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Hidden 17 days ago Post by Raylah
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Raylah

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Aboard the Undefeated Battleship - the Thorsten
Blockade above Zeta-5
During the start of the invasion


Oscar Pawlowski paced the Captain's quarters nervously. The invasion was in progress, troop transports have landed at their designated spots and soldiers have entered the underground tunnels. Security teams in the command center monitored and coordinated their progress, but it was going to take some time before there was any news from them. The Grand General knew he was supposed to be there, looking all calm and offering words of support, but he just couldn't do that right now. This is not how the invasion was supposed to go. Losing the Horizon changed everything and Oscar had great doubts about the land invasion. The planet was a death trap. And now other nations tried to interfere with the conflict. The war was supposed to be long over before other sides would have had a chance to meddle in, stick their noses where they didn't belong.

Now the Undefeated found themselves dragged into yet another prolonged conflict, with their resources already stretched thin. He couldn't see the Xandalian ship from his window, Zeta-5 was taking up most of the view, but he knew it was out there and wondered what was going on there. The decision to not send the Undefeated representative to join the talks might have seemed strange, but it was a matter of plausible deniability. Right now, if things went south (and it was starting to look like they might), they could still throw most of the blame on the ECU. After all, it was their war, the Undefeated were only here to support their allies.

Five steps. That was the whole length of his room on the Thorsten. Not nearly enough to blow off some steam by walking there and back. Normally, he would go for a run or swim or go to a shooting range to be alone for a while, but what could he do, stuck in this huge metallic coffin with hundreds of other people?

He tried to take a walk along the ship’s corridors, but he kept running into people, saluting him, congratulating him on winning the battle, or just wanting to worm into his favor. The ship was half-empty with part of the troops down on the planet, but it was still too crowded to his liking. He kept choosing the hallways with fewer people which eventually led him to the engineering section. It wasn’t completely deserted, technicians wandered around carrying some tools and weird metallic parts of some mechanisms, but other than respectfully moving out of his way (and whispering when he passed them), they paid no attention to him.

Somehow he ended up in a huge hall with a large metallic container in the middle. Cables, pipes, and various conduits crossed the room in wild angles, all leading to the central structure. Oscar assumed it was the ship’s main reactor and curiously came closer.

“Well, well, look what the sabercat dragged in.” A sudden voice from behind him made him turn around and grab his gun. He had it pulled out of the holster and pointed to the person, finger on the trigger, all within a blink of an eye. Some instincts never go away.

“Claire,” he sighed, putting the gun back. “Didn’t hear you come.”

Claire lifted her leg, showing him the bottom of her shoe. “Insulated rubber soles. Makes it a tiny bit safer with all the electricity. So, what brings the Grand General to the underdeck?”

The way she always spat the words out, making his greatest life achievement sound like the biggest insult. “Well, I thought I would check on the reactor.”

Claire squinted. “Sure, sure. And you are here, because…?”

Crap. Oscar realized that this was probably not the reactor and that he had no clue what it was. Why did he even come here? Up on the bridge, nobody would talk to him like this, making fun of him because he didn’t know what some mysterious metallic box was.

“You have no idea what this thing is, do you?” Claire shook her head.

“Honestly, no. So why don’t you tell me?”

“Sorry, General. I don’t have time to give VIP tours.”

She turned away and he suddenly felt the urge to stop her, realizing that he actually wanted to talk to her, even though she mocked and insulted him. Maybe even because of that. Claire was one of the few people that dared to oppose him, not agreeing with everything he said. It was refreshing to hear a different perspective. “Claire, wait. Please?” He could give her an order and she would probably oblige out of fear, but that was not what he wanted.

The woman stopped for a moment before turning back to him. “Fine. But don’t touch anything.”

A wide grin appeared on his face. When was the last time someone actually gave him an order? “Yes, ma’am.”

“This is one of the main deflector shield generators. You know, the thing that stops the ship from going boom-boom when other ships go pew-pew against it.”

“I’m not an idiot.”

She rolled her eyes but didn’t comment on that. “There are four main generators to make sure the shield is spread evenly around the whole ship.” She kept talking about the different components for a few minutes. Oscar understood about half of the things she said but kept listening and nodding. The technobabble kept his mind occupied and he didn’t have to think about what was happening down on the planet. What hell did he send his people into? “... and if you yell ‘donut’ really loud in the reactor chamber, it will actually create a huge donut for you.”

“Huh.. what?”

“Nothing. You aren’t even listening to me.”

It was true and she caught him red-handed. “Sorry. I can’t get my mind off the invasion.” She snorted but didn’t say anything, even though it was obvious she wanted to. “Look, if you have something to say to me, just say it.” Since when was Claire the one to hold back?

“I’m not an idiot either. People have been executed for saying things.”

Ah, so she was afraid of him. Understandable, he did threaten to have her killed. But now he really wanted to hear her opinion. “I’m not gonna have you executed. You have my word on that.”

“Fine.” Claire sighed. “You are stupid.”

“Well thank you for such constructive criticism.” Oscar turned to leave. What was he expecting?

“You didn’t let me finish. You are stupid for dragging us into this stupid war. What were you hoping to gain? Even if we win, what good will come out of it? Other nations will see us as the warmongers we are, we will only make more enemies, nobody will thank us for destroying some robotic menace. These are normal people you are murdering here. Who cares if they replace some parts of their bodies? Dammit, even if they were using genetic engineering to turn themselves into fucking unicorns, that’s none of our business! You followed your insanely fanatic allies into a pointless conflict which has already cost us resources, time, and most importantly, lives.”

Oscar sighed. She was not wrong, but she didn’t see the bigger picture behind his decisions. How could he refuse to help their allies, even if the conflict pretense was a bit shaky? What was he supposed to do after the Horizon was destroyed? Was he to call off the invasion, admit defeat, and run back to Ellara? In his world, the only response to force was an even bigger force, that’s how it works. The weak lose, the strong win. And he couldn’t allow the Undefeated to be the weak ones.

But at what cost? It was like she put a bug into his head that kept drilling through, shaking all the beliefs he had and decisions he made. What a devilish woman. For a brief moment, he regretted letting her out of the cell.

“Hey, you want to see something cool?” She asked him after a few minutes of silence. Did he really look so bad she felt like she needed to distract him? “It’s not very useful,” Claire continued as she led him to a lab. “But it looks awesome.”

The lab was separated into two parts by a thick glass wall. The part they were in was filled with screens and various measuring devices. The other part was empty, safe from a small metallic box hanging mid-air. “Hmm,” Oscar nodded. “Really cool.”

“What? No, that is just a magnetic suspension field. There is a tiny version of the shield generator in that box, we use it for experiments.” She pressed a few buttons on a control panel and the air around the crate shimmered slightly. “Now it has a shield, just like the Thorsten. We were experimenting with different frequencies of the electromagnetic modulators, trying to see how they affect the shield strength and power consumption, and we discovered this.”

Oscar watched the box as it started to shimmer and then suddenly disappeared. “What happened? Did you destroy it? Or teleport it?”

“No, it’s still there. Using this modulation, the plasmatic shield around it refracts the light in such a way as if it went right through, making whatever is inside basically invisible. It even fools the sensors. Look there, it tells you the room is empty.”

Oscar stared at the spot where the crate supposedly still was, his mind already buzzing with ideas. And some ideas they were. “You were wrong, you know.”

Claire frowned. “It’s not cool?”

“It’s extremely cool.” Oscar laughed. “But you said it’s not very useful and I very much disagree. Can you use it on the shield around Thorsten?”

“So, I show you something amazing and you immediately want to use it for your warmongering? How typical. And no, I can’t use it on such a big shield, it is extremely unstable. If I had some better magnetic material, I could maybe try to put it on some smaller ships, like the Scout class, transports, or fighters, but nothing as big as a Cruiser, not even talking about Battleships. With the materials we can mine in our system, all I can do is make a box disappear. Maybe you could use that to smash someone’s head?”

“Hmm, maybe. Send me the specs on the material you need. The world is bigger now, let’s see if someone out there has something we can use.”
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Hidden 16 days ago 16 days ago Post by Sigma
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Sigma

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Columbia
High Orbit
SS Retribution



Malcolm, Isana and the others all sat alone in the passenger compartment of an old shuttle, the four enjoying some small talk among themselves and with the pilots, exchanging some terrible jokes here and there. Occasionally the pilots would pester Malcolm and the others once or twice about their time in the Yulzan War but eventually, they had finally arrived. "Commander, we're on approach to the
Retribution." one of the pilots declared, following this, Malcolm stood up and walked over to the cockpit, followed by the others. Malcolm was first to sneak in the cockpit, taking in the view as they drew closer to the ship as it came into view. The Retribution was a heavily modified Superfreighter, they were an uncommon sight during the Colonization of Horizon, and in desperate times during the war, as makeshift carriers and warships.

The shuttle continued its approach, moments passing as they finally entered one of the Retribution's hanger bay, making its slow descent to the floor, the interior of the ship making a "thump" sensation. "Well Gentlemen." Malcolm spoke. "That's our que."

"Good luck, Commander." One of the pilots said.

"Give those cogheads a good beating." The other pilot said.

"Mhm." Malcolm nodded, backing away as he and his crew grabbed their luggage. The loading ramp lowered, the four stepping out into a wide hanger bay, buzzing with life as support staff, engineers and such were going about their duties. "Departure in 0300." The shipwide intercom announced. Malcolm took in the sight, standing on a piece of history, the damn ship being older than all of them combined.

Not too long after their arrival, the Gravemakers were greeted by a small group. Top members of the ship’s original crew. The former captain of the ship was the first to step forward, extending his hand to Malcolm. "Commander." He begun. "Name's Augustus Tanner, formerly captain of this ship, now your second in command." Maclom responded to his gesture and shook his hand. "Pleasure to meet you Tanner." Malcolm said. "You familiar with my crew?"

"It’d be hard not too, sir." Augustus replied. "The Gravemakers made quite a name for themselves during the Siege of Taurus.”

Isana chuckled a bit." Glad our reputation Precedes us."

"After all the hell we raised in the years, we better!" Binat joked, letting out a hearty chuckle.

Augustus nodded as he moved aside to let the others introduce themselves. The first among them was a imposing dark-skinned Dhulrak dressed in an green jumpsuit. "Hello Bossman.” The Dhulrak spoke in a heavy ascent. "I’m Yorba of Clan Hrak. Chief Engineer of ship." Another stepped an older woman in a medical uniform, shook hands with each one of the Gravemakers. “Dr. Tamala Hoshi at your service. First Medical Officer of the Retribution.”

“Hmm, a pleasure, doctor.” Gideon winked at the doctor with a sly grin. She simply smiled it off. Ending the brief awkward moment was the sudden introduction of another recent group of arrivals. The leaders of the various outfits hired out by their mysterious benefactors. An assorted of pirates and rough-looking mercenaries, the ones that stood out the most were a pair of disturbingly muscular Aldzir, one of them heavily augmented with cybernetics, complete with a robotic arm. “So, you must be the our commander?” One of them, Hrizz asked rhetorically in his flanging voice.

“The Zaark twins…” Gideon said in disgust, his past catching up to him, garnering funny looks from Malcon, Isana and Binat. “….I’ll explain later.” Gideon said, turning his attention back to the twins. “The hell you two doing out of prison?”

“A kind, generous, soul paid for our bail out of the goodness of his heart.” Khizz, the other twin, said in a mocking tone.
“Under the condition that we join this mission of yours.” Hrizz said. “I could give a shit of your human affairs, but money is money, and this beats prison. So we’ll suck it up, for now.”

“For now…I don’t care what grudges you have just do as you’re told, and we’ll get along just fine.” Malcolm said.

“Sir, yes, sir!” Khizz replied with his usual mocking tone, complete with an exaggerated salute, Maclom rolling his eyes. A short while later, all the mercenary and pirate leaders introduce themselves one by one, the sheer amount of which is almost impressive, a little over a dozen outfits being enlisted for this mission, although getting all them to work together as a cohesive force will be the true challenge.

After the last mercenary finished his introduction, Malcom let out a loud yawn, stretching his arms out up in the air. “Now, if it’s all the same with you, I need shuteye.” He paused as he turned his attention onto Augustus. “Captain Tanner, you have the helm for the time being.” Malcolm then scanned the whole group, nodding one more. “We’ve certainly got…interesting people here, let’s bear with each other and hopefully, we’ll get through this in one piece.” He paused as he took a small breather. “We’ll help put an end to this war. We either go home losers and dead, or go home alive and as heroes, and I sure as hell ain’t planning on going home a dead loser, dismissed."
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Hidden 13 days ago 13 days ago Post by Tortoise
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Tortoise A Land Turtle

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(Addressing: @Sep)

(Starring: Andrei)


Genghis Khan probably shouldn't drink so much.

It makes his steps unsteady while he crunches through this soft grass underfoot. Sway, sway, stumble, crunch- should soft grass be crunching? Lazy programmers.

