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Rebirth (Free Federation)

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Imperial Overlord
PostPosted: 2007-01-10 05:50am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
For the last couple of years a bunch of ideas have bumped around in my head. Some of them are extremely derivative or just one step beneath outright stolen from other works, the whole universe is jury rigged mess to make it all work, and a touch of Mary Sueism in there as well. Still, the ideas do seem to percolate and develop on their own and one might find them entertaining to read them for free. So, in a "what the hell" frame of mind, is a piece from my brain's slush pile.

Table of Contents

Vintar City
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


"The Bloody Kiss" was a seedy bar in a city that hadn't been prosperous in over half a millenia. Shadowcatch, once the capital world of the Free Federation and the axis point of the Grand Alliance, was now a world, well actually a star system, in gentle decline. Every year its population decreased as more and more people emigrated to other worlds and real opportunities. Malcontents and would be hermits drifted here in smaller numbers, either finding homes in its crumbling cities or losing themselves in a wilderness that was slowly reclaiming the world.

Out in the black the great industries had mostly been destroyed by the war and there was no effort to rebuild. In fact, that was the last thing the government wanted. So instead Shadowcatch gradually wasted away, a victim of malign neglect.

Vorlar Kadril stepped into the bar and down the steps that took him into the sunken room. It was high ceilinged and red lit, as expected of a place that embraced a vampire motif. Chains and meat hooks hung from the ceilings. Dark clad and pale faced would be rebels, many of them cosmetically altered to resemble the long dead vampire lords that had once resided in Shadowcatch, awesomely powerful bioengineered warriors that were now mostly legend, sipped drinks in silence. More than a few stared at him. This was not a place a sick went in alone and yet here he was a sick not just alone but openly wearing a one piece suit of soft armour with Security Directorate badges and an overcommander's starbursts around his neck.

Vorlar acted like he wasn't committing suicide by coming into this place alone and strolled over to the bar, which was set up in a well at the center of the room. Holoprojectors on the bar painted portraits of dead and gone vampire lords who had honourably perished fighting the Slaver Lord Autarchs and thus not been branded traitors. A careful skirting of the law.

The bartender was dark for an inhabitant of Shadowcatch. Heavy set and muscular, without much fat. Silver augments replaced his eyes. He looked up at the pale skinned, dark haired security man and said bluntly "what do you want?"

"You know me, don't you?" said Kadril.

"Yeah, I know who you are. You've got the old time aug work and personal shields. Tear the place apart barehanded. I've seen you kill chain dog."

In another time, in another place, that insult would have been just this side of mortal. But that time and place were gone forever, just like Darkhold's vampire lords and Darkhold itself. Tourists still came to see the crater. Vorlar let the insult pass. Too few remembered anything from the old days, the glory days, for him to feel more anger than joy at finding someone who still clung to anything real from it. Besides, he was right in a way. "I'm looking for Evard Zarune. You know better than to lie to me."

"Yeah," said the bartender, "I know what you can see with IS's eyes." He turned and pointed. "He's the guy who is drinking the expensive corraise."

Vorlar advanced on the table. Corraise was only mildly acoholic, thick, and syrupy sweet. It was popular here because it wasn't the worst way to get drunk and it resembled human blood, which helped the losers and would be anarchist rebels maintain their vampire shtick.

There were three people at the table. One had gotten a very good biosculpt so he looked like Lamech, the second male was tall, wiry, and probably wired, and the woman was a pale, dark haired girl wearing leather and chrome. "Evard Zarune," Vorlar said.

"That would be me," the Lamech clone replied. He was a little less flashy than the original, wearing a black leather duster over a dark red silk shirt, and black slacks. Gold buttons gleamed on his shirt front. He was albino pale with cat-slit ice blue eyes and dead white hair.

"You others, leave." They hesitated, eyes flickering to the wannabee as if he really was the mighty Nazarian warlord from times gone by. Vorlar had seen Lamech in the flesh three times, once up close and the scuplt was an excellent piece of work. Of course, there existed so many images of Lamech to work from that posing as Lamech wasn't exactly a job requiring a Class Six Alpha infiltrator-assassin.

With a flick of his hand Zarune dismissed his lackies. "How may I assist you overcommander?" he asked in voice that was all sweetness and reason. Like Lamech when he toyed with prey.

"Your name has come up in an investigation."

"I confess, I don't like the current government. Won't be voting for them in the next election. I think that's it for my questionable activities."

"Do that again and you'll be in for hard interrogation." A flicker of fear ran over Evard's features. The punk talked tough and could act tough, but he knew where the real power lay. "Now, are you going to play nice?"

"Yes sir."

"Good. Your involvement with Jarune Riskol?"

"I met him. Have friends who bought recreationals from him. Lent them some money. That's all."

"You're lying. That was stupid." He seized the punk's wrist.

"Please!" he said in a high pitched whine. "Please no!"

"Truth."

"I wanted to score a deal with him. Make money. Just a little on the side. Nothing political! Just a black score!" Evard was just this side of crying.

"Alright," said Kadril. He jerked the little punk to his feet. "I don't give a flying fuck about the black market. But you drew my attention and now you get what you've been asking for ever since you got that fancy face scuplt. Trouble." He dragged Evard behind him as he headed for the stairs. No one barred his way. No one dared.

The streets were pretty quiet, but that was too be expected at this hour. In a half deserted city, only government workers and faux vampires were up this late. Everyone else was sensibly in bed, excepting the vice trade of course. He pulled Evard toward his flier.

The faux vampire slipped out of his grasp with shocking speed. Vorlar Kadril had received the best augments Free Federation science and sorcery could provide for Internal Security's slayer elite back in the day when the business of the state was total war. Evard was now gripping his wrist and slamming him into the side of a decaying and abandoned tenement.

"It occurs to me," said Lamech, "that Jarune really screwed things up. Any other chain dog I could just take, but your defences are too strong for me to reorder your thoughts, aren't they traitor? No need to answer."

Kadril drew his gun with his free hand and spun, his left wrist still held by Zarune. He could see the shields now active around Zarune. Merciless gods. He dropped the gun. No point, not against those shields. Forty lethal centimeters of orange-gold orichalcum slid out of his wrist, runes glowing with blue fire. Even those shields wouldn't repel the blade.

Kadril's shoulder exploded, bones knives flaying flesh. His heart rate slowed, auto injectors pumped healing agents and hypercoagulants into his blood stream. He slumped back. Evard let him go.

"Your weakness is disgusting," said the Eldest of All Dragons, Savior of Mankind, Waster of Worlds, Prince of the Night, Godslayer, and a host of other titles. He kicked Kadril away from him, cracking reinforced bones and causing the agent to bounce off the tenement wall. "Since when did Internal Security's best fail to fight merely because they lost an arm? Your masters have made you weak."

None of the old guard would use Lamech's features without his expressed permission, Kadril realized. Not unless they had changed radically in their long exile, but for the truly ancient what was five hundred years compared to millenia old habits? Kadril got to his feat. "Why now?" he asked.

"You know why already," said Lamech. "We are twice unfortunate that Jarune was sloppy enough to be caught and that of all their agents they sent you here. Well, they didn't really send you, did they? Overcommanders don't arrest minor subversives. You must truly love your job to go and play in the gutters pretending to be a real citizen of the state so often? Still feel you picked the right side?"

"Hurry up and kill me," said Kadril.

Lamech smiled. "What if I don't want to kill you fast and instead decide to kill you slow? How long before a force arrives that can even challenge me?"

"As you will," Vorlar replied wearily.

"You don't get off that easy," said Lamech. With a sound like broken glass a dark rent appeared in space before him. It swiftly expanded until it was almost three meters high. "Harbinger, let them now from this point on all their days are numbered. All the gods may be dead, but dead is not enough to overcome the corpse that walks."

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2008-01-02 02:35am, edited 6 times in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-10 07:42am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
The Spike
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


Security Directorate headquarters on Shadowcatch was a kilometer long tower called The Spike. The Spike was designed with intimidation in mind while eschewing the gothic touches that had been favored by the Lords of Darkhold. The Spike was clean, aniseptic. Rumours abounded of levels devoted to torture chambers and space-folded containment zones full of unspeakable horrors, but the real terror in The Spike was mechanical. Thousands of sentients acting in tandem with vast databanks and countless computers with links all over the world overseeing the death of civilization. Like a glacier it ground to pebbles all who stood in its way while maintaining the pretence of being part of a responsible government. The lie fooled no one.

Vorlar Kadril sat cross legged between six adepts of an art that was called sorcery by ancient man and The One Power by the Free Federation at its height. There were few with the training and the activated gene codes who could peform it now, although its practitioners had once been the iron fist of the Free Federation. That was a bygone era, one that Vorlar Kadril had thought he had seen the last of. Until last night.

The adepts collectively breached the barriers between the dimensions and strong armed physical law to allow instantaneous FTL communication with Nandrezz, nearly fifty light years away. Holoprojections of the cabinet appeared around Kadril.

The saurian snout of Siscilar Thredeel twitched. He was Sithi and his race had founded and built the Free Federation, accepting and nurturing human beings among them as junior partners in their civilization, until Naomar Kordassi bioweapons had decimated their population. Still, their language was still the tongue of the Free Federation and their contributions were many. "What was so urgent that required an emergency meeting?" Minister for Public Security hissed. His colleagues looked expectantly for an answer.

"I encountered a vampire lord last night who I believe to be Lamech."

"Ridiculous," said Sariya Cardonni.

"A clever fake. This is not worth our time," said the Prime Minister."

"It could have been a fake," said Kadril, "there is plenty of sound and image data on Lamech. But the faker would have to be willing to assume his identity. And dracul to pull off what he did. Either way, it represents a serious matter."

"You were correct to bring this to our attention Kadril," Siscilar hissed. "Your evaluation of the incident?"

"Lamech opened a rift behind in a planetary shadow and then drifted in system in a hibernation state. Reentried, shape shifted, and teep scanned his way through the population to make contacts and evaluate the present situation. In my opinion, whether or not he was really Lamech, he was vanguard agent. I believe the state to be in danger." It felt wrong calling the Free Federation the state. The state was a corpse cannibalized by those with enough wealth to secure their power, their deeds made legal by politicians who were bought and paid for in one way or another.

"Why did he let you live?" Siscilar hissed. "What would a real vampire lord gain from that? It makes no sense."

"Not if you are a believer in the power of fear. Whatever survivors lead them, whatever new blood has risen in their ranks, the old ones will leave their stamp on their thinking. The dreadlords. Those who could banish fear from the hearts of their soldiers by their very presence and those whose names filled their enemies with terror. They wish to cripple us before their fleets even make transit back into Known Space. And then there are the less practical reasons."

"Incaradine," said the Prime Minister.

"He or his descendants will have rank among them. The Lord of Vengeance and all his line will wish to savor the fear the very idea of their return spreads."

"Foolish," hissed Siscilar. "When the last Slaver Lord died, they outlived their usefulness. Even to their own cause it appears. Use whatever manpower you need to root this out. Whatever equipment and expense you require. Burn them out."

"Your will," said Vorlar Kadril.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Reaver class Battlecruiser Bloody Hand
Deep Space
Near the Free Federation


"You took a risk," said Incaradine Hellsreaper e'Kail e'Zarana, Paingiver, Lord of Vengeance, Kinslaughter, and Protector of the Innocent. The First Lord of Death was a hair over one point nine meters and possessed the flawless physique of one of Darkhold's ancient lords. His hair was dark brown with a hint of red and his eyes glittered blue. At the moment, his skin was pale.

"Neither of us are strangers to risk," Lamech replied as he leaned back on Incaradine's bed. He was dressed now in robe with elaborate scarlet and gold patterns. Incaradine's cabin was spartan in the old style, which meant his wives were not with him. That would not have pleasant effects on Incaradine's temper, although his iron self control was legend. It had to be. He would have never been promoted to overcommander, let alone legate, if he had not been able to control his volcanic temper and his inherited sadistic streak. Even in the six century of the Slaver War, there had been concerns about what he had been growing into be. That his worst instincts were only unleashed against the Slaver Lords had been sufficient for the Free Federation. The Slaver Lords had destroyed any capacity the Free Federation had for mercy long before that.

Incaradine leaned forward in his chair. His uniform was unrelieved black, with the full starburst and black moon insignia of a legate on his neck flashes and the gold epaulets of an emperor, war leader of the entire Free Federation, on his shoulders. He wore the trench coat popularized by Kail, his mentor and friend, over his uniform. Patches could still be seen on the shadowsilk coat, old connections never abandoned. The five stars of the Free Federation on one, the skull breathing green flames of the Third Legion of the Dark Guard, and the exploding planet of the Fifth Legion of the Dark Guard. Five hundred years and it had not changed.

"No," said Incaradine, "we are not strangers to risk. But I do not like this one. You should have killed him and reaped his soul. They would have found nothing."

"And they would look everywhere. He was a former Witch Hunter, one of Reeze's killer elite. The number of necromancers in their space is numbered in hundreds and not all of them could reap. They would know something powerful killed him and was hiding and they would look everywhere. Now they look for me and I shall lead them away. Keeping the enemy's attention hooked on the wrong part of the battlefield was one of your favorite tactics, if I recall correctly."

"You do," said Incaradine. "Too much is riding on this."

"That didn't hold you back on Zergone or in the Cathedral of Knives."

"True."

"Relax. This isn't the first time I've held the fate of the entire spiral arm in my hands."

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-03-18 10:06pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-11 06:32am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Palzeen Security Zone
Nazar
Former Nazarian Domain
The Free Federation


Sehestess Nelees clicked her talons against the desk as she speed processed the data rolling down the screen. Direct linking would be more efficient, but at her position and above, direct linking cyber was considered fine for subordinates and ambitious junior execs, not for responsible and sober seniors.

She half watched the usual line of security updates with a she considered a transfer to a more pleasant posting. Five hundred years of occupation had only taught the Nazarians to act on their hatred judiciously. The list trailed off towards the end and that's when she saw Lamech's name. She almost fell out of her couch.

She activated the subdermal link to her mike. "All department heads. Meeting. Now." She rose off her stool, he tail thrashing. Her claws went click-click-click on the marble floor. She liked the sound. It was so very useful when she wanted to put the fear into her juniors.

Palzeen had been contracted to assist the Free Federation's military with the post-war occupation of various worlds in the Nazarian Domain. Due to having no shortage of friends in the new government, more and more contracts were made available and Palzeen's security forces took on broader powers and wider responsibilities. This then made certain other business opportunities more attractive as they were already getting paid to run large chunks of whole star systems in the manner in which they would prefer. Five hundred years later and Palzeen was running most of the Domain, although accountable to the Senate and the Local Governing Authority.

She shettled into the contoured couch at the head of the conference room and awaited for her juniors to arrive. It didn't take long. The other Sithi wore the utility harnesses and badge accessories common to them while the humans wore either business tunic or jackets over pants and a dress shirt or the khaki uniform of Palzeen United's security troops. They all looked at her anxiously.

She uncoiled from her resting position, resting on her four hind legs while gesting with her arms. "A vampire lord was found on Shadowcatch. He wore Lamech's face and claimed his identity." Falsely claiming the identity of a great lord had been a severe crime and social taboo back in the old days, before the war. Those who fled into exile would not to have been likely to change that. "He escaped."

"What degree of verification?" asked Jenal Sul-Retan, a native Nazarian and one of the few working in Palzeen's security forces. She had been subjected to a very thorough and expensive mind probe before being retained.

"A Directorate overcommander who knew him before the war saw him up close. No genetic material recovered, however."

"So we have a 'possible'?" said Kenar Sturm, an ambitious and empty jun exec with a senior exec mother and an uncle in the Senate. "That doesn't sound so bad."

"It isn't. On Darkhold. Here the whole population still worships him as a god and is . . . . restive. Here we have actual vampires still popping up. The last incident killed sixty-seven of our men and we didn't catch him. In fact, we aren't even sure if it was male. This news will leak, because it always does, and it will incite the populous." Which was bad news on a planet where the terminally ill often decided to go out with a suicide bombing. The Nazarians were pissed and they kept handing down that legacy of pride and hatred through every generation.

"We won't have to worry about him showing up here," said Sul-Retan.

"Why not?" Sturm asked. "These are his people?"

