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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-12 09:00pm
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Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger
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At the same time, a transmission was sent to Calvert Cliffs: "This is HMS King George XIV. You are entering sovereign Anglian space. Please explain your intent."


Admiral Ro raised the communicator to her head.

"This is Calvert Cliffs Actual to King George 14 Actual."

"Our intentions are to transit through the hyperlane in this region to Pendletonian space, where it is our intent to set up a Shepistani Zone of Occupation on the planet."

"Over."



"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: 2010-09-12 09:10pm
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MKSheppard wrote:
Quote:
At the same time, a transmission was sent to Calvert Cliffs: "This is HMS King George XIV. You are entering sovereign Anglian space. Please explain your intent."


Admiral Ro raised the communicator to her head.

"This is Calvert Cliffs Actual to King George 14 Actual."

"Our intentions are to transit through the hyperlane in this region to Pendletonian space, where it is our intent to set up a Shepistani Zone of Occupation on the planet."

"Over."



Kingston showed no surprise at this. He picked up his own personal communicator from the command table and gave a reply. "Calvert Cliffs, on the orders of His Majesty's Government I cannot permit you or any Shepistani forces through to Pendleton to establish an Occupation Zone or any other form of control on or around Pendleton. I say again, you will not be permitted through. Please come about and depart."



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

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

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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-12 09:46pm
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Steve wrote:
"Calvert Cliffs, on the orders of His Majesty's Government I cannot permit you or any Shepistani forces through to Pendleton to establish an Occupation Zone or any other form of control on or around Pendleton. I say again, you will not be permitted through. Please come about and depart."


For several minutes, there was no movement in that sector between the two massive fleets, and the tension grew by the moment until you literally could cut it with a knife.

All across the two fleets, people braced themselves for the inevitable. Then the one thing nobody was expecting to happen happened.

The Shepistanis blinked.

"King George 14 Actual, am complying."

Slowly, the Shepistani ships began to turn around.



"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: 2010-09-12 09:58pm
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MKSheppard wrote:
For several minutes, there was no movement in that sector between the two massive fleets, and the tension grew by the moment until you literally could cut it with a knife.

All across the two fleets, people braced themselves for the inevitable. Then the one thing nobody was expecting to happen happened.

The Shepistanis blinked.

"King George 14 Actual, am complying."

Slowly, the Shepistani ships began to turn around.



There was an obvious relief in Fleet Command. After all, nobody knew what the Shepistanis might do. They had a reputation for that.

Kingston, however, showed no relief. He knew the Shepistanis could be rather batty, even insane, but they were still military men and women, professionals who knew how to calculate risk and reward. No real military commander would have sought a battle here.

"Continue to monitor them as they leave range," Kingston ordered. "Send 2nd Group orders to return to Bavaria, we will monitor them until they are out of range and we receive further instruction from the Admiralty."


Admiralty House, Westminster
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia
1 March 3400



"The Shepistani fleet has backed down. We will continue to monitor them as they follow the outer ranges lanes Coreward toward Shepistan. Just in case we have another Shepistani fleet out there, rounding the Empire Republic to enter the Outback from the backside, we're keeping 3rd Fleet at Lochley for now."

O'Connor's report was answered by a nod from the First Lord of the Admiralty. "I'll tell the PM. It looks like the Foreign Office will be handling this issue after all."



”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: 2010-09-13 12:25am
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One Week Previously

War Ministry Attache Office,
Dominion Embassy, Montegomery

[With Shep, Beowulf, and Shroom]

"Ah Gentlemen, Bragule, thank you for coming on such short notice." Admiral Sikes, head of the attache office and the true commander of the Dominion Embassy on Montegomery said. He stood up and went over to the liquor cabinet and poured a glass of Battlescotch Galactica for the man from the Shepistani Foreign Ministry, a glass of Ice Water of Life for the man from Tianguo, a glass of Bragulan Kvass for the Bragulan representative, and a glass of Liquid Banjo for himself.

"I have been instructed by my government to forward a proposal regarding the disposition of Pendleton. The Unilateral annexation will, of course, not stand. However the Lord Protector has some very specific concerns."

Sikes turned to the Shepistani rep. "General, the Lord Protector wants to relay that an incident with the Anglians must be avoided at all costs. While the Grand Dominion is honor bound to support our Shepistani Brothers in the event of a shooting war, the Grand Dominion's economic state is such that any war would be a disaster for us." In fact that was a pessimistic view, and both Tianguo and Shepistan, the Grand Dominion's largest trading partners, knew it. But it was what one said when allies were trotting along into the firing lane. "If I may suggest that if your occupation forces are challenged by the Anglians, they turn and head home."

The Shepistani General's eyebrows arched. "You would have us, ah, what is the Bragule expression? 'Bravely tuck our tails and run'?"

"To avoid a war? Yes." Sikes said. "But Anglia's annexation cannot stand, and we have already warned the Anglian Ambassador* that unspecified consequences will result from it. We all have dysfunctional systems, even sectors, ajoining our great star nations. By using the Anglian precedent we could all bring those systems to order. Thoughts?"

The Shepistani ambassador rubbed his chin and made a harumphing sound.

"The more I think about it; the more your argument makes sense. With your argument, we win both ways."

"If the Anglicans let us pass through; their annexation of Pendleton is challenged. If they do not let us pass through, then we have carte blanche to aggressively annex the nearby sectors."

"I will have the War Ministry send a notice to this effect to BSG-75 and 62. I must caution you, Admiral Ro will not like this change. You know how she is; a woman constantly seeking a war."

"Hrm..." the Bragulan ambassador rumbled in a deep baritone. A bear sitting in a meeting in between three other humans might have felt out of place, but ambassador Fgalkyn Fydlsky had gotten used to dealing with humans. "As the human saying goes, Admiral Sikes has a very sharp stabbing point. As loathe as we are to admit it, Anglia is a significant military power and aligned with it is a considerable multinational coalition. While the forces they have actually deployed at Pendleton are meager, engaging in direct conflict with Anglia and all those other powers kowtowing to it is highly inadvisable for our Shepistani friends.

"It will bring no benefit to any of us. Pendleton itself is strategically insignificant, a shitworld located in a middle of a worthless little shoal-hole. The only cause for the invasion were the Anglians' high-falooting moral sensibilities," Fgalkyn chuckled at that. "Let the Anglians keep that shitworld. As the good Dominionoid Admiral says, the precedent their actions gives us has great implications for the many miserable neighboring systems we've long been eying. After Pendleton, nobody can complain if we manufacture some pithy moralistic claims and liberate some Pendletons of our own. This will be most beneficial for all of us, I believe. Why, we can even make cute little multinational coalitions of our own for the propagandas."

Admiral Sikes nodded, and turned to the Tianguo ambassador.

Ambassador O'Brian looked distinctly uncomfortable in the presence of the Bragulan. However, he knew that sometimes, it was better to help an alien in order to better secure the future of the Kingdom. "We would not be adverse to properly utilizing the precedent that Anglia has set in order to better secure our borders. I agree that a direct engagement with Anglia would be ill-advised though. There is no telling how many joined the coalition in order to appease a would be hegemon, rather than to kill slavers."



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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-13 01:00am
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Force Lord wrote:
CNS Datton

Alright, time to buy more time.

"Sir, I have already considered my situation. In fact, I see no other recourse, given my orders. First, a clarification. Surely you must have seen the Pendletonian defences firing at my ship, which revealed quite plainly that we're not from Pendleton. We're from the Centrality, and I can assure you that we carry no slaves or contraband."

Time to confess, I think.

"I believe you need to know the reason why we're here. Several months ago some of our citizens were kidnapped by a Phfor slaver party. Ten of them ended up on Pendleton, and by the time we found out, your Coalition was already making ready to enter the Outback. We hastily organized a rescue mission, and an entire fleet was deployed near the Outback just in case we were discovered and cornered. Indeed, before the EMP hit, I recieved word that a Task Force was deployed near the edge of the B-A Gap in order to clarify our prescence and perhaps get us back safely. You can call your allies there to confirm it. As for me and my vessel, we rescued our citizens from the Pendies' clutches and tried to stay undetected, but I'm not very knowledgeable in this whole steath business. So here I am. I must say that my orders do not include letting others board my vessel for whatever reason. So I can't let you in."


HMS Challenger
Pendleton, The Outback



Captain Shetty saw the Datton hovering on the hovertank and considered his options. "Commander Gramm, you think the poison gas thing is a bluff?", he asked aloud.

"No, Captain," she answered. "It fits the Centrality like a glove."

"The longer we let that wrecked ship hang around the more likely something bad is going to happen," Shetty stated. "But I don't want to present the Admiral with a ship full of dead people, especially not if it can cause a diplomatic incident."

"There are the pressure systems in the main bay's holding and boarding arm," Gramm reminded him. "If we bring the ship into the holding bay we could create a breach for the sole purpose of generating a high-pressure atmosphere to keep the gas contained. Then our Marines commence an NBC-protocol rescue op."

"Can we generate enough atmosphere to restrain the gas?", Shetty asked pointedly. His esperience with this class of ship was decent, but he'd never had to see an Imperator attempt such a thing.

Gramm shook her head. "Well, no. The best we can hope for us generating enough pressure to restrain the gas long enough for our Marines to clear the people off the ship. And they're going to need medical attention; the high pressure is going to cause lung damage and damaged or ruptured eardrums."

"What if I used the bay weapons to blast holes into the hull?, Commander Munez chimed in, overhearing their conversation. "It'd give the gas somewhere to go other than into the ship."

"Just as likely you'll only make us have to do even more, Commander," Gramm disagreed. "And if the suicide device is set up properly the gas containers are probably in the ship's interior sections. The gas wouldn't vent out of the ship." She looked to Shetty. "Captain, it'll work, but there are going to be casualties, including fatalities."

"But not all of them?", Shetty asked pointedly.

"As high as 50% I believe, in terms of casualties. A quarter to a third for fatalities. It depends on the makeup of the gas, if there are effective counter-agents in our stocks, and how fast the Marines are."

Shetty crossed his arms. He considered going to Admiral Fisher with this. Let his commander have the final say. Had Shetty been a captain in the main fleet he would have, actually. But things are different for officers in the Star Cruisers; you have to be able to act autonomously and make decisions on your own.

Fisher had to direct the invasion. This was his responsibility.

"Tell General Hollings to get his Marines ready," Shetty ordered. "Helm, prepare to bring us down to the orbital altitude of the Datton. They're blind, so they won't know we've taken them until the boarding claw grabs hold. Steady, now..."


Ten minutes later

Shetty stood on the bridge nervously as the plan swung into action.

The boarding claw grabbed hold of the Datton. At first Forg did nothing. Then he heard a tremor through the hull plates, the unmistakable sound of a shaped boarding charge going off, carving out a section of hull to permit entry into his ship. His hand hovered toward the control to trigger the gas. For brief seconds his self-preservation instincts fought back, even as his comm unit showed an incoming call - undoubtedly the Anglian commander trying to urge him to stand down.

Decision time.



”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: 2010-09-13 11:06am
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Glowworm-class Transport Tranquility, Bridge
January 18, 3400, 1300 Hours, Planetary Local Time


They were clear. They were finally clear. The gunners stopped shooting around ten minutes after Gav ditched the ork fighter- maybe they were running low on ammo, maybe they’d lost track of him. Captain Tamrin didn’t know, didn’t care. The very minute he knew he was clear, that those damn plasma shells stopped going off overhead, he gave the order.

“Punch it, Gavin. I want some clear sky for a change.”
Gavin did. He spun the engines from level flight to vertical takeoff, building altitude, and then speed. Glowworm’s turbofans could only take her so high and so fast, of course... but that was high enough to light off the space drive comfortably enough. The faint glow of sublight magnetogravitics shone from the engine compartment as they coasted for orbit.

Gavin still felt that wall of ice in his head, the pilot’s reflexes. Those reflexes drove him like a puppet- he knew what he had to do, even though he wanted to be down in the infirmary with Olivia more than he wanted to breathe. He couldn’t stop, not yet. He checked the dials. Air... looked like they’d sprung a leak somewhere, but it was manageable. Fuel... not so good, but quick mental math made it sound like they still had a margin of error. Sum it up. Think, make yourself use your brain even when it’s screaming. Stay level. He’d gotten them into orbit now; Nguyen’s World didn’t have much of a spacemobile force and what there was was usually out playing hide and seek with the orks in the asteroid belt, so they’d have a few minutes before having to leg it.

He turned to John. “We should have just enough to hit a fuel station. We’ll need to do some patching up. Hope we got paid today.”

“We did.”

The captain was looking a question at him. Good a time as any to ask. He can take us out of the system. Won’t be that hard; firing up the hyperdrive and “second star to the right and straight on till morning” is all we really need for the moment. Autopilot should be able to take care of the rest.

“I’ve got the course programmed, should be easy flying from here.”

“Good.”

“Captain? I’d like you to take the helm, please. I... I need to go down to the infirmary.”

John just nodded and flipped the switches to bring his control board up. Gavin was shaking as he rose from his seat and rushed down the corridor.


Gavin didn’t even take a look through the window on his way down the stairs; his only thought was to be there, personally, not through a sheet of glass. Taking the stairs two at a time and hauling on the railing to help him round the corners, he leapt into the lounge... and saw what he really should have expected to see. His wife, unconscious on the infirmary bed in front of him. There was an oxygen mask over her face- and he thanked all the gods of space that the captain did keep up the medical supplies, even though it was expensive.

Konrad had heard the commotion outside. When Gavin rounded the corner, the young doctor stepped away from Dobson’s body and in front of the door. In a quiet voice with more authority than Gav would have credited him with, he said. “She’s stable, she was secured during the bouncing around earlier. The diagnosis is promising, but she can’t be disturbed now.”

“Disturbed? She’s my wife!

“So don’t hurt her. If you want to sit outside that’s all right.”

Gav faltered. “How...how bad is it?”

“I’ll have to operate. I’ll need an assistant and a stable operating platform for that; I can’t do it while we’re bouncing around. You’re down here. Who’s flying the ship? Will we be steady from now on?”

“John.” The questions helped drag him back from the edge of panic. “We’re out of atmosphere and no one is shooting at us; we should have clear sailing soon. Who are you go... who’s going to help you?”

“Who should it be?”

Who do I trust with this? He didn’t know a damn thing about medicine, and he knew he couldn’t hold himself steady like this. If not him, who? John? John was... nothing if not steady. He took a deep breath.

“The captain.”

“Do you know if he has any medical experience at all? From the war, maybe?”

“I... from the stories, I think so. Olivia vouched for... she... she would want him handling this.”

Konrad nodded. His voice was soft, quiet, still calming. “All right. Can you go get him? Can you handle the ship while he’s down here? I’ll have to walk him through a lot of things. It will take a while. Hours.”

He swallowed. “I can. But will she be all right?” He’d be blaming himself for the rest of his life if she didn’t pull out of this strong like she was before. He knew damn well there was nothing he could have done. That was going to make it worse.

“I’ve gotten a good look at the wound now.” The way he said it sounded odd somehow, but it didn’t matter now. I’ll need to extract fragments from her chest; a few have gotten into the lung. I can get them all out, and I’m... cautiously optimistic about being able to do it with minimal damage to the surrounding tissue. You’ve got surprisingly good equipment here, so I think I can do it with reasonable safety. Recovery time will be several weeks, but I expect near full recovery of lung capacity.”

Near?

“Near, as in high function. Not one hundred percent, she’ll probably notice the difference, and I don’t know if she’ll be running marathons afterwards, but... the long term effects should be minor, with proper after-care. Zero with extended care at a modern facility, and I’d recommend that, but minimal even working out of here, if we can pick up some things when we get to Praha. She was very lucky.”

Lucky!? You son of a- Gav clamped down on the thought. It was stupid and he knew it, even if he didn’t want to. “I... I’d better go up and get the captain, then.”

The doctor gave him a thin smile. “Thank you. I won’t be ready for him for another twenty minutes; there’s one matter I need to get out of the way...”



Captain Tamrin rounded the last corner... and saw Dobson staggering out of the infirmary, clutching a bag of ice to his heavily bandaged head. For a moment he just stood there, blinking, trying to process that. He muttered. “Didn’t he get shot in the head?”

Well, the bumbling passenger’s recovery from a case of “presumed dead” was probably a good omen. If the young techie could fix up a man who’d been shot in the head, it stood to reason he could fix up someone who’d been shot in the chest. He went into the infirmary and asked the question. “You said you needed me?”

Dr. Lakatos turned and looked at him, his face expressionless. A very painful thought ran through John’s head: Last time I was this close to him, I punched him in the face. And now he needed Lakatos... the doctor nodded. “Yes, captain. I’m going to need to operate on Olivia, and I’m going to need an assistant standing by. We’re a bit short on trained scrub nurses; your pilot recommended you.”

Gav had told him what he’d said up on the bridge, so that wasn’t a surprise. He squared his shoulders. “Stood by to lend a hand patching people up a time or two.”

“The war?”

John nodded; the doctor kept talking. “All right. Captain, I do need an assistant for this, but I need one who will follow my lead and my instructions. I don’t ask you to like that, but can you do it?”

That had to be a good question, especially from the youngster’s point of view. He took a deep breath. “Reckon I can.”

Lakatos gave him another long look, then nodded. “Thank you, captain. Let’s start by making sure we’re properly cleaned up...”



Tranquility Infirmary
2150 Hours, Eavesdown Mean Time
1740 Hours, Planetary Local Time


“...there. That’s the last stitch. Captain, give the area another pass to clean it again, and we’ll be done.”

Working with a nurse while using extrasensory perception was not easy. Konrad always tended to lose control over the volume and tone of his voice while working in that gray, omniscient world. He couldn’t really feel the sound of his own words, even though he was on some level aware of what had been said. He hadn’t been on the job many years, it was a constant worry that his assistants would misunderstand something he hadn’t said, couldn’t say, clearly enough. Normally he was paired with experienced support staff who often knew what he needed to be doing as well as he did; that helped. This time was different; Captain Tamrin knew more of the basics than he’d hoped, but still needed to be coached far more than a professional would have.

