Hidden 6 days ago 4 days ago Post by Sigma
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Star Port City of Elisa
Neon Tipsy Bar, Upper levels

Malcolm Talis, a tired and worn out human in his early sixties laid against the wall of a moving elevator as it made its ascent to the classiest and most expensive bar you could find in this city. The occasion? Malcolm had just returned from a rather somber get-together, a real close friend, practically a younger brother, had recently passed away from complications. Attending his funeral with his family, friends and surviving members of their platoon, and after that depressing reminder of all their mortality, he needed one hell of a drink. So, Malcolm and rest of the crew had decided to throw a little drinking party in his honor.

The aged Malcolm maintaining his balance as he heard the "bing" sound from elevator. The doors sliding open to reveal bright neon lights, they really wanted to put an emphasis on the bar's namesake that's for sure. Malcolm scanned his surroundings, taking in the atmosphere, jazz-like music was booming in the air, followed by soothing scents of various strong drinks.

The bar was half-full, its patrons were a varied sort, ranging from "fellow" navy officers, though by the looks of them, they were a bunch of coreworlder suits, to suits of the business variety, both shady and legitimate sat in another corner, all drinking to their hearts content. All the while, in the left corner stood a little stage of sorts, two young, quite attractive Misle women had begun to sing in their native tongue, it was a rather calming melody.

Malcolm continued scanning the room until he took notice of a Dathu man hand waving to him, turning to that direction to see a trio waiting for him, the aforementioned Dathu, a human woman, and an Jakai. Malcolm walked over and sat down as he grabbed a glass, he was fashionably late enough to have his drink ready. "Glad you could make it, Suit." the aged woman, Isana Talis, his wife spoke, followed by hearty chuckles from the other two

"Yeah yeah, very funny." Malcolm replied scoffing off the jab, the two then lovingly embracing each other, followed by a short but passionate kiss. "Love you too, darling." She said.

"With that." Caris, the Dathu spoke, raising a glass. "A toast to Sanders."

"May he find peace forevermore." Giddy, the Jakai spoke.

"To the Gravemakers." Both Isana and Malcolm said, the four of them clashing their glasses together and begun gulping down their drinks. An hour had passed, the four, having been separated for a number of years had much catching up to do. "So, how's the family doing?" Caris asked the couple.

Malcolm and Isana looked to one another before turning their attention to their old friend. "Doing well." Malcolm replied. "Called Jade an hour ago, we were going to have a personal holiday together..." Malcolm paused, once more looking to his wife. "...but me and Isana agreed now wasn't the best time...the grandkids were mighty disappointed."

"Yeah..not in a festive mood either." Giddy said, gulping down another glass. Some more time passes as the Gravemakers took it all at a slowed pace, a large hologram screen brightened up as the daily news reports came in, a Petalos Anchor appearing. "Fear and paranoia grips the frontier as more reports of abductions and disapp-"

"Like I need a reminder how shit the frontier is." Malcolm said, chugging down another drink. "As much as I loath the idea. We're going to try to convince Jade to move her and the kids to the New Eden. You barely hear this shit about abductions over there."

"I have to admit." Caris said. "I can't help but be curious. I even hear these wild rumors."

Isana, raised an eyebrow, herself now curious. "Like what?" he asked.

"Some traveling Merchants ramble on that the Black Sun are behind it all."

"Wait what?" Giddy asked. That's a bit of a reach, last I heard, they're just a bunch of smugglers."

"Slavery isn't too far from their profession." Malcolm replied, taking another sip. "Bastards know full well no one's coming to help."

While the Gravemakers were busy chatting some more, they had failed to notice a young stranger approaching from behind, having just arrived from the elevator. "Captain Talis?" the stranger spoke.

The four turned to see a human man in his mid thirties, wearing a fine suit often associated with the Federal Intelligence Service. He extended his hand outward to the captain. "The name's Leon Severis, I'm with Intelligence."

"We know that much." Isana spoke up.

"Could you and your associates come with me for but a moment?" Leon requested of the group. "It won't take long."


Some time had past, the group driving around the city in a rather spacious truck, often used as mobile listing posts by Intelligence. The Gravemakers sat rather comfortably one one end of the truck, all the troubling spying gear gutted out in favor of a more comfy seats. Facing them on the other end was Agent Severis. "So, why'd you drag us out here?" Malcolm asked, honestly intrigued by this point.

"Are you familiar with the recent string of frontier abductions?" Leon asked rhetorically.

Malcolm had quickly shifted from intrigued, to confused. "...yes... Why'd you bring that up?"

"I'll get to the point, your country is in need of your services Captain." Leon said. "We've been investigating these incidents for years now, and we think we're starting to see a pattern."

"Oh yeah?" Malcolm asked, the brief discussion his group had on the Black Sun was a bit coincidental. "Let me guess, Black Sun?"

"..that's right." Leon said. "We've been monitoring their peripheral activities for years. Only now have we gotten something concrete. Intelligence believes there's more to the Black that meets the eye."

"And what does this have to do with me exactly?" Malcolm asked.

"You were considered a quite the maverick among your peers in the marines, men and women serving under you have commented on your unorthodox, but efficient command. Such an officer would be-"

"Let me stop you right there." Malcolm interrupted. "I've survived pirates, two-bit warlords and even the free stars, I've done my country a great service as is. "Malcolm paused as he took a breath. "If you're so worried about the people? And are so sure of Black Sun? Why not have the proper authorities handle this? I don't plan on playing interstellar police for you, do you're own damn job!"

"Malcolm..lets at least hear him out." Isana said, gripping onto his arm, locking into each other gaze. "Fine, continue."

"Thank you." Leon said. "An Officer of your talent and skill would be of great use in an operation such as this." He paused a moment, catching his breath. "Any major military deployments in the frontier will make the Core Powers nervous." He paused once more. "So We're assembling a special task force, drawing volunteers from all parts of the military to partake in this operation, to put a stop to the Black Sun's organized abductions once and for all."

"And you want me for..?" Malcolm asked, still skeptical.

"Well to be the Operational Commander." Leon replied. You'll be giving a ship, crew and the additional volunteers to assist you in your investigations, and possible engagements, it is the frontier afterall."

Malcolm remained silent and pondered, he could possibly do some do some good, helping the frontier and possibly hunt down the bastards tearing families apart, keep his own family safe. "Ok, fine" He agreed. "I'll do this under one condition though, you'll pay for the relocation of my daughter's family to the Core Worlds. I don't want them getting caught up in..whatever the hell this is."

"That can be arranged, captain." Leon said, extending his hand towards him, Malcolm grabbed a hold of it and shook. "Glad we can come to an understanding."
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Hidden 5 days ago 5 days ago Post by Chairman Stein
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Chairman Stein Some Sorta Seminarian

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Rectory-Town of Lazarus, Gethsemane

"And he said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?'" - Luke 24:38

He'd forgotten the last time he'd been in old Lazarus, and yet the town hadn't changed at all. Far off in the distance, the grand Cathedral of St. Alphons the Confessor rose like a colossus from its perched cliff side domicile. Seabirds soared from her parapets while interstellar craft hovered low, no doubt delivering the month's supplies to the ever-isolated monks and warriors of the Knightly Order. Yet here, far below the grand citadel in the town of laypeople, Enoch felt small. The salt and smoke in the air filled his lungs, and reminded him of when he'd first come to Lazarus as a lowly seminarian into the Church. He remembered walking these same streets with his fellow initiates, performing sacraments in the nearby chapel down the street, and making the annual pilgrimage up to the Cathedral; praying at each Saintly shrine before performing a final communion before the golden altar in the Cathedral itself.

To think that thirty years later he'd return as the man he was now was comical. Enoch sighed and skirted himself into the shade of a nearby alleyway, fumbling his hands into his jacket and taking his flask into his shaky hands. When the lukewarm liquor hit his tongue it burned, and it still burned all the way into his stomach before becoming a merciful and soothing warm numbness. God knew he'd need a drink before this meeting, and no doubt a handful more after. With luck, the entire homecoming would be a blur.

Pushing himself back into the light, with a renewed spirit he forced himself down the crumbling concrete walkways. Lazarus had never been a populace town, being made up mostly of merchants, pilgrims, and laypeople working for the Cathedral, but now it seemed nearly abandoned. The few vehicles that puttered their way down the streets were ancient mechanisms, no doubt brought in during colonization, and the people seemed just as old. Of course, Enoch couldn't exactly criticize others for looking their age, he himself hadn't exactly aged with grace either. Perhaps in some way a look of decrepitation was the natural state for those thrown to the colony worlds, far from the light of de-aging therapies and other 'wonder treatments' so often praised by Roman socialites and Core World media icons.

"Or maybe I'm just an old cynical bastard."

Enoch quietly welcomed himself into the foyer of the Chapel, the echo of ending Mass welcoming him as he crumpled into a chair and waited. Centered on the furthest wall, on display within a shining golden frame, rested an icon of the Savior. Below it, a simple sign saying:

Christ welcomes you!
Morning Mass at 6 A.M (Coffee Hour at 7:30!)
Dinner hosted in the main hall at 5 P.M (Thank you to Brother Angelo and Sister Maria!)
Evening Mass at 6 P.M
Let us worship Christ and make Christ known!

Like magic, the smell of warm coffee wafted into the foyer, and hushed conversation mixed with the tip-toeing of the congregation as they passed through the foyer. Though he was sure no one paid him any mind, Enoch still sat up and adjusted his jacket, the eyes he felt on him were his own alone.

"Father McClellan! I'm glad you could make it!"

Enoch's eyes widened and a faint smile formed on his face as he looked up and into the eyes of Father Romero. Romero was an older man, far older than Enoch at least, and had easily doubled in size since Enoch's seminary days. Yet his smile was just as warm and his laugh as full and plump as his waistline. For a man no doubt nearing 70, he looked as though he was still in his prime.

"Well I had business on Gethsemane anyway, and after all it's not like these anniversaries come every day," Enoch replied, embracing his old mentor, "Oh and please, just call me Enoch. No need for all the formalities between friends."

For a moment Enoch detected the faintest frown on Father Romero's lips, but his eyes lit up once again and he gave a firm nod.

"Of course, of course. Well come with me and we'll chat in my office."

Enoch nodded and the two men departed through the main hall. This time Enoch knew the congregation's eyes were on him as they passed the coffee hour, he couldn't help but swear he heard faint whispers and feel eyes like daggers on his back as they slipped away into Romero's study.

Like the rest of Lazarus, Romero's study had remained nearly the same as when he'd apprenticed those years ago. A false fireplace sitting over the heating unit; desk littered with old notes, sermons, and countless text cartridges to plug into the digi-reader. Perhaps the only difference was Romero's desk chair, now looking more like a bean-bag on a swivel with more cushioning than seat.

Romero waddled across his office and made himself at home behind his desk, leaning down and, with a wink to Enoch, bringing up an ancient looking cognac bottle.

"It's hard to believe, even to myself, you know. Forty years in the ministry. If you went back in time and told that little runt I was at 28 that I'd be spending my life preaching I'd have called you a lot of nasty names. But the Lord works in mysterious ways, doesn't it Enoch?"

Without asking, Romero poured both of them their drinks.

"I'd certainly say so Father. Though surely you aren't feeling any regrets about your ministry? You did some amazing work in Rome back in the day, I still quote that thesis you wrote on Old Earth Papal encyclicals."

Romero chuckled, "I imagine if His Holiness were here he wouldn't like some of what I said in that one. But I couldn't help myself, I've always felt a tad skeptical of Papal infallibility. Not that it matters too much, we've had the Grand Abbot since both of us were twinkles in the eyes of our forefathers."

