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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-20 12:54pm
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Unknown location

The experience was disorienting and scary. As the ship lifted off, darkness fell in the passenger compartment. Something else happened then - something hard to explain, disorienting yet euphoric, scary yet magnificient. They felt no passage of time, no jolts and shakes of hyperspace transition, they couldn't speak, hear or see their comrades.

When they shook it off, they found themselves laying down on obsydian beds, arranged in a circular pattern around a central pedestal, in a much larger room than before. The room's ceiling was very high, but aside from the sparse furniture, there were no other decorations or utilities.

It was a testament to the BOSS team that they quickly checked their hidden equipment, making sure weapons and support devices were securely stored inside their cybernetic compartments hidden in various parts of their bodies. While Oliver Gill was still trying to shake off the last vestiges of vertigo, Parkhurst had her squad fanning out, checking the room for wiretaps and potential exits.

Before they had a chance to figure out any concrete information, however, the walls disappeared, replaced by a vivid, almost visceral projection of deep space. Far, far below them, a huge, bright gas giant hovered in silence, its atmosphere swirling slowly. After a second or so of the team gazing at the sight, a raspy voice filled the room, seemingly coming from the walls themselves.

"Welcome, Pendletonians. I am Vessel 297, and you are currently aboard myself. What you see is a projection, adjusted for your organic senses, of the space around me, and our current position."

The voice paused. Parkhurst motioned to Eli and discreetly connected a fieroptic cable to his wrist, forming a hardline, uninterceptable connection which allowed them to share thoughts without the Collectors listening in.

The voice of Vessel 297 continued, "I have provided you with this facility, from which you can monitor the upcoming battle, and communicate with your own forces. You are free to use the refreshment facilities nearby. Know, however, that the area of me under life support is very small. Do not take this fact as sign of confinement."

What a subtle threat..., Eli commented through his link, Do as I say or you get spaced?

Whatever, Parkhurst was obviously ignoring the voice, I want you to find and isolate the comms lines in and out of the chamber. Let's start by taking control of the immediate situation, then we'll try to trace and crack some of the computer systems. Help Amanda assemble her EW gear as soon as we've got the comms under control.

Eli nodded in agreement. Concerns about the nature of the mission were pushed aside in his mind - though he couldn't help but worry about the way they found themselves here.

If the enemy can knock you out at will, there's only so much you can do.

Unbeknowst to them, outside the ship which brought them here made another jump, moving on a looping course back towards Pendleton.

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Pendleton, Lee, Astaria District
Republican Government House

"I told you it would happen", Jason Cuttberth was savoring his victory, "No flight plan, no consultations, nothing. As soon as Gill's team was aboard, it just took off. Traffic control barely managed to warn LEO transports. And now they're gone! For good! With our best men aboard!"

The Prime Minister listened to the tirade. He was panicking, that much was obvious: the cabinet has turned against him, where they mostly supported the Collector battle plan before. If the circumstances were different, if Pendleton wasn't preparing for war, he'd be facing a vote of no confidence called by his own party.

Right now, he might be facing an execution for treason, unless he did something fast. He should've foreseen that when the damn machines refused to release their order of battle! They probably only ever had this one ship in system...

"Minister, I am well aware of the situation!", he managed to say, still somehow in control of his voice, though very carefully mincing the words, "Under the circumstances, we didn't have another choice..."

"Yes, we did. Mobilize fully, instead of depending on fickle foreign allies! Use every mean at our disposal to...", Cuttberth began, smelling blood.

"Do NOT interrupt me, minister!", the PM growled, "I will not let this betrayal go unpunished! Issue orders for the BOSS to seize the Collector envoy."

Cuttberth seemed surprised, but that was one order he'd be more than eager to carry out. He logged into the Interior Ministry's system to issue the order, when an instant message arrived on every cabinet member's portable communicators.

"Oh, for the love of all that is holy..."

Montalba Spaceport
Berth 43

Jellico was just about ready to pack up when the call came to chase the crew away from the hangar - again. He didn't ask questions, but found it hard to believe that the ship which left so abruptly would return mere hours afterwards - he was convinced Pendleton was betrayed.

This is why he stood there, mouth agape, as the very same ship slid down throug the open hangar door and settled down on the pad, as if nothing happened.



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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

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

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-20 01:24pm
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Capital city of St. Gerard
Majella-3, Wild Space


Lieutenant John Baylor was exhausted. On their way to the Capitol Building, the marines of A Company had been met at every turn by guerrilla after militiaman after rebel. They had taken them all on and come away virtually unscathed, having only lost Michaels to a plasma grenade thrown by a dying insurgent. Now, his marines had dismounted and were in the process of storming the Capitol Hill. Waves of sun-bright plasma bolts tore through the lower levels of the structure as the attackers poured suppressing fire into it, aided by the near-invisible death-rays of the IFV's rapid-fire lasers and the titanic mass drivers of the Terminators that left gaping vertical craters wherever they struck the facade of the Capitol. Occasionally, rockets flashed out from the shattered windows of the building, forcing the USMC war machines to keep a safe distance.

Of course, the infantry was another matter entirely.

John sprinted the last few meters to the base of the great, ruined building, dodging railgun rounds and throw grenades. Aided by the greatly superhuman strength his suit gave him he jumped over the improvised barricade that barred the way and came down on the other side with a resounding thud. He whirled around to face the guerrillas guarding it, punching a plaz-steel fist through the face of the first, and vaporized the torsos of the other two with a staccato burst from his M-116. “I'm in,” he radioed. “Demo team on me.”

He was joined a few seconds later by Sergeant Alders and a fire team of marines who rapidly fanned out across the ruined lobby. The marble floor was cracked by tread marks and ruined by fire and falling debris. A once-grand staircase leading up to the higher floors of the Capitol had collapsed, and most of the walls had gaping holes in them. A grand statue of the man who'd given this city his name towered over the hall, his visage pocked and scarred by mass driver rounds and seared by plasma bolts. The marines however had little interest in the lost glory of the St. Gerard Capitol. They lugged in a heavy steel case and placed it at the foot of the statue before opening it, revealing the inner workings of a stripped tactical pancaker bomb.

Behind his polarized faceplate, Baylor smiled a little. Warlord August Bulfinch was somewhere holed up in this building, or more likely hiding out somewhere in a bunker underneath it. No doubt he expected the USMC to venture into the building looking for him. And sure, his marines could scour the structure, to get tangled up in all kinds of close quarters nastiness or stumble across the traps and ambushes the Free Militia had no doubt cooked up. Or, they could simply level the building and with one quick, suitably dramatic and symbolic stroke end his reign over the capital city. John knew which one he preferred.

“Weapon set,” radioed the man standing over the weapon. “We got ten minutes!”

“Alright, everybody out.”

The marines beat a hasty retreat out the building and down the hill, using the scattered rubble of what had once been pergolas, statues and fountains as cover from the erratic fire still occasionally arching down from the higher floors. They had barely rejoined their comrades-in-arms at the USMC line several hundred meters from the Capitol when the pancaker engaged.

The Mk XVII Gravity Bomb was really a quite simple design. It utilized the same fundamental force control technology that had allowed starships to generate their own artificial gravity fields for centuries, just miniaturized to a sufficient extent and, of course, without any of the safeguards available on starships. For a single instant local gravity in a circle encompassing most of the Capitol Building increased thousandfold, and the entire structure unceremoniously imploded, looking for all the world as if it was sucked down upon itself. It was an eerie sight because, despite the obvious destruction, there was no sign of the usual violence: no fireball, no detonation – one minute the ruined building was there, jutting defiantly against the sky. The next, it collapsed faster than a house of cards hit by a sledgehammer.

An abrupt silence fell over the capital city. The shooting had stopped. Baylor looked up. Dark clouds coiled overhead, and lightning crackled over the theater shield that arched above them. The excess energy of the orbital bombardments had stirred up the atmosphere something fierce. The hot rains would be here soon. “And that,” he said and grinned at Sergeant Alders, “is-”

A red warning flashed across his helmet's displays. “All friendly ground units be advised,” crackled a voice that his HUD told him was coming directly from the Ops Center aboard the Antares. “A major Bragulan fleet element has just dropped out of hyperspace at the edge of the system. Their pickets just flashed past the stationary at the outer planets and are now engaging our IOUs. There's little doubt they are headed straight for us, and considering the disposition of forces Overwatch is recommending a strategic withdrawal until such time as reinforcements can be brought in-system. We are flashing you your exit points...” Packets of data streamed to the marines on the ground, lighting their displays with evacuation routes and launch-zones. Baylor blinked. Their exit was near the sporting grounds on the edge of the city, the same place they had dropped in two days earlier.

“You gotta be kidding me!” Sergeant Alders sounded outraged. “We just fought our way clear of these yokels, and now they want us to go all the way back out?”

“Right there with ya Sergeant,” Baylor shook his head and mounted the Blackbird. “But I'll tell you what: I don't want to be here when Shardik comes down. Let's go!”



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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty

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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-20 02:52pm
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New Athens Navy Yard Offices, Break Room Epsilon-240-47
January 25, 3400


Christos and Adrian were sitting at one of the break room tables, chatting and sipping cups of thick coffee, when the logo of the UBC flashed across the flat-panel display hung from the ceiling.

"Hey, is it 1245 already? We gotta get going soon..."

"Shut up, this could be interesting!" Adrian grabbed the remote and turned the sound back on, drowning out Chris's muttering just in time to catch the end of the introductory montage.

"...round the clock, from the Umerian Broadcasting Corporation- all the news you need to know!" The logo faded out, leaving a cheerful-looking female news announcer. "The top story of the hour is the arrest of five citizens in Prime City last night. According to the Directorate of Justice, they are charged with theft of military secrets on behalf of the Centrality. Names have not been released at this time, but in an official statement..."

But Christos had already heaved himself to his feet. "Come on, you can get all this after work. We've got to get back and finish that hangar floor plan before fifteen hundred!" He headed for the door. Adrian followed, muting the display just as the announcer started reporting on the latest news from Pendleton.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-20 03:26pm
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Location: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Janus Colony
Capital City Jarkon


The great city of Jarkon, an arhitectoral marvel and pride of the people of Janus, now lied in ruins. Half of the city was on fire, great big plums of smoke rising from the ruined remains of what had once been marvelous buildings. The beauty of the city was gone and it was now transformed into a battleground. The Colonial militia was caught by surprise, and before they could mount a proper defence, the city was surrounded. Millions of Karlack warriors streamed into the city, slaughtering everyone in their path. Soldiers, civilians, they made no distinction – everyone died. It was like an ocean of organic death that surrounded the city, and was now flowing into it, street by street, building by building. Everything and everyone that found itself in the path of the Swarm, was swept away by the unstoppable tide of death.

A similar scene was occuring all over the planet, every city, village and place that harbored intelligent life – soon found death itself had decided to come for a visit. Some tried to fight, others ran, but there was nowhere to run. Some even tried surrendering, only to be brutally ripped to pieces by claws of the warriors of the chitinous horde. The Karlack were intent on wiping the planet clean of all life, human or otherwise, and with the planetary goverment crippled and their defences sabotaged – they would soon fulfil that intention. As the battle raged across the planet, several colosal Karlack ships were seen leaving the capital city ruins, their cargo unknown to the beliegered people of the city.

In space the situation was very much different, the chaos of the planetary battle was replaced by peace. What little navy Janus had, was destroyed in the opening minutes of the invasion and now only one thing could be seen in orbit of Janus. Hundreds of Karlack Brood Ships swarming around the planet, destroying anyone that tried to escape, like vultures hovering over a dead world.

Somewhere in Wild Space

„I thought you might like to know, the invasion of Janus has begun and our agent was evacuated successfully.“ Through the vast distances of space Alyxia's voice entered Seth's mind. „We even took some samples...they might be useful.“ „I know. Actually I knew the same time you did.“ Was the only answer Seth sent back. „But the mercenaries escaped. Araq has failed us.“

„You don't have to be such an asshole about it.“ Alyxia protested his remark. It was irritating to try and have a conversation with someone who knew your every thought the same moment you had it. „As for the mercenaries, it couldn't be helped. My fathers lackeys intervened.“ „No excuses. They too should have died.“ Seth's seemed annoyed. „No matter. Our agent was evacuated and any witnesses to the infestation will soon cease to exist.“ He sent a mental smirk to Alyxia. „Are you having fun?“ He asked.

She knew what he ment, Alyxia had spent the last couple of hours directing the Karlack Broods across the surface of Janus, slaughtering its hapless inhabitants. „Its been a while, so...yes. Yes I am.“ Her thoughts betrayed her good mood. She enjoyed the carnage, the exhilaration of battle, all Aspects did – and sometimes it was overpowering. Such was the influence of the OVERMIND, billions of minds created to kill and consume joined as one, their voices possessed tremendous power and their influence was hard to resist.

„Don't get carried away.“ Seth warned. His mental voice carrying a harsh tone. „You know the risk.“ Alyxia was silent for a second, her mind focused elsewhere. „I won't.“ She answered. „Trust me. I know what I'm doing. And besids, Araq is here to help. The whole thing will be over soon...“ „I have confidence in your abilities.“ Seth answered, sending Alyxia the mental equivavalent of a kiss on the forehead. „Be good.“ „I always am.“ She answered in a playful tone and with that her mind focused back on Janus and the task at hand.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-20 04:48pm
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-20 09:17pm
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Villa Straylight
Geosynchronous orbit around Solaris


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Sidney Hank was in a particularly good mood when he entered the orbital’s lyceum, a vast hall with an arched roof that was seriously large by any standard, but particularly extravagant by those of orbital habitats, plagued as such facilities usually were by a perpetual lack of space. Antiques and curiosa from all ages hung from the walls or were suspended in their own suspensor fields: oaken-framed paintings of portraits, landscapes and ships on stormy seas hung next to ancient photographs and more abstract compositions. Wall-sized tapestries depicting dueling starships alternated with Byzantine icons. Marble statues and holo-sculptures were scattered around immaculately polished rosewood tables adorned with statuettes and vases filled with actual, hand-grown roses. In some softly lit alcoves even stood several armored suits - the actual medieval kind, not the modern hardsuits - armed with sufficiently archaic stabbing implements. A grand piano dominated a small podium to the back of the hall, in front of a series of vaulting windows that offered a magnificent view of Solaris Major in the far distance.

“Morning, Dio,” he spoke into thin air, lifted an ancient dagger from its resting place on one of the cabinets, twirled it around on his fingertip and put it back. He rested his eyes on the piano. “Say, can I play the piano?”

“I have not loaded that particular skill package,” replied the voice of the omnipresent CompInt, Dionysus. “And please don’t call me ‘Dio’.”

“Alright, D. You know, I’d really like to play the piano,” Sidney said, brushing his hand over the smoothly polished wood of the old Steinway.

“Any particular reason why you’re obsessing over the piano today?” The CompInt sounded resigned.

“I just think it’s a great day for a bit of jazz...” Sidney’s voice trailed off when he saw something out of place in his own private museum. He walked over to the large table in the middle of the hall. There was a thin package on it. “Say, what have we got here?”

“Ah, that. Yes, I thought you might be interested in that. That... Arrived three months ago.”

Sidney raised an eyebrow. “Three months ago? And you’re only just telling me?”

“It took a long time for it to actually get here. It was hand delivered to one of the drop boxes we maintain around the galaxy.” There was an unusual hesitance to the voice of the CompInt, and that alone was enough to worry Sidney. Dionysus didn’t falter, didn’t doubt. It was a digital god, a being of such vastly superhuman intellect the mere act of it hesitating should be enough to give anyone pause. It meant it had encountered something it hadn’t predicted, something entirely outside its familiar context.

“What are you not telling me?”

“The drop box... It was one of the old ones. A really old one, in fact.”

A foreboding chill crawled down Sidney’s spine. “Which one?”

“Nova Terra.”

The two simple words hit him like a sledgehammer. He grabbed the table to steady himself, then slumped down in one of the antique chairs without regard for the unfathomable expenses that had gone into transporting it all the way here.

Nova Terra. Holy shit.

Sidney hadn’t been on Nova Terra in over a millennium. He’d hastily relocated most of his assets off-world in the latter days of the 21st century, when his plans to corner the global energy market of that planet had failed and Tian Xia had blown up his private island with a nuclear device. After that he’d never gone back. That was a long time ago -- more than thirteen centuries, in fact. He’d still been in his first body then (his first body which, technically, had been his second).

And he’d never looked back. He’d traveled the galaxy, back to Earth first, then farther and farther into space. The only thing he’d left behind in his mad quest for immortality was a string of drop boxes on every world and station he’d ever spent more than a few years on -- a way for those who knew him to contact him in case anything were to come up. Sometimes they were used, far more often they weren’t. This particular drop box hadn’t been used in more than a thousand years. The only reason the box was still there, in fact, was because the building it was housed in was an ancient landmark -- the Presidential Palace of what had once been San Dorado, but which now stood on the edge of the Trans-Frequesuan mega-sprawl.

And now, someone had dropped a package in it. What possible reason could anyone have to do something so archaic? Why not contact him through the Datasphere, or use some other more contemporary method? For a moment he wondered if it was perhaps a practical joke. But then, no-one who didn’t know exactly what and who he was would know what that box meant, and what his reaction would be. So, perhaps the message wasn’t so innocuous... Sidney eyed the package suspiciously. “You’ve scanned it?”

“To a subatomic level even. It poses no threat.”

“So what is it then?”

A beat. “I thought you might want to see for yourself.”

“For fuck’s sake...” Sidney picked up the package with shaking hands and tore through the thin brown paper. Inside the envelope was a letter. An actual letter, written in actual ink, on actual paper. Sidney hadn’t received a letter in literal ages. Nobody wrote letters in the 35th century. Hell, nobody had written letters in the 34th, or the 33rd, or the 32nd for that matter. Letters were antiques, the kind of thing no-one bothered with these days. Frowning, he unfolded the letter and read it. It began:

“Sidney, dearest of all my friends...”

Sidney Hank put the letter down, an expression of stunned disbelief on his face. Finally, after a minute, he shook his head. “Well now. I’ll be damned.”

His good mood was gone.



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SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty

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


Last edited by Siege on 2010-07-22 05:50am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-21 12:09am
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-21 12:37am
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The Protector's Mansion
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“Surely not.” Lord Fairfax muttered as he shifted through the report. One of the habits he had been unable to shake from the previous incarnations was holding actual paper in his hand. Quite a few of his staff thought he was slightly mad, but when he had been plucked from what he was mentally thinking of “Earth 3” in the late ‘50s electronic mail didn’t really exist, and even on Nova Terra and SDNW1 much of the briefs were still printed up and stapled. 25 years later he still used paper for his notes. Old habits died hard, and Lord Fairfax was nothing if not a creature of habit. The door to his office opened and Blitzschlag and Vlad walked in.

Blitzschlag. Now there was a piece of work. Fairfax was reasonably sure that he wasn’t brought back to this universe out of a sense of loyalty on Blitzschlag’s part. But what could he do? For all he knew there was a “kill switch” built into him. Actually, it wouldn’t be too surprising….

