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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-27 02:05pm
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Neu Lothringen

The rebuilding progress was still underway in Fuhrerstadt, but at least much of the residential district had been rebuilt, and people were moving in. The damnable planet's spaceport was still crude, but at least the city that had been Fuhrerstadt looked a lot less like a blasted wasteland. Except for, of course, the Volkshalle District, where work was still only beginning on the much more modest replacement for the Hall of Volksland. To Karl Schmidt, age 20, it was alright. There was plenty of work to be found, and the Prussians weren't nearly as bad as the Volksland propaganda had made them out to be. He had expected a screaming horde of horrific baby-eating mutants, and he had found them to be quite pleasant, actually. When they weren't bombarding the city, as they had done during the course of their invasion, of course.

The Reichswehr presence had been heavily reduced, and most of the Prussians on Neu Lothringen were the civilian administrators of the new government - former Volkslanders had all the civil and human rights of Prussians, including the ability to elect their governor and to vote in the Reichstag. The only other option was holding Neu Lothringen together by the bayonet, and that would be massively unpoppular at home.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-27 02:15pm
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Lord_Of_Change 9 wrote:
Neu Preußen
Reichskanzler Hoffman knew of the Umerian exercises planned near Volksland, and had decided to do something they would never expect. He would go on a diplomatic visit to Umeria, to "extend the olive branch of peace", as it were. Hopefully it would lead to an understanding - Prussia had no aggressive intentions for Umeria, after all. Even more hopefully, it would lead to a trade agreement or non-aggression pact, or something similar, at the least. Deputy Reichskanzler Julius Schrödinger was taking over when he was away. Hopefully, the inexperienced politician wouldn't make a foolish mistake - Hoffman's party would lose the coming Reichstag election if that was the case, and that could easily mean his dismissal by August Wilhelm, king of the League.



Central Administration Complex, Reisenburg
March 13, 3400


First Technarch Michael O'Connell was sitting at his desk sipping a cup of coffee when the visiplate chimed to draw his attention. He blinked and set down the mug, pressing the "receive" button on his communicator, and was rewarded with a beaming grin from Maxim.

The Second for Foreign Affairs got straight to the point. "You owe me a hundred starbucks."

O'Connell groaned theatrically. "What, Hoffman got off the decibuck already?"*

"According to my calculations, he must have sent this practically the minute Fourth Battlecruisers showed up on the Prussian DEW line, allowing for transmission delays."

"Hmph. Remind me to tell Susie; I think she might need glasses for her second sight."

"But I thought she thought it'd work at the last meeting?"

"She also thought from the record it'd take the Prussians a week to figure out what to do."

Maxim chuckled. "She overestimates their indecisiveness and underestimates their twitchiness, I fear. Remember, the entire reason we're doing this is because they're acting without considering; is it any wonder they'd announce a state visit on such short notice?"

"A point. So, obviously I'm going to have to meet with Hoffman when he gets here in a few days... arrival on the sixteenth, I'm guessing; surely he didn't make a warp transit?"

"No, I don't think even the Prussians would expect us to receive him on that short notice."

"A good thing too; would've served them right if we'd left their Chancellor cooling his heels at the spaceport for a few hours if they had. Anyway. Arrival on the sixteenth, I'll have to tweak my schedule; what did he put on the agenda?"

"Nothing very specific. 'Extend the olive branch of peace,' 'rebuild frayed relationships,' that sort of thing."

The Umerian head of government groaned. "Oh mercy he thinks that's the way to talk to us?"

Maxim spread his hands. "So it would seem. From the text of the note I'm honestly not sure he fully grasps the nature of the problem."

"Then why didn't he bloody well stay home and study until he did? Never mind, rhetorical question."

"Still a significant one. I think the answer is that, well, he just wants to be friends."

"And that's a fine principle to adopt when your neighbor's just an ordinary man; when he's a country, that's another matter entirely. More and more I get the feeling that we're dealing with a boy trying to do a man's job."

The Second for Foreign Affairs shook his head. "Hoffman's no younger than you, Mike. He's not a boy trying to do a man's job; he's a Type Three trying to do a Type Four's job."

"How is that better?"

"It isn't."

"Still, though, one must be polite. What's your analysis?"

"Hmm. Analysts suggest that Hoffman is facing political challenges at home; he can be fired by Kaiser Bill and his cabinet re-shuffled by the Reichstag at any time, remember. Arguably, the whole underlying reason why his government failed to accurately represent the League's actions is that he, and by extension his foreign secretary, has very little control over or understanding of the Reichstag. About the bare minimum consistent with being able to hold his administration together, really."

"Max, some time I'm going to ask you to sit me down and explain to me why they gave the power to dismiss the previous government to an autarch and the power to appoint the new government to the legislature. I mean, I know why they say they do it, but to be blunt this whole "separation of powers" thing gives me a splitting headache. I know what they thought they were thinking, but what were they really thinking? But then, I'm just a magnetogravitic physicist; what do I know?"

That got him another chuckle. "There's some light reading I could recommend on the subject, Mike. I'll have you a list by lunchtime."

"Thanks."

"Anyway, as I was saying. The details of how Hoffman's domestic opposition works aren't critical. The point here is that it poses a very credible threat to his régime, albeit not a lethal one as we might expect in, say, the Centrality or the Dominion. He's going to be looking to come back to the League with something he can use to establish his credentials as a peacemaker, to mollify the opposition and shake loose some of its fringe members into his own camp."

"Can we use that as a lever?"

"Best to keep the threat unspoken, I think. Going DuQuesne on him might work, but then again it might scare the Prussians into doing something... well, they do something rash even when they're not scared, but it might make them even more rash."

"You're sure, Max?"

"Absolutely. Remember, politicians in a democratic society are very sensitive to political maneuvering within their own country. They think about it all the time; arguably it's the only necessary qualification for public office in their culture. We won't need to remind Hoffman of the need to keep his own domestic opponents happy any more than we'll need to remind him to breathe."

The First Technarch rolled his eyes. "So he remembers to appease his domestic opposition when the worst thing they can do is kick him out of office, but he forgets to consult his neighbors who have multi-million ton starfleets? Hang on, Max, I think I need more coffee." He switched to office intercom for that, then returned to the conversation a few seconds later.

"I know how you feel, Mike, but if you don't mind I'd like to continue."

"Of course, of course. I may grouse about it to my good friend Maxim-"

"For which vote of confidence I thank you."

"-but I'm a big boy, I can take it. Besides, it's not that bad; I know he'll remember to worry about the Opposition if he remembers to worry about anything... and that's my worry right there."

"Hah. I don't think he'll forget that, though. Basically, I think we can count on Hoffman's fear of losing office to motivate him to seek an agreement with us, but we can't count on him being bright enough to fully grasp the astropolitical realities that explain why we want an agreement with him. Or rather, with the Reichstag; I think we're going to be looking for some kind of formal treaty that they, not him, will sign off on. I'm honestly not sure how long his administration has to live even assuming he gets a boost from talks with us, and we've already seen that we can't trust the League to do what Hoffman and his merry band say it will. The Reichstag might be more reliable."

"So, we're talking to a head of government, but one living on borrowed time, such that we'll have to talk through him to the real powers in the state that have the power to make or break him?"

"Pretty much. But as you said, one must be polite. We have to pretend he speaks for the League even if we aren't confident that he does."

"There are days when I just can't wait for the next Selection, you know that? Black Box willing, I think I'm going to retire. Go back to the lab and catch up on what I've missed since the War."

"Mmm. I'm sorry to hear that. You could just take a leave of absence, you know. Someone could pro tem for you."

"Ah, well, that's for later. For now, what am I going to have to spell out in big bright letters to Hoffman?" He paused to move the coffee mug onto his desk and put the empty back on the tray held by the robot, who had come quietly through the office door as the First Technarch was talking. With a wave of his hand he dismissed the sub-sentient drone, then continued speaking to Maxim. "I mean, how much can we count on him to understand?"

"Not much, but you'll have to be subtle. Think of it as... remember how you used to go on about trying to explain your work to your father-in-law, back in the day?"

"Surely not that bad?" O'Connell's father in law had been thick as dureum and, worse yet, unable to realize it.

"Well, maybe not quite that bad. But same basic problem: we may have to explain the blindingly obvious, without making it too clear that we're doing so. Or at least, without making it too clear that we're anything but sympathetic and helpful; the man's bound to have his vanity."

"I know what you mean. Can you backstop me, Max?"

"Of course, old friend, of course. How about I play reconciliationist and you play 'we are displeased and alarmed?'"

"Ah, how far we have come these past eight years... well, at least it gives me an excuse to lecture a bit. I miss teaching too, come to that."

"Perhaps you should take that leave of absence after all, Mike. You've done a lot of good work since the War, and you deserve a real break."

"But first, let's get this over with."

"Right."

"Make sure you're ready to receive Hoffman in proper style; I'll meet him in Central Admin. I'll go tell MiniSec they need to update Fourth Battlecruisers; we don't want Lisiewicz playing armorball when the Prussians have already agreed to play softball."**



*Author's note: the decibuck, or tenth-starbuck coin, is the smallest unit of hard currency acknowledged by the Technocracy as legal tender at this time. For electronic transfer purposes, currency is subdivided more finely, but this is not supported in the specialized physical-currency transaction regime.

**EDIT: Author's second note: Armorball is an extremely bruising contact sport played by the heavily muscled natives of the planet Vinara. The basic rules are broadly similar to the game of American football on 20th-century Earth, but by longstanding custom the participants wear heavily padded plate mail. This is a necessity given the aggressiveness of the sport.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-27 02:48pm
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Palace of Parliament, Westminster
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia
7 April 3400



Prime Minister Penton sat quietly as Director Bronson's aide finished laying out the situation of the current crisis. This issue of the Chamarran intrusion into Solarian space, due to the presence of the Collectors, was not a high priority in the government of New Anglia, but as there were some trade links with the Solarians - and, of course, a number of Human polities were still suspicious of the Chamarrans, who had burst onto the scene of the galaxy violently over three hundred years ago - the issue had to come up eventually.

A briefing had already been had with the Imperial Defence Board on the standoff with the Collectors itself, including some wry observations at the expense of the foolish and ridiculous Prussian expedition that didn't even get close to Tannhauser in time. This situation, not as important, was only to the PM himself. Even Lord Prestwick wasn't present to here it, out of choice.

With the events laid out, Stephen Penton put his hands together and asked, succinctly, "What do you make of all this mess, Director?"

Bronson shrugged. "A staggering level of incompetence and stupidity on the part of the Chamarrans, Sir. It was a failure at every level. Inserting a stealth craft into a situation where discovery was inevitable by the sheer quantity of sensing devices, failing to leave before detection, failing to accept they were caught and surrendering, attempting to abandon the ship when they had nowhere to go, and finally blowing up their own vessel with a Solarian boarding team already present on it, virtually guaranteeing their own incarceration in the deepest, darkest hole the CEID can arrange until their government literally falls on its knees in prostration to the Solarians."

"What do you imagine they were up to?"

"Given the purported interest the Collectors have for abducted Chamarrans, I would suspect they wanted further intelligence on Monolith capabilities and performance. They may have even gotten a few scrapts as a last burst transmission by the ship before it was lost, but the value of the intelligence compared to their loss makes the entire exercise a horrendous waste in manpower and equipment. I'm considering adding the entire scenario to the analyst training curriculum to gauge their skill at pointing out horrible errors."

"Ah. Well, moving on, what do you think will happen as a result..."



”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: 2010-09-27 03:23pm
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CEID substation
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The Chamarran captive hadn't said a word during the entirety of her captivity, which was commendable, but also pointless. The verbal questions she'd been asked had served only one purpose: to make her think of the answer. There was no need to make her actually say it out loud: to the trio of psions rifling through her thoughts and memories the answers had stood out like giant neon signs in the dark.

Oh, sure, her mind had been militarized to some extent, trained to resist psionic probing, but three grand master psions acting in metaconcert were nearly impossible to resist, even moreso when they were trained CEID coercer-interrogators and you hadn't had a good night's sleep in a few days. She'd given them a commendable three days fight, but in the end she'd cracked as they'd known she would.

The unconscious Chamarran strapped to the table in the padded observation cell was Arri, she had been the commander of the Sneakily Does It, and she held the title of 'shipmistress', which corresponded to the rank of colonel in the United Solarian Star Force. Agent Friday was unsure why she was still alive – CEID spystar commanders were conditioned to self-terminate if their mission was compromised – but her mind was a treasure trove of intelligence. They had gotten the rundown of the incident out of her by the end of the fourth day. By the end of the fifth, they knew everything the shipmistress knew about Blade class stealth cruisers. And when the week was through her mind held no more secrets for the Directorate.

That was when the fun really started. You could do a great deal to a mind once you had the keys, and few people were better at mental manipulation than CEID. Thus began a slow program of full-envelope mental intrusion: memories were subtly altered, impulses and desires were planted in the shipmistress' subconscious, memetic patterns were imprinted and convictions were adjusted. It was a vastly complex brainwashing process that carefully stacked multiple levels of mental reprogramming on top of each whilst taking great pains to preserve the sanity of the target. In fact, done properly the target would never know they were ever reprogrammed to begin with... And anyone digging deeper would find so many buried goalsets and mutually exclusive memories on each successive level it would be impossible to figure out which were real (or, indeed, if any were). The MANCHURIA program would take an arduously long time to complete fully, but the end result would be... quite spectacular indeed.



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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: 2010-09-27 08:17pm
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Force Lord wrote:

Kordis sighed. This was going to be very difficult.

"Admiral, I will be blunt. Their orders were to rescue the ten citizens and to prevent them being, if I may say this, "contaminated" by the prescence of your people, or any others, in fact. Apparently our top leadership feared that, once they saw foreigners beyond what the propaganda said, they would be less inclined to support the Centrality. I know it sounds insane, but when it comes to potential dissent the Party can get incredibly nervous. The fact that the Datton's crew risked serious punishment in the case of failure did not help matters. And our punishments are very much terrible. Believe me, the Navy opposed this mission and argued that the citizens were lost to us, but the President insisted that if we did nothing, our already tattered reputation would suffer even more. He even strongarmed the naval chiefs to send an entire fleet near the B-A Gap, just because. I won't be surprised if he's suffering from internal political fallout as a result."

"As for the Black Berets, I'm not surprised they chose to resist. While the team was nominaly under Forg's control, in reality they operate separately, and if Forg had refused to knock out his ship, it's likely they would simply kill him and everyone else on the vessel to do so. Add to this the fanatism cultivated into them and you can barely talk them into desisting their mission. I'm even surprised one of them chose not to fight. Is there something I must know?"