"Exactly. They have kept the Compact, even if Nalhen hasn't been able to keep up his end. When he returns, it will be with a warfleet and that will be the end. Of everything."

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

Stadia Station
Cormark System
The Free Federation


Pevel Milintree smiled as he sat down at the bar. The room, which was huge and included a ten meter diameter sky light that looked out onto space, was crowded and the blonde next to the school was nova hot. "Excuse me, is this seat taken?" He flashed his best smile, which was damn good.

She smiled back. She was wearing a spaghetti strap black dress which looked really good on her. Her eyes were blue and her hair was in a fashionable bob which looked quite good on her. "No, not at all. Mind if I call you nine?"

"Nine? Oh, I'm not the first. Well, do I get to do my thing or am I already suffering main drive failure?"

"You're not doing too bad so far," she said with a smile.

"Cool." He extended his hand. She took it. "Pevel Milintree. He clicked his watch, sending a data stream to her. "This way I can tell my boss I was just working the crowd."

She laughed. "Alright Pevel. Eva Morin." She took a slim white card out of her purse and handed it to him. "We're all just networking, right? All business, the good time bit is just incidental."

He chuckled and took the card. "A card? This is beyond old fashioned. Positively archaic." Black letters scrolled up the card. "Whew! And here I was worried it total throwback. Transtream Transportation huh? Actually, the whole thing works well. Old fashion, but with class and the right touch of tech."

"Thanks, although I didn't come up with them myself. Higher up's idea. I'm just a sales rep."

"So what does Transtream Transportation do?"

"High end personal vehicles. Building, design, and customization. We build everything from boats to shuttles and have done custom jobs on FTL couriers."

"So your here to hook the big fish and sell them stuff?"

"In part. Also selling custom jobs to security bureaus. When execs are on the move, they want to be safe and have all the comforts at the touch of a finger."

"Ahh. Well, I'm a lowly sales drone too. The ugly side. Guns, armour, the whole nine yards."

"Well, you do work for Tri-Stellar Consolidated. What do your guys say? Everything from hand guns to battlecruisers?"

"Everything from hold outs to the dragon's teeth," he quoted. "That's slang for the accelerator cannons in a cap ship's nose or bow or whatever the fuck they call it."

"Why don't you buy me a drink and tell me all about it."

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-01-13 10:48am, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-13 10:47am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
The Guildhouse
SerethaSithes
The Free Federation


Vorlar Kadril walked down the empty halls of the Guildhouse. The dark ziggurat was a massive structure that could accommodate tens of thousands, a literal arcology and it functioned as one. Once its membership had been too many for even it to house, but that was a long time ago and now it was much diminished in both size and power. Kadril had seen no one since he entered. If they were housing thousands, they hid it well.

Wall screens had directed down a series of softly lit corridors using a computer generated soft, female voice. The final door slid open, revealing a spacious and dimly lit room. A black marble desk sat in the center of the room and a bald human male of the indeterminate age of a multiple rejuv sat behind behind it in a contoured chair. He wore a simple grey suit. He was the kind of pale that used to be jokingly called 'a starship tan' or a 'Darkhold sunburn' in the old days."Welcome," the grand master said.

The spartan furniture of the room gave the lie to that statement. The Slayers' Guild was playing petty power games. Well, fuck them. "I have a contract that needs to be fulfilled."

The nameless grand master didn't blink. "Nature of the contract?"

"I want Rike."

"Slayer Rike is semi-retired. He only accepts contracts of his choosing."

"You're the grand master. Give him his marching orders. We'll pay extra."

"You have forgotten much in the last five hundred years Vorlar Kadril. The Guild was old before there ever was a Free Federation. Our laws and traditions are ancient and not broken by the whims of politician's lackey. Your master's wealth cannot buy our obedience in this matter. Rike accepts only the contracts he cares to take, save for those commanded by him of the Guild and we have no reason to command him."

"Things have changed."

"That is the nature of the universe. The Guild was born, the Sithi reclaimed space, their nations spread to the stars, and the Guild went with them. Some of them united to form the Free Federation and the Guild was there. They met the Lios Elvindar and the Naomar Kordassi and the Guild was there. An exodus of humans entered known space and the Guild was there. The Slaver War occurred and the Guild was there. The Long Peace, the Resurgency, the Black Rebellion, and the fall of the Grand Alliance. We were there. Five hundred years later and we are still here. Times change. The Slayers' Guild endures."

"Your numbers are diminished. Your prestige is a memory. A hundred corporations offer security services and soldiers. You would be wise to cultivate a better relationship with your government."

"And yet you are here. Your Security Directorate of thugs and eaves droppers are insufficient. Your problem is so serious that you need Rike. A dreadlord has returned."

Kardil glared at him. "It is the only reason you would be so adamant that it be Rike. You need someone lethal and survivor of that era. Someone who can assemble the right kind of team. A team beyond you. Your Directorate is, after all, concerned with keeping your political masters and their corporate employers interests running smoothly, not killing Slaver Lords."

"Just get me Rike."

"You'll have to go to him. As per his instructions, any client has to go and speak with him personally."

"Fine. Where is he?"

"Alarind."

"You're kidding."

"No. Rike was somewhat suspicious of the terms of the amnesty. He took it, but relocated to somewhere where he was protected. House Panther fought for the Black."

"I remember."


Entry Station
Alarind
House Panther
The Grand Court of the Stars


The painted ivy curling around the pillars and walls of the arrival area helped relieve the antiseptic feeling Kadril always got from places like this. He was dressed in a simple black jacket and pants, with a white shirt underneath. The look the Lios Elvindar woman at the terminal he was passing was glacial.

She was good looking. Red hair down to her shoulders, nearly two meters tall, almond shaped green eyes, pointed ears, and the delicate features one expected from the Elvindar. Twenty-five thousand years, give or take, and a lot of genetic engineering by the Kordassi separated them from their human cousins. Their failure as a source of janissaries for the Kordassi had lead to the creation of their Zarkos cousins and then eventually to the vampires that were never quite compleated before the empire fell. The Lios were beautiful and often friendly. It was easy to forget that their inhumanly sharp senses, grace, and speed existed because it made them better killers. Looking into the custom agent's eyes, Kardil didn't have any trouble remembering.

It couldn't be helped. If Kadril had lied about his rank and employment and they discovered anything amis, and since they were likely to scan the fuck out of him it was likely they would find his augments, then they would probably shoot him out of hand. The alternative was everyone knowing about it and hating him. Shitty choices, but he took the one that didn't even up with him being fried by an energy lance.

The guards watched him as he went past. Three of them wore the black accented with white, segmented plate armour of the Lios Elvindar. The fourth had spikes and blades projected from night black armour and an even bigger beam lance cradled in his hands. A House Panther emblem was on his right shoulder and murder-knives were clearly visible. A Zarkos. Great. He had heard survivors of the Zarkos Houses had taken refuge with their kin, but that was different than seeing them walking around in full harness.

Eyes watched him go as he went through the departure area. It creeped him out. The Lios must have decided to share his identity with the rest of the facility. Great. At least they didn't normally walk around with blades, poison, and any number of sinister guns like their Zarkos semi-cousins.

The city was nothing special, not if you have already seen a Elvindar city. It did make Vorlar somewhat nostalgic as the Free Federation no longer built cities like this, mixing park space and huge pristine towers with road ways snaking their way through and connecting everything. It was a city designed to make a mockery of privilege and make beauty and splendour available to all. It was paradise and he was not welcome.

Arranging transport was easy enough. A sleek deep blue rental auto was made available and soon enough he was outside the confines of the city and down a major road into the countryside. It took him almost an hour to get there and he almost missed the turn off.

The exit lead him to a small town, really a support and supply center for the various vacation homes and lodges around there. He drove beneath a canopy of tree branches until he reached a sprawling house with a huge lawn on the shore of a small lake. The sun was out and everything was bright and beautiful.

A brown skinned man was reclining in a hammock. Vorlar got out of the car and approached. "Hello the house!" he called out.

The man in the hammock got up. He was barefoot and bare chested, wearing only long black shorts. His hair was black and his physique was muscular. On his left cheek he bore a silver brand, an upside down pentagram. An old symbol, meaningful only to those who dug through the detrius of old religions. Rike had been asked why he had taken it several times and given different answers on every occasion. Kadril was of the opinion he did it to stand out.

"Slayer Rike."

"Vorlar Kadril. What does a corporate chain dog want with me? You have no jurisdiction here. Your masters destroyed the Grand Alliance, remember?"

"The Zarkos and the Nazarians were hardly neutral. And I work for the state."

"The state? The state is dead, its corpse propped up so the maggots have a better view of the choice bits. I fought for the state. I sent Slaver Lords to the boneyard. You repaid the men who broke the Autocracy by sending them on the Death Express when they fought domestic tyrants instead of foreign ones."

"Those 'domestic tyrants' were the lawfully elected government."

"So was Adolf Hitler."

"Who?"

"Terrani. Never mind. Hurry up and say what you are going to say so you can leave."

"I saw Lamech. He's back."

"Fuck that. Cunning Loki would have left you in pieces or a brain burned corpse if he got his hands on you."

"Not if it served his purpose or fed his ego to leave me alive."

"I wish him all the best."

"If they return in force, the first move the government makes will be to destroy all questionable elements. No one wants to face dreadlords on the ground. Not in any real numbers."

"So?"

"I can think of a questionable element that has both ships in space and brothers and sisters on the ground. Old timers, who still regularly use the top of the line gear and have the top of the line augments and have reason to dislike the current regime. I wonder how long it will take a battleship to crack the Guildhouse's defences?"

"What do you want?"

"Assemble a team. Hunt them for me. I don't have the time it takes to train and equip a team to that level."

"How can you possibly trust me to deliver on that?"

"Regular mind probe."

Rike walked up to him. "Well, since that's the way its going to be might as well say this to your face: you had better watch your back for the rest of your existence because I remember what we used to do to Slaver Lords and I'll puppeteer you from my roof it I get half the chance."

"The mind probe does help make these kinds of conversations so much more honest. I've got one or maybe two more rejuvs before my body goes. I don't have sorcery maintaining me and I've already beaten ninety-five percent of the populace when it comes to rejuv tolerance. Odds are I'll be dead in bed with a couple of high priced hookers or Lamech's fist through my skull long before you get the chance to puppeteer me."

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-03-11 10:29pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-14 02:41am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
The Mercy Seat
Aurora
The Free Federation


In the history of the Free Federation, no order had been as powerful, influential, and honoured as the necromancer lords of Darkhold. From Zerakis's exodus to Zerana's reign and Kail's leadership and their fall under Incaradine, the fate of Darkhold's lords shaped the Free Federation. Nature abhors a vacuum and the natural successors to that exalted position of leadership were their ancient rivals the White Winds.

The Winds had provided soldiers and healers and scientists to the Free Federation for centuries. An eternal argument had waged between the two great societies as Darkhold's ruthless lords embraced whatever measures would bring them victory and the White Winds belief that some lines should not be crossed. They had fought side by side against the Slaver horror, but stood on opposite sides of the civil war. The White Winds had been among the victors, but precious few of the spoils fell there way. The government was not interested in allowing any order of sorcerers stand in judgement or wield power over them.

The leaders of the White Winds, most of whom were human, began to filter into a large room at the apex of their school's central dome. Massive armourplex windows let in enough sunlight for artificial lighting to be unnecessary. The room encompassed a ring shaped table capable of sitting exactly a hundred men and women. They wore white military style uniforms and body armour, robes, or light blue Free Federation uniforms. It took almost a half an hour for everyone to arrive.

Augusta Riaz, The Angel of Fire, presided over the meeting. She had light brown skin and was slightly on the short side, with the marks of age just beginning to appear on her face. A few strands of white were beginning to appear in her dark hair. "Brothers and Sisters," she began, "we are not gathered here for a pleasant occasion. Lamech has been seen and if he is active, so are the others."

"The government has called upon us to make ourselves available to fight in the coming conflict."

A ferocious, red haired young man shouted. "The calling of this order is not to be the iron rod used by corrupt politicians to beat vicious necromancers! Let them both burn!"

"You seem to have forgotten," said a dark haired, petite woman, "that the necromancers excel at holding grudges. Does anyone else remember the war cry of the Third Legion? The Corpse Eaters who gained their name when Incaradine was in their ranks? No Mercy, No Pity, No Quarter! Do you think they have forgotten us or the blood of their lovers and kin on our hands? Have we forgotten that avenging their loved ones lies at the core of what they are? If they have their way, a final night will fall and none of us shall every wake from it. We can fight or perish, for they shall hound us to the end of the galaxy and to the worlds beyond if they have to."

Murmurs of agreement greeted her words. "Let us not be so hasty. This is not lost Darkhold," said a greying man wearing a white uniform. "Some of us bare the sin of shedding the blood of the Black and we will answer for it, but since when did the White Winds trade principle for expedience? Not all of our number are soldiers. Should we not decide whether or not the cause is worthy before committing to it, or has morality become another old fashion value to be left at the wayside?"

"The Black will show us no mercy," said the petite woman. "Should we meekly go to the chopping block? I have no love for what has happened to the Free Federation in the last two centuries-" a derisive snort from the old man interrupted her. She continued, "but our predecessors would have had no love from Zarana's militarized state but they accepted it and fought as part of it against the Slaver Lords.

"Why are we even arguing?" asked a Sithi wearing a harness of white metal. "We are citizens of a society under threat from an external foe? We are obligated to defend it, even if we hate the current government."

The red head replied. "Because this isn't an external foe. This the second act of a civil war. Let them both hang."

"There is another option," said the old man. "Darkhold was never in the habit of lying. Let us ask their lords their intentions to us?"

"Ask for truth in a shadow war?" the red head sneered. "Besides, how are we to get word to them even if we wanted to?"

"You're assuming they won't find out what occurs in this room," said the old man. "That the Killing Machine does not sit among our number. And if he is not here, then where is he?"


Celestial Hotel
Nova Castio
Sky's End
The Free Federation


Pevel stretched and watch the sunrise through the window. "Hey, you awake?"

Eva rolled over in bed, half covered by the sheets. "Unfortunately." She cracked open an eyelid.

Pevel came back to the bed. "You should see this sunrise."

She propped her head up on her elbow. "Second best thing I can see right now."

Pevel smiled. "I bet you say that to all the handsome young reps."

"Only the ones I go on vacation with."

"Liar. You just want me for my contacts."

"Bullshit. If that was the case I would have fucked one of the first three people who hit on me that night instead of you. That's business." She sprung up and grabbed the back of his head. "This is for fun." She kissed him hotly. "See the difference?"

"Maybe you should explain it to me again. I didn't quite get it." She pulled him back to the bed and explained everything in great detail.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-17 06:43am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
New York City
Terra
United States of America


It was an old joke that New York was the capital of the world and in some ways it was true. It was the commercial and interplanetary transportation hub for the United States, the strongest nation of old Terra. The starport that sprawled from city and onto the ocean connected the terrestrial states with the orbital stations that dealt with traffic from the states and territories throughout the Sol System and in half a dozen other star systems as well as trade with other powers.

The city itself was a mix of old and new, ancient art deco next to modern towers of alloy and transpex. All the peoples of Earth could be found within and a few visitors from other stars, squat and toad-like Kordassi and sinuous Sithi alike called the city home.

In one of the older sections of the city, which carried the name of Brooklyn but would be unrecognizable to an resident of that borough from two or three centuries earlier, Salweta fished around her box of take out with a pair of chopsticks while looking down into the apartment of the target of her surveillance. Both the buildings had been built in a hard retro style, which hearkened back to the more elaborately decorated buildings of the early twentieth century. Cybernetic eyes, courtesy of the Security Directorate, negated the need for binoculars or a telescope at this range. She found a prawn and popped it in her mouth. "Prawns and black bean sauce," she said. "I love Terra."

Alzador snorted. "You're fucking with me, right? This dustball? Yeah, birthplace of humanity and that, but really?" Like his partner he was wearing a gun and shield harness over shirt and slacks. The war gear would be almost invisible under a jacket, but there was no need for that inside the apartment.

"Sure the tech sucks, but food's good and the cities are nice."

"Where did you grow up?" he asked the dark skinned woman.

"Shaltae."