The city of Zhongdu is near, but not as near to him as the army he's brought to conquer it. Khan hears their tired sighs, and sees the bags under their eyes- the exhaustion of a war that's become a siege. A long, bloody, useless siege that will lead thousands to be slaughtered. And for what? Why doesn't he ever choose a happy place? Probably the same reason he's drinking a vodka-tequila mix in ancient China.

Is it depression? No, Oliga- the Khan does not get depressed.

He's just tired, is all. As his holographic son, Tulip or Tule or something, rambles about cavalry, and soldiers, and how to break the walls of Zhongdu, Genghis at last finds himself losing the will power to keep up this stupid game. He mumbles "Hologram: Exit." The world around him blinks away, and he ceases to be Genghis at all but becomes Andrei again.

Look at the time- he was playing the holo-suite for seven hours. Some people probably get work done in that time. Even some fellow Oligarchs. But not Andrei. He hasn't done anything like labor since when he was meeting up with all those stuffy diplomats way back, when the Gateways first reopened and he demanded the Zetans explain their existence. (They did not provide an explanation.)

Trying not to think about those days, or much of anything, he slowly drifts off to sleep.

Andrei wakes up on the floor at 4 A.M to a message from the Office of the Savant, which should be alarming enough to make him shout out in surprise. It does not, however, because he has to scroll through sixty or so other messages to get to it. (He has never cleaned out his inbox, and never will.) By the time he reaches the Savant's orders, Andrei is already far too tired again to feel shocked or concerned. His mind registers something about diplomatic duties, and quickly deciding that sounds like a problem for future Andrei (poor sucker), drifts back into unconsciousness.

Future Andrei wakes up on the floor at 1 PM to find three new messages, all from the Office of the Savant again, and begins to panic. Well, he begins to make as decent an imitation of panic as a groggy, hungover, not-depressed man can. It mostly amounts to standing up at an odd angle and trying to force himself out of the room, but before he can get quite there, his stomach forces out its contents in the form of vomit.

How many bottles of vodka-tequila did he drink? The holo-suite hid them as he was playing, placing over them bushes and rocks and crunchy grass, but could not now. Several sad bottles that used to hold poison lay scattered around the floors. They're crystal clear, and Andrei could see right through them if he wanted to, but there's not much to look at- a deactivated holo-suite is only an undecorated white room. It feels alarmingly like being in a hospital.

Within an hour, he's heading off-planet. That was the time it took to respond to the messages with many apologies, get a plan drawn up, and get used to the idea of traveling around with no security. Andrei is a very powerful man, by ECU standards; his mother owned huge shares in the entertainment industry, and since she died, Andrei now owns huge shares in the entertainment industry. (Actually, come to think of it, that Battle of Zhongdu game he played last night might have been financed with his money.)

But all the protectors and security types are being 'redistributed,' so that hypothetical hoard of wealth won't buy him a single guard right now. Half of them are hovering over Zeta-5, and the other half are getting called to the big cities to 'put out fires.' The fires mostly coming in the form of protesting discontents, a sudden new rise in Mixtists zealots, and a lot of opportunists taking advantage of the chaos for some good looting. He's heard it's chaos in Neo London.

It's hopefully calmer at the Meeting Place, which Andrei is approaching now in a little, unarmed shuttle. There's a bunch of newbies on the scene- Lorne Administration?- that the Savant wants contacted. Apparently they showed off some impressive engineering in a chat with the Undefeated, and that's just the kind of tech the ECU needs for the war. When he manages to find their ship amid the general mess of vessels that is the Meeting Place, Andrei shoots of message that he neither planned nor rehearsed:

"Lorne Administration, this is the ECU oligarch and new diplomat Andrei Fedorov, here to, uh... to welcome you back to Earth. And talk. We want to talk. Thanks." Yeah, that's smooth.
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Hidden 13 days ago Post by Kale19
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Kale19 Is mayonnaise an instrument?

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Collab Between @Raylah and @Kale19


As the Pathfinder swooped through the Gateway and appeared above Ellara, Commander Jim Harlowe couldn't be happier. Finally, he could leave New Hollywood and get away from the creepy ever-present holograms and all the weirdness of the ECU citizens. Reins insisted on showing him the true nightlife of New Moscow and when Jim refused to visit any more holo-suites, he dragged him from one party to another, forcing him to wear ridiculous costumes. He met a lot of weird people, listened to a lot of weird music, and overheard a lot of weird conversations. To him, these people were completely torn away from the real world. Their nation was waging war and they were dancing, eating strange-smelling food, and debating about who was the best performer at Woodstock. Jim didn't even know what it meant, he just smiled and nodded, afraid that if he opened his mouth, he would thoroughly embarrass not just himself but his entire nation. At last, the torture was over, his diplomatic mission concluded, and he was allowed to return home.

“Dock on the Hyperion,” he ordered the pilot, pointing towards one of the Battleships stationed near the Gateway. The Pathfinder, a tiny speck of dust compared to the huge vessels around him, smoothly turned and flew into an open dock. Jim grabbed his bag and headed for the door, waving the Pathfinder crew goodbye. “See you, guys.” Hopefully never. His next ship should definitely have at least some guns.

He headed to the bridge to meet Guardian Hamonga for debriefing. He always respected the man, not just his strength, but also his ability to remain calm even in the gravest situations. That was the kind of Guardian he was hoping to be if he got the promotion. When he gets the promotion. Eyes on the prize, that’s what the drill sergeant always taught them, and Jim was sure to remember it.

“Sir,” Jim saluted, admiring Hyperion’s bridge. Now that was a ship to command.

Hamonga turned to him. “At ease. So, son, what do you think of our allies?”

The Commander opened his mouth to answer but was interrupted by one of the officers. “Sir! The Gateway just activated and an unknown ship passed through!”

Hamonga quickly moved over to the sensor station and Jim followed him. “The Zetans?” he asked doubtfully.

The officer shook his head. “No, sir, the technology is not in our database. It’s not even broadcasting any name or designation, just the number 35. It appears to be heavily damaged.”

The Guardian needed only a few seconds to wage the options and make a decision. “Deploy a squad of fighters, but do not attack the ship unless ordered. Or if they attack first. Broadcast on all frequencies. This is Guardian Hamonga. You have entered airspace controlled by The Undefeated. Please shut your engines down and identify yourselves or we will be forced to take appropriate actions to defend ourselves.” He paused for a moment to make sure the broadcast went out. “Let’s see if they answer.”

~~~~~~~~


“Uh… Dudes! I think we got a message!” This shout came from Kfuu, the Abberian managing the communications. He had been getting increasingly worried ever since he lost communication with the surface of the dead drift, the underground systems were up and running, but no one was messaging on them.
“What is it, Kfuu?” SGT Rodgers asked. “And do you recognise the signal?”
“Nah, it’s alien, most likely from this planet. All I got was static.”
“Should we stop our engines and see if we can communicate?” Asked SGT Jodie Scott, who had quite recently walked up from a very important talk with the newest crew members or rather, stowaways. “Plus we just got a few visitors from the dead drift.”
“Stop the engines, Kfuu, and I’ll see about these stowaways.” SGT Rodgers paused. “SGT Scott, take Cibiv and try to communicate with these people.”
“Incoming fighters!” Yelled Kefp, leaping out of the control room.
“Kefp! Why did you leave your post?”
“To warn you about the-” And with that “35” gave a sickening lurch. Too much damage had been done from the debris, and with no one keeping the ship in control the thrusters that kept the ship hovering in place were slowly shutting off. Soon they would go down, there was no stopping that, they could only hope that these strange people could help, or at least speak English.

~~~~~~~~


On the Hyperion, Jim moved to the sensor station, trying to make himself useful. Technically, he wasn't part of the crew and shouldn't even be on the bridge in an emergency situation, but it seemed like a good opportunity to gain some bonus points with Hamonga. "They still haven't made any attempts to communicate, but they have shut their engines down. The question is whether they did it on purpose or because their ship is malfunctioning."

Hamonga scratched his bald head. "Any life signs on board?"

"Several," Jim nodded. "Their communication array might be damaged, they might not be able to respond."

"True. Or it might be a trick. Tell the fighters to keep their distance and not attack for now. Get a boarding team ready on one of the shuttles and…"

"Sir, there is a problem." Jim hated to interrupt a superior officer, but the screen started flashing with warnings. "The alien ship is without propulsion and it is caught in the gravity well of the planet. Their altitude is already dropping."

"Can we do something for them?"

One of the engineers on the bridge shook his head. "If we had more time, we could launch a rescue operation and try to stabilize their orbit, but at this point we can't do anything."

Jim pushed a few buttons on the control panel. "According to the simulations, they will land on the northern continent, approximately 150-200 miles north of outpost Omega. If they survive the atmospheric entry that is."

"Well, if they will land into the red zone, there is no need to take any defensive actions. Commander Harlowe, take a shuttle to the Omega outpost and launch a rescue operation from there. Find and secure any survivors. By any means necessary. We cannot have potential enemy agents running freely on our planet. Even if all they will most likely do is get eaten by something."
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Hidden 13 days ago Post by Sep
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Sep Admiral EvilScottishGuy

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THE ARCADIUS // ADMINISTRATION SPACE


The Arcadius was the pride of the Administration fleet. Over three kilometres long she maintained a fleet of drones ranging from small miners, construction vessels, transports and refineries. It was capable of completing mining operations in atmosphere, orbit or alternatively, it can clear an astroid belt all by itself. It was a recent build, her two sister ships were in production and were planned to be launched within a couple of months. On the command deck, Captain Anders looked over the various consoles below his command station. The men and women that worked aboard his ship worked diligently with purpose, they all had their place and role in the smooth operations and they all understood that. It was a thing of beauty.

Anders turned as he heard the footfall of Aide coming towards him. "Good evening Captain, I have taken logs from all my other Aides aboard and can report that efficiency is 25% over expected levels. I have logged this and sent the report on to the board. They're very happy." The robot gave him the thumbs up.

Which was exactly the moment Anders wished they hadn't insisted on this new A.I. Aide didn't live in any particular body, instead the programming ran from a central computer aboard the ship and he could interface with any system or drone connected to his network. The Aides were simply a way to allow 'him' to interact with the crew in a more human and personal way. Anders didn't mind, a ship with Aide was far better than one without.

"Good, it's always good to show off during our maiden voyage. I mean, have you heard the news from the Gateway? They're saying we might be getting new contracts to journey out of our system. Think of the challenges and this ship is going to be at the front and centre off it all." He chuckled slightly to himself. While this ship was the crown jewel of the fleet, he always just kind of assumed that being given the maiden voyage was the boards' way of giving him one last hoorah before shipping him off to the outer edges of the system to work his way through to retirement. Now it was an opportunity to do so much more, lead the way for his people to see grander things beyond the borders of their system.

Aides central light pinged red for a second just at the same time he noticed the tone in the room shift. "Sir. Drone #456772 has detected something anomalous." Anders walked forwards to the console table in the centre of his podium, a map showed him the ship and its surroundings. Various dots moving around the map, readouts on the ship, drones, refineries and various transports circled around her. One of the drones was pinging red. He highlighted it, flicking through the various camera views it had before he settled on the camera that showed what it was holding in its arms.

"What the hell is that?"




THE ENDURANCE // THE MEETING PLACE // SOL SYSTEM



While the Undefeated representative had stayed aboard long enough to allow them to integrate with the systems of the station, Mackenzie had found herself quite perplexed at receiving a communication request from another power. The request to talk wasn't the surprising thing, what was surprising was the decorum, or lack thereof, from the diplomat. That could be forgiven however, everyone had those days, and different people had their different way of doing things.

She once worked with an HR representative who believed that the only good worker dispute mediation was one held in a boxing ring with copious amounts of alcohol, and they had a perfect track record. One of Mackenzies favourite people.

No, the most surprising thing was the nations name. Earth Cultural Union. Surely at this point in time Earth had no culture. They had ran comprehensive scans on the planet after they had docked and there was nothing down there, it was a dead world. Was this ECU the successor state? Did they hold most of the playing cards? The Undefeated made it seem as if they were joint allies in a war.

She sighed, this was only going to get more confusing. Her assistant Jeeves came wheeling into the room, trilling happily. "What have you got for me Jeeves?"

She looked down at her tablet as it pinged, making her smile as she did so. The Captain had approved her request to co-opt the pilot bar for her meeting with the ECU delegate, as well as her request to bring another delegate aboard. Until headquarters had approved construction and completed construction, of a branch here in the meeting place it wasn't exactly possible or comfortable for an Employee to work aboard the station. Sure they could probably withstand and survive the gravity for a period of time, but it would cut things short and it wouldn't be pleasant.

She sent Jeeves to the airlock to receive their visitor, through the makeshift military checkpoint that had been hastily constructed, while she headed to the bar. Doing her best to clean it, and make it look presentable, while she waited for her next guest.

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Hidden 9 days ago Post by Sigma
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Sigma

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Collab between @Sigma and @Irredeemable.

Zeta-5
Irregulars Landing Zone.

The mass retreat had begun, the ECU protectors, no matter the training, were woefully unprepared for the onslaught the Zetans had instore for them on the surface. Thus, the order was finally given for all protectors to pull back. A vast array of Columbia-based mercenaries had volunteered to aid the ECU in their conflict with the Zetans, and it seemed that help had arrived in the nick of time.

