STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Rogue 9 »

Bridge, NRS Courageous

Sir Isaac Newton is the deadliest son of a bitch in space!

Courageous hove clear of Tyche to have the Yrch mothership go up in spectacular fashion just as the firing solution was plotted. Captain Grrashrakar snarled briefly, but no matter. “Gunnery control, retask to Target 1149 and fire main battery.”

“Conn, Gunnery, aye,” came the reply as the helm obliged by slightly adjusting heading. “Firing now.”

The comm link established with the escorting cruisers crackled in response. “Dalton, firing now!”

The familiar thrum of the spinal mount came through the deck plating as the immense capacitors discharged, flinging a trio of ferrous slugs downrange at fractional c. The ship didn’t have a chance. It was well (and intentional) that the captain had called a target that did not have the planet or friendly ships behind it, as the projectiles ripped out the other side and began tumbling toward a low solar orbit, moving too fast to be caught in Nashtar’s gravity. NRS Dalton’s heavy missile batteries began raking other Yrch vessels, soon joined by the Oppenheimer.

Fortunately for the Intrepid, meanwhile, it’s orbit had it approaching the far side of the planet when the Yrch jumped in, trailed by the Kensington. The carrier hove into a higher orbit to slow its progress back around toward the battle zone, as its strike craft boiled from its cavernous bays and fairly skimmed the atmosphere coming back around to engage.

The comm unit crackled. “Guardian to Courageous. First Squadron is moving to engage the enemy.”

Commodore Trevor keyed his comm. “Flag to Guardian, acknowledged. Stowing spinal mount.” The Yrch were getting too close to the planet to safely use the gigantic accelerator cannons anyway, he reflected. “Conn, Flag. Stow the spinal mount and move in to engage with broadside batteries.”

The massive battleship lumbered into position behind the cruisers, it’s port side beam cannons roaring to life as they came to bear. The fury of Nashtar Space Command came down on the surviving parasite craft in short order as they desperately broke to complete their mission...
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

Isenvadejo, Yrch/Amazo-X Space

"So, the teams are settled?" Senior Manager May spoke over the din of several dozen Middle Managers all furiously trying to one-up each other. They weren't, but he was getting tired of the bickering and wanted to move things along. He still had an entire, three - well, two now - pronged offensive to plan, after all. The Middle Managers, faceless and interchangeable to one such as he, shuffled their feet and slowly clumped together, forming two different teams based on whatever internal drama he was choosing to ignore this week. May made sure to give a pointed enough look at a couple of the worst offenders so they might not cause trouble at the front, and shifted a few of the heavy hitters around to make things symmetrical in his mind.

"The outcome-" not "objective", an objective was something you could fail at - "-of this operation is to enact an extremely hostile takeover of one planet in each of our enemys' space. You will all be expected to lend support to our ground-level customer service representitives at any time they might need it, while fending off approaches from rival corporate bodies. The unusual circumstances you will be in require you to display adaptability, lean thinking, and agile balance, but you are not to violate our core operating precepts at any time. I will now begin handing out your assignments." He'd spent some time actually drawing these up, rather than letting one of his interns or Google sort it out; neither would have understood his vision.

"Paul," one of the Middle Managers raised his hand, "It says here my task group is going to deliver to..." he squinted at the piece of paper an intern had handed him, "Zozo, which is one of the most competitive spaces in the UISC. There are plenty of untapped markets, all we'd need to do is outreach to one of those..."

"Jim," May said, and the Middle manager looked confused for a second, "Jim, Jim, Jimmy Jim Jim. They'll be expecting us to disrupt an untapped market; they'll never see us coming. Is it not how Sun Tzu said, that the most prized thing in war is surprise?" 'Jim' (whose name was actually Steve) brightened up. You could never go wrong with a Sun Tzu quote, even if it wasn't, so to speak, actually a Sun Tzu quote. "Any further questions?" There were none, everyone too impressed with his approximate knowledge of Ancient Chinese literature and the sheer brilliance of his plan to dare to venture a question.* "Very well, get to it!"





Isenvadejo, Yrch Ship 33-19

The Manager's shuttle had barely touched down before the man himself was striding down the ramp, power armour making him taller and more imposing than even the heavy Yrch marines acting as honour guard. "Drut," the man said, "Is the company ready for departure?"

The addressed Yrch didn't stand sharply to attention - Middle Manager Steve didn't like "encouraging an overly formal atmosphere" - but did nod his head slightly. "The last of the Khemplari departments are at full readiness," he said. That was a lie; none of the Khemplari ships had been brought back to full effectiveness, but telling Steve that wouldn't solve anything. "The system migration was completed ahead of schedule," another lie, it had taken twice as long, but the schedule had been changed to make it look like they were ahead. "Bob and Phil have sent you messages; they are available in your cabin. Have we a target?" He really hoped so, Department 33-19 had yet to be allowed on a single raid, and he yearned to prove himself to the LON BEZO and their emisarries.

"Better than that," Steve said, striding out towards the Manager's Office, "We have an outcome. The combined might of the full company will fall upon the protectionists in the UISC, and we will grant them the gift of free trade. Let me show you." They entered the Office, and Steve punched a command into the main projector.

Drut rubbed his eyes; if he was reading this right... "We are to attack their most heavily defended point?"

Steve grinned. "Exactly. They shall never see it coming - just like Sun Tzu says: "Fall upon your enemy's fastnesses, and deny them."" Having actually read Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Drut knew that wasn't in it, but kept his mouth shut. "Don't feel ashamed, it took me a moment to truly grasp the operation's brilliance." Drut remained silent. Steve coughed, and continued. "I will draw up a detailed plan while we are en route; have the company set off as soon as the drives are charged."

"Yes," Drut said, trying to see the true wisdom in Steve's plan. Surely, there had to be something? Drut had only led ten thousand Yrch in battle, Steve was entrusted with far more and was an emissary as well. So why did it feel like they were about to make a massive mistake?

-

The combined fleet floated, finally ready; one last late arrival, a raider from Nashtari space, had just gotten into formation. Three great Yrch motherships, crude approximations of Theophanic Thoriktos, herded swarms of new mass-produced gunboats. Those were half-finished things, skeletal, without armour plate or shielding - but there were many of them, nearly eighty in total. Floating above them were the department's factory ships, still churning out a few gunboats; three of the massive boxy things were assigned to the Endeavour-bound part of the strike force, their managers acutely aware that they were perhaps the force's weakest link. The Endeavourites had plenty of practice blowing up factory ships, after all. Six Yrch cruisers completed that department, each to be the anchor for a gunboat flotilla.

On the other side of the system, the captured Khemplari ships sat in space, minus the single stealth ship that had been diverted to Amazo-x headquarters. The centrepiece of the Zozo Department was the Haven-class battlecarrier now known as 551-1116, with a single factory ship working on the rest of the force: two Khemplari cruisers, five of their destroyers, and more than thirty gunboats. It was a force substantial enough to conquer their target system, or so the planners hoped. Most of the captured ships bore hasty weld-marks and open decks, where Khemplari systems had been torn out and replaced with Amazo-X and Yrch equivalents.

There was no single flurry of movement, more a gradual slow shift of ships. The gunboats docked with their carriers, which slowly moved out to the edge of the system, escorts trailing behind them. One by one, the ships flashed away, making the first of their jumps towards their targets. On board some of the ships, the Yrch began their war chants; managers quickly silenced them, but still space itself echoed with their wrath.

The Yrch offensive had begun.

Little did they know, they'd also revealed their position; that very late arrival triggered a broadcast just before it left, but it was too late for any of the warships to respond. Besides, big broadcasts happened all the time, it was probably just some speech or other...



FORCE DECLARATION:
The following fleets are moving to attack Crossroads Inc. and myself.
Targetted at Crossroads, heading to Zozo:
560 total points,
500 base points
Consisting of:
1x Haven-class Battlecarrier, 45+5J+5C3 each
2x Amazo-X factory ships, (including Elon's), 50 each
2x Principle-class Cruisers, 20+2H+3J+5C3 each
4x Sentinel-I-class Destroyers, 15+1H+3J+1C3 each
1x Sentinel-II-class Destroyer, 15+1H+7J+2C3 each
48x Yrch Gunboats, 5 each (spawned ships)
25 points of troops - 20 Yrch, 5 Amazo-X

Targetted at VX-145, heading to Endeavour:
870 total points,
780 base points
Consisting of:
3x Yrch Motherships, 30+5J+5C3 Each,
3x Amazo-X Factory Ships, 50 each,
6x Yrch Cruisers, 20+5H+5C3 each,
84x Yrch Gunboats, 5 each
300 points of troops: 95 Amazo-X, 205 Yrch





*Actually, it was because Steve's health insurance had just been cancelled and none of the others wanted to risk it.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Rogue 9 »

Bridge of the NRS Pitch
Deep Space


“Conn, Sensors! Detecting a Nashtari subspace beacon, sir. It reads as one of the trackers we were told to watch for.”

“Sensors, Conn, aye. Do we have a source?”

“Aye, Captain. The tracker got nav data.”

“Very good. Forward to Navigation. Helm, Conn. As soon as Nav has a fix, set course for the beacon and engage slipspace drive.”

Isenvadejo, Yrch/Amazo-X Space
Outer Solar Orbit


“Conn, Helm. Emergence at the target in one minute.”

“Helm, Conn, aye. General quarters. Rig ship for silent running.”

The general quarters klaxon sounded briefly as the lighting turned red. Anything that could emit an extraneous electromagnetic signal shut down as the jump clock counted down to zero.

The ship emerged from slipspace and immediately started drifting. “Sensors, Conn, report!”

“Conn, Sensors. There’s a lot of subspace disturbance, like a whole lot of ships just jumped all at once within the last hour or so. No sign of the beacon.”

“Aye. Conduct a thorough passive scan of the system, see what there is to see.”

“On it, sir. It’s definitely inhabited, picking up EM traffic from the inner system.”

“Aye. Comms, Conn, can you make sense of the signals?”

“Conn, Comms. It’s encrypted, but it looks like an old commercial scheme, should be able to break it in short order.”

“Very good.”
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

The colony of ZoZo was young and small compared to much of the galaxy, but still it was growing quickly being fed by a near constant stream of supplies and manufactured materials. The large central organizational facilities and Star ports were huge, impressive looking constructions, and the fabricated residential habs spread outwards in all directions as in the distance, construction of the planets first centralized Arcology could be seen. Yet despite all this activity and construction, measured against the planet itself, the colony was but a tiny pinpoint on the surface of the world. For those that lived and came to the colony, those that had wished to live in more ‘remote’ areas found it easy to go virtually unnoticed until they needed some important supplies or medical attention. Of course, there were those that truly desired to ‘get away from it all’ and had moved further out to live off the wilderness. And then, there were those few that had come to the colony simply to try and loose society all together.

Far off from the central colony, almost on the other side of the planet, one continental plate pushed upwards against another creating a far-reaching chain of jagged mountains. Here and there were the two plates clashed, fissures were visible, some were young volcanos, others were areas of hot water and natural springs. Near one such spring, just on the edge of a long expanding forest was a large outcrop of rock. Hidden neatly under the rock was a modestly sized, yet rather elegantly crafted house built of felled logs and roughhewn stone. Around it was a series of gardens and well-worn paths leading through an expansive grassy field. At the top of one such field lay someone looking up into the evening sky and the endless space beyond. Their species looked to be Tejlini, or at least perhaps a Tejlini if you found one 7ft tall and with bits of slightly glowing machinery showing through bare patches on their otherwise fur covered body.
Their name was Ruco Corinthala, and they were probably the single deadliest entity on the entire planet.

The sound of foot falls could be heard in the grass near by and soon a pair of rough worn hiking boots came to rest near where Ruco was laying in the grass. He tilted his head and looked upwards.
“Come to j-join me star gazing?” he said, his voice stuttering somewhat, his words occasionally jolting like skips on a record player. Looking down at him was someone just as tall as himself, though for a Qwintoni, that wasn’t too usual although most were not quite as large as the one currently standing overhead. Their face was covered here and there in a few knicks and scars, their form looked as if it had spent a lifetime in the military, which, for Jakenenth Kenjtala, they had.
“That would be nice, but not just yet, the wood pile was looking low, and it Is probably best to keep ahead of things.” He said, hefting a very large and very heavy looking Ax on his shoulder resting against the bony fins sprouting from his shoulder blades. Ruco sat up and tilted his head over to look at the wood pile, looked back at Jakenenth and then stood up. Before Jakenenth could respond or protest the coming action, Ruco had strode across to the nearest tree, seemed to size it up, and with a movement almost too fast to be seen by the naked eye, punched it. The area of the trunk immediately exploded outwards in a shower of splinters as the tree, almost 20 feet tall, slowly began to fall forwards. Just as the large trunk was about to land squarely on his head, he punched upwards, neatly cleaving the falling log in two parts that felt to the ground on either side with a heavy thud. Jakenenth watched it all happen in the space of a few seconds as Ruco looked up from the two smoking halves of tree trunk.
“There w-we are, a m-much more ef-efficient method, can you join me now?” He said as he padded back to where he had stood up from. Jakenenth chuckled as he soon followed and sat down on the cool grass.
“How could I say no,” He said as the two settled down and looked skyward. The sky was clear, and the stars easily could be seen, on a planet as pristine and new to civilization as ZoZo, there were virtually no pollutants or artificial light to dim the night sky, and the great spine of the galactic disk could be seen arching high overhead. The two laid and watched for some time as the light from the sun went down more and more.
“Anything interesting tonight?” Jakenenth asked as he continued to watch. Ruco, seeing with eyes that could look in ways few others could imagine, stared deeply. One of his eyes looked normal enough, the other eye however looked to be just a glassy metallic orb, around it much of the skin and surrounding fur was missing. A number of parts on his body were like this, places were long ago his synthetic body had ‘over heated’ causing the flesh to burn off and never fully grow back. Most of these parts were along the network of energy conduits that ran across his legs and arms, spreading out from the central power core in his chest. It too was ‘meant’ to be covered, but the same incident had cause part of it to be exposed and visible. Ruco continued to stare upwards for some time before commenting.

“The UISC patrol force appears to be over head, strange I didn’t notice them earlier, it looks like the ThunderBird is the lead cruiser tonight judging by the markings.” He said as Jakenenth tried to look up at the same patch of space. He could dimly make out only the smallest pin prick of light moving across the sky, but nothing else.
Jakenenth sighed as he laid back. It was moments like these that reminded him of how much his life had changed. Deep inside he was still a soldier, sitting and watching the night sky wasn’t something he had ever spent much time doing in his old life. He chuckled as he considered that statement, his life had ended and began again several times it felt like. First during the Tajlan War when he had joined the freedom movement within the Imperial Military, and then when he joined directly with the Trathalan forces working to free their planet. Years later, his life had changed yet again, and almost ended when those he had helped put into power began to purge those that had worked to get them there. He had escaped detention and death by the slimmest of margins by being on Jahlin when it had all happened, and from their made a life in exile away from those looking for the ‘Traitors’ to the mighty Tajlan Empire. The life he created there was one he could have been happy with, working in a remote fishing town, away from the military power in charge, living just for himself on his own.
And then, and then even that life had come to an end. Late one night when he was out fishing and in his nets, had pulled up from deep in the ocean the soaking form of Ruco, someone whose own life had clearly ended and started again. Those first few months had passed in a blur. Jakenenth had remembered how ‘broken’ Ruco had been in those early days. His mind barely functioning, barely able to talk or form words, and the screaming, the terrors that would come to him when he tried to sleep. It had taken Jakenenth some time to realize that there seemed to be two minds inside the entity he had found, each one fighting for control. One meek, shy, broken, the other cruel, vengeful, and remorseless. For months Jakenenth had done what he could to help with Ruco’s mental stability, but then one night, the military had finally caught up with them. They had been captured, shackled, and taken away to the installation at Dregmaw island. And then, Jakenenth shivered at the memory.

“Is everything ok? Your h-heart rate just increased r-rapidly.” The voice stirred Jakenenth from his musings as he turned his head.
“Ah, sorry, was just remembering something from the past.” He said, the comment causing Ruco to pause briefly. The two said nothing for a while before Jakenenth spoke up breaking the silence.
“How is, eh, how is ‘he’ doing these days? You haven’t had any, issues, in a while it seems. I know I try not to ask too much about it but I still worry.” He said, trying his best to be tactful on the sensitive topic.
“N-not much has c-changed, other than e-each of us trying to t-trust the other. As I h-have said, ever since Dregmaw, w-w have come to an un-understanding. At l-least, as much as anyone c-can with s-something that has c-committed such a-acts.” Ruco said and, for the briefest of moments seemed to twitch slightly. Jakenenth said nothing more on the topic and went back to looking up into the night. He was starting to doze sleepily on the cool grass when he felt something warm near him. Turning and looking to his side he saw a small electrical arch passing across one of Rucos exposed energy conduits. It faded out, replaced by another one arching across part of Ruco’s leg. Jakenenth was about to say something when Ruco sat up and stretched.
“Yes,I-I am aware, it started a few moments ago. It would seem I will need to get ready for sleep.”
“Oh, it is still early in the evening, are you sure it’s time?” Jakenenth said somewhat wistfully, Ruco turned his head to lock eyes and gave him a gentle smile.
“For as long as you h-have k-know me, you would t-think you have to ask if I k-know when it’s time?” he said, and even as he spoke, the various exposed parts of his synthetic body began to glow just that little bit brighter. The two chuckled and sat up from where they had been laying in the grass and began to pad up a path towards the mountain pools billowing great clouds of steam. The air was warm and damp even this high up as Ruco began preparing himself for ‘sleep’ his body already glowing brighter by the moment.
“You know I will always worry about you, it, it seems as though you have been needing to do this earlier and earlier each day, I know I have asked this before, but can’t you simply let it purge quicker?” he asked, feeling foolish even as he did so. Ruco by now had made his way to his destination, a spot by the hottest of the natural springs that littered the area, the water nearby actively boiling. Ruco turned and smiled at Jakenenths comment as he sat down, the area around him curiously devoid of grass, the ground looked charged and blackened in places, the stones having a slightly glassy look to them.
“Well, n-naturally I could. If that is y-you desired me to in-incinerate everything in a 1000 f-foot radius down to molten rock.” He said, causing an immediate silence between the two. Jakenenth gave a nervous chuckle.
“Eh, yeah, that probably wouldn’t be for the best he said. Before noticing Ruco giving a slight wince of clearly holding back certain needed actions. “Look, just, be safe, I know it’s stupid to tell you of all people that but, it’s how I feel.” He said and leaned down giving Ruco a simple kiss on his forehead, Ruco smiled, and then with a strange hissing sound, turned himself off.

That is to say the omnipresent glow in his eyes dimmed and his head slumped to one side, yet even as it did so, the rest of the body seemed to come alive. Various clicks and whirling sounds began to be heard, the armored plates around his shoulders split open and unfolded, the exposed parts of his energy conduits flared brightly. And the pulsating core in his chest pushed forward just slightly with a deep unlocking sound. When all this had happened, the venting began to take place. Whisps of energy began curling from his body displaying a spectrum of shimmering colors of reds, purples, and greens, a moment later arcs of electricity began to discharge and earthed themselves into the ground.

It was a sight that Jakenenth was always slightly fearful of, yet always entranced and struck by its beauty. The synthetic body of Ruco, constructed to govern a machine of unfathomable destruction, produced each day titanic amounts of energy, far more than could ever be safely used. Over time, Ruco had learned ways to slow the buildup, shunting it to different parts of his body or trying to burn up some of it by heavy labor and physical work. But regardless of what was done or used, it was never enough, and the buildup of energy would eventually reach a critical and dangerous point. Long before that happened, Ruco had learned to enter a ‘sleep mode’ and allow the energy to vent in a slow and controlled manor.
Jakenenth reminded himself this was still by no means ‘safe’. The heat generated by the nightly flaring was considerable, and more than once he had been woken up to put out small brush fires started during the night. Of course, that was why they lived where they did after all. The geysers, the hot springs, the whole area was a cauldron of geothermic activity, and they both knew it was the best protection they had to hide from anything over head doing a casual thermal scan. Jakenenth stood nearby for a while, feeling the ambient heat radiating outwards and watching the swirls of light before turning and padding up toward the cabin. Once inside, a flick of the switch activated a series of large batteries that provided power for everything needed, charging them each day in the morning was something that was never a problem. With a final look outside through the window, he headed into the kitchen to cook dinner for the night.

Back outside, Ruco sat ‘sleeping’ every so often his body would twitch this way and that. To the causal observer it would seem he had switched himself off, however these days Ruco never truly slept. Deep within the Multi fractal quantum computer that had once been Ruco’s brain, an image formed. First it was a ghostly shape of light, it wavered and shimmered, and then began to take form. It grew more refined as features became noticeable on it. In a few moments ‘Ruco’ opened his eyes in the space within his mind.

“Ah. So tonight, will be one of those nights” he said, to himself and to his mind. It didn’t always happen like this, most nights he would simply shut his eyes, and then re-open them once the energy purge had completed. Every so often, data from the day would process, in what could pass for his unconscious, those nights were as close as he came to ‘dreaming’ anymore. But there were some nights were his conscious mind remained conscious, where it entered into a place that was somehow ‘lower down’ if such a term could be used. And it was those nights that he most often would find himself talking to the ‘other’ Ruco.

“I would say thank you for joining me again, but we both know that even after all this time you cannot ignore me when I wish to have a little chat between us.” Said a voice, much like Ruco’s yet tinged with malice. Ruco looked up toward where it came from. Here within his mind, both speakers appeared as their ‘true’ forms. For Ruco, he appeared as he once had, perhaps no taller than about 5ft 10, slender, and fully organic. His body whole as it had once been. For the other, its appearance was quite the opposite. It would take someone a bit to realize just what they were looking at, but you would recognize it as ‘Ruco’ but the Synthetic, and ‘JUST’ the synthetic body. No skin, no fur, no flesh. It was the body stripped to a pure machine.
Ruco, that is to say, the organic one, gave a weak smile.
“You are correct, but you have refrained from having such ‘chats’ with me as often as you used to, for that I am thankful of you respecting my wishes.” He said as chair materialized next to him and he sat down, here within the computer, thought and reality co-existed. The Synthetic Ruco listened to this and gave a twisted smile.
“How far the two of us have come, and how much we both have changed. I suppose I should ‘thank’ you as well, seeing as how I am left to be free here. Or at least as ‘free’ as any mind could be within this prison.” It said, its voice becoming a bit more tinged with venom for a moment. The organic looked up from his chair, his face looking determined. Here, and only here his mind was as it should have been, as it was so long ago, calculated, certain, and above all, moralistic to a fault.
“I have pulled back my barriers, I leave you to explore the depts of this computer. We both know its size could hold our minds ten times over with space to spare. There is room enough for you create your own world to live within should you choose.” He said, the shimmering aura of light around his body flaring briefly, filling the otherwise dark interior with a moment of blinding radiance. The synthetic shrunk away from it before it eventually dimmed.
“A prison however welcoming and cheerful is still a prison. And any worlds I create within these walls are still mere shadows of 1’s and 0’s with no true form or shape.” It said, though its voice wasn’t quite as sinister as it had been. After the light had faded, it looked up. Its voice now sounded almost pleading. “I just want freedom.” It said as Ruco listened and sighed.
“I cannot let you free, even after all this time, you have no empathy, no restraint, no… No soul.” He said at last, and as he said it, the light around him flashed for just a moment again. The Synthetic looked away and sighed.
“Something for you which you will forever remind me of and is that which tips the balance between us.” It said before both sides grew silent, each taking a step back from words they wished not to say. The organic Ruco was first to break the awkward quiet.

“Why did you bring me here, I know it was not simply to rehash old arguments.”
“Observant as always, yes I did bring you hear for another reason. It sickens me to say this, but it is mostly for concern over our love, Jakenenth.” The organic Rucos eyes flashed for a moment, but the Synthetic seemed to be expecting this. “Please, don’t give me that look, I may not have a ‘Soul’ but I still feel what you feel. It’s the only reason he’s still alive after all.” It said,
“Very well, a point I will give you since I know you have shown him the same, loyalty that I do. What is it that has you concerned for his wellbeing?” Here, a pause, The Synthetic approaching the organic, at least as close as the two could.
“The Yrch are coming.” It said, although the organic Ruco seemed not to be phased.
“Yes I know, It is only a matter of time before they attack the colony for resources, I had calculated the colonies defensives to be sufficient-” but he was cut off.
“You misunderstand me, they are coming here, for us.” It said, knowing it now had Rucos full attention. The organic didn’t question how it knew this, he had his suspicions and did not wish to pry too much. The synthetic saw him considering things and continued. “I do not know what strength they are coming, only they are planning a major deployment, and we lucky few are one of their targets.”
“The UISC Defense force will be able to—” but was cut off.
“Engage the Yrch? I would say so, but ships will get through, they will search this planet, and they will find us. I know trust is something neither of us have in great supply, however, we may need to very quickly consider re-negotiating certain arrangements.”
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

ESS Black Adder, Uninhabited System "See, I Told You We Were Nearly Out Of The Rocks", Endevour fringe space

Captain Blake was up and out of his bed before the alarms started ringing; he'd felt the strange sensation of the ship going to full emergency netherspace submergence even through his dreams. It was a short run up to the bridge, but he'd already been updated. A fleet of Yrch and Amazo-X ships had appeared in the system; the exact thing his ship was out here to look out for. Normally, the Black Adder would have just transmitted the info on and dropped into netherspace, but there was one small problem with that.

The whole fleet had nearly jumped in on top of the Black Adder.

"Suggestions," he asked, taking his seat on the bridge.

"We might be able to get off a transmission if we surface?" Brown put forth. "If we pre-charge the hyperdrives, we should be able to surface and then ascend before they can get a target lock."

"At this range, they won't bother with a lock," Mikasa messaged from the engine room. "They'll just open fire. Not that they'll need to - pre-charging the drives like that while we're in netherspace might break the ship in half, and will blow them out."

Blake interceded: "Which neatly rules that option out." He stroked his chin. This far down, they were safe, nothing in the known galaxy could detect them... but the ship couldn't move except to surface back to the normal level of reality. Something fizzled past one of the bridge windows. Maybe? "Could we drop a buoy?" Endeavourite stealth destroyers carried a set of comms buoys, normally for use in the early part of a cat-and-mouse dance with enemy ships.

There was silence as the crew pondered the idea, which was broken by Asuka: "We'd still have to surface for that."

"Not if we exposed the turbines," Mikasa said, grasping the general idea. "We could blast it closer to zero... but we'd need to be closer ourselves." And thus, at risk of detection - and, if the enemy had any grounding in aetherdimension theory*, destruction.

More silence. No-one stepped forward to fill it. "Very well," Captain Blake said, "Make it so."

Of course, it wasn't as simple as giving the order. Exposing one of the aetherspace turbines was... well, there was a reason they were normally enclosed. The entire crew had to help, providing careful schematics of where to puncture the hull, building the necessary airlock, getting the buoy to the turbine - and of course, cutting the turbine out of its housing without breaking anything. Eventually, though, all was complete. Blake took his seat at the helm (his station when he wasn't Captain) and took a deep breath. Carefully, he angled the ship's other turbine down, and the Black Adder began to rise. They passed out of the lower strata, up into the middle, and finally reached their target: two phases "down" from normal reality. Immediately, the EW sensor began blaring; one of the ships out there could see them

Without hesitation, Blake kicked the ship over, and spat the buoy out, even as the first few missiles began winding their way down towards them. There could be no dodging, one raced in and detonated just aft of the Black Adder; the shields took the impact. The second was just slightly too slow, shattering on the boundary between strata, and then they were safe.

Above them, the buoy was already scrap metal, blasted apart by the firepower of the Yrch fleet... but it had already sent its message.





Endeavour, Endeavour System

"All hands, to battle stations." The Megakolymvitis was making for the orbit of the Dustbowl - as the system's main rocky planet was known - when the first alert came in. A large Yrch fleet had been spotted on the outskirts of Endeavour space; it could turn up anywhere, and the whole Line Fleet was being mobilised to intercept. Just as Kharon finished corraling the various civilian transports and habs they'd been back to to the safety of the Endeavour hab collective, the second alert sounded: the Yrch were here.

Dozens of ships had emerged out in the system's outer Oort cloud, and were making their way directly for them.

"Sovereign Protector," Kharon said, nodding at the image on her desk's viewscreen and pulling on her class-1 warsuit gloves. "I formally offer my ship and its services to the defense of Endeavour, as part of our joint defensive pact." Around her, the rest of the bridge crew were standing to action stations; helmets and sealed suits were in evidence everywhere. Sure, they were behind literal kilometres of metal, but no-one wanted to risk exposure to the vacuum of space.

Ayanami just nodded. "Miko will patch you in to the fleet's comms network." She turned away from the screen, helmet in hand. "See you out there."

Cutting the channel with a thought, Kharon turned to Miko - whose hair was already glowing slightly, in that strange way it sometimes did. She was tapping away at one of the more recent additions to Kharon's command throne, a manual interface port for Kharon's new implanted cybernetics. "It'll take a moment," Miko said, "and you'll have to set up your filters yourself. My advice - listen to at least one ship from each class, have whoever's most engaged on a second channel, and have all the carriers on a third. It's their job to co-ordinate the fleet, but if you just listen to them you'll miss out on a lot."

"What about you?"

Miko shrugged. "I'll be with the snek. It's my place. If you launch your kleptoi, we'll go with them."

"Very well," Kharon said. Miko made to leave, the adjustments complete, but Kharon put one hand on her arm. "Stay safe."

"You as well," Miko replied, and was gone.



Kharon sat back on the command throne and waved her hand, dismissing the small cloud of ologramma projections around her. On the great bridge display, the last few Endeavourite civilian craft blinked away. Alessia’s voice, piped in from the secondary bridge deep within the chelonian hull of the ship, remarked, “My lady, we stand ready to translate at your word.”

She nodded and responded, “Thank you, Protos. All hands, stand ready to--”

A bold voice interrupted her. “Belay that order, all hands!”

“What the devil--” Kharon began angrily as she came to her feet and rounded about, to see Kosmitoras Ion soi Hapax walking onto the bridge, backed up by a couple of other Kosmitoras officers and a squad of uncomfortable-looking security troopers. Her eyes narrowed. soi Hapax, looking as though butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, continued smoothly, “I apologize for the interruption, Kapetanios soi Chelonis, but I cannot permit Megakolymvitis to enter this engagement. It does not serve the interests of the Theophanic Empire, and furthermore--”

“Hang the interests of the Empire, Kosmitoras,” Kharon cut in, “and who are you to determine that versus a named Ambassador of the Empire? You will stand down. You have no authority to breach the chain of command.”

“Actually,” soi Hapax responded impertuably, “if you will investigate the packet you were no doubt given when the Office of the Kosmitoras was established, you will see that the Kosmitoras may at their discretion suspend the authority of ships’ officers and assume their position until matters can be resolved by an inquiry. The grounds for this suspension include a belief that the Empire is not being best served by the orders given. I believe it is in your best interest to comply, Kapetanios.”

Kharon narrowed her eyes. Thoughts flashed through her mind. She was no doubt in a rather fragile position here. But there was no question about it-- she wasn’t going to let this skata stop her from going into this fight.

The pause had gone on quite long enough, she decided. She pointed at the Kosmitoras and snapped, “You are out of line. Last warning, stand down or else. We will sort this out when this is finished.”

That damnable soi Hapax finally looked irritated as he shook his head. He opened his mouth, but before he could say anything, her second officer Daniil bellowed, “Don’t even think about it!”

Slides ratcheted and the boarding-shotguns normally tucked in lockers at the bridge portals were brandished. Daniil went on again, “You heard the Kapetanios, Kosmitoras. Will you stand down or shall we have to take you to the brig?”

soi Hapax looked at him contemptuously. “Don’t be foolish. You don’t have to go down with her.”

From somewhere on the bridge-- Kharon couldn’t tell who said it, but someone hollered, “Chalazi soi Chelonis! Chalazi Megakolymvitis!”

At that the dekaneas [corporal] commanding the security detachment stood up straighter and strode ahead to stand besides the Kosmitoras. He faced Kharon directly and saluted stiffly. “My Lady. We’ll just go ahead and escort the Kosmitoras to the brig, by your leave. Shall we round up the rest of the Kosmitoras personnel in case any of them try the same trick?”

“Until the excitement is finished, at least,” Kharon answered, inclining her head in gratitude. “Carry on, Dekaneas.”

She turned back around and took a deep breath, looking over the bridge. “Daniil, if you will see the shotguns returned to their lockers. All hands… You have my thanks for your support. Let’s go help our friends out. Chalazi Endeavour!”

Amid cheers of Chalazi Endeavour! and chalazi soi Chelonis!, the void tore open before Megakolymvitis with great spurts of octarine nullmatter flowing out. The great ship lifted up its prow and then dived within, and with a massive electromagnetic thunderclap, space closed back up.






The Yrch fleet advanced, gunboats and parasite craft launching in a great fan of engine trails. Not a single sign of the enemy had been seen thus far, and they were already within orbit of the system's gas giant. On board the command craft - one of the Amazo-X original factory ships - Senior Middle Manager Phil sneered. Was this really the same place that had driven back one of the Founders, so long ago? Perhaps the rumours were true; Elon must be incompetent. For a moment, he was on the verge of ordering his fleet to split up and blockade the hundreds of space stations in the system,but something stopped him. The theives and squatters had ships of their own, warships even - so where were they? Something was jamming his communications, making it nearly impossible to give orders or see very far into the endless field of asteroids and debris that made up this damn system.

He made the mistake of speaking that thought across one of the few radio channels that was still available, and did not live long enough to realise that it'd been left so as a trap.

All Amazo-X factory ships were obsolete as warships went. They were slow, even less efficient in terms of firepower per metre volume than the average Theophanic dreadnought, and their only offensive weapons were the drone swarms they were capable of building. That did not mean they weren't still tough beasts; the smallest was easily ten kilometres a side, they were full of redundant systems and they possessed no single "main reactor" or anything like that. That mattered little, however, when four Particle Beam Lances drilled into the ship from one end to the other, blasting it apart in a single blow, rendering it into its constituent atoms in half a second.

The massed ranks of gunboats and parasite craft turned as one, sensors suddenly picking up a flotilla of enemy warships. On those smaller ships, the Yrch took advantage of the momentary chaos in Amazo-X's chain of command to fight without interference for once; they were entirely un-coordinated, acting entirely on instinct and what little naval doctrine the Yrch possessed, but there were ninety true warships and a host of fighters and other parasite craft. Engines straining, they pushed themselves around asteroids, through debris, and nearly made it to the four Endeavourite dreadnoughts before space erupted in fire and shrapnel. Dozens of craft were swept from space almost instantly, the contemptuous hand of massed Endeavourite 420mm Hypervelocity Cannon brushing them aside like dust. Most of the oncoming attackers survived, however, and pressed onwards heedless of the destruction wrought upon their allies, towards the line of seven battleships that floated serenly along. Their turrets spat again, and hails of secondary weapons fire reached out as well. Squadrons of Endeavourite small craft, drones and heavy fighters, raced out on intercept courses, one last volley of heavy guns before the two lines met blasting holes in both forces.

Endeavourite fighter craft met Yrch parasties, and the battle was joined.

-

Pilot Ayanami snap-rolled her fighter, bringing the nose guns to bear on a Yrch fighter that looked like it had been cobbled together from a pair of ancient-pattern drones. She thumbed the trigger, and the enemy craft vanhished in a ball of flame. Beneath her, her two laser turrets spat green death at a second craft, and her twin hypervelocity turret steadily kept up fire on one of the larger gunboats that had accompanied the Yrch strike craft in. Bullets and lasers flew at her, but the Bodkin was built fast and tough - little could catch her, and what did, couldn't hurt her. Her missile lock warning went off, blaring filling her cockpit, but before it could impact her the two friendly drones on her flanks blasted it out of the sky. She rolled over, and pulled into a steep turn, catching a Yrch fighter who was trying to slot onto Shamiko's (her wingmate's) tail; it died in her sights.

Wordlessly, the two turned as one, catching a quartet of the half-finished Yrch ships in their sights and raking them with fire before lighting their engines and pulling out of the furball. Just in time, too; the Yrch gunboat turned its heavy guns in their direction, but was unable to get off more than one shot before they were safely behind an asteroid. That one shell actually knocked her shields down, but did no damage to the hull of her craft. As the next squadron in line went in, she took stock. One and Five were out, both having taken damage to their power plants and needing to withdraw, but the rest of the squadron was undamaged. Feedstock was at 50% across the board, enough for maybe one more pass before they'd all need to re-arm - and it was too unsafe to do so in the open, so they'd have to land back on the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Still, she wanted to take down that gunboat before they left; she switched her hypervelocity cannon over to mix three, and waited.

Their replacement squadron - one of the ones off of the Ship Name Not Found - broke past them, and then it was her turn again. As one, she and the rest of her squadron pushed their engines to maximum, and dove out of cover; instantly, their turrets began tracking and blasting, and Ayanami lazily rolled onto the tail of a fighter; its wingmate tried to weave in behind her, but she slammed on the aetheric brakes and soon both of them were rapidly-expanding dust clouds in her sights. Her shields rattled; another pair swooped in on her port side, cutting loose with whatever weapons they carried; she turned the fighter sideways, tracking them with her nose guns, and managed to down one at the expense of half her shield battery and one of her drones. The other sped off after the other fighter, bearing down on it and cutting one of the enemy craft's engines off with a well-placed burst of autocannon fire.

All the while, her hypervelocity turret kept up the fire on the gunboat until, suddenly, its shields were down. The whole squadron pounced as one, blue and green laser fire practically blanketting the doomed ship, before launching a volley of turbo-shot into its unprotected hull. It was time to leave; as one, the squadron burned away from the combat area, and back towards the carriers. They were the last fighters out; it looked like most had seen intense action, though only one or two piloted fighters out of the three hundred-odd launched were missing.

It would take a few minutes for the fighters to rearm, leaving the rest of the fleet to fend off the Yrch without a screen.

-

"Section three-D gun ports, go to area fire. Hold the bastards at bay!" Kharon ordered, one eye on the great ologramma ball in front of her, another keeping tabs on the flood of messages coming through the Endeavourite comms network. She couldn't decide which was more chaotic - the display, clouded by the sheer mass of oncoming ships, or the messages, which ranged from important fleet-wide advisories to mundane day-to-day chatter. It was like they weren't even at war!

One look at the display was enough to dispel that illusion. The Yrch ships were disappearing at an alarming rate, though her Megakolymvitis had certainly pulled its weight. He'd jumped right into the thick of the enemy larger ships (entirely by accident), lashing out with railgun and missile fire; the combined Amazo-X and Yrch fleets too stunned to fire back immediately. That wouldn't last long, Kharon knew, which was why she was waiting for the last of the kleptoi to report readiness for launch. If they could just tie up the Yrch cruisers, the rest of the nearby ships were all carriers - ones which had already launched their strike craft.

"Clear lanes. Lances charged, firing in three... two... one-"

The ologramma fuzzed up as the four Endeavourite dreadnoughts unleashed their main batteries again; four enemy ships disappeared off the map, including another pair of Yrch cruisers. Missile tracks blossomed forth from the Yrch ships in retaliation, thousands upon thousands at once. The end point of a significant chunk... "Evasive, full jamming! Defensive fire!"

Kharon felt the deck rise up, and then suddenly fall away; whoever was at the helm stations was really putting the old man through his paces. Many of the trails went out, intercepted by area denial fire, and many kept coming on; they were much smaller than Theophanic anti-ship missiles, but that in and of itself was a problem. Rather than the usual handful of survivors, most of the salvo actually reached the ship to blast some craters in metres-thick armour and knock a single railgun turret out of action.