“Lord Fairfax,” Blitzschlag inclined his head. “I take it from the look on your face you haf seen the latest financial numbers?”

“We’re spending 10 goddam trillion dollars on Arco subsidies this year? I’m having trouble even conceptualizing those kinds of numbers. I know the infrastructure is old, but…”

“Age has nothing to do with it.” Blitzschlag said firmly. “There are Arcos on Nova Terra and Earth that were built in the late 21st Century that are fully functional. Even the Golden Gate Bridge is still used. No, it has to do with centuries of rampant corruption on behalf of your predecessor and the Church, who so dearly liked its money.”

Fairfax sighed. He had just spent 15 years fighting widespread civil unrest after reducing the power of the Church. The Latin Patriarch he had installed was a man named Corbin, who had spent much of his adult life as a monk who thoroughly despised the ways of the Old Church. The man didn’t like that the power of the Church had been reduced, but he had done a good job of cleaning house and getting rid of the worst offenders. As the Troubles winded down the spigot of cash to really and truly build up the infrastructure had turned open. Much to the navy’s chagrin, very little of it was going towards revitalizing the fleet. At least much of the work for the Arcos would keep the shipyards busy…

“Fine.” Fairfax said, and stamped his ring on the wax to show that he approved of the proposed budget, which would then return to the Legislature for vote. “Anything else?”

“Ja, there was an interesting report from the Badlands in sector Y-2 by the Snickers Gap. It’s Assault Marine contingent boarded what was thought to be a derelict N’ss vessel, only to discover what has been described as a ‘religious ceremony’ occurring onboard. It seems they vere trying to summon something.”

“Blitzschlag…I really don’t have time for bullshit warp daemons right now.”

“No no, nothing so prosaic. I am thinking more like a Cthulhoid Elder God. The N’ss are very strange.”

Fairfax snorted, and then saw the look on Blitzschlag’s face. “My God, you’re serious. What about all that crap you were spouting about Q just being a highly advanced alien, and not a god?”

“Ah yes, him and his misbegotten race. No, the Qs are a race that got there through technology, not natural manipulation of quantum physics. This thing the N’ss were trying to bring out was able to naturally manipulate reality in a way that we have difficulty of conceiving. It probably lived in the same bubble universe that the others live in.


“Others?”

“The demons and angels. One of the other realities recently entered those bubble universes and made a fine mess of things, killing Lucifer and Yahweh and all that.”

“Q showed me that! I thought he was just trying to be a smartass!”

Blitzschlag deflated. “What?”

“After the, uh, first world when Sheppard nuked much of the planet.” Blitzschlag was starting to scowl, and Fairfax decided to hurry along out of this line of conversation. “So, what do you want to do about the N’ss thing?”

“I will be dispatching several teams to investigate it. The walls of our realities are breaking down, either naturally or because of Q’s manipulation. A bunch of semi-psyker Xenos should not have been able to open a gate like that. There are entire nations that are spinning into existence in this galaxy. Wormholes to other realities are bringing people who shouldn’t be here…here.”

“Like me and Ally?”

Blitzschlag waved that off. “I know how you got here. It is the unknowns that must be investigated. Which is why I am here to tell you that a rather good piece of the money authorized in the infrastructure bill will never make it to the contractors. This kind of work must be kept secret, you understand.”

“Of course, I have no objection.” Fairfax said. What could he say? He was a leader of powerful Star Nation who owed his existence to this old, brilliant, and thoroughly crazy man. He had never felt so powerless in his life.



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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-21 02:30pm
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Montalba Spaceport
Berth 43

Jellico was just about ready to pack up when the call came to chase the crew away from the hangar - again. He didn't ask questions, but found it hard to believe that the ship which left so abruptly would return mere hours afterwards - he was convinced Pendleton was betrayed.

This is why he stood there, mouth agape, as the very same ship slid down throug the open hangar door and settled down on the pad, as if nothing happened.


Eel, Pendleton, Libertia District

Image

IBGV agent Bragga was doing some much needed exercise. After such a stressful day where his main objective, the Collector ship, had just abandoned not just the planet Pendleton but him as well, a healthy and relaxing bicycling was just what the Imperator ordered.

Bragga peddled his bike furiously. The thought of the Collector ship's abandonment filled him with a brewing Bragulan rage. Rage not just at the damn machines for ditching him and nearly ruining his mission, but also rage at his Imperator-forsaken assignment here in Pendleton, a shitworld full of puny humans who stank of the worst ideologically impure excrement imaginable. So shitful were the humans that the most degenerate of them ended up being enslaved by even worse slave-owning degenerates, in some gross perversion only humans could enact. As the cold late afternoon breeze failed to cool his head, Bragga started imagining that his bike was running over puny human children - which he always did to relax himself in times like these. The imaginary sight of puny human children being squished by his mighty Bragulan bicycle was strangely calming.

But it didn't take long before Bragga began to pant in exhaustion. He wondered if his miserable assignment had cost his health to degrade so poorly, but then he realized that he wasn't the one panting. Someone else was panting, someone else behind him who had been following him for several paragraphs!

Bragga wondered who it was. Did the CEID finally track down their operations in Pendleton or, worse yet, was it his superiors coming to liquidate him for his incompetence? Bragga quivered on his bicycle. Then he looked back and surprisingly saw his puny human subordinate trying to keep up with his Bragulan-built bicycle, panting his puny human lungs as he did so.

"What in the Imperator's boot heel are you doing, puny human?!" Bragga nearly fell off his bike as he roared at the human's impudence, but he managed to steady himself. He stopped his bike and got off.

"Sir.... sir...." the human tried to catch his breath. His Montalba spaceport janitor's uniform was wet with sweat. "The Coll-"

"Do not speak to me while gasping for breath so inadequately!" Bragga roared and slapped the backside of the human's head, sending him staggering and reeling in pain. It was a soft blow, one that would only bruise the man's skull as opposed to breaking it. Bragga hit him again. "Speak, damn it! Stop wasting my time!"

"The... the..." the human winced as Bragga raised his arm for another blow, and then he continued. "The Collector ship just returned to the s-s-starport, sir!"

"WHAT?!" Bragga's fang-filled jaws gaped incredulously.

"The Collector ship just returned to the starport, sir!"

"I KNOW!" Bragga smacked the human again. Slightly harder. "You just said that, you fool!"

The human whimpered and didn't say anything.

"Damn. Damn those metal motherfuckers." Bragga cursed under his breath. "We'll have to redirect the satellite and the spyship back to watching the Collector ship. Tell our other agents to do that, and get someone to figure out just what the Imperator-damned hell is going on in Astaria."

"Yes, sir!" the human saluted and ran off to do what Bragga had just instructed, relieve to be far away from his IBGV handler.

"Hrm..." Bragga muttered as he got back on his bike. "I'll finish a couple more laps before returning back to the basement."



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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-21 03:25pm
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Location: The glorious Sun-Barge! Isis, Isis, Ra,Ra,Ra!
Citadel Hills Government Palace
Andreka Province, Tsonarr
Central Alliance.
Comrade Eleven's official reception







Quote:
He was looking straight at the First Governor opposite the table. Veena was somewhere among other officials, but the cloud kept noting her presence from time to time. Eleven thought that the governor must be thinking - how does that thing eat? Eleven spent some time to thank his hosts for the evening, and only then started talking about real questions.

- I am genuinely interested in the plans of your civilization, now that you were transplanted here, - said Eleven, cautiously selecting the right words. - The event we have witnessed with your transposition is most unsettling. Our scientists have been investigating this transposition, but as of now, the results are not satisfactory. As you can understand, the appearance of a whole new Kardashev-III civilization in this sector has a certain... destabilizing potential.

As if the galaxy wasn't already destabilized, thought Eleven, but he left that to himself.

- If you could explain, at some length, what are the Central Alliance goals after the transposition, I'd be most grateful. I gathered a picture from the information about your history, but that picture is obviously incomplete. You have suffered a shock transposition in space, which can cause unpredictable consequences. As you obviously understand, this is not only my concern alone, but also that of my superiors.



First Governor Darkhressek tried to merely smile politely at the question, but the nervous spread of his smile to a full, unconsciously tense grin revealed a lot to Eleven.

"Mister Ambassador," he replied, "The question you posit is, obviously, one that we ourselves are wrestling with each day. So I fear that any answer I give you may not be valid within days or even hours after it has been given." He shifted uncomfortably in his seat and glanced at some of the other Ministers present. "I can say this; that you have probably already found that we are a representative cross-section of a far larger alliance with a sometimes..." he glanced at his human deputy, "...awkward relation to our own history; and that we were in a period of mobilization over a border skirmish with a powerful rival nation." He spread his hands out.

"Our goals right now are to survive as a coherent entity," he said. "That is probably the most concise answer I can give that will stand up over time. We have been brought here by agencies not entirely known to us, for reasons unknown. We don't know if we have been twinned in this parallel reality or transported entirely. We have officially stated that we have been twinned, and that our... real selves continue to exist as if nothing happened back in our original continuum."

"Why have you chosen that as your government's official reaction?" Eleven asked.
"I, and my Administration, felt that it was the best way to alleviate panic," the First Governor said. "If 290 billion people disappeared from our home reality, that would be billions upon billions more people back home that are panicking over our disappearance. Imagine the anguish of lost families, friends, colleagues, military unit cohesion... so we have announced that the only people affected by this displacement is us.

"This also --hopefully-- will get people to focus on settling in and making a home here, and beginning Central Alliance civilization anew in this reality."

Eleven thought about it. It was probably one of the better ways to avoid mass hysteria and panic, and so far seemed to be working.

"As to our intentions here," Minister Veena spoke up, "We are newcomers, and we have to find a place in this reality. As Foreign Minister, I'm working to establish relations with outside governments, but we are taking a cautious approach."

First Governor Darkhressek nodded in agreement. "We have been here for over a year, with closed borders, dealing with the few internal stability issues that did arise, but also watching the galaxy carefully. We've contacted the Commune because we are regional neighbors and it is prudent to be on good terms, but also because..." the First Governor faltered, and glanced at Minister Veena, who also went suddenly tight-lipped. "Because, frankly, we've noticed that the Commune is not one of the civilizations spewing speciesist, anti-alien propaganda denigrating 'xenos'."

Eleven nodded, feeling that this issue might have been a deciding factor, but still glad to have it confirmed. "Yours is a multi-species society, obviously," he said.
"We've worked hard for this cooperation and stability," the First Governor said. "We are not eager to get wrapped up in local wars or crusades, especially potentially devisive ones. Even..." he scratched at his jaw, "...even crusades that may seem agreeable and unifying on the surface."

Eleven nodded. The Pendleton affair, he deduced.

"Mister Ambassador," the Firts Governor said, "I can assure you-- conquest is not on our to-do list."










Results:
Central Alliance officials discuss relations with Commune representative.

*** *** *** *** *** ***

Caianda City, Khesze









Not everyone who came through the displacement event was entirely interested in official business. In fact, many were interested in unofficial business, and the more unofficial, the better. So Arawn Brand, Captain, Contractor and some would say mercenary or pirate, relaxed in a smelly club he always went to, the name of which he couldn’t remember, and watched the fun around him.

Khesze was one of the three breakaway planets that had seceded from the Irrykanoi Republic, sparking what had been an increasing border war, or at least until the Displacement had happened. Two full regiments of Central troops had arrived at Marrakanne, the capitol city of Khesze a month ago, to act as a stabilization force and back up a cease-fire arrangement made by the Khesze provisional government with the local Republic garrison commander, General Ikhas. Now, the Republic Garrison had found itself Displaced along with their adversaries, and had largely gone into lockdown. No one really knew what to do about them, now, except wait them out.

The situation had meant a sudden ending of fortunes for Arawn Brand. Not a reversal, but a dead stop ending. The war had been stopped in its tracks, with an Irrykanoi Republic garrison on Khesze and a smaller one on Tythos, now surrounded and massively outgunned by the Alliance and with no more support from their home reality. It was only a matter of time before they accepted the reality of the situation and surrendered.

So much for that run, Brand thought as he watched the celebrations unfold in the bar around him. With the sudden reversal of fortune that the Displacement had forced on the Republic and their Zana loyalist base, the war for independence was over in all but name-- and the Free Federation had won, not by war, but by the vagaries of fate.

Self-styled rebels and mercenaries swaggered in and out, each wearing variations of uniforms thrown together from whatever looked good. Many carried weapons, pistols and knives tucked obviously in belts and holsters, a number of shotguns carried slung. One tough rebel-- who had actually seen some action, Brand figured-- carried a Republic rifle and equipment belt. Younger ones would frequently crowd the tough rebel, basking in reflected glory before moving on to try their luck with the various strippers that ground to canned music. It was a sea of humans and veliscii, each mixing with casual comeraderie-- united in the unexpected victory that had sprung from the near-hopelessness of their cause.

Brand took the beer offered by the scantily-clad veliscii waitress and slid his thumb across the readerpad on the tray, smiling at the young female. A shame they don’t really start growing breasts until they’re pregnant, Brand thought to himself, them and the thenn. She smiled back before gliding off on wide, soft feet, her small tail twitching slightly in a sign of arousal. Veliscii did not grow facial hair, and many found his goatee fascinating.

As a human Brand blended in with the mixed Federation population, but he could easily spot the handful of spacers that had been, like him, making a profit off of the rebellion. A few zhulescu sat at the other side of the room, loud and drunk, and at a dark corner a small group of spotty-skinned thenn women clustered around a table, drinking the sugar-water that chemically escorted them to a state of abandon. One of the thenn had a human male she was wrapping herself around, the others were laughing with a pair of zhulescu boys that looked barely old enough to shave. The large, black eyes of the thenn, adapted to underground dwelling, looked sensual.

The band was back from their break, and started a loud rendition of a current pan-species favorite from the frontier sectors of the Central Alliance. Everywhere people danced, drank, spilled, smoked, laughed, and reveled in their unusual victory and, as talk would have it, and their inevitable official joining with the Centrality. Excitement built among the rebels, and one veliscii girl jumped up on a table and began dancing in nothing but her underwear. A slightly chubby human girl joined her, and a drunken veliscii militiaman who had lost his boots vaulted onto the table with them, dancing suggestively and waving his shotgun around.

Somewhere on the other side of the room, a push and shove match brewed into a full fight, and people began teasing and calling to the brawlers, dodging thrown glasses and chairs. An unarmed grenade rolled serenely across the floor, having fallen out of someone’s equipment belt, and Brand decided that was a good enough reason to leave. It was long past time for him to return to his ship anyway, and he walked the four blocks to the busy spaceport, dodging drunken civilians and rebel militiamen, and smiling away at the prostitutes and pushers.

Spaceport security waved him through with a cursory glance at his identification-- good enough for the computer, good enough for us-- and he reached the bay with his ship, all closed up and silent. The sleek, black privateer corvette looked more like a dagger than a scythe, with the bridge at the point and the engines emerging from the pommel. Stubby wings made the ship’s daggerlike shape apparant. Brand took a remote signaler from his pocket and lowered the crew ramp. Everything was where is should be, nothing seemed to have been tampered with but he checked the security program on the computer anyway. The name Serpents Scythe was emblazoned on the side, near the control deck, just underneath the odd alien writing of the previous owners-- whoever they had been. The ship’s Artificial Intelligence, called Kharev, had said little about the subject.

“Kharev, any disturbances while I was gone?” he asked, easing down into his command chair. Five other chairs sat, empty, and there were mountings for another two. Brand had been without crew for so long now he wouldn’t know what to do with them if he hired them. The last one had quit eleven months ago, leaving only Brand and the ship’s Artificial Intelligence.

“NOTHING IMPORTANT, CAPTAIN,” the A.I. replied neutrally, “SOME ROCKS THROWN AT THE VIEWPORTS. SECURITY ‘BOTS CHASED THEM OFF. THE AGENTS UNLOADED THE CARGO AND TOUCHED NOTHING ELSE. SHALL WE BEGIN LIFTOFF PROCEEDURES?” Brand nodded.

“Yeah. Let’s get off this rockball.”











Results:
Less reputable character brought aboard to expand plot opportunities.

***



Something about Libertarianism always bothered me. Then one day, I realized what it was:
Libertarian philosophy can be boiled down to the phrase, "Work Will Make You Free."


In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

If all you want to do is have some harmless, mindless fun, go H3RE INST3ADZ0RZ!!
Grrr! Fight my Brute, you pansy!


Last edited by Coyote on 2010-07-22 11:23am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-22 01:29am
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Joined: 2002-07-03 01:09pm
Posts: 8258
Location: Florida USA
HMS Dauntless
Bannerman System, The Outback
24 January 3400



From the command center inside the bowels of Dauntless, Lord Fisher looked out with senses both ordinary and extraordinary, feeling the sensations off his officers as the engineering crew finished their drive-checks - mandated by regulation for shoal runs - and the fleet prepared to make hyper into the Bannerman Gap. Things were growing tenser and sharper, he could sense. This was what was feared far more than the battle ahead; running these accursed shoals, a patch of difficult hyperspace that seemed to have been erected by the universe for the explicit purpose of making life difficult for anyone wishing to deal with the Pendletonians (though one could argue it was there to limit their interaction with the Civilised Galaxy).
Lieutenant Commander James Newman, one of the ship's executive officers, spoke up. "Drive check has been completed, Sir, all ships accompanying the invasion have confirmed their drives are operating as expected."
"Very well. Plot a course through the shoals. All ships are to maintain open communications should drive troubles arise."
"Yes sir."

The order went up. Dauntless soon made transition to hyperspace, along with the rest of the invasion force, leaving behind the ships assigned to the blockade duty. Within seconds of entering hyperspace the ship shuddered slightly, having moved into the shoals, and Fisher could feel a slight vibration through the decks as their journey began.



Sweethaven
Pendleton, The Outback



Four knocks at the door told everyone assembled that Danton had returned. Rana answered the door and brought him in. Umarbacca, Sara, and a couple of the others were aboard the ship to avoid being noticed. Quinn remained in the hanger, however, with Maria and Rydia near him wearing shackles and in blouses and skirts that were fairly plain though also fairly flattering. Vanrya turned away from him, their script kicking in. "Well, Mister Danton. You came to do business?"
"I see I'm not the only one," Danton remarked, looking to Quinn and the others. He seemed to eye Rydia and Maria intently in a way that made them distinctly uncomfortable. "And honestly, I would be tempted to take your girls off you, Mister..."
"Quinn," Quinn answeed. Lying about his name didn't seem quite necessary for him.
"Ah, Mister Quinn. I see you have quite a catch, I take it they have the cosmetic genes? Let me guess, flightly girls taken from some pampered household in one of the major states?"
"Sector X-13," Quinn replied. "Mystrians, I believe."
"Ah, not too familiar with that one. One of the buffer state sectors between the Anglians and the French, if my astrography is right."
"It is."
"Ah... not talkative today, are we?", Danton stated, seeming a little irritated.
"He's upset that we didn't bring our price back down for him," Rana said aloud, sensing that Danton found Quinn's lapsing into his laconic, monastic tone suspicious.

