SDNW4 Story Thread 2

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2011-06-10 02:36pm

No Substitute for Peace
Ushijima class assault ship HSS Midori Kanda, Sector N-19
Between Shinra and Haruhiist space
UNREAL TIME / March 3401

George Marshall wrote:I believe our students must first seek to understand the conditions, as far as possible without national prejudices, which have led to past tragedies and should strive to determine the great fundamentals which must govern a peaceful progression toward a constantly higher level of civilization.

Previously on SDN World 4... wrote:"You know as well as I do that there are no innocent civilians, Madoka. You are not just fighting an armed force, you are fighting a government and the people who support it. It really shouldn't bother you as much as it does to be killing these so-called 'innocent bystanders.' If we can end this war nearly as soon as it starts, then it shouldn't matter just how many civilians get slaughtered, as long as our own men and women are spared. I'll leave you here to think it over. I'm going back to my quarters."

Even with five centuries of intimate friendship, Madoka still never quite understood just why Homura was so cruel and ruthless. She knew that while diplomatic solutions had certainly failed, the strategic situation still did not require extremely drastic measures that would typically be reserved only for the likes of an apocalyptic end war with the Pfhor, Karlacks, or Bragulans (and even then, only after lengthy consideration on the part of the Empress). The MEH were a bunch of right bastards, yes, but did their actions really warrant getting their worlds salted with rubiconium? Not only that, but Homura hadn't even consulted Empress Haruhi or the Joint Chiefs for approval of her demented plan! This entire situation had gone horribly wrong, and at the moment, Madoka was the only one who could rectify it.

Without hesitation, Madoka pulled out a comlink and called for the MPs. Homura subsequently found four of them waiting for her at the entrance of her quarters. "What is the meaning of this?" she asked them.

"Field Marshal Homura Akemi, you are under arrest for insubordination," the lead MP intoned as he handcuffed her and led her to the brig.

The next morning, while the rest of the SOS Imperial Armed Forces continued on with their exercises, Sayaka, Mami, and Kyoko went down to the brig to confer with their wayward friend.

"No, really, what the FUCK is wrong with you, Homura?!" Sayaka screamed. "Just because we have those weapons in our inventory doesn't mean you have carte blanche to use them as you please, especially for something as strategically pointless as this!"

"In case you forgot, we are not here to commit genocide against the MEH," Mami said, trying to maintain as calm and reasonable a tone as she could, though her irritation with her old friend was clearly starting to show in places. "I mean, I do understand that we should end this war as quickly as we can, but we already have the rest of our allies in the coalition providing more than enough overwhelming force to roll over the enemy within a month, two months at most, though I'm not even sure if they even want us as our allies if they catch wind of this. I recall you saying in one of the briefings that they would still lose no matter how many of our forces they manage to destroy, right? We already have crushing advantages at every turn. For all your talk about reducing suffering on all sides, you're actually increasing it with this plan of yours. This isn't a matter of military expediency. This is just sheer bloodymindedness."

"Not to mention that you intend on carrying out this plan without consulting the Empress or the Joint Chiefs," Kyoko said. "Remember, all are accountable to Her, even us."

Homura simply remained silent, her head bowed down, her eyes gazing directly down at her boots.

"I see how it is, then. Guard, take the prisoner out of her cell and escort her to the bridge," Mami order. "We're going to take her up in front of the Empress."

"Yes, ma'am," one of the guards said as he went over to Homura's cell and unlocked the door. He remained at her side as they were led up to the Kanda's bridge, where Madoka was already in a secure teleconference with none other than Empress Haruhi herself.

"...Field Marshal Akemi is already here to account for herself, Your Highness," Madoka said as she stepped aside and allowed the guard to bring Homura up front and center.

"What is is your major malfunction, Field Marshal?" Empress Haruhi boomed through the telescreen.

Homura looked up at the screen. "Your Highness, there are no words I can come up with that can fully express just what a fool I've been."

"And indeed you've been quite the fool, drawing up a plan to wipe out half of the MEH's civilian population and not seeking prior approval from me first. Hell, you probably knew that I would not approve of such a plan in the first place. There's military expediency, and then there's sheer bloodymindedness. This plan of yours falls firmly in the latter, I'm afraid. Even I know that salting their worlds with rubiconium accomplishes nothing other than increasing the suffering of the civilian populace. We can already destroy their will to fight by crushing their military with overwhelming force. Destroying their agricultural, industrial, and population centers will just make the occupation more difficult."

"I realize that now, Your Highness, and I apologize for my insubordination."

"Save your apologies. Field Marshal Homura Akemi, you are hereby relieved of command until further notice. I hope your comrades will learn from your mistakes."

The telescreen switched off abruptly. "Guard, take Field Marshal Akemi back to her cell," Madoka ordered.

"I'll keep an eye on her, Madoka," Kyoko said as she joined the guard.

Madoka turned to face the windows of the Kanda's bridge and heaved a heavy sigh. "Where did she go wrong?" she asked herself. "We all lived through the same experiences as she did, but why did they affect her that badly?"

"You know what's tragic?" Mami replied with a question of her own as she walked up alongside Madoka. "Homura was probably the most innocent and carefree out of of all of us when we started out. You remember her when she first showed up at the academy, don't you?"

"Yeah, I sure do."

"Five centuries of seeing the horrors of war first-hand. It wasn't a matter of if she'd snap, but when. Unfortunately for us, she chose to break down now. I just hope she can get her stuff together in time before X-day, because we certainly can't have her indulging in these genocide fantasies when we're actually out there."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Steve » 2011-06-10 03:45pm

Admiralty House, Westminster
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia
March 3401

"The intelligence was verified by Sir James' sources, sir." The First Lord of the Admiralty looked intently on at the PM. Penton drew in a breath and looked back at the note. "We know for certain that at least one contingent of the fleet being sent after the Happies has been armed with rubiconium warheads."

"This is going to be Pendleton all over again," Penton muttered to himself, thinking of the Shepistani nuclear bombardment there that had rendered an entire swath of territory irradiated and in need of exhaustive cleanup. He looked to the rest of his military leadership assembled for the meeting. "Gentlemen, can you conceive of any justifiable need for such things?"

"Only if we were out to wreck those planets," Field Marshal Max von Wittelsbach answered. The younger brother of the current Prince of Neu Bavaria, von Wittelsbach was an experienced veteran of four Dilgrud Suppressions and the Free Star Conflict of 3369-75. He had recently been appointed to be Chief of the Defence Staff, ending forty years of Royal Navy control of that position, but given the ongoing occupation of Pendleton and other needs for the Anglian Army, it had been seen as reasonable to put one of their's in control. "And unless the Government has changed its policy, which I highly doubt, such is not intended."

"Indeed it is not," Penton muttered angrily. "I am of half a mind to go public on this and threaten withdrawal."

"Restraint is probably our best course," Baden-Grey remarked. "I would propose, Sir, that you allow me to speak with Madame Bransford at length on this issue and to approach the Haruhiist delegation here in Westminster on just what in blazes their military minds are up to."

"Yes, that is probably the best course for now, Lord Prestwick," Penton agreed. "But make our displeasure known. We will not be party to the scourging of entire planets, and I suspect many of the other intervening powers won't either."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Siege » 2011-06-10 04:10pm

Co-written with Steve

Villa Straylight
Geosynchronous orbit around Solaris


The hologrammatic map of the Milky Way was a dazzling sight: hundreds of billions of stars, vast tracts of which unknown or unmapped, and equal chunks contained in pockets of color representing the borders and spheres of influence of dozens of nations great and small. Nisa let out a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. “Ya ilahi...

The villa’s owner looked over his shoulder and smiled. “Pretty neat, eh?” He was standing inside the hologram, in a swarm of stars at the inner edge of the Orion-Cygnus arm. “It’s one of my favourite party pieces.”

The girl raised an eyebrow. “You don’t throw any parties.”

The smile widened fractionally. “Point taken.”

Nisa cautiously held her hand to the nearest star and, emboldened by finding that the hologrammatic red dwarf passed harmlessly through it without burning or scalding, took a few steps into the massive ballroom-sized holo. Stars of all sizes swirled around her, some vast, some comparatively minute. She realized that by looking closely she could make out tiny specs orbiting some of them: planets, moons, asteroid fields and other cosmic objects, reduced to tiny photonic specs that danced around their parent stars. She’d known the galaxy was a massive place, but seeing its sheer immensity laid out like this really put things in perspective. Nisa looked around. “Is my old home in here somewhere?” she asked with a small voice.

“Toutaine?” Sidney didn’t look, but a two-dimensional arrow popped up a dozen meters spinward from where he was standing. A single star dilated in its own separate matrix, showing the Toutaine system and its single inhabited world in staggering detail. Next to it appeared a factbox with fast-scrolling information. “Right there.”

Nisa waded through the sea of stars, crossing hundreds of light years with every step, until she looked at what had until quite recently been her home. Seeing it abstracted like this was weird, simultaneously comforting and hankering. The infobox dispensed cold and dispassionate information about her old domicile: stellar, atmospheric and topographical data, key excerpts from survey reports looking for rare earth minerals, crass facts about the ruling dynasty and the planet’s political situation. The information was unredacted and brutally honest in its assessment of the world as ‘feudally barbaric’. That stung somehow - though not for the reasons one might suspect, given how brutally true the assessment was - but at least Mr. Hank wasn’t keeping anything from her. She also realized much of the information was probably assembled by the mining company whose compound her father had annihilated. A company that Sidney owned. Nisa tried not to think about the implications too much. She took a last look at the small sandy-brown planet and turned her back to it. “What are you doing?”

“I’m thinking.”

“About what?”

Again no answer, but another part of the hologram lit up. This time it was a region anti-spinward that came alight with green, blue and red arrows. A lot of red arrows, from all over the region Nisa’d come to identify as Known Space, all pointed directly or indirectly at it. The frown returned. “What’s that?”

“This is the Multiversal Empire of Happiness.” As he said it the words appeared above the highlighted region. “And the arrows indicate it’s in for one hell of an ass-kicking.”

“How so?”

“Because they represent battlefleets headed there with the intention to do violence. A great many battlefleets. Large naval contingents from at least eleven great powers are mobilizing to lay waste to the Multiversal Empire. Several of which have gone to some lengths to keep their involvement secret, so there may in fact be more that I haven’t heard about yet.”


“Well, I imagine they intend to preserve the element of surprise. It’s very hard to keep mobilizations of such scale truly secret but the Multiversal Empire is a recent arrival in this galaxy, they’re liable to not have any established espionage networks capable of obtaining this information yet.”

Nisa shook her head. “No, I mean, what have these people done to deserve this? I haven’t ever heard of them. What did they do that so many people are mad enough at them to send fleets such a long way?”

“That’s exactly what I was wondering.” Sidney scratched his chin. “But I suspect that, to use a turn of phrase an old associate of mine is fond of, ‘deserve’s got nothing to do with it’.” He looked sideways at the girl. “Don’t get me wrong, from what I hear they’re not the nicest of people. There were several incidents involving their ships, and it appears they were looking to acquiring psions for... experiments, in order to understand the ESP phenomenon.” Nisa looked a little queasy. Sidney shrugged. “Like I said, not the nicest people. But not anything nobody in the galaxy engaged in before either. Whatever it was they were intending, it’s sure to barely register compared with the centuries-long repression of psions in nations like Shepistan-” He caught a glimpse of Nisa’s stricken expression and stopped abruptly. “I’m sorry. I do tend to ramble.”

She shook her head. “Don’t be. I know the galaxy is not a nice place.” She looked at the dazzling hologram that surrounded them. “Although from this distance it doesn’t look that bad.”

A shadow of the smile again. “Everything’s a matter of perspective. And perspective is one thing I feel is sorely lacking from this particular situation.”

“But they are experimenting on people.” There was an accusatory tone to her voice.

“Quite, quite,” Sidney held up a hand, barely visible behind all the stars that separated them. “And to put a stop to it would be a good thing. But of all the horrors in the galaxy, why is such a big deal made of this? Why is the Shinra Republic outraged over the actions of the Multiversal Empire when amongst their allies in the upcoming crusade are such states as the Imperium of Man, the loudest advocate of xenocide in the galaxy, or the Bragulan Star Empire -- arguably the most repressive regime in Known Space? Does that not strike you as bizarre?”

Nisa answered him with silence.

“Here’s another thing. A big and arguably justifiable fuss is made over the Empire’s intentions to illicitly acquire specimens in order to conduct their experiments. But to stop this a war is planned that will consume millions of lives - maybe, if some of the combatants have their way, tens of billions. In fact it is likely to be the most destructive conflict since the Dilgrud Wars or the Great Crusade, if much shorter... Yet no diplomatic attempts have been made to prevent it. The Multiversal Empire has been given no chance whatsoever to peacefully change its ways. We’ve gone from emergence, to casus belli, to impending total war in a matter of months. And it’s not just the usual suspects either. If this was just the Bragulans, or the Imperium, or even the Chamarrans... But Tianguo? The bloody Technocracy? It makes no sense whatsoever. Which makes me wonder...” His voice trailed off.

Nisa looked at him, then at the multitude of arrows pointing at the Multiversal Empire of Happiness, then back at Sidney again. “You’re thinking maybe someone’s diverting attention toward this Empire so they’re free to act elsewhere?”

Sidney looked at her, a little surprised. “Indeed. How’d you...?”

“It was common amongst tribes on Toutaine. When they quarreled one tribe would try to divert attention of the other’s fighting men elsewhere so they would leave the first tribe’s true objective ill-defended.”

He nodded. “I see. The same may be true here. I fear we may be focusing on one potential issue so much we’re not seeing the problem right in front of us.”

“But so many people are involved... Who would be able to act on this kind of scale?”

“That is a very good question indeed. But considering... certain recent events...” He shrugged and his voice turned pensive. “One does wonder what’s really going on in this galaxy.”
SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
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Battle of Zebes, Chapter Thirty-Seven

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-06-10 08:09pm

Recommended Listening: Third Movement, Dvorak's New World Symphony

Destroyer CNS Carpenter
Attached to Task Group 17
Closing on Zebesian Defectors
2145 Hours

Getting close. Captain Sollen had already given the order; plasma batteries to open fire shortly, at a range close enough to theoretical optimum to warm a doctrinaire's heart.

Leander passed the word to Gunnery, then rapped out his own addition. "Helm- surpass yourself; I don't want the neighbors leaving here thinking they've got a monopoly on footwork."

In a protracted action he'd be sorely tempted to push them aside and take control of that himself, he'd done it before, but not this, not here. Jousting, not fencing, a quick firing pass- time for nothing more before the Centralists overshot and the Zebesians reached the hyper limit. Carpenter needed a captain's undivided attention for that situation more than she needed a marginally dodgier helmsman, in any sense of the word.

It'd begin, though not end, with a few minutes' fighting on even terms- both sides had the range only with neutral-plasma beams. Power output per ton favored the Zebesians' all-plasma armament, but the Centralists were the side of the heavy battalions: more tons to use. Roughly fair- that would start to change when the gunships launched their birds, but not yet. Leander expected to learn something useful from watching that- or at least put some dents into the enemy ships to make getting close to them less a recipe for major damage.

Seconds ticked by; Burns started weaving the destroyer back and forth with the lateral thrusters, twitching the plane of oscillation- relatively gently, perhaps a bit too much so.

The Zebesian plasma destroyers shot first, pitching about to throw rapid-cycle, low power bursts from their axial heavy guns, going after the missile-carrying Fireballs accompanying the starships into the attack.

As always in the strike role, a handful of Fireballs lived up to their name early on, targeted and smashed apart by long range beam fire before they could unload their heavy, high-acceleration knifefighting missiles. They were little more than targets at this range, but difficult ones: the gunships' antenna-searing ECM and long, slim fuselages made unrewarding targets for weapons heavy enough to burn them down. Within seconds of observing the outcome of their opening fusillade, the Zebesian captains switched fire, pumping the next wave of plasma bolts at bigger, harder targets now that the Centralist starships were getting closer, into more effective range.

A stream of fire rang off Sollen's flagship, the cruiser Stalwart, with a crackling wake of electromagnetics to mark the flux tube hammered into being by the Zebesian gun. Fire from a lone plasma destroyer wasn't enough, hadn't been against Stalwart's sister ship at Hawk's Nest and wasn't now; the raider didn't even get ions through to her armor belt. The cruiser's own slow-cycling beam armament wasn't making much better practice against a surprisingly well-handled, agile target, though; beam fringes and halos washed the Zebesian's screens in auroral light without leaving any more lasting mark.

Another destroyer's stream tracked towards Terrier, but the Blitz-class frigate's peers rallied and hosed that raider down with their own beams. The Zebesian veered away and firewalled its engines, trying to avoid being coned and hammered down by the sixteen- no, twenty now- tubes focused on it. They made it, though spectroscopy picked out a few puffs of metal vapor and a whiff of carbon left in its path. Which gave Leander a cheery feeling, until the third enemy destroyer's decision to fire on Carpenter was joined by a fourth.

Comscan was first to notice the fourth destroyer's main battery fire control firing up- a strange combination of radar backplot and gravitic tracers. They flashed the warning to Leander, as per standard- and handed it off to Navigation, to draw their own conclusions, as per nonstandard. The first conclusion was of course "duck;" the helmsman kicked in Carpenter's dorsal thrusters, then flipped back to ventral and started alternating. The irregular two-dimensional slalom he'd been using to throw off the first Zebesian's fire mutated into a stuttering, crooked spiral.

Leander nodded in approval, idly wondering whether Fermat or Archimedes would win the paternity dispute over the new spiral course, whether either of them would want to, and whether there was such a thing as a barrelstave roll. If there was, Burns was doing it; if there wasn't, the lad would probably patent it next week. Good work, that, and it seemed to have the Zebesians badly confused- enough so that the fourth Zebesian decided to go pick on something less inclined to slip through their fingers. The third kept firing, in a steady barrage of shot that flew dizzily and mostly wide. Mostly- Carpenter jarred back on her heels when a quick burst of cruiser-weight bolts pounded the forward screens.