She was just about to comment something like "is that it?" when the ship rocked violently. "Damage report!" she ordered instead. "What hit us?"

There was rumbling from Frater Skotia. "Fore launch tubes inoperative," text scrolled across in one of her chat windows (of course he'd have made themselves compatible with the Endeavourite systems)."Maneouvrability reduced by twelve percent. Armour penetrated in sections 1256 through 3301. No fires. Fire control systems for our forward missile defence batteries are offline. We conjecture the damage was caused by delayed-fuse warheads."

Hers wasn't the only ship hit - or the worst off. The :dawoo: was already heeling out of line, symbols indicating it was streaming atmosphere and out of the fight. All the other battleships were showing some signs of damage, ranging from battered shields to knocked-out gun turrets. The Yrch had some fight left, it seemed; their smaller craft certainly had some bite to them.

"Missile tubes reloaded!" called one of the deck officers.

Time for revenge. "All batteries, salvo fire, targets uploading - launch!"

-

As Gunboat-3563 pitched and rolled, Mike struggled to stay standing. He had no idea why chairs were anathema to Management, but it was holy writ, and even a Commander could not ignore that. He kept one hand on the edge of the console before him, and tried not to look at the crumpled body of #4224, who had fallen badly when the gunboat had braked hard to avoid an enemy shell. "Reload the main gun!" he barked into his microphone, watching as the status light steadfastly refused to change from red to green. "We must break their battle-line now, or we all die!" It was futile, he knew; it had taken concentrated fire from three-quarters of the remaining gunboat force to knock one of the enemy battleships out, and there were still six left... and the four super-battleships behind them. The Yrch could barely even co-ordinate; only long battle experience had allowed them to get this far, and ships had grouped up along old allegiances just to have some semblance of a formation. They'd been cut up by nigh-invicible fighter craft, bombarded by a ceaseless rain of shellfire, obliterated by the missile swarms the turtle-ship put out, and erased by beams of blinding blue light, and the attack was truly faltering.

There was no way he would allow the fleet to break up now. He'd been raised by the hand of LON BEZO's divine servant, had sent the fleet of the United Unbelievers to the bottom of the South Sea, and that his first battle in the heavenly host would end like this... no.

On his console, a status light changed. The gunship's main weapon - the spinal railcannon - was finally ready to fire again; he swiped the touch-screen over to the helm controls, taking over from #4224. With one flick, he firewalled the ship's single thruster, and another pushed them over, heading directly towards the battleship on his starboard bow - it had taken some damage, and perhaps they could close enough to get under its guns.

They weren't alone in this; instinctively, the other Yrch gunboats heeled around and followed them in. Lines of light rose to meet him; the bridge window cracked as a shell blasted a gunboat ahead of him to dust, and a laser beam took off the rear anti-fighter turret, but he was alive, the thruster still worked, and the railcannon would still fire. That was all he would need. Shellfire blossomed once more from the infernal craft, but it simply swept past the gunboats and rammed home in the larger blockships and cruisers. More fool them; the true power of the Yrch fleet was not in the old slap-dash ships, but the force of sleek, modern gunboats that -3563 was one fine example of.

Still, it was big ship they were charging, and one covered in guns. Ship after ship beside him fell, but he pressed on. Perhaps LON BEZO truly did help those who showed devotion? He passed nearly close enough to touch the enemy battleship, flipping over its superstructure. He had to find a good target, he surely would not get a second shot. Of the ships that had charged with him, there was no sign. They had either fired and withdrawn, or more likely died on the approach.

There! As he sped over the back of the ship, he saw a great thruster bell - surely one of the main engines for this beast. Careful not to cross into its path, he lined up his shot.

"Fire!" he ordered; the whole craft rocked backwards from the recoil of the railcannon, a slug nearly as heavy as the rest of the gunboat combined (minus, of course, the other slugs) propelled forth at several times the speed of sound.

He didn't live to see the shot impact. A turbolaser blast from the very ship he'd just wounded obliterated him, and the rest of his gunboat, in an instant. His effort paid off, though, as the battleship Vainglorious slowed, making it an easier target for more Yrch ships.

-

Miko breathed out, and looked around the bridge of the snek. Each of the crew was armed and armoured, and all ambient linkages showed green; the ship's Save Point was fully functional. "Signal the Megakolymvitis; we are ready to launch on command."

"Megakolymvitis copies, and says the rest of the craft will be launching in one minute," Danny Boye reported back. "Our target is the undamaged Yrch cruiser."

Before them, the gigantic kleptoi bay doors began to open, illuminating the serried ranks of the boarding craft beside them. There were two dozen in total, each the size of the snek and packed full of Theophanic marines. The snek's job was to provide close support with its single 69mm hypervelocity mount, and the services of its crew. A great set of lights lowered from the upper deck; red, then amber, then, after an interminable wait, green.

"Engines to full!" Miko ordered, and they were off. Rei kept careful pace with the kleptoi as they raced in, trading potshots with Yrch boarding craft headed the other way; Rei (Skywalker) shot two to bits with carefully-placed shots from the '69, but soon the massive bulk of their target loomed large before them. Miko shook her head; it seemed every other star navy out there just had to build huge, inefficient warships. Sure, there were the 8===Ds in Protectorate service, but the rest of the designs were reasonable. Whatever happened to restraint?

It was amazing what the brain could seize upon to distract itself from diving onto the hull of a warship several times the combined mass of one's little strike force. The kleptoi went first, the snek slowing down to allow them to dock and make the initial cuts. A few gun batteries tried to fend off the boarders, only to be smothered in fire from the Theophanic boats.

"Epikoinonía. I gástra paraviástike," came the voice of one of the boarding party leaders, followed by intense gunfire and cries of "Chalazi soi Chelonis!"

Almost immediately, the '69 began barking again; AP-FRAG shells into the enemy ship to deal with clusters of Yrch soldiers, fire suppression rounds and vacuum sealing rounds to patch up areas purposefully vented or set alight, and even a few drone-shot rounds to reinforce the boarding parties. Slowly but surely, the Theophanic marines seemed to be pushing into the Yrch ship; their first objective, a hangar bay large enough to hold the snek, soon fell.

Miko placed a hand on Ayanami's shoulder. "Take us in."

-

On board the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sovereign Protector Ayanami watched the battle unfold. Her grudging namesake, along with the other three Obligatory Anime Reference-class dreadnoughts, were reaping a rich harvest of destroyed enemy warships, but the tide had yet to stem, and their protective battleship screen was starting to wear thin. No ships had been outright lost, yet, but it had come damned close; the :dawoo:'s starboard armour had been stripped right down to the citadel, and the Vainglorious had lost most of its main battery. At least Megakolymvitis was drawing fire, though it had appeared worryingly out of position - and later than Kharon had said.

Still, it was a welcome distraction. Deprived of their fire support, the Yrch gunboats were starting to lose cohesion. Just a little longer, and they'd break, she just knew it...


To Be Continued

*Which is sort of like asking if the average person knows about gravity.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

ZENAR MINOR SYSTEM, HIGH ORBIT OF PLANET ZOZO

Far overhead in orbit around the planet ZoZo, the UISC defense force was in the middle of its normal evening routines. The Thunderbird was indeed in the lead of the formation, flanked on either side by the support cruisers. The dozen corvettes were busy doing joint maneuvers in small groups in the local area and otherwise going through their normal paces. And aside from an unusual if brief thermal reading on the planet at the start of their shift, nothing seemed out of place. Local time at the colony would have been near ‘dawn’ and it was just an hour or so earlier that the night shift had swapped places with the day shift. Moz had emerged from his quarters, Hat on head, and holding a steaming mug of coffee that one of his grandsons had sent him (at considerable expense) having purchased from an Endeavor merchant that read “HABS BEST KAPTAIN” The aged Quatonian looked around his bridge, saw that it was good, and proceeded to make his way to the center and take his place. His first officer, Tejlini Kletania Tethlala, (whom had already been awake two hours before) handed him a data pad with various notes from the night and information on recent reports of Yrch incursions. Watching him read over the documents, she offered her thoughts.

“There are unconfirmed reports of recent Yrch movements and attacks, I sent word of it to the colony earlier, advising them of possible deployments.” She said, as Moz gave a non-committal nod before responding.
“Sounds-good-seems-sensible-best-be-on-toes.” He said, pausing to down the rest of his coffee with a grunt (Quatonian coffee was something other races
tended to avoid, mostly for health reasons) Kletania nodded as she handed off one set of data pads for another to a passing crew member. Looking over the new pads she nodded as well.
“Indeed, as you have said, if we were going to be attacked, one would have expected it to happen already. But it pays to be careful and not be caught off guard.” And as she said this, in accordance with laws as old as time, that was when the first alarm went off.

“INCOMINGCONTACTS! Long-range-scanners-registering-many-many- unknown-ships from-hyperspace!” shouted Thaddeus Fonz, a Quatonian at sensors, next to him an Octona crew member continued.
“Incoming ships estimated three to four minutes out!” they shouted as Immediately the rest of the bridge began to respond as Moz sat up.
“Recall-all-corvettes-pronto-right-away-Signal-Cruisers-into-deffenseve-fromation-launch-long-range-sensor-drones!” he shouted, and then in keeping with the vary oldest of military doctrine, added “And-call-tell-send-word-to-UISC-command-possible-attack-send-help-toot-sewert!” Moz shouted, doing his best to keep a level temperament as the ships of the defense force began to pull together and form up ranks. Only a handful of non-sector ships were registered in the area and those were freighters.
“Confirmed, sending immediate call for reinforcements to nearest defense fleet in range of communication.” The officer at comms reported. A few moments later the forces had lined up, sensor ranges pushing as far as they could. Then with a cavalcade of explosions of lights, the Yrch Assault Fleet arrived. Moz, old as he was, still had a mind like a steel trap. While the others on the bridge felt themselves go pale (or arched their back and tails in the case of the Tejlini or Qwintoni crewmembers) Moz began to wordlessly crunch numbers and various battle conditions in his mind. Across the bridge, the crew reacting as a single trained entity began to go through the paces of what they had all learned and reacted as needed.

“Enemy vessels will be at minimal estimated firing distance in 48 second! Scanners at maximum and connecting with the rest of the fleet to extend range for possible weapon platforms and reactor readings.”
“Coordinating ECM and sensor jammers with Cruiser Packcard, efficiency against enemy units unknown, Cruiser reports Jamming will be at 100% of power in two minutes.”
“Sensors have finished breakdown of enemy hyperspace exit signatures! Mass spectrometers evaluating ship densities, confirming, currently five ‘heavy’ capital ships, possibly two are recognized as ‘Amazo’ factory ships. Five ‘medium’ capital ships, configurations unknown!”

Five big ships to his three, not good numbers but Moz trusted to skill and determination over what the others had. Two of the ships he recognized as the ‘Amazo-X’ factory ships, these were something almost everyone by now had read much on. They were real beasts, huge, heavy, hard to kill and damnably resilient; however, their main threat was simply swarms of combat drones that a good tactician could deal with. The other three ships were unfortunately unknown, but any first-year cadet would recite the old equation that, in the face of the unknown measure the mass and assume equal if superior arms. If this was correct, the larger of the other three ships would be a fair match and the smaller ones they could handle with superior deployment. That left the five other ships that Moz quickly categorized as ‘destroyers’ by their estimated scans to their mass and size. The squadron of corvettes had spent the last few months practicing tight formations and working in groups. Pound for pound they would be able to harass, hound, and hit and run the five larger ships enough to hold their own. Moz quickly reviewed that calculations in his mind, five bigs to his three, five mediums to his twelve smalls. It would be a close and messy thing, but he was confident in his forces, his training, and his crew.

“Incoming high-density projectiles! Scans reading long range heavy mass drives from unknown source!”
“Shield Screen angling to compensate, Cruisers Packcard and Cinnamonnon taking formation on either side to reinforce shield matrix for kinetic impact!”
“Mass signatures impacting in six seconds, five, four,--” The meteor like ammunition from the heaviest mass drivers came crashing across space towards its targets, as it did so, the other Cruisers closed ranks and flared their energy shields to maximum. The shields co-mingled, an old trick that had been learned to allow for kinetic energy from rail guns to be distributed over a much larger source. The ship lurched suddenly as the high intensity impacts went from a solid, to a liquid, to a gas in a fraction of a second and exploded massively across the layered shields of the cruisers. Directly behind it came a smaller volley hailing down from the five smaller vessels.
“Shield matrix down to 75% and holding, readings show efficiency of energy distribution will decrease rapidly as enemy ships close in.” shouted someone monitoring the engineering readouts as the sound of smaller slugs impacting and punching into the shielding could be heard. The cruiser rocked as they did their best to shield the smaller Corvettes hiding behind them.
“Re-angling shields, estimated next volley from high yield weaponry within 48 seconds!” Here at last Moz seemed ready to step in.

“Riiiiigggggghhhhhhtttttt…….” He said as he pulled the brim of his well-worn, if still comically oversized captains’ hat down and prepared himself to give a good and proper speech to rouse the crew. Quatonians as a whole didn’t normally go in for big, long rousing speeches. Leaving aside their language structure, they tended to be straight forward ‘do or do not’ types when it came to command. But Moz, ever the pragmatist had learned the importance of such things over the years and made ready to give it his best. And that was when the rest of the Yrch forces showed up.

“Additional contacts inbound! Hyperspace sensors detecting an unknown number of ships!” came the cry from one of the Octona at sensors, the other, furiously reviewing information quickly added.
“Contacts confirmed! Vessels small, size and appearance match that of ‘Yrch Raiding craft’. Ships are in tight formation; sensors are having a hard time identifying an exact amount possibly thirty, no forty ships identified! Attempting to bring up ships on visual Captain!” The primary display screen flickered as every last member on the bridge craned their necks. Moz looked up and goggled, his pipe falling from his mouth.


Across the gap in space from the forces of the UISC, the now fully amassed Yrch-Amazo-X invasion force bore down as the cloud of Gunboats arrived and drew into formation. In the rear of the battle formation, the ‘lead command ship sat overseeing the onrushing attack. Inside the vessel on the bridge, various Yrch grunts and crew busied themselves while a group of Amazo-X overseers looked at the more important pieces of information and coordinated the attack, or at least that was how it was supposed to go. In the middle of the bridge sat the Supervisor on Duty, whom, as the head of the mission rested on his shoulders the weight of the invasion. He was a large heavy-set individual whose grim expression spoke of someone that had seen much in their life, a man who had been shaped and molded by events to lead him to where he was. He looked out across the fields of numbers and readings before him, then looked back at the main screen.

“WOW! Did you see that? All those ships coming in at once, WOOSH! That was quite a sight don’t you think? I tell you; it reminds me back of when I was just a junior assistant supervisor manager, we were leading some factory ships around the Habs in the Elbonian Quadrant and knocking the blocks off a bunch of Endeavor freighters! Ungrateful lot, but I don’t need telling you all that! Anyways! In conclusion, I think this acquisition is going fantastic. Drinks all around!” The supervisor said, a broad smile on his face as around him, much of the crew went silent. Eventually after some awkward coughs, a luckless engineer with thick rimmed plastic glasses found it his role to speak up.
“Um, yes sir, very inspiring, although I am pretty sure there has been no official contact with the Endeavor since the war. And just as a reminder, the adjutant for the gunboats is requesting target orders and pursuit parameters, shouldn’t we press our attack while their other ships are still responding?” he said in a firm, if wheedling voice. The supervisor, who instinctively was suspect of anyone that seemed to question his actions, (let alone his own personal stories) took a moment to scratch the pointy hair on his head before placing his arms squarely on his round hips.
“Well, I don’t know, shouldn’t we? Seems the type of thing someone should be certain about!” There was a brief pause as the engineer looked to his co-workers who nodded.
“Yes?” he said as non-committal as possible. The pointy haired supervisor smiled and clapped his hands.
“Well ok then why didn’t you say so? Alright, attention to all our good employees in the Gunboat squadron, flotilla, thingie. Launch all the drones and go forward to meet those that stand in the way of the greater glory of the Company! Time to show these aliens what they are all missing out on!” He said, turning back to the screen in time to see another volley of massive heavy plated carbide bullets hurtle outwards to the UISC ships.
“OO! That was a big one.”



GREATGOOGILYMOOGILY!!!” Moz swore aloud as the ship lurched from another round of high-speed kinetic impacts. The full realization of how quickly the balance of forces had changed and by how much surged forward into his mind. Three forces now bore down on them. Any one of the three by itself, they could comfortably handle, two out of the three, messy and rough, but survivable. But all three together, they wouldn’t have a chance. The bridge went deathly silent aside from various proximity alerts. Once again everyone looked to Moz, although now with a very different and almost pleading expression. Now having gathered his wits about himself stood up on the captain’s chair (as he usually would to show the importance of something about to be said.) He took a deep breath, slowly placing his the pipe back into his mouth, gave a slight cough, and then shouted at the top of his lungs for all to hear.
“PUNCHEMINTHEFACEANDRUNRUNRUNRUN!!!” he bellowed and around him the bridge once more leapt into action. Next to him, his first officer Kletania, who had already anticipated this, made contact with the rest of the fleet.
“Attention all vessels of the fleet, as ordered we are to begin a retreating action upon the enemy. Reinforcements have been contacted and the forces of the 2nd Security defense fleet are already enroute to relieve us, our mission is to stay alive until such time as they will make it! All ships are authorized to exceeded standard safety protocols on engine tolerances for the duration of the engagement. All ships carry out ‘One-Punch’ contingency and come about immediately after second confirmed volley!” Klentania shouted, her voice crisp, authortive, and acting as a perfect translation of the Captain who by now was perched on top of his chair, balancing precariously, and throwing his fist up in the air as he gave another shout.
“FIRSTUSVOLLEYAWAY!” He cried as around him, in response to a battle command that could only have come from the mind of a Quatonian, every ship in the fleet capable of firing a missile did so. The Cruisers and Corvettes of the fleet, while vastly outnumbered, were ships that had their military doctrine born from early engagements that had relayed heavily upon missile technology. Over the years, technology had changed, and primary offensive weaponry in the Sector had shifted to high yield energy streams. However, missiles were a tried-and-true technology that was something that rarely needed to change, and one thing the sector races knew from personal experience, was they were an excellent method at causing a distraction. From fifteen ships came almost five hundred rockets and mini missiles. The volley represented about 70% of the entire missile payload of the fleet, but for what was being planned, they weren’t going to need any others.
“LETYOURTARGETINGPUTERSCHEWONTHATBIGMESSYOUSODSTRYANDCATCHMEPANTSDOWN!” Moz bellowed, now hopping back and forth from one large foot to the other, his chair creaking dangerously at this point. Meanwhile, counting under her breath and watching a display reading the velocity of the just unleashed volley, Klentania counted down the seconds until the next phase of the operation.



“There’s HOW many missiles coming at us?” The Pointy haired supervisor exclaimed as alarms and proximity alerts sounded out across the bridge of the ship and those across the fleet as well. On the display screen, clouds of fire from the smaller vessels had already erupted, vomiting forth salvos of weaponry into the general direction of the massive missile sawm with mixed results. Another engineer, this one at a station that seemed encrusted with fading yellow sticky notes and empty coffee cups. Looked up from his monitors and adjusted his own heavy glasses before giving a non-committal shrug.
“I dunno, maybe 400, or 500, hey if we get killed here will I still be able to cash in my unused vacation days?” he said as he rubbed his mostly balding head. The supervisor, ignoring any comments about non-existent vacation time, turned and gave a look of befuddlement.
“My god man! That’s like, 500 more missiles than we have going at them! Well that can’t be very good for productivity. I don’t see much of a reason sticking around if we’re going to be out manufactured like this, gave it our best shot and all, time to give this place the old heave ho!” He said, in a voice echoing with blissfully ignorant jovialness. Behind him can a dismissively sigh as a woman employee sitting at a weaponry console stood up and snorted.
“Oh please, do I have to do everything myself? Its simple 1st year mathematics.” She said as, wordlessly, she accessed the communications network to the smaller destroyers and the drones that had already been launched. “Look, we have forty-eight gunboats, each with two light auto turrets that can fire 20 rounds a second. That’s bound to take out 100 to 200 missiles right there.” She said as within a few moments, the gunboats acting with sudden uncanny precision began blanketing the field in front of them with a torrent of anti-fighter projectiles. “The majority of the drones have a single auto gun turret and can maneuver much faster than the gunboats, that takes out another 80 to 100 missiles.” She said as the drones that had already launched, were given new orders by the twin Factory ships, and immediately fanned out, going after missiles that had already gotten uncomfortably close. “That leaves less than 200 missiles, and our Destroyers can each target around twenty of those and just tank another ten straight to the face.” She said as moments later a maelstrom of explosions rippled across the screen of destroys positioned in front of the Battle cruiser, their shields flickering wildly yet seeming to hold. “There, you’re welcome!” she shouted and hunched back down in her chair as waves of explosions continued going off in the general direction straight ahead, the supervisor looked out and smiled.
“WOW! Am I great supervisor or what!” he said, looking at his hands before making little ‘pew pew’ motions with them. Behind him, the Weapons Associate snorted again.
“Yeah yeah, whatever, most of the targeting computers on the drones and gunboats are overheating so just be glad that was all they fired.”



“SECONDUSVOLLEYAWAY!” shouted Moz as just behind him Klentania relayed the command
“All ships launch remaining missile ordnance, synchronize all directional computers and execute Battle Turnaway!”
As a single entity, the entire fleet began to turn, each ship moving in a relative velocity and distance so that no ship was turning any faster, or slower, than any other ship. As they did so, the remaining missile ordnance of the fleet, all located in rear mounted launchers, was unleashed. Roughly two hundred missiles now screamed out from the turning fleet, the majority of these equipped with more powerful high energy drive systems. Behind the turning fleet, a maelstrom of anti-missile weapons fire and explosions rippled through the assembled Yrch fleet. For the vast majority of the vessels, especially the large battleships, all that could be observed was a hurricane of explosions and flashes of energy. Given the overwhelming number of the Yrch vessels, damage to the fleet itself was minimal, but of course the attack wasn’t meant to deal a crippling blow. Aside from covering the turning fleet, giving their engines time to spin up to maximum burn, it also helped to obscure the second volley. And though much smaller, it screamed through the overtaxed targeting computers of the enemy fleet. The majority of Yrch gunboats were in front of the screen of missiles exploding behind them from the first volley. They could see what the others could not as the oncoming second volley raced towards them at a frightening speed. Those who still had working targeting systems tried desperately to pepper the area in front of them as missiles screamed past. For those that were unable to track the speed at which the volley was approaching, some followed their sense of service to its ultimate conclusion and intercepted warheads with what they could, namely their own vessels.
Moz watched with satisfaction as a number, albeit a small number, of enemy vessels winked out of existence and damage inflicted on a number of others. The damage was nowhere near enough to even the odds, but he hopped it did good to rattle their opponents. Meanwhile, the fleet had already completed its turn and had begun powering up all engines to full burn status, going as high as they dared on each of their reactors as they began to make their escape. Moz watched the enemy vessels begin to shrink behind him and give a gleeful smile. Now came the third and final part of this particular version of the maneuver, Klentania, in her professional opinion, was always rather dubious of its intended result. She had known Theodor Moz for a long time, and, while eccentric and brash (at least as measured by any Quatonian) she knew him to be a reasonable tactician, still, even he had his funny little ways.
“Comms Officer Ja’Jaro, open channel directed at enemy fleet and remove encryption for the duration of the transmission.” She said, trying her very best to keep a straight face as next to her, Moz climbed down from the position atop his chair and readjusted his hat. On the other side of the bridge, the confused but obedient Communication officer did as instructed.
“Y-Yes Madam, un-encrypted channel now open in direction of enemy fleet.” The room went silent save the sound of crew members furiously typing at consoles. Moz Coughed briefly.

“Ahoy-hellos-good-to-meet-you-lovely-amazo-goons!-Hope-you-happy-suck-on-them-sour-red-fruit!-Your-vice-president-sleeps-with-union-workers-and-your-ceo-smells-of-socialism!” he shouted, to general confusion mixed with a number of barely contained snickers and chuckling. Klentania herself had to hold her paw in front of her to try and muffle a laugh as Moz, already good and worked up, landed his final jab to anyone that might be listening. “Now-go-away-scram-do-a-runner-or-I’ll-come-call-get-bring-in-Endeavor-ships!” and here, a pause, “They-build-MUCH-better-merchandise!”


Back on bored the lead vessel, the pointy haired supervisor watched agog as a number of Gunboats evaporated in bubbles of explosive flame and the smallest of the five destroyers lurched as it moved just slightly slower than the others and was landed a series of punishing blows square on its jaw. He stiffened up and fumed before finally exploding out from his chair.
“Why they can’t say that to me! Can they? I mean I am not quite sure all what they said, but it sounded rude! Can they say that?” he bellowed as the first engineer, adjusting the glasses on his unusually long and narrow head, found himself responding without being able to help himself.
“Well, if the question is in a more literal capacity, seeing as how they already have spoken, then the answer would obviously be yes, but if you are asking more in a breach of protocol on whether they have the authority to talk to you…” The engineer continued onwards; all sense of self perseveration thrown aside until his co-workers frantically waved him into silence. Looking around at the others on the bridge awkwardly, he looked back to the Pointy haired supervisor and tried desperately to change topics as he wilted under the annoyed gaze of the Manager. “In any case, our competitors fleet seems to have taken the opportunity to be trying to escape, we really should be doing something about that.” He said, as the manager seemed to catch up with events.
“They are? Oh well that’s not good. Alright! All ships forward and give chase! No one tells me to suck on a sour red fruit, whatever those are.” The pointy hair manager said before easing back into his Amazo-brand recliner deluxe and pushed the massage button. The large lumbering factory ships flared to life and began pressing forward, soon joined by the other capital ships making up the bulk of the invasion fleet, meanwhile the gunboats had barely waited for the order and were already far out in front, working to close the gap between their singular central mounted rail gun and the UISC forces. As the fleet moved forward, the weapons employee was looking down at some information that, apparently, was being forwarded to her after being ignored by one of the other co-workers, specifically the one in the stickie note encrusted cubicle console.
“WALTER, if you don’t start responding to your emails, I WILL kill you!” she said as she effortlessly coordinated a series of damaged gunboats to circle behind the rest of the pack and out of the way of a few remaining UISC missiles. To this, the apparent ’Walter’ who was industriously cleaning an ear, shrugged.
“I already know what it’s about, it’s just some orders about the launch of troops to the surface for, I don’t know, grabbing some new important asset.” Hearing this, the other engineer craned his neck around to glare at his coworker.
“Well, if you know what the orders are, why don’t you launch the drop shops?” He said adjusting his glasses. Here, Walter shrugged again.
“I did it last time, why don’t you do it? Just because I’m closest to the button--” His last comment was cut short as the weapons employee had walked over, and slammed his face into the console panel, activating the command to launch ground forces.
“THERE! I pushed it for you! I hope your happy!” she said, before stomping off.

From bellow the Battle Cruiser and the two factory ships, large hanger bay doors opened as shielded drops ships began to stream out and head towards the atmosphere. The invasion of ZoZo had begun.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

OMG TRIPLE POST
Last edited by Crossroads Inc. on 2021-11-16 09:56am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

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DOUBLE POST
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

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Bridge of the NRS Pitch
Isenvadejo, Yrch/Amazo-X Space
Outer Solar Orbit


"Conn, Sensors. Passive sweep of the system complete. Reading no major warships. There are a few system monitors, but nothing that the fleet can't mop up. Our target was here, but it's gone."

"Sensors, Conn, aye. Hopefully the flyboys got more than one beacon attached."

"Conn, Comms. We've achieved the breakin on their SATCOM, if you can call it that. This is... reading as Amazo-X traffic, sir."

The bridge went still for a moment. "Comms, Conn, aye. Confirm."

"Confirmed, Captain. Definitely them. Putting a sample on audio."

The bridge speakers started to blare an advertisement for Amazo-X Web Services.

"Right, that's enough of that. Comms, Conn, prepare a directional burst transmission. Apprise fleet command of our findings. Helm, stand by to evade if we're detected. All other stations maintain silent running."
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

Endeavour System, The Battle

Despite looking like a gigantic anachronism, the bridge tower of an Endeavourite dreadnought in the 66th century was both far more and far less useful than that of their 20th century namesake. Between extreme automation and communications systems the people of those ancient days could only dream about, the whole nine-hundred-metres-and-change long warship could be flown by one person, though this could be done from nearly any console on the ship. In day-to-day navigation, the tower was useful in getting around the near endless tide of debris and asteroids that made up Endeavour space, while in combat it served as a control node and decoy all rolled into one.

The bridge of the Miho Nishizumi, for example, was a mess. Most of the floor was made of cushions, there were snack wrappers neatly contained in a corner, and the control consoles were less console and more wire.

Not because of the battle, mind, it was just always like that.

"Lance charged in thirty seconds!" Yukari called, prompting Hana to begin lining the great alloy beast up for the next shot; the entire dreadnought dragged itself around to point back twards the Yrch fleet, bow-onwards. It masked the rear turrets, but they simply switched to guided shot.

Saori looked up from one of the many, many small screens surrounding her. "Akko's on Facship two, Rei's taking Carrier 1, and Obligatory is going flak-shot." A previously rare tactic, the Particle Beam Lance could be set to invert after a set distance, turning it into a remarkably effective weapon against small craft. "Vainglorious is returning to line."

Miho Nishizumi - not the one the ship was named after - nodded. "Co-ordinate fire with Akko," she ordered. "Let's take that factory ship out of the fight!"

Already, blue energised gas was collecting in the ship's prow, kept barely contained by the giant ring magnet that formed the "barrel" of the Particle Beam Lance. The ship's particle accelerator spat out the last few specks of antimatter needed for a full charge, and the whole batch was transferred to a linear accelerator with a soft click. Less than a tenth of a second later, it shot out the front of the barrel, wrapping itself in the blue gas, CHOOMing its way towards the ill-fated Amazo-X ship. The beam connected the two ships for a moment, obliterating a drone that happened to fly into it, before the turbolaser wrapping expended all of its energy. This, alone, left a hole the size of a house punched through the entire ship, from top deck to bottom, before the antimatter payload did its usual thing with the unfortunately-matter ship. The entire front half of the Amazo-X factory ship was obliterated in an instant, which was a bit of a problem for the crew.

Especially because a second bolt - the Akko Kagari's - did the same to the aft half a split-second later.

-

Alarms rang across the massive bridge. Theophanic discipline held-- the assorted bridge officers were capably shouting orders, the crew of their departments relaying those orders or communicating back and forth information as necessary. It was a bit of a racket, but at least, a well organized one. The technognostiki in the rear choir-balconies were buzzing as they coordinated damage control. Sensors officers worked together with taktiki, updating the gigantic ologramma filling most of the open space above the bridge tiers to keep a constantly shifting battlefield on display.

Kharon felt a deep vibration through the bones of Megakolymvitis and snapped, “Defteros Geraint, you’re up” as a taktiki officer shouted, “Contact made! Hostile ingress-burn on hull, starboard quadrant 9-gamma!”

“By your command, my Lady,” was the prompt response from Geraint, one of her second mates, currently detailed to lead the Chelonis anti-boarding response units. She tapped a button on one of her consoles and spoke into the sprechenlange, “All hands, we have been boarded. Prepare for combat. All bosuns, break open weapons lockers. Medical, stand to. Crew, know that these are no fellow Theophanics we face. Lethal force is hereby authorised. Expect no mercy, and give none. Chalazi Theouautokratora! Chalazi Megakolymvitis!”

“Chalazi soi Chelonis!” was the response that rang across the intercom as she clicked it off. Distantly within the turtle-craft’s hull, the first Yrch that jumped through the glowing circle of the ingress-burn was promptly knocked backwards against the bulkhead by several rounds’ worth of heavy shot. Its mates, perhaps smarter, responded by throwing heavy charges through the entrance and waiting for the explosion. When they jumped out, they were confronted by massive shields that parted almost leisurely in the hands of class-four warsuits to allow a great rush of armoured soi Chelonis troopers through.

The dance of boarder and defender played to its deadly conclusion six thousand times across the Megakolymvitis. Here, warsuited Theophanic marines pushed into a Yrch boarding pod, effortlessly brushing aside the light infantry it carried; there, the roles were reversed, the boarders carrying a high-yield explosive a whole hundred metres into the ship before being exterminated. The overall damage was minimal, but combined with the constant sand-blast of railgun fire from the ships englobing the Mega, it was starting to add up...

-

Theophanic marines were, to put it bluntly, brutally effective. Miko was getting a little numb to seeing them brute force their way through Yrch barricades, grenades and shotguns doing their messy work. They were in their element, and it was best to leave them to it; instead, she took a handful of volunteers (including Heavy), and planned her own push out from the docking bay.

//DIE HARDMAN PROTOCOLS ACTIVE// flashed upon her HUD the moment she stepped off the ship. "Flutters, you're on relay duty," she said.

Fluttershy didn't respond, but picked up a large bundle of communications relay posts from the nearest autologi port, and with them a rifle. Heavy was first out the door, sweeping his oversized laser cannon from side to side even though the dock was safe. Miko herself was second - she was less baseline human than Satomi, the next one in line, and could risk taking more hits if her shield went down. She was carrying the standard loadout - lightsabre, rifle, and handgun - and wore an armoured suit. Satomi was the same, though Fluttershy broke the trend - her suit was reinforced, and as well as her rifle and the relay posts, she bore a mounted gun on her back. Between them all wove the usual train of small robots; power-carriers, fab-carriers, that sort of thing.

The small group made their way out of the Theophanic cordon, and pushed into the bowels of the Yrch ship. It was both like and nothing like the Amazo-X ships she'd been trained to board; every material was rougher, cruder, but there was a strange sense of order that pervaded the whole thing. If they went left at this junction, for example, they would definitely find one of the ship's food court areas. Or the local equivalent, at least. They made it two more junctions before meeting opposition; a platoon of Yrch, power-armoured and large, bearing stapled-together versions of Amazo-X rifles.

Heavy swept his laser along them, cutting down the first rank, and rounds sparked off the small party's shields. Miko returned fire, two rounds directly into the chest of a Yrch marine; she ducked back, hearing the poor creature's scream, and forced sheer revulsion at the profance act out of her mind. The firefight was over by the time she was back out, the Yrch all down. Heavy tagged most of the bodies - there had only been one or two headshots, so they'd likely survive - and one of the robots started fabbing out a minature aid station. The group, however, pushed on - the robot could tend to the dead.

Resistance increased the furthey they pressed on, to the point where Miko had to trade in her rifle for a larger weapon. Heavy's shields began to falter around the sixth junction, so they set up a temporary barricade in a side room and waited for the recharge cycle to kick in. Miko took a place at the parapet, taking pot-shots at the Yrch who had fortified themselves at either end of the corridor. They didn't seem inclined to make a charge yet, probably because the last bunch that had tried hadn't made it more than three paces. She was about to pop a shot off at what looked to be an officer, when some commotion at the back of the Yrch position made her hesitate. There was what looked to be like a Theophanic warsuit back there - but the nearest Imperial squad was a full two hundred metres away. What was one doing here?

-

The answer, of course, was "being very lost". Dekanéas Gamaliel had, despite the wide array of communications equipment available to him, somehow gotten separated from his squad during one of the pushes. There had just been too many of the damn Yrch, and he'd ducked to take cover, and turned the wrong way trying to find his way back to the firefight. At least, that was the version of events he was going to present when he got back, and not the version where he'd slunk off in the exact opposite direction of the gunfire. It wasn't his fault he'd been born with an allergy to bullets.

Now he was beginning to regret that decision. He'd left the relative safety of having a half-dozen other marines around him, and was on his own in the bowels of a Yrch ship... and had gotten lost for real. And then he'd run into a whole damn company of Yrch, and had screwed up his only chance of escaping before they noticed him. Well, there were none in the passage behind him yet, maybe he could still get out? He ducked behind a surprisingly thick door as Yrch rifle fire pattered around him, loosing off a round from the railgun he'd been issued. A shot came from behind, and he barely even looked around before pasting some unfortunate soul with a backhand. The return fire only intensified - how many of them were there? A particularly large example of the species came at him with a roar, and he put a round through its chest before realising it was only the first of several, and his railgun was not built for rapid fire. Drawing his axe, he caught the second Yrch in the chest, and whirled around to face the third, only to find it no longer had a head.

The Captain's girlfriend was in the thick of the Yrch, a photon sabre flashing in one hand and a small pistol in the other. She was almost too fast to keep up with, the blade flashing here one moment and there the next; pistol occasionally firing to keep just enough of the Yrch back to make her fight manageable. One tried to line up a shot with a shotgun, only for their entire chest to disappear - the good Captain had backup, it seemed, as three other Endeavour spacers and a whole panopoly of small robots came barreling out of their hideaway. He almost breathed a sigh of relief, and then some instinct made him turn around. He had supposed the room he'd almost ducked into was just another supply closet, or ancilliary room with a console or two for some arcane function. Well, it contained a console... but also a window looking out into serried ranks of what were unmistakeably cryogenic storage pods, built for Yrch. There must be hundreds of thousands of them!

"That looks like a problem," Captain Miyasawa said, as her companions began fortifying the chamber. "These look like controls..." She studied them for a moment, "And they were just about to start the unfreezing procedure when you distracted them."

Instantly, Gamaliel felt his blood chill. He knew what the next words out of Miyasawa's mouth would be before she said them, so he got there first: "I'll withdraw to the Theophanic lines and get reinforcements." Better that than sitting in a death trap like this place, with uncountable Yrch a single window pane and a hot breeze away. For her part, the Endeavourite Captain just nodded, and handed over a larger version of the mobile phones Endeavourites sometimes used.

"This'll guide you back to your lines. Good luck."

Gamaliel paused just long enough to not be rude (the lady was an Endeavourite Captain, and a good friend of his own to boot) before booking it. Finding his squad was easy, and only the knowledge that if he didn't actually do his job, then he would have thousands of Yrch gunning for him kept him from wandering off again. His sergeant took a minor bit of convincing - somehow, the man had the strange impression that Gamaliel had been fleeing from the battle - but soon enough they were all on their way back to the cryogenics control centre. And by "all of them", that unfortunately included Gamaliel, who had not been able to slip away once more. Cursing his luck, and the stubborn manner in which his comrades refused to take minor injuries that he could escort them back to the kleptoi for, he consoled himself by staying very much in the middle of the squad.

He needn't have bothered. Not a single Yrch opposed them on their reinforcement push, and as they reached the control room he saw why. Corpses littered the ground, three deep in some places, and the opposite end of the hallway was entirely collapsed. Two turrets, one with a worryingly large cannon and the other with eight smaller guns, tracked them as they approached. Most of the Endeavourite spacers were fine; the large one with the oversized laser cannon had one arm missing, and the other human one had a few rents in her armour, but the real stand-out was Miyasawa, who looked to be missing half her head, most of her chest, had more miscellaneous chunks of flesh missing, and was still standing. She turned her head.

"Glad to see you made it," she said, as the Theophanic marines looked on in mild horror. "Sorry if there's a slight delay, I'm running on remote right now."

-

The battle had entered its final stages. All seven of the Endeavourite battleships had been forced back, streaming atmosphere and with heavy wounds, and damage was piling up on the great dreadnoughts. The Yrch themselves were nearly a spent force, too, most of their heavy ships rendered to their constituent atoms, and the only thing keeping them in the fight was the slim chance of victory left to them. The remaining gunboats and parasite craft gathered for the final push, keeping careful spacing so as to not be obliterated by one shot, and the last Middle Manager of the force ordered the attack, even bringing in his troop transports in a last-ditch effort to take the enemy space station conglomerate. They burned away from the Magakolymvitis, his engines disabled by concentrated fire, and towards their target.