Danton smirked at that. He looked to Quinn and said, "Ah. Well, sorry old chum, you can't always get the deal." Returning his attention to the two women he considered the captains of the ship before him, he said, "Eighty thousand pounds was agreed upon. However, my friend prefers privacy, so instead of coming here you are to fly out to her."
"Are we?", Vanrya remarked. "I hope there's enough space for our ship."
"Should be. A YPA I see? 4700 series?"
"4700, yes," Vanrya answered.
"I'd like to come aboard, on behalf of my friend," Danton asked. "Just to look around and to inspect your cloaking device. I'm familiar with them, I will be able to assure my friend that you can deliver as promised."
Rana tried not to betray herself at his request. They'd hoped to get him in so they could isolate him within the ship and get an opening to telepathically scan him. She let Vanrya agree, with reluctance that was actually real, and turned to lead him into it.

Her mind cried out in alarm. Something was wrong, the way Danton moved, slipping his way to the side as they approached the ramp. Rana turned and, before she could cry out with alarm, Danton suddenly seized Maria and produced a knife that he pressed against her neck. "You abolitionists thought you were being clever!", he declared, aloud. "Thought you'd pull one over on me? Get me in your mercy, then find out where to get my slaves?"
"What the fucking hell are you doing?!", Rana cried out, her startlement very real but her character-acting remaining in place.
"Oh, you'd had me fooled. And if you'd not had your friend the so-called 'trader' over there out with these ladies, I'd have fallen for it," Danton continued. "And you got some ex-slave from here on Pendleton to coach them, oh very good... but the thing is, that's how a long-time slave acts. New slaves, from the rest of the galaxy? They don't act like this. You gave yourselves away. So, what did you want from me? Cooperate and maybe I'll arrange for the government to show leniency..."
"Listen to yourself," Quinn said, speaking out. "The New Anglians are undoubtedly on their way, or soon are to be. Pendleton may not even be a sovereign government by the end of the month."
"Ah, but that's where you're wrong," Danton boasted. "Pendleton has its own allies, and you'll find we're harder to conquer this time...."
He got no further. Rydia reached her hand out and pulled, hard, with her mind. The knife flew out of Danton's surprised grip and into Rydia's hand. Prompted by her lover's actions, Maria took Danton's outstretched arm and pulled him over her shoulder, causing him to hit the ground with a loud thump. Before Danton could recover three beamsabers - from Quinn, Maria, and Rydia - were already hovering over his face.
A fourth joined them, from Rana's hand. Before she could speak, she heard a slight chuckle behind her. Balthier emerged from the Strahl airlock, his plasma pistol freshly holstered, "Well well, an intelligent Pendletonian slave trader. I suppose it is natural selection in action."
"I'm not afraid of you, abolitionists," Danton announced. "You'll suffer the gallows if you kill me, you know."
"It seems to me, sir, that you are the one destined for the gallows when the Anglians catch you."

"New Anglia will never land on Pendleton again," Danton vowed. "Our new allies will annihilate them before they know what's hit them."
Balthier smirked at the man. "It seems my judgement of you as 'intelligent' may have been a tad premature. Ladies, do me a favor and bring him into the cargo bay. I'm sure Umarbacca will have great success in loosening his tongue."
They did so, Rydia taking the time to put him into the restraints she immediately vacated, revaling that among other things she and Maria had been holding the keys to their primitive iron shackles all along. Once inside the cargo bay, with Umarbacca already decked out in his battle armor as a safety precaution, they succeeded in getting Danton to loosen something up; unfortunately it was not his tongue but rather his bladder. A bemused, yet disgusted Balthier muttered, "Such a shame, they always do a Number 1 when Umar comes up. You would think they believed he was a wild bear."
That prompted an amused reply from Umar, growled in his customary Bragulan. Danton looked between them and asked, "What did this monstrosity just say?"
"He said that he believed you would not make the best meal today," Vanrya offered, utterly lying of course.
"Yes, you would apparently not fulfill the daily dietary requirements of a healthy Bragulan male," Balthier added. "Though you would make a good mid-day meal, I would imagine?"
Umar made a growl, with some salive beginning to pool around his teeth. Danton stared deeply into those long rows of sharp, flesh-rending teeth... and promptly passed out.
"You do have that effect on people," Balthier sighed. "Well, I think we shall need another approach. We do have four ESPers here, after all, perhaps taking information from his mind would work?"

Rana looked to her Sisters while Quinn looked fairly perturbed. "It is not an easy thing, asking us to force ourselves into this man's mind."
"I know, but... for the girl's sake, Quinn?"
Quinn drew in a sigh. "Rydia, Maria, I shall need your help. Rana, monitor us and be ready to assist us in keeping him docile if need be."
They went to work, then. It was not an easy thing; for all their training, and Quinn's raw experience, it was one thing for an ESPer to pick up random and stray, unguarded thoughts and another to bore into another person's mind, even one at rest, and hunt for information. Damage to both the invader and invaded was possible. Uncomfortable memories could be dredged up, or memories of painful experiences, or simply inane and trivial things that are irrelevant and waste time. One of them doing it alone would have been extremely difficult and time-consuming, but three permitted them to, with some organization (aided by Rana), maneuver through his mind to find out the information.
They had it, but needed a rest. Balthier nodded to Vanrya, who went to get Sara out of her cabin, while Umar kept guard over the unconscious Danton. Sara came out, in a blouse and skirt, and frowned at seeing Danton. "What has happened?", she asked with some trepidation, afraid of what she was to hear.

"It appears that with the taking of the Tantalizer and confirmation of your assistance to Lord Fisher, the Pendletonian Government seized your family," Quinn began, having recovered quickest. "From what I can tell from Danton's memories, BOSS subjected them to a fairly intensive and severe interrogation regimen, complete with threats of trial for treason and writs of retention."
Sara drew in an involuntary gasp. Seeing a couple of the Sisters were quizzical as to what it entailed, she explained, "A writ of retention essentially forbids a slave to be freed. They are taken and held as permanent government property and only leased out to individual owners. And the Government does not free slaves."
"Well, do not worry yourself, for it appears your family successfully communicated that any aid you gave was the result of spontaneous decision, not some long-standing slave plot," Quinn continued. "They were returned to Mister Danton's custody a few months ago. He, in turn, sold them back to Mister de la Poer, who was made responsible for hiding them. He knows nothing else."
"So... we shall have to invade de la Poer estate then." Sara sighed and looked around. "I... I am not sure how well we can do such, our ship would be spotted coming in and the authorities notified. We would be trapped quickly."
"Not if he is expecting us," Rydia pointed out. She gestured back to Danton. "Before we accidentally gave ourselves away, Danton did believe this was a legitimate deal, and planned to have us go to his associate for pick-up."
"And?"
"This associate, Sara, is staying at de la Poer's home," she continued. "All we need do is find a way to give them an a confirmation from Danton and we can fly there without issue. Once there, I am sure we can find ways to buy time for a sweep of the property."
"But how do we get Danton to send them an all-clear?"

"It will rely on you, dear Sara," Rana said. "We can't do it without you..."



De la Poer Estate


Walter de la Poer felt the slightest tickle in the back of his mind, something that told him things were not right, as he listened in from the corner of his study. His holoprojector was on, set for incoming communications, and Delilah was staring at the image of Danton. "I've made the arrangements," Danton said, in something of a low tone, to Delilah. "They will be by tomorrow to pick you and your slave up tomorrow, as promised."
"Excellent," Delilah cooed. "Remind them that I expect full privacy for my eighty thousand pounds."
"I will."
"Good, then have a good evening, Mister Danton." Delilah hit the switch to turn the communication off. She saw de la Poer in the corner and asked, "Is there something, Walter?"
"My slaves have heard... screaming from the storage garage," he stated. "I thought we'd agreed you would keep things quiet?"

"Oh, true... but I do so love Kara's screams," Delilah remarked. "Besides, I would think they were used to such by now. Kara is not the first captive to be tortured on this estate grounds, after all. Didn't your dear Katherine used to take her handmaiden out to the storage garage I'm using?"
"Well, yes, but she..."
"...was quite vicious toward Sara in the later years, as I recall. Doing as you wanted, really, and reinforcing whom was mistress and whom was slave," Delilah noted. "Anyway, another 18 hours of screams won't do your precious slaves any harm, Walter. If they complain, you can simply offer to leave them with me. And, do remember who is the dominant power in our association?"
"I don't think I'll ever forget that," he answered truthfully.
"Good. I'd hate to report to the High Ladies that you were becoming.. uncooperative." Delilah gave him a mirthful smirk and stalked out. Walter could do nothing to calm his nerves but dab his forehead with a wet cloth, looking to get sweat off.



At the same time, Kara was lapsing into unconsciousness from exhaustion and sleep deprivation when she heard the sound of the door being picked. She kept her eyes closed and didn't feel out with her mind, content to wait until the person entered before speaking. Once she heard the door quietly close, she spoke out, "Ah, come to see me Katherine?"
Clad in a sleeveless vest shirt and high skirt, Katherine looked at Kara intently. "I... wanted to come and see if you wanted water."
"How... kind of you," Kara rasped. "I am honestly parched. Delilah only meets my daily needs through, well, probably not best to dwell on what I get for fluids." She opened her eyes, finding it took quite a bit more energy than usual, and watched the young woman, her age, walk up and place a bottle to her lips. The cool water was about the best sensation she'd enjoyed in days and she drank greedily and so rapidly that it spilled around her mouth and began to drain down her cheeks and neck.
"I'm not sure why I'm doing this," Katherine whispered. "You tortured me." She pulled the bottle away.
"It was never personal. It was only to get at Walter de la Poer," Kara said. "And when you've been through what I've been through, what I did to you was like getting stepped on the foot in comparison."
"And that gives you the right to torture me?"
"No." Recalling memories she'd felt before in her current guest, Kara smirked. "Though Sara might be able to make an argument for it."

At the mention of that name, Katherine frowned deeply. "I don't want to hear about her."
"Ah, still feel betrayed? It's not like she changed anything; the Anglians knew you had those people."
"She didn't have to betray me though!", Katherine cried out in anger. "After everything I did for her!"
"Was this before or after you got into the habit of abusing her for the slightest offense?" Kara smirked at her. "How many times was she here in my place?"
"I had to," Katherine insisted. "I... I was wrong to give her hope before, I know that. I was so full of ideas, I didn't understand the truth of things. I shouldn't have made her think..."

The door flew open with a loud crash. Delilah entered and narrowed her eyes. A cold, deadly anger came from her at seeing Katherine and the half-empty water bottle she still held. "What are you doing in here?!", she demanded.
"What I please," Katherine answered, matching Delilah's anger with the kind of imperious, haughtyness that was expected of a fine young lady of Pendleton high society. "It is, after all, my family's property."
"You are interfering in my affairs, in the Order's affairs. Get out!"
"I shall leave when I please," was the reply, coldly given. Katherine narrowed her eyes as she slid along the wall, watching Delilah coming closer. "A mistress has a duty to her slaves, you know, and to any held in her home..."
"Your backward practices are none of my concern," Delilah retorted. "This is an affair of the Ebon Blade and only your father's association with us prevents me from punishing you most severely for this affront."
"My family's association with you dies with him, do you hear me?!" Katherine slipped over to the door. "I will not degrade my family with further involvement with such a foul and savage group!"
"If he were to go right now the association wouldn't be the only thing dying," Delilah answered. "Right now he is the only thing keeping you alive, child! Now get out of here before I show you what your fate should have been!"
Katherine slammed the door on her way out. Some amused chuckling came from Kara at the entire scene, having grown as it unraveled before her. Sadly, that laughter did not last long, as Delilah was quick to take out her kindled rage on Kara, causing the first of what would become an evening filled with screams.


Sweetwater


"We shall dispose of him soon enough," Balthier remarked on the unconscious form of Danton, kept bound to his seat. Nearby all five of the present ESPers were nursing intense headaches, the result of the effort they required to effectively mind-puppet Danton for the message. "I should suggest you all get a rest, we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow," he said to the gathered ESPers and Umarbacca. The latter found a perch to rest from, having appointed himself as jailer for Danton, while the others retired to their rooms.
Balthier opted on dinner instead, finding Vanrya in the kitchen with MacCulloch. The doctor gave no reminder of their medication situation as he quietly finished his meal and departed, leaving Balthier with his co-pilot. "We have an opportunity here," he stated to her.
"De la Poer," Vanrya agreed. "How much do you think the Anglian bounty for her is?"
"Oh, given the mortification of our new Governor-General over the result of his reception? I anticipate six figures at the least, as high as seven. It would make an excellent profit for this venture, you'd agree?"
"Would you nthen return the girl's money?"
"Yes, and with a decent fraction of the bounty. A 'finder's fee', if you will, it's the least she deserves." Balthier got a pre-prepared meat stew out and used the heating mechanism to get it to the right temperature in seconds. "Yes, it does look like our visit to Pendleton will become most profitable after all."



Down the hall, Rana and Sara were embracing closely in their shared bed. The aching in their minds was starting to subside, aided by the refreshing sensation of being in physical and mental contact with each other exclusively.
They had not decided on lovemaking yet; as pleasing and relaxing an activity as it was, they needed rest more than anything. Nor was it necessary for them to enjoy their contact; the sheer level of physical contact they currently enjoyed, the looking into each other's eyes, maximized how closely their minds were linking and mingling. Their thoughts shifted between each other as if they were a single mind, their closeness something that no non-ESPer could ever know.
"Do you think we'll find them?", Sara asked plainly, her hand rubbing Rana's bare hip. "Are we too late?'
"We will find them, do not worry," Rana insisted. Smiling to try and comfort her lover, she placed a strong kiss against Sara's lips. The kiss was eagerly returned, and after several minutes of passionate kissing and playful, gentle touching, they fell asleep in one another's arms.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-22 02:34pm
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Location: The glorious Sun-Barge! Isis, Isis, Ra,Ra,Ra!
Planet Zero
Delegate's Hall










"Welcome, Ambassador," Colonel Arik Shaham greeted the newly-arrived Central Alliance Ambassador to the Commune capital of Zero. Ambassador Gevri Narotte strode towards him, smiling politely, the red-patterned robes of his ethnic homeland billowing in the light breeze as he approached.

"Ahh, Colonel, yes, and thank you," he said, and he nodded towards Th'andra. "And the good Master Analyst, Th'andra. You have made the introductions and prepared the office for me, then?"

"Everything was in the briefing, sir," the Colonel assured.
"Their reliance on nanotechnology," the Ambassador said, "Amazing."
"You'll find it provides everything yo uneed, though, Ambassador," Th'andra assured. They showed him to the Ambassadorial quarters and he began to settle in, His small staff of assistants took up residence in the nearby rooms and manned his office, experimenting with calling up different consoles and interfaces.

"The Commune Ambassador arrived yesterday," the Colonel confirmed, "And we got good news-- the Eoghan United Commons contacted one of our patrol ships on their own."
"Contact went well, I heard," the Ambassador said. "That will be one less place you will have to visit, then... where will your contact team go next?" he asked.

"Nova Atlantean Commonwealth," Shaham replied.
"Well, good luck then," the Ambassador replied, "And I will get settled in here..."







Results:
Permanantly-assigned CA Ambassador Gevri Narotte arrives at Commune Zero.


*** *** *** *** *** ***

Serpents Scythe
Deep Space










A couple of hours in hyperlight was time enough for Brand to shower and change. He was on his way to the bridge when Kharev called to him through the ship’s comm.

“FIVE HEPTS TO EMERGENCE,” it informed, “INITIAL SCANS SHOW THE AREA TO BE CLEAR OF ANY LURKERS.” Brand nodded his satisfaction, he wouldn’t expect anyone to be wandering near the Kho’Lar Singularity, although we once did surprise that Kiene University astronomical research ship, he remembered with amusement. Brand reached the bridge as the star patterns cleared and the singularity faced him prominently on the viewscreen.

“Always a magnificent view, huh, Kharev?” he questioned rhetorically.

“‘A GREAT SWIRLING TOILET BOWL OF GAS AND PLASMA,’ YOU ONCE SAID,” it retorted, “ARE YOU WAXING POETIC IN YOUR OLD AGE?”
Brand snorted. "You wouldn’t be so smart if I didn’t need you to help fly the ship,” he defended himself. Still, the view could be tremendously striking or tremendously monotonous, depending on how one felt at any given moment, and now, Brand felt oddly optimistic. His payment from the gunrunners had been decent, although he could hardly say that he had tapped into a vein of vast wealth. A few more weeks’ worth of consumables, some software upgrades, or some additions to his personal arsenal... it would be a long time before Brand would see the kind of money he needed for some of his more ambitious upgrades to his ship, and every time he started getting ahead, some new expense cropped up that eroded at his savings a bit more. No, it’s the adventure of it all, he decided, rather than the wealth. He shuddered at the idea of working at a desk, a pension as the high point of his life.

He reached for the cooler and pulled out an ice cold beer. His contract had finished. He was a free man now, all alone in the galaxy. Oustanding ship, cold beer... the possibilities are endless. “Alright, let’s go to the Gallows and see what’s up.” He plotted the course and the Scythe was soon charging through hyperlight for a second time, with about six hours to destination, which Brand used to catch up on his sleep.

The pinging of the proximity alarm woke him instantly, and Brand could see on his eyelens that they were approaching the hyperlight terminus for a region of space little known of to the civilized galaxy. “Pre-scan?” he asked, shrugging into his pilot’s jacket as he stepped onto the bridge. The monitors showed numerous patches of red.

“SEVERAL VESSELS THAT ARE WANTED FOR ACTIVITY OR COLLUSION IN PIRACY, SMUGGLING, AND TAX EVASION, AS WELL AS WEAPONS LAWS VIOLATIONS,” Kharev informed him.

“In other words, nothing out of the ordinary,” he replied.
“EXACTLY. WELCOME TO THE GALLOWS.”
“You’re a regular tour guide,” Brand replied absently, looking at the list of ships flocking around them in normal space.
“Anyone we know?”
“YOU MEAN, ANYONE WE OWE MONEY TO?” the A.I. asked innocently.
“That too,” Brand said.
“NEGATIVE. STORMBIRD PULLED OUT ABOUT AN HOUR AGO, ACCORDING TO THE ION TRAILS I CAN READ. DRAGON’S WRATH SHOULD BE IN.”
Brand snorted, tucking away his blaster pistol in its usual spot on his belt, then securing his backup in its ankle holster, then the boot knife, and centering his filament knife on the back of his necklace where it usually was. The riot crackler was tucked away on the other side of his belt, opposite the blaster pistol.

“You mean the ‘Screaming Chicken’? Anyone I should be impressed by?” The A.I let the question slip by, recognizing it for the rhetoric that it was. “Alright, drop masker,” he ordered, “...but sound out the system with a pulse scan first so these trigger-happy clods don’t try taking a shot at us. Some of these amateurs have more brains than a goat, but just barely.” The Scythe then eased itself into normal space and dropped its masker, revealing its sleek, angular lines to all present. No one challenged them, which Brand figured was either evidence of respect or complete ignorance. He did not recognize a single one of the ships parked around the system, so he gambled on the latter and considered them even. I’m sure that if I am supposed to tremble in fear at the sight of their ships, they’ll let me know, he reasoned to himself.