"Well, cheers to the Grand Abbot then! Long may he guide the Church." Enoch replied.

Once again, a burn followed by relief. Enoch felt his muscles calm and the ache of his hands subside. The conversation drifted for awhile, questions about how Rome was, reminiscing about seminary, ministry life. Finally, after nearly an hour had passed, Romero's look became more serious and he straightened in his chair.

"You know Enoch, I know about what happened in Rome."

The air became still, and almost instinctively Enoch's eyes fell to his feet alongside his stomach. Yet, he remained silent.

"What happened to that girl wasn't your fault, son. You know as well as I do, ministry is a burden as much as it is a blessing. We minister to the poor, the needy, and those often left behind on other worlds. Sometimes we save them, bring them into the Church and give them new meaning, but it isn't always in our control. We can only advise, give faith and pray that the Spirit works in those we speak to."

"You know damn well that she didn't just fall back to her vices. Samantha had become one of us, she was on her way to joining an order. What happened to her was not natural, Manuel. There was darkness involved." Enoch said, his knuckles white and his teeth grinding.

"But where is your proof, Enoch? I have just as much faith in the goodness of men as you do, but we can't pretend that man isn't just as likely to fail as he is to succeed. It might seem hard to believe, but sometimes people do just fail."

"Open your eyes! Look around you, Manuel. Forty years in the ministry, fifteen in Rome. It doesn't take a seat on the Holy Council to read a headline. People across the Core worlds are vanishing in the dead of night. Mothers, Fathers, children. This... Evil. It is taking anyone, from the selfie-obsessed club-tourists in Rome's under-city to farmers on Gethsemane. We've seen it happen right in this very town. You expect me to believe none of these are connected? I know you, I studied under you for a decade and I know your mind as well as I know mine. You know it's true too. Every damned Cleric and Acolyte on Rome has heard of them, but no one knows a thing. So, if the Church won't look into all this then I will... For her sake."

Romero became quiet, and almost like flipping a switch Enoch saw his age finally start to show. His faded blue eyes, sunken and tired, his lips curved into a thoughtful and anxious frown.

"If you're serious about this Enoch, I won't stop you. But I will voice my concerns about you, my son. Five years ago you didn't drink, now I didn't even have to ask if you wanted to. You don't shave, you smell like the gutter outside a bar, and your clothes don't look like they've been washed in a month. It's one thing to want justice, to want to understand the cruel fate we're sometimes dealt. It's another to become obsessed, to chase shadows and conspiracies where they may not exist... I won't deny the rumors, the Church has certain voices that believe there is more happening in our space than we know. Some say it's cult activity, perhaps some heretics from Zion or Lord knows where in the fringe. Others say Demons, and even more say the Black Sun is behind it. I don't know for certain what to believe, I'm an old man Enoch. My days of asking questions and hunting for answers is behind me, and in truth I'd say they're behind you as well. But if this is really, truly what you want to do. Then as your mentor, no, as your friend, I'm obligated to help you."

Romero reached under his desk again, and after a moment pulled up data chip and a tablet.

"If you want to talk to some of these voices, read what's on that chip. I'll set up a meeting for you on Rome. But I'm warning you Enoch, there is no turning back from this path once you're on it. Few who join ever leave alive, and those that do come back with more scars than they know what to do with."

Enoch took the tablet in his hands, the duroplastic cold to the touch, and placed the chip into his jacket. He looked up at his mentor, more questions now than when he'd arrived.

"Join who?"

"The Inquisition."

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Hidden 4 days ago 4 days ago Post by gorgenmast
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Low orbit over planet Socordia

Floating languidly in zero-g at the head of the Bushwhacker's bridge was an aging, bald-headed man barely a meter and a half in height if he were to stand upright planetside. His was a kind and grandfatherly visage, with a thin, resting smile though deep wrinkles and crow's feet radiating from his eyes suggested something other than the passage of time had aged him beyond his years. First impression might suggest that he was merely the father of one of the vessel's crew; proudly touring the charge of his accomplished son or daughter. Difficult though it might be to conceive at first appearance, the kindly-seeming fellow at the fore of the bridge was perhaps the most wanted criminal in the entire Cluster.

Though Rasvan Saroyan's relaxed, calm demeanor was misleading, his authority was demonstrated by the deferential distance allowed by the bridge's guard attache and the nervous glances stolen by ensigns from behind their holographic terminal screens. Between checking core outputs and monitoring the starship's myriad systems, the bridge crew watched anxiously as Saroyan stared pensively into the horizon directly ahead of the orbiting starship, where Socordia's anemic gray-blue atmosphere faded into the pitch blackness of space. From several thousand kilometers up, Saroyan watched as Socordia's surface rolled past under his feet. Vast mountains capped with frosty glaciers rose up from dusty, sun-baked deserts. Even when surveying the planet from the comfort of an orbiting starship, Socordia seemed like a miserable hellworld. And it was. But ten years of terraforming at tremendous expense had made the atmosphere somewhat breathable, and enough liquid water now flowed on the planet's surface to support life as Man knew it. Socordia now was only barely habitable, and that was all that was needed. Saroyan did not need to replicate the garden world of Parravon, not for the crop he wanted to produce.

As the Bushwhacker's orbit took the heavily-armored destroyer over Socordia's subtropical doldrums, Saroyan was delighted to bear witness to his cherished crop. Ribbons of blue meltwater from the planet's high, jagged peaks irrigated the lower valleys and wadis and coaxed bands of lush green from the surrounding deserts. And mixed within those bands of green were blushes of pink and red: poppyflowers blooming in such great numbers that they could be seen plainly from low orbit.

Even now, Saroyan could see the the reaping of this great harvest. Small freighters could be seen approaching to rendezvous with the Bushwhacker, rocketing skyward from depot-fortresses positioned deep in Socordia's deserts protected by hundreds of miles of sterile desert as well as redoubtable anti-orbital batteries. The pirate warlord knew their hulls to be laden with dozens of two-ton pallets of black tar heroin. Once refined into purer derivatives in the Bushwhacker's onboard processing lab, Socordia's fruits would be ready to be disseminated across the Inner Cluster, where the street value of a freighterload of black tar surpassed the yearly output value of entire planets.

The fortunes to be had were vast, but there was also so much that could go wrong. Much of Socordia's harvest - maybe a full half - would be seized at some point between Socordia's orbit and the crack dens of Mendicant. And despite Saroyan's reputation, despite his capacity to cause immense suffering, the lord of the Outer World Pirates still suffered a measure of breakage.

"Two shipments en route from the Belka Depot, sir," one of the ensigns reported to Saroyan as he depressed the mute button of his earpiece with an index finger.

"How much?" Saroyan asked as he watched through the windshield as the freighter ships slowed down for their approach with the Bushwhacker.

"A shade under 42 tons, sir," the same ensign reported. Saroyan acknowledged hm with an approving nod.

"And the Radak Depot should be ready for shipment when we pass over the southern latitudes again, no?"

"Erm, I'm afraid not sir. Radak Depot's output is still low. They're reporting that the harvest in Mbuku's sector was hampered by a wind storm that damaged much of their crop. They sent a memo stating that they can either send up their 26 tons, or we can wait until they have a full load."

Everyone on board the bridge knew at that instant that there would be trouble because of this. Saroyan's reflection in the windshield gave proof that his calm, kindly smile had withered into a frown upon hearing that. The pirate lord spun himself around to face the ensign.

"Twenty-six tons? Did I hear that correctly?"

"Y-yes sir," the ensign stuttered. "Radak Depot reports only 26 tons. If you'd like, I can respond to that memo and ask if-"

"Ask what?" Saroyan interrupted, obviously irritated but still perfectly calm. "If you want to ask them anything, ask them if Mbuku thinks I am a moron."

"Mbuku thinks he can disrespect me: that's it. I don't need to ask them anything, because I think it's clear to all of us what is going on here. I never considered Mbuku to be a clever man. A savage fighter and a capable commander sure, but a clever man he is clearly not. Not if he thinks he can so blatantly disrespect me."

"I regret that all of you had to bear witness to this," Saroyan said as he pushed himself off the deck and floated away from the windshield to the middle of the bridge. "I'm a fair man. My salary to all those in my employ is more than ample. So when someone like Mbuku tries to skim off the top - or in this case, rather obviously gouge - into the product, I feel disrespected. And unfortunately for you all, you're going to have to see what happens when I'm disrespected."

"Put this ship in synchronous orbit over Radak Depot. Once we're above Radak Depot, point every armament this vessel has at the depot. Let them know Mbuku has two hours to submit himself and everything he has before I glass him from orbit."

Ciudad Capolicán
Planet Nuevo Arauco

Gray, polluted rain pattered upon a ratty tarp draped sloppily over a twisted piece of rebar. With gray rainwater dripping slowly through several pinholes onto a floor of street trash and filthy, worn-out clothes, it was a miserable place to call home. Sofia didn't give a shit, though. Nor did she care about the fact that she was going to spend the night on the street, sleeping on a bed of dirty clothes infested with alien bugs. She didn't even care that she had just been fucked by a disgusting stranger in a nearby alley for 40 credits. All that mattered that this moment was that she had her needle full of Vidrio.

Sofia held a hypodermic syringe to the bend in her arm and pressed the hair-thin needle against a pulsing vein in her arm. Scabs and healed-over scars all over the inside of her elbow gave proof that she had done this many, many times before. Sofia grimaced slightly with the familiar prick of the needle sliding into her vein. Once in, Sofia slowly pumped the tiny syringe full of clear-yellow liquid into her veins. She felt the Vidrio mix briefly with the blood in her arm before a rush a of ecstasy washed over her. Her arms, suddenly heavy, fell to her side as she gave a sigh of satisfaction. The spent needle fell from her fingers into the folds of an old sweater as she descended into her squalid nest of filth in blissful paralysis.

This was definitely Vidrio - the good stuff - Sofia decided at once as she stared up at the leaky tarp roof draped overhead. She had been short on money a while back, and tried the product from another dealer that only set her back ten credits. It was a waste of ten credits; a bullshit knockoff that wasn't half as potent as Vidrio. The good stuff had to be brought in from offworld; Sofia's dealer said it had to be smuggled in from an uncharted planet where poppies grew like grapes did on Parravon and cannabis grew in forests as tall as a starship is long. Sofia didn't much care where it came from, all she knew is that the bullshit that enterprising folks tried to cook up on Nuevo Arauco didn't cut it anymore and that she would have to come up with four to five times as much to get the good stuff from offworld.

Electric streetcars roared past on the road just outside Sofia's makeshift tent. Nuevo Arauco was a poor frontier world, and few people could afford the sort of flying personal vehicles that buzzed through the skylines of the cities on wealthier planets. Their plastic tires on the wet roadway kicked up a spray of filthy water that deposited itself in a fine spray over Sofia's nubile - if emaciated - body. Even in her atrophied state Sofia was quite attractive, but when she had just arrived on Nuevo Arauco she was gorgeous.

Three years ago, Sofia recalled as she torpidly brushed away at itching dustfleas - nigh-microscopic, soil-borne zooplankton that inhabited the soil of this miserable planet, things had not been so terrible. Even in her Vidrio-induced euphoria, Sofia was able to remember arriving on this planet as an ambitious and perhaps naive colonist from one the crowded core worlds, hoping to acquire a fortune in the fledgling mining industries on this frontier planet. The mining prospects on Nuevo Arauco were vastly overstated however, and colonist-entrepreneurs like Sofia were left stranded and duped with no resources to buy passage back home. Sofia, having spent everything to get to this planet, saw little recourse but to sell the one resource she still had that could earn her passage off of this rock. But as many in her profession do, Sofia fell into a bad crowd. Her new acquaintances had introduced Sofia to potent offworld heroin, and from that point on her life was ruined. There was no amount of Vidrio, not even in the fabled hashish and opium jungles described by her dealer, that would allow Sofia to forget the optimism and the dreams she had arrived on this planet with: her hopes of making a fortune, owning land, finding a suitor, and one day even raising children. Now her only hope was to score enough credits for the next high and wish that she did not wake up the next morning.

