STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

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VX-145
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

At the Conference

"It's a roight little to-do, ain't it, Vic?"

"Please, don't call me that," Victoria protested, to no avail - Globbiz had immediately turned his attention to the cheeses, muttering something about how 'umies had such small mouths and the whole wheels would have totally been bite-sized. She nearly sighed, then caught sight of Lily running around one of the circular tables with something clutched in her hand. "What've you got there?"

"A knife!" Lily yelled back, showing off the long, sharp, pointy, dangerous knife in her hand.

Victoria held herself back with effort she really hoped wasn't visible. Where had she even found a knife? Oh, yeah, it looked like one of the cheese-knives, and a couple of the Theophanic servers looked very anxious about the girl running around with, well, a knife. She marked them on the collective HUD, and punted a message over to Lily telling her to tone the "hyperactive, borderline homicidal small child" aesthetic down just a notch. A rolling eyes sticker came back in response, of course, but the girl did at least slow down.

At least _lim was being vaguely helpful, chatting with the local Theophanic bigwig, and the crews were mingling with the crowd without making fools out of themselves. Or rather, doing so in vaguely amusing ways. At least it took her mind off just how strange all these different people were - they all seemed to have stuck with their base forms, and there were very few noticeable signals going between any of the individuals present. A few phones, one dragon-winged person who had gone suspiciously silent the moment Victoria had noticed, plus targetting systems for the various bodyguards... and that was it. After having the ambient networks for so long - and their predecessors before them - it was... weird.

She shook it off. Time to go be diplomatic. _lim could handle the Theophanics, besides, there was already an agreement in place there - thank god for the 1:1 ratio comms system on board the Claes or they'd have ended up in the rather awkward position of setting up two treaties (urgh) at once. There had been some minor awkwardness about what her crew was calling the Thor-YEET-o incident, but that had thankfully been smoothed over through whatsherface's words and Justinian taking the view that yes, it was perhaps a justified act of war, but also a needless waste of both a dreadnought and a planet.

Anyway, the Theophanics were covered, which left the UISC, the SOS people, and the Nashtari. Well, the latter could be handled by Scarlet (she mentally pinged their location over to the other Captain) since she'd been co-ordinating with them the most - especially when carrying out SAR duties after the battle. There was no way in hell or on earth she was letting Lily anywhere the girl could do any damage, and while Globbiz was diplomatic enough, people seemed a bit put off by the ork. Probably something to do with the tusks the length of her forearm, or the oversized pistol at his hip.

Which left herself and... oh dear. Xx_sHaDoWmAsTeR_xX. Bit of a sword-marquis, that one. Okay, so he'd need some help - she poked a message out in her crew's chat, and had Ayanami, Ayanami and Sully volunteer. They could go deal with the SOS people, which left her with the UISC. Which should be fun, they seemed like a pretty cool lot. She was just about to go find their captain when their captain found her.

“Captain-Theodor-Moz-UISC! Lets-talk-hash-out-make-deal-make-it-look-good-for-posterity-get-to-know-chew-the-fat!” said, well, Captain Theodor Moz, thrusting his arm in her general direction. She waved (?) back and loaded in all the files she could on the UISC peoples. This guy was a Quatonian, not to be confused with an Octonian no matter how similar the names were, and an actual, honest-to-god* alien. That was... pretty much it. No explanation for the uniform or pipe, which looked startlingly earth-like.

"Victoria Carver, Captain of the Endeavour," she replied. "So, how's the hyperdrive?"

"All-good-fixed-right-and-proper-every-bolt-in-its-place! Have-question-simple-question-for-you-if-you-do-not-mind-the-asking?"

"Go ahead," Victoria said, nearly having made the mistake of using body language. There had been documents exchanged beforehand, so no major misunderstandings would have resulted, but she didn't want to be rude to Moz.

"Just-what-exactly-is-an-APFSDSRLGJHEAT/SHAOMGWTFBBQ? My-crew-mateys-communications-people-engineers-were-yelling-shouting-screaming-about-them."

Unexpected. "It's a type of ammunition," Victoria answered, "But... more like a joke? The kinetic shells we normally use are just armour-piercing with some explosive filler, or APHE - armour-piercing high-explosive - for short. There was this trend back a hundred years ago to make more and more complicated shells, and the abbreviations became really silly. Like, APFSDSRLGJHEAT/SHAOMGWTFBBQ. Someone put forward the name last week, and we all thought it was funny, so we re-labelled all our basic ammunition. Trust me, they don't have fins or discarding sabots." The rest of the acronym was, however, pretty accurate.

Moz stood there, silent, for a second or two, and Victoria could almost hear the man's brain whirring. Then: "Okay-I-see-understand-get-the-gist. Shall-we-get-food-cheese-these-chippy-things-maybe-drinks-non-alcoholic-beverages-then-discuss-negotiate-do-diplomacy?"

"Sounds good to me," said Victoria. "Lead on."

-

*Victoria eschewed most of the modern takes on such sayings, being a first-generation Endeavourite.


[OOC: In terms of foreign policy, Endeavour essentially wants the same treaty as negotiated with the Theophanic Empire - mutual nonagression and freedom of movement. The Captains and crews of the Endeavour ships present are empowered to negotiate subject to ratification by the rest of Endeavour.]
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Rogue 9 »

Diplomatic Summit aboard Dystropos, North Reaches of the Cradle of the Stars

"I do not like this, Horace," Nog-Ornth said softly as they both drifted away from small talk toward the corner occupied by their staff. "The senior officers are polite enough, but discomfort with my presence is clear from the staff and crew."

"They are all human, Nog," he answered, wearing a large grin for the benefit of anyone watching but matching her soft volume. "It's probable that they have had little peaceful contact with other sapients. I will speak with Justinian. I don't think it should be too hard to prevail upon Admiral Greeley to accompany me. As I read it, we're dealing with a military vessel, and a military man might get him out of his shell a bit."

Rraskrarr walked over then, seeing his fellow ambassadors in a huddle, chewing on an assortment of sandwich meats he'd removed from the sandwich. "I get the feeling they don't all like me very much," he observed drily, his voice a low rumble.

"Yes, Nog-Ornth and I were just discussing that," responded Shelton. "Perhaps the two of you should speak to our fellow guests and leave the Theophanics to me. This translator patch is rough, but their language seems derived from the Greek language of Earth, so once the linguists fully account for linguistic drift we should be okay." He looked over to where Admiral Greeley conferred with his attaches. "Admiral, would you be so kind as to join me in greeting Lord Justinian," he called out.

"We'd better go see who these Sector people are who turned up out of nowhere," observed Rraskrarr.

"I will accompany you," said Nog-Ornth.

[OOC: Two diplomatic teams, essentially the human half of the delegation going to greet the Theophanic commanders, and the two aliens headed to the Sector delegation to introduce themselves. The way Nashtari ambassadorships work is the ambassadors only exercise plenipotentiary powers as a group, so at least two of the three must agree to something before they'll hammer out a deal. Trying to drive wedges won't work - but you might not know that. ;) The Admiral's role is secondary.]
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Shinn Langley Soryu »

Former Embassy of the Byzantine Imperium, Imperial Center, Hyogo
Haruhiist space
Some time prior to the Dystropos summit


"General Blaiddyd, please forgive my impertinence, but why was I selected to be an observer at this event? If Her Majesty requires the presence of a Byzantine military attaché, surely a more senior officer could have been chosen. Colonel Fraldarius and Colonel Gautier both come to mind."

"Colonel Fraldarius and Colonel Gautier were the ones who personally recommended you for the position, Major. You should consider it a great honor, being chosen to assist the Holy Empire's first contact efforts. If we are not alone in this universe, then it would be better that we make new allies instead of new enemies."

"Please do not mistake my skepticism for disrespect, General. I am indeed honored that the Colonels would choose me to represent Byzantium, but I still have reservations about these xenos. The Tau also approached us under the guise of friendship, after all."

"I am well aware of that sad chapter of our Imperium's history, Major. At this point in time, we can only hope that this Theophanic Empire and its cohorts will not reveal themselves to be as duplicitous as the Tau were."

"Speaking of the Theophanic Empire, it is quite curious, General, finding other beings who speak our mother tongue so far from home. Perhaps this is why Her Majesty requested a Byzantine observer to accompany her diplomats?"

"Indeed it is, Major. Even if it's just to satisfy our own curiosity, we should attempt to learn as much as possible about this new Empire. Perhaps there is more in common than just our language."



Theophanic Empire dreadnought Dystropos
North reaches of the Cradle of the Stars


Major Wilfrid Artaxerxes could not immediately recall the last time he ever had to wear one of the many ceremonial uniforms authorized for use by the Byzantine Imperial Guard. Commissioned as a officer shortly after the fall of Constantinople, the nature of the Final War meant that there was very little opportunity or inclination for the sort of pageantry that warranted the use of such formal attire. He openly and proudly wore his scars from that apocalyptic conflict, though the neck injury that had robbed him of his vocal cords was unsightly enough that he chose to conceal it with a large metal gorget. Though he had been advised to attend completely unarmed, he still insisted on wearing the holster for his standard-issue sidearm and the scabbard for his ceremonial sword with the rest of his uniform.

A lone man with bold attire in a group of relatively far more conservatively dressed women, Major Artaxerxes stood as a sharp contrast with the rest of the Holy Empire's delegation. The actual State Department envoys were three of the Holy Empire's finest diplomats, brought out of semi-retirement to hopefully establish amicable relations with the inhabitants of this new universe: Elizabeth Vasilyevna "Eli" Ayase, Nozomi Tojo, and Nico Yazawa. They were accompanied by SOS Imperial Navy Admiral Silvia Pereira, who had been voluntold by Fleet Admiral Takagi to meet specifically with the Nashtari representatives regarding the Black Star pirates; Admiral Pereira's own retinue included several officers from the Holy Empire's Office of Naval Intelligence and the commanding officers of DesDivs Three and Four, as well as the skippers of HSS Leigh and HSS Morris. Eli stood out in her own right, authorized to wear a modified Byzantine Imperial Guard service dress uniform, commemorating her own lengthy service as military attaché and later civilian ambassador to the former Byzantine Imperium; Nozomi and Nico had seen it fit to wear their old Imperial Marine dress blues, while Admiral Pereira and her group were all clad in the dark blue service dress uniform of the Imperial Navy.

Eli did most of the speaking for the Holy Empire delegation as a whole as they were guided by a Theophanic ypolchagos (lieutenant?) to the designated meeting area aboard Dystrophos. Particular attention was paid by the ypolchagos to the presence of Major Artaxerxes, who was content to remain silent as Eli fielded questions that were almost certainly intended for him to answer. A man of very few words around strangers for the most part, Major Artaxerxes had little interest in wasting his breath on underlings.

Once at the reception hall, Eli, Nozomi, Nico, Admiral Pereira, and Major Artaxerxes took their time to size up the delegations of the other three polities invited to the summit. The Sector, a motley group of xenos seemingly led by a literal ball in truly fanciful garb that made even the most ornate Byzantine ceremonial uniforms look drab by comparison. The Nashtaris, a far more regimented group of humans accompanied by two distinctly different alien species. Endeavour, a truly anarchic collective of humans and xenos... which apparently included an Ork in their ranks. The mere presence of the one who identified himself as "Globbiz" was enough to give Major Artaxerxes pause, as he was well aware of the depredations of the Orks in his old universe.

The game plan for the Holy Empire delegation was straightforward. Admiral Pereira and her officers would approach the Nashtaris, as ordered by Fleet Admiral Takagi. Eli and Major Artaxerxes would personally deal with the Theophanics themselves, while Nozomi would handle the Sector delegation. That left Nico with the task of negotiating with the Endeavourites, and she somehow had a feeling that the Ork would be the least of her problems. After the Theophanic majordomo and Justinian soi Foinix finished their introductions, the members of the Holy Empire delegation split up and set forth upon their respective tasks.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

Dystropos Conference

Xx_sHaDoWmAsTeR_xX stalked through the gardens, cloak billowing in his wake as he walked silently yet menacingly towards the SOS delegation. Countless hangers-on turned and watched his passing, mouths agape at the sight of an Endeavour captain in their prime - or possibly at the 7'8'' blue-and-purple man effortlessly keeping pace with him. Why Victoria had seen fit to lumber him with someone so bright was a mystery - though, at least he'd brought along a gun. Maybe he could play it off as a Chewbacca thing - yeah, that'd work.

He stopped as the SOS delegation broke apart, members heading in all directions, and was just about to pick one to intercept when he noticed one had already begun drifting towards him. Perfect. He let her approach, staying silent all the while, making sure his face was shrouded in deep shadow. That module had been difficult to get working, and he was going to wring every last second of use out of it. Yes, this would go perfectly - the woman approaching looked like she was more used to sweets and cuddly toys than a true master of the darkness like himself.

The only problem was, the woman remained silent, simply staring into his eyes. Well, two could play at that game.

A minute passed.

Two minutes passed.

Three minutes-

"Look, kid," Sully broke in, "I gotta eat sometime today, can we get this started already?"

Damn the ignorant fool. He had been so close to getting the woman to break! "Very well," he said. "Allow me to introduce myself and my compatriots. I am Captain Xx_sHaDoWmAsTeR_xX, of the stealth destroyer Nothing to See Here. This-" he pointed at Sully, "Is Sully Sullivan, this is Rei Ayanami and this is Rei Ayanami." He pointed to each Rei in turn, and then realised he'd made a mistake. "Sorry, this is Rei Ayanami," he said, pointing to the correct one this time, "And this is Rei Ayanami."

"Nico Yazawa, Holy Empire State Department," the woman - Nico - said, holding out her hand.

The Endeavourites shook it in turn, Sully taking the opportunity to mutter: "Sorry about the kid, but he's a High Leaguesmaster of Undertown, if you catch my drift." Nico didn't, and to be honest, neither did Xx_sHaDoWmAsTeR_xX.

"Well then," he said, pushing past his ignorance (he was not going to sully himself by looking the reference up, of course), "Let us find somewhere comfortable, and we shall begin."
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Elheru Aran »

Dystropos, Diplomatic Reception

Justinian soi Foinix chuckled at a particularly hideous play on words by _lim and took a drag on his massive cigar, then a throat cleared nearby. Lifting his brow as he turned towards the new arrival, he beheld the Nashtari Ambassador-- Shelton? and another Nashtari in military garb with him.

He gave them a long look and cleared his own throat with a significant look. Shelton smiled broadly and held out a hand, Justinian ignored it and waited for them to say something. The ambassador’s smile became slightly glassy, but he retained it with practiced diplomatic efficiency, while the expression on the military man’s face tightened minutely.

_lim read the room and decided to intercede. “Yello there, mate. Don’t believe we’ve met. I’m _lim, captain of the Endeavour, and this ‘ere good ol’ boy is Justinian.”

“Pleasure to meet you all,” Ambassador Shelton responded affably before introducing himself, “and this is Admiral Greeley of the Fourth Fleet. We thought we would take advantage of the opportunity to meet you and extend our appreciation of your hosting this event to bring us all together.”

Justinian extracted the cigar from his jaw and placed a long, considering look upon Shelton and Greeley. Finally he spoke, addressing Greeley directly, “Admiral. That was fine work with your ships. Even as small as they are.”

Admiral Greeley’s back stiffened and he responded, not quite frostily, “Pardon?”

“Yes. They are positively adorable. I may have to commission a couple from your shipyard as a pair of pleasure-barges. One for me, and one for my dear lady wife, so that we can be well apart,” Justinian continued insouciantly.

Shelton's smile only widened. "Well, Lord Justinian, they may be small, but at least they're mobile. Speaking of which, it seems you are in need of the services of a repair yard."

Justinian waved his cigar benevolently. “Not at all. The famprika-ploios Frater Newton is on its way here. We should be drydocked within a couple of weeks.”

"We have a cruiser named Newton, attached to the Second Fleet," Shelton observed casually. "Interesting how the influences of Earth seem to stay with all her descendants. So, what brings you to this neck of the nebula?"

Greeley glanced sidelong at the ambassador for just a moment before relaxing. The name of a cruiser or the existence of a Second Fleet couldn't give too much away, after all.

Thoughtfully, Justinian scratched the side of his jaw through his beard and looked contemplatively into the distance for a moment. “Damned things, nebulas. Cause a great deal of nullspace interference. Your drives are obviously optimized for them, but we don’t have many in the Empire.”

He placed his ornately headed cane behind him and leaned upon it, eyebrows lifted, waiting for a response from the Nashtaris. He could do this all day. It's not like the Dystropos was going anywhere.

'What in blazes does this guy want,' Shelton thought to himself behind the pleasant diplomatic mask. "Perhaps I should rephrase, Your Lordship. You must admit it's a bit... unusual for dreadnoughts to crash on one's doorstep unannounced. Forgive my curiosity, but to what do we owe the pleasure?"

Justinian shrugged. “We’re a growing Empire. There are laws from old among our people that there may be only so many people to a world. So when populations press upon that line, then out to the stars we must look. The technognostiki believed there were habitable worlds in this part of the skies. They failed to mention that at least some of them were already inhabited.”

Shelton nodded thoughtfully, just before Admiral Greeley asked bluntly, “And if you had come out a little closer to those inhabited worlds? What then?”

“Well, things would’ve gotten interesting in a hurry, now then wouldn’t they?” Justinian responded just as bluntly, “But we wouldn’t have started anything. Our policy for Expansion Fleets is that if we encounter a civilized world, we open a dialogue and ask them if there are any habitable planets nearby that we can settle upon. We would not overcrowd a world if we can help it-- that is the whole reason we expand, you understand.”

Hastily (and before Greeley could inflame things further) Shelton interjected, “That seems eminently reasonable. I’m certain Nashtar and its allies would meet your criteria for, ah, civilized worlds. I’m no astrogeographer but I can make inquiries of our archives regarding nearby worlds, if you like.”

_lim put a metaphorical foot forth into the conversation. “If’n I may be so bold, Ambassador. Ah’m not sure you’ll have much luck there. Us Endeavourites have found habitable worlds mighty light on the ground in our neck of the woods. Why, it’s just now we encountered one, and we had to split it with Justinian’s folk!”

“Yes,” Shelton responded, “We’ve managed to gather some rumours to that effect since we met you here. I’d love to know more about your arrangement with the Theophanic Empire...?”

A Theophanic officer, a tall woman in the same burgundy as Justinian but slightly less burdened by gold and other trappings, stepped up beside them. soi Foinix turned his gaze upon her and raised his eyebrows; the woman, obviously accustomed to her superior’s manners, cleared her throat and boldly stated, “My lord, Lady Colonel Elizabeth Ayase, the Holy Empire’s envoy, and Major Wilfrid Artaxerxes, of Byzantium.”

A lady (really there was no other word for it) walked past the officer. Justinian regarded her coolly before slowly grinning and sketching a shallow bow. “My Lady Ayase. Such a pleasure.”

Before she could respond, a man in a green-jacketed uniform stepped forward besides Ayase and stated in mechanical tones, “Kýrié mou Ioustinianó. Chaíromai pou se gnorízo.” [My Lord Justinian. Such a pleasure to meet you.]

Justinian cast a cold eye upon him and then shifted his attention back to Ayase. “Welcome to the Dystropos. I pray you have found a warm welcome here.”

“More than welcome,” Ayase responded, inclining her head graciously. “I’ll be directly to the point, Lord soi Foinix. This is Major Artaxerxes, here. His nation, Byzantium, shares a common language with you, as we have found. We are naturally very curious about how that may have happened.”

Artaxerxes interjected, “Synchoríste tin adynamía. Échei perásei polýs kairós apó tóte pou oi Vyzantinoí synantísame állous milóntas ti mitrikí mas glóssa.” [Forgive the impertinence. It has been a very long time since we Byzantines have met others speaking our mother tongue.]

“Your accent is abominable, as are your manners,” Justinian responded coldly, “You will have to forgive me, Lady Ayase. I am no historian, but I am happy to facilitate a conversation between your nation and mine in due time. I’m certain we have much to learn from each other.”

She nodded and continued, “We have other concerns as well, which I am certain everybody here shares. Why are we only just now finding out about your Empire? And why has nobody here ever met any of our respective nations yet?”

Justinian spread his hands wide. “It is as much a mystery to me as it is to you, my Lady. I look forward to what may come of this discussion, but perhaps we should include all parties in it?”

Shelton decided this was an excellent opportunity to interject. “Pardon me, but I quite agree with Lord soi Foinix. Perhaps we have gotten to the portion of the evening where we should adjourn with our counterparts to discuss this?”

There were some chairs conveniently set around a table some distance away, in the lee of some artificial ruins; Justinian indicated this with the tip of his cane and remarked, “That would be an opportune location. Remind me to thank Evgorath for his foresight in setting that up when we’re done. _lim, would you be so kind as to find your Captain Carver and perhaps the Sector’s delegation and direct them that way?”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

OOC: This is a good time to wind up side conversations and have your main diplomats get together. Mild rudeness aside, Justinian soi Foinix is interested in finding out two things: who's going to be friendly, and where his fleet can head out towards. A secondary interest is in establishing trade relations with newly familiar polities. See you at the table!
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

Dystropos Conference


Delena smiled (something not easily done for most Trathalans) as she watched Moz do his very best with the various races attending the conference. He seemed to be much more himself after getting over the initial awkwardness of the situation. One could not blame him, after all the races of the Tri-Star Alliance had over two hundred years of ‘growing up’ together and were naturally at peace with each other. A whole new series of ‘alien’ species of course would naturally give one pause. She reflected that, in truth, his task was more a formality than anything else. No one at the conference naturally had any ability to make binding agreements for the entirety of the UISC, but, Moz was at the lease able to pass on the recommendations of what was requested of his superiors.
Open borders for diplomatic exchange and basic agreements for sales of goods all seemed to be relatively safe offerings to be made.