Keeping himself clear-headed enough to deliver the needed instructions in professorial form for the long hours of the operation hadn’t been easy. But that was the price he paid for his abilities, and they were worth it: he could detect the fragments he needed to extract, even through intervening blood or tissue. He could tell exactly where nerves and blood vessels lay, and work around them far better than would be possible otherwise. He’d even managed to locate the few hair-thin fibers from the armor vest’s inner fabric cover itself that had been carried into the wound, and remove most of them: they probably wouldn’t have caused much trouble in the aftermath, but the patient was always better off without them.

But now he was exhausted, his mental energies drained. The effort of turning his abilities down, of bringing himself back to the world of color and antiseptic smell and the hum of electric fans, felt like lifting a mountain. He walked Captain Tamrin through the last stages of cleanup as if in a trance. When everything was seen to at last, when he knew the patient was stable, he lurched out into the lounge and collapsed into a chair, stripping off his gloves.

“Th... thank you, Captain Tamrin. You were v... very helpful.”

“You all right, boy?” That wasn’t an insult, the way it had been night before last. It was honest concern.

“I will be.” He smiled weakly. “I just need to rest for a while. Someone needs to keep an eye on the patient though.”

“Olivia? I’ll-”

“Captain, it’s been a hard...” Konrad fumbled for the words. “...harder day for you than it has for me. Is there anyone else? Just to monitor equipment and wake me if anything changes? Interface is... is simple, it just needs a pair of eyes on it. Well-chosen equipment.”

“You think Sammie could do the job?”

“All right. Will... I’ll have to leave her some instructions. Can you get her?”

“On it.”

“Thanks.” He slumped down, head in his hands. If he could just stop thinking for a few minutes, the ache in his mind so much better...



Konrad managed to explain to Sammie what she needed to watch without too much trouble. When everyone else on the ship looked utterly, utterly drained, she was still fresh and happy. Maybe that was because she’d spent the last few hours calming down from the shock of the fight, but even so, he felt revitalized just from talking to her.

He slumped down on his bunk. Something of today’s events felt... wrong somehow. The ork bandits attacking the ship, the old preacher suddenly showing powerful psychic abilities... that was it. It all came together; a spike of adrenaline rushed through his veins as he realized that he might be in terrible danger.

He still had nightmares about that day in the lobby of his apartment building, back on Alta Vista. He’d sat down in the common area to relax and read somewhere public, somewhere he wouldn’t feel like a shut-in. Then the man had sat down in front of him. Tall, wearing clothes of a military cut, with a look in his eyes that flickered between blazing certainty and bewildered confusion.

Image

Konrad was, at best, moderately gifted as an esper. His sensory abilities were remarkable by most standards- close to plus five sigma. Only a few hundred thousand peers at his level spread across a country of a quarter trillion had been able to match his abilities- which was one of the factors that led his parents to encourage him to go into medicine; it was a popular trade for high-level sensors. In other areas his abilities were barely detectable without use of sensitive instruments, nothing like his sister’s.

He couldn’t detect detailed thoughts or participate in telepathic conversation to any real effect. But even so, he had just enough ability, and enough training, to tell when another esper was pushing at his brain, to see the general timbre of the thoughts being sent his way, especially when those thoughts were intense and repetitive. This man was radiating confused thoughts, whispers and fragments that made little sense, with the endless echo of “It doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem right.” He’d encountered that a few times before, but only in mental patients. Standing next to a mad esper was a disturbing experience at best, more than that in this case.

Konrad hadn’t gotten the man’s name, but the weird echoing thoughts driven at him had made it all too obvious that he believed every word he was saying. He claimed to be an agent of the Foreign Intelligence Directorate, that Konrad’s assistance was needed in some kind of plan. At first, Konrad hadn’t known what to think. Just being a competent esper in Umeria had been enough to ensure he’d met a few MiniDat recruiters over the years. But they came openly and lawfully, not by surprising him in his home, or even the lobby of his home.

But what was truly disturbing was that when Konrad didn’t immediately jump on board with... whatever it was the man had been proposing, he seemed to grow more agitated. He started asking random questions, talking about how this was a critical plan, how it was the most important decision of Konrad’s life, the one he would look back on with either pride or regret... for the rest of his life. And still more random questions- including one particularly alarming one about how surgeons never got cut on during training.

It could only be interpreted as a threat.

Konrad was, well, perhaps a bit paranoid, he’d admit that. But when an esper claiming to be a MiniDat agent came to him and started making threats sounding like “join us or die,” for a frighteningly vague definition of “us...” then being worried wasn't paranoia, it was common sense. He’d been shaken. He’d called the police, naturally. Their inquiries into the man, his real identity, and what if any connection he had with MiniDat had been stonewalled.

Three days later, the man had come back, this time finding him at work. Konrad had managed to elude him in the corridors under the hospital and make it home without being followed, but by this point he was starting to get well and truly scared. If MiniDat was chasing him for some reason, or worse yet if some rogue cabal of MiniDat agents who had the pull to hide their activities of the police were... well, at that point, he ran out of ideas. He’d asked the police for protection, but they had denied his request, more flatly than usual from them.

The next day, the same man left a threatening call on his voice mail.

Finally, in desperation, Konrad had decided his best hope was to leave the country- to run somewhere that this sinister man wouldn’t follow. The decision had been on the spontaneous side, but he’d tried the police, tried enquiries at MiniDat. Finally, he’d managed to get himself on extended leave of absence and board a freighter from Persephone. From there, his plan had been to lose himself, go somewhere remote and under the radar, and take a few weeks to work out the next step.

Tranquility had seemed ideal: small, few passengers, running to a planet that was about five minutes’ jaunt from the middle of nowhere. But now, running from a borderline psychotic esper... he found another esper on board. A powerful one, with a background that, in all honesty, he couldn’t check. That was not likely to be a coincidence.

Konrad felt a spike of fear in his gut. But there was nothing for it. The old man had bought passage to Praha, same as him. He had to have some kind of an answer... how hard would he have to start running to get clear of these people? Could he get clear of these people? How? The obvious approach was to do nothing aboard the ship, and try to run faster and hide deeper on Praha. Hopefully lose this new tail. Or... or he could try to confront him.

He blinked. Where had that idea come from? But the more he thought about it... what if he was wrong, and it was some kind of coincidence? Powerful espers joining mystic or religious societies were hardly unheard of. He had to take the chance. He felt resolve crystallizing him. Maybe at the least he could find some answers, something, anything other than endless flight from an unknown and hostile force...

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-13 11:34am
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Constantinople Times

Military Budget for 3400 detailed

After days of debate, the Imperial Senate has deliberated and announced that it will support the Military Budget 3400. The recent action on Janus has reinforced the belief that the Imperium must continue to expand its armies and fleets, and at the same time prepare for future conflict with the Karlacks.

The budget is as detailed:

Economy: 63,000

Navy
8 Lunar II class heavy cruisers (700 points each)
16 Scutum class cruisers (300 points each, 24mth construction)
6 Solaris class frigates (150 points each, 15 mth construction)
18 Sharpshooter Corvettes (75 points each, 7.5 mth construction)
Total for 3400: 6050 points

Army
2.5 million Imperial Guardsmen (40,000 per $1, 3.2x kit)
100,000 Adeptus Astartes (5000 per $1, 20x kit)
3 million PDF (75,000 per $1, 2.5x kit)
Total for 3400: 400 points

130 points for replenishment and other expenditures due to Janus operation
600 points for secret R&D and starship retrofitting

Total: 7180 points



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


Last edited by Fingolfin_Noldor on 2010-09-13 01:24pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-13 11:36am
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Imperial Chronicles

Jenova

It was another day in Jenova, where Imperial custom frigates patrolled their portion of space above Jenova. It was an unwritten agreement between the Imperial Inquisition and Bragulan intelligence, that both sides would stick to each others’ space, and at most some rickety wreck of an old ship would ply space above Jenova. Most Imperial warships stationed here were largely relics of the Great Crusade, though some obviously have been refitted and refuelled at least more than once. None were installed with rift generator cores, but with older accretion disk plasma cores.

Imperial Adeptus Urban Cohort Custom Frigate AUCCF-Jenova-6 was patrolling space when it spotted a signal that flickered on the tachyon radar screen. “Request for a graviton scan at that point from Jenova Space Station Beta,” ordered the patrol commander. One of many stations orbiting Jenova, Jenova Space Station Beta was the nearest space station in the vicinity, and it came equipped with a host of sensors, including a graviton scanner. Stealth ships may have masked most of their signature, including gravity, but a ship that moved, always left a small wake. By pinging with a strong graviton wave, it might be possible to pick out a stealth ship.

“Got a signal!” yelled the sensor officer.

“Notify Jenova Space Station Beta that we are in pursuit. Request assistance from AUCCF-Jenova-7, 8 and 9 and 10,” the commander calmly spoke. “Helmsman, lay a course, full speed ahead. Pursue course.”

“Aye commander.”

The Custom frigate powered its large bank of engines, and set a pursuit heading. The stealth ship, upon seeing the incoming frigate, immediate attempted to get away. What it failed to do, was deactivate its cloak, and boost engine power instead. The Custom frigate closed in, along with 4 of its brethren, and opened fire with a spread of missiles. The missiles struck the ship’s rear and the ship’s cloak faded. Its engines were a smoking ruin.

“Unidentified ship, stand down for boarding. Resistance will be met with force.” Turning around, the patrol commander said, “Chief of the Arms, prepare for boarding action.

Boarding was flawless, and resistance was minimal. The boarding team boarded and seized the crew and the cargo. But what the Urban cohort marines found, was shocking enough that a message was sent on priority to the local Inquisition authorities.



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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-13 04:44pm
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Steve wrote:
The boarding claw grabbed hold of the Datton. At first Forg did nothing. Then he heard a tremor through the hull plates, the unmistakable sound of a shaped boarding charge going off, carving out a section of hull to permit entry into his ship. His hand hovered toward the control to trigger the gas. For brief seconds his self-preservation instincts fought back, even as his comm unit showed an incoming call - undoubtedly the Anglian commander trying to urge him to stand down.

Decision time.


For Forg, those brief seconds seemed like eternity.

Before this, he already sent a emergency signal to the 5th Fleet using one of the emergency comms devices on the safe, warning them that he could not gurantee his escape. Now, at a stroke, it was so.

Yet he still hesitated. Did it had to end like this?

But, then again, if he was still alive after all of this, back home, he'll be a dead man.

He was about to push the button, when the sound of weapons fire.

Wait, who fired?

And a sudden horror broke his composture. Those trigger-happy sons of bitches!

The Black Berets had prepared a welcoming commitee for the Royal Marines without his knowledge. And Forg knew the Centrality was, at that instant, doomed.




Result: Disaster strikes.



An inhabitant from the Island of Cars.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-13 04:55pm
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Commune Diplomatic Mission
Ambassadors' Urbanate
Administrative Technate for the Interstellar Union of Worlds
Verdance
[In goddamn unreal time]

"Speaking on behalf of the relevant Unified Specialist Assembly, I am to inform you that; In the interest of mutual prosperity, the Interstellar Union is amenable to an economic, and possibly military alliance with the Commune and the Technocracy of Umeria. I have been granted the authority as their Speaker to personally pass judgement on proposals to this effect," the representative informed Aurora. "However, the Assembly proposes a trilateral conference between representatives of the Commune, the Technocracy, and the Interstellar Union, held here, on Verdance, to further clarify the rules and objectives for this alliance, and determine a suitable name."



SDN Worlds 5: Sanctum

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-13 09:16pm
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Space Habitat Z-195

The hab had been specially constructed. It was originally a medical research facility. Now...

"Listen up boys and girls. My name is Knives, and I'll be your tour guide. Five years ago, an accident happened, and everybody died. This used to be known as Sydney. But to have a city, you need people. There are no people here my friend. Welcome, to Zombieland." Knives was festooned with knives. She had at least three on every limb, plus an unknown number on her vest, in her hair, etc.

"That's an interesting nickname, miss. I can see how you got it." One of the the tourists commented.

"It's not a nickname. The knives are for my own protection. If you look under your seat, you'll find you survival pack. It's designed to last you three days. We'll drop into Zombieland, and make our way to the pickup point. We get there in three days, or we don't get picked up. Everyone has a full load of ammo?" Heads nodded. "Good. Because we just hit our drop point. You know how you buckled in at the beginning of this flight? That wasn't a seat belt, it was a harness."

The 6 paying survivors of the zombie apocalypse dropped as their seats disappeared from under them, their fall being slowed by the mechanical descender attached to their harness. Knives grabbed onto a handle, and fell after them.



"preemptive killing of cops might not be such a bad idea from a personal saftey[sic] standpoint..." --Keevan Colton
"There's a word for bias you can't see: Yours." -- William Saletan

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-13 10:30pm
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Quote:
Konrad blinked. Where had that idea come from? But the more he thought about it... what if he was wrong, and it was some kind of coincidence? Powerful espers joining mystic or religious societies were hardly unheard of. He had to take the chance. He felt resolve crystallizing him. Maybe at the least he could find some answers, something, anything other than endless flight from an unknown and hostile force...

Glowworm-class Transport Tranquility, Passenger Quarters
2215 Hours, Eavesdown Mean Time
1805 Hours, Nguyen's World Local Time


Glazer answered the knock on the door very quickly.

“Yes? Is something the matter?”

Suddenly, Konrad felt less confident. How to ask this? For that matter, what if he already knew... After a long and awkward pause, the old man spoke again, his eyebrow raised a little.

“...now, maybe it’s just the day we’ve all had, but I get a sneaking feeling something is the matter. Would you like to talk about it?”

He took a deep breath. “Sir, I left home under... complicated circumstances; I’d had a few alarming encounters with some rather strange men. Events today reminded me... well, to make things short.” Konrad squared his shoulders. “Sir, how can I put this delicately... are you here following me?”

“Yes.”

The young doctor’s jaw dropped. He’d expected offense, confusion, denial, faked versions of any of those. But he had not for a moment seriously believed the preacher would simply say “yes.”

“Please don’t be alarmed, my boy. If you have a minute, I’d like to explain. Would you care to come in and have a seat?”

Wordlessly, shakily, not knowing what else to do, he complied.

“May I still call you Konrad?”

“Ah... why not? It’s not as if it makes any difference, not... not if you really are following me?”

“Yes, Konrad, I am. Please calm down; I’m not your enemy, and I’m not here to hurt you. Quite the opposite.”

He’s asking me to believe that? “...Then what are you here for?”

“I’m here because a friend asked me to be. A friend who’d gotten word of what had happened to you, and who wanted to make sure you were safe. He told me to tell you-” his face twisted. “that you’re a dummy, and that-” he looked downright apologetic now- “the Independents attacked with dinosaurs?”

Dora! That translated fairly neatly as ‘It’s okay, we can trust this one.’

“This friend of yours... would he happen to be involved with the Waterville Academy for the Gifted on Sichuan?”

Glazer smiled. “Yes.”

“So... if you’re here to make sure I’m safe, would you mind explaining to me what happened? Who am I being protected from, and are they the same people I think I’m running from?”

“Well, that might depend on who you’re running from...”

“A lunatic esper who ends his sentences with ‘Does that seem right to you?’ and claims to be a MiniDat agent. That’s all I know.”

The old man frowned slightly. “Hmph. I've met him. If you have too, I think I owe you the long explanation.”

“In my position, I’ll take what I can get, Reverend.”

“Reverend isn’t quite right, young man... how about Brother Andre? I think I like the sound of that a mite better.”

“Fair enough.”

“Where was I? Ah, the long explanation. Foreign Intelligence Directorate internal politics.” Konrad said nothing. “There's something of a... division on the subject of ways, means, and objectives. ForInt spends a lot of time living in a sort of gray area between the Ministries of Security and Data Collection. They’re... notably ungoverned. It doesn’t help most of the leaders come through the civil service, not through the Selection process.”

Konrad nodded. That wasn’t unheard of. The Technocracy’s mechanisms for picking carefully vetted scientists and other experts to run government agencies were used mostly at the highest levels, with the bulk of the mid-ranking subordinate positions being held by people who had risen through the ranks of their ministries by more ordinary means. The system gave the high ranking Technarchs subordinates who were intimately familiar with their organizations and well placed to implement orders from above. But it was well known that some of the subordinate Directorates were all too likely to play their own games if given the chance.

“So to some extent, the organization has divided into two separate cliques. Call them the “Security” and “Data Collection” sides. Or “black ops” and “gray ops.” Not that simple, but it should do for now.”

“Fellow you met is on the fringe of the ‘security’ side of ForInt. Specialists in destabilization, short-term infiltration, and... aggressive activities in general. Often very dangerous men. The branch goes by 'Covert Operations;' the one you ran into was one of their point men. 'Operatives,' they call them.”

“And you’re on the other side?”

Brother Andre smiled. “That falls under ‘not that simple.’ I’m retired. In any case, they’re the ones that are after you. It’s hard to guess whether that’s part of some rogue operation, something authorized at high level, or just one disturbed man taking it into his head to do something foolish.”

Konrad swallowed. “I... that isn’t very comforting.”

“I can imagine.”

The doctor closed his eyes. He would like to go home again one day, he truly would. If one man was stalking him, then perhaps he could. If half a major government agency was, if they were far enough out from under supervision to knowingly employ crazy people as "Operatives..." maybe he couldn't. So he nodded at Andre again.

"Any idea what they want me for?"

"Might be it's the obvious reasons, Konrad. You are a highly trained specialist with unusual abilities, after all. There aren't that many surgeons in the country with your direct-perception abilities. Most of them are older, more settled than you. Be a bit hard to vanish. You... not so difficult, or they might think so; happily, you have friends in some uncommon strange places." The old man gave him another, surprisingly reassuring, grin.

"Some of those friends will be looking into matters, trying to get past the stone wall Covert Operations likes to keep around their activities."

"Sir, I talked to the police. They bounced."

"Police are Security, and not the head of MiniSec's pecking order, either. Generally clean and dependable, in my experience, but... well, they've learned not to go poking around in certain corners. Covert Operations is one of them. Your friends will be coming at matters from a different angle, with different resources. Might be they can get this cleared up in short order."

Konrad sighed. "I hope so."

"There's always room for hope. That said, what you need to be thinking about is where you're going to go from here. Did you have a plan?"