Damage control indicator showed a radar antenna lost, an antifighter defense missile tubes at condition orange, a few score tons of armor missing- wide scar, not deep, nothing serious. With his other eye he noticed something more serious; his chosen target for the plasma guns was shifting evasion plane. As were... come to think of it, a lot of the others. The whole formation, with the spinal-gun ships flipping end over end and burning away...

He's shifting formation, putting his missile haulers out in front. Trying to use the empty ordnance ships as screens and decoys- speaking of which, the missile ships were spewing what had to be decoys and jammer platforms. Comscan's picture of the plasma destroyers blurred, wheeled, tied into an vaguely fractal-looking something. One branch the tree suddenly sprouted an unexpected bulge of highly visible gas as Pelton put a ripple from the forward turret into the destroyer that'd been firing on them. The stream of bolts cut off, cut back in... if the magnetometers were any guide, at about two thirds power. Good show, that.

Comscan's fit of myriavision faded and the plot started to settle back down; handy to be able to check an estimated position against the plume of titanium vapor where it'd really been.

Carpenter shuddered- not much, not with that much integral damping in the structure to protect against hits from heavy weapons- but enough for Leander to notice. Damage indicators- damn. The core of the shot had stopped cleanly, but those new bolts were poorly focused: a lot of stuff coming in at the fringe. A good-sized chunk of them poured through, scoured down... and left a stream of recondensed metal along the dorsal surface- two subspace antennae heat-kinked, a shuttle bay welded shut, and most importantly, Gun Three in the aft plasma turret reported a clog.

Good thing their shot didn't meet one of ours coming the other way, that could've been ugly. Must have bank-shotted off that eddy in the dorsal shields. He'd have to talk to Liggs after the battle, maybe with an admiral co-signing the forms now, the dockyards would believe the fault actually existed instead of being a figment of his imagination.

Still, not too bad as yet- no dead, and his guns weren't hurting as bad as theirs... starting to get quite close, though. And with the Fireballs spread ahead, twenty seconds ahead of the main body, any moment- there. Esper squadron leaders ran the gunships as temporary hive minds; launch times were tightly coordinated as the craft spun round each other and tossed ripples of impactors at the Zebesian ships.

Some wandered off- those jammers were still live; the missiles didn't have anything like his own comscan teams to see through the maze- but Centralist ordnance was cheap and plentiful, and all the 'warhead' they needed for a devastating strike was a good-sized bundle of lead bricks. Leander watched the barrage boost downrange, waited for the plasma destroyers to start refocusing their guns to blot out chunks of the incoming... they didn't flinch. Didn't notice? No, wait, he saw it now, missiles pushing through the beaten zone of the main armament and into the region dominated by individual-target, low power defense guns. The lead wave started to wash into the Zebesian formation- into, but not across.

Damn. Impactors hit the Zebesians and hit them squarely, in quantity and in quality, but much, too much, of their fire was going for the obvious targets- the missile ships. The plasma destroyers kept blazing away at TG-17's starships- and at Carpenter, undistracted and still in the most dangerous zone, where the Centralists still didn't have much chance of scoring with the coilguns.

Shields whined; a bolt scraped along Carpenter's ventral surface, carving a shallow trench in the armor belt. What was down there- defense missiles, emergency landing gear that was seldom used, nothing much to speak of; she could laugh it off. Still, though, the raider seemed to be getting their beam focus sorted out- six bolts flew past in varying directions as Burns attempted another nameless spatiobatic dodge, and even the stodgier captains were trying to sidestep, though not with the same success. Leander winced as Stalwart took a supercharged bolt in spite of Sollen's efforts. From the flash, that one had gone into her forward plasma turret as it was firing. There went those guns- but nothing into the core hull, speed and shielding not seriously impaired- the cruiser kept fighting.

Rattlesnake took a direct hit of similar intensity, and that had done drive damage; the light frigate took a tumble. The Blitz's evasive sideslip turned into a flat spin, as drawn in a plane about thirty degrees off the squadron-relative horizontal, at maximum lateral thrust. Optics showed her spin speeding up until she blurred, which was frightening when you considered just how large a ship like that really was, and what kind of accelerations that meant for her bow and stern. Leander hoped their internal gravity was on the ball; otherwise, Rattlesnake would need her crew cleaned up with a mop before they could take her in for repairs.

Hits across the squadron, a few more ships tumbling though none like Rattlesnake, others taking partial firepower-kills from Zebesian bolts, but no time for that. Leander took the squadron fire mission for Carpenter's coilguns, glanced it over in light of recent events, shredded the second half of it and passed the pieces on to Main Battery Control for Pelton to make sense of. Obvious enough what needed to be done, and that bought him seconds to trace a rough curve through the Zebesian formation- steer close to the destroyer they'd shot up from long range, risk one bolt but exploit the lower cyclic rate they were using to keep away from the others, pitch up and roll to get some good shots in against that one that looked to be limping. And time was up. Throw that to Burns, and hope he hadn't missed anything, coilgun firing point coming up...

Carpenter bucked. She was light on drivers for her tonnage- by Centrality standards. By power on target and most especially by momentum transfer, her coilgun batteries were heavy indeed. Unlucky skippers could warp hull frames by firing those guns too enthusiastically- had.

The timbre of the destroyer's vibrations shifted as the 'midships turrets rotated between shots. Each salvo of half-ton rounds posed its own massive ballistics problem, demanded its own fire solution, from a platform that had already built up speed to something comparable to the guns' own muzzle velocity, against an evading target moving nearly as fast. Gunnery's situation wasn't helped by the helm's dutiful obedience to Leander's orders- Burns was surpassing himself. Streams of shot reached out ahead of the Centralists-

There was a ship-rocking report, far worse than the recoil of the guns, ominous groaning sounds from overhead, damage indicators- kriff, there goes one of the sensor domes. And a good-sized bite out of the ventral outer hull with it, power dropping off to one of the 'driver turrets and holding at around half as the engineers rearranged the power grid to rout around the hole. The Zebesian raider had- literally- shot its bolt; that'd been supercharged and powerful enough to rip a third of the way down Carpenter's core hull... if the ship hadn't been a few hundred meters below and to the left of where the Zebesian gunnery computer had expected it to be.

Then the 'driver rounds started hitting. Carpenter's first and favored target, the plasma destroyer that'd just tried to kill them, flared as the coilgun armament proved as accurate as it was heavy. Pairs and triplets of flashes sparked off the raider, a brute-force hammering against her shields, the guns still firing as they came towards closest approach- and stopped. Shifting target? Did Pelton think this one was d-

He was right. A strange, conical quasi-fireball erupted from a through-and-through puncture, then two more, another... The Zebesian destroyer broke up under shock long before enough rounds could hit to slag it, what with the glorified tuning-fork construction. Target one down, see to another, who was the opportunity, probably- and Pelton's first round impacted on what would've been Leander's third choice out of fifteen; good enough. That one had already shrugged off or jammed past most of Terrier's ready magazines and looked to be pivoting to put a tight-focus bolt in when the light frigate reached closest approach. Carpenter reached out and tapped the raider on the shoulder of one of its long arms, with two tons of high-velocity impactors.

The joint flashed, sparkled, then the defense screen overloaded; shields must've been focused against the Blitz... the bolt went wild- yes!, and only a few more hits to half-cut the structural linkages before a long string of misses- who'd been caught napping there, Burns or Pelton, have to do something about that. Never enough gunnery practice. Still, though, Target two was venting radicalized air and metal-slurry flame, though a lot of the work must've been Terrier's. Good enough. Time to rein Main Battery in.

"Guns, Parthian shot, missile frigate two."

"On it."

That one was nearly immobilized- three other ships had the same idea and put over-the-stern bombardment into the ship as they flew away. Drivers would be damn near useless- overtake and muzzle velocity didn't quite cancel- but enough plasma landed on the frigate as Task Group 17 (reinforced) overshot to slag the thing. A few others finished in the same way over a few more minutes' fire; survivors such as still had enough engines, jamming, and power to run and duck were making it clear faster than they could burn down what was left of the defenses.

Ah well, you couldn't have everything. Then again... pursuit? Possible. No, Prussian wounded, ground troops needing orbital support, practically the only unengaged reserve left the Atlanteans- unlikely in these shoals. Still, not a bad sweep, looking at the mess they'd made of the Zebesian escapers.

Priorities- cleanup...

"Comscan, try to get a hail on Rattlesnake, failing that systems access, see if their inertics pulled them through."

Missile Frigate Gacknik
Running Away Very Fast
2154 Hours

"Owwwww. Those poor guys."

"Zarquod, I'm glad we aren't fighting those guys."

The chief grunted. "Eh, dunno, not sure they could've reached us. The vectors..."

"I hope not. These U-ma-yeens, er, U-mer-yons, whatever..."

"Yeah, bad enough."

Nugak clattered a little. It was true. The decoys were drawing off some of the fire from the human beam weapons, or at least getting them to spread it around a bit, but that only got them so far. At least they were concentrating on the plasma destroyers. Privately, Nugak kind of hoped they'd nail the flagship; even if there'd been some kind of big plan behind the way they'd pulled out the wings earlier and left Frugus in the lurch, it was still a pretty rotten thing to do at a time like that. Plus, everyone he'd seen from the flagship were like those pincer-guys who'd come in earlier. Real mean.

There wasn't much left to do but watch and hope their ships could keep the range open- so far, so good, but they were still overtaking a little, and the humans had to be pretty mad about that ship the plasma destroyers had blown up earlier...

Then Nugak half-guiltily took a look the fleet monitor, the one Kurgo had, um. Not hacked into, he hadn't hacked into that, because they weren't supposed to be able to see what was going on. No, Kurgo had... somehow! Somehow accidentally pushed a button, not so they could see what was going on, but totally by accident. That was the ticket.

Anyway. His eyes refocused on the display. Oh shit.

"They're doing it again!"

"It's those damn cruisers, their beams are too heavy."

"Wait, that's... I think that's the flagship!"

"Ah, crap."

"He's slowing down..."

Nugak shivered. Maybe he was psychic or something and didn't know it. Nah, that couldn't be it. He'd checked like three times because he'd kind of been hoping, and the medtechs said he actually had a negative psi rating, whatever that meant. But anyway... I'm never going to hope something bad happens to somebody again...

Well. OK. Maybe if I really really mean it.

The moogle is displeased...

Recommended Listening: First Movement, Nielsen's Symphony No. 3

Type 22 Core Ship 12E886C8
Flagship Boskonian Core Subfleet
2142 Hours

Cosmog of Narshe scowled. The beam duel was going, at best, marginally as his ships fought to avoid taking severe damage before making their escape. The Umerian strike cruisers seemed most difficult to slow down, avoiding so much of his screen's macrobeams and drawing fire from the Enemy's lighter cruisers and destroyers. That would improve those ships' ability to target his forces in turn- always easier to turn high-resolution sensors onto a target that wasn't firing on you.

Meanwhile, the Enemy cutters were definitely boosting for an attack run. Some of his captains were already directing burst fire from needle-beams against the building Umerian small craft attack. But even the Enemy's ships were difficult targets, infernally so for inertial-drive warships; how much worse the tiny, elusive parasites?

The moogle barked an order to the escorting ships, redirected their fire, pointed their main batteries back against the Enemy's screen of lighter starships- now slowly advancing to cover the cutter attack with jamming. Needle beams would make little difference there, and the expenditure could be allowed, but the main battery macrobeams were wasted on cutters until the Enemy could get closer. The strike cruisers- those could wait indefinitely.

His own flagship continued its one-against-three battle against the Umerian heavy cruisers, matching snarling macrobeam turret-projectors against the forty megacycle hiss of their spinal proton cannon. Cosmog's flag captain had done well; his maneuvers were deft and his deceptive jamming and sensor-baffling adequate. Pressure on the battleship's wall shield had eased, and that critical line of defense had held and was holding yet at a comfortable six thousand angstroms, safely in the orange.

Pitted against that were the Umerian ships- powered, armed, and screened for battle on a lesser scale than the terrible poundings a Boskone battleship was made defiantly to receive and merrily to give. On reactor rated output alone, the Type 22's victory against these enemies would be inevitable, were it not for their seemingly random evasive burns- and the Boskonian gunners were learning fast. Already, fully half the power from the battleship's atomic-converter plants poured out in a torrent of annihilating force against the least agile of the Enemy vessels.

Cosmog cackled softly in anticipation, for subetherics made the gunners' success plain. At any moment the Umerian's forward screen would fail, exposing the naked metal beneath! Granted that the Technocrats placed heavy defensive armor over their core hull from this angle- what of it? The thickness of that final barrier was well known; even against the Prussians and their blocklike vessels, his battleship's raving projectors had carved away such walls in little time. Here, he would receive his measure of revenge for the humiliating retreat the Enemy's untimely arrival had forced upon him, for the hard-earned victory they had denied him!

Burnthrough! The Umerian's bow-screen flashed its death throes and vanished in a spray of hyperwaves and short-lived virtual particles. Cosmog cackled, expecting a torrent of boiling armor to herald the ensuing death of the Enemy cruiser...

...or not.

There was a whiff of something, yes, a very disappointing one. Cosmog did not then know of the unbelievably dense and ultimately refractory synthetic composing the main belts of the cruiser Samuel Jacobson's bow-plate. So saturated were those metals with exotic fields of static and vibratory force, so carefully tempered and forged, that where even great thicknesses of iron, graphite, or other ordinary substances would begin unavoidably to ablate, Jacobson's armor held!

The great circular shield at the Umerian's bow burned to bare metal in moments, but that bare metal was a formidable barrier indeed. Red radiance, rising in frequency into a strange yellow-orange spread across the bow shield, from center to edge. Sensor arrays volatilized in flashes of silicon and metallic vapor. But these were ephemera, merely the fringes and side-lobes of the destructive energy directed against the Technocracy's vessel.

At the heart of the inferno raging from the projectors of the Boskone battleship, multiple beams converged, fire predictors deducing and tracking the cruiser's evasive moves fast enough to maintain a lock. There, the bow plate experienced no such gentle, diffuse treatment. At those spots, the armor glowed white, then an eerie witchfire blue- or so it would seem, to the naked eye. To the detectors of Cosmog's flagship, which seamlessly perceived the entirety of the electromagnetic spectrum as a single integrated whole, at those spots the metal positively blazed with incredible, far-ultraviolet heat, against which no material substance should be able to stand in even a quasi-solid form!

Cosmog goggled. Impossible! Already one of the Umerian's heavy proton cannon had ceased fire; a second followed suit, but that bow-plate held! The battleship's captain, reacting in the same spirit from the ship's command bridge, directed more batteries, more of the heavy ultrawave blasters, against the Enemy cruiser- he would burn that armor through! The zones of ultraviolet grew and deepened, clung to that unthinkable plate for a minute, and a minute more- and were joined by a flash of exotic radiation. The standing waves of bracing, strengthening force gave out, overwhelmed and washed away in a flood of ultrawaves, and the dureum barrier evaporated at last.

Hotter, brighter came the macrobeams, and the expected gouts of plasma appeared- but in unexpected places, attenuated and mitigated through time and space. Blast channels and blowout paths, cunningly aligned within the composite layers of that defensive wall, diverted the half-ionized vapor out and away rather than allowing it to widen the scars created by Boskonian beams. All too soon, the macrobeams's drilling came up against a second tier of dureum panels, as resistant and adamant as the first, and halted. Undismayed, the battleship kept pouring it on- one battery group tracked off target and scored a white-hot scratch across the surface and licked past the edge of the shield. Gunners pulled their screaming projectors back on, and in the process scored a lucky success- the beams punched into the integral shielding covering one of Jacobson's drive pylons.

Those modules were armored and shielded in their own right, but not to stand up against capital-class weapons. The ultrawaves flared hull-hugging barrier shields down, clung viciously to a thinner dureum plate for a few seconds- a few lost track and wandered back towards the center of mass, but then the armor belt failed and a blast of vibratory destruction ripped down the length of one of the heavy cruiser's engine pods. Antimatter tankage blew out and to the side, away from the core hull; busbars shorted explosively. The connecting pylon twisted, torqued, and cracked through- and powered by the dying sparks of its internal power, the nacelle flashed away from Jacobson at speed, tearing loose of its fetters and breaking up from its own catastrophic damage at the same time.

A pleasing sight to the Boskonians, but the Patriot-class's drive redundancy was enough to keep the ship mobile- and still agile! Another battery of projectors tried to duplicate the shot, aiming for another of the drive pods themselves... and failed, most of their fire going wild or serving only to make defocused heat shimmer off the edge of the Umerian's bow plate. Meanwhile the bulk of the battleship's fire- nearly two thirds now- concentrated against that plate. They were burning through, slowly but steadily...


Cosmog bit off a startled cry as he looked again at the shield indicators. Average fifty-five hundred angstroms, with patches in the high blue already? Where was- curses! The other Umerians had kept up the fire from their own proton guns, taking cheerful advantage of their larger prey's concentration. The six heavy beams- Jacobson's fire was well and truly suppressed, for the moment- curved around each other through self-generated magnetic vortices, lashed in unison at small areas on their targets whenever the Umerians could find the range accurately enough, and most importantly never yielded an angstrom, with new slugs of protons driving against the battleship's wall-shields at every moment, leaving not an instant free for the Boskonian to rebuild its defenses!

If this went on long enough to finish the abominable Enemy ship, they might actually damage his battleship, perhaps severely. Not an acceptable price. The admiral keyed in comm-code with fast but stubby fingers. "Captain!"

"Yes, Your Supremacy!"

"Rebalance fire, forty on damaged target, thirty on each other."

"Thank you, Your Supremacy!"

Good, he saw it too. Cosmog cut the channel.

Now, what of their small craft attack...?

Corsair-N Fleet Melee Cutter CG-86149 "Ace of Hearts"
Flying Off USS Trinidad
2145 Hours

"Applejack Leader, this is Delta Leader. We're after the battlecruiser, check networking with Alpha and Iota wings."