Over the patter of raindrops on the tarp and the passing of cars, Sofia could hear the footfalls of passersby walking around her crude tent pitched in the middle of the sidewalk. Not one of them stopped to check on the torpid woman laying listlessly on a pile of dirty rags. Addicts were so prevalent on the streets of Ciudad Capolicán that nobody could care less. Even the city's gendarmes - the corrupt and comically-incompetent rabble that passed for authorities on this planet - routinely walked past makeshift camps of homeless addicts without so much as batting an eye.

Sofia was aware of multiple people - maybe three - now standing around outside of her tent. She was too listless to even peer outside the tent and see who was out there, let alone yell at them to fuck off and be on their way. A part of her mind was screaming in alarm, trying to alert the rest of her brain that something bad was going to happen if she didn't react at once. But so long as she was feeling the high of the Vidrio, Sofia didn't give a shit. Maybe they would steal what few possessions she had left, maybe they would rape her, or maybe they would go easy and beat her around for fun. Whatever was fine; nothing mattered anymore now that she had her high. She was vaguely aware of mumbling chatter outside her tent over the drizzle now.

"For an adicta, she's pretty foxy," a gruff male said in the planet's Spanglish dialect.

"I've fucked a lot worse in my day," affirmed another male voice outside the tent.

"No shit. Honestly, boys, I think she might be worth something."

"Worth what? What do you want to do, try to rehabilitate her or some shit? Forget it, cabrón. Once they're on the needle, it's like they're zombies. Yeah, their body might be living still, but their mind, in their mind they're dead."

"I'm not trying to turn her into a respectable woman or something stupid like that. Look, I know a guy that has the hookup with some offworld types. I'm tellin' you guys, they'll pay like... maybe 2,000 credits for this bitch. Hell, I'll even give you idiots 200 credits a piece if you help me carry her to the car."

"What if the gendarmes see us?"

"Are you kidding me? I'll just slip them 100 Credits and tell them to take a hike like everyone else does. You lot gonna help me or what?"

The other two men tacitly agreed and tore the ratty tarp off of Sofia's makeshift shelter. Drizzling rain fell upon Sofia's face as she looked upon the kidnappers.

"Fuck off!!" Sofia snarled groggily as the men seized her.

She trashed anemically against her captors, but it was too little far too late. The kidnappers quickly tired of her trashing and shouting, pathetic as it was. Sofia had just enough to watch one of their fists coming down on her head and hope that it killed her just before the blow knocked her unconscious.
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Hidden 4 days ago Post by Mao Mao
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Mao Mao Sheriff of Pure Hearts

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Temprary Police Headquarters

Ylaso // Elia

A holographic drone view of the protesters occupying Elliot Square was projected in the temporary headquarter nearby the park. A dozen police personnel was monitoring the situation while the captains awaited Commissioner Lawrence and General Griffiths of the Ascia Ground Forces to arrive. Each of them took notes and watched the massive protest. Official reports revealed that nearly two million people were camping in the square; however, the numbers appeared higher than described. Personnel kept on scanning news reports, online posts, and live footage to identify as many protesters as possible. It was when the commissioner and general arrived at the headquarters, still talking about the situation.

"The royalty are starting to worry about the protest. They haven't faded out like you originally reported five days ago. Instead, more and more of the common people are joining in this so-called occupation. You have to end this before it's too late." Charlotte Griffiths finished her thoughts.

"And we will, General." Commissioner Harley Lawrence tried to calm the general down. "We need to be mindful of this situation, or my men will get hurt."

"You should've thought of that at the start, Commissioner. You need to strike them now."

"But what about my men?!" Lawrence asked.

"Your men knew the risk of joining the force. They will understand one way or the other." Griffiths answered with a hint of irritation. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have to-"

"Commissioner Lawrence," One of the personnel called out. "a large crowd is forming in front of the Airwave Building!"

"What?!" Both the General and the Commissioner said simultaneously and went towards the hologram table. It was true that protesters were surrounding the front entrance of the drone company. Their security was outnumbered and in dire need of protection from the police force. Unfortunately, protesters had blocked the roads with barricades to protect their makeshift camp. Griffiths began texting her supervisors on the sudden update while Lawrence started panicking. The captains were trying to identify the leader behind this protest until the drone malfunctioned. That move caught everyone in the headquarters offline. Until another drone was able to take over, their only reliable source was the news. And it didn't look good.

Ylaso // Elia

Airwave Building

"We need to go now!" Stella Baxter, the secretary to CEO, cried out in terror while the news was playing in the background. Most of the floors were filled with scared workers, trying to pack up and destroy anything significant to the company. Eli Bernard, the CEO of Airwave, exited out of his personal office with personal bodyguards and met with his secretary. Both of them were critical to the company and its assets. Now, it was time for them to escape thanks to the private elevator. All four of them entered the elevator and waited while it started descending.

"Are we safe?" Baxter asked her boss while watching the number of floors decreasing.

"Yeah, we are." Bernard smiled at his secretary until the elevator suddenly grounded to a halt. The doors opened to reveal that they were the first level. Local security was attempting to blockade the door with anything not nailed to the ground. Protesters were slowly approaching the main entrance with the look of anger, shouting at them. And when they saw the CEO was in front of them, things went south in an instant. The bodyguards dragged them into a nearby elevator and slammed the 'thirty-first' button. As the doors were closing, the crowd managed to overwhelm the security and tried to catch up to them. Thankfully, the doors closed in time, and the elevator started going up.

Bernard took the break to comfort his secretary while one of the bodyguards called for a helicopter to save them. Once they reached the floor, they processed directly towards the other elevator avoiding pleads and questions from workers. On the second elevator, the bodyguards overheard that the protesters broke into the security room. On the third elevator, the pilot alerted them to their arrival on the helipad. In the ninety-third floor, workers were blockading hallways while some of them tried to get their attention. But, their calls had been avoided. And after two minutes of climbing the stairs, the helicopter was awaiting them with the pilots ready to leave.

As the blades began spinning around, the bodyguards went ahead with Bernard and Baxter behind them. One of them went to open the sliding door and didn't take into account that someone was waiting for them inside. Before he was able to react, a man kicked him away and shot him in the head. The other bodyguard raised his pistol at him but was gunned down by a masked individual. The pair exited from the helicopter as its blades slowly stopped spinning. Bernard tried to run, but a nearby gun impact to the ground caused him to stumble.

"Going somewhere?" the man asked him while walking over the dead bodyguard.

"Get away from me!" Bernard yelled at the man while crawling towards the elevator.

The gunman laughed at his attempt at escaping and just tugged him off of the ground with his hair. He grabbed hold of the CEO's neck and said in a soothing tone. "Not so fast, Mr. Bernard. You are needed here to answer the question of the century. What's the biggest drone manufacturing company hiding out in the open? Of course, you're an answer. Your secretary... isn't. So you get to decide each of your fates: Let her live, and I'll pry the answer out of you. Or let her die, and you'll be able to leave."

"What's your-"

"Kill her!" Bernard answered quick enough to surprise the man, leaving Baxter horrified and angry.


"Are you sure?" the man pulled out his pistol and aimed it at the secretary.

"Yes!" Bernard replied again.

Baxter's cries got louder while her attempt at appealing the masked man to help failed. He pulled back the hammer. "Last chance."

"Just do it alre-!" Bernard yelled out in annoyance before realizing the gunman pointed at his foot and firing the shot. He crashed to the ground in agony, realizing that he had been tricked. That was when he started to curse out at the man. "You motherfucker! What do you want?! Money?!"

The man laughed at his offer and grabbed his collar. "No, I want something more important."

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Hidden 4 days ago 4 days ago Post by Andreyich
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Andreyich 𝕿𝖍𝖊 𝕽𝖚𝖓𝖊𝖘' 𝕲𝖑𝖔𝖜

Member Seen 40 min ago

b e t t e r t h a n h u m a n

Captain Victor Tarau in The Varangian had responded to the call for aid. The local Uskoks were not up to the task of dealing with local insurgents, apparently. “It’s what happens when you let the first generation emigres run things.” Replied Victor’s aide. It was Oleksandr Kjaro, a man fairly recently demoted to Sergeant according to a quick check through his part of the noosphere. Truth was, given the efficient running of CCN operations he was still more or less fresh from Sol and his crew was all new to him. Kjaro, now that was a name that rung a bell. “Oleksandr Kjaro, Sergeant. You were in the Zionist police action, yes?”

“Indeed, Sir.”

Yes, that explained a lot. This was the fellow who lost his Captaincy a few decades back, brutality being the reasoning. A rather strange reason, given the brutality of all Councillary troops. Yet, he must have done something particularly heinous for the Overseer-Militant to actually go down and strip a man of rank. Yet, his skills must also have been quite something if he was not taken in for processing. “Well, then. Tell me, can we descend soon?”

“Yes, and no, Sir. The issue is the Uskoks have had interference with their vessels, some sort of nonsense interfering with their scanning, comms, the works. Governor’s not lying about that, at least. They seem to have most things under control, though, albeit no thanks to the Uskok troops. Locals snitched on the rebels, caught them early.”

A screen activated, the face of Governor Josefina Clarlyle before the command-bridge. “Ah, Governor, how good of you to join us in our discussion.”

“Indeed. I’m sure you’ve been debriefed of most of what you need to know but I felt there’s one thing they likely didn’t mention. Spending on the world increased almost threefold several months back, when our patrols started. But not immediately after, that was a twofold increase. All this in spite a three percent reduction in productivity. Somebody is pumping money here, Captain, and all this talk of rebellion just… I don’t know. I just think you should be careful. LZ is prepared, I have a unit of local auxilia prepared. We’ve traced the disturbance to a town, it’s called Uracao. Some Uskoks will be with you too, I recommend you just send your crack troops. The governor needs this done fast. Over and out.” She was the governor from the perspective from the CCN, but internationally, the world was de jure independent.

“Bitch.” Kjaro said, having wanted to say something before the line was closed off.

“You really don’t like the outdateds, nor the stains. I understand that, though not to the degree you do of course. But you seem to despise anything to do with them. Anything to say?”

“I’ll tell you another time, boy. I lost much to those… those things.” The Sergeant replied, encompassing all non-Neohumans with a single word. “History, and all. But everything I do is for a reason.”

“Right, then. To the lander.” Kjaro was very human for a Neohuman, at least externally. Supposedly his brain was mostly untouched, and all else he had was sub-dermal, at least for machine parts. But he was also very cold, unforgiving, one could almost call him the spitting image of a Neohuman except for the overdose of his fury and grim cynicism.

Troops were handpicked, and perhaps arrogantly for Victor’s first mission as Captain he decided he would go along with Oleksandr and the rest of the men.

The Uskoks were along with some of the local auxilia in a grand truck, with much more of the local troops walking along either side in a column. After about an hour of marching towards this town of Uracao, they caught sight of it through the dust and early morning mist of the day. The town hall was distinctive, and the two rows of buildings in front of it but most important was the great pillar of blue light coming from the centre. “Interesting.” The Sergeant remarked, his helmet unsealing momentarily so he could spit.