"Our interviews with the surviving citizens you came to 'rescue' have indicated they were all willing refugees, seeking to flee the Centrality, simply to fall prey to Pfhor sentient traffickers," Fisher stated. "And they have all asked for asylum in the Empire." He noticed Forg and Xader shift uncomfortably. Kordis' reaction was understandably negative. "I have already made preparations for them to be transported to New Anglia, where their application for political asylum will be processed and, I'm quite sure, accepted So, Admiral, you can consider your mission to recover them and force them to return to the Centrality a failure."

Fisher took a sip of tea to wet his throat, letting Kordis and his officers consider what he just said. "As for the crew of the Datton that survived, if they face serious punishment for failing in what was already a fool's errand, the Empire will extend that offer to them as well." He eyed Xader carefully, knowing he was a low-level ESPer. "And since you people place such stock in it, I will inform you that one of the refugees seeking asylum has been determined by my officers to possess Class 5 telekinesis." And I am suspicious that she was the reason you fools embarked on this waste of a mission in the first place, he noted to himself, with his mental defenses in place so Xader couldn't sense that.

"As it stands, Admiral, I will have you returned to your ship. I suggest your fleet depart for home as soon as you get back to your flag vessel, lingering too long in the Outback could lead to further... incident. As for the Datton..." Fisher pressed his hands together. "The Royal Navy will be holding onto her to complete investigation of the incident. Its return will have to be negotiated with the Government. The crew will also be processed and interviewed by officials at Lochley Naval Station. I imagine the interviews will take a week or two with the personnel we have available there. When they are over, I am sure their voluntary repatriation can be arranged."

"What of our intelligence agent?"

"Like the others, she will be interviewed back at Lochley. After that the Government will arrange repatriation, I imagine. Mind you, I can't speak for the Government, I am a mere Admiral after all..." That he had a hereditary seat in the House of Lords in Westminster needn't be said. "Is there anything else to discuss, Admiral?" He waited for Kordis to react.



”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: Ride of the Battlecruisers: Mission Accomplished! PostPosted: 2010-09-27 08:41pm
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USS Haruna, Flagship of TF BC4.1
Following the Grand Coreward Trunk, Sector T-8
March 14, 3400


Admiral Antoni Lisiewicz had an easy smile, and smiling came very naturally to him at a time like this. He looked at the display showing the holoconference of his officers and staff.

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to say that our mission has succeeded before we even got to the area of operations. The Prussians are already squawking; they're sending, of all things, the Chancellor to Reisenburg ASAP. Command called to tell us to rein it in a little, word was that they "didn't want us playing armorball while the Prussians were playing softball.""

There was a ripple of laughter among his officers, but Lisiewicz's operations officer frowned. "And here I was hoping to try some of those thrusts at the border, see how they ran. We could learn a lot from a few well-placed feints..."

"Just as well to keep those route plans in reserve, Dave. Who knows? We might need to use them for real if the hammer drops. In any case, we're going to restrict ourselves to the Alpha plans: no provocation ops, active or passive, until we get orders from higher."

"That's the bad news- we don't get to play with them. The good news is, the Prussians just screwed up again. ELINT pickets spotted transmissions from several previously unidentified sources; it looks like they've been placing some sensor arrays deep in neutral space on the sly to extend their detection range. That let them spot us early... but they got sloppy about their directional antennas. Backscatter from their transmissions tipped off deep field recon; if it ever comes down to cases, those DEW lines are meat."

Captain Bennett of USS Armstrong, the task force's other battlecruiser, asked the obvious question.

"So, where do we go first?"

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-28 12:57am
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Forochel
Arda
5 Hithui IV 942



"We are on the seabed...look about everybody we've got three hours to look around before we begin our ascent, so look sharp."


....

"Sir...I think I've got something."

"Anything specific?"

"Not yet but that definitely looks like the core of the debris field."

The search through the vessel itself, or what little they had been able to pierce between direct observation and ROV searches, had been fruitless. Excepting in the one sense that the discovery of the massive gash, likely caused by a chunk of ice, along the stern quarter and high enough to have spilled contents from the principal cabins. With that as a starting point the second, third, and now fourth days of searching were dedicated to looking for a debris field from the ship and prowling through there.

"That's definitely a big enough field to be the stern contents...okay get all the rovers set to launch. How much juice do we have left?"

"Running full out we've got enough to go for...call it three quarters of an hour plus ascent."

"Okay, safety margins, you've got 20 minutes to sweep with everything then tow the ROVs back in before we start the ascent, we won't use the main lights until we get at least a partial."

Five minutes later a partial hit did come up. One of the two rovers combing through the field had noticed an unusually firm spherical reading and had pushed the alert back up. It took another half dozen minutes to reposition the primary sub and bring the lights up...

"That's it, secure it and prepare to ascend!"

"Damn, we got it."

...

Osgiliath
Arda
9 Hithui IV 942


It was rare for all five of the sitting Consular tribunes to be present at one place and one time, even rarer still for it to be in Osgiliath itself. While the city had been built and rebuilt again over the centuries to now contain the greatest works of the Republic its very focal nature meant that the Council of Man was extremely active within the city itself and the Tribunes had over the years established the tradition of entering the city solely on Council or Assembly business. That the day's event was not such attested to the lack of any members present save those who were concurrently serving actively in senior military posts and a few in the national intelligence organs.

"Doctor Cedrowlad Idhren please step forth."

"Consuls, Tribunes, Generals and Admirals, the expedition which you have funded has repaid my belief that not even the crushing depths of the Icebay could in fact shatter an object of this lineage and power. Now I wish to seek out the one remaining unaccounted for one, the master of all the others. Its very size should aid us while the depths of time in to which it has been lost will thwart us.

We know that it passed down the Great River and the currents of Anduin and swift enough to have displaced it far indeed, yet below Pelargir the shelving is largely flat and the depths not particularly great to a far reaching distance. A proper application of searching will have to cover a vast territory but can use a host of equipment that we could not in the North."

"Doctor, you wish to have ships, it is apparent many ships, searching the whole of the bay and yet raise no suspicions?"

"It could be covered under a separately pressing need, unrelated to this search. The mouth of the river is one of the most heavily trafficked surface shipping lanes on this world, and yet charts have not been truly updated in nearly a half decade. A grant to the National Geodetic Survey would yield the results, provide the cover, and be useful economically as well."

"Very well, but I must say for as well thought as this is I must see them."

Image

...



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SDNet World Nation: Wilkonia

Armourer of the WARWOLVES
ASVS Vet's Association (Class of 2000)
Former C.S. Strowbridge Gold Ego Award Winner
MEMBER of the Anti-PETA Anti-Facist LEAGUE



"I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. "
-Kingdom of Heaven

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-28 08:49am
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Prussian Embassy, Prime City, Reisenburg
March 16, 3400


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The Prussian Embassy was located on the outskirts of the city, beyond the core of arcologies; just as well, for most embassies were not large enough to take up a full tower of their own, and the need for extraterritoriality on embassy property made housing them inside a building owned by the host nation difficult as a matter of diplomacy.

Ambassador Ulrich von Beck was a tall, broad-shouldered man dressed in the uniform of his years in service to the Kaiserliche Marine. His uniform was decorated with a wide array of ribbons and medals, many of them awarded for valor in the face of the enemy. Starting as a simple crewman, he had risen through the noncommissioned ranks and become an officer, eventually achieving starship command. As a Fregattenkapitän he had shown exceptional courage in small-unit actions, often taking his missile frigate up against powerful pirate warships and even heavily armed fixed defenses, disdaining to wait for heavy units before engaging an opponent of frigate or destroyer tonnage as was standard doctrine in today's Prussian Navy.

Image

Von Beck's career had ended in a hard-fought naval action, when damage to his destroyer's bridge took both his legs at the knee. Due to complications with the prosthetics, the valiant old warhorse had been unable to return to service and had forged a new career for himself in the civil service, finally earning the trusted position of ambassador to Umeria in the late 3380s.

The man was a Prussian of the old school, a throwback to a higher, nobler age, before the events of later centuries. Those events had robbed the Star League of much of its old dignity, valor, and international reputation for efficient and orderly government, traits lacking in the modern League. But the Umerian couldn't help but think that even now, a few million von Becks could probably whip the Prussians back into shape in short order... if only the fools dominating the state would give them the chance. Not likely, alas; I wish all the Prussians I dealt with were like this one.

Von Beck was nearly twenty centimeters taller than the agile, dynamic First Technarch, and had to bend down slightly as he shook O'Connell's hand. "Thank you for coming here to meet me on such short notice, Herr Doktor O'Connell."

"It seemed the thing to do, with the Chancellor coming by in a few more hours."

Von Beck took a deep breath. "Dr. O'Connell, I must be frank, for I fear the consequences if I am not."

The Umerian cocked his chin to the left and frowned. "Care to explain?"

"You have known me for years, Herr Doktor; I have done my best to ensure happy relations between our two countries. Always I have endeavoured to serve the League, to uphold her interests and honor. And now, I must say things that I fear cannot be unsaid about my nation, about her politics, though it breaks my heart to do so."

"I think I understand, Ulrich."

"It is possible, but I doubt it. I know that the parliamentary style of government is foreign to your nation; you may perhaps not understand how corrosive its effects can be after long years of mismanagement, though. There have been too many scandals, too much corruption, too many long embraces between the men trusted to guide the ship of state and the bottom-feeders that would see it founder for their own interests. We are... not what we once were."

"I must confess to having had thoughts along those lines myself, Ambassador, though I must say that you have always struck me as-"

"Please! Do not say it; I must explain and I am not sure I have the strength to continue if..." He trailed off. This from a man who had kept bellowing orders from the floor of his command bridge as the medic tightened the tourniquets around the stumps of his legs, refusing to be taken to sick bay until the enemy gun emplacements were destroyed by point blank mass driver fire and the fleet's Hussar dropships had a clear path to the landing zones.

"Very well."

"You see... I have had difficulties with Hoffman. He does not understand Umerians. He is not a bad man, but he is... simple. A scion of the fortunate upper classes. Never very successful in business, and in many ways a consensus candidate as Chancellor, chosen because no party would agree to support the leading lights of another in the last election. Almost everyone would prefer that another man had taken office, but none could agree on which one. Therefore, Hoffman."

This was a more disturbing revelation that O'Connell had expected. There had been hints of it in the analysis he'd read, but even Umerian intelligence analysts would hesistate to make such a damning critique of a friendly nation's political process as he had just heard from that nation's own ambassador! He knew the price the aging hero before him must be paying to admit such things about his country, that von Beck had to know how any Umerian would see it. The idea that the ruling body of Prussia had chosen a man to rule it in spite of his well-known lack of competence or merit, that it was not even a matter of disagreement over his merits, that he was universally considered to be at best a second-rate choice... How can he say this? Why does he say this?

"Dr. O'Connell, I must tell you this because I need you to understand that I will do everything in my power to make Chancellor Hoffman understand the underlying issues at stake, and to encourage him to do all that can be done to avoid a most embarrassing and pointless farce." The ambassador let out another deep breath, and his shoulders slumped. "But I fear that it will not be enough, and I ask that you be forbearing. Not for him, but for the sake of avoiding useless tension between our nations. Put simply, I pray that you will forgive him: he knows not what he does."

The First Technarch wondered where that came from, since it had the air of a quote, but wasn't quite certain. Classical allusion, perhaps? He'd nail that down later. In any case, he did see where the ambassador was coming from. Von Beck was a solid man whose reputation commanded respect in anyone's eyes, even if he didn't have the academic status one of his rank would normally hold had he been born a Umerian. And the ambassador knew the internal politics of the Prussian League better than almost any Umerian could hope to.

If von Beck felt it important enough to swallow his pride, to make such extraordinary remarks and such an extraordinary request, O'Connell could do no less than try to oblige.



Prime City International Spaceport
Later That Day


The high-speed courier boat had taken a speed run along the shortest possible path to reach Reisenburg so quickly. Reichskanzler Franz Josef Hoffman was swiftly ushered from the craft into the dimming evening light, escorted by a ceremonial bodyguard of Hussars, flawless in their carriage, resplendent in their dress uniforms, a-glitter with brasswork, gilt, and bearing jeweled dress sabers at their side. The Chancellor's escort had been drawn from the elite drill teams of the Garde-Grenadiers, and they made a fine show.

Image

They were met at the landing ramp by one old man in a suit and an escort of officers from the Umerian Space Security Force. In contrast to the Grenadiers they were singularly unimpressive. Their uniform fabric was a dull matte black with only the most minimal of silver trimmings. The Umerians' only brasswork was their tunic buttons and rank insignia, which were sparse and lackluster. In contrast to the chestfuls of medals worn by the Prussian Grenadiers, they had no more than a few strips of colored ribbon to their names, and to match the Prussians' sabers they had nothing more impressive than the standard Umerian dress sidearm, pistols of a moderately appealing shade of anodized-titanium blue.

A keener observer would have noted that the dull fabric of the Umerian dress uniform was a synthetic chosen for its ability to shrug off light shrapnel in the wake of a round of terrorist bombings during the Revolt of 3347. That the few ribbons on those uniforms were, without exception, hard-won campaign badges and decorations, earned in suppression operations against ork marauders in the Badlands, police actions in the lawless space to spinward, or the terrifying convulsion of the Browncoat War. That the Umerians' dress sidearms were atomic disintegrator ray guns of a type dating back to their Golden Age, proven lethal against all manner of ferocious savages and beasts in those remote days, and no less lethal today.

Perhaps the Umerians would have been wiser to choose a more impressive outfit as their national dress uniform, but they had their own priorities. Appearances were not very high on that list.

Hoffman's nose crinkled at the poor showing made by the Umerians. Was this the best they could manage to greet a friendly head of state, one who came to extend the olive branch of peace, as an emissary of goodwill between nations? Then the Guards and naval officers stopped, snapped to attention, and exchanged salutes- and Hoffman did notice that the Umerian honor guard had managed to salute with a sharpness that would have done credit to an average hussar unit, if not to one of the elites.

But the old man was coming toward him, and soon he recognized the Second Technarch for Foreign Affairs, Maxim Chernov. It was time to show the good faith and benevolence of the glorious League. The Reichkanzler strode forward to meet the Technocracy's foreign minister.

"Good evening, Mr. Chernov!" He noticed that the Umerian's stride faltered slightly then; perhaps the man was feeling his age? Best to get the pleasantries over with quickly, or he might overstay the fellow's patience. He was not in the slightest surprised when Chernov replied in flawless German.

"Ah, good evening, Herr Kanzler; I hope your journey has not been too fatiguing?" Chernov was quite jovial; Hoffman knew that he must have made a good first impression. His father had always been most emphatic on the importance of first impressions, and that lesson had served Hoffman well throughout his life, as proven today.

"Oh, not at all, not at all!"

"Excellent. The First Technarch had some scheduling difficulties today, but he is ready to receive you in Central Administration, if that suits you."