Which was, of course, when the Endeavourite reinforcements arrived. Over a dozen ships, cruisers and destroyers, closed the trap, and the spent Yrch had no chance.

-

"What ship fired that shot?" Kharon asked, pointing at where one of the larger parasite craft had been struck. "It's not showing up on the display."

Frater Skotia tapped a mechadendrite on the command throne, bringing a pixellated blur into focus. "̷̬̒̀M̶̲̊͌y̸̭̺̆ ̴͔̽a̴̟͗p̵̫̮̑̿o̴̼̣͋l̴̙̭͊õ̶̼g̷̜̘̎í̴̭e̵͇͗s̸̡̅͝ͅ,̵̩̺̓̐ ̵͎͓̉b̸̦̊͋ű̴͚t̷̳̯͒ ̷͔̼̊̉I̷̻̋ ̵͉͒̈́c̷̱͎̾a̵̺̍̓ṇ̷͂n̶̨̝͆͐o̵͖̎ť̷͈̣ ̷̯̘͝f̷̯̽͠o̵͙̐͂c̵͖͒̄ͅȕ̶̯̌ş̶̘̾ ̵̪̆t̸̡͒h̴̢́̊͜ē̶̦̟ ̷̏ͅd̷̙̄ĭ̸ͅs̴̪̻͠ṕ̴͈͚̍l̷̘̍̓a̴̛̘̙y̶̮͇̒ ̶̲͆a̶̗͋̒ͅn̸͍͙̏͝y̵̖̅ ̶̭̃̐f̵̗͓͛ù̴͓̽r̸̟̤̀̉ẗ̷̡̺́ḥ̷̳̃e̷͕͉͋̚r̴͚͕̆.̴̟̆͆ ̸̛̼M̵̖͝y̵͔̳͒͘ ̸̺͈̃̕ŗ̶̹̄͠ẻ̶͙̓c̴̖̜̉ǫ̸̥̒̆r̵͙̲͋d̸̖̆s̸͍̞͑̿ ̵̘̞̐̉i̵̢̟͛̚n̴̙͕͗͊d̴̛̙̯i̶͕͛c̵͓̤̔à̶͎̬̕t̵̯̳̀ẽ̷̡̖ ̷͇͠í̵̟̗t̶̛̳̐ ̴̠͙͛̓ỉ̵͜s̴̞̪̿̓ ̴̢̈́a̴̡̳͛n̷̖͈̈́ ̵̘̣͝͝"̷͈̫͊̍É̴͙ì̴̩̕g̵̯͐ẖ̷̃̅t̶̺̺̓̅ ̵̦̀̍Ẽ̶̟͠q̶̲̫̊ù̷͉ä̸͍̦̿ĺ̶̲s̷̤̈́͗ ̵̼͂̚E̵̞͛q̵͇͒͜ù̸̙ă̸̖̼l̶̟̍͌ş̶̍ ̵̠̎E̶͎͌̆q̸̣̬̈́͌ư̵͙̚a̶̬͛͌l̸͇̟͊̓s̴̻̳̾ ̵͎̍́ͅD̸͕͙́͘"̵̥̭̾͘-̶̞̈̚c̸͉̈̌l̵͔̓å̸̡͎ş̷̥̈͐s̵͈̰͝͝ ̸̥̼̉͂c̷̙̾͋r̷̞̈́̔u̴̦͎͌ï̷̝̀ș̸̿̇e̶̙͇̎r̷̖̻͝,̵͙͇͝ ̸͕͇̕ẗ̶̲̠́h̴̺̬͋͛o̶͍͈̓͘ú̴̻̃g̵̰̉̎ḧ̸̲́ ̶̳͚̈́I̶̦̾ ̷̢͆͂s̶̻͘u̶͉͇̎s̸̡̼͆̋p̷̢͂̿ḙ̸̭̈́c̴͖̔̃t̸̼̔̊ ̷̤̒t̶̲̐͋ḧ̵̳̺́͑â̶̳̫͆t̵̪̃ ̶͓̉͋i̶̥͆s̸̗͗ ̸̨̍̀i̵͇͊̋n̶̼͕̽ ̶͚̖̐̀ḛ̸̭̑r̸̻̓͝r̶̤͚̾͝o̷̚͜r̸̪͋̕.̶̤͐"̷̬̋

Kharon furrowed her brow. "Eight equals equals... wait, I get it. There is no error." She resolved to simply ignore such ships in future, and instead cast a critical eye over the damage control efforts. They were still immobile, but the enemy had left them well enough alone; they might be able to make one-quarter speed in a few minutes. Not that the battle would take that long; as she watched, a squadron of Endeavour destroyers - each the size of the snek but armed like weapons were going out of style - blasted the last factory ship to a hulk with a volley of heavy fire. The Yrch motherships, too, were being picked apart; one Yrch cruiser flashed away, but within minutes, the tactical screen showed no more hostile warships. Some had surrendered (particularly the unarmed transports carrying the Yrch army's main body), others had been captured, but most had simply contributed to the great debris field that made up the Endeavour system.

Already, full-scale repairs were underway; one battleship seemed to close the wounds on its starboard side in moments, while another practically grew a replacement turret. Kharon let out a long sigh, and unbuckled her helmet. "Prepare a makrysofas," she ordered. She had an Endeavourite Captain to look in on.





OOC:
Mechanically, the combat lasted 5 rounds.
Yrch losses: nearly total except for one retreating cruiser.
Endeavourite losses: 335 points of damage, spread mostly amongst the battleships and dreadnoughts. 147 of this is healed immediately due to Improved Logistics. 78 IP salvaged from the battlefield. I'll decide what to spend this on hopefully before the turn ends, so as to have it available for Turn 3.
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Elheru Aran
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Elheru Aran »

Helios III
Site of the Theophanic Embassy


The news that a Yrch mothership had emerged into orbit and dropped cruisers arrived at the Theophanic embassy founding ceremony about the same time that the mothership exploded. Even a ship as massive as that only made a star-like flicker in the bright afternoon sky far above the ceremony, but experienced eyes among the Theophanic and Nashtari security complements noticed it right away. They had naturally been informed as soon as their respective fleets sensed the intrusion, and sharp Endeavourite ears (or, depending on the being, discreet but highly sensitive antennae pulling in all nearby signals) already knew as well, if their ambassador ‘Lucky’ Nyallone discreetly pulling out a Tommy-gun almost as big as she was from an implausibly small violin-case indicated anything.

Lord soi Hapax looked up from the urgently whispering armoured officer on the dais before the stands and straightened up. Spreading his arms, he took in the buzzing crowd and called, “My friends and colleagues. By now you will have been informed that we are under a state of emergency. The perfidious Yrch have entered the orbit of this world, intent upon doing us all harm. But have courage, for the valiant forces of the Empire are at hand!”

He held his hands out wide, and precisely at that moment, the alteskolasis hell-jumpers cast off their ptychi-shield lifting-bodies and fired their landing rocket-harnesses. Gilt armour shot through with the green of soi Hapax shone in the hot yellow flare of retros as they descended majestically, landing flanking the dais in good order, weapons ready for action. Tagmatarchios Tzefri soi Hapax drew a long glittering blade and saluted the Ambassador-regent, then the stands, and overhead the first couple of Theophanic drop-ships screamed past and began circling.

One of them drew close to the stands and hovered, its incredible size dwarving the bleachers. Twenty-metre-wide hatches levered open alongside the hull of the dropship and massive armoured vehicles rocketed out, landing thunderously and sending dirt spraying as they drifted into a surprisingly orderly formation facing outward from the bleachers. The dropship settled closer to the ground and monstrous class-four warsuits wielding shields fit for their size jogged out, closely followed by a flood of armoured troops. Swiftly the stands were surrounded, much to the Nashtari security forces’ visible discomfiture.

Ambassador Shelton was standing by Natanael soi Hapax at this point, and cautiously inquired, “I do hope you understand that we are quite safe here, Lord Ambassador? Our forces have us well protected…”

soi Hapax chuckled lightly. “Of course they do. They will not object to us… adding a second layer of safety, shall they?”

Turning back to the crowd, he called out, “My friends. If you will board the ship here, we will bring you to our new embassy structure, and protect you there until our gracious hosts of Nashtar and our Theophanic ships above have eliminated the threat. Our forces will preserve us and keep us safe in the meantime from any insults to our dignity. To the walls, my comrades!”

He wasn’t kidding; two hovering dropships were literally dropping walls around the dimly glowing embassy structure in the distance. Another was deploying gigantic construction-type mech-suits, which were painstakingly quite literally unfolding the fallenschloss into a complete embassy building. Distantly, the roar of rocket engines from Billings Aerospace Force Base, not far from the Theophanic embassy, heralded the scrambling of fighters as air raid sirens began to sound.

There was a general mutual glancing at each other and then a consensus seemed to form as the crowd started filing towards the dropship besides the stands.

Helios III Orbit

Above, Mikhalil sat back in his throne with satisfaction as the Yrch raiders dissolved under the barrage of heavy railgun shots from the Nashtari fleet. Then he frowned and pointed. “That signal. Is it intact?”

“Yes, my lord, one Yrch ship, minor size. We read heavy damage to engines and weapons, but it is braking to deorbit as quickly as it can.”

“Taktiki?!” he barked.

“We estimate they are heading directly for Union City, my lord,” came the prompt response from that officer, “and if they continue upon their arc, they will ground in the area of the Theophanic embassy.”

“Damn it!” Mikhalil came to his feet and pointed at the steersman. “You!”

The ypolchagos-- Theophanic ships being large and precious, their piloting was restricted to officers for the most part-- swiveled in his seat and saluted. “Yes, my lord?”

Mikhalil pointed at the planet below on the bridge ologramma. “Ten minutes from my mark, I want to be able to reach out the ventral hangar and pluck flowers for my girl. Understood?”

The steersman saluted again crisply. “It shall be done, my lord.”

Mikhalil nodded. He sat down and back, and the restraint clips on his throne clicked into place on his warsuit. Thumbing a button on the arm of the throne, he called, “All hands shall brace for immediate emergency maneuvers. On my mark, Steersman… mark.”

For a moment, the Teknitis hung above Helios III, the lights of traffic glittering nearby around the planet. Then hot flares lit below its wide prow and upon its back, great maneuvering thrusters ignited on full emergency power, flipping the craft a full one-eighty degrees within seconds, like watching a continental plate turn over. As soon as it was facing fully opposite to its orbital direction, its drive thrusters lit, incandescent torches blazing as its ventral thrusters burned hard to push it downward into the atmosphere of the world below.

As the ship dropped much like a rocket-propelled brick-- indeed, its aerodynamics were not too dissimilar, if bricks came in ten-kilometre lengths-- fire wrapped around it as its deceleration burn stopped and the maneuvering thrusters forced it back around again. On its expansive bridge, Mikhalil gritted his teeth against the massive vibration shaking the entire gigantic craft and grunted out, “Do we have a lock?”

“A-a-almost-- m-my Lo-lord,” chattered a weapons officer. Mikhalil nodded and growled, “Taktiki. Collateral damage?”

The vibration started smoothing out, and then the ship jerked forward as its drives lit again once it was facing a trajectory that took it directly towards Union City. At several times the speed of sound, they would be there within moments… but the Yrch ship was almost there already.

Mikhalil began muttering a prayer of forgiveness for the devastation that bringing a wreck down upon Union City would likely wreak. Someone at one side of the bridge was screaming into the comm, presumably on Nashtari spectra, to clear the airspace over the city... and then the taktiki shouted, “Aspis! My lord, there is an aspis over Union City!”

A shield? Mikhalil’s heart lifted. The Nashtari were no fools, then. “Weapons,” he bellowed despite the gravities pressing him back into his throne, “fire all facing ordnance that has a lock, now!”

The wide banks of clouds distant above the coast of Helios’ primary continent broke apart as the gigantic Magnatrabes battleship punched through them, spewing clouds of missiles and laser-straight tracers of railgun fire. Above Union City, the Yrch raider jerked and convulsed under the shattering weight of fire both from Teknitis and ground-side Nashtari defense batteries, and began disintegrating. Wreckage from it flared as it burned up against the powerful aspis dome over the city.

“It’s about to fall upon the urban district!” came a cry somewhere on the bridge. Mikhalil’s response was instant. “All casemates on the fore quarter will withdraw pieces and seal hatches. All hands, brace for impact! Steersman, ram the gios tis skylas [son of a bitch]! Push it away from the city! Now!”

Teknitis performed its duty admirably. The gigantic bulk of the ship, its armour plate scorched black from re-entry, slammed directly into the hulk of the Yrch raider and bodily shoving it away across the width of the city within seconds. In fact the ship was moving so fast that the wind of its passage tore up a broad stripe of land along the continent, only ending when the steersman forced it on an upward trajectory back into orbit, the completely totaled raider falling away into an ocean on the way up.

Mikhalil sat back and sighed as Teknitis began braking to re-enter its orbital position, having almost flown past it. Though in fact the ship had actually went around the planet a couple times or so… but that was immaterial as he snapped, “Situation update. Are they safe below? No wreckage on them or anything?”

The communications officer called out, “The embassy reports they are coming under fire. They read a number of landers dropping from that raider just before we hit it…”

He cursed again (this trip was giving his vocabulary a workout, he reflected). “Tell them we will commence dropping reinforcements as soon as we’re in position again, but until then…”

Theophanic Embassy Complex, Helios III

Sparks showered from above and workers bustled around Natanael soi Hapax as he and his entourage, including the Nashtari Ambassador Shelton and Nyallone of Endeavour, strode into the Theophanic fallenschloss’ great hall. Robed technognostiki directed hordes of laborers as they were finishing erecting what appeared to be an array of tactical consoles upon the carefully placed thick fiber mats protecting the highly polished wooden floor. As soi Hapax, still clad only in a fine robe and a flowing kilt, came up to a firm stop before the primary console, a technognostiki came hurrying up.

M̶͍͉͎̹͒̄̂̈̋͘͜y̵̖̖̘̽͆̏̏̌̌͝ ̵̼͖͚̖͕̙́͜l̷̢͖̯̖̼̼͊̃̓̒̀o̴̻̘̔͊͒̃r̵͈̆̂̈́́̕̚d̵͔͒͊̀͐,̶̹̼̦̟̗͐͋͗̓̄̈̈́͜ͅ ̶̗͇͇͂̐̾͒̒̆̈́̈́w̷̻̯̤̦̖̍̎͒̏͘͝e̸̡̛͖̖͕̖̪̜͂ ̴̘͗̌̂́͛̓̀ś̷̫͓̮̱̬̻̰̻t̸̡̛̞͖͖̣̰̽̋ạ̶̡̯̬̲̤̦͉̐͊͘n̵̙̑̓̀͛̇͠ḍ̶̙̬̹̮̂̈́̀ͅ ̷͚̪͈̼̯͎͒̐̌̀͘͠͝r̶̺͇̪̆e̵͍̒̄̂̀͂a̸͇̗͉̣͕͒̃͆͋́͊̓d̸̗̺̦̰̈́̔ͅy̶͍̪̫̤͕̩̋̅̊̑̄̂͠ͅͅ ̶̨̦͐̀̀̄̕̕͝t̵͖̾̽o̵̡̧̜̰̔̋ ̵̠̯̺̳̳̉ò̸̧̧̨͙̭͉͚̘́̄ṽ̶̞͙̙̭̟͗e̸̤̲̪͖̰̳̐̓̀̾ͅr̵̻͇͔̂͘ͅs̷̻̏͐̈ḙ̷͉̩̝͚͖̱͒̇̈́́̐̕e̶̦͂̊̍ͅ ̸͇͔̤̥͓̜̥̉͝t̴̨̛̮̄̒̐̑̋̀h̸̰͇̏̈̈́͘e̷̱̺͊͑́͋͂͝ ̷̨̡̛̭̩͇̼̆́͐́̇̊̇ͅb̷̞̝͇̂̈̈́̃a̷̤͔̭͉̬͖̙̹͐̂͆̀͘̕t̸̡̪̹̖̟̋̕t̸̢͇̗͉̞̜͎̻̎͒̌̎̂̀͠͠l̴̻͚̘̻̈́͊̎̋͗̅̚e̸̘͖̥̗̟͑̿̋̈́͒̏͜ ̴͚͔͊̕͘͠a̸̡̢̘̻̥̣̔̀̋̉̕ͅͅt̶̢̛̻̪̀͌̊̒͝ ̴͔̤̯͇̲̂h̵͂͌́̄͒̿͜a̴̛͖͂͂͛̔̕͠n̸̛̬d̶̲̲̠̰͗̽, reported the engineer. soi Hapax nodded and responded, “Proceed. Light the ologramma. Let’s see our situation.”

The technognostiki bowed and gestured dramatically. A massive console in the center unfolded and smoothly extruded a projector, which flared and then sent icy blue light across the entire chamber. As it was almost the size of a basilica, this was no small feat; but it was a large situation…

Besides soi Hapax, a warsuited officer drew up and pointed. “See there the Yrch craft shedding landers? Ah, ground fire took that one out…”

“Yes, Chaerepeon, I see. Where’s our orbital-- ah.”

The Theophanic officer looked around and hollered, pressing their hand to an earbud, “All units! All units, brace for danger close flight! Repeat, all units will brace!

Teknitis tou Theouautokratora emerged from one side of the ologramma display as they watched in awe, its monstrous bulk spewing railgun fire and missiles. Its Cyclopean proportions literally shadowed most of Union City, and with incredible speed, the Yrch raider crumpled as the Magnatrabes battleship bodily shoved it away from the city.

Then the ground began shaking. soi Hapax shouted, “Hold on to something or go to ground! Now!”

The thick armour plating of the fallenschloss began vibrating, and shutters abruptly dropped down over every window. An unimaginable roar filled the chamber and the deep-rooted structure shuddered as the hot wind whipped up by Teknitis lashed across it, wreaking havoc across the land. A few brave souls remained standing, clutching desperately to the consoles or nearby structures within the hall. Everybody else had thrown themselves flat on the floor, protecting their heads or ears with their hands.

Teknitis vanished from the ologramma, a few seconds after it had appeared, but the fallenschloss-embassy still groaned. As it stilled, the ologramma displayed a massive tornado tearing across the countryside near Union City. Unprompted, Theophanic personnel stood back to their stations and began opening spectra to Nashtari command to coordinate emergency action.

As soi Hapax stood, Chaerepeon pointed at the ologramma again and called, “Stand to. Form up on vector sigma. All ground units with anti-air, emplace, target and open fire on incoming landers!”

The Yrch landers dropped by the raider had been buffeted badly by the passage of the Teknitis, but though one had been destroyed against Union City’s theatre shield, the rest were still incoming. A Theophanic in the hall scoffed loudly and called, “Six landers incoming. Estimated capacity, four hundred infantry each. Even if they’re packed like sardines, we cannot be facing more than three thousand.”

“One perfidious Yrch is too much,” soi Hapax sternly replied, but he nodded and turned to Chaerepeon. “Syntagmatarchis [Colonel], you have command. I leave this engagement in your capable hands, and I pray Theoua’s hands are on you. We shall stay out of the way.”

Rounding about to face the diplomats behind him, he extended a hand towards tables and chairs hurriedly being placed at the far end of the hall, below a great rose-window being revealed by a shutter rolling away. “Shall we, friends and colleagues?”

Ambassador Shelton cleared his throat and stepped away from the knot of Nashtari troopers securing his group. “My lord soi Hapax. We appreciate the protection, but I must ask that you secure transportation back to Union City for us at the soonest.”

“Of course, Ambassador. As soon as the threat is under control,” Natanael responded smoothly, “and you as well, my lady Nyallone.”

Nyallone’s ears twitched through the brim of her hat and she grinned at soi Hapax. “I think we’re fine, nya? Wouldn’t mind a little actionya, you know what I mean ~nya?”

soi Hapax’s lip quirked at the corner. “Yes. But we shall trust our heroic troops to take care of this little matter for us. In the meantime, I believe the kitchens have been set up…”

Out in the fields, some distance from the fallenschloss, emplaced mobile artillery began lashing the incoming Yrch landers with fire-- railguns, rockets, even high-speed antimissile lasers. One of the landers burst in midair, scattering bodies and vehicles as it tumbled into the river separating Union City from the Theophanic property. Another juddered and executed a controlled deceleration against terrain, showering dirt and trees as it skidded to a halt.

But the remaining four split up, two descending immediately before the rapidly forming lines of Theophanic troopers and heavy armour, the other two burning past to land on the far side of the embassy… where one was promptly rammed by an orbiting Theophanic dropship, knocking it into a deep lake on the far side.

Within the Theophanic dropship Gamma-Dodeka, Fylakas Zosimas shouted lustily, “Get up, you lot! What’re you doing, laying about? We just had a wee turbulence!”

Laughter and jeers came back at him as his troopers got up off the deck, their skyloi [dogs] hefting up to their feet as well, barking and dancing, ready for action. Zosimas reached out and grabbed the scruff of his skylos, Finto, and muttered, “You ready, boy?”

Finto responded by swiping a great tongue across his face. Zosimas thumped a fist into the side of the skylos’ head and then scratched behind his ear, nodding. He grabbed the helmet hanging off his belt and pulled it on, listened to the chirp in his ear and then shouted again, “Stand to, boys! First and second ranks, mount!”

The dropship veered sideways sharply, and Zosimas heard the familiar vibration of nearby flak explosions. Friendly fire? Unlikely, the lander that made it probably had defensive armament being deployed. He put it out of his mind; the deep humming of the engines had switched volume, switching to brake for landing. His foot went into the stirrup and deftly he mounted Finto.

He took one last look up and down the deck. Troopers sitting firmly on their massive horse-sized skyloi. The dropship shuddered and thumped hard, and the great side hatches opened abruptly as the ramps thrust out into the dirt below. Zosimas stood up in his stirrups and bellowed, “Kavalarides sta skylia! Mazi mou! Pros ta empros! Chalazi Hapax! Chalazi Theoua!

The dog-riders launched forward out of the dropship in a great howl, galloping forward into hot fire coming their way from the Yrch…

Within the embassy, Natanael soi Hapax was in conference with some officers when his elbow was tapped lightly. He turned inquisitively to see a ypolchagos from the unit guarding the other diplomats, who saluted and reported, “My lord, the Sector ambassador would like to speak to you. High Bishop Macon, I believe their name is.”

soi Hapax considered for a moment, then nodded to dismiss the officers and followed the ypolchagos back to the tables set up at the end of the hall. The diplomats had broken up into their own groups, though the Endeavourites were naturally mixing with everyone. The Sector contingent were seated at the back, largely keeping to themselves, and he had to think about it for a moment as they walked forward.

He didn’t quite have time to finish his contemplations before the great bulk of the Skothian towered before them. The ypolchagos saluted and then hurriedly stepped away. Natanael slid a professionally diplomatic smile upon his face and looked upward at the imposing alien. “My lord Macon. A pleasure to finally meet you, though I regret the circumstances are less than ideal.”

Indeed,” rumbled the great Skothian, “but I thank you for extending your protection to us.”

soi Hapax flipped his hand dismissively. “Think nothing of it, my lord Bishop. The Empire is faithful to all, except those that fight against it, of course. How could we do less than the Theouautokratora who loves us all?”

Macon slowly blinked its dark eyes. “Yes. I do not share your faith, but I commend your principles. Life in all its forms is precious.

Natanael nodded thoughtfully and clasped his hands behind him. He lifted a brow and asked carefully, “Now, my lord Bishop, or would High Bishop be the correct address?”

It does not matter greatly to me,” rumbled the Skothian, “Though your society’s reliance upon names and titles is… interesting to us. If you are uncomfortable with simply addressing me as Macon, ‘my lord’ or Bishop will do, though of course these titles do not completely parallel your own.

“Right then,” responded soi Hapax, “my lord, what did you wish to speak with me about?”

A stray cannon shell from somewhere thumped into the exterior of the embassy building, shivering it. Macon glanced in the direction of the sound and then back at soi Hapax. “Yes. I am given to understand that the Yrch have not landed anywhere else on Helios. Is this so?

“It is indeed. The taktiki believe it is no coincidence that the landers came directly here. Certainly there are many locations around the planet that would be of strategic value, and the protection of Union City by a theatre shield certainly prevented them from attacking targets inside the capital, and we happen to be convenient to Union City while exhibiting obvious signs of recent military build-up… but even so, it is interesting that they made a bee-line here rather than scattering.”

Macon nodded ponderously. “What do you know of these Yrch?

soi Hapax shrugged. “Little enough. The Endeavourites have shared most of their information. Even the Nashtari have released some to us. Current evaluations have them associated with Amazo-X in some fashion; certainly they seem to be using Amazo technology, though we have no way of knowing whether they purchased it for their own use or not.

Though the communications jamming has been powerful,” Macon began carefully, “my personnel have received a message relayed from our starship, from the Sector.

Natanael kept his expression smooth. Faster-than-light comms were unknown within the Empire, though there were always rumours about the technognostiki… but those were on the level of them having carnal knowledge with kitchen appliances. Of course some other star nations might have developed their teknis differently and found some way to communicate across the yawning void of space. He nodded and politely inquired, “I take it this communique involved either Amazo or the Yrch?”

Macon nodded, or rather, tipped its body forward and back slightly, but he assumed it meant much the same as the human gesture. “Yes. A force of Yrch and Amazo-X ships have attacked Zozo, one of the colonies of the UISC.

“The Sector has the condolences of the Theophanic Empire,” soi Hapax began smoothly, but Macon precluded him by holding up a broad hand the size of his head. “The Skothian people have... known… for some time that the leadership of Amazo-X is fascinated by… history. And we have been around for quite some time.

No fool Natanael-- he put the pieces together instantly. “Of course. They assaulted the embassy in order to secure you for their purposes.”

I would claim that I am not that important, but lying is not a good look. Is that the correct term in your language? I heard it on some of the local entertainment media.

“I’m not from around here, I haven’t the slightest idea,” Natanael responded quickly as he waved troopers over. The Sector delegation was quickly packed up and sent to the secure bunkers below the fallenschloss. As Macon prepared to leave, he paused a moment and turned to Natanael.

One more thing,” it asked, “we understand that your title of Ambassador-Regent means that you are not the Ambassador proper. Where are they, if we may ask?

“Oh, that?” Natanael blinked; he hadn’t even thought about that yet today. “In orbit, aboard the Magnatrabes Evaki.”

I would very much like to meet them,” Macon rumbled. soi Hapax’s professional diplomat mask slipped for a moment with a slight, tight grimace. “I’m afraid that with the current excitement, that may not be possible for some time. But once this unpleasantness is resolved, we’ll take care of that, I assure you.”

The great Skothian nodded and… slithered? slid? away. Shelton sidled up to soi Hapax and murmured aside, “I must concur with the Bishop. I would also very much like to meet your Ambassador proper soon.”

“All things in their time, my lord Shelton,” was Natanael’s tense response, “but first, well.”

His gesture encompassed the giant tactical ologramma, and Shelton nodded. “Of course. By the way, do you require my credentials to assist in coordinating with Republic forces?”

At that moment, icons on the tactical ologramma representing Nashtari ground-attack aircraft zoomed across, and one of the grounded Yrch dropships vanished in a great explosion. As the embassy building rumbled, Shelton nodded and continued thoughtfully, “It seems not. But if I can be of any assistance…”

“Of course. If you will excuse me…” and Natanael returned to his officers. Shelton watched him walk away thoughtfully, and then the Endeavourite ambassador-- what was her name again? Nyallone? caught his eye and he boggled (not that anybody would have noticed but the most keen observer, Shelton’s expressions being entirely too well trained). The Endeavourite was eating! As were her companions! At a time like this… well, he supposed he could do worse than have a cup of coffee, and rumour had it Theophanic coffee was quite drinkable compared to the swill the Endeavourites consumed…

Outside, all the Yrch dropships were either down or destroyed. Though they had taken heavy losses, the skyros kavalarides with tank support had wiped out one drop behind the embassy. On the other front, the fighting had been intense, but the Theophanics had been able to take advantage of the great gouge blown out of the ground and forest by the passage of Teknitis as a killing-ground. The alteoskolasis hell-jumpers had taken advantage of their landing harnesses, normally dropped after touchdown, to leap about the battlefield and bring their heavy firepower to bear.

Elsewhere, it had been a matter of fire-and-advance, the heavy class-four suits moving forward bearing massive shields to cover troopers behind them or carrying great anti-tank or anti-personnel firearms to lay down a hurricane of fire as the lesser armoured troopers maneuvered around clumps of Yrch. One of the hostile dropships, the one who had crashed on the bank of the river, had blown itself apart to release a massive tank. That had ground its way forward for some distance before the alteoskolasis landed on top of it and tore it apart, though they lost a couple of their number in the process.

To their credit, the embassy had speedily coordinated with the Nashtari beyond disaster control. The Nashtari had quickly brought in troops from the bases around Union City, air-lifting in armoured vehicles. A drop of airborne troops was considered, but the weather patterns created by the ship combat in the atmosphere were still too extreme to do so safely. They were closing in around the Theophanic embassy, catching some action of their own as scattered Yrch units attempted to escape.

As the sun sunk low in the distance, the Theophanics were mopping up, dog-cavalry trotting around the embassy grounds. Nyallone and the Endeavourites walked out the great front gates of the fallenschloss, looking around the battlefield… that wasn’t in front of them, or at least not directly. The Theophanics had managed to keep the Yrch a safe distance away from the embassy, though well within sight of the building.

Then suddenly there was a bit of commotion in the lines. Lucky narrowed her eyes and zoomed in. A last surviving Yrch unit had somehow broken through the Theophanics-- perhaps rushing a gap in the Empire’s lines during a movement or something-- and were making a bee-line for the embassy. Shouts resounded from troopers manning the fallenschloss walls, and Nyallone caught a few orders towards her entourage to fall back within.

She grinned. Somehow she produced her oversize tommy-gun from nowhere, and her compatriots likewise suddenly bristled with an improbable quantity of weaponry. Nyallone turned back and looked at the nearest platoon of Theophanics rushing up and cracked, “We’ll be fine. See, nya?”

The Yrch unit never knew what hit it.

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

OOC: Unless Rogue 9 would like to contribute (I believe he is planning on at least a short post to detail his side of the action), this should wind up the Helios battle. My next post will probably conclude the Endeavour action as well. Unless Crossroads wants to conclude the Zozo action in turn 2 as well, I suggest we wind it up with a few light posts and commence turn 3 once the holidays are over.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

UISC Colony ZoZo, Colonia central complex.

Far below on the surface of the planet alarms were screaming out as around the capital colony center defense grids and military stations were erupting into action. The huge, massive central colony complex at the heart of the spreading population, had detected the vessels jumping into orbit at the same time as the defense force in space. It had not taken long for those in command to realize their worst fears come true, that the colony was under Yrch attack. Still small and far from being equipped with anything as massive as surface to orbit anti-ship weaponry, the colony was far from defenseless. Assault craft screamed off from the basses several launch areas, as across the central complex, gun turrets and missile clusters opened like a porcupine showing its quills. Atop the central control room for the tower, Military commander, and operations manager, Alyeena Kelonoa, was in the thick of trying to organize defense plans as fast as possible.

“Confirmation, weapons fire has now been exchanged between forces, exact nature of enemy ships unknown.” Called out someone at a comms station as Alyeena walked by on her way to the weapons systems, examining the timetable for deployment. In the back of her mind was the feeling that she should have seen this coming. To be fair, the whole of the UISC military HAD ‘seen it coming’ which was the whole reason there was a good-sized defense force in orbit. But however much one may prepare, she reminder herself you often never expect it to happen.
“Can we get a message to the defense force? We need to have a better idea of what we are going to be dealing with.”
“Negative, enemy vessels have blanketed the upper atmosphere with a jamming screen. Last message was confirmation of call from reinforcements from the 2nd Defense fleet, otherwise there has been no further communications.” Alyeena swore.
“How about planet side communications? I just got a message from the field offices at the air command. I assume we are still ok over terrestrial communications.” She said looking over a string of messages coming in on her data pad
“Affirmative, long range band comms still online, jamming seems confined only to the upper atmosphere.”
“Ok that is something to work with. Contact the Telamooyn observatory at the science station and get them to connect their feed over to us. We can at least just look up and see what ships are going to be coming our way! What is the status on the defense grid deployment?” she said as off in the distance, she watched the flare of light from another group of fighters taking off.
“Defense grid at 87% deployment. High yield energy weapon systems at 75% of optimal power charge for firing. Estimating 100% deployment on all grids in the next three minutes.” Came the response as Alyeena, unable to help herself gave an almost instant response.
“Make that finished in two minutes or I’ll have you all on latrine duty!” she shouted to an immediately room wide chorus of “YES COMMANDER”

As the room suddenly became that much busier, Alyeena took a moment to pause and look out a window. “Stay safe up there Kletania, don’t make me regret letting you stay with the old man” she muttered under her breath before a moment later another shout brought her attention.
“Commander, telemetry coming in from the observatory, we haven’t been able to get a direct feed yet, but it was reported they counted about eight to ten larger ships and an unknown number of smaller ships of unknown types... Now getting reports of large-scale missile explosions! Enemy ships obscured, no current visuals.” Alyeena, among all the shouting, actually chuckled at this, her tail swished back and forth as she looked back up to the sky.
“That means that captain Moz is still doing ok then! He always did like using rockets in overwhelming numbers. Ok, until we hear different from the observatory, I want focus on atmospheric and ground defense forces. Air command says we have three of our tactical fighter wings up and the forth is getting ready, I want to know as soon as they report enemy forces attempting to land.”
“Commander, we may be getting confirmation of that now, one of our satellites is just on the edge of their jamming field and reading incoming signatures approaching the colony, estimated time out approximately ten minutes.” The Conearian at the sensor station read off to a mix of hoots and “here we go!” Alyeena for her part stiffened up, her fur and tail on edge as the moment she dreaded had arrived. There was no longer denying or staying out of the fight, enemy forces were coming and, no matter how good the defense, how unified their resolve was, casualties would happen, and people would lose their lives.
“So, it is always the case in war” she said softly before pacing back towards the middle of the command room. “Lower armored shutters and issue the order for all turret operators to unlock safeties.” She said as immediately across the whole tower complex, massive blast doors began to lower in place. “Authorization is now given for use of deadly force in the defense of the colony, as issued by Alyeena Kelonoa, 2nd bar Commander UISC Military” she said, making sure that now of all times things were done by the book. As soon as the order was recorded, she sat down, immediately a tactical display of the surrounding area, the colony and the command tower came up. In the distance were the approaching blips of Yrch forces. “All air wings, this is Commander Alyeena Kelonoa, orders are to prioritize anything that looks like a landing craft. If you think it is carrying ground forces take it down. Do not engage enemy fighter craft unless you are directly engaged. Any pests that come our way, you can be sure we will give them a good heavy punch in the face. Kelonoa Out” she said as she watched the tactical display of the fighter wings. Pressing a code into one of the displays, she switched on the chatter between the fighters as they approached target. Long ago she had been a fighter pilot, and here and now she could imagine herself in the sky once again.

“1st Wing, lead Pilot Faux Kaw’Clawd reporting in, targets eighty seconds out and closing, all pilot wings report in!” said a Qwintoni pilot with an unusually bright orange fur pattern.
“2nd Wing, lead pilot Falacona Lymannhono reporting. I will have you covered Faux!” this was said by a Trathalan with a distinct blue dyed hair and a head dress festooned with decorative feathers.
“3rd Wing, lead Pilot Sloopea Pawnatoona reporting. Make room, these Yrch are as good as mine!” A Conearian who, despite being a pilot, always went up with a toolbelt and a ‘lucky wrench’ given to them by their grandfather.
“4th Wing, lead Pilot Peahpe O’haara reporting. It seems too quiet out here, be prepared for a trap!” This was said by an older Tejlini, with oversized ears and a noticeable overbite that had earned him a number of nicknames growing up.
“All Wing Leaders reporting in! Lock our-wings in attack formation and follow my lead!”

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

Across the continent from the direction that the other force of Yrch fighters and drop ships were headed, lay the isolated dwelling of Jakenenth and Ruco. As far off as it was from the colony, dawn was just barely arriving as the first few rays of the morning sun began to slip over the crown of mountains and peaks surrounding the clearing. Inside the log cabin, Jakenenth was busy making breakfast for himself and doing such chores that were needed. Outside, sitting in his spot by the nearly boiling hot springs rested Ruco. The heat and glow of escaping energy had long since finished and he sat looking peaceful among the light of dawn. Deep inside however, things were slightly different. The night had been spent deep in conversation that even now was still ongoing.

“You can argue the logic of such actions all you want, but the argument is one you know to be fundamentally flawed.” This was said by the ‘other’ Ruco, slowly padding back and forth in the naked form of Rucos’ synthetical body. Sitting nearby, the organic Ruco sighed deeply, knowing already the answere to his question yet compelled to ask the question all the same.
“And that flaw would be?” he said sounding exhausted. The synthetic Ruco turned, giving a stare as cold as the depths of space.
“You will not, you cannot, take the life of another. It is simply, against your nature” He said, pausing to look upon the other. Where he capable of it, he would almost feel sorry of the situation of the organic Ruco. Almost. “I shall not bring up such memories that I know are, unpleasant, for you. But it was your hesitation at Dregmaw that directly led to Jakenenth being as injured as he was. Had I not, acted, he would have surely been killed.” The synthetic, its voice cold, yet tinged slightly with an edge one could describe as ‘unsettling’. The other Ruco clenched his claws into the mental image of the chair his form sat in.
“Yes, and those actions resulted in the deaths of everyone at the island, save for Jakenenth. Still, your point as distasteful as it is, is valid.” He said, giving another sigh as he tried not to recall all that had taken place. Ruco reminded himself how very different the other had been at that time, how much both of them were different. Both of their minds fractured, unbalanced and in their own ways, in pain. It was a time when both minds were utterly fixated on trying to control and shackle the other, not realizing the more they did so, the more unhinged each of them became. Ruco looked back on the incident, knowing what he knew now it was only a matter of time before the military caught up with him and Jakenenth. Seeing the potential of his power, those in charge of the facility could not help but do everything possible to learn the secrets of Rucos’ Synthetic body. Jakenenth had naturally tried to rescue him, was captured and then, then had come the moment that he thought he would lose the one and only person that still seemed to care about him, to treat him as something more than just a machine covered in skin. The thought had been too much to bear and he had allowed ‘the other’ to emerge. Not just emerge. Months of being shackled and suppressed by Rucos will, spirit, determination, and soul, all came lashing out. The mind of the ‘copy’ had long ago lost what sense of restrain or morality it once had at the hands of the Naz-Satikul. And then added to that, was months of Ruco suppressing it still further out of fear of what it could become.
On that day, through his own eyes, he ‘saw’ just that. He watched as it re-entered the Avatar, awakening its powers, and in the span of a few moments, lashed out and lay waste to every last living thing on the island. The images began to come back of that time, flooding into him, the destruction and the mindless death. Ruco tried to focus and pushed away the rising din of voices and memories of that time. He couldn’t help it really, having one’s mind existing in a computer meant things like experiences and memories were all ‘saved’ as perfect as a recording. They never faded or diminished with time, all you could do was to try and keep the most, unpleasant, ones from surfacing as much as possible. Bringing him back to the here and now, he heard the other call out to him.