They moved into it, slowing down with apprehension and gradually slowing down — a mistake. A hail of missiles flew at the truck, and the vehicle understandable exploded. Automatic weapons uponed up on the column making the auxilia either duck for cover or try return fire. It was quite admirable how none of them ran, Victor noted.

“There, there!” Kjaro shouted, pointing to a trench it seemed the enemy combatants had dug before instead making defences at the entrance to the town instead. The Reislaufers ran towards it, jumping into it as one.

Bullets and lasers whizzed over the ditch, a rather silly thing but not surprising given the nature of the "rebels", as they declared themselves. People fed a lot of ideologue nonsense given confidence by a gun, they could shoot but they missed when doing so.

The Captain peered over the edge of the earthworks, examining the foe's barricade. Jeers and warcries cycled between its defendants, most notable an occasional "¡No Pasaran!" in a chorus of voices. He took stock of the fighters by his side, counting a total nineteen with poor Legionnaire Cyril just a few metres short of the trench. He was still alive, but he'd be out of commission for almost a month as his cybernetics, organs and limbs were replaced. The entirety of the local auxilia was of course dead. Some of the Uskoks had returned fire, but apart from one who ran away - to presumably report all of this back - all got torn apart by the enemy small arms.

They largely didn’t worry about most of the foe, they knew they could more than give what they got from them. But there were two autocannons they had set up in the entrance to the town and they’d tear through the armour, cybernetics and flesh of the Neohumans.


“Yes, Sir?”

“Did we bring along the experimentals?”

“Yes, Sir. It’s on your display.”

“Of course, Sergeant. But it’s a lot better when I start announcing things like this."

"Yes Sir."

"Platoon! Prepare grenades. Go!"

With a word a series of the little jet black cylinders flew as though shot from a launcher into the first line of the rebels. A black smoke emerged from them, but they were apparently prepared enough to not panic and run. Their mistake. They breathed, and one by one fell down with their nerves giving way. It was an odourless gas that kept the foe alive, but effectively paralyzed for an hour.

The Neohumans stepped out of their cover, walking slowly with a rather unprofessional leisure to the barricades that put oh so much dread into the men of Uracao. They stepped over the barricades, walking deeper into the town, until the Sergeant turned around at a feint voice. "No… Pasaran." a woman hissed, eliciting a low, almost monstrous laughter from Sergeant Kjaro. He squatted by her, the Reislaufer still almost as tall as an ordinary man in this state. His deep grey eyes narrowed, and a humoured smile came on his face that could almost fool a person believing this to be a face of mercy. "Hemos y Pasado." he stated, before in a flash his fist flew at her head, going straight through it in a puff of red and hitting the metal crate behind her, a great dent forming in the thing. A much higher pitched, noticeably sadistic laugh came from Kjaro as he noticed the fearful tremble of the outdateds present. Their best efforts only letting them shake and whine as the man motioned with his head for the rest of the Reislaufers to move on, him alone of them not stepping over the people and instead walking on as if they weren't there in spite of the crunches and squelches underfoot.

Victor sighed. This was Kjaro without any great activation of aggression protocols, this was the natural state of the man. He wouldn't be in the eternal limbo of promotion and demotion from Sergeant to Lieutenant if not for this, he'd have long since been a Captain of his own ship. "Loose formation, squad restructuring inbound." the retinal displays of all Legionnaires informed them of the Sergeant allotting a particular eleven men to himself and another eleven to the Captain. Kjaro took the left side of the town, with Victor the right. The first building on either side was empty, save for a few men taken out of action by the gas. The next one was similar, but Kjaro's team came upon two men huddling by an autocannons with hands over their heads. "Don't." The Captain ordered, just as Kjaro's finger hovered over the trigger. He growled, motioning for another soldier to subdue them with his arc rifle.

In the next building the Captain breached a door, to find a mass of children, elderly and other unarmed people with but a single man holding a rifle. "Drop it." Victor demanded. The man held onto his weapon, in spite of now seven Legionnaires training very big laser rifles upon him. "You can't win this, just put it down." the Captain tried again.

"Why, so you can then just take us all away? I'm not stupid, I don't have a bunch of your damn robot parts but guess what? That means I know when people demand bullshit of me."

"I do not know what you are talking about. Please put it down, I would really rather not have to end you."


The man pulled his trigger, and the Captain threw himself forward to grab one of the children to shield with his body. He made sure to catch a bullet in his body to make it more convincing, for he knew the man wouldn't have hit the civilians but all the same Victor knew he had to give himself a heroic appearance for the others present.

With his body shielding the little outdated he raised his pistol and with one shot to the chest ended the man. Placing down the kid, he looked at him and asked "Are you alright?" the little boy was clearly top frightened to speak, and so the Captain motioned to a Reislaufer who walked over to momentarily scan the child. "No external damage."

"Good." with that they moved on. Most buildings had token resistance, a mine and ambush taking three Neohumans out of action. Now either group was on opposite sides of the town, looking to the town hall. Peering through the windows it was clear the time the Reislaufers spent was not wasted by the rebels. Snipers were on the roof of the town's centre, machine guns were set up at windows and an autocannon at the entrance. The Legionnaires made half hearted attempts to fire at the foe but it was clear in any attempt at a shooting match the rebels would win, their firepower far too great.

"What about the other experimentals, Captain?"

Victor cursed, expecting this very thing from the Sergeant. But looking on to the great beam of skyward light, he knew Kjaro was right. The enemy was in eagerness already taking pot shots, and it was a non-option to try wait them out. The trick with the gas wouldn't work again, and even if it did the men here seemed better equipped, helmets and rebreathers with them.

"Alright then. Reislaufers, blades ready, we'll give them what for. Legio, aeterna, aeterna, victrix!

All of the Reislaufers pressed the activation studs on their new chainblades, some had them attached to their rifles as bayonets, some like the Captain had taken theirs as a Sword, whilst Sergeant Kjaro had opted for two large chainaxes in either hand. They repeated the cry, and with an ear-piercing roar they smashed through the walls of their respective buildings. There was a moment of panic for the enemy, but they quickly rallied as someone ordered them to fire. A hail of lasers, bullets and even plasma rained upon the charging Reislaufers. The men at either side of Victor dropped, and a bullet took his right eye. The autocannon was about to fire tearing the Reislaufers apart but the Sergeant threw one of his axes to bisect its operator. The Legionnaires returned fire while running, aiming to suppress rather than kill as more of them dropped. A burst of plasma separated a Legionnaire from his legs, but lying on the ground he effectively returned fire as long as he could until a machine gun took him out for good.

After a few moments they reached the entrance, Kjaro first to ascend its steps with a mad scream. "TIME TO DIE ANIMALS!" he activated his implanted sonic emanator, the words thus making the ears of the humans manning the entrance's barricade bleed. With laughter he swung his axe, maniacally turning the present rebels into a pile of dismembered limbs. There was indeed very little left for the rest, but a few people surrendering or spraying in panic to be cut down. He picked up the previously thrown chain-blade, before running inside the building.

Victor cursed, knowing that one by one Kjaro was activating rage protocols. His brain was now swimming in chemicals quadrupling his aggression and while they didn't reduce his skill, they did reduce the damn sense in him. They didn't know the environment, they should have slowly proceeded through the building clearing enemies as a team rather than quite literally charging in head first. Victor thought it was a really strange first assignment as Captain, as he saw a railgun bearing sniper blow off the hand of Kjaro who proceeded to impale the offending rebel on the stump.

The Captain was quickly thrown out of his thinking as an elevator door opened on the far end of the floor, a heavy gun poking out of its end that tore apart the first few Legionnaires that followed their officers through the entrance. Victor raised his pistol and let off a hail of his own fire at the gunner, Sergeant Kjaro clearly far too engaged in ripping through the men taking cover behind the various furnishings of the hall. As they progressed further into the building getting past offices and other amenities it seemed they were getting more and more well armed professionals. A fellow donning a beret ducked out of a pillar's cover, almost melting the Sergeant with a blast from a plasma shotgun. Kjaro ducked however, kicking the man in his right leg to get him off balance before repeatedly bringing down his axe on the fellow leaving nothing but a red slurry.

It was truly a madness - even if an arguably admirable one - that overcame the Sergeant, but it seemed to be doing well. They reached the stairwell, deciding not to use the death trap that was the elevator. They went to the second floor, and opening the door was in this case a mistake given the prepared EMP at it instantly deactivating three of the Neohumans nearest to it. Screams following a thrown sonic emanator revealed this to be little more than well armed rabble, however. A quick peek revealed nothing there to be the source of the skyward light. They went to the third floor, nothing initially greeting them. The Neohumans stepped forwards cautiously, until one of the Legionnaires pointed starting to shout "Over th-" before being interrupted with a burst of plasma vapourizing his head.

As one the Legionnaires turned to see shimmers of light, at which Victor pointed. "Laser fire!" he called out, prompting the Legionnaires to fire fully automatically. Many of the shots didn't hit, but they reflected off of the stealth suits guiding the next, more accurate shots. Perhaps more importantly the reflections made it easy for Kjaro to rush in and commit butchery. Two low "thwup" sounds made Victor turn, noticing a corresponding amount of his soldiers fall dead. He dropped to the ground narrowly avoiding the bullet with his name on it, though the soldier beside him did not have such luck. Victor turned, following where the hole of the bullet that missed him now embedded in the wall must have come from with his remaining eye. He took two breaths, before standing and letting off three laser bolts. He didn't hit his target but he hit his pistol, and that was good enough. He tried to shoot again, but his pistol was out of charge.

The foe was no fool and took advantage of this, rushing forth with a gargantuan survival knife drawn. The Captain parried and attempted a riposte, which was dodged. A swing was made, a third and a forth until Victor had overextended himself letting the man go ahead with his own strike. He narrowly protected his face with his hand, losing three fingers for his trouble but he made us of the man's momentum to pull at his arm, getting him off balance. A punch to the head took the warrior out of action.

With this there were only five Legionnaires left including the officers, all in varying conditions of injury.

"We can't go on like this, Captain."

"I know. We'll skip the next two floors, go to the top. It's a gamble but I reckon whatever is making that disruption, what that light nonsense comes from is up there."

"I hear you and obey Sir." Kjaro replied, rushing off up the stairs. The rest followed, seeing Kjaro fall down upon entered to the old "wait by the entrance and get them as you hear their steps" trick. But he reacted quickly rolling over to stab the soldier at the door with his stump arm, getting up and yet again rushing into the fray. A machine gun kept the rest of the Legionnaires pinned by the door, until a rad grenade was thrown prompting the fire to be silenced. Rushing through, another railgun armed sniper fired and with one shot took two Reislaufers lives. He was about to fire at the Sergeant, but thinking quick he spat in the man's eyes. It was only a moment of relief but a moment was all Kjaro needed to behead the outdated. Victor's life was narrowly saved by his comrade who fired full auto at another sniper he noticed, but he couldn't save himself.

He dropped, and Victor with him to look at the impact and exit wound. Out of his own grenades Victor unclipped those of the fallen Legionnaire, throwing a three in the general area of the marksman to the sound of convulsions on the ground which meant he hit his mark. Victor and Kjaro were the only ones left, and they knew it. They reached a doorway, and with a nod to each other breached it. A grenade was waiting for them, the blast from which sent Victor airborne with his head getting smashed against a wall, whilst taking a leg off of Kjaro. “Tis but a scratch!” the Sergeant roared, hopping on with only a leg to propel him as if he still had both. He brought his axe down on one of the rebels, whilst a shotgun slug ripped his jaw off. Sergeant Kjaro punished the man with death, before hopping over to help up Victor. “I think this is where I take a break, Sir.” He said - or rather tried to with his missing jaw - before falling down.