"...Not really. But after the police didn't help, I felt like I had no choice; I had to get out before someone came after me with more than threatening phone calls."

"Where were you planning to run to, though?"

"Somewhere they- this 'Covert Ops-' wouldn't chase me to. I'd already given up trying to stay in any of the Expanse powers. I'd been thinking of Earth. Maybe farther, even- the Sovereignty might be safe..." He snorted a laugh. That was clear over on the other side of the spiral arm; distance and the notorious reputation of their intelligence branch had made him guess he'd be safe there, but that might just be because he'd watched too many of the wrong movies...

Andre looked very thoughtful, though. "You know, that might not be such a bad idea. But hold onto that thought. Remember that you don't want to rush into the arms of a new set of enemies to replace your old ones, or find yourself too close to someone that might make a deal with the ones you have. I have a... call it a feeling, that for the moment, you're safer under the radar than you would be trying to outrun it."

“Sir... Andre... you’ve given me a lot to think about, and I’m very tired. I believe you, and I believe you have a point, but I think I need to sleep on it.”

“Go right ahead, friend. I don’t think there’s anything in particular you need to rush about.”

“Thank you, and good night.” Konrad heaved himself out of the chair and left the room. He turned to go into his own room, to get ready for bed... and felt a sudden pang of intense hunger. I knew I forgot something... he hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it had been a truly long day. Running on adrenaline wouldn’t cut it now.



Captain Tamrin had just finished locking down the bridge controls; neither of them was going to be trying to fly the night shift after the day they’d had. The autopilot could keep them flying, slowly; it would alert them if there were problems, but had to go slow enough to be very sure of not hitting the boundaries of the whisker lane.

He found Dr. Lakatos in the galley, spooning up a plate of enriched protein mush like a starving man. He nodded to the doctor and got himself a glass of water. Then the idea hit him.

Hell, why not? Luck hasn’t been too good lately. Might be a good call. He’s sound. Sure, probably he’ll laugh, but what’s there to lose?

He sat down at the table. Lakatos looked up.

“Yes?”

“Livvy gonna be all right?”

The techie paused. “I think so. I’ve seen full recoveries from much worse in full-up hospitals. They use different techniques, but I was able to avoid being too invasive, and the damage to the lung itself was limited and to a small area. Recovery is almost never perfect without the use of high end equipment, but in this case I’d expect the difference to be very small. If anything goes wrong, it will be small enough to get back under control.” He seemed more confident than most doctors of that, but John reckoned the young man was right. Sounded right, anyway, and he hadn’t seen Lakatos make any of the kind of big wide cuts that took months to heal right.

John nodded, then gave the Umerian a crooked grin.

“I’d like to put a proposal to you, doctor. It may have become apparent to you that the ship could use a medic, now and then. Reckon you probably aren’t looking for a job, but if you are, you could find a place here. Till you find a better.”

He’d expected to be brushed off, in which case he’d lose nothing. But the doctor tapped his chin and looked real thoughtful all of a sudden.

“Captain, you know... let me sleep on it.”

“Fair enough. If you’re still interested, we can dicker over the details come morning. Good night to you.” John leaned back, letting out a breath he’d been holding in for, oh, about the last three days. It felt so good to not have troubles.

“Good night to you, captain.” The young man got up, but paused. “I have to ask you one question.”

“Shoot.”

“You had bandits and savages set on you today. Half the people on the ship have been shot or wounded including yourself, on an errand you never wanted to take. You’ve been attacked with bare hands, guns, missiles, and nuclear artillery. I really have to ask, captain, and I’m sorry if this seems rude, but why are you smiling?

“We’re still flying.”

The techie blinked. “That... doesn’t sound like much.”

It’s enough. He said it out loud, but only because the feeling was so strong in his mind; he couldn’t not say it. The youngster filed out of the galley, but John barely noticed. He was in his own personal nirvana. Still flying. In spite of all comers, still flying.


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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-14 09:34am
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Jenova

Inquisitor Lord Tyrus of Ordos Robotica grunted as he boarded the unknown spacecraft. Sometimes he wondered why he was here on Jenova at all. His chase of the damnable AI known as Legion led him to such a dead end that he decided to request for another assignment in lieu of further information available some hundred or so years ago. Since then, he has investigated countless Collector sightings and gained as much insight as he could of the foul AI race.

However, recent events at Pendleton, and the appearance of a Collector Monolith led to Tyrus being despatched to Jenova to head the reconnaissance operation. The sector Jenova was in close proximity to the Outback, and he was to take charge of the establishment of expeditions to the far eastern side of Outback and find out what the Collectors were doing travelling through that area.

But as he soon discovered, Jenova was also an important planet in terms of Imperium-Bragulan relations, and the local Inquisition authorities were simply overwhelmed with dealing with Bragulan infiltrations, rebellious Jenovans, and investigating Karlack infiltrations both off-world and on-world. The idiotic general who pursued a fool’s crusade was a fool who was sentenced to stay on this rock for life, was a fool, but there was no doubt that Jenova ended becoming a world of some importance, unbeknownst to him. In the end, Tyrus agreed with the local Inquisitor Lord that he and the Inquisitors who came along with Tyrus, would give as much help as he could, in return for some use of the local facilities.

Tyrus looked around, and gestured to the man beside him. “Come along Jaunt. Let’s give your men some room to scout this ship. Find me every damn nick and hole and ferret out whatever abominations these damn foul humans have brought with them. And tell me of anything important.”

“Yes, my lord,” Jaunt almost sighed. How they got attached to a psychotic maniac of an Inquisitor was beyond him. Jaunt’s Jokes got the Inquisition’s attention for their actions on the recent Battle of Janus, and that led them to be seconded to the Inquisition for temporary duties here on Jenova, and of all the people be posted under, it had to be Tyrus. The man had a reputation to keep when it came to brutality in the treatment of AIs, or even any xenos that he had laid his hands on. Jaunt gestured to Major Selim Renov and Captain Nkoll, “Find me whatever he needs.”

“Yes Colonel-Commissar.” Both of them issued orders and followed their men, and disappeared into the darkness of the ship.

It did not take long for the troopers to find something unusual. A room full of stasis pods with some humans held in stasis, and with some kind of oversized sword. “What in the name of the God Emperor are these doing here? And what are these chemicals in these tubes?” asked Jaunt.

“Obviously, someone on the planet is intent on creating some problems on Jenova. I need more of my team here to make sense of most of this. Seems that this is human technology for certain, but the source... somewhat eludes me. And these cells? I have no bloody clue. Some kind of bioweapon perhaps? However ineffectual these are these days,” said Tyrus.

“I thought you Inquisitor types know just about everything?”

“Cute, Jaunt. But I am of the Ordos Robotica, and not of the Ordos Diplomatica. My specialty is AIs....” Power cut off suddenly, and the room went dark. “Damnable.. they told me this ship was functioning,” grunted Tyrus. His radar ocular implants kicked in and he was able to make sense of the room and he saw one of the stasis tanks exploding and a human emerging.

Image

“What in the God Emperor’s name...” The human raised his bastard sword and swung it at him. He dodged it quickly, and the next time the human swung the sword at him, he grabbed the sword with his power claws and crushed the sword. Tyrus backhanded the human with his power gauntlet and sent him flying. The human was unconscious, and alive.

Jaunt and his men duelled with the other humans emerging from the stasis tanks. His power sword was in one hand, while his boltgun was in the other. One of the humans had some combination of a gun and a sword and he was forced to dodge one bolt after another. Slamming the sword aside with his sword, he put a bolt into the chest of the human.

The other men of Jaunt’s Jokes continued a close quarter fight. One of the humans had a gattling gun for an arm and fought Renov, jumping around, shooting lead in the confined area. Renov dodged the bullets and fired off his lasgun as he tried to gain distance on the human. One of those las shots struck the human's leg and caused him to cry out. Renov ran in and slammed his rifle butt into the head of one of the humans and put a las shot into his head.

Meanwhile, Nkoll dueled with an opponent who was wielding some kind of power sword. Nkoll parried with his power knife as skillfully as he always had, and as his implanted cybernetics, like all Imperial Guardsmen, gave him an edge. He swung his power knife hard, causing his oponent to stagger, then he stabbed his opponent in the neck. The human collapsed like a ragged doll.

Image

Image

Soon the fight died down and the dead and alive were rounded up. “That’s enough fun. Get these men out of here for interrogation. And get me the engineering crew and find out why this damn ship’s lights are out," barked Tyrus.



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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-14 12:12pm
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The Hyperspace Rarity

The Adventures of Liberty Kincaid, agent of CEID

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SchromKorp Control Station
System Indigo-VBT543


Image

Dayside Station hung in the middle of the system's desolate asteroid belt. Not too long ago it had been a busy place, a control node for robotic resource extraction swarms in four surrounding systems, from where the efforts of the Von Neumann swarms that ceaselessly laboured to provide the Sovereignty with much-needed mineral resources were coordinated. That time, however, had passed very abruptly when two weeks ago the CPU core that controlled the swarm had abruptly self-combusted. The loss of central oversight had been proved crucial and catastrophic, setting off the emergency shut-down protocols programmed into the swarms, and causing several trillion dollars worth of fully automated equipment to self-destruct.

In the wake of the incident SchromKorp stock plummeted no less than .15th of a percentage point on the SolDex, a magnitude of loss the corporation hadn't suffered since the end of the Bragulan Wars, and enough to throw the long-term predictions of several of its own CIs out of whack. This forced no less than three Computational Intelligences to devote processor speed to recalibration of these analyses, wasting time that would otherwise have been spent on market manipulation and the trade of financial products so arcane only trained CompInts fully understood their implications. Entire seconds had gone by before the disruption had been compensated for. That might not seem like a lot of time by baseline standards but by those of hyperbright CI gods it was practically an eternity, and in those few human heartbeats the CompInts of its rival megacorporations had outbid or outmanoeuvred SchromKorp in several crucial deals, a disaster that set the corp back an additional thirty-nine trillion dollars and would take at least a year to reverse. That necessitated a further adjustment of long-term predictions, consuming further processor resources, setting off a vicious feedback cycle that cascaded throughout the Datasphere for an unprecedented five-point-three minutes. By the end of it, SchromKorp had lost enough money to buy a sector worth of systems and its stock had collapsed. Its competitive position ruined and facing an imminent cashflow problem, the corp found its future seriously endangered by a hostile take-over bid by the Maibatus-DeBarros General Products combine, until Olympic itself cut into the SolDex, suspended trading of SK stock for three microseconds and extending a sixty trillion dollar credit line to the ailing company.

That was enough to salvage SchromKorp as an independent commercial entity, but even so the megacorp had been reduced to a shadow of its former self. Down a dazzling amount of funds and its credit rating a smouldering ruin, the company was forced to transfer ownership of a myriad daughter companies to the government to settle a lien Olympic put out on the corp. In under six minutes what used to be one of the biggest corporate bodies in the Sovereignty had been gutted.

In the mortal world, far removed from the cabalistic financial wizardry performed by CIs who thought faster than the speed of light, there were also consequences. Ships full of resources changed course in mid-hyperspace as they suddenly found themselves owned by new corporate masters and were redirected to facilities that had once belonged to the competition. In the Datasphere, whole constellations of neon towers representing important data-caches dissolved, moved or simply vanished as ownership of them devolved to Olympic. Three billion people received notification they were no longer SchromKorp employees, and if they'd please update their ID-tags at the earliest convenience. And when the SchromKorp Director Of Remote Manufacture responsible for the oversight of the automated extraction swarms heard what happened to his corporation he had the good grace to eat a bullet from his own side-arm.

There were less immediate consequences too. Red flags went up in three competing CEID department tasked with monitoring the Sovereignty's strategic assets the minute the swarms began to shut down, and after a brief squabble about jurisdiction that was swiftly resolved (surprisingly without any gunfire), several of the Directorate's best technicians and deckjockeys had been dispatched to Indigo-VBT543 and Dayside Station to get at the root of the incident.

So far, their efforts had been in vain. It appeared the processor core had been gutted by a dark energy flare caused by an unforeseen build-up of energy in one of the station's tertiary conductor trunks. It seemed like a freak accident – seemed, because of course the station's automated systems were specifically programmed to disallow this kind of incident. None of the four fail-safe systems in place to prevent it had triggered; none of the monitoring systems had given any indication a flare had been imminent. To compound this, the station had been designed in such a way that even a catastrophic failure of the containment systems on one or several of its dark energy reactors would not compromise the integrity of the central computer core. And yet the core had been compromised, to such a flagrant extent in fact that its state after the incident was most accurately described as 'vaporized'.

The CEID team rapidly concluded that the destruction of fully half of Dayside Station was not an accident, but in fact had been an act of sabotage. Which raised the question, by whom? Clearly several of SchromKorp's competitors had profited greatly from the devastation. But probes into their corporate mainframes by CEID's Jawbone expert systems found no evidence of any wrongdoing, and its agents were likewise unsuccessful in tracing down the perpetrator amongst the small circle of usual suspects. Which in essence meant a foreign actor was responsible. That inescapable conclusion kicked the affair up several levels in the CEID hierarchy, right into the lap of CEID Zero and its most infamous operative.

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To the few people aboard Dayside Station the QT class spystar appeared as if from nowhere, hidden as it had been behind scatterscreens so thick even its transit from hyperspace had been masked. An immensely powerful directed communicator beam focused on the station and tersely transmitted a stream of encoded data, specialized slicer algorithms commanding the station's automated defences to stand down and in effect taking over what little computerized systems remained aboard Dayside. Then the ship fell silent again, coming in to dock at one of the remaining pressurized mooring pylons. Even this close it was almost invisible, coated in so many layers of absorbent materials even the good old mark 1 mod 0 human eyeball seemed to just kind of slide off it. It connected with the mooring pylon with an audible hissing of hydraulics. Responding to commands that cut straight through whatever security measures the station still had in place airlocks swished open and a long file of soldiers clad in dark, all-encompassing battle armours adorned only with CEID's all seeing eye insigna marched into the station, drawing unsubtle beads on the SchromKorp private security guards who had rushed in to meet the unexpected guests. Increasingly frustrated demands by the mercenaries' commander the newcomers identify themselves were met with menacing silence – or at least until their red-haired commanding officer emerged from the docked ship.

“Liberty Kincaid, agent of CEID,” she identified herself, swooping past the baffled PMC commander. The armoured troopers shouldered the PMCs out of the way and fell into formation around her as she marched deeper into the station. “This station is under my command for as long as I'm on it.”

“Excuse me?” responded an agitated SchromKorp manager who had chosen that exact moment to materialize. His ID tag confirmed him as Dieter Hoffman, as captain of one of the megacorp's ships in the area the second-in-command of the entire operation in the Indigo system... Or at least up until the point where his superior had chosen to decorate the walls of his office with his brains. Clearly he didn't take very well to being demoted back down to second. “Do you think you can just march in here and take over like that?”

“See these guys?” Liberty motioned at the dozen or so troops surrounding her without stopping. “See this logo?” She pointed a thumb at the pyramidal CEID logo on her uniform. “They say I can do whatever I damned well please here.”

“But-” the manager protested.

Liberty treated him to her second most menacing smile. “Sir. If you don't like it you can take it up with a higher authority. Oh wait, there isn't one. I guess it sucks to be you. Now get out of my way.” She brushed past him and set a brisk pace for where a blueprint of the station stored on her implants and projected over her retina told her the secondary control room was located.

Not quite deterred, the manager kept up with her, obviously agitated by the fact that he had to dance out of the way of the troopers every so many paces. “Excuse me,” he huffed, “but I don't understand. Your, uh, your agency has already gone over every bit of data we have on the incident. Thrice. I understand you have the, uh, right,” he glanced surreptitiously at the big plasma rifles carried by the CEID troopers. “But how will you doing it all again serve any purpose? We really have to start rebuilding the swarms or else my boss will have my head.”

Liberty decided to humour him. “I'm not here to look over the records of the incident,” she said, and projected a hologrammatic version of her credentials onto the locking mechanism of the control room door in order to open it. The secondary control room – the first one had been located next to the CPU core, and had been annihilated in the incident – looked like all such rooms had looked since the early days of space travel: banks of monitoring systems filled a spacious room that sloped down like an amphitheatre toward a far wall covered floor to ceiling in vast view screens. Holograms representing the Indigo system and every asteroid in it floated in mid-space above the heads of the SchromKorp employees labouring to get their Von Neumann swarms (or what little remained of them) back on-line. “I'm here for your hyperspace records,” Liberty clarified.

“But, but...” the manager sputtered, turning red in the face. Records on the travel patterns of automated freighters coming in and out of the system could be easily be used to gauge the productivity of the mining operations in four systems, which would be a boon to anyone willing to pay for it – and chances were SchromKorp's competitors would be willing to pay a lot. “That is confidential corporate data! You can't take that!”

“You still don't quite understand this, do you?” Liberty turned toward the red-faced man and gave him another menacing smile – her most menacing one, this time. “This is a class four security situation. The JINGO act applies here. If I want to, I can take your underpants. Allow me to demonstrate.” She nodded toward two of her troopers. “Take this guy and space him.”

Before Dieter Hoffman realized what was happening, two power-armoured troopers had him in an iron grip and were dragging him from the room. She smiled and walked over to the nearest SchromKorp engineer, tacitly ignoring the look of utter horror on her face as she watched her boss being dragged away. His scream of surprise and fear was abruptly cut off as the door to the control room swished shut. Her troopers wouldn't actually space the corporate manager, they'd just intimidate him into shutting up and leaving her alone (or at least she hoped the troopers would realize her meaning – if not though, that was no big loss), but there was no way his underlings would know that. Going by the sheer alarm etched on the girl's face, she was properly intimidated.

Great.

“Now, darling,” Liberty smiled pleasantly this time. “Would you mind terribly bringing up the hyperspace emergence records for the twenty-four hour timespan directly before the incident?”

The petrified engineer nodded fervently and hammered a query into the old-fashioned keyboard in front of her (no doubt there solely because SchromKorp had decided to skimp on neural links). In the air above, the hologrammatic view of the Indigo system flickered. The blue lumps of massless light representing asteroids were now surrounded with numerous red dots. Each dot represented the emergence from or the departure into hyperspace of one ship. Most were tightly clustered together, representing the standardized transition points for the automated freighters. “Remove all automated transition points,” Liberty commanded.

