Hull 721, plot arc the second

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Lerryn » 2011-06-17 06:04pm

*Dies laughing*

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby joeluma » 2011-06-18 02:41am

Wanted to take the opportunity to say I definitely love this.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2011-07-05 04:58pm

Thanks for the positive feedback; short segment this time, Raesene your insert's busy again and I need your input on this one.

While the Rear- Admiral pursued the business of special operations elsewhere, and the crew of Black Prince fought what was basically a mystifying and delaying action, the main offensive thrust on the spying front was being carried out by an increasingly exasperated line officer who spent a lot of time banging his head off walls, literal and metaphorical.

Karl-Anton Raesene was doing so much thinking he hardly had time to think- too busy with puzzle game after puzzle game to sit down and figure out exactly what he was achieving, and to what end.

Much to his own surprise, he was turning out to be quite good at this, for probably two reasons, he thought. Firstly that confronted with the enormity of the target, the rebels had let the job get on top of them, flubbed a lot of the basics, and there was a lot of low- hanging fruit, easy moves in the right direction that could be taken.

The other reason was that he had no affinity for this business, no real temperamental pull towards it at all; not past wanting to be good enough at it so as not to be thought a fool, anyway. That anxiety aside, it was a job, something to be done coldly and professionally, with clarity and detachment.

That was only really good for so far, could carry him up to a certain point that only dedication would be enough to move beyond, but that point would be enough for as long as he intended to be here, and in the meantime it kept him saner than the majority of the lignyots.

Managing them, too, he benefited from starting from a low marker point- deliberately forcing himself, this time, to approach it coldly, professionally, and think it through.

He wasn't dealing with precious snowflakes, really (however much they might like to pretend to be so), nor yet with screaming maniacs- again, however much it occasionally suited them to fake it, but with more or less normal mostly humans, unusually bright maybe, who did a job that involved a much greater than usual degree of stress.

Part of that was produced by their command, and he was willing to take the chance that they would welcome and benefit from not being treated as freaks.

That meant spending a lot of time talking to them in the role of strictly amateur psychiatrist, encouraging them to talk to each other- of course they had misbehaved, being hardly military at all and subjected to discipline they would inevitably, simply by being themselves, commit offences fit to stock a prison planet.

Whittle down the rules to what actually helped and made sense and throw the rest out, was the plan, and it was definitely a work in progress, but at least they were less badly organised than they had been when he had arrived.

When all was said and done, though, they had enough reason to be a bit mad and have far more than their fair share of quirks, because trying to out- think the Ubiqtorate was bloody hard work.

He was being hoist by his own petard in that regard- getting results was still, even with all the obvious moves done to increase their effectiveness, very uphill work, and the Alliance command team had spent several days enjoying themselves laughing at him.

Until, at least, they had started to get results. Normally, Ubiqtorate comms were as difficult to intercept as they could feasibly be, as hard to recognise as actual communication as possible; massively and multiply encrypted, sent by multiple, and some very strange, routes, folded into regular traffic to deny the possibility of sigint.

The first great breakthrough had come from the blinding glimpse of the obvious- the Inquisitorius weren't using the official Ubiqtorate network.

They knew of security, at least they had heard it existed, thought it was probably a good thing, and that they ought to have some- but had not the faintest idea of how it actually worked, and didn't want to trust the intelligence agency with their traffic.

In fact, a lot of their traffic was routed via the old reserved HoloNet channels that had been used by the Jedi, and that was unbelievably porous these days. There had been some useful breakthroughs already;

one where a fairly senior Inquisitor had been caught plotting the defection of part of the sector group to the Alliance, masterminding the conspiracy- solely for the reason of pretending to discover it, to kill everyone involved and earn brownie points, for instance. That got passed up to headquarters.

There was one delicious moment when the trick had realised that what they were decoding was actually a bollocking being issued to a nest of Inquisitors by the Sector Plexus. It started by telling them they were squalling, petulant children in the art of information, recited a list of their mistakes, then it got nasty.

It went on to give immensely detailed biographies of everyone involved that literally did include what kind of stuffed animal they had slept with as kids; an analysis of childhood development and how they had got to be the way they were that really did go to that level of detail, and must have been psychotically uncomfortable reading for the recipients.

Worse, in fact, considering that all of the five individuals involved would have been sent each other's.

The intercept actually ended in a list of the opportunities they had given a hypothetical Rebel assassin to kill them, and how much intelligence and security information they had given away, and the warning that the only guarantee of security they had lay in the Alliance not realising that they were low- hanging fruit.

You have to admit, Raesene had thought grudgingly, the Ubiqtorate are damnably good at this when they're allowed to be, when they can dodge the politics and get on with the information- handling side of the business.

The problem, and where it gets interesting for the watchers, is how easily their job becomes political- and in the Empire's inability to let them get on with it lies the salvation, if not of the entire Alliance, then at least of more individual rebel operations and operatives than it is possible to count.

The internal machinations of the organisation are interestingly complicated; the higher ups are chosen, of course, for their usefulness, presumably to other higher ups. There are only a handful of faces and names known, mostly those who cannot avoid being in some way visible, those who reported to the Senate- and now to Palpatine's privy council- for instance.

The anonymity of it was presumably intentional, to avoid the actual business of the organisation being distorted by personal likes and dislikes; at that level, politics was essentially personal- the actual ideology held by any given individual less important than personality- and they were all cooptees of each other anyway.

Where it came apart was at the very top of the pyramid, and in the worst way; the rumour was that Armand Isard was on his way out, for the very personal reason that his daughter hated him and wanted the job over his dead body- although which was more important was a matter of opinion.

That promised to be a fantastic intelligence coup for the Alliance, for several reasons. First, she did not have anything remotely like her father's intellect- all of his ruthlessness, true, but none of the brilliance of the old man.

The source for this was worth considering, it was a sequence of unusually sloppy low- security administrative transmissions that most of the Alliance were mostly convinced were deliberate leaks. Invitations, essentially, to them to assassinate Isard junior. Attempted manipulations.

Secondly, she was one of Palpatine's latest batch of mistresses. If sleeping with the boss isn't going to work because he's your father and isn't quite up for that, try the next level of management up.

Alliance Intelligence's prediction was that this would be a catastrophe for their enemies, the effective deprofessionalisation of Imperial Intelligence and its' reduction to just another part of the spoils system. The only thing stopping there being roving wild parties of alliance analysts singing in the streets was that it might be just too good to be true.

What it looked like was that Palpatine was losing the plot, actually- willing to gut his own supports for, what? That was what the Ubiqtorate were seriously put out about- not the dynastic aspect, although that was bad enough, but that they were now a fit target for being carved up into fiefdoms.

At best for the Empire, they would resent it to the point of losing a lot of tone as an organisation, motivation and esprit de corps would wither; there would more probably be numerous defections, which would have to be looked at very closely, but life was likely to get a lot easier for the Rebellion. So easy, even those prancing idiots the Bothans might achieve something...

If there was an assassination plot afoot, the intelligence service proper might not bother to report it- or actually be behind it. They'd be ideal in the role in fact, if they could ever work out who each of them were, and what they had in common enough to actually rise in revolt for.

Revolts of the spies were surprisingly uncommon, in fact; historically you'd think there should have been more of them, but purely intelligence agency action was few and far between, it was most often the security forces.

The information they were actually getting about the proper target, the loose- tongued dark jedi, was frightening enough. The Imperial state actually had quite a lot of them about the place, but there was nothing like a League of Evil Jedi; if there was any organisation at all it was only at the very top.

There were half a dozen or so competing pyramids, coteries, clutches- official titles didn't seem to mean much. Ready made conspiracies, which was why the Ubiqtorate were keeping an eye on them and why the Ubiqtorate- watchers in the Alliance knew as much as they did.

The reports from them to central, and instructions being sent out from central control to them, were useful enough, but the gems were in side to side transmissions, communications- conspiracies- between Inquisitors in the field. That was where the things they didn't want their own command to know got said.

It was a complicated process, of course, all of them painfully aware that they needed friends and allies and none of them willing to trust without guarantees that amounted to 'be my slave', and only the wierdest even prepared to pretend to give them.

The few clusters and knots of them that weren't terminally unwilling to cooperate were the prime focus, ready made conspiracies waiting to happen, and even there the internal turbulence- it made no sense.

At least, it seemed to until Raesene, looking for precedent and perspective, started digging through the background, looking for historical events in which the force was central, in order to get some kind of pattern, and came across the concept of the Sith.

There are conflicts in which it is possible not to care in the least about the enemy, in which it is possible in fact not even to notice what they call themselves. A large galactic civil war isn't one of them. There were sources, there was data.

The single deep- hidden thread, the natural lords of malice and misrule, above the petty squabbles of the lesser random and self- motivated forces of night; serious and, if any ever were, credible megalomaniacs.

Classic conspiracy theory material, of course, but the pattern was there, the precedent was there- if there was a ranking and anointed Lord of Evil, an arch-ignobleman indifferent, apart from entertainment value, to the petty squabblings of his underlings, then the swirling, squabbling mass of dark jedi made sense, and what the Rebel and Imperial intelligence agencies both thought of them made sense too.