Currently Moz was speaking (or at least having his rapid fire language translated through the pad he held) to two of the three species that represented the ‘Nashtar’ union. She reflected how much her understanding of ‘what is normal’ constantly shifted as one moved out worlds from her homeworld. Long ago, when her people first met those of the Alliance, and later the Tajlan Empire, she felt how ‘alien’ they seemed. Different shapes, textures, colors, sizes. Yet upon reflection, they were in their own way very similar. Of the species she knew, most were roughly a similar size, and a similar shape. Two arms, two legs, two eyes.

As she looked upon the two representatives from Nashta however, once again the word ‘alien’ seemed to come to her mind.

The first one, ‘Ronoghan’ she believed was the name of the species, was truly immense. It towered over everyone else at the event and, she felt poorly for her Captain her, almost three times his own. Yet despite the great size, she sensed a very disciplined, almost calculating mind. Part of her wondered if they had perhaps long ago made contact with the enigmatic Skothians who she was told had a similar ‘shape’ to their thoughts. Though she shivered a bit at the thought of those entities meddling with any other racers.
The other form was somewhat smaller but its appearance had at first rather unsettled her. Her information had listed it as a Zambarin and its appearance certainly broke the “two arms two legs” shape she was used to. This individual possessed six limbs in total, the front ones looking as though they must have been hold overs from primeval times when the species was no doubt a fearsome predator. She found herself for the third time that night reciting a meditation prayer to calm her nerves. She missed not being back on the Ship for such rituals, but she felt it would be bad form if she were to begin laying various colored salts on the floor to chant from.

She naturally kept her distance from the conversation and did not wish to impose, but one could not help but over hear certain parts that floated by.

“Best-offer-i-can-do-my-big-wigs-will-talk-to-your-big-wigs-hammer-out-detail-no-sense-in-getting-in-shooting-match-over-misunderstandings-bad-form.” After an appropriate length of time of running what must have sounded like gibberish through the translation tablet, the towering Ronoghan seemed to give an amiable response. Or at least it appeared amiable. Delean was not able to catch what was said in response by the individual, but the corresponding response from Moz certainly seemed, interesting.
“Never-heard-of-‘hairybowlingball’-has-me-curious-wondering-what-it-is-couple-of-people-fellas-good-chaps-have-asked-me-that-tonight.”

Moz seemed to be holding his own as far as she could judge. The feel from his conversation seemed to give off a “no feet trod upon” sensation at least. She began to relax and let her mind wander. She had long ago concluded her presence was not needed as her Captain had requested. It seemed despite the diversity of individuals that The Gift was something her kind seemed to be the sole possessors of.

And then, then she felt something that for the briefest of moments made her doubt. Her tail went ridged and her wings tensed, it had been the merriest whisper, but her mind had felt a ‘call’.

Her head turned and she saw a human female approaching. Her eyes looked over the uniform briefly before looking down at her data pad. She tried to concentrate to read the scant information they had thus far obtained, but her mind felt it again, and this time there could be no doubt at what she was sensing. It was by no means a ‘call’ as she felt from any Trathalan of course, but the impression of it was unmistakable. For the first time in her life she found herself wishing she had trained her Gifts to be able to speak with other races without the use of a translation jewel.
Still, she felt caution was needed and more importantly, if others did share the gift, she would die of shame if she transgressed on another’s mind without their permission or knowing what rituals they had to request such permission.
Her eyes met the humans and Delena bowed immediately.

Though ‘bowed’ would be a gross over simplification of the gesture, her arms extended out to her sides, hands lifted palm up, her wings dipped forward, specific effort being made to dip them bellow her head, and her left leg crossed in front of the right in a sort of half way between a kneel and a curtsy.
To any other Trathalan who would have witnessed, it was the equivalent of saying:
May my soul forever be shamed and my family dishonored if my actions bring you discomfort
Trathalan gestures could be very specific.

Delena held the pose for a moment or two before looking up into a somewhat puzzled expression. She certainly did not think such a gesture would be recognized, but she could at least live with herself that it had been given none the less. Lifting herself up, she removed her own pad and brought up what she hoped would be an appropriate ‘hello’.

Humble greetings to conversation, may our meeting be blessed by Crie/God” This she felt was good for a rough start and looked back to the data pad to continue going. “Please forgive gesture out of context but I was concerned I may have—-” She paused in her typing, flustered as she could feel the confusion radiating off the human. The infernal device was so, crude, she wished she could just do this the way she was used to. She looked through similar words and finally put together a response she felt would work.
I may have, invaded your privacy. I have not met another species/race that can sense/hear minds of others. My kind are very, cautious, about how we may reach out to each other, I could not predict what rules govern your etiquette for this.” Delena steeled her nerves and hit the ‘Translate’ button on the pad, offering a prayer to whatever fates governed such devices that her words were well received.

“When I am finally back on the ThunderBird I am accept the Captains offer and have a large drink of what he should certainly not have.” she said to herself.
-****************************************************************

OCC: sorry for such a short post after such a long delay. Work has been kicking my butt and have not had the time I used to in evenings to type up responses. This will probably be the last one for a while, at least until the event finishes up, barring any emergencies needing additional posts. Tried my hardest, and just not good at writing for someone elses character as it were.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

Dystropos Conference, Cont.

Victoria had, unintentionally, set things up nearly perfectly. When the ping came through from _lim, informing her that their not-so-gracious host had decided to get to the meat of the matter, the other captains were perfectly positioned to herd the various delegations over to the table. She waited until she was sure everybody was moving, then scooped up a bottle of wine (waving off one of the Theophanics who looked askance at that), quick-fabbed herself a bowl and took some chips over to the table. The bowl probably cost her more calories than the chips would provide, but it was a fun little party trick - especially here. The same went for the sunglasses she decided she just had to wear.

Justinian looked askance at her as she sat down - at the wine (there was a bottle already on the table) at the chips, the sunglasses and the herd of spacers who'd followed in her wake. Exactly as she'd intended, then. Unfortunately, he managed to hold his tongue - she'd spent the past half hour ignoring the droning of a Theophanic officer about cost over-runs and instead coming up with a list of decent counters.

"Now the introductions are out of the way, let's get to business," is what he said instead. "Dikigoros Klisi, if you would..."

A remarkably grey man at Justinian's shoulder began walking around the circumference of the table, handing out small yellow folders, except to Victoria. "These contain the text of the Theophanic Empire's agreement with Endeavour, with specific clauses being rended into a generic form and the clause leading to the sharing of Symmachia excised. I am, frankly, quite annoyed that the Chelonis whelp got a head start on me and gave away half a damn planet, but the remainder of the text is, according to Klisi, a perfectly acceptable basis upon which further negotiations can be built." The UISC captain - good fellow, that one - made to say something before Justinian quelled him with a look. "I do not expect any of you to sign this as-is, of course, just as much as none of you can expect me to sign this and have it be Theophanic law. I merely provide them as an indication of the Empire's foreign policy, words I had not expected to say, and as something to take home with you. Now then, does anyone have anything else to raise?" The Endeavour spacers, which had dispersed a little at the long political talk, re-congregated. If anything dramatic was going to happen it'd be now.

The UISC captain raised a hand. "Yes-small-not-important-matter-issue, my-ship-cruiser-Thunder-Bird-is-repaired-fixed-ship-shape-but-we-used-consumed-no-longer-have-our-replacement-spare-hyperdrive-FTL-component-part-giant-piece-of-metal. We-would-like-if-no-one-minds-and-anyone-is-going-our-way-to-have-an-escort-guide-home-back-to-the-Sector-just-in-case-as-backup. Otherwise-else-will-take-weeks-days-nearly-a-month-to-get-acquire-restock-replacement-spares."

Victoria leaned back in her chair and put her feet up on the table. Apparently, that didn't even get an eyebrow-raise from Justinian, though some of the Nashtari and Haruhiists looked a little suprised at least. "We're heading roughly in the same way," she said, casually. "We can follow you back - or give you a tow if worst comes to worst." There were about a hundred different blueprints already submitted for a device to safely bring the Thunder Bird into hyperspace, and more were still flooding in. A few of them might even work, which was impressive.

"That-would-be-much-appreciated-is-very-kind-of-you."

Shelton, the Nashtari Ambassador, spoke up next. The man seemed... well, Victoria's memories of Old Earth were hazy at best, but enough historical texts had survived. It wasn't his fault, the man seemed pleasant and reasonable, but she couldn't help but think that people like him had carved Earth up into neat little squares and doled it out. Unfair to the man, she reminded herself, and with a bit of luck to Nashtar in general. She made a note to compliment their bomber pilots later - after they'd gotten the stick out their arses, they were pretty damn good at their job. "We discussed this earlier," he began, "but I would like to clarify the matter of where, exactly, the colonists on board this ship - and the warships that escort it - are going to end up."

Justinian leaned forwards. "Well, using star positions your nation has graciously provided, it seems our fleet over-shot its mark by quite a bit, by a distance within - but on the edge of - our margin of error. We will likely be going back towards the Empire, and hopefully will not come across any more uncontacted galactic states. The fleet, of course, will accompany the colonists, and will withdraw towards Imperial space once the colony is off the ground."

That seemed to satisfy Shelton, though he kept standing. "And the fleets from the other nations-" he caught Victoria's eye - "and other polities present?"

"That's a very polite way to ask everyone to get off your lawn," Victoria said, waving a hand in what she dearly hoped was a dismissive, yet reconciliatory gesture. (It wasn't.) "We set out what we came to do, that is, find whoever was out this way. Future diplomatic efforts can be sent by civilian craft, with lighter escort."

She tuned out the Haruhiists essentially saying the same thing (though she did note they didn't imply that the nebula was Nashtar's "lawn" - did they have claims on it as well? More likely, she was reading something into it that simply wasn't there), and of course Captain Moz was already set on going home. Instead, she checked out the streamer feed going out, able to see the thin thread of video going at a sharp angle into the floor and off to the Claes. And the much thicker thread of comments coming back. Most are of no consequence, and she was unable to really get into the interesting threads - the ones about the place of Endeavour and its foreign policy - before having to pay attention to the discussion again.



OOC: The conference is open. The general structure is that each player can make at least one post, then the conference will be closed.


--------------------



Endeavour

The debate was not, by any means, a new one. How was a polity like Endeavour, that rejected outright the concept of being a nation, to conduct itself in relation to other polities? The answer had been simple when the only other power out there was Amazo-X: get them to fuck right off. Finding their homeworld, and liberating the people on it, was secondary to making sure Endeavour continued to survive.

About half a century after that war had ended, as Endeavour took to other star systems, a user named "My Bum Smells" on the Lagrange Point forums posted a thread titled "A Hypothetical Scenario! RAR! 23"*. This posited a situation where Endeavour came across a nation much like what existed in many of the decoded works from Old Earth: a multi-star empire, equivalent in size and military strength to Endeavour, modelled after mid-to-late-20th century Europe or North America - minus the more odious aspects. What began as simple speculation as to how a nation would continue to function without succumbing to the inherent contradictions imposed by capitalism ended up as the forum's longest-ever thread, attracting over a million new users and nearly twice as many posts as the discussion turned to debate and the debate turned to how Endeavour would react to such a nation - and how they should react.

Should they go to war immediately, to liberate the inevitably-oppressed? That was ruled out immediately, there was no guarantee that such a war would be successful in any case. One conclusion, shared by almost everyone (who wasn't posting pictures of genitalia, anyway), was that some sort of more subtle effort would have to be made in order to pull such a nation away from capitalism and hierarchy, and more towards the meta-stable structures that were developing in Endeavour. Which, in turn, justified at least basic diplomatic recognition and engagement with what some posters insisted on terming "capitalist entanglement politics". The objections were based off Old Earth history, where hyper-capitalist nations had used diplomacy to ensure dominance of the capitalist system, cutting off resources and threatening to invade any nation which sought a change of economic policy. The counter-argument was based off the fact that a fair few of those nations survived. And, well, it would be impossible to liberate the rest of the galaxy if Endeavour did not survive.

Now, they'd already had the debate, but what about Second Debate?

Which could only be classified as "second debate" because it had continued, unabated, since the sneaky snek had discovered the Megakolymvitis' fleet. How could Endeavour - so committed to the lack of hierarchy and concentrated power - enter into any agreement with an Empire with a literally autocratic Emperoress? One that had, in fact, just blown up a planet? Kharon's personal charisma wasn't enough to outweigh those points, though it did go quite a long way towards doing so.

It is impossible to adequetely capture the full depths of the debate, since every one of Endeavour's approximately one hundred million people** had some input, ranging from multiple 50,000-word essays to short "lol" shitposts. Much of the content was similar to the first debate, regardless - a war would accomplish nothing, maybe even end with Endeavour itself destroyed, so subtler methods - less espionage, more demonstrating the superiority of Endeavour's way of life through openness and trade - would have to be employed. Espionage would accomplish nothing, at least not in the same way that the capitalist nations of Old Earth used it. Change could not be change if it did not truly come from within. Supporting what was already there, that was one thing, but starting coups and proxy wars was counter-productive at best. The debate had already been the cause of sixteen wargames, three of which were still ongoing. An entire hab had been filled with servers just to meet the ongoing demand.

Adding the three other polities only complicated matters further.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the consensus remained pretty similar - engage in diplomacy, to keep the others from thinking Endeavour was free real estate if nothing else. Maintain the fleet programmes, so that anyone who thought otherwise would regret it, and otherwise just ensure that people could come to visit and live in Endeavour space regardless of all else. Amazo-X, on the other hand, would have to be taken care of in a far more direct manner, once they were found.

In the end, for all the debate, it wasn't much of a plan.


--------------------

*An ancient tradition that somehow survived to the modern day. What "RAR" means is still unknown.
**It's difficult to count people when some of them can be in multiple bodies at the same time, and others are multiple minds "sharing" the same body. This is leaving aside the people who remained as computer programs, and so on ad nauseum.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Rogue 9 »

Dystropos Conference

Rraskrarr steepled the fingers of his secondary arms under his chin while folding the hands of his primary arms behind his head as he leaned back in his chair, both deliberately copied human gestures that he chose to convey their contradictory meanings - Zambarans never lost the hunting urge to keep others off balance, even at Rraskrarr's age and in his profession - and the downward facing structure of his face not allowing for typical human facial expressions didn't help. "It's not our lawn, but a rraskantha doesn't need to be in your house to be concerning," he said, referencing the large jungle predators of Zambar, though none of the assembled delegates were likely to know that. "It's fortunate for all concerned that things didn't get off on entirely the wrong foot." He approximated a smile as best his downward-facing mouth could manage, which with practice was better than most of the Zambarim.

"My esteemed colleague's point being as it may, Nashtar is not a particularly large polity," Nog-Ornth interjected, "and one that has always depended upon good relations with its stellar neighbors - which we suddenly seem to have a lot more of. Our government is open to exchanging embassies as any of your polities may wish, and equitable trade terms are always on the table, though the details of that matter are for a later and better informed time."
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game Viginette 1

Post by VX-145 »

Dystropos Conference

"Except for the pirates, of course," Victoria commented, taking note of the Zambaran's body language trick. Useful. "it was very unfortunate for them." She saw a chance: "I'd like to relay my compliments to your fighter/bomber squadrons - Thunder and Hammer, I believe? They performed extremely well under pressure. As to trade, well, Endeavour is always open to guests, travellers, and new people. So long as they're not actively trying to kill us, at any rate." She said the last part in something of a sardonic fashion, trying not to recall memories of the Quite Frankly, Terrible War. "But yes, specifics will have to be worked out as and when issues arise, especially in Endeavour's case."

"I'll see that your compliments are passed to the pilots," Admiral Greeley answered with a hint of a smile from his place standing behind the seated delegation.

"And justly so," added Shelton. "You won't have problems with Nashtari traders trying to kill you, of that you may be assured."

"That's reassuring." Victoria said. "Now, then, is there any further business, or should we get back to mingling?"


--------------------
Meanwhile, elsewhere...
Endeavour Vignettes, No.1

Things had come a long way since her hab hidden in the folds of the Jolly Green Giant. Back then, her tools had been pretty restricted - no shields, no hyperdrives, she could only fit engines that were already available, to say nothing of the pitiful selection of weapons she had at her disposal. Now, she was almost spoilt for choice. And there were other people to worry about, not just Amazo-X and their factory ships. That, in fact, was why she'd come out to her building grounds* in the first place; the Theophanic Empire had, entirely inadvertently, inspired her by throwing a dreadnought through a planet. Not the act itself, but the way the dreadnought had accelerated so far past its nominal specifications. It had... well, it had done a lot of things with hyperspace and netherspace, all of which she'd be looking into eventually, but the standout stunt had been how it had changed how it looked in hyperspace on the fly. That had a whole lot of implications, mostly to do with making ships go the same speed for smaller drives or faster for larger drives - but that was work for other people.

No, she was going to do the previously-impossible: build a fighter-sized craft that could go faster than light by itself.

The first thing to do, before the first hull panel was placed, was to decide what, exactly, this new craft would do. It would, by necessity, be larger than an Arrowhead, and probably slower - a heavy fighter-bomber, or light cargo craft in civilian use, then. Shape? Stick with the old stealth aircraft theme - a B-2 to go with the AW-1's F-117.

That being decided, she loaded up the Curiosity - an old frieghter she'd restored from the scrapyard - and set out to a small asteroid out in the less-dense part of the Endeavour Belt. It would, perhaps, be more efficient to build in an enclosed area; her hab had a dry-dock for that exact purpose, but she'd been building in the void for most of her life, and she wasn't going to change now.

There was a process to these things. Step one: queue up some music. Step two: she laid down the cockpit, first in hologram then in steel, drones from the Curiosity pulling materials from its bays and handling basic assembly. The main crew comparment was next - it would have to house two crew for extended periods, so they each needed dedicated rooms, as well as a decent galley and recreation area. As usual, she found her mind drifting off as she worked; part of her picked up where she'd left off in a fanfic about Anakin Skywalker being a girl, which kept her occupied for a while at least.

Image
Stage 1 construction. Note the Curiosity in the background. The rooms are already enclosed, with the galley/lounge area being laid out.

Then came the guts - power generation, reserve fuel storage, life support, autologi system. All of the access points for those would fit into two rooms, with the rest of those systems being housed wherever there was room. There was an interesting debate going on about how exactly Endeavour as a whole was to reconcile accepting the territorial claims of other polities with the principles of freedom embedded into Endeavour society. Not because of the content, of course, that debate had been raging since contact with the Theophanic Empire and had been settled around that time too, but because someone had posted a poorly-edited video claiming she was a member of some secret society or other... or rather, that she wasn't and everyone else was.

That, of course, was true, but she was part of several dozen other societies.

Image

She went through several cockpit designs in her head, how it would flow into the main hull, where weapons, shield generators and engines would be placed, eventually settling on a vaguely Lambda-like nose. The resemblence wouldn't last. An AW-7 was brought in for comparison, and to act as a runabout, shuttling specialised components from her hab to the workspace.

Image

The wing design was much tougher, and she ended up going through about three or four different variants before settling on one she liked and worked aetherdynamically. The large wingspan would provide a measure of hyperspace stability, and surface area for engine pods and auto-turrets. This ship would need lots of turrets, it wouln't be even half the dogfighter a Bodkin was. Perhaps she should start thinking about what to call this thing. The AW-series were arrowheads, this would be larger... swords? Maybe. She'd have to do her own at some point, of course, but could never settle on one. Calling herself "Rei" just felt... weird. Other names, Rose was a good one but pretty sure she'd known a Rose way back before setting off into space, and the only other R-name that came to mind immediately made her think of Friends, and there was no damn way she was being named after a sitcom.

There was a lot of awkward flirting going on in this fanfic. That was a nice distraction.

Image

Gaps were filled in, which made the whole thing structurally stable. God, she'd have to paint this damn thing soon, wouldn't she? That'd be an absolute fucking pain in the arse. She also had a model 1:3 scale Kitsune built, since this fighter would have to fit in its hangar bays. Four, it seemed, would fit... though perhaps not easily. Luckily, someone else would have the job of re-arranging the bays to cram the new fighters in. What was the saying? Not her circus, not her monkeys? She didn't think she'd ever seen a monkey...

Image

Weapons, weapons, weapons. Also engines. She liked the fighting platform-esque battery at the top, so it'd remain multiple dual-barreled light hypervelocity cannon. The specifics, that would change, as would the entirely-too-small engine pods on the wings. It was, at this point, feature-complete, for a loose sense of the term. It could fly, it could enter hyperspace, it could fight, it even had shields. Just ignore the fact that the entire underside was open to space.

Image

She decided the engine pods needed to be longer, and changed them around with a gesture or two. Back at the start of things, she'd have had to scrap this machine entirely if something like that had come up. She also began marking out places for laser auto-turrets on the wings, enough of them to be a serious impediment to any hostile craft in their firing arcs.

One advantage to building in the modern era was that she didn't have to plumb in all the cables and such herself - that was done automatically. There had been an embarrasing episode when she was working on the old Archers where she'd forgotten to lay power cables to the ship's forward sensor systems; it had taken weeks to find space between the missile tubes and armour plating. She'd likely change the pods around a bit more, but the general shape was fixed now. Forward armament had also sprung into existence - eight twin pulse lasers, though... perhaps an underslung gun would be fun? And missile bays, of course. Idly, she checked a news-feed and chuckled. The Theophanics kept having the Evangelion pilots show up, and there had been some increasingly-panicked calls for help, or at least an explanation. Good luck with that, she'd been trying to figure out what was going on there for a good three decades now and had barely made any headway. Not that she overly wanted to, it was nice having all of them running around...