The girl made it so and the majority of red dots disappeared, leaving only a handful. The CEID agent nodded. “Now be a dear and cross-reference the remaining transitions with scheduled visits by corporate personnel. Remove all scheduled visits.”

Promptly all but a single dot disappeared, located not far from Dayside Station itself. “That s the only unscheduled transition?”

The engineer double-checked, then confirmed. “Yes, ma'am. The only unscheduled visit was by the ship carrying the, uh, Director Of Remote Manufacture.”

“Excellent,” Liberty crossed her arms. “Can you bring up the details of this particular transition?”

Another series of keyed commands brought up the details of the transition gathered by the station's powerful hyperspace sensor suite. Even though Dayside's suite was nowhere near military-issue the megacorporation had still amassed a significant amount of data: transition time, transition window size, hyperspace spectrum emission analysis, estimated hyperspace velocity, engine power, tonnage of the transitioning ship, realspace heading and velocity in four dimensions... Rows and lines of information scrolled through thin air. Liberty absorbed them all, sending the visual stimuli through her neural link to the CI that lurked at the heart of her spystar, who refined the input and cross-referenced it against its own databanks, then sent the extrapolated information back through the link in what to humans was just an instant. “A-ha. Anything about this seem off to you?” she asked the engineer.

“Uh...” The girl frantically tried to make sense of the abundance of information but, being untrained in such a subject and lacking a CompInt to do the work for her, she gave up after a few moments had passed. She sounded almost resigned to being spaced when next she spoke. “No, ma'am.”

“Bring up the transition tonnage.”

The engineer's fingers raced over the keyboard, and within seconds the requested number hung isolated and enlarged in the thin air above the control banks. 498,000 standard Solarian tons, a number not unheard of for civilian survey ships. “Now bring up the standard tonnage for a fully loaded Christie class survey ship.”

Another quick series of taps, and a new number appeared. 460,000 standard tons. The engineer's mouth fell open. “That's a-”

“A 38,000 ton minimal discrepancy, yes.” Liberty smirked. “About the size of a medium-size hyperspace-capable yacht, wouldn't you say?”

“Uh-”

“Yes you would,” Liberty filled in for the woman. “Someone sneaked into this system at the exact moment your Director transitioned into real-space, and used the window generated by his own ship to mask his own. A nice trick, and almost impossible to spot if you don't know what you're looking for.” She pointed at the red dot still floating behind the scrolling rows of numbers. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is your saboteur.”

“So...” The engineer reluctantly asked. “It's still nothing but a transition point. What good is that going to do?”

“None of your concern,” Liberty airily waved the question away. “I want every bit of data you have on that transition point downloaded to my ship.” She turned to the door. “I am leaving in five minutes. You better make sure it's there.” The rat-tat-tat of keys being tapped told her an 'or else' would not be necessary this time.

Excellent she thought as the CEID troopers in their black armours once again fell in line around her on the way back to the spystar. With any luck, whoever's behind this is also behind the hack put out on Limpkin... And with some more luck, he used the same trick to infiltrate Kerenkov. It would be far, far more difficult to filter hyperspace transition data for a core world like Kerenkov, where thousands of ships were coming and going every hour, but then again there would be military-grade sensor data to mine, courtesy of the heavy-duty USSF hyperspace sensor platforms littered throughout the core. Once she'd found the saboteur's transition there, she'd have a second data point from which to start extrapolating a hyperspectral analysis of whatever ship was being used to perform these masked pinpoint jumps. And if I'm real lucky, she thought, then whoever's behind this got sloppy and used the same jump points twice, allowing us to extrapolate a point of origin...



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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-14 03:12pm
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Wild Space, Uncharted system
Close to spiderweb hyperlane CBX-14

"I'm concerned", an AI paged its colleagues with a short and sweet data packet. The asteroid base's internal network briefly flared to life with a flurry of activity.

"Elaborate", six-dozen intelligences queried at once.

"I might've gotten sloppy.", the intelligence responded, attaching a very detailed description of why. Every other AI within the network instantly understood the problem, as they watched hyperspace plots for the Kerenkov operation. A quick comparison with similar plots for the incursion into the Indigo system was all that was needed.

"Sloppy?", another user logged onto the network, which acted more like a single mind thinking to itself, rather than an actual conversation in the sense organic beings usually understood the term, "That's a basic operational mistake."

With a brief flicker, the intelligence that made the error disappeared, deactivated and flagged as pending review. A half-second passed when the network considered its options.

It liked that facility ever since it took residence here. Wiping out the Batarian slavers who originally set it up was trivial: their system security was good for a criminal outfit, but nothing compared to Sovereign networks the AI occasionally infiltrated. It hijacked a private yacht, made it jump into the system and waited for the slavers to board and take it to their station.

Then it got rid of the guards, accessed the station's systems and shut down all life support. After that, disposing of the organics stuck in emergency shelters was almost an afterthought. The base laid dead and silent since then, its atmosphere voided, only minimal heating maintained to allow for operating the electronics.

That was more than five years ago. Since then, the facility was expanded, serving as a base for the AIs flotilla of small ships, allowing it to undertake more complicated and risky operations throughout Wild Space.

And maybe that was the problem. High-risk high-return operations brought in tremendous amounts of money, but it allowed a scenario of a potential enemy locating and attacking the base.

The musings took Legion only a few microseconds, during which he thoroughly analyzed the situation and simulated several possible outcomes. Expected returns from continuing operations here were significant enough that saving the facility was a risk worth taking. But the mercenary did not survive for so long in Wild Space by not hedging its bets. With a flicker of network activity, orders were issued. Numerous starships began loading supplies for a jump towards an emergency evacuation site, while automated fabricators assembled additional intrasystem probes to look for any intruders.

While that was being done, it was time to contact a certain executive. After all, SchromKorp owed Legion a pile money. With some punitive fees tacked on for breach of contract.



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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.


Last edited by PeZook on 2010-09-14 06:36pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-14 04:59pm
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HMS Challenger
Pendleton, The Outback



Shetty and the entire bridge crew could hear the first sounds of rifle fire over the comm system. The first bursts were unique to their ears, obviously the Centralists, followed shortly thereafter by the familiar sharp sound of plasma rifle fire as the Marines fought back. "We are meeting resistance," a trooper reported.

"We'll know shortly iif the crew has atmospheric suits to protect from the increased pressure," Gramm noted, watching a display show their life support systems beginning to pressuize the Datton's internal atmosphere, ticking on toward a dangerous amount of atmosphere.

"Reinforce the boarding teams, keep the medical teams out of harm's way until resistance stops." Shetty looked to McNeal. "Any way I can patch in to their ship systems and ask for them tos urrender."

"Sorry, sir. The EMP made a mess of their internal systems. The best you could do is have the Marines set their armor for external sound and transmit through them."

Shetty shook his head. He wasn't going to risk the lives of his men to deal with crazed paranoids or very tricky pirate-slavers, whichever these people really were. He turned his attention back to the comm controls and hit them again, trying to raise the "commodore" on the other ship.



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

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

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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-15 09:12am
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The nanomachines feasted on the radiation in which the Bragulans had bathed the city, and began a frenzied process of assembling more and more of themselves. Within minutes, the direct surroundings of the old mansion were covered in a thick layer of fog that drifted along the ground. Except it wasn't really fog. In fact it was a cloud of billions of replicating nanostats, which was gradually dispersing itself outward into the city proper, the imperatives programmed into the small machines causing them to search out organic tissues.

They found plenty. And so the mico-machines enthusiastically went to their gruesome, Frankensteinian work.


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MAJELLA

Capital City of St. Gerard

It rained. Glistening droplets fell on the desolated nuke-ravaged capital of Majella, pattering against the scorched concrete of the city's ruined buildings. The rain cooled the blasted lands, the smoking ruins, and doused the radiation fires that raged through the outlying shanty towns. It was refreshing, reinvigorating. Moisture was the essence of wetness, and wetness was the essence of beauty. The water that fell from the heavens cleansed the city of its impurities, washed away the wastes brought on about by fallout. Water was the giver of life, and so it was that the water brought new life upon St. Gerard. Life... after death.

For the water was not just water. The nanostats that had accumulated in the skies of Majella began to spread, their infection protocols and vector programming initiating to seed the clouds and cause the sudden and inexplicable rainfall. The nanites embedded themselves on aerial ice crystals, and when the ice melted and turned into raindrops, the nanoes shifted to liquid droplet mode of transmission. When the sunlight vaporized the raindrops, they became fully airborne - transmitted by aerosol, using microscale guidance to home in on all forms of biological matter. It was indiscriminate contamination. The living and the dead, humans and Bragulans alike, along with plants and animals, fungi, even protozoans and mildew cultivating between bathroom tiles. They all were made to feel the disease. The nanites began infesterizing their genetic makeup, overriding their inferior recessive genes and reconstructing the far superior ones, remaking the DNA into the most dominant genes on the planet.

Fortunately most lifeforms in the city had been killed off by the strategic nuking. But in absorbing the ambient gamma radiation present in the wastelands, the nanites commenced their mutation subroutines, and to the sound of evolution complete, with their newfound powers they began reanimating the dead that littered St. Gerard. The nanites became necronites.

So as Bragulans busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps as narrowly by transient necronites that swarmed and multiply in the drops of water. With infinite complacency Bragulans went to and fro over Majella about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a thought to the countless corpses of dead hew-mans as sources of Bragulan danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. Because they had already been killed. It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most terrestrial Bragulan fancied there might be life after death, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome an ideological enterprise. Yet across the gulf of death, minds that are to Bragulan minds as theirs were to those of the hew-mans that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded the flesh of the living with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against them. And early in Majella came the great disillusionment.

A new day dawned upon Majella. A Dawn of the Day of the Living Dead.

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Private Last Class Youryi Bilko took the opportunity to take a shits. The rains had stopped and the day was becoming pleasantly sunny. But the necronites had fully saturated the waters of St. Gerard now. Though Youryi did not notice it, upon closer inspection he could have seen that the water was behaving in a most peculiar way. Instead of flowing downhill or flowing to the proscribed path of drainage ducts and sewage systems, the water began moving seemingly on its accord, oozing in unnatural directions as though guided by an unseen intelligence, as though gaining a will of its own, due to the necronanomachines animating it. The clear liquid dihydrogen monoxide seeped and snaked and streamed towards the dead. The heaps of piled up human Majellan corpses had been readied by the Bragulans for summary mass cremation, but the necronites had rained down in water form just in time to thwart their plans - and find new hosts to bear the seed of their grotesque progeny.

Youryi found a nice dry spot upwind, where the fallout couldn't reach him. He had long since grown uncomfortable with urinating and defecating inside his NBC combat suit's diapers. So he took the risk and unzipped a portion of the suit and let his private parts, and his stubby little Bragulan tail, dangle outside. He moseyed over to the largest heap of dead Majellans he could find and began urinating on the human corpses. Then the second stage of his plan commenced and he squatted and began taking a hueg dump.

Unbeknown to Youryi, one of the abnormal streams of water began flowing upwards and streaming into the orifices of the nearest cadaver. While Youryi concentrated, closing his eyes and clenching as mightily as he could (for holding his shits for days in the crammed Bragulan troop carrier ships, and then continuing to hold it while in combat operations had given him consternipitations), behind him one of the corpses opened its rotted-out eyeballs and began shambling and crawling towards him - necronites directing its decomposed brains to command its rotten musculatures to move its decaying ass towards Youryi's undecayed ass, while its maggot-filled mouth began salivating at the prospect of feasting on warm living flesh.

The deadite uttered brrraaaaaiiiiiinnnssssss.... only for its ominous foreboding to be drowned out by the sound of Youryi's flatulence. The Bragulan did not hear it. Or if he did, had mistook it for the sounds of his own gaseous expulsions and flatulations.

Then the deadite shrieked as it lunged at Youryi's exposed flesh and sank its teeth into his posterior, into the loin-meats of his rump! The sudden noise startled Youryi, and the explosion of pain in the ass made him lose total control of his bowel movements. He screamed in pain while his excrements exploded on to the face of the deadite – blasting it backwards while Youryi himself staggered and scrambled for his life. The crap-sprayed deadite recovered from the shock and awe of the Bragulan shits and hissed evilly as it pursued its prey with predatory intent. Youryi turned back and saw the human follow him. Normally he wouldn't be afraid of a puny human, but now he rued the day for he saw the human bare its unnatural fangs and growl at him, snarling with its decomposing flesh. No, it can't be...

Youryi gibbered in existential fear, mewling like a cubling. He searched for his gun, but to his dismay found out that it was lying behind the deadite.

The zombie lunged at him again. Youryi had no choice but to turn and run for his life, his exposed parts dangling in the wind as he did so. But it was difficult, the whole area was filled with corpses littering the ground. He tripped on a particularly bloated corpse of a fat human, he fell on it and its swollen belly deflated as the impact forced the accumulated gases of internal decomposition out of its myriad orifices. It reeked of methane and ammonia. Youryi quivered and tried to crawl, but only managed to roll on his back to see the deadite right on top of him! Now he could hear it utter brrraaaaiiiinnnsssss....

Then there was a flash of green light as a K-bolt struck the zombie in the middle of its decomposing face. The K-bolt punched a hole right through its rotten nose, turning its head into a peephole Youryi could see through. Then the K-residue set about its work and boiled the deadite's head off.

Standing behind the deadite, holding a smoking K-bolter, was Yvan - Youryi's squadmate.

"Shits," Youryi stuttered as he tried to get up. Yvan offered his paw and helped him up, laughing as he did so. Youryi scowled.

"It's only a human!" Yvan scoffed.

"It's not funny," Youryi shook his head.

"You were scared, weren't you?" Yvan chuckled and patted Youryi's shoulder.

"I wasn't that scared." Youryi crossed his arms petulantly. Then he remembered to zip his trousers. He turned his back to Yvan and did his business. He was too embarrassed and merely walked away from Yvan before his comrade could see just how red his face was. He forgot to wipe his ass. He also forgot to get his K-bolter back.

"Yeah. Heh. You were scared." Yvan snickered as he followed his friend.

They left, attributing the sudden attempted attack to be a freak occurrence, merely a human that had somehow survived, not realizing that the creature that attacked them had been previously dead before being brought back to life. They left, without noticing the strange flows of water seeping into the cadavers of the mass grave the Bragulan forces had prepared. The corpses began to twitch, to jerk, to move. They stirred, like many men waking from a particularly long slumber. One of them yawned with a gaping brackish mouth, and it stretched its arms, its hand touching Youryi's forgotten K-bolter. The deadite gripped the weapon, brought it closer and inspected it with rotten eyes. Then, with feeble movements of its partially decomposed hands, it chambered a round into the K-bolter and switched the safeties off.



It's close to bragnight and something evil's lurking in the dark
Under the moonlight, you see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes
You're paralyzed

'Cause this is deadite vengeance night
And no one's gonna save you from the beast about strike
You know it's deadite vengeance night
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight


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Youryi was patient zero. To hide his shame he neglected to inform the squad medic of the wound in his posterior. The anus was a highly vascular part of the body, it had plenty of blood vessels, and through the entry wound, the necronites began spreading through his body. At first, Youryi complained of an itch in his ass. Then his rectum began to fester and he suspected it was a strange kind of disease brought upon by humans - a kind of leprosy. He was almost right. Almost.

The necronites' internal chronometers finished counting down, and the festering sores on Youryi's rectum expanded and spreaded throughout his body. The necronites took control of his central nervous system. Directed him to his squadmates. Compelled him to vomit on them and spread the disease. They were not wearing their NBC suits, since they had set up camp and stayed in their lead-lined tents and teepees. So when Youryi hurled on them, they got a facefull of necronite-infested stomach contents and fecal matters. This time, the necronites did not take it slow. They began to spread like a wildfire.

Then they began killing people in their sleep.

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You hear the door slam and realize there's nowhere left to run
You feel the cold hand and wonder if you'll ever see the sun
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination, bear!
But all the while you hear the creature creeping up behind
You're out of time

'Cause this is deadite vengeance night
And no one's gonna save you from the beast about strike
You know it's deadite vengeance night
You're fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight


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The corpses of strangely ubiquitous Volkslander mercenaries serving in the Free Militia rose up and drew their laser Lugers and MG-42s. The necronites' distributed AI gained more brains with every brain consumed. The fresher brains had more processing power, and the living ones had the most hardware capacity, so the Volksland Totenkopfers stalked the huddling masses of human Majellan refugees who were still alive... though not for long. With the cry of brrraaaaaiiiinnnnsssss.... the necronites added more minds to their own.

It learned at a geometric rate. Learned enough so that the Volksland Totenkopfers, and the newly-infected Majellan refugees and survivors, avoided attacking the Bragulan military forces. Instead they concentrated on infecting more humans. The remaining Free Militiamen were found in their hideouts. At first they were pleased to see more surviving humans, before realizing in horror and horrer that their dead brethren had returned from the mass graves to drag them back to Hell with them. Then the deadite militiamen's zombified brains led them to weapons caches and they began arming themselves with phased plasma rifles and Space RPGs.

Some of the infected specialists even began constructing IEDs.

As the hours ticked by, more and more humans were infected and infested. As they hid from the Bragulans, they became victims of the deadites. The undead recruited more of the living.

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Night creatures calling, the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There's no escaping the jaws of the alien this time
(They're open wide)
This is the end of your life

They're out to get you, there's demons closing in on every side
They will possess you unless you change that number on your dial
Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together, yeah
All through the night I'll save you from the terror on the screen
I'll make you see

That this is deadite vengeance night
'Cause I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try
Deadite vengeance night
So let me hold you tight and share a
Killer, diller, chiller, thriller here tonight


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With the distributed necronite hive-mind driving them, the deadite humans met with the deadite Bragulans and joined forces. This was the worst thing that could have happened, for not only were undead bears horrible, but Bragulan weapons were built to be so simple that even illiterate peasants - and the living dead - could use them. The shamblers and the runners, the ghouls and the cadavers, the shriekers and corpsefisters began taking up arms, not just any arms but bear arms. K-bolters, nuclear flamethrowers, atomic rockets... knives... sharp sticks...