"Ugh," he replied. He reached for one of the take out boxes. He was long and lean, with the typical colouring of a Free Federation human, which was to say light brown skin and dark hair. Salweta was dark and average height, but compact. She was damn strong, even before receiving the augmentation that went along with being a plain clothes Directorate agent. "That place is the epitome of shit hole mining planets. Did three months there as part of training."

"That's easy. Try growing up there. The corps practically run it as a personal fief. The only thing they like paying for is politicians."

"Fuck 'em," said Alzador. "The old relic is taking his sweet time leaving."

"Maybe the elevator is broken. Again," said Salweta.

"Yeah. Why do you think that anyone is bothering with him after all this time? I mean even with Alpha genes and his kick ass augmentation index, there's a limit to rejuv and Reeze is hitting the wall. It's not like he even fought in the war."

"He was Kain's Hand," she said. "And then he worked for The Lady Sinister. Lead the Witch Hunters. Got himself a fancy bloodname. He was somebody, once upon a time."

"Operative word 'was'. His strength, stamina, reflexes, all have taken a beating from that nasty bastard called Old Age. He's not much good to anyone now."

"I wouldn't say that," rasped Varidan Reeze as he pushed the muzzle of his pistol into the base of his skull. He pointed his left hand at Salweta, who had dropped the takeout and drawn her own gun. The former Internal Security overcommander was wearing a shadow cloak in the form of a black trenchcoat over casual street clothes. Grey hair shot through with dark streaks was cut short and his light brown skin showed wrinkles around the eyes and lips. He was taller than average and still in good shape, even without his augmentations. "Don't do anything stupid or your partner takes a ride on the Death Express."

She looked at him blankly. "I take it my slang is dated. I've got Devastator rounds loaded in Technitronic Max Gauss Express. There won't be anything left of his skull if I pull the trigger. Comprehend?"

"Do it and I'll light you up."

"Please. My shields come from Kain himself. You're gun will be dry before you overload them. And you'll be dead long before that. Why do they want me watched after all this time?"

"That's need to know."

"Are you willing to die to protect that secret? I don't think so."

"You won't kill us," Salweta said. "The Terrani will be on your ass for murder and you'll end up in a concrete box. Go home. Go live out whatever years have left. Maybe someplace with a nice beach."

"I always expected to die on my feet," said Reeze blandly. He paused for a moment. Silence. "Someone came back, didn't they?" Inhuman eyes, products of the finest technology (although now somewhat dated) processed heat patterns, eye movement, facial ticks, perspiration, and other indicators and correlated them with heartbeat and respiratory data gathered from the augmented hearing and scent traces from the implanted receptors. Internal wetware and hardware crunched the data.

"Yes, overwhelming likelihood. Directorate doesn't do much augmenting and training in biocontrol, does it?" They said nothing. "Don't bother. Your bodies tell the story. I was rebuilt and exhaustively trained to kill rogue vampires or Slaver Lords. What does the Directorate expect from you? Cracking a few heads at a union rally or spying on a reformist politician with his mistress? Maggots."

"You may think your hot shit Reeze, but you're just an old man, alone in this world. You talk tough now, but you passed on your chance to take sides. The only value you have is bait."

"Perhaps," said Reeze as he backed up. "Perhaps. I'll carry the consequences of not choosing sides for the rest of my life, however long that is. I had my reasons. I made the wrong one, but at least I didn't choose to serve those who were busy raping the corpse of the state."

"Grow up Don Quixote," Salweta said. "This is the real world. The glorious past was never that glorious and what is, is."

Reeze backed out the door and into the hall, before turning and darting away. Alzador let out a long sigh. "Christ. I thought he might shoot me. He reached for his jacket. "Call it in and let's go."

"Think we'll catch him?"

"Christ no. I don't even want to find him. But it will look better if we try."
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-18 07:11am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
The Spike
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


In the square in front of the Security Directorate fortress, space tore open in a gush of freezing vapors. Rike stepped through the gap, wearing a shadowcloth trench coat over night blue leather. Hiis skin was now vibrant red and thin patches of ice coated a few parts of his clothes. He reached behind him and dragged Vorlar Kadril through.

"Let's get this over with dead man," said Rike.

"Gladly," said Vorlar, shivering. He had travelled between a few times and while it was faster than by ship it could be hazardous and was far less pleasant. He activated his coms implant and sent a message ahead of him. He then lead the mercenary necromancer through the check points and into the heart of The Spike.

Sensors and guards watched them enter the armoured tower and a second line waited inside. Each line of security sensors included shield generators and gun emplacements. Rike evaluated and then dismissed the measures. Vorlar lead him to a lift and touched controls that sent them to near the top of the fortress.

Rike followed the Directorate overcommander down a nice white and sterile corridor before stopping at a door near the end. He stepped through and Rike followed. Inside was a conference room and a dozen Directorate operatives, two-thirds of them human males, in the one piece soft armoured suits favored for field work.

"This is Rike," said Kadril. "Slayers' Guild." A few eyes narrowed at the mention of that and a few mouths twisted in brief sneers or grimaces of distaste. "He'll be assembling a team to advise and reinforce us." The last words left an unpleasant taste in his mouth.

"When do we leave?" Rike asked.

"Leave?" asked captain Sardin, a stocky man with Eurasian features. "We're hear to get this guy, not run."

"He's long gone," said Rike. His demeanor made it clear that 'fucking moron' was an unspoken addition to that statement. "There are six hundred other worlds. Six fucking hundred and most of them have less extensive Directorate coverage. The logical move, the smart move, is to continue the work somewhere else other than one damn planet in the entire state where you are looking hard for him."

"Christ," said Sardin.

"A Christ kisser," said Rike. "This job gets better all the time."

Sardin rose from his seat. "You arrogant necroslave," he began.

"A Christian that talks like a Slaver," said Rike. "What a wonderful combination. Why don't you take a shot and I'll show you what lies on the other side of death? What do you have to lose? It's not like we're right about death, is it? A good Christian boy like you can expect the bliss of heaven, right?"

"Rike!" barked Kadril. "Enough! I will not tolerate your prejudices or your goading of my people."

"As you wish, dead man."

Haverton
Shaltae
The Free Federation



As usual, the weather on Shaltae was miserable. Rain fell from dark skies onto muddy streets, prefab buildings, or structures made of sheet metal and reshaped rock. The largest building was in the center of the makeshift town and it was surrounded by a crowd of thousands. The crowd wasn't happy.

Two dozen Directorate troops wearing hard shell plate over soft armour suits lead the way. Most of them were armed with compact beam guns as their primary weapons and all of them carried forearm mounted flechette launchers with disintegrating belt feeds to ammo containers on their back. The weight would be burdensome to unaugmented humans, but they Directorate troops all had the gene work common to Free Federation humans and additional biomech augments to make them superhuman killers.

Walking in their wake were three men wearing soft armour with the stylized shield emblem of the Security Directorate. The rain did not touch them, repelled by the layers of sorcerous shielding that gave them an order of magnitude greater protection than their more heavily armoured comrades. The leader was a tall male, hatchet faced and pale skinned from receiving Shaltae's feeble sunlight and spending time in doors. On his left was a woman who looked enough alike to be his sister. She was. Both wore the pentagram insignia of trained mage.

The man on the right was just as pale as the others, although he was several centimeters shorter than the woman, about Free Federation average in height. His features were softer and his eyes darted from side to side. A stylized Roman Letter "N" was on his collar flashes, marking him as an outcast practitioner of an art that was too useful to be abandoned. He was a necromancer, a wielder of The One Power with an affinity for the Dark Art, and a pariah because of it.

The lead trooper's voice boomed out. "All of you are under arrest for violations of the public order. You will stand down and surrender yourself for processing. Leaders will identify themselves and move for the front or it will go harder on all of you."

Shouts of defiance answered them and were then quickly followed by thrown bottles which smashed harmlessly on their armour. The Directorate operatives endured it stoically.

"This is going to be bad," said Varshen. The necromancer adjust his collar nervously. "Real bad.

Kalen Mollar looked over at the necromancer. "No shit." His sister met his gaze and nodded.

"We should-"

"Follow orders," finished Mollar. "We'll only need you if they keep being stupid. Now shut up and leave this to those with real training." The fear of the Lords of the Darkhold was bone deep in the Free Federation's elite. They would not permit the rise of a new cabal of necromancer-warlords to challenge their power, even if that meant they forfeited the services of such potent beings. No necromancer would receive anything beyond the most rudimentary, defence orientated combat training as long as their word held. And it did.

Mollar invoked sorcery to make his voice carry. "Your complaints about working conditions and corporate abuses are irrelevant. There are proper channels." Which were pretty much toothless and weighted heavily on the business side, but the wasn't going to argue the point. "You are in violation of public order. Stand down now. " He didn't bother adding to his threat. The Free Federation was a two party and single interest government and it did not tolerate violations in the status quo. The business of the government was business. If these stupid bastards thought that a show of numbers would change that, then a show of force would disabuse those on other worlds. A dog that stepped out of place got kicked.

The crowd responded with jeers. "Rape this," said Mollar. "Light them up. You're going to be busy Varshen." The Directorate troops shouldered their guns. The protesters at the front began to hedge away or move for the alleys. The beam guns opened up.

Intolerably bright blue-white beams flash vaporized water in tissues and blew large smoking holes in torsos or severed limbs. The Directorate troops had their weapons set to low power to minimilize the danger posed by stray shots or friendly fire. The mowed down the first three rows of protesters in a seconds.

Panic had set in and people began running and screaming. "Forward!" yelled Mollar. "Let them run, but burn down any resistance!" Scattered gun fire continued as the Directorate troops advanced. Mollar smiled fiercely. Some of the fallen would remember names or faces of the protest's leaders and, living or dead, he would be able to tear that from them and make arrests. He smiled fiercely and yellow-green lightning danced around his fingers. He was going to get a commendation for this, or possibly even a promotion. Life was good, at least for him.

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-05-29 06:12am, edited 2 times in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-19 12:25am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Super Dreadnought Sun Eater
Deep Space
Near Free Federation Space


On the dimly lit flag bridge of the second most powerful warship ever constructed the field commanders of the Exiles held a meeting under the gaze of their Imperator, their war leader. Celene Nightfire e'Kail e'Zerakis, The Lady of Battle, Daemonstraum's Bane, and The Hammer of Victory wore armour of Slaver hide and was wrapped in shadowcloth trench coat. Her red hair was pulled into a braid and shot through with spell trapped wire known as a witch's knot. She had the pale skin sometimes called a "starship tan" and merciless blue eyes.

An olive skinned woman walked into the room. Eyes turned to her. "The fools threatened the Guild to gain their cooperation."

Red light drenched her as Kane shifted his gaze to regard his successor as head of Internal Security. The maimed necromancer wore a shadowcloth cloak over rune reinforced adamantium plate armour, an impossible burden for the unaugmented. Red jeweled prothesises replaced his right arm and left eye. His short beard only partially hid four long gauge marks on the left side of his face. "Confirmation?" he said emotionlessly.

"The Guild has flooded all of its internal communication media with it."

"Reasoning we would have at least one tap or sympathizer with access to their more public communications," said Celene.

"Fools," said the Zarkos Elvindar woman not too much shorter than Celene. Savaya ith Kazasan was a dark eyed and beautiful in the traditional Zarkos Elvindar way. Her body was lithe and muscular, he hair long and dark, her skin was pale, her eyes large and almond shaped, and her ears came to a graceful point. She wore bladed armour of midnight blue plate inscribed with silver runes and set with deadly blades. She was the Prince-Heir to the ruling cabal of the greatest Zarkos Elvindar house and third wife of Incaradine. She had blooded her murder knives before she had reached her majority and usurped her father's place as her grandfather's heir. "To alienate the Guild in such a way. They have grown sloppy."

"As anticipated," said Kain. "The total corruption of the political process has lead to entrenched positions and the belief of being completely unaccountable for actions. Hubris will continue to impair their decision making abilities."

"Yes, yes," said Savaya. "They're fools. What's our next move?"

A dark skinned woman, significantly shorter than Savaya, with a white streak in her black hair snickered. The Zarkos Elvindar warlord shot her a dirty look. The woman smiled back in a somewhat suggestive manner.

Celene smiled at the exchange. "Finished?" she asked her in-laws. "Good." She showed white teeth. "Now is the time to really start things moving, pushing them in the directions we want them to go. They need to feel fear. We unleash the wolf."

New York City
Terra
United States of America


Varidan Reeze scanned the underground club. It was playing music he didn't care for at far too high a volume and had lighting that involved far too many multicoloured lasers. People in leather and metallic fabrics were dancing, scoring drinks, or doing a variety of controlled or outright illegal drugs in plain view. It was the fifth such establishment he had been to this evening.

This time he found what he was looking for. A man with a body temperature far too low was dancing on the dance floor with a purple haired girl. The leather pants and vest he was wearing would look better on someone who wasn't quite so skinny. Reeze pushed his way through the crowd.

The vampire made him, an easy thing to do since he wasn't dressed to fit in, and scowled. Reeze smiled back and moved forward. The vampire wasn't scared, of course. Why would someone altered by the retrovirus fear a human in close quarters? The vampire kept dancing with the girl, but kept an eye on him.

Reeze reached them on the dance floor. He grabbed the girl's shoulder and whispered into her ear. "NYPD. Scram." The girl shot him a nasty look with golden eyes before moving a way. The vamp scowled at him. "We need to talk," said Reeze.

"Fuck you."

"There's a lot of ways we can do this. A lot of ways you can come out ahead, really far ahead. Is that worth fucking up for a piece of fluff?"

The vampire glowered but consented to joining Reeze at a table on the periphery of the club. "What do you want?"

"A meeting with the Karsteins. Covert."

"And what's in it for me?"

"My money and the gratitude of the most powerful vampire cabal on earth."

"How can you promise that?"

"I have some idea of how they'll react to what I tell them. Their connections to this city are old. They keep a lower profile, but I know that they'll keep tabs on every vamp and have lines of communication open. It's an easy score and a highly profitable one."

"You have an heat on you?"

"None," Reeze lied. Well, he was clean as far as the U.S. was concerned, but it appeared the Directorate wanted close tabs kept on his ass. "And I'd like it to stay that way."

"You said money?"

"Ten K."

"Alright. I'll need to be able to contact you."

"I'll be here every night."

"That's fucking paranoid."

"Problem?"

"No."

"Then I'll be here tomorrow."

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-05-29 06:12am, edited 2 times in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-20 09:13am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Arack City
Silvergrass
Former Nazarian Domain
The Free Federation


Junas Nalvado knelt on the cold stone floor of the church and bowed his head. He offered up a silent prayer to God, beseeching him for the wisdom to live righteously. He bowed his head to the cold flagstones. There was no answer, no guidance. There never was.

He looked up at the huge crucifix hanging above the altar. The image of Jesus Christ looked back down, his eyes filled with love and mercy despite the agony of his Crucifixion. He took strength in that, comfort as well. God had given him wealth, power, and an able mind. He should be able to use those on his own to find the correct path, without further favors from God.

Even for a man of his wealth and power, things were not easy. He could not support any politician he chose, because the Liberals and Conservatives held the reigns of power and would punish anyone bold enough to support a third party candidate, especially one who might be a reformer. One could attempt to resist the state and get crushed, or one could go with the corruption and the artfully rigged laws and get rich. To prosper and be righteous was not impossible, but it involved compromise. Compromise he knew he would have to answer for one day.

Footsteps echoed off the flagstones behind him. He rose up, irritated. His bodyguards knew better than to interrupt him while praying. And it could be no other, for he had exclusive use of the church at this hour. The church survived entirely on his money and he asked the priests for only a few comparatively minor privileges. He was not pleased that someone had sought him out at this time.

"Be at peace, friend," said the intruder. He was a tall, pale man with dark eyes and hair. He wore a long and heavy black coat. There was a certain leanness to his face that could not quite be considered gaunt.

"You should not be here," Junas replied.

"I have permission, like you." Junas's eyes flickered to his bodyguards, still standing sentinel at the church's doors. "While yours derives from your status as patron of this church, mine comes from my status in the hierarchy."

"You are a priest?"

"Of sorts," the man replied. "I have come some way to meet you."

The businessman looked at him warily. The man should not have passed his guards without them alerting him. Who was he really?

"Does this church touch you?" the man asked. "A dark place, lit by a thousand candles and what light that filters through stained glass, presided over by an icon of torture?"