Several large shuttle craft were placed in a circle pattern around the landing zone, a company’s worth of soldiers in light power armor were in position, setting up sandbags and portable machine guns and mortars. Among them was Gideon, former heavy weapons expert of the Gravemakers, clad in his personal armor. “Alright you maniacs!” He shouted over the intercom. “We’re to hold the LZ at all costs, and cover friendlies as they retreat, take out any cogheads while you’re at it!”

With the protectors on the run, the Zetans had pushed back, and, for the first time since the invasion had begun, re-surfaced. They knew what the ships coming down meant, and they were determined to not allow them to secure a landing. As the shuttles came down, and the mercenaries established an LZ, waves of Zetans threw themselves into the fray to dislodge the invaders.

These were some of the creme de la creme of Zetan forces. The Elysium sector had always been the best defended, and the fighting had only resulted in their production cycles becoming more optimized, and their soldiers more veterans. Few humans were among the soldiers here on the surface, and those that were in largely auxiliary roles. Of course, they were- on the surface, the Zetans could finally field-test their new equipment.

Recon warforms, equipped with long ranged rail rifles, had set themselves up in advantageous positions. With range, and without the fear of destroying their surroundings with radiation, they could lay down fusillade of accurate, gunpowderless fire, magnetic shots raking the mercenaries whenever they were foolish enough to expose themselves.

Up close, the surface also meant that the Zetans were no longer restricted to their smaller warforms. For the first time in the conflict, medium warforms had been deployed, with their thicker armour and heavier armaments. Gouts of flame curled through the air, jellied fuel creating choking smoke, whilst heavy machine guns chugged and thumped.

All in all? It was the typical hell that the fighting on Zeta-5 had descended into.

The mercenaries looked in sheer horror as the Zetan Warforms made their approach, following the fleeing protectors close behind. “Jesus Christ…” one of the mercs let slip, his arms trembling as he held his rifle closely. “Steady now ladies.” Gideon spoke, his hand raised. “On my signal, give them hell.” The protectors ran with all the might they could, knowing full well the nightmarish metallic beasts were perusing them.

Once they were within range, Gideon gave the signal. “Open fire!” The mercenaries popped from cover as they unleashed a volley of bullets and rockets against the warforms. Chipping off pieces of the medium warforms but like the machines they are, they kept advancing. “Focus on the big ones!” One of the mercs shouted, before long, his head had exploded into a bloody, Gorey mess, followed by several more as the recon warforms begun their own attack. “Shit! We got snipers!” Gideon shouted! “Get out of their line of sight!” The mercs, in a last-minute effort, scattered, looking for suitable cover from sniper fire.

It was clear that the Zetan warforms, as powerful and impressive as they were, were not invincible. Under return fire the medium warforms stumbled and collapsed, and although sparks and juddering movement showed them to be still functional, enough systems were taken out that they were no further threat. Still the beings pressed on though, and now, from the rear of the line, missiles began to streak through the skies, launched from some kind of rocket artillery battery.

It wasn't just a physical fight that the Zetans had prepared for either- they were also targeting their opponent's morale. As they drew closer, it was clear the Warforms had received their own unique decorations- kill counts, depictions of Zetan and Earth predators and insults. They lacked the true individuality of the pre-war anti-hunting warforms, but the effort that had been put in was clear.

There was more to their efforts than fancy paintjobs- some of the warforms had been retrofitted with speakers, and, as they charged forward, they let out a menagerie of sounds. From some, warcries, from others, pounding music, and from others still, deliberately high or low-pitched noises designed to unsettle and disturb the mind. It was quite the effective blend.

The mercs, now broken in formation, had scattered to wherever felt safe, random rock formations, the shuttles themselves, and some crazy bastards that stood their ground around the sandbags. Regardless of position, whoever was left kept the fight up. One mercenary still held on to his post at the machine gun nest, cackling like a maniac, undeterred by the Zetan’s attempts at psychological warfare as he unleashed a hail of lead on the advancing warforms. “I can do this all day!” He shouted out.

Gideon and two other soldiers were holed up in one of the shuttles, looking out at the few who remained. “Crazy fuckers all of you.” He said as he looked to one of them.
“You got what you paid for, pal.” One of them replied, taking potshots at the enemy, suddenly going limp as he fell victim to another sniper shot.

Sigma-Neumann, recon warform AC-3843, scratch off another one. The recon warform lacked the physical capacity to feel satisfaction in a robotic body, but... What other way to describe this warm feeling inside them was there? As they ejected the spent fission battery and exposed the already-destroyed landscape to another dose of greys, they took a moment to glance up, to where their original body hung, lifeless, in space.

It was hard to feel sympathy for the invaders, even as they became test subjects, to be exposed to chemicals, radiation, extreme weather and new weaponry. They had taken Zetan lives. Taken Zetan bodies. Taken Zeta itself, and now they were only reaping what they had sowed. It was... Karmic.

Shouldering their rifle once more, they centered their sights onto the soldier manning the machine gun, barely able to get an angle betwixt the hastily put up fortifications. There was the crack as the sound barrier broke, the hiss of the rail-rifle's cooling systems, and the silence of the nest. 'Rifle' was, of course, the wrong term for such a weapon, as they lacked any real rifling, but the coiled mechanisms that propelled the slugs suited well enough... And besides, they were far more destructive than any rifle they carried down in the depths.

The slugs didn't so much impact a target as they did crater it. When they made contact, they tended to flatten out, creating a miniature shockwave that crushed through the target shortly before the projectile itself did. If the target was fortunate enough to survive the initial shot, they might have had a good chance at survival, considering that the slugs tended to pass through the body rather than stay stuck in, but the gaping, pouring wounds were rather hard to shrug off.

Was this really it though? This small infantry incursion? After all they had faced, all they had driven back, they were being met with... Nothing greater than they had already overcome?

Gideon peeked out once more, making a quick survey of the battlefield as the mission all went to shit in quick succession, a good handful of the protectors made it aboard one of the shuttles, unfortunate that some were casualties both from Zetan snipers and some due to…friendly fire, that’s an embarrassing one.

Regardless, the objective was partially complete, all that had to be done was clear the LZ of hostile forces or die trying. “Fall back to the shuttles!” Gideon ordered. “We make our stand here, and get the hell out!” Those that remained complied with their commander’s orders, a quarter of the company’s strength returning the shuttles, leaving behind the corpses of their comrades at the mercy of Zeta-5. The retreat wasn’t a clean one, a few more fell as the Zetan Warforms crossed over the makeshift fortifications, advancing ever closer to the LZ. “Keep the cogheads at bay!” Gideon ordered once more as pulled out his machine gun, spraying a rain of bullets with a defiant warcry, those that could, returning fire...

Nothing greater. What a disappointment. The barrage of long-ranged fire from the recons dwindled and then halted, the remaining frontline warforms sweeping away any foolish or unlucky enough to not have made it to the shuttles. Their job was done. Their homes were safe once more, and every fist of defiance raised made the chances of it being permanently safer greater.

The shuttle doors closed shut as they made their ascent towards the skies of Zeta-5, the ground slowly shrinking as they made it past the atmosphere. Gideon laid against the walls of the craft as he slunk down, it’s been decades since he had this much action, and it sure as hell took a lot out of him. “Christ that was close..” Gideon said, Malcom’s voices cracking through the intercom as they made a connection with the Retribution. “Gideon!” He shouted. “Report! You still alive?”

“Yup, still alive.” Gideon replied. “Don’t count out the bulldog yet.”
“And the mission?”

“Partially complete, we took heavy casualties, but we did it. Cogheads were a lot tougher than I thought.”
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Hidden 9 days ago Post by Irredeemable
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Irredeemable Longing To Be A Robot

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| In collaboration with @Sigma |


Ambassador Ghask extended his hand back to Alfonso as they shook hands, both he and the Matuvistans processing to stroll down the corridors leading away from the docking ports as they entered the central parts of the Meeting Place. “Forgive me, I am Vixril Ghask.” Ghask introduced himself. “Representative of the United Columbian Republic in the Meeting Place. Allow me to once again, welcome you to Earth.”

"Representative Ghask." Nodded Alfonso. "As I declared earlier, I am Alfonso Leoncio Alvarez De Caravajal, rightful heir by blood to the Duchy of Veragua..." He turned to look out of a porthole, down towards the planet below, and its solemn, slow rotation. "Or, what is left of Veragua, I suppose." He sighed heavily. "What folly we hath wrought upon our cradle... What ruin we have brought to our home. It is enough to bring an honourable man to tears." It wasn't clear as if the hand that came up to swipe beneath his eyes was merely to exaggerate his point, or to actually wipe away tears.

"I am sure Her demise shall spur centuries of art and effort on Matuvista. Perhaps, one day, our descendants shall land on her surface once more, and witness her azure skies and crystal seas." His hand idly rested on the hilt of his sword as he walked.

"But enough of Her. What of you and yours? The United Columbian Republic has the ring to it of a righteous nation, much like our own." He gestured somewhat flamboyantly towards his chest

Ghask was taken aback by Alfonso’s rather dramatic displays, not often you see a diplomat act like a stage performer, no doubt a common trait among his people. “Compared to all you humans, I’ve only come to call Columbia home very recently, she is a very vibrant world, very similar to your Earth from the historical archives.” He paused as the group took a stop at the central presidium. “You could say the URC is of the righteous sort, although imperfect upon closer inspection, it is the better alternative to what my people knew.”

"And what did your people know?"

“We were once nothing more than slave soldiers for another race, the Yulzan. They saw us as nothing more than tools to fit their ends. They forced us to fight their wars, the humans of Columbia being among their latest targets. The humans proved to be more...persistent and resourceful. Our old masters fled after years of conflict, leaving many of us at the human’s mercy. Many still resent us, although I don’t blame them. Others have come to accept us as brothers and moved on from the past.”

Alfonso froze in place, and his grip tightened on his blade. Behind him, his entourage also seemed to tense, hands sliding to rifles. "Yulzan... Or Yyasum? The latter are base dogs, fit for nothing but scorn, to be put to the sword and removed from where their fiendish ways can interfere with the lives of right-minded individuals, and your description of the former matches the latter too close for mere coincidence."

Ghask was rather perplexed. “I’m afraid I’ve never heard of the Yyasum.” He answered. ”Although I wouldn’t put past the Yulzan deceiving us…I don’t know for sure, and may never know the truth of it, they could have been one in the same. Perhaps reports and files can be exchanged one day?”

"Perhaps, perhaps. Know though, that if your words speak true, then our people have more in common than mere names. The Senate will need to be informed."

“I’ll echo your sentiment.” Ghask said. “Our own senate will find this revelation very intriguing and worrying.” Ghask paused as the gaze of his eyes were drawn to the ashen remains of Earth from the viewing port. “Do pray tell, when did these so called “Yyasum” visit your world?”

"First Yyasum colonisation ship arrived approximately..." The man paused, and one of his underlings stepped up.

"Forty-ninth day, fourth quarter, 103 years after colonisation. First engagement one week later."

"Yes, very good. Approximately 200 years ago now, and we still fight their remnants to this day."

Ghask was rather surprised by the response. “This…was way beyond my lifetime, and predates the war with the Columbians. Our conflict was over three decades ago. This was even before the Yulzan conquered my people.”

"They used slower than light travel. Colony ships, we believe." Alfonso picked up the pace. "Generations of xenos, breeding in the vacuum of space, indoctrinating offspring into the vile messages of their forebearers, preparing for the day they could plunge a dagger into the hearts of honest men." He scowled.

"But they did not succeed. Our sons and daughters bled, the senate wept, but they were overcome, and now we hunt them, like the vermin they are, sweeping them from our planets and putting torch to their schemes." He turned to smile at Ghask. "I myself have had this honour first-hand." He gestured towards the appropriate medals. "Wounded in action," he gestured to one, "valour in combat," he gestured to another.

Ghask smiled with a chuckle. “All the more reason to perhaps visit your world personally, to confirm my suspicions of course.” Before long, the group arrives to the URC Embassy, the Matuvistans met with a holo-announcer introducing new guests to the URC, large screens cycling through images of important moments of Columbian history, most notable of all being the Yulzan War. Soon they finally arrive to Ghask’s office. “Please, make yourselves comfortable.”

Alfonso looked up at the screens as they cycled through the different situations. He looked at the images of the Yulzan war with fascination. "There are some similarities... Yet many differences. I wonder if the slower-than-light-travel lead to divergences..." He paused, then followed Ghask in to his office, his man waiting outside. Taking his seat, he adjusted his sword a little, then leaned forwards.

"We have much to discuss I imagine... Where shall we begin?"

Ghask took his own seat, leaning forward on his desk with clasped hands. “Well, to start with.” Ghask said. “Perhaps we can arrange a proper conference between our governments? No doubt we will have much to share in resources, goods, and ideas. And your little Yyasum problem will be of great interest to countless parties back on Columbia.”