Image

So, underslung guns, what types were available... well, particle beam lances were right out, no way she could get the power generation required on something meant for mass-production, though maybe for a demonstration piece? This, however, would be the model for production, so she had to pick something else. Large hypervelocity cannon, no, none of the available models stood out to her and she didn't feel like making her own. Besides, the ship needed an anti-capital weapon that didn't need ammunition.

A turbolaser, yes... that could work. There was even a good enough version in her immediate blueprint database, so it didn't even take too long to install.

Image

From there, it was a straight shot to the finish - lay in the missile bays, add in the underdeck and, well, the underside of the fighter. The design work there was a lot faster than the construction, but soon it was on to the hardest part.

Painting.

She was... obligated... to provide a model paint scheme, for some arcane reason, and she had yet to produce one she really liked. This one was no exception, though she managed to choose an existing squadron - the 402nd - and use their livery as a base.

It didn't turn out too badly.

Image

For kicks, while the drones shuttled the new fighter back home, she drew up the designs for a second, this one outfitted as a prototype - painted orange, the fighting platform guns replaced with retractable laser cannons of her own design, and of course... a miniature particle beam lance replacing the turbolaser. That one would likely never get built, it'd cost nearly as much as a cruiser, but she submitted it along with the basic model for the hell of it.

Image

Now then, she wondered what was for dinner...



--------------------
*A rock far enough away from travelled spacelanes and occupied habs that no-one would get hurt if something exploded. That had come in useful, more than once.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Elheru Aran »

Amazo-X Location, Highly Secure

Bezos laid back as he was hooked up to multiple intravenous feeds, the nurses in clean teal paper robes efficiently clicking the lines into permanently affixed ports in his gaunt body. Their job done, they left him without a word as he slowly pulled a thin sheet up over himself and began sliding into the hyperbaric capsule that he slept in, the harsh white lighting in his chambers fading to black with a wave of his hand.

The capsule was almost closed when a pale long-fingered hand thrust itself into the gap. Automatically, it stopped and began opening again. Bezos’ eyes burned with deeply-held cold fury, and he prepared to tear this interloper a new one before he summoned security to have it eliminated. Painfully, preferably-- and his blood ran cold as he saw just who it was.

The thin face almost glowed in the darkness, a wide fixed rictus of a grin laying on its lower half, nothing but the electric-blue eyes glittering out of the shadows of a heavy rubberized hood. It hissed in strangely cheerful tones, “I could almost fancy you were ready to be upset with me, Jeff.”

Bezos swallowed on a suddenly-dry mouth. The other went on, “Things are afoot now, don’t you know? There’s other people in the big ol’ universe, and we’re making friends right and left. It’s a grand old day, yeah?”

“I will have you know, we lost a planet. Even for us, that is a major expense. The warning was appreciated, but we had no way to efficiently implement the planned improvements to our corporate assets,” he responded coldly despite the fear clenching his intestines.

It threw back its head and laughed uproariously. Despite what he knew about this thing before him-- he refused to acknowledge that it was human in any way, even with what little he actually knew for sure about it-- his anger at its insolence grew. He finally snapped, “I am beginning to consider taking a fresh look at the agreement between us. You have been very… dilatory in fulfilling your obligations, Flagg.”

That stopped the annoying laughter and gained him a direct, dark look… but it never stopped grinning. It started walking around his hyperbaric pod, whistling an annoying tune between its teeth meanwhile. Bezos struggled for a few minutes and painfully sat up, feeling two connectors on his back come loose, but he couldn’t afford to let it out of his sight. Finally, Flagg turned around and looked directly again at him. “Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. I told you at the beginnin’, I did tell ya, this would be a long time comin’. But it’s about to come to a close, so it is. Have patience, brother.”

“Patience? I have worked at this for three thousand three hundred forty-six years. Damn your eyes, I have no time left. Either you deliver upon what you promised, or the term of our agreement will be concluded prematurely.”

“Whoa,” Flagg laughed, holding up his slim hands, “slow down there hoss. I’m here to be askin’ a favor, Jeff.”

Bezos narrowed his eyes at Flagg. “I’ve given you quite enough. What is it you want now?”

Flagg’s lips thinned in a sharp smile. “You have been breeding some little friends on a world around here, haven’t you?”

Shit. “Are you talking about Project Isengard?” Bezos asked cautiously.

“That’s the one, that is,” Flagg nodded benevolently. “It’s time to put them to good use, Jeff. Send 'em out from one Tower to overrun another.”

It sighed happily and spread its arms wide, vaguely visible in the dim light emitting from inside the hyperbaric chamber. Bezos’ eyebrows drew together-- had he just seen the figure wearing a jacket of faded blue cloth instead of the thick robes?-- but he kept his mouth shut. One of the best tactics anywhere was to just let the other party speak, and Flagg obliged.

“Jeff, Jeff… my good friend, it’s all coming together, isn’t it? The weebs are about to turn the monstrous Empire upside down. People are getting to know each other. They’ve forgotten that good fences make good neighbors! And when you throw down the walls, what happens? Madness, that’s what! O Discordia, how beautiful is thy name!” He cackled, and then went on, “And best of all, my little monster is running the whole show. They have great aspirations to become God… but what does that make the one who made Them?”

A shiver ran down Bezos’ spine. Randyl Flagg winked at him and turned as though to leave, and then paused and turned back, digging in his robes with one hand. It flipped something small and round at him, and Bezos caught it instinctively, flinching as his hands closed around it. Harsh laughter resounded around the room and when Bezos looked up, Flagg was gone. He knew if he waved the lights back on, nobody would be there. The security cameras would show nothing but him sitting up and talking to the thin air.

Slowly, he unclasped his hands. A small round metal button with a pin on the back smiled up at him. Quite literally; it was a yellow smiley-face insignia. Troubled, he tilted his hand and let it fall to the floor with a clink. He laid back down and allowed the hyperbaric pod to close about him. His dreams would be troubled tonight if he slept at all… but if what the thing had said was anywhere near to true, then things might just be finally coming to a close.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

ASTEROID DRYDOCK, SOME WHERE NEAR THE MEKLON EXPANSE

THINGS had happened, things were always happening. Currently, a great many things had happened in a very short time period. Things was new species and new nations, things with new politics and diplomacy and lots of ‘Big’ things. But it is important to remember there are always just as many small stories as there are big.

Currently in an unnamed asteroid dockyard [for legal reasons, its name was actually registered as ‘Unnamed Asteroid’] sat a ship that was just being prepared to launch for the first time. And it would be a ship like none other in service. It should be important to note that the sale and ownership of FTL vessels to private individuals and business was something new to the inhabitants of the Sector and the UISC. The spread of such ships had naturally led to a rush of new business seeking to capitalize on the accessibility of FTL capable vessels.

Most privately owned ships were constructed [as was so much these days] to a standardized basic hull design and engine layout that had been approved as ‘safe’ for sale for use. They tended to have a rather ‘boxy’ look to them, largely as they were modular in structure and were often customized with various additions depending upon what a customer may order. There were countless variations of such ships of course, but, they did tend to all largely resemble each other in a mostly drab and mass produced fashion.

As more and more individuals found the money and resources to apply for a ship to found their own spaced based companies, spacedocks in the UISC became increasingly ful of the bland, boxy mass produced freighters. However, there was one ship that was wholly and utterly unique amongst all the others.
A ship that could truly be said to be one of a kind. This ship was highly unusual on a number of different levels, but the most striking of which were the curves. From tip to tail, the ship was a series of smooth elegant curves that put one in mind of a sleek fish or a bird with its wings folded in. Its surface was a vibrant orange and yellow color mixed with dark stripes and bands that curved smoothly over its surface. Also, aside from apertures in the rear from what had to be its engines, the vessel appeared to be completely seamless, no windows could be seen or doors or other openings. Or at least, that was perhaps how it may have looked originally a very long time ago.

In the large expansive, though well concealed hanger bay on the Unnamed Asteroid, was a ship that ‘mostly’ resembled the one as described above, yet, had a rather ‘stitched together’ appearance over all. To begin, it was clear that there were sections of the ship that been missing, either damaged beyond repair or torn away at some point in the distant past. In their place was what could be charitably described as suitable replacements. Much of it guesswork more than anything, but filled in enough that it seemed to replace what may have originally been there. The once curving elegant shape of the ship was further disrupted by a number of boxy ‘plates’ and armored covers. Almost like heavy bandages trying to mask some of the more noticeable ‘stitched’ areas. The once seamless surface was also likewise compromised. A noticeable area underneath could be spotted as a loading ramp, and a pair of docking ports sprouted somewhat ungainly from the neck of the vessel. Rounding out the list of grievances to the original design, was at the front of the ship. Were once had been a smooth curved point, now was capped by an unmistakably boxy ‘beak’ that was a purely stylistic additional which had adorned Quatonian ships going back to the age of sail.
It was naturally painted with a huge grinning smile.

Looking up at the gantry way leading into the vessel was, for lack of a better word, its crew. There were six individuals upon the ship, two of them, much smaller than the others, beamed like proud parents of a treasured offspring. The other four behind them looked somewhat less than enthusiastic.

“I cannot believe I ever agreed to this venture of yours Fred, but weather the result is for good or for bad, it would seem it is finished.” This was said by Budecian Kalinormi, who kept trying desperately to not think about just exactly what the ship was, but simply tried to remind himself of its supposed benefits.

“I cannot believe we were able to even get the lights working, let alone whatever black magic makes this, things, drive systems function. Have I told you just how many times I was worried it would undergo a sudden TEF [TEF = Total Existence Failure] while working on it and reduce us all to vapor?” This was said by another Octonan with various tools across his ragged work clothes, slung like bandoleers.

“Yes Maddisian my dear brother, over and over again. And for my part, I cannot believe in all the time we have spent, I have actually refrained from telling every last colleague of mine in the research community exactly what it is we found, or what we did with it.” This was said by Clukor, Maddisian’s sister who typically was also responsible for making things work correctly, though she tended to spend much of her time in some of the more advanced and theoretical aspects of machinery. She also wore what seemed a bandoleers of various tools, though her clothing was far more neat and well-kept in contrast to her brother. Heaving an exaggerated sigh, she turned to the other Octonan in their presence and gave an incredulous smile.
“And how about you, Patreecia, did you ever think we would actually get to this point?” she said.

Patreecia Patroki, who occasionally passed for the ships doctor and medic, although that was when she wasn’t looking over the others’ shoulder trying to be a mechanic as well. She was the tallest of the Octonans assembled at just over five and half feet or so. Dressed in a variety of eye watering vibrant colors with a number of scarves and bracelets. She chuckled and looked back at the other three.
“Me? I am just surprised we still get together to play ‘Shapers of Rymn’ on off days after all this time. It has been, oh stars, thirteen years since I meet you three in the guild?” She said smiling widely, as Clukor laughed as well.

“Oh do I remember, that was back when you were playing nights with, what was their name, ‘Default’ wasn’t it? He was a machine! I never saw someone level so fast, though they always acted a bit odd.” Clukor said, as Patreecia interjected laughing again.

“I still think he was Trathalan, he always seemed awkward talking to others, like he was not used to talking with others in general. I felt bad when I lost touch with them, never could get a contact number.” She said before looking back at the ship again. The four stood in silence, and then looked down at the other two of their company. They had been grinning for the entire time, and, for Quatonians and Conearazons, they could grin like nobody else.

“It, is, magnificent.” Said Fred slowly while looking up in awe.
“It, put us in more debt than I would ever care to look at once my friend, so let us hope it can make us money that much more quickly!” said the last of the group. Charooper Charoon, who looked a bit like a hairless and more stretched out Quatonian. He wore a traditional ‘skirt’ like robe that most Conearazons wore, and reddish wide brimmed straw hat. [Strictly speaking not ‘straw’ naturally, but a similar enough plant to the one on earth to make a similar material]

Fred turned to Charooper, his face now looking stern and determined.
“Froom!” he said in a voice echoing of greatness and gravitas,
“Froom.”
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Elheru Aran
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Posts: 12980
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Elheru Aran »

OOC: Timeline wise, this takes place some time after the alliance between Endeavour and the Theophanic Empire, so perhaps a few weeks after the Dystropos conference.

Also, the Yui Hirasawa scene was authored by VX-145, to keep our citations straight.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Neokastro Eroberer
Symmachia System

Kapetanios Karol soi Raubvogel sat back upon his command throne and scrutinized the variegated lot standing before him, escorted by chattering technognostiki. A young lady with light brown hair in a neat outfit of short jacket over a white shirt and grey skirt, a sallow tall man in a greyish-green outfit of vaguely military cut and a plaque of coloured squares on his chest, and most preposterously, a waddling creature with two legs, no arms, and no less than three faces with fixed expression. Upon its head was either palm-like leaves or grass-- he wasn’t sure which-- and its neck was apparently capable of extending to absurd lengths. Somehow, it was manipulating an object between it and one of the technognostiki, holding it up in thin air without any apparent digits or limbs.

Magnets, he supposed it was. Enough sitting about. He stood up, catching the attention of the prattling engineers, and cleared his throat loudly. “Ahem. Are we all ready for the demonstration of Theophanic drive systems? Frater Nazarju?”

Ỵ̴̛̎e̸̜̞̔̇s̶͇̗̍͠,̴̧̈̉ ̵̞̤̈͂K̵̼̪͝a̴͑͂͜p̷͍̱̌e̴̟̫̽ṭ̴͇́a̵̺̍͑n̸̗̜͊i̸̤̚o̶͙̓s̶̬̅̈́,̵̦̘͛̊ ̶̠̉w̴̮̃́e̵͖̘͌ ̶̖̦̔̓a̴̘̘̾͋ņ̵͎̒͐ď̶̲ ̵̠̲̑ơ̷̢͔͗ù̸̢̗̎r̶̤̩͆̒ ̷̢͕̾̓ḇ̷͋r̶̩̍͌e̶͖̰͝t̶́͆ͅh̷̝͗r̵̯͑̍ȅ̸͉̹͠n̶̠̎ ̴̬͑͗f̷̬̕͘r̴̨̯̎o̷̙̜̽͂m̷̹̓͒ͅ ̵͙̪͛͘E̴͍̳̎n̶̝̘̑̚d̴̜͝e̵̻͆à̴͍v̷̬̭͂ö̷͎̰́̈́ư̴̥ŗ̸̞̽̂ ̶̲̣̂á̶͕͛ṟ̵̲̑͐ë̷͔̹́ ̷̺̒r̵͖͐͗ȇ̷͙͉̍a̷͌͜d̵̨̾͌ý̶͍͘ ̶̤͋t̵̨̐ͅõ̸̱̊ ̸̩͔̋ò̸̗͒͜b̶̳̕s̴͓̦̑e̷̦̓̆ȓ̴͖v̴͎̘̈͛e̴̳̔ ̸̘͎̌̐t̸̙̓r̸̗͕̂̎ā̵̜̓n̶̬͓̂s̴͓̆í̶̝̎t̴̨̒ ̶̨̹̒̏a̵͎̼͛͋t̷̝̓ ̵̺̭̄y̷͔̖̍̑ö̸̢ú̴̮̝r̴̟̊̎ ̶̗̃͗c̷̻̈̒o̵̫͌̌ṅ̸͈̽ͅṽ̷̗̝e̶̛̫̻͊n̷̤̳͐͒i̶̹͉͌͠é̷̟̯n̵͚̫͘c̵̢̮̄ĕ̷̼͖,̴̟͐̾ ̸͔̺̿̄ḿ̷̟̦y̸̖̝̓̄ ̶̱̀ḷ̵͍̅̚ȍ̴̝r̷̫͐͜d̵̺̎

Karol tilted his head in acknowledgement of his chief engineer. “Very well, then. Miss… I apologize, how should I address you?”

The young brown-haired lady giggled behind hands raised over her mouth and then piped up, “Miss Hirasawa is just fine, Captain, but you can call me Ui if that’s easier!”

His eyebrow quirked for a moment but he continued smoothly, “Miss Hirasawa. Are your party prepared for translation?”

She smiled, her eyes crinkling, and nodded vigorously, her companions echoing the gesture. He returned it and shifted his attention to the bridge crew. “Attention, all hands. Secure all bunks. Police all loose items. All off duty hands, stand by. Stand by for translation into the Unseen. May Their Hands guide us to safety. Kapetanios out. You may open the Doors.”

The massive nullspace core at the heart of Eroberer thrummed with metaphysical energies. Octarine light shimmered and the Unseen opened with lightning exploding in the void, and the Neokastro cruiser fell into it.

Moments later, in deep space at the fringes of the Symmachia system, lightning erupted and nullspace vomited forth the Eroberer. With practiced efficiency, Karol looked over his bridge crew as they called out the necessary information after every jump. This had been a smooth one, entirely as expected as they were only translating a couple astronomical units’ worth of distance. Barely anything. The technognostiki twittered among themselves in familiar tones, but-- where were the Endeavourites?

Unpleasant wet sounds answered his unspoken query. Hirasawa stepped through the bridge door-- when had she gone out? shortly followed by Thistleborn, both of them wiping their mouths and looking a bit green about the gills. The… he had absolutely no idea what it was, but given what he had heard about these Endeavourites it was probably one of them and not actually a pet or some such… trotted behind them, looking a bit nonplussed.

Frater Nazarju inquired in somewhat concerned tones, Ȁ̵̮r̴͖̠̒̅e̸̩̚ ̴̘̀ẏ̸͉͝ọ̵̤̏ụ̸̐̚ ̸̛͚͋͜ä̶̱́͘n̴̦͛̆d̴͖̊̾ ̸̛̠̏ẏ̷͕͕̈́o̴̦̖͗͝û̸̺̹r̶̼͊ ̸̥̂͑c̴̥̭̄̈́o̸̙̿̀m̶̢̗̃̕r̶̥͗å̸̢̀d̷͚̍̕e̵̤͝͝s̷͙̊ ̶̲̝̍q̵̥́ụ̸̌̿i̸͎͎͊t̴̼̎͛e̸̙̭͋ ̶̬̍̃a̶͚̎̅l̴̖͑ľ̶̞̻̃ ̸͕͆͋r̷̢̺̎i̶͚̱̓̄g̷͕͌͜h̸̡̘͌t̷̟̽,̵̠̦̀͑ ̸̳͒M̴̜͒ĩ̸̺͉s̷̼͒s̴̨͖͗ ̷̥̣̆͐H̴̙̍͜͝i̶̺͗ṛ̴̇ả̵̗̿s̸͍̊̀a̸͇̮͛w̸̬̎̂ȁ̵͓?̵̬̎ ̴̃̽ͅ

She swallowed, nodded and asked for a drink of water. Thistleborn, the tall man with the plaque on his chest-- Karol would think it was some indication of rank, but these people didn’t seem to have any kind of standard for uniforms whatsoever-- echoed her request and went on, “I say, that was most disagreeable. You lot clearly have a lot to learn about aetherdynamics.”

Karol raised a sharp eyebrow. Nazarju interceded hurriedly, W̷͓̑͒e̶̛̱̰ͅ ̷̤̥̼̈́d̵́ͅỏ̶̫̞̾͑ ̶̲̒à̴̘ṕ̷͓̀o̴̡̘͍͝l̵̨̐̈́́o̸̥̳̟͑g̷͎̰̒̆̀i̴͔͚̫̔͆̄z̸̲͈̼̍ẻ̸̻͐͐ ̵̦̀f̸̼̽ö̶̼ṙ̸̢͇ ̶̘̘̭̽̏͒t̵̛̝͑͊h̷̳͉̬̃è̷͙ ̸̧͉͊̕̕d̷͚̟̋i̸͓̣̩̿̀͝s̸̰̫̰͆ć̷̳͘o̷̥̬͐m̵̥͔̓͐͘f̶̼̭̬̍̅o̴̳̖͊̔ͅr̸̯͈͇̐ț̵̕͝,̷̝̆̇͆ ̷̭̫̟́͆͠b̶̺̒ǘ̷͉̓̐t̵̨͓̳́̓̊ ̷̗̞̬̋́̊t̵͖̘͛͑͜h̴̡̗̺̀̂i̶̮͙͋͆̕s̸̠͍͎̅̔ ̵͍̀̒͝i̴͖̞̦̍̈ś̵̨̟͙̒͒ ̸̧̓͋̔t̸͚͌̆h̷̯́̒̕ḙ̵̯͇̀̾ ̷̛͕͕̻̂̃ô̷͙̬͋̎n̵̫̭̓͝l̶̠̳͔̀y̷̙͗͜ ̶̧̧͗̕͝w̴̞͔̺̏̈́̈́a̷̘͋ÿ̸̦̱́̽̔ ̸̲̿w̶̫̪͙̿̐e̵̘̞͇͌̓ ̸̢́̔̈́ḩ̸̹̳́a̸̧͈̼͝v̸̠̅̒ë̴͎͕̂̋ ̶͔̣̏͒e̴͙̦͐̑͠v̶̭͔̔̌̋e̵͔͚͔̐r̷͖̽͊ ̷̠̈̓̕u̷̡͚̍s̸̜̈́̊͠é̴̼͔̙͂͘d̷̪̓̎ ̵̯͂̋͗n̷̖͆̊͑u̵̽͐͜l̴͙̓̐͗l̶̘̥̜̒͘ŝ̸̥̤̜p̵̢̣̟̒̑́ă̴̢̤͒ĉ̴̘̈́̅e̴̻̖͐ ̶͖̾d̷͎̜̒͊r̸̡̪̬͒i̸͈̚͝v̷̡͓͙̍͆e̵͚̖̺͒s̴̨͍̔.̸̬͇̺̃̿͆ ̷̢̖͖̆C̷̝̑ē̸̠̺̑ṟ̷̿̀t̶͔͜͠ȃ̶͖̿̈ï̷̻̥̱n̸̨̦̎̒͝l̴͓̈́̓́ý̸͈̌ ̵̢̩̼͑̋͘w̴̞̻̰͝e̷͔̒̀͜ ̵͎̮̰̓ã̸̼͔̻r̷̩̾͐ḙ̷̍̕ ̶͔͗͝ó̷̬p̵͚̆͘ë̵̩̖́͠n̴͙̘̈́͠ ̶͓̀͑t̵͚̹̫͂̕o̶̥̺͆͆͊ ̴̡̯̫͌́ḁ̵̜͆̿̈ñ̷̲̫̲̄̒ỹ̷̠ ̷̗̄̃s̷̡̍̾́u̴̡̿̿g̴͎͘g̵͇͚͍̿͒ẻ̸̖͉̩͝s̸̡̤̟̾̽t̶̫̥̻̃i̸̦̻͐̅o̵̻̭͘ṇ̷̢̮̉s̸͕̞̅̔ ̸͕͙͝ͅy̶͇̞̔͑ó̶̜͔̳̒̏ù̷͍͇͜ ̷̜͔͕̈́m̸͚̆̀̊å̷͕̘̳͗̏y̴͇̙̰̒̉̋ ̷̟̺͍̔̂̄h̷̯́͛â̸͈͓͒͜v̷̘̀e̴̱̟̻̔̆̌ ̸͈̞̋̎̚t̶̠̘̝̀͘o̴̗̣͎̽̄̽ ̴̢͇̣̽̆͐į̵̰̜͋ḿ̷̫̜p̶͍͑̑r̴̥͐o̷̳̊v̶̖͐ȩ̶͚͓̎͠ ̵̦͙̐͒ő̷̺͆ủ̴͇̱r̴̪͊̽ ̴̡̈ë̴̖́́͝ń̴̠͒̈́g̵̙̤͑i̶̡̧͔͠͝n̶̠̔̎ẽ̷͎͂s̷̘̗̐͜.̸̩̳͘ ̵̻̋͑̋

“Quite so,” Karol followed him up, “While I would appreciate it coming in a more… friendly manner, the Empire will welcome any help you are able to give us.”