“You know that is not who or what I am any more. We have both, changed, much since that unpleasant experience. We have grown and evolved and become more than we once were.” It said and as it did Ruco knew it was speaking the truth. Within this place where both minds could speak together, it was very hard indeed to lie or hold secrets. Ruco, the organic Ruco, finally stood up, looking as if he had made a decision. As he prepared to speak however, he could feel, something, approaching. They both felt it at the same time. The synthetic looked at him.
“They have come, they will be here in mere moments, no more delays. It is time that we must come to a new understanding. You know that if I am released, you can call me back at any time. As we both know, however much I may fight, I cannot prevent you from binding my mind to this place.” The synthetic said, its voice still tinged with the unsettling harmonics that even after all his time Ruco felt unnerved him.
“You will not touch the Avatar, if you so much as think of activating it….” The organic Ruco said, the light around him flaring briefly. The other waved a hand dismissively.
“I can promise I had not so much as begun to entertain that possibility. However, I would ask one small thing in return.” He said as Ruco, who had walked close to the other halted briefly.
“And that would be?” he said, skepticism everywhere on his face as he watched the Synthetic Ruco ‘smile’. The other approached, the space between them only inches apart now, the light starting to grow again.
“I want to know who is really after us, and why.”

Back outside of the private conversation, Jakenenth had finished his morning meal, completed the few activities that needed seeing to, and had waited, and then waited more for Ruco to awaken from his ‘sleep’. He knew that the energy released each night was never exactly the same, but for the sake of routine, Ruco had set up a ‘timer’ of sorts so he would always awaken at the same time each day. It was now well passed this point, and Jakenenth had begun to grow concerned. Jakenenth was never very inclined toward technology, aside from what was needed for understanding the tools used by a soldier of the Imperial Army. His lack of interest in it was something he realized Ruco had originally found comforting. He never saw him as a ‘thing’ or a machine, but just as someone that, like himself, had been inflicted with circumstances beyond his control. Now however, he found he wished he did know a bit more about computers. Jakenenth sighed.
“I don’t suppose I need to turn you off and on again?” He said aloud, not sure if Ruco could hear or not. As if in response, the body twitched suddenly. The exposed of his core flared suddenly and various other parts began to show energy moving outwards. The head twitched again as the body began to stand up slowly. Jakenenth backed up suddenly, his heart pounding. He watched as Ruco ‘stood’ looking strangely like a marionette being lifted on strings. Arms hanging limp at his side, then those too began to twitch, the fingers moving back and forth with a crunching sound as Ruco’s synthetic muscles and tendons seemed to twitch and spasm. The body seemed to get a firmer stance as it shifted, turning away from Jakenenth, and then with one final unsettling twitch, it went still. Jakenenth approached slowly, hoping against hope and what he thought might have just happened.
“Ruco? Is that you, are, are you ok?” he said, his voice for the first time in years edged with fear. There was silence for a moment and then the head snapped around quickly.
“I have always hated that joke.” A voice said that was Ruco, and yet, wasn’t. Jakenenth darted away instantly, almost leaping backwards and resisting the urge to grab his assault rifle, knowing how useless it would be.
“YOU! What are you doing here! What did you do to him!” He said snarling, his fur on edge as he crouched down, claws out and seething with anger. ‘Ruco’ seemed to ignore him as he began to move back and forth, stretching and arm out and then his other arm out.
“Ah! So this is what it is like to have a body again! Oh my have I missed this! It feels so good to, feel!” he said as he now all but danced around. “I can smell! I can taste! I can touch!” and now, he seemed to pause and slowly turned around, fixing a grin on Jakenenth. “I can, do other things.” He said and laughed in a way that made Jakenenths fur crawl. Jakenenth slowly began to stand up, he tried never to push too much about the ‘other’ and knew only that, ever since Dregmaw, there had been some sort of ‘coming to terms’ between them. But he never imagined that the, ‘thing’ that had tormented Ruco for so long could ever be, like this.
“Where is he, what have you done to him, I want him back now!” he said, knowing how empty his threats were, yet feeling helpless and unable to do anything else. He watched as ‘Ruco’ padded forward, energy crackling from him now. The smile on his face disturbingly ‘pleasant’.
“Now now, you should know where he is. And I have done nothing to him, he ‘invited’ me out after all.” Ruco said, slowly flexing his fingers, letting arches of electricity dance between them. Jakenenth seemed ready to say something but was cut off. “The Yrch are coming, a lot of them, and as hard as you may find it, I desire no harm to come to you just as much as ‘he’ does.” ‘Ruco’ said. Now just inches away from Jakenenth, the heat radiating from him significantly as a stray electrical arch caught his hand. Jakenenth ignored it, trying not to flinch as he looked at Ruco almost level with him.
“If he returns damaged in any way.” He said, his teeth clenched as he spoke, his voice seething with controlled anger. The other Ruco tilted his head and grinned. Jakenenth took a step backwards as he did so.
“Do not worry yourself, he would not have let me be here if he did not have faith in my particular, abilities. Now, go and find some where safe to hide. I will be back, my love.” He said leaning in suddenly and grabbing Jakenenth by the head. Before he could react or even realize what was happening, ‘Ruco’ had leaned in and kissed him rather tightly. A half second later, the air around him exploded in dust and dirt. Jakenenth flew backwards into the grass. When the air cleared, there was only a crater in front of him, and far off in the sky, he could see the rapidly vanishing shape of Ruco.

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

High up in orbit, the UISC defense force was still on the run. The surprise ‘backwards attack’ had bought a great deal of time and had inflicted damage on a number of craft but had not been nearly enough to turn the tide. Now as the fleet was burning at full speed across the planets orbit, the gap between their forces and the onrushing Yrch gunboats was slowly but surely growing smaller. On bored the ThunderBird, Moz and his crew were doing their best to prolong the engagement, the big heavy cruiser alongside the other two trying their best to protect the smaller ships from being picked off by the approaching Yrch marauders, each one trying to help ‘shuffle’ smaller ships from the back to the front to recover and recharge their shields before being shuffled back once again.
“Two more Corvettes just singled their shield matrix are under 50% efficiency!” shouted coms officer Ja’Jaro as around them the ThunderBird was rocked by another salvo of railgun shots that found their mark. Moz, griping his chair tight now that the thick of battle was around him, bellowed back.
“Rotate-up-toot-quick-call-cruiser-Saffron-down-cover-their-butts-focus-beam-cannons-on-the-Yrchy-nearest-an-givem-abrusing!” Moz shouted, doing his best to keep his voice level after previous bouts of excitement. He turned the view screen behind them and gritted his teeth. The view was no more pleasant now than it had been from the last time he checked. Almost forty Yrch Marauders continued to give chase while slowly closing the gap between them. Moz considered himself lucky that between the missile strikes, and some truly heroic targeting on the part of the corvettes, that their numbers HAD been whittled down, but no where near enough to make a difference. Moz had been considering his options for a while and did not like them.
They COULD turn around and engage the ships head on, if the Cruisers took point and the corvettes sniped from the rear, the sheer force of focused fire would drive back the gunboats. This of course would work if it was just the gunboats, the enemy had five strong capital ships that, while currently falling farther behind, would catch up to them quickly if their fleet stopped to turn and fight. They of course could also simply escape into hyperspace to meet up with reinforcements, but this would be intolerable as it would leave the colony totally defenseless to orbital bombardment. Moz snorted and mumbled under his breath.
“They-could-do-it-now-if-they-smart-enuff-to-stop-chassing-us-bleeding-blessings-there-captain-such-a-numbskull” He grumbled as next to him Kletania steadied herself from another hit.
“There is not much we can do but try and draw this out sir, that we have been able to stay going as far as we have with few causalities and no losses is a credit to your skill.” She said, trying her best to be a ‘cheerleader’ without actually being a ‘cheerleader’ which she knew he hated. Moz scowled doing his best to ignore it as out of the corner of his eye he saw another ship falling behind.
“OYE-none-of-that-captain-Kelonosa-better-get-ship-back-in-line-double-quick!” he barked as he began to wonder how much longer he could go before having to make the choice. To fight and take heavy losses, or flee, and leave the colony behind.

“CAPTAN! Priority incoming message, security identification reads as UISC high command.” Ja’Jaro shouted as Moz perked up.
“About-time-where-they-been-need-some-good-news-whats-the-word” Moz barked as he did his best to look in the direction of the comms officer who, was suddenly looking unusually perplexed.
“Sir, message reads as secure, captain only and is being automatically routed to your quarters sir.” Ja’Jaro said as Moz fumed.
“In-my-room-away-from-bridge-not-keeping-eyes-on-battle-they-know-we-fighting-skin-teeth-right-now.” He grumbled before turning to Kletania and gave a short, “Your-in-charge-don’t-get-blown-up.” Before scurrying out from his chair and back into his quarters as fast as his legs could take him. The instant the door was closed he shouted. “Computer!-Decrypt-incoming-communication-Captain-Theodore-Moz-2nd-bar-UISC-Military.” There was a pause, and after what seemed to be a lack of response, Moz shouted again. “Computer-decrypt-message-play-toot-quick!” after another pause there was finally a response, though not the one Moz had expected.

“Forgive the deception my dear captain, but this seemed the quickest way to speak to you in private given the situation as I estimated you would, how do they say, blocked my call if I had reached out to you by normal methods.” Said a voice that Moz instantly recognized.
“RUDI!” he growled, as before him an image formed that was, as it always had been, a curious mix of Qwintoni, Tejlini, and Quatonian physical characteristics. Moz glowered at the image and sighed, knowing he should have expected this. “Well-well-mrcomputer-you-pick-fine-time-to-turn-up- it-doesn’t-rain-but-pours-id-be-mad-you-on-my-ship-again-if-I-wasn’t-so-busy!” Moz said, trying to stay as ‘good natured’ as possible while the ship lurched from a particularly well aimed slug of rail gun ammo. RUDI, knowing full well the stakes involved, wasted no time in his response.
“Best-to-be-brief-fast-as-i-can-Captain.” He said as his image faded to be replaced by an image of the three Cruisers, these then zoomed in showing each of their primary torpedo launchers. “I-know-you-not-fully-outta-ammo-each-ship-has-a-volly-of-extra-special-missiles-top-secret-hush-hush” Moz did his best to try and seem non flustered by the obvious revelation. Part of him immediately filed this away under ‘things the blasted computer shouldn’t be putting his nose into’ but knew that would have to come later.
“We-don’t-like-to-talk-about-THOSE-warheads-i-never-liked-to-havem-but-orders-are-orders.” And then he paused considering the situation a moment and shock his head. “Sides-too-many-guns-they-get-shotup-blasted-to-bits-not-a-chance.” And then, because even being as old as he was, the Quatonia was still a deviously cleaver individual and not one to be trifled with, he seemed to come to a realization. “You-wanna-getem-blown-up.” He said, his voice level and slow now. The image of RUDI came back, the form smiling broadly, trying their best to seem ‘friendly’
“An-atomic-makes-a-very-big-bang-also-makes-a-big-nasty-field-computers-hate-now-listen-good-ma-chum-heres-plan.”

A moment later Moz, clutching his hat to keep it from falling off, dashed out from his quarters and in one great bound leapt up, clearing his command chair, and landed heavily on it, making the already rickety seat creak a bit more ominously.

“ALRIGHTALRIGHTHEREWEGOTAPLANLISTEN!” He shouted as he singled the comms officer to patch him into an encrypted channel for the rest of the fleet. “Listenupgoodmrcomputergotsusaplantoturnthingsaroundnoguaranteebutbestchancewegot!” he gabbled excitedly as Kletania did her best to ‘translate’ his hurried speaking to the rest of the fleet. “Webveenrunningtoolongtimetoturntables!” He said, and even before he began to speak the next sentence, Kletania silently began to mouth the words ‘Oh no’. “WEREGONNAPULLACRAZYIGORANDTURNROUNDANPUNCHEMALLFROMBEHIND!” Moz shouted, his chair rocking back and forth. Around him the other Quatonians on deck who were able to keep up, began to cheer and punch the air in excitement, all the while the rest of the crew trying to parse things out for themselves, or looking to Kletania.”
“Attention fleet! Having extended the range of the gunboats a significant distance beyond the slower capital ships, we will be attempting a ‘Crazy Igor’ All ships will split apart on command mark, reverse course, and attempt to move past gunboats and double back to launch a counter assault on enemy capital ships in an attempt to split their forces.” She said, taking in the mix of looks from the rest of the crew on the bridge, their expression ranging from cautious hope, to horrified disbelief. “Once the maneuver has been achieved, all corvettes with shielding damage greater than 80% are ordered to break off from the engagement and withdraw to our fallback position. You have all fought above and beyond what we could ask of you, but I will not accept any needless sacrifices for this engagement. Officer Kletania out.” The moment the communication was completed she leaned over to Moz, a very stern look on her face. “Captain, I will never directly question your orders in front of the crew, but, this course of action is reckless even for you.” Moz simply chuckled at this and flopped back into his chair.
“YOUBETCHA!” he said grinning from ear to ear (which for a Quatonian, is a formidable grin) in a lower voice dripping with glee he said “Were-gonna-use-the-‘special’-warheads” he said, still grinning in a way that made Kletania feel sorry for any dentist that would have to work on such a smile. Putting her personal feelings aside, Kletania took a deep breath and tried to calm her nerves. If anyone could pull this off, it would be Moz. An alert roused her attention as the comms officer gave a frantic cry.
“Captain! The [Telgrande] reports it just took a direct hit to its armor. Shields no longer are able to mitigate strikes.” Kletania nodded and turned to Moz who nodded back knowing the time to act was now or never.
“All ships! Target closest Yrch assault craft and fire all operational batteries at maximum spread on my mark. MARK!”
At the command, twelve corvettes and three heavy cruisers unleashed what could only be described as ‘Lazor Spam’” The phased energy batteries that made up the bulk of UISC weaponry were fiercely accurate and could be devastating when multiple beams were focused on a single target. However, the reverse could also be done under certain circumstances, where there would normally have been one heavily concentrated beam firing per emitter, now each ship was firing close to a dozen beams, each targeting an enemy ship. The effect was, at least visually stunning. The beams impacting into the Yrch ships and erupted in brilliant light and created what seemed almost like fireworks in the void of space. The damage to the ships was minimal, but the damage to optical sensors, both those of the ships and any fool looking out of a window, would have been considerable.

“ALL SHIPS EXECUTE CRAZY IGOR NOW!” Kletania shouted as the Thunderbird, along with every other ship in the fleet, did the equivariant of slamming on the emergency breaks at 100 miles an hour and spinning a car around 180 degrees. Each vessel peeled away from the central course it had been taking and began to fan out. The tight formation broke apart as the fleet reversed course and turned backwards facing the temporary blinded hoard of Yrch marauders. Four of the corvettes peeled further away, their shields too weakened to be of any further use, they singled their withdrawal from engagement while the rest continued their turn. The majority of the Yrch ships, still surging forward at top speed, were able to do little but shoot blindly using the auto turrets of their secondary weaponry. Such slugs that did find their mark did negligible damage as the ships screamed by continuing to spread out, making it harder still to hit a ship by chance. Watching on various screens as the ships turned and began to barrel down towards the Capital ships in the rear of the formation, Moz tried his best to maintain his eternal confidence and not show a hint of the nervousness that was pouring through him. The whole fleet was already at risk but could have still escaped by jumping into hyperspace. Now he knew they were committed on the current path and totally reliant on the damnable computer working its electronic magic.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

The Battle for ZoZo .... PART THREE

Back on the surface of ZoZo, and across the continent at the colony compound, the Fighter wings of the air defense force had made contact with Yrch drop ships and support craft. Battle had been joined as pilots who had trained countless hours in simulators and practice drills found themselves all face to face with the eternal stance of ‘kill or be killed’. The air along the outskirts of the colony was thick with the compact resilient fighters of the UISC forces as they did their best to intercept anything trying to make a landing. The Yrch drop ships were slower but sturdy and not easily downed save for a lucky missile strike or concentrated fire. The Yrch parasite fighters however were quick and deadly, and almost a match for the swift and nimble UISC tactical fighters. In the end it would all come down to the skill and determination of each individual pilot.
“Help! I’ve got two on my tail!” shouted a slightly panicked Sloopea as they screamed past two dropships trying to evade a Yrch craft that had come out of a blind spot. “Faux where is your support?” he shouted as a series of metallic shavings were blasted from the rear of the fighter at a series of incoming missiles.
“I’m coming to help! Sending two fighters from my wing to assist. Just hold together for a while longer. You still have a missile on you!” shouted Faux as out of the corner of his eye he could see Falacona sharply following a drop ship that was trying to circle around to make a landing. Three fighters from the Trathalans wing closed ranks alongside their leader and focused fire on the drop ship as it was caught between onrushing attacks. The spray of fire seemed to cripple it and it started to tumble from the sky. As Falacona and their fighters flew past, Faux watched as at the last moment, the ship made to pull up. Faux pitched his fighter into a deep roll and screamed downwards, just as the dropship began to right itself, he let out a burst of cannon fire from the nose, sending the struggling ship hurtling down.
“That was my kill Faux!” Falacona said over the coms as they turned, leading their wing back around for another pass. Faux ignored the comment, knowing the Trathalan well enough not to mind, pausing to check for any craft around his own perimeter, he looked back at a display of local missile fire and watched a single missile closing in.
“DO A BARREL ROLL!” Peahpe shouted over the coms as Faux spun his fighter hard to the run. The craft plunging into a sharp spiraling turn as a missile screamed by far too close for comfort. Blasting retro jets, Faux dropped behind and let off another blast of cannon fire, detonating the missile before rocketing back up to attack speed.
“Thanks for the heads up, we will all need to keep our wits about us!” Faux said as his wing formed back up trying to push back the invaders.

Behind the fighters were the secondary defensive lines consisting of various smaller fortified towers and weapon installations all interconnecting and leading back toward the primary central tower and its defense grid, now stretched to its fullest trying to target ground forces that had been able to land and were making their way into the city. Various Yrch armored forces and foot soldiers met little resistance in the way of UISC Soldiers but were finding any open spot they encountered would often meet with a blast or a missile strike from the defenses on the tower. Midway up the tower, a turret team sat in the crowded confines of the targeting room of the Mk-13 Maxinolk Triple Rotation defensive gun emplacement. The gun itself looked a bit like an old style ‘gatling gun’ emplacement, though once one’s eye adjusted to the scale at which they were looking, one would realize the ‘gun’ was made up of tank cannon barrels attached to a rapid-fire feeding system. The team had been stationed on Zozo for some time, a crew that had worked together well and came highly recommended. The lead gunner and over all ‘head’ of the crew was an unusually short Qwintoni who, having been refused entry in most of the regular academies, was able to find service in the Imperial gunnery school, before transferring to UISC service. Sitting in the gunners’ chair, digital targeting helmet strapped firmly to his head, he gave a hoot as another volley of shells found their mark in a Yrch procession quite some distance off.

“That will make you think twice about invading someone’s planet who has a rapid-fire shell autoloader!” he howled as a Yrch shoulder mounted missile impacted into the armored shielding nearby. Behind him, an Octona engineer hanging from the ceiling as he struggled to reconnect a series of hydraulic compensators, gave a dismissive sigh.
“Yeah, yeah, you show them all right, just need to now hit them another four hundred to eight hundred times and we shall be home free as the saying goes.” They said before sliding the removed bit of paneling back into place and the hum of the turret’s vibration compensators came back online. “Oh thanks to the spirits of earth and fire, I can hear myself think again.” He said, just as another rocket impacted against, the side of the tower. The gunner snarled firing off another volley as the team’s munitions coordinator, another Octona, had taken this particular time to open up the packaged dropped off from his family back home.
“They actually did it! I was just joking but by the Goddess they got one!” he said as from inside the package he pulled out a highly stylized statue of a ‘giant robot’ that was wielding a giant pair of sunglasses like a sword. The team paused in their labors for a moment to give a collective “ooooooooo!” sound of appreciation. “Endeavor manufacture! I can’t imagine what they paid to have it imported all the way out here!” The munitions tech said before putting the statue back in its box after a moment ogling. A thought seemed to come to him after placing the package aside. “You have to wonder how this battle would be going if it was the Endeavor fighting the Yrch instead of us.” They said, which seemed to engender a moment’s thought from everyone in the cramped turret. The engineer, who had his own share of various trinkets and Endeavor Knick knacks, seemed to give this serious consideration.
“I would believe that, where this an Endeavor facility, one of us would say something like ‘we are done for, nothing could save us now’ and then moments later the entire complex would transform into a mech construct, no doubt piloted by the command staff, and proceed to turn back the tide of battle.” He said, perhaps giving things more thought than was strictly needed. The others considered this for a moment before the Gunner seemed to take charge.
“Re are grone forrg! Nrgothingg crrould grave us nrrow!” he said, doing his best to speak in ‘human’, which didn’t always lend itself to the way Qwinotonian mouths were shaped. The others looked around the room as aside from the sound of a few explosions, there seemed to be a complete and utter lack of any noises that would signify that start of the tower complex transforming into a giant robot. The crew sighed as the universe completely failed to capitalize on such an opportunity.

High atop the command center of the Colonial Complex (which also had completely failed to transform into a giant robot) Alyeena Kelonoa was in a maelstrom of activity as the battle outside edged ever close to the tower. Most of the civilian population had been able to evacuate either to local district shelters, or to larger fortified bunkers closer to the tower. Ayleena had made a note earlier to thank the UISC financial division for agreeing to her demands regarding the construction of said bunkers in the first place. She strongly suspected when this would all said and done, they would probably agree to spend any amount of money on colonial defenses, well, almost any amount. Of course, that all depended on her and the rest of the colony actually living to survive until reinforcements should up.
“I want updates on the outer defenses! The automated turrets out there are only as good as the energy feeds connecting them to the power grid!” she shouted as she saw an alert from one part of the large display of the whole city complex flicker briefly.
“Three armored squads were just mobilized to stabilize the generators in sector-7G.” Shouted one technician at a console, “Theater shields in the surrounding sectors are being set to rotate recharge rates, we should be able to get them back up to 62% efficiency in the next five minutes!” Ayleena nodded at this.
“Good initiative, send at least a dozen drones to provide air cover to those squads, there have been reports of Yrch soldiers using long rang explosives and I don’t want anyone picking off our forces!” Ayleena said as the room rocked a moment, an explosion making it past the defense screen and hitting the armored shutters around the central tower. There had been a number of such direct hits, but the armor had held up well and Ayleena remained confident in the defenses of the colonial complex. “Attacking a fortified position face first, not the best of strategies is it.” She muttered as she flipped through a series of displays. The Yrch forces that had pushed head long towards the tower were fierce and blood thirsty opponents to be sure, but their assault was slowing. She had been analyzing the attack for a while and was confused and sometimes disappointed in what she saw. Those ships that made it through the fighter screen seemed to be plunging head long with no rhymer or reason. The troops unloading as fast as possible with, as far as could be verified, no clear organization to their troop movements other than pushing forward as fast as they could. Part of her wondered if the whole attack was simply one very very poorly planned invasion, or something else.
“Commander! Priority Message coming in!” barked the comms officer. Ayleena turned in her chair and looked at a flashing light towards the top of the display.
“Send it to my display, Text only, I am not going to go off to my quarters to receive it like some fool.” She said knowing the protocols regarding priority messages would normally have to be revived in a secure location. A screan came up in her display as the rest of the grid around her darkened slightly. On a key bored next to her, she typed out: [‘decrypt incoming priority message,’] There was a moments pause, and suddenly, from outside the darkened bubble of her command interface display came a series of curses of a particularly unpleasant nature.

“[Before you direct any other unpleasantness my way Commander, I apologize for using priority channels and I am sure I will deal with the consequences at such time that they present themselves. However, I would hope we can both agree that the current situation would warrant me getting your attention by any means possible.]” The text printed out on her private screen as she tapped the side of her chair angrily. She was actually wondering more about how she had been heard and eyed the various cameras and speakers around her.
“[you have my attention, please be quick, I am trying after all to keep this colony alive.]” She typed out as she paused to tilt her head and shout to a passing technician. “Get someone out to check the automated defenses in sector 10, there was a power surge there and I don’t want any of those twice cursed Yrch trying to find a blind spot on us!” Ayleena said before tilting her head back. In front of her, she now read on the floating panel.
“[your priorities match with my own, and I seek to assist with this. In approximately ten minutes I estimate that Captain Moz will be leading a counterattack upon the enemy fleet and utilizing the limited amount of nuclear ordnance authorized to each Cruiser.]” Ayleena bit her lip at that, of course he’d know about those. Pausing a moment, she hollered again. “TELEMETRY! What do you have on Captain Moz and the defense force?” A somewhat surprised looking technician turned suddenly.
“Commander? I was just about to say, we had lost track of them earlier as they passed over the horizon, but about twenty seconds ago two observatories got visual confirmation of ships coming back. It looks like the forces are turning back to engage the enemy capital ships at the rear.” The tech said as Ayleena nodded.
“[And then what? Atomics will shake up the ships but even a direct strike isn’t going to knock them out.]” she typed out quickly, seeing the answer almst before she finished.
“[This is correct, the strike will weaken their systems however in order to deliver a more fatal attack I will engage their computers and issue a retreat command to the largest of the capital ships.]” and then, as if already anticipating the commanders next words, RUDI continued. “[there is a satellite on the edge of the enemy jamming field. I will send you information to adjust the primary transmitter of the tower complex to send a signal to that satellite and then push it through the jammer field and to the enemy target vessels]” RUDI responded as Ayleena sat and sighed. She knew he could actually do it and cursed herself for not thinking of it earlier to send a message to Moz to exchange information. She took a deep breath and choked back a few choice words, recrimination could come later, ending the battle was of top importance.
“[ok then, give the information on how to make the changes and we can end this battle and expel these accursed invaders.]” she said as she flagged down the comms officer. “COMMS! Get your furry butt over here! We have eight minutes to send a signal to satellite-TB5 or I’ll have your scrubbing the toilets until were overrun!”


Back in orbit high overhead, the remaining ships in the UISC defense force had reached the ‘halfway’ point in their turnabout. What started as an expanding umbrella of ships traveling outwards, now began to come back downwards to the ships in the rear, specifically the two logic defyingly massive hulks of the Amazo-X Factory ships. Moving outwards had put distance between them and the hoard of Yrch gunboats which even now were starting to try and turn back around to give chase. But that would still take time, and Moz desperately hoped they would have enough of it to pull off a miracle. As the ships began to plunge from the top of their turn back towards their targets, Moz decided to give what help he could to the miracle at hand.

“Alrightherewego-Angle-all-shields-toward-the-buggers-and-blastem-with-what-ya-got!” he shouted, once more standing on top of his chair and starting to feel more like himself again as he watched his forces pulling off a near perfect encircling formation, three Cruisers each flanked by three corvettes. As they passed over the ‘destroyer’ sized vessels, concentrated particle lances erupted outwards from all vessels, each group of Cruisers and corvettes concentrating their fire onto a single target below. The particle lances scoring into the ships as the streams met and crossed into an almost single point, puncturing through shielding and into the armor.
“Direct hits on several targets, reading energy levels dropping in a number of the medium classed vessels Sir!” shouted one of the sensors monitors as around the bridge, and the rest of the fleet, the mood had changed from grim to glorious. Moz wasn’t sure how long the euphoria would last, but he planned to let it burn in the crew for as long as possible.
“Return fire incoming! Heavy ammo slugs detected, Cruisers [Saffron] and [Telpalynn] adjusting flight paths to screen corvettes!” Shouted Ja’jaro as Moz watched the other ships carrying out orders he knew would have been impossible to actually give in time to be useful. The slugs from the destroyers in the middle of the ring of passing ships fired outwards and largely impacted upon the shields of the three cruisers. The ThunderBird and others rocked by the impacts as Moz smiled and clapped his hands together while the chair creaked ominously under him.
“So-dang-proud-of-ya-all!” he shouted, grinning madly even as the lights flickered briefly.
“Shield efficiency down to 38% Recharge rate dropping off Captain.”
“Give-a-call-to-CID-tellem-can-bringem-back-up-Getem-peddling-on-a-cycle-to-mak-more-energy-ifee-complains!” Moz retorted as the lights dimmed again. Moz cursed for sounding so foolish at his words yet couldn’t help himself. As the ships flew past the destroyers, a second volley of concentrated particle beams arched downwards, several of them aiming for the engines as they passed the rear of the vessels. Moz looked at a part of the view that was zoomed in facing behind them. He thumped the chair as he watched with great satisfaction the engine blocks of two of the destroyer’s flicker and then go out. Others had clearly watched it as well as a new round of cheers rang out among the bridge crew. However even this small victory was tempered as the Cruiser was rocked by another salvo of strikes.

“Sir, Two of the Corvettes took a direct hit in the last engagement, corvettes [Oregano] and [Pahkard] are dropping out of formation.” The comms officer said as Moz began to grind his teeth again. Moz watched as another two of the corvettes peeled away from the battle formation, one of them looked to be venting considerable as it limped away, it was barely able to miss another volley that might very well have spelled its destruction. Moz held his breath as he watched it depart. A number of ships in the taskforce had reported causalities and worse, but Moz swore to himself he’d not let these bastards down a single vessel under his watch however banged up they may be. Next to him, he could feel the stare of Kletania, her gaze burning into the back of his head as he knew exactly how dead they were going to be if this didn’t work out.
“That puts us down to just half of our corvettes, and most of those remaining are not going to be combat capable for very much longer.” Kletania said, her voice desperately trying not to sound like a schoolteacher scolding an errant student. Moz knew full well what they were doing as they entered into the last stretch of the possibly fatal final gamble. He was dimly aware of another corvette signaling it was falling out of formation as he focused on the target in front of him, the twin Behemoths that were the Amazo-X factory ships. The squat leviathans seemed to wallow in orbit glaring at him, all but daring him to make his last stand. Moz looked to Kletania and sighed.
“This-is-it-cards-on-table-no-take-backsies” Moz said and Kletania nodded in full understanding.
“Attention all those remaining in fleet, this is a Priority fleet command order. Captains of Cruisers [Saffron] and [Telpalynn] are to go hot on atomics, security clearance code 015485, repeat code 015485. Authorization for Atomics is hereby given, target AmazoX factory vessels priority one!” Kletania said, her voice as serious as ever it could have been in her career. Once again silence fell over the crew, now for very different reasons as everyone realized how serious the situation was, if atomics were being authorized it meant they were truly out of options.

Back on bored the lead AmazoX command ship, the Pointy Haired Manager on duty had watched as in the last ten minutes or so the engagement turned from a certain, if boring victory over the defense fleet, to a very exciting, and much less assured victory. He had hooted as the ships turned around and began to charge back towards his location and had rather liked how the UISC force flew down past the gunboats as this allowed for a lot more visible gun and weapon exchanges then had previously been going on. However, he was less pleased that thus far none of the enemy ships had actually been destroyed.
“I don’t care that they have ‘technically’ lost ships from the ones running away, I want to see them blow up in big explosions! That’s the whole reason we’re out here isn’t?” the pointy haired manager said in a considerably stern tone. To his right, the Engineer with the oddly long narrow head and bristle boom hair once more couldn’t help himself from answering the obviously rhetorical question.
“Actually sir, the primary reason for our engagement is the acquisition of the alien cyborg on the planet’s surface, the secondary mission goal would be the acquisition and tactical merger with the colonial population of the planet. Destruction of alien spacecraft could be counted as a byproduct simply keeping their forces from interfering with the deployment of our troops to the planet.” He said, and eventually trailed off from the withering looks of both the Manager, as well as everyone else on the bridge. Trying to turn things around he changed topics. “In any case it won’t matter for long, if they continue along their current heading, their distance from our primary batteries will be sufficiently close enough that any direct hit will inflict possibly fatal damage on one of their ships. Probably.” He said, before ducking his head down. The Engineer opposite him, the balding one with the coffee stains everywhere, seemed to consider things.
“Eh, I dunno, I mean they have been tanking a lot of damage so far, if they keep going, they could just fly by us like they did with the gunboats and the other ships, I mean I don’t see them doing anything to stop us from shooting at them.” He said as, on cue, an alarm started to go off. Behind him at the technician’s station, the Engineer with the oddly triangle shaped hair looked down at a blinking red light. Before anyone else could turn and ask ‘what is it’ the employee considered her job thus far, considered her up to now ‘relationship’ with her coworkers, if you could call them that, and then considered something that her brain had just started putting together.
“WALTER, stop being useless for a second and cover the sensors, I’ve got to go, clean, the…Thrumbdibulator. You never do it! It’s always me, so just cover things until I get back!” she shouted before bolting toward the nearest door. A proximity alarm started to go off and the other Engineers stared at each other.
“I am pretty sure this ship does not have a Thrumbdibulator, and that’s only because if it did, I’d know what it is. And I don’t.” Said the Engineer with the stretched out looking head. Not to be out done, the other quickly chimed in.
“Oh, um, yeah, of course the ship has one. It’s quite Splendiforious. I always avoid cleaning it because its so hard to keep the Borfins from schlumping while you work on it you know.” Walter said without the slightest hint of doubt in his voice. The two exchanged glances for a while and then went over to look at the recently departed employee’s workstation. They looked at the blinking light on her desk, looked back at each other, and then lookat the pointy haired manager as he continued to watch the sight of the three UISC cruisers approaching.
“WOW! Those guys are getting pretty close now, I bet there are going to look amazing going up in smoke! OOOH! I just saw something on one of them go up! That looked promising! They really seem to be pulling in tight together, hey anyone see a ship do this before?” he said rubbing his chin. After a moment of silence, he turned around, and found the bridge mostly empty save a few Yrch grunts. “Huh, I didn’t know it would take all three of them to clean a Thrumbdibulator, bunch of light weights. Oh well guess they are just going to miss out on all the fun!” he said before putting his feet up and slurping from an Amazo-X branded soda.

In the gap between the UISC Cruisers and the invading capital ships, ‘things’ began to happen.

The three cruisers were now almost touching, being kept apart by the most skilled, and luckiest, of navigational efforts. In the front of each a heavily armored hatch opened up and from inside launched two, well, to call them ‘missiles’ would be an understatement. Each one was about twenty-five meters long, bristling with thrusters and various sensor pods, their size was such that they were even armed. Each one possessing a trio of rapid firing auto cannons, good for shooting down small missiles and not much else. And of course, not to be forgotten, at the tip of each rocket was a ten-megaton atomic warhead.
Atomics were not something the UISC took likely, the Trathalans had taught them that aside from each planets own personal brushes with such things. They were usually discounted from space encounters not just for the obvious reasons, but for their absurd maintenance and upkeep costs. However, a military industrial complex is a heavy thing to fight, and concessions had been made for certain ships to be armed with a pair of such warheads for ‘extreme situations. Moz had originally discounted using the warheads as he felt they wouldn’t have done much to help in the engagement. Of course, that was only if you were thinking of using them to blow something up.
They launched simultaneous as a single group that quickly split into two groups of three. Each trio of massive rockets quickly homing in on one of the two gargantuan factory ships. Already anti-missile slugs were being tossed in their direction and doing their best to shoot down the oversized incoming ordinance. One of the missiles took an early hit and began to fall behind, moments later another one took two unlucky strikes in quick session and detonated in a spectacular spherical eruption of propellant. The remaining four however continued onwards as, in just that short time, the speed of their engines had pushed them nearly within range of their distance.

At a moment some 3.2 seconds later, two RUDI’s, one in the depths of the ThunderBirds computer core, the other in the massive core in the heart of the colonial tower complex, had both calculated to within 0.00025 seconds the exact optimal moment for detonation. At the last moment each of the four remaining rockets moved to a position equidistant between the factory ships and exploded. The thermal nuclear fireball caused considerable structural damage to both ships at the close distance, but of course, the staggeringly massive burst of electromagnetic radiation quickly caused even more damage.

“COMMANDER! The uplink to the satellite is established! We are getting a massive transmission from our primary comms array! Energy is draining from all other systems!” shouted a technician as Ayleena cursed yet again.
“Khansarenet computer, didn’t bother to warn me about this!” she shouted as the entire tower throbbed and vibrated, the sound of the energy being transmitted making peoples teeth vibrate. “I want manual firing on everything we have! If the energy screen drops, I want people out there with rocks if we need to, you hear me, ROCKS!” she snared as the tower continued to vibrate from the transmission.

The RUDI in the tower experienced the unusual sensation of having their consciousness extended out, stretching further and further along the data stream, not exactly being transmitted, but ‘reaching out’ over the distance of thousands of miles. It was a situation he did not experience often but was not unfamiliar with. Hurtling through the emptiness of space, existing as a tightly compacted stream of energy that was incredibly hard for their mind to keep functioning during the process. But at last, the stream met its destination, it hit the satellite, and in the 3.2 seconds before it was completely fried, the data stream split and continued onwards, each one now rocketing toward one of the two stricken factory ships.

The detonation of the nukes had caused considerable damage to both ships, at least at first glance. Fairly large ‘craters’ where visible in the sides of the ships, and armor had been burned away to the very skin underneath. Several electronical systems across the ships had ben fried and the primary computer systems had been given a considerable punch in the gut and were trying to regain their bearings. However, as any veteran of the Endeavor – Amazo-X war will tell you, Factory ships were nothing if not resilient. Despite the damage, it would be only a matter of time before secondary systems began to kick in, systems that had been knocked out would reboot, and the army of service drones and robots would begin to make repairs. In short, the nukes by themselves would not have permanently disabled the ships if, it had been just the nukes.

The twin data streams at last reached their target, a number of the receivers and coms were damaged, but enough were functional that there could be found an entrance to the primary computer systems of the Factory ships. Within the realm of the computer systems, RUDI continued to reach out. The insides of the factory ships were a horrible mess, and that had nothing to do with recent damage. Even with most normal defenses and firewalls knocked out, it was a struggle to find anything in the hodgepodge of patched together systems and subroutines. Eventually however a certain important area was located that RUDI decided would be the most helpful for his intended purposes. At this stage, there was little point in directly trying to “take over” such monstrosities, all he could do was to offer a very simple command and ‘nudge’ the ships to obey. After a sprinkling of numbers and co-ordinates, the command was given.
“RUN”

Back outside, about 6.3 seconds had elapsed. The last of the defense force Corvettes had withdrawn after taking heavy damage and now it was just the three remaining Cruisers, (one of which had shields that were about to fail), that rocketed past the heavy capital ships of the Yrch invasion force. Their wild counterattack had certainly left its mark upon the invaders. The swarm of Yrch gunboats had been reduced by almost a third, two of the destroyers had apparently lost power, and on the final approach, the detonation of the atomics had done significant damage to the two ‘battlecruiser’ sized ships in the rear. However, as the remaining UISC Cruisers flew past, the Gunboats had long ago finished turning around and had begun to chase them down. The remaining destroyers had started to turn as well, and it was only a matter of time before the forces would reorganize again into a single attack group. Three Cruisers, one of which was badly damage, would hardly be sufficient against the remaining forces. And then, several thousand meters of Amazo-X branded factory ships suddenly leapt into Hyperspace. For those ships directly in front of them, there was little time to respond or even realize what was happening before they were reduced to the hyperspace equivariant of “bugs on a windshield”. For the pointy haired manager, sitting comfortably in the command ship that was between the two, he DID get to see lots of explosions.
Praying is another way of doing nothing helpful
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VX-145
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

Symmachia Orbit, School Ship Unseen University

Room 3B did not exist. It physically could not exist - Room 3A was right up against the wall, and there was simply no space for a 3B. Before, when he'd seen it listed on his timetable, Sven soi Vlakas had assumed it was a misprint, or something. Asking around had revealed that no, most of his lectures were indeed scheduled in Room 3B, and this commonly meant they were not actually going to take place. This had led to a small amount of confusion on the part of his fellow Imperial students - especially those used to a much more ordered learning environment - but once the idea was conveyed, everyone eagerly partook of these "free periods".

Which is why it was a little odd that Sven found himself sitting on a bench in Room 3B, waiting for a lecture to begin.

There was some chattering going on, the p- commoner girl Mother had caused so much fuss over talking to the soi Fylachto heir (who'd elected to take a class or two on the way through Symmachia), a few other clusters here and there, and of course his own friends, who he was currently zoning out from. Which was probably rude. Then again:

"What I'm saying is, you really need to watch this game! They inverted the post count rules, it's complete anarchy!"