Lieutenant Commander Poplan nodded; the intercom was smart enough to pass that along to the co-pilot monitoring comms; Gabe was already muttering into the interface, checking their synchronization. "On it."


With the commander happy, Oliver darted another look Gabe. "How are we?"

"Having trouble with Iota's missile network. Diagnostics are running and... OK, we're good. A hiccup."

Ten seconds of nothing but flying, then another call, this one with the tone that preluded something from in his flight. "Applejack One, this is Applejack Three, fire code Mu."

A problem, but a common one. He took care of this one himself; Gabe was busy enough as it was. "Uploading our subspace picture, reinitialize fire control."

" it, that's got it. Thanks, Ollie!" And that was one less thing to worry about; with Ace of Clubs seeing straight again, Oliver wouldn't have to hand off their missile sheaf to his own weapons officer. Sabita had enough to worry about; the second round of the new greencap missiles that'd come out with the Intervention ships hit hard, he'd give them that, but some genius back in Armaments had done a botched job with the targeting software updates- supposedly to fit the changed blast pattern, but more likely just to screw with the missileers. He hoped it worked better with the torpedoes.

The Zebesians were starting to shoot back harder; they must have figured out that the strike cruisers weren't going to bother them just yet, and the battleship seemed to have given up trying to headbutt its way through Jacobson's bowplate. And the defense fire was nasty- hundredth-second bursts from main guns, probably. Ace of Hearts groaned as fringe effect washed over her ventral shields in the middle of a complex sideslip move; he could hear some painful-sounding harmonics ringing through the hull, probably from the shield generator machinery aft. His flightmate Ace of Spades took another near miss just a few seconds later, and that punched the flight lead's survival instinct right in the gut.

"Applejack, evasive level five!"

Sideslipping like mad, sacrificing forward acceleration from the main drive to put more power into the lateral fields... Where was the nearest sector-jamming beam? Coming off Nefertiti, and close enough they could ride the cruiser's ECM in a ways. Good.

"Applejack, shift pattern center to dorsal, uploading centroid trajectory." The information on where the Empress-class cruiser's jamming beam was going to go, that was part of the plan, predictable to his computers given the right random seed. His flight was going to need the cover if the Zebesians kept it up...

...They didn't. Once his flight ducked into the cover of the cruiser's main jammers, whichever ship had been pounding on them decided to go pick on a target that was easier to see or less savvy.

A well timed respite, too; that squadron was close. Applejack Flight flicked bursts of laser traffic back and forth, among themselves and with other flights, exchanging data what they had on the Zebesians' defenses. Most of that went below, or above, the level a human being could follow; too much information to dissect, with the gaps in the defenses being too narrow and too numerous for organic eyes and brains to spot except in the broadest outlines.

From experience, Oliver knew the networks' expert systems were perfectly capable of finding cracks that could be pried open. And what the melee cutters' Galias didn't pry open, the starships' torpedoes would smash down.

Core Ship 12E886C8
Flagship Boskonian Core Subfleet
2148 Hours

Cosmog of Narshe tapped his foot and murmured to himself. Something about the range to those advancing light ships wasn't making him comfortable, they were getting close and it reminded him of the range figures for...


Abominable Umerians! He'd been tricked!

He'd thought of the Umerians as taking him on in a beam duel- which they had, and continued to do. The Enemy's heavy cruisers battered his own flagship with a proton storm; even the ship he'd damaged earlier was firing with two beamlines of three. The lighter ships, too, raked his screening element with electron beams, and the lighter ships were pressed to the very wall shield by that fire. But in the process of engaging the Boskonian ships in a battle of the beams, they'd made Cosmog commit one of the cardinal sins. He'd forgotten the Enemy's backup weapon.

Those light ships weren't closing just to get tighter beam focus, or to cover the small craft attack. They were coming to... yes, there were the first heavy missile launches. His gunners annihilated a few more cutters during the moments that the Umerian destroyers and cruisers slewed their bows off the target, but the window in their jamming didn't give him nearly the edge to offset what they'd done to him. For now, dozens of deadly shaped-fission missiles hurtled down upon his command!

"All ships, concentrate defense fire on those torpedoes!"

The spray of Umerian cutters were irrelevant; their 'antiship' missiles had no real force and posed no real threat. But the torpedoes, weapons of moderate yield but ferocious intensity, those were another thing entirely. Should his subfleet miss enough of the Enemy's heavy missiles, their vicious needles of nuclear flame might well prove potent enough to breach the very wall shields of his ships- not even his own flagship was immune!

Fleet Melee Cutter "Ace of Hearts"
Final Approach to Target
2149 Hours

Oliver grinned. Torpedoes away; our turn soon.

Judging from the fire they'd received so far, their defense fire was almost... arrogant. There didn't seem to be any point defense weapons as such, only hard-driven, short-duration sweeps from the main guns, with little or no tracking onto the target. Their hit rates were frighteningly good for that kind of gunnery tactics- Applejack was far from the only flight to have a close call on the way in, and there were boats down, swatted out of the sky by the more-than-lightning intensity of the heavy beams' core. But against the tiny, numerous smart missiles of the fleet melee boats, keeping up what they'd done so far wouldn't serve the Zebesians well.

"Missiles, 'Bita?"

"Just a few bad birds still searching... four, three, I have no solution on Seventeen or Twelve."

Thirty-four solutions in a sheaf wasn't bad, and they were coming up on launch point...

"Just take a best-guess."

"Best-guess on Twelve, partial solution on Seventeen. Yes, sir. Coming up-" A few breathless seconds- "Launching thirty-six." Ace of Hearts shuddered in two-four time as the boat's Galia-greencaps left the boxes, rippling out in pairs. The starships' torpedoes were already starting to overtake; other melee boats added their weight to the launch. There were less than two hundred torpedoes; the cutters' launch numbered in the thousands.

He growled, spun Ace of Hearts around, and started building perpendicular vector- a lot of the torpedoes were going down, a lot; these guys' ECCM was too good for comfort, and sheer volume of fire took its toll on even the fastest-dodging missiles. But each Cantaloupe took a lot of beam fire to bring down, and the Zebesians were doing hearteningly little about the cutters' smaller missiles.

With their countermissile fire working the way it did- no area effect, no specialized quick-fire weapons, just straight bursts from antiship energy weapons- could they handle a swarm of small threats like that properly? As the commander watched the shoals of Galias close in, he saw that the answer was "no."

Too many- they can't stop them!

Bursts of needle-beam fire from the teardrops and ellipsoids of the Zebesian fleet speared a few hundred of Galias; the vast majority made it in, running in on the heels of the longer-range torpedoes, just far enough back to keep a safe distance as they started going off. The outermost standoff shields of the enemy ships were already burned away by the starships' particle guns; those of the multimegaton shaped charges that survived the approach punched into the Zebesian wall shields with blasts of ionized boron and residual X-rays from rubiconium-boosted fission charges.

One of the enemy destroyers took a particularly square hit- a torpedo sensed weakness at the high-curvature endcap of the target's hull-hugging shields, sideslipped to flash across its stern, pivoted, and fired. Fringes of the blast enveloped the destroyer on all sides, but the high-intensity core flayed away the wall shield and ripped down the long axis of the target's ellipsoidal hull. Oliver was surprised to see the ship come apart in a fireball, though- antimatter fuel and bad handling protocols? He hoped so, because his own Galias were coming up and he didn't want to overfly those ships at point blank without having scarred up their defense fire.

The cutters' lighter missiles were team players, much more so than the torpedoes. They had disproportionate telemetry suites for their size and punch, and used it. Ace of Hearts' own launch slotted neatly into the overall fire plan against their target battlecruiser. Their target's shields were already reeling and glowing in harsh, eye-searing violet from torpedo strikes. The hundred-odd light missiles fired from Oliver's cutter flight abused the quasisolid field of force further, punching millisecond-synchronized blasts of copper plasma into the wall of defensive force and leaving crazy patterns of ripples along its surface. The next sheaves, from the rest of Delta Wing, spread the ripples further, left predictable thin spots in the integrity of the battlecruiser's defensive force field- which the next wave, from Iota Wing, lanced right through.

Those were lightly armored ships, and not built to take much punishment once their shields failed; the battlecruiser did not respond gracefully, and after yet another barrage from Alpha piled in, it went up as dramatically as the destroyer, in a sensor-dazzling fireball.

That looked to be the cutters' only kill, though; Oliver held his breath as the last seconds before closest approach ticked away. Ace of Hearts was due to flash by the enemy battleship at under five thousand kilometers' range, and prayed his EWO had the sense to redline the jamming pods... yes! Some tics on the shields as a stuttering burst of needle-beam fire searched for the cutter, but nothing direct and nothing lethal.

Core Ship 12E886C8
Flagship Boskonian Core Subfleet
2151 Hours

"Flagship status?"

"Damage control reports... Beam projectors at seventy percent, tracer grids to ventral and port gone, forward antenna array at forty-five percent capacity. Mostly surface damage, except for one torpedo strike. Fuel containment breach on Tank Six, but no other serious damage to drive and power systems."

"I see. Proceed as ordered."

The fuel leak was inconvenient, but Boskonia was not so foolish as to build its ships with high-volatility fuel reserves. The steady loss of liquid metal meant for his disintegration furnaces might be inconvenient, but no more than that. He had enough to spare.

Cosmog noted with disappointment that shots fired in the wake of the Umerian cutter group as they receded were having little effect- with so many of his macrobeam mounts and sensors damaged, the tiny, agile targets were harder to engage going out than going in.

At the same time, the Umerian light starships were reversing acceleration, pulling back and away, though their cruisers dallied a little to finish off one of his own cruisers. The ship's damage from the torpedo attack hadn't triggered its self-destruct charges, but as the Enemy electron beams sliced through the tattered remnants of a wall shield its half-fused generators could maintain... that was odd. They weren't lighting off. Cosmog let out a high-pitched, ratcheting growl; if he let one of his core ships be captured quasi-intact on an operation like this, Helmuth would make sure he died horribly. He keyed a command phrase, a low-bandwidth submesonic transceiver aboard the Boskonian cruiser AEEA6C52 took the message- the cruiser blew up into safely unsalvageable fragments.

Return fire from his remaining cruisers and destroyers was having at least some effect; there were bursts of vapor and one multi-kiloton flash off one of the Umerian light cruisers, suggesting reasonably serious damage through their relatively thin shielding, in spite of the mad evasive dance and veils of jamming they kept up while backing away. Another such flash off one of their destroyers, and what had to be nearly a thousand tons of vapor; the ship's acceleration dropped and a few of his ships turned more macrobeams on to finish the job.

He still had most of his subfleet; the first and greatest priority was to escape. They'd weathered the worst of the Umerian attack now, though. The range was opening, escape seemed likely unless those damnable proton-beam ships sprouted more guns all at once. So on to second priority: revenge.

He'd been tricked twice too often fighting these Technocrats, and it seemed... suitable to extract his price for that from the hides of the ships the Enemy'd used to make the tricks work.

"Order to all ships. Concentrate fire on Enemy medium cruisers; flagship to fire on target five."

It would be amusing to see how tough they really were- those absurd mules, those glorified troopships, that the Umerians called "strike cruisers." By all reports, the hybrid ships had nowhere near the kind of metal the proton-beam cruisers showed...

Previously, on Battle of Zebes...

Cruiser CNS Theseus
2137 Hours

The enemy reaction supported Liggs' guess; the battleship had been their flagship. They broke off course, in different directions, zig-zagged back toward each other as they each realized they still wanted mutual support... they looked like a small swarm of very confused fireflies. The perfect opportunity, if his plan would work at all, and there was only one way to find out.

"Lead division, advance!"

Cruiser CNS Theseus
Flagship Centralist Contingent
Under High Acceleration
2152 Hours

Liggs smiled thinly. We're catching them!

The heavy ships of the Zebesian center had a damnable inertia-reduction drive; it made them hellishly agile, and it made them fast... but not faster in a straight dash than his command's ion engines, not at redline. It was a close race, yes. The trio of battlecruisers and their screening elements might even have gotten away, if not for the disarray he'd caused by finishing off their crippled battleship, paralyzed by its failed hyperjump, with plasma fire. But his backup plan would work- the geometry guaranteed it.

Liggs' ships formed three waves. The Prussian Sixth Battlecruiser Squadron grumbled in the rear, Liggs could tell von Musel was irritate with his refusal to transfer command of his fleet, and seniority in grade would support his right to object, but- to abdicate the responsibility Verio had breveted on his shoulders? Unthinkable! The Prussian ships were a hair slower, had higher-velocity drivers, better suited for long range fighting, but they'd taken serious damage from earlier action against the Zebesians. He had plenty of respect for von Musel, but those ships were little more than artillery support this time around.

Von Musel's dash through the Zebesian center hours earlier was the reinvention of a tactic the Centrality was already familiar with; Liggs was going to add another wrinkle, to take the best advantage of his carriers. The carrier element, pushed out into the van, had the most powerful engines- designed to evade enemy warships in sublight for as long as possible so as to recover fighters even in the event of a defeat, they were almost as fast as their own parasite craft. They could build the vector to overtake the Zebesians, and did as Liggs watched. The carriers closed in.

They were detected, of course, and the late Junior Admiral's ships engaged their Bergenholms to dart out of the attackers' path. Scarcely had battle been joined when the enemy began to realize that this was to be a battle the like of which they had never before seen, and when they began to understand it, it was too late. They could not run; despite the great agility of their inertialess drive, they could not compete with the brute force of the Centralist ion-torch engines. They had no choice but to accept a momentary close range action against their enemy.

A moment was all Liggs needed. The first, fast-moving carriers of the Centrality fleet did not fight at all. They simply held on like bulldogs with their mighty tractor arrays, taking without response everything that the Boskonians' white-hot projectors could throw at them. Their defensive screens radiated fiercely under the appalling punishment being dealt out to them by the enemy cruisers, even failed locally under poignant lances of elemental force and allowed great wounds to be torn into the carriers' armored hulls. But they did not go down, nor did the grip of a single tractor loosen from its anchorage. The Boskonians were well and truly pinned- and in minutes the squat and heavily-gunned cruisers, destroyers, and corvettes of the Centralists came up, backed by the remaining Prussians of the Sixth. From the refractory throats of their massive driver batteries raved the most ferocious, the most terrifically destructive barrage those ships had ever faced.

Boskonian outer screens scarcely even flickered as they went down before the immeasurable, the incredible violence of that assault. The second course offered a briefly brilliant burst of violet radiance as it gave way. The inner screen resisted stubbornly as it ran the spectrum in a wildly coruscant display of pyrotechnic splendor, but it, too, went through the ultra-violet and into the black. Now the wallshield itself- that inconceivably rigid fabrication of pure force- was all that barred from the base metal of Boskonian walls the indescribable fury of the Centralist bombardment. Now force was streaming from that shield in veritable torrents. So terrible were the conflicting energies there at grips that their neutralization was actually visible and tangible. In sheets and masses, in terrific, ether-wracking vortices, and in kilometer-long, pillaring streamers and flashes, those energies were being hurled away. Hurled to all the points of the sphere's full compass, filling and suffusing all nearby space.

Those guns were designed to do just one thing- to maul- and that one thing they did well, relentlessly and thoroughly. Higher and higher into the spectrum the defending wallshields began to radiate. At the first blast they had leaped almost through the visible spectrum, in one unbearably fierce succession of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and indigo, up to a sultry, coruscating, blindingly hard violet. Now the doomed shields began leaping erratically into the ultraviolet. To the eye they were already invisible, upon the recorders they were showing momentary flashes of black.

Soon they went down, and within instants of each failure, one vessel of Boskone was no more. For, that last defense gone, nothing save unresisting metal was left to withstand the ardor of those ultra-powerful, hammering drivers. Substances existed that could withstand such onslaught, delay and deflect its blazing assault, but none were to be found in the hulls of this Boskonian squadron. Therefore every atom, alike of vessel and of contents, went to make up the searing, seething burst of brilliant, incandescently luminous vapor which suffused all circumambient space.

Thus passed out of the Scheme of Things a dozen starships of the H-12 Detachment of Boskonia.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby RogueIce » 2011-06-10 08:54pm

Multiversal Empire of Happiness - March 3401

The Shinra Republic had sent diplomatic teams to 'negotiate' with the MEH, though the true purpose of the talks was to delay any Imperial preemptive strike until the June 1st deadline arrived. Whether they would succeed was an open question, but the attempt would be made nonetheless.

It also provided an opportunity to infiltrate intelligence agents into Imperial space.

One goal of the agents was to access the sentient yet subservient MEHbot populace. The theory was that they were programmed with inhibitors to keep them docile and virtual slaves of their human masters. The agents were tasked with getting copies of this programming, so that the inhibitors could be deactived. Yet to do so in a way that a check of programming would still leave a false positive of the inhibitors in place.

Deleting the MEHbot inhibitors would open the possibility of recruiting the newly free 'bots for acts of sabotage. The agents weren't sure they would actually be used for such; from all accounts, the war would be over long before those tactics would matter. However, they generally assumed it was the high commanders planning for the worst and simply covering their bases. Plus, they were aware some of their allies considered the freedom of sentient MEHbots to be a prime goal, so it made sense for the Republic to facilitate that to make them happy. The postwar environment would be just as important as the war itself, and given the varied nature of the coalition, it made sense for the Republic to engender what good will they could ahead of time, to buy bargaining chips for the inevitable clash of ideals that would ensue.

Within a few weeks, they had copied enough samples and sent them back for the work to begin. Now it was up to the scientists of the Republic to make the next few months count.
"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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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-06-11 02:21am

Written with Siege



Senator Space McNamara Warns Against War With MEH

Solarian Senator Robert Space McNamara voiced his disapproval of the anti-MEH coalition today on Radio Free Solaris. He stated that the forces arrayed by the galactic powers were “simply excessive, beyond overkill” and slammed the “unprecedented and disproportionate response” of the international community to MEH transgressions.