Their drinks having arrived as he spoke, Hirasawa and Thistleborn gulped down their waters, and the… he still didn’t know what it was… spoke for the first time, “It didn’t feel like hyperspace. It felt… different. Ui?”

“Yes. What do you call it, Captain Karol Sir?” the young lady asked, batting her eyes at him. He cleared his throat and responded briskly, “Nullspace. The Unseen. We pass through it without exposing ourselves to its energies by the grace of the Theouautokratora and the scientia of the technognostiki, knowledge passed down to us from old.”

It was as though they spoke with each other without speaking aloud-- they looked at each other quickly and then back at him. Thistleborn asked, in marginally more respectful tones, “Would there be any way to… examine sensor data or recordings of your, ah, nullspace translation?”

He nodded brusquely and gestured to Nazarju. “The good Frater will take care of you. Pass the word any time you are ready to return to Symmachia space. Good day.”

Frater Nazarju bowed and then showed the Endeavourites out of the bridge. Karol sighed and sat back on his throne. It was going to be a long day for him…

As they rode a conveyor-cell towards the engine chambers, Hirasawa asked Nazarju brightly, “So you have been using this system for a long time, then?”

Y̵̪͐͠ě̴͈̬s̵͎͙̑͗.̷̭̣̓̉ ̵͚̺̃̍Ḯ̸̺͌ͅt̶̰̾̊ ̵̠̕ŵ̴̺a̷̛͎̐ş̷̡̍ ̸̡̰̔͊d̸̲̻͊i̴̖̎̕s̶͔͓͒͝c̶̤̩͑̔õ̵͔̜v̵͈̝͊̈́e̶̟͖͒r̶͍̓͋é̴͚d̷̥̼̆ ̵͖̼̑ḋ̸͕̜̅ù̶̡r̸̝̓i̴̘̽n̸͉̼̔̊g̴̖̩̈́ ̷̰̰͊ẗ̴̲́h̶͔̀ê̸̜̹ ̸̘̃̈́G̷̱͐̈r̵̖͈͒e̴̝̺͑̓a̵̞̰̕t̴̙̐̕ ̷̺̼͑F̵̡͈̃̄l̷̜̀̓i̸̲͂g̶̲̈́̄h̴̦͖͝t̷̞̉ ̴̱̯̀f̸̪́͝r̸̳̼̽̚o̷͓̳̒m̷̭͑ ̶͍̒Ọ̴̫̽͝l̴̳͕͂ḍ̸̐̽ ̶͙̪̏T̷̤̭̐e̶̩͙͂̌r̶̜͂̋r̸̥̺̓͝a̸̱̹̾,̵̹̤̄ ̵̢͕̀́ǎ̷̖͐n̸̟̋̉d̴͈̒̈ ̵͖̍͜b̸̘̭̓r̵̤̒ọ̶̇ų̶̍g̸̙̍̒h̴̺̃t̴̼͜͠ ̶̪̇ͅù̷̞s̴͓̽ ̷̱̦̎t̵̠̓͘͜ö̷͙͑ ̴̭̱͋T̶̛͓̃ḙ̴̎͑n̷͍͉̈̿ ̴̞̂͘R̶̙͝ă̷͉̒a̷͔̚b̷̪̙̒̈́ ̴̧͖͐̇w̴̰̮̾ḧ̴̤̘́̅ê̵͎r̴̢̻͛ē̷͕̹ ̷̫̍t̴̡̘́̓h̷̥͂e̴̝͆̓ ̶̪̻̒E̷̫̒m̵̧̈́̉p̴̪̓͗í̴̹̇r̸͖̆ę̴̮͌ ̶̩̿͝w̸͖̎̈́a̷͇̅̚s̵̠̤̈́ ̷̳̃͜f̷̺̀ǫ̸̀͆u̷̖͑̍n̶͊ͅd̵̕ͅè̶͕d̶̜̓ ̷̺̒a̴̛͉͆n̷͚̰̔͂d̵͓͂̒ ̵̝͍̋T̶̯̅h̶͎͂e̵͖̜̚o̴̹͚̓u̸͓̿͂a̸͖͒ ̶̱̄̾b̴̜̲̈́ȏ̶͇̄r̷̪̿n̶͓͚͊.̵͖̊̚ ̵̗̩̓͌P̷͚̝̌e̶͕̼̚ȓ̶̦̇h̷͈͋ȧ̵̺̹͑p̷̮̍s̶̺̓̕ ̷̡̯̓y̸̛͕̖̓ó̶͕̗u̶͈̺͘ ̸̘̋h̵͙̀a̷͔̾v̵̢̤̎ē̴̡̝ ̸̯̚a̵̙̽ ̸̛̰p̶͉͕̍́a̷͔̣̾r̵͖̀a̴͇̓l̶͖̮̈̏l̴̟͍̚è̵̖̽ļ̵̼͆̉ ̷̦̻̚v̷̙̗̓͘e̸̜̳͗ȑ̸̼̼s̶̨̍͜i̶̯̾͋͜ö̵̝́ǹ̴͜ ̵̜̈́̓o̶̢͛̎f̴̤̙̌ ̷̢̙̾̓ǫ̴͗͝ụ̸̫͒r̸̝͍̂s̴͙̋͐?̸̩̃ ̴͙̉

Thistleborn answered him, “I’m not sure about that. Exeggutor, what do you think?”

The critter thought for a moment (at least one of its faces looked like it was thinking) and eventually asked, “Could they be using netherspace?”

Ui frowned. “But that’s not right. It’s such a stable dimension, but they seem to have decent odds of damage in transit through it? Of course, we don’t actually use it for travel...”

Exeggutor stretched its neck and asked… excitedly, “Maybe that’s it? They found some way to access netherspace and send entire ships through it? And because they made that work somehow, they never really tried to access hyperspace?”

Ui clapped her hands excitedly. “Yes! Frater Nazarju, would you be so kind as to show us some data?”

By then they were entering the cavernous main engineering chamber. Hirasawa oohed politely at the size of it, several stories high and almost a kilometre in length. Taking up most of the space within was a cyclopean cylinder of dark metal, rainbow glimmers visible in its nooks and crannies, huge conduits running into and from it tying it to the ship. Nazarju’s internal sensors picked up increased spectra outputs from the Endeavourites, He switched his optical filters and though he couldn’t make sense out of the spectra, he could perceive they were examining the nullspace core with fascination, possibly reading spectra of their own.

He cleared his throat with a burst of static and invoked the primary ologramma display. It exploded forth from the projector buried in the vomos [altar] and shone across most of the area of engineering not taken up by the core. With a few strokes of his manips over the vomos’ sigils, he displayed a number of declassified graphs and diagrams, capturing their attention and causing quite a bit of chatter and pointing. The twenty-eight different redundant safeties on almost every system (the most vital had more) of the nullspace core in particular drew approval for its simple logic-- if some disaster managed to trip all the safeties in turn, either they would have time to take remediative measures by the time the last safety was tripped, or they would be dead.

They directed many questions at him, which he tried to keep up with, though they didn’t always understand his canted Comniversal; he tried to adjust to more human-norm frequencies, which seemed to help. They absorbed the information at a prodigious rate and he had to frequently change the display to keep answering their queries. He didn’t mind, for once he had met minds similar to his own, and the directions they approached the data from were refreshingly fresh.

Finally, after much discussion among themselves, they reached a conclusion. Somehow or other, the Theophanics had indeed accessed the dimension that Endeavour called ‘netherspace’ and used it as their ‘nullspace’ for faster-than-light travel. Endeavourites accessed a dimension somewhat further up the spectra for their own ‘hyperspace’, something that fascinated Frater Nazarju no end. They also used what they called ‘shields’, which he translated as ‘aspis’, to protect their ships in this dimension. That went a long way towards explaining the odds of damage to Theophanic ships in nullspace-- while aspis were theoretically possible, the Theophanics had not been able to scale down the technology past the sacred dynamik-aspis of Mitra tou Theouautokratora.

The stasi-field came as something of an answer to the Endeavourites-- its unpleasant effect upon them was caused by their nature, which they were vague about but Nazarju was shrewd enough to deduct that they weren’t entirely flesh and blood. The stasi-field generators throughout the ship protected the human crew from various low-key effects of translating through nullspace by effectively placing them under a sort of hypnosis or trance state, acting upon portions of their brain. Technognostiki had that portion replaced by cybernetics, allowing them to conduct repairs while underway in nullspace. But the Endeavourites clearly fell somewhere in between standard humans and technognostiki, and the stasi-field pulled them both ways to their great discomfort. Exeggutor (thus the non-standard form was entitled) made a side comment to the lines of ‘slowfast-- it feels really bad!’ to much amusement by the other two. Nazarju could only issue a polite, staticky chuckle as they moved on.

Since the underlying physics were relatively similar for both Theophanic and Endeavourite faster-than-light drives-- effectively opening a entrance into those dimensions and shaping it around the ship to move the ship, rather than using inertial force from engines like they did in realspace-- the key difference was those aspis, which protected the ship from harm. The rest was minor tweaks here and there, easily enough done. In their future, perhaps they could explore using the hyperspace dimension for travel. Nazarju knew of many papers upon the subject of otherspace travel, but they were all theoretical… until now.

Already he had some working theories for improving the nullspace core's efficiency and was busily sending those to the assembled technognostiki raptly listening in to the chattering Endeavourites. With a thought, he sent a notification to Kapetanios soi Raubvogel. They could rendezvous with the Yui Hirasawa at his convenience.

Cruiser ESS Yui Hirasawa, Near Symmachia

Asuka Langley Soryu-Shikinami tried - and failed - not to let out a sigh of exasperation as the Theophanic party came filing into the aft engineering bay. Bad enough that she'd drawn the short straw, holding down the fort as Ui went over to the Eroberer, but now she was expected to give a guided tour of the Hirasawa's engines. The first three that came through seemed alright enough - a tall, thin cyborg, a cyborg to which the word "rotund" was automatically applied, and a less-cyborg person - but the last was definitely nobility, she had way too much gold on her combat armour to be a commoner. Well, at least the woman had left the band at home.

Asuka put her best game face on, and gestured the group in. "Well, don't just stand there gawping." Then she realised that not only might they not recognise her (which was a weird feeling) but they probably didn't see a name-plate above her head. "I'm Asuka Langley Soryu-Shikinami, and you are?"

"Marya soi Geraki, Kapetanios Neokastro Pyrkagia," the woman introduced herself. "These are representatives of the technognostiki."

"F̸͉̜̼̾͂̔̇͠ȑ̸̢̯͓͍̝̟̑̊̈̕͠a̶̰̝̘̹͈̖̎t̸͉̩̙͐͆̎ẽ̶̢̟͉̗̞̊͛̑ͅr̵̫̮̜͈̤̬̒̑͌͊̀ ̶̧̛̗̦̲ͅṎ̸̡̦̻̫́͒b̴͒̀͜͠ṟ̸̡̫̰̂̽͆̒͑͆͋ý̵̦͈̈́̌͌̚̚n̴̨̲͉̰͎̮͎̑̒͛̎̌͠," the rotund one introduced themselves as, followed by the tall, skinny one saying "̶̣̱̭̏̿̄F̷̡̖͔̈́͛r̷̖̭͂̄ͅạ̴̫̫͠ṯ̸̩̲̊̅e̶̗͂̿̚r̴̲̝͐ ̴̣̞̒̍̂N̸̡̝̱̊̀̚è̸͙̥̀s̵͕̻̈́̿̌t̶̬̼̅̽o̴̡̡͉̅̓͗r̷͍̩̾", and the final member, the less-cyborged man, said: ̶F̸r̶a̵t̷e̸r̸ ̵Y̵m̵a̴n̵u̶a̶l̶", which she understood immediately and thus knew her de-coding program had begun to work.

She turned on her heel, pointing at the autologi pipes leading in from the citadel. "I'm afraid you won't be able to see our power generation systems," she said, "they're encased in the citadel amid-ships, and we're not taking the ship apart just to show them off. These pipes are able to convey power and fuel from the citadel to the main thrusters and hyperdrive systems." She pointed at the four FTL turbines, round cylinders half-embedded into the floor and ceiling, "Those are the main turbines, which allow the ship to move in hyperspace once the ship translates - the systems that handle that are in the citadel as well." The cyborgs looked as though they wanted to take everything in here apart and put it back together, which was fair enough - most of the crew had actually done that once or twice. Asuka's personal record was disassembled-and-reassembled in one hour and fourty-three minutes exactly, which was probably why Ui had left her to babysit the Theophanics. "Don't play with the machines, please," she barked as one of Nestor's tendrils got a bit too close to the Number Five Turbine.*

Marya soi Geraki had wandered over to the starboard window - a feature Asuka had put in personally - and was gazing intently at the edges. "You must have an ingenious way of closing the shutters," she remarked in an off-hand manner.

"It doesn't have shutters," said Asuka, glaring at Obryn, who was attempting to access one of the storage lockers. For some reason, that made Marya's face pale, and she backed quickly away from the window. Oh, right, Asuka realised, Theophanic ships tended to fare badly in hyperspace... well, that would make this pretty fun. The Captain pinged her - well, the whole crew, really - letting them know they were about to translate, and she passed the warning on to her guests.

There was a minor scramble as the four visitors get themselves into collision seats, and looked askance at Asuka who had taken a seat on one of the benches. She shrugged, and waited a moment. The usual brief feeling of being pulled upwards and slightly to one side - along with the sudden bright blue light shining through the window - told her they'd translated into hyperspace.

"This is your captain speaking," Yui's voice floated from seemingly nowhere, "We have successfully translated to hyperspace-1. We will now be taking a course around Symmachia before meeting with the Eroberer. The starboard airlock is now open for spacers wishing to experience hyperspace first-hand, while the portside hangar deck is reserved for experiments. We expect to translate to realspace in one hour."

Marya had deployed her helmet, but even so Asuka could just tell the woman was casting a pleading look her way. "You should definitely see some hyper-skiers," Asuka suggested, pretending that the look was one of deep-seated curiousity and not mild terror. "Vader can keep showing the other three around, unless they're particularly interested?" On cue, Darth Vader flowed into the engineering bay, cloak swirling around him as though there was a particularly dramatic breeze.

For a moment, it looked as though Marya was going to refuse, but some combination of stubborn pride and desire to see more of the Hirasawa (Asuka had noticed the hidden camera the woman was carrying, and had also noticed the thirty-three viruses that had already rendered it useless) got her out of the crash-seat. It was a short walk from Aft Engineering to the starboard airlock, though Asuka did make sure to divert a little just to show off the ventral weapons bay, which had been refitted with rapid-fire laser cannons on the Hirasawa. From there, it was a short run up two flights of stairs to the airlock, which had the usual crowd around it. Spacer Ben - he of the shitty Worf cosplay - was standing in the airlock, inner door closed, wearing what looked to be a spacesuit made of tinfoil and a small personal shield pack. A rope was tied about his waist, attached to a stanchion on the wall, and two literal skis were on his feet.

"I had thought Endeavour did not have a death penalty," Marya said dryly.

Asuka fixed her with a look. "Observe."

The outer airlock door opened, and Ben threw himself out - the rope played, coil after coil snapping out as Ben was dragged behind the ship, now visible only on cameras. Hyperspace, at this low level, was pretty boring - just endless blue light - but Marya seemed transfixed at the sight. Ben's shield flared for a moment as he left the Hirasawa's wake, or, more accurately, the small area of calm hyperspace left by the passage of the ship's shields, then he was skiing in it.

Marya and Asuka watched the man show-boat for a while, in complete silence. Then as Ben was reeled back in, Asuka spoke up: "Well, then. Should we go see some of the experiments? Somebody sent some plans down for an Arrowhead that can revert to realspace..."

--------------------

*FTL turbines traditionally being numbered 1, 2, 3 and 5 for reasons that escaped the historical record.
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.
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VX-145
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

Endeavour Vignettes, No.2

Inlaw Station, Gotobe System, some time after the conclusion of the Dystropos conference

"This is your ship?" said Belit soi Vlakas, and Han couldn't help but imagine the woman's nose turned upwards. And her valet's, and her footman's, and the six-or-so other hangers-on she'd brought along. On the plus side, they didn't have to worry about luggage; that had all been loaded into the station's autologi system, and was even now being transferred over to the ship.

"You're welcome to go hitch a ride with someone else," he bit back, gesturing at the dozen-or-so other ships docked to Inlaw Station's gangways. The gesture brought up the profiles of each ship in turn (mostly modern LS types), which he blinked away - one day, he'd adjust the shortcuts. "I'm sure someone'll be willing to cart you and yours around, if you don't mind bunking two or three to a room."

"Are you sure there's enough room on that thing? It can't be much bigger than my yacht back home!"

Han held back a curse, wishing he'd gotten Chewie to escort the passengers over. "They used to get a hundred people on these things," he said instead, "and we've barely got ten on the Hood. If you're that worried, though, we can always re-install the old bunks, you know, the open ones with no privacy at all." He shuddered involuntarily, memories of his service aboard the original-fit Robin Hood and its rudimentary (by modern standards) crew facilities flooding back. Having to share three toilets between a hundred-and-change other crewmembers was something he had vowed never to experience again.

He was vaguely looking forwards to showing the lady the Falcon - if she thought the Hood was cramped and dingy...

Chewie was waiting for them, just outside the portside airlock. She nodded a brief greeting, then gestured to the entourage - "Your rooms are this way, if you'd like to follow me..."*

Most of the troupe followed Chewie forwards to the guest rooms, located in the armoured bow and as far away from anything important as possible, but one fellow - who'd been introduced as a biographer but seemed more like a bodyguard (who the hell was the man kidding with voluminous robes that definitely weren't hiding solid armour plate and a gun bigger than Han's arm?) - remained with Han and Belit. The woman had expressed a desire to see the Robin Hood leave port, and it wouldn't be too much trouble to let her on the bridge for a little while. He led the other two up the foyer stairs, and into the glasshouse bridge.

Belit cast her eyes around the bridge, taking in the rats' nest-control stations. "Why is there a window to nowhere here?" she asked, pointing aft towards the hunchback support structure, where a large pane of glass faced out into the bulkhead.

"It keeps the air in," Han replied, "There's a glitch with the atmo systems, it won't see the ship interior as sealed without that window there."

That got a gaping, blinking look from Belit. "Is that... safe?"

Han latched himself into the main helm station, brushing aside the mess Shaggy had left - there was an entire sandwich there bigger than Han's head, for sith's sake. "It's an old workaround, the newer atmo systems don't need it - it's just a pain to remove. Besides, worst comes to worst we can just set the shields to bubble mode and fill that with air. Some of the habs do it that way."

Rei's head appeared at the top of the stairs; "Kaylee says the station's finished transferring the last of our fuel and cargo," she said, "And the rest of us are ready to go. You good to fly us out? Zoidberg's setting up one of the screens downstairs to watch the railhead."

"I was flying before you were born, kid," he said, rolling his eyes. "Go trainspotting, I can handle leaving a dock."

Rei nodded, and disappeared. Belit, as usual, looked confused. "I thought this ship was mostly crewed by his- sorry, her, original crew?" she asked. "But... you have three of those Reis, and haven't they been showing up only recently?"