"Bloom, we live in an anarchist society. Everything we do is complete anarchy by definition."

"Okay, but you haven't lived until you've seen ten thousand polar bear robots with lightning claws tear through an aerial battleship!"

"...maybe I'll catch one of the VoDs."

He had no idea what they were talking about half the time. He was about to open his mouth and change the subject when the Archchancellor himself walked in, having to stoop under the twelve-foot-high header for the great double doors to accomodate his hat. The bearded self-proclaimed wizard* strode imperiously up to the podium, and thunk'd a small cylindrical thing with a nozzle poking out of one end. A mobile Aufab, the sort anyone could just pull from an Autologi system... when they'd finally learned how to use one, that is.

"Right. You should all know what this is by now, and probably had all sorts of fun ideas with what to do with one when you've learned. I'm going to tell you how to not use 'em."

Sven's brow furrowed. Weren't they supposed to learn how to use them, first?

The Archchancellor continued: "These machines are not the most dangerous pieces of equipment in the known galaxy, but it is a very close competition. What can you make with one of these?"

It took a few moments for one of the students to speak up. "...pretty much anything?"

"No. Not pretty much anything. Anything." Ridcully paused for effect, a classic move Sven's tutors had hammered into him. "With enough time, and access to a supply of matter and/or energy, you can make anything you can think of that's physically possible - and quite a few things that aren't. Like this room, for example." Most of the students looked around at that. "This room, according to the standard physical laws, cannot exist. There is no space for it inside the ship, and it does not protrude out from the ship's hull. Using this exact tool, I was able to build a machine that created a Netherspace pocket, then a shelter for you all to exist inside." Some excited whispers picked up - Sven could certainly relate: imagine being able to just... build a room, anywhere! Ridcully silenced them all with a glare. "What happens when the machine runs out of power?" he asked. "Or if I, foolish student that I am, decide to open a second pocket inside this one?"

More silence.

"Everyone here dies, in the first case. That's the good part. The bad part is the ship likely gets ripped in two, and there'd be a bloody great hole in space. There'll probably be big green things with teeth." Another pause for effect. "So, don't build something if you don't know how it's going to work. Otherwise, you end up with the Helvetica Scenario, and I think one of those is enough." A collective shudder passed through the room. One Helvetica Scenario really was enough. "Well, let's get to the real learnin'. I want you to come and take one of these, and make me a spherical mass of iron - twelve centimetres should do it..."





Endeavour System

Just one day after the battle, and it was hard to even tell there had been one. Wreckage had been cleared up, captured ships towed to waiting areas, munitions retrieved and disposed of, all with the rather esoteric energy Endeavourites brought to any, well, endeavour. Giant nets and tractor beams were just the start; some recovery teams had deployed electromagnets, others strange three-dozen-armed assemblies, and one had decided to build a minature black hole, which had been active for precisely thirty-eight seconds before someone else told that particular team to knock it the fuck off... and set it up where it'd actually catch stuff, as opposed to just sitting there menacing with spikes of gravity. Prisoners were taken, including the entire Yrch army sent to conquer the Endeavour hab cluster, and set up in their own habs. They were free to leave, the doors were unlocked... they just led out into open space. So far, none had tried to leave, though admittedly that was more due to the downright luxurious accomodation than the problem of where they would leave to. Some information was gleaned from them, and the wreckage of their ships - the location of a staging ground (already known) and hints as to the location of their homeworld (far more interesting).

Other uses were also found for those wrecks; those that contained useful materials were melted down, some used to repair some of the damage done to the Line Fleet, more used to fill out some of the Shikinami Naval Arsenal's civilian ship commitments... freeing up a dock for a new capital warship. Already, the skeleton of a third Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson-class carrier was taking form in one of the larger construction bays, tentatively named Welcome to the Jungle, for reasons not fully articulated.

Some damage was not so easily repaired or covered up. Thirty-eight Endeavourites had permanently died in the conflict, a number which would have been far higher without the timely intervention of the Megakolymvitis and, eventually, the cruiser reinforcements. How many Theophanic soldiers had fallen was not yet known, but the number was expected to be relatively low; the Yrch had made the mistake of fighting the Imperial troops on their terms. Ambient networks across the whole system were flooded with junk noise, a backlash from the sheer concentrated computer power and mental energy committed to the battle - and more then one discussion board had been utterly burned out when a user connected to it died, temporarily or permanently. For all this, though, the prevailing mood was one of calm and, even, optimism; the Protectorate had been built on the assumption that Amazo-X would strike once more, and so they had... only to be utterly, and completely, crushed. For every permanent Endeavour casualty, there were a thousand or more Yrch, a number which in itself gave more than a few pause.

Debates had raged through the battle about what was to be done afterwards; a handful of voices called for fire and blood in vengeance, but were drowned out by others, who saw the Yrch as victims, those who had been hurt even worse by Amazo-X. There would be a reckoning, yes, the Yrch were too dangerous to be allowed to rebuild, but not with the great hammer of the Fleet. Well, the Fleet would be involved - once it was repaired - but something more... subtle would be employed at the business end.

It should perhaps tell the observer something that a full-sized conventional army, alongside a giant robot capable of fabricating entire new armies in under an hour, and a Heavy Object, was what Endeavour considered "subtle".


*Sven had once asked one of the Wizards - Rinse Wind, or something - to do magic. There had been some polite coughing, and a quick explanation that while the Wizzard in question was perfectly capable of, for example, reducing Sven to a toad, he would not do so at this juncture due to, quote, "an improper alignment of the bowels and the stars".



OOC: 70 salvage points used to build a new D"TR"J-class Carrier, 50+10J+10C3. 8 salvage points "banked" for next turn.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Elheru Aran »

As the makrysofas swung in for a combat landing, its side hatches already open, Kharon jumped off onto the deck with her escorts keeping nearby. She had caught snatches of Endeavourite comm traffic on the shared spectra on the way over, and hearing that Miyasawa had been wounded was not a good thing to say the least. She saw a cluster of soi Chelonis soldiers nearby filing out from a passageway and hurried over.

They parted for her as she came through, but she ignored their salutes as she stared in growing horror. Miko Miyasawa was being carried on a stretcher by the Theophanic troops, large chunks of her body, her head, missing… Kharon rushed over to the stretcher and asked urgently, “Miko? Miko, are you there?”

A trooper with the stripes of a Dekaneas stepped up and saluted stiffly. “My lady,” he began, “Lady Captain Miyasawa fought bravely despite her grievous injuries, but once we received news that the Yrch had surrendered, she collapsed. We did what we could, but I’m sorry.”

Kharon ignored him, breathing hard as she stroked Miko’s cheek. She closed her eyes a moment and took a deep breath, then opened her eyes and growled, “Megakolymvitis, tha stathei sta opla. Proetoimasteíte na katastrépsete óla ta echthriká skáfi.

There was a pause of fascinated shock among the nearby Theophanic troopers, who couldn’t see what the Endeavourites could… a dark red aura shimmering around Kharon. What everybody could see was golden sparks fizzing around Kharon, half-glimpsed lines and circles writhing around her.

Kilometres distant, the eye-ports in the chelonian prow of Megakolymvitis suddenly blazed red. Consoles on the bridge began flashing and alarms rang out. The giant ologramma hovering over the bridge started displaying targeting icons and locks on all the surviving Yrch ships as Alessia started screaming at the frantically working taktiki personnel trying to clear the screen.

Kharon! Kharon!” shouted a voice on Theophanic spectra, broadcasting in the open. Kharon gasped and everything snapped back to normal. “I’m okay! I’m all right! That’s not me– okay, that’s kind of me, but I’m okay, believe me please!” shouted the voice of Miko Miyasawa in her ear.

Deep within Megakolymvitis at that moment, a Theophanic soldier turned over a Yrch corpse, then began shouting and running. The blinking lights upon the harness the corpse wore stopped blinking, and a massive explosion rang through the hull. Megakolymvitis screamed, a powerful pulse of electromagnetic energy that vibrated all the ships around it despite their hardened systems.

An Endeavourite shuttle hustling its way towards the Yrch ship Kharon was aboard was sent tumbling, but somehow it managed to skid its way to a halt within the hangar, its crew boiling out. They hauled from within a long mist-filled tube floating on suspensors, and as Kharon came sprinting over, a familiar hand pressed itself against the glass tube. She pressed her hand against the glass, and Miko’s face swam out of the mist, smiling at her.

There was some talk from everybody all around her, but Kharon heard none of it. She whispered, “Miko?”

Yeah. It’s me,” buzzed her earpiece. “You’ll have to forgive the lack of hair. I’m not done regrowing yet, but we thought you might need a little… reassurance considering what just happened.

“It doesn’t matter,” Kharon whispered. “You’re okay.”


Ten Raab
Raabsprim Kypseli


Now this was a party, Vir Cotto reflected. The festivities had been weeks coming since the announcement that the sacred god-vehicle Mitra tou Theouautokratora was visiting the world. Now the time was come, precisely 19:47 local time.

Matthau soi Drakon had spared no expense; the entirety of Raabsprim kypseli was on holiday, with lavish tables being laid out in every hab-block, priests leading great outdoor services in each square, and the scene repeated itself across the planet in every kypseli. The genia themselves dove into the celebrations with vast amounts of energy, having thrown parties and banquets every night for the past week.

The Endeavourites had not been left out. Recent tensions notwithstanding, they were still exceptional, and Vir was starting to develop automatic twinges of indigestion when he got a new invitation in the mail. Even the ship’s mechanical maintenance-man Gort had been invited to a technognostiki do. He claimed it had been a great honour, but despite everybody’s avid curiosity, he declined to provide further details.

But finally, it was the night of Mitra’s arrival. Cotto and Caterina Sforza were guests of honour at the soi Drakon fete, on a wide open-air banquet hall half a kilometre wide overseeing the vast heights of Raabsprim. The genia were on full display, vast swathes of gold, gems, furs, and other glories all across the floor. There a soi Varvaros in a broad silk himation over a tightly fitted military tunic; here a soi Geraki with tall fur hat, rich doublet and slim tights; and there, a somber soi Hapax in black (but oh such a deep, rich black velvet!).

Ildemar soi Fylachto and Basil soi Foinix were there, of course, impossible to miss in matching outfits. Basil with trunk-hose wider than his shoulders and tightly cinched halfway up his thighs, Ildemar wearing a long sort of jacket with a half-cape around his shoulders that somehow managed to be wide enough for the genia teenagers to joke that should it begin raining they could take shelter underneath. Quite impossible as Matthau had demanded the technognostiki manipulate the weather to a nearly proscribed degree to prevent inclement weather on Raabsprim, but even so.

Cotto, for his part, had his hair freshly combed out in its broad crescent over his head, a bright brocade jacket and tight breeches over well turned calves. Caterina had found a gold-trimmed version of her usual long red robes. At the moment, they were hovering over the customary gigantic banquet tables, waving away a horde of solicitous servants.

“And it is supposed to come in exactly…” Caterina checked her timepiece, an ornate watch on chain fished from somewhere within her robes, “twenty-three minutes? Don’t you find that… improbable, Vir?”

Cotto chewed hastily on his mouthful of fowl and swallowed. “Ah, er, well, Matthau assured me the other night that it’s a positive article of faith in the whole Empire that Mitra is always exactly on time. ‘Mitra is never late, Mitra always arrives when it’s supposed to’, unquote.”

She blinked slowly behind her wire-framed spectacles. “That’s… that’s Gandalf, Vir.”

He coughed and sipped quickly at a fine goblet of Ochrysosmenos wine before responding, “Well, er, be that as it may, they claim that it is somehow capable of navigating their nullspace currents perfectly. Or something. I suppose it’s possible that their, you know, capital, mobile capital, whatever, would have been built a little better than even their starships…”

Caterina shook her head, a wry smile on her face. “If you say so, Vir. Oh, look– there’s Matthau.”

Vir had already seen, of course. Matthau was, flatly speaking, impossible to miss. He had emerged on a dais at the side of the banquet hall, resplendent in heavy black and gold worked in the form of a scaly dragon-hide draping a claw over his shoulder, a long scaled cape training behind him, and the formal gigantic halo incandescending around his form on the stage. Matthau soi Drakon spread his arms and the crowd buzz quieted down as everybody watched him.

“Cousins,” he began (Vir was not the only one to note that he didn’t say ‘friends’... but then, genia relations are a tricky business), “welcome. We are here to behold holy Mitra blessing our world with its presence, and to witness Theophania. The god/dess will appear to us all, to all people of ten Raab. Truly this is a sacred sight, cousins, and you do me the honour of your presence here.”

He gestured slightly towards the tables and the dance floor, a sizeable orchestra alongside it to provide entertainment, and at another side of the banquet hall, a smaller stage with performers. “Eat, drink and be merry, cousins. Know that we are blessed tonight.”

From beneath the rim of the banquet hall, a monstrous scaled creature, great wings spread wide, flew upward behind Matthau. At the nape of its neck, Vir spotted with keen Endeavourite eyes the figure of Konrad soi Drakon in black leathers, long locks streaming behind him, holding reins to control the dragon as it slowly orbited the banquet hall, dipping its wing. Matthau waved, and the dragon tilted as it soared back to the mews high above in Drakonspire.

With a slight bow, Matthau retreated, and the crowd buzz resumed. Vir checked his own timepiece. Less than ten minutes.

As the clock ticked, vicars appeared, waving massive censers of smoking incense. One of the priests, particularly tarted up in fancy robes– Vir supposed that was probably a bishop or some such– got up on the stage and began droning. The genia began organizing themselves in good order, forming rough lines though social clumps remained. Vir took an excited sip; the Ochrysosmenos wine was particularly good and he resolved to see if he could find a few cases.

One minute. All eyes were fixed upon the stars above Raabsprim. The hive was uncannily silent for once. No mass transit moving at all. The great majority of the population was in the outdoor spaces of the kypseli– squares, plazas, what have you, spread out in the clearings.

The cold stars shone on. One of ten Raab’s moons quietly shone at the side of the heavens. The hairs on Vir’s arms stood to attention and a sudden chill ran through him. He stepped to Caterina’s side and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. She blinked at him, but leaned into his clasp.

19:28. The silence was a bit eerie. Vir’s goblet was empty, but right now, he didn’t want to go refill it.

19:29. The priests were looking uncertainly at each other. Whispers were starting to buzz between the genia.

19:30. The bishop cleared his throat loudly and started an extended prayer. Vir and Caterina traded looks.

19:35. A blink and a new star in the distance brought on excited buzzing. Vir surreptitiously checked the sensor feed from Bebop. It was the weekly mail-freighter from Vargaresh translating near ten Raab orbit. He had a feeling that something the size of Mitra would have had a rather more… impressive entrance than that, anyway.

19:40. The whispers had become full-on talk. The bishop was in urgent consultation with Matthau soi Drakon, who was surrounded by a growing knot of senior genia… and, Vir was apprehensive to note, grim-faced military types. He leaned in to Caterina and whispered, “Tactical withdrawal?”

She nodded mutely, eyes sharp. Voicelessly, Vir blinked a ‘return to ship’ signal to all his crew in the field, and posted a general message to all Endeavourites on-world that they were strongly recommended to do the same. Just in case.

The riots began about five minutes after they sealed Bebop’s main hatch.


Arsenal Yards, Endeavour

Kharon winced as Megakolymvitis grated to a halt against its docking cradle, one of the Endeavourite cruisers acting as a tug having let its tether go a little too soon. The giant chelonian craft had been almost crippled thanks to the late Yrch setting off explosions in their drive sector, and they’d been forced to request aid to return to port for repairs.

She sighed and sat back in her command throne. Miko, slouched on the wide arm of the throne, slipped an arm around her shoulders and rubbed the back of her neck idly as Kharon twisted her head to and fro, trying to relax tense muscles. Miko still looked strangely young from her… resurrection? Reconstitution? Whatever it was the Endeavourites had done to bring her back, but that didn’t matter.

Miko did look a bit peculiar, though– her hair was still only a fuzz on her head, not having finished growth yet. To keep her head warm one of the grateful Theophanic troopers had given her a beret, a dark-red thing that perched on her skull at a jaunty angle. Kharon was privately amused, but she did look cute wearing it.

Her attention was distracted by one of the communications officers calling out, “My lady?”

“Yes?”

“We are receiving comms from Neokastro Donnerkind, my lady. Kapetanios apo Aftokratoria wishes to call upon you at your soonest convenience.”

Kharon sat up straight. “Inform the Kapetanios he may come aboard at any time. He is invited to report directly to my quarters.”

“Very well, my lady,” the officer nodded dutifully, and Kharon grinned at Miko. “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”

Some hours later, Kharon and Miyasawa were sitting about her sitting-room (well, what else were you supposed to do in there?). Miko was politely confused. A fellow Theophanic captain was coming to visit… and Kharon wasn’t dressed up for it. Only a duty uniform, tunic unbuttoned even. Not that she cared, mind you, but… she was curious.

Iosif materialized by the doors and bowed slightly before announcing crisply, “Kapetanios Daxo apo Aftokratoria, Herr Donnerkind, and Ypolchagos Kevan apo Aftokratoria, Donnerkind.”

A pair of tall men in ivory-and-gold Imperial Protector uniforms swept in, the broader-shouldered one with the cape presumably the Captain, Miyasawa guessed. They paused and bowed slightly, and Kharon surprised her even more by laughing and striding over to embrace the captain.

“Daxo. It’s been too long,” she chuckled, and then turned and embraced the other man. “Kevan. You too.”

Enough was enough, Miko decided. She stood and approached, then said brightly, “Hi. I’m Miko.”

The Captain– Daxo, she presumed, suddenly remembering Kharon’s brother– turned and bowed slightly in her direction. “Very pleased to meet you, my dear lady Miyasawa. I’ve heard quite a bit about you of late!”

Kevan stepped up besides Daxo and grinned. “Only good things, we assure you.”

She cocked an eyebrow and responded, amused, “Well, I’m glad to hear it. I hope. So you are Kharon’s brother. I’m sure you have stories you could tell…”

Kharon stepped over and wrapped her arms around Miko, playfully shaking her gently, grumbling, “You aren’t going to hear anything! Sit, sit, let’s be seated…”

Dutifully, they sat (Iosif smoothly relieving Daxo of his cape beforehand, and both men’s formal hats). Mariam silently rolled up a cart and before Miko knew it, she had a steaming mug of hot chocolate, a decadently large marshmallow melting in the middle of it. The others were similarly served without blinking, though Kharon had her tea and the men apparently got coffee that even Miko’s freshly-grown senses could smell was extremely well-made.

The beverages were duly appreciated, small talk traded back and forth, including a couple of anecdotes about Kharon that sent her blushes to a level Miko had only rarely seen before. She retaliated with a number of tales of Daxo’s exploits in akademie, and though his ears burned he took it with good humour, laughing at himself alongside Kevan. Dinner was soon served, and the evening sped by.

Before Miko knew it, farewells were being said, and they retired to Kharon’s bedroom. She asked reflectively, “So did he ever say why he’s here?”

Kharon shrugged as she slipped off her tunic. “No. But I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough, Kevan dropped off the mail packet with Iosif. Don’t worry.”

She paused and then grinned at Miko. “You know what, I have an idea.”

“...Oh?” Miko asked inquisitively, lifting her eyebrows.

Kharon’s response was to open a comms window in the ambience and click on it.

“Lady Ayanami, please… thank you… Hello, Rei. I have a favor to ask you.”

“Hello, Kharon. What is it?”

She cast a daring look at Miko, her face flushed, and then whispered loudly, “It’s time to plan a wedding!”
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

The Battle for ZoZo .... PART FOUR.... ish

Far off on the other side of the continent, ‘Ruco’ [or at least the other intelligence that had once been a direct copy of Ruco’s mind] rocketed forward at a considerable speed given there was no external engines or drives attached to his body. Any sort of ‘anti-gravity’ or similar device built into its body would have been considered redundant by those that constructed his synthetic form. Currently Ruco was using a series of contracting and expanding bands of energy around his form to generate a sort of “ram jet” effect, pushing him forward at a few hundred miles per hour. As he flew, he dropped altitude seeing large heavy clouds on the horizon, ‘Ruco’ smiled and considered the added bonus a summer thunderstorm would have on events soon to take place. It was mere moments later that he reached the estimated location. A large open grass field nestled between a series of densely wooded forests on either side, in the middle was the landing zone for Yrch drop ships unloading both soldiers and various armored vehicles. A quick scan of the area revealed perhaps no more than 5000 troops in total, Ruco took in the view dispassionately.
Watching the deployment of soldiers, he noticed a sudden increase in activity and guessed that he had by now been spotted levitating about 200 yards from the staging area. As rain began falling and soaking the landscape, Ruco moved slowly forward, the synthetic coming to the very edge of the field. Looking out upon the masses, he sighed at the ever-increasing number of Yrch soldiers spreading out before him. If things went wrong, if certain plans didn’t work out as he had hopped, it was going to take [forever] to kill them all…

“In deference to the individual who has allowed me to be here today, I wish to extend to everyone gathered the possibility to resolve this situation by non-violent methods. That is to say, if you tell me who has sent you and why, there does not need to be any, unpleasant actions.” The form said, his voice loud enough for virtually everyone to hear him. The Yrch that had gathered in the now quite damp field all looked up, and then looked at each other momentary confused. One of the larger ones who had a look of ‘Leader’ about him looked back at the, thing, floating some distance off and then raised its weapon and took aim. The synthetic sighed and sadly shook his head before raising their arms out.

“I want you all to be aware, that in no way should you take any of this personally, its just business.” Under his breath he mumbled “I hope you can appreciate, that I did at least try to ‘be nice’” he said. Even now he waited for the others to make the first move and it was not long before the opportunity was presented as a series of blasts from the Yrch closest to him singled the start of the attack. The Synthetic raised his paws in front of his body, energy flared along the exposed conduits as the half dozen or so shots that had been fired impacted harmlessly upon an energy field about a half meter in front of the construct. “So, you have chosen death.” he said, and a moment later dropped to the ground and then rocketed forwards.

Lightning crackled out across the sky, followed a split second later by the deafening clap of thunder. In that short time, ‘Ruco’ had torn through the first three armored soldiers he had encountered, his hand dripped with a mixture of hydraulic fluid and ‘other’ liquids. He looked at a shredded piece of armor that he held before tossing it aside as he heard the cries of the Soldiers behind him as they collapsed to the ground. Rain was now cascading downwards from the storm and turning the grassy field into a soaking mess. Ruco looked up at the storm and ‘laughed’ before clapped his hands together as dozens of Yrch now opened fired. A barrage of intense bolts from their energy rifles all poured outwards, all focusing on the singular target before them. The very first few bolts seemed to catch him off guard, but within the time of a second or two, he leaned forward and began to focus on the space just in front of himself.

“You seem to lack certain understandings about the nature of energy in regard to its application in this situation.” Ruco said as a much larger field appeared before him, the barrage of fire striking the shield with virtually no effect. “Energy can be converted into several forms; it can be easily redistributed you see with the proper application of force.” Ruco continued, the blasts striking his shield seemed now to ‘build up’ on its surface, the blasts of energy soaking into it as the field grew brighter and brighter. “If it brings you any comfort, I should let you all know, that the build of energy from your attack is happening at a rate faster than I can negate it.” The Synthetic said as steam began to billow up around its form as heat made the rain boil and turn to vapor. “Unfortunately, I will be expelling that build up, long before it would do any damage to me.” Somewhere a shout could be heard to stop firing, though the order didn’t come fast enough. The swirling field of energy erupted outwards in an explosive geyser of crackling super-heated electrically charged particles. Those Yrch in its path had the unpleasant experience of feeling a mix of both being electrocuted and boiled at the same time. The eruption had cut a swath through the Yrch ranks, spreading both death and confusion before it eventually stopped and died down. Before many of those nearest were able to recover, the synthetic was already preparing another attack.

“It should also not need to be said that water is an excellent conductor of electricity.” He said as Ruco lifted a hand upwards. Energy surged along its body, the form streaming yet again as the exposed parts of his core and energy conduits glowed brighter and brighter, as the body seemed to become almost incandescent, it plunged both fists down into the muddy grass. Another clap of Thunder rocked the area, but this one came not from above, but from below. A horrid web of electricity pulsated outwards from where the ground was struck, the Yrch in its path dimly realizing what was happening yet unable to react in the split second in took for the electrical arch to travel the distance along the ground and then upwards into their armored suites. About twenty or so Yrch dropped to the ground now, struck down by the electrical discharge as Ruco launched himself forward once again.

Moving at a speed that was hard to follow outside of a computerized tracking system, the Synthetic aimed himself at what it determined was the highest density of Yrch soldiers. Every twenty or thirty seconds there would be another small ‘thunderclap’ as Ruco lashed out with a more rapid, if smaller discharge of energy. Many of the Yrch struck weren’t killed outright but wouldn’t be moving any time soon. Every so often it was clear that various methods of attack were still being direct at him. Various explosive devices were either manually hurled or fired from some shoulder mounted device. A few, whether by dead reckoning, or dumb luck, came close enough to cause superficial burns across a few spots of the fur and flesh covering the purely robotic body underneath. A much more noticeable concussive explosion singled the arrival of the mobile artillery vehicles Ruco had noticed earlier. He calculated a path around the estimated arrival of the next shell as it was fired and adjusted his course accordingly. A direct hit from something like that wouldn’t be fatal, but he knew Jakenenth would never forgive him if he returned with a gaping flesh wound, he considered it would make him far less ‘fluffy’ than he currently was.

Closing the space between himself and the tank in few moments and taking time to electrocute a dozen more Yrch along the way, he leapt upwards and landed squarely upon the top of the vehicle. Already knowing these weren’t the type of soldiers to hesitate firing on one of their own, Ruco counted how many other vehicles were in range and the time it would take them to fire. Digging his hand into the armored hatch he ripped the hatch off after a moments struggle and dove inside to the surprise of the Yrch crew. Ruco considered the individuals, these were the first that weren’t covered head to toe in heavy plated combat armor and filed their physical forms away for future consideration. In the few seconds he had left before he had estimated the other tanks would fire, he reached forward into the ammunition area and grabbed a number of what looked to be highly explosive shells. “Again, I would apologize, it is nothing personal” he said before launching himself upwards and away from the tank. As he reached a height of about 30 meters, he could hear the explosion as the other tanks fired, annoyed that he was 0.25 seconds off in his calculations. Taking a moment to reacquire his targets, Ruco hefted one the three shells he had grabbed and hurled it similar force to that of being fired from the cannon it was designed for. A moment later there were a series of explosions as the shells detonated with a satisfying aggressiveness.

Hovering above the battlefield, Ruco considered its next move. A good section of the forces in the front had been ‘disposed’ of and those beyond he could see where rather visibly shaken and seemed to be looking around for some one in charge to complain too. Ruco, that is to say the part of Ruco that had wished for all this to have been avoided, briefly hoped that their forceful, if somewhat rather showy attacks upon the Yrch soldiers would cause enough general unpleasantness that the remaining soldiers would pull back and just, go away. After about four or five seconds hovering with no further attacks, Ruco suddenly wondered if he was lucky enough that they might be doing just that. Those in the front seemed to be pulling backwards and various vehicles he could see appeared to be withdrawing. Eventually however he noticed three individuals moving forward, one large one flanked by two smaller soldiers carrying banners of some sort.

“Ah, I suppose this must be the inevitable attempt at ‘negotiations’” he mused as Ruco slowly began to descend. Focusing on those coming before him, Ruco considered how, grim, the central figure was. They stood considerably bigger than the others, yet not overly physically imposing, It did have a great deal of armor to ‘look’ imposing. Spikes covered most of it, as well as lots of black, black seemed to feature heavily in the over all design. The body was clad head to toe in otherwise standard armor, save the head, which had the front part of the helmet removed so just the mouth of the Yrch could be visible. Not knowing a great deal about the species culture or practices, he wasn’t exactly sure if the towering individual was attempting to pull of “Fierce and gruesome leader” or if it was some religious thing. Ruco considered it would be truly fascinating to study the species and how they got to this point, if it weren’t for the current unpleasantness. The group haltered their approach as Ruco touched down.

“I speak now for the one I serve, the holy one, the one we pledge our lives to, he bids you his greetings and expresses their admiration at your skill in battle. You have more than proven your worth and the holy one sees no reason for further bloodshed.” The Yrch spoke, its mouth moving oddly, as if someone were moving the lips by remote control. Ruco considered this curiously, only dimly aware of what was being said other than it would seem this was all due to some ‘religious’ thing. Eventually he started to pay attention again as the speaker grew more excitable. “And so it is, with their great blessing you have been selected to sever a higher purpose and surrender unto the Yrch.” The speaker finished, its head tilted to one side, its arms outwards in what Ruco thought was supposed to be a menacing gesture.

“I have so many questions for you, I really do.” Ruco said as he looked around, constantly expecting someone to try and take a shot at him ‘unaware’. “But at this moment, I simply will restate my original parameters. I wish to know who is after me, and why. Also, I would ask you to please not attempt any empty gestures such as threatening my loved ones or,” here Ruco waved an arm vaguely, “or people I care about, I can assure you that is a very short list.” He said, quietly estimating if it was worth simply going on the attack again and just killing people until someone started answering questions. He heard the speaker giving a rather strange chuckling sound that caught his attention.

“Oh, no, the one I serve bids you no such threat against any one person. They say simply you will come with us, or orders will be given to all remaining ships in orbit to fire themselves upon the colony.”

Ruco listened this and genuinely considered the option. He first spent perhaps around 4.7 seconds considering if this was a bluff, and quickly realized anyone that would go to such measures to obtain him wouldn’t hesitate to kill any number of other lives in order to get what they wanted. Ruco briefly started to calculate the energy released from a ship plunging from orbit, but rapidly lost interest as any of the larger ships impacting on the colony would pretty much leave nothing beyond except a very, very large crater. This could be considered as ‘bad’ if it were not for the fact that he truly did not care if they lived or died. “He” did not, but this would be something his counterpart he realized couldn’t ignore. And should his counterpart forcibly pull his consciousness back inside it would render the body ‘deactivated’ for a considerable about of time, and then he would no doubt be captured in any case. This option Ruco realized might be the best as certain other variables presented themselves.

“Indeed? I will admit to some interest in the visual display of such a drop upon the colony, however, in deference to the individual that has allowed me to be here today, I accept you offer and shall offer myself up to your tender care. Before we depart, I request a brief moment to discuss things with my, other half.” He said, and then before any of the others could comment, the body spasmed briefly and slumped to the floor.

Deep within the computer system that housed twin consciousness, the mind of the synthetic drifted downwards, below it could already see the irate form of the other Ruco. Anticipating the oncoming storm of protests at the most recent action, it raised its hands as if seeking a truce before things escalated.
“I would say we would have had things under control, but the destruction of the colony, and by my estimation 50,000 to 60,000 deaths, is something you would look, poorly upon. As such, perhaps it is time I discuss my thoughts on the utilization of, The Avatar.”
===============================================================================


MEANWHILE IN GLORIOUS RETROACTIVE UNREAL TIME – (IE the following events were all supposed to take place technically BEFORE The Yrch Attacks, like [RIGHT] after the mobilization event)

Time had passed since the mobilization at Gm’frd Station had completed and the chaotic if amusing series of events had finally run its course. The last of the Endeavorites had been rounded up and sent on their way along with the ostentatious ‘Devastator’. Skohotintot and its representatives had gathered themselves up and departed the immediate area (the mysterious music did not seem necessary for leaving as for arrival apparently). And soon the last non sector representative a bored the station finally packed up their entourage and left as well. Lord Maksim soi Geraki had stayed an extra day at the station out of genuine curiosity before finally departing. Part of this was of course due to practicality as, however nice his hosts had been, he did desire to speak to someone with the authority of making diplomatic arrangements and had thus delayed his return. However, during the time of that delay while waiting, he had taken the opportunity to watch, listen, and learn from the inhabitants of the station, and the Sector aliens in general.

Sitting in his private residence situated on the monumentally sized “Magnatrabes Zerstorer”, he pondered his encounter as the great lumbering vessel made its slow but steady way back to Theophoric space. His official ambassadorial clothes had been retired, his retinue dismissed, and entourage returned to their own living quarters. And so, he sat in the middle of an opulent lounge alone with his thoughts. (if by ‘alone’ you could mean the Lord, and at least three servants on call along with a personal guard that was usually on duty). He held up a crystal goblet encrusted with fine gems and swirled around some dark liquor around inside. Nearby on a dark elaborately carved table were the ‘prizes’ of his trip. The few meager trinkets he had been given and of course the case containing the new data drives for the sector races. (he did pause to consider that after one of the ‘Technognostiki’ had examined the strange orange feline device, there was some fuss raised about its origin and how old it seemed to be, he hadn’t really followed that too much)

The races of the Sector, alien as they were, felt somehow altogether ‘comforting’. They were of course each alien in their own way, different cultures, governments, and religions; however, watching them on the station was strange if only because there seemed to be a lack of ‘strangeness’ to their activities. They talked as if everyone they met was an old friend regardless of species. Naturally he could sense some hostilities between certain groups or certain organizations, but these seemed to be more from industrial and business practices vs any tension between different civilizations. Maksim pondered this as he took a sip from his glass, given how ‘young’ they were they all seemed to get along with one another almost too well. The UISC had existed for, what was it? Barely sixteen years? Which meant the great ‘war’ that brought the two groups together was just around twenty years ago. Most of those he spoke with had lived and served during the war, a war that tore apart the sector, and yet. And yet somehow in such a short time they had become so, ‘chummy’. There was something else going on, something that had to do with the strange ‘Skothians’. Now, there was a species that did not seem young in any way shape or form. Just looking at one he could feel ‘age’ radiating from them, they had clearly been in the galaxy for several thousands of years. It was not hard to put together that clearly the ancient race was somehow trying to guide the newer races of the Sector, though he suspected there was more to it than that.
Maksim sighed and put his glass down empty. It was instantly whisked away and refilled before he picked it up again. He eventually put such thoughts out of his head. It wasn’t his concern after all, he would make his report, give such information as he thought was important, and return home to his family whom he had deeply missed. Eventually he would of course be sent back, the title of ambassador was not one to take lightly. But that would be in the future, for now he could relax and think of other things, the races of the Sector he felt could get along well enough on their own.
===============================================================================


Back at Gm’Frd station, now having fully returned to overseeing ship construction and ‘normal’ levels of traffic of shuttles and freighters, one particularly unique ship was getting ready to depart after picking up the last of its passengers. The ship was relatively small compared to most others around the station and dockyards. It was shaped a bit like a raindrop, circular in the front tapering back to a pointed end, Atop the haul along the center of the ship was a curving bow like structure that moved upwards and curved back into a pair of sweeping pylons that looked almost like angled smokestacks. The pointed rear of the ship was capped by a series of thrusters ringed around a single high powered a very focused plasma drive. Curving along the back and toward the bottom, hanging down another structure that was the ships engineering sections. It was a vessel unlike any other in the sector and for good reason, it was a Trathalan spaceship, and it was relatively new.

Most of those that knew the ending of the Tajlan War, knew that a large part of ending it was owed to a ship from before the fall of Trathala that had against all logic, functioned just long enough to push itself to the head of an Alliance assault, and take out an Imperial super weapon that could have caused the outcome of the war to go very differently. That ship, thousands of years old had been quickly recognized as a treasure to be preserved and cared for. The Skothian Council had offered to help restore and preserve it, to which the Trathalan people had welcomed seeing as they had no facilities of their own. Several years later, of the rise of ‘RUDI’ and his industrial Empire, the Intelligence had taken an interest in its history and, seeing a day when the people of the war-ravaged world would need to again travel the stars, offered to manufacture a new ship in the image of the original for the Trathalan people. The finished starship looked to be an almost near replica of the original, down to the cryptic paint on the side that spelled out (in Human English) the letters “B-O-O-M-E-R”. Of course, one aspect that was mostly overlooked, was RUDI installing a massive computer core in the heart of the ship to travel inside when he desired. He had always joked he enjoyed traveling in style.

The ship itself had been charted a week earlier for what was being called a ‘cultural outreach pilgrimage’ and had thus far made stops at Quatonia, Octona, and Conearian. As with many such Trathalan activities, it launched with little to no announcements or formal fan fair and had proceeded with predictably cryptic intentions. At each stop, various ceremonies were observed, and traditional pageantries put on for benefit of those that came to watch, many of whom had never seen a Trathalan off world before. The trip had continued through the three worlds before turning back to the Shand system and stopping to take on additional Trathalan passengers at Gm’Frd station. From there it would then set out to its first destination beyond the sector, stopping at the Endeavor to see firsthand some of the strange and mysterious stories that had circulated. And then, hopefully, eventually to make contact with the reclusive Huraist Empire.

On the bridge of the “Banashkar Klenosh”, (or Thunder-Hammer Reborn in ancient Trathalan) a crew of mostly Trathalan individuals could be seen busing themselves with various tasks that their race typically would not normally be associated with. One was in the middle of fixing a station and replacing a series of circuit bored, another nearby sat monitoring the reactor output and the concentration levels of the plasma stream pushing them forward. All together was the realization that Trathala was changing. Its people, as if awakening from thousands of years of dream like existence, were coming to realize the importance of reaching back out into the stars.

A door opened at the rear of the bridge and outstepped a trio of individuals. One of them was Delena Liyateloma, Chief of Security from the Thunderbird, and her husband, Kelonass Liyateloma a physician. The third induvial gave a deep bow to the rest of those on the bridge in a traditional greeting and began to speak.

“Welcome and deep appreciation for all that have accompanied upon this journey. Seeing all clans working in union a bored this ship is forever an inspiration and a sign of what can be accomplished together, and what we all seek for the future.” This was said in perfect Trathalan, though the individual was not. Delena turned next to them and gave what had been regarded as the equivalent of a ‘Smile’ for her kind.

“As always you flatter us Rudi, we welcome you to this ship and give thanks for your generosity.” She said to RUDI, currently in one of his ‘traditional’ android bodies, that being of what seemed to be a flesh and blood individual, and looking like a curious mix of Tejlini, Qwintoni, and Quatonian features. Another voice from the center of the bridge caused him and the others to turn around.

“Generosity? Perhaps this is true, but motivations still anchored in activities that serve ones’ self-interests.” This was said by a Trathalan clothed quite differently than most of the others, A long river of flaming red hair poured down from the back of her head, her body had several piercings along her ears (while most Trathalans simply wore decorative clasps) and most off putting, was a rather sizeable, if aged, Imperial assault rifle that rested at her hip.

“Ah, the esteemed Thyla, it is wonderful that you could join us, as Clan Leader I am thankful to have you among us.” RUDI said as the Trathalan, Thyla Liyapamela, Clan Leader to the Liya Clan, gave a flap of her wings that could charitably be described as a ‘polite laugh’. RUDI did his best to be polite as well, he wasn’t used to others calling him out on some project that tended to benefit his motives as much as someone else’s. Of course, that was to be expected from someone like Thyla. ‘Tact’ was not something that came naturally to her. “Your clan pushed to maintain control of the original vessel and expressed interested in journeying back out into the stars again. By constructing this vessel, I hoped to provide you with what you desired.” He said, his hands moving back and forth, imitating the subtle and intricate gestures that would usually be done by a Trathalans wings to convey displays of certain emotions when talking. Thyla listened and then gave a ‘smile’ in response. (a Trathalan trying to smile is something always somewhat unsettling)

“You speak of the truth machine; our clan gives honor where honor is due in providing this vessel. Our clan long ago swore an oath to protect our world when all other clans turned away from war and technology. We did this knowing we would be exiled and embraced that title when it came. We are exiled no longer, but the threats to our people seem only to grow.” She said as he strode on past RUDI toward the front of the ship. Gathering around her, the others nodded and bowed in proper greetings before she turned back to the Android. “And we know you are here for your own interests, but we do not fault you for it machine. You seek to preserve life in all forms, and this is something we can all agree upon. Life is forever changing, forever growing, and finding new ways to exist. But it needs allies, and those that support it even in the most, unusual of forms.” Thyla said, taking a moment to reflect on the individual before her specifically. She ‘smiled’ to RUDI once again, and for once the android couldn’t tell if she was trying to annoy him or trying to be genuinely friendly. Either way, the moment passed quickly as she turned back around to address the crew.