There was a very large but. Who? There were two, always two and only two- and if one stopped dancing around the issue and accepted that the hideously unthinkable was not therefore impossible, then the visible lord of the galaxy and the dark lord had to be one and the same.

Palpatine the master of the Sith, Vader the apprentice, and the froth of lesser scum around them the people he was currently studying- no wonder there was no succession. The Empire was in the hands of monsters, always had been, and always would be.

Raesene wondered how many of the Ubiqtorate had spotted that pattern and followed it to it's conclusion, and how many had flinched, decided they didn't want to know, and stopped short? How many thought it should, and how many that it should not, be so?

Perhaps the reason that there were so few intelligence revolts was that the job slowly turned most agents into the exact opposite of a committed revolutionary, into someone who only believed in what people did and not in what they dreamed of or said they would do; and that ripening knowledge had it's effect on the lignyots, too.

Even so, it must be a fearful depth of cynicism that could look unworried on the practise of total nihilism that surrounded the Sith- and the information handling side of Imperial Intelligence were actually pretty far out on what passed for the liberal wing of the Imperial state, mostly by default through not being actively authoritarian.

For all that control loved the spook image, the infowarriors on the line were largely apolitical if not hostile to politics, cultists of calculus and disciples of data. Insofar as they thought about it at all, many genuinely seemed to believe (with the occasional moment of tongue in cheek mockery) that they were protecting the galaxy from itself.

Considering how many ugly truths there must be behind the Imperial facade- and Raesene was no longer sure he liked the view from the outside- and how many the analysts must come across in the course of their duties, no wonder so many of them went a little mad.

Although, in the face of facts like Vader's true origins and Palpatine's true nature, perhaps that might be the only reasonable thing to do. Which was the big question- what to do with all of this?

He had a crude list of perhaps a dozen names, inquisitors who were operating beyond the pale, potential revolutionaries and assassins- although all of them committed to the dark side, so it would be a coup, really, not a revolution.

So, he asked himself in the privacy of his office, what am I going to do with it? The plan, the Imperial plan, actually bloody worked. Use the Alliance to investigate the Empire with an outsider's eye and intruder's access, find the potential renegades.

What about the people who sent me here? What do they know, what do they think, what do they want to do with it all? Raesene wondered. The Alliance file on the alien rear-admiral was barely a flimsy- he could have doubled it's size himself. Little was known of him, but the pattern was clear- he knew.

He was privy to the dark heart of the Empire, the fact of the dark lord and his minions; and that limitless cynicism which thought so little of the worth of humanity- and all the other species probably including his own- that it could accept evil incarnate as just one of those things, if anything could be pinned down as his position that was it.

Jorian Lennart, on the other hand, his file was the opposite. A vast accumulation of data without a clear pattern- with many minor contradictory and mutually opposing patterns, almost all of which were there on purpose. Politically trustworthy? To whom? He had taken great care to appear as a reliable hatchet- man, but that care in itself was sign of political awareness.

What side was he really on? For that matter, Raesene asked himself, what side am I really on?

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-07-05 10:04pm

Glad to see this back, and in style- deep politics, trying to patch together the known capabilities and context of the Imperial state, and of course a dig at Ysanne Isard. ;)
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2011-07-09 09:35am

And the plot becomes thicker, also way muddier. :wink: 8)
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2011-08-26 05:37am

right, domestic bit-

Hull 721 arc 2 ch 22

There were certain things, Inquisitor Pasiq knew, that were almost certainly losing options. For instance, she had a better chance of emerging in one piece from diving into the belly of a sarlacc wearing only a light coating of turmeric and fennel than she had of boarding that ship and confronting Lennart directly.

Her danger sense spiked every time she looked at that ship, or thought of it too intently. She had spent a little time on what fragments there were known of the earlier incident, and Adannan had almost certainly had the same warnings.

He might have ignored them, but she didn't think he had been that stupid; more likely made the sithly decision to confront his fears and chop them into small bits- taken a calculated risk.

Which had ended extremely badly for him, and although they would be unable under the circumstances to pull that particular trick again, the fact that they had meant they would probably be willing to try something.

Break the problem down to it's bare essentials. No actual orders from the Inquisitorius, but that was no problem at all- some people called it being given free rein, others called it being left out to dry.

If something that could be believably spun as creditable happened, they would back her, or at least try to claim they had been behind her all along; and it occurred to her that Lennart had probably been winging it in the same way.

She had to kill the man, and as many as could be of his comrades, and ideally the ship itself. She couldn't do this herself- barging in and trying to chop him to tiny bits wouldn't work; she had, count her, one reliable minion so far.

As many eyes as were likely to be on this business, in fact, she needed a case against him that could stand some kind of scrutiny- that would not immediately get her placed under suspicion. Vader hated her prince, and if he got wind of this that would be a disaster.

Moves by proxy towards that end made sense, too, and she already had a very useful one in deLante. What was actually happening in the corellian native's head was a secondary consideration, her subconscious was fighting back but it could be dealt with.

What the policewoman had direct and legitimate access to was useful enough, although there was no official criminal record on the young Jorian Lennart; still, the current situation was enough to mark him as probably one of the worst raving maniacs ever to disfigure the Imperial fleet.

In his own way he had as little respect for the law as she had- and that must have been the hook that got Adannan. Her colleague in the dark side had tried to recruit him, hadn't he- and look what had happened. Definitely one to avoid.

deLante did have to be fairly heavily leaned on, and doing so without letting her colleagues notice her changes in behaviour was actually a slog; in terms of strength of mind she probably rated an, oh, five out of ten, maybe four point five, but she had no idea when to give up and make it easy on herself.

Had eventually managed to get the executive summary of the public order incidents to date, and some of the analyses the Corellian Navy had been running on them, looking for things they themselves could use.

There was a wealth of raw material, but somehow it melted away in the lawyers' hands whenever it was worked up into leverage; positive public reaction, bought off and compounded, obscure bylaws- and some not so obscure; there was a clause about speeds on ion drive being inserted into the flight regulations now.

Bribery? In effect. The Starfleet not being willing to set the precedent of bringing him and his renegades to account- that mattered too. The man could have been a hero, but had used what he had gained from military victory to make this little pocket of bureaucratic unreality for himself.

Which was in itself an interesting thought. The Corellian Navy didn't quite understand it; facts accurate enough but analysis woefully lacking- they knew he was playing the game, but what sort of achievement and objective he was playing to win, they had no grasp of.

Do I? Pasiq thought. I live in a house of mirrors, but I think I can still recognise a plain image when I see it- so assume that I'm not looking for distortions that aren't there.

If he knew what it was going to be like; if he was starting from the same depths of cynicism that had taken her a decade of service to the dark side, after being inducted by murdering a roomful of fellow Padawan-

he had served the empire, and very well (she grudgingly admitted), but used the grace gained from that to avoid much of what should have been the consquences of serving, he had used success, spectacular success, at some parts of the game in order to get out of having to do the parts he didn't like the look of.

He wasn't a political infighter, not because he wasn't intellectually or temperamentally cut out for it, but because of what only made sense as a distaste- perhaps due to a surfeit- of it. At some point in his young life, Lennart had had a bellyful of back-stairs and back-stabbing, and turned against it.

There was little or nothing she could bribe him with then, even if they would be false promises- he would be expecting them to be anyway. Lies intended to lead him out of cover, that might be doable.

Would it be possible to use some of his crew as bait, take them and wait for him to attempt a rescue? It fitted his personality very well. He would do that- he was the type to, but not carelessly; suspect a move, suspect an ambush, it would turn into a fight. Winnable, but desperately unsubtle.

What would be purely personal enough to shake him out of his normal approach, what had been? His son in law? Yes, that would do.

On the other side of the fence, or more accurately the firewall, the initial moves did not go unnoticed. Black Prince's data-warriors had several bad habits, one of them being their tendency to practise intrusion routines, especially on those theoretically on their own side, at the drop of a molecule.

They had already had a go at the Corellian Navy and Civil Service computers, and knowing the usual habits of their shipmates, getting inside CorSec had actually been priority one.

deLante's desk computer was wide open to them, and her diary had already done the rounds to much amusement, but this was a worrying change in pattern.

A further search, then a root through the building's internal security systems, biometrics overridden with giveaway- priority access codes, the cameras, most usefully CorSec's own (illegal) searches to try to identify their visitor and work out what the stang was going on. It was obvious in the end; Inquisitorius.

Rafaella was on her own, in a set of chambers that were far too large for her; she wasn't the mansiony type, never really hung around with the rich kids, had a tiny student flat- I've already spent most of my life without much in the way of material possessions, she thought, should make becoming a robed ascetic that much easier.

Or, if I follow in my father's footsteps, probably a rogue acerbic...

The business of the ship went on, as it would have to do- I'm obviously not his only problem, she realised. Wonder what the guards would do if I tried to escape? Kriffit, trying to escape was essentially a conditioned reflex by this point, and where to? Here? Might as well start by having a nose around.