Serpents Scythe, we have you on our scanners,” a voice crackled over the comm. It was the voice of a bored and unprofessional traffic handler, probably an ex-Contractor who’d reached some end point in his career and now eked out a farce of a living in the Gallows. Brand had always felt that the Gallows was not a place where people went to-- it was place where people ended up.

“Control, you have my confirmation,” Brand sighed, going right to the inevitable fees, “How much for entry this time?”
Five hundred,” the voice replied, “plus one hundred per day for normal docking, two hundred for internal, fifty for ute hookups. Repairs negotiable,” the voice concluded with the confidence of someone who had what others wanted. Brand frowned minutely, the entry fee was actually very reasonable but the docking fees were going up quite a bit-- they used to be little more than a formality.

“Fine,” Brand said, in no mood to argue. He intended to waste as little time as possible here, just check the news and tap into the gossip, or see what sort of high-profit, very illegal cargo awaited passersby in the holding pens. He transmitted his compliance and credit codes, paying for entry through the field of asteroids.

The system they entered was actually the remains of a system; the Scythe had emerged parked outside of a massive cloud of asteroids gathered around a shrunken brown dwarf star that was ugly beyond any attempts at astronomical description. The Gallows was located in the middle of a great cosmic junkyard, with only pulsars, blackened, free-floating rogue planets, and interstellar dustclouds for neighbors. The minerals that the asteroids had once contained had been sucked dry by a mining consortium during the Djeriessi Hegemony, over five hundred years prior. It was a place little visited and of no interest whatsoever, and also hard to observe from the outside. Naturally, it became a collection point for the known galaxy’s most unloved citizens.

“You know, if the Kho’Lar Singularity is a swirling toilet bowl, then this must be the system where all the floaters are...”









Results:
Arawn Brand goes to the shadow port known as The Gallows.

***



Something about Libertarianism always bothered me. Then one day, I realized what it was:
Libertarian philosophy can be boiled down to the phrase, "Work Will Make You Free."


In Libertarianism, there is no Government, so the Bosses are free to exploit the Workers.
In Communism, there is no Government, so the Workers are free to exploit the Bosses.
So in Libertarianism, man exploits man, but in Communism, its the other way around!

If all you want to do is have some harmless, mindless fun, go H3RE INST3ADZ0RZ!!
Grrr! Fight my Brute, you pansy!

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-22 03:20pm
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Sith Marauder
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Originally written by Shroom!

Nowhere Gulch
Tombstone, Wild Space


The pub was silent as a tomb, and it was just about to become one. Not a thing was stirring. None of the bar’s patrons dared to move, none of them dared to say anything and none of them even dared to breathe.

Blocking the only exit was a mountain of a man. Dressed in leather, and armed with a drum-fed double-barreled auto shotgun, he spoke in a cold, emotionless tone. “Jackson Trevor, you’re coming with me. Now.”

His words were directed to a smartly dressed man seated in front of a poker table. The man addressed as Jackson Trevor calmly placed his cards on the table and stood up. “So, they paid you to get me, huh? You know I’m never going to turn myself in, you dumb piece of inferior paleohuman shit!”

“Inferior, superior, I’m the guy with the gun,” the big man replied in a low voice, indicating the piece of man-portable artillery he held in his hands.

“Duke, you really are a stupid sumbitch, ain’t ya?” the Duke barely perceived the insult Jackson just spat out. If one looked closely into his eyes, one would notice something odd about them; that they looked devoid of any emotion, that they seemed detached, cold…and even dead. Those eyes, some say, were indicative of ocular implants. Trained medical professionals would say that some type of substance abuse would have probably caused those eyes. Others would say that eyes like those belonged to people with something a little loose in their heads, like psychopaths, lunatics, serial killers and people who just weren’t hugged enough when they were kids. Those dead eyes stared at (into?) Jackson like the eyes of a machine, unblinking and giving out no hint of remorse whatsoever. Having enough, Jackson decided he would have no more bullshit. “Boys, kill him!”

With that cue, the vast majority of the pub’s occupants rose up and upholstered their weapons. But as they did so, Duke was already in motion, unleashing a fully automatic fusillade of depleted uranium buckshots at the nearest group of armed men, tearing them to pieces. However, before these pre-empted gunmen’s corpses could even fall down to the floor, the rest of Jackson's men were already opening up at him, filling the entire pub with a whizzing exchange of semiautomatic pistol fire.

Before the Duke could take cover, a round struck his chest and imbedded itself into the Kevlar vest hidden underneath his leather jacket. A second round went into his shoulder, which lacked the protection of Kevlar shoulder pads, and gave the beefy over muscled appendage a bloody hole. Flinching just slightly, out of surprise rather than pain, Duke instinctually decided to place himself out of harms way by dropping behind a bunch of tables and chairs, the same ones used by the guys he just murdered with his shotgun – which explained the half-dozen corpses that littered the floor.

The barrage of pistol fire stopped abruptly as one of the gunmen, a fat fellow with an accent and a large beer-gut, proclaimed that he bagged ‘The Duke’. He was rewarded with a loud thudding noise that, after he looked down, he realized was caused by a grenade that was lobbed by the no-longer-dead Duke. He gaped, uttered a “gawddamnit” and was summarily blown to smithereens.

Thanks to the dust cloud, shrapnel and the enclosed explosion, the Duke now had the advantage he needed, the advantage that he was counting on. Rising from the smoke and rubble, he unleashed a hell storm of high-velocity steel, with one hand blasting away with a double-barreled auto-shotgun that he held like a pistol, and the other hand perforating the bar’s unfortunate but not completely undeserving patrons with a Bragulan Needle Gun personal defense weapon.

One of Jackson's goons, a short chubby cowboy, realized his life was actually worth keeping and started to run away. The Duke would have none of that and the cowboy soon found his back riddled with over two dozen needle holes. Another goon, whose face was busted up pretty bad by the grenade’s shrapnel, popped up from a poker table and fired blindly at the general direction of the Duke with an old-fashioned lever action shotgun. Disgusted with such poor marksmanship, the Duke promptly filled the man’s face with buckshots. After a couple dozen more men turned into living (no, not really) pincushions and amputees, the Duke’s rampage was finally stopped when a busty waitress, armed with a tiny .38 caliber revolver, emptied her weapon at his chest.

The Duke didn’t even flinch and simply swatted the gun out of the waitress’ hands with his shotgun.

“You wouldn’t hurt a lady, right?” the waitress pleaded.

“Wrong,” Duke replied, and the waitress was sent flying through the air with a point-blank shotgun blast to the gut.

With practically everything in the tavern rendered dead or dying, Duke came across a bloodied Jackson Trevor who was pinned down to the ground by the corpse of the fat man who had a grenade roll up to his feet. If there was any time Duke’s impassive face was closest to forming a smile, this was it. He reiterated what he had said earlier when he barged into the bar. “Jackson Trevor, you’re coming with me.”

Jackson grunted and mustered all his strength to push the fat dead man off him. For a while, he struggled to breathe before responding to the Duke. “What, Bob?! So I can be extradited to USS territory?! I’m not going to have any of that! Never! You bounty hunter piece of shit! I hate you!”

The bloody mess that was Jackson Trevor, renowned psychic outlaw of the lawless world of Tombstone, screamed in anguish at the Duke of Death, uttering barely comprehensible profanities at the person who would be in time considered the best bounty hunter in the galaxy and a living legend in the Wild Frontiers. Finally running out of curses, Jackson stuck his hand into his holster and drew his sidearm, only to have his chest emptied on by the Duke’s Needle Gun.

Dropping his expended sidearm, the Duke shook his head slowly. “Shame, Jackson. Damned shame. You were worth a lot to me.” With that, he pointed his wristwatch’s 3D camera at Jackson Trevor’s face, took a snapshot and abruptly left the building.



Image
SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty

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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-22 06:10pm
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Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger
Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger

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Battlestar Annapolis

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"I'm sorry, but you want me to do what?" shouted the commander of Annapolis as he ingested the latest orders from Fleet HQ.

"Yes, you heard it right. Your light battlestar will be chopped over to the Special Ops division of the Fleet; for the duration of the Pendletonian operation; and will be under partial Bragulian control while they extract their men on the ground. I expect you to display full courtesies to the Bragulian representative who will be arriving on your ship shortly."

"You're putting me under the command of a fucking bear?"

"If you have problems with this, Commander, then I can find other suitable replacements.

"Goddamn it. How long will the bastards be on my ship then?"

"Not long. A couple weeks at the most. Commander...look at this as an opportunity to acquire some nice Bragulian spirits for uh, retirement purposes."



"If scientists and inventors who develop disease cures and useful technologies don't get lifetime royalties, I'd like to know what fucking rationale you have for some guy getting lifetime royalties for writing an episode of Full House." - Mike Wong

"The present air situation in the Pacific is entirely the result of fighting a fifth rate air power." - U.S. Navy Memo - 24 July 1944

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-23 01:30am
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Jedi Master
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Aurora Shipyards, The Centrality; January 16th 3400

Manuel stood in the artificial light of the local morning for this habitat block. Willie lived here and always enjoyed a morning smoke. They meet just behind a sewage pipe that ran vertically into the above habitat and through to the lower habitats. "You know Willie, it feels good to get a promotion. Shift manager is a good position. But I ain't going to forget you guys. Boss Charles wouldn't like it if I did."

"Meh, Charles is alright. Anyway, you're going to do fine Manny. The Overseer is only worried about the deadline for decommissioning, but he ain't no Ork dealer. You've had worse."

"I am not worried. I know that I have seen worse. Remember a couple of years back when we 'helped' those communists? That strike was so much fun. The pigs were too busy bustin' heads to keep the Law. I don't think they ever caught on to what we did to that bank."

They smoke gathered about them as they both reminisced with their heads in the clouds. Willie broke the spell, "I should probably get going and let you get to work. You wouldn't want to be late to your first day."

"I guess not, get going ya rascal."

Manuel watched Willie head back while he emptied his pipe. Manuel looked up again in time to see Willie make it back to his hab, but that was not what stole his attention. Off to one side of the Lane sat a pristine Botanist's van, and inside the van was a man talking over a military style communications rig. Manuel panicked and ducked back into the shadows. Concealed there he manipulated a rusted entrance plate to the maintenance shaft running alongside the pipe. He came out a minute later on the lower level. He then made his way down a couple blocks and headed up an escalator to his previous level.

From were he was treated to the Security forces operation. A pair of heavily armored ground effect trucks blocked off the street in each direction. Another vehicle drew it's way up to the front of Willie's hab and started emptying it's holds off troops. An AG gunship bracketed the hab with it's spots.

Manuel could feel the ferocity of the combat that was erupting. The police had numbers and training, Willie had desperation, guts, guns, probably already OD-ing on stims, and the fact the police apparently wanted him alive. Manuel didn't have any of the advantages Willie had, but he sure could get away for now.

Half Hour Later, Baskin Robins Ice Cream Parlor

The warning had reached the entire gang. Willie was still uncaptured, though engaged in a massive gun battle, much to the police's concern. Now the remaining gang had gathered. Many of them wore old rain slicks encrusted in rust, gunmetal grey paint, and old lubricant. Various devices of violence were spread out in the loading dock. The person who owned the Parlor owed them money, and knew how to keep his mouth shut. Manuel was organizing the late comers.

Omar looked over and saw Luis with a frown pawing over a PDA. Whispering, "Hey Luis what is up?"

"I was sending a warning to all of the people who we have had business with over the years. Only Cedric got back to me, apparently he has some codes that should make this easier. He also gave us a contact letter to someone in Nova Atlantean Space."

"That is nice of him ain't it."

"Too nice. He shouldn't know what the plan is yet the code looks credible."

"Okay gentlemen and lady, are we ready to play?" Manuel waved about his Ork clatta gun like the manic one had to be to try play this game.

They left the loading dock and scampered down the alley. Mac's Heat ray opened their bid, boiling one of the hanger guards throat away. Luis followed through with a gyro jet assisted explosive dart. Both guards stayed down. Cybele (the only Lady in their little association) ran forward, "Cover, no-one coming yet. Check the door."

The Door came apart in Luis' wrath, with his hull cutter clear down at intensity 3. Charles lead a small party over to intercept the pilots that were resting in the receiving lounge. Blasters dueled with mag pistols for supremacy of volume as the to groups overwhelmed the blaring Alarms. Manuel's clatta gun opened up on a group of fleeing techies, it's triple reciprocating barrels sending a wave of lead through the backs of the unfortunate. They had it lucky, this was the area that older craft were logged in to decommission. Guards were quickly responding, but if it had been a proper military base they would have gotten their before the gangers had gotten through the outer door.

As the firefight progressed the being known as Cedric sat back in his stolen vehicle a few blocks away. His pawns were progressing quite nicely, perhaps he would save some and retain a bishop or two. He looked down at the unfortunate pilot who had been volunteered by fate to give up his jeep. His brain had been overwhelmed by Cedric's military mind reading implant. He was already dead. Cedric finished his count down and restarted the motor.

Before he had gotten up to speed one of the pedestrians noticed him. The student got to say,"Hey aren't you..." before Cedric's lightning projection rifle filled him with electrons. "Kid you may not know it, but I just did you a favor. You do not want to know me." Then he shot again. The kid should live, one hadn't served as an agent of the Eoghan spy service for as long as he had without knowing exactly how to not kill someone when shooting them.

His jeep rev'd up and went to join the first response teem. It was time to join the game.

Inside the Hanger complex Luis dived forward from his concealed position to strike down one of the loading mechs with his Hull cutter. He'd even turned it to intensity 6.

The firefight was continuing, the pilots had pushed back Charles' team. Now Manuel was supporting Charles as Luis lead the last group to their prize. Along side him were Cybele, Mac and Omar. This specific wing held small craft that were here for life extension programs. Omar's shotgun blazed into the hatch, Mac rushed in under that cover.

Luis turned to call back to the others, but to his chagrin the rapid response team arrived. Charles was making a run for the cover of the Gunships, but he wasn't going to make it. Loyal Manuel took matters into his own hands yelling, "Ya chingazo shiteaters!" His Clatta gun roared, he had set it to maximum Dakka. One of the grenadiers blew him into very small pieces, but he had brought enough time for the people on the ground.

Cybele had gotten to the gun controls and was putting big dent's in the far wall. Every hardened Combat troop knew to go to ground under that kind of fire. The pilot's who had hounded Charles were finding cover in a fighter pad. They were too close to the gang for the gunship to fire freely. There was only one man who dared the wrath of fire. Dressed as a pilot he dashed past the security forces. None of the gang cared about him though, they were using their time to finish the prep.

Aboard Gunship ECV-337 Luis sat at the Nav and comm station, Mac now worked the guns, Omar sat behind the E-war station that this variant of the Fireball class had, and Cybele sat as pilot. Traffic control was yelling at Luis that they wouldn't open the void door and they might as well give up. The original plan called for the use of the big guns to force the door open, but Cedric's code gave them an alternative. Luis smiled as he upended Control's security and prompted the door to open.

The four gunships they had rose fast and proceeded through the atmospheric shield. GCV-336 and GCV-338 were full, GCV-339 only had two people in it. The circling fighters that awaited them from the battle fleet ducked the back between the outcroppings on the edge of the station. 336 and 338 unleashed their torpedoes at nearest Blitz-class Frigate. Even as the gunships jammed the throttles full open a new group of fighters were launching from the same place they came out of.

Cedric smiled, he had taken over as one of the flight leaders for an injured pilot. The Hawk fighter felt comfortable in his hands, thanks to his mind scan of the pilot who he was impersonating.

Ahead the full might of the visiting fleet finally took it's toll on the runners. GCV-336 took one to many close blasts and started to slow. "Luis, this is Hideyoshi, we can't keep up, we're going to have to pull out. We'll hit that civilian ship and draw them off before ejecting. Best of luck. Over"

Their luck was gone, numbers having finally proven their superiority. Even Willie had finally fallen to the police, though that was mostly the effect's of his massive overdose of chemicals. GCV-338 took a full charged capital blast head on. Gone was the leader of this folly, Charles having been on the ship as it went down.

Finally they neared the hyperlimit. A single cruiser stood between them and the freedom of FTL. "This is Luis, on three release torpedo. 3, 2, 1, release."

"This is Eladio, clamp won't release. It was good knowing you." GCV-339 followed the first torpedo in, it's core forced critical. The cruiser ignored the harder to hit Ewar ship as it tried it's damnedest to swat the Kamikaze.

Luis and his small crew escaped, with only 4 fighters following properly. Three on two thought Cedric with a wolfish grin, Good odds.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-23 10:43am
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Jedi Council Member
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Location: Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Presidential Center, Centrum
The Center Sector, The Centrality
3400

"A firefight in the Aurora shipyards? I thought you told me there was no threat to them!", shouted a livid Gabriel Enduvos. He had heard the news from Aurora, and he didn't like it. In fact, he had to make a great effort just not to scream at this Party Supervisor who was communicating to him via hologram.

Hofo Scrug, the said Supervisor, knew he was in deep shit.

"Sire, we did not forsee that-", he could never finish that sentence. He saw that Enduvos was holding a remote.

Enduvos made an evil simile as Scrug grabbed his head, pleading for his life. It's so pleasurable to see their fear, he thought. For security purposes, many non-ESPer party members were surgically given a bomb in their heads, activated only by the highest-ranking Centrality leadership. Enduvos's finger was now on the button.

"You are of no more use to me, Supervisor. Enjoy your early retirement." By the time Enduvos finished that sentence, Scrug was dead. Two CSB men were seen in the hologram dragging his lifeless body out. Soon, another man appeared in the hologram.

It was Admiral Dir, and terror was evident in his face.

"S-Sir, I see you disposed of the...Supervisor," he stammered, trying to keep his composture.

"Yes. Impressive, was it? Now on to our problem Admiral. Have you gotten those scum?"

Dir gulped. "M-Most of them, sir."

"I see", Enduvos said. "How many escaped?"

"Four, sir, in a gunship. We do have 3 in captivity and another that we suspect to be an associate is in critical care. One frigate suffered moderate damage, a cruiser only light damage, and a civilian ship was destroyed. Four of our fighters were pursuing the stragglers, but we have lost contact with them. I don't think we'll be able to find them in a good while, sir." He then added, a bit reluctantly, "Our sensors detected that one of them had an Eoghan lightning projection rifle." Dir braced himself for the inevitable explosion.

"WHAAAAAAT?!", screamed the leader of the Centrality.

"I-I'm positive that this information is accurate, sir!", Dir stammered again, trying to control his bladder. "It has all the markings of the EUC spy service!" Dir could see the pure fury emanating from his leader, and saw the objects in his desk starting to float. Please don't kill me..., he thought.

