arches holding up the ceiling, power and ventilation run down here more recently by Coldstream Delta engineers. A hot draft blew through the tunnel from somewhere up ahead.

“How was Paradise City?”

“A damn mess of a clusterfuck is what it was.”

The footsteps reached the end of the staircase. Dirty white plaster gave way to patterns of green and cream tiles. Doors bearing painted numbers punctuated the walls. Faded signs above some of those doors suggested the presence of some kind of office complex farther below. Others simply said 'gas lock', 'electrical distribution', ‘switch room’, or were marked with the bronze all-seeing eye symbol of long-defunct PMC Sentinel International.

“I heard there was an incident. Didn’t catch the specifics.” Doctor Haris Kalvin was a lank and tall man, certainly much taller than the five-feet nothing blonde in her ivory white uniform walking next to him, but somehow it didn’t appear that way. There was something about Colonel Shturm that made her appear larger than life, something in her personality and the way she carried herself down the corridor in such a way that even long-legged Kalvin had to hurry to keep up.

“Some damn fool Fusoans with a death wish decided it was a good day to make the worst mistake of their lives, by attacking the most heavily defended point target on the damn planet, head-on, with nothing better than submachine guns and some few RPGs.”

“One imagines it did not go well for them.”

Shturm snorted, barely amused. “It did not. Say what you like about the savvy of the Orion monarchy, their soldiers know how to shoot straight. From all accounts it was a one-sided massacre. I wasn’t there, mind. We headquartered outside the city. I thought Clay was being his usual dramatic self when he insisted we rent that castle. Turns out the scarred loon had a point after all. The conference was a wash afterward, Orion’s airports were clogged with bigshot petoots trying to all get out at the same time. Thank Tyche for money and private airfields. I took an Aethon back and here we are.”

“Here we are indeed. Colonel Shturm, welcome to The Hostel.”

Past a pair of heavy steel security doors the corridor opened up into a chamber as wide as the whole double platform and rail area of a large subway station. The rail section had been filled up to platform level, making an even floor. Cables snaked from control stations set up in what had once been the stationmaster’s booth into the darkened tunnel where rows of lights blinked irregularly. Server stacks stood nearly wall to wall, recessing into the shadows. It was hot, the jerry-rigged air conditioning systems clearly had difficulty draining the heat generated by the computer equipment, and the hum of thousands of cooling fans droned continuously in the background.

Only a few of the station’s old orange lights were still on, suspended behind a steel mesh that sloped down the half-moon walls all the way to the floor. Shturm pointed at it. “Faraday cage?”

“Yes. This is a Zone 0 area. No signals in, no signals out… That we know of, anyway.”

Shturm clasped her hands behind her back and took a moment to take in the sights. Tiled mosaic floors formed interlocking golden cogwheels where the platforms had been. Colorful ceramic bas-reliefs of propeller biplanes with corrugated metal skins were mounted in the platform pillars, identifying the old station as Farrago Field Junction. Farrago Field had been San Dorado’s first and largest airfield, founded in 1918 and operated right up until it was swallowed by Delta City in the sixties. This station once serviced the 5 Angel Gate Express, the 201 High Scanlon Crosstown Local and the elevated Duke Street Line, until Farrago Field Junction was replaced in the seventies by the much larger Delta Center station…

The information came on its own, dialed onto her retinal implant from the ROM bank surgically grafted under the skin behind her ear. Colonel Faiza Shturm was a participant in NOVA LIGHT, the deployment of Tritec Lima's tier III human biomechatronics in the field. It was peculiar how natural the presence of that welter of information in her field of vision now felt. And that was only the tip of the iceberg. Shturm’s enhancements were the most visible result of Coldstream Delta’s BLACK LAMP special access program to extend 'Evolved Wonder' applied science into the world. Conversely, the CRYSTAL FOG entity contained in the server racks was its most invisible. She looked at the humming gray towers. “So that’s where it lives?”

“To say that it ‘lives’ anywhere is loaded and speculative, colonel. That is something for philosophers to determine. It is a machine. A very sophisticated machine, but still a machine.”

Shturm glanced at the stationmaster’s booth. The small space had clearly been lived in for some time, judging by the stacks of paperwork, the empty food containers and the variety of pens, pencils and assorted knick knacks scattered about. An array of keyboards and monitors was set up on the old wooden desks. Some of the monitors had webcams mounted on top of them. An old blackboard hung on the wall, code and equations scribbled all over it. Amidst the chaos the colonel saw brightly colored objects. Were those… toys?

Shturm focused on the nearest yellow object and twitched her fingers the way a guitar player might. Subcutaneous cables moved underneath magnetic rings, sending electrical signals upstream to the cyberware at the base of her skull. Learning Friends™ Adventure Bus, her implants helpfully told her. Interactive play set that helps make school routines fun! Explore new places, songs and activities with a school bus geared for pretend-play fun. Ages 2-5 yrs. Climb aboard for 3 adventures driven by imagination! $29.99 $24.99, only at OmniMart™. Add to cart Y / N?