“Mad bastard.” Victor said, getting himself upright. He gave a kick to the fallen Sergeant, the man even sans consciousness growling at the offence. Well, he’d done solo missions before, right? This was no different! Of course he hadn’t lost an eye and fingers then, but he was a lot more experienced now to compensate. Hopefully that would even things out….

Victor opened the next door, seeing something amazing. There were three people hovering around a great glow emanating from the floor, one that seemed to go through the roof. This, this was it. “Stop!” he demanded, firing his pistol at the people that were now quite clearly psychics. They had a shield of some sort by virtue of their power, and so he lowered the weapon. He revved the motor of his chainblade, before charging at the nearest one. About to bring the sword down on the psychic he was stopped, he quarry turning around to fling lightning from his fingertips. Victor’s head felt like it was imploding, warnings from every single system flashed in his display and flesh all over him was scorched. But he pushed through, he knew if he stepped back that was the end of him, the end of Kjaro, the end of his comrades. A wail of both fury and pain came from the Captain’s throat, before he took the last step and slashed the psionic man with the very tip of his weapon. It was still enough to diagonally split the man open, and give Victor just for a moment the same squeamish feeling his outdated ancestors got when seeing a still beating heart and smelling the insides of a split stomach. He raised his pistol to blow a perfect hole through the head of one of the psychics, but the last flung his pistol from his hands with a flick of her wrist. She stopped hovering, one hand having arcs of electricity coming from it whilst the second seemed to be holding something. If Victor concentrated, he could just about make out a transparent spear of some sort. “Damn.” He muttered ducking under an attempt to skewer him with it and lashing out with his sword. The woman before him battered the sword away with the weightless spear of psionics, sliding it forward in the same action to try stab the Captain whilst using the electricity from her other hand to make him lose his balance. He let himself fall, catching a gash across his shoulder but falling to her feet. Lashing out with one hand he got an ankle firmly in his grip and squeezed, a crunching noise followed by a shriek. She stayed upright stepping on his head with her good leg but this proved to have little effect on the Neohuman given it had just a simple shoe on it. He rolled aside getting her to finally fall, and both scrambled away before getting themselves upright. Again she tried to stab him but now conscious of the very material properties of the spear he went to grab it… only to have it take off yet another finger. In truth neither party was prepared for this, but Victor reacted quicker sending out his other hand bawled into a fest at the woman’s arm. Pulling it back he saw blood, but he failed to follow it up with another punch as his opponent’s psychic current struck him, and held him in place. She made use of this opportunity and threw the spear, the ethereal projectile leaving a very material hole in the man. He fell, closing his eyes in resignation. Then he opened them, in his periphery having caught sight of his pistol.

The weapon was raised with a joyous laugh from the Captain, training its sights right on the woman’s forehead. “End it.” she said, her head lowering in the resignation Victor felt moments ago. It was now he noticed she was a young lass, no more than seventeen though likely less. A local, not some specialist brought along by whatever commandos were here. “No.” Captain Tarau said. She raised her head, incomprehension all over her face. “No, I don’t think I will. Instead, how would you like it if I offered you a new life? A better one.”

“What?” she exclaimed, confusion all over her voice. “Exactly what I said.” He replied, a grin from cheek to cheek on his face. “Become one of us. A new life. No poverty, no illness, your skills would be used carefully, enhanced. You would be a pillar of society, not something to throw away in a hopeless little revolution.”: She opened her mouth, unable to frame a proper reply which signalled the Captain to continue. “All the other people in this building are dead or subdued. Don’t become one of them.” He said, waving his pistol about meaningfully.

“Okay.” She said, shrugging. Clearly the use of her powers had drained her and removed much of her will to resist; he could see it in the popping veins and paleness of her initially fairly tan skin. Victor laughed ecstatically, almost spasming from joy. “Good, good. My pistol was dry.” He said, and noticing the dilation of her pupils quickly slapped a new magazine in. Just in case.

“Good, yes. If you could then just stop all the glowy blue business?” he continued, motioning to the still present glow.

“Oh, err, yes.” The psychic replied, waving a hand to have the glow disappear. “Thank you.” She said, before collapsing.

With the light gone, Tarau was able to make contact with his ship and call for support, which in moments arrived. Two fighters gently glided down from the sky, and then upon the floors the Neohumans missed let loose a barrage of laser fire through the windows to end any resistance remaining. But Victor wasn’t done for today. He sprinted back to the first floor, looking amongst the fallen for a man he remembered wasn’t quite there yet. Another person with a beret- black and unmarked now he paid attention - was still breathing. He tapped him on the chin, before giving a slap to get him to consciousness. “Who are you.” He demanded. “What?” the man said, all in a state of delirium given by his blood loss that was in minutes going to be fatal. “Just let me die.” he muttered whilst shivering.

“I can’t do that.”

“Well that’s too bad, I’m not saying shit.”

Victor looked down at the hand of the man, before placing a super-heated nail upon one of the man’s nerves. He yelped, cursing before muttering something of compliance.

“Where do you come from.”


Victor paused, noticing the slightest tell in the man’s eyes. He wasn’t lying, but he wasn’t telling the whole truth.

“What citizenship do you hold.”


“Who do you serve.”

“My home, and the people of this world.”

Victor was about to ask another question, but a feint smile on the man’s lips and movement of a hand prompted him to look down. The man had pulled a pin in a grenade, and while Victor got far enough away to not get any harm, he also got far enough away to get a nice free nap for a while. Well his first mission was done, and that was enough. He’d be going back to the periphery for a while, a good break from this shit.
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Hidden 4 days ago Post by Mao Mao
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Mao Mao Sheriff of Pure Hearts

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Airwave Building

Ylaso // Elia

After taking a lift on the private elevator, the trio stood in front of a secured door. The man ordered both Bernard and Baxter to grant them access. They refused until their lives were threatened once again, which made them comply. The door opened up to reveal massive production lines hidden beneath the city, confirming the rumors. Now, there was the matter of the guest since they had outlived their usefulness. Bernard remained silent while treating his injured foot while Baxter was curled up in a ball. None of them were innocent.

For example, Bernard laid off thousands of workers while raking in millions of credits. Baxter got into her current position by having an affair with her bosses and getting others ahead of her fired. The man already had decided their fates. He approached them and ordered them into the elevator while pointing the pistol at them. Bernard looked at him and said with a sigh of irritation, "You already have everything. What do you want now!?"

"Justice." The man answered.


"Yes." He walked towards Bernard and pointed the gun at his chest. "Justice for those that you have wronged. Those that were cheated. Those that have to live in this world that you and your friends created. And it starts now."

And with that, Bernard was shoved into the elevator and watched as Baxter joined him inside. He made one last attempt to escape, but the door shut in front of him. Then, it started moving up. They thought that freedom was near until it didn't stop. Bernard tried to stop the elevator, but nothing happened. It was when the doors finally opened to reveal the lobby filled with angry protesters. Both of them started to panic once the crowd saw them and began advancing towards them. Baxter tried to close the doors but it still wasn't working. When the crowd got closer, she and Bernard tried to beg for their lives.

But nobody cared.

Ylaso // Elia

Temprary Police Headquarters

Footage of protesters storming the Airwave Building began airing on several screens in the headquarters. Commissioner Lawrence watched smoke coming out of several floors in disbelief as General Griffiths was in the middle of a phone call. He went to establish communication with Chief Superintendent Rory Dawson, who was on the field. But, Griffiths stood in front of him after her phone call. She asked him, "What are you going to do?"

"I need to see what the Chief Superintendent is planning on doing." Lawrence responded honestly.

"I'm afraid that you can't do that anymore."


"You have failed your duties as commissioner of the Ylaso Police Department. And after talking to the Royal Family, they agree with me and want to personally meet you." General Griffiths explained while two soldiers entered the headquarters with the intent to arrest Lawrence. He backed away and resisted arrest while pledging to do better; however, she ordered the soldiers to take him away. Everyone else in the room was shocked that their commissioner had been fired and arrested. Meanwhile, Griffiths stepped towards the hologram table and announced.

"I will be the acting commissioner until this... protest ends. For now on, I want to be updated on everything and everyone. I promise you that order will be restored, and those insurgents will be punished."

Airwave Building - Underground Factory

Ylaso // Elia

The man turned away from the elevator and went towards the production lines. He started to inspect everything to see if it was going to work. The other man took off his mask and threw it into the bin before following him. He started typing out something onto his augmented arm at lightning speed and then sent it to 'Dusky.' Afterward, he followed his friend further into the factory before finding the office belonging to the CEO. Well, former CEO. Both men headed straight for the computer and began hacking into it. "I hope we find something juicy."

"Even if we don't, we have enough for the sunrise." The man proclaimed before taking off his mask, revealing an early twenties man.

"Liberator! Savior!" A familiar voice called out to them. "Aren't you going to give me the grand tour of my upgraded workshop?"

Savior went to meet their friend, Creator, standing outside of the facility with their arms crossed and a smirk. They were impressed that the rumors were actually true, but it was bigger than expected. Perfect for making a shit ton of drones designed by them. "Congrats on securing the prize, mate. I never thought we would be standing here. Or that the "beloved" CEO would hide something so secretive under us. What a shocking revelation!"

"Good thing you just got here in time to see what he was hiding." Savior guided them to the office and rushed over towards Liberator, hugging him from the behind. It was rather odd that it was easy to hack, but Bernard probably thought that no one dangerous was ever setting foot here. That was he got from not investing in essential cybersecurity for the underground part of his business. So far, he was scrolling pass emails and notes with a lack of interest. Savior asked with curiosity, "What have you found, babe?"

"Nothing exciting." Liberator answered.

"Of course, you would say that." Creator stated to their friend before shoving him out of their brand new chair. They took a seat in it and began reading the emails, realizing that there an exciting discussion taking place. It confirmed that the Royal Family was working with Airwave to deal with the growing protest by producing drones approved by them. One of them was designed to drop gas onto Elliot Square to get rid of the occupiers ensuring their arrest. Another was made for gathering identities of protesters and sending them to the police to guarantee arrest and punishment for going against the monarchy. They pulled out a device from their pocket and set it on the computer, which started making copies of everything.

"Well, I have a lot of stuff to sort out." Creator said with excitement in their voice and turned to Liberator and Savior. "I'll call you guys once I start up the lines, and then I can show you what I have found in this goldmine."

With that, Liberator and Savior headed back to the surface and plan out for the future of this movement.

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Hidden 3 days ago 3 days ago Post by AdorableSaucer
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AdorableSaucer Blessed Beekeeper

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Raygon 8 - Leisure District, aka. New Macau.

BT-Block K376-001-019 “Laogui” Lane - 250m from nearest HappyBurger™.


Name: George Christian Wellsley, aka. G.C. Willy.

Age: 27 cycles around Raygon 0.

Residence: BT-Block L102-071-010, “Moonlit Gardens” flat 10.

Occupation: Drone Mechanic.

The Bottom Tiers - the place where dreams come to die, rot and rise again as nightmarish spectres out for the blood of their makers. Among all adjectives in every language spoken on Raygon 8, there would probably only be about six that could describe this part of the city as even remotely pleasant - and even that would require vastly different contexts. Ancient sewer and water pipes still in use despite centuries of neglect line the walls, the roofs, the pavement - everywhere, bringing the piss and shit of every class both high and low to the waste processing centres riiiiiight over there. Not that it would matter much anyway where it went; most of it ends up on these streets from the looks of it.