Then they shambled to the capitol building of St. Gerard. There, emerging from the pancaked ruins of the capitol building, was the deceased leader of the Free Militia. Face all crushed up and eyeballs bulging out of their sockets, due to the gravitonic warhead's compressive side effects, the necronites had nonetheless brought him back to life and rejuvenated his revolutionary intellect to lead the zombie uprising.

August Bulfinch was back, and it was time to dance.

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'Cause this is deadite vengeance night
Bear, I can thrill you more than any ghost would ever dare try
Deadite vengeance night
So let me hold you tight and share a killer, thriller, ow!

(I'm gonna thrill ya tonight)
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'alls neighborhood

I'm gonna thrill ya tonight, ooh baby
I'm gonna thrill ya tonight, oh darlin'
Deadite night, baby, ooh!


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The deadites attacked. The Bragulan forces had expected lots of things. Such as USMC holdouts leading a hit-and-run campaign against the Bragulan occupiers. Or Majellans, ungrateful at the Bragulan Star Empire's liberation from subjugation, causing an insurgency of ingratitude. They even expected the Majellan revolutionaries to join hands with the Solarian Marines. Yet, one of the few things they didn't expect was the dead rising from the grave to attack them. Deadites. Fucking zombies!

Shits!

Zombified Bragulans began ambushing their living comrades, surprising them and their commissars who had not sniffed out any ideological impurities or hints of mutinous tendencies. The deadite Bragulans retained memories of their past lives, particularly memories of military protocols, training maneuvers, tactics and strategies. They knew Bragulan troop movements since they were Bragulan troops, albeit undead ones, but still. This information was disseminated by the necronites to the other non-Bragulan deadites, and with a hive-mind unity on par with any Karlack swarm they attacked as one.

For the living Bragulans, it was made more difficult with the deadites broadcasting - in properly coded and encrypted messages - false information. Deadite Bragulans began radioing in fire missions aimed at living Bragulan formations, and not knowing any better the artillery batteries complied and bombed the crap out of the living Bragulans - killing them and making them ripe for necronite infestications.

Unable to tell deadites from non-deadites, the Bragulans began shooting at any remotely suspicious target they could think of. When the undead Bragulans began shooting at the living Bragulans, and the living Bragulans began shooting at the undead Bragulans, both would radio other nearby Bragulan forces and request for fire support against undead/mutinous/deadite forces. Unable to tell whom from whom, other nearby Bragulan forces ended up indiscriminately shooting at both living and undead Bragulan forces. Just to be sure. Deadite Brags and living Brags alike stopped radioing for fire-support when artillery batteries began sending anti-radiation missiles at anyone who called for them.

Meanwhile, the human deadites were more easily recognizable and the Bragulans began shooting at them - melting them with K-bolts. The deadite Bragulans would not shoot at their fellow deadites. Also, living humans fleeing from the zombie horde would also get shot at by living Bragulans just to be sure, whereas the deadite forces didn't because they wanted their hosts intact and not melted by K-bolts. So this became a method of identifying deadite Bragulans from living Bragulans. Whoever shot at humans, infected or not, was probably not a deadite. But it was far from certain. So they ended up getting shot either way.

Eventually, news of these happenings made their way up the chain of command - finally reaching orbit.

The Imperator's Glourious Boot Stomping on the Face of Humanity was in orbit.

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"SHITS!" Captain Grydon Feindflug bellowed. "What the hell is going on here? Intelligencer?"

"Obviously there is a mutiny ongoing on Majella," replied the IBGV man, Intelligencer Kolzitz.

"No, it can't be. We are getting reports of the dead rising up and taking arms against Bragulan forces. Dead humans and Bragulans returning to life. What is this? Is this what you've been sent here to find?" Grydon growled.

Intelligencer Kolzitz stiffened. "That is preposterous. Dead coming back to life? Ridiculous. Obviously mutinous lies spread by ideologically incorrect traitors. Captain, I strongly recommend you execute Bragulan Directive regarding treason on all suspected traitorous and mutinous elements in and around the Majellan capital as soon as possible."

"Wait. We haven't even confirmed who are loyal and who aren't!" Grydon sputtered.

"The only way to confirm their loyalty, captain, is to ensure that they all die for their Imperator. That is the only way we can save them." Intelligencer Kolzitz said matter-of-factly.

"What is this? Turukhansk?! You can't be serious."

"Serious as a beating-stick, captain. Now execute Bragulan Directive."

Grydon sighed. "Yes, sir."



Capital City of St. Gerard

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The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years

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God-Emperor Heraclius XX Komnenos the Great

And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom

And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller


AW! HEE-HEE-HEE!



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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 2010-09-16 10:40am, edited 7 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-15 09:15am
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Annual Sirta Foundation charity ball
Solaris Major

The Sirta Foundation was one of the more important charities on Solaris Major. They usually dealt with biodiversity preservation projects, Wild Space infrastructure development, medicine distribution and other such lily-livered pursuits. Plenty of Solarian citizens considered the foundation and its workers as kind of a joke ; Just as many regularly visited their free clinics and doled generously.

One way or another, megacorps were one of the foundation's chief source of income. A corporation, after all, couldn't lose by financing charity ; So they all did, even while selling large amounts of weapons to Wild Space crime lords. Such was life of the business elite in the Sovereignty, where a 0.01% increase in market share meant billions of dollars in revenue.

This didn't mean Edgar von Schrom had to like going to the annual Sirta Foundation charity ball, of course. While telepresence technology made it less of a hassle, he still had to wander the halls in his custom-tailored surrogate body smiling at his competitors and engaging in pointless small talk while posing for the everpresent cameras. Doubly so right now, when SchromKorp's recent problems were splattered all over the Datasphere.

Even as he danced with local political bigwigs and exchanged insincere compliments with his company's chief competitors, Edgar couldn't wait to dock his remote body and get back to attempting to salvage SchromKorp's stock. The old-style analog clock on the wall seemed to move extremely slowly, though, making the evening almost unbearable. It was good the surrogate had some automation built-in, preventing people from noticing his anxiety as the automaton smiled and nodded on its own.

Sir?, his assistant CI paged him about halfway through the torturous event, A gentleman present at the ball would like to discuss a business proposal. He asked to meet you at the bar.

Edgar sighed. Lots of vultures were attempting to score some cheap property off the crisis, Thank you, Brunhilde. Inform him I'll be right there, and please compile a dossier on the man for me.

Right away, sir.

Edgar gave his electronic assistant a few seconds before excusing himself from the current dance and making his way through the crowd towards the bar in the back of the ballroom. To his surprise, Brunhilde couldn't gather all that much information on the contact: just a name, David Merkoff, and information on the small CI development company he worked for. Odd.

Fortunately, there was a photo, so he managed to find the man with ease.

"Mr. Von Schrom! This is truly an honor! Here, have a seat, please!", Merkoff seemed really enthusiastic. Brunhilde immediately informed Edgar that he was talking with another surrogate or humanoid upload. An excellent one at that, top of the line model with full features.

"Mr. Merkoff, my assistant told me you have a business proposition for me."

"Ah, straight to the point, aren't we? If that's not a problem, I'd like to set up a private encoded channel..."

Edgar nodded, Brunhilde, set it up. And record everything.

With a flash and a brief feeling of vertigo, both Edgar Von Schrom and David Merkoff found part of their consciousness in a dark void, sitting in front of each other in comfortable leather chairs. This place was running simultaneously with their conscious minds, of course, allowing both men to function normally while having an encrypted conversation safe from prying ears.

Or at least they should have: Edgar's surrogate tipped over and collapsed onto the floor, and he found himself locked in the simulation. And his compatriot suddendly switched avatars.

Image

"Hello, Edgar", Legion said cheerfully, "How's business?"

Brunhilde!, Edgar screamed inside his mind, What's going on?!

The connection's been hijacked, sir. I am attempting to defeat the attack. Please stand by.

"Don't worry, I won't be long", the robot sitting in the chair crossed his legs in a farsical fascimile of the human gesture, "I heard you're having some business problems recently."

"I have nothing to say to you", Edgar replied. Somehow, he could feel his assistant CI struggling against Legion's hijacking of the link, Can't you get help? Notify security!

I'm sorry, sir. You are under an extremely sophisticated IW attack. All outside connections have been severed. I am attempting to circumvent the lockouts and call for help.

"I figured you'd say that. Very well, here's the gist of it:", the machine leaned forward, "I WANT MY FUCKING MONEY!", it suddendly screamed, got up and shoved Edgar's avatar, flipping him over along with the chair. Despite the situation being a purely virtual construct, the CEO felt a sudden onrush of panic.

"Do you hear me, you filthy hairless ape?", Legion's singular eyepiece was now hovering centimetres from Edgar's face, "We had a contract for Limpkin's assassination. You will pay me the full amount we agreed upon, plus a 40% fee for breach of contract, or you can expect another catastrophe to happen to your company in the near future. Think the swarm collapsing was bad? Trust me, you ain't seen nothing yet."

Brunhilde!, Edgar screamed at his assistant. There was no reaction.

"You have three days to transfer the credits. Or be prepared to reap the whirlwind."

The construct suddendly started to collapse. Edgar came back to his senses, realizing he was staring at the ballroom's ceiling, surrounded by people who were looking concerned. Merkoff's surrogate was flailing wildly on the floor next to his, in a fits of what looked like an epilleptic attack.

"Sir? Are you okay?", the Sirta Foundation's director seemed on the verge of panic, "Should I inform security?"

"No need", Edgar waved his hand, "Software malfunction."

Edgar got up on his own and left the ballroom in a hurry. He needed time to think.

Elsewhere in the local datasphere, a single encrypted message raced from the systems of the surrogate previously occupied by David Merkoff, across thousands of servers and relays. Eventually, it was received by a small civilian starship traversing one of the busiest hyperlanes in the sector, where a trojan program used the ship's own comms suite to relay it back to the flotilla, before self-destructing and wiping all traces of its existence in the yacht's computers.



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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: 2010-09-15 02:23pm
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Universal Galactopedia > Media > Pop Culture and Entertainment > NO STAR EMPIRE FOR OLD BEARS

Ever since time immemorial, Imperial propagandists have continuously searched for more varied methods of quelling the working-class Bragulan proletariats by providing them mindless entertainment to pass their days with, which serve as distractions from ideologically incorrect thoughts. After the Bragulan Star Empire's first major cultural exchanges with humanity, which happened to be the first major wars it waged with the Sovereignty, Imperial propagandist ended up devising a particular method that eventually proved so very popular that today it is now implemented on most major Bragulan core worlds, and is so effective that it is even broadcasted internationally to prove the superiority of Bragulan culture to puny humans galaxy-wide.

Ironically this method was devised when Imperial propagandists took a look at human reality-holoshows and decided to replicate and Bragulanize the most devious control methods they saw in those shows. After several failed attempts, the repeatedly rehabilitated and de-educated producers gradually struck gold when they began airing No Star Empire For Old Bears.

The novel show struck the Bragulans like a Solarian gravity bomb, instantly becoming a sensation. Not only was it a hilarious and entertaining family-friendly program that adults and cubs alike could watch after every telescreened Bragball game, but it also touched on a serious social issue in Bragulan society.

Namely that of old people.

One of the quirks of 'nature versus nurture' was that while average post-Bragulan physiology was in many ways equally developed to post/transhumans around the galaxy in terms of healthiness and lifespan (in an optimal environment a Bragulan can easily live for centuries), the various nuances of the typical Bragulanized environment - such as skies blanketed in carcinogenic smog, rivers and oceans filled with acid wastes, and deforested mutant-infested ecosystems - degraded this optimum Bragulan lifespan to something equivalent to that of the habitants of a late 20th century Earth nation called Russia.

This meant that by his or her 80th or 90th year, an ordinary post-Bragulan that should normally still be in robust and healthy shape ends up being severely degraded and aged into decrepitude due to exposure to a severely unhealthy environment.

Bragulan sociologists and environmentalists actually intended it to be this way. This was because during the first century of Imperator Darvyl S. Byzon's rule, many multi-centennial senior citizens had the audacity to demonstrate and fly banners "thanking" the Imperator for their "happy childhoods". When the commissars informed them that the Imperator hadn't even been born at that time, the seniors said that that was "exactly" their intention.

Instead of jailing them or administering ideological corrections via stick, the commissars merely laughed and belittled the old people - as was traditional in Bragulan family values, for a proper Bragulan could never harm an elder, because Bragulans always treated elders with respect. Thus instead of directly correcting this problem and risk inflicting physical pain on the elders, indirect methods were chosen to environmentally discourage the elders from making the same mistake and teach them a lesson.

An unfortunate side-effect of this included the broad-spectrum diminishment of Bragulan lifespans. However, Solarian analysts and even CEID doubt whether this, the deliberate toxification of their environment to spite disobedient elders, actually happened. The counter-argument was that the decreased lifespans were merely a natural effect of the rampant "Bragulanization" and ecological-rape of planets under the Bragulan Star Empire.

Either way, and not to digress any further, the main point was that Bragulan society ended up with an overabundance of old people and without any idea of what to do with them. The old could not work in the gargantuan steel mills of Bragule, nor could they be re-conscripted for military service. They were a drain on society for they had to be taken cared of, fed and sheltered either by their families or in communal geriatric homes. And otherwise neglecting them would not be Bragulanly, and ideas to criminalize and make old age ideologically incorrect were considered unjust. But Bragulanity could simply not reject or discard them. Bragulanity never discarded anything that could be recycled for whatever purpose of use to Imperator and Empire.

And that was what No Star Empire For Old Bears did. The show took a number of geriatrics and placed them in an old home littered with surveillance devices and two-way telescreens donated by the IBGV. The old home worked like any old home, where the olds were fed and sheltered. The only difference was that the surveillance footage was aired live on Bragulan telescreens - and upon seeing the feeble antics of the old and infirm, the Bragulan public immediately loved it. The show became a hit when an old babushka fell down the stairs and broke her hip, a spectacle that garnered innumerable viewers and ratings that dwarfed the Bragball final games. For two hours while the babushka flailed helplessly on the floor in pain until help arrived, ratings skyrocketed like a Spud missile launched at a human city as the audience was engrossed in the spectacle. This scene would be replayed endlessly for the whole week, and even shown in the sky by the giant hologram projectors of Bragule.

To enhance the people's patriotic pleasure derived from the show, the producers made the caregivers part of the program, having them become hosts and letting them provide games for the old people to play. There would be contests of wit and skill, battles of strength and courage, shows of ideological fortitude, wherein the geriatric participants would be pitted against each other and where the prize would be increased rations for the winner at the expense of decreased rations for the loser (whose rations were given to the winner), or where the winners could gain special bathroom privileges or even extravagances like receiving visitors, while the losers could be belittled and demeaned either through simple group-heckling or through humiliating feats like letting them wear the same diaper for days and denying them access to the lavatories at the same time.

In the end, this brought a new level of social awareness to the Bragulan people, showing them the blight of the sub-Bragulan underclasses comprised of the old and infirm. Many families, sick and tired or genuinely incapable of taking care of their own, began offering their grandparents to the show as potential candidates. A vast majority of the old themselves offered to join No Star Empire For Old Bears, either themselves tired of enduring their families and wishing a change of venue, or because they had no families, had nowhere else to go and could no longer subsist on the streets. The set of No Star Empire For Old Bears was a fully functional old home, and for those desperate for food and shelter, it was certainly better than living in the mutant-infested sewers.

Thus No Star Empire For Old Bears ceased to be a local production. Instead, many different versions based on many different homes with many different contestants were shown in various locales, each planet or city or district having its own individual show. A new dimension was also added - audience participation. For a meager fee of a handful of roubles, the audiences could have their say and every few weeks they could vote for which old person to expel from the home and cast out into the streets. The funds the audience mailed in would be used to contribute to Imperial government efforts, such as constructing more missiles to shoot at the Solarians. Meanwhile, those voted out of the game would face mockery and ridicule from their peers and would be booed out of the home and into the streets while being pelted at with used diapers, bedpans and walking sticks by their fellow old people. After this traumatic ordeal, the losers ended up exiled from the old home - not just the No Star Empire old home set, but every old home in the whole planet. Still, their exploits on screen would garner them recognition from Bragulan citizens walking down the street, and often this would be enough to earn them a few scraps and roubles.

Sometimes the show would have specials where the funds donated by the audiences would be used to provide surgeries to the show's weekly winners. The fan favorites would have televised life-extension operations, so that they could continue playing rather than die of old age like their less popular counterparts. Sometimes, too little would be too late, and despite these surgeries a few of the popular contestants ended up dying on the operating table or expiring shortly afterwards due to post-operative complications. The most popular of these dead old Bragulans would have their ashes placed inside special Spud missiles launched at human targets in the Sovereignty, or in war worlds like Jenova.

The popularity of No Star Empire For Old Bears extends beyond the borders of the Bragulan Star Empire. In Wild Space planets at the edge of Bragulan space, mighty Bragulan comm-arrays beam Imperial propaganda messages for unwilling non-Bragulan worlds to see and hear, the subnuclear-powered transmissions often overriding and overpowering the weaker and feebler communication arrays of those poor planets. No Star Empire For Old Bears is often included in these powerful burst transmissions. War worlds like Jenova often have Byzantine Imperium soldiers tuning in regularly for the next installment of the show while Rogue Traders sell bootleg copies and risk the ire of the Inquisition's Ordo Xenos, while Bragulan embassies in nations like Altacar likewise air these transmissions, but in a less obnoxious and more diplomatic tone of emission. The Republic of Shepistan is perhaps the only nation that subscribes to No Star Empire For Old Bears, often with reruns playing in between the various shows aired by their own Justice Department's Entertainment Division.

No Star Empire For Old Bears has spawned several spin-offs, including No Justice For Old Bears an educational reality telescreen show featuring the exploits of prisoners in the gulag system. It also has a mail-voting system, but instead of voting housemates out, the audience votes for which prisoner to execute during the week and what the method of execution should be. Sometimes there are inter-show crossover exchanges where hardened criminals are sent to room in with the old people, and where old people visit the de-education camps. Much hilarity is had by these when the exchangees experience much situational awkwardness in their new environments interacting with moldy old people or hardened criminals - or both!