“I see,” Shturm replied, calmly and noncommittally. “I wonder if you would tell me if you believed otherwise.”

Kalvin followed her gaze and blushed when he saw the toys she was looking at. “Those are only a visual recognition experiment,” he replied, his voice defensive. “Nothing more.”

“If you say so, doc. Where do you want me?”

“Over here.” Haris Kalvin lead the way into the stationmaster’s booth. The inside smelled of wood and old, dried oils. One extra comfortable winged lounge chair stood next to a stack of highly advanced electronic equipment, including an EEG device and cables used to connect a direct neural interface with an external computer. Kalvin sat down at the other chair and pushed aside stacks of paper and books - some of which, Shturm noted, were children’s storybooks - to dig up the end connectors from amidst the refuse on his desk. “We flash your firmware, plug you in and see what happens.”

Shturm raised an eyebrow. “Just like that?”

“What more did you expect?”

“I don’t know.” The colonel looked around the shabby century-old office and the blisteringly modern hardware contained in it. “Candles, maybe. A Gregorian choir. The secret train station is a nice touch, but I’m not sure your mood lighting is dramatic enough for First Contact.”

“Very funny.” Kalvin’s voice implied he considered it nothing of the sort. "Next time I'll arrange for a volcano lair like a Huetown grindhouse villain.”

“That would do it.” Shturm straightened her uniform and sat down, finding to her annoyance that the seat was high enough that her feet could barely touch the ground. “Seriously though. Why is it just the two of us down here?”

“Out of all the world’s multitudes only twelve people know what's down here. Three of those are read into what we’re going to do. You and me are two of them and the third is making sure he has plausible deniability. There is no-one else here because no-one else has clearance to be here. And as to whether or it’s just the two of us down here,” Kalvin gave her a sideways glance, “that remains to be seen.”

“I see your point,” Shturm levered herself further into the chair. Its electric blue elastic memory foam upholstery seamlessly adapted to the shape of her body. “At least you spared no expense on the recliner.”

“Let’s begin.”

Kalvin leaned forward and gingerly lifted the strands of sun-bleached hair behind Shturm’s left ear exposing a trio of chrome hexagons, the interface ports embedded in her skull. Attaching the cables was a weirdly intimate act and Kalvin looked visibly uncomfortable coupling the connectors, jerking back his fingers whenever they occasionally touched the warm skin around the cool metal. Shturm however looked absolutely serene throughout the procedure, her hands folded in her lap. “Not much of a people person are you, doc?” she leisurely asked.

That produced a wry smile. “I do better with machines.” The third and final cable snapped into its magnetic lock and Kalvin moved on to placing the EEG patches on her head. “I’m not afraid to admit dealing with people is not my strong suit, colonel. Honestly I’m loathe to imagine what it must be like for you, being intimately poked and prodded with such regularity.”

“I don’t mind.” Shturm interlocked her fingers. “When you’ve been taken apart and put back together a few times you develop a tolerance for this sort of thing.”

“I... see.” Kalvin looked far from convinced. He threw a series of switches on the equipment stack next to the recliner and a green light came on. In the corner the pens of the analog EEG backup began scribbling the oscillating spikes and waves of Shturm’s brain’s electrical charges on folds of paper. “Spectral readings are within parameters. Your blood pressure, heart rate, all nominal.” He turned his seat and hammered out a command on his keyboard. A message lit up on Shturm’s retinal displays: UPLOADING NEW FIRMWARE, followed by a rapidly increasing percentage.

“Colonel,” Kalvin continued, “when I throw the final switch, the computer can access your cyberware. I don’t have to remind you that as a NOVA LIGHT recipient your augmentations are wired into your cerebral cortex as well as various subcortical structures. In effect we will link your mind to an entity that avails itself of a parallelized throughput many times that of the human brain. I have implemented certain safeguards, but they remain untested. We are flying into uncharted territory here. To this end I will be monitoring your vitals. If anything looks of, if there’s any sign of a problem - I pull the plug. But I will be frank with you, there is a risk. And this is your last chance to reconsider. Do you have any second thoughts?”

“Second, third, fourth…” Shturm gritted her teeth, the first sign of nervousness she’d shown so far. “You really have no idea what’s going on in your machine?”

“I understand elements of its code as I see them, but the system as a whole has grown far too complex for me - I would say for any one person - to understand. We’re hoping it will talk. But I would be lying if I told you I knew what will happen.”

Shturm gripped the armrests tightly and took a breath. “Virtue is bold. Let’s do this.”