"But I could hardly inconvenience him."

"It would be no inconvenience at all, Herr Kanzler. He is entirely ready to speak to you."

"No, no, that would hardly be proper. I will await him tomorrow; anything less would be rank discourtesy!"

Chernov took a deep breath. Is the poor man fatigued? "Herr Kanzler, please try to understand; Dr. O'Connell has already canceled a number of appointments on the assumption that you would wish to speak to him at once..."

The Technarch's face was utterly still and placid now. What a delightfully calm and stable fellow! And how courteous of Mr. O'Connell, to offer to put himself to such inconvenience on my account! It simply wouldn't be proper to take advantage of that, not when he was here as an ambassador of goodwill between nations. But... Chernov seemed so insistent. Perhaps he would be forgiven the presumption.

"Very well then. If you insist, I shall of course be happy to oblige Mr. O'Connell.

"Thank you. A motorcade is standing by to convey you Central Administration. But I ask that you read a précis of the Umerian position on the Volksland affair along the way, in preparation for the meeting."

"Certainly, Mr. Chernov, certainly."

Hoffman was quite disturbed to see the Second Technarch break stride again. The poor man was clearly stumbling on his feet; why didn't he use a cane or some such?

"Will you be accompanying me, Mr. Chernov?"

"Ah, yes, Herr Kanzler, but I must make a brief call to announce your arrival first. I'll be back in five minutes."



Central Administration Complex
Slightly Later That Day


Chernov's voice came in over the visiphone. "I cannot believe-"

O'Connell chuckled. "Now you owe me a hundred starbucks."

Chernov took a deep breath. "You're right, I'm afraid. I should never have bet that he wouldn't manage to commit a faux pas, not after what we've seen in these past two months. The price of arrogance, I suppose. But still, for him to... I can't understand it."

"Oh come now, Max, where's your philosophical detachment?"

The Second Technarch shook his head. "This does not bode well for the negotiations, I fear."

"As a man who deserves a better master once told me, forgive him, for he knows not what he does."

"Oh, yes, to a point. But really, how could he have forgotten..."

"The same way he forgot to ask if anyone would care when he approved the firebombing of Lake Kulturkampf. Hundreds of thousands dead, and by all evidence he never thought once about it."

"I suppose compared to that, a few breakdowns of courtesy aren't much to speak of. You're right, Mike, and thank you; I... needed some perspective."

"You gave him the note?"

"Yes, and I wonder what he'll make of it."



Aircar, en route to Central Administration Complex
Even Later That Day


Reichskanzler Hoffman sat in silence. He reread the note one last time, still trying to understand how and why anyone would think such things of him, when he had only the best of intentions.
Quote:
The Technocracy's primary grievances involving the Volksland Affair are as follows:

-The Technocracy was not consulted before the League began major military operations against Volksland, employing roughly a third of the Kaiserliche Marine's line of battle a short distance from the Grand Trunk, a major Umerian trade route. This caused considerable alarm and disruption to neutral shipping in the area, for which no attempt at restitution has been made.

-The Technocracy was not offered any evidence of Volksland's involvement in the "Black Sunday" attacks prior to the invasion of Volksland; evidence has since been forthcoming, but only in response to direct and blunt requests from the Technocracy's embassy on Neu Preußen. In light of the heavy civilian casualties suffered by the Volkslander people during the attack, the League's disinterest in proving Volkslander involvement seems particularly lamentable.

-The Technocracy was not consulted on the future disposition of Volksland, in spite of its strategic position on the Grand Trunk. We believe it worth mentioning that the same objection could reasonably be raised by other signatory powers to the Grand Coreward Trunk Navigation Accords, though Umeria speaks only for itself as of this time.

-When the Technocracy specifically sought clarification on the future status of Volksland, the League Government replied to the effect that "Volksland will not be annexed," but was instead to be occupied for some indefinite time. Within a few days, the League elected to annex the planet in direct contradiction of the assurances it sent the Technocracy, and proceeded to engage in alarmingly rapid efforts at cultural assimilation and "Prussianization" of the planet. Many in the Technocracy's government are inclined to view this as a sign of bad faith, or of some sort of general expansionist policy on the League's part which, naturally, the Technocracy can only view with grave alarm.

-Pursuant to this, the Technocracy finds itself unsure whether it can rely on the Hoffman government to keep its promises or make accurate statements about the League's future policy. If the Hoffman government can neither exercise control over the Reichstag nor admit its own inability to do so, it will make any negotiation with said government nearly impossible.

-The Technocracy is both concerned and curious to know who, if anyone, can be relied upon to speak for the League with greater reliability than its own foreign minister, Herr Gottlieb.

-Finally, the Technocracy would also like to note that it has yet to acknowledge Prussia's claim to legitimate rule over the planet Volksland, and is uncertain about the wisdom of doing so under the circumstances.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-28 11:32am
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Jenova

“What do you have,” Tyrus asked his interrogator Petr Somn.

“As far as I can see, Lord Inquisitor, the engineer was quite correct. All this is Shinran in origin.”

“And?”

“Apparently, these liquids are just some kind of vaccine...”

“Vaccine?! Who uses things this archaic these days?”

“I’m not sure, Lord Inquisitor. We ran a biological analysis on the ‘Shinrans’. The test reports are interesting. It seems that they might react to the drug like it is some kind of narcotic.”

“That doesn’t make any sense. A vaccine a narcotic? What do these subhumans do these days that is so boring that they have to go to extreme ends to enjoy a bit of ‘high’?”

“Their biochemistry differs from Byzantine human biochemistry to be certain. We have also analyzed the flight data downloaded from the vessel. We may have found the flight path of the ship.”

“Good work. Send out a probe to the location to verify that that is indeed the pirate base.”

“Yes, Lord Inquisitor.”

“And Petr? There’s a possibility that the Bragulans are onto this as well. I will be loathe to be the one has been beaten to the target by some damn stupid bears. There are subhumans to be exterminated, and I want to be the one who does the exterminating.”

“I’ll double my efforts, Lord Inquisitor.”

“See that you do.”

===================


“So Ms Internationalist, what do you want of me?” asked Tyrus.

Inquisitor Ember Veil ignored the snide remark. She knew Tyrus was a deliberate royal pain the arse, but Tyrus was a Lord Inquisitor, with all the political power that came with the title, and Tyrus did not get the title without being a damn good at what he does. Within the Inquisition, the Inquisitors in the Ordos Diplomatica tended to be moderates with regard to the xeno issue, but most Inquisitors in the Ordos Xenos, Robotica and Proditorius were rabid xenophobes who would rather walk around with a xeno’s head on a pike like some talisman than anything else.

But Tyrus was a dedicated servant of the God Emperor, and a damn good one. It would not be wise to anger a senior Inquisitor, especially one who walked around with a power claw, and a bolter in the other arm. “Greetings, Lord Inquisitor Tyrus, I heard about your investigation into the Shinrans. I am meeting the Bragulans soon and I was hoping for something to offer.”

“Offer? What is there to offer to these damn stupid bears who just shot at me for God Emperor knows what reason a few days ago?”

“The Bragulans while are admittedly an excitable bunch, are often excitable when offered with something.”

“Just get to the point. I have an investigation to conduct.”

“About that. The Bragulans I hear are also concerned with possible infiltration by the Shinrans on their side. Perhaps a joint operation?”

“A joint what!?!”

Ember sighed. She knew that Tyrus was ... simply put, a recalcitrant xenophobe, and the very notion of working with Bragulans probably did not horrify him, but rather disgusted him enough that Tyrus could, and probably would since he had the authority, to order the exterminates of Jenova in a heartbeat, even if it demanded crashing one of the old hulks in orbit onto the planet. “Alright. Why don’t we do this: I will make the offer, you just do what you need to do. I suspect the Bragulans won’t take the offer much at face value anyhow, and would follow their own leads anyway. I assume you know where the pirate base is?”

Grudgingly, “Yes.”

“Give it to me.” Ember handed a datapad to Tyrus.

Tyrus keyed the coordinates into the datapad and handed it back. “If you will excuse me then.”

Ember watched Tyrus walk away. Sighing, she went back to prepare for the meeting.



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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: 2010-09-28 02:42pm
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Steve wrote:
"Our interviews with the surviving citizens you came to 'rescue' have indicated they were all willing refugees, seeking to flee the Centrality, simply to fall prey to Pfhor sentient traffickers," Fisher stated. "And they have all asked for asylum in the Empire." He noticed Forg and Xader shift uncomfortably. Kordis' reaction was understandably negative. "I have already made preparations for them to be transported to New Anglia, where their application for political asylum will be processed and, I'm quite sure, accepted So, Admiral, you can consider your mission to recover them and force them to return to the Centrality a failure."

Fisher took a sip of tea to wet his throat, letting Kordis and his officers consider what he just said. "As for the crew of the Datton that survived, if they face serious punishment for failing in what was already a fool's errand, the Empire will extend that offer to them as well." He eyed Xader carefully, knowing he was a low-level ESPer. "And since you people place such stock in it, I will inform you that one of the refugees seeking asylum has been determined by my officers to possess Class 5 telekinesis." And I am suspicious that she was the reason you fools embarked on this waste of a mission in the first place, he noted to himself, with his mental defenses in place so Xader couldn't sense that.

"As it stands, Admiral, I will have you returned to your ship. I suggest your fleet depart for home as soon as you get back to your flag vessel, lingering too long in the Outback could lead to further... incident. As for the Datton..." Fisher pressed his hands together. "The Royal Navy will be holding onto her to complete investigation of the incident. Its return will have to be negotiated with the Government. The crew will also be processed and interviewed by officials at Lochley Naval Station. I imagine the interviews will take a week or two with the personnel we have available there. When they are over, I am sure their voluntary repatriation can be arranged."

"What of our intelligence agent?"

"Like the others, she will be interviewed back at Lochley. After that the Government will arrange repatriation, I imagine. Mind you, I can't speak for the Government, I am a mere Admiral after all..." That he had a hereditary seat in the House of Lords in Westminster needn't be said. "Is there anything else to discuss, Admiral?" He waited for Kordis to react.


So this mission was a failure before it even began? That was putting it mildly: Kordis had a lot of difficulty keeping his anger in check. Dissident citizens, an unregistered telepath, a Black Beret massacre...

"Is this true?" Kordis glared at Forg. Forg simply nodded.

What a waste of effort. Once the government hears this... Forced resignation would be the least of the President's worries...

Kordis suddenly had an idea. A crazy idea, to be sure, but still, it didn't hurt to try.

"Admiral Fisher, while I fully expect the citizens will go to Anglia and perhaps the crew of the Datton as well, I still have to explain my government why this mission failed. If they find out their...new affiliation, I fully expect the State to begin assasinating them, just to send a message, since Endovos's political position in the Centrality will become very shaky, if not outright untenable if this comes out, and I know for a fact that dictators with nothing to lose will try to cause as much havoc as possible before going down. So, in the interest of preventing that, I implore you to keep the crew's and citizens' real identities secret and encourage them to take new identities as a precaution, while my superior Admiral Tardis, Forg, Xader and I tell our leaders that the Datton was lost with all hands, destroyed by Pendleton's defenses. Indeed, I recommend you to scuttle the Datton and give the illusion that Pendleton destroyed it. I have no knowledge of Pendleton's defenses, but my superiors are also unaware, and we can use that to our advantage. If any of the crew chose to return, it can be chalked up to the Coalition rescuing these "survivors" and sending them back home. As for telepaths reading our minds, they are deliberately made low-ranking, for reasons of balance, and many government buildings and ships have devices that nullify their abilities anyway. Of course, you can completely ignore what I just said and continue with whatever you and your government intend to do, since I'm just a foreign Vice-Admiral. I think what I said is insane myself, and a bit flawed, though right now I have no respect for a President that will soon be a lame duck. So that's it. I have nothing else to say."



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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-28 04:15pm
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Force Lord wrote:
So this mission was a failure before it even began? That was putting it mildly: Kordis had a lot of difficulty keeping his anger in check. Dissident citizens, an unregistered telepath, a Black Beret massacre...

"Is this true?" Kordis glared at Forg. Forg simply nodded.

What a waste of effort. Once the government hears this... Forced resignation would be the least of the President's worries...

Kordis suddenly had an idea. A crazy idea, to be sure, but still, it didn't hurt to try.

"Admiral Fisher, while I fully expect the citizens will go to Anglia and perhaps the crew of the Datton as well, I still have to explain my government why this mission failed. If they find out their...new affiliation, I fully expect the State to begin assasinating them, just to send a message, since Endovos's political position in the Centrality will become very shaky, if not outright untenable if this comes out, and I know for a fact that dictators with nothing to lose will try to cause as much havoc as possible before going down. So, in the interest of preventing that, I implore you to keep the crew's and citizens' real identities secret and encourage them to take new identities as a precaution, while my superior Admiral Tardis, Forg, Xader and I tell our leaders that the Datton was lost with all hands, destroyed by Pendleton's defenses. Indeed, I recommend you to scuttle the Datton and give the illusion that Pendleton destroyed it. I have no knowledge of Pendleton's defenses, but my superiors are also unaware, and we can use that to our advantage. If any of the crew chose to return, it can be chalked up to the Coalition rescuing these "survivors" and sending them back home. As for telepaths reading our minds, they are deliberately made low-ranking, for reasons of balance, and many government buildings and ships have devices that nullify their abilities anyway. Of course, you can completely ignore what I just said and continue with whatever you and your government intend to do, since I'm just a foreign Vice-Admiral. I think what I said is insane myself, and a bit flawed, though right now I have no respect for a President that will soon be a lame duck. So that's it. I have nothing else to say."


Fisher listened to Kordis' "insane" proposal. He wondered if this man was crazy as a fox, or just crazy. After all, while playing upin the risk to the dissidents, of assassination at the hands of the Centrality's foreign services, he also encouraged the destruction of the Datton... and with it all the chances for New Anglia to thoroughly examine an intact top-line Centrality stealth ship.

Not, of course, that the proposal would work. "Admiral, even if I were inclined to adopt your plot, I'm afraid its viability is quite out of the question now. For one thing, I'm sure the neutral observers and coalition partners in my fleet have already transmitted messages home on the presence of the Datton and the fact that the ship was successfully taken. Besides, I've already transmitted messages back to Lochley reporting the outcome of the Datton affair, including the asylum petitions of those dissidents aboard her. So the proverbial cat is out of the bag. I do thank you, however, for providing us warning that your government is so inhumane and foolishly vindictive as to murder these people simply for daring to seek a new life elsewhere. It will permit the Government to take steps to ensure their safety." Fisher's tone grew low. "You would be wise to communicate to your leadership that we would be rather displeased should any of these asylum-seekers die under Imperial protection, and that our displeasure with the Central State would be made known, swiftly and terribly."