It was impressive, palatial even, but had very little touch of lived- in- ness about it- the pot plants were artificial, at least she hoped the carnivorous ones were, and the place had been cleaned and decontaminated within a nanometre of its unnatural life.

Entry hall, theatre, small gallery, variable environment play room, bedrooms, ready rooms- all spotless in a way that seemed unlikely for what she had seen of the ship so far- what had happened here?

There was, amongst all the executive luxury, an office, and a comp. That would be a good start. Sign in on guest access, all there was was an antique welcome page designed by a PR flack long since retired or cashiered that seemed to be a decade out of date.

Right, she thought, they obviously want me to do this the hard way. The fifth attempt to slice her way in worked- crashing the terminal, going to root and worming in there.

She wasn't a trained slicer, not as such- had taken a few official lessons as part of data archaeology, and a lot more unofficial ones after an incident in a temple on Umgul had pointed out to her that she really needed them.

Within five minutes she was sure this was a hacker's paradise, so many oddly shaped and oddly linked data volumes, security massively variable in presence and effectiveness, gems of information scattered around loose.

Five minutes later, she had changed her mind, and realised she should have known they would probably be keeping an eye on her; not necessarily her father, directly, some of his people. Not so much a paradise as a training ground. Too many other presences, too much changing at once.

Most of what she had found, and should not have been surprised by, was incomprehensible; multi-million line programs to control items of hardware she didn't understand and retained enough sense to avoid prodding, volumes of passive memory loaded with compressed seeds of algorithms ready to come to life, she supposed the data architecture of the ship was fairly close to the physical.

The veins of non- machine activity, image and text and voice, were much more useful to her, if she could believe all of it. Well, her father had warned her that his crew were somewhat off the wall, but this was demented. It amde almost as little sense as the late- republic judicial corps.

There was a copy of the ship's internal newsletter, which was interestingly insane. "Underground flying; a beginner's guide" including the photos of speeder bikes hurdling tunnelzoomers, some of which must surely qualify as evidence. The scores in an orbital freefall teras kasi tournament. Presumably, having to negotiate re-entry provided the pause between rounds one and two.

In "social", which she suspected had been put there for the issue, there was a bit about her that made her ears burn, and if she had been the bloodthirsty type vow vengeance; went quite a long way past innuendo in the direction of libel and slander- they obviously had only bits of the true story and were making up for it by some very imaginative wild guesses.

There was a piece on the captain's women, too, and speculation about how many more kids there were waiting to emerge from the woodwork, accompanied by some fairly imaginative drawing, especially of the half- humans.

She was trying to reconcile the fact of this journal's existence with the Empire, with order and discipline, and actually failing to do so when the last name on the list walked in on her.

It was her, same tall redhead, iridiscent armour and long sniper rifle; Rafaella got in the first shot by saying 'Apparently I'm almost your daughter in law.'

'Do you think the man whose crew could write that about him, your father, is remotely interested in normal?' Aleph-3 said. She had thought about it, and come to the conclusion that legally, administratively, they were much better off having an affair.

My nesting instincts are atrophied, if I was ever genetically capable of supporting them in the first place, she thought. Him, me, alive, now, that is what matters, all that matters; as he said to Rafaella's mother- would have said if she had been listening- the galaxy is still on fire, and we are not yet out of it; this really is the wrong time to be leaving hostages to fortune.

Not that it might not be a right time, eventually- after galactic spirit knows what. Any child of Jorian's would be a handful, look what one growing up without him managed to turn into. With the crew as role models and uncles in residence, too- let's face it, the chances of our producing a criminal mastermind have to be better than even.

'How much of this did you write?' Rafaella said, taking an interestingly accurate guess at how things worked around here.

'Quite a lot of it.' Aleph-3 admitted. 'I did have to make sure they didn't accidentally stumble upon the truth. That and he does badly need something to cheer him up at the moment.'

'What? I can't imagine someone in that position having that kind of sense of humour- I read his file, but what, don't people fit moulds any more, hasn't the job changed him? I couldn't believe the rebel alliance file was actually accurate.'

'That is bad news, considering you're essentially here to change him.' Aleph-3 said. 'I can't imagine him being himself without it.'

'He said I took after my mother.' Rafaella wondered out loud. 'No one else knows who my biological mother was- the blue admiral knows I'm a sensitive, but not exactly why- I never knew before how easy it is to make decisions from an armchair.'

Aleph-3 looked at her questioningly, and she went on 'We critique the past, it's blunders and it's bad decisions, it's well meaning blunders and it's black and open horrors- and if you're an academic, that's enough. Listening to him describe what it's like to be there in the middle of it all...

He got it across, what it's like, but I also knew that he wasn't telling anything like the whole truth, that there are layers of meaning I'll never be more than an outsider to. Perhaps I've simply sunk too deep in the armchair but I cannot reconcile one with the other, this elite that I will never be genuinely a part of, the comedian-terrorist.'

'The fact that you saw that much is a good start but still... I can't separate them.' Aleph-3 said. 'They're just him with and without his war- hat on, it makes perfect sense to me that he was like that before joining the starfleet, even though the details are horrifying in a fascinating way, and most of the crew are the same.

He's a hero because he's a lunatic, and a lunatic because he's a hero, which should be no surprise because heroism is essentially lunatic anyway, or at least seriously abnormal.' I have come a long way, the clone thought.

'That's exactly what I'm here to do, isn't it- to renormalise him and bring him to the dark side, to be the burden that makes him finally compromise with the powers that are, and you tell me I'm close to it myself- do you know what I want?' Rafaella said.

'I want the world to stop spinning. I want the storm to die down, I want to have a chance to breathe, and settle, and work out who and what I am now.' There was a long pause. 'Not going to happen, is it?'

'Not without someone applying a stang of a lot of braking force, anyway.' If I had any real mothering instincts at all, I would reach out to her and hug her and hold her and tell her everything was going to be all right, Aleph-3 realised.

She's an adult, and one who can usually cope, but there is a difference between being thrown in at the deep end and dropped into an ocean trench in cement jackboots. Comforting her as if she was a child would actually be the safe, infantile option. Not one her father would take, either.

I don't particularly want to lie to her either, with a midi count that high she could get quite touchy about that if she wanted to be, and there's still an excellent chance that everything won't be all right.

'You're just going to have to reinvent yourself on the run like the rest of us, and you don't have that bad a start. Square one isn't the issue. Square two is where your problems begin.'

'On the level of knowing things, I know that, but...where do I start, what do I do?' Rafaella said, lost.

Aleph- 3 again chose to deal with her as an adult. 'Legally, you're still a prisoner in custody, but at some point we're almost certainly going to have to say "bugger the law", so we may as well do it now.'

'This is the Empire...' Rafaella said, unbelieving.

'No, this is us. Besides, when did any aristocracy ever follow their own laws?' the supposed upholder of the law said.

'Historically it's not that rare.' Rafaella disagreed. 'As long as noblesse oblige still holds, as long as they still believe in their own civilisation...oh.'

'You also have a very large target painted on your back.' The stormtrooper pointed out. 'You'd make a good intelligence agent but that would just be throwing you to the wolves- you'd be more important than the mission. It might not even be safe to let you go shopping, unless it was as bait.'

Or me, for that matter, she thought, knowing it wasn't really true- she just wanted an excuse to borrow Pel Aldrem's now- impounded hand cannon. Rafaella on the other hand had been brought up with stable, sensible people, it had taken, and nuclear artillery was not an organic part of her future unless things went badly wrong.

'My life is basically over, isn't it?' Rafaella said, gloomily.

'The old one is, and that's probably the best way to deal with it- all that is past is prologue, which I remember your father quoting to me. Data mining is the obvious thing to put you to, and it's a good start for you to help yourself.

There's an argh-group called, sort of like an O-group but with less discipline, two hours; it'll be the first time you've been seen by most of your father's friends and colleagues; take the time to make yourself feel human again, a good long, hot soak always helped me wash the past away.' Something I probably did entirely too much of.

oh, just for fun, as a result of the web reaction to the london riots I found this; SW related nonsense that may be worth a chuckle or two, don't forget to read the comments.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2011-08-26 03:47pm

First I though you posted it in the wrong treat and that this was the WH-40K crossover update, reading furture I became glad that this wasn't so, good show in keeping up the odd tangents after this long without a update. :P 8)

So, Rafaella is going into the computer infiltration department for now.
Why do I see her room going to alter in the future to reflext this, possibly with a emergency bridge function in that room?

How far is "Black Prince" with her dockyard rebuild?
Also, if they are going to plan on going rouge, shouldn't they also worry about fuel, ammo and spareparts?

Unless one of the plans is for them getting a couple of Venetors and using them as droid-crewed, droid-controlled cargo-ships.
Basicaly setting-up their own freighter company with one SD as flagship and escort.
Bet it depends on Trawn, right now, if they will have to break out one of their "What If's" plans.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2011-10-06 07:27am

Next bit;

One of the relatively minor jobs during the refit had been sorting out the air group; with the bay being gutted as it was, it was an excellent moment to clear out the deep storage racks, sort out a lot of long standing administrative problems and generally go to town on shiny new items of hideous destruction.