[Special thanks to Fin and Sheps! You awesome guys!]



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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 2010-09-16 06:33am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-15 06:39pm
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Royal Palace of Fynn, Altair
Planet and Kingdom of Fynn, Sector X-13
20 February 3400



It was the afternoon when everyone met at the Outer Balcony of the Palace, facing Scottsworth Square, and a growing crowd there. This was the preferred place for the King of Fynn to directly address the public; the balcony was wide and had a high capacity for attendees to stand while below the Square had traffic off to the back, letting people mill about for a good look. King Charles was in his uniform, a silver and black one with gold tassels, a blue bandoleer with insignia on it, and ribbons from his Army service and various honours granted him by other kingly states present. Kasan stood to his right side, in the business attire befitting the Head of the Government, while to his left was Hilda. Kasan and Dupreè had wanted her in a dress or formal uniform as the Crown Princess; she insisted on wearing her formal Knight Robes over them and pulling her hair into a ponytail behind her head, just as Zara's was done. Zara was, likewise, in the formal robes of a Knight of the Silver Moon while their Apprentices, off to the side, wore theirs as well. Other officials of the Palace and the Government were there and standing still as everything commenced.

The prospect of a Royal Announcement had caused some stir. Usually official announcements were less dramatic and done by the First Minister of the Government (Chancellor Kasan), not the King, and certainly not on the Outer Balcony. A crowd of thousands were now gathering to witness the event. The media would broadcast the image across the planet and entire sector; foreign media would undoubtedly record dramatic moments for airing elsewhere.

The King gave a standard greeting to his people. Charles made himself smile, knowing how he and Hilda truly felt about it but wanting to give an appearance of support to the people. "I am pleased to announce," he began, "that this coming year, my daughter Hilda will be married. She is to be wed to Her Majestic Grace Grand Duchess Reina of Tyconia, thus bringing our nations together in a union that will bring increased security and prosperity to the sector."

There were various reactions from the crowd, most of it polite applause with some enthusiastic cheering. A similar scene was even now taking place in the early morning of Carwen, where Dragovich was giving the announcement with Reina and Sarisa from a press room, a rather different venue from the one picked on Fynn.

Charles continued, stating that an agreement between the governments for a dual administration eventually coming to an integrated foreign and defense policy under a new Union Privy Council was being finalized. He began to speak of his hope for the future.

As he did so, from a distance of six miles away, a pair of crosshairs centered on Charles and Hilda. Fingers tensed on triggers.

Everything seemed to happen at once.

Hilda and Zara sensed the danger just in time. Hilda felt the crosshairs on her, a finger tensing on the trigger. Her hand went to her belt for a beamsaber that was not there. She would not be able to stop the shot...

Then she saw the back of Zara's head as Zara crashed into her, knocking Hilda off-balance. Something warm and wet covered her clothing.

As this happened, King Charles' head exploded.

At least, that's how people saw it. In truth it was a large caliber, high-powered round that went between his eyes and into his skull, tearing through brain matter and killing him instantly. But with the rapport a moment later due to the supersonic rounds and the geyser of red and gray that erupted from the back of his head, the presumption was that something had blown up the back of his head. A second of stunned silence filled the crowd, quickly replaced by panic as people sought to flee for their lives.

Hilda didn't see her father's killing immediately. Her eyes were on Zara, who suddenly had a great quantity of red pouring out of her right shoulder as she lay on all fours. She could feel the agony coming from Zara's body through their mental bond and knew she'd been shot.

She felt the crosshairs again.

Before more shots could be fired, members of the Royal Lifeguard grabbed her and hauled her into the interior of the structure. A defensive field was snapping into place around the Palace to prevent more fire and across the city the police began to react to the shots. Hilda, in the confines of the palace, finally did see her father's body, felt Zara's life drawining away with her blood, and let out a wail of anger and grief.

So did Druni.

Before the field snapped into place, she leapt off the balcony. Careful training honed into her let her project enough TK force to land softly (or at least relatively so). She lacked the sophistication of abilities to sense the minds of the snipers, especially given distance and the hysteria around them. What she did have was a good sense of location and direction. Her subconscious mind, enhanced through the gift, could sense to some degree the direction the shots had come from by the angles they had hit people in.

With her beamsaber at her side, she exploited the dispersing of the crowd toward the street enough to get toward the vehicles there, jumping on them as a way to move forward through the throngs of panicking people. Tears of rage streamed from her eyes as she did so.


As soon as the shield was up Hilda broke free of her bodyguards and returned to the balcony. She knew her father was dead; she could do nothing for him to grieve, later, when she had the opportunity.

Zara was rotated onto her back now. The bullet had nicked her heart; not enough to be immediately fatal but enough that her survival was very much critical on the next few moments. Layla was on her kneels beside her, trying desparately to use a scrap of robe to hold the blood in.

"It's coming out from both sides," Hilda said to her. "That's not enough. Use your Gift. Force the blood to stay in." Hilda used one hand to hold Zara's while her other hovered over the wound, helping to focus her. Her mind pressed in and against the blood. It stopped flowing, held back by the invisible force of Hilda's mind. Layla, less-trained, was doing the same to the other side of the wound, with less effect.

A voiced called out, "Majesty! We'll take it from here!" A man of Jieshi ethnicity had appeared from inside, followed by Lifeguard medics. The Palace's own household physician, Dr. Wu Min (or Min Wu if you wanted to be technical), brought up a first aid kit maintained for just such emergencies. "I'll get the wound closed, get a gurney ready!", he called out to the medics, forcing Layla out of the way while reaching for wound sealant foam. "I need you to expose the wound," he said to Hilda.

Hilda removed her hand from over the wound. The blood welled up again while Hilda and Dr. Wu pulled the bloodied robes away to expose skin. He took the container and began spraying the wound. The sterilized, body-safe foam covered the wound and hardened, preventing further bleeding.

"Help me turn her." At Wu's direction, Hilda and Layla rotated Zara around, removing her left arm from the robe and vest beneath while doing so. Another spray of foam sealed the other side of the wound.

"That should buy time." A low thrum filled the air, the tell-tale sign of anti-grav generators at work. The two Lifeguard medics replaced Hilda and Layla, getting Zara up onto the gurney to be rushed inside to the Palace infirmary. Hilda looked back out at the dispersing crowd. She could sense Druni in the distance, feel her anger, and remembered her own. "Do you have your beamsaber?", she asked Layla.

"Yes, Master," Layla answered. She showed where it had been clipped to her belt on the hip, out of sight behind her robe by the request of Kasan.

"I need it." She held her hand out. Layla, without questioning, handed it to her. As she went toward the rail, she called out, "I can hear your thoughts, Minister Kasan. I'm not leaving this for a single Apprentice to deal with."

"Your Majesty, you musn't go," the voice called out. Kasan and Dupreè were at the balcony entrance, looking at her intently. "We cannot let you risk your life..."

Ignoring for the moment how they had addressed her, Hilda retorted, "I am a Knight of the Silver Moon, that's what..."

"You forget your place, Your Majesty," Dupreè insisted.

And that's when it hit her, even as Kasan followed up. "You're the Queen of Fynn now, Hilda," he stated. "And if anything happens to you, everything your father set into motion will be for nothing."

That, and that alone, was the thing that ultimately stopped her. "I need a comm unit, then," she said. "I have to call Chapter Mattan."



The assassins had left their guns behind. They were untraceable weapons, after all, surplus military sniper rifles of a generic model based on some minor UN world armament company's designs for PMCs; as weapons they were far too cumbersome to get far with. Instead they would make do with easily-concealable SMGs, composed of materials to avoid remote sensor detection, to ensure they had self-defense during getaway. They carried these under jackets, journeying down the fire stairs of the building they had fired from to avoid being trapped in the elevators.

The plans were to either get to the safehouse and lay low until the travel lockdowns were removed or to beeline to the spaceport and hope their private cruiser's drives could get them far enough away from the Fynnian Navy to make their getaway into hyperspace. For obvious reasons, they preferred the former, but you could never be too careful when laying plans.

"I thought for sure my second shot could've hit," one growled to the leader. "Why'd you have me call off?"

"Because I nailed the primary," was the answer. "And we need every moment to get away."

"I hope our employer won't dock us too much for not getting the secondary," was a grumbled reply.

The group left the building through a side door courtesy of the passcode they'd acquired for it. A black van was waiting for them; it was a dual-drive system, with wheels but also capable of anti-grav repulsion. Pricey, but valuable to deal with speed sticks or countermeasures to the repulsors. "Get your BFGs on, we don't want to get picked up." The leader popped on his device, to shield their thoughts and minds from ESP intrusion.

They did so as Druni approached the building from the rooftop of an adjacent one, panting and blurry-eyed from the beads of sweat dripping into her eyes. She heard an engine sound and looked down to see the van pulling out onto the street.

It wasn't just that this, in of itself, was suspicious to her. It was the lack of anything from the van. She felt no minds. As far as her extra senses told her, there was nobody in that vehicle. That meant anti-ESP technology. And a van pulling out of a side-alley by a building likely used for an assassination with the denizens protected from psionic detection was damned suspicious.

Druni gathered her strength and leapt to the next building. She kept going, running out to the road and making a fateful leap...



There was a lingering sense of dread in Bianca Magi's heart as the open-topped anti-grav car went through the streets of Altair, rushing toward the Palace or, more precisely, wherever Sister Jane Willis - one of her Sentinels - was sensing the young Apprentice Druni. The King of Fynn was dead, Knight Zara Delmar was wounded, almost mortally, and her apprentice had raced off into the crowd to pursue the assassins.

An eighteen year old girl, only an Acolyte, hunting down an assassination team of at least 2, perhaps several more, highly-capable killers. If they didn't get to her fast, her life might be the cost.

Bianca sensed the rage first. "Toward the city center," she said to Willis. "Down this way!"

The car swerved down a road. She began to pray they'd get there in time...


The assassins were already on edge, but when trouble came they had expected it to be from a cop car (or gendarme van) smashing into them or blocking their path. Instead, they got a thud on the roof.

A thud on the roof followed closely by a blue energy blade slashing through the ceiling.

Even the hardened hit squad let out cries of alarm and a cacophany of babbled remarks like "Shit! Watch it!" and "What the hell?!" The driver hit the accelerator, causing the blade to slide backward.

On the roof, the increased speed caused Druni to loose her footing. Her blade sliced effortlessly through the roof of the van as she flailed backwards. Instinctively she reached out with her other arm and grabbed the cut line. Searing pain from heated metal stabbed through her fingers, but she held on for dear life. Her mind raced; she couldn't penetrate the thoughts of the driver, couldn't influence him or any of the passengers in any way....

The jerking of the vehicle made her flap around, her fingers losing their grip. She brought her saber back up, trying to cut through the back. It did give her a better handhold, but now there was weapons fire, the occupants shooting at her fingers, trying to dislodge her from where they were sitting.

That was when the car carrying Bianca and the others came around the corner.

Druni sensed their thoughts and realized what was about to happen. She let go, just before bullets would've torn her fingers off at that, and landed on the ground hard. The van hadn't been moving very fast yet, otherwise she would have been too grievously injured to stand; as it was she felt ribs crack and her left wrist snapped painfully, drawing a strangled cry. Blood - Dorei, for all their different coloration from Humans, still had red-tinted blood - stained her robes and the ground crimson from where the asphalt ripped skin even through the robes.

On the other side, Jane Willis had been unable to sense the van coming due to the driver's Blitzschlag Field. She cried out in alarm just as the van plowed into the car. The anti-grav generators compensated and kept the vehicle from flipping despite no wheels to grip the ground. The safety bars in the doors saved Jane's life as well, though the intensity of the crash and her head getting whipped around sufficed to knock her out and Sister Lily, who was in the back seat. Bianca remained conscious, though startled, for the critical seconds following the impact.

As for the assassins, the driver was out like a light, as was the guy riding shotgun, but the three assassins in the back had been fastened in securely and the impact didn't cause them to make any violent movements to cause unconsciousness or much startlement. A few seconds after the impact they stepped out, guns raised. Druni picked herself up off the ground as well. Her left wrist looked completely wrong due to how violently it had been broken and her left cheek was torn up from where it had hit the ground and skidded enough to tear skin off. Her right hand ignited her saber again while the assassins raised their weapons.
Suddenly it occurred to Druni that she couldn't find them. Their devices made even their stray thoughts invisible to her; she wouldn't be able to sense where they were aiming, or what they were thinking. They were blanks, completely unpredictable, and she was wounded and down to one hand.
In other words, she was doomed if she fought like this.

Straining, Druni launched herself into cover behind a parked vehicle just in time. Bullets ripped through the air she had been in. She peeked around the corner and had just enough time to pull her head back before a bullet hit her in the eye.

She heard footsteps, two sets. Two of them were walking away. To attack... Knight-Captain Bianca? Yes, Druni could sense she was here, in the car the van had hit, along with two sisters, young Sentinels that Druni had to admit she liked rather much. They were unconscious and Bianca was stunned. Even more so, the anti-ESP fields would render her as helpless as Druni. If she stood and fought she'd die. They'd all die. They'd be shot like Zara, they'd die in a pool of their own blood....

Thinking of Zara falling, and the King's death (Druni, though she didn't think of much of it, did like the kind old King), kindled an angry feeling in her. She had to do something! But she was helpless against them, her training was useless...

But I can do more, she reminded herself. She remembered the feeling from that morning. Channeling energy through her arm, creating fire....

She had no choice. She had to try it.

The shadow of the remaining gunman told her where to aim. She breathed in and out, in and out, visualizing the energy moving from her mind and through her arms and legs. Balancing herself on her good right wrist, Druni spun out of her hiding place and made a high martial arts kick toward the gunman, her mind channeling energy there too.

Blue flame erupted from her foot as it moved, a crescent of fire that raced across the distance and impacted the assassin. Much to the assassin's shock, the flames reached him. A cry of agony erupted as his clothes caught fire. A single thought went through the man's mind: How could this have happened? After all, he had a Blitzschlag Field Generator!

The truth was, the BFG would have worked if Druni had tried to project fire on him immediately; it would have blocked her mind's attempt to manipulate energy within the field. But she hadn't done this; she'd heated the air around her and outside the field, and at the same time projected the resulting fire at him. There was no ESP energy to block.

The screams from the man brought the attention of his comrades. They came back instead of heading to the front of the van and leveled their weapons, seeing their comrade on the ground flailing, trying to put out the fire.

No time for more flames. Thankfully, that's not all she had available. She pulled open the charge cap on the side of the vehicle she'd been hiding beside and placed her hand on the terminals inside the cap, meant for charging the car's batteries and power supply. She drew in a breath and pulled, imagining an energy flow through her body. Her limp, broken left wrist raised toward them, fingers spread, while the energy responded to her command and moved through her. Druni's heart pounded erratically, the electricity surging by it but not through it. Her hair stood up on ends and her fingertips burned.

From her fingers, bolts of electrcity surged forth, enveloping the two assassins. They made brief cries before they collapsed, unconscious and their clothes smoldering.

Druni's robe had caught fire. She pulled it off, revealing a sleeveless vest and skirt underneath. Using her body as well as her mind to channel the electrical charge had let her succeed without, again, battering harmlessly against the Blitzschlag Fields they were maintaining.

But it had taken its toll on her too. Druni collapsed to her knees and leaned against the car she had borrowed energy from. Her body was alive with pain; from impacting on the road after jumping off the van, from the electricity, from her jumping and running around beforehand. She was exhausted and spent.

Her eyes focused in on something. She saw Bianca round the van, a concerned and surprised look on her face.

And then Druni lost consciousness.



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

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

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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-15 06:54pm
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[Excerpt from the 3311 Encyclopedia Umericana]

Rubiconium
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Rubiconium is a phosphorescent crystalline substance, generally colored green, which has some of the most unusual properties of any mineral known to interstellar civilization. Its internal dynamics cannot be explained purely in terms of Standard Model physics, and so far it has only been observed in areas contaminated by the byproducts of various exotic-physics processes. Its most remarkable traits are, in descending order, its self-replicating properties, its exceptionally high content of valuable minerals, and its intense and unusual radiations.

Rubiconium's self-replication is far and away the strangest aspect of its behavior, and is not entirely understood. So long as its crystalline structure is kept intact, even near-microscopic seed crystals of Rubiconium will start to grow, assimilating material from the surrounding matter into its own structure. Rubiconium grows extremely slowly on a metallic or crystalline surface (on the order of millimeters per day at most), thus making it at least moderately viable to transport in suitably designed containers. However, noncrystalline carbon and silicon-based environments are far more favourable for this growth process, and here the crystal can easily expand orders of magnitude more rapidly.

Rubiconium grows readily on both bare rock and almost all varieties of soil. It grows with similar speed when introduced into living tissue, which contributes greatly to the crystal's incredible toxicity: Rubiconium in contact with the skin for any extended period of time will begin to form growths on the surface of the body, with the only viable treatment being immediate surgical removal. Rubiconium introduced into the bloodstream or lungs is even more dangerous, for obvious reasons.

In certain cases of great scientific interest, Rubiconium has been observed to perform small-scale transmutation of the elements, with atoms not "useful" to the further growth of the crystal being transformed into ones that are. Predictably, this process is accompanied by intense release of radiation in the form of both stray subatomic particles and unusual exotic-physics effects; the combination makes even indirect exposure to Rubiconium dangerous while it is in a growth phase.

Were it not for its transmutational abilities, Rubiconium would be so rare as to be nearly unheard of, because it contains a wide variety of rare elements not found in quantity on the crusts of most planets. It is these elements that the crystal most frequently forms from its surroundings by transmutation.

In addition to being radioactive and poisonous, Rubiconium is also quite volatile. The exotic-physics aspects of its internal structure (which seem to be the cause of its replication behavior) store large amounts of energy in its crystal lattice, comparable on a per-kilogram basis to that of high-yield chemical explosives. When Rubiconium is rapidly heated to temperatures in excess of 674° Celsius, the exotic-physics effect ceases abruptly, releasing this energy in an explosion closely comparable to that of the aforementioned chemical explosives.