"Now, Admiral Kordis, I leave you with your senior officers present to consider your options and what I have said to you. Perhaps, if you fear the actions of your government, a solution will soon be made clear." With that Fisher got up and left, bringing the Marines with him - a squad remained outside the wardroom for security purposes.



”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: 2010-09-28 04:35pm
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After Fisher left, Kordis muttered, "Well, that went well."

"What was it that you said, Kordis? Were you really serious?" Forg was flustered.

"A little bit, I admit. Never expected him to accept it."

Xader cut in. "Sir, were you aware that the telepath part was a complete lie?"

Kordis chuckled. "Yes, that was ridiculous." His face then grew serious. "It seems you two are in big trouble. I return you home and you'll end up as scapegoats. And keeping you in hiding is too risky as long as Enduvos is still around."

"So, what shall we do, sir?"

"You two will stay with the Anglians for the moment. I'll tell Tardis and Enduvos what's going on. And then we wait."



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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-28 08:26pm
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Chapter Sunelis, Lochley Landing
Lochley's Retreat, The Outback
12 March 3400



The Chapel within Sunelis was filling with members of the Order and a handful of guests from the naval base. At the front sat the Pontcaire family, who were trying to keep little Hope settled as she fidgeted in the hard wooden bench. From another pew Yuna and Ashe - fresh from their success at Creston - were holding hands and thinking thoughts together of when it would be their time.

Syrandi stood at the altar, adorned with the insignia of the Church, wearing her finest robe of office. She smiled to the assembled and stated, "Please, bring them in."

The doors opened. Rana Shaheen entered first, guided along by Knight Gracia Marcos. She was in her full formal robes, marked with the insignia of a Sentinel, and moved along steadily. Behind her Sara Pontcaire entered, Admiral Fisher on her arm. She was wearing a more conventional wedding dress of white, including veil, with her shoulders bared.

When they got to the altar Fisher bowed respectfully to Syrandi before taking a seat with the Pontcaires. Rana, being the Sister of the Order, took the lead. "Knight-Captain Syrandi Luneri, I am Rana Shaheen, daughter of Halim and Amala, of el-Baghra on Nejd, Sentinel of the Silver Moon." She gripped Sara's hand and put it to her chest, over her heart. "I attest to you that this woman beside me, Sara Pontcaire, is the light of my life and soul, and that I am attached to her by a Bond sanctioned by the Goddess and eternal."

It was Sara's turn. She swallowed and began to speak. "Knight-Captain Syrandi Luneri, I am Sara Pontcaire, daughter of..." She tripped up here - she didn't know her father's name and could barely remember her mother's. "...daughter of... Lillian, of Sweethaven on Pendleton." Sara placed Rana's hand over her own heart. "I attest to you that this woman beisde me, Rana Shaheen, is the light of my life and soul, and that I am attached to her by a Bond sanctioned by the Goddess and eternal."

Syrandi nodded. "And you are committed to keeping this sacred Bond whole for the rest of your lives?"

Two "Yes" answers responded to her inquiry.

"Very well. Speak the Oath of Bonding to each other."

Rana and Sara turned to face each other. Again, Rana went first. "I, Rana Shaheen, do swear here, in the presence of the Eternal Goddess, that I take Sara Pontcaire as my Bondmate to love and cherish, that I shall act always to be faithful to her, that I shall act always to give her solace when she is grieving and comfort when she is sad, that I shall act always to defend her Honour and Faith. So I swear here, and may I be struck down if I do not hold true."

Sara's reply was immediate. "I, Sara Pontcaire, do swear here, in the presence of the Eternal Goddess, that I take Rana Shaheen as my Bondmate to love and cherish, that I shall act always to be faithful to her, that I shall act always to give her solace when she is grieving and comfort when she is sad, that I shall act always to defend her Honour and Faith. So I swear here, and may I be struck down if I do not hold true."

Syrandi dabbed ceremonial oil onto her finger tips. She dabbed Rana's forehead and then her chest, over the heart, before doing the same thing to Sara. "In the name of the Order and the Goddess, I bless you both. You are now Bonded." Ceremonial iron bracelets, marked with the sigil of the Order, were placed upon the right wrists of Rana and Sara. Smiling, Syrandi finished with something not usual to the Rite. "And since it is appropriate, I believe the Human custom is for the brides to kiss?"

Rana and Sara smiled at each other. Rana gripped Sara's cheek with her right hand and their lips closed and locked. Happy applause came from the assembled, including a jubilant "Yay Auntie Sara!" from the younger Hope, as the marriage ceremony was complete.



With the ceremony over and the reception begun, Syrandi returned to her private quarters. Trinande followed. "Master Syrandi, do you need anything?"

"No. You may join the others, Trinande, I wish to be alone." Syrandi watched her go and drew in a pained sigh. She looked over to the bracelet on her left wrist. It had been twenty-five years since it was placed on her wrist, a similar one on Yamia's. Her Yamia... her beloved Yamia.

Syrandi began to weep, as the pain of almost five years separation from her beloved Yamia grew too great to restrain.



North Park Youth Hostel, New Chatham
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia
26 March 3400



Druni was relaxing on her bed after a long and arduous day working community service, helping to clean the park. Other jobs would be her responsibility tomorrow as she waited for the process to begin of finding a more permanent home in the city, likely in the Dorei Quarter along the River south of the city center. Public housing and food assistance was available, and then she'd have to look into education. The Silver Moon did provide a basic education to their Initiates and Acolytes, to meet all education standards in their jurisdictions, but her skills were primarily in use of ESP and, well, combat. Who would hire me for being somewhat okay with a beamsaber and for having some ESP combat skills?, Druni mused.

"Hey, Druni!" The voice was that of one of the Human girls, Clarice Winters. The dark-haired, fair-skinned girl was Druni's approximate age, orphaned by the Hyperspace Accident. She dangled over the upper bunk in their shared room, allowing her dark hair hang from her upside-down head. "You really goin' to sleep this early?"

"We worked hard enough today," Druni mumbled. "Nothing better to do."

"Of course there is!", Clarice insisted. "I mean, you know we're gettin' a free concert visit next week, right? The Hard Noise concert?"

"I don't want to go, Human music makes my ears ache!"

"But it'll be fun! All of us, together! And they're even having VIPs. I've heard they've got this princess attending, she's comin' to look into attending uni here in the city and has bought tickets and everything."

"Aren't there enough princesses in the Kingdom already?"

"Yeah, but she's not from the Empire, the netzine's saying she's from one of those little statelets in X-13. Tyconia, I think. Princess Saris...."

Druni's eyes opened wide. And right then and there, she decided to go after all.


Galicia House, Westminster
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia
28 March 3400



Danielle looked in the mirror. And she liked what she saw.

The Juliani dress - Amber's gift to her just as Amber's Juliani was a gift from Dani - was the product of Guido Juliani, a Latiumese-born fashion designer who was known for pressing the envelope of acceptable fashion in women's wear. It was, appropriately enough, a black evening gown. The back was completely bare down to the base of the spine while the front consisted of two separate spans of fabric that wound tightly up the front of her body to where they were tied behind her neck, leaving the arms and shoulders bare as well. There was an open are from below her neck, where the straps began to come together below the neck as well as behind it, all the way down to just above her navel, showing off slightly-defined abs as well as the entirety of her cleavage. Below the waist the dress flowed to her ankles,, but there were splits on both sides that let her thighs and legs slip out as she walked.

By all rights the dress shouldn't work this well, but Juliani was one of the designers who insisted on using modern technology with his clothes. At strategic points along the dress's torso sections passive bio-sensitive pieces gently clung to her skin, ensuring there would be no embarrassing and indecent "wardrobe malfunctions".

Dani found herself wondering how good Amber would look in this. She let herself smile at that thought after applying the light red lipstick she liked to wear to formal events. "How do you think I look?", she asked Wei Len and Janice Dawkins.

Wei Len, a shy - but very sweet - Chinese girl, gave a nod and answered, "Beautiful, Your Grace."

Janice, Danielle's personal assistant (As in the poor soul who always had to manage her schedule), nodded. She would be attending so, unlike Wei Len - in her customary maid uniform - Janice was in her own evening gown, this one a more conservative sleeveless dress, blue in color. "I'm sure I'll be fielding many a complaint," was her compliment. It wasn't entirely intended as one, but she knew her boss's love of tweaking Westminster society once and a while.

"Flatterers," Dani teased. "Is the car out front?"

"Yes. We'll be swinging by to pick up Her Ladyship, of course, and then on to Tarana House."

"Excellent." She walked out in front of Janice, heading to the car and smiling with how much entertainment she and Amber would have tonight.



Harrington Suites, Westminster

The Harrington Suites were fairly nice as long-stay lodgings went. The apartments verged on being condominiums given their luxuries and the view of the St. James River, but they were still mere apartments; a living area, a kitchen with dining table, and two bedrooms with bathrooms in each. A third room, intended by the designers of the complex as being a potential study or workout room or even a third bedroom depending on who was renting, was generally used by the younger of the Kelly-Martinez sisters, Sarina, as her famed "dungeon" for her games with lovers.

Amber stepped out into the general living area in her own Juliani dress, this one red. She saw Sarina sitting on the couch in her undies - no surprise there - with school work spread out upon the living room table. "How are your reports going?"

"As boring as ever," was Sarina's reply, almost a whine. "You're not bringing Dani back over tonight, are you?"

"Probably not," Amber admitted as she looked into her reflect on the window and made sure her hair was right. "I fully expect that after we're out of the party Danielle will insist I go back with her to Galicia House tonight..."

"So she can eat you out until the crack of dawn!", Sarina laughed.

The lewd comment - no matter how accurate - brought a blush to Amber's face. "You can talk, but I'm sure the moment I'm out of here your books will get put up.and you'll be on the com to Helena to come over." She directed a look to Sarina, who was trying to look innocent and failing miserably. "Just remember, no partying tonight. We can't afford it."

"If Helena comes over, it'll be just a quiet night of snuggling," Sarina promised. Her toes were crossed, though.

Amber rolled her eyes, quite sure Sarina would do far more than snuggle. "Just promise me that when you break that promise, you keep the spending below £100?"

"Fine, fine..." Sarina went back to her books, for the moment anyway.

"Honestly, I'm surprised you actually find time to study..." Amber headed to the door. As she did so, her eyes fell upon the small stand where she kept her PDA. As she picked it up, she saw she had a message and checked it. The outstanding bill flashed in front of her eyes, the bank warning her that her outstanding balance on her secondary estate loan was accruing interest and they would be adding £200 to her monthly minimum payment, with a reminder that she had 12 months left before they would have to place a lien on her property for the total of the loan. Two hundred pounds?! But I can't pay the whole thing off, I'm still covering the main loan on the estate! Sighing, Amber took the message off and walked out the door, getting her composure back before she met Danielle at the Suites' entrance.



Tanara House, Westminster


The Tanara House was named such after it's first occupant, Crown Princess of Tanara, who had bought the house while holding her mother Queen Salana VI of Lushan's House of Lords seat in the early 31st Century. Though the outside remained a model of English architecture, as was favored in the Calishaw area, the inside was decorated in Lushan fashions. The colors of the furniture tended to be of teal and violet hues, as the Lushan preferred, with a number of "communal" benches that were, to a Human, extra-long couches that could seat 10 to 14 people. Fine wines of both Dorei and Human vintages and makes were being prepared, as well as a meal of fine foods from both races (they shared similar nutritional requirements, so there was no worry of the meals being un-digestable.

The current main occupant was Prince Yanal, the younger son of King Panyo VI, who was holding his father's seat (his older brother, the Crown Prince, was remaining home to raise his children). As a member of the Lushan royal family, he had been obligated to host the dinner party welcoming the new Lord Priest, Ramay, to Westminster. Ramay was entering now from one of the side entrances, accompanied by a Knight-Captain and two Knights of the Silver Moon, as well as two Sentinels and the Apprentices of the Knights. The ladies were dressed in their formal robes as they whittled away the hours until the function.

"Any suspicious names on the guest list?", Ann Wu asked as Shayera looked it over. Nearby a Dorei Knight, Keyma Sani, was discussing security arrangements with the younger Sentinels and Acolytes of the honor guard. "There are no apparent threats, but..."

"No, merely a number of Lords from Parliament," Shayera answered. "Though the Emperor won't be attending after all. A pity, I would have been honored to meet him."

"He's not much older than Sister Jala," Ann remarked, indicating Jala Tayno, a Dorei and the younger of the two Sentinels with them.

"But he's still the Emperor," Shayera remarked insistantly. "Are you saying you wouldn't want to meet him?"

"Well, maybe," Ann admitted, "but it's not much of a big deal. And we'll have plenty of the high society here tonight anyway, if you truly want to rub elbows."

Shayera let out a sharp laugh. "No, I don't. I just want to get this over with so we can get back to the Cloister." She turned her attention to the names of invitees who were confirmed as intending to attend. Four members of the Royal Family, including Prince Richard, the uncle of King Edward and third in line to the throne, and Lord Vallejo, the father-in-law of the Prime Minister. Peers from Hannover, Bavaria, Latium, Ionia, New Bangladesh...

Andalusia.

And it was there that Shayera took a sharp breath. Ann noticed her changed emotional state. "Sister Shayera, is there a problem?"

A single name had caught her attention. Her Grace the Duchess of Galicia, Danielle Bethany Verdes-Roya.



”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: 2010-09-29 02:01am
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Jedi Master

Joined: 2007-08-26 10:53pm
Posts: 1389
Chamarran Hierarchy space, primary fleet base

"REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOWWWWW!" It was rather spectacular what a rough feline tongue could do in the right spot. Satsuki cuddled up to the other Chamarran amidst the silk sheets, and purred. But soon her lover squirmed reluctantly away.

"Already, nyah?" Satsuki begged, making a piteous little meow, watching that tail as it swished and twitched on its way into the bathroom.

"The Great Fleet will not wait on lil'ol' you and me, Satsuki. As Shipmistress, I have my duty... Now come help me clean up before I go!" Amira giggled, and Satsuki pounced out of bed in an explosion of sheets.


Chamarran Hierarchy space, Nekkoprimus Starbase

Were Satsuki a good Queen-following Chamarran, she would not be here. She smiled as she got up on the bed with the other Chamarran... And began to jump on it. On the other side of the bed, Leon could not help but snicker at the charade they were pulling, and bounced on the bed with all the gleeful eagerness of a kitten. Theatrically meowing and hissing, they soon sat down to business.

"So. This is the real thing, huh?" the male Chamarran asked.

"She wasn't kidding about the Great Fleet, I saw enough tonnage out there to believe it." Satsuki confirmed, nodding her head. "This is all about that Solarian business, isn't it?"