"Who are you?" Junas asked. "You're no priest. I doubt that you're even a Christian?"

"In all the ways that matter I am a priest," the man replied, "although you are quite correct that I am not a Christian. Meeting you here was the most expedient course, so I took it."

"What then do you want? Not my life, you could have already have taken it. Money?"

"Answers to a few questions. And then I will answer yours."

"Do I have a choice?"

"Yes. I will do you no harm here. If you choose not to answer I will simply leave. And you will never know who I am or why I am here."

"Ask then."

"Why are you a Christian?"

"Because I believe."

"Really? Is it not because your ancestors decided to distance themselves from their accursed Nazarian blood by adopting the religion of those who attempted to annihilate them? Was it not a purely pragmatic move, a desire for better status and living conditions, a signal to the powers that be your ancestors had rejected all the loyalties of the past? Are you not simply a product of being raised that way?"

"No, I believe."

"You believe, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that your holy book, the literal word of your God, is riddled with untruths and inaccuracies. Despite the facts that some of the stories within are inaccurate in almost every detail, according to a mountain of evidence? Despite the fact that the Christian beliefs about the afterlife were long ago proven false by necromancers? You still believe?"

"I believe."

"Why? Do you hear his voice? Does he ever answer you?"

"I choose to believe."

"I see. And do you choose to do what is right?"

"I try, Lord knows that I don't always succeed."

"And what is right about the nation you live in?"

"Not enough."

"That ends my questions. I will answer yours."

"Who are you?"

"My name would have no meaning to you. I speak with His Voice."

"You mean God?"

"No."

"What do you want from me?"

"For you to do the right thing. For you to know that when the accounting comes it will not come for those who have abandoned the truth, but for those who have sided with the oppressors. For you to spread the word of what you have learned today."

Something nudged at the edge of Junas's brain, something about the Voice. "You serve Nalhen," he said softly.

"When he returns in his wrath it will be with Eyes of Fire and a Thousand Curses for his enemies."

"Nagazar," he whispered. An elite and fanatical sub sect of the Nazarian military, Nalhen's personal soldiers, their names derived from ancient legends. At their core were the warships of the Eyes of Fire and a thousand warrior sorcerers, each one bearing the name and warmasked marked with the glyph of a lethal curse. A thousand sorcerers, lead by one of their number who spoke with Nalhen's authority and deadly will. One whose whole life and identity were subsumed to his role. Nalhen's Voice.

Junas took a step back, trembling.

"This all is a lie. This is man, crawling in the dust in his ignorance and wishing that their was some force he could appeal to and so change his destiny. This is man, knowing that life is full of injustice, hoping that there is some force that can make justice. This is man, fearing his end, and wishing for paradise instead and a torture chamber for his enemy. New Jerusalem was ground to dust not for being Christians, but for seeking the death of all Nazarians and for aiding the Slaver Lords. My lord will permit you your religion, as has always been done. He cares not what opiate you sup in your weakness. It is beneath him. The welfare of his people and the death of his enemies are his concerns. The final days are almost at hand."

With that The Voice of Nalhen walked down the nave, past the frozen bodyguards, and out of the doors of the church. Junas watched him go and then turned back to the altar and began to pray.

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-01-20 10:26pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-21 03:02am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
New York City
Terra
United States of America


Varidan Reeze, once Kain's Hand, watched as the female vampire skirted the crowd and headed toward him. She was of average height and slight of build, but with vampires that was always deceptive. She had shoulder length black hair and was beautiful, either by inheritance, surgery, or application of her shape shifting abilities. His hand drifted down so it brushed his shadowcloak, ready to draw forth his death whip from its extra-dimensional space if he needed it.

Once he wouldn't have feared the approach of a strange vampire, willing to trust his skills and the capabilities of his augmented body against any being in close quarters. It would have to his advantage to have her close, but that time was five hundred years in the past. His skills remained as sharp as ever, but time had taken its toll on his flesh.

She sat down at his table. She was wearing a black leather jacket, t-shirt, and jeans. "You are Witch Hunter Overcommander Varidan Reeze, Kain's Hand, Fire Walker."

"Yes," he said. His primary heart beat faster, in defiance of his will. He damped it down. If she was on the ball, she would have surely have noticed. "I wasn't expecting you."

"But we were expecting you. We paid off your intermediary. He will have the good sense to lay low and in any event he knows nothing that can harm us now."

"So it's true."

"Yes."

"Who was it?"

She shrugged. "I don't know. But they are coming back. All of them."

"And the house and clan?"

"We yearn to wear our true names with pride and to be reunited with our kin. It was our blood who first formulated the laws that Zerakis brought to the Free Federation. Only part of our family lived in the Free Federation, but it was a thing of our blood nonetheless and its usurpers are not loved by us. The eldest awaken from their long sleep. We go to war."

He nodded. "Count me in."

Plaza of the Fallen
Caltethan City
Nahasses
The Free Federation


A black rent was torn in the night air, just in front of the statue of the Lord and the Lady. Cold vapor gushed out, followed by a man wearing a uniform of black leather and a violet lined cloak. He was tall and muscular with medium brown hair and glimmering eyes the same colour as his cloak lining. Silver glinted on his spell forged armour of Slaver hide, talismans that anchored his shields and augmented his sensor net. A silver sword with a meter long blade was in his right hand.

He turned and regarded the statue for a moment. The lords of Darkhold that had died honourably in battle against the Slaver Lords had not been subject to the vilification that their brethren who had fought on the losing side of the civil war had been subjected to. Even five hundred years later, hatred of the Slaver Lords was almost holy in Free Federation space and those who died fighting them were still martyrs. A campaign of quiet neglect and the elevation of more suitable heroes had happened in stead, but that still left various icons and statues of fallen necromancers scattered throughout Free Federation Space.

The statues were so weathered that one could barely see the scar running down the right side of Kail's face, from his forehead almost to his lips. He was wearing the trench coat that he had helped popularize during his life and seemed to be striding relentlessly forward, despite a slump on his shoulders that indicated weariness. Celene had arm wrapped around her husband and was helping support him while she confronted the world with a grim expression and her famous blade Icefire in her left hand. The magelord's gaze lingered for a moment and then he charged the building at the opposite side of the square.

Exterior sensors had already registered the dimensional breach, an event that was impossible any closer to the building itself. Cameras were comparing the warrior's face and build to an extensive database. They made a match. Weapon ports opened beam cannons unleashed eye searing beams of blue-white hell.

The ugly block that housed the planetary headquarters of the Security Directorate was a little over a kilometer away. Daemonwulf launched himself through the air on a pulse of sorcery. It took him just over two seconds to clear the distance. The sonic boom broke every window in the plaza.

Beam cannons that could tear open assault flier struck his shields on the way in, but he paid them no mind. His impact against the security doors turned them into deadly shrapnel that ripped through the almost deserted entry way. His remaining momentum carried Daemonwulf through the security scanners as he applied a counter force that cut his velocity and deposited him on the floor just in front of the main desk.

Four troopers in hard armour opened up with beam rifles as concealing panels rolled back and autoguns were deployed. A Ring of emerald light surrounded the Daemonwulf's left hand as he ruptured the Directorate troopers' internal organs. He then pointed at the autoguns and released blasts of violet energy that obliterated most of the walls. Debris bounced off his shields, but otherwise did not trouble him.

A dark skinned woman Directorate soft armour cowered behind the main desk. The sorcerer pulled her up with chords of woven power. She trembled. "Open your mind to me and live. Resist and die."

He pushed through rudimentary walls in her brain to find what he wanted to know about the lay out of the building. He dropped her. "You had better run," he said as he blew a hole in the ceiling and rose up through it.

He smashed his way through five floor before he reached his destination. Alarm klaxons were blaring, putting everyone at high alert but there was no one here who could challenge him, not that he would be staying long. He emerged through the floor of a sealed room with armourplex walls where four cylindrical generators fed a single egg shaped device about two meters on its long side. A cyan force beam blew the D-lock to fragments. He then blew a hole in the ceiling above him and rose up another three stories into the middle of the detention levels. Sensors impotently tracked his every move.

The halls were white and antiseptic, the doors were massive and solid metal. His sword cut through them with ease. Frightened humans, sithi, and kordassi stumbled into the light. It took him a little more than two minutes to free all thirteen prisoners held here.

"I am Daemonwulf," he said. "I am here to rescue you." He tore open a rift in space. Cold mist gushed forth. "Leave or stay as you choose, but choose quickly." All but one elected to pile through the rift. Daemonwulf eyed the last one who was squinting back. Not political, although housed with them, the arch-mage decided. Probably someone very, very dangerous who knows his chances are better with the Directorate. He smiled, showing teeth and then stepped through the rift with his charges. Their sorcerers could try to pursue him in the realm beyond, but he didn't think he and his pack would get that lucky.

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-01-22 12:47am, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-23 05:43am 

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Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
The Senate
Sandresha
The Free Federation


Guards in field grey and gold stood at attention in corridors with lustrious red cedar panelling as ministers and their deputies moved passed them. Joining them were senior military and Security Directorate officials. They passed through the last set of doors and into the meeting room. They took their places around a long wooden table with a golden holosphere projector. Most of them had arrived.

"What is so urgent?" grumbled Fleet Admiral Charven. He was a heavyset, dark haired human wearing the sky blue dress uniform of the navy.

"All in do time," said Security Minister Kast. Kast was a short, plain man who under other situations might be mistaken for an accountant. "You know how the president hates important conversations starting without him."

President of the Senate Collum Solem entered, attended by small flurry of aides and plain clothed guards. The most powerful man in the Free Federation, a man with over a trillion Stars in assets and holdings in half a dozen large corporations. He was handsome (and considering how much his looks cost him that was only proper), silver haired, and immaculately dressed in a dark suit. He took his spot at the head of the table. "What is so important?" he said brusquely.

Security Minister Kast turned to his deputy minister. "Mister Rhodan?"

The slight man cleared his throat and stood. "Yesterday, standard time, the Directorate headquarters on Nahasses was breached by a lone attacker. Casualties were light and twelve social criminals of middling importance were removed from our custody. There were no shortage of witnesses to these events, the importance of which I will get to in a moment. These are image captures of the perpetrator." The holosphere activated and displayed a series of images of Daemonwulf.

"Who is that?" asked Finance Minister Brocchan. The bactrian kordassi wore essentially a fancy wetsuit, which kept the amphibian's skin moist while duplicating the style of a formal tunic and pants.

"Daemonwulf," said Rhodan. "Legate of the Black, believed to be likely to have been killed during the holding action at Sherhall."

"In brief," said the president. "For those of us that don't study history."

"Of course, Mister President. Taken as a prisoner during the Tumak Offensive, age twelve. Family killed, displayed magical abilities, selected as subject for crystalline personality engram projector implants, and inducted into the Slaver Lords. Served as one of Daemonstraum's chief warlords during the last two hundred years of the war, survived repeated confrontations with Lord Kail, backed Kadeastraum's ascension after Daemonstraum's death. Captured ten years after the end of the war. Implants removed and personality reconstruction was successful. Served honourably during the Resurgency and joined the Black during the civil war."

"So he's strong?"

"A legion killer. In the top ten of the most powerful Slaver Lords ever. Mister President, this man leads from the front and destroys entire armies single handily. He is not known for restraint. The only reason Directorate headquarters on Nahasses is intact, is because he chose not to destroy it."

"Why do you believe he did not?" Solem asked.

"Sir, both Lamech and Daemonwulf have made appearances, allowed themselves to be recognized, and used minimal amounts of force to achieve very minor goals. This is radically different from the way the Black have fought every war on record. They have forfeited surprise and they taken great risks for minimal gain. This only makes sense if their strategy and tactics have changed."

"Continue," said Solem.

"What is the overall effect of their interventions? They have spread the word they are back, they have insured witnesses both within and outside the security forces, they have proven they can strike where they wish, and that even comparatively minor polit- social criminals will draw their attention and intervention. Running throughout this is the common thread of state impotence. Their attacks are designed to make this government and all of its branches appear impotent. They are manufacturing a perception of weakness. Combine that with the unpopularity of this government in certain sectors and you have a full scale insurrection."

"Why would they change tactics?" asked Senator Alyssa Vines. She was a tall, stately woman that managed to look a beautiful twenty do to massive and regular sorcerous reconstruction and rejuvenation efforts.

"They do not have the capability to wage war in their traditional manner," replied Rhadon. "Bluntly put, they are a bunch of exiles with a limited population base and industrial resources persecuting a war far from wherever they ended up. They have neither the fleet nor the troops to engage us directly. Since they cannot conquer, they intend to cause the state to collapse and then emerge as the dominate force in the chaos of the aftermath."

"What kind of resources can we realistically expect them to possess?" asked Vines.

"This is a difficult question. During the Slaver War a program was initiated to create an emergency bolt hole or holes. Ships were sent into the dark with the necessary equipment and supplies to begin developing distant stars."

"So why don't we know about them?" asked Sencassa Nassril, a powerfully built sithi with one in every four scales dyed bright red.

"In order to maintain secrecy, the project was entirely Nazarian," replied Rhadon. "Nalhen simply requested the money and then no one who was not Chosen ever knew anything about it. No record, no senate inquiry, nothing. As to the next question, no, we don't know how much was sent or when. Since the civil war ended nearly four hundred years after the end of Slaver War, the infrastructure that could have been built by a ship full of Chosen supervised Von Neumann machines is considerable. The size of the refugee population, which has had five hundred years to grow, places a more realistic limit on their size and capabilities. Energy emissions are concern, but there are solutions to those problems. At worst, say two dozen fully developed star systems and some additional colonies."

"The Chosen?" Vines asked.

"A mark of Nalhen's favor. Most Free Federation legates, the Nagazar, the Executioners, the Valkyrie, certain prominent advisers and so on and so forth. People he deems particularly valuable."

"Enough trivia," said Solem. "What do you propose to do about this?"

"Ahh," said Kast, "we have taken a study and essentially propose that naval ship building continue and that the army double its number of strike legions to two hundred and increase the amount and quality of arcanetech and sorcerous support. As for the Security Directorate, we imagine a more drastic change. My deputy minister has the exact details."

Rhodan produced a flimsy. "Our essential problems are maintaining military superiority and dealing with surprise strikes. In lieu of sufficient on hand forces, strikes with orbital weapons can shift situations in our favor at the cost of some collateral damage. As an alternative we can take a page from history and train and deploy reaction squads. With arcanetech enhancement and gear, as well as organic sorcery support, such teams can teleport nearby crisis incidents and reinforce the elements on hand."

"That's going to cost," said Vines.

"Indeed. Fortified teleporter complexes must be set up on every world, but fortunately they already exist in most places. There must be teams on standby at all times to directly intervene and hold out at least until reinforcements arrive. Necromancer surgeons are needed for the surgery to keep the patient alive as the maximum augment loads are exceeded, sorcery engineers must construct the spell wiring, orichalcum blades, and other implants as well as the personal shields, disruptors, devastator rounds, runic armour plates, and so on and so forth."

"Sounds expensive," said Solem.

"It will be. We'll also have to screen applicants, account for surgery and recovery time, training time for augmentation and gear and then working together as a team. Massive numbers of sorcerer man hours will be needed to construct the augments and do the surgeries, of course, and we'll need sorcerers on the teams. Fortunately a fair amount of the equipment does exist in the armouries, so the expenditure in that area will be less extreme."

"So we recreate Darkhold's lords and their warrior elite," said Charven. "That's not a solution." Cold stares pinned Kast.

"That has been considered," said Rhodan. "The mind probe will allow for psychological and ideological screening as well as allowing us to reinforce their feelings of loyalty. They will be loyal to this nation and this government. We need have no fears of a new Darkhold."

"How many?" asked Solem.

"Fifty thousand in the first batch, including ten thousand for use as hunter-killers. Ten thousand of the total will be war trained sorcerers and yes, we don't have that many floating around. We'll be drafting a number of retirees on the basis of emergency. They should start being ready towards the end of a year. Until then stop gaps involving D-locks, emergency response teams, and bombardment weaponry should enable us to hold the line. Certain forces already possess this level of readiness we intend for the reaction teams, including the Senatorial Guard, so the government is protected from direct attack and is doubtless why they have declined to do so."

"Campaigning will be a bitch," said Vines.