However, if you can ignore the stink (or your nostrils have been seared shut by it already), it wouldn’t take long for you to notice what was living in the muck, anyway. For the muck isn’t even close to the worst - that would be whoever or whatever’s rolled so low with the dice of fate that they’d end up down here. That’s right, lining the streets are beggars by the millions, kneeling shoulder to shoulder with their code bricks presented, just in case someone feels generous enough to donate. Fool’s hope, if you ask me.

“Spending money” is a dream down here. Whoever’s got extra to spare after rent and subs would soon hear a knock on the door and be greeted by a pair of grinning mugs, flexing and unflexing their palms in a beckoning manner. I know a couple who’ve ended up sleeping in the gutter for saying no - they’re the lucky ones. The unlucky ones, well… Ever heard of corpse starch?

… But I’m getting off track. Where was I… Right, Hell - I mean, the Bottom Tiers. First rule down here is that there ain’t no rules - non, zip, nada. It’s every ape for himself down here, and to think otherwise is to wave goodbye to any ticket out of here. Only norms exist around here, and they’re for your own safety. First one: Don’t get close to anyone - and I do mean anyone. As soon as you form any kind of relationship, someone’s going to take advantage of it: Girlfriend? Woops, guess she just got snatched up by the mob, huh; family? Hit by a truck; even your employer might just get his head mounted on a lamp in the parking lot for trying to avoid his debt to big Addy. Boom! Out of work, out of love and maybe just out of will to live, too, huh.

Only money means anything down here - it’s your status, your power, your clothes, your house, your motherfucking ID. Not even joking, flashing the cops your card has more value than any interstellar passport. Money gets you love, protection, comfort - maybe even a ticket up. It’ll cost you, but from what I’ve heard, the centre’s actually liveable.

Laogui Lane… It ain’t my block, but it’s more home to me than Moonlit Gardens’ll ever be. Here, booze is cheap and won’t actually kill you from the inside (right away), and the ladies have at least a basic concept of hygiene. Still, I recommend going for Cybes above anything else - they usually got internal cleaning mechanisms that make them pretty safe. Sure, they don’t show much emotion during the act, but some like that, too. Not saying I do, but hey, I won’t judge.

Right, so who am I, exactly? Name’s George Christian Wellsley. I’m technically still a drone mechanic, but I haven’t been much at work lately. The reason? I’m in deep, deep shit.

Okay, so I may or may not have a pretty bad gambling problem. That’s not important right now. What -is- important is that I may or may not have spent my family’s savings down to the last credit. I tried to explain to my wife that I was really sure black was the winning colour, but she didn’t wanna hear it. Last I heard, she’s living with her sister over in block E somewhere. Haven’t seen her for a few years now, actually. Shit. But, uh, yeah, anyway, so I had to win it back somehow, right? Well, turns out borrowing money to win back your money at the casino is a bit of a gamble (get it?), and gambles can be, well, lost. Not saying I lost this one, but I may or may not owe some people a whole lot of credits.

So you might be asking… Yo, G.C., if you’re in such deep shit, why’re you in Laogui Lane drinking your credits away? Yeah? Well, to that I say…

“Ook!” George suddenly whooped angrily and raised his fist high into the air. A passed out Raygonian lifted his groggy face off the bar and scowled at the ape.

“The fuck you just call me, furball?”

George turned and scowled back, not because he was annoyed, but because the grog was making it difficult to see. The booming music didn’t help much either, the sound alone nearly knocking him out. The ape clapped his hands together, grunted, pointed in several directions and ooked again. The Raygonian snorted, his six nose rings dancing around his flaring nostrils.

“Fuck you mean ‘had a moment’? You on something bad, squirt?” he pursed his lips. “... Wouldn’t happen to have anymore, would ya?”

George frowned and shrugged, shaking his head. The Raygonian sighed through vibrating lips. “And here I was hoping for something fun tonight…” With that, he lifted his enormous body off the tortured bar stool and stomped off on his round, flat feet, tankard of grog in hand. George blinked a few times, then rubbed his eyes. How long had he been here, actually? He prodded the band on his arm and watched the familiar holographic display appear before him. After swiping away the ads, he saw the time: 03:49 AM. Jesus, he’d been here a long-ass time. He tapped the bar counter twice and another hologram appeared before him, this one of a beautiful human lady with mechanical augments, dressed in a loose white shirt and suit pants. She stood behind the counter and gave him a small smile.

“Yes, mr. Wellsley, would you like anything else?”

“Ook-ook,” George answered with a shrug and tapped his right middle and index finger against his thumb.

“Very good, mr. Wellsley,” the hologram answered and held her hand. A holographic bill materialised in it for Wellsley to take. The ape peered at the number at the bottom, grimacing a little. He reluctantly tapped the wristband on the bill, sounding a light ‘pling!’ The bartender smiled.

“Thank you for your patronage, mr. Wellsley. We hope to see you again soon.” With that, she disappeared again. George chugged down the rest of his grog and cringed at the consistency. Bottom-tier grog was ironically the most palatable drink down here - at least if you didn’t want to go blind the next day (never try the tequila). Sadly, it had an unfortunate habit of separating, making the bottom less of a drink consistency and more of a chewy gum. Still, at least it helped him forget that he actually lived down here. He hopped off his stool, allowed himself a few moments to stabilise and started heading towards the exit. His intoxicated eyes caught a number of sights on the way: a flock of hookers, a group of stoners surrounding a shisha, the mob…

Oh shit, the mob.

Before George could run, four heavybuilt Quroks had already surrounded him, their faces stern as always. Two of them made very certain to block any and all paths leading to the door. George swallowed - hiring Quroks to serve as your brawlers? That’s expensive as shit - just who had he caught the attention of?

“Heeey! George, right? George Wellsley?”

The sleazy voice was unfamiliar to him, but it couldn’t belong to a friend of his - he didn’t have any! Reluctantly, he turned around to face a human, or possibly a cybe, dressed in a stylish golden suit with a plastic rose in his right chest pocket. He wore star-shaped glasses which glass beamed an intense white light - antishades, as they were called. Those were pretty expensive down here. He sat in a couch, flanked on each side by ladies off different species - one at least fifty percent human and one Cala. The Cala winked playfully at George as she fed the man a gummy grape. Shit, candy? Man must’ve been rolling in dough.

“That’s your name, right? Or is your profile picture a little…” He eyed the holographic display over his wristband, which currently showed George’s Mi-Self page. “... Outdated?”

George frowned. “Ook,” he went and gave him a thumb-up. The man clapped his hands and beckoned him over.

“Oh, that’s great, that’s great! Hey, why don’t you take a seat right over here, mr. Wellsley - I do believe you and I’ve got some business to discuss.”

George stole a moment to eye the door. All he caught in his glance was the clenching and unclenching fist of one of the Quroks. He looked up at the owner, who gave him a challenging frown. He’d be sleeping deeper than the gutter if he tried to get out of this one. Reluctantly, George made his way over to the man’s table. One of the Quroks pulled out a chair for him and the ape sat down. The man extended a robotic hand, palm open in invitation.

“A pleasure to meet you, mr. Wellsley. I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a while - shame time’s never been quite right.”

George shook the hand as politely as he could. A moment passed before he frowned, tapped the middle and index finger of his right hand against the same fingers on his left and pointed at the man. The man’s smile tightened into a slightly more polite expression.

“Oh, I’m simply known as Shawn. No need to be polite about it, though - just Shawn’s alright.”

Shawn. Had to be a new player in the game. George had no recollection of the same, and he liked to believe he frequented the exact kind of areas where he’d hear the name of this kind of character. Shawn tapped the right side of his glasses and the intense light dimmed considerably to fit the sorry excuse for lighting inside the bar.

“So,” he began, “I reckon you must be pretty curious as to why I called you over. Well, see, I’ve got a story for you. Would you like a drink, by the way?”

George was quick to wave his hands in denial, but Shawn just grinned. “Oh, come on, what’d I say about being so polite?” He tapped twice the tabletop between the couch and George’s chair. Instantly, the bartender’s hologram popped up next to the table, bowed politely and cocked her head playfully to the side.

“Good evening, Shawn. What would you like me to bring?”

Before George could protest, Shawn raised a finger to silence him, still wearing his eerie smile. “Bring us a flask of champagne extract - I’m thinking the Veuve. The ladies would also like another fruit gum plate.”

“A wonderful choice, Shawn,” the bartender praised with another bow and disappeared. George felt sweat moisten his forehead. Veuve fucking Clicquot?! A single bottle cost more than his whole debt. Even if it was extract, one could almost buy a shitty flat in the centre with the money earned from selling a few of those. Forget his business with him - all Shawn had to do now would be to leave George with the bill and the ape’d be screwed for life. A moment later, a hatch on the table slid aside slowly to reveal a rising plate carrying four champagne glasses, a wide plate of fruit gums, and a bottle labeled Veuve Clicquot. George knew it wasn’t the actual brand that had once existed back on Earth - the patent for the name had long since been given away. A mechanical arm attached to the table uncorked the bottle and poured the glasses half-full. The ladies each took a glass and smiled at each other; Shawn took one for himself and offered one to George, who accepted it with a quivering hand.

“Well, then - a toast?”

“Cheers!” the girls sang out together and clinked their glasses together with Shawn’s. George timidly raised his own and took a sip. Christ, that was good: The fizzy tickle of bubbles pricking the top of his mouth; the gentle sweetness and sour tanginess that lingered in his mouth before he swallowed; the satisfying aftertaste. He could never go back to grog after this.

“How is it?” Shawn asked with a smile. George raised a quivering thumb and Shawn chuckled. “Yeah, it’s not bad. That’s why I really like this bar - it has amazing drinks for being a bottom tier establishment. It preserves the soul of this society without losing the quality of its accomplishments - nothing like the endless noise and booming of the top tier clubs.”

George nearly spat out his drink. This guy was from, from, from the top?! Shawn flashed him another smile.

“Surprised? In truth, I don’t come down here very often, so I don’t blame you for not seeing it right away. For all you know, I could’ve just been really high up in the mob. What’s the name of the local gang? Shadow Moon Triads?”

It was Dark Sky Triads, actually, but his name had a better ring to it, George admitted.

“... I suppose I could’ve been. However, I am not. Can you take a guess as to what organisation I represent?”

The ape shook his head and shrugged. Shawn sighed through his smile.

“Really? Not even going to try? Come on, come on - make a guess.”

George finished his glass and set it down on the table. The mechanical hand filled it right back up. The ape made a fist with the thumb pointing upwards, then flattened his palm vertically with the thumb resting against its centre. Shawn chuckled.

“No, I’m not with Adamantium, you can relax. Come on, try again.”

George made a crescent with his right hand and hammered his chest with it. Shawn shook his head.

“I’m not a cop, either.” He snickered and drank some more champagne. He extracted a silver case from his chest pocket, opened it and took out a cigarillo. He cut off the tip with a cigar cutter, stuck the uncut end into his mouth and leaned over to the Cala lady, who sensually lit the cut end with a rusty lighter. Shawn inhaled, held his breath for a second and exhaled a plume of gray smoke that somehow smelled like smoked vanilla. “Alright, mr. Wellsley, I’ll stop playing around. I work for an organisation called Possible. My job, you see, is to make my clients’ wishes happen. In truth, I represent a client who for now would like to remain anonymous. Worry not, this particular client has no business with you, personally, but his wish requires a certain finesse that’s so hard to find around these parts.”

George couldn’t help but be curious. He grunted, shrugged with his hands out to the side, then tapped his forehead before moving that hand away from his skull, flexing the index finger. Shawn nodded.