"Well, I'd bet money on it, but instead I'll do the next best thing." Reaching into his clothes, Leon tossed Satsuki a credit chit that her sharp eyes saw was labeled with a nicely large enough number.

"Bringing down a corrupt regime, and making money while doing it, what could be better?" She smiled at him, and pocketed the money.


This was just the first bit of intelligence of many that trickled their way into the KIS, all confirming the same truth - that an enormous part of the Chamarran battleline was moving out, far, far away from home...



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

SDNW4: The Sultanate of Klavostan

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-29 03:48am
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Jedi Council Member
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Joined: 2006-11-09 09:54am
Posts: 1984
Location: Wouldn't you like to know?
ANS Uhtred Ragnarsson
Flagship, Battlecruiser Squadron 17; Commodore Guillaume Murat commanding
Deep Space Patrol, Sector CC-12


"Well, that's interesting." Never a good thing to hear from the sensor officer, reflected Commodore Murat. Especially not when it was followed by - "Sir, you may want to take a look at this. I'm picking up transmissions - civilian transmissions."

Now, that was odd. CC-12 was uninhabited, except for the ubiquitous pirate hideouts that explained 17th Battlecruiser's presence in the area. At least, it was uninhabited as far as anyone knew, but the Ascendancy didn't usually patrol beyond it's own borders, and nobody else was close enough to much care about CC-12.

"From where, Lieutenant?"

"Just across the hyper wall, Sir. Looks like primitive hyperwave, mostly dealing with mining and suchlike."

"Very well, bring us out of hyper, and have the squadron come to Condition 3." That was heightened alert; Two was probable and One was imminent combat.

"Aye, Sir." With an eye-watering flash of dissipating energy, the eight ships crossed the hyper wall... and scared the pants off of a trio of asteroid miners in the process of tearing a comet apart.

"Well, that's interesting," Commodore Murat said sarcastically as he glanced at the system plot on the main holotank. "Com/Scan, why are there two inhabited planets in an uninhabited sector?"



Conversion Table:

2000 Mockingbirds = 2 Kilomockingbirds
Basic Unit of Laryngitis = 1 Hoarsepower
453.6 Graham Crackers = 1 Pound Cake
1 Kilogram of Falling Figs - 1 Fig Newton
Time Between Slipping on a Banana Peel and Smacking the Pavement = 1 Bananosecond
Half of a Large Intestine = 1 Semicolon

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-29 01:39pm
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Sith Marauder
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Joined: 2004-12-11 01:35pm
Posts: 4029
Co-written with Shady


Mistral Trade Station
Wild Space


Image

Mistral Trade Station was enormous, a metal orb home to several hundred thousand people, suspended in space only a parsec away from a rogue star in the middle of nowhere. Comfortably far removed from the borders of the Sovereignty, it was nonetheless near enough to still profit a little from the safety provided by pervasive Star Force Wild Space patrols. This made it attractive to traders and other freelancers who dealt in cargoes that might not be illegal exactly but certainly had records questionable enough to earn the attention of CBI customs if they entered the Sovereignty -- attention their owners typically wanted to avoid. By trading through Mistral Station and its small legion of uniquely specialized forgers, such cargoes could be whitewashed to the point where they could pass the muster of Sovereignty customs, a practice the station’s owners pointedly ignored as long as they got a cut of the profits. And even though the CBI didn’t like it, as long as the Mistral traders didn’t engage in anything too overtly illegal they would probably be tolerated by virtue of CEID agents usually having better things to do than harass trade stations out in the boonies.

Mistral then was, Sidney considered, a place full of disreputable people, none of whom wanted too many annoying questions asked. In short, it was the perfect place for a meeting like this. Impelled by its gravitic drives his luxury yacht slid through the station’s low-power shields and drifted into the private dock he had hired for the day, close to the spine of the massive station. His sleek, flaming red yacht was an ancient antique, built by Ferrari in orbit around Earth sometime before that company and its Nova Terran counterpart Ferraroi had annihilated each other in a series of trademark lawsuits that had left not just copyright lawyers but also philosophers (and later bankers) spinning from their existential implications. In most other places the ancient Heart of Gold would have attracted plenty of unwanted attention. Here, though, it seemed the station’s traffic controllers made it a point to ignore it, something which suited the owner just fine.

Inside the slickly furnished main cabin, Sidney was surrounded by seven of his Wild Geese, a handful of hand-picked men and women recruited as much for their exceptional skills as their trustworthiness. Most of the mercenaries had been in Sidney’s employ for the better part of a decade. Their loyalty was beyond doubt, which was precisely the sort of thing he wanted in a situation like this: bad guys with big guns to bail him out in case this whole operation went south, the chances of which he estimated at 50/50.

“So boss,” Jason Chandra and turned his seat toward his employer, “Before we go out there... Any idea what to expect?” The team leader of the Wild Geese cradled a military-issue plasma rifle in his lap, ‘just in case’, and he obviously wasn’t too happy about the unpredictability of this mission.

Sidney considered his question for a moment. He produced the written letter that had arrived at his villa half a year ago and went over it one more time, like he’d done at least a hundred times before.. The author had included the coordinates of the station and the time of the meet, six months later. Considering the letter had been deposited on Nova Terra and had to make its way to Solaris, that betrayed a great deal of planning on the part of the author. Finally he shook his head. “Nope. Not a clue.”

Sirocco Montague brushed a lock of raven hair out of her eyes and raised an eyebrow at him. “Didn’t you say you knew this guy we’re meeting?” He felt the familiar, playful brush of her telepathy slide off his mental defenses. Sidney smiled. He had enough high-end gear stuck in his head to make him impossible to sense, not to mention his most valuable memories weren’t even stored in his head to begin with, but Sirocco liked to remind him of her abilities. “I used to know him,” he corrected and furrowed his brow. “But that was thirteen hundred years ago.”

She twitched, and his smile widened. That was the usual reaction people had when he reminded them just how far he went back. It was an easy thing to forget even for those who knew. After all, he looked pretty spry for someone born 1418 years ago -- whatever someone that old was supposed to look like. Most people still expected a walking mummy, he supposed. “To be honest I have no frigging clue how he survived this long. If he survived this long,” he added after a second. “For all I know this is some sort of trick to get me out here.”

“A trick by whom?” asked Phani Angeimiro, their sniper.

Sidney shrugged and got up from the comfortable seats to lower the folding stairs. “We’ll just have to see, won’t we. After you?”

The journey into the station was uneventful, but the Wild Geese were still alert as they entered one of the six main promenades that looped around the equator of the massive space station. Like most such places, it was lined with shops, bazaars and drinking establishments where unruly traders, gamblers, druggies, hookers and other disreputable types liked to hang out. No one paid the small troupe of armed men any mind, apart from a few heavies who sized them up, then decided they looked like more trouble than they were worth. They made good progress toward the meeting point, until they were interrupted by a radio message from the pilot of the Heart of Gold.

“Boss,” radioed Celso Tanguy, “I’ve completed a tachyon sweep of the station, and I’m picking up some unusual energy readings from a hangar not too far away from your position. It looks like... Well, boss, it looks like an omega energy reactor.” He seemed a bit nervous, but that was perfectly understandable. There was only one power in known space that made extensive use of such reactors: the Karlack Swarm. But if the Swarm was here, why wasn’t the station crawling with bugs and spores?

Sidney considered the possibilities. It seemed a little too convenient for Karlack tech to show up just here, just now. Still, he hadn’t come all this way just to turn back now. Besides, it wasn’t like he’d come unprepared. He shrugged. “Let’s keep moving. The faster we do this, the faster we’ll be out of here in case the Swarm comes a-knockin’.”

***


The man walked into the bar in a slow but cautious manner. It was dark, it smelled of stale beer, spilt drugs, vomit and even worse things, and it was filled with suspicious looking characters - pretty much the standard hive of scum and villainy that one expected to find in a disreputable Wild Space establishment.

He moved forward purposefully, scanning the room for things out of place, looking for a sign of trouble. He didn’t look dangerous, dressed as he was in what looked like a black military uniform and a long black coat, neither adorned with any insignia or markings. He carried no visible weapons, wasn’t overly muscled, and showed no trace of cybernetic surgery. No, he didn’t look dangerous.

But looks could be deceiving.

Four large figures came up behind the old man, two humans in military style grey clothes and two strange aliens, one of them in a powered armor suit. They were armed, drunk, and spoiling for a fight. The man ignored them, instead striding calmly toward the bar, ordering a drink, and sipping it with a blank star on his face.

“Stop ignoring me! You arrogant son of a bitch!” The alien shouted and lifted his rifle with his power armored hand with the intention of striking the old man in the back. Suddenly the man spoke. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

The alien ignored him and with a swift motion tried to hit him with the but of the rifle, but found his hand frozen in place before his rifle could connect with the man’s skull. “What the hell?”

“You know...” The old man spoke again. “I came here to have a drink with an old friend. You boys are ruining my evening. Please leave. Before I am forced to do something you will regret -- briefly.”

The three humans started laughing. They pulled out their guns and pointed them at the old man. “Are you threatening us?” One of them asked. “Do you know who we are? I have killed men for less!” The man pointed to his buddy. “He has the death sentence on six systems!”

“I like his coat,” The alien in the suit bassed, straining his suit’s servos against the invisible force that was keeping his hand from moving. “Just shoot him in the head.”

“I don’t know who you are, and frankly I don’t care.” The man said. His voice was still devoid of any emotion -- as if he was bored -- and turned to face them. “And because I’m in such a good mood, I’ll give you boys one last chance to leave me alone.”

“You...” The alien was about to speak, but stopped when he realized his hand was again free to move. Quickly he aimed his weapon at the mans head. “Lets see how cocky you feel about that after I blow your head off.”

“Give me your best shot.” Now the old man curved his lips and showed his teeth. In the blink of an eye he moved his hand forward, focusing unimaginable psionic power through it and transferring it to the alien with the rifle, sending him flying across the room. With a loud crash the alien smashed into a wall with such force that he cracked the strong bulkhead and most of the bones in his body, his power suit doing little to alleviate the damage to his body. Before his human friends could react, their guns flew from their hands, ripped out by an unseen force. Pain flashed in their chests, they couldn’t breath, it was as if their lungs were burning. They collapsed on the floor convulsing from the pain, small amounts of smoke came out of their mouths, and a second later they stopped moving. They were dead, their lungs burned up from the inside out by mental fire.

The fourth alien started running. He made it six whole meters before the old man thrust an open-palmed hand his way. “Get over here!” he shouted, and a spiked tentacle flew from his hand, catching the man in the back only to explode out the front of his chest in a writhing mass of dendrites. The runner dropped to the ground, killed instantly.

As quickly as they’d come, the tendril vanished again, and the man abruptly turned back to his drink. For a moment, every person in the bar had frozen and even the music had paused. Then, as if responding to a hidden cue, every patron in the bar produced a weapon of some kind and aimed it at the stranger.

The man in black sneered predatorily. “Now this is more of a challenge.”

***


The front of the Dirty Hoople bar looked innocuous enough, insofar as any scum-filled watering hole full of violent and desperate men, women and less easily identifiable life-forms could be said to look innocuous. The mercenaries readied their weapons and prepared to storm through the murky entrance when Sidney held up his hand. “One second boys,” he turned his attention to Sirocco. “Let’s have a gander at what we’re walking into first. Sirocco, if you’d do the honors?”

The black-haired woman closed her eyes as she set up her mental preparations at the speed of thought. She slipped into the waking trance with the practiced ease of a veteran psion, and reached out with her mind. Mistral Station opened up before her ultrasenses. She felt the cold steel of the station’s endless corridors under her feet, could feel the layers of dirt against her fingertips. Below, the throbbing fire of the fusion reactors. Above, behind thin sheets of ceraplast, the icy cold of space. And in-between, the breaths and heartbeats of the thousands of men and women who lived here. A frenzied wave of human emotions washed over her: the greed of the traders, the elation and dashed hopes of the gamblers, the dreary boredom of dockworkers, the hopelessness of the stranded and disenfranchised, the rush of the addicts and the ecstacy hard men found in the arms of loose women... She could feel all these things, experienced that multitude of emotions in the time of a stray thought. The experience was overwhelming. So she blotted out the murmur of half-conscious thoughts and desires, narrowed her focus and swept it forward like a psychic flashlight.

That was when she felt it. A presence unlike any other she’d encountered before: a mind gnarled and crooked like an old tree, vast and deep, possessive of hurricane strength, and so utterly ancient it took her breath away. How could she have missed it? Then she realized the entity had been shrouding itself, and for some reason had now chosen to drop its massively powerful psychic veil. She had only just begun to wonder why it had done so when a ripple of psionic energy coursed through the station, and Sirocco reeled as if physically struck. She stumbled and was caught by Anthemum Dubal, her lover. “Christ boss,” she was breathing hard. Beads of sweat were forming on her forehead. “I don’t know what the hell you’re meeting with, but I think it’s about to bring the house down.” As if to illustrate her words the door to the bar flew open. Men and women wailed as they came running out, many of them covered in blood. Nighmarish screams echoed out from the bar, punctuated by erratic gunfire and, more worryingly, wet sounds like ripping and tearing flesh. Then, just as suddenly, the place fell very, very silent again.

Sidney looked around the small circle of mercenaries. Alarms were now going off around them, and people were running for cover or safety all around them. Anthemum Dubal was fingering the Byzantine psyk-out grenades that hung from his belt. Demo-expert Morris Les Six was ratcheting the slide on his automatic grenade launcher. Unconsciously, Sidney unfastened the strap on the holster that contained his antique laser pistol. He eyed each of the Wild Geese. “You know, coming to this place was my idea. In hindsight it might not have been my finest. Any of you have a problem with going forward, I won’t hold it against you.”

For a moment the men and women were silent. Then Jason Chandra shrugged. “Hell boss. We don’t get paid the big bucks to bail on you when things get interesting.”

Sidney nodded. “Well then,” he said grimly. “I don’t know what’s going on, but be ready to rumble, just in case.

***


The Wild Geese moved with liquid swiftness, streaming into the bar and securing its entrance with a show of weapons no-one in the bar wanted to mess with, especially not after what they had just seen.

The first thing Sidney noticed when he entered was that the place looked more like an abattoir than a drinking den. Blood was everywhere: it caked against the ceiling, it ran in dirty red smears off the mirrored walls and pooled in thick puddles on the bar, the tables and the floor. There were bodies everywhere, or rather what was left of them. Many were no longer recognizable as having belonged to humans. Even those that were, were maimed and butchered. Bodyparts were strewn everywhere, and the smell of cordite and ozone was drowned out by the pungent odour of death. It was a scene straight out of a horror-holo, and in the middle of all the carnage and destruction stood a single figure, untouched by the terrible bloodshed. In fact, not even a single drop of blood marred the leather of his coat.