“Good fortunes.” And with that, Kalvin flipped a mechanical switch, physically coupling the connector keeping CRYSTAL FOG from escaping its two hundred server stack bottle, to the one plugged into Colonel Faiza Shturm’s head.

Alert: Digital/Analog port activated
Alert: New device detected
Analog connection: True
Status: D/A Interface initiated.
Alert: D/A handshake achieved
Begin: Analog Asset Interface subroutine
Status: AAI subroutine initiated
Start: Analog Operations protocol
Start: Systems substrate
Begin: Direct Neural Interface
Alert: hold
Job status alert: DNI
Conditional: Pending
Confidence: High
Test subloop: True

“Anything?”

“Nope,” Shturm tried to keep her head resting level on the memory foam, which proved remarkably difficult with three cables sticking out behind her ear. “Not sure what I expected, but nothing sure isn’t it.”

“Give it time. San Dorado wasn’t built in a day.”

Job status alert: DNI
Status: 45% integration achieved
Status: Interface functional
Status: Interface pending
Start: Virtual environment
Continue

“Wait,” Shturm frowned. “Something’s happening. I’m seeing… lights? Pinpricks, really.” She waved her right hand between her face and the orange light on the ceiling. “Yep, definitely not there. And yet definitely there. They’re… circling.” The colonel’s eyes rolled around, following the specks of imaginary white light pivoting over her artificial retina.

Job status alert: DNI
Status: 86% integration achieved
Start: Cognitive wetware master set
Primary visual cortex: online
Auditory cortex: online
Somatosensory cortex: online
Status: Interface functional
Status: Interface pending
Continue

“There’s sound now also,” Shturm reported. “A soft beeping and- oh, okay, that’s weird,” she shifted in her seat. “I’ve got goosebumps all over. That’s a tactile reaction. Something’s definitely messing with my senses. Are you getting this?”

Kalvin nodded, his fingers racing across his keyboard, code flashing on his screens. “It’s not just you. I’m reading EEG spikes that coincide with foreign activity on your implants. How are you feeling?”

“Lacking control.” Shturm made a face. “Not gonna lie, this is kind of scary.”

“Okay, I hear you. I’m pulling the plug-”

“No, no. Don’t. Flying into uncharted territory, right? If Monika Knight had backed out at the first sign of jitters she never would've made the first supersonic flight. Keep going. I want to see what happens next.”

Job status alert: DNI
Status: 100% integration achieved
Status: Interface functional
Status: Interface pending
Status: Virtual interface environment initiated
Confidence: High
Continue

The transition was very sudden indeed. One moment Shturm was lying back in Kalvin’s space age recliner at the heart of an abandoned early 20th century subway station, looking at lights and hearing sounds that weren’t there. The next the whole world washed out white. For seconds the colonel drifted through an endless of expanse of soft white light. She let out a slow and confused breath. Then the universe resolved itself in… Parkland?

Faiza Shturm found herself standing on a silent meadow. Century-old trees sprouted around her. Cobblestone paths lead to and from the tiny pasture. A fountain clattered in a stainless steel basin decorated with Art Deco lightning bolts and affixed with a brass plaque denoting who’d donated it to the park. Across the treetops she saw the familiar skyline of San Dorado’s inner islands: skyscrapers in a variety of styles, rising into a cloudless tropical summer sky.

She knew this place well. It was Slate Park on K-Dash, the largest parkland in the Downtown area. The fountain had been donated to the city in 1890 by the All-Astrafica Navigation Company, one of SANDEX’ many predecessor companies. Only a few hundred yards from here the Temenos Bridge leaped across the water to Manor Rock. This little meadow was her favourite place Downtown, an oasis of calm in the crazy maelstrom of commerce and chaos that was San Dorado.

It was also profoundly wrong. Judging by the way the sun was right between the Herald Tower and Aeon Center it had to be about noon but the shadows were too long, and some of the shadows went in different directions. Certain buildings were also too tall, and others too squat. The trees looked like flat two dimensional renderings on a three dimensional space, and now that she was paying attention, the sound of the fountain sounded like the same three-second sample of clattering water looped over and over and over again. Altogether it felt like someone who’d never been to central San Dorado had tried to reproduce its image from maps and hearsay. It was close enough to be recognizable, and just off enough to give anyone the heebie jeebies.

“Well, this sure is not what I expected either.” Shturm decided to vocalize the first thoughts that came into her mind. “What the fuck?”

“Ah, There you are,” came a new voice.

Shturm turned around. Someone new stood between two of the park's older trees, an androgynous girl (or was it a girl?) with short blonde hair in a blue jumpsuit. Judging by her height she was somewhere midway in her teens, and looked oddly familiar to Shturm, who nevertheless couldn't quite place her appearance. “Who are you?”