“My client’s wish, mr. Wellsley, is rule this part of town by the end of the year. They are quite close already, but a little something remains. Can you guess what that is?”

George shrugged. Shawn huffed.

“Alright. My, still so polite. The remaining facility key to total takeover is the local security drone station - the one owned by Gala-Grid.”

George’s eyes blasted open - any trace of intoxication in his body vanished without a trace, replaced by pure adrenaline. He nearly fell out of his chair, and one of the Quroks reached down to reseat him properly. The ape knew where this was going - oh, did he know. Oh, sure, he knew drones inside and out, especially security bots. Hacking a bunch and overthrowing any station was in theory a piece of cake and happened on and off every year. Gala-Grid, though… No way. No way, no way, no way. It was way too big - the largest company in the country, perhaps even in the sector. If he hacked their bots, they’d know. They’d know, and he’d be a dead ape - no, even death couldn’t adequately describe what would happen to him if he got caught meddling with Gala-Grid’s business. In fact, even discussing this out loud could get him shot.

George looked over each shoulder, then down at his wristband - however, he noticed something seemed odd about it. Shawn waved a hand soothingly and blew another plume of smoke. “Relaaax, mr. Wellsley,” he said and extracted his cigarillo tin again. That’s when George noticed it had a slight dent on the top. Shawn put it back in his pocket and dabbed the cigarillo on an ashtray. “Fancy, right? A cigarillo tin that doubles as a band jammer. Incredible what custom orders can get you.” He drew another lungful of smoke. The two ladies had moved to the end of the couch to chat. “Mr. Wellsley, your reaction is understandable. Gala-Grid is perhaps a few magnitudes above the target of a usual heist…”


“... But if I am not mistaken, you are in a bit of trouble already, are you not?”

There it was. George had been waiting for it. Nothing ever came for free down here, and whatever dirt someone had on you could and would be used against you. Reluctantly, George nodded.

“How much do you owe?” asked Shawn and tapped the cigarillo on the tray once more.

George swallowed and held up five fingers, then crossed his index and middle finger. Shawn nodded.

“Fifty grand, huh? Wow, you must’ve been confident in your dice.” Shawn snickered almost mockingly. George shrank down into his chair. However, Shawn noticed his expression and let out a single chuckle. “Hey, cheer up, old boy. If you decide to take on this little assignment, you can consider the debt paid.”

George blinked. ”Ook?!”

“Oh, yes. By tomorrow, at the latest. The transfer should be instantaneous, but you never know down here.”

George couldn’t believe his ears. He frowned, held up his palm next to the side of his head and, palm facing his skull, flexed his middle finger. Shawn lifted his champagne glass in a toast and deposited the cigarillo butt in the ashtray.

“Mr. Wellsley, I did say it’s my job to fulfill my clients’ wishes. Consider it an early investment into your future career. Who knows - maybe this will be the first of many jobs you will do for us?” He tapped the table again and the bartender reappeared.

“Yes, Shawn? Would you like anything else?”

“No, thank you, I believe we’re done here.”

The bartender smiled and bowed. “Of course, Shawn. That’ll be seventeen thousand, six-hundred and fifty-eight credits, please.” A holographic bill appeared in her palm as before. George didn’t even know her A.I. could pronounce such colossal numbers. Without even a hint of reluctance, Shawn tapped the bill with his wristband, which sounded the familiar ‘pling!’. The bill disappeared.

“Thank you, Shawn. Have a nice evening!” the bartender said and disappeared as well. Shawn rose to his feet and two of the Quroks approached him from his flanks. One dressed him in a thick coat with furry hems and a thick mane, all made from the hair of alien animals, no doubt; the other fastened a stylish mask to Shawn’s face, tapped a button on the side and stepped back. Shawn took a deep breath with closed eyes and exhaled, his voice autotuned due to the mask. He activated his light glasses again.

“Ah… Fresh air.” He looked back down at George. “I would like to point out, mr. Wellsley, that we do much more than simply pay off debts. If you prove to be a worthy asset to our organisation, then next might be a house in the centre? A personal ship, perhaps?” The man shrugged playfully. “Well, then. We expect much from you. Good luck, now!”

George sat in the bar for an extra period of time - he had no idea how long. He, he was cleared - cleared of debt. Or was he, actually? Could he trust Shawn? And what would actually happen if he refused? What if he chose not to sabotage the station? Would those Quroks come after him and leave him in some ditch?

And what if he chose to comply? How would he live after getting into trouble with Gala-Grid? Would Shawn get him some security? Doubt he would. Was it even possible to sack such a station without the owners noticing the perpetrator?

The risk was immense - and so was the payoff. George reached for the smoldering butt of the cigarillo. He brought it to his lips and took as deep a drag as he could, scowling into the air. As he exhaled, he pursed his lips.

He would need time to plan this.

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Hidden 3 days ago 3 days ago Post by Wernher
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Zion Space
Core World of Ascalon
City of Sichem

Zion did not have any official capital, but Sichem was the closest there was to one, it was the first city and in it was the Hill of Zion and on it, the Fourth Temple built by Ysaak and Patrick, leaders of the tribes of Israel and Ireland. It was nothing like the usual capital worlds of the sector, vertical hellholes of poverty that tried to maximize every inch of space available. At one point of course it had been as badly designed as them of course, but a century ago the Federation had bombed and occupied the entire thing. After this, the inhabitants of Sichem used the opportunity to better rebuild their city with a new network of trams and metros, agreeing to forgo the use of individual cars save for a taxi network of ground and flying vehicles ferrying emergency transports for a hefty penny. It was amazing how efficient the whole thing was considering how Sichem was much more horizontal than vertical as said.

Adrian Rubinski smiled widely as he emerged from the underground of the metro after his ride from the space port. He always appreciated his home city more after every trip he took outside Zion but especially after a trip on Raygon! The tall, dark haired man took a deep breath of actual non-polluted air and walked with enthusiasm toward a flower shop near-by.

"Shalom and welcome to... Adrian! You're finally back!"

A red headed middle aged man with thick glasses rose his head from behind a row of flowers. Keith, the husband of the daughter of one of Adrian second degree cousin and also the godfather of his third sister's fourth born. (Someone close, in short.) Both walked toward each other and gave each other a firm and enthusiastic handshake, almost immediately, Keith recoiled a little, an amused and disgusted expression on his face.

"Elohim's grace Adrian, where have you been? You smell like a sewer!"

Damn it, Adrian had changed clothes since he had arrived home but didn't have a spare coat.

"I went to meet someone on Raygon, that why."

The pair exchanged a few words, one about his travels and the other about how the extended family was going. All the while Keith happily prepared a bouquet as he always did when Adrian returned from his travels, a present for his wife to apology being gone for so long. Such however was the life of a Financial Inspector. The Rubinski bank couldn't just loan money on people's words, someone had to go on the ground to make sure certain suspicious individuals, like this 'cult leader' on Raygon, were solvent. In the end when Keith's wife came out to announce food was ready, it reminded Adrian he also had dinner with his family. He took the flowers and left running. He didn't pay but Keith didn't mind, knowing his friend would pay him back next time even if he just had his word that he had ran off without paying.

When the elevator finally stopped on the floor of the flat of his father, Adrian quickly stormed inside. His youngest brother, who was at 16 years of age as old as Adrian's own oldest boy, smiled and was about to call out his name but with a wink and a finger across his lips Adrian signaled him to be quiet as he removed his shoes and coat. Tip toeing to the dining room, he saw facing him his mother and grand mother along with more siblings who's eyes illuminated with joy. The rest had began to turn wondering what it was that their kin had seen but Adrian was quick enough to embrace his wife from behind, presenting her his flowers and kissing her on the neck as he did.

The beautiful brunette turned around to see her husband for the first time in weeks.

"Welcome home, my love."

This was echoed by everyone in the room (grand father, grand mother, father, mother, two sisters and a brother of Adrian who still lived there along with Adrian's own 6 children who were visiting) enthusiastically welcoming Adrian back.


It had been hard for Adrian to hold back his tears when he bit down the home cooking of both his wife and mother (His grand mother wasn't in a state to cook anymore), feeling like he had forgotten the taste of real home made food after weeks of a diet of on-the-go processed meals on Raygon. Not only that, but just to see how blessed he was, a happy family, his 8 year old son's biggest concern in life being trying to discard his veggies without being seen... All of them shielded from the horrors in the rest of the sector. Only once did things get awkward, when the subject approached Vincent...

Vincent was one of Adrian's uncle and a man who had always been less... enthusiastic about the current system. He didn't understand how all of this was possible only as long as everyone played their part in the system, without protest. He thus had been made an unperson. One of the grittier and darker part of this perfect world they lived in, but one Adrian was willing to ignore if this meant Zion continued to be an oasis of civility and joy in a dark cosmic sea of despair.

With the meal concluded, Adrian got up with everyone else with the intend to continue the traditions as they were, bringing the dishes in the kitchen for the women to do before going to the living room and talk with the men. As he reached for his plates however an old wrinkled hand reached from across the table. He raised his eyes to see his grand father, 145 year old Reuben, look at him with unusual seriousness. The old man made a chin movement toward the corridor before letting go of Adrian's sleeve. Taking the message, he nodded and moved not to the corridor, but around the table to help the old man who walked around using nothing but a cane while it was obvious he could use a wheel chair.

"Don't you think its time for you to let us help you Reuben?"

Adrian said softly as he allowed his old man to hold his arm for support as the both of them moved away from the group who understood the old man probably had something important to talk about with Adrian.

"It'll be time for me to be burried when Elohim sends me flying down a flight of stairs. What, do I look like an old man?"

Reuben asked with a smirk to his grand son who answered with sigh. He soon led him to another room, the office had had been his and was now his eldest son's and Adrian's father. The old man sat down on the large leather chair and was silent for a moment as he looked at his grand son. Adrian was about to sit down as well but noticed that his elder didn't invite him to sit which was... abnormal. He thus remained on his feet, curious about what this was about.

"Adrian... I need you to go take care of a problem. On Negev."

He raised an eyebrow, incredulous. Negev? As in the frontier world? Adrian had gone on the frontier only twice before, to see family, but his zone of operation was the core really. Another strange thing, Reuben was supposed to be retired it was Adrian's father now who headed the bank. Adrian was about to ask what this was about, but the old man spoke before he could.

"You'll remember Shimon? The sixth son of your great aunt Agatha? Well... He disappeared. With his entire village."

This actually raised more questions.

"This is... terrible news. But, I'm not..."

"An investigator?"

Asked an amused Reuben before continuing.

"We don't have a police you know that. This is an usual situation and someone who knows how to find what's fishy with things is needed. Someone inquisitive who knows how to deal with outsiders and make sure the whole situation in the frontier is solved."

Reuben made sign for his grand son to sit, which he did as he rubbed his temples, not certain of what to say, this seemed out of his area of expertise and above all it sounded dangerous.

"And what is the 'whole situation' as you say?"

Reuben nodded and leaned on the desk toward Adrian.

"Its all unofficial of course, but we have dealings with certain shady organizations. Among them, the Black Sun."

"Black Sun?!" Adrian repeated almost strangling himself saying it as his eyes widened. In resignation, Reuben nodded.

"Yes. You've heard of them as I can see and I have no doubt at least half of what people say about them is true, but you know how we work... better have friendly dealings with someone rather than putting ourselves on their target list. So, they have a base on Negev, I have no idea of the extent of it, but the deal was that while they can do business there and we provide each other with... services, well, they leave our people alone. Now however, people and places just... vanish in the night. Not only that, but I get reports that other people are interested in what's going on in the frontier. The Federation sent a battle carrier with a special investigator of sort on board. I don't need to tell you how bad it would be if we were linked to whatever it is is happening in the deep dark recesses of the sector."