“If you ask me, and you did, this reeks of ultramilitarism. This is a dramatic escalation of intergalactic force, completely ill-fitting to this situation, and the extreme measures being proposed by some parties, and the eagerness of some nations to go to war, is frankly deeply disturbing. Do they even know what levels of destruction an interstellar war entails? The tremendous loss of life, and the massive amounts of property damage? Here, let me show you.”


“Now, do any of us still recall the Pendleton intervention? Because I do. I recall unwarranted nukings, chaos and bloodshed, crazy psycho robots showing up out of nowhere and a metric truckload of other screw-ups. And that was just a tiny colonial backwater, barely more than one of our own fringe worlds. The Multiversal Empire is a full-fledged great power with a standing military, a nation that just apparently warped into our universe less than a year ago. It is a massive unknown, we don’t fully understand their capabilities, and now half of the free galaxy wants to go to war with them? This is preposterous. This is madness!”

When the reason for the coalition’s formation, namely the MEH’s alleged trafficking and experimentation of psions, was brought up, the Senator had this to say: “While that is truly deplorable and unacceptable for any civilized nation, let me ask where was this moralistic outrage when nations like Shepistan routinely mistreat and abuse their psions just as badly? Where was the interstellar uproar when the Bragulans traded their Tau prisoners to Byzantium, who were subsequently butchered across the Imperium for all to see? I’d argue that these atrocities are just as horrific as those the MEH allegedly perpetuate, and yet nothing has been done. The double-standards have tripled!”


Currently the senior Solarian senator, Robert Space McNamara was amongst the original senators elected in the first-ever elections shortly after the Bragulan War. A professed democrat and staunch anti-militarist, McNamara has been the sole voice of opposition to many military projects and adventures, including the construction of the USS Extinction currently underway. When finished the Extinction will be the single largest warship ever constructed by the United Solarian Star Force and outclass even the largest of Imperial battle barges. “An obscene waste of resources” according to the senator. “Much like this war. Has anyone even tried to reason with them? Demand they stop their insane experimentations? No! The galaxy rushes to war with the mad fevered bloodlust of a pack of rabid dogs. Talk about jumping the gun - literally!”

Before the Founding of the Sovereignty, McNamara was a corporate bigshot for what was then DeBarros Colonial Machining. Then during the First Bragulan War he served as the Secretary of Defense for the Free Republic of High Inhofer, one of the original eleven founding colonies of the Sovereignty. Even during the war McNamara was one of the few radically opposed to the gradual erosion of civilian rule and the expansion of military war powers at the time thought necessary to win the war against Darvyl Sagatantron’s Bragulan hordes.

For any cyberdeckers in the Datasphere, the broadcast is available with complete interactive surround-sensory stimuli and 4-dimensionally illustrated graphs; for viewers outside the Solarian grid, the broadcast is in audiovisual only.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Siege » 2011-06-11 07:09am

The McNamara of Space: The Extended Interview
(Or: dammit Shroom I wasn’t finished rambling yet!)


“In the past as well as today the military way of thinking is a threat perpetual and constant to the political decision making process and civilian control of society. The culture of command-and-obey is the very antithesis of free democracy, and given half a chance this culture of compulsion will always attempt to dominate civic society in order to bend it to its warlike will.

From ancient Athens to the gray wastes of Centrum or Holy Terra, military men have argued that war is no time to consult the voices of the many -- that to seize power is the only way to preserve society. And the worst thing - the most heinous of truths - is that they mean it. I fully believe their claims, that they intend to return the power they have taken when the threat has ended. But weeks will become months, months become years, years become decades and decades will stretch into centuries, and the colonels will find that the state is never without threat. And so they cling to power, professing to protect the community, or the state, or their fellow men, all the while demanding blind obedience from the community, the state, their fellow men. And when they find they do not get it, because a free society cannot by definition obey blindly, then in frustration warlike men force their will upon those who do not share their visions -- 'if only they can be made to see!' they will say. Frustration will lead to suspicion, suspicion to hate. And then come the crackdowns and the gulags, the firing squads and the ovens.

Freedom. Suffrage. Justice. Liberty. Where the Double Eagle flies these are become hollow phrases, and the cynical populace, battered at last into final submission by its military minders, has forgotten there are other ways than to sacrifice their all to a war machine that expresses its crass values in rounds of ammunition instead of inalienable rights.

Freedom does not always win. This is the harshest of truths. And this we should keep in mind when we unleash upon the galaxy the manifestation of our basest instincts. We beat each other’s backs, professing to do a good thing as thousands or millions die. Better men? We are not better men. We are not posthuman, we have not transcended anything. We are no better than the first caveman that imposed his will on his peers by smashing their skulls with a rock. We venerate our idols and we squander our accomplishments, we sacrifice our rights for a pathetic perception of security -- like scared primitives might sacrifice to a chief or shaman, to obtain protection from the coming storm that they know he cannot truly provide. But they are comforted by the illusion and so they will themselves to believe the lies.

Like them we huddle in our technological caves and we thump our chests and we will ourselves to believe we are doing a noble thing, but we know that we are not. We are succumbing to our lesser selves over and over again, and we throw away all this technology, all these magnificent opportunities and accomplishments. We could make this galaxy into a paradise, but each time we choose the apple. We could be free but choose not to be. We are masters of war, because we cannot master ourselves.

And we will reap what we sow. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2011-06-11 08:37pm

Office of the Foreign Secretary, Westminster
New Anglia, Star Kingdom of New Anglia
March 3401

Ambassador Ruri Gokou, being her usual self

Ruri Gokou, the Holy Empire's ambassador to New Anglia, was a severe and imperious woman, though like many of her countrywomen, she was not without her oddities. Her dark purple hair and red eyes certainly left an impression on those who met her, as did her rather distinct fashion sense; she adored gothic lolita-style clothing, which she wore at almost every opportunity, and she was also given over to wearing fake cat ears even during diplomatic functions. Due to her habits, her staff (which, incidentally, included quite a few Chamarrans) affectionately nicknamed her Kuroneko, or "Black Cat."

For today's meeting with Lord Prestwick, Kuroneko had decided to forego her usual goth-loli attire and wear a far more conservative blazer and pleated skirt ensemble instead, though she chose to keep her cat ears nonetheless. She was promptly invited into Lord Prestwick's office as soon as she had arrived. The Anglian Foreign Secretary rose respectfully from his seat as soon as he saw Kuroneko enter. "Greetings, Your Excellency, and thank you for seeing me on such short notice."

Kuroneko bowed before Lord Prestwick. "Lord Prestwick, I understand that I have been called in due to a matter of great concern involving my nation's involvement in the anti-MEH coalition, correct?" she asked.

"That is correct, Your Excellency," Lord Prestwick replied. "Please, have a seat."

Kuroneko sat before Lord Prestwick in one of the many finely crafted, well-upholstered seats laid out in front of his desk. "The reason I've called in you in here, Your Excellency, is because we have received some rather troubling information regarding the SOS Imperial Armed Forces contingent that will be sent out against the Multiversal Empire of Happiness," Lord Prestwick said. "Now, according to this, at least one of the ships in your fleet has been loaded with planet-killing weapons, specifically liquid rubiconium warheads. What do you know about this, Your Excellency?"

"The liquid rubiconium warheads were loaded onto the ships at the behest of SOS Imperial Marine Corps Field Marshal Homura Akemi, one of the officers in charge of the SOS Imperial Armed Forces contingent," Kuroneko explained calmly. "Apparently, Field Marshal Akemi was suffering from a severe nervous breakdown at the time and took it upon herself to have the warheads loaded onto the ships, believing that the upcoming war would quickly devolve into a bloody stalemate unless she took measures to ensure it would end as swiftly as possible. She had no prior approval from either the Empress or the Joint Chiefs for her plan, and I believe it bears repeating that neither the Empress nor the Joint Chiefs would ever approve of the use of such weapons except in the direst of circumstances, which the current situation simply does not warrant. Field Marshal Akemi has been relieved of command until further notice, and the rubiconium warheads have already been taken off the ships and placed back in storage."

Kuroneko produced a data drive and plugged it into the data-reader at her seat, causing a series of documents to be displayed on Lord Prestwick's holo-reader. "As you can see, Your Lordship, this entire mess was Field Marshal Akemi's doing and Field Marshal Akemi's doing alone," she continued. "Not once during the course of her madness did she ever bother to obtain permission from either Empress Haruhi or the Joint Chiefs for her war plans. In fact, the Empress herself personally relieved Field Marshal Akemi of command once she found about what had been going on behind her back. I assure you that it has never been and will never be the Holy Empire's true intention to actually destroy the planets of the MEH. They may be a bunch of right bastards, but even they do not deserve such drastic measures."

"I see," Lord Prestwick said. "Has Madame Branford already been informed of this?"

"I have already passed on all relevant information to my equivalent number at the Shinra Republic embassy, Your Lordship," Kuroneko replied.

"I will make sure to pass on what you have just told me to Prime Minister Penton and the Admiralty, Your Excellency," Lord Prestwick said. "Thank you for clarifying the situation, and it is my hope that this incident will not jeopardize either the relationship between our two nations or the conduct of the war against the MEH."

"I hope so too, Your Lordship," Kuroneko replied as she detached the drive from the data-reader and rose from her seat. She bowed once more towards Lord Prestwick, then turned and left the office.
Last edited by Shinn Langley Soryu on 2011-06-11 11:29pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Steve » 2011-06-11 09:57pm

System X-18-RJAL-392, Unclaimed Space
The Outback
12 March 3401

Systems with letter-number designations were plentiful in the galaxy, and such was why various philsophers and pundits had mused that if you switched their frequency with that of the named systems, there'd be no war since everyone could have a perfectly-habitable planet for themselves.

Not that Stephen agreed with that sentiment. People, frankly, always found reasons to kill each other; plentiful habitats wouldn't stop that. He let that musing leave him as he settled into the main chair on the ship's bridge. The nameless ship, in fact, because he'd yet to consider one that fit well and figured Sidney might want at least some input.

Outside the system was a barren one: A red dwarf star and a couple little planets, plus a Plutoid, with small fragmentary comets zipping about. The system had been surveyed centuries ago and found to be devoid of any valuable minerals that would be worth the costs of a mining facility; hence the system was empty.

There was a beep from one of the empty, now-automated consoles. "Hyperspace transit detected."

Stephen tapped a lit-up key on the arm of his chair. A holo-image appeared showing a vessel decelerating after a successful hyperspace transition. He recognized the familiar form of the Goddess' Light. "Disengage cloaking system," he said aloud. "Extend starboard ship-to-ship docking arm."

He left the bridge at that point and headed into the ship's myriad halls. Up one deck, over several sections - past the medical bay, a storage compartment for cargo or stores, some quarters - and he was at the door and waiting. The special vessel was too large for him to feel any effect of the smaller transport docking, so his first indication was when a light indicated the docking arm had successfully latched onto an airlock and conformed to match it.

After the lock's containment was confirmed, all lights flashed green and the door slid open. Yamia was at the head of the group, but he could immediately tell there was something wrong. "Has there been any problems?", he asked cautiously.

"Syrandi swore to get you extra help," Yamia said. She looked behind her, and for the first time he noticed that there were figures who were most certainly not Sisters.

The rendezvous had been made. Syrandi now sat in the main cabin, the others aboard shifting over to the NDS-3200 as planned with her to join them later.

"The Brotherhood of the Crescent Moon, I can understand. And the Watchers of Lunestra. And the Children of the Gift." Master Jaina was looking sternly at her, arms crossed, and a look of consternation on her face. "But the Daughters of the Holy Fire? The Flamewalkers? The Legion of Samaris? You know that fraternization with them is forbidden!"

"Yes, I knew, but I did not care." Syrandi looked her superior in the eye. "The Council would have doomed us all with their half-hearted commitment. We need their help."

"They are pagans, Syrandi. Pagans using the forbidden arts! Goddess grant me patience, you know what this will mean for you! For potentially all of the Sisters who came on this mission..."

At that Syrandi looked to be getting angry. "If the Order would punish its bravest and finest due to bigotry and prejudice, maybe we aren't the exemplars we claim to be. And do not think I am not already aware of what this will mean for me especially. I am Sindai. To many of the Lushan and Tryni and others, I am already a pagan at heart, a slavish and heathen Sindai woman who should never have been admitted to the Order in the first place no matter the faith I profess."

"And so you act to confirm those prejudices?", Jaina asked pointedly.

"No. I acted as I had to, to ensure our brave Sisters, and others, survive despite the parsimony of the Council. And this decision is mine, and mine alone."

"Which is why you ensured I was asleep at our departure time."

"Among other reasons." Syrandi stood up. "I am well aware I will face a Trial when we return, but for now I am content that I gave us the best chance of succeeding. By your leave, Master." She gave a respectful bow of the head and walked out.

Getting the myriad Espers settled was not a chore; the orders they represented were all regimented enough in lifestyle to fall in place with minimal guidance. This left Stephen to meet with Yamia in the room he'd set aside for her and Syrandi. He found her in low sorts, almost in tears. "I am grateful for the assistance she has brought us," he said to her. "I will do whatever I must to help her with the results."

"She will be Ejected," Yamia said, her heart full of pain.

"I doubt such, she acted according to good conscious."

"Maybe if she were a Lushan or Astran, or outright Human, you'd be right, but we are Sindai," was Yamia's response. "And you don't know what that is like, to be from a 'pagan nation' even when you believe in the Goddess."

"Prejudice is a vice of all sentient beings, I am afraid." He lowered his eyes. "Have some faith that they will listen to the better angels of their nature, when the time comes. I do not doubt that they will consider her motives with whatever breach this constitutes."

Yamia nodded stiffly. He felt bad for her; she'd gone through so much, and been seperated from her beloved for so long, and just as they'd gotten back together... Ejection would end that. Their marriage would be considered annuled by the Order and the Church, and she'd be bound by oath to shun Syrandi, or given the option to leave the Order herself. And given a lifetime of education and service in the Silver Moon, he couldn't imagine that'd be an easy decision.

There was a beep from the ship intercom. The ship's controlling AI spoke aloud. "Captain Stephen, you have an incoming priority transmission. Sender: Tubmanburg."

A sly grin briefly flashed across his face. "What kind of name is that?", Yamia asked quizzically. "It seems a... bizarre codename."

"It's the kind that only those with common memories should expect to know," Stephen explained. "Computer, relay it to my quarters. I'll be there shortly."


Standing from the chair, he set a friendly hand on Yamia's shoulder. "Do not worry too much about what may come. You're my friend, Yamia, and I won't let anything terrible happen to you or your beloved."

She nodded at him and watched him leave, trying to forget the terrible things in her thoughts.

Once ensconded in the privacy of his room, Stephen keyed in the waiting hypercom call. Nisa and Sidney showed up together. "Ah, Sidney. An interesting choice of codename."

"You were the one to bring up our little adventure so long ago," Sidney answered with a wry smile. "Did you make the rendezvous?"

"We're bringing aboard one hundred and thirteen combat-trained Espers as I speak," he answered.

"Interesting. Where did you get that much manpower? I know for a fact the Sisters only permitted thirty."

"They did. But it appears that Knight-Captain Luneri has contacts beyond her group. Representatives of ten more Dorei militant Esper orders have decided to join us, as well as a few from the Catholic monastic orders."

"I do tend to forget how many religious organizations are left running around the galaxy... I've managed to confirm the Shroom Fighter tournament is held in sector AA-25. I'm arranging for the Wild Geese and a few associates to meet you in the Outlands. The system of Layin, Sector BB-23. They'll be coming from the Rimward Hiigaran Trunk and will depart tonight. Nisa will be joining them for the trip, as well as a mutual friend... Well. More your friend, really."

"Ah. The contact bore fruit? Which of our old associates is it?" He smiled thinly. "A MESS leader I imagine."

"Oh, I'm sure it’ll be quite the surprise."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Dark Hellion » 2011-06-12 04:03am

This is IPNN the InterPlanetary News Network with the hourly news update

"Hello this is Cindy Light with IPNN and here are the updates for this hour. First, the Centrality has joined other nations in condemning the Multiversal Empire of Happiness after last weeks incident. Pundits have speculate that this may be the first time war has been declared after the molestation of a head of state so we had IPNN's very own investigative journalist Blee'Glorp look into this. Blee what did you find?"

"Well Cindy in reviewing our records we found 143 cases in which these events have happened. Many are between technobarbaric states were such things are commonplace but we found a few more interesting historic oddities among these. First was the purging of the tentacle creatures of planet Nippon-Bukkake by Haruhiist forces in 3011 after the kidnapping of Governess Ai of the then autonomous Mahou Shoujo region. You can follow the hyperlink for more details but we warn that some of the images are not suitable for minors. Also there was the 2nd Chamarran-Bleshouv war after Autotarch Bleshouv claimed he was assaulted by Chamarran security forces. The Chamarrans insist to this day that the catgirls were escorts, that the activities were consensual and that Autotarch Bleshouv only started the war to save himself from a political scandal. Considering that the Autotarch and his palace were destroyed by a seperatist nuclear attack the following month we will never know. If you found this story interesting and would like to know more there is a whole section on the IPNN webpage. Back to you Cindy."

"Thanks Blee that was some fascinating info. Coming up later this hour we sit down with political consultants Pat Douchecannon and Keith Blubeirman to discuss the situation with the MEH. Here's a sneak peek."

feed fades in

Moderator: And what do you think of the Emissaries declared "no-fly zones" around MEH space? Pat, I'll start with you.

Pat: I think the Emissaries have right to be concerned. If a war is started and I am not saying that it should; you know full well I dislike these kind of interventionist politics, then the Emissaries should be allowed to use their military to express their sovereignty and influence in that region of space. Past dealings with the Emissaries have shown them to be fair, level-headed and efficient.

Keith: Efficient psychopaths maybe. They have been clear from day 1 that they plan on conquering the universe and leading it to ruin. They have even been trying to make friends with the Bragulans; their "Ambassador" won Worlds Deadliest Being at the BEEEF and has been hanging out with that pair of Chamarran's strippers ever since. Why do you think we can trust them not to step over the line in this as well?