"We'll suspend the next round of elections," said Solem. "The Liberals will bitch, but they'll be brought into a unity government so they'll be willing to live with it. Kast, you have a go, but I want to be certain those agents will be ours, body and soul. I'm not kissing Zerakis the Second's boots."

"Yes, Mister President," said Kast. Deputy Rhodan bowed and concealed a smile.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-23 11:46pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
North America
Terra
United States of America


Varidan Reeze awoke. He was naked, hanging upside down from hooks through his ankles. He couldn't move at all. Sastrana was hanging next to him. He could see nerve blocker spikes driven into her spine with wires connecting it to a harness.

"Witch Hunter Overcommander Varidan Reeze," a voice wheezed. The Slaver Lord was an average looking guy, dark hair and olive skin. He was wearing dark red soft armour under an adamantium breastplate, Collar of Thorns, and the bladed arm plates known as an amulet harness. A red crystal glowed softly in its setting in an adamantium ring. "You'll forgive the voice, I'm still regenerating."

"Die screaming," Reeze replied.

"I'll pass. Interesting that you should mention that, because breaking you will be my task. Won't bother with the mind probe against those wonderful Witch Hunter blocks, not until you're in a much more talkative mood."

"All your days are numbered, Slaver trash. You fucked up from the beginning. Kail lives. Kalhen lives. Lamech lives. Kain lives. And Incaradine lives. There is nothing but death and dust in your futures."

"Nicely said, but you're the one hanging naked upside down. I won't start on you yet though. Your under officer gets the privilege of going first. Don't worry, you're wired to her through a sense link. You'll not only get a first hand view, you'll get to feel everything."

Reeze bolted awake. "Bad dream?" Sara asked. The vampire was in the driver's seat.

"Yeah. Old memories."

"The war?"

"Yeah, the Resurgency."

"My father fought in it. Assault Recon for the Fire Dragons. Didn't say much about it, other than what Incaradine gave the Slaver Lords was too good for them."

"Maybe," said Varidan Reeze, "maybe. Look, I don't want to talk about it."

"Sure," she said. "But you're looking to fight now, right?"

"I lead good men and women to their deaths for the Free Federation," he said. "I got my fill of slaughter and I walked away. Now an abomination sits in its place. I never chose a side, but now that's easy. It's not like I have anything left to lose."

"Wife? Kids?"

"Both dead. I'm a quarter Alpha, my wife pure bred Terran. My aug and rejuv rating is high. My kids . . . . no one should be outliving their kids."

"Why not go back to the Fed? It wasn't as bad then."

"Sure, except they were Americans and by then it was easier to hold your head high as an American than as a Free Fed. I take it your minds are already made up."

"Yeah," she said. "Our kin and allies or a bunch of would be tyrant oligarchs. Not a hard choice."

"How do you think the American Government will handle it?"

"If they see and opportunity to kick the Whites in the balls and get away with it, they'll take it. That goes double for the Russians."


Super Dreadnought Sun Eater
Deep Space
Near Free Federation Space



Celene bent over the table, wincing and slowly shaking her head. She took a deep breath and stood up.

"Again?" asked Cazerin. The black haired woman wore the bladed armour of a Zarkos Elvindar prince, although she was not Elvinder. Standing behind her was a blonde man with a curved blade slung over the back of his shadowcloth trench coat and black leather uniform.

"Yes," Celene replied.

"It's happening more frequently isn't it?"

"Yes," the Imperator replied.

"Well, that could be a good thing right? If its because of him."

Celene smiled. "Yes, but only if its him. You had best call a meeting soon and elect my successor."

Cazrin nodded. "No one will like that."

"War's like that. Are you ready to be cut loose?"

"Yeah. What's that expression? 'chomping at the bit?' I'm ready. My parents aren't too happy about it. It's not like this is my first time fighting the White. Hell, I killed by the time I was sixteen and I'll have Vain. He'll die before he let's a hair on my head get harmed."

The blonde man smiled. "I'm sure he will," said Celene, "but sending your children off to war is never easy."

"That why you never had any?"

"No, we never had any because of what happened to his first children. We were beginning to talk about the possibility, but the Resurgency happened first."

"Sorry."

"Old wounds, child of my heart. Old wounds. The White, as bad as they are, are nothing compared to the Slaver Lords. They only did the damage they did by convincing Free Federats to fight for them. And now all their days are numbered."
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-25 02:18am 

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Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Terinar Construction Platform
Terinar System
Nazar in Exile


Black uniformed Free Federation spacers gave fist to heart salutes as Grand Admiral Arelan Sus-Elararian passed. Twice Chosen, the supreme commander of the Grand Alliance Fleet's reputation was unmatched among the living. He had engineered the victories over New Jerusalem's genocidal surprise attack during the Resurgency and delaying action and retreats that allowed so many to safely reach exile at the end of the Civil War.

Those were his greatest, most important victories and they were ash in his mouth. He had defected from New Jerusalem's military for good reasons, but that did not mean he relished the destruction of the nation of his birth and the Civil War against the White had ultimately lead to defeat. He returned the salutes and continued on his way through the platform.

The Terinar Platform was old, but well maintained. It had been waiting in orbit around this cold gas giant for them when they had arrived after the long journey, although it had only been two thirds its current size. Vast storage tanks held water, hydrogen, and oxygen for the arriving refugees. Store room after store room of food was ready for the hungry and bay after bay of hydroponics awaited to create more. Empty living quarters waited to be filled and dormant robots awaited orders. Nearby asteroids provided an vast amount of raw materials for its factory complexes as did the ice rings and cometary belt.

A Dark Guard kill team in rune inscribed power armour saluted as they passed. The Free Federation soldiers all bore the Dedication Scar, a self inflicted wound running from above their right eye to just above their lips. Disruptors, rune blades, witchfire cannons, enhanced beam rifles, and gauss guns with specialty ammo made up the majority of squad's armament. They were among the deadliest killers in human history, soldiers who's very names had once been synonymous with invincibility. The Civil War had killed the legend, but not the Legion.

At last he came to his destination. A captain in the dark green and gold of the Nazarian Navy saluted and approached. "Come to see the launch Grand Admiral?"

"Yes."

"We didn't think you would make it."

"I made time." He walked down to the gallery of viewing windows. Before him was the lean and murderous shape of a Reaper class battlecruiser. The dagger shaped vessel was two kilometers long with and covered adamantium armour plate, the ship's parent design the Reaver could kill any vessel in the Terrani navy even without raising her formidable shields. The Reaper was designed to turn her progenitor into scrap.

More senior officers made way for the Grand Admiral. Sus-Elararian indicated to Overcommander Strel that she should continue. "Would you do the honours, Grand Admiral?"

"As you wish," he replied. The coms woven into his suit activated and carried him on the station to ship channel. "Dutiful Daughter, you are cleared to launch. May you dwell perpetually in Death's shadow."

"Affirm Grand Admiral. May She guard you always."

Heslin City
Tatrama
The Free Federation


Eva smiled at the senior exec and extended her hand. Serluhlar Helthith took it, his scales rasping against her skin. The elderly sithi wore a gold comp harness over his scales. "Your proposal was quite intriguing Miss Morin."

"Thank you sir," the blonde replied brightly.

The sithi maneuvered his bulk back to his couch. Helthith's office included a gorgeous view of the city, complete with the setting sun. The window was polarized armourplex and almost invulnerable. From five hundred meters up, the city looked pretty small. "Shall we skip the preliminaries and get right to business?"

"My pleasure sir." She sat down on a chair compatable with human anatomy opened up her valise, which triggered the holo display. A star map flickered to life. "Your business is spread over nearly forty star systems and is growing. You need a number of different commercial craft to suit your needs and Transtream Transportation can see to it that those needs are met at an affordable cost. Everything from oar haulers to VIP shuttles, although we specialize in the higher end. How that matters to you is that what your really need to grow your business is investment and favorable tax incentives. That means you're going to want to move a lot of important people around and make sure that they see what you want them to see while having favorable memories of dealing with your company. This is the area where Transtream can be the most help."
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-26 05:36am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Sestan Station
Seheneth System
The Free Federation


Sestan Station was a slim cylinder with docking arms projecting from the middle. Two cruisers, their one point two kilometer long steel hulls painted flat grey, are docked with the arms. The blade shaped warships rest like swords in their scabbards as their crews enjoy R&R and the ships are resupplied.

Captain Noshen Chromac activated his mike. Traffic control as Sestan Station was pretty easy, there wasn't much of it and the computer pretty much handled everything for him. It was easy duty, but dull. He stifled a yawn and signaled a confirmation for docking clearance from a system shuttle.

A brilliant blue beam shot from the shuttle and tore into the rear third of the cruiser Relentless. Steel vaporized or was blasted into space as jagged fragments. The beam continued for three seconds, tearing a gaping wound in the side of the warship. Then three searing white bolts flew into the wound where the detonated in tremendous explosions. The rear half of the ship was a gutted shell.

Then the blue beam flashed out again, this time at the cruiser Steadfast. Chromac hurriedly adjusted the sensors. A dark figure was floating by the steadfast. Three more stark white bolts flew from the man. An alarm klaxon was now blaring full force. The figure approached one the airlock arms and vanished from the external sensors

Down on Arm C a squad of marines who stormed down the corridor in powered armour, heavy beam rifles clutched in their gauntlets. Data streamed into their helmets and uplinks, informing them of the precise location, marking it on instantly accessible virtual maps, and cataloging the threat. Analysis of the attack indicate that the target was probably a single powerful sorcerer, a legion killer.

They had enough time to register that they were unlikely to survive past the next few minutes when he emerged from the cross corridor ahead. He was two and a half meters tall, robed in shadowcloth, and wearing an adamantium cuirass and gorget which were rune marked and probably linked to his shields. His skin was bone white and his hair night black. His face was angular and cadaverous, seemingly devoid of fat. Around his waist he wore a talisman belt and around his brow a seemingly simple black adamantium crown. In his hand he held an adamantium staff tipped with a skull inside a bladed halo. Silver light streamed from his eyes.

The marines fired automatically, sending violet-white beams that could slice easily through hardened steel plate. The necromancer's shields absorbed the punishment without effort. Corporal Istandar Dix had enough time to recognize his killer and shout his name, "Nalhen!" Then the light seemed to dim slightly and there was the sound of rushing wind and the marines slumped, dead before they began falling.

The death wind swept through the station, passing through doors and bulkheads to rip the life right out of bodies. Men and women, human, sithi, or kordassi, all died. In less than a minute most of the station was dead.

Chromac watched helplessly on the monitor screens as everyone in the station died. Commander Strellin, Sestan Station's CO, had tears running down his face. His command chair was at deck level while the rest of them worked in a sunken level in a circle around the command station. "Is there anyone alive?" Strellin asked hoarsely.

Himissa shook her head in the negative. "Only us and Nalhen."

"Signal Seheneth and all ships in system. In form them of our situation. Chromac, give them a complete data dump of everything that's occurred, starting with today and working back. All our records, everything. Starting with today and working back. We don't know what will be left at the end of this." He paused to think. "What's his location?" Strellin asked as he wiped away tears.

"Closing on command," the sithi replied.

"How far?" Strellin asked.

"Just outside," she replied. The temperature seemed to drop for a moment, but that was an illusion. The armoured blast door glowed red and then white hot, waves of heat and visual distortion filling the room as life support struggled to compensate. It dripped away as slag. Nalhen entered.

Light no longer emanated from his eyes, allowing their true appearance to be seen. Each one was a pool of darkness in which a skull floated. Nalhen's flesh had ceased to be truly human before he had stepped foot on Nazar, all those ages ago. Every part of his body was sorcerously enhanced or transformed. He was the faint core of truth about which Wotan, Hades, Osiris, Chernobog, and countless other gods had been created around. He was the Great Necromancer and he was here, in the flesh.

He did not acknowledge them in any way. He walked into the operations pit and without even a gesture sent Chromac flying out of the way. Communications systems for broadcasting on the emergency frequencies to every ship, station, asteroidlet, and planet in the system went active. He addressed one of the pick ups.

"I am Nalhen. I have returned. You have been told lies about me by oligarchs who exploit you. The truth will become clear to you in time. What you have been taught are lies by those who would profit from them and the lackeys who would profit by serving them.

"They have made capitalism into corporate monopolism. They have made service into corruption, citizens into serfs, and government into tyranny. The have transformed the police into thugs, the social fabric into a threadbare rag, and dreams into dust. They have made taxation an extraction of wealth from the worker to pay for projects that serve the rich and they have made services a thing to discard. Education is allowed to rot because the rich will take care of themselves and the serfs are safer to rule if they are ignorant. A thousand years ago the Free Federation defiantly shouted 'we are not prey!' Now your rulers would make you cattle. All that will soon end. This nightmare will be over and what once was will be restored."

Smoke rose from the console. A black tear in space appeared behind Nalhen. Cold mist seeped from the rent. The Great Necromancer turned and walked through, the rent closing behind him.

"We're alive," breathed Chromac.

"Only because he wanted us as witnesses," said Strellin. "See if you can get some of communications working. We have a lot to report."
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-26 05:39am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Because it will come up and some point and as not to confuse people too badly, the Nazarian and Free Federation militaries follow the same system. It is (eliminating subgrades) basically as follows:

Private
Corporal
Sergeant

Specialist

Lieutenant
Captain
Commander
Force Commander
Strike Commander-commands a legion or major warship
Overcommander
Battlecommander


Legate
Imperator
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-28 12:44am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
The Senate
Sandresha
The Free Federation


"I hope," said President of the Senate Solem, "that someone can explain this complete disaster to me and put it in context with our new initiatives. Battlecommander Thalessenn?"

The sithi was calm enough to inspire envy in a Zen Buddhist monk. He was large, by sithi standards, and wore a black metal harness with naval insignia and a battlecommander's twelve pointed nova. "Sestan Station was a comparatively minor outpost, a recreation and resupply post with modest repair facilities. It was not heavily defended and probably chosen because of the civilian traffic through that system guarranteed that this display would spread quickly."

"I'm glad losing two cruisers and a space station is a 'minor loss' Battlecommander. Do we have a plan other than letting them hit us at will?"

"Their transition to the Between are being noted and mapped. We should be able to track them to their forward bases soon enough. Scout groups have already been dispatched to find their forward bases and home worlds. That will take time and we will suffer losses, but once that is accomplished we can grind them into dust.

"On the subject of our losses, two cruisers and a space station is one the navy can easily endure. Its a fraction of our yearly building capacity once we are on war footing. Nalhen is not replaceable. Neither is Lamech. I'll trade ten cruisers for a good shot at either of them and count it cheap. These are flea bites Lord President, nothing more."

"Militarily, perhaps," said Solem. "Politically they are a disaster. We appear impotent and our enemy strikes at will. That perception will bury us and I will not have it. Kast, where are you on your project?"

"The first stream of cleared candidates has undergone reinforcement therapy and implantation surgery. Several have left recovery and are beginning to training in the use of their new augmentics. We are ahead of schedule and I would like to remind the Lord President that military outposts are not part of the Directorate's responsibilities."

"I don't give a dent demi-Star about your pet areas of responsibility. I don't have the patience to indulge your factional fighting. You will cooperate with each other in grinding the Black into dust or you will find your family destitute while you end up breaking rocks in the worst hellhole in Free Federation space."

Departure Gate
The Realm Beyond Hell


Countless stars shown in the night sky and around each of them were dead worlds. The Devourers had stripped the galaxy bare and reseeded it with their minions to be farmed to serve their appetite. Their hunger had been too great for even that to work and they had migrated through universes to find better feeding grounds, leaving only a few of their number behind.

A few things still lived on the world and one of them had once been human and was now an immortal. He wore armour of black leather and plates of gleaming white bone. Tall and lean, his face was marked by a scar that ran down the right side of his face. His skin was bone white, his eyes white skulls floating in pools of night, and his hair dead black an wild. His expression was grim and his heart was cold, save for one fleeting ember. That tiny flicker of hope was why he had not succumbed to death or despair. He endured.

He crested the ridge with a piece of black fabric floating behind him. As far as the eye could see the land was nothing but jagged black stone. A single structure rose from the plain, a tower that floated ten meters off the ground and rose up into the darkness. It was hollow with framework walls built from bone and orichalcum, reinforced and augmented with the fangs and talons. Power drained from armies of the dead and slain godlings augmented the flow of The One Power that fueled the fearsome engine. It was not enough.