"If you think a century and a half is recent, yeah, but Rei there is older. Not as common as the other sort, but lots of people still like the form. Any more questions, or can I get underway?"

Belit waved her hand in a manner that was probably supposed to come across as dismissive. "I had thought you capable of talking and flying at the same time, but by all means - concentrate on your work."

"Right," Han replied, pinging the dock control to let them know the Robin Hood was about to depart. A warning came back about a ship about to drop into the system close by, along with some EMP warnings; was someone playing around again? No matter, the shields would handle it.

The gangway to the dock retracted, along with the autologi connection, and Han pushed the throttle to one-fifth forward. The main engines lit up, pushing the Hood free of the dock and out into open space. Another ship - a small flying-wing design - passed by on the port side, but otherwise the only traffic was by the railhead, where lines of habs were attaching themselves to the end of a train, the engine looking for all the world like an ancient steam engine sized up several orders of magnitude.

As they passed the station, there was a blinding flash of light, and there was suddenly a colossal ship floating in space; a gigantic turtle carrying four elephants and a small city atop its back. "That's the soi Chelonis ship," Belit muttered, her voice distant, "What's it doing here?"

Han pulled up the message log onto the front window. "Visiting, it looks like. Some sort of semi-official tour. Miko's with them, probably showing her girlfriend around. Or off." He began checking over the hyperdrive as he talked, making sure it knew how big the Hood was. It wouldn't do to have to repair half the ship on her first jump.

"You know Captain Miyasawa?"

"Worked with her squadron for a time, back when she was in Arrowheads and I was in the service. Good times, really. So, where did you want to go first? We've got cargo due for UISC space, a couple boxes for the Nashtari, and I think we can wrangle ourselves an invitation to the Haruihiists if need be."

Belit snapped back to reality, a thoughtful expression on her face. "I would like to see this "Sector", and their aliens."

Good enough for Han, and the rest of the crew didn't seem to care about the order. There was no response when he asked on the internal chat, anyway. "UISC space it is." He pulled the hyperdrive lever, and with the same old feeling of being pulled slightly upwards, they were in hyperspace.



--------------------



[A transcript of a Big Dave stream, roughly concurrent with the events above. Chat has been culled.]

"Youse gits better listen up, because it's time for another KRUMPIN' GOOD STREAM! WAAAAAAAGH!"

[The WAAGH continues for several minutes, overlaying footage from previous streams. Eventually, the footage changes to a feed from a camera floating out in space, pointing towards Big Dave, who is wearing a rocket pack.]

"Now then, today we'z'll be talkin' 'istory again, since da last stream was more popular dan squig roast night and we'ze gots new gits to talk ta! Of course, we'z'll be playin' games too, later - dere's dis one from da UISC space oi've 'eard is pretty krumpin' good - so stick around for dat too."

[Big Dave grabs the camera, and pulls it around to look at an Archer-class destroyer, in its original configuration.]

"Las' time, I sed we'd talk about da Archers, and 'ere we are. If youse gits from da other polities wanna know wot da bloody 'hell I'm talkin' about, the last 'isotry stream woz dated 20/4, and dere's versions available on da tubey-tubes an' all dat nonsense. So, da Archer, one of if not da mos' influential ship designs in da Protectorate inventory - if youse not livin' on a hab built aroun' one, or flyin' a modernised one in da navy, youse mighta ridden one or seen one flyin' about. Deyse more common dan... uhhh... a real common thing, an da reason for dat is, o'course, 'istorical."

Da Quite Frankly, Terrible War woz, well, terrible, an da reason for dat in many cases woz dat Endeavour didn't 'ave any ships capable of krumpin' da Amazo-X factory ships. Da Arrow'ead 'elped a lot, as did da LS-122-G, but all dey could do woz 'old off da drones long enough for a hab to evacuate. So, some clever gits and gitettes got together and started buildin' demselves a proper warship about da same time da Arrow'ead starts seein' mass production, but mos' o' da class ain' finished till after da war. Da exceptions were 'ull numbers 140 through 145, an' dat," [he points to the destroyer] "is DG-140, Archer, da firs' o' da class, now a museum ship."

[pictures of various Archers are overlaid onto the next segment]

"Da firs' and mos' important thing about'em is dat each was built and crewed by an individual hab - or, in da case o'smaller habs, groups of 'em. Dis is a tradition dat persists even to da modern fleet - every known hab 'as at least some crew on a Protectorate ship, an' 'ave also 'elped build da damn things too. Back den, da destroyers were cheap enough an' da habs few enough dat it was mostly one hab per ship, but o'course in da modern day it's more like three or four per destroyer. Dat led to a bit o'an argument when dey were bein' built; wot would be done wit 'em after da war was over? Dere's a good book on da argument itself and all da people involved: Archer by Ilya Ayanami-Soryu an' Jason Thunderbirker, an' I can' cover it better dan dey did so go read it, youse gits. 'owever, da end result woz dat tha destroyers were all placed under da control of da habs as a whole, but would be given to their crews once dey were out of service. Dis is why dey's quite common in civilian use - some two 'hundred and thirteen o' dem were built in da end, and only six were ever lost."

Dat tradition is still in force even to da modern day; every ship dat leaves service is da property of da crew. Sadly, da other 'alf o' dat is dat da dakka's taken off, so when da dreadnoughts get replaced dere'll be no free particle beam lances. So, onto da ship itself, bearin' in mind dat dis is da standard fit an' a lot o' crews modded theirs for one reason or another."

[Big Dave flies around the ship as he talks, pointing at important components.]

"So, as youse can see, da Archer 'as this pointy, bulbous bow thingy, right? Dat's composed of a good three metres of solid armour plate, an' sloped for good measure - no weapon da Amazo-X gits 'ad back den woulda got through dis stormbreaker bow. An' it's got nine railguns embedded in there too, which were meant for sluggin' it out with factory ships. 'owever, most of its firepower came from da missile launchers on da top an' bottom of da main hull, which allowed it to out-range, again, da Amazo-X gits. Which, in turn, were guided by da sensor array at da top of da bridge, there, which could just about pick up a factory ship at a useful range, provided youse weren't in too deep a debris field. Dat's where the G comes from in "DG", it stands for "guided missile" - since some gits get confused an' think "M" stands for "mine"!

Da armament's rounded out by dese point defence guns, of the exact same model as da ones on da ol' LS-122-G, only a hell of a lot more of 'em. There's more innovations, too, like da citadel running through da middle o' da ship - dat 'as all the tasty gubbinz, like power plants and fuel tanks, in it so as to keep 'em safe from enemy bullets. Da engines are also pretty flash, though da slowy-down engines are weak compared to da speedy-up ones - an' these weren' fitted with da gubbinz dat let you ignore newton. Da internals are also pretty basic, famously so in da case o'da sleepin' bits, you won't be findin' much privacy on one-a these. There's a reason every refit involves making da sleepin' bits bigger an' better. "

Big Dave approaches the portside airlock, and enters it during the next part.

"Da war ended before many o' these could be built, an' none fought a factory ship. They did, 'owever, see action cleanin' up all da leftover Amazo-X drones and auto-bases, an' dey also 'elped explore da Endeavour system an' its neighbours. A lotta gits seem ta think that just 'cos it didn't fight in da war, it wasn't a great design, but these ships helped shape Endeavour for generations - and many still do.

Right-o, then, I think dat's enough 'istory for today. 'ow about some o'dem video games?"

The relevant part of the stream ends.



--------------------



Endeavour System

"Flight 451 to Oorai Girls' School, now boarding. Please follow the [Green] line, or the [Red] indicator arrow on your HUDs if you have that capability. I repeat..."

Rei Ayanami knew that was the flight she needed to get on, which was a little disconcerting because that was the first thing she knew. She blinked, once, twice, eyes adjusting to the suddenly-bright light, and looked around. She was in J. Suzuiki Memorial Starport, Terminal 2, near boarding gates 11 through 15. How she knew that, she didn't know, which again, was a little disconcerting. There were food stalls, and autologi access panels, and at least two hundred and fifty eight different species in view which, aside from a few, she all knew were human-origin. She couldn't see the green line, but knew that if she were to walk just over there, she'd find it.

A few more Reis Ayanami were scattered about the place, along with other people she recognised. Some of them were much younger. None of this was, oddly enough, worrying. She did a quick mental inventory - she knew her name, how to take care of herself, how to survive in most hostile environments and that she was to be a student of Oorai Girl's School. Oh, and that that was a misnomer, they accepted applications regardless of gender. Odd, but perhaps not as odd as the store halfway up the wall that promised its customers a whale of a time... that seemed to be nothing but the sign proclaiming such and a door to nowhere.

She was about halfway to the ship when a short man with a long, intricately woven beard and tall, intricately detailed axe stopped her. "You alright, lass? Where're ye headed?"

"Oorai," Rei responded, acutely aware that everyone nearby was now keeping half an eye on her and the newcomer. "Flight 451."

"Good fer ye," said the man, "though why ye were dropped into the middle of a crowded starport is beyond me. We've got all these bloody newcomers, so watch yeself - go on, then, get to ye flight. If ye're ever confused, just ask someone - tell 'em who ye are an' that ye're new, they'll sort ye out."

Odd encounter aside, it was surprisingly easy to find Flight 451. The sign for it was on fire, which didn't seem to be much of a concern to anyone nearby. The ship, visible through the great glass wall that separated space from hab, looked to be a modern LS-150 type, done up in bright gold. How odd.

"Name and student number?" asked a woman standing in front of the airlock as Rei approached.

"Rei Ayanami," she said, "And I don't have a student number."

"Figures," said the woman. "You're a new one, right?" Rei nodded, and the woman continued; "Okay, we've got space for you, if you'd follow me?"

The interior of the spacecraft was, at least, less blinding than the exterior. There were about two dozen students on each of its three decks, some carrying luggage, most conversing amongst themselves. There were, at a glance, two more blue-haired heads. Rei followed the woman up to the third deck, to an empty seat near the cockpit. "Here you are," the woman said, "Just ask if you need anything else."

Her seat was, of course, a window seat. She saw ship after ship after ship go past, designs ranging from literal sailing ships in space to odd wheel-within-wheel designs that hurt slightly to look at. Eventually, the airlock retracted, and the spaceport began to shrink in her view until she could see the whole of Endeavour, the absolute chaotic mess of space stations, hab blocks, traffic lanes, embedded ships, built-up asteroids and assorted junk that it was. Somehow, she liked it. It reminded her of... somewhere unreal.

"You're Rei, aren't you?" came a voice from beside her, suddenly. Rei turned, seeing a girl with pink hair next to her. "My uncle knows another Rei, she turned up at his house one night and refused to leave. She's pretty nice." Rei nodded. She was, in fact, Rei. "I'm Akari," the girl continued, "My dad says because of my hair, but it's not exactly red, is it? Maybe it was when I was born, apparently newborns tend to have darker hair for a bit." Rei continued being Rei. "Have you ever seen a school ship before? Dad says they're huge, and that it took forever to get the hyperdrives fitted."

Rei shook her head. "I'm new," she said, recalling the short man's advice.

"Wow!" Akari said (people actually said wow? a part of Rei thought, surprised, then was surprised at its surprise), "Like, today?" Rei nodded again. "That's so cool! So... what's your favourite colour?"

"Blue," Rei answered, immediately knowing the answer.

That conversation continued for an hour or so, and Rei learned that Akari liked pretty much all the colours (even beige, in its place) and that she was going to try out for one of the second-string combat sports teams but didn't know which one. That had led to a bit of a digression as Akari explained the quite frankly byzanitine rules for Jaesting (scoring was based not on how many planes were destroyed by which team, but instead how many engines were destroyed - which had led to one bizzarre game where both teams simply brought gliders) until, eventually, they were in sight of Oorai.

A pair of fighters from the Jaesting team - an Arrowhead and replica T-65 X-Wing - settled into formation around the ship, guiding it around until the vast bulk of Oorai's lower hull filled Rei's window. Akari was speechless, and for good reason. The school ship was... well, Rei didn't have a good reference, but it had to be a good fraction the size of the Endeavour hab conglomerate. They flew upwards, cresting over to see the dorsal deck, and was that a fucking mountain and a small sea? How?

Rei remained awestruck until they landed on a pad near the ship's bridge island. She managed to retain enough sense to file off with the rest of the students, who were also trying to take in the sheer scale of the place. There was an entire city off in the distance.

"Hello, new students!" a bright and cheerful voice rang out, and Rei tracked it to a small purple unicorn. "I'm really glad you all made it safe - and with even more, don't worry, we've already prepared for that. I'm Twilight Sparkle, homeroom teacher for class 1-A, and I'd like to welcome you all to Oorai Girls' School. If you'd just come this way..."

Rei stuck close to Akari as the group moved out, and she noticed that only the students from her deck were following Twilight Sparkle - the other two decks were being led away by some sort of ribbon, and what looked to be a miniature AT-AT from Star Wars respectively.

"So," Twilight Sparkle talked as they walked, "I'll take you to your residential block now; there'll be a short opening ceremony tomorrow, and then we'll be setting out for Symmachia. Isn't that exciting? I wonder what the Theophanic Empire's like - I hope they have books there. Do you think they'll have books?"

"...hopefully?" one of the other students ventured.

"You know, some say that hope is the first step on the road to disappointment, but I always found that to be untrue. Oh, sure, sometimes I'm let down, but most of the time it's not so bad." There was silence at the teacher's remarks. Someone coughed. "And to be honest, I haven't heard anyone actually say that in like... a century. And those were Space Marines, too, and they just sorta come out with stuff like that, they don't mean it. Anyway, yes, books! There are lots of them in the libraries, of course, but you do have to look out, the librarians can be real weird sometimes. Oh, and your luggage should all be in your rooms - they'll have your names on them. You're two to a room right now, but you can have singles if you want - or change your room-mate and all that. Don't be too worried to do so, remember that this is about you having an enjoyable school life!"

Over the course of that meandering speech, they'd taken an elevator down two decks and a train forward; Rei had caught sight of one of the USBR teams' dockyards for a brief moment, old Archer destroyers lined up next to a CR-90 Correllian Corvette. Soon enough, though, they were at their destination. The main area was spacious - it had to be, with 24 students - with lots of tables and comfortable-looking chairs, a small library in the corner (she could have sworn there was a brief flash of orange fur) and a large kitchen off to one side.

"Any questions?" Twilight asked, to universal silence. "Right then, I'll be staying here the next couple days - and on-and-off through term. My room's that one -" she pointed at a purple door- "feel free to talk to me whenever, I'm normally up all night. Well then... welcome to Oorai!" With a very wide, awkward smile, Twilight began backing away while waving, until she broke and dashed for her room.

Rei could almost feel the collective shrug, as the group broke up to look for their rooms. She was about to go look for her own when-
"Rei, over here!" Akari called, and sure enough their names were on the same door. How had that happened, she wondered? Then... they'd had an odd number of students before she'd turned up. Had the school known? Was she taking someone else's place? She wasn't, though, because otherwise someone would have said something.

It was too late for existential thoughts, she reminded herself. Akari had claimed the bed on the right, so she took the left, carefully checking the draws and wardrobe. She had clothes, it seemed, and all the useful sorts of miscellany that a person might require. Notepads, pens, a couple small computers, a small auto-fabricator, toiletries all of that.

She settled down on the bed, listening to Akari talk about home (her parents lived on a hab out in Neos, and she made it sound quite pleasant, really) and gazing out the window.

What would the Empire be like? Would she get to see the other polities? Why was she here? And, was the Neos professional Jaesting team actually in with a chance this season? All of these questions, and more, would be answered. She just knew it.



[OOC: School ships are now being sent out to every willing polity. Endeavour possesses ten in total, of which four have been assigned.]

[Currently assigned ships:
Oorai Girls' School, Unseen University -> to the Theophanic Empire
Canterlot High, Tokyo-3 Municipal School -> The Sector]

[Available Ships: St. Gloriana, Pravda, The School For Kids What Don’t Know How To Space Yet But Will When They Graduate, Endeavour High School, Luna Nova and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - now with 100% less transphobia and racism!]

[Please indicate whether or not you are willing to recieve a ship or two and, if you have a preference, what that is.]




--------------------
*This Chewbacca was both female and well-spoken as a result of an unfortunate encounter with an orangutan.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Rogue 9 »

Jungle Combat Training Center, Fort Carson, Zambar

Sergeant Remenimi examined the wide, curved blade of his traditional sword before using his secondary right arm to slide it into the sheath mounted across the small of his back.

Private Colson grunted. "Why d'you bother carrying that thing, Sarge? If we have to get close enough to the enemy for you to use it, we're all dead anyway."

The Zambaran NCO simply grinned as well as he could, the bottom of his furred face contorting oddly as his downward-oriented mouth failed to quite approximate the human expression. "I've got my reasons, Private. Now put your mind on what we're doing out there and let me worry about my own kit." He picked up his rifle, the last piece of the gear he'd carry out into the jungle, and slung it over his shoulder before sliding his helmet over his head. "All right men," he said, addressing the mainly human training squad he was taking out. "I know that for most of you, this is your first time out in our jungle. You're all from the 406th, just rotated in this morning, right?" A chorus of affirmative responses answered him. "Right. Well, this isn't your quiet parade ground on Pinnacle. We're not going up against an OPFOR this time out; the jungle is foe enough, and unlike the other side in an exercise, it will try to kill you. Just keep your helmets on, your scanners running, and your weapons ready and you'll be fine; there aren't many predators out there than can punch through your power armor, but be careful all the same. Ready? Then let's MOVE OUT!"

He motioned for them to follow as he turned and opened the heavy door at the end of the assembly room. The humidity and heat of Zambar's equatorial regions rolled in and hit the military men like a wall. "Feels good, doesn't it?" The furred Zambaran grinned, knowing that while it did to him, to a human it did not. Not at all. "Form a line; you know the order." He led them off marching to the gate in the perimeter wall.

Soon they were out in the jungle. "And here's your first lesson, Private," he said to Colson. When he finished the sentence, the sword was in his hand and already swinging at the thick tangle of vines in their path. "The warriors of the Zambarim carry these things for a reason. They're one hell of a lot better at this than the standard-issue machetes, and you need machetes in this mess."

The squad forged into the jungle, the sergeant hacking a path. The vines would grow back as though they'd never been cut away before the day was out, but for now they could get through.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

UISC Station, Permatheasius Point, Edge of Meklon Expanse.


In the ever sprawling station of Permatheasius Point, Headquarters and governing body of the UISC, a long winded speech was finishing up in the primary council chambers before a packed audience. The council chambers were perhaps not as grand as one might imagine. Like much of the station, the chamber had been constructed ‘as needed’ and lacked the gilded, jewel encrusted, golden furniture of many similar facilities on numerous other worlds. It was a semi-circular hall that was designed for the fifty or so representatives of the five member worlds. [It was long ago argued that, despite Tajlan being home to two sapient races, their planet still would have the same number of representatives as all others.]

Ever since the events at the Nashtar Nebula, as it was being called, there had been a great deal of speeches being made in the council chambers by a great deal of representatives, some excited over new opportunities, some cautious and wary of potential new threats, and naturally a number of speeches simply wanting to know why the races had never been detected before and how it was that four seemed to show up all at once.

The individual currently speaking at the central podium was Kuoja Drenderin, a Tejlini representative and, like many of the representatives from Tajlan, a veteran of the War that had entered politics in the hope of further changing and reforming the Imperial Council.

He was tall for a Tejlini, though less muscled than his days as a Soldier and had developed a lanky look to himself. Like many in the military, he had a series of piercings through the boney fins down his head, though these days the ornamentation was far more subdued than in his youth. His fur was a mottled brown, mixed here and there with darker patches indicative from someone from the southern more deserted areas of his world. His face was perhaps the greatest reminder of his past. An explosion early in the war had left the right side of his face with a series of scares and the loss of his eye. These days though he had an artificial eye which was at least not too noticeable to the casual observer, though tended to give him trouble on occasion.

Kuoja had worked hard to get where he was, and had sacrificed a great deal. He was one of the few of the “inner circle” of planners and power brokers behind the eventual coup that ousted the ruling council overseeing the war. Together he and Kevenjak Klenthoro had taken control, sued for peace, and helped to end the war and return home. And it was there that things seemed to go wrong. Kevenjak, whom he has known almost his whole career had begun to show what he realized where his true intentions all along.

Leveraging the command of the Armada that had now returned home, rather than pushed to disband and remake the Imperial council into a more democratic system, he had simply sized power for himself and his allies. At that time Kuoja had been counted among such allies. In the beginning he had tried to push for the reforms they had fought so much for. Some of them where agreed upon, many were not. It wasn’t however until what became to be known as ‘The purge’ when hundreds of soldiers that had participated in the original mutinies against their ships and captains, had been rounded up and accused of treason, that Kuoja had had enough. Breaking with the Imperial council, he was able to get himself a position as a representative in the newly established UISC and had served his people as best as he felt he could ever since then.
His once friend and still leader of the Imperial Council, Kevenjak, seemed to tolerate his new political career if for no other reason that it did not seem to threaten his hold on power.

Of course, threats can come in a variety of different forms, and currently Kuojas’ long speech seemed to be summarizing some new ones.

“Once again, The Endeavor, The Nashtar, The Holy Empire, The Theophoric Empire. Many new names, new cultures, new opportunities. But as I have said before, the offer of peace is one that always must be balanced by respect and the consideration of war. The completion of the new Battleships will mark a bold new step forward for our defense and is something to not take lightly in these times. As I said in the beginning, peace and trust are forever linked.
Trust once broken is something not easily mended, I know this, and my people know this better than anyone. Even now, I work to build Trust with the others assembled here before me for what was done in our past. The long lasting repercussions of the war is something we should do well to remember. As such, I again say that the new races and forces that have become known to us should be met with openness, yet caution. The future before us is as always uncertain but through our own unity, through the unity of the UISC we can work to ensure that the future can be one of peace and not one of war. Thank you.”