Some of it had been business, that was to say creative requisitioning, as usual, and there was nothing desperately unusual about the fighter wing they intended to end up with.

The X7, the Defender- prototype, was not yet in production- a little creative blagging got them on the waiting list, with a higher priority than they probably deserved, but it would be unwise to spend too much credit by pushing too hard for something that didn't exist yet.

What they could get, were actually offered more of them than they really wanted, were the old bomber-winged early mark Avengers. Vader had flown a custom version of one, which was probably the reason the type had never really been brought up to date and up to spec.

They had replaced the old booster-ring light fighters, the space dragoons who rode to the battlefield and dismounted to fight, and the big, clumsy ARCs, but at gut level the Empire really wasn't happy with the whole fighter concept, or more precisely fighter pilots.

It treated them as much like infantry as it could, and the shorter a leash they were kept on the better. Even Vader only bothered on special occasions these days.

More to the point, if they were suspicious of fighters in general, that passed into genuine paranoia dealing with independent long- range fighters, and reached outright phobia on the subject of recon bombers. Small gunships like the Skipray and the customs frigates were more acceptable, because then the crew could watch each other.

So there were a lot of Avengers going spare, and the fighter wing snapped up the best of them- two squadrons of late variants, still only two gun but launcher capable. There were a handful of special types too, which looked as if one had tried to mate with an Interceptor- pointy tipped wings with four long guns, a bomber and gunship hunter. They snapped up a few, as extras.

The bomber wing was more troublesome, because there really weren't that many options. A lot of medium-light strike fighters out there, that was the trend, but of genuinely capable heavy attack craft, damn' few.

The standard TIE/sa was just too slow and too likely to get blown to tiny bits; the two squadrons that still flew them were perversely proud of them, but it was along the lines of "look what dreck we've been saddled with- even with this handicap we can still fry your ass."

To be fair, most of the rest of the navy did manage to get by with the standard TIE Bombers. On the other hand most of the rest of the navy didn't get shot at on such a frequent basis. It was long past time for an update.

Y-wings were out, too much chance of misidentification- as well as being basically obsolescent. The local Corellian types were bloated, slow and actually easier targets, if slightly better protected- but not enough to matter. There were a handful of rarities and one- offs, but too difficult to support.

It was a problem, until Emmo sector group announced it was phasing out it's recon detachments on grounds of incompatibility with Correct Thought, and the group staff organised a scavenging expedition under heavy datawork covering barrage. Couldn't swipe them all- no room- but four squadrons of Starwings for the bomb wing would just about do.

The third or multirole wing was the major problem, because they were running out of role for it. The Avengers were still among the very first class of fighters in the galaxy, the Starwing was the only credible modern recon bomber that existed in more than prototype numbers, so, what else?

Clone War era light fighters, maybe- raid the depots and try to turn up something that might be useful. Droid fighter escorts? Support and logistics would be a nightmare. The wing staff were casting around for options when one dropped into their lap.

They had been planning to junk- or pass on to the Corellian Navy in exchange for something interesting- the two squadrons of Hunters they had, because they were too awkward to service and support properly; had essentially been "borrowed" out of the first test batch, the low rate initial production tranche, before they had officially finished flight testing.

Keeping them going involved a long sequence of custom jobs done on the back of poor to nonexistent documentation and creative reverse engineering, and they had been worth it- up to a point. A homogenous option that involved less flanging it would be better, though.

The type was officially being withheld until a critical mass was built up- they were going to be built while the later test program was still ongoing, perfected on the move so that when they were ready, they could be deployed in enough numbers to make a difference.

Black Prince's premature use of them may or may not have had something to do with the fact that the Rebels decided to crash the party, steal a flight of them and most of the documentation, and cause a comically huge amount of devastation in the process- with said fighters, which at least proved they were good for something.

The project was considered compromised, several officers in the guardship squadron got to find out how far their heads would roll and many others found their careers doing the same, and the already produced examples- that survived, anyway- scheduled for disposal.

One small act of technical piracy followed, and disposal turned out to mean forming the multirole wing, four squadrons with enough of the surviving plans and tooling to make supporting them feasible.

The refit also offered an opportunity to clear out a lot of the storage racks and get things into some kind of semblance of order, although obviously not too much of one. What there was was a jumble of spare parts and pieces, particularly the weaponry, left over from the odd assortment of fighters the ship had operated over the years.

Quad guns from the abortive turret fighters, variable choke packet blasters, multiblasters, convergence beamers, chamber cannon- separatist looking charging ionic plasma weapons- a dozen different varieties of laser, blaster or other zapping device, many of which found their way into the ship's new point defence banks.

The rest, what wasn't too dangerous was sold off, what couldn't be handed off or hidden somewhere was traded, mostly to the Corellian Navy.

The remaining outstanding headache was the actual small craft. The legion's dropships were going to stay as they were, sixteen flying saucers- dangerously vulnerable, but what dropship wasn't?

They got a lot of troops to the ground quickly and they took up relatively little room on board, being one of the few classes of spaceship designed to stack. Besides which, without re- equipping the legion, there was neither need nor opportunity to change them.

The other small craft were more of an issue. Six Sentinel infantry/scout assault landers, six Lambda shuttles, six escort shuttles, six stormtrooper transports, six assault transports, two assault shuttles.

The Sentinels were actually decent space superiority craft but had no vehicle carriage beyond speeders and AT-PTs, and no warhead load; they were only used as armed ships, and there was better out there. Lambdas- well, compact, efficient, but not very fast, or lethal, or survivable. The stormtrooper transports were a joke; looked like a legless AT-AT, and handled about as well.

They could go. Appropriating another pair of stormtrooper transports (from Fist, actually) left sixteen deck spots- reform the space transport wing as squadrons of four, one escort shuttle, one mixed escort/assault, two assault transport, and four of something new.

The rebels were obviously overextended; they hadn't tried to hijack the prototype. What the wing staff had come up with and commissioned was a custom military version of one of the more freight oriented members of the YT series, the square- backsided, centre cockpit -1930.

Internal fittings were obviously very different, the duty sales manager at CE had had to be carried off to a darkened room after Dammernorph- just passing on the message himself, far too junior to be directly involved, but huge, intimidating and clearly enjoying it- specified that they could stretch the engine space forward, the secret smuggling compartments were no use to the Starfleet.

Escape pods were useless- never fit everybody in when it was acting as a transport. Isolatable breakaway sections made more sense, and that saved more volume, displacing the hyperdrive from centre aft to a two lobe type where the escape pods were on the civil version, heat sinks and shield generators mounted in the horns.

Missile mounts under the cockpit, dorsal and ventral turrets, fast enough to run with a Starwing at least and better shields than the Empire usually wanted to pay for.

Delivered half finished of course, for security- no-one wanted a sneaky rebel sabotaging them off the production line. The work was worth it for the safety, and the wing's technicians who had to do it were actually relieved to get out of Mirannon's pressure-cooker schedule.

They should be better gunship-transports than the craft they were replacing, which was the point. Their first deployment would be sooner than expected though; the intelligence had filtered through that sneaky- beak operation one was done.

The Rear-Admiral had, of course, been keeping tabs on his agent, and the signal intelligence crew from Black Prince had been pretty deeply into his files, so the -1930m's first outing was going to be a rescue mission. From the Alliance or from Imperial spec ops command, debatable.

The eight with the fewest teething troubles were going, and although they could actually carry four platoons standing/sitting room on a tactical hop and two on a long haul with force-field hammocks, one platoon each should do for this job- the rebel security team wasn't likely to be very large, or very talented.

If it turned out that the rear-admiral was quicker on the draw, then things would definitely get complicated; escort for the attack was one squadron of each fighter wing, and had been an interesting shambles considering the group had been playing musical chairs for most of the last fifty days.

The physical changes had meant they weren't all being billeted in the same place; the org chart was stood on it's side, and one of the four squadrons of each wing was based in the port side extension hangar bays, one in the starboard side, one in the officially standard bays on forward edge of the main docking bay, one in the old extension in the deckhead.

The result was four composite combat wings, and they were redesignated accordingly- Alpha was the first of the fighter wing, Beta the first of the bomb wing, Gamma the first of the multirole, Delta the second of the fighter, and so on.

Random numbers had happened, and the three squadrons due to go were Beta, Zeta and Kappa. Beta's commander was in overall charge- Wing Commander Wyl Berens, senior officer bomb wing, he had ended up behind a desk after running out of luck flying a TIE Bomber.

In two senses; they had got him, he'd been shot, and he had surely used up what he had left managing to eject from a burning bomber into a battle zone and not die. He had come apart a bit after that, mentally, although no-one was blaming him, at least no louder than he was blaming himself.

He was a good pilot, just temporarily overdrawn at the courage bank. Going out to play in a heavy fighter he had a lot more confidence in than he did in a TIE/sa was a good way to get back in the saddle.