The floating band of fabric vomited forth giant bones and bladelike teeth and claws. Nuggets of gold and silver followed and then came a stream of mercury, several tons worth in all. The metals rose into the air, the gold and silver melting to become liquid and mixing with the mercury in a swirling sphere of molten metal.

The One Power flowed through the metals, powering their fusion and transformation into a swirling mass of glittering orange alloy. The sorcerer rose into the sky, taking the mass of bones and the sphere of molten orichalcum with him.

Three kilometers up he reached the top of the tower. Bone reshaped and merged with the top of the tower, flowing and reforming to form another level at the top of the tower. Orichalcum flowed over the bones like a network of veins or circuitry, linking up with the tower's network.

The sorcerer orbited the terminus of the tower, examining his handiwork. He stroked his scar. It was almost ready. One way or the other, it would be over soon.

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-03-22 03:51am, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-29 02:05am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Super Dreadnough Sun Eater
Deep Space
Near Free Federation Space



Alzen Kahar was a huge man, powerfully built, scarred, and bald. In size and appearance he differed little from the other "Grey Wolves", the old veterans who were the backbone of the legion. He stopped at the almost empty table, holding his tray. "Legate, mind if I join you?"

"Not at all, First Sergeant," replied Incaradine.

"Thank you Legate." He sat down opposite of Incaradine. Both men had plates stacked with food. Kahar's arcane and biomechanical augments required fuel just as Incaradine's sorcerous alterations and enhancement magics did. "Welcome back."

"It's nice to be loved," said Incaradine with a wry smiled.

"You are Legate," said Kahar. "Never doubt it."

"I don't. I'm the empath, even if a twisted one." Incaradine smiled. "Tell me what is on your mind First Sergeant. Why is so important that no one else is sitting here so there is no obstacle to us having this conversation, but so public that everyone needs to hear?"

"The Lady. She is not well. Save for her brother, you are the closest to her of all that still live."

"Jeric is dead," said Incaradine. "They fusion bombed the Vault shortly after we left. They have cut its existence out of their histories, burying their murders."

A cold fury entered Alzen's eyes. "They took no part in the Civil War."

"They feared and hated them. Even though they slept that was enough. It's just another crime, one of many."

"The Lady."

"Is dying," answered Incaradine. "We can't say why. She's getting worse. It's either a flaw in the resurrection process or some external agency."

"Nalhen?"

"Nalhen brought her back from beyond anyone else's reach. The Slavers burned her, First Sergeant. Even Kail couldn't restore her and he was right there, crawling towards her over Slaver corpses with shattered knees. That even Nalhen's efforts might be enough is disappointing First Sergeant, but sadly not unthinkable." Incaradine sucked back a long pull of juice. "Of course, there is always the long shot, which as you know I favor."

"That Kail still lives. That he somehow survived killing Garez. That he was not vaporized in the subsequent explosion but instead displaced somehow. It has been five centuries. The Lord would have made his way back."

"If he was able, yes. I felt nothing of his death and I would have known, despite the interference. And he was The Deathless. Kail lives."

"Never count a sorcerer dead until you have seen him die three times," Alzen quoted, "Never count a necromancer out just because he is dead."

"There is nothing we can do for Celene," said Incaradine, "nothing at least that will save her, but she will do her best to give us victory. The Guard is no stranger to loss and no stranger to its soldiers fighting on as death comes for them. Another heroic, dying effort." Glass shattered in his hands. The whole room flinched. Incaradine closed his fist, grinding the glass into his flesh. Blood dripped onto the table. He dropped the bloody fragments. "How I yearn to share my pain with them. She may have been my first lover, but she is so very promiscuous. There is so many debts in need of proper accounting."

The Spike
Shadowcatch
The Free Federation


"Okay people listen up," said Overcommander Vorlar Kadril. "Nalhen or a really powerful facsimile put a space station and two cruisers in the boneyard." The room was full of his people, half of whom were just back from surgeries implanting new arcane tech augments. Rike and his pack of mercenary killers were clustered at the far well.

Rike snickered. Karil continued. "They fucked up though. The shuttle they used was traceable to a front company that some intensive digging is a cover for their operations. Transtream Transportation. We're hitting all of its locations, everyone who works with them, everyone who buys from them, and everyone who sleeps with them. Some of them are going to gone by the time we get there. Some are going to be pretty harmless. And some of them are going to be death machines.

"This is the big time. Look around the room. Odds are good that some of the people in this room will be dead by the end of this series of operations."

"More than a few," said Rike, "and most of the dead won't be my people. If you find the real deal, it will be IS or Shadow Knife veterans. Engineered instruments of destruction that can pass as human or elite agents kept alive through massive alteration surgery through necromancy and upgraded with matchless capabilities. Adamantium bone lacing, orichalcum blades, spellwire, implant armour, the works. Shadowcloaks, shield generators, polymorphic body armour, and everything you can stash in shadowcloak as actual gear and instantly available. Blood is going to flow."

"Rike's an asshole, but he makes a good point," said Vorlar. "The odds are good that some of Zahn's people will be involved. The Killing Machine didn't get his bloodname by accident and the other Alphas that make up the Shadow Knives are only a little less lethal. We want prisoners, but if it goes sideways drop a gods damned mountain on them and rape the concerns over collateral damage. Averthi?"

"Averthi est!" his agents shouted back. Rike just smiled.

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-01-29 02:25am, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-29 11:58pm 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Babylon Apartment Towers
Shenessia City
Haalessa
The Free Federation

"Get up," said Eve in a cold voice as she ripped the covers off the bed.

"Whaa," mumbled Pevel. His eyes took a moment to adjust to the darkness. "Eve, have you gone completely nuts?"

"Get up and get the fuck out. Don't shower, just grab some clothes and go. You don't have much time."

"The apartment is in my raping name-," he began.

"Directorate troops are going to be here in less than ten minutes and they will be very trigger happy. Get the fuck up and leave."

A chill went through Pevel as he slid out of bed and grabbed a pair of slacks. "You're Black, aren't you?"

"Black as they come," she said. She was wearing a trench coat over a dark tunic and pants.

"So you were just fucking me because I was useful."

"I could have had anyone. I chose you because I liked you. Now I've fucked up your life. Sorry about that"

Pevel threw on a shirt. "What the fuck happens now?"

"You get as far away from here as you possibly can. When the Directorate comes for you, cooperate and don't resist the mind probe."

"What are you going to do?"

The bones of Eve's face began to shift. "What I was made to do."


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

They moved by van to avoid attracting attention. Both of Haalessa's small moons were up, one crescent, the other full. The vans stopped two blocks from the apartment complex and the Directorate and Slayer's Guild killers piled out. The assault was timed to be simultaneous with a dozen other arrests throughout the Free Federation.

"We'll cover your people from around here," said Rike. The Slayer's Guild mage was wearing all black and carrying a four barrelled witchfire cannon attached to his right arm. The control yoke fit right into his palm.

"How brave of you," sneered Sardin.

"Slaver loving moron," said Rike quietly. "What tactical doctrine prescribes sending the wizard with the heavy fire support cannon into close quarters with an Alpha? Zerakis's bones, how did you ever make captain?"

"Enough," said Kadril. "Rike's people will remain as back up. We go in, hit hard and hit fast. Probably won't even need them." He lead a dozen men and women in powered armour down the block. Moving better than thirty kilometers an hour it took them less than twenty seconds to reach the building. Security override codes had the apartment doors popping open before they got there.

They left two of their number behind and stormed up the stairs. Simultaneously Rike and the other three Slayer's Guild killers made their way to roof tops with lines of sight on the apartment. "Blinds still down. Null IR, but that's worthless. Active shields, can't tell the strength. Suggestive of multilayered shields with energy sink and deflective cocoon. Top of the line, online, and waiting. Have fun."

Kadril suppressed a curse as his team moved off the stairs and down the hall. It had spotted their approach and was waiting for them and it most definitely was trouble. "Hard entry," he said. He and three others charged through the apartment walls in their mottled grey armour. A pale skinned, blonde muscular man was waiting for them. He wore black leathers under a shadowcloak. Vorlar Kadril had a moment of time to recognize him before the Killing Machine hit the two men on the left.

Forty centimeter orichalcum blades shot forth from Legate Zahn's wrists, glowing blue-white with the intensity of the charge running through them. They carved through shields and composite armour like a chain saw through soft cheese. One agent was slashed from navel to crown, the other decapitated.

Sardin was just behind them, already moving through the hole as a part of the second wave. The compact, overpowered, beam cannon in his hands fired. The flash as the beam impacted briefly outlined Zahn's shield shell. "Exit!" Kadril screamed.

Zahn was already in the air. Handrin's head had yet to hit the floor. It was like moving in molasses. Zahn was so fast.

Zahn kicked through Sardin breastplate. The tip of Zahn's boot and a good chunk of Sardin's chest blasted out the agent's backplate in a spray of gore. Zahn withdrew his foot and pointed both hands at the agent beside Sardin. Azure disruptor beams shot from his fingers, tore apart the Directorate operative's shields, and shredded his nervous system. Zahn had yet to touch back down.

Vorlar leaped forward, through the window and began falling twenty stories to the street. Two other agents followed suit, their shields sending air catching wings out to arrest their fall. "It's Zahn!" he yelled through the command link.

Rike didn't waste a moment. The quad barrels of his witchfire cannon spun, sending bolts of jade fire through the air. The apartment vanished in massive explosions of green flame which destroyed the adjacent units as well.

Kadril touched ground and activated the high command circuit. "Directorate override, code aleph-eleven-gamma. Orbital fire request, beam weapons, coordinates as follows."

Zahn couldn't read the encryption on Kadril's transmission, but his sensor net could certainly detect it and where it was going. The alpha was already on the other side of the building, having no desire to see how long it would take for Rike's cannon to eat through his shields. He ran through a wall, charged through a living room, blew the window out with a force pulse, and began a sorcery assisted leap that took him into an adjacent building tower.

A pillar of light smashed down on the Babylon Tower. The building exploded, the shock wave shattering windows for more than a kilometer and sending debris smashing into adjacent buildings. The blast flung Kadril down the street and smacked him hard into the side of a building. Fires were burning everywhere around him.

"Nice," said Rike. "You probably killed at least a thousand people and gave Zahn cover for his exit. He'll be wearing a new face and using a clean ID when he makes his next move. You now have a whole planet worth of possibles. Asshole."
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-01-31 03:15am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
The White House
Washington, DC
United States of America



Erica Davies rubbed her wrist around the inhibitor bracelet. The two mirror shade wearing Secret Service officers gazed stonily back at her. She turned her head back to the secretary that was ignoring her. She took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and leaned back in her chair. Time passed.

"You can go in now," the secretary said. Erica got up and straightened her clothes, a dark suit jacket and pants over a sky blue blouse . She was a good looking woman and knew it, with shoulder length dark brown hair and dark eyes. She took a deep breath and went through the door.

President William Chen stood up behind his desk. "Thank you for coming Ms. Davies," he said with a smile as if she wasn't here because the Secret Service appeared on her door step. There were a half dozen men and women in the room, all over forty which meant with rejuv they were well passed sixty. Chen extended his hand. She shook it. The two Secret Service zombies had discretely entered the room behind her.

"Please have a seat Ms. Davies. I have to say I was expecting someone who would appear a little older."

"Hard living and black magic, Mister President," she said as she sat down. Frowns greeted her. "That was a joke."

Chen gave his famous smile. "Of course," he said. He sat down again. "I must say your personal history makes for some interesting reading. One of the leaders of the Circle, back when it was Earth's dominant organization of sorcerers. Head of the Enforcers, their police arm and became involved with the Free Federation during the Resurgency. Took the amnesty when you went public in the twenty-third century Retired from the Circle's leadership with the disbanding of the Enforcers. You know, I was never entirely happy with the amnesty."

"Neither were we," she replied. "My people weren't criminals. The deal was the simplest and probably the fairest way of handling the manner."

"I can see why they called you the Queen of the Enforcers," Chen replied. "You did act as judge, jury, and executioner without regard for the law for a thousand years."

"The Circle did," she replied. "I'm not that old yet. We kept some very bad people from doing any more damage brought them to justice, people who were beyond the reach of mundane law. Mister President, I have difficulty you had me brought here so we could talk about cases that have been over for more than four hundred years. They've come back, haven't they?"

Silence. "Yes the have," said President Chen, "and you are one of the few people still alive that have actually met them."

"Varidan Reeze?"

"Disappeared and somewhat biased in any case."

"He was Kane's Hand," she said. "The Resurgency killed most of his friends. The Civil War killed or drove into exile almost everyone he had left in Free Federation Space. If he looks behind him he can see army of the honoured dead walking with him. That doesn't make him unique. I have my own axes to grind."

"Your relationship with a . . ."

"Anastazi Darkmoon," she said. "Yes, there's that. There's also the little detail of the Slaver Lords raping my sister and cutting her to pieces over about a month. Pure malice on their part. She had been Stazi's lover for a while so they killed her as a 'fuck you' to him. She could barely light a fire with The One Power. They just wanted to hurt him, anyway they could. That's why so many sorcerers adopted new names and wore warmasks. A layer of protection between their loved ones and slaver terrorists. So yes, I have my axes to grind. Ask your questions."

"Very well then. What are they like?"

"The Free Federation was not at all like it is now. They were the survivors, well trained and well educated front line fighters that survived battle after battle, honing their skills, killing, and seeing their friends die again and again and again until they approached the level of the living legends. Hard, scarred, larger than life individuals inured to cruelty and suffering. It was like they were more than human and at the same time less. Merciless forces of nature constrained by iron discipline."

"Is that admiration in your voice?"

"Probably. You don't really appreciate them until you see the Slaver Lords in action. I didn't"

"The legendary and now defunct Slaver Lords. It appears that even the Free Federation didn't appreciate their good qualities without the Slaver Lords around."

"The Long Peace lasted more than three hundred years and Darkhold's lords enjoyed a high level of popularity. The White censor their history with a deft hand. Your first contact with the Free Federation came one hundred years after the White victory, give or take. It had radically changed from the previous millenia of its existence."

"That's what I want you to talk about. What can we expect from them?"

"If they haven't changed? A society devoted to the reconquest of the Free Federation. Whatever societal wealth and resources exist will be devoted to providing a decent standard of living for their citizens and fueling the war of conquest. They'll have a comparatively high ratio of sorcerers to mundanes and everything you would expect from that. They won't have numbers and whatever strategy they pursue will take that into consideration. They will prefer a quality over quantity strategy, by preference as well as society."

A black woman with grey hair spoke up. "What did you mean about the high effects of a high ratio of sorcerers to mundanes?"

"The current Free Federation, the White government, heavily regulates what sorcerers can and cannot do, what institutions can teach sorcery and what they can teach and so on and so forth. Essentially, they just want doctors to keep the rich healthy, engineers to make FTL drives, and interrogators to pull information out of the heads of dissidents. They're afraid of another Zerakis. Earth, on the other hand, has different issues, mostly regarding religion, and the use of magic."

"There was also the small matter of vampiric mind control being used on most major governments during the twenty first century," said President Chen.

"There is that as well," she admitted, rubbing the inhibitor bracelet, "even if it did save Western Civilization."

"Nobody likes the idea of blood thirsty monsters controlling a government from the dark, even if they limit themselves to just "pushing" initiatives on several issues and even if they were right about those issues." Those issues being the petroleum and environmental collapses of the mid twenty-first century, which just narrowly missed collapsing what was then modern society. Most of the twenty-second century had been spent recovering lost ground.

"Point taken, Mister President. In any event, the important point is that science and sorcery are complimentary practices. The scientific method has aided sorcerous development and sorcerous observations aid science. Magical healing works better with actual medical knowledge, and shields are better constructed with a working knowledge of engineering and physics. Arcane devices can be combined with technological devices for superior results, not just with say FTL drives, but spell reinforced adamantium armour, rune bullets, or energized orichalcum blades. The Black have had five hundred years to build the infrastructure that will supply the War Machine, they will fuse magic and technology in a way that will probably exceed even what was done during the Slaver War. The White regime isn't really comparable for the most part."

"So I can expect an army of well trained, well equipped zealots lead by battle scarred and grudge bearing veterans looking for revenge?" asked President Chen.