He said before at last returning to his seat in the council. A relatively generous applause accompanied him as he walked back, he reflected it wasn’t exactly the best speech he had ever preformed, but given the short notice of the council meeting he felt it was at least passable for what was needed.

Kuoja swore under his breath, short notice indeed. It wasn’t so long ago he and his colleagues were idling discussing the ‘possible’ eventuality of ‘at some point’ encountering other space fairing civilizations. And then in the span of a day, four had apparently stumbled across one another and the diplomatic circles of the Sector races had been turned upside down in the blink of an eye. Kuoja looked back at the data pad he had read his speech from and skimmed through it. He knew certain individuals back on Tajlan were not going to be pleased with the tone of it. He had been getting pressure, a LOT of pressure to bring up whenever possible the unpleasant fact that all four of the new civilizations (baring a few exceptions) were largely comprised of the same species. Humans.

The irony of this was not lost on certain individuals both in politics and in various research fields. The infamous ‘Cargo Container Incident’ on Quatonia had answered the question of “other civilizations” fairly directly. The commercial goods from the unknown species had fascinated researches for over 300 years. It wasn’t until the end of the Tajlan war that the pieces had come together of its true origins.

It was mostly known that an ‘alien’ had arrived on Trathala by some hole in space and played a part in its rebellion. That individual had stayed on the planet afterwards and by doing so, had largely avoided the throngs of curious researchers and scientists who had wished to know more. But tidbits of information did came out in time and the important one was the name: ‘Human’ A rough description of the world eventually followed as well, one that seemed primitive to those of the Sector races, largely drowning in over population, pollution, energy consumption. What little was known did not speak well for its future.

Well, it was fairly clear now that the species had apparently thrived almost in despite of itself.

Meanwhile, the UISC, despite the best efforts of the well intentioned Skothian Council, was often still regarded as an entity for political posturing and airing diplomatic grievances. In a way this was part of what it was designed for, a forum for the worlds of the Sector to peacefully discuss problems. However for Kuoja, and a growing numbers of others, it was felt the time was arriving when it would be needed to be much more than that. And the continuing construction of a military force able to stand against outside threats was first and foremost in the front of their thoughts.

Kuoja thought back to the time shortly after the end of the war, shortly after the races of Tajlan had first been made aware of the existence of the Skothian council and their mighty city ship. At the time, young and still full of idealism, they had seemed to him an unstoppable force to further unify the sector, their technology seemed so far beyond the others at the time the idea that anyone could stand against them was unimaginable. However time had soured these feelings and recent events had shown them that if another race attacked in force, the Skohotintot, as powerful as it was, was still just one ship and could not be everywhere at once.

As he leaned back in his chair he let out a sigh as he relaxed and rubbed his cybernetic eye. It had started to itch as it often does whenever he got stressed, he knew he’d need to have a doctor look at it but hated going. He blinked a few times to refocus, his sight coming back just as the next speaker was coming to the podium. It was typical protocol that prearranged speeches were separated with ‘actual’ work for the assembly, mostly to ensure they could actually vote on items that needed votes between all the other talking.

A measure continuing the current outreach to the new civilizations was voted on and approved. Following that, a separate provision for an official diplomatic envoy with representatives to be sent to the ‘Nashtar’ Sector for additional negotiations. Kuoja didn’t like to personally admit why the council had seemed so eager to make greater connections with the Nashtar Sector, but he knew it was largely due to them being the only other group that had non humans amongst their society. For certain groups that had been making a lot of noise recently, this seemed important.
Another quick vote and the measure was passed, and Kuoja leaned back in his chair again as the podium was made ready for the next speaker.

They were Kentara Lontimanola, the senior diplomat of the ten that made up the Trathalan delegation, and an old friend. She and Kuoja had met during the war although under less than amiable circumstances at the time. She had been swept up in the rebellion against Imperial forces with those of the Lonti and Liya clans and he had, rather embarrassingly been captured by their forces. Of course that now seemed like a life time ago. He had met her again after entering into politics and perhaps not surprisingly so had she along with her husband.

Kuoja was only dimly listening. Everyone seemed to be making speeches these days, mostly trying to position themselves to best take advantage of the contact with the other new powers. He noted that the Trathalans, as they often had, typical were talking about going slow and being cautious, nothing exactly too exciting. That was until he replayed the last sentence through his brain again.

“Thisss isss why tthhe High Councccil of Trinasssaki hasss agreed to hossst a forum for exchange of diplomacccy and prossspectsss for new Indussstrial growth.” An audible gasp was heard by the majority of those in the council chambers, Kuoja realizing his own was one of them. Kentara, in true Trathalan nature, was little phased by this and continued forward.
“The traditionsss of five thousssand turnsss isss not sssomthing to easssily make new, though asss it isss reminded, the waysss of a people cannot forever remain ssstatic. We mussst forever exxxpand our mindsss and exxxperiencesss of the giftsss of creasssion as given to usss by Crie the eternal.”

Kuoja leaned forward genuinely interested. Kentara had always been rather ‘Liberal’ for a Trathana, participating in the rebellion by default was something only one of a particular mind set would have done. He listened to her continue to speak for a while, mostly about what the conference would apparently involve. Kuoja often had to remind himself that just because most of their society didn’t USE much technology, didn’t mean they did not keep educated as it were, many Trathalans would travel off world to schools or engineering centers. Well, it would seem they were opening the doors and inviting others to them for a change. It was just as these thoughts were finishing that another phrase seemed to peek the attention of the audience.

“For thessse reasssons our delegationsss will attend along the othersss planning to embark and create new dissscourse with thossse of the Nassshtar Sssecotor. Additional, I have been asssked to ssspeak that along ssside usss will join alssso the membersss of The Legasssy of Ssskoth.” This news was treated with the appropriate level of expected disbelief and surprise from the rest of the assembly. It was already enough of a surprise to have Trathalans join a diplomatic envoy, but the Skothians?

As one, virtually every member of the assembly turned their heads toward the back to look upon the loan representative from the ‘Legacy of Skoth’. Naturally they had a seat on the assembly, but as was often the case with the Skothians, their involvement consisted almost solely of just observing events. It had been almost seven years since the last time there was any actual ‘request’ put forward by them.

By the time many had turned back around, Kentara had seemed to have finished and, as she always did, was giving a short prayer before returning to her delegation. Briefly, their eyes met as her head turned toward his. Kuoja smiled as did Kentara, though for her this was more difficult.

“So, the isolationists are deciding to be slightly less isolated? This should certainly make things much more interesting back home.” He said with a chuckle as he suddenly had the mental image of Skohotentot folding into low orbit over the Nashtar homeworld.

*-****************************

OOC TURN TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS
Open forum for [limited] attendance at Trathalan capital of Trinasaki.
Official diplomatic envoy being offered to Nashtar to depart upon acceptance.

Production
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15 New production corvettes [10 points each] total of points 150
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Rogue 9 »

Jungle Combat Training Center, Fort Carson, Zambar

The squad continued hacking its way through the jungle for some hours, the idea of this first time out being to get the troops used to the feel of being in the jungle. They'd fought off a few predators, but nothing to really threaten them just yet.

That changed in a heartbeat. With hardly any warning at all, the foliage overhead parted and a huge shape hurtled down towards Sergeant Remenimi.

Some of the squad managed to aim and discharge their rifles before it was upon them. It let out a snarling yowl reminiscent of Earth's great cats as some of the rounds hit, and then it was on the Zambaran.

Reminimi hadn't wasted time. As the thing came down at him, his primary right hand arced up, grasping the hilt of his sword. He cleaved into the beast's shoulder as it bowled him over into the foliage.

Before it could start to maul him, the Zambaran braced his power-armored leg against his attacker's gut and kicked, failing to kick it away, but getting some weight off of him. Dexterously grabbing onto its fur with his secondary left arm, he swung up onto the thing's back as easily as a monkey in a tree and with a bloodcurdling battle cry, he brought his blade down on its neck before it could react.

The creature slumped.

It was twelve feet long, not including its elongated tail, and propelled by six clawed legs. It looked like a great black cat otherwise, with wickedly long claws and powerful jaws full of teeth the size of combat knives. It shuddered and then lay still.

Sergeant Remenimi released his death-grip on the thing's fur and slowly stood. "Second lesson: Sometimes, the enemy comes up to you. Not likely out on the battlefield, but in here it happens all the time."

The human troopers stared in shock as he wiped the thing's black blood from his sword on some nearby broad leaves. "This is a rraskantha, one of the largest predators in this jungle. Like I said, there aren't many predators out here that can punch through standard issue power armor, but this is one of them." He looked at the still speechless troops. "Well, I think that's enough for today anyway," he said, resisting the urge to smile wolfishly. "We're headed back to base."

He then started hacking his squad's way back through the jungle, leaving the corpse of the great cat behind them.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Elheru Aran »

Prologue

The ocean crashed below her. She floated in the air, feeling the salty breeze around her, stirring her hair. Froth from the waves showered her feet. Before her, another figure hovered, who she couldn’t quite make out….but for some reason, she was at peace.

White wings spread wide, and tanks exploded. A monstrous figure, at once terrifying and powerful, bowed in the distance. She knew she shouldn’t be afraid of it, but she was anyway.

Stone heads, long worn by the weather, screamed out from a field in the mist. Failures, she thought. Failures at what?

A skeletal giant laid upon the dusty plain, wrecked. She stood upon its raised knee looking at it. What had happened?

A monstrous figure, burnished black steel, towered above humans. Red light radiated from it. Evil. She knew it was terrible. Yet she wasn’t worried about it. It was something she might not have to deal with. In time.

Was this a mountain? No. It was a building. Whether constructed or hewn from stone, she didn’t know, but it was enormous. People, millions perhaps, slowly filed in. The whole time, an eerie, incoherent chant resounded. She strained her ears. Epaineso ton neogennito Theo tous epainei! God? What new God?

Mitra tou Theouautokratora floated before her, its iridescent dynamik-aspis radiating across all the spectra. It glowed golden in the void, light shining off its many angles. A voice asked her, who are you

I am me, she responded.

daughter of the turtle. ferrywoman. faithful. are you faithful

O Theoua, search my heart

i have, and you are found wanting. all of you.

She stood on Erepia. The colours of the dynamik-aspis filled the sky, shattering off the clouds. The people of Galaad were prostrate in the full proskynesis as the angeliforoi sang praises to the Immanent One in the sky above them, the dynamik-aspis warping around their forms. The spectra of the dynamik-aspis brightened, and Mitra shone brighter than the star of Erepia in their sky. She had to shield her eyes. The light became painful, and she gasped as her skin heated up suddenly.

Yellow eyes shone before her, in a veiled face. Breathing with difficulty in the heat, she fell to her knees and gasped, “Alleluia, oloi latrevoun to endoxo”-- before a hand reached out, ivory-skinned and perfect. She wept with joy and reached out.

The hand changed in her grasp. It became glabrous, scaly, fingers entirely too long. In horror, she looked up at the eyes. There were too many of them.

come to me, little ones. all of you. serve me.

Pain shot through her body, and she convulsed. A scream rose from deep within her as images flashed before her eyes. Towers, tall, intricate, and dark. Invisible yet immanent beams between them. A fixed, horrible rictus of a grin above long fingers wrapped tightly around a wizened neck. The white giant stood and screamed defiance at the universe, light haloing about it. Children stood at its feet, hair waving in the wind, looking directly at her.

She saw Mitra again, its once-beautiful dynamik-aspis throbbing darkly. The pankosmiploios was no longer golden. It pulsated with a sick light. A red, sanguine light, as motes of blood hung in the void and swirled slowly towards the worldship.

A thing at its heart opened its arms wide and tilted its head back. It looks straight up at her. Past her. Through her. Its eyes burn, all of them, searing pain.

the story is just beginning, small one.

She sat up in bed, in a cold sweat. Gradually she felt eyes upon her and slowly turned. Her valet, maid, and the guards were all standing by her bed, watching her anxiously. Mariam asked carefully, “Were you having a bad dream, my lady? We heard you screaming…”

A deep breath. She was the Klironomos soi Chelonis, Kapetanios Megakolymvitis. This was her room. It was just a bad dream. She cleared her throat and rasped, “Water, please.”

A cup was swiftly placed in her fingers, and she slowly drank. No immediate danger being sensed, the guards saluted and left the room, Isoif the valet following them swiftly to have a word with them about loose lips when he caught her glance. Mariam took the liberty of sitting on the bed beside her and asked softly, “Are you all right? Do you need to summon the giatros [physician]?”

She shook her head slowly. Throat wetted, she finally responded, “It was just a dream. I’ve been too busy lately. Thank you for attending. You can go back to bed. I’ll try not to be a bother again tonight.”

Mariam nodded, refilled her cup without asking and left the pitcher on the beside table with a short bow and retired. Kharon didn’t miss the glance back over her shoulder, face concerned. She sighed and drank the rest of her water, set the cup aside and sat back against the tall headboard of her bed. She didn’t think she would be able to sleep, despite what she had just told Mariam.

Her fingers almost unconsciously found her handscreen beside her. Miko. It had been some time. She quickly tapped out a message.

Good evening Miko, I know it is late. You can answer at your convenience. I was wondering if you would like to pay a visit sometime soon?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Some days later

One more task remained on her schedule before Miyasawa was supposed to board. Kharon tidied a few things on her end of the conference table and steepled her fingers as Alessia soi Fylachto, her second-in-command, swept into the briefing room, followed by a somewhat handsome but entirely… bland person. Medium height, nondescript appearance, even a very neutral uniform by Theophanic standards-- modest amounts of decoration, enough to distinguish him from a crewman or trooper, but nowhere near what would normally be considered appropriate for a genis officer.

“My lady, the Kosmitoras Ion soi Hapax, of the Office of the Epoptis!” Alessia saluted sharply, as did the other, and she returned her salute in measured fashion, keeping her face neutral. She responded, “Thank you. You may go.”

Alessia nodded and saluted again before turning to leave. Kharon fancied there was a backward glance at the door, but she decided she was seeing things as she pointed at a seat near her place for the man to sit down. She began, “Cousin. You will understand that this is new for us.”

“My lady Kharon, there is no need to call me cousin,” he responded mildly, “the Epoptis, like the Protectors, are entirely separate of genia ranks and address. Our loyalty is only to the Emperoress.”

She sat back and scrutinized him. He returned her gaze blandly, calmly placing one hand atop the other upon the table. “Yes. So I’ve heard. Nevertheless, I hope you will forgive the occasional slip of address as we become accustomed to your presence aboard our ship.”

“Of course,” he shook his head, “early days and all that. We are not here to make your lives harder, Archiploiarchos.”

A slight smile turned the corner of her lip up. “My turn to correct you, I suppose. Now that we have established a colony upon Symmachia, the Sixteenth Stolos Erweiterung is dissolved. On Symmachia I am Palatine; here, I am Kapetanios.”

He tilted his head and placed a hand upon his heart, a common apologetic gesture. “I beg your pardon. Kapetanios soi Chelonis, then.”

“Now that’s cleared up,” she went on, “I would like to understand what exactly your office is supposed to do that our officers and noncommissioned cannot do.”

Spreading his hands and sitting back, he responded easily, “We are only here to relieve your load to a small degree. The Navarcheio has decided that an independent division to ensure faithfulness and to uphold morale among the troops and crew of the Empire is necessary. In obedience, I submitted to them, and received a place as Kosmitoras.”

Her fingers tapped soundlessly upon the tabletop a moment. “Yes. I noted upon the manifest submitted to Megakolymvitis when your barge docked, all of you are listed as Kosmitoras. Is there no rank among you, then?”

“Only seniority, I suppose. We report directly to an executive office at the Navarcheio that in its turn liases directly with the Epimelitirio. In theory, we are separate from the chain of command, though in practice of course we will cooperate with all lawful orders given by Theophanic officers as we see fit.”

The words hung in the air for a pregnant pause. Her eyes were sharp upon him. Finally, she responded, “Noted. I expect a report in the morning with the contact information for your executive office. In the meantime, I look forward to a smooth integration of your proctors with the crew. Don’t let me detain you.”

Taking the hint, he stood and saluted smoothly before pivoting upon his heel and striding out. She sighed and blanked her slate. Nothing to do about this latest annoyance, it seemed, but to wait and see how it shook out. In the meantime, much more diverting company to look forward to.

Megakolymvitis hangars

Miko Miyasawa stepped outside the airlock of the sneaky snek and almost flinched as the pipes rang out loudly above her head. A double row of troopers in combat armour and a Theophanic officer, unusually short she noticed under an extremely tall and very fancy bicorne hat, saluted so sharply they almost vibrated at the foot of the ramp. Her eyebrow lifted; the officer couldn’t be more than fourteen years old, despite the thick layers of gold braid and velvet they sweated underneath. But for all that she returned the salute, and the officer’s eye twitched for a moment before they smoothed their face back over.

They looked at each other for a long moment. “Permission to board?” Miyasawa asked easily. These Theophanics and their manners… well, it didn’t hurt anything to play along for now, and the girl finally dropped her salute.

“Permission! To board! Is granted! Lady Captain Miyasawa!” she almost shouted. Miyasawa blinked and then smiled “I appreciate the enthusiastic greeting, but you can take it down a notch.”

Relief appeared on the young officer’s face and she nodded. Swiveling on her heel, she bawled abruptly, “Welcoming party! Shoulder arms! Salute! About face! Dismissed!”

With near-robotic precision, the soi Chelonis troops in their class-three warsuits smoothly shouldered the massive firearms they had been holding at parade rest across their chests, saluted and marched off. Miyasawa stepped up beside the girl and whispered, “First time?”

She cast a slightly pleading look up at Miyasawa and whispered back, “Yeah. Did I do-- I’m sorry! You’re here to visit the Kapetanios! We’re going right there now!”

They began walking towards the conveyor-cell depot at the end of the hangar and Miyasawa was vaguely amused by how the girl almost had to trot to keep up with her. She remarked lightly, “I’m afraid I missed your name?”

The girl flushed and straightened their hat. If nothing else, it was a thing and she was sticking to it… She blurted out, “Dokimos Erzsebet soi Morr-Geraki, my lady Captain, at your service!”

Miyasawa held up a hand. “Thank you, but you don’t have to be so formal. Just Captain or Miko is fine.”

You would’ve thought she had cut the legs out from under the girl. Her eyes practically bulged out of her face before she caught herself and cleared her throat loudly. “I can’t do that!”

They sat down in the conveyor-cell among a squad of chattering engineering crewers (stained coveralls being something of an universal engineering uniform even among the Theophanics, it seemed) as it began wending its way towards the officers’ quarters of Megakolymvitis. Miyasawa lifted an eyebrow and responded softly, “Suit yourself, midshipman. Just know that I don’t stand on ceremony like that, and neither do most of my compatriots.”

Erzsebet took a deep breath and nodded, “Understood, Captain. I beg your pardon.”

“No pardon needed,” Miyasawa answered readily, “How has it been around here lately?”

The girl cleared her throat and cast her eyes around for a moment before leaning in slightly to respond in an undertone, “It has been well for the most part, but the crew is somewhat unsettled. The Admiralty sent us a new division of proctors to maintain the faith and discipline of the crew.”

That lifted Miyasawa’s eyebrow again, in an entirely less pleasant fashion. Erzsebet flushed and whispered rapidly, “I have no complaints, of course, nor any fears. My reviews have always been exemplary.”

The Endeavourite captain shook her head firmly. “I’m not upset at you, don’t worry. No, I just didn’t like the sound of that.”

Erzsebet’s face cleared and she sat back. Reaching up, she finally took off her hat to reveal a head of bright red hair with purple stripes running through it, much to Miyasawa’s amazement. Without the hat, she barely reached Miyasawa’s chin, but something about her told the captain that she would make something of herself. She decided to change the subject to something less controversial and they passed the rest of the ride and walk to Kharon’s chambers pleasantly discussing the various uniforms and trims worn by Theophanic crew and officers.

They came up to massive doors with a pair of guards standing stiffly outside, and for a moment Miyasawa thought they must be at another reception hall. The doors creaked open to reveal a chamber the size of a typical hab residence, with a pair of long tables at one side and a sizeable array of seating furniture at the other. Servers stood stiffly beside the tables, and Kharon came through ornate doors at the end.

Her face brightened as she saw Miyasawa and she stepped forward rapidly, holding her hands out. Erzsebet saluted stiffly (at some point she had clapped her hat back on), but Kharon ignored her, taking Miyasawa’s hands in her own and squeezing. “Miko. It’s so good to see you again.”

“Likewise,” Miyasawa answered, and squeezed back. A throat cleared loudly beside her and she chuckled lightly as Erzsebet declared, “My lady Kapetanios soi Chelonis, I present lady Captain Miyasawa!”

Kharon’s eyebrow lifted and she smiled, then released Miyasawa’s hands to return the salute. “So I see. Thank you, Dokimos. Help yourself to a pastry on your way out, if you like.”

Erzsebet saluted again, then turned to Miyasawa and made to salute, but the captain pre-empted her by reaching out and grabbing her hand and shaking it firmly. “Thank you for the warm greeting and the company. It was a pleasure to meet you, Erzsebet.”

The girl flushed and bobbed her head with a murmured thanks and slipped away, barely repressing a salute at the last moment. Miyasawa wouldn’t have saluted back anyway, her focus was upon Kharon. Who looked tired.