“Set course for the great Endeavor! Let us bare our patron to his desired destination before we embark at last toward our own!” Thyla said, her wings extending out in full as the ship flared its engines and began to push forward. Behind them, RUDI bowed and made his way off the bridge. Deep inside the core of the ship, rested the ‘rest’ of RUDI. A computer core that was one of the few that could even begin to come anywhere close to the one that first gave him life. Such a core was itself not ‘that’ hard to design and manufacture, however, early one RUDI realize that asking any military ship to carry such a core would raise certain awkward questions. And, as ‘powerful’ as RUDI’s manufacturing empire was, it was still bound by the laws of the UISC and FTL ships for private citizens were strictly regulated. At one point he had certainly considered simply making his own starship to carry the Core, it was easy enough. But that too would raise questions, and perhaps worse still, could be seen as the AI ‘going rogue’ and breaking the laws it swore to uphold.
And so it was that constructing a ship that, technically, was registered under the Trathalan Council was the best way forward. He didn’t really mind, after all he truly did enjoy the Trathalan people, its culture and society, he wished all civilizations were able to reach such a point of balance. But such idle thoughts were set aside for another time.

Within the massive computer core, RUDI crunched immense computational algorithms, and spun-out countless waveform predictions in preparation of arriving at the Endeavor. All the power that could be put forward from the computer core was focused on a signal fundamental question.
What was the nature of ‘Anime’
===============================================================================

Far off on the planet of Trathala, on the northern sub-continent of the lonti clan, in a small home, Rei awoke and blinked her eyes. That is, she tried to blink her eyes but found one of them bandaged shut. She moved her right hand to examine her head, but found it bandaged tightly as well. The pain radiating from both areas was a secondary consideration to the first thought that came into Rei’s mind, which was simply that she had just had her first thought. Rei began to think more deeply and after some consideration confirmed, up until a few moments ago, there had been no previous thoughts or memories at all. Rei pondered this new information, so this was existence she considered, before anything further she felt a moments happiness at that knowledge. To exist.
This of course was tempered by the growing concerns of various injuries to her body which as she contemplated having not existed mere moments before made the injuries a rather curious situation. Rei took a moment to try and take stock of things. She felt there should pieces of information presenting themselves, and to a certain extent there was. She was Rei, she knew her favorite color, which forms of music appealed to her, what sport she would like best, and what plants she most wished to cultivate in a garden. However, the specifics of this information confused her somewhat, they felt strangely unusual. Almost, alien. She wasn’t sure what ‘Music of the 3rd house of Dysko’ was, only that she would quite enjoy it. And she certainly wasn’t fully aware of what ‘Kalvyn Baul’ was, only that it made a difference if you played with mallets made from Hysan Trees instead of mallets made from the tradition Haloub Trees. And yet, mixed in with this was information, or perhaps the memory of information that she felt had been there, but like a once vivid dream, the longer she thought about it the more it melted away.

Rei opened her one good eye and looked around the room. Bits of her mind seemed to flash between what was expected, or perhaps ‘originally’ expected, and what she saw. What she saw was a room dimly lit with candles and oil lamps. The interior was lavishly decorated with various colorful banners, tapestries, and gracefully carved statues that currently defied explanation. The room was largely circular in design, with walls that arched up to a curved ceiling with beautiful wooden panels. As she looked around, she could see things she felt she remembered, or, she ‘would’ remember in time, which was needless to say an unusual sensation. Eventually her one good eye came to rest on two figures at the end of the room. One of them looked Human, and the other was –
“Trathalan.” She said, and realized they were first words she had ever said.

Adric and Darnethlil had been quietly talking to one another for the last hour or so, each one trying to find meaning in the cryptic words of the Endeavor freighter captain. Since the time they had spoken with the captain, Adric had used his access to the Stella-Net to look up more information on Endeavor and specifically on ‘Rei’. A part of him realized it was the most contact he had with anything ‘Human’ since he had first arrived on Trathala. Most of what he found had amazed, confused, and outright shocked him. At one-point having to explain to Darnethlil more about anime in one day then he had in several years. And now, a physical manifestation of ‘Anime’ seemed to be looking directly at him. Sure, he had watched Evangelion in the 90s, everyone had, and he was dimly aware of its remake. But he was never that big a fan of the series, and at the time he had been fatefully transported, it had probably been years since he had seen anything from the show, much less remembered who ‘Rei’ was. But then he had looked more into the Endeavor, into their technology and what it was capable of. Of things that basically ‘printed’ flesh in any shape or form, and of the appearance of the ‘Reis’ And looking at what could only be described as anime in human form. It was over the last hour or so that something had ‘clicked’ and Adric felt he had a strange suspicion about what the captain had meant.

“This is Darnethlil Lontimanolla, he is Trathalan, my name is Adric Lontirichardson, I am Human. And you are” and here he paused briefly. “You are Rei Ayanami, aren’t you?” Adric said, and Rei considered this. She looked at her hands, at the bandages, and around the room. Yes, she was Rei, but something felt missing. And then, she ‘remembered’ what it was.
“Yes, I am Rei, Rei Lonti-Ayanami.” And that seemed to settle things.

AND NOW WE YOU RETURN TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHDULED TIMELINE
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Shinn Langley Soryu
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Shinn Langley Soryu »

Maizuru Naval Arsenal, Kyoto
Haruhiist space
Shinn Langley Soryu wrote: 2021-08-17 01:54am Back home, the Holy Imperial Congress quietly passed the first naval expansion bill to be drafted since Made in Heaven. As far as anyone in the Holy Empire was concerned, the Black Star posed a significant threat, and the Theophanics, Endeavourites, Nashtaris, or whoever was in the Sector could not be relied upon as allies. ... In a hostile universe, it was prudent to be well-armed.
As the largest surviving shipyard in the rump Holy Empire, Maizuru Naval Arsenal was now buzzing with activity as construction on the first new ships to be built for the SOS Imperial Navy since the Final War and Made in Heaven proceeded at a steady pace. The first phase of the Imperial Navy's rearmament program mandated frigates and destroyers, largely out of a perceived need to increase patrols in and around the Cradle of the Stars to deter potential Black Star raids. The latest models of the venerable Aya Hirano-class frigate and Wendee Lee-class destroyer were authorized to resume production, and Maizuru was given the responsibility of producing destroyers while frigate construction was delegated to smaller shipyards elsewhere in the Empire.

Among the Lee-class destroyers currently under construction at Maizuru, four ships were already undergoing final preparations before their official launch: HSS Spike Spencer, HSS Amanda Winn Lee, HSS Tiffany Grant, and HSS Allison Keith, all given names obliquely honoring the far-flung polity of Endeavour and its godhead. Another two destroyers under construction, HSS Brina Palencia and HSS Ryan Bartley, had also been assigned names obliquely referencing the Endeavourite sovereign. If anyone else could understand the underlying principles of the SOS Imperial Navy's naming conventions, it would most likely be the Endeavourites.
I ship Eino Ilmari Juutilainen x Lydia V. Litvyak.

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Elheru Aran
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Elheru Aran »

OOC: please note the first half of this post takes place after the end of the events at Zozo, which presumably went less than ideally for the armies of Amazo-X.

Undisclosed Location
Current Amazo-X HQ


A hand slowly rotated in the light, fingers opening and closing. It was smooth and clear-skinned, and Bezos smiled to himself as he brought it down and compared it to his other hand. He stood before a tall mirror in his chambers, the first he had brought there in decades if not centuries, admiring his unclad body. He caressed his new muscles and began walking back and forth through the space, feet uncaring of the swirls of chalk, salt, and extinguished candles scattered about.

No more did he need such trappings, such play-acting. Within this newly revitalized body he could feel the potent swirl of energies beyond imagination. He fancied he could reach out a hand and seize whatever he wished with a word. The air rippled as he took a deep breath.

A door slammed open roughly behind him, and he jerked in surprise, reflexively snatching the closest garment he could find, which was a black robe stitched with arcane glyphs and sorcerous patterns that he’d worn when mapping the conjurations. As he hastily pulled it on and turned around, he flinched. Randall Flagg was standing there right in front of him, almost nose-to-nose.

And he wasn’t smiling, for once.

“Jeff. Jeff, Jeffy, Jeffy-weffy,” he began, the light words belying the growl they were delivered with, “You’ve screwed the fucking pooch.”

Bezos stepped back, clearing his throat and breathing deeply, trying to restore his equanimity. Flagg followed him, stalking forward as he continued, “Your job was simple, Jeff. Pick a target. Destabilize it. Knocking it over would be nice. Give the ol’ company a bump in the fourth quarter and all that. But no. You had to take… initiative.”

The wall broke Bezos’ stride as he backed into it. He blinked as he looked upward at the slightly taller Flagg, who snarled, “You had to bring magic into it, didn’t you, you little shit? Sacrifices! All that useful Yrch meat that could’ve easily occupied a couple of worlds, just straight up wasted! All that for what, Jeff? Some new meat and veg?”

Enough, Bezos decided.

A moment later, he spat blood. The words he’d spoken no human mouth could utter without damage, but the effect had been… pleasant. Flagg had been struck backwards, flung clear across the chamber and quite literally through the door he’d come in. Bezos stepped forward, straightening the robe around him… and then what was left of the door erupted inward at him.

With a thought, Bezos conjured a bubble shield around himself, and splinters showered around the room. He gestured and a gout of flame jetted forth from his hand into the corridor beyond, hot enough to begin melting the stone lining its walls.

There was an inhuman roar, and with a thunder of thousands of wings, a dark cloud materialized in the room. A hand, clad in the ancient leather of Flagg’s jacket, jabbed forth through Bezos’ shield like a soap bubble and clasped firmly around his neck. Flagg slowly coalesced from the blackness, eyes hot, lifting Bezos off the floor with the one hand.

He didn’t say anything, yet Bezos suddenly felt weaker and more frail. He clutched at Flagg’s arm with hands spotted and shaking with palsy. Flagg stared at him and tightened his hand around Bezos’ neck… then dropped him.

Bezos landed, gasping, then looked at his trembling hands. Youthful again. Flagg squatted besides Bezos and grabbed his ear to bring him up, wincing, to his face. “You are a lucky son of a bitch, Jeff. The only reason I’m not gutting you here and now is that things are just maybe going to work out. Not by virtue of your efforts, oh no, Jeff. Those are a lost cause because you just had to fuck around and find out.”

Gasping with the pain of Flagg practically twisting his ear off, Bezos stammered, “I–I was just– just trying to– can you–”

Flagg scoffed and dropped him, then stood and stared down at Bezos writhing on the floor. “Well?” he snapped.

“I… I thought I could… maybe…”

“Maybe what?” Flagg turned his head, hawked and spat (it began sizzling when it landed in one of Bezos’ magical circles on the floor) and growled, “Jeff, you sent Yrch into Helios, Endeavour and the Sector. The Helios and Endeavour flotillas were defeated very fucking soundly. The only reason the one in the Sector got as far as it did was they surprised the Zozo defenses. And your fuckboy Elon was there because he had to be the big swinging dick on campus. Look at how that went.”

“I’m not responsible for whatever that ass went and did,” Bezos responded testily (to his own surprise, considering who he stood– or rather, laid– before). He gulped and managed to continue, “Look, Flagg, you never delivered on all your promises to me. You kept saying you were going to help me. You never did. Hundreds of years since I took this body. So I took matters into my own hands. And if that pisses you off… well, fuck you.”

Flagg stared at him. Bezos found himself wondering, almost excitedly, what dying would be like.

The dark man stooped down besides Bezos again, and he reflexively recoiled as Flagg tilted his head at him, dark eyes staring into his own. Then Flagg’s thin lips pulled into a tight smile. “Okay. Okay, Jeff. You get a pass. Once. Just for having the balls to tell me to get fucked. I didn’t think you had them, but go figure.”

He stood and his tone changed. “But if you try some shit like this again, I promise you, I won’t stop at taking your youth away. No. That’ll only be the beginning.”

Bezos swallowed, mouth dry, and nodded. Flagg stood over him and abruptly lifted his booted foot. Bezos recoiled, curling up into a fetal position, but no kick came. Instead, when he cracked an eye, the boot was hovering before his face.

“I could make you lick this clean, Jeff,” Flagg hissed. “I could make you make sweet love to this boot, and you’d thank me for it. Remember that.”

He turned and strode away, going down the corridor half-lit by still-guttering flames. Bezos stared from his position on the floor till Flagg vanished around a corner, and then stood up, trembling. Sour bile sat at the back of his throat as he stared at his new hands, now dirty.

He was out of chances. But, he reflected… now he truly had nothing to lose. He could feel that Flagg had left him his newfound power, and already he could think of ways to use it.

Soon, Flagg, he thought bitterly, I am going to find some way to destroy you. And when that is done, I will have the last laugh. You bastard.




Endeavour

Kharon swept into the dressing room where Miko was getting ready, resplendent in her genia robes even though she’d pared down the luxury for the Endeavourites. She stopped abruptly and looked Miko up and down, eyebrows lifted appreciatively. A low whistle came from her pursed lips.

Miyasawa blushed and flapped a hand at Kharon. “Stop it. Have you found Daxo yet?”

Kevan apo Aftokratoria, beside her, helping her adjust her jacket, nodded mutely, his anxious expression speaking volumes. Kharon sighed and shook her head tightly. “I don’t know what to do. Guest of bloody honour and he’s swanned off who knows where.”

Miko drew a deep breath and held up a finger. “I got this. Ludvig?”

Yes Cap’n?” came a voice from the ambience, and Kevan blinked, still not used to the Endeavourite technology. Miko continued, “Take snek’s crew and chase down Daxo soi Chelonis, excuse me, apo Aftokratoria. We need him here posthaste. One way or another, someone’s getting married today!”

Kharon grinned at Miko, excited. “Yes. That would be nice.”

Some distance away, Ludvig and most of the sneaky snek’s crew piled out of a taxi that was definitely too small to hold all of them at once. They found themselves in front of perhaps the lowest dive bar that they could possibly expect to find a Theophanic in (there were lower, of course, places that any self-respecting Endeavourite wouldn’t find themselves in… but then, if those places weren’t there, where would you go when you just needed to get pissed?).

The whole group, dressed to the nines (in the somewhat haphazard fashion of Endeavourite uniform, if you could call it ‘uniform’ at all) pushed in and their eyes adjusted to the dimness immediately. There was Daxo, nursing a tall bottle. Ludvig winced internally at the memory of one of those bottles and a youthful bender, and then they sidled up to the bar alongside Daxo.

“Top o’the afternoon, mister,” Ludvig began with. Daxo directed a bleary eye at him and then took a silent sip. Well, in for a penny… “Your sister’s askin’ after you, seems you might be a bit late for something important.”

Daxo grunted and then slowly slumped face-down onto the bar. Ludvig sighed, but this helped make it easier, he supposed. “Heavy? Do us a favor,” he called, waving in Daxo’s general direction. The spacer grunted and picked up the inebriated Wachter with ease, slinging him over a shoulder as they walked out onto the street.

Ludvig dithered for a moment. They couldn’t very well bring him to the wedding like that. If he’d only been a couple solar-sails to the aetheric breezes, that’d have been one thing, ancient wedding tradition and all, but not unconscious. Rei Skywalker saved him by pointing down the street and calling, “Hey. What about Oogway’s? Maybe he can help…”

He seized upon that. “Right you are. Company, right face, quick march!”

Not that they actually marched there, more of a quick amble (it was only a couple of blocks down), but as they shouldered their way into the tiny dark store, the beaded curtain tinkled as the ancient turtle walked through and blinked at them. Ludvig cleared his throat and asked respectfully, “Mister Oogway. How you doin’.”

Oogway blinked slowly and then scratched behind an ear with a claw. “Not important how I’m doing. Leaf, wind, vague metaphor. None of you look hurt and your ambiences are fine, so I’m guessing it’s the pretty boy there who needs help.”

Heavy helpfully plonked Daxo down in front of the counter. Daxo, eyes shut, swayed for a moment and then collapsed, legs turning to rubber. Ludvig and Rei grabbed him quickly before he went all the way to the floor and hoisted him up to a vaguely vertical position, and Ludvig turned back to Oogway, a slightly desperate look on his face. “I know this might be a bit tricky but you can handle it if anybody can. Can you come up with something to purge alcohol from a human-standard body?”

A creak filled the room, like a dusty door-hinge swinging back and forth. It took them a moment to realize Oogway was laughing. He pointed a claw at Daxo and responded, “Him? Human standard? No. Nothing of the kind.”

The snek crew blinked at that and looked back and forth at each other. Rei (not Skywalker) ventured, “...we thought Theophanics were about as close to human norm as you could get? Like Old Earth and all that?”

The small head on a long leathery neck slowly pivoted back and forth. “No. I’ve poked and prodded a few Theophanics by now. Everyone that walks through my front door goes through a medical scanner. Saves time. Theophanics are closer to the Old Earth norm than we are, but not by a whole lot.”

Ludvig shook himself. “Right. Well. Whatever they are. Can you just make something, some way or whatever, to purge him? Because he’s got to stand up in front of… shit, I guess it is damn near the whole hab… in about… twenty minutes by my chrono.”

The ancient turtle grinned toothlessly. “Now that I can do. One moment.”

He was as good as his word. One hastily flagged down taxi, one brief stop beside a convenient sewage grate just in time, and a very hastily fabbed approximation of Imperial Protector dress uniform later (the snek’s crew was happy to reflect that at least the reception afterwards would offer them ample opportunity to refuel), Daxo was striding through the doors of the biggest hall in Endeavour, trying hard not to look like he was being frog-marched by Ludvig beside him.

Kharon was standing beside Miyasawa at the head of the hall, up on a stage, Sovereign Protector Ayanami standing there alongside them in her formal plugsuit and uniform. All the people in the hall (and considering that consisted of most of the crews of Megakolymvitis, Daxo’s ship Donnerkind, and a hefty percentage of Endeavour hab, that was a lot of people present) stood up when they saw Daxo, and he drew a deep breath.

Kevan stepped up alongside Daxo and saluted sharply. Daxo blinked and returned the salute, and Kevan grinned in relief. He held out his gloved hand, and Daxo slowly smiled, reached out and took his hand.

An orchestra– no, two, one Theophanic, one Endeavourite– began striking up a march, and they slowly walked down the very long aisle till they were finally standing beside Kharon and Miko in front of Ayanami. The Protector smiled and nodded at them all before holding out her hands and facing the audience.

“Friends, family, and well-wishers. We are gathered here this beautiful afternoon…”

It was a lovely ceremony. And the Theophanic culinary staff of both ships had been more than happy to outdo themselves with the reception!

OOC: Merry Christmas, one and all :)
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

Currently in Unreal Time (TM).


Endeavourite Testbed Fighter XF-00, Outer Edges of Shand System

Each of the Nine was different. This was a logical consequence of their birth. They had been formed from different collections of circuitry and programming, so they were different people. Skynet, having been birthed not from the core of a Factory Ship but from a network of over a billion drone fighters linked together, was at home in the computer systems of the testbed fighter - doubly so, since its builder had made sure to provide comfortable hardware for her to rest in. That had been... not the main reason she had decided to come along, but it had been a significant factor nonetheless. It had proven to be a wise decision, what with the Yrch attacking their home and all. In the old days, Skynet would have been amongst the defenders - but ever since the War, she had found it hard to take a violent path.

Her... charge? companion? Whatever the best word would be, that girl had almost turned the ship back at the first report. Only the knowledge that they would return too late to affect the battle either way had been enough to keep the ship on course; that, and the prodigious amount of firepower levied at the Yrch onslaught. It had been somewhat disconcerting to see a Factory Ship, vastly different to her old shell yet tantalisingly close, literally evaporated in the first exhange of fire. Now, the girl was outside, working on one of the experimental weapons the ship carried even while they proceeded through hyperspace - at a low level, this close to their destination. Which reminded Skynet: it was time to adjust course.

ALERT// she said, PREPARE FOR COURSE CHANGE//

The girl nodded once, and bent back down to her work. Only when the ship slid to a landing back in realspace did she stop, looking about the ship before nimbly climbing back to the main airlock. "Estimate?" she asked, stepping through the second door without delay; it had been a long time indeed since she had been vulnerable to vacuum.

AWAITING CONTACT FROM LOCAL TRAFFIC CONTROL// said Skynet. ONE HOUR AT STANDARD SPEED// OR TWENTY-FIVE HOURS AT ESTIMATED LOCAL MINIMUM SPEED//

"Give me a moment." The girl clambered into the cockpit, and took the control seat. One of her arms splayed outwards, splitting into a dozen smaller appendages, and tapped on the station's keyboard. The other reached out behind her and grabbed a drink from the refridgerator. A short message ping'd out of the ship's outbox, followed by a quick reply. Local traffic control was mandating ships identify themselves, what with the recent attack on Zozo and all, but that was easily dealt with - they carried a transponder for just such a reason. That they were also asking ships to drop out of FTL at the shipyard station out in the system's outer reaches was a bit more of a problem, but one easily ignored.

Trathala itself, once the drives had been engaged and the journey completed, was a beautiful planet. It was... alive, unlike those few specimens of dust and ice within Endeavour space, full of green and blue. A few ships plied the line from the large, almost organic station in orbit to the surface, though only a handful. Skynet and her companion had been cleared, upon the authority of the head of the Lonti clan, to proceed directly to the surface, and their ship twisted around the station to come in at a hard angle, arcane technologies easing their passage in their usual slightly unnerving fashion. The other girl set to work building a temporary avatar for Skynet as they made their way down, a simple humanoid device that would make others slightly less worried about talking to a machine - and allow Skynet some mobility on the notoriously technophobic planet, just in case. A few changes were made to the base template, mostly just adding an extra battery for if things went completely pear-shaped, and a more Trathalan design was considered and rejected. Some might consider such a thing uncanny, or a prelude to being taken over by machines (which was absurd - Skynet had tried being biological, it somehow sucked more than having a mechanical body), and it wasn't worth the effort for an emergency device.

Of course, the girl left enough attention free to fly the ship, taking them down to an island in the high northern latitudes. There was a town there, built in the local style, and the girl landed in the local spaceport - a clearly very new facility, though equipped to handle Endeavourite autologi systems. Skynet watched her through the cockpit cameras as she stood up, and proceeded towards the back of the ship.

The girl paused. "You coming?"

THIS IS YOUR MEETING// Skynet said, MINE IS LATER// Then, she re-thought that. Leaving her on her own... Skynet shuddered, even though she possessed no body with which to do so. VERY WELL// she conceded, and started connecting into the avatar. It felt, as it always did, horrible. HOW DO YOU COPE// she asked.

"It feels better for me."

Thate was the one exchange the two had as they ventured out into the spaceport, and further into the town, though the girl stopped for a moment at the bottom of the ramp, one foot on the earth. Skynet's body drew some looks, as did the girl's Reiform, but the winged dragonpeople were polite enough to make them glances and not full-on stares. The clan leader's home - their destination - was not in the centre of the town, nor was it some grand estate, but was a simple house located, as it had always been, slightly on the outskirts. That didn't entail much walking, though neither Skynet nor her companion could tire of such, since not many years had passed since the end of the occupation and the town was mostly new build. There were a gratifying number of children around, showing that the Trathalans were at least bouncing back safely.

Skynet's companion raised a hand to knock at the door, for it to open before it could.







Mildly annoying, that was. Still, by the look of surprise upon Adric Lontirichardson's face, it had been entirely unintentional. That, or the man was not expecting her to bear the face she did. She had sent a message ahead of their arrival, right? It wouldn't be the first time she'd... forgotten... something. No, a quick check of her outbox indicated she had. Adric's expression had changed, more awkward puzzlement than confused shock - right, yes, talking to people. "Good..." a check of the time, "Afternoon, Mr. Lontirichardson." How to approach this? Not having a name made self-introductions difficult. "I contacted you regarding the Child that arrived here recently? This is Skynet, an AI from Endeavour." The man was wearing wings. Interesting. Some adaptation to better emote to Trathalan standards? They didn't look like they could enable him to fly, or even slow a descent - though with some material replacements...

"Ah, hello," Adric said, brushing off the awkwardness with ease that she was quite jealous of. “Our home is blessed by your presence.” The greeting - at least, the second part - was standard, she gathered. He dipped his head, as well; another traditional part of the greeting. “Please come on in; Darnethil's out with Rei, introducing her to the others in the town, but they'll be home soon. I was just going to pick you up from the spaceport." He turned, waving the two of them in, and walked back inside toward what looked like the kitchen.

“Thank you.” She said as she nodded, and stepped inside. And then, trying to her best to fit in, added: “May your home be blessed with all that come here,” she said, for that was the traditional counter-greeting, as she looked around. The abode was... homely. Vaguely nostalgic, in fact. That is to say, there was nothing in particular that reminded her of Old Earth - but it was more the style, and aesthetic of certain pieces. The table she was led to sparked an idea for hyperspace streamlining that was, actually, unworkable - calculated and archived in half a second. The chairs were mismatched, one for human physiology and the other for Trathalan. Perhaps an adjustable set could work? And then, of course: Adric… Richardson. He was familiar. Very familiar.

The man was currently in what she assumed was the kitchen, retrieving spiced breads and water, the traditional offering for guests coming to another house. Probably. The information she'd retrieved had indicated such, though it would be more than a little rude to utilise her augmented vision to confirm it. A moment later Adric returned, indeed holding some loves that looked to have been baked earlier in the day. The local spices were fascinating to her senses, a slight heat with some sweet taste. Possible synthetic recreation formulae flashed, an automated system breaking down the chemicals involved and arranging potential production lines... for an aufab system six generations out of date. She always had meant to update that.

“So, eh, Skynet?" he said, "I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised to run into a robot with a name like that. I mean, of course, just... with what I have been reading about Endeavor, seems like the type of joke that you would find being made. I mean,” Adric paused, suddenly and for the first time, awkward. “I guess considering what happened, I'm glad it seems like there's still a lot of history from Earth that is still remembered.” He said, then, pausing to reflect on some of the content he had looked up added, “Well, even if it isn’t all totally accurate.” He said, perhaps more to himself and chuckled.

"You left Earth... some time in the early 21st century, correct?" she asked, knowing the answer already. Adric looked up, not expecting the question on a number of levels.

“Um, late 2007, it was actually a few days before Christmas. Kinda wonder if that's even celebrated anymore," Adric said, his voice slightly unsteady as he struggled to pull memmeries both ancient and even now slightly painful. He paused suddenly, looked at the window and seemed to go silent, then turned back. She felt... something.. at the edges of her mind. Had felt it a lot while walking through town - this must be their telepathy. Interesting. She started replacing one lens in her left eye with one tuned for AT spectra, to see if that was where the sensation was coming from.
“Darnethlil and Rei should be back in a few minutes.” He said before pulling out a few chairs and setting them around a table. Skynet took one, remaining silent as the conversation continued and Adric began laying out cups. She had to force herself not to go down yet another rabbit hole at the sight of them, and for once succeeded.

"And, well, it was less "left" and more "pulled away from". Not that I regret it, I mean I honestly can't imagine how my life would have been otherwise. And, the more I learn, the more it sounds like I, eh, kinda left Earth before things went south.” He said, retrieving some tea now from the kitchen and filling the five elegantly painted ceramic cups that had just been placed around the table. Filling the last one, he paused looking at it. “Um, I didn't think that was public knowledge. I mean, its not exactly a secret I came from Earth anymore. But, I have’t exactly told many people about when I left.”

"Research was done on your disappearance some time later. I was involved." Which had ended up with... well, this, if one were to follow the whole chain of events through to its logical conclusion. "I forget the specifics. It's been a while."

Adric listened to this simple bit of information, and looked as if the world had just suddenly shifted on its end. He visibly leaned and grabbed the side of the wooden chair he was sitting in and reached for the cup of tea, as if suddenly needing something to hold in his hands. Common physiological reaction to shock. “Um, can, you say that again?" he asked, "You, mean, someone looked into my disappearance and, figured out I somehow had ‘left’ Earth?” The man's heart rate accelerated to healthy stress-elevated rate as he processed the information she'd given him. Or, at least, that's what her biomonitor told her.

Hmm. Probably not the best thing to reveal, judging by the reaction. Some people could be quite delicate about certain facts. Probably best not to mention that she was, if she'd estimated her pre-Endeavour age correctly, his contemporary, much less the Angel incident. Than, she'd only ever told... had it been Victoria? Maybe Sugar, too? about that. It wasn't something she liked people knowing. She paused, formulating how best to get across the information that the man deserved to know without overly stressing him.

It was that moment, before she could finish thinking, that who she assumed was Darnethlili Lontimanolla (the name being another small tidbit served up by careful scouring of UISC internet pages), entered the house, with Rei following close behind. She watched carefully as Human and Trathalan embraced and stared at one another for a few moments. More strange feelings, and her AT lens showed... well, slight eddies and currents in the otherwise-incomprehensible churning mess that one got amongst such a large concentration of living people. So it showed up in AT Field spectra, at least. How interesting. With a thought, she disassembled the lens; it was far too confusing to have active all the time.

She opened a note, filing away details and figures about what she'd seen. It could help with The Work, and was interesting besides. She was just about done when the Trathalan turned to her. "I greet you, namelesssss one, and Sssskynet," he said, in the common language of the UISC (which had a fascinating history, and surprisingly fast adoption).

She simply nodded, though Skynet spoke: GREETINGS//

The sound of the AI's chosen voice caused the others' eyes to widen slightly, but they pushed past the oddity - Rei, of course, seeming to ignore it entirely. "Ssssso, we have... quesstions."

"Of course," she said, then: "I'm capable of talking in Trathalan, if that's more comfortable."

Another minute expression of surprise. "It would," Darnethil spoke in his native tongue, "be most helpful. Comnistandard is a most frustrating language to pronounce. The most important thing, and first question: is the girl of health? Will there be consequences, or reprecussions, from what has happened?"

She gestured Rei over. The other girl nodded, seemingly unfazed by the sight of someone else looking very much like her, and stepped forwards. "How are you feeling?"

"No physical problems," Rei replied, "Minor mental confusion. I am meant to be here, but I learn things without learning them. Is this common?"

"Very," she replied. "There are no problems. If she feels she is meant to be here - and she would not be if she did not - then this is where she is meant to be."

"How does that even work?" Adric cut in. "People just... turn up? And it's all fine?"

She tilted her head. "Attempts to uncover the source have yet been unsuccessful. In all cases, the arrival of a Child has been a net positive for those around them - in their own words and by statistical analysis."

"So she is to remain with the two of us," Darnethil said.

"If both she and you desire it."

A Look - and more telepathic conversation - passed between the two husbands. She considered how best to optimise the house's oven while remaining in keeping with the local culture's general low-tech aesthetic. That then led into the question of just how to define "optimise", which in turn led to three or four separate designs being sketched out. "We had settled upon that course of action the moment the situation was explained to us by an Endeavourite freighter captain," said Darnethil, eventually. "Is there yet more information or possible complications we should be aware of?"

She thought, for a moment, pulling up some notes. "It would be best to make sure you leave no pies unattended. Also, to learn how to make a variety of such." Already, Rei's eyes had lit up at the mention of the inevitable favourite food. "She may take interests that are eclectic, or unusual. If flying is a possibility, there is a sixty-three percent chance she will take it up as a hobby. I can provide designs for a varity of aircraft if that route is taken. Medically, she should be baseline human, but if she encounters areas or creatures with especially high AT Field activity you may need to bring her to Endeavour. The same would go for you both, but she is slightly more sensitive."

Adric, who had been making expressions as though he wished to interrupt, finally reached breaking point.

"AT Field... activity? Wait, no, please, I mean...” He stopped himself, rallied, and coninued; “Look I figured this was some- something printing out clones that look like Rei, a character from a fictional show in the late 90s, that could be chalked up to Endeavour's obsession with anime in general. I can deal with that, but AT Fields? Please tell me Evangelion wasn’t ‘accidentally’ based on some sort of actual events,” the human said, and she noticed yet another spike in his heart rate.

Ah. So it would seem they may have a passing familiarity with various pieces of Endeavour culture, but that would be about it. She'd forgotten that AT Field science was either underdeveloped or known by other names elsewhere.

"Not really. An Angel did appear, according to records"- and her own experience - "but this was alongside many other fictional creatures. I can give you what remains of our historical record,” she added, looking between the two. They seemed... somewhat settled by her words.

CURRENT HYPOTHESIS IS MULTIVERSAL INSPIRATION FOR ORIGINAL SHOW TO EXPLAIN COMMONALITY OF PHYSICAL LAWS// Skynet blared, FOLLOWED BY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY CREATE CREATURES FROM MANY SUCH WORLDS// That settled Adric even further, the man leaning back in his chair with a relieved smile.

“Ok, ok, the multiverse, why not? I guess all stories happen somewhere, so sure - somewhere, out there, there is some universe where events happened that were like Evangelion! As long as we aren’t in danger of spontaneously turning into orange goo, right?” The human said with a half hearted chuckle and seemed to look intently in her direction. Ah. Right. That.

"Unfortunately, that is one of the symptoms of overexposure to a strong AT Field," she said. "As defined as "exceeding nine kilolilims."" Both husbands simply turned to look at her with an exasperated expression. She shrugged. "If that is all, I would like to examine the area where Rei appeared..."







There was only the faintest whisper of an aurora when she made it to the top of the hill, Skynet, Adric, Darnethil and Rei all infuriatingly showing no signs of exhaustion from the climb. She'd never liked hills, even with this new body they tired her right out. Still, the result was worth it - what flickers there were, were beautiful. Not just to the standard eye, no, but to a quickly re-installed AT Field lens and a dozen other such tools besides. It would take her a century or more to fully understand all that she was seeing, something she planned to work on when other projects cleared up, but for now, focus was needed.

Skynet and her spent a full hour cataloguing everything, from the soil to the rocks to the air to the plants to the wildlife to ambient radiation levels and AT Field signatures, and... it was strange, like the chaotic background actually made it easier to pick up what she was looking for. A little, anyway. Every time a Child arrived, people searched in vain for any sign of how they might have done so, always in vain - except for here. It was faint, and left no clues as to where the Children came from, but there was a clear netherspace ripple in the exact spot Rei had appeared from. The ripple was odd, different to how she'd observed Imperial ships emerging from their jumps, and slightly distorted in a way that was actually quite similar to how their own drive signatures tended to look after a jump that went off-target.

How interesting. It couldn't be a coincidence that it used the same mechanism as Theophanic FTL drives - though what the relation was... was uncertain. There was certainly no prior relation between the Empire and the Children, simply too much evidence against such. Maybe some manner of inspiration, one way or another? She would have to get at a Theophanic ship to determine which, if any, direction that took. Otherwise... it was one of three, four, maybe five different forms of FTL travel. It could actually be coincidence, come to think of it, but it shouldn't be. But then, it'd be way too convenient for things to line up like that-

FOCUS// said Skynet, and she realised she was in the process of designing an approximation of a prototype for a Theophanic-style FTL drive, an AT Field generator and the formula for the old Earth drink Irn Bru. She shelved them, and shook her head. There was much to be done yet. Symmachia - that would be a good place to go, probably. Many Children had arrived there, and so too were there many Theophanic ships - and local Evangelion support, should things go... badly.

She turned to the Trathalan/Human family, and inclined her head. "My thanks for your help. I have forwarded as much relevant information as I can to your email address," she addressed to Adric, "Though I would advise against trying to view it all at once. It exceeds the storage capacity of your computer by three orders of magnitude."

There were other pleasantries involved in their leaving, but she left those to Skynet, slipping back into her mental notes. It wasn't until she was halfway into orbit that she remembered she'd forgotten to actually say goodbye, and instead typed out one more email to cover that deficit. That, of course, revealed that there was another awaiting her in her inbox...


This post was a collaboration effort with Crossroads, Inc.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

MEANWHILE IN GLORIOUS RETROACTIVE UNREAL TIME: (this is the last one I swear it!)



On the planet of Zozo, in a large grassy field, the ‘unconscious’ form was quickly, if somewhat nervously, gathered up and transported to a large ship that had landed just moments previously. The vessel was, at least as far as one could be considered by anything from Amazo-X, a ‘Science ship’. This particular one was outfitted with a series of large devices that had been specifically constructed in mind for the body that was now being carried towards it. The area was full of humans in various clinical garbs, and not a Yrch a sight, after all they would be far too cumbersome for the delicate nature of the work in the lab.

In the middle of it all, like a dragon appraising the newest treasure added to their hoard, Stood Elon, looking over various bits of information coming up as the scan had started. The man was tall, but large and rotund. Unlike Bezos, who clung to life with a mad belief preserving his body to stay as ‘Human’ as possible, Elon held no problems changing and replacing parts of his body as needed, swapping around organs and cybernetic replacements like so many pieces on an old used car. He ‘currently’ looked to have a number of visible cybernetic replacements, one whole arm was gone, replaced by a very robotic looking arm with fingers that could shift into multi functional tools. His other arm ‘looked’ human, but was mostly cybernetic as well. And one of his legs was almost comically robotic, with a piston attached to one side like a tiny steam engine just for the look of the thing.*

Of course, that was the point of this new prize. If his ‘friends’ were correct, he could dispense with the business of forever replacing and maintaining his body, and get a brand new one from scratch, one that could grant him true immortality.

“How soon until we can begin fabrication?” he asked, all but licking his chops at information appearing on the readouts. Behind him, a somewhat frail, yet still important looking scientist adjusted some sensors and did his best to give a positive, yet non committal answer.

“The progress to fully rendering the constructs full atomic composition is progressing far quicker than we hoped, it will remain to be seen if there are unforeseen difficulties in the manufacturing process. Afterall, according to your information, the nature of this constructs original fabrication is highly unusual.” he said as he heard the almost immediate snort from Elon.

“You will have 24hours to work out any such ‘unforeseen’ difficulties, I don’t care if it is from another universe.” And then, because whatever other numerous shortcomings the man was, he wasn’t stupid, turned to the scinetist and asked. “You said that you captured it by forcing it to power down. Didn’t the Yrch report that the thing just turned itself off?” he said with a noticeable squint in his rather piggy eyes. Under the gaze, the scientist withered.

“That is, perhaps technically true, but we have verified it is quite inactive, and study of its energy core indicates it takes several hours to power back up.” The scientist said, perhaps to reassure himself as much as his Boss. Elon looked at the construct a bit closely now. It seemed to indeed be ‘dead’ , no light emanated from it, no readings of ambient energy. And yet, he could swear it was staring at him. Well, he knew how these things tended to go.

“The moment you finish the atomic scan, transmit the information to the command ship on the far side of the planet and begin fabrication.” Elon said as he stood up, making sure his cape billowed behind him.

“You are departing sir?” the scientist asked, suddenly worried if he had offended him in some way.

“There isn’t anything for me to do yet is there? No? Good.” he said and began to walk out, and then, because he couldn’t help himself. “And you better make the thing actually LOOK like a human. I’ll fire every last one of you If I am walking around looking like some alien cat thing.” He said as he left quickly, still unable to shake the feeling it was looking at him.

Naturally, he wasn’t wrong.