Enduvos was, in fact, considering to do just that. He needed something, anything, to keep his temper to acceptable levels, since his telekenetic powers could be influenced by emotion. Soon, however, he managed to calm down, only to see that Dir had apparently lost control of his bladder. A dark spot could certainly be seen in Dir's pants, despite the hologram. Both men, after seeing this, didn't know whenever to sigh or laugh at this.

"I think being the butt of many jokes will be your punishment for today, Admiral.", Enduvos said.

"It's far preferable to a painful death, sir", responded Dir.

"Very well. Once you change pants, I want you to be in charge of finding and eliminating our mystery men. The one with the lightning projector, though, I want alive for interrogation", Enduvos declared.

"The scum won't escape us, sir", responded the Admiral.

"For your sake Admiral, I hope so."

The hologram of the Admiral dissapeared, leaving Enduvos with his thoughts. It seems old habits die hard. No matter. The Centrality will stand firm. I'll make sure of it. No overgrown koala, oversophisticated human or self-righteous communist will destroy Dovan's dream.




Result: The Centrality's government responds to the Aurora Shipyard Incident.



An inhabitant from the Island of Cars.


Last edited by Force Lord on 2010-08-28 09:38am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-23 03:17pm
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Right there with ya Sergeant. But I'll tell you what: I don't want to be here when Shardik comes down. Let's go!


Majella-3, Wild Space

Image

The Bragulan fleet emerged from hyperspace.

They entered the Majella system at full speed, like a formation of steel racing through the empty void, nuclear thrusters at full burn searing the cold black of space itself. The wrecked hulls of Majella's space defenders were smashed aside by the Bragulan ships, paying neither care nor heed to the rended hulks as they made their way towards the planet Majella itself. There, around that blue orb suspended in space, were the ships responsible for the destruction of Majella's space defenders, warships belonging to the Sovereignty.

The insidious humans had infringed upon the so-called neutral zone of Wild Space to enforce their totalitarian will upon the hapless and defenseless populace of Majella. Seeing the plight of those poor people, the great Imperator Darvyl Sagatantron Byzon could simply not allow such a grave transgression to transpire. Thus did he dispatch warships from his swift Imperial Navy's home to liberate bestricken Majella, and now the mighty vessels had come to exact a great reckoning on the Sovereignty's deprivaties.

The Imperator's Glourious Boot Stomping on the Face of Humanity was at the center of this mighty formation of Bragulan ships. It was a Chernovyi-class battleship, Chernovyi being the doomed Apexai homeworld that had an entire moon dropped on it in a great feat demonstrating the Imperator's benevolent wisdom. Accompanying it was the People's Most Stalwart Defender of Freedom, which was a Friend of Bragule-class warcruiser in supportive configuration, along with five venerable Patriotic Glory-class paleocruisers with near-derelict hulls festooned with jerry-rigged missile tubule clusters, and ten Niva gunskimmers. The Imperator's Boot and the Stalwart Defender were at the core of the formation, with the Patriotic Glories surrounding them and the Nivas at the frontline screening the whole formation. As a unified whole, they raced towards Majella and towards the warships of the Sovereignty.

Deep within the recesses of the Imperator's Boot, inside the vessel's armored bridge, Captain Grydon Feindflug stroked his mustache as he observed the telescreen display. There, represented as big balls, were the worlds of the Majella system. Around the biggest ball, Majella, were tiny specks symbolizing the ships of the Sovereignty. Approaching them were slightly larger specks representing the glory of their Bragulan war vessels.

“Captain, we're receiving a hail from the Sovereignty forces,” the communications officer announced.

“Receive it,” Captain Feindflug acknowledged. An unused telescreen blinked to life and depicted a stern human in a fatigue uniform unlike those worn by the Sovereignty's naval officers. Which could only mean one thing... Feindflug faced the human. “Yes?”

“This is Colonel Harabec Weathers of the United Sovereignty Marine Corps,” the stern human declared. “Bragulan forces, state your intentions.”

“This is Captain Grydon Feindflug...” Captain Grydon Feindflug answered. As he did so, he retrieved a pipe from his overcoat pocket and proceeded to fill it, then he lit it and placed it in his mouth. He began smoking his pipe. “Of the Imperial Bragulan People's Military Maritime Space Fleet's 18th Patriotic Naval Force. Our intentions are to liberate the planet Majella from Sovereignty subjugation, and to bring freedom to those you have oppressed. Stand aside as we execute the Imperator's will.”

“I'm afraid we can't do that, Captain.” Colonel Weathers replied. “The USMC is currently performing peacekeeping operations on Majella, the Sovereign mandate places this planet under our jurisdiction.”

“The Bragulan Star Empire overrides your jurisdiction, Colonel.” Captain Feindflug puffed his pipe. “Again, stand aside as we execute the Imperator's will.”

“Captain, I respectfully demand that the Bragulan forces halt their advance and turn away from this planet.”

“Colonel, you will order your ships to lower their shields and power down their weapons systems. Tell your forces to stand down as the Bragulan Star Empire brings freedom to Majella.”

“The Sovereignty has operations currently under way on Majella, Captain. My Marines are on that planet. You know damn well I can't give that order.”

“Your forces are covered from an elevated position, Colonel. We outnumber you and possess superior firepower. I'm not gonna ask you again. Do not do anything stupid. You don't want to die here, human.” Captain Feindflug glowered, fangs biting into his pipe.

“Majella's under Sovereignty mandate, Captain. This planet and its human population is under our protection, the Sovereignty's, not the Bragulan Star Empire's. You people don't have any right to 'liberate' it!” Colonel Weathers shot back.

“You call it what you want! You're down there, we're up here! You walked into the wrong goddamn planet, Colonel!” Captain Feindflug roared back at the telescreen.

“Then we'll do what we have to do,” Colonel Weathers said with an air of finality. The telescreen went blank as the transmission ended.

“As will we,” Captain Feindflug uttered as he removed his pipe and narrowed his eyes at the display screen that displayed the Sovereignty's forces and their own. He began barking orders to his bridge crew. “Prepare all weapons systems, ready to fire on any and all human vessels when we fall within engagement envelope. Have the Stalwart Defender intensify all-frequency countermeasure emissions, and have the Patriotic Glories prepare for full-salvo nuclear missile attack.”

“Sir, several of their Gangster-class ships are accelerating towards us.”

“Typical Sovereignty degenerates, how befitting they name their own vessels after hooligans and petty criminals,” Captain Feindflug spat. “Have our gunskimmers blast them out of the stars!”

“Aye, Captain!”

Captain Grydon Feindflug refilled his pipe and lit it again with a matchstick. He began blowing out puffs of smoke as he observed the tactical battlefield displays in the telescreens'. He could see technicolor representations of Niva-class gunskimmers unloading missiles at their opponents, which danced around them and deftly intercepted the warheads with their autolasers.

The Sovereignty's IOUs were far more technologically advanced than the Nivas, but the gunskimmers were nearly twice as many as the Gangsters and if the AI ships engaged the gunskimmers head-on the IOUs would've been overpowered by sheer mass and numbers alone. But that was not what they were doing, the Sovereignty's forces on Majella definitely could not stand in a head-on engagement with the larger Bragulan fleet. Thus, the Gangsters were merely buying time, dodging missiles or shooting them down, stalling the Nivas and, by extension, the rest of the Bragulan fleet while the Sovereignty's forces prepared to make their withdrawal.

The Gangster IOUs did their laserlit dance amidst missile contrails and blossoming nuclear explosions, firing autolasers back at the Bragulan gunskimmers whilst the Nivas reciprocated by lighting the stars up with incandescent K-bolts. The IOUs dodged and scattered, shot down the missiles that got too close and took potshots at the Nivas and the larger ships, making a nuisance of themselves while being careful not to go too close to the Bragulan warships.

But slowly, they withdrew, moving back as the inexorable advance of the Bragulan fleet brought them within range of not only the Nivas, but the larger capital ships as well. The Gangsters yielded, chased as they were by the gunskimmers and torpedoes fired by the other ships. The sideshow was coming to a close as the Bragulan ships approached Majella itself.

Meanwhile, the USMC/USSF vessels stationed above the planet were almost finishing with their preparations to withdraw. The USS Antares was the only capital warship in orbit, an Atrocity-class Warstar that was the only thing standing beween the Bragulan fleet and the USMC troopships still retrieving Marines from planetside.

The Bragulan warships neared. The five Patriotic Glories unloaded their hull-mounted missile tubules for the first salvo, even if they were barely within range, and contrails lined the black of space as the missiles, hundreds of them, streaked towards the Sovereign ships. The Gangster IOUs, seeing this, immediately moved into action – their AI reacting instantaneously and without hesitation – plunging into the fray of the missile swarm, autolasers at rapidfire, tracking and intercepting as many as they could. But as the first Bragulan missiles at the fore of the swarm were cut down by the laser beams, they detonated and expulsed massive quantities of radiation outwards and forwards, directed towards their interceptors. The nuclear bomb-pumped countermeasures interfered with the Gangsters' sensors. Then the many remaining missiles broke open and these hundreds of missiles unleashed from within themselves even more missiles – MIRVs, Multiple Independent Retribution Vehicles.

A thousand MIRVs spun out of their mother-missiles in insane vectors and trajectories, their nuclear engines expending gratuitous amounts of thrust as they dived into the Gangsters' autolasers. The IOUs' AI were unable to cope with such a sudden change, as their sensors still reeled from the previous nuclear detonations, and through their screen of autolaser fire the MIRVs seeped through, pouring past the Gangsters and heading for their true targets - the Sovereignty ships over Majella.

The five Patriotic Glories were joined by the Imperator's Boot and the Stalwart Defender in unleashing the second salvo of missiles. This time, there were more.



To be continued...



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


Last edited by Shroom Man 777 on 2010-07-24 10:29am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-23 08:17pm
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Sith Marauder
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Interesting Times

[swept-to-tightbeam hypercast, M21,5, received@n7.29.957.3400]

“I think you'll find,” the voice of Brigadier Flash Stalin was dryer than the desert wind, “that I warned you this would happen.”

“As it happens I don't think you did,” countered Ember. The CompInt avatar of the Antares appeared a little absent-minded, busy as she was directing her autolaser and missile batteries to deal with the onslaught of the Bragulan fleet. “You warned that that the Bragulans would exploit the situation on Majella if we didn't deal with it. We dealt with it-”

“And they exploited the situation anyway,” Stalin's own CI, Lucifer, cut her off. “Besides, it's hardly like you 'dealt with it' in the first place: you shot some militia, that's hardly what I call-”

“Can we get to the point?” Colonel Weathers interrupted the bickering CompInts. “We're kind of in the middle of something here.” Despite the situation – his marines retreating, his flotilla under heavy fire - Harabec Weathers appeared confident and indeed quite relaxed, not an easy feat when your hyperfields were in the middle of dissipating several gigatons worth of Bragulan atomics. “I'd like the Gang's opinion on the situation and how to deal with it.”

“Obviously you need more firepower,” Brigadier Stalin responded.

“How very you,” Juwannah Zer spoke sardonically and flicked a lock of golden hair out of her eyes. Before Stalin could reply, she added, “I agree though. If there's one thing the Bragulans understand it's the universal language of violence.”

“Too true, too true,” 'Major' Tom Dangerzone looked over the rim of his ever-present sunshades. “As it happens my company can provide-”

“I think the USSF can deal with this situation, thank you very much,” Flash Stalin cut him off. The Brigadier glared icily at the mercenary captain, who managed a little shrug in return.

“Fine,” Harabec Weathers seemed resigned to the fact that no amount of talking was going to resolve this situation peacefully. “We're pulling out as we speak. How fast can the 616th be here?”

“Thirty-nine hours and twenty-seven minutes if we depart right away,” Lucifer replied instantaneously. “We'd be there even faster if we redlined our engines but considering the combat situation we're flying into that would not appear prudent.”

Zer frowned. “Can we trust the Bragulans not to glass Majella in that timespan?”

“I would think we can,” Weathers replied. “This Feindflug character was pretty full of himself when he was talking about that ridiculous 'liberation from subjugation' nonsense. I think he's serious; I think the Bragulans will attempt to…” the corner of his mouth twitched in disgust, “'Bragulanize' Majella.”

“So, strip-mining and rampant ecological destruction. Pretty much what Maibatsu would've done,” Juwannah couldn't help but point out, a wry smile on her face. “Until the natives protested, which resulted in our presence there, which in turn caused the Bragulans to interfere. The whole thing is coming full circle. Am I the only one seeing the irony here?”

“Oh, do shut up,” growled Lucifer. “We got a situation to deal with here. Obviously we can't let the Bragulans take the planet, it's only a handful of light years from Celeste. It'd be the Cuba of the 35th century.”

“The what?” asked Dangerzone, unfamilar with the metaphor the Computational Intelligence had used. The other humans looked vaguely confused as well – barring Stalin perhaps, who appeared stoically brooding as ever.

“Never you mind,” Lucifer rolled his eyes with a flickering of simulated flame. “So. The 616th is spooling up its hyperdrives as we speak. We'll be there in under three days to bail you out, Colonel. What are you going to do in the meantime?”

Harabec Weathers scratched his chin. “As soon as our marines are back aboard their troopships we'll retreat to the Kuiper Belt and await reinforcements. The IOUs will stay in the mid-well to harass any outlying Bragulan fleet elements, keep them on their toes. Shardik doesn't have enough gear in-system to carry out a proper landing and chase our tails, so we'll be fine. Unfortunately that means that in the meantime the people of Majella will just have to fend for themselves.”

“It'll take at least a day or two for the Bragulans to get a grip on the planet,” Stalin spoke confidently. “Maybe more, considering the utter chaos the planet is liable to be in. In the wake of a rapid USMC pull-out the situation on the ground will be confusing as hell for a while.”

“Something the Bragulans are likely to settle quickly. With atomic weapons,” Zer pointed out.

“As is right and proper,” grumbled Stalin. “If we'd done the same thing this whole sorry affair would be over by now.”

Zer stared at him. “If we wanted another irradiated rock, we could just pick some lifeless orb gyrating around a gamma ray pulsar, you know. It's not like we have to create such places ourselves.”

Lucifer grinned maniacally, which was quite a feat for a bodiless CI avatar. “It is so very much more fun though.”

“Back to the point,” Weathers injected. “Are we all agreed that the best course of action is for the 7th Expeditionary to fall back from Majella to the Kuiper Belt in anticipation of the arrival of the 616th, at which time we will jointly push the Bragulans from the system?”

A chorus of assent rose up from around the table. “Very well then. I suggest we file a briefing of our findings and our decision with Olympic, the Overwatch and the Consensus for review. I'm sure they won't doubt our conclusion though. Now if you don't mind, I have a battle to direct. Brigadier, I'll see you in three days and spare change.” With that, the avatars of Weathers and Ember disappeared from the digital room ensconsed deep witin the Solarian Datasphere.

“Tell me Brigadier,” Zer asked and focused her eyes on Stalin. “What do you think are the chances of that planet surviving intact?”

“I-” Flash Stalin began, but he was interrupted.

“It's interesting you ask that question,” Tom Dangerzone began a little hesitantly. “This did not seem important enough to warrant mention earlier, but now that the Bragulans will apparently be taking control of Majella for a few days there are a few things you need to know about the operations of Paladin and Maibatsu on that world that might be pertinent...”

Lucifer cackled. Juwannah Zer groaned audibly. “Why do I have the feeling I'm not going to like what I'm about to hear...”



Image
SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty

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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-24 06:45am
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Commune, empty space, some [classified] light-years from the Zero system

Cloud Nine's ship, the Proletarian-class carrier Punisher of Avarice, proceeded with caution to the large artificial planetoid floating in the middle of empty space. No planets, suns or moons graced this corner of the cosmos. But it was filled with ships coming in and departing. Those were transport vessels which brought resources to the hungry planetoid.

- We're cleared, - reported one of the crewmembers in the cockpit, a telepath. - It's waiting. We have been granted several hours.

- They said "several", just like that? - Nine was befuddled.

- Yeah, - nodded the telepath somewhat uncomfortably, - I guess that means you can talk to it... them until they are bored or something.

The traffic was intense - supralight shifts were not allowed near the planetoid to avoid damaging it... and to keep some relative secrecy if someone would want to discover it.

The thing was massive, but immobile. It had no engines (and thankfully so far it does not want them, Cloud Nine thought with relief). That could change in the future, but as of now, the massive body was still a part of the Commune. Its largest achievement, itы most zealously guarded treasure. Something the communists did not want outsiders to see. Perhaps we are still afraid of it, thought Cloud Nine. Perhaps we still cannot fully comprehend what we have created.
Image
The ship slowly docked to one of the enormous bays of an orbital crown that literally grew out of one of the poles. Nine and a team of Commune officials left the ship. They did not need to go anywhere - the dock corridor they entered was just created out of the huge mass of nanomaterial, and it was immediately transformed into a large hall, resembling an audience hall. A cloud-like being separated from the walls.

- Welcome, comrades, - the being spoke. - Would you like direct talks or limited?

Direct talks entailed the risk of someone becoming too fascinated with the Core and never returning. This is why contacts were kept to an auditory and visual minimum. Even nerve-tapping in the Core was not recommended for visitors. Of course, it was all legal... but not recommended. Those who were brave enough wanted to join the Core anyway. It would be stupid to prevent them from doing so.

- Limited, thank you, - Nine replied. - I have come... I mean, you already know what I have come to ask.

- Indeed, - the Core replied with a deep voice. - Bragulans, a tiny rising emotionary speckle on a scattered space...

- Could you please constrain your flow! - Nine said harshly. Dealing with the Core was often very complicated. The supermind which was created by untold thousands of fused intelligences (with some degree of fear Nine thought that perhaps one day he will fuse with it as well) was rather eccentric. It was obviously benevolent. It kept the Commune's energy grid planning on a very high level, something a human mind or even a fused one could not comprehend. The Commune's citizens did not regard the Core as a god, merely as one of the strange creatures inhabiting it... but that was probably due to the Core's own desires. It did not wish to be a god. It kept itself supplied by Commune ships and preferred to rely on the Commune to defend it. In return it offered the Commune its enormously powerful intelligence for purposes of planning both in peace and war, advice and counsel in times dire and good. And of course, the Core did not want people to perceive it as a threat. It was a superior intelligence, but not an omnipotent one.

- Forgive us, - spoke the Core. - The political dilemma of the Bragulans. There are several million options and a yet larger outcome tree with extremely complex probabilities. We have already... I have already pondered on it, and decided that Bragule cannot be contacted with right now. However, we should be neutral to their endeavors.

Nine knew this effect - sometimes the Core perceived itself as a single mind, but sometimes its individual intelligences occupied themselves with personal tasks and at that moment it referred to itself as "we". The computational speeds inside the Core were so high that a human or cloud could hardly comprehend the life of the enormous hivemind. Shifts between I and we were pretty common. Nine thought that in a funny sense, the Core emulated the behaviour of monarchs who used plural to denote their "Majesty", but for a purely technical reason.

- The reason is not purely technical, comrade Nine, - the Core suddenly said. - But I hope you are satisfied.