She winced. "That's not really what I was trying to get at, Mister President. If they have come back, it will be with a workable plan and they will have the resources to execute it. They will overcome the Whites, come hell or high water. Anyone in their way will be in for a lot of hurt."

"I think we agree, Ms. Davies, I just don't have my rose tinted glasses on. Thank you for your assistance. You may go."

"Yes sir." She got up and headed for the door. She stopped before she left and turned around. "Mister President, if I could add just one more thing?"

"Go ahead."

"I visited the Free Federation, before the Civil War. It was glorious. I've spent the last four hundred years watching it rot and the White pick its bones. The Black aren't always right and they certainly aren't saints, but they were good neighbors, better allies, and loyal to their country. From what I've seen, I can't say any of that is true about the White. Keep that in mind when you make your decision."

"Thank you Ms. Davies, and good day."

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-06-21 01:16am, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-02-01 12:48am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Karsa Enclave
Terra
United States of America


Silent as a ghost Varidan Reeze padded across the kitchen floor. Warm sunlight streamed in through the tall windows in the adjacent dining room. There were two fridges, one porcelain white and the other stainless steel. He reached into the white one and took out a can of Coke, mayonnaise, lettuce, and hot mustard, along with a selection of cold cuts. He placed them on the counter and opened a cupboard.

"You sure eat a lot," said a small voice.

Reeze turned around and smiled at the pale, dark haired girl in the black dress. She was about twelve, give or take. "You're a very noisy little girl. Keep that up and you might get stuck with a job in Intelligence."

"You didn't answer my question," she said. "Why do you eat so much?"

"You're right, I didn't. Well, it's like this. Most Free Federation humans have all sorts of genetic enhancements. Upgraded immune systems, stronger muscles and bones, upgraded reflexes, stuff like that."

"And the skin?"

"Yeah, and the skin. Melanin production as needed. Pale when there is not much sunlight, dark when there's a lot of light. Also tweaked it so women are closer to men in size and strength. Useful stuff. Not everyone got them, but most did. Do you know about the Slaver Lords?"

She rolled her eyes. "I'm not stupid."

"Right. Well at the first part of the war the Slaver Lords were just a bunch of defectors who had joined the Naomar Kordassi. This is before Daemonstraum took over. Anyway, the Naomar used a lot of bioweapons in the first part of the war and they were able to get through with a number of them. Most of them were targeted at the sithi, who were the majority way back when and they killed a lot of them. But a few were also designed to kill humans and those without the gene work or a nearby necromancer died like that." He snapped his fingers.

"Okay. You still haven't told me."

"I'm getting to that. So there's that, and then there is the little detail that I'm a quarter Alpha. And have just about every piece of arcane tech, biomechanical, and GE enhancement and augmentation possible. I may be an old wreck compared to my youthful kick ass self, but an amped up body requires fuel. Period."

"Umm, vampire here," she said. "Well, not totally yet. I'm still changing. I don't eat much."

"Yes, but that's because your entire digestive system is being rewired to work off of blood."

"Yeah," she said as we wandered across the kitchen and opened the stainless steel fridge. She took out a bag of blood and stabbed through the top with a straw and took a sip. "So what are you doing here?"

"I'm here to talk to the big cheese."

"Ahh. Everyone's waiting for them to wake up. They've been sleeping for awhile." She pouted. "Everyone's busy."

"It's a big deal," said Reeze. "A lot of people could get killed. A lot of your family members."

"I know," she said. "It's just not fair."

Varidan smiled. "A lot of things aren't fair. Karsa, Karstein, whatever your family decides to call itself at any given moment you enjoy more privileges than most. Your family has wealth, power, and honour. And a form of vampirism that makes it fairly easy to have kids and those kids only gradually change, even if they are precocious twelve year old girls."

"Funny," she said and took another sip. "Not that the honour thing really applies. We have to hide and pretend to be someone else on a planet we've helped save a bunch of time. And that's not even talking about the Free Federation."

"You'll have to tough it out kiddo."

"Yeah," she sighed. "Is it true that Free Federats suicide rather than be captured? Like Japanese?"

"Sort of. It isn't an honour thing. You didn't want to be captured alive by the Slaver Lords, the Naomar Kordassi, or the Zarkos Elvindar."

"Pretty bad, huh?" She sucked up the last of the blood in the bag.

"Very bad."

"Huh. What's Lamech like?"

"Hard to describe. He cracks jokes, laughs in the face of danger, plots a hundred years in advance, is almost always right, enjoys killing people and mass destruction, and somehow makes the whole package seem charming. Why do you ask?"

"He's going to be here for the big to do," she said waving her hands.


The Senate
Sandresha
The Free Federation



"Fleet Admiral," said President Solem, "I'm not in the mood for bad news. I've been getting nothing but."

Chavren suppressed the urge to straighten up or check his uniform. Solem wasn't a man to disappoint. "Sir, tracking them has been difficult, but we have several probable locations. Fleets are being dispatched, under experienced battlecommanders, line officers who know their business. We have scouts out looking for the their homeworlds. We expect positive results soon, and unlike us they can't afford any setbacks."

"Fleet Admiral, I don't like suffering any setbacks. Deliver results or I'll pick one of those line battlecommanders and pin your fleet admiral's insignia on him. Understand?"

"Yes sir."

"And Admiral, I want the unreliables weeded out of the navy. I don't want any ships changing sides."

"Sir, our people are reliable. Political interference on this level will only increase discontent. We have safe guards. They work."

"They had better admiral. You just bet your career on it."
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-02-07 05:05am 

Emperor's Hand


Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Chicago
Terra
United States of America


The bar was dark, noisy, and busy. Dana Silverman headed towards the back, weaving her way past the patrons and servers. Her dark brown hair was cut short and combed neatly out of the way. Her suit was dark, conservative, and fit well. She sat down in the booth at the back.

"You're late," said the dark haired and pale man already sitting there. He also wore dark suit, although he also wore gold rimmed shades.

"Traffic," she said. "You chose the place," she reminded him.

Michael von Karstein shrugged. "You the were the one who insisted we meet." Technically, being a vampire wasn't illegal in the United States, although they were legally required to register and and receive thorough evaluations. None of the old clans were inclined to come out of the shadows and submit to a human government after conducting their affairs in secret for more than a millenia. As a consequence, the U.S. had a modest population of criminals which included beings capable of laying waste to a city.

The result was an accommodation. The government agreed informally not to look to hard for vampire clans and they behaved and kept certain intelligence agencies in the loop. Neither liked the arrangement much, but it worked. Most of the time.

"Things are stirring in the Free Fed," she said. "Those on high have their ears to the ground."

Michael was quite for a moment. "Lamech is coming. He's called a meeting between all the clan leaders. The Eldest are being woken up."

"Where's the meeting?"

"I don't know and even if I did, I wouldn't tell you."

"Don't be stupid."

"I'm not. You don't know Lamech or that part of the family. You ever met an old style Free Federation vampire overcommander? Do you know what they're like? No? Then shut the fuck up. These guys play hard ball on a level way beyond me, let alone you. I'll let you know what happens when I know, which will be when its over."

"What about Free Federation news?"

"Nothing solid. The rumor mill says family reunion."

"Alright," Silverman said. "We'll pick this up later. Keep us in the loop."

"Yeah. Sure."


Reaper class battlecruiser Kinstrife
Deep Space
Outside Free Federation Space


Ten ships flashed back into existence in the cold void of space. The largest was almost two kilometers of lean and murderous Reaper class battlecruiser, flanked by a pair of ponderous Formidable class battleships and the small blade shapes of lighter cruisers and destroyers. A calm synthetic voice issued from the flag bridge's speakers. "Arrival."

Battlecommander Jochin Vok felt his stomach begin to leap and settle. Despite every advance made by man, elvindar, sithi, and kordassi Jump continued to suck. Sensor and actuality sphere data flowed through the six cables plugged into his forearms and the four connected to his skull. Expert systems wired into his command chair, uniform, and flesh handled the data, processed it and fed it to him in a way that an augmented human brain could process. "Verify arrival of the other battle squadrons."

"Affirm," said Lieutenat Lantros from the coms station. "Com links established with Battle Squadrons Remembrance and Terrible. They are awaiting orders."

Vok accessed the total VR display and saw the clusters of ships representing the Free Federation battle squadrons floating in space, each commanded by a precious adamantium armoured Reaper battlecruiser. There was nothing else of note in this patch of the void between star systems, save for the shroud, a patch of darkness which only the vaguest of sensor traces registered at this comparatively close range.

"Launch sensor drones," Vok ordered, "and activate D-scramblers." No point in letting them run from this ambush. The Blacks had been clever enough, hiding in their synthetic shadow, but they had made too many runs through the Between to remain hidden.

"Affirm. Drone launch, D-scramblers active."

"All squadrons advance, energy sinks active, guns charged, and fields at full. Full combat sensors and jamming. Broadcast a general demand for a surrender." Captain Cadrick on the main bridge would be running the ship, leaving Vok to manage the fleet. "Full scan of the shroud. I want to know what is inside."

Captain Nolum was engaged with the sensor board. He correlated results from the various probes and ships and the fleet began to accelerate towards the shroud. "Sensor data suggests there are five large warships inside the shroud."

"Five," said Vok. "Well, unless they've found and recommissioned the Enslaver, five won't be enough."

Super Dreadnought Sun Eater
Deep Space
Outside Free Federation Space



Celene Nightfire read the names of the ships in the Free Federation battlefleet and winced. "Kinstrife. I'm sorry brother of my heart, but we're going to have to gut her."

Incaradine shrugged. "Having a ship named after me was bad for my ego anyway." The two sorcerers were striding swiftly down the darkened corridor on their way to the arcanum observation deck.

"Would it kill the Zarkos Elvindar to light their interiors decently?" Celene asked.

"No, but they can see clearly and so can we so they won't," Incaradine replied. The door slid open before them and they entered a semi-circular room with a thick armourplex window. Sensor data, relayed to the expert systems woven into their armour, was also displayed on the hull window.

"All those steel hulls," Celene whispered. "Its almost like the old days. Especially the Formidables."

"The design is almost an exact copy of the Dominator class," said Incaradine. "Steel hulls are inferior to adamantium, but still viable. The Slavers proved that just."

"Destroying the rigs was a smart move," Celene said, shifting to be all business.

"Nalhen or Lamech came up with it. They demolished all the rigs in Nazarian space, we blew most of them in rather than loose them or raided them in the last days of the war. The Zarkos continued to hit them after. Adamantium rigs are as expensive as hell to make and even with them its not cheap to make even without talking about the energy costs. They wanted to rebuild a navy quickly with a hammered industrial infrastructure and then no major corp, of the ones that were left, wanted to take the hit for building an adamantium rig without guaranteed future profits. Weren't eager for the government to spend its money on them either, not they way they hate taxes and love easy contracts. They only ever made a half assed job of rebuilding a few, a century latter complete with cost overruns, massive corruption, incompetence, and only half the job ever being finished. Steel gets the job done and there are always other demands for admantium so they stuck with it."

Celene nodded. Her braid crept over her shoulder, seemingly of its own accord, red hair and barbed silver wire flashing in the half light. "The shroud is down," she said. Gaps opened in flooring, revealing complicated frame armatures of orange-gold orichalcum and gleaming silver. The armatures wrapped around each sorcerer and contoured themselves to their bodies, forming frame chairs. A sphere of perfect black crystal rose from the floor on an orichalcum stand. The frames extended rods, connecting themselves into the crystal's base. Celene's lips twitched. "Cry havoc," she said, the ghost of an ancient joke on her lips.

Incaradine smiled back. "No mercy, no pity, no quarter," he replied, the motto and warcry the Dark Guard had adopted during the Slaver War.

Celene signaled the bridge. "We stand ready."

Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2007-02-08 11:16pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Imperial Overlord
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PostPosted: 2007-02-08 06:55am 

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Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Karsa Enclave
Terra
United States of America


Lamech looked around, humming to himself a tune in a language that was more than four thousand years dead. The Karsa had chosen a nice little mansion for themselves and it was a beautiful day. Too bright for his engineered eyes, but shield magics or simple sun glasses could take care of that. Multilayered shields with a stealthing outer layer attenuated the incoming sunlight into something that would not eventually burn away his too sensitive skin. It would have been nice of the Kordassi to have been able to finish fine tuning their work on vampires before the Devourers came and issued in an era of interstellar barbarism twenty millenia ago, but not to be.

The doors swung open at his approach. The von Karstiens, as the Terran branch of the family had been called for the last millenia or so, were lining up to great him. They were not his descendants, but the ties between them were close. They had fought the Night Prince and Rhavan Hellborn on Earth and later they had crushed the Slaver Lords in a long and bloody war.

They were pale, like most vampires not trying to change their appearance, and predominately dark haired. The dress leaned to expensive casual. Lamech himself was wearing dark pants and a dark blue shirt. "My friends, it is good to see you again."

"A shared pleasure," said Istvan, who had helped in running down Slaver operations on Earth after the Resurgency. "The eldest are stirring from their long sleep. The will soon arise and greet you properly."

"I will be pleased to speak with them again."

"Please, join us within great lord." Lamech inclined his head respectfully and the crowd of vampires and semi-vampires parted to admit the eldest of all vampires to the house. Several children rubber necked as he came in.

"Witch Hunter Overcommander."

Varidan Reeze bowed low. "Savior of Earth. I am honoured you remember me."

The vampire smiled at the Reeze's choice of title. "False modesty is inappropriate overcommander. Your tenure as Kane's Hand alone would make you memorable let alone your ability to defeat The Killing Machine in hand to hand combat."

"Against Zahn I had a few victories and a great number of defeats," said Reeze.

"You chose neutrality."

"I did. I was already on Terra and felt no compulsion to end my life here in favor of spilling Free Federation blood. I slept badly enough as it was."

"And now?"

"I remember the Grand Alliance as it was. What the Free Federation has become is not what I lead men and women to their deaths to defend."

"So what now, Varidan Reeze?"

"May I die in harness."

Lamech smiled. "I thought that would be your answer. Now sleep. We will speak again when you awaken." The former Internal Security agent collapsed bonelessly, but was caught by an invisible force. "I need a private room with a bed or a couch," said Lamech. "I have work to do."

Reaver class Battlecruiser Kinstrife
Deep Space
Near Free Federation Space


The shroud dropped. A host of different sensors gathered data on the ships as they began to accelerate toward Battle Squadron Terrible. The data and computer extrapolations based upon it raced up Battlecommander Vok's links. His mouth went dry. "Verify sensor results," he commanded.

"Verifying," said Captain Elena Suul. There was a long pause. "Results confirmed. Four battlecruisers, Reaver derivations, and the Sun Eater. All have active energy sinks, force fields, and shields. They are engaging in jamming."

"Coms signal from the Sun Eater," said Lantros.

"Put it through," said Vok.

The black armoured form of a Zarkos Elvindar warlord formed in front of Vok. Savaya ith Kazasan was not wearing her blade crowned helmet, revealing the cruel and alien beauty of her features. "Out of love for my consorts and our children, I offer you mercy in the name of the Grand Alliance. Surrender now and you will be treated well and without vengeance or cruelty. You are outmatched and serve masters unworthy of loyalty. Refuse my offer at your own peril."

"The navy of the Free Federation does not surrender to murderous witches, no matter who they may be sleeping with. Your offer is rejected."

"The Free Federation is dead," Savaya replied coldly. "It's killers wear its corpse as a disguise. It falls upon the Lords of Darkhold to perform the necessary resurrection." The communication ended.

Vok licked his lips and studied the projection of the Sun Eater. The largest warship ever fielded by a Zarkos Elvindar house, the monster ship was two slim warcruiser hulls projecting from a central engineering section like two tines of a fork. The monster ship was a little over three kilometers in length and possessed the blade-like radiator fins used as heat dumps by the Zarkos for their high capacity energy sinks. There was the small mercy of the ship not being adamantium hulled, but that was more than offset by the reinforcing and protective runes all over the ship's armour and superstructure. Only Daemonstraum's command ship, the Enslaver, was larger and more fearsome.