At first that black trenchcoat reminded Sidney of a famous bounty hunter-cum-gunslinger he’d met on several occasions, but the man wasn’t physically imposing enough to be the Duke of Death. In fact, the only thing that made him look dangerous was the fact that he seemed so completely unfazed by the butchery that surrounded him.

The man turned around and looked at Sidney. He smiled. “Ah. Sidney, dearest of all my friends...” He extended his hands in greeting. Standing as he did amidst the maimed and massacred, it was a supremely creepy gesture. “Its been a while.”

“It’s been a while indeed.” Sidney moved a few meters into the bar, careful where to place his feet so as not to step in any of the ubiquitous pools of blood or heaps of torn flesh. He regarded the man (if he indeed was a man) for long moments. He recognized the goatee, the gray hair, the line of the man’s chin... It had been over a thousand years, but it still wasn’t a difficult thing to remember. “Comrade Shady, I presume.” He looked at the extended hands, then put his own into his pockets and stepped over a body that had been torn in half -- vertically. He sat down two chairs away from the man, on one of the few seats that wasn’t spattered with blood. Behind him, the Wild Geese nervously trailed their weapons on the man in the leather trenchcoat. Sidney briefly surveyed the carnage -- he’d seen a lot of heinous shit in the past millennium and a half, more than enough to desensitize him to gore and violence, but even so the butchery on display here was extreme. He focused his attention on the man who he’d thought dead for many centuries. “I suppose what I should ask is... What the hell, man?”

“Oh, this?” The old man looked at the severed bodyparts scattered all around them. “I was only defending myself. And making a point. The locals here are... an interesting bunch. Very eager. Very stupid, too. Perhaps this was a poor place to meet after all, but I had to pick a spot we wouldn’t be overheard.” He cracked a sinister smile. “I suppose that’s taken care of now, yes?” The man looked at Sidney, who frowned a little. The smile vanished. “Shady... It’s been such a long time since anyone called me that. These days I go by ‘Seth’.”

“Seth,” Sidney pronounced the name slowly, as if to savour its taste. He’d changed his own name a few times through the centuries, but always ended up going back to his old one before long. “I see.” He looked around, appearing for all purposes as if he’d only now noticed the wanton carnage and bloodshed. The frown deepened. Was this really the man he appeared to be? Only one way to find out. “I see you’ve picked up some new tricks over the years.”

“One does not survive as long as I have without paying the price.” Seth sighed. He was unsure how to best explain things. “And the price I paid was high indeed... I have been cursed by immortality, a rather vile form of it. As you might have guessed, I am no longer... Human.”

Sidney put one and one together. “We detected an Omega Reactor in a hangar not far away from our own. I take it that’s your ship?”

“Yes,” was the short answer. The long one would take time. “You guessed correctly. I have transcended humanity, and am become something far, far worse. I am an Aspect of the Karlack now.” Seth could see Sidney twitch at that. “Life always finds a way to surprise us, doesn’t it? Old friend...”

“It’s one way to achieve immortality,” muttered Sidney, “though not one I’d consider myself.” He eyed the man opposite him. ‘Seth’ appeared human enough... He caught himself. That was probably what the poor bastards in this bar had thought as well. Bloody Karlacks. They were wily buggers, as the Sovereignty had found out to its dismay at more than one occasion. “How in the name of all that’s holy did you get tangled up by the Swarm? When we made First Contact...” he shrugged. “Well, I thought you’d been dead for a long time.”

“I didn’t exactly have a choice.” Seth sighed. The look in his eyes betrayed painful memories. “I too thought I was dead, I thought that it was over, that the game was finally over. I was wrong. And instead of the sweet oblivion of death...I found myself waking up in a nightmare of the worst kind.” Seth paused for a moment, he seemed angry, or sad. It was hard to tell. “Q” He muttered the name angrily. “Is an asshole.”

A wry smile split Sidney’s face. “We are certainly in agreement on that.” He opened his mouth, wanted to say more, then hesitated. This wasn’t the place. Or the time. And quite possibly not the person. “Hmm,” he muttered, then idly turned his attention to the bar. “I wonder if they have any cognac here. Remember when we drank cognac at the CATO signing ceremony in Orena?”

Seth treated him to a sideways look. “You signed the charter in my old office, in Stasograd.” A pause. “And we drank vodka. Or at least you and I did. I’m not sure if Paul joined us. He never could hold his alcohol very well.”

“Goddammit,” Sidney’s shoulders sagged noticeably as ‘Seth’ recalled facts only Shady could know. “Q, you cocksucker. God-dammit.” Both men were silent for a moment, seemingly lost in memories. Then Sidney abruptly stood up and told his mercenaries to wait outside. The Wild Geese seemed conflicted about obeying his command, but after reiterating it they did so anyway. With the last of them gone, Sidney leaned over the bar, carefully not to get blood on his suit. “I don’t know about you, but I really need a drink.”

“Me too.” Seth smiled. “I believe the bar here has quite a selection. Nothing good though.” He pulled a bottle off the bar, wiped the blood off, and unscrewed it. “I thought you gave up drinking?”

Sidney appraised a bottle of cheap liquor that contained an absurdly high percentage of alcohol. That’s something at least. “That was a long time ago.” With a sense of deja-vu he poured himself a stiff drink and suddenly felt really old. He shook his head. “I have the weirdest meetings these days.”

“Really?” Seth sighed. If only you knew. “Well you can imagine my surprise to find out you are still among the living.” He looked at his old friend with renewed interest. “You look different.”

“This body is... a replacement,” Sidney tapped against his temple. “The important bits are elsewhere.” Speaking of which... He boosted the bandwith of his wireless connection to the computer core of the Heart of Gold. I’m going to need a hell of a lot more processing power for this. As the ship began cycling data to him, Sidney shrugged. “Believe you me, it wasn’t an easy thing to do... It was a close thing at several occasions after you were... gone. During the Diaspora and then again during the First Bragulan War...” Remote-storage memories flooded his mind. “I was lucky. Very lucky. Luckier than some, to be sure,” which brings me back to you, my friend. Sidney pulled a finger around the edge of his glass. “So... now what are we going to do?”

“Luck... bah.” Seth took a big gulp of his drink. “Some have it, some don’t. Life in the Swarm is not all its cracked up to be.” He gave a sad smile. He wasn’t sure what Sidney would think of him. “I think you got the better deal old friend.”

“Maybe,” Definitely. It was a lot to take in even for a CI. Not only had one of his oldest friends come back from the dead, which itself was hair-raising in its far-reaching implications, but he’d done so in just about the worst possible way. But he was good at dealing with unforeseen circumstances, or at least the digitized part of him was. It had to be, if nothing else it was an occupational hazard. Already new data poured through his implants. In the vast computational recesses of his mind, holistic scenarios unfolded with lightning rapidity. Probabilities blossomed and with them, potential courses of action, queries and lines of conversation to be pursued, each building on different objectives to be achieved. He opted for one of the simplest. “So, let’s approach this rationally. You’re an Aspect. You’ve got the Overmind looking across your shoulder. Want to get rid of it? I have... resources. Favours I can call in. I’m sure there’s something to be done.”

“Believe me I thought about it. Even tried it a few times. No such luck.” Seth waved his hand as if dismissing the very possibility. “The Overmind is so much more than you think... old friend. And after so many years, I cannot leave, even if I wanted to and could. I have...” He paused. Unsure of how to best explain this.”... responsibilities. The Karlack are so much more complex than simple bugs that the galaxy thinks they are. They only need... guidance. Control. Otherwise the damage they could do would be... unimaginable.” Seth didn’t know how much he wanted to reveal, or if he could trust Sidney with such information. But he had been without a friend for so long, that now he felt different, he felt alive again. It all seemed so unreal. An old friend to share his story with. Sidney Hank once again having a drink with him. It felt like the good old times, all over again.

Sidney couldn’t help but smirk as he recalled a half-forgotten line. “When you’re in, you’re in for life?”

“And in my case...’life’ is a very long time.” Seth said and smiled. It was a sad smile. “Not what I wanted out of life. Honestly, after all that we accomplished last time, I thought we deserved a break. A vacation of sorts. No such luck. It seems the game never ends...Still, what is done is done. We play the cards we’re dealt.”

“We do indeed.” Sidney weighed some options, then came to a conclusion. He clucked his tongue. “I want to show you something.” He reached into his suit’s jacket, pulled out a thin piece of data-paper and held it out to Sha- Seth. “Have a look at this.”

Quote:
Code:
From: ADRESS SCRAMBLED
To: sidney.hank@pepositronics.com.sov.sol

Have you seen Agatha? I can't find her...


Quote:
Code:
From: ADRESS SCRAMBLED
To: sidney.hank@pepositronics.com.sov.sol

I can't get in touch with anybody. What's going on? Where did they all go?


He looked as the man in the black trenchcoat read the brief messages he’d received. “You know, we might not be as alone as we thought.”

“I...this is...” Seth’s voice trailed off. It wasn’t easy to surprise him. A man, or a thing if you wanted to be more accurate, that had been around for as long as he was. Saw the things he did. But Sidney had managed it and more. “Agatha? These messages... could it be? Paul?” The questions hung in the air. Could more of them be alive and kicking around the galaxy? Seth had thought he was the only one, finding Sidney proved him wrong, and now... these messages. Things were progressing in a rather unexpected direction. “I’ll be damned... I take it you have investigated the origin of these messages?”

“I have the Collectors working on it,” Sidney replied, savouring for just one unbelievably smug moment the satisfaction of being able to say such a thing. “It’s a long story.”

“The collectors?” Seth raised an eyebrow. “How the hell did you...I take it the resolution of the recent tensions with the machines is your doing? As smooth as ever old friend...”

“I had a... hand in it,” Sidney replied, and a shadow of a smile danced around his lips. “What do you think we do now?”

“This is a big thing.” Seth said. “If there are others out there...we must find them. If there is one thing that I have learned in all these years...its that nothing happens without a reason. We must investigate this further. If it proves that more of our old friends are among the living...” He paused a moment, contemplating the consequences. “It could mean that something is up. Of course, this could all be a trick of some kind, someone using our ancient history against you. But if its not...we must be sure.”

“Nobody knows who I am,” Sidney murmured. “Nobody except...” Nobody except Q. The thought gave him pause. Why had the strange alien brought his old friend back to life? Why this meeting, why now, when after so many years Grid Works was so close to completion? Could it be a coincidence? Or... For a moment he was seized by fevered paranoia. Could it be that this man, and whoever sent those messages, could they be his own personal Ghola, his Duncan Idaho? Was this the first move in some diabolic plot to bring him to ruin?

Sidney ruthlessly fought down the nauseating wave of paralyzing anxiety. The galaxy does not revolve around you. He cannot know. He must not. You took every precaution. It is a coincidence, it must be. But that didn’t answer the question Seth had rightfully posed. Things were happening in the galaxy, things he didn't know about, didn't understand and didn't control. It was disconcerting to say the least, and for someone so used to be at the center of all intrigue it was all the more so. He obsessively combed a hand through his hair, a gesture anyone familiar with him - as Seth was - would recognize as anxiety. “Yes,” he murmured. “We must be vigilant. We have to find out what is going on.” He locked his eyes on Seth. “And what in the meantime? What do you propose we do now?”

“That is a good question.” Seth looked at Sidney, he noticed his discomfort, an inner struggle of sorts. And although he could use his abilities to try and see what it was, he opted to take a different approach. “You seem nervous Sidney? Something bothering you.? Taking a moment to contemplate his friends question he decided to continue. “We are friends, and were once allies, I would like for us to be allies again. Something is happening, and I believe we stand a better chance of figuring out what, together. Like in the old days...what do you say Sidney?”

Sidney nervously tapped his fingers against the bar. “I believe you’re right. We should keep in touch.” He frowned. “Question is, how? I can’t be certain, but I don’t think the Swarm is hooked up to the Datasphere?”

“And letters just won’t do.” Seth grinned. “Hmm...there are ways to keep in touch. The Swarm has certain ‘stockpiles’ of alien technology. Things we... ‘acquired’ over the years. Among them are several quite advanced AI’s. I’ll see about getting one of them functional again. Didn’t have any need for them until now. I’m sure that they will be effective enough to allow us to communicate in private, with some help from your own CI of course.”

The nervous tapping stopped. Sidney nodded. No need to explain I am the CI... Not yet, at least. “That will work. I have to say I’m... disconcerted, by what’s going on. But then,” he cracked a wry smile, “the dead walking the earth would probably be sufficient to disconcert the staunchest of men.” He took a sip from his glass. “No matter the circumstances however, it’s good to have you back, old friend.”

“Its good to be back.” Seth smiled and raised his glass.”A toast. For old friends coming back from the dead.”

“Hear, hear,” said Sidney and raised his own glass. He looked around the blood-drenched bar and smiled a little more easily this time. “I suppose it’s a good thing I’m not one for signs and portents.”

“I’m glad you think so.” Seth looked around himself. I really should have chosen a better place. “So tell me...what have you been up to all these years? I didn’t keep in touch with much of the galaxy, but I’m surprised that it took me this long to find you. And even now, it was accidental.”

“Alright, but this’ll be a long story,” Sidney reminisced. “It all started shortly after the Straylight left for Earth...”



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

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-29 02:32pm
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Location: COOBIE YOU KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS
Imperial Center, Hyogo
Kansai Sector, Holy Empire of Haruhi Suzumiya
7 April 3400


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Unlike in New Anglia, the issue of the Chamarran intrusion into Solarian space was a very high priority in the government of the Holy Empire of Haruhi Suzumiya. Given that the Holy Empire was an ally of both nations and that all three of them had the Pfhor to deal with, the issue was certainly bound to come up as soon as possible.

"How could those damn catgirls be so fucking STUPID?!" Empress Haruhi screamed. "Their entire operation in Solarian space was doomed from the get-go, and they STILL chose to go along with it all the way to the bitter end, all the way to getting themselves caught, scuttling their own ship with a Solarian boarding team on it, and abandoning their personnel to CEID! Even the fucking BRAGULANS know better than this!"

"I know, this whole situation's a mess at every level," Ryoko Asakura, director of the Imperial Security and Intelligence Service, replied. "And all so they could get some data on Collector ships. The loss of an entire ship and its crew in exchange for a few scraps of Monolith data just isn't worth it. If the Collectors didn't know better, we might have had a repeat of the Twelth Battle of Pendleton on our hands."

"I think we're all aware of the threat that one Monolith can pose," Field Marshal Diane Nakano, Chairwoman of the SOS Imperial Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, remarked. "Two Monoliths would have been a disaster for all involved. Those silly Prussians wouldn't have gotten there on time either, not that their involvement would have changed things that much."