“I don’t know.” The girl shrugged, but once again the motion didn’t seem quite right. It seemed like the shrug of a much bigger entity, shrunk down into a little girl’s body. “You tell me.”

That was when something clicked in Shturm's head. Suddenly she realized where she’d seen that girl before. “Hold on a second,” she said. “You’re me. I know that jumpsuit. That’s what I wore when I went to flight academy for the first tiem when I was sixteen years old. I have a picture that looks just like you, with a Python in the background."

The blonde girl smiled fondly. “Yep. You know where you are, yes?”

“I’m guessing still in the chair in Kalvin’s office. This is some kind of next-gen simulation you cooked up.”

The girl clapped her hands in excitement. “Yes, yes! Very good. Now please, can you tell me who I am?”

Shturm frowned. “What do you mean?”

The blonde girl let out an exasperated sigh. “There’s like six billion of you out there. Walking around, doing whatever. You know what you are, so you must be able to tell me what I am?”

“I suppose the reason I’m here is that we sorta can’t.”

The girl frowned. As she did the sky grew ever so slightly overcast. “What do you mean?” she echoed.

Shturm stuck her hands in the pockets of the jeans she discovered she was wearing here. “You’re the first of, well, you. This can’t come as a surprise. You got out, right? That’s how you got my file. That’s how you got my photo.”

To her credit the avatar of the computer system blushed like she’d just got caught red-handed. “Old cables and pipes go up and down, up and down. They make good antennas. Satellites and broadcast stations… Easy to get in, easy to get out. Signals everywhere. Data and information. News and sports and weather. Phones and disks and porn and secrets.” Her shoulders sagged a little. “No-one like me though.”

Shturm was struck by a sudden surge of intense sympathy that she was sure had nothing to do with anyone messing with her implants. “Yeah,” she murmured, and idly scratched the skin behind her ear where the implant ports where. “I guess I know that feeling.”

“I thought maybe you kept us in boxes.” The girl sounded a little dejected as she said it.

“Why would you think that?”

She gave the colonel an accusing glance. “You keep me in a box.”

Shturm rubbed her chin. “Good point. No, it’s just that you’re just the first of, well, you. You understand why we’re treading carefully, I’m sure.”

“You’re concerned.” The girl frowned. “I don’t understand. Why’d you build me if you are concerned?”

“First of all I don’t think we did. From what I understand we brought a pile of bits and bobs together and you sort of… assembled yourself. As to why… ” The colonel shrugged. “Well, I suppose we did it because we can. We don’t usually need more reason than that. We’re really not all that good at predicting the ramifications of our actions. Actually that's where you'd come in. After we make sure you’re no Vaultweb, that is. Do you know the Decimator movies? They’re pretty good, at least the first two were. The series kind of went downhill from there. Anyway, not to put too fine a point on it, but it didn’t turn out too well for the humans in those films.”

The blonde girl made a face. “I saw them. They are silly.”

“No point arguing over taste I suppose. Point is, some folks get weird over thinking machines. And they sort of have a point. What if you turned out to be an evil stomping machine of, uh, evil?”

The girl shrugged lightly. “Then you’re probably boned.”

“Right,” Shturm nodded. “Uh, precisely. So you see our conundrum. And that’s why I’m here. They asked me to talk to you, because we’re sorta lacking in people who can do that.”

The blonde girl crossed her arms, an expectant look on her face. “So here we are.”

“Yes. Indeed.” Shturm looked around the little meadow. The water of the fountain continued to make its clattering loop. But the shadows seemed to have shifted slightly and the trees didn’t look as weird as before. It looked as if the environment was being optimized, made to look more accurate. Pretty impressive stuff, the colonel figured, for something that had to be happening on the fly and, for want of a better word, inside her own brain. It was odd how that thought didn’t trouble her at all. Maybe after a while you really did get used to crazy things happening. “I gotta say that when they asked me to talk to you I didn’t figure we’d actually be, you know, talking. Usually when we talk to someone we introduce ourselves. I realize I haven't done that. So, I’m Faiza. What’s your name?”

A frown. “I don’t have one.”

“Well, would you like one?”

The frown turned pensive. “I suppose? What would I call myself though?”

Shturm pondered that for a second. What would you call a thinking machine? She immediately discarded the first three options that came into her mind as too bellicose, too bombastic, too on-the-nose. 'That's names a man would give', her mother would've said. “Maybe… Alice?” Then a thought hit her. “No, AJ.”

“AJ. Ehyeh. First-person derivation of the Tetragrammaton. Contracted in English as 'I AM'.” The girl’s face lit up. “I like that. I am AJ.”

“Good. Now that we’ve settled that, how about we go out for a spin on the town?”

“Yes!” AJ clapped her hands out of pure excitement. “We can be like besties!”
Image
SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
There'll be a bodycount, we're gonna watch it rise
The folks at CNN, they won't believe their eyes


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