"Target the Reavers," Vok ordered. "We'll take the easy kills and strip her of her escorts and then finish her." He tried to sound confident. He didn't feel it.
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-02-09 04:46am 

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Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Shadowcatch
The Spike
Free Federation Space



"Alright," said Overcommander Vorlar Kadril, "some of you are new. There are two reasons why there are so many new people in the room. The good reason is that this unit is expanding. The bad news is that Legate Zahn, bloodnamed The Killing Machine, opened a few spots in this unit the hard way. This isn't a safe assignment ladies and gentlemen. Darkhold's lords are killable, but they tend to go down hard and that's who we are after."

"Hopefully not all of them," said Rike from the back of the command center.

"That's Rike, Slayers' Guild and his crew. He graduated from Darkhold with the fancy death head neck tabs back before the Civil War. He's killed honest to God Slaver Lords. He also remembers that the good old days were better than what we have now, so he doesn't exactly love us." That brought out a low chuckle from the room. "Seriously, he hates our guts but knows his shit."

"The general situation is this: the Black are coming back, in strength. They're dropping the hammer all over the place and showing the flag. They've been pretty careful to avoid collateral damage, not counting the whole Babylon Towers bullshit."

"You mean your Babylon Towers bullshit," said Rike.

"That's not what the media says," said Kadril.

"The mainstream media is all owned by the corporations who half own your politicians, excepting our beloved President of the Senate who happens to be both mogul and politician, combing both halves of the ruling rot in one corrupt whole. There credibility is low. Net gossip and underground fingers the Directorate, as do conspiracy loonies. They're actually getting traction with this, because they actually have supporting evidence of this since it happens to be the truth. Fearless leader here tried to ex out The Killing Machine with orbital weapons. And fucked it up."

"Enough," said Vorlar. "Rike doesn't exactly love this assignment. He does have a point. The Black has been leaving witnesses and minimizing collateral. Mainstream media sources have low credibility at the moment. They're trying to manufacture discontent. The navy's running down their forward operating positions, we have to shut down their underground operations and stop their strikes."

"Why can't we run them down in the Between?" asked a sithi with a captain's insignia.

"Because the Between ain't empty," said a man with the diagonal hash marks of banner sergeant. "Ain't just the natives either. There's weak spots in some of the borders with a few hells. There's a reason only heavy hitters travel very far through the Between."

"That's half of it," said Kadril. "The other is that we've been taking losses from the Black when we try to pursue through it. The Demon Wolf pack and the Guardians of the Black Throne." The room stirred uneasily. "Yeah, its not exactly good news propaganda wise that Zerakis has taken sides and it ain't with us, but that's not much of a surprise. Not our worst problem." He flicked on a holo display. A logo floated in mid air.

"Transtream Transportation, a Black shell company set up over a decade ago mostly by apparent immigrants from Elvindar and Terrani space as well as a few locals. Agents travelled all over the place, made contacts and came into close proximity with all sorts of prominent people." More names spawned in thin air, names of important and powerful companies, corporations, and politicians. "Then, of course, is the people they then came in contact with." The names continued to multiply, filling the air.

"Yeah, that's a lot and too many of them are far too important. The Directorate has to investigate all of these possibilities and go hard at them. That's going to eat up manpower, hinder a lot of operations, and piss off a lot of powerful people. That might even be the whole point of the damn op. We're taking hits people and that's gotta end or the bosses are going to graveyard us, or our careers, faster than Black assassins."

Super Dreadnought Sun Eater
Deep Space
Outside Free Federation Space


Savaya locked her helmet into place. "Bring the shields, force fields, and energy sinks to full combat status. Power to all guns, set them cycle at maximum sustainable rate at maximum power. Activate both bores. Status on arcana chambers?"

"All three manned and standing by," said Kerlaros.

"First is two reinforce the shields. Second and third are to stand by for offensive action. Status on the hell furnace?"

"Normal output," said Kerlaros. "As expected. It's not like we didn't test this hag thoroughly."

"First time in combat is first time in combat, brother mine. Even if my beloved husband had his hand in its design." She checked the range. They were outside the normal edge of effective long range combat. "Begin firing with the mains. Split fire against those Slaver battleship knock offs. Hold the bores in reserve. All Reavers, target and kill a ship. Leave the Reapers for last."

Massive turrets holding ship killing variable frequency lasers shifted towards their assigned targets. Firing at maximum power, invisible beams streaked through space at distant targets. More than half of the beams struck home with brilliant flashes as force fields deflected and attenuated part of the beams.

The remaining energy was mostly absorbed by energy sinks and distributed in a shell around the ship to be radiated away. So powerful were the Sun Eater's guns that even at this range that wasn't enough to stop the beams. The last layer of defence, shields generated through an arcanetech network of mage crafted generators powered by the starship's enhanced fuse reactors. The shield network was pushed to near critical levels by the strikes.

The waste heat as a percentage of energy expended in powering the guns was minimal, the total amount was immense. Arcanetech coolers, energy sinks, and dumps to the main energy sink field bled most of it away quickly. Ten seconds later the guns were ready to fire again.
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Imperial Overlord
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PostPosted: 2007-02-12 04:15am 

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Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Super Dreadnought Sun Eater
Deep Space
Outside Free Federation Space


Savaya watched the data stream. "Reapers, halve acceleration. Kill the small fry." The other two squadrons were almost within range. "Leave the battleships and the Reavers to us. Guns, continue on the battleships."

Invisible beams from the Reavers' knifed into the cruiser and destroyer escorts. The weaker force fields of the smaller vessels did little to deflect full power blasts from guns built to wreck the mightiest ships in the Naomar Kordassi fleet. Energy sinks were pushed towards overload and the shields were near collapse. The ships hadn't even entered missile range yet.

The Reavers' soaked up the counter fire with little difficulty. They had the force fields and energy sinks of their Reaver origins coupled to a superior shield network and power plant. It would need more than a few long range shots from inferior vessels to collapse their defences.

The Sun Eater's guns fired, cooled and recharged, and fired again. Beams even more powerful than the Reavers' smashed through force field's in brilliant flashes of light. The beam's fury was only partially absorbed by the taxed energy sinks and the the punched through the failing shields. Steel vaporized under their hellish fury as the Sun Eater's guns left their mark on the battleships' armour. "Burn through," said Kerlaros, a slight smile on his face. "No armour penetration."

"Mundane steel," said Savaya dismissively. "Gut them and bring the bow to bear on one of those cruisers. That one," she said touching an indicator glyph floating around here. "It's been getting off lightly." She watched the range indicators. They were nearing the edge of the missile envelope. "Both bores."

The Sun Eater's guns continued firing. The reduced range meant less energy was being scattered away by the force fields. Straining energy sinks only absorbed a fraction of the beams' energy and the tatters of the regenerating shield network provided almost no defence at all. The guns tore holes in armour and blasted open compartments as well as wrecking energy sinks, field generators, shield wardnodes, sensors, point defence clusters, and a main gun battery.

Extreme range fire struck the Reavers, increasing the load on their energy sink networks but failing to damage the ships. "Sister dearest," said Kerlaros archly, "we appear to be taking additional fire. And entering missile range."

"The bow is aligned," said Yestren from a console niche ahead and slightly to the left of the two senior members of House Merezen's ruling cabal. "Awaiting your will."

The Sun Eater's guns fired again. The damaged battleships were even more vulnerable to the Zarkos Elvindar warship's heavy guns. They tore massive wounds in armour, wrecking weapons and defences as well as killing hundred and ravaging power transmission and life support systems. Wreckage and atmosphere spilled from the wounded ships. Savaya watched the image as her helmet projected it onto her eyes. "Guns, gut the battleships and finish them." She paused for brief moment as targeting data scrolled. "Murder the cruiser," she ordered.

Kilometer long linear accelerators fired in each of Sun Eater's bows. Two slugs of blue-white hell, glowing like stars, flew through space at a substantial fraction of the speed of light before smashing into the lightly damaged cruiser. A shell of expanding plasma and white hot metal lit the void where the cruiser had once been.

Cruel laughter drifted across the Sun Eater's command deck as the Zarkos Elvindar celebrated the kill. "So much for the Dragon's Teeth," said Kerlaros. "Launch missiles and finish the wounded."

The Reavers fired their own spinal mounted accelerators at heavily damaged cruisers and destroyers as their heavy turrets continued their murderous work. Magnetic accelerators from the Reavers and the Sun Eater flung missiles out of tubes and into space with more than enough kinetic energy to be fearsome weapons in their own right. Fusion drives kicked in and drove them towards their wounded targets.

"I taste blood on my tongue and laugh," Kerlaros quoted softly. "I raise my knife and murder worlds. My blood is fire and my malice is ice. I am Zarkos. Fear me."


Karsa Enclave
Terra
United States of America



Elizabeth slipped into the room with stealth a cat would envy. Varidan was sleeping on a couch and Lamech was in a chair beside him. The Eldest of All Dragons turned his head slightly. "I see you."

Elizabeth abandoned stealth. She craned he neck for a better view. "You made him young again."

"Yes," said Lamech, "I did."

"Was it hard?"

"You are a very impertinent child."

"That's not an answer."

"No it isn't. Yes, it's very hard. You probably won't be able to do it. Most vampires never can."

She padded closer for a better look. "Why did you put him to sleep?"

"Because widespread mass alterations hurt," he said. "And then there's shock to the system. Better for him to wake up young and pain free than be conscious through that hell. The end result is pretty nice though."

"So what now?"

"I travel with the deadliest assassin of his generation for the rest of the trip. You are nosy."

"Yes."

"Are you indulged in everything?"

"Just about."

"I think you're not being entirely truthful."

"I don't ask for more than I think I can get."

"Clever girl."

"Yes. Can I ask a question?"

"By all means."

"Do you remember being human? What it was like?"

"Yes I do," said Lamech. "Being dull, weak, and frail. Cold and hungry too much of the time. And afraid. Afraid of so many things and understanding so little."

"You didn't like it."

"Compared to how I am now? Of course I don't like it."

"So you're grateful for what happened to you?"

"Now that I understand, yes."

"Was it scary?"

"It was terrifying. Bright flash of light and I end up strapped to a metal table with all sorts of stuff getting pumped into my body and frog demons prancing around. Of course, considering the events of the time, the whole spiral arm should be grateful that things worked out the way they did."

"Well, you didn't save civilization. Or the kith."

"Too late for that. The Devourers were already slaughtering everything by the time we were ready to fight. Collapse was inevitable, if we won. And if we lost, well no one was going to be left to worry about things like that. Those were bad days."

"But you won."

"We did. The kith were exterminated. The sithi and kordassi civilizations fell and it was thousands of years before they got into space again. A hundred of us walked onto the Anvil, seven walked back. The best of us we left behind as dust and none of my friends left. We came back to an Earth alienated from everything we had ever known."

"That sucks," she said.

"So do we."

"That's an awful joke."

"You have an eternity to hear a thousand bad variations on it. Better start developing a thick skin now."

"That's not fair."

"I too said that as a child."

"What did your parents say to that?"

"Fairness is in the hands of the gods."

"That's not an answer."

"I didn't like it either." He shrugged. "Still, the occasional bad joke isn't that much to put up with when its packaged with god-like power."

"True."
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Imperial Overlord
 Post subject:
PostPosted: 2007-02-15 12:40am 

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Joined: 2004-08-19 04:30am
Posts: 11477
Location: The Tower at Charm
Reaver class Battlecruiser Kinstrife
Deep Space
Near Free Federation Space


Vok watched Terrible's squadron die under the awful fury of the spinal mounts and swarming missiles. Only Terrible itself remained. "Get me analysis on those weapons," he croaked. Somehow his throat had gone terribly dry. Spectragraphic and divinitory data flashed in front of his eyes.

"Preliminary results confirm that the spinal mounts are havoc blast generators," said Captain Elena Suul. "The results are inconsistent with any other kind of weapon. It appears the Black have overcome the difficulties in producing reliable arcanetech havoc generators. The energy required to charge the guns and maintain force fields and shields at those levels-"

"are beyond the means of conventional power generation, especially these havoc generators." The Sun Eater was now leading the attack, her ship killing guns flaying the closest targets while the Reavers trailed behind her, their own guns hammering the ships of Remembrance's squadron. Two blue-white beams flashed from the Sun Eater and a single beam from each of the Reapers. The disruptor beams stripped the Terrible of her defences and ravaged her sensors and weapon systems.

Sun Eater drank in the incoming fire that came her way, most it being deflected by her force fields. The monster vessels energy sinks slowly filled with absorbed energy as steel flashed into vapor under the hammer of her guns. More fire went out at the Reapers, but they were further away and harder targets. Data streaming from Terrible had dropped to nothing, but sensor and actuality sphere data showed the ship to have been crippled by the massed disruptor beams. The Reaver was now a minor threat at most, until that damage was repaired, and a prime target for boarding and capture.

Vok consulted the data display. He signaled Forcecommander Hssesu Sleen in command of the destroyer Rapid. "Forcecommander you are ordered to make an immediate retreat out of the combat zone until you are free to jump back to Free Federation Space and report our fate and all data of this encounter to naval high command."

The link crackled. "Understood battlecommander. We are beginning our withdrawal. Good luck."

"Good speed Rapid." On the display ahead Sun Eater drank down more fire, her energy sinks glowing on the infrared, and struck back with a volley that gutted the strike cruiser Sabre. He activated the general channel. "All ships, hold the line. We have to buy time." The Sun Eater entered the edge of the missile envelope. Missiles launched from scores of tubes as Vok watched the beginning of the end.


The Roost Restaurant
Chicago
Terra
The United States of America



Dana Silverman walked into the roof top restaurant. The maitre d' greeted her. "Silverman, party of two," she said. The place was dimly lit and offered a great view of downtown Chicago, which was half of this place's appeal. The other was that it deliberately catered to vampires, which made this an unusual choice for von Karstein.

"This way ma'am," the maitre d' said, pointing her towards the windows at the northern edge of the restaurant. There was no sign of the vampire and no empty table either. Her heart almost stopped when she saw who the maitre d' was leading her to.

"Christ," she whispered.

"Loki, actually," said Lamech. The Lord of Earth was wearing a dark suit with no tie and a shirt of dark red silk. "Sit down, there a few things that need to be communicated to your superiors."

"Where is von Karstein?"

"Gone, like the rest of the his family. And my soldiers. And a fair chunk of the most powerful of the remaining elders. Except for the ones who are in cozy with Mother Russia."

"What? Slow down and start again."

"Certainly," said Lamech. He took a drink from thick, blood red concoction in a tall crystal glass. The vampire then took a bite from what appeared to be a bloody variation of steak tartare. "Go ahead and order something. The human food is excellent, although not at all nourishing for those of my ilk."

Dana took a deep breath. "You said you were leaving."

"Those of my blood and the von Karsteins are leaving. Some others will be joining us. You will find that the balance of power will have drastically slipped to favor your government. I would suggest some means of letting the rest come in from the cold would be the best way to go."

"I'll pass that along to my superiors," she said as she waved away the waiter.

"You really should eat something."

She pulled out her phone. "Excuse me-"

"No," he said. "Stay. You're not phoning anyone until I'm gone."

"You're not serious."

"Your security leaks like a sieve," said Lamech. "Well, maybe not quite that bad. And the Directorate has assassins on world. So you can obey or I can paralyze you. Your choice."

She sat down. There was no point in arguing with him. "So you're taking them with you to fight in the war?"

"Mostly von Karsteins and my people. A few old fossils who aren't fitting in, a few others here and there. The part that matters to you is that all the powerful ones that aren't working for the Russians are going. No more stand off." He sipped his drink. "You'll be rid of us. After the last little odds and ends are tied off, the destiny of Earth will be entirely in the hands of its baseline inhabitants. It's pretty much the cruelest punishment I can think off. Try not to fuck up the planet too badly, I still like to visit on occasion."

"My superiors will want to speak with you."

"What on Earth gives you the idea that I want to speak with a couple of Intelligence apparatchiks who will be busy massaging the results so it fits the preconceptions of their superiors?"

"I wasn't speaking of them. I meant the president." At least that was what her standing orders were, on the unlikely event that she ever met him. She hadn't seriously imagined she was ever going to convey the offer.

Lamech cocked his head. "I suppose I could make time for him. Set it up. I'll be in touch."

"Sure," she said. "I speak with him all the time," she said sarcastically. "No problem."

"I'm sure you'll manage," he said. "After all, its not everyday that your president gets to speak to someone with real power."
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