“Are you okay?” Miyasawa asked softly. Kharon sighed, but still smiling, responded, “Just a lot going on. Let’s get some food and sit down.”

The pastries did look good. Miyasawa wasn’t sure why there was so much food laid out for just her and Kharon, but at her aside glance Kharon murmured that leftovers were customarily served out to the crew. She supposed that was better than wasting the lot.

They wended their way to some overstuffed and floridly upholstered seats by an open fireplace with… Miyasawa wasn’t sure if that was an actual fire or a simulation of one, but either way it was hot enough that she kept her distance. Kharon shrugged her way out of an ornate over-robe, one of her servants smoothly sweeping up to catch it before it fell upon the floor, and sat down with a sigh.

For lack of something to say Miyasawa stuffed a pastry in her mouth. Some kind of spicy jam, but something sweet. She wondered if that was real butter in there. How would she know? There were no cows in Endeavour… yet, she supposed.

She didn’t have to start the conversation though. Kharon looked her over again and remarked, “You’re looking well. What have they been keeping you busy with these days?”

That brought a rueful chuckle from Miyasawa. “Would you believe just running a lot of errands. Our colonists are somewhat of a needy bunch sometimes. There was this guy that insisted on finding an active volcano and fabbing a hab inside it. We had to bring the snek down and haul it out before the next eruption happened. I mean, he would’ve been fine, but he didn’t have supplies in case his, quote, supervillain lair, unquote got buried…”

Kharon snorted and then coughed, choking for a moment, but recovered quickly as she swallowed a bite of the meat wrapped in dough that she held. One gulp of wine later and she responded, “Your people certainly pick interesting places to live. We don’t generally bother with the polar regions for good reason. But I’m happy to report that most relations between our respective colonists have been smooth for the most part. There was one farmer who has apparently been adopted by a small red-haired girl, a very bossy one, though…”

At that, Miyasawa’s eyes widened, but she took another bite of a different pastry (this one had sweet meat. Also spicy. She supposed she needed to start getting used to it, though) and chewed for a moment. Her mouth half full, she murmured, “Isn’t that curious. I’m glad to hear things are going well though. As you know, we’re a very accommodating lot. Curious too. A little too curious sometimes. The field hospital on the northwestern peninsula of the primary continent would be able to confirm that.”

Kharon’s eyebrow quirked and she continued, “It seems one of ours picked up some kind of intestinal bug. They were, uh, fascinated-- our habs don’t have much in the way of germs that we haven’t adapted thoroughly to-- and, well, let’s just say this bug was rather contagious…”

She managed to chuckle and grimace at the same time. “Yeah, we contacted your technognostiki biologicans for some assistance. They were very helpful once they got over their apoplexy at the circumstances, so thank you for that.”

The catching up continued apace. It seemed both of them had been busy putting out their respective fires, Theophanic colonists being no less prone to incidents than the Endeavourites. A regiment of cassowary-cavalry had been deployed to protect a farm from massive herbivores who seemed to think it was okay to migrate all over the freshly planted, painstakingly genetically adapted to the local biome, wheat-analog. Another batch of colonists had managed to dig an sewage tunnel directly into a very large burrowing reptilian’s backside, and a kleptoi-craft bombing run had been required to settle that one. Seismic sensors were duly deployed after the fact.

“Oh, and I do have to make a small request, unofficially though, but could you pass the word that we’d rather not your lot hand out pamphlets willy-nilly?” Kharon asked Miyasawa, who shrugged agreeably. “Yeah, that’s a thing we do, sorry. We enjoy the… tactile nature? of conveying information that way. It’s succinct but to the point. Pithy.”

Kharon nodded, “That’s as may be, but I’m afraid that the Theophanic state isn’t interested in free exchange of information as much as yours is. I’ll work on it, but for the moment, I don’t want to see any of mine get into trouble because someone hands them a pamphlet on your Cult of Rei. However that works.”

Miyasawa grimaced lightly. “I understand. I can’t stop Endeavourites visiting their neighbors, but I can pass the word about the pamphlets. Most of us will probably respect that as long as we can still talk.” Kharon nodded agreement, and they moved on.

But for the most part, for both groups of colonists, things had gone well. Kharon was happy to report that there were one thousand, two hundred and sixty-three pregnancies among her number. Miyasawa reported, somewhat ruefully, none, but there were a decent number of children, a few dozen out of the three thousand or so Endeavourites that had landed on Symmachia thus far. Kharon blinked at that, and that led to a whole discussion about Endeavourites and children.

“I still don’t get it, but it’s okay, I like you crazy lot anyway,” she finally remarked. Miyasawa chuckled, stretching out against the comfortable seat. The pastries and wine had combined to bring forth a fine glow in her gut, and she was feeling good. Kharon noticed and tilted her head towards the doors at the side of the chamber. “Would you like to see my quarters? They’re not as fancy as some, but they’re home.”

“Sure,” Miko answered gladly as she pushed herself up to her feet and held a hand out to Kharon, who smiled and grabbed it to pull herself upright. They ventured through the doors, and Miyasawa had to blink again. These rooms were huge. The head was practically the size of the sneaky snek’s entire bridge!

And fancy, but she supposed she shouldn’t have expected anything else. She did notice that the ornamentation was much more restrained than the rest of Megakolymvitis’ genia quarters and tended more towards tortoise-shell and subtle gilding as well as some tasteful paintings. Those came in handy as Kharon began undressing, divesting herself of what seemed like a dozen layers.

Miko cleared her throat and inspected a painting closely. Kharon noticed and walked up while undoing suspenders, remarking brightly, “That’s Grandsire Yosser christening Megakolymvitis. The artist did the kindness of including all the Adelig even though at least two of them weren’t alive at the time. See, there’s my father--” and she indicated a distinguished looking, thin male besides the dramatic gold blob of Yosser. Miko noticed tattoos and swallowed hard.

Kharon grinned and handed the maid her trousers. A flowing robe was pulled off a hook, and hair let down over her shoulders. Miko decided it was safe to turn back around, but she still blinked and blushed anyway at the sight of Kharon putting her feet up on a massive block of steel in front of the refined sofa she was sitting on. Feet… ankles… stop, focus! she told herself, taking a deep breath and carefully sitting beside Kharon.

Kharon tilted her head and looked at Miko, a half smile on her full lips. “So.”

She had to clear her throat again before she could respond, but she kept her tone light. “So…?”

A chuckle. Kharon shifted her position and somehow managed to end up closer to Miko. “I’ve… missed you, lately.”

“Only… lately?” she murmured, palms suddenly sweaty. She put her hands on her thighs and sat up straighter, nervous. A light touch upon the back of her hand and she looked at Kharon, startled.

Kharon returned the look warmly. Miko took a deep breath and blurted, “I’m sorry, but do you know there’s already rumours about us?”

That produced a frown, and Kharon sat back. Miko plunged onward, “It’s just that the other day I was visiting Ayanami on the Katra, it was the captain’s meeting, and after when we were having tea, she made some comment about you and me spending the night after the founding ceremony. I told her nothing happened, because you know nothing did happen, we just ended up passing out together, and I think she bought it, but you know if she knew about that then probably everybody in Endeavour knows and I don’t know about you guys--”

“Hold up,” Kharon interjected into the quickening jabber, “I’m sorry, we spent the night together?”

Miko stared at her for a second. “Yes…?” Then she caught herself, “I’m sorry. You went to bed and I stayed with you. I actually ended up falling asleep besides you, but I left in the morning before you woke up.”

Kharon chuckled ruefully, stood and strode to a nearby cabinet which opened up to reveal an assortment of bottles. She selected one, poured herself a drink, considered and poured another, picked up both cups and brought them back to the sofa, handing one to Miyasawa. She sipped and finally remarked drily, “You could’ve left a note or something, you know.”

Miko stared into the cup. This one was a clear green with a potent scent she couldn’t place, but her olfactory sensors were lighting up. Kharon continued, “I thought I woke up at one point and you were beside me, but I didn’t know if I had dreamed that as you were gone in the morning when I woke. There are always whispers. When you’re born genia, you learn to ignore them. Perhaps I shouldn’t have.”

She made to place her hand on Miko’s knee and stopped short. She went on thoughtfully as Miko finally built up the courage to take a sip, “I am sorry if I have put you into an awkward position-- are you quite all right?”

Miyasawa had began coughing and going rather red in the face as the green drink hit. She held up her hand and swallowed hard, then took a deep breath. “Yes. I’m fine. That has a bit of a kick.”

Kharon sat back, mollified, and Miko seized the initiative. She reached out and grabbed the hand of Kharon’s that wasn’t holding a glass and almost whispered, “I… I don’t know about you, but I don’t care about rumours. I might like it if this was a little less strong,” she held up her own glass, “but as far as you and I go, I like being around you and learning more about you and… everything. I like talking to you and we have good times together. I’d like to have more of those.”

They stared at each other for a long moment. Miko began smiling slightly, as did Kharon, who shifted her position again to move a little closer to Miyasawa. Her robe shifted as she did so, and Miko’s eyes widened, then she clapped her hand to her face. Kharon stiffened and stared. “Are you okay? What happened?”

Through her fingers, Miko mumbled, “‘s. ‘Mkay. Pass me some napkins or something. Nosebleed.”

A serviette was duly procured and Miyasawa’s nose staunched, she explained to Kharon that this was something of an unusual but normal bioresponse programmed into Endeavourite bodies. That greatly amused Kharon, who had to test it out again rather more directly, much to Miko’s amused consternation.

It turned out that Miko, at least, only got nosebleeds twice in a row…

Next morning

Miyasawa walked up the ramp to the snek. Ludvig, leaning against the airlock doorjamb, grinned at her.

“Shut up.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

“I know. Shut up anyway.”

She entered the bridge and sighed. The crew was lined up in a circle about the hatch, applauding and congratulating her. The confetti cannon went off behind her and she covered her face with her hand, waving everybody away. Ludvig stood by her as she sank into her captain’s chair with a sigh, still grinning. “Sorry-not-sorry, cap’n. Where to?”

“We aren’t going anywhere, Ludvig. Snek is staying right here. But the old Mega and everybody aboard, including us, are headed back home.”

That rose his eyebrows almost into his hairline. “...really now. Are we sure?”

She cast a jaundiced eye upon him. “Yep. We’re gonna inaugurate the railway connection between Symmachia and Inlaw Station.”

“Huh. How did that happen?”

She grinned. “Told Kharon she needed a break. Pull rank and declare she’s visiting Endeavour. The way those Theophanics work, they pretty much have to play along.”

He grinned back. “Nice. Almost as nice as the night you had.”

She groaned. Reaching out, she picked up her captain’s hat off her console, slouched down in her seat and pulled the hat low over her eyes. Obviously, it had been premature to expect the ribbing to end there…

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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Elheru Aran
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Elheru Aran »

Megakolymvitis
Symmachia orbit


Ranulf 85 apo Erepia ran speedily down the passageway, skidding to a halt by Donatus’ office before striding in and saluting. “Message for Ypolchagos Donatus from Galley 5, sir!”

The harried looking lieutenant cast a jaundiced eye upon him from amidst piles of paperwork and sighed. “What is it?”

“Sir! Galley Five reports that all stoves except Unit Six, you know the one they call ‘Portho’, are now functional after the, er, mishap!” Ranulf reported briskly. Donatus rubbed his eyes, nodded and made a note, reached out for a mug perched upon another pile of documents and then seemed to notice Ranulf again. “What, you’re still here? Hie you back to the galley. On the double, sailor.”

“Sir, yes sir!” Ranulf saluted sharply and about-faced out of the office. He checked a chrono on the wall as he passed-- his shift was almost over. The conveyor-cell down the way took him back to the galley deck smoothly and he reported to the chef that the message had been delivered. The chef, immaculate in his white garb, grunted and returned to berating his unfortunate subordinates-- apparently someone had used a few grains too much pepper in Lady Alessia’s pasta, and she hadn’t eaten the whole serving on her plate.

That was none of Ranulf’s concern though, and he cheerfully double-timed his way back to his bunk-chamber. It was a massive room, one of forty-two aboard Megakolymvitis, giant stacks of beds from floor to ceiling like some prehistoric forest, capable of sleeping roughly fifteen hundred hands-- thrice that if the ship had reason to hot-bunk, though they had never carried so many hands and passengers.

He clambered up speedily to his bunk, seniority granting him a bed at the coveted mid-levels, and kicked off his non-slip footwear as he shucked his class-one coverall for more comfortable wear. Erwin 753 across from him looked over the edge of his book-slate and grunted a greeting, and he smelled Fabian 0223’s malodorous stew the sailor always had bubbling on a tiny heat-disk at his bunk. He claimed it gave him extra vigour and strength, some secret recipe from Paradosi-- Ranulf figured it was bollocks, but as long as he didn’t have to try it he didn’t care. He fired his socks into a mesh bag at the foot of his bunk and stretched out, the thin mattress feeling like a cloud after his long day working as a technognostiki assistant grade-two helping Frater-Novitis Bergholf fix Galley Five’s stoves.

“I say, Ranulf,” he heard from a couple bunks below, “You hear about the new department the Navarcheio made? Kosmitoras or something like that?”

He rolled over and stage-whispered, ”Shut up, Aro. You know we aren’t supposed to say anything about what them on high decide, just shift as they say.”

Uninvited, Erwin murmured in an undertone, “654, it’s just more ways for them to make our lives harder. Keep your nose clean and you got nothin’ to worry about.”

Ranulf nodded. He decided to change the subject. “How about those Endeavourites. Bergholf told me they’ve been visiting the main engine chambers and talking to the technognostiki about improvements. Supposedly they can transit the Unseen in moments without risking anything!”

Hugo 908 called as he scaled his stack, “Yeah, I’ll buy that when they pull out that space train I heard about!”

“No, I’m serious,” Ranulf insisted, “Their ships can go from one side of the galaxy to the other in just a few days and come out the other end just as pretty as they went in.”

Erwin sighed and put down his slate, apparently concluding that the book was a lost cause for the moment. “85, you know nullspace physics doesn’t work like that. There’s just no way they could go from one side of the galaxy to the other in a few days. Maybe a few months. If they’re very lucky and the currents favour them.”

Fabian showed up, clambering down from one of the top bunks. Nobody ever said anything, but from the sounds and smells that filtered down on occasion, Ranulf was pretty sure he was brewing hooch up there. Not that he would complain, Fabian had been known to share liberally, and that Ranulf wouldn’t turn down. He had something to add of his own, as well-- “Endeavour, eh? Beautiful ships. Beautiful women, too” (the latter with a broad wink and lewd grin).

Erwin rolled his eyes and went back to the slate. Hugo sat on the side of his bunk, feet hanging over a twenty-foot-high fall without any concern on his part, and cracked, “Like any of them would let you near them with how stinky you are!”

Ranulf shook his head as the two of them began a familiar exchange. Quietly, he asked Erwin, “Hey. What have you heard about where we’re going next? We aren’t gonna hang out around this rock forever, yeah?”

Without putting his slate down, Erwin responded calmly, “Nothing much, but being only two ranks below the bridge, we hear things in the logistika. The Ferrywoman is maybe going to take us to Endeavour itself now that we’ve allied with them. And in turn some of them are going to go visit the Empire. No idea who or where, though. Too many stories on the grapevine.”

Before Ranulf could respond with the rumour he’d heard himself (to the effect that they weren’t actually going to visit Endeavour, they were going to start exploring the fringes of Amazo-X territory) a familiar whistle sounded and all ears pricked up across the bunk-chamber. Static rang from the sprechenlange grilles in the walls and then the filtered voice of Alessia came through.

Attention, all hands. Attention, all hands. The Kapetanios will address the crew.

A throat cleared in another burst of static, and then the familiar (if only by sprechenlange) voice of Kharon soi Chelonis rang across the entire ship.

All hands, this is soi Chelonis. I have the pleasure to report that we shall visit our new ally of Endeavour within the next week or so. You may notice parties of our allies aboard. Please show them all courtesies. We look forward to a splendid visit and a happy return to Theophanic space. Theoua be with you all. soi Chelonis out.

Murmurs broke out immediately, and then the sprechenlange whistled again. Alessia addressed the ship, “All hands, the Navarcheio has blessed us with new crew members. We welcome the new Office of the Epoptis. All hands below the rank of lansdioikitis are subject to discipline by the officers of the Epoptis, however we trust all hands will maintain professional behaviour and attitudes in our service to the Empire. The Epoptis are our allies in our work in expanding the Empire and serving Theoua. I introduce to you Kosmitoras Ion soi Hapax.”

A pleasant voice-- subtly identifiable as genia-cultured, only a minor twang from Yehav betraying his origin-- replaced Alessia. “Thank you, my lady. I greet you, crew of the Megakolymvitis. I bless you in the name of our sacred Theouautokratora. My proctors and I have been assigned the precious duty of safeguarding you and your souls. We are only here to help you serve Theoua and the Empire to the utmost of your bodies and souls. My office is open at all hours to serve you. Yperochi-Mitra extends Their hands above you all.”

Alessia concluded the address sharply. “Thank you, Kosmitoras. All hands, carry on.”

Ranulf had to look at Erwin, who returned the stare. Proctors? What in the Emperoress’ Name? On Megakolymvitis of all ships?
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VX-145
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

Project Isengard, Location Classified:

Elon's lip curled in disgust as the shuttle approached. He knew full well why he was here; his old business partner intended to rub Elon's face in his past failures to distract from the old man's own. Oh, yes, he was also here to pass on orders to Isengard and its master, but that could have been handled by Middle Management. He cast a look over the conference room, making sure there was plenty of food piled high on the table, and waited, staring at the viewscreen.

He did not turn when the door opened, and heavy footsteps indicated the arrival of his guest. Instead, he perused some pointless production statistics, and marked the top two dozen best performers for increased quotas. Then, he turned. A tall robot stood next to the chair at the opposite end of the table, wearing bright white robes and bearing a white staff.

"Take that off," Elon ordered. The robot did so, folding the robes neatly and placing them on the table along with its staff. "Come here." Again, the robot did so, covering the distance between them in a handful of long strides. "Kneel." And so it did.

"You are to bring Isengard to full readiness within the next week," Elon continued, pacing about in front of the robot. "Once that is done, begin dispatching raiders to harrass the trade links and border colonies of the other powers. That will get the crews in shape for the next stage of the plan, which will be revealed to you in due time. Acknowledge your orders."

ISENGARD IS NOT DUE TO BE READY FOR FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY QUARTERS, the robot said.

A flush of red hot anger ran through Elon's veins. He kicked out with one chrome leg, smashing the robot to the floor. "Do not question me! Acknowledge your orders!"

The robot was silent, and Elon kicked it again, breaking off one of its shoulder plates. ORDERS ACKNOWLEDGED! it bleated.

"Good," said Elon. "Get out of here."

He paid the machine no mind as it retreated from the room, hastily gathering up its cloak and staff. His mind whirled, reeling from the sheer disrespect he had been shown - not just by the recalcitrant AI, but Bezos, and whatever foul creature he'd pledged his soul to, and those damned fucking weebs, and the intern who had presented his coffee point three degrees hotter than he'd asked for this morning...

Well, screw them all. He swept a platter of cake off the table, and phoned the factory ship's nominal captain.

"Tell my intern they're fired," he said, without preamble, "And signal Factory Ship 17; you are both to begin preparations for FTL travel along a course I will supply shortly. We are to commence Operation Staple, so as of now there is to be no communication with any other Amazo-X assets. The remaining factory ships will remain here to support Isengard. Acknowledge." There was, in the back of his head, the reminder of what had happened with the last batch of overblown computers he'd abused, but he pushed it down; they'd installed numerous safeguards into this one, and they would surely hold.

"Acknowledged," was the captain's simple response.

Let Bezos cavort with arcane forces and eldritch beings. There was more than one ancient race in this galaxy, and it was time to see what could be learned from them and their pet AI...

[TWO AMAZO-X FACTORY SHIPS ARE MOVING TO THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE SECTOR.]





Endeavour:

Another day, another long and boring series of meetings, made moreseo by the fact that each one apparently required a contribution from nearly every hab in Endeavour space. First, there was the response to an invitation to some diplomatic forum going on in Sector space - that was resolved relatively quickly, with the consensus being to just divert one of the school ship cruises out to the forum to see what was going on. Besides, if these Trathalans didn't want seveal thousand schoolchildren running around, they should have specified that in the invitation.

Second on the docket was a more contentious topic; the coming Endeavour Cup Tankwondo tournament. Not necessarily because of the teams competing, the location or even the rules, but because some absolute fool from the Ragu Collective raised the idea of inviting non-Endeavour teams to compete. Given that the qualifiers were already underway and that no other polity even seemed to have a tankwondo team, this was logistically impossible, but the general desire to expand the sport was shared by every member of the general assembly*. A compromise was proposed, and compromised upon, until eventually consensus was reached - a general invitation would be sent out for foreign teams to come and learn the sport, with either their own equipment or loaned vehicles. This would culminate in a small series of matches with no real title at stake.

That debate raged for a good three days**, and the speed in which the assembly settled the naval construction agenda was something of a relief. A great Armoured Command Unit was to be commissioned, granting Endeavour armies staying power in the form of endless swarms of semi-autonomous war machines. On the naval side, four squadrons of AW-series fighters would transition to the new BL-series, granting the Endeavour fighter force long-range striking power and providing a useful patrol force. Two new warships, the dreadnought Asuka Langley Soryu and battleship loss.jpg were to be laid down, in order to keep the Line Fleet competitive. One interesting item on the construction docket was the high-performance fighter design submitted alongside the BL-1 design; labelled "XF-00", this was too maintenance-intensive to see full production, but a single chassis was ordered to serve as a fast-response vehicle and testbed for new and exciting technologies - the first of these being the minaturised particle beam lance making up its primary armament.