- I am, thank you... comrades, - Nine replied.

- Yeah, - said the Core in a sudden new, more street-like style of speech, - and don't even think about that. I know what you thought about - gods. The Core is not god. God does not exist. And even if it would, I would kill it. We have estimated our power to be enough for technical collisions with extradimensional beings if we ever meet any. Do not try to ressurect the opiate of the masses inside your head in any form or shape. God is dead. Niet...

- Thanks, I know. Sorry, comrades, - Nine damned himself for his stupid inner ramblings a minute ago. - How is the Plan?

- The Plan requires uploading. Transmitting now...

Nine felt his mind aching. Bulk transmissions were always a little painful. The Plan was dumped into his mind like a huge bucket of very complex numbers, non-linear equations and other trivia. In a second he knew that energy leeching was increasing in sector such-and-such, and that the Core already sent a message to the Supreme Soviet to initiate a new wave of "austerity conditioning" among the Sector's populace. Austerity conditioning often kept the Commune's energy grid from needless leeching. It was a form of propaganda which extolled the "New Sparta", as Commune's detractors called it - having the vast power of Commune at bay, but using only a small amount of the energy available. Being a "leecher" in the grid was a good way to ruin your public face. It was something akin to the old "national culture" concepts, wherein some cultures had its members not performing usury or, for example, spending only a certain part of income on himself.

There were no five-year, ten-year or hundred-year plans in the Commune. Just one Plan, "The Plan", which was developed by the Core (although Zero had the old auxiliary supercomputers running that were planning Commune's energy redistribution some 50 years ago, and they could be relied on in case of emergency). It was an ever-changing maze of people's desires, energy constraints and allocations and other parameters, none of which were constant.

Nine was amazed and for a second he trembled, because he knew he was just a wish away from the Core. He could join it. He could become a part of this great mind.

- We have detected the will in comrade Nine to join us...

- NO! - he shook his head. - Just... No. Don't tempt me.

- Yes, yes, excuse us, - the Core's remote that it sent to converse with the communists suddenly shut up for a minute. - Oh, what wonders! Oh, what intricate, unbelievable beauty grandeur greatness joy awe delicate tender wonder curiousity... Curious black needles traversing the calms superdimensional realms... Oh... Calculation as unpredictable petals in wild spring blooming growing fractrals that bleed like flowers open their hearts and die....

The Core's remote started shaking, but soon regained posture. Nine winced. Perhaps the Core is not all roses.

- We can inform you, I can inform you that a Collector yummy funny thing... monolith has been detected traversing in the direction of the oh-so-delicious region of most curious space! - the Core exclaimed.

- By the old bones of Marx, - cried Nine, - Please, remember we are connected by limited means. What is "the oh-so delicious region of most curious space"?

- It's... the... what it their primitive language, it is called the Central Alliance, a region possibly transported by a higher intelligence with greater capabilities than our humble collective, - mumbled the Core's remote incoherently. - The Alliance of the Center on the outskirts of the known inhabited teeming with brutal bloody exploitative primitive barbaric lifeforms, what an irony in the name, we could better call it the Outer Alliance but technically better yet, Alliance of the XHYUIPQOOPO... - it seemed the Core became consumed with tasks more suited for a superintelligence again.

- I see, you've grown bored, - Nine shrugged. - Anything else before we leave?

- The directions to the Supreme Soviet will be sent in three fashions, condensed telepathic messages for telepaths, condensed expressionpacks for clouds, condensed nerve-tapping expressionpacks for humans. I think we'll have them ready in a week or so, - the Core said with a suddenly emotionless voice. - Excuse me, I have subdued higher emotions, advanced emotions to investigate the very curious events and commit to recent tasks with a cooler head, as you would say.

- And preliminary advice on intelligence? - Nine and his team were almost leaving, but he decided to ask the Core about one more thing, perhaps it's not yet completely gone...

- Mirage operation Secularis is an inefficient method because they lack my resources, - bluntly said the Core. - We us I shall manage operation Secularis in a superior fashion. I shall request from you a team of highly trained individualistic in the 10th degree telepaths, whom I shall train as my agents and transmitters. They will serve as links between me and the splinter groups that the current Mirage strategist Vector has laid out. He actually came to consult me recently and it was an oh-so-funny game, I taunted and tempted him, we do not understand why how it is possible for such an old wise smart evil good being not to join us. He chose to remain in his empty shell of petty bourgeois nihilistic egoistic individualism separate body separate mind. We are disappointed but the game will continue. I will relate to the Mirage, I will relate to comrade Sikorski that we want to play.

Nine didn't even nod, he knew that the Core already knew his thoughts. Their last statement was creepy as fuck. Play a game? Operation Secularis was probably one of the most dangerous endeavors of the Commune in a galaxy full of religious bigots.

Mirage headquarters, New Leonov. Commune.
Image
The tightbeam came like a lightning strike in a storm that Sikorski didn't expect.

- It wants to play? - the intelligence director of the Commune eyed the report suspiciously. - God damn it... These overpowered children want to play again. Taunting me, eh, are you, comrades from the Core? But then, I can't deny, you're offering me powers that my operation was lacking. I agree. Send a tightbeam to the core.


The Core. Commune (cont'd)
Nine saw how the hall started to lose shape and shrink somewhat. The Core was annoyed, but still spent some part of its power on the conversation. Soon it will end, thought Nine. As it always does.

- We have planned we see a possibility I envision a utopia, - spoke the Core remote less and less coherently, he was becoming transparent. It seemed the audience with the hivemind was coming to an end. - The utopia city of the sun union of man and machine the supraformation. There is comes a time to forge a union with great minds that think alike with freethinkers with those who are comrades with those who have removed the shackles of capital petty grid pathetic human individualism petty little vermin leechers those who are worthy to become a chain to protect the galaxy protect me give possibility for all to flourish. Those areas which are the Most Curious Alliance, the large letter U towering on Zero like a hideous beautiful pyramid totalitarian glorious majestic friendly union, the also so technical planning calculating cunning Miratian post-Miratian loose alliance cannon bunch of rogue micro mini not-yet-communist tribes groups sufficiently advanced enclaves... I will submit, without fail, all precious plans of the game-not-a-game, of the grand decision-making process to forge to unite to consume to get lost...

- An alliance between the Commune, IUW, Central Alliance and Umeria? - Nine's advanced thinking processors were running on top speed trying to cope with the flow of contradictory, poorly worder, emotionally and undertone-laden information. - Holy crap, it's so difficult to deal with you sometimes. But then, I think you're working on the new directives, so I won't spend your precious minutes. Goodbye, comrades. I applaud your fate, your glory and your sacrifice for the Commune, - he spoke the standard formula which remained unchanged for ages since the first three fused individuals decided to merge into something greater on a rocky moon. Now, a long time has passed since that day and the moon no longer had any rock left. Neither did it orbit the old planet they took it from. Nine did not know how many millions of minds, millions of souls the Core had.

- Bear with us... with me, Nine, my friend, - the Core said somewhat shyly. - To relay all the thinking in our mind without a direct contact is very hard. It is unfortunate that this wall separates us, but we understand the risks of narcotic addiction consumption of endless endless you cannot imagine computational power worlds of imagination sky castles glorious future. That is us. One day you will be old and tired. One day you will join. We shall be waiting. Goodbye, our friend. Come again. You are curious and delightful, yes, oh yes.

The remote vanished. Once again the chamber transformed into a corridor. Most of the people who came here visited the Core often, so none of them were freaked out. Well, maybe only a little bit. Some thought it would be cool to join one day. Others probably tried to imagine what the Core was capable of... if it wanted.

- Comrades, let's go. We're leaving, - Nine said, and the team went back to their ship.



Misereor

A short story of humanity's first contact


Last edited by Stas Bush on 2010-07-24 10:08pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-24 09:50am
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Jedi Council Member
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Location: London, england
HDS Voice in the Void, Chamarran/Chiron Border

-
“This is Hierarchy Diplomatic Service Voice in the Void with escorts and the transport Star nyao arriving for the summit, Royal envoy Tia Kith'andra is aboard.”
Tia ear perks as she wanders onto the bridge, stretching and peering out of the window as she listens to the captain continue communicating with the diplomatic post.
“This is Chiron Consulate 701, we were not expecting a freighter as part of your entourage. Please explain its contents, over.”
“Apologies for not informing you Chiron control, but in accordance with article four on the agenda we thought it best to get a head start, the Star Nyao contains a Chamarran personnel annex.”
Tia smiles at hearing that, after all it was her idea, and unfolds her PDA to review her notes for the coming summit as the four ships vector in to land.

Watering hole, Klavostani space

“Ah Kallan, fancy seeing you here..let me buy you a drink it's been a while.”
Kallan looks up and takes a moment to recognize the face and another two to decide whether he wants to be bothered right now.
“Go ahead.” He says non commitally, a few moment later with fresh drinks in front of them his 'friend' starts speaking again.
“You look kinda glum Kallan, last time I saw you you were positively lively about prospects down on the south frontier, something happen?”
“Godamned kitties is what happened, I had a good thing going till they showed up.”
“Rough time with the Chamarrans I take it? Why not tell me about it.” His 'friend' gets comfortable as Kallan takes the opportunity to vent.
“Like I said I had a good thing going, I was fast I didn't ask too many questions and people like that out there. Then the thrice damned catgirls get a royal flea up their ass about slavers taking their folk, put a battlegroup on Quintana and start trying to search every benighted freighter in the southern frontier. So suddenly all my clients go to ground, just out and vanish..Goddamned catgirls, feed'em to a brute hound every flea bitten one of em.” Kallan trails off into a mutter, his friend goes to pat him on the shoulder and thinks better of it. Instead his friend says “Didn't the Quintana Quintet object though?”
Kallan laughs sourly “To a full Chamarran battlegroup? Probably very quietly I reckon, anyway word is the kitties wanted to do it nice and bought off the council of five though.”
“Couldn't you have just gone legit until this blew over?”
Kallan snorts, then shakes his head “Word is kitties aren't finding as much as they expect, and I hear tell they're already making a habit of executing any Pfhor captains they dun like the look of I wasn't gonna stick around till they got frustrated.”
“Is anyone safe out there?” asks the friend, fishing for information.
“Other than the kitties own ships ya mean? Sure, heard a Chiron captain boasting the kitties treated him with kids gloves the whole time.”
“But they still searched him?”
“Yep.”
“Tough galaxy.” says the friend, thinking about some calls he has to make.
“Truth.”
“Stop by the office sometime, I might have something for you in a day or so.”
“Whatever.” says Kallan, his supposed friend already leaving.



STGOD SDNW4 player. Chamarran Hierarchy Catgirls in space!
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-24 05:50pm
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As our mother the Frigate, bepainted and fine,
Made play for her bully the Ship of the Line;
So we, her bold daughters by iron and fire,
Accost and decoy to our masters' desire.

-Rudyard Kipling, Cruisers

Corsair-J class ELINT cutter CG-85484 “Heavenly Body”,
On station in the Bannerman Gap, Line Alpha, Zone D-3
January 24, 3400


It was the Umerian’s turn to watch the fire control consoles, not that there was anything to see. An hour into his off-shift, Lieutenant Choudry finally managed to doze off for a while, in spite of the discomfort of his shock-framed chair. He woke slowly and muddily to the sound of the pilot’s voice.

“Any luck nailing down that interference, Mary?”

The cutter’s EW officer sighed. “Nope. Too loud to be coming from us, too random to clean out by Fourier transform. Just… shoals. I’ll keep working on it, but I think we’re just going to have to settle for time averaging. We’re missing the evanescents, but all the short-pulse stuff I’ve seen so far was noise anyway.”

“Do we still have contact with the relay?”

“Oh, sure! Why, we can transmit up to…” she made an exaggerated wave at her displays, “a few dozen bytes a second!” That was the limit of what they could get through; hammering high-intensity pulses through the static took time, and and repeating them for error-checking took more.

“Not like this is the first time we’ve made do with code groups. But keep on that interference; maybe we’ll get lucky and find a way to process it out. Remember those signal intercepts you keep telling us about, the ones you grabbed off Persephone back in ‘92?”

“Damn right I do; bastards never did find out what hit them… Hmph.”

“Got something?”

“Maybe. Need to run analysis. Hey, Paul, slave your console to mine; I want this quick.” Choudry blinked, then leaned forward and started manipulating the touchpad. In the rush to assemble the international force, he hadn't had time to fully train on Umerian hardware, but he’d been studying hard for the past several days. The rest of the crew hadn’t let him rest until he got the hang of the basics, and he wouldn’t have let himself do so even if they had.

The lines of text reporting on the computer’s progress meant nothing to Choudry, but presumably they meant something to the EWO. She mumbled under her breath. “Good, good… ha! Got one!”

“Fast mover?”

“Nah. Looks like a merchie. Not a smuggler, either. Trying to run quiet, but not quiet enough. Easy meat; I’ll have a vector in twenty.”

The boat’s commander nodded to the assistant EWO. “Jiangqi, stand by to phone it in when she’s got it.”



For this is our office: to spy and make room,
As hiding yet guiding the foe to their doom.
Surrounding, confounding, we bait and betray
And tempt them to battle the seas' width away.

-Rudyard Kipling, Cruisers

USS Directrix,
Deep hyperspace, near Bannerman System


Central Information Control was a busy place, but it was the quiet, disciplined business of an air traffic control tower. A dozen naval ratings and officers seated at terminals facing the center of the room monitored the Umerian contingent’s deployment and the position of all visible ships in the Gap. For general reference, the sensor picture was synthesized by Directrix’s extensive computer banks into a single three-dimensional display in CIC’s large central holotank.

Expert systems did nearly all the heavy lifting of data integration; the days when a human being could follow the raw input from a full military sensor suite had ended centuries ago. But without the use of full-up AI, the computers were still prone to errors and confusion when faced with anomalies; human operators added discretion to the computers’ raw processing power.

The operators were also responsible for passing status updates up the line to the Coalition flagship, the Hiigaran carrier Black Knight. The Umerians’ job was to find the enemy and force them out of hyper; Black Knight would vector in starship support from the Coalition forces to finish the intercept.

The Conductor-class cruisers had been designed to coordinate this kind of large scale hyperspace operation, with dozens of small craft hopping around the deep field; so far everything was going according to drill. By custom, flag officers on the Conductors ran their fleets from CIC, leaving the smaller and less data-rich environment of flag bridge to serve as an auxiliary command post for the ship itself.

Commodore Hazarika thoroughly approved of the custom. Admiral Paktu’s decision to run the picket reports through a Umerian ship before sending them on to Black Knight left her in charge of the entire forward cutter deployment, with over sixty of the boats out in space at any one time. And unlike the new Hero-class, the flag bridge on the Conductors lacked the facilities for keeping track of a small craft command properly.

Looking at the holotank in CIC, she could see the wall of interception ships- mostly destroyers and light cruisers- spread out along what Admiral Paktu had designated as Line Charlie. Farther out, into the shoals of the Gap, were a dusting of relay points where her own interception cutters were stationed- Line Bravo. Far beyond that was Line Alpha, the distant, far-flung screen of recon cutters. A stream of cutters cycled back and forth from her own position under the cover of the Hiigaran capital ships to Line Alpha, returning for drive maintenance after extended stays in the shoals. The interceptors on Line Bravo needed less maintenance and had a much shorter flight to return for it; at the moment, all were on station.

As she watched, a new light, pulsing the red and amber of “unidentified, presumed hostile” appeared in the tank, out past Line Alpha. A moment later, the light faded to a gentle glow as a second red-amber speck appeared nearby, joined to the first by a barely visible white line. Updates on the contact trickled in regularly after that as it crawled towards Bannerman. The light marking its current position ballooned from a point to the spherical shape signifying a civilian vessel; its trajectory was refined and projected forward in response to new data from the cutters. Normally the process would have been much faster, as the ELINT boats fed their raw data into the flagship’s more capable computers, but the contact was in no hurry and there was plenty of time, even given how slowly the data trickled in from Line Alpha.

She saw no reason to intervene, and remained at her seat monitoring the operators’ signal traffic. As soon as the merchantman’s size, speed, and bearing were nailed down, signals section sprang into action, announcing the detection to the fleet flagship.

Black Knight, this is Directrix. We have a contact in zone delta-three. Coordinates and bearing attached, probably a merchantman. Projected to clear the shoals around 0410.” The signals rating followed the voice announcement- still the best way to get a human-crewed comm section’s attention if they were listening- with a universal-format data file detailing the contact.

The reply over the hyperwave was quick. “Roger. Can you make intercept?” CIC already had an intercept plotted; with so much advance warning of the freighter’s approach, any of the Bravo Line interception cutters could move into its path long before it arrived.

“Affirmative. Intercept coordinates follow…”



The pot-bellied merchant foreboding no wrong
With headlight and sidelight he lieth along,
Till, lightless and lightfoot and lurking, leap we
To force him discover his business by sea.

-Rudyard Kipling, Cruisers

Corsair-C class pursuit cutter CG-81634 “Greyhound”,
En route to intercept


“Recommend course change to 095 by 023 to avoid that tendril of shoals up ahead, ma’am.” Pursuit cutters had a dedicated navigator; as Lieutenant Commander Audrey Cardwell steered her cutter through the edges of the Gap shoals to their intercept point, she needed him.

“Good call, Jack.” She brought Greyhound around to the new heading. “Fenyang, do you see them yet?”

“Next sweep results are still cooking... no, not yet, ma’am. They should be in range any minute now, if the latest take from Relay Gamma is right; they haven’t changed course at all since we picked them up. Not running smart. They have to know we’re waiting for them, right?”

“If they’re keeping a good eye out, maybe. But no one tried this on them last time; they may think they slip past us without being noticed.”

“Not on our watch, ma’am. But it seems almost unfair...”

“I’m sure something worth catching will come along sooner or later.” She cocked her head and addressed her copilot, who had comm duty while she flew. “Tom, any word from Shooting Pains?” Directrix was feeding them the intercept data, but the commander in direct command of the Bravo Line cutters led from a customs boat.

“No. Bulldog just pinged us though; everyone’s going to be on station in time to make the intercept. And looks like Spartiate is inbound.” That put their starship support safely on schedule; the Nova Atlantean frigate- destroyer, more like, had been the closest ship to the incoming freighter’s emergence point.

“Good. Hang on, rough patch ahead.” Greyhound bucked; Audrey had taken the cutter through a wisp of shoal rather than around. But the drive held up as per spec, and now they were on a smooth course to the intercept point. The approach was trivial; the next order of business was to coordinate. “Tom, report our arrival to Shooting Pains and Directrix, and get me a position fix on the other cutters.” The copilot complied.

With her own ship loitering in hyper on standby power, Audrey devoted her thoughts to her intercept group as a whole. She brought up a map on her heads-up display. The other intercept cutters were scattered around their destination; her own Greyhound and three other pursuit cutters, along with a quartet of better armed customs cutters to keep the freighter from trying to flee back into hyperspace before Spartiate joined the party.