"In any case, I think it's pretty damn clear that there's only one party that stands to gain from all this," Empress Haruhi intoned. "Those Pfhor bastards would certainly love it if we're at each other's throats."

"Let me guess, you want to mediate this dispute before it goes too far out of control, right?" Secretary of State Mikuru Asahina asked.

"Precisely," Empress Haruhi replied. "Draft a message to the Chamarrans and Solarians offering our help in mediating this dispute. I'm sure the Solarians are smart enough to see the value of defusing this powder keg, and I hope that the Chamarrans can be brought around too."



RESULTS:

Empress Haruhi offers to mediate the Sneakily Does It fiasco, because whoever loses, the Pfhor win.



I ship Eino Ilmari Juutilainen x Lydia V. Litvyak.

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ImageImageImage
Phantasee: Don't be a dick.
Stofsk: What are you, his mother?
The Yosemite Bear: Obviously, which means that he's grounded, and that she needs to go back to sucking Mr. Coffee's cock.

"d-did... did this thread just turn into Thanas/PeZook slash fiction?" - Ilya Muromets

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-29 04:03pm
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Location: Rio Piedras, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Deep Space, Sector H-11
26 March 3400


The eight freighters had a busy day.

Flagged as Centrality ships, these had just finished their task of delivering vital components of Blitz-class frigates to the Idurans as the export deal was confirmed. They were now on their way home, ready to rest and refit. All of a sudden, however, 15 pirate ships appeared.

The pirate attack was unexpected, unforgiving and relentless.

In only an hour, seven of the freighters had been boarded, sacked, and destroyed by the pirates, with all their crews either taken prisoner or executed. The surviving freighter managed to escape, though somewhat damaged. The pirate ships themselves soon hypered to parts unknown, their victims floating lazily across the vastness of space...

Centralist Navy HQ, Central City
Centrum, The Center, The Centrality
1 April 3400


The Chief of Staff of the Navy, Grand Adm. Noslen Yeslah, was marching hastily towards the conference room, where the Navy General Staff was meeting with the Secretary of War. The hologram of Cracus Vompey flickered angrily every now and then, to the annoyance of those present. Apparently the projector wasn't working properly. The meeting was urgent, however, and a replacement would have taken too much time.

"It has come to my attention that pirate attacks on our shipping have been growing unexpectedly fast in the last few weeks. Apparently these space pirates are getting bolder. We are not being singled out for special treatment, though: the Idurans, Nova Atlanteans, Eoghans, the United Sectors and even the Commune have all seen attacks on their shipping. Clearly, the solution is to root these pirates out."

"What kind of pirates are we dealing with here?", asked one of the Admirals present.

"Intelligence has revealed that these pirates are well-armed. Here is an image on one of them."

The hologram's image soon changed to that of the pirate:

Image

The Admirals muttered to each other. One spoke: "This one seems too well-armed for a pirate. Are you sure our intelligence is correct?"

"The CIS has difficulty gathering reliable information from the pirate bases. Several operatives had been killed by the time we had this meeting. For all we know this one could be an elite trooper. These pirates, according what information we have gathered, have bases in the Shoal areas of the Expanse and the one surrounded by the Idurans, the United Sectors, and the Interstellar Union. That doesn't mean they control all of those Shoal sectors; bases have only been found on the edges of those Shoals, and we've only confirmed their prescences in Sectors H-6 and H-12."

"Any planets found, Sir?", asked a High Admiral.

"Only one so far. Here it is."

The hologram soon revealed the planet:

Image

"The planet is called Zebes by these pirates. Since we haven't been able to identify their species, and no other planets they inhabit found at this point, we will call them Zebesian Space Pirates."

Grand Adm. Noslen Yeslah finally chose to speak.

"While I believe our navy is powerful enough to bring these pirates to heel, I don't think our neighbors will like us attempting an independent initiative. Have there been plans for coalition building?"

"Borlon is preparing a diplomatic offensive as we speak. Hopefully other nations are already planning to crush these Zebesians, and thus be more receptive to our offers of an temporary alliance to root out piracy from this quadrant of space. Perhaps if we're lucky, other nations not directly concerned will help out, too."

"Anything else, Secretary?"

"No, Grand Admiral. You and your staff will handle the details of preparing an anti-piracy force. I will contact you if we've made any breakthroughs in our Intelligence. Out."

Vompey's hologram vanished, leaving the Navy General Staff to its planning.



An inhabitant from the Island of Cars.


Last edited by Force Lord on 2010-09-30 08:12am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-30 02:25am
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Ruthless Genocidal Warmonger
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Bragule

Mighty Bragule never slept. Even now at 3 AM BST (Bragulan Standard Time), the Darvyl S. Byzon was still a relatively busy interchange that passed over the hideously polluted Braghattan river, which caught fire every other night from a random load of industrial chemicals dumped into the river by efficient and farsighted Bragulan industry.

But it wasn't the burning river that had Hector Oliphant's attention.

It was the burning shame he felt. As the favored son and heir of one of the Prussian Star League's most influental politicans, what he had done was inexcusable.

It had all started hours ago, when a video that showed him having sexual relations with a particularly lovely red-furred Bragulan female began to circulate on the Prussian Cybernet.

Even in the far future of the FUTURE having sexual relationships with non human descended species still carried a mighty shame.

A shame that he was going to put to rest the only way a proud Germaninoid could. By committing suicide.

He'd left a brief notice on Shroombook: "Going to the DSB Bridge. Sorry" and driven his luxurious Mercedesoid SLKGM to a parking lot near the bridge and walked to the midpoint of the mighty span.

Gathering his courage, he stood on top of the railing, which was suspiciously low -- and leapt.

Instead of the sweet embrace of death, he found himself floating in midair; with bright lights shining on him from a hovercar which had caught him in an antigravity field. Emblazoned on it was the emblem of the dreaded Bragulan Suicide Police (BSE).

"Oh ho ho, what have we here?" came a deep rumbling voice. It was the lead officer on duty that night. "A puny humanoid...so tell us, why do you want to end your pathetic humanoid life?"

Hector did the only thing he could in such circumstances. He told them everything.

There was silence for a moment; then the Bragulan policeman and his partner burst out in laughter.

They fucking laughed.

"Ha Ha Ha; you fool Germanian. That is not sufficient reason to commit suicide off of the mighty Darvyl S Byzon Bridge. You banged some mighty fine ass, and now you want to kill yourself? Pathetic."

The other policeman went back into the hovercar and brought out a midget bragulanoid. The lead officer shifted his head slightly, motioning towards the midget.

"Now, this one has sufficient reason to commit suicide off the Byzon Bridge which as you SHOULD know, like all other things named after our Mighty Imperator, exemplifies Byzonic ideals of justice."

"He killed his whole family, and then removed the tags from the mattresses in his house. So in accordance with Byzonic justice, we release him."

With this, the other policeman tossed the midget bragulan out into the black air over the Braghattan; and the bragulan's screams as he fell were suddenly cut off by a low smacking noise.

"You on the other hand? Your pathetic story is not worthy of Byzonic justice. We'll put you in the ward back at the station until you rethink why you wanted to do this."

"But my father will DISOWN me when he hears of this!" shouted Hector.

"Not our problem. The Suicide Police exist to ensure that the quality of suicides is in keeping with bragulan ideals, not to fix your pathetic problems."

Hector cried the whole way to the station and throughout the night, the harsh laughter of the Bragulan Suicide Policemen ringing in his ears the whole time.



"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: 2010-09-30 04:06am
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Location: Tampa Bay, Florida, USA
Zozo, Shinra Republic

Zozo was an...interesting city, to say the least. If one simply looked at it from far, far away, it would appear to be just another sprawling megalopolis of the sort that dotted the galaxy. It was not until you got closer that you began to notice the rot which premeated the city from top to a its very, very ugly bottom.

It was raining in the infamous City of Thieves, as it often was. And deep within, a man was dreaming.

...he was standing on his balcony, watching the lightning play in the dark night sky. The rain wasn't here yet, but he was sure it would be soon enough...All he had wanted when this had started was the chance to help build a better world, or failing that, at least see to the safety of his citizens...Am I that different...He barely even noticed when the rain began...

...he was in a hospital room, talking with a young woman...
"Thank you for the visit, Mister President," the young woman said.
"The pleasure was mine..." He knew he had to leave soon, duty first, but for some reason he wanted to just stay with her...

...he was standing now beside the woman he loved, in a ruined chapel with no roof as the sun slowly began to rise. And, despite all the death, all the destruction that had happened so very recently, he could not help but feel this to be the happiest day of his life...

...he stopped and prepared to meet his guest. "Isn't this a little dramatic...even for you?" His voice was hard. He wasn't happy at this little turn of events...

"...I personally would not be surprised if that son of a bitch had something to do with this. He just doesn't learn, does he? It's like he has some pathological need to try and create conflict..."


Suddenly, Vincent Arrowny woke up with a start. He wasn't sure where he was, or what was happening. But he did know that those dreams felt far more real than they should. Slowly, unsteadily, he got to his feet and went to the small, dirty bathroom. As he looked in the mirror, he found the face reflected back at him both foreign and very, very familiar. Quickly splashing water across his face, he felt his mind processing the dreams he'd just had...and somehow he knew he'd done this all before.

Turning back to the main part of his room, Vincent noticed a glowing figure clad in white standing before him, who definately had not been there before. As he saw the faintest trace of a smirk cross the glowing man's face, everything seemed to fall into place for the man named Vincent Arrowny. "Son of a bitch..." he muttered, resignedly.



Image
"How can I wait unknowing?
This is the price of war,
We rise with noble intentions,
And we risk all that is pure..." - Angela & Jeff van Dyck, Forever (Rome: Total War)

"On and on, through the years,
The war continues on..." - Angela & Jeff van Dyck, We Are All One (Medieval 2: Total War)
"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." - Ambrose Redmoon
"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." - Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-30 06:59am
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Location: Poland
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Almera colony
Outside Corinth, Pelania


The convoy moved across rugged terrain. No roads led into the San Dorado hills: the area was too dangerous and, frankly, too worthless to bother, even if the good general himself wanted to bother with such unimportant and trivial things as infrastructure.

Fortunately, the Algeiran force brought with them a bewildering array of vehicles which allowed them to move with decent ease across the rugged terrain or rural Pelania. They caused quite the sensation driving through Corinth, with their tanks and IFVs, all flown in at a moment's notice, all painted black with no markings whatsoever.

The hills lay in front of them, and the soldiers of the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit, shortened X-COM, had to admit they looked quite foreboding when silhouetted by the setting sun.

"Look alive, everyone! We're nearing the contact zone. That's where the militia patrol was last seen.", captain Thomas Scavo called out over the unit's internal comms network. We has a hardened veteran of many of Algeira's wars with an impressive list of commendations: hence why he was recruited into X-COM to head up Algeira's efforts to intercept and recover alien technology. It wasn't his first deployment against a suspected landing: the people of Almera had no idea just how many times aliens have visited the world in the past. He just hoped they'd be able to actually intercept the damn grays before they left.

His men - the best Algeira, a continent-spanning superpower, had to offer - all scanned their sectors through sophisticated night vision gear. If any fucking alien invader tries to mess with us, he'll be in for one hell of a fight, captain Scavo thought, surveying his unit. Three tanks, eight infantry fighting vehicles, and four helicopter gunships. He'd like to see anyone oppose that.

And he did, when the lead tank reported there were people standing in the convoy's path.

Captain Scavo immediately moved to the commander's observation sight mounted on top of his IFV ; And sure enough, a group of six men or so just stood there, line abreast. He could see they held rifles, but something about their disposition gave him goosebumps. He knew that feeling very well.

"All units, this is Hunter Actual", he spoke into his radio, "Assume hostiles in the area. Hunter Lead, call for these men to drop their weapons and surrender."

He could hear the lead tank use an external speaker to relay his demand, even despite his vehicle's thick armor. The men didn't move.

"Hunter Actual, Hunter Lead, indigenous personnel not responding to commands."

Scavo reached for the transmit button again, when another voice cut into the line, "Hunter Actual, Hunter Four", that was the designation of the fourth vehicle in the collumn, another tank, "My night scopes are getting wonky."

"Hunter Four, be more precise. Are you having a malfunction?"

"Hunter Actual, I...they're...oh my God...it's full of stars!"

"Hunter Four, repeat message."

"Sir!", the command IFV's driver called through his intercom, "Hunter Four is leaving the collumn!"

"Hunter Four, you've moved without orders. Stop immediately and report in!"

There was no reply. The tank kept driving forward, rapidly putting distance between it and the rest of the unit. Before the captain could start giving any proper orders, a flood of reports from every other vehicle came in. They were all saying the same thing: their electronic systems were malfunctioning.

Scavo felt his command falling apart, and worst of all, he had no idea why. So he gave the one order he could, "All units, dismount! Repeat, dismount! Hostiles confirmed in area!"

It didn't come fact enough, though. Another two vehicles broke from formations and followed Hunter Four, while X-COM's soldiers poured out from their mounts and spread out around the area. Scavo grabbed his carbine and jumped ship himself, straight into the cold Pelanian night. A gunship roared overhead, following the runaway vehicles. He heard his radio crackle again.

"Hunter Actual, Wasp Actual, what are your orders?", he heard the gunship's pilot. For some reason, the captain thought he'd feel much better if he was actually under fire.

"Wasp Actual, hold fire. Do you see any bogeys?"

"Hunter Actual, negative...oh, wait."

One of the gunships abruptly turned and landed. Right this istant, Scavo received reports that the people they met before were now walking forward, ignoring all commands. Scavo cringed. All his training didn't prepare him for something so...bizarre.

"Neutralize them", he barked into his radio. Almost immediately, he heard a shot. Just one. He expect a torrent of rifle fire after that, but nothing of the sort happened.

His radio squealed, loud enough so that he had to pull the earpiece out. That was when he noticed that his men were wandering about aimlessly, their weapons lowered, and mumbling to themselves. All gunships have landed.

"What the...", he said to himself and shook the nearest X-COM soldier. The man just moaned and walked off. Scavo turned around, feeling utterly helpless. Despair was not a feeling he was used to, having fought in many wars when overwhelmingly supported by Almera's most powerful country. Seeing his command neutralized in such a...terrible, inhuman way, was worse than watching them systematically killed in an ambush. Somehow. It wasn't very logical.

Why did he just think that thought?

It is better they are preserved than destroyed. That way, they can still serve a purpose., was another one.

What?

It's true, isn't it? Your men aren't dead.

Why was he thinking to himself in second person?

Before he could resolve that thought, Thomas Scavo started staring blankly into space. He didn't even notice a hunched, skeletal human figure slowly walking amongst his men. He certainly didn't - and couldn't, even if he wasn't in his current state - four other similar figures, as they quietly left their concealed position not very far away.