Pat: If you would let me finish Keith. They have the right to assert themselves militarily if the rest of space is going to, you can't expect them to lie down when a dangerous entity like the MEH is right on their doorstep.

Keith: And what makes you think that the Emissaries aren't more dangerous.

Pat: Let me finish Keith!

feed fades out

"Looks like exciting stuff. Tune in for this and more next hour on IPNN. I'm Cindy Light and this has been IPNN news update, your number one source for news."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Siege » 2011-06-12 08:59am


The streets of several Solarian megacities were dominated today by scenes of peaceful protests against the impending war against the Multiversal Empire of Happiness. After a passionate and widely broadcast speech by senior senator Robert Space McNamara millions of people took to the streets on Solaris, Kerenkov, Kimanjano, Eta Bootis and Hochbaden to demonstrate against what the protestors consider an unjust war incited by "frustrated warlike men".

Local law enforcement units prevented protestors from getting too close to the embassies and consulates of several of the nations involved in the war planning. Solaris police reported a minor incident as guards from the Imperial mission opened fire on crowds of protestors; the several volleys of lasgun bolts were stopped short of hitting anyone by the crowd control fields deployed by Max-Tac units on the scene.

The Presidential Palace and the Sovereign Spire have both refused to comment on the public outcry, beyond restating that "the Sovereignty is not involved in the planning nor the execution of the war, and fully intends to stay neutral in the coming conflict".

Senator McNamara was also unavailable for comment: the senator was scheduled to speak at a public event in the Greenwood Banks district but was prevented from appearing when his aircar blew up minutes before departure. According to Max-Tac preliminary investigations the explosive used was illicitly imported from Shepistan. The investigation has been taken over by CEID.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-06-12 12:31pm

Exercise Keeps Bragulan Armies Strong

Sector E-24
Off Chamarran Space
Unreal Time


Hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut hut!

The Brags panted, heaved and gasped as they jogged as fast as they could up the steep hill. Behind them, the faint blurry outline of a distant mushroom cloud could be made out, the remains of a recent nuclear explosion, another part of the Bragulan exercises on the brown little chocolate planet they had come to call 'Kit-Kat'. They had been on Kit-Kat for weeks now, and while initially the exercises were intensive and of massive scale to impress the Chamarran observers, the pace had eventually slowed after nearly a month of maneuvers and mock battles.

The fact that they were rapidly using up their stores of sub-kiloton training rounds, precious things shipped from Bragspace to Chamarra by way of warpgate, probably had something to do with it. Now army groups were rotating their regimens, while one was busy with full-scale maneuvers that entailed the use of ordnance, the others would drill in more small scale skirmishes and tactical movements, practicing their coordination and nailing the little things down, until it was the next army group’s turn for large wargames.

In the meanwhile, Conscript Choldytz Comradskyi's own unit was relegated to menial duties like practicing the art of grenade-throwing with potato spuds, or getting their daily proscribed dosage of either stick-beatings or speeches. Some actually preferred to endure the former, because while painful the beatings were fairly quick as the commissars had to beat their way through thousands of beatees, whereas the speeches were agonizing and lasted for endless hours as the commissars took turns on the proletarian patriotism podiums.

Since not everyone could fit the makeshift auditoriums, which were actually prefabricated bragbunkers dropped from orbit, those who could not stay inside were allowed to skip the speeches.

On the condition that they run around for dozens of kilometers. While carrying bags of depleted uranium boulders.

Conscript Choldytz Comradskyi climbed up to the summit of the hill. He sighed, trying to expand his tired lungs as he willed himself to go on. He cradled his weapon and hefted the heavy load on his back. At least they were issued new equipment in anticipation for the war against the humans. Their K-bolter carbines were newer and lighter, and their underslung chainsaws were better than the rusty old bayonets they had to make do with. Even the rucksack of depleted uranium rocks on Choldytz’ back had advanced technology, this so-called ‘velkro’, which allowed him to wear it by letting it adhere directly to his fur rather than wear cumbersome straps and tactical webbing.

“Uuurrgh, Bearenstain, are we there yet?” Choldytz growled as he pulled himself up the last few meters of the hill, clawing at clumps of grass and ground as he did so. “How much further?”

“It’s just at the other side of the hill, comrade!” replied his squad mate and machine gunner, Bearenstain. The big burly Bragulan had been hospitalized after the burns he sustained in a prior exercise, and so was spared from the gruelling routine of boulder-marching, speech-listening or stick-beating. “Come on! We’re almost there!”

He pulled the crawling Choldytz with one paw as he continued on, on his other hand was an extended telescoping beating stick that he was using as a cane. He dragged his comrade conscript, went over the crest, and proceeded downhill where the journey was considerably easier.

“You’ve gotten strong, are you sure you’re still not fit to discharge?” Choldytz complained as he lugged his depleted uranium rocks. “You don’t seem hampered by your injuries!”

“Oh... the nurses said that I should exercise to regain my strength, and I could stay as long as I wanted until I fully recuperate,” Bearenstain replied. It was no secret that in their rush to haul hundreds of millions of soldiers to the antispinward exercises, the Bragulan Legions of Liberation had neglected some non-combatant support elements, that high command did not deem necessary for their troops. Like, for example, healthcare assets, which were now being contracted to the Chamarrans. The infirmaries were now full of Hierarchy medical robots.

And Chamarran nurses.

“You bastard!” Choldytz cried and Bearenstain laughed. “I hope the Imperator steps on you with his fifty-foot foot!”

“Da!” Bearenstain prodded him with his stick.

“Stop that! Bah! Where did you get that stupid beating stick anyway?” Choldytz cursed.

“I won it off a commissar from a game of Koprulu Zone Rules,” Bearenstain barked happily. He swung his stick at Choldytz, who stepped back to evade, but lost his balance and fell on his back.

“Argh!” Choldytz started to roll downhill. “Help me!”

“Uh... uhhh...” Bearenstain fumbled with the stick, trying to look for its grappling hook function to no avail. “Shits!”

He ran after Choldytz, but one of the depleted uranium bricks in Chol’s pack fell out. Bearenstain tripped on it and ended up rolling downhill too.










Finally, their descent stopped as they fell in a heap at the foot of the hill. Near their crash site was a building of some sort. As the pair of Bragulan soldiers picked themselves off the ground, they staggered towards the strange structure. It wasn’t made out of prefabricated bragcrete or bragsteel, but was composed of a slick substance that gleamed in the light, with rounded curves and a thoroughly un-Bragulan look to it.

“What is this?” Choldytz wondered out loud. He had never been outside Bragspace prior to this exercise, and to him, this strange structure was unnerving.

“Oh, you’ll see.” Bearenstain said as he urged Choldytz ahead.

The opened with a menacing hiss, sliding into the ceiling as it did so in a strange and most un-Byzonic way.

Choldytz gulped and went inside the portal.

Wherein he was immediately confronted by the warm hospitality of a Chamarran waitress.


“Konnichiwa bear-kuns! Welcome to the Lemon Spoon restaurant!” the waitress greeted them and led them in, offering a table for them to occupy. “Nyah. What’ll it be, neh?”

“We’ll have some of your milkshakes please, in Brag-sized glasses.” Bearenstain said, without even looking at the menu. The waitress nodded, said a ‘hai!’ and went off to get their orders.

“Milk? Where’s the booze?” Choldytz complained confusedly. “We’re not cubs anymore! I want some tsvagna!”

“Relax, comrade. Our bones will need all the calcium they can get. I don’t look forward to going back to duty and resuming my daily dose of stick-beating,” Bearenstain replied. He waved his commandeered beating stick for emphasis. “Let’s just enjoy the moment, da?”

Da,” Choldytz nodded. He had a point, a very blunt force traumatic point. “So, why are we here? It can’t be just for the milkshakes.”

Nyet. I have something else in mind,” Bearenstain said as the waitress approached them with their drinks. “Thank you.”

“Will there be anything else, bear-kuns?” the waitress asked, service with a smile.

“Yes, I have a package, I was told I could get it here today.” Bearenstain gave her his best smile, flashing his well-dentitioned fangs. Despite what its detractors might say, the Bragulan Star Empire’s overbearing totalitarian state still had one of the galaxy’s best dental care systems, and his canines and bicuspids were pearly white.

“Ehehehe... I’ll go check if it’s here, nyah!” if Bearenstain was trying to charm the Chamarran, he had the opposite effect as she hastily left them and went to look for the package.

“Hm,” Bearenstain scratched his chin and wondered what he did wrong.

“Mmm, it’s pretty good!” Choldytz said as he sipped from his five gallon milkshake glass with a stripey straw that was actually a PVC pipe. “So why were we here again?”

“Well, I was at the clinic and the hospital food turned out better than expected, way better than the imitation gruel we have back at the barracks. So I told the nurse-cat that I’m about to be discharged and would have to eat bragruel instead of tasty catfood. She was nice and so she suggested that I get some additional foods from the ABCD.”

“The ABCD?”

“Da. It stands for Aiding Bragulans with Chamarran Donations. A program where the Chamarran Hierarchy tries to help with some of our shortages by supplying whatever they can. The cats are being so nice, they’re giving us everything we need. Everything from cat-build Spuds to toilet paper!” Bearenstain exclaimed.

“It’s the least they can do, since they did ask for our help to bury those fatties.” Choldytz commented. “I tried some of their paper, turns out it wasn’t made out of real dead trees, it didn’t feel the same when I was wiping, so I used the pages of my infantrybear’s primer instead.”

“Shhh!” Bearenstain held a claw to his snout. On the table next to them, a commissar rose from his chair and walked over their way...

“Oh shits!”

...before passing right past them. A catgirl waitress wiping the floor with a mop nyah’ed as she saw the Brag close the restroom door shut, lighting up the ‘occupied’ sign.

“That was close,” Choldytz calmed down.

Strange sounds started to come from the restroom. Someone had the presence of mind to turn up the volume of the holoscreen, so the non-Bragulan patrons’ appetites wouldn’t be spoiled. The Brags weren’t as affected, as they laughed with each and every emanation from the loo. Meanwhile, the news holo went on.


This is Ann Gora, for CNN.

Earlier this year the forces of the Ork Warboss Shroombad Mad Uruk Dakka ravaged the Multiversal Empire of Happiness in a waaagh unlike any before. The Ork attack was directed at the Wolf 359 system in sector B25, but as MEH worlds are concentrated in a single system per sector, the sheer force of numbers the greenskins brought with them was able to overwhelm Wolf 359’s defenders. It took the effort of the MEH’s surrounding sector-system fleets to finally repulse the Orks, but at the end of the day, their victory came at a steep price.

Wolf 359 now lies in ruins. Millions of MEH citizens dead, vast quantities of property damaged or destroyed. Wolf’s once prosperous agri-worlds are now crawling with Ork spores, and reconstruction goes on at a slow and painful pace. Months after Shroombad’s Waaagh, the MEH still reels from the devastation that was wrought.

But a new threat is emerging on the MEH’s horizon. The Shinra Republic’s surprising announcement accusing the MEH of trafficking espers for experimentation, together with the MEH’s earlier diplomatic communiques asking for convicted espers to be used as specimens for experimentation, has sparked outrage throughout the galaxy. A predominantly human coalition of nations has gathered in anticipation of the MEH’s failure to meet the Shinran Ultimatum. Now, the drums of war are beating, and the MEH’s belly rumbles as the oncoming storm nears.

The MEH’s actions and inactions have polarized the galaxy. On one hand, the Shinran-led coalition seems poised to strike, shades of Pendleton, really, with more and more nations joining the alliance as the days go by, as anger grows over the alleged acts of the MEH and their continuous rebuffing of the coalitions’ calls for inspections in MEH territory. On the other hand, voices of dissent are being heard and a pan-galactic anti-war movement grows, in the Solarian Sovereignty Senator Robert Space McNamara has spoken against what some see as a disproportionate reaction, while pointing the galaxy’s triple-standards towards the MEH while ignoring the historic and current acts of nations like Shepistan and the MEH. In the Empire Star Republic, a massive anti-war rally was held in Times Cube.

A wildcard to all this is the combined Bragulan-Chamarran force lingering just two sectors away from the MEH, ostensibly for joint exercises commemorating the new alliance between both nations. Exercises that have lasted for months now. Again, ostensibly prolonged due to the recent Ork incursions into MEH space. House Kithandra has said that the Bragulans offered to stay longer than scheduled to provide any assistance for any ‘green spillover’ on Hierarchy space. Now, another war is brewing and another great fleet may come to the anti-spinward and strike the MEH, and the Bragulans show no sign of ending their so-called exercises...

“Hey, that’s us!” Choldytz commented.

Just then, the restroom doors opened with a mighty slam and the commissar glouriously emerged from his labor in true Byzonic fashion. The Chamarran who was previously mopping the floor dared to gaze inside the restroom, before jumping out with a horrified expression on her face and uttering another ‘nyah!’

“Ah, here it is.” Bearenstain said as their waitress returned, carrying a very large paper bag. More like a paper sack. He thanked her and received the package, and placed his pawprint on some papers. “Let’s see what’s inside!”

He opened the bag and pulled things out.

“Oh, look! Milk!” Choldytz saw some milk bottles in there. He pulled one out and examined it, checking the dates on its labels. “Fresh too. The kitties certainly didn’t spare any expense.”

“And they have these... what are these? Sar-dines.” Bearenstain held a small can up for his comrade to see. “What is a sar-dine?”

“I dunno, let’s open it.” Choldytz clawed the can open, and upon seeing its contents, he gasped.

“What is it?” Bearenstain asked.


“It is fish!” Choldytz cried. Bragulans loved fish. The transport ships had stockpiled megatons of salmons and mackarels and all other kinds of fishes, but they had spoiled in the long journey. The stupid Sassanids’ melange was stored at room temperatures in the Heighliners’ holds, and so when they carried the Bragfishes, they apparently forgot to change the temperature settings and all the poor little fishies just spoiled. So, the sight of edible fish was a delight. But... Choldytz curiously picked up a sardine and examined it. “It’s so small!”

“Hmm...” Bearenstain tried one of the tiny fish. He savored it, its flesh and bones were so soft, they practically melted in his mouth, and the taste! He liked it, and gulped down the rest of the can’s sardines. “Mmm. Tasty.”

“Hey, don’t eat all of it!” Choldytz protested as Bearenstain left behind an empty can. “Damn.”

“Don’t worry, there’s plenty more where that came from. These sardines might be small, but that only means we can carry more of them.”

“You should order more.”

“Da, I will. Waitress, we will have more of these sar-dines!” Bearenstain bellowed.

“Hai, bear-kun!” the waitress arrived with more of the cans, but Bearenstain kept on asking for more and more, until their table was covered in sardine cans.

“The paper bag can’t carry all of these!” Choldytz exclaimed.

“Nyet, but that’s not the only bag we have, da?” Bearenstain grinned. He pulled open Choldytz’ bag of depleted uranium and began stuffing sardine cans into them.

“What? Wait, no. It’s heavy enough when it’s half-full! I still have to carry this back to base! Bearenstain! Nyet, comrade!” Choldytz cried out. “Come on!”

“Well, I think we’re all done here,” Bearenstain thanked their Chamarran hosts and gestured the now over-burdened Choldytz to get off his chair. “We better start making our way back to base. I hear we have a long walk ahead of us.”

“You bastard!” Choldytz cried and Bearenstain laughed. “I hope the Imperator steps on you with both his fifty-foot foots!”
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Mayabird » 2011-06-12 09:16pm

Consortium of Minds, Central Complex, Prime Refuge
Sometime around the start of 3401 - it's been a very long meeting

No Threat is Too Distant squawked. “TEN PERCENT? TEN MEASILY PERCENT? WE'VE BEEN CUT!”

“Yes, in one particular way you have been cut,” said Creation and Distribution of Plenty Please Stop Asking for Stuff. “But that is the finalized overall budget for the next three periods.*”

“Are you mad? We are at war! We will likely find ourselves in other wars in a very short time. Now is no time to be cutting construction!”

“I've been over this already. Everyone is taking the hit. Remember that we just took over three sectors of space about a period and a half ago. It takes a while to pacify and industrialize that large an area of space. We haven't hit our full projected trade levels yet. We have the massive MEH armada logistical line removing industrial production and soaking up resources. There's also-”

“Cut nonessentials! Garden planoforming...”

“Already cut back to maintenance cycles only, and that was a negligible portion of our budget.”

“Khe!Srri integration program.”

“That's already gone. It's just a research program now, and a small one, only continuing their long-term observations. Our mining surveys on the planet are bigger than the research program.”

“Cut population growth!”

If Please Stop Asking for Stuff could have slammed her head on her desk, she would have, but as an AI communicating electronically, she had neither head nor desk. “WE DID! Defense in total is already taking up a disproportionate amount of our resources, all told. You know this! You even agreed to this! Did you get possessed by Whiny Node suddenly?”

“There's a Whiny Node now?” asked Voice of Reason, completely out of nowhere. “When did this happen? Why didn't anyone tell me? How did I not find out?”

And so the consortium continued as it had been – chaotically and with a lot of yelling.

*Three Refuge periods = about a year.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Steve » 2011-06-12 11:30pm

Peoples' Arena of McCarthyville
Killynyn, Sector AA-25

The Peoples' Republic of Killynyn had been founded after the failure of a small interstellar Communist state two centuries prior from the survivors of a Karlack attack; their proximity to Bragule had seen their form of Communism take on Byzonist elements, though the Bragulans found it in their best interest to maintain Killynyn's sovereignty to an extent, leaving it as an unofficial satellite that provided HUMINT agents and other aid to their external operations.

Now they had picked it to be the host of the Shroom Fighter tournament. The Killynyn Communist Party had endorsed the use of an arena in an outlying city after purging a few outer officials who opposed blood sport as "bourgeois decadence". The crowds were all Bragulan, of course. Lower party officials, commissars, factory managers, and those who had won free transport and tickets to the event for "feats of Byzonist Labor" or "high devotion to Byzonist Ideals" (usually involving successfully working hundred hour shifts at K-bolter plants or turning in family members for anti-Byzonic behavior).