The plan was straightforward by the group's standards, and didn't actually call for much in the way of bombing; the main problem was trying to sneak up on a communications and signal intelligence base.

It was unlikely to have actual intended and purposed tactical scanner gear that was up to very much, but depending on how well the base security element and the cryppies actually got on, whether their sense of danger and their working relationship was that good- well, it would change whether they got a clear shot at the target or had to fight through alerted defences and incoming reinforcements.

The base itself was easily locatable, which was problem one taken care of. It was a rogue object slung out of it's system billions of years ago probably, and crucially it had been mined, there had been crystal mining there in the last years of the old republic.

It had been accordingly mapped and charted, so the paper trail was the first giveaway. The Alliance certainly knew better in theory, would rather have had a complete unknown, but it was the money, the support gear. They had to take what they could afford.

Unlikely that a crypto facility kept anything resembling regular hours, but it was worth a try anyway- the moment of attack was to be 0645 Coruscant standard time- early enough that the latebirds should have given up and the early squad not have pulled themselves together yet.

No comms on the approach. The Avengers would fan out on the likely approach routes, the transports, the Hunters and Starwings- all with ion cannon- would make the classic spiral approach, minimal warning, arrive within gun range.

Hammer the base badly enough that the computers were disabled and unable to cleanly wipe themselves and self destruct, that was the theory; shame that the same couldn't be done for the personnel, but no-one had invented something that could be reliably fired into a ship or base target and do the job.

Well, apart from boarding troops; that usually worked. Of the eight platoons, one each were from first and second regiment, three from third, two from fourth, and one- who had promptly appointed themselves tactical lead- from the specialist boarding batallion.

The incoming craft were detected, but the base was a victim of it's own procedures; searching for information content, the long range subspace/tachyonics registered a burble of energy that the operator looked at, found no intelligent content in, dismissed as noise, and only started to worry about at least a minute too late.

Emergence was a complete tactical surprise, then; the body, the cometary nucleus was where it was plotted to be and the base was nearly where on the surface of the thing they expected. Shields took time; the Imperials got the first shot off- the first fifty at least.

Alarms were sounded, but the master alarm only got two full ahwoogah's off and no voice or data before fading out under the hammering ion cannon, and power and life support systems shorted too, leaving the base in silence and darkness.

It was actually Raesene's trick on watch, and he recognised the signs instantly- ordered his people away from their computers, into the 'thinkpen'- the clear space for pacing up and down in in the middle of the room, away from the suddenly spitting, arcing things.

His first coherent thought was, oh crap they've come to get me. Not absolutely certain who, but positive they had come to get him.

The order wasn't enough, he had to grab two of the more deeply lost in thought- two of the skinniest, thankfully- one by the arm and another by the shoulder, and haul them off their chairs and away from the ball lightning that was skittering out of one computer.

Ion cannon, nonlethal? Right. Three hurt- well, one twitching, shaking- had been arc'd through a little, not got the full blast of it- two shrapnel wounds; nobody actually dead. Rest of the base probably wouldn't be as lucky- barrack rooms were likely not too bad, antenna farm and people manning it would be carbonised, and not in a good way.

Move? Where to? The intent was obviously capture, would hardly have bothered with ion fire otherwise. Besides himself, only two of twenty- seven armed, with stun pistols- permanently hardwired to the nonlethal option for psychiatric reasons. Not a fighting force.

Run and hide, or escape and evade to put it more respectably which none of the cryppies would although they would appreciate the nuance, seemed the order of the day.

There was one explosion, and it was quite a pretty one sending a sprinkle of ice crystals off the walls- on a normal base it would have been ferrocrete dust.

It was actually one of the base defence fighters putting the -1930m's damage tolerance to the test, the hard way. The base had no standing patrols, they increased the chances of the place being noticed by far more than the physical security they provided and they made far too much electronic noise, zipping around on ion drive.

They did have them, though, a squadron of Clone War relic Nimbus light fighters, two standing alert at any given time- one of them had been spot-welded to the deck by electric flux, the other had just tried to launch.

At the same time the lead transport-gunship was coming in to land. A head on collision, but a low speed one; the fighter's systems weren't fully spooled up- reactor still building, tensors and deflectors just powering out of standby.

The fighter exploded, the Imperial ship's shields reflecting most of the blast back into the base- the gunship was slammed to one side, cracking off the sides of the mouth of the bay which did more damage than the ram did, and more or less flopped to a landing. Just another day in the Imperial Marines.

Out fast, before the defenders could get organised- the explosion helped- and shoot everything that moved. Side hatches were huge- good for getting out in a hurry, not so good when being shot at.

Most of the stormtroopers were armed with carbines for this job, it was too close quarters to need a heavy rifle; T-21's largely along for the ride just in case, arc blasters being carried in place of sniper rifles, autogrenade launchers loaded with electroblast and gas stun rounds.

Prisoners, on this job, were not practical; it needed to be kept secret, from the Imperial Starfleet's spec ops division as much as anything else. It made sense to go in loaded for stun because they really needed their agent back, but apart from the one they were after, any survivors were going to have to be temporary.

That, too, was just another day in the Imperial Marines.

On the receiving end, Raesene had decided not to wait, not to collect anything, just run; 'Time to play hide and seek for real. Run for the tunnels.'

They did. Confused and dithering, with much looking behind them, and spending too much time guessing and spinning castles in the air about what was actually going on; but give them their due, they were supposed to be good at noticing things, and they could recognise and react appropriately to "oh, shit" when they saw it coming.

It was hard to see how this was going to come to a good end; as rebel code types captured by the Empire, he thought not realising that there had to be no witnesses, their futures were likely to include a lot of interesting biochemistry and small pointy things.

If it was pirates, and the speed of the attack and sheer weight of ion cannoning made it unlikely, but if it was, they would actually be better off. Perversely, if it was one of the despicable scum- the Inquisitorius- they'd been investigating then it would be relatively fast and painless; lightsabre cuts were usually clean and decisive, and supposedly didn't hurt very much.

Sporkholm syndrome in reverse. He was responsible for them, but they were in the final weighing enemies of the Empire, and should be brought to justice; the problem was that he had a fair idea of what could happen, and it was hard to consider that justice ought to include that level of screaming, writhing, crying, and begging for nonexistent mercy.

Still, should, ought, will- assuming they managed to get away from the boarding troops by hiding in the tunnels, what next? They would be left wandering the ice tunnels of a deserted, shut down mine with dwindling oxygen and no energy, freezing to death.

I didn't really think this all the way through when I decided to volunteer, did I, Raesene thought. It actually worked; the whole point had been to riffle through the Empire's dirty secrets with an outsider's perspective and intruder's access, and in that, success. There had just turned out to be a lot of them.

Moving wasn't as easy as it should have been; there were around a hundred and fifty people on the base, a hundred of them nonmilitary, and that made at least three hundred elbows and knees two thirds of them panicking.

Ithorian fire drills everywhere- run in circles, scream and shout. A corridor that had been converted, with the worst placing in the world, into an aid station- half a dozen of them, medics (there was a high concentration of those) hovering around a resuscitation attempt; his team were two corridors away when an efficient stormtrooper lobbed a stun grenade into the middle of the convenient clump.

Another group trying to barricade themselves into a barrack block- theories, long complicated theories about what was actually going on, that there was not time to develop fully, not with the sounds coming from behind them.

Hiss-pop-crack of mass stun fire, the occasional thoomph of a stun grenade going off, 'fzownt' noises that must be an arc blaster; probably not pirates, then. Very little live shot going the other way. The base's internal security system would be fried, but even if they could get it running it wouldn't cover the tunnels.

Made them an even better place to go. Physically shoving his charges, pushing them along- which meant he had to be at the back, which was not looking like such a good move.

Problem up ahead, where were they- bloody hell, here already. Blast door; the tunnels had some air, they were effectively the base emergency reserve- still locked though. One security goon manning it, looking frightened, confused, and shouting at the analysts.

Some of them were shouting back; Raesene pushed his way to the front, started shouting at the guard- who was in no hurry to go and confront the intruders; he was sweating and looking on the verge of breaking down, when one of the cryptanalysts solved the problem by reaching past him and palming the 'open' switch.

Teeth. Lots of teeth, rows of them. Must have been drawn to the blaster fire. There were things in the tunnels after all.

Oh, as an aside, Simon, I finally managed to reconstruct my thinking with regards to that hideous blunder I managed to pull on Squelch about the analogy to- "electromagnetic temperature"; it was a poorly phrased, heat of the moment reference to heat transfer by radiation, as opposed to convection or conduction.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-10-06 10:32am

The type was officially being withheld until a critical mass was built up- they were going to be built while the later test program was still ongoing, perfected on the move so that when they were ready, they could be deployed in enough numbers to make a difference.

Black Prince's premature use of them may or may not have had something to do with the fact that the Rebels decided to crash the party, steal a flight of them and most of the documentation, and cause a comically huge amount of devastation in the process- with said fighters, which at least proved they were good for something.