Alfonso stepped out for a moment, then returned, trailed by a soldier who seemed higher ranked than the others, judging by the embellishments on his uniform. "Relay this message back to La Introducción, to be sent to Matuvista. "Made contact with other civilised colonies. International meeting place over Earth. Earth has been destroyed. A nation called 'The United Republic of Columbia' has recently dealt with an invasion of aliens similar to the Yyassum, and are requesting a conference. I suggest we meet with them formally right away." He turned and nodded at the soldier. "Highest priority. I want Condel Julianus to be reading this over his morning coffee, understand?"

The soldier snapped off a salute, then left the room. Nodding towards Ghask, clearly pleased, Alfonso settled down into his chair. "I am sure we will find many commonalities between us. Twin republics, scattered throughout space, yet united in spirit! It is a good message, no? Dare I say, an inspiring message."

Condel? Another strange human title. Ghask thought to himself, he could barely keep up with human terms all these years later, too damn confusing. Regardless, Ghask leaned back in satisfaction. “Oh, I very much agree, it’ll dominate the news cycle for a quite some time, it’ll be the Xandalians all over again. “He paused as he snapped back to his usual sitting position, grabbing a hold of his PDA. “Apologies, one moment please.” Ghask said as his lanky fingers tapped down on the pad, making his report back Columbia. After a few minutes he placed down the pad. “I’ve made my report and we can soon arrange a conference between our leaders, and hopefully, foster a beautiful partnership.”

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Hidden 9 days ago Post by Raylah
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Raylah

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Zeta-5, underground tunnel complex


Andrew was tired. No, that was an understatement. He was exhausted. Hmm, still not good enough. What is more than exhaustion? There seemed to be no right word to describe how he felt. It seemed like it had been days since they entered this underground hell, while in fact, it had only been a little over 13 hours, at least according to the time tracker on his suit. His beautiful combat suit, carefully cleaned and oiled, with red and black stripes meticulously painted over his shoulder and helmet. He spent hours making sure that it was perfect and looked just like the suits of the squad veterans. Andrew was a rare sight on Zeta-5 - he was a newbie, assigned to a squad after they lost a member. His squad, the Sabercats, was just transferred to the front when the recall order came. So while technically he had a combat deployment note on his military record, he had never been in actual combat, never met an enemy, and never fired his gun to kill someone.

Now he was the last remaining Sabercat. His Sergeant pushed him out of the way when Zetans with flamethrowers appeared, getting caught in the flames himself. Now he was dead (Andrew tried very hard to forget just how exactly he died, but he suspected that the man’s screams will be engraved into his brain forever.) and Andrew’s beautiful suit artwork was either scorched or covered in blood. Surprisingly not his own.

He was not a military strategist, he didn’t know how the battle was going or was supposed to be going when the Sabercats joined in. From what he saw, there was a long wide tunnel, the Undefeated were on one side, the Zetans on another, all taking good cover and occasionally exchanging a few shots. To Andrew, it seemed like a really boring kind of fight, no heroic action in sight. Whether the squad leaders shared his perspective or had other more tactical reasons, they decided they needed to push forward. And Andrew would soon start to miss the ‘boring’ fight.

Grenades flew there and back, deafening explosions pushed him around and felt powerful even through the exoskeleton dampening. Andrew just tightly grabbed his rifle and followed the man in front of him, running from cover to cover. It felt just like in training, only the bullets here weren’t filled with paint. Andrew didn’t fully realize what was happening until the guy he had been following stumbled and fell. The young soldier jumped to him and tried to grab his arm to help him up, only to realize there were several holes in the man's helmet and now it was filled with a disgusting mixture of blood, brains, and bone fragments. Dead. Andrew stood there in the middle of the tunnel, staring at the dead body. The helmet had stripes just like his, he was someone from Andrew’s new squad. With his face missing, it was really hard to tell who.

Ding. Something slightly nudged his shoulder. He looked there to see a small dent in one of the red stripes. Was someone actually shooting at him?

Months and years of training kicked in. ‘Get your fat asses to the ground or lose them!’ Andrew threw himself on the ground, more bullets whizzing through the air where his head was just seconds ago. ‘Take cover or take a bullet!’ This was usually followed by a burst that caught the slower trainees, covering them with paint splashes from head to toe, leaving large bruises in the most painful places. The loud jingling the bullets made when hitting the metallic exosuits was much scarier. Andrew slid to cover, breathing heavily, somehow managing not to lose his rifle in all the mess.

“Ey, kid! How about you shoot ‘em back?” That was his Sergeant, taking cover a few meters away.

But shoot who? It was dark and smokey and the bullets were flying around, seemingly on their own. Thinking of it, it was even hard to tell in which direction he should be shooting. Andrew panicked. What was he supposed to do? He glanced back at the Sergeant, who knocked at his helmet.

Right! Oh dear god, how stupid he was. He never even activated the enhanced combat mode HUD. He felt like it was too distracting just for walking around. His world suddenly got much more concrete. The suit marked some of the figures in the smoke as friendlies, drawing their rough shapes in bright green. It even compensated for the lower visibility by highlighting the walls, ceiling, and the items in the tunnel with thin lines, making his vision a bit cartoonish. And there in the back, a few red lines appeared. It looked almost like a stick figure - first, a small red circle peeked out from behind one of the crates, seconds later joined by a single-line body and two arms. One arm swung back and forth and the stick figure disappeared behind the cover again. A small flying dot appeared at his position, moving across Andrew’s field of vision fast, blinking vividly. He realized it was a grenade just a second before it hit the ground on the left, sending several green people flying through the air.

He felt like his brain had only been working at half a capacity. This was all part of the training and he seemed to have forgotten it all. The red head peeked out again, from a different spot this time. Andrew’s hands seemed to be acting independently, and while he was still contemplating how stupid he was, his rifle went up. He aimed for the red head, and just as the enemy was about to throw another grenade, a shot came out. The stick figure disappeared and moments later a huge explosion destroyed his position. A few other red marks ran away from that spot, all quickly taken down by the Undefeated.

“Nice shot, kid!” The Sergeant yelled at him, giving him a thumbs up.

Andrew just nodded. Did he just kill someone? It felt so easy, just pulling the trigger, BAM! and a red figure gone. Should he feel something for the person he just killed? It was a human - the Zetans had run out of warforms in this sector’s defense some time ago. Another red Zetan leaned out of cover, and Andrew shot in his direction. He missed, but it solved his dilemma. ‘Green is good, red is bad. Overthink it, and you’re dead.’ His drill sergeant was a funny fellow.

The Zetans gave their positions too easily, Andrew remembered as he marched through a dark tunnel hours later. That should have warned us. A few grenades and they were either dead or gone, disappearing in cracks and vents like cockroaches. The Undefeated moved forward, taking over the Zetan barricade while only losing a couple of men. They took a moment to catch their breath and take care of the wounded, not expecting another attack just seconds later. And they would never expect that kind of attack.

Several valves on the ceiling opened, spraying the men below with unknown liquid. Andrew and many others were standing on the side, avoiding the odd shower, but many men got hit. At first, it seemed like a hydraulics malfunction - the liquid was thick and sticky but didn’t seem dangerous in any way, it wasn’t hot or corrosive or something similar. As the soldiers stood there, looking at each other, wondering what the hell was that supposed to be, the barricade exploded. The bomb was filled with screws and nails and other sharp metallic objects that went flying in every direction, chopping those unfortunate enough to stand too close into pieces. Not even the suit could protect them from such a force.

The worst part was that even though the liquid wasn’t dangerous on its own, it was extremely flammable. The explosion lit it up and turned the tunnel into a true inferno. The blastwave knocked Andrew against the wall, and before he had time to gather himself up, the fire raged all around him. Desperately clinging to the wall, trying not to slide into the flaming pools, he looked around. The HUD was flashing with warnings, sensors unable to compensate for sudden heat and brightness. The audio transmission however worked a bit too well, transferring all the screams from the fiery inferno.

Several shots came from the fire and the screaming ended abruptly. The Sabercat Sergeant stepped out of flames with a rifle in his hands, finger still on the trigger. He pushed Andrew towards the fire and yelled at him to jump. Andrew ran and jumped over the flaming puddles, his legs licked by hungry flames until he finally reached an opening. Other soldiers were arriving as well, their suits smoked and scorched, but rifles ready in their hands.

Before they even had time to look around, the tunnel suddenly filled with more fire, this time it was concentrated in long jets, aimed right at the survivors. Andrew ducked, desperately searching for a cover, but there was nowhere to hide. The HUD couldn’t deal with sudden huge heat signatures appearing randomly around and while it sometimes showed a red circle or two, it was no good. Andrew blindly fired a few shots and then did the only thing possible - quickly moved towards the Zetans, taking one out by surprise, before the others reacted and turned to face him. The dead body served as a poor cover against raging flames and Andrew’s suit soon began to heat up. Fortunately, his bold move provided a distraction and other Undefeated started to push the Zetans back.

Andrew threw the crisp that once used to be a body away, desperately trying not to throw up into his suit. The air filters could not possibly filter out all the smell of burning flesh and Andrew felt like he was suffocating. Pieces of fried skin sticking to the metal all over him didn’t help it at all. Finally losing his battle, he opened the visor of his helmet and threw up all over the dead bodies on the ground. When he straightened back up, the pungent stench of burnt meat mixing with the sharp smell of fresh vomit, he noticed that his Sergeant was standing guard next to him.

“Good job, man,” he patted Andrew on the shoulder.

Man. Just like that, he was no longer ‘the kid’. He smiled, wiping his mouth and spitting down on the dead Zetan.

The man with the flamethrower was already dying, blood running from several gunshots in his stomach, but he decided to stand up one last time and do some more damage. Unfortunately, he was right behind Andrew’s back, and the young man didn’t see him until it was too late. The Sergeant did, however, and he pushed Andrew aside, catching the full-frontal blast himself. Andrew stumbled, but quickly regained his balance, turned, and kept shooting the Zetan until the flame died out.

But it was too late. Sergeant’s body collapsed to the ground, heart-breaking moaning coming from his red-hot sizzling suit. Andrew whimpered and then did the only thing he could think of - pointed his rifle at Sergeant’s helmet and fired a couple of times. It was quiet now, only thin pillars of steam and smoke rising from the body.

That was several hours ago. Two? Three? It didn’t matter. A bunch of survivors continued through the tunnel tirelessly. What else were they supposed to do?

Andrew and some woman, he couldn’t remember her name, only knowing she was from the Serpents squad, were half carrying, half dragging another man. A grenade blastwave threw him into a beam head-first and he was losing consciousness. He was quiet for a bit too long now and Andrew suspected he was dead but was too afraid to stop and check.

The woman solved the issue for him. “Wait a second.” She stopped and checked the unconscious man’s vitals. “Shit. He’s dead. Put him over here.” They dragged the body to the side of the tunnel, seating him there as if he were only resting. “Sorry man,” she saluted. “We had a good run.” Anita, that’s what they called her, Andrew suddenly remembered. She grabbed grenades from the dead man’s belt and turned away. “Let’s go.” That was all. Even so, it was more piety than most of the dead received today. Andrew wondered whether someone was going to salute his dead body. Is he going to be proclaimed a hero back home? Crowds of sobbing girls laying flowers onto his empty grave? Heh. Sure. They were going to build a memorial and at best he will become a name on the wall. One of hundreds. Thousands.

Clickity-clack. Clickity-clack. What an odd sound. Andrew could walk more freely now that he wasn’t burdened by the dead weight of one of his comrades. He paused and listened carefully, looking around, shining his flashlight around the tunnel ceiling. The sound slowed and then stopped. Maybe he was just imagining it? It was entirely possible. Plus a lot of things exploded around him today, making him grateful he could hear anything at all.

But there it was again, just as he started walking. Click-clack. Clickity-clack. It seemed to be coming from the ceiling. Lots of pipes there, ventilation shafts, maybe something got loose or damaged? But why would it pause just as he stopped walking? The others didn’t seem to notice it and continued forward. Andrew had this really strange feeling something bad was about to happen, but after everything he had been through today, it might just have been his nerves playing with him.

Realizing he stayed a bit behind the group, he picked up the pace to catch up with them. The sound came back, this time faster and louder, moving quickly in front of him towards the rest of the group. The others finally noticed it too, looking up just as a small hatch opened right above their heads, making a loud squeak, and a tiny object fell down from it. Andrew didn’t even need the HUD to identify it. “GRENADE!” he yelled and threw himself to the ground. Just as the blastwave passed him, he rolled on his back and aimed at the largest vent shaft on the ceiling, making dozens of holes in it.

Everything went quiet again and he listened carefully. Did he get him?

“9 o’clock!” Anita stayed a bit back as well and wasn’t hit by the full blast. She immediately realized what was happening and started to scan their surroundings, looking for the attacker, finally discovering something hiding in a shadowy corner.

Andrew wasn’t exactly sure what it was. For a human or even humanoid robot, like the warforms, it had a bit too many limbs. He counted at least four legs with sharp hooks the thing used to hold itself on the walls and ceiling. At least three arms, one reaching for a belt with grenades while the other two were holding a rifle. Furious, Andrew realized it was one of their own, the creature must have stripped it off an Undefeated soldier. Strangely humanoid head, albeit made out of metal.