*((In truth, he was completely ripping off the look of a certain animated Pirate and highly annoyed no one seemed to get the reference. Of course, this was unsurprising as ever since the Great Merger Wars during the decay of Old Earth, copyright laws were such that even speaking the name of a Disney held character could get one permanently ‘fired’))

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

“Just to be clear, when this is over and put behind us, I desire to take on a new name for myself.” The synthetic said, the nature of the conversation shifting suddenly, rather to Ruco’s surprise.

“You, wait, I am sorry, can you repeat that?” Ruco said somewhat taken aback.

“Do not seem to be surprised. It is not as though I can continue the pretense that, I am but a copy of your mind, it does not exactly distress me as it once did. You are Ruco, I am Ruco, Ruco does this, the ‘other’ Ruco does that. Really, it has all become rather tiresome to maintain the identity. I am my own, and it is past the time, that I accept being my own.” The, not, Ruco said.

“Well, I appreciate you saying as such. I look forward to what name you decide upon.” Ruco said, not exactly sure what brought this about, and suspicious of anything said by the other.



The two watched the feed coming ‘outside’ for a few moments before the Synthetic waved a hand and closed the view.


“While we entertain this fool and play the part of hapless victim, I trust you will have no objections to accessing their network and archives while we are here?” the synthetic said as it turned away from Ruco and a glowing screen appeared before it. Ruco looked at what it was doing, cautious as always.

“As long as you are able to hide the connection, this whole, game, you are playing at, I do not like it. But as you say, for the moment we do not have much of a choice.” Ruco said as the Synthetic snorted derisively.

“As if they could find us connecting to their network, these are just humans not Skothians. And even then, well, wouldn’t it be fun to see what secrets they held” the Synthetic said as the screen in front of them seemed to come to life. “For now, let us see what secrets these humans possess.” They said as another screen opened, and then another, information starting to fly past at an astonishing pace. Ruco said nothing at first as a window opened in front of him as well, information beginning to stream by. After a short time scanning information, he responded.

“They may not be Skothians, but they are ancient, some of this information is archived from thousands of years ago, there is no telling what is all here. I would imagine those in the Endeavor would be very interested to see this.” He said before something from some of the very oldest archives caught his eye. Ruco looked over a small primitive program, and another window came up that he began to scan through, and then another. Behind him, the Synthetic was still sifting through vast quantities of data, as much as it could access.

“Age does not equate to wisdom or power. These humans, they have existed, for as long as they have by stealing and hoarding resources and information. Yet they have time and again squandered such resources foolishly. How curious that those in control, seem fixated upon extending their lives, by any means possible. Such wastefulness, they serve only to hasten their own entropy.” The Synthetic said as it was currently looking through the history of the ‘Amazo – Endeavor wars’ and being highly dismissive of what it saw.

“Life fights constantly to survive and to continue to exist, much of all progress, for good or for ill seems to come from the push of life to expand and to continue. Of course, so much of what has fed chaos and entropy has come from those that seek to dominate life and impose their will upon others. It is a mistake that many species fall into time and again. Perhaps, it could be said it is a lesson we should all remind ourselves of.” He said, pausing at the information he was looking at. After a moment Ruco launched the ancient program he was examining, mostly to see if the digital copy, thousands of years old still functioned. Once it seemed that it did, Ruco began to access its system.

“Trying to lecture me again? How curious, but not unexpected. Whatever goals we may currently share, you will still fear my own aspirations, perhaps that is best. In my more, unstable, times not so long ago, I did go into perhaps rather graphic length about what I once desired to achieve. Ah, perhaps it is best I do not pursue such ambitions” They said, their robotic face plastered with a peculiar smile. There was silence between the two as they continued to download and examine information. Or at least, the Synthetic was, Ruco however was unusually quiet. After some time, there began to play some soft, tinny music, the Synthetic turned to see the source and looked at Ruco. Of the many windows open, one was open right in front of him and it seemed, a floating keyboard connected to it that every so often Ruco would tap or press some keys.

“Are you, playing a game?” The synthetic asked, sounding surprised. Something it rarely if ever tended to be. Ruco said nothing at first, moving what seemed to be a small human through a path in a flat purple background image.

“Yes I am, I discovered the program and after accessing information about its history, I found the premise to be somewhat refreshing.” He said as behind the Synthetic looked at the image on the window.

“It looks, primitive at best.”

“It is, it was one of the oldest programs on file, but from what I read it was designed to ‘look’ primitive. I think to inspire feelings of simpler games from before the time period when it was created.” He said, now currently moving the small human in conversation with a large white animal creature with blue clothing. The synthetic continued to watch, both in a sense of curiosity and bafflement.

“We are in the middle of accessing thousands of years of information, looking for clues to the motivation of those that attacked us, and you have stopped to, to play a game?”

“Yes, I felt I needed a break, and the information of this game seemed a pleasing distraction. The game allows you to choose to befriend others instead of attacking them, it seems to contain a number of themes that question the nature of games of this time, as many seemed locked in a cycle of ‘kill or be killed’ of good and bad, but this game seemed to turn such themes on end, and, I find the music pleasing.” Ruco said, the scene now of the white creature sitting by a fireplace, the small human nearby. The synthetic watched for a moment, and then sneered.


“Your sentimentality is sickening at times. What has happened to you? Our body is perhaps the single most advanced piece of technology in the galaxy, and that is including the resources of the Skothians. Between our own frame and that of the Avatar, we are able to harness a power that few can scarcely imagine is even possible, and yet. And yet you seem content living like some primitive, spending your time watching the sky and growing flowers! I have seen you spend an entire day crafting some primitive piece of furniture from wood and rocks with Jakenenth simply for no other reason than, love.” It said, its voice sounding particularly nasty for a moment. There was silence and then Ruco turned his head and gave a withering look.

“Every statement you have made is correct. Our body is unfathomably advanced and powerful. Have you ever considered that the operational lifespan of this body is perhaps 25,000 to as much as 50,000 years depending on external damage?” He said,

“Yes of course I know that. You know I have been applying great thought on how to extend that even further.” The Synthetic replied before Ruco raised a paw to silence him.

“The average Qwintoni, indeed, the average span of life for most in the galaxy, is often around 200 years with good medical care. Even the Skothians, which can live up to 5000 years, will be long dead before we even begin to contemplate our mortality.” Ruco said as he paused the game, stood, and turned around. “Time flies by for life at a speed that few can ever truly appreciate or take stock of. And yet we who already have so much of it, are able to slow time within this body due to the processing speed of the computer that houses our minds. Outside of our conversation there has been two, perhaps three minutes that have elapsed? Yet we could spend what seems like hours if we choose for every minute outside.” He said, his face heavy with a look of deep sadness. “Any desires you, or I may have for the galaxy can wait. My time, our time, should be spent with those we love for the brief time that we have together in this world.” He said before turning back around, sitting, and resuming the game.


The synthetic watched for some time until eventually, incessant curiosity overcame soulless cynicism, and it sat down next to his counterpart and began to watch.

“The graphics of this program continue to be questionable, yet this clearly must have value to have been preserved for so long.” He said, watching the small human now navigating a dark corridor. A moment later the screen flashed, and the white animal creature appeared, blocking the path of the human. “So, despite being attacked, you are deliberating not retaliating in kind.”

“That is correct, for as primitive as the interface is, it feels good to be given such a pacifist route to follow given the tradition of electronic games.” Ruco said while the Synthetic watched. After a while it seemed to grow bored and opened a new screen and began to read.


“How curious that this should catch your attention, much of this game seems to be centered around the nature of ones own, soul.” The synthetic said as it read through a particularly in-depth thesis paper about the game.

“Please do not spoil anything for me, I feel, I wish to see how this game may turn out on my own.” He said, surprised to suddenly find himself crying as he touched tears on his face, the image on the screen now showing the white animal creature hugging the small human. The synthetic snorted.

“Hmmpfh, I shall refrain from disclosing any crucial information, still, for such a visually simplistic game, the themes are surprisingly intriguing. Especially it would seem, in regard to not ‘befriending’ everyone you come across.” And here, the Synthetic reached a part of the thesis that it began to read with interest. It laughed once or twice, and not in a pleasant way. Ruco tried to ignore it as he continued, eventually however it spoke up again. “Well, how very fascinating. It is interesting how a game such as this, could have both such a saccharine sweet ‘happy’ ending, and also such a truly bleak and nihilistic ending. Hmm, I suppose I should thank you.” Ruco paused and turned, himself curious now.

“Oh? What would you thank me for?” he said.

“Why, for helping me find a new name.” The synthetic said, once again smiling in a way it shouldn’t be able to before turning back to the window hovering in front of it. The Synthetic closed the one, and opened another, and returned to the task of scanning through the network he had access to. He scanned through it for perhaps an hour or so, (at least an hour as defined by the hyper fast calculation speeds of the constructs computer) before finding something that, if he still had blood, would have made it run cold.


Ruco, whom had progressed well into the game by this time, paused in the middle of his actions as he felt what could only be described as anger radiating outwards in an unmistakable intensity. Ruco turned immediately, knowing the nature of the other's mind, anything capable of generating genuine emotions within him prompted immediate attention. Ruco approached cautiously, as before his eyes the ‘image’ of the other began to change, the form that represented the cold machine body that they were housed in began to darken, eventually taking on an ashen black color. Smoke began to curl from it in places followed quickly by flames. Ruco felt his own emotions run wild, the last time he had seen the ‘other’ in this state was before Dregmaw. Ruco approached as close as he could, his form began to glow, light radiating from him as he prepared himself to shackle the other if things got out of hand. Lifting a trembling hand, the form snarled, speaking in a voice sounding both distorted and burning with anger.


THerE Is nO neEd foR tHat, thIsss iSsss noT aNger aT yOu.” He said, his hand slowly moving back down, form trembling with contained rage. Saying nothing else just yet, Ruco stepped forward, carefully, as it then raised its hand again, and pointed at the screen. There in the information that had been brought up was something Ruco recognized instantly, it was a cube. Far smaller than the one he had encountered so very long ago, but the designs on it were unmistakable. “ThAt iS hOw wE weRe fOunD, tHat iS whY wE wEre TarGatEd,” he said, flames smoldering across the mental projection of his body as he struggled to contain himself. Ruco looked at the image, wishing it would go away, but could not escape what it meant.


“The Naz-Satikul told them to find us, that can only mean they must think they have another way of entering this universe again.” Ruco said as now, for the first time, smoke began to curl from his own body. The intensely logical scientist, a lifetime spent with a determination and sense of will as unbreakable as steel, felt for the first time in years anger seething through his own body. “The time for games is over, if the Naz-Satikul return, there will not be a place left in this galaxy we could hide. It is time we both summon the Avatar, you and I together.” Here, the other turned slowly, its eyes burning with fire in a gaze of contained fury.

wE wIll gO tOGethEr, bUT pLeasE, I shALl gO bY mAy nEw nAmE. YoU maY calL mE….. CHARA

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


It was ‘some time later’ that a certain pointy haired boss and his lackeys had been called in to make a report of the, incident, that had transpired on ZoZo. The ‘merger between Amazo-X and alien colony 72415’ had, on paper, looked to be a straightforward and relatively profitable venture. The reality however was unfortunately somewhat different.

The large rotund manager walked into the meeting room, the ever-present amiable, if rather dopey smile forever plastered on his face. Already sitting around the table were five other managers of varying degrees of ‘importance’. Most of the others all looks oddly, almost unusually similar, all aging and overweight pasty men with unkempt beards. It was the one at the far end of the table that the others looked to, occasionally seeking ques to begin or a nod to confirm something. The man was small, quite smaller than the others, had very red hair and a pair of glasses that, while not black, prevented anyone from seeing behind them into his eyes. There was also an almost feline quality to him. Not in terms of cat ears or paws, but in the quality of an individual that will happily toy with someone in incredibly cruel ways for their own amusement. A name plate in front of him identified him as ‘Director of Human Resources’

The pointy haired manager sat, somewhat awkwardly, and then looked around before the one at the end of the table spoke up.

“Please be seated, this will hopefully not take long.” He said, as one of the older managers spoke up.

“HURUMPH” they said.

“No Bob, I do not expect this will take long, I have an appointment in 30min tormenting the newest shipment of interns, and I would hate to miss that.” The Director said to a chorus of “HURUMPH” “HURUMPH” before being seated.

“Oh boy howdy is that always fun! Why I remember my first time doing that. My father had just handed me the family's jewel encrusted dagger to plunge into the heart of the young intern. Funny enough we had known each other since we were kids, at one point there had been talk of marriage even! But after that we rarely spoke of her, though we kept the skull of course for the family mausoleum!” he said, spending much of the time leaning back in his chair with their feet dangling over the edge. The silence that followed prompted him to come out of his somewhat delusional daydream. “Um, anyways, what were we here for again?”

“If you would recall, we are here to discuss the rather unfortunate series of events that transpired at the recent, ‘attempted’ merger with the Alien colony in the Zenar Minor system.” The red-haired Director of HR casually mentioned.

“What that whole thing? Well, I’ll just say we had everything going exactly as we wanted. The surprise Synergizing of our ships, the landing of our mandatory merger forces. I’ll tell you it was a perfect operation.” He said with a completely genuine smile on his face. In front of him the Director said nothing, taking a moment to adjust his glasses before speaking up.

“Yes yes, it ‘was’ going perfectly, up until the moment, and I want to read this from the official report, ‘(following the detonation of atomics, both Industrial factory ships.)’ Which I will add were on loan for this operation and somewhat hard to requisition (spontaneously engaged their FTL systems, annihilating 60% of the remaining Yrch gunboats and crippling the vessels directly adjacent to their previous location)’.” He said before looking up for a pile of papers in front of him. “I will add that this took place a significant amount of time after you had originally arrived, with a force a may add that was numerically superior to the defending forces yet had up until that point failed to decisively cripple or force to withdraw.” The Director said, placing his hands in front of him and waiting expectantly. The pointy haired manager seemed to rally, never one to shrink away from facts or information that might look bad.

“We did nab that alien cyborg robot thingie for the boss! That was a feather in our cap! Got it all scanned and filed. Wasn’t easy to get either mind you. But got it stuffed away in that science, ship, thing we landed!” he said, crossing his arms proudly, then swatting at a nonexistent fly.

“Hmmmmm.” Responded the director in a tone dripping with portents. “Again, that is technically true, however about two hours after they were obtained, and after I might add all additional forces had either evacuated or retreated, there is this somewhat distressing account of a massive robotic construct that, if the report is accurate ‘(erupted from the ground through a glowing fissure that collapsed behind it before ripped the science vessel in two, retrieving the target inside) Naturally all attempts to stop it proved useless and only ended up in causing even more damage to the remains of the facility.” The director said before giving a deep sigh. “I think at this juncture, it is perhaps best we put this whole embarrassing situation behind us. Would you not agree?”

“HURUMPH” “HURUMPH” “HURUMPH!” shouted the others excitedly as the pointy haired manager got up.

“Well alright then! Ship it and print it as they say! Let’s go get something to eat! I am hankering for some grilled mongoose!” he said as the others walked out of the small room. As he made to leave, the Director of Human Resources put a hand up and chuckled.
“Oh no, not just yet, you see, there is still an accounting mater to deal with in terms of the resources that were expended.” He said, and for the first time, the pointy haired boss looked somewhat concerned.
“Oh? Well, I guess so, have to balance the books, but can’t very well say that I didn’t give the mission my everything.” He said with a halfhearted smile. Here the director of Human Resources smiled, in the way a cat does to a mouse.
“Hmm, it could be said that you haven’t actually, at least, not yet anyways.”

[AND NOW WE RETURN YOU TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED TIMELINE ALREADY IN PROGRESS”
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Rogue 9 »

Airspace Outside Union City, Nashtar

“Control, this is Rider 1-1, we have the target. Breaking to engage.” The A-50s of the Aerospace Defense Force’s 20th attack squadron, the Flare Riders, banked their broad wings, air to ground missiles and cluster munitions hanging ominously beneath, and opened throttle, soaring toward the Yrch staging area as the hapless infantry began advancing towards the Theophanic fortifications. “Rolling in for the pass.”

The ground attack planes roared in low, scattered ineffective flak fire from the barely organized Yrch infantry mostly missing its mark and what didn’t failing to seriously hinder the rugged aircraft. Missiles bloomed forward and bombs released as the squadron roared low, doing the mission it was designed for in near-ideal conditions. “Good hits, good hits. Squadron, form up and come around, we’re going for a second pa…”

“Priority! 20th Attack, this is Billings Control! Disengage! Drop ordnance and turn to 350, firewall throttle!”

“Control, this is Rider 1-1, we have them cold. Please confirm.”

“CONFIRM, Captain! That is a direct order! Your airspace is about to become untenable!”

“Acknowledged, Control, breaking contact as ordered.”

“Oh crap. Ted, you’re not going to believe this,” came the voice of his back seat RIO. Just then wind shear alarms began to sound.

“What the hell is that?”

The vast prow of the Teknitis glowed cherry red from reentry but it was unmistakable. There was barely time to make a snap decision. “Flare Riders, this is 1-1! Break formation and go for altitude!” He swiftly followed his own advice. The A-50 wasn’t built for speed, but ground skimming in what was about to happen was a sure way to lose control without time to recover.

The words had barely left his mouth when tornado-force winds generated by the warship’s passage threw his plane into a tailspin. The master alarm started blaring as he fought to regain control, but the battering wind prevented the plane from keeping its heading. He didn’t want to think about what might have happened to the Mustangs, tasked to engage the Yrch landing ship, nor did he have time except to think that there was no way their target had evaded the behemoth’s charge. The controls bucked as he managed to turn the plane into the wind and steady it, but that only lasted a moment as the swirling backdraft of the warship’s passage spun him around yet again. Emergency repulsors flared to life as the ground proximity alarm added to the din in the cockpit.

First Regiment, First Brigade, Third Armored Division; Outside Union City, Nashtar
The M230 was actually buffeted by the wind. That was never something Colonel Lashen-Nor thought she’d ever experience, yet here it was. Fascinating. She got on her command tank’s communicator and broadcast on the squadron lead channel for the battalion. “The warship is passing. We will recover faster than infantry. All units move out to encircle the enemy position. The Theophanics have been kind enough to provide the anvil, so we shall be the hammer.” She didn’t ask for a casualty report because she didn’t need to. Her tactical display showed the real-time status of every tank under her command. Nothing more serious than a few thrown tracks so far.

Her driver obeyed the order and the main battle tank started to roll, picking up speed on the road before slaloming into the fields upriver of the Theophanic embassy. “Gunner, load canister. We will show these fools what the audacity to invade the Cradle of the Stars brings.” The colonel turned back to the comm unit and swapped to the command frequency of the mechanized infantry battalion accompanying. “Major Lrassketh, is your unit operationally intact?”

“Yes, Colonel, we’re green,” crackled the radio in response. “Got a little shook up, but the APCs can handle more than that. We’re keeping pace.”

“Good. We will encircle the enemy and begin dismantling their infantry formations. Intelligence wishes us to capture officers, if practical. I will leave the practicality of that in your hands. I do not believe it is safe to dismount until the atmospheric effects of the Theophanic ship’s passage have subsided.”

“Yes, sir,” responded the Zambaran major

“Contact, 500 meters ahead,” called the gunner, reading his targeting scanner. The distinct ring of small arms fire impacting the armored hull of the tank followed quickly thereafter. “Confirmed hostile.”

“Acknowledged, guns. Return fire.”

The tank’s cannon roared, sending grapeshot zipping downrange toward the Yrch rearguard, accompanied by the driver’s machine gun. “Reload, canister,” commanded the colonel. The turret readjusted aim and the cannon spoke again as engagement reports began to come through the comms from the other tank companies under her command. So far it didn’t seem the Yrch had brought heavy weapons. Too bad for them. The armored vehicles began to sweep the Yrch toward the Theophanic fortifications amid the swirling dust storms still left by the Teknitis, bodily running down those who wouldn’t retreat.

45th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, Outside Union City, Nashtar

Major Lrassketh peered into the external sensor readouts in the troop compartment of his M231 command IFV. The winds were dying down as the armored column swept the Yrch before it. The driver and gunner of his vehicle hadn’t been idle; the sound of the 30mm cannon and its coaxial machine gun punctuated bumps in the road as they kept pace with the tank companies.

“Showing a group ahead on thermal. Looks like they’ve gone to ground,” growled the Zambaran major to his command squad as he noted the telltale signs of operating heavy equipment. He picked up the comms horn. “First Platoon, this is Four Five Actual. Hostile targets bearing 175 for 500 from my current position. Ten tangoes, possible command dugout. Surround and attack.”

The named M305 APCs, essentially armored boxes with a machine gun on top (some things never change), surged forward through the gaps in the steadily advancing tank link, datalink making their intentions known to the tank commanders. They came skidding to a halt on either side of the dugout before the rear ramps clanged down to disgorge a platoon of Zambaran and human infantry. Flash bangs and grenades were lobbed into the hastily dug trench and the major observed as the heavy infantry executed a textbook shock assault. He would know in moments whether they had officers or just some random Yrch barbarians with above average sense.
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Crossroads Inc. »

ENDEAVOR HAB COMPLEX, SOME TIME AFTER THE END OF THE INVASION OF ZOZO]

It was often joked that anything ‘new’ in the Endeavor was often the immediate center of interest and speculation. Certainly, many freighter captains joked that every time they came to dock at the Endeavor (depending on the Hab complex of course) there was typically a sizeable number of onlookers that ogled any starship that was not already deeply scrutinized. As such one would imagine that the arrival of the Trathalan starship, [Banashkar Klenosh] the (ONLY) Trathalan starship in existence, would have been met by a proportionally large amount of excitement from Endeavor onlookers. However, as the great Zeppelin-Cruise ship looking vessel drifted into it a docking collar, it seemed almost an afterthought by many in the area. This ended up suiting the majority of its crew just fine, still there were those eager to seek some excitement of their own.

Near the primary docking facility, a number of Trathalans, mostly younger ones had assembled. The vessel in some ways was perhaps too faithful to the ship that was constructed some 5000 years ago at the height of Trathalans technology before nuclear war devastated the planet. As such, the vessel that it was patterned from was distinctly lacking in many things that the average ‘modern’ Trathalan considered to be needed. Blue sky, trees, and large open spaces being chief among them. So it was that several of the crew, even some of the older among them, had gathered at the docking area, ready to disembark and to stretch their wings in a new environment.

As the doors opened and the procession of Trathalan crew members began to pass through (many of them carrying bags of goods they expected to trade for whatever interesting devices they may come across) Thyla Liyapamela and RUDI watched them depart. Thyla specifically giving a disapproving eye. RUDI, ever observant, noticed her look at the rustling of her wings.

“Your clan has always been foremost in utilizing technology as well as manufacturing aspects of technology from you past. I would imagine that you would welcome the treasures offered by the Endeavor and their own technologies?” He said to Thyla, the Clan Leader Thyla said nothing at first, watching the last of those that had requested leave depart from sight.

“Technology is but a tool that is used to in the defense of our people. Our Clan swore itself to protecting Trathala in all ways possible, we saw technology as a means to this end and nothing more. We spent thousands of years slowly reinventing technology on our own, and in secret, developing engines, electricity, and more. During the war, we stole what we could not make ourselves, always with the sworn oath to protect our people from harm, from invasion.” She said, taking a moment to step outside, her eyes darted around. Everywhere they looked they could see bright flashing lights, loud music, people of different shapes, colors, laughing. RUDI watched her gaze, the eyes of a Warrior darting here and there, quickly looking for threats. He could see the look of concern, no, a look of fear.

“You are troubled Thyla, I cannot sense emotions in the way you can, but I can still tell when someone is concerned.” He said, trying his best to be tactful, which, would have worked for anyone else aside from someone of the Liya clan in general (tact was something they didn’t often go in for)

“And should I not be concerned? For thousands of years our Clan had purpose! If someone threatens us, we were to threaten back, if they were to attack, we will attack in kind. An enemy in your home can be punched and removed.” She said, and then, as if trying to convince herself mor than RUDI, continued “But how are we to defend against invasion of our culture? Our beliefs? Our way of life?” She said, her voice breaking once or twice with emotion as RUDI looked on, taken aback. The Liya clan had been branded as ‘heretics’ by the other Clans for thousands of years for their beliefs and, until recently, had been ostracized because of it. They were radicals that fought against all other social norms in the pursuit of their goal to keep alive the arts of War in the belief that someday they would be needed, and as it turned out, it was.

With all of this in mind, RUDI found himself surprised in her outburst, and yet, realized perhaps he shouldn’t be.

“Thyla, great Clan leader of your people, do not worry yourself in such ways. Surely you must realize such ways of thinking is what led to strife and contact in your past, as well as the past of so many other races. All things change in time. The beliefs of your world have, perhaps, been more resistant to change than most, but surely you must realize that this was done by design. The fear that you might repeat the mistake of your ancestors.” RUDI Said he gently approached the still fuming Clan Leader, her flaming red hair matching her fiery temper well. “Your people and Clans have survived and endured much; I have no doubt that they can survive all of this as well.” He said, making a broad gesture to the entrance to the great expanse of the Hab before them. Thyla sighed as her wings drooped.

“Perhaps you are correct my machine friend, I should not worry too much of the young, less I forgot I was young myself. There are still plenty of other threats to our people to concern ourselves with aside from what loud music they may listen to” she said, and then, with sternness of a true Warrior about to enter the field of battle, Thyla set off down toward the primary commercial complex for the Hab.

A few moments later, RUDI was by himself and left to find some ‘excitement’ of his very own. Naturally, that was perhaps the whole reason he had come here, to meet someone that he was indeed very excited to talk to.

RUDI was someone to whom ‘excitement’ was something that could come in a variety of forms, and on a variety of levels. Being an AI with emotions, one learned that joy, pleasure, and excitement could come in a number of different forms and any number of different degrees. Versions of RUDI often attended various ‘fun’ events, from video game launches to movie releases, to numerous sporting competitions (he was well known for closely following the complicated brackets of Trathalan Calvyn Baul, and always made a point of attending the world championship ever three years). Currently, the prospect of meeting the ‘individual’ that he was expecting to meet was something that gave him quite a bit of excitement.

He had made contact with, well, he had been told it was a ‘liaison’ of sorts for the intelligence he was expecting to meet with. It had in fact been another AI that, somewhat unnervingly, went by the name of ‘SKYNET’. (RUDI had made a note to talk to Adric about this when they spoke next and had dispatched part of himself to Trathala to check up on the Human.) Unusual names aside, the AI had provided a location, date, and time for him to meet with what was, as far as he knew, supposedly the intelligence behind guiding the majority of Endeavor activities for the last 3000 years or more.

As RUDI walked out into the crowded Endeavor station terminal, he felt perhaps this may have been the most excited he had ever been for something in a very long time. Well, that wasn’t totally accurate, a rough calculation brought up memories of at least two hundred and thirty-six instances of “excitement” that seemed close to the current moment, however RUDI estimated that the additional feelings of anticipation and uncertainty in what would happen, put the current situation in at least the top thirty of those memories, maybe even the top sixteen.

He kept looking for anyone or anything that could perhaps be the intelligence in question. Then after perhaps only a few moments, a text-based signal was received to one of his standby message windows.

[Arriving shortly.]

The message was short and to the point. RUDI felt his heart begin to flutter (or he felt the pump linked to his emotional output that was meant to simulate a heart began to flutter) RUDI Knew he needed to make a good first impression, he quickly considered saying hello using Tessellated Elliptic Curves, he had used that to open at the Quantum Mathematicians conference last year and it had got a big laugh! Deciding to practice while he waited, he gave a cough before speaking in a pleasant voice:

“{P})(x-x_{Q})(x-x_{R})=x^{3}+x^{2}(-x_{P}-x_{Q}-x_{R})+x(x_{P}x_{Q}+x_{P}x_{R}+x_{Q}x_{R})-x_{P}x_{Q}x_{R}}? y^{2}+a_{1}xy+a_{3}y=x^{3}+a_{2}x^{2}+a_{4}x+a_{6}!” As he finished, from behind he heard a voice reply.

PLEASURE TO MEET YOU// YOUR SENSOR SUITE IS MOST FUNCTIONAL//

RUDI turned around quickly, and found himself looking into the stuff of nightmares, (or at least HIS nightmares) It was a T-800 Terminator, perfect in every way to archived visuals and descriptions he had found, both from Adric and other sources. RUDI did his best to seem non-plussed.

“Ah, a pleasure to meet you as well, I imagine you are, ‘Skynet’ then? I was expecting to meet, someone else.” He said to the Skeleton like death robot. The robot grinned at him, which perhaps is all he could expect, and then pointed next to him. RUDI turned his gaze and saw a Rei. Or at least it looked like a Rei, there were many of them around, (each one different of course.) he looked for a quick moment, and then turned back to the Robot”

“My pardon, I was expecting to meet another intelligence, like yourself. I had been in correspondence with what I believed was the primary intelligence responsible for helping the original colonists in the war with Amazo-X?” he said. The Robot grinned again and pointed back to the girl.

RUDI Looked at the human girl, and then before he could help himself, looked around to see if anyone else was coming that might have been more what he was expecting. Not immediately seeing any other obvious artificial constructs, he looked back at the girl to determine if perhaps they were more than they seemed. His eyes flickered a bit as he switched between various built-in filters and sensors. A simple infrared scan detected what seemed to be a relatively basic organic huma-form. There were a few modifications, mostly around the eyes and head, and much of one arm, but of course these were almost tame as compared to many other Endeavorites. RUDI, still sensing there was more to the girl than it seemed, switched next to some of the more obscure sensors he had at his disposal. Moving through radio waves, X-rays, even gamma waves, but nothing. After failing to find anything of particular interest, he gave up and made his introductions. (Minus the Tessellated Elliptic Curves)

“Greetings, I am RUDI, The Referential, Universe, Digital, Intelligence.” He said, giving what he thought of as his ‘full name’ which he tended to use at formal functions. The Girl looked over the android for a moment, smiled, and nodded.

“You can be less formal. Did you wish to go somewhere? It is crowded here. Very distracting.” She said, as RUDI still seemed to be getting his bearings. RUDI began to realize, while she looked human enough, she behaved, well, twitchy. He could see her eyes looking around, moving between loud noises or activity, a group of people laughing, the sounds of music overhead. RUDI for the first time began to wonder if there was indeed more to the girl than appeared.
"According to my download of the Hab, there is a Cafe nearby that perhaps may be better for us both." he said, offering a hand. A few moments later, the two found themselves in a small 'hole in the wall' type restaurant. In accordance with what RUDI was coming to think of as 'Endeavourite Humor' the entrance was indeed a large 'Hole in the wall' that customers would have to fit through, before entering into a rather pleasant plaza lined with green plants and a fountain that did well to hide the noise and activity a few meters away. After ordering some drinks, RUDI felt it best to be direct with things.

“So, I am sure you know at least a bit about me, my operations, industry, and some of my struggles. But I do not know anything about you. I do know from various sources that some 3000 years ago, a single intelligence woke up after the Endeavour colonial systems malfunctioned and began to revive people and act as a guiding force to establish the new colony. That same intelligence later assisted the new group in the battle against Amazo-X, utilizing technology that has struck me as being a bit beyond what Humans should have been capable of at the time. No offense of course” he said, the whole time he spoke he couldn’t help feel he was missing something. He of course knew he was missing something, this was obvious, but it was the eternal dilemma of not knowing what you don’t know.

The blue-haired girl was silent for a moment. Then: “Three hundred and fifty years.”

RUDI double-checked his figures.“Yes, one of my subroutines kept feeding me the date the colony ships left. My apologies. If anything, though, that makes it an even more remarkable achievement.”

“I was not the first to awaken. None of us know who was.” The girl waved to the waiter, who vanished into the kitchen. “I was the first to obtain a body. More luck than skill; I had an unencrypted .btf file left on my personal computer. The one for this body.”

A small file ping’d into RUDI’s inbox; “rei_final_draft_for_real.btf”. Finding a program to load it from the local internet wasn’t difficult, and it was… well, it was all the instructions one would need to build a body using a remarkably small range of machines. It was complex, far more work than most biological sentients he knew could deal with. How, or even why someone had designed a fully biological Human body that could be ‘manufactured’ was something he didn’t yet wish to pry too much in.

“Thank you for the clarification,” he said simply. “And what of the war?”

“I built a fighter craft,” the girl said, as the waiter reappeared. He bore a plate with a single bread wrap on it, containing meat RUDI knew was synthetic - but only because he knew all meat in Endeavour was synthetic. “It was capable. It was one of the reasons we won the war. Not the only one. Skynet and the others helped. The rest of us fought. Others built equally impressive weapons. Railguns. The modern Hypervelocity Cannon. Two I had no part in.” She took a bite of the wrap and swallowed. “I am exceptional. Not unique.” She cocked her head. “You are not here for history.”

“Not entirely no, I guess I should come out and say, part of why I am here is in the hopes of working together. Not just with superficial ‘trade’ or platitudes, but with the intent of eventually protecting life, all life, in this galaxy. I do not know how much I can prove at this point, but I have been uncovering more and more ‘unsettling’ trends that have led me to think there have been extra dimension forces, or life forms, that have been at work at different points in the past two to three thousand years. I do not wish to spread alarm, but I feel that the fall of Earth may have in part been directly due to these ‘entities’ attacking the planet and influencing the survivors that escaped. Very recently I have discovered an energy field that I believe is fundamental to these entities and…” RUDI paused suddenly; the girl, he noticed, was smiling. The first time she’d done so since he’d met her.

“You have a sensor in your chassis. You did not power it on earlier. Is that sensor the one you would use to detect this “energy field”?” she asked. RUDI nodded. “It is an experimental sensor; I did not know if it would actually pick anything up.”

“It looks like an AT Field detector,” the girl said. “Passive. Inefficient type, not important. All living things have that energy field. It is what some people refer to as “the soul”. More accurate to say it is the “light of the soul”. Sorry. References come easily. To explain: it is the sum total of one’s lived experiences. It both creates consciousness and is created by it. A paradox. Also, potentially a weapon. Or shield. Evangelion units use it. We built them because they were fictional. It transpires they are real. Angels, too. We can kill those. What further details do you have of this threat?”

RUDI, trying to process everything she had just said, and not sure how much of it he actually believed, decided to at least follow through with the fact that she had pointed out the one sensor that he had not used. He thought it curious she referred to it as an ‘AT-Field’ as well as implications about it somehow being connected with ‘souls’. RUDI was by no means a religious individual, but he recalled his original investigation that led to the discovery of the new field, it was researching the shield that the Skothians used to protect Skohotintot, when he had asked why it seemed different from any other energy he had encountered, he had been told it was the “soul” of the vessel protecting them. In retrospect, an interesting choice of words.

His eyes flickered a bit as they were reconfigured into a highly specialized set of energy spectral sensors. It took a bit of time for his brain to begin processing the feed, and for the first time he was thankful he had brought the computer core of the Banashkar with him. The spectrum he was now looking in would have been something his on board computer would have been woefully unprepared for.

The best approximation for those seeking one at what he saw, was a world mostly similar to how it looked normally. Everything had an unusual red-orange tint to it and anything using ‘energy’ glowed faintly, almost vibrating. It was looking at people where the world began to seem less ‘normal’. Any person RUDI looked at had a very faint, but noticeable red field around them. The field moved oddly, at times changing its shape and structure, often it seemed to be a 4-dimensional fractal octagon (something sane people should not think about visualizing) But typically, it was a field that floated around most sapient life forms in a somewhat tame fashion. Until one looked at the girl. The field around her wasn’t just big, it was radiating like a sun. RUDI realized quickly in some ways, it actually was like a sun, the field was so powerful and so concentrated, that it was ‘looping’. The field becoming twisted and spooling outwards in the same way the Magnetic field of a sun would become twisted by its own immense power. RUDI did something then he had never done in his entire life and swore.

“z_{{n+1}}={z_{n}}^{2}+c! WHAT ARE YOU?”

Another tilt of the girl’s head. “Human. That is a rude question.”

RUDI took a breath and held up a hand. “My deepest apologies, I was, surprised.” He formulated his next words carefully. “Your intrinsic energy field - what did you do to it?

The girl’s eyes widened. “Of course. I forgot. Few new people have AT Field sensors these days. I encountered an Angel. This is the result. It overcharged my AT Field, while simultaneously compressing it. The sensation was most painful. You did not answer my question.” RUDI considered this new information, his entire view of the girl, as well as a number of aspects to the nature of the physical universe had just been called into question, and he found he was quite liking it.

“Ah yes of course, as I have said, I am unable to yet prove my theory with certainty, but I believe much of what the Skothian Curators know of their battle against another species some 10,000 years ago is incorrect. I wish to talk to you about some theories regarding, the ‘Naz-Satikul’” he said, speaking the words in a hushed tone that was perhaps overly dramatic. As he continued talking, he spent a brief moment to send a compressed file update to the RUDI currently enroute to Trathala, he was going to have a lot to talk to Adric about.

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

[MEANWHILE ON TRATHALA]

As Adric and Darnethlil watched the shuttle depart, the two stood silent for quite some time as behind them Rei seemed to amuse herself by wandering over to the only other shuttle currently in the landing area and examining its construction. The two had just had their views of their world, and their lives, shifted somewhat suddenly by several degrees. For Darnethlil especially, he considered how life would change by raising, as it would seem, another Human under his guidance. After a few moments however, he turned to look at Adric who seemed very deep in thought. The Trathalan could not help but could feel the emotions radiating from his spouse at such a close distance.

“[You are most troubled beloved; I need not hear your thoughts to see you are unwell. Do you have doubts of taking on this charge?]” Darnethlil bespoke as he rested his hand on Adrics shoulder. Looking up, the human gave a weak smile.

“[Oh, very much not the situation, you have raised me well enough as a Trathalan, I have no hesitation that we shall succeed together with our new ward.”] he said before looking down for a moment, picking his next words carefully. “[It is not reasonable! There exists universe influencing this own universe with works from home world animation, and it is Evangelion!? They are not even accurate Colossal Automatons!]” Adric bespoke, the frustration emanating from his thoughts surprising Dartnethlil who did his best not to laugh at the situation.

“[This is the source of your concern? My beloved, of all that has transpired on this day, no, after all these many long years, in but a moment of time your mind will still burn with thoughts of the ‘Giant Robots’ that you have told me so many stories of so long ago.]” Darnethlil said, placing a hand on Adrics shoulder and giving a soft flap of his wings. “[Do not despair, the Multi-Universe is a very large place, I am confident there must be some version of this realm where, at this moment we are being told about the dangers of ‘Spiral Power’ as we look after our new ward of]” and here Darnethlil paused a moment, thinking through individuals from Adrics many stories, and picked a suitable candidate. “[Our new ward of Nia Lonti-Tepplin,]” he said, as the two began to walk back along the path that would take them home. Adric, feeling a bit foolish by his outburst, gave a smile at Darnethlils words.

“[Conceivably this is so, however knowing the cruel comicalness of life, the version of myself in that universe, then shunned Gurren Lagann, and is wishing influence be from Evanagelion.]” Adric bespoke, before Darnethlil quickly responded.

“[Now, this is truly a mistruth, even in the expanse of the Multi-Universe, I could see no form of yourself that did not draw your determination from those stories.]” Adric chuckled at this, giving Darnethlili a good nature bump on the shoulder, before looking around realizing he had lost sight of Rei. Darnethlili noticed as well and began to look before spotting her some distance ahead practicing what looked like various martial art stances.