The project was considered compromised, several officers in the guardship squadron got to find out how far their heads would roll and many others found their careers doing the same, and the already produced examples- that survived, anyway- scheduled for disposal.

One small act of technical piracy followed, and disposal turned out to mean forming the multirole wing, four squadrons with enough of the surviving plans and tooling to make supporting them feasible.
I enjoyed that Rogue Squadron mission...

Oh, as an aside, Simon, I finally managed to reconstruct my thinking with regards to that hideous blunder I managed to pull on Squelch about the analogy to- "electromagnetic temperature"; it was a poorly phrased, heat of the moment reference to heat transfer by radiation, as opposed to convection or conduction.
The analogy to temperature works fine- ambient exchange of psychic vibes, low-level subliminal stuff echoing around the ether and permeating everyone's head all the time so that it makes real thought all the more difficult.

It's just that there are many more ways for heat to move about than by electromagnetic radiation, is all.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2011-10-06 01:31pm

Good update, so someone is getting a even better cover if he can get his team out alive. 8)
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Andras » 2011-10-06 11:31pm

Glad to see this updated. How far along is the Black Prince on the (80-day?) refit schedule?

PS- I LOL'd over the wing's technicians who had to do it were actually relieved to get out of Mirannon's pressure-cooker schedule.

Pressure Cooker in the sense of how Mirannon's actually going about the refit!

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2011-10-23 10:19pm

On the refit schedule- most of the physical work is done, systems integration and shakedown left, and any remedial work. That stage when the ship looks ready to go but really isn't, in other words. Anyway, next bit.

The tunnel worm solved one of their problems more or less straight away by undulating straight forwards at the guard- who was trying to shoot it, hands shaking so badly it was unlikely the thing would suffer. Certain that he would- and did, as the creature shrugged off the two blaster bolts he put into it and bit down.

It was as well the tunnel was poorly lit; most of the analysts were screaming, and Raesene was on the edge himself, yelling at them to shut up; pointed on at the guard, trying to put him out of his misery and stop him shouting- being eaten alive was an excuse of sorts, true, but it made it impossible for him to tell his people what to do.

The force- or dumb luck which was usually rather more amenable to reason- must have been with him, because one of his bolts connected in the guard's utility belt, in the ammo pouch with four spare blaster clips.

Couldn't have done that if he tried; didn't actually know what he was trying to do- stop the shouting, shoot the monster, trained and drilled-in reflexes taken over and acting on autopilot- got the golden BB anyway.

He did remember to hold his breath, because after the sudden white flash the corridor was filled with pink mist with a billow of oily green mist behind it.

Most of his people were huddling, some of them scorched by the blast- one was actually on fire and appeared not to have noticed- the forwardmost draped in ugly dark- green lumps and strings of detonated worm.

'Right, into the tunnels, don't slip on the goo, don't wander off, Agis stop, drop and roll, somebody put him out, quick now.'

Around the base, the fighters were standing patrol, waiting to interdict anything leaving- which there should not be apart from their own transports once the job was done- or anything arriving, which there should not be as the base had been given no time to send an alarm.

On an assault landing on a larger body, they would be holding in cab- rank position ready to strafe in support of the troops, scanning and passing data to ground force command, maintaining air cover- generally, ready to react to contingencies. While very little of that was likely to happen here, it was good drills to be ready anyway.

Which was just as well, as one of the circling Hunters' sensors caught first a flash, then a definite touch of a craft hanging on to the rear aspect of the old comet nucleus, opposite the actual base.

Transport- small, sleek, mimetic, arrow/dart shape, sensor masked; not theirs, too expensive for the Alliance, so that left some well resourced private interest. They had been told the bare bones of it- as much as they needed to know and no more; but that had still been enough to draw conclusions from.

So they were here to rescue an agent of the Empire, who had been embedded in the Rebel intelligence apparatus; it was more complicated than two plus two, but it was still possible to figure it out. Probabilities were that it was some kind of Imperial agency, possibly even Destabilisations itself.

Solution to problem? Ion cannon would do for a start. The thing would be manned, of course, interesting to see what it would do. In the event, not much- denied time by the pair of Hunters that flashed round on it and opened with long strings of glowing-blue ion fire, and the heavier gunned Starwing that joined in.

Barely had time to realise that it had been made, start to bring reactor power up, before the hail of electric fire shut it down. Retask one of the boarding teams to have a go at that, later; and warn them all that there were probably rival agents in the tunnels of the old mine.

Raesene was already aware of that. First class gunman-survivor he was not; passed the annual fitness and firearms proficiency tests, no more. He was in no condition to go play shoot'em-up with Storm Commandos.

He had sound of them before he had sight; naturally, in the depths of interstellar space, there was only the faint light of far- off stars. In a cave in deep space, forget it. Total blackness.

Waiting for the worms, too. There had to be more than one, probably a breeding population; avoiding any of the tunnels that had been worn smooth was a good idea apart from that, with the tunnelling and drilling machinery, they were all bloody smooth.

So hearing them coming was going to be tricky, too- smell? Bloodhounding was only supposed to be a metaphor. Better though, because that only leaves walking onto one's tongue as a detection technique.

Ah. Blasters- up ahead. Faint flicker of light, for a moment he tried to identify the colour but that was daft, he was thinking big guns, handgun mix was pretty much the same the galaxy over- smartarse contractors talking their products up notwithstanding.

Exceptionally unlikely to be on his side, anyway. Whatever the kriff that was at the moment. I'll be officially posted as a defector by now, he realised; even if they hadn't been ordered to not listen to me anyway.

Persistent glow from a burning worm, reflected round too few corners; followed by a much brighter flare from the same place as whoever it was used a demolition charge to get past it.

They'll have sensors, night vision, we can't hide- 'Anyone got a glowrod?'

Good idea, too late. Running footsteps behind them; he hadn't expected much from base security but that was fast. Fumbling they didn't have seconds to spare for, before one of the analysts produced a tiny keyring light.

I'm kriffed, Raesene thought not for the first time. It was only sheer bloody- mindedness that was keeping him going; certainly wasn't common sense or rational expectation.

'Right, come-' the first thing the torch beam found was a black shape on white.

'Boo.' It said. Even Imperial Storm Commandos aren't completely devoid of a sense of humour.

Both the cryptanalysts who had been trusted with stun pistols proved they shouldn't have been- tried to use them on the storm commando, one managed to shoot another analyst in the back, the other sent electric sparks briefly running through the ceiling.

The storm commandos had orders to leave no-one alive anyway. The storm commando raised his rifle, then looked very surprised at the small round thing, immediately preceded by a 'chunk' noise, that landed at his feet.

'Down.' Raesene shouted at the team, and several of them actually did duck and cover; most didn't. The grenade blew up- stun of course, electric flash, and the storm commando swayed on his feet, protected by armour- dazed but not fully taken out.

The spray of blaster bolts did that. Raesene turned to catch in the feeble spotlight a group of white armoured stormtroopers, carbines raised and ready- and noticed on the shoulder of one of them the distinctly unauthorised crowned black knight emblem.

He'd been caught in the fringes of it himself, wasn't thinking particularly clearly, but given the choice of falling into the hands of a certifiable maniac with a record of spectacular and unpredictable violence, and with uncertain political leanings, or a widely reputed manipulative genius with no known ties and nothing to hold him back...

I know too much, he realised. Is my head more likely to stay on my shoulders if I deliver the contents to the evil one or the crazy one? On balance, he decided, crazy. He's less predictable which is probably a good thing- and it looks like they have the numbers at the moment, anyway.

'We surrender.' he said to the lead stormtrooper- platoon sargeant if they were using the same iteration of the insignia rules as everyone else, which wasn't a given.

The trooper pointed a small gadget off his utility belt at Raesene, a brief blue flash- eyeball scanner- and identity verified. 'Right, make room, hug the wall, provisional C pass through-' a close column of about forty running stormtroopers charged past them, after the now- retreating storm commandos.

Right, that's that, Raesene thought, then realised the stormtroopers were pointing their guns at the trick, who were conveniently lined up against the wall- 'Woah, stop, you can't do that.' He shouted at them.

'This can't afford to get out. No prisoners, no witnesses.' The stormtrooper sargeant said, and Raesene did not make the mistake of threatening him- instead he took two steps, stood in front of him, right in the line of fire.

Twenty minutes ago I would cheerfully have shot half of these clowns myself, he thought. Because the sargeant wasn't a stupid man, he thought it through and said 'You had better have a very sensible alternative.'

Nobody in the spec ops division to know. No-one in what passes for the imperial justice system to know. Most of them probably wouldn't be willing to change sides.

Who is there within the Empire that's virtually a law unto themselves- maybe working on this code schtick has sharpened my brain, Raesene thought. 'You know, Sargeant, I actually think I do.'

They had to divert two of the-1930's to do it, but it was done; and that was how a small lignyot cell, embedded in the administrative services of a large local shipping firm, found a Standard A container holding the surviving fifty- odd Alliance cryptanalysts on their front doorstep that morning.