R. Julia was standing at his place in the arena, looking out over the crowd of roaring, cheering Bragulans, as the remaining fighters were paraded through. There were three rounds left in the tournament, after which he would allow the "general melee" combat to commence. He'd done them before with 12 or 24 fighters, but never all of them at once. But such violence would whet the appetites of the Bragulans, and that's what he wanted.

"So, when do we kill the Silver Moon woman?" Sadat's voice betrayed his impatience.

"In due time," Julia answered. "It wouldn't be sporting to rob her of a chance to die in battle in my arena, after all."

"I want to be the one to end her," he insisted.

"Presuming Shroomka does not." R. Julia smiled. "Her next opponent is a nobody who defeated other nobodies. I fully expect her to face Shroomka in the semi-finals."

A prefab structure beside the Arena had been set up ahead of time to house the fighters. After the parade, Zara had been brought back to it to await her fight.

Shortly after her arrival, her neighbor Toph returned triumphant from a fight. But there was something subdued about her as she took her customary seat, near the clear wall seperating their living cells. "Are you okay?", Zara asked.

"Yeah. I just have to fight that weird janitor next time. He's a retired 'Custodian', whatever that is meant to be," was the Tianguoese girl's bewildered remark. "I'm not sure what to make of him. First time I saw him swinging that broom around I figured he wouldn't get out of the second round. Now he's my semifinals match." Toph looked cautiously at Zara, though it was meaningless since she was blind. "Shroomka killed his opponent. Tore the poor woman's throat out with his bare teeth. The Bragulans loved every moment of it."

"I'm familiar with their potential for cruelty," Zara remarked quietly. She'd met once a Sister who'd been arrested by the Brags from one of the Wild Space cloisters, on a world the Bragulans "liberated". The Sister had been a Dorei, and according to her that was the only reason she'd been permitted to come home instead of being worked to death in a gulag; the Bragulans were big on "gestures of solidarity toward fellow inhumans".

"Listen, Zara..." Toph drew a bit closer. Her hand touched the pane between them, and Zara did the same. As she did so she could feel a small connection, their proximity permitting them to get through the null fields slightly. The resulting conversation was telepathic. With Shroomka.... please take him down hard, if you can. I mean permanently.

You mean kill him, Zara said, almost incredulous.

If you have to. He can't help the way he is, but... we can't have him around when the grand battle begins.

You're afraid he'll kill more of us?

More than that. I'm afraid he'll mess things up." Toph's thoughts were very slight, as if she were afraid of making them too strong. Something's going to happen, Zara. It's a longshot, but this is the best opportunity some of us have had in years.

Opportunity for what?

A sly, self-confident look came to the younger girl's face. Escape.

Sulaco, en route to Laydin
Hiigaran Space

Nisa had spent their first day out from Solaris working up the nerve to approach the mysterious figure who'd joined them for the trip. She already knew the Wild Geese, including Chandra and Phani, but this was the man that Sidney had picked up and brought in after her father left, apparently another "old friend".

After breakfast and morning training, Nisa set out to find him. She did so in the mess, where he was helping himself to a meal from the ship's food synthesizers. She felt no aura to him, no apparent ESP, but she knew that he could be dangerous still. And what she felt of his mind, being unobtrusive of course, reminded her of her father and what little she ever sensed from Sidney. A feeling of... "ancientness".

Approaching Vincent, she bowed respectfully. "Mister Arrowny? I am Nisa Tari. May we speak?"

"Of course," replied Vincent. He knew that this girl was Stephen's daughter, apparently, and had ESP powers. But Sidney Hank had not been much more forthcoming concerning her. Probably leaving that up to Stephen himself, I suppose.

Nodding, Nisa sat herself opposite from him. "I have heard you are a friend of my father's, much like Sidney?"

"Yes, I am. Though unlike Sidney, he likely won't recognize me when we meet." He almost continued with, "I guess it'll depend on how much he remembers a certain video game series," but decided against it, as the comment would only confuse her.

"Then... you are another one who was supposed to be dead?"

He nodded. "Yes, but unfortunately it seems certain individuals have other ideas in mind for me." Vincent shrugged. "After the third time, you get used to it. It's not like we've had any choice in the matter."

Nisa stared at him blankly. "...I do not know what is going on. Father and Sidney always say it is complicated, that they don't want to... 'blow my mind', as Sidney says."

"Well, it is complicated. And, to be honest, I don't think any of us even understands it fully." He considered what to tell her, given that her own father and Sidney hadn't been entirely forthcoming. "How much about the origin of Nova Terra do you know?"

"Nova Terra? That is the real homeworld of Humanity by our teachings. My people are from the regions of a place called Akori, where we fled many years ago from ungodly government. Or so my parents always said." Nisa frowned a little, remembering what she'd seen from Sidney's library systems. The Akori Republic was of the continent Veleria on Nova Terra, and by what Sidney's histories said her ancestors had most likely left due to the rapid "modernization" imposed on Velerian holdout nations by the UN in its infancy.

"I see..." Vincent wasn't at all sure what to make of that. "What if I told you that Earth is the real homeworld of Humanity? Or at least, so far as we know." He could see the doubt in Nisa's eyes. "We, as in myself and the others like me. Because Earth is where we came from, before being 'placed' on Nova Terra."

"People go from Earth to Nova Terra all the time," Nisa said, bewildered. "I don't see the big deal."

He smiled. "We didn't board a ship and take a ride there. Fourteen hundred years ago, such ships did not even exist. We were, as I said, placed. I was not born Vincent Arrowny. But my...spirit, or mind, whatever you want to call it, was placed into this man's body. And so it was with your father, myself, Sidney and the others on Nova Terra. And we all came from Earth."

Nisa listened to him speak and almost laughed at him. And people saw her as a superstitious peasant! But even she knew that you needed ships to go between planets, that...

....that people didn't come back from the dead, either.

"You are not pulling my arm?", Nisa asked, unwittingly getting the idiom wrong. "This is not some joke you are making? You, my father, Sidney.... you really had your souls moved from Earth to Nova Terra? By... what? An angel? The Almighty All-Knowing Himself?"

"We call him Q. Or at least, that's how he presented himself to us. And no, I am not 'pulling your arm' in the slightest." Vincent shrugged again. "As to what Q could be called, I'm not certain. He is certainly a being of great power, able to implant us, bring us back from the dead, even create entire worlds from nothing."

Nisa felt a cold shiver come to her. She remembered her father's words when she'd remarked on the role of divinity in his supposed "return from the dead". Was this 'Q' a demon of some sort? A djini who toyed with the lives of mortals for sport, or cursed them for its amusement? But an even more terrible possibility came to her. "Could he... be the source of my father's power?", Nisa asked cautiously.

"It is...possible," answered Vincent. "I do know that on Nova Terra, he never possessed what could be called ESP potential. At least, not in any way we ever noticed. However, as I said before, I was not born Vincent Arrowny, merely 'implanted' over him. It is also possible that Q merely implanted Stephen's 'soul' into a man who had such power." Sidney Hank had not been very specific with him concerning Stephen's newfound powers, though privately Vincent suspected they were, in fact, from Q himself. But he did not consider it his place to drop that on Stephen's daughter.

Nisa swallowed. She believed very strongly that her power came from him, and that he might have his power not from "natural" sources, but a malevolent being.... she didn't know if she could live with her abilities if such was true. She tried not to think of it that way, of course; her abilities, and her father's, were used for good reasons, this she was convinced of. Nothing good could be had from evil power.... but the thought still gnawed at her.

She didn't want to talk about this anymore. But she did have other things to ask, other items of curiosity. "My father has spoken of a family he had before. Did you know them? My half-brothers and sister?"

"Yes, I did. Not as well as I would have liked, given the pressures of time and responsibility." He paused a moment, thinking back on memories he held from long, long ago. "I do know your father loved them very much, despite some bumps in the road. And your half-siblings did go on to achieve some fame for themselves, as I'm sure you know half-brother Adrian was the flight engineer for the Straylight." He sighed. "Sadly, it seems that it becomes more and more difficult to remember those quiet, happy times when I did get to just spend time with your father and his family, away from the pressures of my work. Whether that is simply 'age', or if Q's powers have left such a side-effect on me, I do not know."

"He misses them so," Nisa said quietly. "He should have been allowed to rest with his wife and children. Whomever brought him back did a terrible thing. The same for you, Mister Arrowny."

Well, as I understand it, you would not be here were it not for the resurrections. So clearly, some good has come of this." He smiled. "And, from my experience, Q does seem to have some goal in mind when he does these sorts of things. The trick is to find out what that goal is." He paused for a moment. "Not to sound too egotistical, but it could also be argued that it was, in some part, the leadership of those Q chose for his 'game' that resulted in the Straylight heading off to Earth. Whether that was his goal or a byproduct I'm not sure."

Nisa didn't have anything to say about that. The Straylight was something she knew of only recently, by examing Sidney's villa and watching the library computers. "I believe my father will be happy to see you. You seem... more suited for him than Sidney is."

Inwardly, Vincent had to grin at that. He was in the body of an assassin, a profession he did not believe Stephen would think very highly of. But it was clear Nisa didn't know that, and he wasn't going to dispell her illusion. Plus, I'm in control of this body now. So things are very different for Vincent Arrowny these days. "I hope so. And I will be very happy to see him in return. He was one of my oldest and closest friends on Nova Terra, after all."

"Then it will be good for him." Nisa bowed her head quietly. "I... I'm still getting to know him, sir. I only met him five years ago, and only for a few years have we known each other. And much of our time was in training me to use my gift... can you tell me more about him?"

"Well, he was always a man who believed in diplomacy, and turned out to be quite good at it. For instance, during one of the many spats between nations on Nova Terra..."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2011-06-13 03:16am

The Centrality wrote:Also, have you lost some ships in the last few days? We've heard it's ship season today. We assure you that the hunting is just starting.

Wolf 359, Sector B-25
In Goddamn Unreal Time


The vessel was a People's Interstellar Eatery-type ship. Aside from a scant few defensive armaments, it did not carry any primary weapons and it was lightly shielded. It was not a military warship, but a civilian logistics ship returning from food-gathering operations. Bos and Quilbore, worlds were subject to the MEH's nutrition campaign. The peasant alien natives on those worlds might've not been blue people, but they were easy enough to put down with the Food Fleet's complement of Meat Machines. Military force wasn't even required, though on some worlds the natives were being quite uncooperative and so operations were still ongoing.

The PIE ship was transporting goods to help with the reconstruction effort at Wolf. With the decimation of their agri-worlds, the starving survivors supplicated sustenance from the other systems of the MEH. The PIE ship was from the Food Fleet, delivering vital condiments to Wolf. It was specialized in the delivery of desserts, exotic non-meat products like fruits for salads, and gelatin made out of the grind up skin and bones of countless species, including the Tauren and others. The biological produces of entire ecosystems were stored inside the PIE, causing its crust to swell deliciously.

Such was the traffic to Wolf 359 that even the PIE was forced to make transit by hyperspace. The influx of aid supplies, construction material, and helper robots, and the torrents of refugees leaving for greener and undesecrated pastures, all jammed pack in the warpgate in some kind of spacelane gridlock meant that some ships inevitably had to travel to the system through the old fashioned way.

The countless stealth ships, from other nations' navies, noted this change of pace. While most were content to watch and gather data, the cloaked ships of the Centrality had changed in posture and temperament and moved towards these transiting MEH ships, coming closer than the spy ships of other nations would dare. Closer than reconnaissance necessitated. But unlike the Chamarrans, Klavostanis or Refugees, the Centrality was no longer here to gather information.

The PIE ship was brutally clawed out of hyperspace by the raider ships. The second it emerged back in realspace, it was bombarded by a torrent of mass drivers and close-range plasma. Its crust cracked open and megatons of soft fruity and gelatinous foodstuff inside it were subsequently vaporized by energy fire, along with all the vessels' crews - both MEHmen and machine.

The Centralite ships reactivated their cloaks and disappeared. The broken PIE's shattered crust and spilled stuffings cooled in the void of space.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Darkevilme » 2011-06-13 09:27am

((What follows was written after being up going on 24 hours))
Moo!? Mew?
The Vicinity of Bos.

The merciless Bloater food fleet was not without escort for its culling of Bos, such was deemed necessary by the Saint systems in a galaxy that had bafflingly chosen to take a dislike to the boundless happiness of the Empire and the love of its Goddess. And so it was that a handful of the MEHN's smaller able bodied vessels rode herd on the Pie-ships, mobile slaughterhouses and Meatmachineriums. It was one of these guardians of carnage that now pursued the armed transport ThunderBison during the aforementioned flight from the planet Bos. The ThunderBison packed with Tauren refugees fleeing the all conquering meatmachines on the planet below, the cramped confines and characteristics of the inhabitants lending itself to unfortunate analogies considering the intent of their pursuer.

Although intent was perhaps too strong a word. Aboard the bridge of the mighty SWAT class supergunship MEHN Extraextremejustice captain Chug Bonapetit reclined his seat and watched the pinging blip on the monitor stubbornly staying beyond the effective range of the main guns, it was really rather boring. Chug changed the channel and shlurped from his megashlurpee, the thickened liquid oozing reluctantly through the straw at a pace measured to prevent an unhappy choking hazard.

“Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!” Chug chuckled at the antics of the woman on the screen. Chug still wasn't sure if this show was supposed to be tragic or comedic but he laughed anyway till he was interrupted.

“Target is hailing us captain.”

Chug sighed and changed back to the bridge channel on the viewer back to work already? “Onscreen.” he said and mashed his armrest controls with his hand for emphasis.

“Please cease your attack! We are a peaceful people! Please we have women and children on board!”

Chug looked at the fugly creature now on the screen, he didn't like this show at all it was already unhappy. Wait was this a show? Chug sucked on the straw of his megashlurpee to give himself a moment to think. The ship had been detected by the food fleet's intelligence loading up meatproducts and fleeing the scene, therefore it was obviously a pirate attempting to villainously pilfer meat meant for MEHnite mastications. The Food fleet computers couldn't possibly be wrong after all, and if that was the case these aliens would be wrong about having women and children aboard. Wrong or or lieing! That's the ticket, these goddessless creatures did not value honesty like a good Goddess follower would “HAH! I see through your cunning ruse villain!” Chug declares and jabs a meaty finger at the monitor triumphantly “I see through your cunning ruse pirate! Now surrender your cargo of meats or be blasted to atoms.”

Aboard the ThunderBison captain Stormhorn stared at the screen in speechless disbelief for a few moments. The accusation of being a pirate might of amused him under other circumstances, the ThunderBison had been an actual pirate vessel until its previous owners had been lax in making sure captured prisoners brought on board didn't number in their midst a giant muscled bovine with a concealed Powerhammer. However under the circumstances Stormhorn was just left wondering what to say in answer to this lunacy and was still like that when the crazy human blob on the other end of the communications closed the channel.

A few moments later a pair of expanding green clouds blazed past the Thunderbison signaling the MEHN captain's desire to set about the blasting to atoms ultimatum despite the range. Stormhorn glared at the blip of the pursueing vessel and started shifting his not particularly agile ship in a rather leisurely evasive pattern. Stormhorn was unable to do more without losing some of the distance between him and the Bloater warship, a decision that would rapidly prove lethal, but this was enough that the seemingly dimwitted Bloater couldn't score a hit through process of elimination although it still left his ability to hit with a stroke of blind luck distressingly high.

“Engineering, more speed!” Stormhorn shouted into the intercom as another blast of green flatulence blazed past Thunderbison close enough to sheen the port side in the ghostfire of weak shield interactions.
“Capin. I'm given ya all she's got, but she cannae take this for verra much longer!” came the reply. It had always baffled him why his chief engineer adopted some strange accent in proximity to starship drives. There was never any hint of this accent in the engineer's voice when he wasn't on duty in the engine room and even when pointed out he seemed happily oblivious to it, but he was a damned good engineer and so if he said there was no more then there probably wasn't anymore.
“Oh for the Love of the Earthmother. Very well, bridge out.” Stormhorn looked at the slowly rising engine temperature gauges and frowned, his engineer was right. Stormhorn looked over the control board, said a small prayer to the Earthmother and then smacked the button for the mine release.

From the back of the fleeing Tauren vessel a scattering of FU-90 anti ship mines were discharged. Stormhorn's gaze became very intent on the scanner picture as he watched his counter-attack spread and drift back into the path of the accelerating Bloater warship. There was a lesson Stormhorn learned from disappointment at the moment the mines made their attack, and that lesson was Never trust a travelling Klavostani weapons salesman. Three of the mines drifted past without even attempting to home in, another two homed in but failed to detonate and simply bounced off the Bloater's shields and another decided that despite the clear and present hostile ship that empty patch of space nowhere near the target needed some thorough blowing up instead. In the end only two detonated against the Bloater warship, barriers of invulnerability that would have been overwhelmed by a more reliable mine salvo kept all but a tickle of atomic fire from the hull of the Bloater warship. Stormhorn glared at the empty mine-rack indicator, glared at the scanner screen and then finally decided that if the Earthmother was feeling cranky today he'd pray to whoever was listening. A signal going out into the void on hyperwave.

“This is the Thunderbison! Tauren ship out of Bos! We are fleeing our home under attack from MEH vessels! I say again we are under attack from a MEH warship! Anyone receiving this message this is a mayday we require urgent assistance! We have women and children aboard!”

HSF Kitty Surprise, Blade Class Stealth Cruiser

~-require urgent assistance! We have women and children aboard!~

“Chiram, what's our policy on inhumanitarian aid?” Talia asks. It was lucky they were in the vicinity of the call, it sounded like they were in serious trouble. Still technically the MEH and Hierarchy weren't at war yet. Firing the first shot without strong justification would be generally bad.

“I'm for it but we don't seem to have a specific policy according to the datafiles.” Chiram answers.