As they aimed their flashlights and rifles on it, the thing started to move incredibly fast, running across the ceiling like a gargantuan spider, its limbs clawing through the concrete. They shot at it, hitting it a couple of times, but it didn’t seem bothered by bullets or laser shots. It leaped across the tunnel and disappeared in a ventilation shaft on the side.

“What an ugly motherfucker!” Anita joined him and they stood there back to back, trying to guess where the next attack would come from.

Andrew had to agree. Have these people truly completely cast their human forms away? “The others?”

“Dead.”

“Shit.” There was not much more to say. “I’m Andrew, by the way.” For some reason, he felt that if they were going to die together, she should at least know his name.

The woman laughed. “Anna. You can buy me a drink in hell.”

Andrew saw it first. It was mostly luck, his flashlight grazed the side of a grate just as it began to open. The HUD highlighted the slight movement, giving him an exact position of a very small target. Having nothing to lose, he grabbed a grenade and threw it right into a dark shaft that appeared when a mechanical arm opened the grate. The resulting explosion shook the tunnel wall.

“Nice.” Anna turned towards him. “That must have killed it.”

It didn’t. The robot leaped from the ceiling, scorched a bit, its metal no longer shiny, but otherwise looked unharmed. It landed right onto Anna and knocked her to the ground, its sharp claws piercing through her suit, crushing her inside it. Andrew raised his rifle, but the creature still had too many unoccupied limbs and ripped it right out of his arms, throwing it aside. Anna used the last remaining strength to try and push the robot away, but the thing just added pressure to one of its legs. The suit caved in, crushing her ribcage.

Andrew jumped against the robot in a desperate attempt to get him away from Anna, even though it was already too late for her. The robot grabbed him like a broken toy and pushed his back against the wall. Andrew stared into its red, unblinking eyes. It had no facial expressions, but he was sure that whoever was controlling it was smiling right now. A sharp claw pierced the suit as if it was made out of leather, making its way through Andrew’s ribcage straight into his heart.