Released into custody of their opposite numbers. The Ubiqtorate would find and figure it out faster than anyone else anyway, and assuming things broke roughly evenly, if they managed to escape and convince half the lignyots to defect to the Alliance, then if the other half of the alliance analysts stayed behind the Empire would be well up on the deal.

Hell of a thing, though, when being reluctant to massacre the innocent was actually a live distinction with meaningful numbers of people on either side of the line.

The covert transport had two powerful seismic charges on board; that pretty much summed up their attitude to prisoners and survivors. Probably I did make the right choice going with the side I did, Raesene decided. Although I don't know what they're going to make of it.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2011-10-25 02:27pm

Good part, so they have a few extra shuttles?
Heh, looks like somebody will have a few bad day to come for a while.
How to cover-up your cover-up destroyed a cover-up operation to destroy a cover-up operation while also taking out that other cover-up operation?

Next part, please. :angelic:
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Eleventh Century Remnant » 2011-11-03 08:20am

Next bit- quite talky again, and, well.

The chamber chosen for the skull session was one of the new ones in the starboard wing of the ship, a briefing room for the small craft which had been displaced by the bulb in the secondary bay; the small craft were still working up and planet- based for the time being, and the fitting out was waiting on that.

The place was unfinished, unfurnished, and barely lit for that matter- glowstrips along the corners of the ceiling, but only one installed. The chances of it being under any kind of surveillance other than their own were low enough to make it worth taking.

There was a portable holoconsole there, Lennart standing behind it, uplit by the spinning image of what looked like a family tree, or an org chart- which was exactly what it was.

He looked quite grim and menacing, which suited how he felt.

The usual suspects came in in the usual gaggle, and he didn't mind at all; the force sloshing about his head was like permanently being slightly drunk, he thought, inhibitions loosened and judgement out of whack, just enough to be dangerous.

Which was one of the reasons he needed this gathering, needed to talk to his people. Theoretically, this was utterly beyond the pale, all sorts of different kinds of violations of chain of command, deportment, fraternisation, discipline- and yes, it would have been good to be able to do it properly, but not this, not now.

The usual suspects arrived, more or less at the same time; five minutes early, as officially mandated. Most of the senior officers- Ob Wathavrah had been on leave and come back, apparently having written new chapters in the history of grenade fishing if the gaps in the ordnance manifest were anything to go by.

Rythanor was away doing something unavoidable with the briefcase brigade, and there was a rescue team on standby to get him back if things got strange, political or both. There were a few from his department, and they would be needed. No exec, of course, yet.

Mirannon had brought a handful of tooled- up maniacs; no surprise there. What was almost unheard of was that he was actually in uniform. No trail of ooze, no stray flakes of undescribable industrial residue for the hazmat team to tidy up behind him- for the first time in years he was dressed as an Imperial officer instead of a sump fetishist.

Lennart really hoped he wasn't making a statement there- it was fantastically unlikely, but...

Aleph-3, escorting Raffaella, who was briefly the centre of attention, and found herself looking at a sea of unfamiliar faces, so many questions she wanted to ask, and more she wanted not to answer.

Omega- Red- Ack-One, the actual commander of headquarters' spec ops company insofar as what was essentially a collection of detachments had one at all; the counterculture mushroom cloud patch on his shoulderpad.

Demolitions specialists, no job too big, no moon too small- boasted that they could easily have done the death star job, given a couple of weeks to wire the thing up. Were about to cause a major incident, considering where and how they had been practising. They had promised Command that they were using dummy bombs, but QAG-111 wasn't entirely convinced.

Another small clutch from the fighter wing, including Rahandravell and Jandras- she was leaning on him, her elbows on his shoulders; they were definitely an odd couple, with little in common except what they had both been through and that they both needed somebody.

Mirannon looked a the console, sniffed contemptuously and pulled a foldout screen from his pocket, Lennart said 'No point, it's not a dynamic presentation- I'd rather not use powerpresent, because we will probably have to think.'

'It's that serious?' Mirannon deadpanned, and added more seriously 'It's going to be that meeting?'

'Think so. Why the uniform?'

'In case I have to rip it off and set fire to it. I wouldn't want to waste a good boiler suit.' Mirannon said. Entirely apart from the toxic fume hazard one of his usual coveralls would present.

'Why does that seem entirely believable? Anyway- I think this is more or less everybody we need.' Lennart turned from his friend to all of them at large.

'Close the doors, make yourselves comfortable, get your politics heads on- insofar as those statements are not mutually contradictory. I've called you all here because I need your input- not so much what we do next as why, and where we want to stand.

'Physically speaking, phase one is complete. Everything in the hardware line that was meant to be done has been done, and all that's left in terms of metal bashing is to redo such parts are necessary to get it all to work. In a month's time the control and computing side will be at the same state, and we'll be ready to rejoin the Imperial Starfleet- if we want to.

Normally I wouldn't ask, wouldn't need to, would just go where I thought it was right to go, where you could stand to go, and would take you along with me; that's the way it always has been for long before us, the ship and the steersman, the captain and the crew, the fundamental unit that precedes navies, predates civilisation.

I can steer you to safety if you work the ship, find a way through the wild winds and tides of politics and thaumaturgy. And on a more personal note I'm probably going to be using "I" and "we" interchangeably a lot.

This isn't to belittle you, but a large part of what I mean to myself, the psychic anchors I'm using to ride out the Force and hold to sanity, are rooted in that- in command, duty, responsibility.

It's where on the ocean of possibility there is to lead you to, it's the landfall that I have no confidence in. You all have parts of the story- I'll lay it out whole, from the beginning.'

He did; going back to jedi and clones, corporations and criminals, the last days of the Republic, the hidden lords of the dark side and the contrived death of the light, confusion and corruption and a galaxy played for and won.

On to their own part, the choices they had made and the fallout that was developing from them, the pieces that they could start comparing to their own experience. No lies; no need. Too important to look the truth square on, anyway.

Then to the skin crawling part, currents of possibility and arrows of consequence and black iron causal chains, what seemed to be happening and likely to happen next and where it was taking them.

'So you see,' he came to the end of a long wearying speech, in which almost everyone had wanted to interrupt and say something, object and query, deny and counter, but had held off largely because they recognised how much he really didn't want to say this and how much he would welcome a diversion- but it was only the momentum keeping him going,

'blot on the name of the human race thought he may have been, Kor Alric Adannan was, unfortunately, right; our elected and proclaimed rightful lord of the galaxy, that we have all sworn oaths to, really is the over- monster all the lesser evils say he is.

So what do we do, where do we go with this? This passes military loyalty, I can't simply lead, this has to be your choice. Serve to survive- does service even guarantee survival, is survival worth it at the price? Most of the galaxy doesn't know- do they want not to know, are there alternatives?

Is it necessary to aim beyond that- do we have to change the galaxy, in order to fit in? Are we unlikely to survive anyway and the only thing to do is to go down fighting and do as much damage as possible? On what terms do we want to live, in a galaxy such as we now know this to be?'

It wasn't a shock; they had all known it somewhere in their bones anyway. it was not the dawning of a horror, but the slow realisation that it had been there all along. That they had all, all of them, been unwilling to look it square on.

That they had used the man in front of them as a rock, leant on him to be able to cope- and now, betrayed? I am not, Lennart thought, looking at a group of happy people. I couldn't have done it to them unless they were willing, you can't order a being to believe.

Yet you can persuade, press, convince, bully, demand, cloud thinking- perhaps, with much Force and no conscience, you actually can order someone to believe. Possibly, Palpatine has. Of course he has. Could I? Damn, I hope not.

Was I wrong? No, not under what we thought were the circumstances then. Not considering what we thought the bigger picture was- saw a layer or two deeper than most actually, but with an accepting cynicism. And they did as much to, for me, anyway.

It was Aleph-3 who broke the silence, saying 'It seemed inevitable. For us,' meaning the ground force element, the grunts, the clones, 'it was- the only options were to submit, accept, and support the rule of force or to die by it.

For a busy working lifetime, I was a more or less willing handmaiden of oppression; and apart from the maidenly side, that fits almost all of us. The legion, at least.'

She had started this going somewhere; had originally meant to come out with something along the lines of "liberty or death". Her brain got in the way, though, with the question of how many of her comrades she could really speak for, and what those of the legion who didn't agree would have- be honour bound- to do.

Lennart noticed, and smiled wryly; this was exactly what he had been talking about in his friend Goran Caldor's office, about mrs. captain and what would land on her- estimating what others could be asked to do, what they would do without being asked and what they would dig their heels in to prevent was a large part of the job.

Rafaella wanted to say something, didn't have the leverage to do so; Brenn did. 'For you, yes. I remember spending quite a lot of watts trying to save the galaxy from itself; didn't seem like we were doing the wrong thing at the time.'