~Please is there anyone out there! They're harvesting us as food! We barely escaped our world with our lives!~

“Chiram, intercept course. Battlestations. No arguments.” Shipmistress Talia said after a moments shock, unsurprisingly getting no arguments.

Talia tailflicked agitatedly while waiting for the tell-tale change in pitch of the hyperdrive hum that indicates the change in their course and sending a signal to the spy satellite in the system to begin live transmission and give her a picture of what they were about to drop into. In a universe where hyperspace sensors saw extremely poorly into realspace having eyes placed ahead of you was golden for this and quickly gave Talia an idea.

“Chiram, ask astrogation if they can drop us into this zone here. Also launch the Rippers ahead of us with ECM and antiship modules, they only need to distract the Bloater not kill it.” she explained to her second in command.

Chiram looked at the plan and just grinned.

MEHN Extraextremejustice
“Twelve unidentified strike craft emerged from hyperspace captain, unidentified craft now on aggressive intercept vector.” the fatty on scanners announced either explaining the image on the main monitor or informing Chug of what should be on the monitor instead of entertainment channels. Thankfully Chug was done watching TV on the bridge by now due to having the fixed axis guns of the Extraextremejustice entertaining him with mighty blasts of death. Still not only was the pirate stubbornly spoiling his fun by staying out of range but now he was going to be under attack by little flies, how irritating.

“Energize turrets and open fire on the incoming ships. They're clearly in league with the pirates.”
Chug said with the surety that documentary on captaining said was key to projecting an aura of command, he had no idea really but once they were blown up it wouldn't matter anyway.

Blasts of green fury erupted from the dorsal turrets of the Extraextremejustice and flew screaming out into the night at Chug's command, impotently as it happened. The Rippers activating their ECM pods and jinking easily while closing to evade the fire from the still distant Bloater warship.

“Captain, the pirate vessel has ceased evasive manouvers and appears to be losing acceleration.” the sensor fatty announced, helpfully making the trajectory trace for the pirate flash and glow on Chug's monitor in case it wasn't obvious.

“Excellent, blow them out of space when they come closer.” says Chug gleefully and squeezed the armrest of his chair in anticipation. The pirates must be losing engine power for some reason, unable to keep up the pace against the gazelle like power of a SWAT class supergunship and soon they will be destroyed. Chug was so happy he didn't even get upset when Ripper launched nuclear missiles exploded against his ship's shields, bringing up the forward visual magnifier to show that tiny speck of the pirate vessel's engine exhaust while his blasts of green justice flew out to meet it.

“A hit captain! Looks like we did some damage.” the sensor fatty announces, his chub wobbling as he raises his hands and a cheer rises from everyone else on the bridge.

Chug chuckles and smiles as he looks at the now listing engine flare, the pirate vessel clearly damaged and out of control as they veered off their formerly straight course..but wait, is it supposed to look like that.

“Hey, is there supposed to still be an engine flare there when the pirates gone?” Chug asks, pointing at the seperating points of light.
“New contact captain! Dead ahead and closing fast!” the sensor bloater announces, suddenly less jubilant.

As the wounded Thunderbison sidestepped the Kitty Surprise shot past like a particularly vengeful comet with a tail of thermonuclear fire. Sprinting the whole way on fusion rockets with the Tauren ship masking their approach the Blade was now closing very very fast with the Extraextremejustice. The Chamarran vessel buffeted but undeterred as Chug orders the main guns fired and scores a glancing hit before the blade is in position to strike.

With missiles there is a balance, those fired from close in are slower and easier to shoot down due to lack of built up velocity where as those fired from far away give longer for reaction and firing solutions. Imparted with the velocity of the Chamarran warship and released at practically knife fighting range the missiles the Kitty Surprise launched broke the balance and gave Chug precious few options but to receive an atomic spanking.

There was silent thunder and flashes of destruction.

“Turn that thing off, turn that thing off!”Chug yells over the blaring alarm as he hauls himself back into his chair. He was alive! The pirates couldn't kill Chug Bonapetit! He was too handsome for their missiles to stop!

Chug looks around “Damage report, can we still shoot?” he asked of the relevant fatty, who was busy ineffectually fighting off a maintenance bot who had gotten him confused for a fire in need of dousing and had already half smothered him in white foam.

“We may be able to capt-fmfmf” the crewman said, cut off as the bot hosed down his face.

“Very well, turn and engage! Destroy them before they have a chance to do more damage to my ship!”

“More missiles captain!”

“What? They can't have come around for another pass yet!” Chug said looking at the monitor, the unidentified missile ship was nowhere near them and decelerating slowly yet there were more missiles and the pirates hadn't fired them!

The missiles fired from the Blade's stern torpedoes had their work cut out for them cancelling out the velocity of their launching ship's velocity. In the end the missiles practically ambled up to the damaged supergunship with almost leisurely velocities. Against a vessel still reeling it was more than enough.

There was silent thunder and flashes of destruction.
Chug Bonapetit was not too handsome for these missiles to stop.
Last edited by Darkevilme on 2011-06-13 07:54pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Fingolfin_Noldor » 2011-06-13 03:25pm

Aboard the Tyrant's Dominion

Rus and Aurelian Komnenos sat staring at the holo-field depicting the extent of the MEH. Various indicators showed the disposition of MEH forces, and how they were deployed. "The Orks seem to have given the MEH a chewing," Aurelian observed.

Rus gave a gruff. "Not nearly enough. Were our fleet and armies at the same strength as we were the Great Crusade, we would have crushed them. But nay, this is not the Great Crusade. I am loathe to rely on others for the matters of war, but we have do not have a choice in the matter."

Aurelian nodded. "The matter of the extradimensional alien queen is what brings us here. It is merely convenient that the MEH has managed to rile so many civilized nations that they have gathered in such force to crush the MEH."

"That indeed. Tian Guo is particularly eager to have a piece of them on the basis of heresy. To think that history brings us together again. Perhaps they are the only humans worthy of respect."

"Sadly so. But how do we plan to take the queen before the others do? We already decided to beat any others to her by allying with, ahem, 'others'. But is it enough?"

"No it isn't. In all likelihood, while the Imperial Guard and the Titan Legions engage the MEH army proper, I think we need to launch a strike on the MEH directly and take the queen."

"By strike you mean..."

"Yes, the Astartes must do this job, as they have always done. Either you or I will lead the charge. Doesn't matter who. Ultimately, the queen must be subjected to psychic interrogation of the highest order. Once we break her, I don't care if her soul becomes chow food for Father, or whatever."

Aurelian nodded. "We are not to burn the MEH citizens outright."

"Pfft. IF we did that, the Solarians will make heck of a racket. So no. We are not going to. Unless they are clearly tainted by Chaos, and perhaps certified as such by the Solarians, we aren't going to torch Earth outright, as much as it fills me with glee to do so. Otherwise, we will, at best, send the Church to bring 'light' to them, and get rid of their damn fats, even if it gives them heart attacks."

"Hah. Indeed."
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Force Lord » 2011-06-13 04:33pm

Unknown Location
MEH Earth
Unreal Time/Early-Mid February 3401

Dirad Kierger knew that a lesser man would easily get lost in the twisting passages of whatever he was located now, but he could always tell the right path. He thanked his CSA training for that.

He had passed through many corridors, hunted down by those damned MEH droids, but he always outsmarted them. Or crushed them. Not that it mattered. There were always more to come, and Kierger definitely didn't want to end up tired.

He needed a disguise, but it was hard to make yourself fat on demand. He had to be creative...

While thinking, he passed quietly into a room full of strange machines, as well as a couple of fatties that were talking. Acting quickly, he mentally "suggested" to them that there was a strange sound at the other side of the passageway. As they left, Kierger took a look into the machines, realizing they were hollow, as well as, for once, of normal human proportions.


He had his disguise. As he went to work, he wondered what exactly was the purpose of these robots. He did not notice the word ENEMA BOT NO. 9122331...


"You got anything?"

One of the grimacing telepaths shook his head.

"I can't focus on the President. Too many fatties here."

"Try harder man!"

"Hey, I'm not a Level 1 ESPer! My ESP skill is Level 5!"

"Silence, both of you," Lord Redav growled. "We do not want to be discovered."

Redav and his team of survivors had found a locker room to hide in after they crashed their shuttle, and found the MEH-version to be more fitting for their purposes. They had locked the doors and were in position for a last-ditch defense.

"I don't know how much longer we can keep this up, sir. I mean, do we even know the President is alive?"

"As long as I see his body, I will not rest."

"What about an escape plan?"

"We improvise."

"...Okay sir, now what do we do?"

"I will go myself to find the President. The rest of you will remain here."

"Sir? How do we communicate?"

"How many of you specialize in telepathy?"

"Just two, sir."

"Then they will make do."

One of the bodyguards then opened the door.

"Good luck, sir."

Redav simply responded, "In my experience, there is no such thing as luck..."
Last edited by Force Lord on 2011-06-17 02:48pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Beowulf » 2011-06-14 04:48am

Sometime in the past

Capt Xu Jian walked into the briefing room. Already there were the platoon and squad leaders of Public Security 81942d Regiment, Company Bravo.

"Listen up, peeps! Today, our mission is to bring in some communist fuckers. We think they are in a fucking warehouse, near the fucking spaceport. The intel geeks think they're arming to do something fucking stupid. So, we're going to crash their fucking party.

"First Platoon: You're going to be moving in on foot." Capt Xu motioned with his hands. A diagram of the warehouse, and it's surroundings formed, courtesy of the projector. "Fucking two squads are going to be moving in along the fucking street, from opposite fucking ends. Fucking third squad, you're going to be moving in from the fucking rear."

"So to speak." Sniggers were heard.

"Quiet the fuck down. You'll enter through holes fucking blown into the side of the building, after you get the fucking signal that Second and Third platoon are ready.

"You other fuckers get to ride on fucking transports. Second Platoon, you're going to be fucking busting in through the front. When you get the fucking signal, the fucking platoon will go from the staging area, over this warehouse, to the street in front of the one of the fucking transports will bust through the front door. The other transports will land out front, and their squads will follow through the fucking hole made by the first transport.

"Fucking Third Platoon, you're going to be going in through the fucking top. On the same fucking signal as for Second, you're going to go and drop from your transports onto the fucking roof. They've got roof accesses fucking here, here, and here." He pointed at the locations. "Inside, you'll make your way down to meet First and Second platoons, fucking clearing the warehouse as you go. We've got the fucking layout of the fucking warehouse, that you can see here. However, that doesn't fucking mean they haven't fucking modified it, and we can't go fucking snooping around inside without them fucking knowing. So you'll have to fucking be aware of changes to the plan. Any fucking questions?"


It didn't go to plan. It never does. First rule of combat (even though this wasn't, technically, combat), was throw out the plan. The communards had apparently setup video surveillance from the other side of the street. With modern technology, a camera could be all but invisible. The first warning was the commies opening fire with a cornershot. Not powerful enough to actually hurt anyone in armor, but was enough to know that the cover was blown.

First and second squads rushed to get to the side of the building, and avoid the peppering of bullets coming from the window. To help suppress the fire, Second Platoon was called in, with their APCs. This didn't so much suppress it, as changed where it was going. An ATGM lanced out from the window. Fortunately for the members of PS 81942/B2, anti-missile technology had advanced enough that they were generally speaking, useless. The phaser array on the bow of the APCs shone with invisible brilliance, melting the missile away before impact.

Surprise being given away, Third platoon dropped out of the hatches on the undersides of their transports. They formed up into sticks of men as they fell, pirouetting moments before hitting the roof. They fell without parachutes, as it was both feasible to avoid having square meters of fabric above you, as well as undesirable (since the longer you were in the air, the longer the opposition had to shoot at you). Instead, through gravitic technology, along with a bit of magic, you could decelerate to a usable sink rate in the space of a couple meters, instead of smashing yourself into a broken mess.

This was about the point where the communists gave up. Which isn't to say, they surrendered, but rather, they blew up the warehouse, and everyone in it. Elapsed time: 5 minutes.
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Siege » 2011-06-14 12:16pm

Previously, in Wild Space... wrote:Sirocco was the first to spot the strangely shaped craft sitting on the tarmac in front of a dilapidated hangar, not far from where their own hypershuttle was parked. She elbowed her partner. The giant black man craned his head and whistled. "Is that what I think it is?"


Sirocco looked at him darkly. "If you think it's a Volkslander Kriegdiskette then you'd be right."

Anthemum Dubal nodded slowly. "Volkslanders, this far out? That can't be a coincidence."

"Fuckin' genetic supremacists show up in the shoals when we're investigating slavers and anti-psion sentiments? Damn straight it isn't."

A thin smile creased the black man's face. "Not a big fan of our blue-eyed pals are we?"

The hybrid scowled. "Not a big fan of dirtbags period."

"Then let's go find out what they're up to."

New Somalia
Wild Space


New Somalia. A pirate haven of the very worst kind. In Solarian holo's this sort of place had a kind of romantic aura: dangerous certainly, but also filled with dashing rogues and thrilling heroics, adventurous and not so stifled with the mundane boredom of everyday life. In reality everyday life was mundane because there wasn't someone trying to enslave you on every street corner, because you didn't have to defend your body at every turn from those who would ravage it for your organs, your sex or simply because they could. In reality, New Somalia and every place like it was utterly horrifying, devoid of even the slightest pretense of human decency or civilization, lawless and void of compassion. It was a place where people where chattel and the weak either died or ended up somebody else's property, and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

You'd have to be insane to voluntarily come to a place like this. Or just paid very well. But even the promise of copious payment didn't numb hardened mercenaries to the harsh reality of Wild Space at its worst. “Gods. This place is a tragedy,” Anthemum Dubal muttered as the two Wild Geese walked by what appeared for all practical intents and purposes a slave market. Haggard people stared with hollow eyes into the street, too battered to even rankle the chains that bound them to the fibcrete wall. Most of them were human. Some of them were Pfhor, or Chamarrans, or any of half a dozen other alien races. “How is this even allowed to go on?”

“Don't stare. And keep walking,” Sirocco hissed from between clenched teeth. She'd reinforced her mental defenses to full opacity – even a psion trained and conditioned by CEID didn't want to know the minds of these poor wretches. Still she could feel their misery gnaw at the edges of her shields, a perpetual telepathic wailing that was impossible to block. Or maybe she was just imagining it. Either way it wasn't a pleasant experience. “There's nothing we can do for them now. There's nothing anyone can do.”

The giant black man shook his head. “I refuse to believe that. There must be something-”

“What then?” snapped Sirocco, more forceful than she had intended. “Do you expect the marines to show up and liberate this planet? Then what? The pirate vermin will scatter like it always does. Do you suppose the Corps should run an occupation in the middle of the shoals?”

“Why not?” Anthemum demanded defensively. “Anglia occuppied Pendleton and they seem to be doing okay.”

“Because this isn't the only planet like this. You've seen as much of Wild Space as I have. You know how many worlds are out there that are just as bad. We can't help them all. We just can't. We can hit a handful of hideouts at best, burn them out, catch a handful of bad guys, but the assholes who run the operations will simply relocate elsewhere and the whole cycle will continue. It's what always happens – on Pendleton, here, anywhere. As long as we're all too busy being afraid of the Brags or the Karlacks or the Pfhor or whomever, it's just not going to change.”

“Hmpf.” Anthemum shrugged. “I suppose I see your point. Though our employer would disagree, I bet. Why else would we be here, hunting pirates?”

“Hank does what he does, and ours is not to question why. But if he really could make space a better place, I say he would have done it by now.” Sirocco sighed and massaged her temples. “Believe me, I wish it were different. It's a fucked-up galaxy.”

“Speaking of which,” Anthemum nodded down the street. “We seem to be coming up on our target?”


The compound of Lakhad Muse didn't look like much, but then again most of the city didn't look like much, and most of the compound was reportedly buried beneath the topside structure anyway. Hakkouni and the other crew of the long-gone Crying Lightning had pointed to this place as their rendezvous if ever they happened to run across some esp-sensitive cargo they wanted to sell. Supposedly, Mr. Muse and his associates paid handsomely, moreso than most of the other slave traders on New Somalia – even the Pfhor – and by passing them on to parts unknown he made quite the fortune. Possibly he was in league with the Volkslanders, possibly with somebody else, but one way or the other Mr. Muse had made himself quite the target of interest for the Wild Geese.

But also of others. This much became apparent when part of his compound's roof disintegrated by means of a man's body being physically hurled through it with incredible strength. For a moment the surprised mercenaries were left to stare at the bloodied corpse as it ascended nearly a hundred meters above the ruined roof, debris raining down on the dirty-covered road. Then the street filled with sudden gunfire, and half a dozen Blitzschlag Fields went up at once.
SDN World 2: The North Frequesuan Trust
SDN World 3: The Sultanate of Egypt
SDN World 4: The United Solarian Sovereignty
SDN World 5: San Dorado
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Beowulf » 2011-06-15 02:31am

Fujioka(Royal Yacht)
Tianguo Space
Semi-unreal time

"Oh, so the robots want to play. Da Yuan Shuai Zhou, we're going to send more of the fleet to that section of the galaxy."

"Yes, Ma'am. But we shouldn't send any more battleships. We've already committed half the force, and we can't really afford to send more, with the Umerians having decide to pull out of the coalition, the Frogs still existing to rimwards, and the Union of Four Stars on the other side of the badlands, we can't afford to reduce the heavy hitters that much."

"So instead, we'll send what you called the strength of the Navy to fight the MEH? and possibly more afterwards?"

"I don't see how we'll have a choice. We need to smack down those abominations if we get the chance, and there will be no chance like the present to do so."

"We already worked up a contigency plan for this, actually. We're going to more than double the number of cruiser and carrier squadrons. One squadron of each will have to protect the fleet train, as we'll not be able to leave it in Shinra, as previously planned. Instead, it'll be forward positioned, around D-24. This will facilitate more rapid resupply of the fleet after the engagement, to allow us to go against the robots faster, and with less... friction with our friends. We'll still need to find friends to help us with this, however. It may be easier if they do something stupid against the MEH. Like burn a planet to cinders."