All he was concerned with now was his new purpose. With shambling movements, his men began boarding their vehicles and turning them around.

Back towards Corinth.



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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: 2010-09-30 11:43am
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Imperial Chronicles
Imperial Palace on Constantinople

Heraclius XX Komnenos starred hard at the old book in front of him. Something about this book always struck some kind of psychic dissonance in him. It at once beckoned him, but it also at once repulsed him. He never understood why this feeling existed, despite being one of the greatest psykers in the universe. But here he was, looking at this book again.

The book in question, was the Writings of Heraclius IV Komnenos. Here was the original copy. It was decreed by the long dead Heraclius IV that the book would be taken by the future colonists on the expedition into space. That the book had uncannily predicted a great number of events in the future could not be denied. The book however, was not concerned about the history alone. It was also concerned about humanity’s place in the universe, and the existence of a certain Q. This Q apparently had the power to manipulate humanity’s destiny, and might have well been responsible for the existence of “twin Earths”.

What this portended, Heraclius XX was not sure. In his travails through space, letting his psychic self wander and explore the deepest corners of the universe, he could not sense any higher order being. Though he could tell that they might exist, from the tracks they leave behind. But how was one to find them? That remained the biggest question.

The long dead Heraclius IV made much mention of this Q. How much his forefather knew, even considering what had written, remained a great mystery. There was no way to ask him after all, since the man was dead, and has been for more than a millennia. How Heraclius XX could counteract these “superbeings” was beyond him, despite having searched considerably for a reason for many things in the universe. Nevertheless, Heraclius XX took what precautions he could. The Imperial Palace on Constantinople was constructed as a kind of psychic ward to ward off any psychic probes deep into the palace. Anyone who tried to probe the palace would instead encounter a black hole. Only portions of the palace was open to psychic probes, and these were shielded otherwise with Void shields.

Heraclius XX Komnenos then decided to try something he had never tried. He intended to psychically probe the book. The book’s construction was itself unique, and it baffled just about any engineer who looked at it. A kind of interleaving matrix was embedded within the book, and containing some kind of energy. Was it psychic in nature? Some say it was, but then, psychic energy was always something fluid, and it could easily mask itself as something else.

What he found was something so surprising that few would have imagined what would happen next. As Heraclius XX probed the book with his mind, a voice called out, “I always knew that someday one of my psychically inclined descendents would try to probe the book, but he had to be the sort who was incredibly attuned to the mastery of psykery.”

Heraclius XX was stunned and he staggered. He did not expect this, but somehow, he was firmly connected to the book. “What dares?” he demanded.

“Why, it’s me, Heraclius IV of the 21st century. I suppose most have forgotten how I sounded, but nevertheless, here I am.”
----------------------------
“You jest,” Heraclius XX Komnenos muttered. He probed hard and good. His psychic defences were still up, and he most certainly was not some thrall of a malevolent entity. So what is this?

“Sigh, I knew the Byzantine Emperors tend to be paranoid, though for good reasons, but I guess I owe you some form of explanation.”

“Speak quickly, or I will annihilate you,” Heraclius XX Komnenos gritted his teeth.

“Now now, don’t be hasty, I suppose I should tell you what this book truly is. You see, when I ordered the book designed in such a way, many people who knew of the book thought I was crazy. The book really was designed to allow me to imprint my soul, or conscious self, or whatever you wish to call it, into it. They call it a book of my ramblings, but really, few really knew the true purpose of the book.”

“I know that it was possible to imprint a psychic consciousness into something, but this is the first time I have heard of anyone imprinting it, and actually preserving it somehow for a millennia,” Heraclius XX frowned. Was this some kind of grand cosmic joke?

“But nevertheless, yes, it is possible. The book was designed that way. And it worked! The only problem was who was going to be strong enough to release me from this prison I created.”

“So what do you want, old man?”

“Well, I’m not certain. I wouldn’t mind a body for starters.”

“What...”

“I’m quite serious! Plus, I remember decreeing that PM Shroom’s personal artefacts and brain would be brought with us on the expedition. Where is that old whore’s brain?”

Heraclius XX blinked. “Probably somewhere in the palace vault, or failing that the Shroomanian quarter...”

“Excellent. Revive him, would you?”



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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: 2010-09-30 12:58pm
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Cyberspace

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The Greater Solarian Datasphere was, in effect, endless: an electronic netherworld of endlessly receding stacks and clusters and constellations of data. Lines of light blossomed out into every direction the mind could imagine, coalescing into abstract representations of virlibraries and CI monoliths, infotowers and datacologies -- each one symbolizing nodelinked minds, hyperstorage tesseracts or sub-meson cores. It was a nonplace medium; a bewilderingly complex but childishly intuitive hallucination designed so that frail human minds would not melt down from simple information overload the minute they were exposed to the brute immensity of every scrap of data on every digital system on every world of the United Solarian Sovereignty.

It was a living place, trawled by billions of people every day, and tended to by tens of thousands of CompInts and millions of expert programs both sentient and subsentient. Even so the Datasphere was too large; entire areas of cyberspace were not maintained at all, and parts of it fell into disrepair every day. Because of the self-repairing heuristic coding common to almost all Sovereignty systems, such places could eventually develop into 'wild' digital ecosystems, cybercosms teeming with independently evolving virlife. Sometimes such programs and simulations became viruses, spreading to nearby data-stacks and forcing CI 'gamekeepers' to annihilate the rogue nodes. In other cases they developed strange forms of sentience, becoming in effect self-evolved expert constructs. In almost all cases however such virlife had no understanding of the physical universe, much less any desire to deal with it, making it very difficult for physical entities to interact with these programs.

Almost universally however self-evolved virlife was capable of navigating the Datasphere with the natural ease of born programs, something no human-compiled program could hope to do. CompInts could, of course -- but within the matrixes of cyberspace, CIs were immense monoliths, and just as incapable of moving through the Datasphere unnoticed as an elephant could move unnoticed through a china shop: even if it managed not to destroy anything, its passage was certain to be seen. Even CompInt avatars or cloned sub-routines could usually be traced by virtue of belonging with a greater data-construct. Not so with virlife, which was not limited to any particular physical location like the CIs and their sub-meson cores. They could hop from system to system and mainframe to mainframe leaving nary a trace.

It meant these self-evolved programs were transient and ephemeral, and few ever existed for extended periods of time once they left the cybercosm in which they had originally evolved, but it also made them ideal for certain tasks. Which was why a section of the Pan-Empyrean mainframe was dedicated to running nothing but artificial life simulations in order to create just these programs.

For an infinitesimal moment logic gates on the Pan-Empyrean construct that had been closed for years opened, releasing a host of virlife into the Datasphere. Without exception the wild programs were seeker/challenger ci-ware, digital semisentients evolved to fulfill only one purpose: to trawl the Datasphere for preselected packets of information. Very specific information, in this case: sets of names; physical characteristics; locations; search queries matching certain keywords; key psychological conditions, and a multitude of other conditions. The query fed to the expert programs was clearly designed to look for a very specific someone (or rather, a set of someones), but even so with so many billions of people in the Sovereignty the number of false positives returned would no doubt be daunting.

Even more telling was the fact that the virlife was tailored not to stop at the limits of the Datasphere. Rather they were evolved to hop systems and transmit themselves to the data-networks that existed beyond the fringes of Solarian space: to latch onto hyperwave transmissions and nestle in data-pulses in order to travel the far reaches of the galaxy and perform the same hunt for information in every digital system they encountered.

Someone at Pan-Empyrean was very determined to find the persons he was looking for.



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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 2010-09-30 04:21pm, edited 3 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-30 01:28pm
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The Central Times

3 April 3400

Excerpts of Viso Fredon's speech: The threat of piracy!

"The regional trade routes are under threat!

Striking from their bases in the Expanse and other nearby Shoal sectors, the Space Pirates of Zebes have shown no mercy to all that fall into their clutches. Dozens of vessels have fallen victim to their depredations. Already there are calls by the affacted nations for action against these interlopers.

As our nation is also affected, it is our duty to help any coalition against piracy. The Central State expects all its citizens to do their duty against the Space Pirates. We shall overcome as always!"



An inhabitant from the Island of Cars.

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 Post subject: Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 1 PostPosted: 2010-09-30 01:33pm
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It is the 35th Century. For nearly a millennium the God-Emperor has sat mobile on the Golden Throne of Terra. He is the Master of Byzatium by the will of the gods, and master of a hundred worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writhing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day, so that he may never truly die.

Yet even in his deathless state, the Emperor continues his eternal vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the daemon-infested miasma of hyperspace, the only route between distant stars, their way lit by the Astronomican, the psychic manifestation of the Emperor's will. Vast armies give battle in his name on uncounted worlds. Greatest amongst his soldiers are the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines, bio-engineered super-warriors. Their comrades in arms are legion: the Imperial Guard and countless planetary defence forces, the ever vigilant Inquisition and the tech-priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus to name only a few. But for all their multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present threat from aliens, heretics, mutants - and worse.

To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. These are the tales of those times. Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods.


HOLY TERRA

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The Gate of Eternity stood before the Inner Palace, the Sanctum Imperialis, forged in the strongest materials. Two Titans stood guard over the gate in its demasked beauty and immeasurable strength. Along with them were none other than the Custodes, super-warriors who made even the Astartes look like whelps. Behind the gate was the Golden Throne of God-Emperor Heraclius XX Komnenos himself, the master of Byzantium, the Imperium of Man. There, deep within that Sanctum, was the place that He on Terra called home, the abode of one of the galaxy's greatest psykers, one of its most powerful psions - a man who had turned himself into a god.

Cherubs flew overhead, intermingling with servo-skulls and the drone-slaves of the technopriests. Aside from housing the God-Emperor and his Golden Throne, the Imperial Palace was also where the Senate convened, where the Administratum's heart was housed, and it was also a massive transmitter for the Astronomican - the arcane beacon of the Immaterium that connected all of the Imperium's dominions and linked them to Holy Terra.

The Imperial Palace was thus a grand edifice, a structure that in itself was larger than many nations in old Earth and Nova Terra, a monument of gold large enough that it could swallow entire planetoids and moons. With void shields and theater-fields that could withstand even a planetary siege, though by the Emperor the Imperium has never had a heresy so vile as to strike at the Byzantine throne-world.

Deep within it, its labyrinthine interior spanned seemingly forever, and thus contained a great many things. Whole armies of bureaucrats, whole armies of scribes, and even whole armies of soldiers. There were libraries of both digital databanks and nigh-fossilized papyrus scrolls containing the preserved histories of Byzantium, from government edicts proclaimed when the nation was still in its Nova Terran roots, to the benedictions of Byzantine space-saints, to the war plans and graphs of the Great Crusade against the Tau. Everything that was Byzantium was held within the Imperial Palace. Its past, its present, even a glimpse of its future. All the truths of an Emperor-turned-God. All his lies...

All his secrets.

Heraclius XX Komnenos had found a book titled The Writings of Heraclius IV Komnenos, and the ghost within the pages began whispering to him. It told him things that were strange but true, things that were true but long forgotten, things that were forgotten but soon remembered. The soul trapped in the horcrux called forth to him from beyond the deathly hallows, and it led him to a chamber of secrets.

With an utterance of 'lumos', Heraclius illuminated the dark place he had ventured into. There he found a goblet of fire that had been placed atop a philosopher's stone, and he ignited it to bring some more light into the room. Now they met in a place where there was no darkness. Stepping into the light, they found themselves in an expanse large enough to store even a Battlebarge - had it not been already filled with so many things. Ancient things from a long-gone world, made in a forgotten time, from more than a thousand years ago. So old and strange that they were unrecognizable.

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One of the few things Heraclius recognized was some kind of spacecraft, unbelievably ancient, and emblazoned on its hull were the bright red letters spelling F-A-S-T-A. There were ancient tanks and armies of terracotta warriors armed with antique assault rifles. There were portraits and paintings of strange places and strange people, none of whom he knew. The Horcrux told him to continue on, that these things were not what he was here for, that his destination lay ahead of him. So he moved on, past the stacks of expired Body Oil and heaps of strange calendars with naked man pictures labeled I-S-C-A, past the golden statues of what looked to be a Tianguonese Huang Di.

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He walked by so many things that he could not comprehend. The reason why they were there, hidden away in his own palace, was unknown to him. Was it some cosmic joke he wasn't getting? Somehow he could feel the soul within the Horcrux gaze longingly at those things they had passed by, as if it knew their origins, as if it was part of its past life. It probably was.

Then the Horcrux told him to stop, informing him that they had reached their destination.

Heraclius froze. For what he beheld was a terrible sight that chilled him to the bone.

He stood before an ocean vessel named the S.S. Tyrannic. That massive ship was some three hundred and fifty meters in length, quite large for an ancient boat that was now sitting inside a secret chamber serving as a glorified museum/warehouse full of strange things. It was probably the largest item in the place. But what was most striking thing was the vessel's bow statue, which was in the shape, form and likeness of the Emperor Heraclius IV Komnenos.

He stood there, face to face with the person whose soul-shard was entombed within the Hocrux he held in his gauntleted hands.

The Horcrux compelled him to go inside the vessel, and so he did, minding not to hit his head on the ceiling, not that it was particularly low, but because his superhuman nature had made him quite tall. Together, he and the Horcrux went deeper into the bowels of the ship. The Goblet of Fire's light was no longer with them, so Heraclius had to do another 'lumos' to provide light as they went deeper and deeper. Finally, they reached the part of the ship that would've contained its nuclear reactor. It was an empty space, the power plant having long since removed since the vessel's decommissioning more than a thousand years ago, but in its place was an armored room.

They went inside. The room opened for them, for it had detected someone sharing the dominant genes of the Heraclius bloodline, the Horcrux explained. The room's interior was illuminated, saving Heraclius from having to cast another spell. In there, he was greeted by a most bizarre sight.

A sea creature floating inside some kind of tank. A cybernetic sea creature!

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"I would like you to meet the Half Blood Prince." Heraclius IV said from within his Horcrux.

"What?" Emperor Heracliux XX Komnenos gasped.

"The Half Brain Whore," the Horcrux laughed. "But turns out having a half-brain was better than a no-brain. You see, my friend had devised a novel method to avoid the eyes of Q. While his mortal body died in due time, he had made a copy of himself and uploaded it into the brain of a rudimentary cyborg dolphin - the last place Q could expect! It seems like my friend had planned way ahead of us. His plan had begun quite early, back in the first years of the 21st century, when his nation and another waged their secret Brain Wars. I believe he had this eventuality precisely in mind when he had his men devise it. To find refuge in such simple a creature as a dolphin... what a cunning plan indeed."

"That man must've been mad." Heraclius exclaimed.

"Oh, you have no idea." Heraclius replied.

They activated the cyborg dolphin, and it began to chitter excitedly.



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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!

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