The robot waited until the body stopped showing any signs of life. “Tunnel combat form version 3, test concluded,” it informed the dead bodies in the tunnel before climbing back into the ventilation system.

~~~~~~~~


Aboard the Undefeated Battleship - the Thorsten
Blockade above Zeta-5


Oscar stood at the window of his cabin on the Thorsten, watching the planet bellow. He didn’t even have to set foot on it and he already hated that rock. The reports spoke of extreme weather conditions ranging from temperatures so deep below zero people froze to death in split seconds to heat waves that burned soldiers alive. Attacks from unthinkable creatures, big or small. Not that they didn’t have those on Ellara, but here it was a completely new level. And he sent his people into this mess, to capture this disgusting pile of rocks. Yes, he did all he could to protect them from dangers on the surface, but what if the underground was even worse? Claire’s words kept buzzing through his mind. Stupid war. Stupid invasion. What was there to gain from all this?

“Sir?” One of his officers was standing at the door, a solemn look on his face. Oscar had to fight himself not to groan. What now? “We… umm.. we have lost contact with the teams on the ground.”

And here we go. “Which ones?”

“Well, sir. All of them.” The officer looked uneasy. It was never good to be the bearer of bad news.

“What?”

“Some of the teams reported engaging the enemy and went silent after a while. Some reported strange beams coming from the tunnel walls and then… it was just screams of pain. And some just stopped transmitting, never even calling in anything special.”

"So we have no contact with the surface whatsoever?" Oscar just stared at the man, stunned.

"I'm afraid we don't, sir. We had to recall all ships back to space due to a violent storm closing in on the location. When the storm passes, we can land again and send some rescue teams…"

"No," the General interrupted him. "No one else sets foot on that damn planet until we have some more information." What the hell have they gotten themselves into?
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Hidden 8 days ago 3 days ago Post by Kale19
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Kale19 Is mayonnaise an instrument?

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The dead drift

Location: Tutum-Infectis (a few weeks from now)


"Sir, I think you need to see this!" Shouted out one of the officers in control of the communications between the Dead drift and "35."
"Let me see this." Said General Fredrick G. Smith, pulling up a sliding chair to the monitor. It was clear, this message was before the ship entered the gateway. "'Approaching the Gateway now'... this message was from weeks ago!"
"Yes sir, that's the problem, normally our communication satellite would have transmitted the signal within minutes, so unless it was destroyed or damaged-"
"General!" Came a screech from one of the scientists in the area below. This particular scientist was studying the orbit, or rather lack of it, of the dead drift.
The General cleared the safety bar and dropped to the room below. Suddenly it made sense why the satellite wasn't working. The closest sun the the Dead drift had gone supernova, and now in it's place a massive black hole.
* * *


"Your highness, we have a problem." Said General Smith, quietly while bowing, interrupting the highest sovereign's meditation. "We appear to, instead of being 50 AU from the sun, we are at 45."
The look on the face of the highest sovereign changed from annoyed to fearful.
"The sun appears to have gone supernova, leaving in it's place a massive blackhole. We must evacuate the planet immediately."
"How long do we have?"
"Nine months, at best, then we get sucked into the blackhole."
"Is there any avoiding this?"
"No. Just evacuation."
"Then get every adult working on a ship."
"What about the abberians, Sire? Shouldn't we help them?"
"I will find a way. Now get working!"

Location: Ellara (now)


SGT Rodgers pulled himself through the wreckage of "35." Had Kefp not abandoned his post to warn them about the fighters none of this would have happened, they would have been able to communicate with the natives, have a controlled crash, and not lost half their crew. As he reached the top of the mound of debris he spotted a small camp in the middle of the wreckage. He thought he was seeing Ralo, the burly abberian guard holding his electric spear sitting near it, or was that just his mind playing tricks on him.

* * *


Kfuu limped along towards Ralo, as far as he knew they were the only two survivors. Them, along with SGT Scott, who he had seen, and pulled out of the wreckage. They continued their trek through the destroyed hull of "35." He though he had seen some of the local wild life, but each time he focused on them they disappeared into the underbrush. The pair continued along until they reached the camp, now with an extra member SGT Rodgers, who had both legs snapped at odd angles.

* * *


Falo and his fellow guard Kemb exited the docking bay. They, along with the other "stowaways" had docked with the ship seconds before it launched into the rift, sent by the queen to take control of the vessel. Before they left she had said, "They believe that we want peace they don't know that our true purpose is to-" A snap stopped both guards in their tracks. The thing that had made the snap let out an ungodly scream, and tore through the woods to attack the guards. When it breached the cover the trees provided it two electro-spears hit it mid-air as it leapt to attack the abberians. The guards had turned the setting to 'fatal pulse' enough to kill and elephant of old earth. They turned to retrieve their spears from the corpse.

* * *


Gorb was running. The beast was chasing after him. He had only caught a glimpse of it when it killed his friend Stee. Large, purple plump backside, and a massive sword like nose. Gorb had no idea he was running from a Ellara mosquito, far more dangerous then the ones of old earth. He heard it's buzzing wings get closer, and closer, then a human like battle cry as future wrens tore themselves from the celling of the ship and ripped apart the mosquito. Gorb though his troubles were over, until he saw the wrens fleeing themselves.
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Theta Leonis - Well of hope - Senate floor


"We must explore our ancestral home, it is the most reasonable place to start." stated Jakus Hal, Senator of Hab-London. "Not only to see the fate of old Earth but it would be the only common ground any other surviving civilizations have. It-"

"Assuming there are other civilizations" said Irra Tosk CEO and Senator of the Fusion Core shipyards glumly

"Of course there are others!" shouted Derus Noi Senator of Hab-Moscow "We survived and thrived with nothing but a useless dead world to colonize, it is preposterous to assume none others did."

"If nothing else, we must send ships to explore these new systems to assess any opportunities and dangers, Perhaps there are hostile aliens with access to a gate, or an empty system with a neutron star to study." Interjects Senator Fabion Oris of the Outward Bound research group

Talks continued for months on what actions the senate should take, or if the senate should take action. As the Senate slowly ground on many Habitats began making deals, alliances, and partnerships to refit a ship as a dedicated explorer. It was equipped with the best sensors, computers and defensive abilities that could modified quickly. Before the Senate had reached any form of conclusion. However it was beginning to look like the Senate might come to the conclusion to help fund exploration efforts sometime in the distant future, long after research vessels had already left the system.



5 months later - New Horizons Explorer ship - Gateway

-=Alert=-
Approaching Gateway - Unknown danger - Please Alter Course

Captain Threa waved a dismissive hand at the computer screen "Dismiss" she said flatly, awaiting the next automated challenge. Her ship, a modified Asteroid surveyor, is a small and light craft compared to the hulking bulk transporters or mobile factories that crawl around the system with very few crew. Several scientists, handful of engineers and a pair of Envoys recruited by the sponsors of the explorer who largely waited out the Weeks long journey to the gateway.

-=Alert=-
State Intention and Habitat of Origin

Captain Threa sighed "transit through the Gateway, Habitat is the Outward Bound Research site Delta." Her ship was still days away from the gate and the interface for the gateway her ship was equipped with was a copy of the ancient relic from the original colony ship which was still docked at Hab-Delphi as a museum piece. Nobody was entirely sure it would activate the Gateway if they where honest. Even as she considered the possibility of the system not functioning it started communicating with the gate, lists of destinations populated. The captain selected Sol and would be taken to the cradle of humanity.

As the ship arrived in Sol several signals where detected from ships and stations in the system. The scientists where discussing the data from their sensors animatedly but Erin Penn spoke up "well, It seems the Jakus was right, the Sol system seems inhabited." The captain fired the heavy ion drives and broadcast a signal.

"This is Captain Threa of the New Horizons Explorer, We bring welcome from the Theta-Leonis system" She said while the crew waited excitedly for the first contact with their long lost cousins.
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The Xandalian Republic


Diplomatic Ship, Xandalian Space


"An Attempt At The Truth: Part 3 - The Return"





Diplomat Matthews sat in the meeting room itself, alone in the quiet of the space with a martini sitting half-empty on the small table next to her chair. One hand was rubbing her temple, the other resting on the armrest of the chair itself. The silence in the air was a welcome thing in the wake of what had just occurred...

...or in other words, it had been a hell of a meeting.

Accusations from both sides about the whole inciting incident, and frankly the whole situation beyond that had been a mess in and of itself. The one consolation was the drinks from the bar, perhaps, though Matthews had downed some pain medication for the splitting, throbbing headache it had all left her with. She could keep up a face and calm demeanor no problem, but hell she wished she had more time to get acquainted with a post-Gate-opening world's politics before all of this had erupted. Anything to realize just what she had been getting into.

Though to some extent, she perhaps felt it was all inevitable. This thing. All of this. War.

Three hundred years of separation between various human colonies, all as their ancestors had cast them about in an effort to simply survive and escape a dying world. Yet the old records spoke clear, in that humans were always creatures of habit and strife in some part at their core. There was the good too, but right now the worst seemed to be showing itself. In fact, she had found herself simply telling Malden to transmit the secret audio record of the Zetan rep to her to watch and then send it to the black box for when they got back to Xandal. Yet even after listening to the recording and the one she had kept from the meeting itself, the Diplomat found herself unable to shake a rather unsettling mood about it all in the end.

On one hand, the Zetans were nothing like regular human life. Cyborgs, users of combat robots, technological wonderkids that could assemble space stations in pre-built parts like they had the Meeting Place itself. Almost made her wonder if that machine the Zetans sent aboard for pickup wasn't just a mouthpiece for some controller far away, but some living thing's brain slapped into a robot. Felt like a potentiality at least, especially with how this warform was during the meeting at all...but hell she had to admit the thing had creeped her out a little bit in hindsight. Something about the Zetans came off as eerie, more mechanical than human at times in her limited experience thus far with them at the Meeting Place prior. She couldn't entirely blame the Undefeated and ECU for waging war on the Zetans. Hell, if she ran into odd robot people who looked human and they seemed to kidnap one of the Republic's scientists, the Senate would have pitched a hell of a fit...not outright declared war as the first option, mind, but at least been aggressive in investigation and working to find out what the hell went on. If the other party was trying to dig up Thalarite tech at that, at least obviously enough, the Senate would have likely declared war outright.

Plus if the danger the Zetans posed to others was valid to enough of an extent, perhaps the ECU and Undefeated had a point.

On the other hand, she'd hoped at least a partly fleshy rep would have been sent. Though at the same time she had to be lenient to the fact the Zetans probably didn't want to put a citizen in danger more directly. From what the ship's sensors and such could tell, the planet the Zetans were on was a hell of a place to say the least. To imagine a population of humans stuck on a world like that, desperate to survive in all likeliness, she could only imagine what lengths people would go to. Especially when isolated from the rest of their kin, and no help or alternate living space in sight. Hell, her own people's ancestors did just some stuff to simply survive in the higher gravity world they landed on.

Frankly, hostility to the Zetans was understandable somewhat...but all the same struck a rather unique chord to boot. The Xandalians themselves, her own people, had been warred on by another alien species who was so different they couldn't recognize the Xandalian people as sentient beings. They had been thought of as parasites, and their machines as living creatures. It was so odd to think about, but in only a few years they'd had to fight back genocide until the truth emerged. Lucky enough the Gusb had some sense of morality when it came to sentience, something they'd learned in turn in the following century of peace. Albeit a century of peace maintained through myriad means, but that was something to ponder on for another day.

What mattered in the end was that this situation, where the simple disappearance of a scientist had led to an outright major war with two nations versus one, felt in some sense like a parallel to the Xandalians' own past issue with the Gusb. A war to strike down another nation, another people, for one reason or another. Fear. Anger. Whatever it was...one question remained in her mind: Did the kidnapping of a scientist, or alternately the defection of one who wanted to immigrate to another nation, really need to be the catalyst for an outright hostile war against each other? Was it so justified that the eradication of space forces and invasion of another's world was the natural result?

Blargh. She needed another martini to make it all settle down more, at least before she handed in her report to the Senate. To that end, she pressed a button her chair to make a call over the ship's internal intercom.

"I know we're almost there, but I need one more drink after this one. Martini. Dry. Shaken, not stirred. Skip the olive."

@Irredeemable@Tortoise




Zetan Embassy, The Meeting Place, Sol System Space


"A Redundancy: Part 3"





Christensen put on a somber but still diplomatic face as he listened to Sigma-Devi, his brows furrowing as he crossed his hands from his side of the table where he sat.

So...it was like that then. Naturally each side in a war would claim and say what they wished, but it was a tall claim to make indeed that made Christensen briefly raise an eyebrow at Sigma-Devi's words. A lot of specific information as well, eerily specific stories being given to him about the war crimes the invaders were committing against the invade-ees. He did have a secure channel to back home, but all the same there weren't foreigners in control of the Gateway on his people's end nor here in Sol space either. Hmm. Plus this was the first he'd heard of accusations of torture against the Zetans to boot.

The string of what he could recognize as an "old Earth language" at least was an interesting finishing touch as well, even if he didn't speak said language. But it wasn't utterly unfamiliar from his college days either to be frank.

It also seemed that some other parties were arriving for the first time as well, other nations whose gateways were finally opening. Ah. This place did always seem to be a bustle of business and things going on anyway.

"I'll be sure to relay your account to the Senate, though I wish we had been able to talk under better circumstances indeed. Your frustrations, at the very least, are most justified, and I can relate to having to gain diplomatic prowess on the fly...," the man said, giving a light nod to his fellow ambassador, uncrossing his hands and sitting back in his seat for a moment, "Though as an aside, just between us of course, I just want to make note of a small observation of mine before I head out. If I may-"

Christensen leaned forward again, with his elbows on his knees, his eyes glinting in the room's light briefly as he began to speak again in a calm and cool voice.

"Your implants are quite something, as I must note about when your people made a formal announcement about the ongoing issue here. That eye-based projector is most unique!

Likewise I must compliment your eye for detail, despite your own self-proclaimed lack of diplomatic experience! How you were able to tell I came here to investigate the ongoing war and issues behind it was most interesting. As if you knew we were doing something before I even arrived! Haha! Ah.

You in final also seem to have quite specific accounts, ah, at least for someone whose Gateway and space has been taken control over by a foreign power who is likely monitoring any detect-able communications coming to and from your homeworld. I will trust it comes through a very secure means of communication indeed, we all have likely had our own technological marvels to develop over 300 years of separation, and as such those means that can escape current means of detection must be quite sophisticated indeed.

Though in the end I must confess, the level of coordination your people have here on the station is also admirable...but all of this, especially the name of your nation itself, reminds me of something else as well."


The middle aged man let out a small sigh, before sheepishly rubbing the back of his head with an embarrassed look on his face.

"Please pardon an old man's silly ramblings, but what all of this reminds me of an insect of old Earth called a 'bee'. I studied it in my years of education after military service, you see, in my personal time. I find it to be a beautiful but fascinating specimen! I can even send you my notes and literature about them if you so desire later.

You see, bees are organized little things, like extensions of the hive itself. Talking without speaking. Ordered about without a single word or command given. They are part of the hive, individuals each yet also one of the whole at the same time. Like cogs in a machine, keeping it running together and in unison. Mankind in olden times seemed to take note of this with interest, and ultimately the concept found its way into certain parts of their ancient fiction and games in certain spots in turn."


The Xandalian Envoy gathered himself for a moment, before quietly standing up and trying to neaten up his attire. He then looked back at Sigma-Devi with a cordial and official smile once more. There was no ill will in his tone this whole time, nor ill will or hostility within the depths of his expression or smile.

"But, ah, please do not take my words in offense. None at all has been intended. Just some attempt at banter really...though truly I've never been good at small talk throughout all my life. Seems to worsen with age even.

But you see, I say this all because we've all been cast out over the vastness of the Milky Way and had to come to survive in one way or another. We've developed our own technologies, languages, and so forth. Frankly a number of us have run into alien species in some fashion or another, for better or for worse, and have come to ask questions about ourselves. Among these, especially once these Gateways re-opened, has come one major one I believe:

'What does it mean to be human?'

Now I don't know the full picture of your people, nor of any of the others quite frankly. I don't think anyone does. Yet in my heart I would want to think we can all come to an understanding of how to answer that question together, to find that as varied as people can themselves be that humanity can take on various forms and remains at their core 'human' despite all of our differences.

Hmm. That does come off as a tad idealistic, doesn't it? Apologies. I've taken much of your time, and I believe you have new nations to try to get to know and speak with. Perhaps there will be more friends waiting in the wings. I can only hope so at the very least! But I do have a report to write, and frankly speaking my retinue of guards at the embassy will worry if I am gone too long."


The door whooshed open once more as Christensen made his way back over, only to half-turn back to Sigma-Devi and give a friendly goodbye wave.

"I hope we can talk next on more pleasant terms. But I will make sure to send a gift basket of Xandalian fruits and food to you by the end of today! It isn't much, I know, but perhaps it will all be a nice treat and help you keep up the energy in your work here, no? Until then!"

With that, the envoy left without another word. All that would remain would be his calm footsteps down the hall, shoes clacking lightly on the metal floor of the space station's halls.

@Irredeemable




Senate Floor, Capital City of Thalus, Xandal


"The Decision"





It would be a number of days as the Senate debated the matter of the matter, as the whole matter itself was one of the biggest events in Xandalian history. Two foreign powers were at war after the past six months, and both sides were worrying in their own rights. Unsubstantiated but unable to be investigated claims had been made against each other. Propoganda had been sent out. Announcements at the Meeting Place had been made. Diplomats and Envoys had been used to try to get a picture of what was going on. Clashing definitions of what was 'truly human' or not were coming up. Likewise emotions were running high, all because the Xandalian people themselves were debating the very war itself and arguing for one side or the other...all without as much of a clear majority as the Senate would have desired to see.

In the end, the Senate had been trying to get to the root of what was going on behind the so-called "Zetan War" in order to make up their own minds about it all. However, time was not kind and the moment to make a decision about things had closed in far sooner than anyone had wanted it to.

Would they assist the beleaguered Zetans? Would they take them as not being the threat the ECU and Undefeated had presented them as? Would they define the admittedly suspicious and somewhat more alien than others branch of humanity as being worth protecting? Did the Zetans present any sort of danger to the Republic, or did the actions of the war's aggressors ring out as hollow and foolish? What was considered a means of self-alteration and design that made one 'dangerous' to all somehow?

Likewise, would they turn and support the ECU and Undefeated? Would they go and leap upon a potentially very real threat to humanity, erasing an aberration of existence that could undermine the free will of the people one day through the export and import of foreign cybernetics and implants? Were the Zetans truly a danger, and they had not seen it as early as others? Were they trying too hard to be diplomatic, and risking their own people by remaining in ignorant bliss?

On another hand, would they simply just declare themselves neutral to this matter and remove themselves from the equation to avoid the issue altogether?




Meeting Place, Sol Space


"The Announcement"





It was no easy thing.

If they chose one option they would inevitably engage in a war on one side, fighting two nations and trying to save one that was being backed into a corner...all with no guarantee that other nations wouldn't get involved on the other side due to their own involvement (among other things). On the other, they could end up joining the aggressors, seeking to purge a potential danger and threat to them all...but if they were wrong, it meant committing what was tantamount to 'genocide' against a way of life and people. They had no way of knowing how far the ECU and Undefeated would go with this, after all, or if the Zetans would return the favor and be just as bad if they survived and 'won' this conflict. And in the end if they sat idly by as well, would their conscience truly allow them to rest and be at ease about this whole affair?

Inn the end, the Senate came to its conclusion, and Envoy Christensen would be given the order to make an announcement to the whole of the Meeting Place-

"People of the Meeting Place, Ambassadors and Delegates and Envoys and so forth alike, as well as any ships who are able to listen to this broadcast beyond the station. Most of you, at least, have likely heard both sides off an issue that has developed...one that has no small amount of ramifications on either side. A war has been ongoing between the Earth Cultural Union, alongside their allies in the form of the Undefeated, against the defender in the form of the implant and cybernetics-using Zetan Consciousness.

On one end, the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated have declared the Zetans to be a danger and threat to us all. Especially so, they have accused the Zetans of kidnapping one of the ECU's own scientists against his will. And worse. They claim to seek to avoid further incidents like this ever again, and insinuate their actions seem to protect us from some danger. The Earth Cultural Union in particular has also sent large amounts of propaganda to the Xandalian people, my people, to try to sway them to their cause, and I have no idea if other nations have been targeted by varying levels of this foreign propaganda in turn to try to seize the support of other peoples beyond their own. Likewise their joint blockade prevents vessels from ascertaining the true situation of the ongoing war, as even one of our own fully neutral diplomatic vessels, after going into Zetan Space, was pressured to comply with demands despite going there to simply host a meeting and try to understand just what is really going on out there.

On the other end, the Zetans claim the scientist defected and immigrated of his own free will. They place numerous charges of war crimes against the ECU and Undefeated, ranging from attacking civilian centers to destroying hydroponics to shooting prisoners of war out of an airlock to execute them. As we cannot validate the claims of the Earth Cultural Union and their allies, nor can we validate the myriad claims of the Zetans in return. Are they the threat those who are fighting them, doing so even now as I speak to you all, claim them to be and have been preaching since the start? Is their augmentation a deviancy from humanity, one that requires correction? Are their actions of taking in a foreign citizen aggressive and kidnapping, or were they assisting an unhappy individual to immigrate and settle in a new place more accommodating of them and accepting?"


The Envoy declared his words with clear annunciation, trying to choose them well as he spoke in what would be a rather...definitive answer from his nation.

"In truth, my fellow representatives upon this station, and those whose ships have arrived just beyond it, we are unable to know for sure. None have allowed us to know for sure, or to find out for sure. Secrets have been hidden, actions have been kept from the international eye or otherwise spoken for themselves, and so forth. For all we know, a genocide could be in the process.

Thus I take to making this neutral announcement on behalf of the Senate of the sovereign Xandalian Republic, seeking to be as neutral and informative as I can to you all about this matter. Do not let rhetorical 'fluff' and simple face-value claims and misinformation cloud your judgements, but let yourselves and your nations decide for themselves what is right and wrong in this issue. It is your governments' rights to decide for themselves, just as it is was the right of all mankind and its branches over the last 300 years of isolation to become as we were forced to by our surroundings or desired to on our own, but as for the Xandalian Republic the way forward is clear enough in regards to this matter."


Then came the biggest part of all...

"I, Envoy Christensen, on behalf of and by the most direct and clear orders of the Xandalian Senate and the people of the Republic, declare the following:

'Our people have been accosted by aggressive foreign propaganda by the Earth Cultural Union, in this seeking to undermine our government and the free will of our people by subterfuge. The Earth Cultural Union and Undefeated have continued to censor the details of this war through their blockade, and the demands made upon a neutral vessel that the Republic sent to Zetan space are continued evidence of this point of seeking to censor the truth. What little information we have, as none of the aggressors in this conflict have given us means to ascertain if they tell the truth or not, indicates that the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated seek to not simply recapture a supposedly kidnapped citizen, who frankly alternately might have fled his nation of origin due to discrimination and cruel treatment, but also to persecute the Zetan people in cruel and unusual ways.

Even the representative of the Earth Cultural Union has admitted in a prior announcement that they do not possess knowledge of the truth about this 'abduction', and yet they and the Undefeated have pursued not a diplomatic route to this matter. No, they did not. They have instead chosen the path of invasion and destruction upon another nation and its people, even to waste the lives of their own troops and people upon a conflict that need not happen in the first place. No, this needless violence cannot stand as it is, and the Xandalian Republic will not tolerate the continuance of this unclear situation as it currently stands from what little we know.

Being held back from the full truth of this matter primarily but not wholly by the very actions of the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated, we are left with only one choice and one demand to make - If the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated do not cease hostile actions against the Zetan Consciousness, and all parties cease any censorship of this issue and stop the bloodshed involved so a neutral international delegation can be formed too enter and help solve this matter peacefully, we will be forced to formally Declare War on the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated.

In the sole case that the former two parties comply fully and prove truthful, yet the Zetan Consciousness is hostile or equally as abrasive or censoring or the like towards or in regards to the the Republic or its people, we will be forced to Declare War on them accordingly on the side of the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated.

We in turn, the Senate and people of the Xandalian Republic, petition with and plead to the other nations assembled here to seek the truth of this conflict on your own and decide for yourselves. Whether you agree without our decision or not, you should not be held back from the truth if you wish to learn it.'
"


@Kale19@Raylah@Irredeemable@Sigma@Sep@Tortoise@Sophrus
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The Endurance // Meeting Place // Sol

Commander McCrorie


Commander McCrorie sat in his quarters with his aide. On the computer screen on the corner of the wall the broadcast from a group known as the Xandalian Republic was playing:

'Our people have been accosted by aggressive foreign propaganda by the Earth Cultural Union, in this seeking to undermine our government and the free will of our people by subterfuge. The Earth Cultural Union and Undefeated have continued to censor the details of this war through their blockade, and the demands made upon a neutral vessel that the Republic sent to Zetan space are continued evidence of this point of seeking to censor the truth. What little information we have, as none of the aggressors in this conflict have given us means to ascertain if they tell the truth or not, indicates that the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated seek to not simply recapture a supposedly kidnapped citizen, who frankly alternately might have fled his nation of origin due to discrimination and cruel treatment, but also to persecute the Zetan people in cruel and unusual ways.

Even the representative of the Earth Cultural Union has admitted in a prior announcement that they do not possess knowledge of the truth about this 'abduction', and yet they and the Undefeated have pursued not a diplomatic route to this matter. No, they did not. They have instead chosen the path of invasion and destruction upon another nation and its people, even to waste the lives of their own troops and people upon a conflict that need not happen in the first place. No, this needless violence cannot stand as it is, and the Xandalian Republic will not tolerate the continuance of this unclear situation as it currently stands from what little we know.

Being held back from the full truth of this matter primarily but not wholly by the very actions of the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated, we are left with only one choice and one demand to make - If the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated do not cease hostile actions against the Zetan Consciousness, and all parties cease any censorship of this issue and stop the bloodshed involved so a neutral international delegation can be formed too enter and help solve this matter peacefully, we will be forced to formally Declare War on the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated.

In the sole case that the former two parties comply fully and prove truthful, yet the Zetan Consciousness is hostile or equally as abrasive or censoring or the like towards or in regards to the the Republic or its people, we will be forced to Declare War on them accordingly on the side of the Earth Cultural Union and the Undefeated.

We in turn, the Senate and people of the Xandalian Republic, petition with and plead to the other nations assembled here to seek the truth of this conflict on your own and decide for yourselves. Whether you agree without our decision or not, you should not be held back from the truth if you wish to learn it.'"


McCrorie sat stroking his beard. The nation that Representative Mackenzie had already made contact with was from the Undefeated. He flicked through her notes of the encounter. They had talked about their militancy and the trials that they faced on their home planet. The fact that they had developed into a Militant society wasn't too much of a surprise. This Earth Cultural Union had already made contact, in fact Representative Baum was currently preparing for a meeting with a representative from that nation in the pilots rec-room. "We're going to have to relay this information back to the board."

McCrorie nodded at his aide. "Exactly. War time might be good for business, but not when we're just entering the field and don't know all the players. Especially if there's some misinformation going around. Get in touch with this-" he checked his notes from the broadcast. "-Xandalian Republic. See if we can schedule some form of meeting for one of our Representatives."

"At once sir." Edwards turned and lef the room, as soon as he had reached the communication terminal the offer would go out to meet with their ambassador. Either wearing a protective suit aboard the meeting place, or alternatively inviting them aboard the Endurance.




Representative Anders // Meeting Place // Sol System



Representative Tobius Gibbson walked through the halls of the station with his helmet under his arm. The air in the station appeared to be clean, however, he could feel the additional weight bearing down on him. What with the gravity being more than what his body had grown accustomed to, he'd have looked like an invalid trying to walk around without his suit. As it was he garnered some strange looks, though he wasn't entirely sure if that this was due to his wearing a suit or if it was just because it was a design aesthetic that the people here were unfamiliar with.

Eventually, he reached the corridor that the station map had advised him would lead to the 'Zetan' Embassy. After the broadcast, having met the Undefeated the Commander was quite interested in meeting the Zetans. Especially since the Xandalians representative had mentioned their use of Cybernetics.

Also, there were real business opportunities with the underdog in a war. Especially if a truce or a period of peace was on the table, rebuilding meant possibilities for the industry. He brushed past the graffiti and the people that drew him ugly looks as he waltzed straight into the embassy, he was slightly taken aback by the mix-match of technology and humanity that stood to greet him behind the counter. Taking a deep breath to bring himself back into check he walked up to the counter, took a business card out of his pocket and placed it on the counter. Sliding it towards, what he assumed was a Zetan. "Greetings, I am Representative Tobius Gibbson from the Lorne Administration, and I was wondering if I could talk to someone to open dialogue between your people and ourselves."



The Arcadius // Administration Space


Captain Anders and Aide stood in the observation room looking in on the artefact, as various Aides ran scanners and various tools around it. Careful not to touch its surface. It had been brought aboard and then transported directly to this room, every section of the ship it had been through had been thoroughly decontaminated afterwards. Anders had spoken to the board and they were already sending a science ship to come to collect the artefact. He was thankful for that, he didn't want to keep it on his ship a moment longer than he had to. The sooner he could resume his normal duties. Instead, he had been told to hold position and cease all operations until the science ship came and took over, afterwhich he would be required to move to a different location to continue operations.

He sighed in frustration.

"What's the matter Captain?"

"Nothing Aide. I just want to get back to work."

"This is quite an important discovery, previously there have been no signs of intelligent life within this system. This is a massive discovery for the Administration."

Anders looked at it sceptically. "I just find it a little too convenient. The gateway opens, then weeks later at the most, we come across some alien artefact? For all we know it drifted through the gateway and just found its way to rest here."

"That is what the scientists aboard the Prometheus will endeavour to find out. If not though, it could prove that we are not alone out here."

"That idea doesn't make me too happy either."
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Hidden 4 days ago Post by Raylah
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Raylah

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The Meeting Place neutral station, Sol system
Addressing everyone


Kelsie wished she could be somewhere else. Anywhere. Combat drill camp, war front, hard vacuum of outer space. Didn’t really matter, just not in her spartan office on the Meeting Place, having to talk to the Grand General. She had just retransmitted the Xandalian announcement both back to Ellara and to the fleet in the Zetan system, and just minutes later received an urgent call from Oscar Pawlowski himself.

None of this mess was her fault (at least she believed it wasn’t), yet she felt nervous when a frowning face of the Grand General appeared on the screen. “Sir.” She was not really sure what to say.

General rubbed his temples. “I think we can drop the formalities when it’s just the two of us.” He looked exhausted and older somehow as if he had aged years in the past few days. “I will talk to the rest of the high command later, but for now I just wanted to talk to you. The Xandalians have just dropped a bomb and we need to act fast before the dust settles. There still hasn’t been any official reaction from the ECU?” Kelsie shook her head. “Good, it’s better we beat them to this. Now listen carefully, because I really don’t have time to repeat myself. This is how we are going to spin this… defeat.”

Kelsie wasn't able to hide her surprise. Speechless, she stared at Oscar. That word was a taboo in their culture, to admit a defeat was unimaginable, especially by a Grand General.

“Yes, I’ve said it. We got our asses kicked, lost thousands of men in a stupid conflict. And, as a bonus, we are going to end up in total diplomatic isolation, except for our amazing friends from the ECU, of course. Who would want to have any diplomatic relations with aggressive militants who commit war crimes wherever they put their feet on?”

He was so bitter, this was not the Oscar Pawlowski Kelsie knew. “Sir? Where is this coming from?”

He snorted. “Don’t even ask. Anyway, we need to salvage the situation as much as possible. I will handle things back home, but you need to be our friendly diplomatic face we show to the other nations. It is vital that we redeem our reputation, even if it means not being completely fair to our allies.”

So this was his plan. “You want to blame it all on the ECU.”

“In short, yes. Do you have a problem with it?” His eyes squinted.

Did she? Kelsie liked Abadi, but that was just one person. The rest, well... there wasn’t much to like. Especially after reading Commander Harlowe’s report on the Protector training methods, Kelsie had doubts about their alliance with such people. “No, sir.”

“Good,” he nodded. “I have faith in you, Kelsie. Don’t let me down.” With those words, he ended the transmission.

Shivers ran down her spine. Sure, make some miracles happen, and don’t let me down. Sir, yes, sir. How the hell was she supposed to do that?