Checking their current positions against the course of the freighter, she decided they’d need to do some fine correction; they were scattered all over the place. She patched her helmet comm into Greyhound’s transmitter. “Piranha, this is Piranha Five actual. Let’s close it up; I want a square across the target’s line of flight. Coordinates follow.” It was the work of a moment to lay out positions that would give the pursuit cutters, Piranha Five through Eight, a clear shot at the freighter as it cleared the shoals. The customs cutters, numbered one through four, would follow up after the target had been pulled into normal space, catching it before it could ready any defensive weapons or bounce back into hyper.

Not long after they formed up, the EWO called out “Ma’am, I’ve got the target on scope. Twenty minutes till she clears the shoals.”

“Good. Tom, spread the word, alert Spartiate, and tell everyone to go to emissions control until the target pops out. I want an ambush, not a chase. Guns, check the battery room.”

“Accumulators at ninety percent and rising.” The pursuit cutter was definitely going to need the surge of power from her accumulators for this one. Dragging a target out of hyper meant grappling with tractors, then overwhelming its hyperspace submersion field with your own. That took power, more than a cutter could generate from its own plant. The accumulators boosted their hyperdrive with stored power, which made up the difference in capacity between a Corsair-C and a larger starship... usually.

Now there was nothing left to do but make ready and wait. The minutes ticked by, the last megawatt-hours counted off as the accumulators climbed to 100% charge. After what seemed like hours, the near-field sensors picked up a burst of hyperwave static from the edge of the shoals. The static peaked as the target freighter broke through- fat, happy, and practically blind. Tom, still on comms, keyed the hyperwave transmitter to send out a single pulse.

That was all the signal the squadron needed. The pursuit cutters flashed to full drive power, darting towards the merchantman. Tom kept up a steady stream of warning broadcasts, calling them to pull out of hyper on their own or be dragged out. Audrey concentrated on flying Greyhound. The weapons officer locked onto the freighter, first with a low-power tracer to nail down its position, then with the pursuit craft’s hard-driven tractor beam.

That made Audrey’s job more difficult, but she had years of practice letting the tractor pull her towards a large, clumsy target without risking a collision. Finally, someone on the freighter noticed they were under attack and tried to shake loose- and failed; with all four cutters firmly locked to her by beams of force, the freighter was limited to the slowest, gentlest of maneuvers. Tom repeated his surrender demand; the freighter ignored it.

They were getting very close- still not close enough; at Jack’s prompting, she closed the range even further so he could synchronize their hyper fields. That step was as nasty as ever; Greyhound shuddered with jangling, tooth-rattling noise as the undamped harmonics dissipated into the ship’s frame.

“Piranha Six through Eight report fields synched, ma’am.” That was Tom again. She wanted to snap at Jack, to finish the process and make the shaking stop, but she bit down on the impulse- the computers wouldn’t care what she thought, and pushing Jack wouldn’t make his part of the job go any better. Finally, Greyhound was locked to the freighter too, and they were ready for the last step.

“All pursuit units, pull!” The weapons officer flipped a switch, directing power from the battery room into the hyperdrive. Jack began pulling the cutter out of hyperspace. Fueled by a wave of energy from her accumulators, Greyhound started the transition on a steady course. Audrey grinned; this time the shaking would all be on their ship, not hers. She kept an eye on the stored power levels, but they were spooling down slowly; the freighter’s drive lacked the raw power to wrestle all four of her squadron at once.

With a flicker of disorientation, the five linked ships popped back into normal space. Her crews were trained to keep fighting through the shock, though; most civilians weren’t. Audrey’s voice was almost free of strain as she snapped out an order: “All pursuit units, break!” and steered her own cutter away from the freighter- no sense taking chances with its point defense, if it had any. In the event, it didn’t, or the operators were too busy with nausea to use it. A few seconds at full burn carried her away from the freighter, and she watched on the tactical display as the customs cutters flashed into existence off its dorsal quarter.

That was the end of things, more or less. The freighter hauled to very quickly after Piranha Two lobbed a Mark Five into its path as a warning shot. Not that it had caused any real damage- the shaped charge jet from the warhead was directed off into deep interstellar space- but a nuclear initiation fifty kilometers off the bow tended to have that effect on some people.

A few minutes later, Spartiate arrived on schedule, detaching boatloads of marines to board. Audrey idly wondered for a moment what they’d find, then ordered her squadron back to their station- the next intercept might be called in any moment. No sense wasting time.


Last edited by Simon_Jester on 2010-07-29 08:16pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-24 07:58pm
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Bannerman Gap

The Botau had arrived with another nine Sasidwi-class ships; led by Akotlaka-acal Mongezi, the small fleet had transitioned out of hyperspace and awaited the rest of the Anglians and their allies to assemble.

Mongezi opened up a comm channel with the rest of the NenAltKik ships.

“All right, Tlakali-acal, you are all green officers, so this is going to be a trial by fire for you. Luckily, the Pendelton fleet is going to be attacked by several other nations, so we shall be able to focus on learning combat skills in real life with relatively minimal danger. Just remember, this still combat and there is still potential for death and the destruction of your ship, so be careful, I don't want to have to tell the new Kenkahweykwa-acalli to requisition new ships to replace any destroyed ones here. I might just receive the brunt of his wrath if you screw this up.”

A series of chirps were heard in return from the other Tlakali-acal.

“Dismissed. Prepare your ships for departure once the Anglians okay this mission.”

Mongezi sighed.

“You're worried, sir,” a kipakt Tlanitlaka-acal behind him said.

“A bit, Alxik, a bit. If we might talk in the briefing room? I need to confer with you.”

“Just me?”

“Aye, I trust you more than any other officer and it's relatively minor. Xalkwi, you are in charge until we get back.”

The two walked to the briefing room in silence and entered the large room.

“Kill cameras, microphones, and other recording equipment,” Mongezi said.

“Acknowledged,” a computer vox intoned.

“What bothers you, brother?” Alxik asked, her voice becoming more informal.

“Sister, I'm worried about Tlaka-acal Panamak. The rest of them were promoted from Tlanitlaka-acal or were Tlaka-acal on Kohwatli or Tekoli; they have experience in real situations on board an actual ship. You know Panamak was promoted directly from the Kwi-acalli Nezkalilizkal as a cadet. He may have been the best student and in a ton of extracurricular activities, but he's still lacking in any practical experience.”

“It is worrying, but he did well on simulations and is otherwise very qualified,” she said, cocking her head.

“It's a pity that so many tlakali-acal resigned in protest when Tizokik was fired. And, of course, it is much more difficult to rehire them even if they want to work after she was rehired. We'll have to make due with what we have, I suppose. Do you have any ideas on what to do with him?” Mongezi asked.

“You're the one with 60 years of experience with these ships, why ask me?”

“It's not the ship, it's the situation. These are very unusual circumstances; we've never had a cadet promoted directly to Tlaka-acal while I've been alive,” he said.

“Well, I'd either give him point or put him in the middle. We should have rear-guard, since we obviously know our way around the Botau. I'd say put him at point with the two most experienced ones, Shipi and Inja, since they were Tlanitlaka-acal on Sasidwi class ships before. He won't be in as much danger if he starts failing then, and can learn the most through experience. Everyone else should be toward the front if they have less experience, and toward the rear if they have more,” Alxik said to him.

Mongezi thought for a moment, clacking his beak a few times.

“Agreed. Hopefully this will work. And hopefully the Hwekwali-acalli-Yaloa can get the Kwi-acalli back into shape after all this shit.”



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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-24 08:16pm
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Previously on Majella... wrote:
You call it what you want! You're down there, we're up here! You walked into the wrong goddamn planet, Colonel!


Majella-3, Wild Space

Image

The Imperator's Glourious Boot Stomping on the Face of Humanity surged forward like a mountain of metal amidst the black backdrop of space. Around it swarmed SNT escort fighters, like tiny specks buzzing around the steel behemoth. The Imperator's Boot advanced together with the rest of the Bragulan fleet, repulsing the Sovereignty ships with their unending waves of massed missile fire, salvo after salvo battering the Sovereignty autolaser point defenses and pounding against their shield walls. By the Imperator's Boot, the Stalwart Defender poured a constant stream of anti-sensor jamming, entire sub-nuclear reactors devoted to pumping out enough ECM to deep fry a human at a thousand klicks, or at lesser range flash fry him outright, while bomb-pumped countermeasures made target discrimination hell on the Sovereign hypersensors. Finally, at closer range, the Bragulan war vessels began opening up their K-bolt cyclotrons - mass drivers that began hurling relativistic buckshot and acid bullets at the Sovereign ships, hammering them relentlessly amidst the macross missile swarms and subsequent blossoming nuclear explosions. The incandescent K-bolts blurred into bright emerald lines of light, glittering just as they did in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.

Searing red hot autolasers scorched space in revengeance, as the USS Antares fired back stubbornly and steadfast, holding the line as the USMC troop transports finished their rapid exfiltration of planetside troops. The troopships were already on their way, getting the hell out of dodge and heading for the Kuiper belt at full burn, and it was about time the Antares did so too. After a final withering barrage of autolasers and hypermass missiles, the valiant warstar turned tailed and followed suit. Stray K-bolts glanced off its shields and nuclear detonations blossomed around it as its engines flared at maximum capacity, vaporizing the last salvo of Bragulan missiles in the backwash of their wake as the Antares departed.

Colonel Harabec Weathers made a final broadwave transmission to the forlorn world, saying: People of Majella, I shall return.

Then the United Sovereignty Marine Corps and Star Force left Majella. For the Bragulans.

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Captain Grydon Feindflug surveyed the serene blue sphere displayed in his telescreen and felt the martial satisfaction of fulfilling his solemn duty in carrying out the Imperator's will. Pride swelled in his barrel of a Bragulan chest. With one final inhalation, he removed his pipe off his mouth and, after a moment, blew great rings of smoke from his snout, expelling the pipe smoke in one fulfilling exhalation. A job well done, the Sovereign Star Force and Marines had been sent running away with their tails tucked between their legs like the mongrel pups that they were, and now the planet Majella was ripe for liberation, ready for freedom - prepared for Bragulanization.

Feindflug mused as he looked on at the planet. Mused on the preceding fleet battle, of how his Bragulan fleet had expulsed the Sovereignty ships. The victory had not been achieved by him alone, nor by the battleship that was his command, the Imperator's Boot. It was a great victory won by the efforts of all the Bragulan vessels involved, from the lead battleship and warcruiser, to rusty paleocruisers and swift but small gunskimmers, all contributing to the thermonuclear enactment of the Imperator's benevolent will across the heavens. For did not the Imperator himself say that "A victory for the Bragulan Star Empire serves truth in itself. Thusly - what serves an Imperial victory also serves truth."? This victory they had won here on Majella, so close to Sovereign space, was achieved not through the bold action of one Bragulan or one fearsome warship, but it was a victory rooted in Byzonist Theory, a doctrine that permeated all Imperial Bragulan life, an ideologically correct and proper belief system that the Bragulan people had adhered to in the centuries since the Great Civil War.

Byzonist Theory stated that ultimate victory could never be achieved through the act of one commander or one exceedingly powerful vessel or force alone, unlike what the foolhardy humans of the Sovereignty believed, for this was a treacherous path. Surely could not one commander of one exceedingly powerful vessel or force just be easily swayed to act against the Imperial Truth and become a wayward, prodigal son to the Imperator Byzon, the Father of All Civilization? Power concentrated on any sole person or group could serve mighty Bragule, or be perverted and twisted into something that could threaten to destroy the humble and patriotic Bragulan people. But ultimately, the truth of Byzonist Theory states that in the end, such ideologically incorrect individualisms, no matter how powerful, cannot stand against the unified might of the Bragulan peoples working as a whole, that the sum of the parts, no matter how minuscule these components may be, becomes far greater and mightier than any sole power can be. Thus, applied to naval warfare, Byzonist Theory states that many warships, though lesser in individual disposition, can defeat greater vessels by working as one through the accumulation of disproportionate thermonuclear synergy. Truly, the Imperator Byzon again shows himself to be the true Coryphaeus of Science.

Feindflug was taken out of his reprieve when a subordinate dutifully informed him of the arrival of several of their troopships from hyperspace. These transport vessels were of the Imperial People's Legions of Liberation, and in total carried half a million soldiers destined to bring Bragulan freedom to Majella, to begin the patriotic process of incorporating the Majellan people and their whole world into the greater Bragulan Star Empire. But these troopships were not the only things hypering into the system.

"Sir, the final item has arrived," the subordinate reported.

"Bring it on screen," Feindflug turned to the telescreen, and a second later it was filled with the image of a towering construct of steel, with a superstructure arrayed in a way most unlike that of any spaceship, for it was not a spaceship at all. It had no propulsive system of its own, save for disposable hyperdrives attached to its framework along with applique maneuvering thrusters, and a flotilla of tiny tugboats to pull it to its position. For it was a mobile static anti-space defense system, a great and mighty space cannon.

Image

With which they intended to emplace on Majella's moon as the ultimate safeguard.

"Sir, there might still be Sovereign Marines on the planet," interjected Feindflug's executive officer, whose name was Ozelov Vechtshtein. "Perhaps if we delay the invasion, and bombard Majella with the moon cannon first to soften the resistance?"

"We are here to liberate this world, Executive Officer," Feindflug responded icily. "Not destroy it. As the Imperator wills, we shall bring the light of Bragulan civilization to these uncivilized human masses, not atomize whole continents for our convenience."

"Arguably, they're both basically the same thing," Ozelov chided. "The Sovereign forces are still staying at the outskirts of the system. They will have reinforcements soon, it's only a matter of days."

"And the moon cannon is our contingency, we will use it only as a last resort, not a first one," Feindflug replied. "Now, have the Legions deploy their forces on the planet. If there are Sovereign Marines so insistent on staying on that world, then we will bury them in it."

"Yes, sir." Ozelov smiled at that, and turned to issue commands to the troopships. "Imperial Legions, 357th Shock Army! Your orders are to neutralize any Sovereign forces still on the planet, and carry out the Bragulan liberation of the Majellan populace. If any choose to deny our Bragulan freedom, then they will be shown the error of their ways. Crush all resistance with extreme prejudice."

Image

With those words, the troopships of the Imperial Legions of Liberation began disgorging landing craft laden with Imperial shocktroopers. These were not the typical massed million-Bragulan armies of the Legions, for those armies took time to assemble and deploy. These were faster forces, designed for lightning planetary warfare, world-attacks and invasions. An Imperial Bragulan Shock Army, trained to subjugate a whole world with only half a million troops where a normal force would take a full million. The landing crafts carrying the five hundred thousand planetbound troops were accompanied by SNT fighters, unaerodynamic frames screaming through atmospheric reentry, whilst Stalag gunships accompanied them with roaring turbofans.

But there was more falling into the Majellan skies, something unique to the Shock Armies of the Bragulan Star Empire. There were tanks. Equipped with retrorockets and grav-chutes, and with no other means of aerospace transportation, the Dredkaflauvisk main battle tanks were dropped from orbit and entered the atmosphere, hull armor, tracks and turrets glowing red due to air friction. The whole vehicles, in essence, became space capsules. Even before the landing ships arrived on terra firma, the Dredka battle tanks already hit dirt, landing hard on their treads with detaching chutes. A few others landed upside down, on their turrets, but in a testament to Bragulan engineering they merely fired their retro-rockets and the hundred-plus-ton tanks were flipped back right side up. Assembled and ready, with parachutes removed and reentry rockets detached, the tanks waited for the landing ships to arrive and disgorge the shock troopers.

The Bragulans had arrived at Majella.



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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-24 11:27pm
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The Blue and Indigo Guard's Righteous Order of Dwarves [The BIGROD] announces that it has formally convened a new council within the Assembly of Lesser Races to argue for the reapportionment of census classes. This action, they say, is necessary to reflect the growing role of Dwarven soldiers and sailors within the current force protection elements of those services. The release notes figures that have been provided by the Office of State Security showing that Dwarven troops in uniform have been posted in the most critical spots where PsyWarfare defense is concerned.

"It has long been known to the various Man and Orcish commanders that the ancient and natrual tendencies of the Dwarven stature afford virtually no chance for enemies of the Republic to employ ESP and other non physical attacks against them. We have known since the days when Durin first awoke that our race had been molded by Aule to be sturdy in mind as well as body and he made us hardy for that task. Test and trial have shown the need for Dwarven troops to guard the most sensitive of equipment and facilities thus it bears notice that we remain lumped with other Lesser Races despite our contributions."

The announcement calls for the formation of a new census class of Dwarven peoples and for that class to be granted its own assembly coequal with that of the Assembly of Orc.



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"I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. "
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-07-24 11:33pm
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De La Poer Estate
Pendleton, The Outback
25 January 3400



Katherine was brooding again, Walter could tell. He had heard of her confrontation with Delilah and feared the worst; that her impetuous behavior might yet get her into further trouble. Not for the first time, he began to regret his association with the Ebon Blade. But it was too late to go back on that; if he hadn't been beholden to them at first, getting them to arrange the deaths of Sir Elijah Lovejoy and everyone else who had been on his vessel had left that link unbreakable.
Today, at least, some semblance of normal would return, however briefly, with the smugglers coming to slip Delilah and her prisoner off world. Then it would come down to watching and waiting, hoping their new allies could so badly devastate the invasion fleet that never again would New Anglia or anyone else invade Pendleton.

He was preparing for a midday stroll when he heard the thrumming of an anti-grav drive. He looked out his window to see a vessel, one of the YPA series, moving into a position over his expansive front lawn. It was an impressive, well-kept ship and de la Poer nodded toward it, a small, unseen gesture of respect to the vessel's captain and crew.
With landing gears out it settled onto the soil, which was hard enough to take its weight without sinking too far. Delilah was waiting for it, standing to the side where one of the exit doors was. Everything looked perfectly well.
And then he saw her beamsaber flash to life.



Initially Delilah had not felt troubled by the ESP presence she felt on the ship coming for her. She had stood quietly and waited for them to land so that she might make the arrangements necessary to bring Kara on board with a minimal amount of fuss. But as the ship settled onto the ground she began sensing imminent danger and trouble. Her mind opened, searching for thoughts of aggression or other telltale signs of conflict about to erupt.
The moment she felt the girls on the other end of the airlock, her beamsaber came to life.
The door opened and her feelings proved right. The young women that emerged were all in sleeveless vests and pants with crescent moon markings. Delilah had faced the Sisters before and lashed out, using the full force of her mind to try and slam them backward telekinetically. Due to her power compared to theirs it took all three to hold back the attack, permitting her to gain space.
The ship had more than one door, of course. Out of the other came Umarbacca, clad fully in battle armor and carrying a heavy particle burst cannon, nominally a crew-served weapon. His furred claw pulled back on the trigger and a stream of particle fire came out, striking the guardhouse for de la Poer's modest personal security force. As he brought the structure down around the heads of those inside of it, Balthier and Marissa emerged, carrying a blaster gun and favored battle ax respectively, with Sara taking up the rear and Vanrya behind her, also armed.