The last thing of much import to be discussed was the deployment of the fleet; the scouting forces were already on the way home, having achieved their goals, and aside from the garrison at Symmachia, Endeavour had no real long-distance commitments. For now, the stealth destroyers - minus the sneaky snek - would be assigned to patrol the systems around Endeavour spacing, providing early warning should someone launch an invasion. Day-to-day naval duties would be carried out by the ten new Cruiser Groups, made up of a Kitsune-class cruiser and two Endeavour-class destroyers; Symmachia would play host to two, on a rotating basis, while three more would guard Gotobe, Neos and Tigo. This left five essentially going spare, either acting as a reserve or responding to events on the galactic stage. As for the odds-and-ends of the fleet - the 8===D-class cruisers and Astra-class scout frigates - there were limited roles available. The Astras were dispatched to patrol the shipping lanes between Endeavour and its neighbours, while the cruisers were set onto a roving patrol of Endeavour space - under the proviso they stay away from diplomatic missions.

Elements of Army formations-in-cadre were dispatched to Symmachia, in order to conduct joint exercises with Theophanic troops and see exactly what the other side was capable of.


OOC:

Building:

Construction begins on an additional Obligatory Anime Reference-class dreadnought and cool ship, bro-class battleship.
A new ship type is introduced: the BL-1 "Blade" heavy fighter squadron. Stats: 10+5H+5C3. Four are in construction.
A single XF-00 Testbed Fighter is also under construction - this is a one-off and may be used for RP functions. Stats: 30+10H+10C3
A 100-point ground formation - an ACU - is under construction.

Movement:

Each of the hexes around Endeavour space will now be patrolled by at least one Nothing Personal, Kid-class stealth destroyer.
A single cruiser group - described in the text - garrisons the non-core systems, and two groups are moving to Symmachia.
Astra-class scout frigates will patrol on direct routes between Endeavour and the other polities, following civilian shipping routes.
Symmachia is home to 106 points of Endeavour ground forces - a 100-point Mech force (an Evangelion unit) and 6 1-point Guardian Forces (representing forces in training or acting as cadres for new formations).






Somewhere in hyperspace between Endeavour space and Symmachia

Digging a tunnel through hyperspace was boring work, mused Araf, son of Ghibli, and then he thought that that was a good pun and he should share it with the lads down at the pub when work was done. Not that that seemed likely anytime soon; this area of space was damned hard for the green-glowing hyperspace drill to, well, drill through, and he'd be damned if he'd stop before finishing out the light-year***. Several immesurable distance units behind his drilling rig, the rail-layer was waiting impatiently to lay down the next section of the astral railway between Endeavour and Symmachia.

This had been an ambitious job from the get-go, which is why Araf had volunteered. After all, it was to be the single longest stretch of railway so far; already, numerous work-arounds had had to be put into place for various problems that had cropped up. Just yesterday, he'd spent six hours with Kaworu from second shift trying to figure out how to anchor the rails so far from a star system; the solution had been to build a small space station, containing an extremely weird bit of technology that was half-in and half-out of hyperspace. The station would, it seems, also act as a waystation along the route, for trains to stop at for whatever reason they might need to stop for. It had, for reasons unknown to Araf, already acquired the moniker "Space Station 13", despite the fact it was the first along the route.

It was, however, proving to be rather popular with Endeavourites, dozens of random people coming in off the supply trains every time they came in. That did mean, however, that there was a rather well-supplied pub, which - he checked his odometer - it was just about time to retire to.

"That's tha strange thing," he said, crowded around a pub table later that evening, "None o' you lot are diggers, else you'd know this already, but it's boring work at tha best o' times." There was a collective groan at the horrible pun. "But, well, it's real weird these days, harder than usual, you ken? Like... sommat don't want us there, and it's pushing back."

Alex, one of the engineers who worked the fancy magic that allowed multi-megaton trains to run along tracks at speeds measured in multiples of the speed of light, raised an eyebrow. "You operate a machine that stabilises part of an alternate version of reality and/or higher dimension through which we send giant metal boxes carrying... people, and crates of anime figurines, not some pioneer working on a rail line to Mordor. It's just some weird bit of hyperspace, I heard Phil was going to try to shift through some different strata...s? ums? Fuck knows, anyway, he's gonna try and fix the do, you know?"

"That'd be right bloody helpful," admitted Araf, "it was takin' me close to an hour per light year today."

"And I bet you that'll fix it. No bloody occult shit involved, right?" Alex continued talking without acknowledging Araf.

"Right," said Araf, hoping he was.





Andar system, UISC Space:

Han was very much looking forward to dropping Belit and the other Theophanics off. Partially because they had been arrogant and distant guests, but also because he was also looking forward to seeing some of the UISC for himself - and getting paid into the bargain. Endeavour might not have a currency, but it would be interesting to see what another interstellar civilisation had on offer.

Also, one of the Theophanics had likened Rei to a doll and he was pretty sure if the journey took much longer that man would be learning how to hyperspace-ski without skis... or a protective suit. Han hoped to corner the bastard before they made planetfall, and force something resembling an apology out of him.

He thus was in a pretty good mood as the Hood landed out of hyperspace, depositing itself right where the pamphlet Han had gotten in return for a mound of paperwork told him was the agreed-upon FTL exit area. The ship automatically broadcast the current greeting ("Well Seymour, I made it, despite your directions") and collated sensor feeds and local information networks into a rather handy auto-encylopedia and "important things to know" brochure. It was pretty damn convenient for what looked like the main orbital, around which danced a complex ballet of various starships. Although the Hood was capable of landing in atmosphere - and underwater, too, which was relevant given how much water was on the planet below - the main bulk of the ship's cargo was actually bound for the station.

Of course, Belit and company still needed to get down to the surface, which was where the Falcon came in. Han pinged the Theophanics (or, more precisely, their phones) to come meet him, Chewie and Rei by the starboard airlock. He wasn't the first to arrive; Rei was already there, naturally, but Belit was also there, holding out a sheet of paper and tapping her foot.

"Just what is this nonsense?" she asked, handing Han the paper.

It read:

“Excitement! And Beauty! And Nature Beauty! And Traditions!
Great is the world of oceans and sky that is Octona home of Octona! Look upon capital city of capital Pyrostrokon, might are the towers of glass and clean silicone that shine like ocean water. City of great light and new things edge of cutting! With new is old, take side journey to old and reverence of ancestors and great traditions of people many thousands of years. Take in ceremony of the blossoms of the Habris flowers in the hot season. Take in ceremony of the great eclipse of moon The Moon in winter season. Or take in ceremony of the time of tea all around year!

See from Capital to wonders of the great oceans it looks on. Waters are clear? Yes! Such beauty of life and nature’s bounty! Swim of the grand reef of the planet that circles like girdle. Colors of rainbow and more. Swim with gentle mighty bigs! See the largest mighty bigs of ocean, ten tentacle gentle Strynknvakng! Many herds can visit near capital during months of in-between winter season! Respectful keep of swimmers from mighty bigs, gentle and beautiful but defend of selves and attack if one is idiot.

See also buy for limited time of great boats of ocean! Some over five hundred years old, legacy of art and age of sails and high pressure water beauty! Ships of great wood and iron to take on pleasure journeys around islands. Small pleasure boats of 50 size indeterminate to great boat of kings and royalty of ancients of 200 size indeterminate!

All these joys can be yours and more. See Octona home of Octona today. Call now!

(Copyright, Briahahn Buddafeld)"


"Right, yeah, that's what they sent us," Han said, reminded suddenly of the rather rotund grey-haired Octonan who'd delivered the pamphlet in both digital copy and by speech. There had been no phone number provided in either case. "That's all they had, okay? You ready to go, or am I leaving you here?"

"Take us to the surface," she said, holding her head in what Han guessed was supposed to be a haughty manner.

"By all means, your ladyship," Han bowed low, and opened the airlock. "Your carriage awaits!"

---

There were comments made about the general state of the Falcon, "Are you sure this isn't a garbage hauler?", "Commoner ships sure are dirty", "The cockpit is in a weird place, why isn't it between the mandibles like a sensible ship?" and so on. Han ignored them, deftly weaving the Falcon through lines of traffic and heading to Pyrostrokon's secondary spaceport - which was his kinda place, fixed-wing aircraft parked next to blocky cargo ship and sleek passenger liners. One of the runways jutted out into the sea, a rainbow parade of seaplanes and flying boats moored on either side of it.

"Do you think we could fit a seaplane in the cargo spaces?" Han muttered to Chewie, who shrugged.

"It doesn't matter, you're not buying one," she said, "We've got money to pay for docking, re-filling the hold with goods and a little looking-around and that's it. Just build one when we get back home."

"What kind of barbaic place makes you pay to dock?"

"Just be glad we don't have to refuel, I looked at the prices and that stuff's expensive here."**** Chewie tapped the fuel readout, showing they had enough to finish this leg before needing to refuel at least. "And just because it's different doesn't mean you get to call it "barbaric", Han, as much as capitalism might be wrong. It could be a cherished local tradition for all you know."

"Yeah, of ripping people off," Han grumbled, pivoting the Falcon around to line up with the recommended approach vector. "Go tell the passengers we'll be landing shortly."

Landing in natural gravity was exactly the same as landing in artificial gravity, which was slightly disappointing. He'd expected a bit more ceremony for his second-ever landing in a natural gravity well. There were raised voices as he proceeded aft towards the ramp, and he rounded a corner to see Chewie yanking what looked to be some sort of harpoon launcher out of the hands of one of the hangers-on.

"Give that back, you dumb brute!" the man yelled, other hand reaching for a pistol. Han got there first, grabbing the man's arm in a tight grip. He noticed Rei off to one side, leaning casually next to a one of the hull ribs that Han knew had a carbine hidden behind it.

"What's going on here?" he demanded, and the Theophanics all talked at once. Chewie roared, silencing them.

"They were going to go hunting," Chewie explained, throwing the harpoon gun onto a nearby seat. "Athan here was going to shoot one of the giant squids!"

"I have no idea what you're talking about," the man - Athan - retorted, "I was just carrying it in case someone attacked us. They're all aliens out there, who knows what they're thinking?"

"They'd be too busy wondering why some damned fool was wondering around with a harpoon," Han bit back, quickly bringing up the footage from the ship's internal cameras on his personal HUD. Sure enough, the bastard was boasting about "bagging some calamari". "And they'd definitely attack you if you decided to hunt, without asking, in their ocean, that isn't even set aside for hunting. Congratulations, you've just bagged yourself an all-expenses-paid stay on the ship. Anyone else think they can just slaughter living creatures for fun?"

The others shook their heads, and Belit held up a hand in a placating gesture; "I assure you, none of us have any such intention. Could you please release my cousin?"

Han realised Athan's face was contorted in pain, and released the fool's arm. He'd forgotten this form was over-standard. "Cause any more trouble and you'll be out the airlock," he growled, then told the ramp to lower. "Off, the rest of you, before I change my mind."

Belit followed him off the ship, separating herself from the hangers-on (aside from her totally-not-bodyguard, of course). "I must apologise for Athan's behavour," she said. "He's become rather obsessed with the privileges of being soi Vlakas; I, like most of the family, eschew the right of hunting outside of emergencies. And even if I did not, I would never dream of hunting unasked on someone else's land."

Han let out a sigh, and wheeled around. "There's your problem," he said, "It's not a matter of rights - you can't have a "right" to murder living creatures!" If it was a matter of survival, maybe, but Han wasn't in the mood to discuss edge cases. "That line of thinking is exactly what burned Old Earth!"

"There's no need for that," said Belit, "I was trying to apologise!"

"Well, apology accepted, but you need to rethink this whole attitude of yours." Han shook his head. "Get on with your sightseeing, and remember we're leaving in three days."

"You're not joining us?" Belit actually looked surprised.

"I've got my own plans," Han replied. Those consisted of sampling the local brews and maybe taking a short cruise. "Chewie and I will meet you back at the ship - and don't worry about Athan, he's got plenty of food and entertainment."

---

To Han's delight, one of the flying boats moored by the runway was offering tours of the local island chain, complete with a diving experience and a well-stocked bar. Rei had wandered off, as was her wont, seeking... well, Han didn't know, a library or something, maybe a museum or two. That was her perogative, though, and Han's was spending the next three days being flown about, sipping on a pretty damn good example of the local brewer's art and napping on beaches while Chewie showed the locals how to play volleyball. He had a particular taste for an ale whose name translated to Squid Ink, and he had to admit the aftertaste was real close. He also struck up a friendship with the pilot, one Kolenan Jahtalon, who turned out to be a retired Qwintonian aerospace fighter pilot who'd settled on the planet after the end of the Tajlan War.

It was one convival evening, as he, and Kolenan chatted over a plate of fruit and bread - it was a savoury fruit, which was odd - that the conversation turned to old wars. Kolenan was chatting about the Trathalan announcement, noting that he'd once flown a bombing run about five hundred metres away from where some of the footage was filmed. "Right there," he said, "You can actually still see the edge of the craters, you see that pond? Used to be a perfect circle." The man shuddered, fur sticking up slightly. "Glad I'm out of the service; I just about managed to avoid flying any punitive missions but I know a lady who wasn't so lucky. She got out of a war crimes trial, it was near the end of the war and her superior had just shot someone else for refusing, but had to go out to Zozo on one of the pioneer fleets to escape being a scapegoat. Apparently a few more war crimes would have "won" the war." He spat that last part out with visible distate.

"Never a good time," Han said, his usual wit admittedly dulled a little by the relief from the heat and excellent ale. Well, hopefully the translator would still figure out what he meant. "War, I mean. Bad enough when we were fighting Amazo-X and that was pretty straightforward. See drone, shoot drone."

"You fought?" Kolenan asked, which was actually a single word but translated as two.

Han nodded, grabbing a small ball of something sushi-like off one of the other plates. "Spent the first year or two shuttling refugees around on the old Falcon - before we rebuilt her - then ended up flying AWACS for an Arrowhead squadron." He could almost smell the fetid stink of misery from those days. "A hab we were evacuating got chewed up by a factory ship, one time, barely managed to get out before it ate us with it." A couple other people hadn't been so lucky. "You know, I met Elon - the guy commanding the Amazo-X forces - once, back when it was all "look at us, we're the government from Earth, you're all saved". At the time I knew he was going to be trouble. Shoulda just shot him." He shook his head to clear it a little. "Anyway, did I ever tell you about how Chewie and I met up?"

---

Han was slightly hungover and very sunburned by the time it was time to leave. Luckily, it seemed the Theophanics were in a similar state, Athan aside, since there were very few haughty comments made, and the flight back up was spoiled only by Rei giving him the disappointed look.

The Robin Hood had managed to not explode during the stopover, and had loaded up with some cargo bound for the shipyard in the Shand system; food and luxuries, by the look of it.

Belit was practically bouncing as they started the run out to hyperspace, gleeful at the prospect of visiting Trathala. "Did you know, they're practically like the ancient Amish? It's going to be so charmingly rustic!"

"If they let you land," Han muttered, but Belit either didn't hear him or was ignoring him. "Anyway, get seated, we're transitioning."

And so, with the usual complete lack of fanfare, they were off.

[OOC: The brochure above was provided by Crossroads.]





Endeavour:

Jane Egbert had one love in her life: warships, and clowns. No, wait, she had two loves: warships, clowns and the Ghostbusters animated series. Okay, so, three loves: warships, clowns, the Ghostbusters animated series and novelty keyrings.

Right, no, we're not doing this skit, it's stopping right here. She liked warships, and was going to go around listing them in a big book for people to look at and compare statistics on things like gun calibre, acceleration and crew complement, leaving out cruicial bits of context like role and wider strategic thinking. Such comparisons are a time-honoured tradition and vitally important to the health of public discourse.

Naturally, given she was an Endeavourite and that most information on Endeavour warships is easily available through the intertubes, she started there. Also naturally, she started with the biggest ship first, discounting the 4b-class carriers and 8===D-class cruisers based on their variable sizes. It was there that she ran into a problem; it turned out, every single example of the battleships she was studying had been vastly modified from their original configurations, to the point where they were only a discrete class of ships by dint of name and hull code.

Needless to say, the following entry in Jane's Fighting Ships of the Galaxy was the product of far too much travel and first-hand research.
Jane's Fighting Ships of the Galaxy, 350AW Edition. wrote: Entry 1: The cool ship, bro-class Battleship.
Seven in service, one building. Total length when built: 1,100 metres. Approximate volume: 25, 000, 000m3

Originally designed by collective in 300AW, the first run of these ships were built from 305-310 in order to form the basis for a Line Fleet. All were finished at the Shikinami Naval Arsenal, though components and prefabricated sections were sourced from all over Endeavour.

As designed, they were to be built with twelve triple heavy hypervelocity cannon turrets, sixty-four dual light hypervelocity cannon turrets, eighty-six laser cannons, one hundred and twenty-eight 20mm autocannon and two large missile tubes. These were to be controlled by two main omni-spectrum sensor arrays, located on the dorsal and ventral masts, along with four phased-array gravitational scanners, four EM-spectrum scanners and backup visual targetters for each weapon mount. They were fitted with five metres of solid armour plate, Standard-3 composition, backed up by multiple spaced bulkheads running through the ship, with citadel protection reaching a further seven and a half metres. Shielding was rated to withstand a full six volleys from their own weapons, provided by two main control systems feeding information to twenty generators. Main propulsion was provided by four clusters of eight C-332 heavy thrusters, with translation and reverse thruster systems consisting of half that number for each direction; inertial dampening was fitted. A hyperdrive system consisting of eight generators and sixteen turbines was provided for; typically, only one generator and two turbines are needed to drive the ship at full speed in hyperspace, and the rest are for rednundancy.

Jamming functionality is provided by the sensor suite, and they can also act in an ECCM role. Typical crew complement is about 750, though space can be made aboard for up to six times that number.

So far, none have seen combat, and most of their duties have consisted of exercises and patrols around Endeavour space.

Current ships of this class:

B-392, nice: The lead ship, and the least modified; the sensor suite has been upgraded to modern specifications, and several of the autocannon have been swapped out for other weapons. The bow has had the observation deck expanded. Superstructure changes will not be recorded. Built over the course of 305, and launched January 306. Note that the ships were typically built in pairs, and worked on slowly due to the lack of expected threats at the time.

B-393, 69_weed_goku_420: The turrets have been reshaped to form a marijuana leaf shape, the missile tubes have been converted into swimming pools and propulsion has been concentrated in "wings" to the port and starboard, along with standard modernisations. Built over the course of 305, launched February 306 due to minor delays.

B-394, cheeky battleship for the lads: Six of the main battery turrets have been relocated from the dorsal and ventral hulls to the sides of the ship, and most of the autocannon has been removed to make room for more light hypervelocity cannon. The mid-deck has been converted to a run of restaurants; I would recommend the spicy cake wrap from El pollo escondido if you are in the area and it is open. Built from late 305 to early 306, launched May 306.

B-395, Ship Name Here: Named after a common accident stemming from certain areas on forms being hard to spot. The main armament is entirely forward of the two main masts, as opposed to the usual six turrets fore/six turrets aft arrangement. Notable for being used as a testbed for netherspace stealth experiments, which have since been removed. Built over 306, launched January 307. Note that production slowed over the latter half of the decade due to working up for the next production run of Kitsune-class cruisers.

B-396, :dawoo:: The secondary battery has been replaced entirely with rocket launchers, and the close-in guns with rotary lasers. Has no fewer than eight hundred and ninety-nine streamers amongst its crew. Hosts regular LAN parties. While the extra antennae may imply an extension of the sensor suite, these are for civilian purposes only and serve no combat function. Built over 307, launched January 308.

B-397, Vainglorious: Perhaps the most radically changed ship. The main armament has been changed to dual heavy turrets, of which there are fourteen, for a total of twenty-eight guns as opposed to the usual thirty-six. The secondary armament has been similarly changed, compressed into smaller numbers of faster-firing or larger guns, and the propulsion has been concentrated into four clusters at the aft end of the ship. Noted for the on-board complement of historical role-players. Built over 308, launched January 309.

B-398, is this pen working?: Yes, it was. Propulsion has been spread out into clusters of four engines, some of which have been mounted in nacelles separate from the hull. Armament, is, for once, kept to the design standard, but armour has been enhanced by multiple applique plates. Built over 309, launched January 310.

Ships under construction:

B-429, loss.jpg: Ordered in response to the multi-way contact event in early 350AW. Currently, only the citadel has been laid out, though rumours indicate this ship will be built with quadruple turrets instead of triple. Expected to be completed faster than the previous ships.
It was currently unclear if further entries would be forthcoming.





*If a venn diagram was made displaying the members of the assembly and the people living in Endeavour, they would overlap completely. It's just a fancy bit of shorthand. Of course, due to the nature of Endeavour computing technology, no-one actually had to be physically present, making it something of a misnomer.

**You do not want to know how long it took to establish how long a "day" should be in Endeavour.

***Of course, people weren't actually drilling a hole through a different plane of existence in order to lay down railways, except in the most superficial sense; but the drilling metaphor was a good one that stuck with Endeavourites. After all: theirs were the drills that pierced the heavens.

****Endeavour ships use a different fuel source to UISC vessels, and a few enterprising locals have tried to gouge out would-be sightseers. Unfortunately for them, civilian ships only need to refuel on average once per thirty days of flight time.
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