~~~~~~~~


Her eyes skimmed the paper one last time. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the best she, David, and Julianna could come up with in the limited time they had before the ECU published their own reaction to the Xandalian proclamation. David gave her thumbs up as she looked into the camera, took a deep breath, and started talking.

“I am Guardian Kelsie Blackwood and I am a representative of the Undefeated here on the Meeting Place. I would like to relay our leadership's reaction to the Xandalian declaration and explain some… confusion and misinterpretations that apparently emerged. The Undefeated never declared war against the Zetans.” A tricky wordplay, but it was the truth. “Any military actions we took were only to support our ally, the Earth Cultural Union, in their righteous attempt to rescue their kidnapped citizen. We believe that any other nation would, and should, act the same way to protect its people.

We refuse any accusations of war crimes versus the Zetan civilian population. If any civilian centers were attacked, it was purely in an attempt to retrieve doctor Bodi. There were no targeted attacks on civilian infrastructure, our men took no prisoners of war, and no cruel or unusual methods of combat were used.” Of course, they didn’t blow Zetan hydroponics. They didn’t even find Zetan hydroponics. Maybe some of the underground teams got lucky before they died, but had no means of relaying the message to the surface.

Kelsie and David had a big debate on the ‘cruel and unusual methods of combat’ part. David wanted to point out that it was in fact the Zetans, who used extremely cruel methods of combat against the Undefeated soldiers during the tunnel fights. But Kelsie decisively refused. The Zetans were defending their homes, and as such were entitled to use any means possible. Best not to overanalyze who did what to whom, it might put the Undefeated in the bad light. Well, in a worse light than they were already in.

“Envoy Christensen mentioned us censoring the details about the war and accused us of not allowing their ship to move freely in the system. Any ship moving through a warzone is at constant risk of being destroyed. So, if any demands were made on the Xandalian vessel’s route (and they certainly were not made by us), it was purely for their own protection. I would like to point out that we weren’t even a part of the negotiations that later took place on said ship.” Kelsie had to admit that not participating in those talks was a smart move by the Grand General. Now they looked like they had nothing to do with planning and leading the war - basically, they were just a ‘hired muscle’ helping out a friend. Which was exactly what they were trying to convince others now.

“I know my nation can come off as militaristic and potentially dangerous to you. But believe me, we strive for peace just like any of you. Yes, we do not like the Zetans. You might even say we despise them for tossing their humanity away. That is true. But we do not wish for their demise or destruction.” That was a lie. A big fat one. Kelsie was not happy about saying it, but it was the only direct lie she was going to say in the transmission, and it was the one that needed to be said most. “As long as they refrain from any form of contact with our people, we have no reason for any hostile actions against them.”

“Even before the Xandalian message was transmitted, we had ceased combat actions on the surface, only maintaining a presence in the space around Zeta-5 and the adjacent Gateway to support our ally's endeavors. As a gesture of good will and proof of our peaceful intentions, our ships are now being recalled back to our homeworld.

It is our wish and hopes that this unfortunate incident will not damage the current and future good relationships we have or are about to establish with other nations present here on the Meeting Place.” Kelsie kept smiling into the camera until the red light shut down. Then her forehead made a loud bang noise as it hit the surface of the table. “I hate being a diplomat.”

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Hidden 4 days ago 4 days ago Post by Tortoise
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Tortoise A Land Turtle

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(Addressing: Everyone)


There's a screeching, thrumping, bass-heavy sound echoing through the holo-suite gym. It's music, of a kind. Protector Chief Davids was stationed at the Meeting Place after they withdrew the protectors- his protectors- from Zeta, and he's listened to nothing but "death metal" since. Really, he doesn't even like it. But it gives a focus for the unwanted old thoughts that keep pumping through his head. If you turn the music up loud enough, and you hit a punching bag hard enough and work yourself halfway to exhaustion, you can almost stop thinking. Almost.

He strikes the punching bag another time, all of his weight and height thrown into it, and for a moment he feels triumphant again. But then he collapses forward and has to grasp the bag to stay steady, and his mind is filled with things he's trying to forget- blood and gore, and smashing a face into the pavement, and splitting a civilian's skull on New Hollywood, and sitting in his chair on the Memory listening to protectors screaming for help, far below on the surface of Zeta, facing an enemy they can't just grind into dust like they could the people of New Hollywood, and nobody wants to help, and there's nothing anyone can do, and someone needs to pay for this, and-

Thump. Thump. Thump. He can hear his heart beat. It's louder than it's supposed to be, he thinks. So he closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, and tries not to think at all. It takes several minutes to steady himself.