Three on one was ordinarily sufficient odds for the attacker, but this case was special. Rana was yet only 20 years of age and had only been a Sentinel for a year and a quarter; Rydia and Maria were more experienced but still generally less-practiced in their powers than Delilah, who was twice their age and three to four times as skilled. She proved their match with a beamsaber and vastly superior in use of TK, which she used to toss them about to keep them from attacking her weak side or from overwhelming her. The agiel attached to her suit's left hand brace lashed out once and a while, drawing a cry of anguish from whomever it impacted, though she was too busy defending herself to press home any attacks.
Rana picked herself up from one such blow, feeling the burning in her nerves subside and watching Rydia's saber clash with Delilah's repeatedly while Maria recovered from a TK shove. This battle wasn't going their way and Rana felt the need to go to Sara's side.
A hand touched her on the shoulder. She looked up to see Quinn, wearing a set of brown robes she'd not seen him in before. "Go to Sara and the others," he instructed her. "I'm going to deal with this one."
Rana knew Quinn's power was great, beyond her's. She gave a nod and ran off, Umarbacca covering her approach to the house as he laid suppressing fire down, happily, on a storage structure the estate security personnel were using to try and gain their composure.
Quinn turned back to Delilah. He brought his weapon up and, with nary a word, stepped into the battle.



From where she was hanging limply against her wrist restraints, Kara could overhear the sounds of battle outside. Her mind could feel the exertion in Delilah and the presence of other ESPers... including at least one she'd felt before. Ah, the cute Arab girl. Springer screwed up after all. She found herself not too plussed about that, surprisingly, maybe even a little amused that the pirate had failed.
As it was, her predicament wasn't likely to change. She doubted they'd let her go. Her torture might end but she'd end up executed by the New Anglian authorities for the attack on their naval station. Death wasn't something Kara was particularly looking forward to, of course, so she would have to escape.
Her tortured body didn't appreciate efforts to make it move, not that she could move much anyway as Delilah had drawn the cables on her restraints tight, keeping her limbs and body drawn taunt between the pillars the restraints were connected to. With her hands curled into fists Kara drew in a breath and looked around. Delilah was careful and hadn't kept her equipment in eye sight.
Kara was going to have to do this the hard way. She grimaced and gripped the cables on her restraints tightly, then began to pull. Her power surged into her upper body, blocking out pain reception from her strained arm and shoulder muscles and amplifying their power in turn. Thanks to the battle outside nobody heard her cries of exertion as she bit down, drawing blood from her lip, and began to pull....



"Katherine! Katherine!" Walter de la Poer scrambled through his estate, ignoring his house slaves as they milled about on daily chores, trying to find his daughter. She hadn't been in her room, her main study, the dining room...
He'd begun to fret about ever finding her when he heard a distant "Father?". Following the noise he burst in to the estate's in-door swimming pool to find Katherine fresh out of the pool, wearing her blue one piece swimming suit and drying herself off. "Father, what's going on? I felt..."
"Someone is attacking our home!"
Deep down, Katherine knew they were here for her. She could feel it, she could see her mental image coming across thoughts at the periphery of her mind's range. "What do you want to do?"
"We must get to the panic room and wait for the authorities!"
The panic room was something many people had for protecting themselves during a home invasion. The concept dated back about 1400 years, if not more. Naturally for a people who must always be wary of servile insurrection such facilities were common across Pendleton. From within the room they could contact the police and authorities, operate remote gas dischargers tied into the home's ventilation system, or otherwise act to preserve themselves and thwart slave uprisings.
The issue was that they were on the wrong side of the house. While more paranoid owners had installed multiple panic rooms, even "secure basements" accessible from all quarters, the de la Poers had always prided themselves on guaranteeing the loyalty of their servants, so they only maintained the minimal standard required by law. It was in the north wing, though, and they were in the southeast. Therefore they were obligated to run across the length of the home. In the distance they still heard gunfire, or the sounds of struggling, as loyal house servants attempted to thwart whomever had entered their home.
Across from Walter's study was the false shelf that obscured the entrance, along with the secret switch that opened it. A wave of elation came to him as he thought himself home free. He pulled at the switch and let the door open, intent to get inside and begin taking measures to thwart this incident.
As the door opened, Katherine's eyes went wide and she shouted, "Father, no!"

Walter barely had time to register that before he found himself staring down the barrel of a plasma blaster.
"Walter de la Poer, I presume?" Balthier kept the gun level toward him. Behind him, Vanrya was pointing her gun at Katherine. "I apologize for the circumstances of our meeting, I much prefer negotiations over a fine sherry or perhaps port... but I am pressed for time," Balthier said to him. "We have questions of you."
"'We'?"
Walter's question was answered by Katherine, who already sensed the mind behind both Balthier and Vanrya. "Sara," she gasped.
Sara stepped out from between Balthier and Vanrya. There was an immediate sense of revulsion and anger from Walter. "You? You didn't think you'd caused enough damage, you disobedient little tramp?" De la Poer brought a finger up toward her. "I should have handed you over to..."
He said no more, as Sara slapped him across the cheek. Tears flowed from her eyes, full of old shame and long-suppressed anger at the indignities and humiliations Walter and his daughter had heaped upon her when she was young and helpless. "Where. Are. They?"
"Where are who?"
"My siblings! My niece? Where are they?"
Walter cracked a smile. "Not here anymore. I sent them into hiding as a precaution, somewhere you'll never find."
"Tell me!" Sara pushed him up against a wall and her eyes shined with anger he had never imagined possible from her. "Tell me before I rip it out of your mind!"
"You don't have the train..." Nothing more than a rough gasp came out of Walter as he felt, much to his shock, Sara plunge her mind into his.

Her training was still non-existent, of course. This was an expression of raw power aided by what little of mind-reading she had learned from Rana and the others during their mind-puppeting of Danton, also aided by her mental link with Rana. She sensed Rana near, coming toward her, but focused her attention on Walter. It was hard filtering through those memories, seeing events she knew of or had even experienced from his eyes and with his thoughts. The disdain he had felt toward the lives and well-being of his property, the casual ease with which any slave sufficiently rebellious had earned a bullet to the heart or the head...
She tried to find his memories of her family, but he knew this and worked to hide them, desperately keeping them away and looking for one measure of victory against those who had defiled his home. Their minds grappled and other memories of Walter seeped around. Try as she might, Sara could not get to what she wanted.
Then, because he had been thinking of her intended fate, she found that memory.
She heard Walter pledge her to be given to the Ebon Blade. That from the start he had intended for her to be given to them in Katherine's place, only relenting when he had gotten... the mental image struck a memory in Sara, she recognized the young woman in it as the woman who had rescued Katherine.
At that point Sara couldn't keep on. This revelation and the lack of training kept her from getting to his guarded memories. A hand went to her mouth. "You were going to give me to the Ebon Blade?!", she exclaimed in horror.
"I wish I had," de la Poer muttered darkly.

Vanrya looked on with trepidation at the frown that crossed Balthier's face. It was a particular kind of disapproving half-scowl, half-frown, usually accompanied by him doing something profoundly unwise due to someone having done something particularly odious to his sensibilities. She saw his hand clench on his gun and reached a hand over. "No, we need information from him," she reminded him. "And it is not your place."
"Yes, true," he sighed, looking very much like he wanted to shoot Walter de la Poer in the head.
"Tell us where Sara Pontcaire's family is, knave, or by Odin I will cleave your head in two!", Marissa shouted angrily, bringing her axe up toward de la Poer's head. The look he answered with was more bewilderment than defiance.
Rana finally got to them at this point. Only the slightest panting rhythm to her breath indicated the exertion of getting to them so quickly. She looked from Marissa to Sara to de la Poer and stepped forward. "Sara, I shall need your help," she said.
Sara nodded. Walter looked between the two and then let out an involuntary gasp as they entered his mind again.



Quinn had proven Delilah's match, rendering Rydia and Maria as spectators, almost, to their duel. They instead acted to protect Quinn from attack as he focused his efforts on the powerful and malevolent Lady of the Ebon Blade. Energy blades of black and green clashed repeatedly, Delilah getting no openings to use her powerful TK as Quinn kept her on the defensive. When he attacked, it was with equal parts grace and power; when defending nothing Delilah did could break through him.
Retreating was the wisest course, but it was not something Delilah would do. She had an obligation to take Kara back to the Tower or to kill her. Leaving her behind, even if it meant death by others, would only earn her a similar Mark, leading to her eventual death by torture in the Tower dungeons. Her only chance was to fight off her powerful foe long enough to kill Kara, and it was to that purpose that she began to lure him toward the storage garage where she'd kept her prisoner.
She didn't hear the snap that came within. Kara, however, did, and was almost convinced it was the sound of her own shoulder snapping off before she felt her right arm come free. It hung limply at her side for a moment, the cable still attached but freed from its attachment to the column beside her. The entire right limb, from shoulder to forearm, ached horribly, but she needed it a bit longer. She brought her right hand over and used it as a focal point, making movements with her fingers that mimicked the ones her taxed mind felt from within the restraint's locking mechanism. Standard Ebon Blade restraints did not have an open latch, after all, but could only be opened or locked by telekinetic manipulation of the internal lock.

Once her left hand was free Kara dropped to all fours. On her hands and knees, with little energy to move, her tired mind could sense the nearby battle. This was her chance and, with all the might she had left, Kara reached out with her mind and struck at Delilah.
Coming under telepathic attack, Delilah's fighting became chaotic. She started missing what openings she got to force Quinn back and she could barely defend herself. She felt Kara begin stabbing at her mind, trying to break her defenses, and redoubled them... but this cost her against Quinn, who seized his opening. He brought his saber up and plunged it through Delilah's chest, spearing her in the heart. The blow was instantly fatal and she fell with barely a sound.
His work done, Quinn knelt by Delilah's body. Out of habit he made the sign of the Cross on his forehead and shoulders. He thought he had sensed someone else near but could not feel the presence; without reason to investigate he went off to work with the others.
As for Kara, she had avoided being sensed because the exertion of fighting Delilah telepathically had overcome her weakened mind and body. She collapsed where she had been kneeling, her ankles still bound, but otherwise free to escape... if she woke up on time.



Katherine watched her father's telepathic assault and found herself at a loss of what to do. Throwing her mind into the fray would certainly stop it, but Sara's companions would notice it and they would likely knock her unconscious or outright shoot her for such. Awake, she had a hope of escape; unconscious or wounded, she had none.
She also found, to her surprise, that a part of her didn't want to do such. The part of her who once made promises of emancipation to Sara and her whole family, who had brought Sara to her bed for stolen kisses and gentle touching, peeked out of the hiding place she'd kept it in since having the idealist pressured out of her at university; this part believed Sara justified in trying to regain her family.
Katherine felt disgusted at actually having these thoughts and quickly re-asserted the haughty land-owner's daughter personage she'd taught herself to adopt. She went back to watching with disdain as her father's mind was searched. He lacked the training to resist thoroughly, though Rana and Sara didn't have as easy a time as the others had the prior day with Danton. Nevertheless Rana was able to relax a few moments later while a mentally exhausted Walter de la Poer collapsed.
Marissa began securing him while Balthier looked to Rana. "Well?"
"They're hidden on the other side of the planet, on the plantation of a Mr. Jason Smythe on Jacobsen Island," Rana said. "It's one of the more sparsely inhabited areas of this world."
"And less likely to get an intensive look-through by Anglian authorities. Anyway, we should get...."
His cellular comm unit beeped. It wasn't an actual cellular phone, as found on many planets (including Pendleton), but a unit hard-wired into the Strahl's systems. He picked it up as Kaylee's voice came through, asking for him. "Yes?"
"We just had a flyby by some low-level skimmers, looks like the authorities know something's up."
"Just remain quiet, we need to buy as much time as possible," Balthier answered.
"Sure... um, okay, not good. We're getting an order to shut down engines and await landing, they're vectoring in airborne police."
"Damn." Balthier frowned at the others. "We need to get going, the authorities are on their way in."
"You'll never get off this planet," Katherine insisted. "You should turn yourselves in and ask for mercy."
"Now why would I do that when I can just wait for the Anglian fleet to get here and deal with you once and for all?", Balthier asked.
"Because they won't get here," Katherine insisted. "We have allies, the moment the Anglian fleet comes out of hyperspace they're going to be annihilated, along with any other nation that aids them."

Remembering Danton's similar claims, Balthier frowned. "Well, either way, you won't be here to see it. There's a seven figure bounty on your head, Ms. de la Poer, and I aim to collect." He nodded to Marissa, who clobbered Katherine over the head with the butt of her axe and knocked her unconscious. "We had best be going," he said to the others.
"But, what about...?"
"We can't do anything for your siblings and niece if we are in a Pendletonian jail, Sara," Vanrya pointed out. "Now come along and we can think of a solution to this as we go."



When they got to the ship, Quinn and the others were waiting. Balthier motioned for Vanrya to head in with the others before looking to Quinn. "You and the sisters can blend in," he said to him. "And the Pendletonians don't have the kind of anti-ESP devices other authorities have. Take one of Mister de la Poer's vehicles and head into the city, you'll need to fly to Jacobsen Island and see a Mr. Jason Smythe. Sara's brother, sisters, and niece are there."
"What about you?", Quinn asked.
"We've got company coming in, we'll fly out of here and draw their attention so you can slip away." Balthier nodded to Rydia and Maria. "We'll be back for you."
"Or the Anglians will," Rydia remarked. "Either way, you did fulfill your pledge not to leave us in a slave pen. Let us finish this work and get Sara to safety."
"Be wary. Between what Katherine de la Poer has said and Danton's remarks there is something afoot, and Pendleton may not fall as easily as we suspect. It could be some time before we or someone else can get back on planet to recover you."
"We understand," Maria said.
"Then be careful, and good bye." Balthier ran up the ramp and into the Strahl.
Quinn motioned to the others. "We will need currency while we are here. Follow me." He led them back to the house, knowing they had little time.



Balthier got to the cockpit and found Vanrya there already, activating the ship's anti-grav engines. "What about Danton?", he asked.
"Umar threw him out through the cargo bay," Vanrya answered.
"Good. Now..." He slipped into his own chair. Sensors already indicated the approach of anti-grav low-altitude vehicles, undoubtedly the authorities. "We need to buy Quinn and the sisters some time."
"Marissa is already manning a gun," Vanrya confirmed. "I've got the others slaved to my console."
"Give them a good shot as we pass by," Balthier said. A rumble filled the ship as the drive wings folded out into position. He flew forward fairly slowly, making sure to give Marissa and Vanrya the best shots they could.
"Someone is manning the ventral gun," Vanrya noted.
"Ah, either Umar or perhaps Sara," Balthier answered. "Either way is fine, gives you less to do. Open fire when ready!"



The green light that flashed on the console told Sara she was clear to fire. Rana sat beside her, manning the second gun on the mount. Though they could be controlled by one person it would make it easier for them to have individual guns.
The computer showed her a tracking calculation and her targets, telling her where to actually aim the guns to hit them. It was hard keeping them on target, watching the red bursts of energy fly outward and mostly miss. Rana seemed to have better luck, using her ESP to aim better and landing hits. Sara sought to concentrate as well, thinking of how much this world had wronged her and her family. When the fire from her gun crossed one of the police skimmers and sent it crashing planet-side, she giggled happily at having succeeded.
Rana, however, was not giggling. Sara immediately sensed why; her strike had been completely successful and had hit the passenger compartment of the craft; all the police being carried had been killed. "Rana, I'm... I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean to..."
"It's okay," she sighed. "Death is unavoidable in this line of work. But we must never take pleasure in it.."
"I know. I'm sorry..."



Strahl erupted through the clouds and into space. Immediately Balthier saw their danger; a host of corvettes vectoring in on them. "It seems we've got quite a bit of company."
"Shall we engage with our main gun?"
"Ah, yes, encourage them to send the cruisers next," Balthier jibed. "No, I think I shall rely upon my piloting skills instead. Just keep the deflectors up."
Strahl ignored the demands for them to heave-to and prepare for boarding. The Pendletonians responded to his defiance with energy fire. Balthier's piloting skill proved equal to the task, with Strahl weaving about avoiding the attacks by Ultralight armament while they headed out to the hyperlimit to escape. "If only we could get into a gravity well of some sort, then the cloak would hide us."
"Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a good one around here, not one we can hide behind. The moon is covered with ships..." Vanrya looked to her scope again. "The asteroid belt, Balthier! There are Class D planetoids in there, uninhabited."
"Not exactly a gravity well there..."
"There is when they are that tightly clustered," Vanrya pointed out. "We could weave into them, land on one, set sensors to passive and power down the engines. As long as we go to battery backups we should be able to hide."
"Ah, and by some tight flying in the belt we hopefully avoid visual contact long enough that they can't tell which planetoid we have hidden on?"
"Exactly."
"Worth a shot then. Hold on, I'm going to give her a workout." Balthier triggered the Strahl's overdrive systems, pumping excessive energy into her drives to increase her acceleration profile beyond the ability of the Pendletonians to make intercept. "We'll find a spot to hide, wait until the patrols look good, and make our dash to get away."



When Walter de la Poer came back into consciousness, he found himself tied into a chair. His suit was partially opened, enough that his chest, complete with some of the hair still on it, was exposed. He looked around, expecting to see his attackers, but they were gone.. and so was Katherine. His heart felt sick with worry as he wondered, with doubt, if the Navy could catch them before they got Katherine out, as he knew her only possible fate with the Anglians would be the gallows. His only child, dead before him...
"Actually, you'll be dead first," a voice, now familiar, stated from behind him. He turned his head and found Kara standing beside him, fully dressed and with a weapon in her hand and a pistol on her hip. "Good to see you're awake, Walter. You and I have unfinished business."
"The authorities will be here soon," he said. "You will be caught if you stay any longer."
"True. But I've taken lots of risks so far, what's another little one?" That said, Kara took her agiels, one in each hand, and pressed them both to Walter's chest.
The agony he experienced was beyond measure. He screamed in pain for what seemed like an eternity as his entire body seemed to come alive with a fire within. Kara had a look of contentment on her face as she felt his pain and anguish, so long overdue for her sensibilities. Soon it became relishment, especially when de la Poer actually cried out to beg her to stop.
She did, finally, after a few minutes. "I wished to do this far longer," she confessed. "But at minimum I wanted you to feel what I felt, what every girl you handed over to the Order felt. Imagine this being done every day, for hours on end, for years in your life, Walter. That was the fate of every girl you send to the Ebon Blade." Scowling, she placed her agiels back on her belt and reached for the gun hanging from the holster, which slung down over her right hip. "Now, I've got a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it, so goodbye, Walter, and enjoy Hell."
He was too busy regaining his breath to do anything but groan in protest as she pressed the barrel of the gun to his chest. With a neutral expression on her face, Kara said as a final remark "Maybe now you'll remember me" before she pulled the trigger. The bullet went through his ribs and into his heart, killing Walter de la Poer instantly.
Her vengeance finally satisfied, Kara left the de la Poer estate, just ahead of the arriving authorities, with all the tools she needed to ensure her future survival.



”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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