"I approve. Get them going. We don't have much time left to get them out there in time for the assault."


Net result:
Tianguo Rimward-Widdershin Expeditionary Fleet expands to:
20 Battleships
44 Cruisers
44 Carriers
5 Type 25 Corvettes
Misc fleet train ships
Total SW pt value: ~14880
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Siege » 2011-06-15 03:33pm

New Somalia
Wild Space

The Wild Geese reacted with the unerring lightning precision of veteran mercenaries bloodied in combat. That is to say they scattered like a pack of rats, though a very small pack, consisting only of Anthemum and Sirocco. The two of them scrambled into the nearest house, Sirocco knocking down the door and Anthemum simply vaulting through the window. Both door and glass shattered under the force exerted on them by the mercenaries' high-tech battlesuits, showering the room behind in splinters of steel and glass.

To be fair, the fibcrete wall of a Wild Space shack didn't provide much in the way of cover from modern weapons systems. Plasma weapons, mass driver cannons or even relatively simple pulse guns could shred such obstacles with impunity. The biggest thing was to get out of immediate sight, and hope that whoever was turning the street outside into a kill-zone didn't have properly good auspex gear ready to see through walls. The two mercenaries scrambled against the far wall, weapons pointing toward the openings from which they had come. “We gotta get out back,” Sirocco mumbled dizzily. It was hard for her to focus under the sudden Blitzschlag Fields. “Once we're off the main street we can-”

“Hold on,” Anthemum interrupted her. “I don't think they're gunning for us.”

The psion pressed two fingers against her visor and furrowed her brow. “W- what do you mean?”

“I don't think they're shooting at us. Someone's firing off enough ordnance to wage a small continental war but none of it is landing near here.”

“That's-” Sirocco shook her head. She looked like she was nursing a giant headache. “Uh. I suppose that's good, then?”

“For given values of 'good',” her partner smiled. He checked his weapon, then the PKE-values on his suit's HUD and looked at her. “You okay?”

She threw him an irate look. “What a stupid thing to ask.” She wasn't okay – no psion in an area covered by Blitzschlag Fields would be. To someone so used to operating with more than five senses it felt distinctly like someone had abruptly pulled a bag over her head. “Does the Pope of Space shit incense?” There was an unusual amount of hatred in her voice. As a rule psions didn't like psyk-out tech, but the Shepistani brain-burners were probably the most loathed of all possibles. Unfortunately they were due to their ubiquitous nature in their home polity also amongst the cheapest, and thus the most likely to be used by the casually cruel whenever they didn't care about burning out a mind every now and then. She sniffed. “At least I wasn't projecting when those goddamn things went up.”

Anthemum smiled wryly. If his suit wasn't lying their current location was overlapped by at least five different Blitzschlag Fields, all of them no doubt security measures intended to stifle a potential rebellion of psion slaves. As a former CEID anti-psi specialist he was more knowledgeable on the subject than most, and if his partner had enough wits left to make snarky comments she'd probably be alright. “You up to finding out who's pissing in your Kasanarium?”

Sirocco shook her head to clear the dizziness and brought up her dual M11 plasma pistols. “Let's do this.”

In the streets outside there were people shooting and screaming and dying. Judging by the smoldering holes in it the majority of the gunfire seemed to be have been concentrated at the compound, but was now flowing around the streets surrounding it. Erratic bursts of what sounded like plasma and bragtech weapons shifted through the ruins as the two Wild Geese emerged from their impromptu hideout. Their battlesuits fed them information about the surroundings: echolocation and LIDAR readers, but also localized magnetic and gravimetric fields and a host of other data even para-marines could only dream of. These weren't stock USMC warsuits; they were top-of-the-line DEEP BLUE experimental exo-armors stamped with the winged infinity symbol of Pan-Empyrean Positronics. Each one cost as much as a small moon. They weren't invincible, but they were just about the best thing in the entire galaxy that money could buy. Even so they picked up no sign of life in the immediate vicinity of the house. The street was deserted, and small dust devils played across its uneven surface. Scanning around, Sirocco snorted. “Well. This is... disappointingly anticlimactic?”

Anthemum grinned. “Hardly. I'm getting some really funky readings here.” He checked his sensors again. “I can tell you something's out there-”

“Well gee Sherlock, thanks for your brilliant insight,” Sirocco added venomously.

“- but the fields and the buildings are interfering.” Anthemum continued at a long-suffering yet infinitely-patient tone. “Maybe we should take a look up on high?”

His partner shrugged. “Worth the risk. In three?”

On cue the two Wild Geese activated the microgravity jump jets. According to Mr. Hank the jump jets were designed to take a man (or indeed woman) into orbit but were “not safety-rated yet”... Whatever that meant. Regardless, none of that was necessary here. In two seconds the two mercenaries were carried aloft on fields of force that made a mockery of the standard model and deposited on the roof of the building they had occupied a minute earlier.

The roof was flat, made of the same dubious-cover-providing fibcrete as the house below, and offered reasonable concealment in the form of a series of waist-high escarpments that went around the entire thing. Up here it was even clearer that there was some sort of fight going on at the housing complex on the other side of the compound. The mercenaries caught brief flashes of plasma fire and sounds that their suits' electronic user integrity systems warned them were those of men dying what appeared to be grizzly deaths; did they want to hear them in computer-corrected full-filter hi-def [Y / N]?

Both Sirocco and Anthemum simultaneously selected [N], then turned their attention to the sole other occupant of the roof. He was clearly a local militiaman, wearing a cheap set of partially hardened armor. His eyes had rolled back into his skull. He was clearly dead – it didn't take a genius to figure that out, considering his torso had been cut cleanly in half by what had to have been something wickedly sharp, and hot enough to instantly cauterize the massive torso-wide wounds. His upper and lower body parts were scattered a few meters from each other, as if something had moved past the poor bastard at incredible speed and contemptuously cut him in half in passing.

The two Wild Geese looked at the body, then at each other. Anthemum voiced the thought they'd both been sharing. “What the hell is going on here?”
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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Shinn Langley Soryu
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2011-06-16 12:11am

[Simon says, finish your storylines. Or at least give them a nice kick in the rear.]

Someone Explain to Soramirez Just What the Hell is Going On
Seize, Gorasnaya
Risea Sector, Holy Empire of Haruhi Suzumiya

Previously on SORAMIREZ DO EVERYTHING... wrote:"Lead the way, then, Sergeant Hale," Filicia replied as she and the rest of the platoon picked up their own weapons and followed Nate out of their hiding place and back onto the streets of Seize. None of them knew what was going to be in store for them next...

"Why the hell are they called Schismatics, anyway?" Kanata asked idly as she accompanied the rest of her platoon down yet another deserted street.

"Never paid attention to your security briefings or your history classes, did you, Kanata?" Barry shot back. "Tell her, Jimmy. I'm not exactly too hot on the details myself, actually."

"God, not you too, Barry," James sighed. "So, anyway, we clearly weren't the first humans to arrive on this planet. While we were busy helping the Byzantines exterminate the Tau, the Belkans were sneaking around, trying to snatch up as many planets as they could in order to build up that dinky little 'Empire' of theirs. A bunch of them landed here on Gorasnaya and invested a lot towards setting up a major colony. Too bad for them the native wildlife was hostile. If the grays didn't rip 'em to shreds, the grubs used their psyker powers to enslave 'em."

"You're talking about the Chimaerans and the Shu'ulathoi, right?" Kanata asked.

"Yeah, you definitely weren't paying attention in class, Kanata," James replied. "Anyway, the Belkans were tied up elsewhere and couldn't spare the resources to save their colony, so they basically cut and run, leaving their own people at the mercy of the wildlife. The grubs took some of their new slaves and rigged them up with cybernetics to solidify their control over them. They called these cyborgs 'Watchers,' mainly because they were meant to guard other slaves and see if they were up to anything. In any case, nothing in life is ever foolproof, and so it was with the grubs' psychic control. Some of the Watchers managed to break free, jack some grub tech, free some of the other slaves, and disappear into the wilderness. You'd think that was the end of it and they'd get offworld and go back to Belka, right? Wrong. These guys were pissed that their country had abandoned them, and they were determined to make the grubs pay for everything. In order to get an edge against the grubs and their slave soldiers, they spliced gray DNA into their own genomes, making themselves stronger and faster, but it warped their brains, made them completely, utterly bugfuck insane. They called themselves the Leben Geist, the 'Living Ghosts,' but the grubs just called them 'Schismatics,' 'cause they had committed the grievous crime of splitting from the fold and taking some of the faithful with them, right? The name more or less stuck, and that's what we've been calling them ever since we first ripped the knowledge out of the grubs' minds."

"Sorami, Ramirez, cut the chit-chat!" Rio called out. "Stay frosty Oscar Mike!"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Kanata muttered under her breath.

"They were human once, after all, so don't underestimate them," James felt the need to point out to his colleague. "They may be crazy motherfuckers, but they're also smart motherfuckers. Wait, I think I see some of them just down the street. Guys?! Hey, guys! We got contact!"

File photos of the Leben Geist/Living Ghosts/Schismatics/whatever name you want to make up for them

Just down the road were several humanoid figures in tattered clothing milling about. One would have thought them to be stragglers from the evacuation effort at first, but closer inspection quickly revealed otherwise. Their skin was pallid, their heads were completely hairless, their faces were locked into a permanent scowl, their perpetually bloodshot eyes were a lurid shade of yellow, and their mouths dripped with blood. They were the Leben Geist, the Living Ghosts, the Schismatics, the descendants of those forsaken Belkan souls who had been abandoned by their country and forced to do whatever it took to survive, even if it meant descending into the depths of savagery.

The leader of this particular Schismatic band was smart enough to operate and maintain a looted M11A pulse rifle, but his comrades were nowhere near as capable. The fusion of human and Chimaeran DNA had unpredictable effects on higher mental functions, and exactly how sentient individual Schismatics were was still an open question even in this day and age. While there were certainly those who retained human-level intelligence and lucidity, the majority were deranged to the point of being little more than animals trapped in human bodies. These "feral" Schismatics could still be trained, though, and the "intelligent" Schismatics did their best to keep their less intelligent kin in line.

"I smell... I smell... I smell OUR NEXT VICTIMS!" the Schismatic leader growled as he signaled for the others to attack. "SCHNELL! SCHNELL!"

The leader opened fire with his rifle as the other members of the band charged into the fray, attempting to close the distance between them and the Imperial Guards before they could return fire. Unfortunately for them, the Guards were more than ready. Privates Allen and Suminoya, alerted by Private Ramirez, shredded the charging Schismatics with several bursts from their machine guns. The Schismatic leader was taken out soon afterwards by Sergeant Hale returning fire with his own M11A, melting a hole in the leader's brain case.

"You can be sure there's more where that came from," Sergeant Hale said. "Pretty odd to see them actually come out during the day, though. They usually come out at night...usually. Something's definitely up here."

"Whatever it is, I sure as hell don't want to find out the hard way," Lieutenant Heidelman said. "Let's keep moving! Everyone, stay frosty Oscar Mike!"
I ship Eino Ilmari Juutilainen x Lydia V. Litvyak.

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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Force Lord
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby Force Lord » 2011-06-16 12:16am

Center of War, Centrum
The Centrality
Unreal Time/Early March

"Two full fleets, sir? Is that not a tad bit...excessive?"

Falko Tredell glared at Cracus Vompey, the Secretary of War. "Yes, I am aware that the coalition force already sent is packing enough heat to take on this MEH, but then, we have a fucking good reason to do this. Unlike the half-baked excuses most of the coalition is putting up. What about the Army and Marines?"

"We may probably need to movilize over a billion men at least, not including the elite forces. I presume the drawdown of the Ground Forces has again been suspended?"

"Yes. This is serious business, Mr. Secretary. We fufill our promises to the best of our ability. And this one we must."

The Central Times

War against MEH declared, mobilization to begin immediately

The Central State has declared war against the MEH today, after a unanimous vote by the Party Congress. The reason has been because of the MEH's "dastardly crimes against the ESPer peoples, as well as several severe crimes against life in general and diplomatic custom". Already the order for the movilization of the nation has been given. All Centrality citizens are expected to go to the nearest recruiting station for military service. Vacant positions in industry are to be filled with suitable worker droids whenever possible. Only valuable labourers and managers are to remain at their jobs. The Armed Forces have begun to prepare two full fleets, to be called the First Armada in keeping with wartime designations, for assisting the Coalition Against The MEH. Also, no less than 1.6 billion active troops have been called up for invading MEH worlds. It is expected that the first elements of our expeditionaty forces will start arriving near MEH space in the course of a few weeks.

End result:

Centrality First Armada

2 Dreadnoughts
2 Ultracarriers
4 Battleships
4 Supercarriers
8 Battlecruisers
8 Battle Carriers
16 Cruisers
16 Fleet Carriers
32 Destroyers
32 Light Carriers
64 Frigvettes
64 Escort Carriers
150 Cutters
500 Shuttles
225 Hyper-light Shuttles
Carrier fighters- 18,700
Carrier gunships- 3,740
Misc. fleet train ships

Total point value: Aprox. $15,750

Centrality Ground Invasion Forces

Army: 1,000,000,000
Marines: 500,000,000
Elites: 100,000,000

Total point value: Aprox. $12,000
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Re: SDNW4 Story Thread 2

Postby KhorneFlakes » 2011-06-16 02:05pm

Taiidan Space: New Taiid - The Imperial capital of Korah, the Imperial Throne

Emperor Tiir Jet observed the gathering before him. The Imperial Navy's top-ranked Admirals and the Imperial Army's Generals were arranged before him, Fleet Command on his right - and the Army Command to his left.

They did not ask him why he had called for them - for he had informed them before they attended this meeting. The purpose of this meeting was clear - what the reborn Taiidan Empire's current motives were.

His aide handed him a datapad. He gave a nod as a thank you, taking the datapad. The aide returned to his seat besides the Emperor's podium. His sharp, grey-white eyes absorbed the memo on the datapad. It was his rehearsal for today's meeting.

He ahem'd, ajusting his robes. Standing up, Tiir began to speak - adressing the gathering before him.

"Leaders of Fleet and Army Command, I welcome you. I thank you for all coming here personally. It will make disseminating this information to the Taiidan people much easier." The military officials listened, their sharp ears taking in what he spoke. Tiir had to admit - he had come far in restoring the Empire to it's former glory. The discpline of the individuals before him was easily comparable to that of the former Empire's military - a fact that the old Empire had spoken of time and time again.

"I believe I have already informed you of Operation Reconciliation. Admiral Saarn, if you will?" The Emperor spoke. Saarn rose from his seat, walking to the center of the conference room.

Admiral Saarn was one the primary founders of Fleet Command. He served as Command's intel officer - commanding the loyalty of the numerous Taiidani recon and infiltration elements.

"As the Emperor has no doubt stated to you, Operation Reconciliation will be the official depature of the 1st Explorator Fleet." He paused temporarily, before continuing. "As our current intel indicates, there are still numerous Republican holdouts scattered across this galaxy, refusing to accept their crimes. They have been holed up in their strongholds for what I believe many of us consider to be far too long."

Both the Admiralty and the Army's Generals eyes narrowed at that. Many begun looking down. The crimes committed by the Republic would live in infamy until the last Republican was dead.

That was the memory that burned in every Imperial's mind. That conflict they would never forget. After the short moment of remininsence, the Admirals and Generals settled back down, patiently awaiting for Saarn to continue.

"Part of Reconciliation's goal is to locate these strongholds and destroy them. This will be the Explorator Fleet's primary objective, alongside scouting out potential new colonies for the Empire to claim. The secindary objective of the Explorator Fleet is to establish a permanent network of sensor stations to monitor the space near us. This is to ensure that we are able to detect likely attacks from afar, as well as providing our astronomers and scientists high quality and long-ranged telescope arrays and sensor systems."

The Admiralty nodded in agreement. The Generals simply put a hand to their chin, thinking of stratagies that would be likely used during this operation. The Emperor looked at Saarn, before dimissing him. "Thank you for your briefing, Admiral."

Tiir Jet looked at he gathering of individuals, before speaking again. "However, there are other things to be done as well. Namely, the reconnaissance of outer Hiigaran space. Their coalition against the MEH is moving most of their warships away from the outer Hiigaran control zone. This leaves us with an oppurtunity. Though we may wish for better relations with Hiigara, netherless I believe we should take advantage of this lack of forces in order to prepare ourselves for the worst should we offend the Hiigarans. Tiir paused before continuing. "The reconnaissance force will only map their outermost bases, to avoid political fallout in case they are discovered."

"An excellent proposition, Lord." Saarn spoke, clearly in agreement with the Taiidan Emperor.

"This conference is ajourned. The Explorator Fleet will at 11:00 Standard Time, tommorow. Be ready, Gnetlemen." The Emperor stated, before turning around and leaving for his throne. The Admiralty and the Army Generals left their seats for the exit of the room, their aides following.

"If we can reclaim Karos, Operation Reconciliation will have been worth it." Tiir thought, walking up to the turbolift at the end of the room. He put in the location for his throne.

A Taiidan scout ship performs reconnaissance of the Outer Hiigaran Control zone and provides the Navy with updated likely approach vectors in the inlikely event that hostilities between the Clans of Hiigara and Neo-Taiidani Empire occur.

The First Explorator Fleet is gathered. The fleet itself consists of:
One Saarkin-class Hybrid carrier, the Venator ($200)
One Qwaar-Jet II-class Heavy Cruiser, the Duty without End ($160)
Two Quaar-Tel Light Cruisers ($110 each)
Four Skaal-Tel Destroyers ($70 each)
Two Skaal-Fa Missile Destroyers ($60 each)
Six Kudaarn Assault Frigates ($30 each)
Six Sajuuk-Khar Ion Frigates ($40 each)
One Benovelence Support Frigate ($50)
Five Landing Crafts ($40 each)

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