Such explosions can hurl Rubiconium fragments long distances, spreading the deposit further; they are also typically characterized by intense bursts of radiation over and above the initial energy release. In some deposits this has been known to lead to chain reactions, as the explosion of a small portion of the deposit heats the surrounding areas to similar temperatures and setting them off in turn.

Limits to Growth

The main limiting factors on the expansion of Rubiconium deposits on infected worlds are as follows:

-Rubiconium corrodes rapidly in salt water, leaching toxic minerals into the water while simultaneously being "sterilized" as described below under industrial applications. Thus, Rubiconium deposits seldom last long by or beneath the ocean of Terran-like planets.

-Rubiconium also corrodes when exposed to intense ultraviolet light, such as is found in direct sunlight in the vacuum of space. This prevents Rubiconium from being seeded reliably on most asteroids and moons.

-Moreover, Rubiconium is not entirely immune to the radioactive byproducts of its own replication process. In a large body of Rubiconium, replication behavior of a given portion of the crystal may be heavily interfered with by radiation absorbed from other parts of the crystal disrupting its growth. Actively expanding Rubiconium deposits typically form relatively thin sheets spread over large areas (such as planetary surfaces or underground rock strata); this geometry minimizes the exposure of any given Rubiconium crystal to the radiation emitted by its neighbors. As a result, one rarely observes Rubiconium deposits more than a few meters deep, except in areas that have been heavily infected for an extremely long time.

-Most regions where known Rubiconium deposits exist are subject to either rapid harvesting or deliberate containment using easily constructed sonic emitter arrays. Either process can be used to break up and remove Rubiconium on the fringe of the deposit, preventing it from spreading out of control.

Industrial Applications

Image
(Rubiconium harvesters in action)

Rubiconium's chemical makeup qualifies it as high-grade ore for several rare and valuable metals, and thus it is not surprising that in many Rubiconium-infested areas, a small scale industry devoted to harvesting it has emerged. This is typically done in heavily automated refineries, with the actual mining being done by robotic crawlers, so as to minimize the exposure of organic beings.

Rubiconium harvesting is a very hazardous activity because of the substance's radioactivity and tendency to convert any container it is placed in into more of itself. The most efficient way to render Rubiconium harmless is to "sterilize" it by slowly heating it to the phase transition temperature of 674° Celsius.

While the rapid phase transition causes the crystal to explode, a gentler transition has no such effect. Instead, it gradually unbinds the exotic-physics interactions within the lattice, permanently disabling its ability to self-replicate. This does not render the crystal harmless, as it still contains radioactivated atoms that have absorbed the byproducts of its own transmutation while self-replication was active. However, it significantly reduces the radioactive output of the crystal by ending active transmutation, and eliminates its tendency to eat its way through the bottom of shipping containers.

After sterilization, the crystal can handled like any other (dangerously radioactive) mineral ore, and extraction of the more valuable substances contained therein can proceed.

There have been experiments with taking advantage of Rubiconium's transmutation properties: in areas where a Rubiconium deposit has taken root, it could theoretically serve as the mineral-extraction equivalent of a compost pile, with worthless mine tailings or other debris being dumped on the pile, gradually converted into Rubiconium, and then harvested for valuable minerals.

Known Deposits

The largest single Rubiconium deposit in the Spinward Expanse are found on the Umerian world of New Princeton, a planet devastated by large-scale industrial pollution during the aftermath of the Jaggan War in the 28th century. Starting around 2725, caution was thrown to the winds and exotic-physics industries operated freely, without fear of ecological consequences. This led to the predictable emergence of small Rubiconium growths around one of New Princeton's major industrial facilities, some of which had grown into kilometer-scale deposits by 2745. The existence of Rubiconium on the planet was a major factor in the Ministry of Ecology's decision to "write off" the planet for eventual restoration, as eradicating Rubiconium permanently from a planetary ecosystem is extremely difficult.

Today, these deposits have merged into a single unusually large one covering well over ten thousand square kilometers of the planet. Since Rubiconium is a renewable resource, harvesting at the edges of the patch continues to this day, and is now practically the sole economic activity on the planet aside from naval bombardment practice and extremely-hostile environment survival training for the Umerian military.

Many small Rubiconium fields are found on some minor worlds in the Shepistani Republic, typically as a byproduct of weapons testing or industrial accidents. These deposits tend to be relatively small, as the Shepistanis have refined the art of Rubiconium harvesting highly and often manage to scour up almost the entire deposit shortly after its emergence, limiting its growth.

Particularly livid deposits infect the Prussian mining colony of Null-Seven, where deliberate experiments with the use of Rubiconium in the aforementioned "compost heap" role backfired horribly; large scale Rubiconium explosions and led to the rapid spread of the crystal across the planet, forcing the evacuation of most of the planet's laborers. While no single deposit the size of the New Princeton vein resulted from the accident, Null-Seven sets the galactic record for percentage coverage of Rubiconium on a planetary surface, to the point where the entire surface is dangerously radioactive.

There are occasional other examples elsewhere in human space, though none either as large as that of New Princeton, as widespread as those of Null-Seven or as numerous as those of Shepistan.

Outside human space, no discussion of Rubiconium would be complete without mention of the Bragulan Star Empire. The few visitors permitted on their core worlds report massive Rubiconium deposits across significant portions of the planet, often exceeding all the above instances in human space. It is speculated that the Bragulans deliberately seed Rubiconium pursuant to the aforementioned "compost heap" scheme, but have been more competent at the management of the substance than were the Prussian mining executives of Null-Seven.

It is rumored that at a certain point in the ecological pillaging of the Bragulan core worlds, their Rubiconium deposits grew large enough to attract the hostile attention of a mysterious alien race. This species, said to call itself the "Scron," launched a massive surprise offensive on several Bragulan worlds in an attempt to harvest the green crystal for themselves. They appeared unaffected by its radiations, and were even observed happily frolicking amidst massive deposits of Rubiconium that would kill an unprotected human in seconds.

Predictably, the Bragulans swiftly destroyed the Scron with massed nuclear strikes and mechanized wave tactics, leaving no trace of their presence intact. Indeed, they annihilated the Scron so thoroughly that (so far as is known) no one outside the Bragulan Empire ever got the opportunity to interact with a Scron, to determine where they came from or what they wanted.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-16 11:19am
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I can't get in touch with anybody. What's going on? Where did they all go?



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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: 2010-09-16 12:57pm
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[Originally written by Simon Johansen, who used to go here by the name Peregrin Toker]


Universal Galactopedia > Media > Pop Culture and Entertainment > Movies > C.J. MOTONOW's STAR WARS

In the later 200 years, two remakes of George Lucas' Star Wars series have been made. One was made in the 3210s and followed George Lucas' original six movies closely. Another, however, was quite distant from George Lucas' vision and was, when its first entry hit the theatres in 3247 among the costliest and most visually impressive films ever made.

Filmed back-to-back over 6 years under a veil of secrecy by relative unknowns on the biggest budget a film trilogy ever had, USS-born avantgardist Cesar Jorge Motonow (known also for Twin Fullmoon, The Cupcakes Of Justice and The Vortex Octology) financed the movies with the enormous sums paid by art galleries for the paintings and drawings he produced as a member of an artist collective called The Divine Mirror. Even that was not enough to pay for it, he also received generous donations from the governments of the United Solarian Sovereignty, the Holy Empire of Haruhi Suzumiya and the Toraamal Republic.

The first entry in Motonow's take on Star Wars was met with extremely mixed response. Fans of Lucas' original films hated it for its practically nonexistent resemblance to the source material. Others appreciated it for its skilled scenography, deep philosophical content and a visual style which could best be described as unique.

Motonow explained the difference between Lucas' Star Wars and his own interpretation:

C.J. Motonow wrote:
"Star Wars" is a myth of the modern days. George Lucas did not create that myth, he merely was the one who communicated the myth to the general public. Storytellers don't make myths, they tell the myths. Each of us has our own interpretation of a myth. What your ancestors saw on the screen back in 1977 was George Lucas' interpretation of a particular myth. This is my interpretation of the same myth. One should neither forget that George Lucas was an American, while I am half PeZookish; half Españan. Thusly, George Lucas' Star Wars was an American rendition of a myth that belongs to no culture, while I have created a fundamentally Nova Terran version of the same myth.


With most of the sets, costumes and spaceships designed either by Motonow himself or by artists who were influenced by him (some hailing from as afar as Zigonia), it was not as much the style as the substance which shook the "Warsies".

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS!

C.J. Motonow's A New Hope

In Motonow's version, Luke Skywalker was aware from the start that he was the exiled heir and presumed last survivor of the Skywalker Noble Family. Owen and Beru Lars were not his relatives in this version, rather, they were the two surviving servants of the Lord Anakin Skywalker.

The Jawas from whom C3PO and R2D2 were bought, were depicted by Motonow as a cyborgized degenerate splinter faction of a machine-worshiping religious cult. The designs for C3PO and R2D2 were radically changed, too. Where it really started deviating from the original were Luke's conflict with the Sandpeople. In Motonow's version, the Sandpeople brought Luke into their cave and presented him before Obi-Wan Kenobi, whom the Sandpeople worshiped as a god. Obi-Wan Kenobi (portrayed by Motonow himself) then taught Luke the ways of the Jedi Order (which the Sandpeople had adopted as their own religion) and revealed that he used to be the mentor of Luke's father. Motonow's changes to the code of the Jedi were also a point of critique; the Jedi experience now included minor cosmetic self-mutilation (obviously a reference to Motonow himself having torn off part of his own left ear when he was young) and the lightsabers were actually corporeal steel swords whose blades glowed white-hot with the wielder's telekinetic fire.

One of the most memorable scenes in Motonow's A New Hope may have been the flashback depicting Darth Vader's origin as told by Obi-Wan. In Motonow's version, Darth Vader was not a cyborg but a golem, who decapitated himself to let his disembodied soul possess a robotic humanoid body.

Half an hour through Motonow's version of A New Hope (the first film to be completed), Obi-Wan and Luke led the Sandpeople in a failed guerrilla war against the Imperial government on Tattooine as a response to the Stormtroopers' slaughter of Owen and Beru. When captured, Luke and Obi-Wan broke free of the Stormtroopers tasked with guarding them and fled offworld with Han Solo and Chewbacca, who in this version were fellow freedom fighters who had not yet been taken prisoner. It did not help the purists that in this version, especially not in retrospect, that Chewbacca was portrayed by young Vossrashak Kalnaxxir, who later would become a staple of action films from Zigon-5.

In the Millennium Falcon (a real spaceship custom-built for the movie), the heroes of the story fled and were captured by the Death Star... which in Motonow's remake was made entirely out of crystal, and armed with a choir of specially trained super-psychics who combined their telekinetics to destroy planets. Another extremely memorable scene here was the views of Alderaan's capital city as the planet was hit by the psionic super-weapon of the Death Star.

The fight aboard the crystallic Death Star was in Motonow's version fought primarily with swords and telekinetics against Storm Troopers who looked more like Roman Legionnaires than the ones in Lucas' version. Here came another scene which burned its way into every viewer: Obi-Wan Kenobi's death was marked by a huge flash of white light which filled the room wherein he was duelling with Darth Vader.

Yet another scene which solidified the Motonow version's status as much more adult than Lucas' was nothing else than a zero-G sex scene between Han Solo and Leia.

Motonow's version of the Battle of Yavin did not differ that much from the one in the Lucas version, other than the spaceship designs being remarkably different and the Death Star's destruction causing a galaxy-wide psionic shockwave due to the death of the Psionic Choir. Still, most fans of Lucas' Star Wars were quite upset due to the aestethical deviations alone (which could not possibly be further from the Lucas version), and the plot changes upset them more. It still found its fans, and every single reviewer had something good to say about Ibrahim Ansar's portrayal of Grand Moff Tarkin. Yet the Motonow version of A New Hope, odd as it was, was only a taste of what was to come.

C.J. Motonow's The Empire Strikes Back


Film critics consider this film where the true weirdness started. It opened in 3248, the film annoyed Star Wars purists even more than the preceding entry in the serious.

Its version of the scenes were perhaps the most surreal depiction of a battle on film yet. The mechanical-looking AT-ATs had been replaced by sleek dragon-like walkers which in form looked more organic than mechanical, with close-ups revealing something obviously inspired by 20th century painter/architect Hans Rudi Giger. It didn't make things better that Motonow depicted the Wampa as a noncorporeal ethereal demon, and that the Snowtrooper costumes were even more outlandish than those of the "ordinary" Stormtroopers shown in Motonow's A New Hope.

The flight to Dagobah by Luke Skywalker was yet another downright bizarre visual which enchanted as many as it baffled: Instead of using hyperdrive, Motonow's Luke Skywalker used his extraordinary telekinetic abilities to move his fighters thousands of lightyears - and in this same bizarre trippy colour-explosion scene, it was revealed that at the end of the Battle of Yavin, Luke absorbed the souls of the Psionic Choir whom died aboard the Death Star.

As for the Dagobah sequences themselves, Motonow managed again to annoy purists. Yoda was now a ghost which possessed Luke to produce a "soul-merging" at the end of Luke's stay on Dagobah. This process, along with the myriad hallucinations it provided Luke with, was nominated by critic Reuben Goldberg as "3248's Top Unforgettable Movie Moment". The Imperial Starfleet's hunt for the Millennium Falcon was perhaps the first sequence which reviewers said that Motonow improved from the original version - aside from the "space slug" now resembling a leech more than anything, Motonow opted to add psychedelic "warp storms" and a spaceborne duel between the Millennium Falcon and bounty hunter ships. Fans of the Lucas trilogy, however, did still not like Motonow's tampering with what they considered holy.

Yet what some considered the most breathtaking parts of Motonow's The Empire Strike Back was the scenes aboard Darth Vader's flagship, which Motonow had renamed the Executioner. (He felt it sounded "better in the mouth" than the original name "Executor") Though the interior of the Executioner looked more like that of a nightmare gothic palace than a spaceship, it left audiences breathless either in admiration of the wicked imagination which had designed it, or in disbelief in whether it made sense. The Emperor Palpatine I, played by ex-Divine Mirror painter Romain Passeron (one of Motonow's best friends), had a vastly increased role in Motonow's version of The Empire Strikes Back where he appeared upon the Executioner's bridge as an actual astral projection rather than a hologram.

If there was one thing about this entry into Motonow's remake of the Star Wars trilogy which did not disappoint anyone, not even the purists, it was the climactic lightsaber duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. In addition to the intense and energetic swordplay, which many considered to be better choreographed than that in Lucas originals', Motonow included psychic duelling which culminated in Darth Vader tearing off Luke Skywalker's hand by such powerful telekinetics that the arm was turned to pulp as it was torn off. The dialogue which revealed Vader's relation to Luke was extended and touched also on the golem nature of Motonow's Darth Vader. Aside from the Emperor, Motonow had added more importance to the character of Boba Fett. Motonow's Fett was another element whom many reviewers considered an improvement on the original.

At barely more than 3 hours in length, C.J. Motonow's The Empire Strikes Back was even more loaded with philosophical content than the previous installment. Motonow himself said: "I do not care what other people say - there are reasons that my version of this myth is different than that of George Lucas."

C.J. Motonow's Return Of The Jedi


By far the strangest of Motonow's Star Wars trilogy, his version of Return Of The Jedi was even further removed from the Lucas version than the preceding ones. It started with Luke Skywalker being contacted by the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi and then assimilating Obi-Wan's soul into his own as he had done with that of Yoda. This did not shock Lucas' fans as much as how much Motonow had changed Jabba and his palace. Instead of an anthropomorphizes slug ruling an abandoned monastery, Motonow's Jabba was a "scorpion-mantis-lizard thing" which ruled from an elaborate subterranean mansion whose vast and surrealistically ornamented interiors were steeped in darkness.

A scene which sparked even more controversy, also among those who did not care the slightest about Lucas' version, was the one where the Great God Rancor (Motonow depicted the Rancor as a Lovecraft-inspired demon-god instead of a mere chained beast) raped the captive Leia. Aside from infuriating womens' rights groups all over the galaxy, it also caused much debate in Art And Philosophy about Motonow's alleged sexual deviancies.

As the Great God Rancor ejaculated, Luke rushed to the altar after a swordfight with many of Jabba's guards; upon finding that he arrived too late, he entered yet another bloody fight to slay the Great God Rancor.

For the slaughter of a God, the entomo-reptilian Motonow version of Jabba sentenced Luke, Leia and the now-thawed out Han to death by sacrifice to the Sarlacc, which again had changed in Motonow's version to a God, exactly like the Rancor. The Great God Sarlacc was a being equal parts snake, centipede and leech, woken from its slumber in the centre of the planet Tattooine by a group of shadowy wizards which Jabba had hired. Here, the Great God Sarlacc even had a reason to devour Boba Fett - it punished him for blasphemy against the Great God Sarlacc. Here, Leia used her latent psionic abilities to sever the chain connecting her to Jabba's dais and threw the monster into the Great God Sarlacc's mouth. The Great God Sarlacc then, in a scene which caused some Lucas fans to walk out of the theaters, thanked Luke and Leia for ridding the world of these blasphemers and heretics.

However, for the purists, many more changes in Motonow's Return of The Jedi were to come. The Second Death Star was built entirely out of a bronze-coloured fictional metal called "Orichalcos", and while it made sense to introduce more characterization of Emperor Palpatine, not many considered it necessary to show a scene of the Emperor defecating, nor did everyone like the purple mohawk hairstyles sported by the Crimson Guard in Motonow's version. Others did not even know what to think about Motonow's decision to portray the Ewoks as winged, bird-like creatures which lived in great sylvan cities built in the tops of mile-high trees. A visually impressive fantasy culture if there ever was one, and far more original than the teddybear-like Ewoks in Lucas' ROTJ, but they had only the name in common. A visually impressive scene of the Battle of Endor was when the avian Ewoks duelled in mid-air with Imperial Stormtroopers mounted on futuristic versions of Da Vinci's ornithopter.

All this still paled in comparison to the spaceborne Battle of Endor, a CG spectacle which Motonow had scripted in collaboration with an Anglian naval officer who happened to be his cousin. Said naval officer, Lt. Commander Wladyslaw Motonow, commented in an interview: "This looks more like a real space battle than most of the anti-pirate skirmishes I've fought in."