Wathavrah half concurred. 'Some of us bled for the Empire, others just sweated blood. You don't do that for a cause you don't- we don't- believe in. But, the evidence-'

'Should we have seen this earlier? Should we have believed it we- well, no-one in the rest of the galaxy would. If it wasn't true I'd say it was mad.' Brenn pointed out. 'The universe can't work this way, because all else aside this way doesn't kriffing work. So-'

Mirannon grumpily stated the obvious, because it looked as if no-one else was going to. 'Let's get main alternative one out of the way- why not the Alliance? we may as well examine the possibility.'

'Why not the rebellion ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, you mean.' Lennart said, grimly. 'Well, it is the main alternative and traditional choice of the rogue or kicked out Imperial to defect to the Alliance, but...even with all of that, I still don't believe it's the lesser evil.

I spent quite a lot of my early youth as a rebel against the Republic. Outright anarchist, for a while, and an unreconstructed primitivist at that, natural association, born free and everywhere in chains, and I didn't even mean it ironically. Well, mostly.

As I started to meet real people and find my way around the system, I realised that my gut was in the right place, for all the wrong reasons; it made more sense to dislike the republic because it was ahead of me, it was already anarchist.

Not in the primitive purist sense, with the bull there was to wade through certainly not; but in the sense that for a privileged layer, for those and those organisations with the power and connections to bypass, ignore or exploit the bureaucracy there was no law, there was nothing the system could do to them.

For most of us, the classic Smuggler's Paradox- what you get when it's much more trouble than it's worth to obey the law, when it's easier to rob a ship than get a loan, when legitimacy involves a soul-sapping paperchase of byzantine gibberish and endless opportunities for the system to screw you; when you're better off as a rulebreaker.

The republic was dying on it's feet, of confusion, corrosion and corruption, and had already bled out the last of the good in the system. The Empire may well be all the things the rebels say about it- fascistic, tyrannical, brutal- on balance, yes, probably evil in itself.

Compared to where the arrows were pointing anyway? Compared to what would have happened to much of the galaxy if the late Republic had carried on as it was headed to, and the separatists had won?

Besides, up there in the fuzzy wilderness beyond grand strategy that is the cultural, how people are, what they care about, under what pressures, for what causes and in what ways they do things including take up arms, as a stage in the life cycle of the galaxy the Empire makes perfect sense.

As a trauma, as a catharsis, as a necessary thing- as central authority reasserting itself, ah, that's the word, as a reformation, the Galactic Empire has a purpose and a meaning that seemed worth the price. And the price is high; the rule of force, oppression.

Imperial law is, undeniably, harsh and unforgiving. It doesn't require a supercomputer to make sense of, and it doesn't cost that much time and money to comply with- most of the galaxy is actually better off as a result of burning the lawbooks and starting again, and that economic cushion bought a lot of willingness to compromise with tyranny.

It was only reasonable to expect the process to be a little ragged as all the cats were herded, to overcorrect to begin with, to turn loose a lot of people and impulses that in an ideal universe should not have been- to go too far.

Only rational to expect an excess of tyranny, of evil- if the word has any political meaning at all- rampant and triumphant, until possibly generations down the line, the system evolves back to something like a healthy balance between the power of the state and the freedom of the people.

You know that most of the rest of the navy would say that I'm still a bloody anarchist. There is a grain, no, a core of truth to that- the first, last and only essential objective of all the laws and rules and regulations and prohibitions and order is the good life, and when the means start to devour the ends then it is time to tear it all apart and start again.

Most people most of the time can be left to get on with it, but power chooses principles for itself that do not tend to justice, the ability to destroy other people's lives has to be held to a higher standard than we've ever seen it choose for itself;

it is that protection of the innocent from the mighty that the old order was no longer able to do- there is a part of me that enjoyed watching the Republic burn. Or at least the ground being cleared for something else to be put in its' place.

The process was always going to be terrible, and the early years of Empire scarcely less so. I thought that we could mitigate the damage and carve a personally more or less honourable niche for ourselves by, well, essentially ending up where and what we are now, a renegade hunter.

When you consider who we've been able to kill or put the finger of death on, was I wrong?'
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-11-03 11:18am

So, they finally have that meeting. And soon, well, it's a little misapplied but only a little, this is a space-operatic setting...

And soon "the swords are out in the underworld, and the weary Gods come in."
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2011-11-03 02:59pm

What ever they decide, laying the ground work now would be the best bet.
Does Lennart still have his Commandor possition of his add-hoc?
If so, trying to drain some old(er) ships into it would be a option.

But were would he get the crew?
Even those have limits, as the Clone War proved.

But they have to do it now, while they still have a change on getting certain things easy or easier.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Rem 12 » 2011-11-03 10:38pm

I have to wonder what their options are. The Empire and the Rebellion are really the only entities with the ability to support an ISD on continuous operations, and the Rebellion would be fools to accept them. Maybe they can use their renegade-hunting status and the data that Raesene to purge some of the nastier evils from the Empire - do some actual good while keeping their logistical base. But that's a big 'maybe' with many, many risks.

I can't wait to see how they sort it out.
The point is, they're on the good side, they're a group of (usually) non-heroes, and they are AWESOME.
So... what do you call them?

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Count Chocula » 2011-11-03 11:08pm

Well, it's all on the table now. Lennart's only hope of escaping the Inquisitorious and the Emperor's scrutiny is to get some assistance from the rest of Squadron 851. Maybe they can get Black Prince assigned to a risky, low-profile, secret exploration of a galaxy where the rules of physics are, if not at right angles to reality, at least 30 degrees off kilter.

Maybe, with a little luck, that exploratory mission will keep them in a galaxy an inconceivable distance from the Emperor until maybe the Alliance manages to kill him. Yeah, that's the ticket. Because staying anywhere near the Core Worlds or under the thumb of Oversector Outer, even, will eventually bring him back into Palpatine's orbit. TPTB will not forget who had Kor Alric Adannan killed and will not lose track of him.

If Black Prince and its crew defected to the Alliance, Mothma and Akbar would very quickly become fifth wheels, and if the timing was right, Lennart would never have allowed Skywalker to go to Bespin. Since that ain't what happened in the movies, Lennart & Co. had to have gone somewhere! But where?




Oh, there they are! Problem solved!
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-11-04 02:13am

How would Lennart have had the option of stopping Luke? Luke went straight from Hoth to Dagobah without telling anyone where he was going, and then straight from there to Bespin, likewise.

The only way to avert Luke's trip to Bespin would be to stop Han and Leia from ever winding up there in the first place- which would basically require altering the outcome of the Battle of Hoth, which not even Black Prince could plausibly do anything about seeing as how Executor was involved.

All of which is far aside from the observation that ECR has so far not decided to shit on movie-canon, which suggests that Black Prince's defection to the rebels isn't going to be twisting around events that occur in the movies

EDIT: Actually, Black Prince's involvement with the wormhole project sits a bit ill with Plot Arc the Second, viewed that way. The wormhole project is too large and too high-profile for a ship full of outlaws to escape notice while involved in it. To really make the two stories dovetail, there has to be a way for Plot Arc the Second to end with Black Prince and Lennart as accepted gears in the machinery of the Imperial navy.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Count Chocula » 2011-11-04 02:27am

Hmm. I forgot about Luke "having a bad feeling about this" and going straight to Bespin. Conceded.

As for Black Prince being assigned to wormhole duty, I can see that happening after Aldrem's violent acquittal and subsequent chaos, along with Prince just about ready to depart the yards after refit. What better time to hie for the hinterlands than now, when the Inquisitorious are stabbing each other and the ship is in prime shape? I say, sound the pipes and skedaddle!
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2011-11-04 01:05pm

Wouldn´t work, the "Wormhole Black Prince" is so upgunned that she doesn´t have any fighter wings anymore.
The "Second Arc Black Prince" still has them.

And I can´t see Lennart trowing his pilots to the wolfs.
Eidolon perhaps?
Yet the Crusader-class XX-777 droid frigate has somekinda back-up, who or what this back-up is, ain´t said.
It seems like a ship that could get greatly along with the Black Prince her crew.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-11-05 02:11am

Vianca wrote:Wouldn´t work, the "Wormhole Black Prince" is so upgunned that she doesn´t have any fighter wings anymore.
Not so- our viewpoint fighter pilots are still flying off Black Prince. Remember when they intercepted those Chaos commanders' shuttles?
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Andras » 2011-11-05 02:31am

One other option would be a private 'Outbound Flight' and set out for the next galaxy.

How much money did Lennart get for the capture of those warships, and can he buy a bulk freighter with that? Or hell, just pirate them.

*cough* Trek X-over */cough*

(Actually be interesting by NOT having rabid Imperials trying to take over the place)

Call the 40k X-over a path not taken.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Simon_Jester » 2011-11-05 03:12am

That would make me sad- remember, I gauge internal sense of canon by how amusing I find the story, and Squelch of Empires is too amusing not to be quasi-canonical.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Postby Vianca » 2011-11-05 07:54am

Andras wrote:*cough* Trek X-over */cough*

Trek??? :wanker:
Better go Mass Effect, similiar drive principle, yet way more options for chaos.
Even better, those Reapers make a great reason to start building superweapons and so. :angelic: :kill:
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