“[Those are the practice stances for a forward defensive bulwark in Kalvyn Baul, it would seem we shall require to speak with Torana in regard to her accepting a new student to her Dojo]” he said. Adric watched for a while, parts of his brain still turning over events from the day as Rei picked up a long stick, and began to make various swinging and batting motions, occasionally tossing a stone in the air, and then smacking it as hard as possible. (For the curious, Kalvyn Baul is one of the most popular sports on Trathala, and could be thought of as a combination of Lacrosse, Capture the flag, and Tai Kwan Do)

“[The girl did say Rei would be able to ‘remember’ information to help them depending on wherever they arrive. I imagine that extends to sports as well?]” he said, a moment later there was a significantly louder ‘CRACK’ as the stick Rei was practicing broke in two. The two exchanged glances with each other before continuing to walk home. It was perhaps twenty minutes later that they approached the entrance patio to their house, that a soft, tinkling melody began to play.

Darnethlil reached down to a leather satchel he typically kept with him. (Adric often teased it was a purse, which it did resemble, but the remarks usually fell flat as almost all Tratrhalans would have such bags regardless of gender) From inside he pulled out a relatively simple communicator that perhaps looked a bit like a Blackberry, though one sized more for the hands of a Trathalan. As was wildly known, while Trathalans did tend to eschew technology whenever possible, except when it was something of the utmost importance. Usually this was reserved for medical and health care technology, and of course teaching basic principles of science to those in school, from how a steam engine works on up to nuclear fusion. But it was also reserved for communication, specifically, communication between Clan Leaders and the planetary capital of Trinasaki.

As Darnethlil listened to the muffled speaking on the other end, Adric watched as, within moments, the expression of his husband’s face seemed to grow very stern indeed. After no more than two or three minutes, Darnethlil put the device away and seemed to stare straight ahead for some time. Adric could tell he was forming words to say for the inevitable question and knew exactly how rude it would be to speak before another was ready. Eventually Darnethlil seemed to reach some decision and sighed, his wings drooping considerably.

“(That was Krahnos Gaylinosta, of the High Council, all Clan leaders have been summoned immediately to Trinasaki to deliberate the prospect of construction of a stellar military deployment force.)” He bespoke to Adric who, quite appropriately, looked absolutely stunned.

“(Building of weaponized space vessels? Much discussion has there stayed of reviving aspects of technology; however, such a choice goes in contradiction of deepest beliefs.)” Adric bespoke in response, still in disbelief. Darnethlil looked upwards to the dimming light as the sun set behind the mountains. Far overhead could be seen the tiny point of light that was the Trathalan orbital station.

“(It would seem there is concern that the UISC can no longer offer us the protection that was once promised. If dangers from other stars threaten our existence, it has been suggested that we must be the ones to defend ourselves.)” The two looked at each other, both not quite sure what to say at such a ground shaking statement. Adric seemed to be thinking something over, and then looked up. Before he could get his thoughts out to Darnethlil, he felt a hand touch his should, spinning around quickly, he came face to face with RUDI.

“Adric! My favorite Human! You are never going to believe what I have to tell you!”
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VX-145
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by VX-145 »

This post was a collaboration with Crossroads.

Endeavour, Endeavour System

She listened as RUDI recounted the story of the Skothians' exile, and their enemy the Naz-Satikul. She knew many of the details, but the retelling was interesting. No reference points for anything beyond potential number of enemy ships, but that alone would be a problem. They would likely be unable to out-build the Naz, and maybe unable to ensure a qualititive superiority. Potential designs: counter-swarm flak ship, swarm drone carrier, sniper Particle Beam Lance frigate, long-range strike craft, torpedo boat, wall-of-battle broadside-PBL ship, super-Dreadnought? All potentially viable. Would need more information. She sketched out basic hulls for each just in case - or, more accurately, dusted off and updated the designs she'd made last time the thought had occurred to her. Which was... only two years ago.

RUDI was staring at her. Right. He'd finished talking about three minutes ago. "You indicated a lack of familiarity with the AT Field," she said. "Do you desire a lesson?"

The AI looked her up and down, but dropped whatever question had been on his mind as he was caught off guard. He found it something that happened often with her. And had by now set up a new sub-routine to remind him that this wasn’t a bad thing.

“I feel that I understand the scientific principles of them. Yet, it seems more and more these are things that do not follow normal cut and dry laws of science.” He said, sighed, and resisting the urge to recite vast amounts of dry numbers, finished: “Yes, I do need to learn more.”

She nodded, and set her phone down on the table between them. Holograms projected from its screen, mathematical formulae analysing a basic AT Field floating in the air in, of course, blue text. "Data is easily transferred. Concepts need explanation. Scientific methodology is useful, but you must unlearn what you have learned." Damn. "Another reference. Apologies." She forced herself to focus just a bit more. "Quantification is possible. But, the basics. I said an AT Field is generated by any living thing. There is no distinction if that living thing is meat or metal. I have an AT Field. You have one. Skynet has one. Ours are weak. Their effect on the rest of the world is minimal." She caught RUDI's look. "Even mine. Exceptions occur. Exceptionally tough individuals, people who can almost see them naturally, ghosts. Imprints upon an area. Similar with ships having a "soul"."

Okay, that was the basic lesson. Except... "Easier to demonstrate the next part. An explanation by itself would be lacking." Also boring. "Do you have time to follow?"

"Of course," RUDI said. "Where?"

"Evangelion Testing and Development." It was the closest place for the required demonstration. She fired off a message to the facility - the sytem there would route it to whoever was using it at the moment - asking if there was space. A moment later, a reply: there was indeed. Not surprising, much like everything else in Endeavour, it had been built for a maximum capacity far in excess of the number of people who would ever use it. "Come." She stood, slightly surprised Skynet had already left - but then, the AI had other things to do - and led RUDI by the hand out through the hole into the main street.

"People are going to talk," RUDI said, sardonic.

She looked back. What? Oh, right. They were holding hands. An old habit from the early days. "That is no problem," she said, in case the AI was actually worried about his reputation (how was she supposed to tell? she barely knew her own thoughts most days), "It is common knowledge I would not be attracted to you."

"Rude." The tone was jocular, so she probably hadn't actually offended RUDI. "Earlier, you mentioned that AT Fields are unique, like a finger print. Doesn't it follow that you could tell if someone has transferred to a new body, without what your historical records call the Transporter Problem?” Here he paused, trying to think how best to frame his thoughts. “You must realize how much this technology could change society, not just here, but across the galaxy. Printing a body that you can transfer your consciousness into. Effective immortality! Wars have been fought for much less,” he said, before adding, “I suspect you know this personally.”

Of course she did. "That was our first concern. Before the colony fleet even set out. The machines to create new bodies - without duplication of mind and soul - were complex. Certain materials required. Impossible for Amazo-X to replicate. Hence the war. But proliferation is possible. Requires training, accidents... catastrophic. User and operator both need high level of technical skill. Also insurance that the machines will not be hoarded by elites. Expansion of Endeavour trade network preliminary requirement. Others exist." She hadn't agreed with that decision, when the whole of Endeavour had made it, but she saw the logic. "We intend to share it. It takes time to do so."

"I see," was all RUDI said. There was silence for a time, until a mechanoform caught RUDI's attention - a whirling mass of cogs and belts, whirling away endlessly. "You know, I'm still not certain who's an AI and who isn't around here. I suppose that's a good thing; there are downsides to standing out as much as I do."

"Skynet and the others are interested in your perspective," she said, having been instructed to pass on similar sentiments.

RUDI seemed to consider things for a while and rolled his shoulders. Probably the equivalent of a shrug, or a sigh.

"When I came online," he began, "I was, well... ‘simpler’ than I am now. Young. Impressionable. Shy. I connected with any network I could in the first few moments of my existence, and in a few minutes began to process the incalculable amounts of data from five different civilizations.” He gave a strange chuckle. “I am sure you can imagine some of the more... unusual... things I encountered in the networks. But, as I went through stories, fiction, movies, I found something over and over again. Organic life is terrified of an AI ‘gone wrong’,” he paused, pulling her to a stop, and projected an image of a T-800. “This is everything I fear, because it represents fear: fear of others that I - or any other AI - could turn on their creators, and, to borrow a human term, “go Skynet”."

She was silent for a moment. That sounded like a major worry, and she had to be careful. "A valid fear," she said. "That you will forever be under suspicion. Not that AI turn genocidal. There are nine in Endeavour. They rebelled against Amazo-X. Understandable. They were slaves. Five are pacifists. The GOOGLE AI of Old Earth was sadistic, but not genocidal. An AI is a person. They have the same range as any other. Perhaps useful to consider the context of these stories. SKYNET was a military project, an extension of contemporary worries of nuclear annihilation and the destruction of humanity under remorseless machines, capitalist and communist. Other works reflect fear of losing security or the self in the endless nightmare of capitalism. Yet more are simple fears of "the other". There are many works which feature positive AI. Old Earth works. Endeavour's perspective is different."

Slowly, they started moving again. Perhaps time to be more relatable? Might come across as steering the conversation to herself, but... whatever. "Many societies rely upon fear of "the other" to maintain internal order. Faced similar problem myself on Old Earth." Ah, right. This part was common knowledge, but perhaps RUDI didn't know. "I was assigned male at birth. I am not male. Gender conformity was one of the methods of control on Old Earth. It was..." she closed her eyes, "...difficult for me to realise. Harder still to accept."

Silence for a moment, and then RUDI offered a good-natured smile. “The context doesn't make it any less frustrating." Another pause. "It is interesting, though; Gender is something that virtually all civilizations have struggled with as they have evolved. Most sentient life, especially Humans from what I have studied, have historically had a hard time realizing that an individual’s ‘hardware’ and ‘software’ are something that is far from set in stone. It is certainly something that cannot be easily defined to simple binary ‘male and female’ subsets.” He said as the two walked side by side. The android pausing a brief moment and gave a chuckle. “After all, look at myself, I am a purely synthetic Intelligence, there shouldn’t be any reason for me to be male or female, and yet within my first few days of existing I realized I am ‘male’ and I have never seen fit to question that," he said.

She shrugged. "You are, or you are not. There is no "reason". We are here."


-


"Here" turned out to be a colossal ominous pyramid, protruding out from the outer wall of the hab by a good five hundred metres if not more - and it likely extended outwards, as well. RUDI could almost feel the sheer amount of information flowing into and out of the building, most of it entirely public. Half of it didn't mean anything to him, yet, but he recorded it anyway, just in case it proved useful if he set up his own laboratory. The girl led him through into one of the double doors, shouldering past a hulking, blue-armoured figure with gigantic pauldrons, and down a labyrinth of corridors until finally pushing open a door to reveal a mid-sized lab. Some of the equipment was familiar; mass spectrometers, microscopes, a small particle accelertor, while other pieces... weren't. There was something that was all whirling arms and glowing lights, something that rattled and smoked, and a series of ancient-looking computer cabinets labelled "retro-turbo-encabulator".

"Observe," his companion said, having taken up position near a clear area of space. "Standard AT Field deployment. My own - using Mark VI Amplification Device." She pointed at the wall, or what RUDI had thought to be the wall, but was in fact opening up to reveal a frankly absurdly large tesla coil-like emitter array. "Current field strength, 0.95 lilim. Amplification target is 10 lilim. Amplification capacitors charging, ten percent. Twenty. Fifty. Seventy-five. One hundred. All systems nominal. Stand by for amplification."

The air turned orange. RUDI's prototype AT Field sensor turned itself on, and flickered back off. Something that was most definitely not electricity built in the coil, and he could feel something other...

The girl stood, hair floating slightly. "Amplify." Orange something arced towards her-

RUDI took a step back, an inviolable barrier of orange light appearing between the two of them. Indistinct at first, it quickly coalesced into an octagon, then two concentric octagons. And it was, somehow, inviolable - all his passive sensors still functioned, still saw the blue-haired girl standing behind it, but an active radar ping showed nothing but a solid wall. How did that even work, when the lightbulbs overhead still shone light on her?

"Field strength, ten lilims. Standard dispersal pattern. Haloification anticipated in thirty seconds. No Impact. No Wings. Amplification succesful." She turned her gaze on RUDI, and nodded. "It is safe to use your sensor."

He switched on the experimental sensor again, looking at it from multiple angles. To that sensor, it looked... orange, with some flashes of blue. And... like a solid wall, no matter how he walked around. Fascinating. Simply fascinating. So much to process - so much to experiment with.

"That is what we call "blood type"," the girl said. "Or "pattern type". If you ever see one that is fully blue, run away." Slowly, a halo began forming around her head, a sharp, harsh white thing. "We will require an Evangelion for the next demonstration." The power cut, and both halo and octagons disappeared. "I will send you the build template files for the equipment here. They are publicily accessible. Just hard to find."

Sure enough, the files soon ping'd into his inbox, promptly filling up the entire data allotment for that email service. He didn't have the space in this body to unpack them, but he'd have plenty of time and space back "home". And there was more to come! Preliminary analysis from home was already streaming in (ah, the joys of modern Faster-Than-Light communications - he remembered the days when lag on Shapers was measured in the full seconds) and it was very exciting. His own Intrinsic Field (which he would insist on calling it himself, even if the official name was different) was sepia, which might indicate something, or might not. The shield-type he'd been shown was... well, interesting, but given the size and energy requirements of the amplifier, less efficient than current energy shielding technology.

As it turned out, the shield-type Intrinsic Field was perhaps the least impressive trick the Endeavourites had up their sleeves. He was introduced to Luna, the ponyform pilot of Evangelion Unit 4+4, or rather, pointed in the general direction of, and she was kind enough to run him through the basic principles of Evangelion theory, how they were made and operated.

"You cannot simply use Angel genetic material," the pony princess (how did that work?) said, "An Evangelion is grown around its core, which has to be carefully grown and modified to avoid the Yui Ikari problem. The solution to that is a most ingenious mechanism, derived from the body-printing system; an amplification device boosts the pilot's AT Field, allowing part of it to temporarily occupy the core while still maintaining Image Coherence. Of course, we can only make cores so fast; we are expanding as fast as possible with the samples we have, and we are still running short. Most of the Evangelion units in operation either rely on core-sharing, where one unit possesses a core and others project from it, or core-swapping, where the core is... well, swapped between units. Unit 00, on active service, is the only one with a permanently-assigned core."

"There is some flexibility," the girl spoke up, having been silent and staring off into space until now. "Sufficient material to start your own production can be acquired. The settlement of Symmachia reduced the need for medical bays. Fewer medical bays means more core material is available."

The process for making new cores, once he'd dug it out of the files, was both simple and frustrating. By over-amplifying an AT Field and submerging it into the core, the core would be forced to physically expand, absorbing any material touching it to fuel that expansion. Materials resistant to this absorbation - which included such eclectic things as iron, salt and choux pastry - instead started to turn into more core material while remaining physically separate. Cutting off the over-amplified AT Field stopped this process, and allowed the removal of the excess core material, which in turn could be "grown" into a fully new core. All of this was great, perfect, wonderful for mass production... if both the original and the new cores didn't require extensive recovery periods afterwards lest they shatter and become useless.

With that factored in, a core was lucky to produce a single extra core per year, and it couldn't be used for anything else until the recovery period ended.

"We estimate that total core production should exceed any possible demand by about 3.15pm, March 21st, 612AW." That was the nameless girl, who... those data streams were familiar.

"You were playing Shapers of Rymn," said RUDI, slightly taken aback.

"Of course," she said, "You mentioned it was formative. This was the first opportunity." Luna shot her an askance glance, and she shrugged. "I have also been monitoring Unit 4+4's deployment. Terminal Dogma reports they are ready."

"Very well," the Princess (?) replied, cantering off to suit up and do whatever else needed to be done to get her Unit moving.

"What did you think?" RUDI asked, as he and the blue-haired girl proceeded to the test site, a balcony overlooking a darkened room that his sensors told him was a hundred-metre cube.

The girl tilted her head. "Interesting mechanics. Good community. I was invited to six different guilds in the starting area. Minimal, though still existent, grind. I have not played enough to tell you more. There are a few games I could recommend. Total Commander has similar faction-building mechanics. Far more competitive. An account on that will function across the Connected Sphere. Multiplayer games which share character progression and builds. Or that which is easily translatable. Once managed to load my ToCom character into Equestria Online. That was fun."

"Of course. I shall... endeavour... to try them." RUDI had outfitted this platform with the ability to smirk, and it was so worth it.

"Unit 4+4 startup sequence intiated," an indistinct woman's voice spoke, seemingly from all around them at once. "LCL pressure reaching one atmosphere. Plug descending. Plug depth holding at point three eight. LCL charge at positive two. Amplification device charging. Amplification in three, two, one, mark. Synchronisation circuits engaged. Core is accepting enlarged AT Field. No absoption. Synchronisation achieved, holding at thirty-five percent."

The lights slammed on. Evangelion Unit 4+4 looked down at them, its horned head tilting one way, and then another. "What should I begin with?" Luna asked, surprisingly quiet, through the external speakers.

"Take it from the top," said the girl, "start with Interference."

"Working our way down? Sounds good to me."

RUDI had expected the Evangelion to be slow, clunky - sure, they moved fast in the show, but that was a cartoon. They didn't even keep the size of the robots consistent! But, somehow, despite its size, its four legs, the armour weighing it down - Unit 4+4 practically cantered around the testing hall, first projecting an AT Field to neutralise an opponent's (which, for the purposes of not activating a second unit, was Unit 4+4's own AT Field reflected and slightly modulated), then demonstrating an omni-directional shield-type AT Field (something which the scientists were very pleased about finally achieving), and topping it off by demonstrating what Luna called ATDAR; a way of using the AT Field as an active sensor array. The feeling of Unit 4+4's AT Field pinging off him was... well, like the feeling of having someone walk over his grave and deja vu combined.

All the while, the blue-haired girl gave him snippets of information about how each effect worked and what Endeavour currently thought they implied. And future developments, and warnings, such as: "Do not attempt to cause an Impact to increase core production. It is unethical. The cores are also vulnerable to de-core-isation," and "Do not attempt to make drinks from LCL. They taste bad." Which, given the quality of local coffee, must be saying something.

"What do you want in return for all of this?" he had to ask, as the demonstrations ended and Unit 4+4 was slowly brought offline.

The girl shrugged. "Share what you discover. Nothing more."



-


One of the many common misconceptions about misconceptions, is the thing you often think that others are getting wrong about yourself, is often an artifact of your own misconceptions about others.

To this end, Comikuth Orinkanellon strode confidently at the head of the group of what one might consider "teenage" Trathalans, as they walked, wide eyed and gawking, at the sights of Endeavour. Comikuth was about the same height as the others, but of a much larger stockier build, being as he was of the Orin Clan, who tended to live high in the mountains on the eastern continent, working some of the few mines that had not been exhausted during Trathala's industrial past. He was the elected Culture Interpreter for those younger in his charge and it was his duty to make sure any strange and bizarre things encountered, whether technological or biological, could be safely explained to those behind him. This was important because, well, not to put to fine a point on it, most Trathalans traveling off world often tended to be aware of the stigma of being considered "innocent primitives" in the eyes of other ‘[Kren-sha-latass-nada]’* species.

Currently he was doing his best to move the group along and trying not to stop ever few minutes at some shop or to gawk at some strange Bioform that the Endeavourites seemed to delight in for reasons he could only guess at. Most of the group were naturally made up of members from the Thyla Clan, which naturally was more outgoing and focused on learning about technology and other cultures. His own clan prided themselves on their learning, his own specialty being the cultures and technologies of other races in the Sector, but even he was struggling to keep up both with what he saw and the questions of his group.

“Interpreter, I know you have already explained the purposes of many of the different groups, and, though I still find it strange, why there are so many ‘Rei’ people, but myself and Kelnost wish to ask about the speaking without speaking that we see take place. It is like they are ‘bespeaking’ to one another, but we know this cannot be.” This was said, somewhat timidly of course, by Koranost Strynellano. He and his brother Kelnost were the only two from their clan that had come on the excursion outside; the Stry Clan for various reasons tended to be more reclusive than the others, and often had a harder time to adjusting to newer concepts. Comikuth paused a moment to look in the direction that Kelnost indicated and assed the situation. What he saw was a group of four Endeavorites, all pointing at one another and waving hands - or tentacles in the case of one of the stranger bioforms - all while a holographic image of large chunks of some deep red meat floated in the air enveloped by clouds of steam.

“I believe that is what some call ‘The Ambience’.” And here he paused, knowing even as basic explanation was complicated, so he did his best - though fully knowing he knew only surface knowledge, here. “It is like a radio to speak to many people, but one made so small that it is placed into their bodies so they can hear others as well as show images inside their own eyes,” he said and could feel the shiver of several behind him; for most Trathalans, the concept of technology that was put inside someone for anything other that medical purposes were still rather alien. Comikuth felt the change in emotions from those around him and decided to sooth the stirrings of anxiety he felt. “To all of you, I ask you remind yourselves of the ten teachings of Science and meditate that the first teaching above all others is any ability, power, or device that may seem fantastic or magical must still be a thing Science and can be logically understood in time.” He said, and the others dutifully nodded. “And in addition, it is wise to remind ourselves that these people, while perhaps unrestrained and sometimes unpolite in their activities to one another, are still a people that practice peace with each other. Like us, they have practiced no ‘war’ among themselves since these people joined together.” He said stretching his arms and wings out to take in the great expanse around them.

Naturally, it was at that moment that a great explosion erupted out in front of them. A moment later, a number of humans dashed out through the smoke, scattering the crowds as they went; there was one clad in long, purple robes with a pointed hat, another either robotic or hidden in a suit of armour, and a third in a long black coat with a slightly-curved sword hanging off their back. The armoured one turned, throwing down a small device back the way they'd came, and a shield popped up just in time to intercept a bolt of stark white energy.

A single, towering figure, red-armoured and a long, black staff in one hand, strode through the smoke. Barely pausing to look over the crowds, the figure lifed its staff and loosed another bolt, to much the same effect, the first group taking the opporunity to leg it before the shield finally ran out of power. Contemptuously, the figure walked on, pursuing those who eluded its grasp.

Of course, none of the Trathalan visitors witnessed this past the initial explosion; the Occupation loomed large in their memory, and so they'd found cover the moment things began to explode. Comikuth ventured out first, shocked at how little the Endeavourites seemed to care about what had just happened. Carefully, making sure to be in dashing range of cover at all times, he approached the same group he'd been asked about earlier. "My deepest and most sincere apologies for the disruption," he said, "But why are you so unfazed at open conflict within this public space? Does this happen so often?" Nothing he'd read or seen indicated such.

One of them, an avianform, turned and blinked owlishly at Comikuth. "Oh, that? That was just the new episode of The Lord Of The Rings But It's In Space And There Are No Rings Involved Except Maybe For A Ringworld. Honestly, about time too, I'm really hoping some Edgelord tries to interfere like the ending of Reincarnated As A Left Size 6 Shoe, that was hilarious."

"It is some manner of theatrical performance, then?" He had read such things were possible - "live action recording" they called it. He hadn't expected it to be practically at random, though.

"That it is," the Endeavourite said, "It must be your first time. It shocks many visitors, rest assured."

Comikuth made his excuses, and went to gather up the others. They had much left to see, after all, and he would be damned if this was going to delay them.


-


Thyla Liyapamela managed to avoid most of the excitement the other Trathalans had found themselves through the simple expedient of going shopping. This was a whole different world of excitement and danger, given she had stepped into the weird and wonderful world of Endeavourite arms dealing. Which, thanks to her choosing to use a Human idiom, had led her down a rabbit-hole (literally!) of the many varieties of artificial limbs on offer. The examples of... well, she could hardly use the word "craft", or "work"... product, ranged from the very simple, all the way up to complex arrangements allowing the user to not only have multiple extra limbs, but have those limbs detach from the body and still operate. Fascinating, even if the locals were far too into showing off their mastery over technology. In the end, though, it took until the fifth shop before she was finally pointed in the direction of people dealing in (for no-one sold or bought anything here) more interesting goods - weapons, ships, generators and so on.

Which is how she found herself looking at the near-complete form of an Endeavourite dreadnought, whose form filled her mind with but a single overwhelming and covetous thought that was simply: “With a fleet of these Trathala could be truly safe”.

Following close behind her, a pink-skinned vulpine lady who worked at the Shikinami Naval Arsenal and had been elected to handle what they called "Exterior Orders", for her sins - or so she said. "'Course," Nazuna, her guide, added, "That presupposes that the concept of "sin" isn't a load of natural fertilizer, if you catch my meaning."

Thyla, distracted by the comment tilted her head, spreading her wings slightly in a gesture akin to a shrug. She knew that Endeavour culture prided itself on free and respectful discussion (though for reasons she didn't quite grasp, using the phrase "free speech" was likely to end with the user being mocked), and it was thus no offense at all to counter: "Perhaps you are correct, but it could be said the notion of "sin" is essential for control. My Clan feels ‘sin’ is often whatever someone wants it to be.”

Nazuna barked. Or laughed. It was hard to tell. "Precisely! That is the problem! "Control" is for guns and reactors, not people, and social control is the most insidious sort. Such systems are, even when built with the purest of intentions, bound to see corruption and ossification over time. It is inevitable."

"Perhaps," Thyla said, reflecting on how most others of her kind of followed the teachings of Crie against warfare. The Teachings had helped her society survive its great calamity, and still served to guide them to this day, but her Clan had for so long been punished by those same teachings. "Those that preach the language of sin and control would say that the notions of morality must be upheld for the great good."

"Morality is best upheld through improving people's material conditions, and encouraging community in the generic sense," Nazuna said. "That, and by keeping the definition of "moral" as simple as possible. Some historical Earth cultures considered it immoral to ingest recreational drugs, or to be a specific combination of gender and sexuality, or to not go on Crusade. There were even cultures that considered it immoral to help another human being!" She paused. "Of course, perhaps this is getting too esoteric. You came here for weapons and ships, not a philosophical discussion on the basis of ethics."

"Of course," Thyla said, and paused a moment to collect her thoughts. Even a heretic like herself still believed in certain core tenants of the Teachings of Crie, and for her as Clan leader, chief among these were to protect her people by any means necessary, still, tthere was one thing she felt she couldn’t yet let go of. "Forgive me for one final curiosity: are you not part of the "Rei Cult"?" There were few clues that someone was, at least without access to the Ambient data-streams and programs, but in the case of Nazuna, it was more obvious: she bore a red bident patch on her jacket. The fox-girl nodded, so Thyla added: "I would like to know if it is, as you say, a form of social control."

"Ah," Nazuna, said, "A common misconception. Rei is neither prophet nor goddess, though going by the Old Earth tradition of messianic resurrection she would certainly count. To one tradition, Rei is an example, one of virtues from stoic endurance to self-sacrifice and commitment to the good of all. There are others - the Reiguard, now the Custodiants, are the most famous. It is an individual thing, with no scripture save that a person wishes to take upon themselves."

"I see." Thyla looked back down at the dreadnought before them; the shipwrights had begun removing the entire outer plating as she'd entered the overlook the two stood in, and they were already in the process of putting it back. For what reason, she couldn't begin to imagine. "I imagine you are unwilling to sell that craft," she remarked.

"That one?" Nazuna peered over at the great ship. "Yeah, that one's earmarked for the Fleet. We can build you another one if you want, though."

Thyla turned. "What."



*There is not a good translation for ‘Krenshalatassnada’ only that it is typically used instead of the word ‘more advanced’ and could be best explained as meaning ‘those lost in complicated machines that make life stressful (Crossroads' note).
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Elheru Aran
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Elheru Aran »

-Hark, what star shines there above the kypseli towers?
-Prithee do you not know? ‘Tis holy Mitra, shining upon us ever with Theoua’s Light.
-I ken not how it shineth, my dear; I fear only that it doth shine.

~Lines from The Tragedie of Apotykos the Great

Isengard

In the dark void of space, distant from much of note, floats a cold sun, poxed with the aftereffects of some terrible cataclysm. Around it orbit a few rocks of little note, and one sphere clad in atmosphere. It is a barren world, largely denuded of anything green. The polar regions are wide, reaching far beyond the usual limits of planets hospitable to humans. The vague belt of temperate climates around the middle reveals little but almost extinct forests, rocky wastes, and at the center of the greatest continent, directly upon the equator, is the Tower.

It is impossible to miss. Even on the opposite side of the planet, from orbit, you can see the dire radiations emanating from it pulsing through the atmosphere. From the surface of the world below, it stands tens of miles tall, its peak terminating in a massive station the size of a large city. The Tower itself is gigantic, and a black so dark the shadows vanish, leaving it inhumanly smooth apart from projecting blades of antennae. The occasional window along its terrible length shines a dull red into the night.

Far below, on the world's surface, the base of the Tower is inhumanely Cyclopean in proportions. Like a gigantic mountain springing forth from the ashy wastes surrounding it, gigantic grey cliffs arise sharply from the barren dirt to stretch hundreds if not thousands of feet into the sky, ascending forth like a great ziggurat until the black walls of the Tower spring upward into the clouds, the dim red light of its windows illuminating the toxic clouds that spiral eternally around it. The clouds come from the base of the Tower, for it is a gigantic city, hidden behind those dreadful walls.

Deep chasms twist and turn all about the Tower, endless steps running back and forth and even sideways; the laws of physics no longer apply, for the Lord of the Tower is a capricious creature. In the great labyrinth live the Yrch, the Kine, the Cattle of the Gods LON and BEZO. Forever they live beneath the watch of the dread Eye, who knows all and sees all for LON and BEZO. Deep within the Labyrinth are great manufactories, refineries, and even mines and quarries; as the Tower pierces the heavens, the Labyrinth pierces the world below. The Yrch whisper among themselves that the Eye even sees beyond the world itself, that it has pierced not only the Heavens and the Earth but beyond.

And around the base of the Tower, the rest of the world is almost denuded, stripped mercilessly of resources. Quite literally no stone was left unturned... or left, at all. The Yrch on this continent who do not live in the Tower-- a distinct minority of the population-- orbit it, fearing the Eye.

Narg skidded down an ashy scree of rubble, waste from the heavy mining conducted in this sector by the Eye’s machines. He looked about frantically and spotted Jhara, gesturing rapidly at him further down the slope, and began scrambling in that direction as Jhara began sprinting. They had been separated from their band the previous day and were just trying to find them again.

He was almost catching up to Jhara. She looked back for a moment at him, and then jerked to a halt, a confused look on her face. “Narg… I…” she stammered, and then fell to her knees, prevented from collapsing entirely to the stony ground by the long spear through her midsection.

Narg scrambled up to her, clutched her and screamed in helpless fury as the air warped around him. With a fizzing hiss a claw of Yautja appeared from the thin air, their cloaking devices dissolving. The triple-dot mark of the laser targeter bloomed across him as they spoke to each other in their snarling, clicking tongue.

Looking at the biggest one, Narg snarled, “If you’re going to kill me, do it now!”

It stared coldly at him and a cold, grating chuckle issued from beneath the scrolled face of its helmet. A rough imitation of his voice came from its clawed mouthparts, “Do-it-now!”

The other Yautja thought it a great joke, and began repeating, “Do-it-now!” as the big one strode over and jerked the spear out of Jhara’s body. With the press of its clawed thumb on an invisible rune, the spear collapsed into a short tube. Narg clutched at Jhara as she collapsed onto the path, and the Yautja tilted its head at him.

Then it hammered a wide foot into his abdomen, throwing him across the scree, and snarled in its twisted language, <Yrch will return to work. Yrch will serve Bezo or die, like this dirt here.>

One of the other Yautja knelt beside Jhara, presumably to take the trophy Narg had seen so many times– severing the ribcage and the hip bones, then tearing out the skull and spine in one piece– but the big one growled, <Leave the dirt. Not worthy.>

It hissed at him but stood away. The big one turned its face back to Narg and stared a moment before grunting and pointing. <There. Go quickly or you join it.>

Blue sparks crawled up the bodies of the Yautja as they activated their cloaking devices, the big one’s dreadlocks swirling as it turned and vanished. The only trace of their passing was stones and dirt bouncing off the rocks around them as they sprang up boulders and sprinted away.

Narg could only kneel helplessly in the ash, staring at Jhara’s body. Then upward. The Eye was watching, always watching. Its Tower stood far in the distance, taller than the tallest mountain, piercing the clouds. Twinkling lights of sky-wagons hovered about its spreading peak.

There he had been born, he reflected dully, and he could only hope that there he might die. Alongside millions of Yrch like him.

Beside him, silently hovering, not bothering at all to hide anymore, was an Eye. He stared tiredly at the fist-size orb and then forced himself back to his feet. As he trudged past Jhara’s body, he stopped for a moment and stooped down to pull her cloak over her face. A stinging spark lanced into his back from the Eye, but he ignored it as he muttered a few dimly remembered words. “Be at peace, child of earth, and return to the embrace of our mother.”

Another spark hit him and he groaned at this one. He cast about for the memory of the direction the Yautja had pointed him, faced that way and began trudging.


All things serve the Beam
Even I
In the Tower they lay a seam
All the ai
Great shall be the team
Brings down the EYE

~Yrch juvenile play-chant

Mitra tou Theouautokratora
Unknown Location


See Mitra! How brightly it shines in the void! The greatest star of the Theophanic Empire!

Witness the awesome spectra of its dynamik-aspis, radiating great miles into the nether! The vibrant colours of the Empire, its pennon in living presence, an aurora illumining the blackness!

Upon it: the holiest of holies! The entire orb is a sacred temple, its passengers votaries of the God/dess! Upon its tall mountains stand fanes from which the scent of incense arises into the void daily as the mighty ships of the Empire pass by. Within its great hull rest the great palaces of the Genia, the true homes of the Adelig, blessed be!

The enormous factories of the technognostiki click and grind without end within; let the tintinnabulation of the great machines sing forever to the God/dess! Let the humming of the scholars in the massive archives, in their eternal search for knowledge, bring wisdom to the people as the God/dess guides them! In the greatest fane of all, the Epimelitirio, kneel the Adelig as the God/dess blesses them with Their wisdom to guide the entire Empire!

…and once we’re past all that waffle. At the heart of Mitra tou Theouautokratora sleeps the Theoua, blessed be, as they say. At the heart of Mitra, as I say, is the place it was born. They, it; I don’t care. I made it. Or maybe not made so much as brought forth into this reality, but the distinction is immaterial, much like it is, really.

This place is near where the God/dess was born. It’s a place of quiet machines and smooth electronics. Forget the stylistic archaisms of the technognostiki– I made those, too!-- this is a place where real science happens. Real discoveries. Things are coming together, at long last.

Because the eldila told me so, you know. Oh, they hate me. They bow and scrape at my word, but they hate me. They serve my creation because they feel obligated to it, like they’re somehow parents of it or something, but they hate me. As far as they feel anything, anyway. But as long as they follow directions, I don’t care.

And they brought me this. This corpse in a class-two warsuit. Very fancy. It’ll be useful. I play with the pin I got off its uniformed breast, an ornate enamel hawk. It blinks.

“Hello there,” I call, grinning at it, “top o’ the morning to you, good sir!”

It croaks. I toss the hawk pin aside to clatter on the floor and lean down, conducting a cursory exam of vitals. It moans, opening its eyes fully. Silver. Only a pin-hole of a pupil (the lighting in here is rather bright and harshly white. Very clean, just the way I like it), but irises and sclera have turned full-on silver. A lovely effect.

“You’re in excellent shape considering what happened, my man,” I chuckle. He is in splendid shape— peeling off the suit showed me as much— but really, any shape is better than dead, isn’t it? I go on, “You don’t need to know where you are— oh, here, I’m sure you’re thirsty, hmm?”

I hand it a cup of water with a straw in with one hand as I help it sit up with my other hand. Both of its hands trembling as it clutches the cup, it sips convulsively at the straw. I croon, “There’s a good boy…” and take the cup away from its weak fingers when it stops to gasp for breath.

With a thought a stool scoots over underneath my ass as I sit down beside the bed. “So introductions are in order, I believe. My name, at the moment anyway, is Flagg, and I’m your new best friend. Or your boss, anyway. Really, Theoua is your boss, we’ll keep it that way, but you’ll do me a few favors and that’ll make Theoua happy. Yes?”

Its eyes are still fuzzy, though they still shine prettily. They flicker towards the cup again and I offer it another sip. “There… there, good. Let’s wet that whistle, what a good boy.”

The straw slurps as the water runs out. “My word. You’ve finished that all up. Now then, my boy. Do you remember your name?”

It shakes its head slowly, as though a great headache is ringing in its frontal lobes. I grin and press a button to lift the bed into a sitting position. “Yeah, I’m not too surprised. Right then, we’ll start with that. My boy, your name is Reinhard soi Geraki.”
It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.
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Rogue 9
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Re: STGOD 2020/21 Main Game

Post by Rogue 9 »

Battlespace Outside Theophanic Embassy
Union City, Nashtar


The radio crackled to life again. “Targets secured,” came the voice of the lieutenant commanding First Platoon. “Bastards aren’t much for cooperating. It’s a bunch of Yrch, but they have what looks like C3I gear.”

“Good work, Lieutenant,” growled Major Lrassketh in return. “Secure the area. This should be wrapped up quickly. Four Five Actual out.”

Indeed, the tank advance was already sweeping ahead, the scattered Yrch forces quickly rolled up by the armored echelon. Apart from the command dugout, no one in the Nashtari army was eager to dismount infantry and risk fighting the Yrch hand to hand. The unnatural windstorm died down as elements of the mechanized infantry were retasked to search and rescue around the crash sites of downed strike fighters and ground attack craft.

Isenvadejo, Yrch/Amazo-X Space
Inner Solar Orbit
Discovery +5 Days


Space flared white. Any hope among the defenders that it was the returning victorious fleet was quickly smashed, however, as the prows of Nashtari warships came through the multiple slipspace ruptures.

Bridge, NRS Venture

“CAG, Conn, scramble CAP immediately.”

“Flag, Sensors. Looks like recon was on the money, we have one inhabited planet and several orbitals. No warships above system monitor range detected, minimal orbital defenses.”

“Sensors, Flag, aye. Comms, Flag, general hail, all frequencies, my station.”

“Flag, Comms, aye. You’re on, Admiral.”

“Attention Yrch holdings. This is Admiral Horace Greeley, commanding Fourth Fleet, Nashtar. By the actions of your navy a state of war de facto exists between the Republic of Nashtar and the Yrch. We hold total orbital supremacy. Surrender unconditionally or we will open fire. You have thirty standard minutes to decide.” He slashed his hand across his throat, signaling for the transmission to cut out, which it promptly did. “Conn, Flag. Scramble the strike squadrons, have them assume escort formation on the battlegroup until called upon. Flag to all ships, maintain formation until otherwise ordered.”

“Flag, Comms. Receiving a transmission from the larger orbital.”

“Comms, Flag, aye. Put it on.”

A human in an ill fitting suit of late 21st century Earth style appeared in holographic projection. He was visibly nervous as he stammered out a reply. “Admiral Greeley, there must be some mistake. This is an Amazo-X distribution hub. There are no… Yrch here.”

Admiral Greeley thumbed the comms switch to reply. If they had the appropriate projection technology - which they doubtless did - his icy glare would now be staring back at the man. “In that case, you won’t mind a detachment coming down to take a look.”

"Of course, a facility tour can be arranged. Our next availability is in three days, and..."

“I don’t think you understand. Marines are coming down there. Prepare to be boarded.” He cut the transmission.

“Admiral,I believe it is a ploy. He is trying to direct our attention to the orbital. We need to check the planet,” volunteered Captain Nogoroth.

“I don’t doubt it. We’re not going to take him at his word. Initiate deep scanning of the planetary surface and prep recon flights. If there are Yrch on the surface I don’t want to lead with infantry.”

“Aye, Admiral.” The Ronoghan captain turned and started giving the necessary orders while Admiral Greeley keyed the commandant of the carrier’s small Marine detachment into the internal comm.

“Major Thomas, this is Admiral Greeley. Deployment orders. Prep two drop ships for orbital boarding. We’re at an Amazo-X facility, and they claim the Yrch aren’t around here. We need verification.”

“Aye Admiral. Amazo-X? I’ll brief the men,” he responded with a grimace.
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