This was bad business, Adrian knew it. Who made that deal? It seemed just so damn risky. But Reuben was right, there was a lot of potential for things to go wrong here.

"So... you want me to go there and... what? Isn't that stepping in the shoes of the Protector Elect of Negev?"

Reuben shook his head negatively and took out what seemed like a worn out white key card, the cheap kind without any company name that a shitty motel would use as a throw-away. It seemed well worn out and something had been scribbled in Hebrew on it but had been removed with cleaning products and a lot of rubbing with a napkin no doubt.

"Don't worry about the Protector, and take this, for funds."

With a surprised look on his face, Adrian reached for the card.

"Is this..."

Reuben waved dismissively but still had a proud smirk on his face.

"A Temple Bank card."

The 'Bank of the Temple' was an euphemism for the entire Zionist banking apparatus working together as one. In practical term this meant that the encryptions on this card allowed for banking transactions being made in every Zionist outlet across the sector. The eyes of Adrian widened as he realized this meant that his grand father, Reuben, was someone very powerful with many more powerful connections. Part of a certain Cabal, one might say.

"You leave tonight."

Reuben knew his grand son would accept but this did put a damper on what little enthusiasm Adrian had.

"Tonight? But I just arrived! My wife..."

Getting up, Reuben reached forward to put his hand on Adrian's shoulder in silence. After a moment, Adrian nodded and got up, shoulders slopped down as he moved toward the Kitchen to look at his wife as she helped his aging mother with the dishes. After a moment, the brunette noticed her husband and the look on his face. Her smile left her face and she sighed, placing down a glass before walking toward Adrian. Mustering her strength, she forced a smile before looking up to her love.

"Come back soon Adrian, ok? I'll make you some beef stroganoff just how you like it next time."


TL;DR: Everything is nice and wholesome on Zion, Adrian discovers his grand father is part of the secret cabal, the invisible hand that guides Zion and is tasked with investigating abductions in the frontier while obfuscating the relation between the Black Sun and Zion to the rest of the sector.
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Hidden 2 days ago 1 day ago Post by ZAVAZggg
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Location: UIC Space - Hera.

Issoth watched, with mild interest, as the sea of green vegetation below him writhed in irritation from their ships passing. He'd heard a lot of things about this place, most of which was warnings about not entering the surrounding forest lest you find yourself at the mercy of some ravenous beast. It didn't really concern him too much though. He and his partner weren't here to go on a sightseeing trip after all. Speaking of which...

"Qell," he said telepathically. "How far out are we?"

"Couple of miles at least," she replied, her own craft following his in close pursuit. "Though with how fast we're travelling, it shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes at least."

Issoth nodded slowly as he carefully maneuvered his ship around the face of a mountain. It had been months since they'd left Iuris, having been called out by an Adjudicator stationed on Raygon, the client of whom had brought the leader of a local crime syndicate-one Ralor Vrex-before the planetary court, only to have them break free from containment a few days later. Last they'd heard their target had stolen a shuttle and used it to escape to the Frontier, specifically UIC controlled space. Issoth chuckled lightly at that. Perhaps most cluster authorities would have sat back and done nothing, wrung their hands and claimed he had too much of a head start for them to bother tracking, but not an Enforcer. No, he and Qell would follow this man to the end of the galaxy if necessary, and when they finally found him
they'd drag his sorry ass all the way back to Raygon where he belonged. If he resisted... well they had ways of dealing with that.

After all, no one would anyone care if a small time crime boss ended up dead this far away from the core.

As for tracking him, it had been painfully easy. Ralor left little pieces of evidence in every place he'd been. A recording here or a transaction there. It was almost as though the idiot had never covered his own tracks before which, all things considered, was probably the case. Knowing how big and overpopulated Raygon was, the dumb sod probably had people who did that for him. Though now that he'd landed himself in hot water with the Adjudicators, an agency his contacts couldn't threaten or pay off, they'd left him to his fate and cut all ties.

Smart move on their part.

"One mile out," Qell said, interrupting his musings. "I've already signaled the local docking authorities. We're cleared to land."

Issoth nodded. "Good. Lets find this idiot and get him back where he belongs." Flipping some switches on the console in front of him, he aligned his craft with the coordinates they'd been sent and the pair began their approach, touching down on the gleaming steel surface of a docking pad a few minutes later. Exiting their respective ships via a lowered ramp near mid-section of the craft, they moved to greet a man wearing a somewhat faded and stained looking uniform with the emblem of the UIC emblazoned across its chest section in a diagonal fashion. Once the pleasantries were out of the way and their ships secured, however, the pair immediately went about tracking down their quarry.

"Alright," Issoth said, activating his AEGIS armors footprint tracker, watching as it took the footprint they had on record and began comparing it with those in the surrounding environment to find the right set of tracks. "Lets see where you've decided to crawl off to..."

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Hidden 15 hrs ago 15 hrs ago Post by Abefroeman
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Abefroeman Truck Driver

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Attack on Duro One.

"Thank you for tuning in, this is breaking news coming to you live from Eden News Network, the premier news provider in the whole of the galaxy. I'm Karen Travers, broadcasting to you live from the heart of the New Eden Federation." The perfectly attractive blonde turns in her chair, smiling at the camera, adjusting her paperwork, before continuing.

"From the frontier world of Duro One, comes reports of a military intervention being conducted by the Kingdom of Orleans. We are being told now, from the Orleans Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this military intervention has been launched in response to the unsubstantiated reports of a military junta that had taken place on Duro One four months ago. They claim that since the military junta, widespread civil unrest, cessation of basic government services, sectarian violence, along with outlandish claims of public executions orchestrated by death squads. Here is the public statement that has since been given to the greater galaxy at the behest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs." The youthful blonde smiles once more, turning in her chair slightly as a graphic is displayed upon the screen for the viewers. She purses her lips, before reading from her own copy of the statement.

"In accordance with the Eden Accord, signed by all members states within the Eden Galaxy, the Kingdom of Orleans hereby notifies all signatory members of its lawful military intervention against the illegitimate governmental regime of President Johnathon Gray. Four months ago, he violently overthrew the democratically elected government of Governor Raymund Goldstone, seizing the capital city of Forsomet, shortly followed by seizing the entirety of the planet. President Johnathan Gray, formerly General Gray, is a brutal dictator and tyrant, having personally executed Governor Goldstone on live television, along with all his cabinet staff. Death Squads roam the planet, committing extrajudicial killings, while his paramilitary militias have taken over power and infrastructure, rendering government services inoperable, as well as having taken hostage numerous expatriates, threatening to kill them if their ransoms are not paid. President Gray threatens the stability of not only Duro One, but the Northern Frontier region as a whole. The Kingdom of Orleans will protect and defend the innocent civilians of Duro One, remove President Gray, and restore peace and order to the planet. We will keep the member states of the Eden Accord abreast of our progress and actions. - Orleans Ministry of Foreign Affairs." Karen finishes reading, turning back towards the primary camera. The bright lights upon her add to her glowing beauty.

"We will now turn it over to our special correspondent on the ground in Duro One, just outside of the capital city, Foresomet. Alan Grenson, what can you tell us all the way from Duro One, aside from how much you are enjoying the quaint nature of the Frontier?" Karen smiles, placing her hands together as the video and audio feeds were being transferred. Her teeth beamed brightly, dazzlingly clean, as the golden blonde curls flowed softly about her face. A few more terse seconds past by, before the feed finally kicked over.

The first thing the audience is greeted to is the tell tale sounds of automatic gunfire, and lots of it. The rat-tat-tat of firearms echos in the background of the metropolitan area, as a disheveled male comes on camera, clearly having been running recently. His voice is scared, tinged with panic, as he begins to speak. "The level of violence here is unprecedented. There are bodies in the streets, Karen... the local militias are fighting against one another as air attacks continue around the clock by the forces of Orleans. We have been running from safe zone to safe zone. Local sources have seriously under-reported the amount of utter devastation planet side. Multiple embassies have been overrun, and the militias loyal to President Gray have been rounding up foreigners left and right." A loud explosion resonates in the background somewhere, as two Orleans fighter planes peel off from their attack run.

Alan tries to keep moving, picking up the pace with his camera crew. Concern is apparent upon Karen's face, before being replaced by horror and shock, followed by the feed being cut, and the broadcast itself being replaced with an "Experiencing technical difficulties." The audience, before their very eyes, watched as Alan Gray and his crew were running, a missle fired from rebel forces slammed into the building right in front of the escaping news casters. Moments later, a truck roars into view, mounted with a crude machine gun, which the gunner uses to mow down the camera crew. As the camera still roles, a massive bomb is dropped on the truck, causing it to geyser into crimson flame and loud pops, right before the news feed is cut.

War on Duro One has begun, and the Kingdom of Orleans is leading the fight to depose a brutal dictator.
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Hidden 4 hrs ago Post by ClocktowerEchos
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ClocktowerEchos Professionally Asian

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Today we have finally arrived on Dathon, homeworld of the Dathu species and member of the New Eden Federation. Despite a minor engine malfunction aboard the AMS Ravenspire, some well-placed donations ensured that we were always queued at the front of any Gate lines for FTL travel. We were greeted by one Mr. Yilam Ras, a Dathu working for the Federal Department of Commerce. As per usual, a dozen or so drones and reporters hounded us for pictures and questions, for use in serious new reports or over sensationalized tabloids I do not know nor particularly care.

We entered the Tatara Towers surrounded by our small army of clerks, advisors and lackies where we were treated a special meal at the penthouse offices before we were to move to the public conference rooms for negotiations. I must admit that while our accommodations aboard the AMS Ravenspire were certainly not lacking, I will never tire of sampling the best the galaxy has too offer. The meal consisted of a Dathon Horned Mugut Steak (a cattle-like creature with a set of four large horns on its head), a light spring salad of local water greens, a Gelberry Custard and Tommy Hawker’s Black Label Reserve Whiskey (courtesy of us of course). I joked that I would be willing to sell him everything I could in exchange for the recipe for that Gelberry Custard, Mr. Ras quipped back that it would take more than my own Stock Share in Atlas for it.

Upon finishing our meals and pleasantries, we moved to the grand conference room that had been all nicely set up with flowers and flags. And cameras. Lots and lots of cameras. Every day I feel glad I paid for those public speaking courses at the academy. Our talks, as largely ceremonial as they were as most of the terms had been agreed upon earlier, where still quite conductive and interesting. In the end, we agreed upon the following conditions:

  • The Atlas Corporation is to finance and deliver materials needed for the construction, expansion and development of the city of Jadara on Dathu until the completion of all major points as listed in the Jadara Development Charter.
  • The Atlas Corporation will provide up to 6 full mercenary divisions under exclusive long-term contracts for use by the Federation of New Eden who may use them at their discretion so long as it does not violate the Atlas PMC Terms of Service or the Atlas Mercenary Usage Contracts. These mercenaries will be paid for in full by the Federation for the length of their service.
  • The Atlas Corporation will be given preferential treatment for advertising within the Dathu system as well as the ability to operate recruitment and mercenary enlistment centers for recruitment of individuals into the Atlas Security Divisions

To conclude I do believe that these terms shall satisfy my superiors and increase our revenue flows for the foreseeable futures. Predictions will have to be adjusted accordingly, should all go well I may expect an increase of my Stock Share. I must retire now to my mistress for the night.

- Chief Senior Extraterrestrial Commerce Negotiation Director Charleston Jekorva
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