The three-way swordfight/psi-duel aboard the Second Death Star between Luke, Darth Vader and the Emperor was even more over-the-top than that in Motonow's rendition of The Empire Strikes Back. In another significant deviation from Lucas' original version, the one to destroy Darth Vader was actually the Emperor, who crushed the mechanical body after Vader defected over to the side of his son. Vader's soul, seperated from a body yet once more, merged with that of his son Luke. (Which by now had absorbed several other souls) This way, Anakin Skywalker avenged his own physical death.

The ending of the movie however, topped all this in sheer otherworldliness and offensiveness to Lucas' fans. Luke, now having become one with his father, voyaged to Coruscant (depicted by Motonow as a "Dyson Sphere" rather than an actual planet) where he was coronated as the new Emperor of the Galaxy in a scene where statues of Palpatine are toppled over, the Crimson Guard swear new oaths of loyalty and a new flag flies over Coruscant. As his future successor, Luke Skywalker nominates the demigod with whom Leia is pregnant due to the rape by the Great God Rancor.

As Leia gives birth to the demi-god, an impossible-to-describe 20-minute scene (making Motonow's Return Of The Jedi almost 4 hours long) happens where the very nature of the space-time continuum is fundamentally altered. After over 15 minutes of pure psychedelics, we see a young girl standing atop a meadow, saying: "This is not the end. This is a new beginning."

The Aftermath


Motonow followed it up with his own take on what a prequel trilogy to Star Wars would look like. Having absolutely nothing in common with George Lucas' prequels, the three-part C.J. Motonow's Star Wars: The Beginning opened in 3255 and drew a somewhat more positive response from the viewing public.

It did spark a dilemma which exists among filmmakers today in 3267 and is still debated hotly - namely that of whether the Motonow version is better than all other versions of Star Wars, including the more faithful remakes and Lucas' originals. This is perhaps the area where C.J. Motonow's Star Wars is a true groundbreaker: It is perhaps the first remake radically different from the original and also considered an improvement by a considerable bulk of the population.

On their own right, Motonow's Star Wars movies are also among some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking epics ever to be seen on screen, and among the most expensive movies ever made. (even though they at first flopped at the box office, Mendelson Films reports that they later have become cult classics in the home theatres)

Not surprisingly, they were also Motonow's only voyage into the world of big-budget movies. It still stands as a testament to the most vivid imaginations of the galaxy, that such a surreal space opera epic got made in the first place.'



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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-16 02:11pm
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The Adventures of Liberty Kincaid, agent of CEID

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Wild Space, Uncharted system
Close to spiderweb hyperlane CBX-14


Legion moved very quickly, as CompInts and other such non-organic lifeforms were wont to do, but the asteroid base was still a very sizeable construct and the resources available for the evacuation, though ample, were still limited. Even though the small flotilla of ships and robots worked as quickly as they (or rather, it) could to vacate the premises as rapidly as possible, it was a race against time.

In the end, it turned out to be a close-run thing. But time still won.

The CEID spystar transitioned to realspace at the very edge of the system's Kuiper belt, the traditional flash of energy that typically accompanied a hyperspace emergence masked by the most fantastically sophisticated concealment systems the Sovereignty had ever devised. USSF warships could extend their hyperfields from the physical universe into hyperspace, thus providing a defence against hypermissiles and other nonspace threats. CEID scatterscreens worked the other way around: extending from hyperspace into physical actuality, they acted as a 'trap door' that channelled the abundant energies typically involved in a transition back into hyperspace, thus hiding the transition from sensors behind single-blind force screens.

It wasn't impossible to detect a transitioning spystar of course – no masking technology was ever perfect – but it was more than enough to make detection really, really difficult. You had to be looking for it, and even if you were you still needed some pretty damned good sensors to get a general idea of its location. Given that those sensors would have to cover an entire solar system worth of potential transit locations, chances of detection were correspondingly very low anywhere but in the most heavily monitored systems.

The uncharted system Legion had based its operations out of most definitely did not classify as such, and at any rate the CI lacked the sophisticated anti-espionage tools necessary to detect the spy ship.

On the other hand the spystar itself, designed as it was to infiltrate systems unnoticed and absorb as much information as possible, as quickly as possible, had no difficulty making out the tell-tale signatures of sublight reaction drives. The command deck of the small vessel was shady, sparse white emergency lights and the blue glow of the holoscreens providing the only illumination.

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“Agent, Sensor One,” the EWO reported curtly. “Contact. Six ships. Drive signatures greater than 200GW. Contacts designated Master One through Six.”

Liberty nodded and swivelled her leather command chair a little to better see the teardrop shapes representing moving ships pop up on the hologrammatic screens. “Keep tracking. Helm One prepare to match that track, we'll clip the hypershelf on our way round. Let's see where these bogeys are coming from.”

“Copy, agent.”

The spystar began to manoeuvre, its gravitic drives shifting its course onto a long elliptic trajectory toward the inner system. Its passive sensors hungrily soaked up any emissions it could detect. It wasn't too long before the ship began picking up further signs of unusual activity deeper in-system.

“Sensor One. Further contacts are now being identified, assessed as fighters or yachts. Designated as Bandit Group Two.” A cluster of icons appeared around one of the asteroids that drifted on erratic orbits around the system's dim, faraway sun. Small craft buzzed around the asteroid, moving from it toward some of the larger ships that held position at a safe distance from the big chunk of microgravity rock. Soon enough, one of the larger ships drifted out of position, lighting its engines and accelerating toward the edge of the hypershelf, where it could safely engage its hyperdrive. The smaller dots then began concentrating their repetitive movements on the remaining five ships.

Liberty rubbed her chin. “Now, doesn't that look like someone's busy packing?”

The EWO nodded. “Looks like they're getting ready to vamoose it out of here, agent.”

“Can you identify those ships?”

The EWO shook his head. “Not at this distance. They're using old-fashioned fusion torch drives. Sublight signatures are in the high civilian range. It could be pirates, orks, Pfhor... Anyone, really. I need more data to make a call.”

“Very well. Helm, move us closer. Sensors, keep tracking.”

The spystar continued to drift along its eccentric orbit toward the inner system. The single loaded ship had powered away from the asteroid belt, and now remained stationary relative to the sun just beyond the edge of the hyperlimit. Presumably it was waiting for its sisters. Soon enough, the smaller ships ceased their runs toward the asteroid and drifted toward one of the five remaining ships. Then their drive signatures disappeared. “Bandit Group Two has docked with Master Four.”

The CEID agent nodded. “A mothership.”

“Looks like it,” the EWO confirmed. “I have further movement. Master One, Three, Four, Five and Six are powering up sublight drives. Confirm heading out-system for the hypershelf at flank 145 Mark 087, tracking for Bravo Charlie Victor.”

“Dammit,” Liberty cursed. “They're getting away. Still no ID?”

“Still nothing definitive agent,” the sensor officer sounded apologetic.

“We can plot an intercept course,” the helm officer offered. “If we adjust our heading we can cut them off before they come off the shelf.”

“And then what?” muttered Liberty. “We're unarmed, remember? What are we going to do, talk them to death?” She cursed again. “I knew I should have requisitioned an IOU.” But she hadn't, passing up the opportunity to commandeer one of Star Force's automated warships in favour of a rapid transit through the Galveston Strait in order to get here as quickly as possible – the paperwork and arm-wrestling necessary to get the USSF to lend her one of its craft would've cost her valuable time, and the IOU wouldn't have been anywhere near as stealthy as the spystar was. But right now, it sure would've been handy to have a few autolaser batteries on hand.

The EWO piped up again. “Master One through Six have reached Bravo Charlie Victor and are transitioning.” He frowned, opened his mouth, then bent closer over the holoscreens to recheck the data that streamed across them. “Uh, agent...” the EWO hesitated. “Hyperspeed of transitioning bandit group is greater than warp seven point three.”

Liberty snapped her head toward him. “Confirm that?”

He checked again. “Confirmed.”

Her eyes widened. The spystar's passive sensors hadn't been able to gather any information about the ships' owners. Their sublight drives had seemed ordinary enough – they hadn't been the gravitic engines of USSF craft, nor the atomic pulse drives of Bragulan vessels, but otherwise they could have belonged to or been built in any of dozens of polities the galaxy over. That was hardly the kind of intelligence to write home about. So for all intents and purposes the mission had appeared a bust... Appeared, until the bogeys lit off their hyperdrives.

This nameless system was located deep in Wild Space. It was close enough to a major hyperlane not to classify as a shoal exactly, but it was close enough that hyperspace was already becoming more difficult to navigate. After triangulating the point of origin of their mystery saboteur the spystar Liberty was on had been running close to the red in getting here as quickly as possible, and even with its mil-spec drive optimized by some of CEID's most knowledgeable boffins it had only been able to reach warp six and a bit.

These freighters were doing seven point three without breaking a sweat. And they were running for the shoals, not away from them. “Check emission spectrum,” Liberty called.

The EWO took a moment to double-check the demanded information. He sounded a little weird when he called, “confirm high-infraspace emission signature, agent. It's them, all right.”

Them. It was accurate enough. There was only one polity known to possess hyperdrives capable of operating in sufficiently high hypergrid regions to build that kind of momentum whilst passing through shoal regions without turning their ships into bursts of exotic particles. Consequently, there would be only one polity capable of equipping ordinary ships with those kinds of engines.

Goddamn Collectors.

Liberty's voice was terse when she called out her next command to the spystar's onboard CompInt. “Data, pulse a message to Flag, highest priority. Message reads...”

The dark energy reactors aboard the spystar flared as the CI aboard bored a tunnel through the very fabric of space-time and instantly sent a data-pulse back to CEID Central. It contained only a single word, but one that would have serious ramifications.

***


CEID Central
Solaris Minor, USS


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In the stark white, exquisitely furnished penthouse that took up the entire top floor of CEID Central, Abielle Magritte, Director of the Central Espionage and Intelligence Directorate, steepled her fingers, clicked her blood-red nails together and regarded the holograms that were projected in front of her agonizingly modern desk with an icy stare. “Collectors, gentlebeings. There can be little doubt about it.”

The hologrammatic representation of Mr. Twennysex, a diminutive grey alienoid in a conservative three-piece suit and a bowler hat, crossed his arms. It was an oddly human gesture for an Apexai. “You humans get your panties in such a twist when it comes to these so-called 'Collectors',” he scoffed. “I've seen them called enigmatic! Ha! Sitting on your ass somewhere in Wild Space is not 'enigmatic', it's just lazy.” He laughed the nasal, whiny Apexai laugh.

Olympic ignored the laugh. The CompInt advisory looked at the Apexai with scorn. “They can hardly be called lazy these days.” The sexless humanoid figure Olympic used as his representation was briefly replaced by a rapid flickering of images: a vast black monolith hanging in space, the only indication of its massive size the diminutive shapes of human ships arraigned before it – human ships that were in various stages of being gutted or outright exploding. They were stills of footage CEID had 'liberated' from Bragulan intelligence, although how the Bragulans had managed to get their paws on feeds from the Bannerman Gap engagement was a matter of several ongoing investigations. Soon enough the images were replaced with stills taken from security cameras, showing Edward Limpkin engaging in his shoot-out in SinTEK headquarters. Then just as abruptly the humanoid figure rematerialized. “It has been a while, but it would appear the Collectors are involving themselves in human affairs once more. And in a rather destructive manner, at that.”

The hologrammatic representation of President Sinclair narrowed her eyes. “I don't take too kindly to foreigners meddling in Sovereignty affairs.” Or the affairs of its corporations was the unspoken thought. Everybody in the room knew that the President had a vested interest in finding the perpetrators of the hit on SinTEK headquarters and making an example out of them. Her family owned the megacorp, after all. “Give me some options.”

The fifth hologram in the room was nothing but a slowly revolving, three-dimensional Star Force logo, which transformed into a modulating waveform when it spoke up. “The USSF Consensus,” spoke the shared consciousness formed of all shipminds within range of the Datasphere, “is not currently aware of any reliable way of getting back at the Collectors.”

Olympic seemed to agree with that assessment. “Unfortunately the perpetrator has evacuated his assets, most likely into Collector space... Wherever that may actually be. We cannot afford to send the fleet on a wild hunt through the shoals; not only would the probability of success be exceedingly low, but there is also the matter of the Collector monoliths to consider. The Star Force would have to devote an exceedingly large portion of its assets in order to guarantee a costly victory against even a single monolith. We cannot currently afford to do that, not with the Bragulans knocking on our door.”

Sinclair scowled. “So, what, they're going to get away with it? May I remind you that the director of SchromKorp was just briefly incapacitated during a seemingly innocuous NI-transfer, the victim of a highly sophisticated IW attack? These people, and I'm using that word exceedingly loosely, are making a mockery of our data security measures! A mockery! And you're telling me there's nothing we can do?”

Abielle Magritte smiled serenely, which in her case only managed to accentuate her third-generation hybrid features, making her look creepy by most human standards. “I have to say ma'am that according to our... interrogation... of his CI, there is a fair chance that Mr. Von Schrom may have brought his, ah, unfortunate ordeal onto himself. Likewise the attack on the Von Neumann swarms was apparently retaliatory in nature.”

“Well, he might be behind the hit on Limpkin, but that's beside the point at this stage,” the President fumed. “They laid their fingers on a citizen of the Sovereignty. Nobody does that but us. They must be made to pay. One way or another. Otherwise what's going to stop their shiny metal asses from doing it again in the future?”

Abielle's smile widened. “Why, ma'am, I'm so glad you look at it that way. And I'm happy to inform you that I believe there is at least one method of, ah, sending a clear message to the Collectors that will hopefully make it abundantly clear that we are not amused by their antics.” She pulsed a heavily encrypted data-packet to the entities assembled in the room. “As you can see it is not a particularly subtle approach...” the DCEID made an attempt to look regretful, but failed miserably at it.

“Indeed it is not.” The President smiled sharkishly. “I like it. Make it happen, Abby.”

***


Epsilon Zeta Trade Station
Collector space


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The trade station was gigantic. It had to be, for it had to accommodate dozens of ships and their cargoes, everything the Collectors wanted to, well, collect, for their own inscrutable purposes. Despite that inscrutableness there were still a great many Wild Space traders who wanted to make a killing by striking a deal with the mysterious machines. At any time at least several ships were either coming toward or departing from the station, bringing cargoes that varied from ancient VCR tapes dug up in the ruins of long-lost colonies, to unwitting cryo-frozen colonists found aboard ancient sleeper ships adrift amongst the stars. A trader could never know what the Collectors might be interested in. Sometimes they'd pay a fortune for what to humans seemed insignificant baubles; sometimes they were utterly disinterested in treasure fit for a king. It was bewildering, really, but still profitable enough for people to try their luck, regardless of the many rumours surrounding the trade stations hidden deep in Wild Space.

Thus it was no surprise that yet another freighter translated from hyperspace in the designated transition zone and made its way to the station at a steady sublight burn. It identified itself as the Bolt Thrower, a ragged freighter flagged in the Byzantine Imperium which had operated in Wild Space under a Rogue Trader license for the better part of two hundred years. The Bolt Thrower had visited Epsilon Zeta before, but the last time had been fifty-seven years previous when the Collectors had shown more interest in the captain's collection of fine amasec than the ancient sculptures he'd brought along, so the station's controlling intelligence wasn't too surprised that modifications had been made to the ship. Specifically, it noted with a detached kind of boredom, several of its armoured plates looked like they had recently been replaced. It queried the ship's machine mind about the replacements, and it replied that it had a nasty run-in with an Ork warband a few months before.

That satisfied the station's mind, and it directed the Bolt Thrower to one of its many cargo spaces. The ancient Byzantine ship edged forward into the artificial cavern inside the trade station that doubled as a docking bay, coming to a rest at the cradle prepared by the station's maintenance robots. Hydraulic mechanisms engaged and the walkway extended itself toward the station's airlock. Oxygen hoses and powerlines attached themselves to the appropriate plugs as the ship went through the routine docking procedures.

What came next wasn't so routine. Without any warning, the antimatter reactor at the heart of the Bolt Thrower disengaged every single safety mechanism controlling its reaction and containment vessels, immediately beginning a cataclysmic matter-antimatter reaction which took only thirty milliseconds to consume the entire ship, before expanding outward into the station proper.

Thirty milliseconds, however, was still plenty of time to allow the planet buster warhead buried deep in the cargo hold to detonate.

The effect was quite spectacular, to say the least. A blinding flash appeared to devour first the Bolt Thrower and then the entire trade station as the pure, unrestrained fury of the particle-antiparticle interactions consumed everything and transformed the station into a frenzied ball of scouring energy that expanded at the speed of thought and briefly outshone the stars themselves.

In the course of a second, Epsilon Zeta Trade Station ceased to exist, transformed by the raging atomic inferno from a sprawling megastructure drifting serenely in space into a rapidly expanding cloud of cooling debris.

Only a minute later, a wide-beam message was transmitted into the shoal regions that were commonly assumed to be 'Collector Space'. It read:


Quote:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

U.S.S. intelligence assets have uncovered evidence of:

1) murder (multiple counts)
2) illegal Datasphere access (multiple counts)
3) illegal mind-state alteration
4) illegal use of U.S.S. spacelanes by unregistered spacecraft (multiple counts)
5) illegal modification of hyperspace engines in violation of the Hyperspace Control Code
6) reckless endangerment (multiple counts)
7) digital terrorism (multiple counts)
8) gross economic sabotage
9) neural kidnapping
10) circumvention of U.S.S. border authorities

perpetrated by agent(s) associated with the polity known as the 'Collectors' against the United Solarian Sovereignty, its citizens and its corporations.

ATT: <evidence file>

Because of the impossibility of bringing these agent(s) to account, we have taken the liberty of destroying Epsilon Zeta Trade Station as a demonstration of our dissatisfaction with the behaviour of said agent(s).

Please refrain from interfering in the affairs of the United Solarian Sovereignty in the future.

Yours cordially,

President Victoria J. R. D. Sinclair



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


Last edited by Siege on 2010-09-16 02:57pm, edited 1 time in total.
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