There's another sound in the holo-suite, besides the metal and the heartbeat. The 'announcement' from Envoy Christensen is playing at a volume to be heard over the music. Why is he talking like that? Maybe, if, maybe, we don't know- say what you came to say, you little-

And then Davids has to stop again, because his heart is threatening to jump out of his chest. He's so angry. He doesn't even know when he started being this mad, but it's gone on so long now that it feels like a part of him, and he can't hate it anymore. He wakes up mad. He's hurt so many people.

The Envoy is talking again, and he's saying things that makes Davids want to hurt him, too. The words aren't specific at this point. Davids can only hear half of them, if even that. His mind is filled with something like a rushing sound, that makes it hard to focus or hear anything. But what he understands makes it worse. "Declare war."

Davids closes his eyes tighter than before, and bites the inside of his cheek. He remembers protector training, the way they conditioned him, and he remembers all the things he did afterwards sharper than anything else. There's something wrong with his mind. He can barely recall his own name sometimes, but every remembered action of violence is crystal-clear like the best holo-suite money can buy. They play through his mind on loop. It feels like a punishment.

He clenches his teeth so tight that the inside skin of his cheek bursts open, filling his mouth with blood. War. Memories. The Memory. Envoy Christensen. And the Earth-damned Zetans.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

He opens his eyes. He knows what he needs to do.

~~~~~~~~

(Starring: Heralds)


It's getting worse.

From his high window, Heralds can see the entire city of Neo Jerusalem- the new, small "capital" of New Hollywood. It's not a colorful place. It's not a loud place. It's not a bright, musical or fun place. It's the kind of place that Heralds likes; which is nothing, nothing at all like the rest of New Hollywood. The predominate colors are gray and brown. Most of the buildings have been left in their original designs, clearly still Bezian: squat, wide compounds with doorways that five men could enter together, if they're all willing to duck. It doesn't seem made for humanity.

But look, there the humans are, crowding into the large boulevard-like streets, many of them holding signs. Heralds didn't intend to read them, but his eyes still do as soon as they flick over the lettering, spotting messages of "Send our protectors home!" and "We won't go!"

He came here to get away from this. It was the entire point of moving the bureaucratic out here to the wastelands. But the discontents followed them, all the way from the streets of Neo London, and New Beijing- currently reigniting its old revolutionary fervor. They aren't very organized yet, thankfully, but they're getting there. There's a troublesome woman who's near to becoming a leader: Martina Ward. One of the Mixtists, and according to police files, a repeat offender when it comes to her anti-Earth activities. She'll need to be dealt with, soon, before she's big enough to be a martyr. Timing is vital. Timing is everything, always.

Heralds turns his back on the still-growing crowd, and goes to planning.

~~~~~~~~

(Addressing: @Sep)

(Starring: Andrei)


Andrei is a little surprised to see a robot here, and for a moment remembers that awkward meeting with the Zetans that already feels like a lifetime ago. But hey, he's only, like, forty percent as drunk now as he was that day. So perhaps he'll avoid insulting an entire species and possibly, maybe, indirectly causing an intergalactic war.

Perhaps. Clad in his usual white shirt and slicked back hair, the Dis-Count Dracula makes no promises.

The odds of conflict do seem to be going down, though, as the little robot leads him through corridors of the Lorne vessel. It doesn't seem threatening at all. Not much like a warform, or a cyborg. More like an Old Earth 20th Century printer, adding wheels and a personality. If this is what the Lorne like to do, well, they could be much worse.

The machine deposits him in what looks like a rec-room or a bar, and he can't help but say "Thanks, little guy," to which it replies with happy trills. He turns and smiles to his host in the same moment, already trying to figure out how he's meant to do damage control here: he heard a snippet of the broadcast as he was coming onboard, and knew the war just took a turn for the worst. But really? Maybe it's for the better.

How can he continue to do without security guards?

"Nice to meet you," Andrei says, guard-less, to the Lorne woman. "As mentioned, I am Andrei Fedorov, an 'Oligarch' from the ECU, but don't let that title fool you, we're not all stuffy rich men." We're cool rich men, he thinks, and laughs out loud in a friendly way. "I'm sure you've heard the drama going down on the station right now, but I'm not here to talk about all that. I think the ECU and your people could have an opportunity coming up..."

~~~~~~~~

(Addressing: Everyone)


Thump, thump, thump again. Is it nerves, or something worse? Davids' heart has been having trouble for years now. Too much fat, too much stress, the doctors wanted to replace it- but he won't let them. That's what Bodi did, and look what happened to him. Davids is going to go down with his own flesh still beating inside him, and he's going out with a bang.

His thoughts are getting stranger, as he gets closer to his goal. More primitive. Right now, there's nothing in his head about Zeta or Oligarchs or the ECU, or pain or blood or killing. He only feels the Meeting Place floors under his feet, and the cold gun in his hand. There's nothing else left anymore. He knows what he's going to do. He couldn't tell you why, in Old English or any other tongue, but his heart knows it. Maybe that's why it's hurting and beating so hard.

He's out of the ECU doors, he's shoved confused little diplomats out of the path, he's forced his way through restricted areas with speed and threats, and now he's finally approaching him. Envoy Christensen is still there, good. Davids is going to do this. They won't let the protectors do anything anymore, they're not good enough anymore, but this is the one thing he knows, and he's going to do it. The Chief reaches for his gun...

~~~~~~~~

(Addressing: Everyone, especially @Crusader Lord)

(Starring: Tanaka)


Tanaka is having a rough day. A lot of days are rough, on the Meeting Place, but this one especially. That horrible announcement from the Xandalians comes out, and he's going to be the one expected to do damage control. Nobody has told him that, exactly, but he's sure it's true. He's the Liason. Why would Heralds make him Liason if this wasn't his job? It's only lucky he was wearing an ear piece, or he wouldn't have heard the broadcast at all.

He excuses himself quickly away from his talk with the Aurigan diplomat (nice people, he thinks, but this takes priority) and practically runs across the station. He only stops for the sake of picking up one thing from the ECU section: a hovering camera bot. It's a beautiful little device, designed to float behind you and record interactions with others. Then the footage can get sent back to the boys at New Hollywood to get spun into- well, into propaganda. But it's for a good cause, right? And Tanaka wants to help. Heralds has put a lot of faith in him. He's going to make the best propaganda ever!

He's approaching Christensen now, his camera bot faithfully floating behind him, ready to record Tanaka's most elegant defense of the ECU. He already has it planned. In ten minutes, he expects to have the Xandalians formally apologizing to the Cultural Unio-

Wait. What is that?

In the corner of his eye, Tanaka spots a familiar face, and then a familiar, hulking frame. What is Chief Davids doing here? He's not, technically speaking, even allowed off of the ECU segment. And what is that in his hands?

Oh. Oh no.

"Stop!" is all the Liason can think to shout. But Daniels only spares him a single, unfocused glance. His hand is at his gun, drawing it from the holster. This can only be one thing. "Stop!," Tanaka shouts again. Why, by Earth, isn't he listening? All protectors listen to Oligarchs! But the fat man now has the pistol firmly in hand, he's staring down Christensen like a hunter does a deer, he's beginning to raise the weapon-

And in that split-second, Tanaka's mind (as always) being full with images of cowboys and shoot-outs and valiant stands, makes a decision. He has had a small pistol with him for much of his time on the Meeting Place, technically for emergencies, but mostly because its holster goes with his hat. He can't even remember if it's loaded. But his hand grasps it quickly, draws it fast, and takes aim at the protector.

Who is faster with a gun than a pampered Oligarch, as it turns out. Davids twists suddenly, and instead of shooting for Christensen, loads three bullets into Tanaka before he can fire once. He falls backwards, not feeling the pain yet. Only the shock. Tanaka, the rich young man wishing he were a cowboy, never honestly imagined something bad could happen to him.

His camera bot eagerly records the entire transaction. When they go over footage later, it will be seen that Davids then twisted back to try shooting Christensen in the same way. Luckily for the Envoy, the Xandalians are made of sterner stuff than baseline humans, and he rushes Davids fearlessly. It's close quarters combat, fast and hard to capture, but Christensen pins Davids at last against a wall, and under the strain of this fistfight, his heart seems to finally overtake him. As teams rush in to try saving Tanaka, Davids collapses, red-faced, clutching to his chest, and does not stand up again.

~~~~~~~~

(Starring: Abadi)


"How do we spin this?" The voice on the transmitter asks. Abadi laughs bitterly.

"How can we? One of our men tried killing another nation's diplomat. We're lucky they don't all declare war on us."

"Don't be such a defeatist. It's all in the optics. Look, listen, here's what we'll say. Davids wasn't acting on behalf of the ECU-"

"That's true enough."

"And, and, he had traumatic stress or somethin' from fighting the Zetans. Say they captured him and tortured him real bad. He went nuts, maybe he was even brainwashed. And then focus on Tanaka. Say he was a hero, who tried to save that, uh, that Xandie whoever even when he was talking about declaring war on the ECU."

"Make it all about Tanaka? Really?"

"Yeah, he'll be our, whaddya call it, our martyr. He took a dozen bullets tryin' to defend a fellow human. Hey, 'cause the ECU stands for humanity, right? And it's not our fault the Zetans drove Davids crazy."

Abadi fights the temptation to correct that Davids probably never fought a single Zetan, or that Tanaka isn't a martyr when he's not technically dead yet. He's in the ECU section, under guard, with their only doctor looking over him. The prognosis isn't good. He might well be a martyr by the end of this, but Abadi isn't going to call him that before she has to.

Poor man.

"Ugh," she answers the man on the transmitter. "Fine. I'll get that viewpoint circulated. You can tell Heralds it's being taken care of."

"Hey, then why all the grump, darling? We're the good guys here."

Abadi looks out of her office window, across the hall, to where Tanaka is fighting for his life. "Are we?"
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Hidden 3 days ago Post by Sophrus
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Sophrus

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Captain Threa report of the Sol system

Upon arrival to the Sol system a greeting was transmitted in the clear and should have been available to any ships listening. However shortly after our arrival communication traffic sharply increased, though with many different encryption schemas. We believe that this is a result of multiple separate nations reacting to some event. Initially it seemed as though our arrival was the cause, however as no ships attempted communication or challenged our presence it seems that this is not the case.

Speculation among the crew is that some diplomatic exchange happened that coincided with our arrival that has consumed the attention span of the resources in system. We will investigate further and try to get a general view of the political situation. Thus far we have identified the presence of likely 5 nations perhaps more, though we have limited data currently.

Preliminary survey of Earth and local space, Earth is a dead world as far as we can tell. Without an extensive survey the exact state is unknown but by our readings it is lifeless. In local orbit are several stations, we will attempt to close and dock with one of these stations. If challenged or threatened we will retreat and try our luck at another. We may have luck once we arrive on station.




48hours later - The Meeting Place neutral station

"Unknown Station, this is the New Horizons explorer, requesting permission to dock" The ship transmitted loudly and in the clear, in every manner the crew could devise. The explorer sat safely beyond the ranged of normal docking and navigational traffic with each of its laser cannons pointed away from the station to appear non-threatening as possible.
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Hidden 3 days ago Post by Kale19
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Kale19 Is mayonnaise an instrument?

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"Your highness?"
"General smith, yes, come sit down."
"We appear to have gotten a message from an unknown source. It's cutting in and out, but we heard the major parts."
"Yes?"
"Well, there appears to be a war breaking out between three other survivor planets. The ECU, the Undefeated, and the The Zetan Consciousness."
"How does this concern the building status of the Raft? And or '35'?"
"The raft is near completed, and we believe the Undefeated may have shot down '35.' It seams as though '35' was hovering on their surface before getting going down. The Radar feed just came back, it happened almost two weeks ago."
"Begin research on the other planets. I believe a war may be starting."

* * *


"Steady, steady, steady... Drop!"
A massive metal beam fell into place on the raft. Everyone over the age of 18 was working on construction, although not all of them would be aloud to enter. Everyone under the age of 18 for humans and 10 for abberians was guaranteed a spot, other then that you had to hope you won the lottery with a planet full of people if you wanted to survive. A smaller ship was being worked on, although it probably wouldn't be finished in time.
The crew of the raft was making good time, and with the influx of abberian workers construction was at an all time high. Although, both abberians and humans had lost family and friends to another, so perhaps tensions were even higher. Most of the people of the dead drift had just learned that peace was the mission, and were having trouble adjusting to it.



"We have them right where we want them."
"Yes my queen, of course we do, all part of your excellent, wonderful, amazing-"
"Shut up, had you not been the strongest and largest guard in the group I never would have chosen you to be my mate."
These comments came from around the battle table of the queen abberian herself. They had been planning this for years, the hostile takeover of the Dead drift. The queen couldn't believe the highest sovereign had been so gullible.
"We attack from the inside. Our workers will kill any human in sight once the construction of the raft is finished. Then I will lead the 'strike force' onto the ship. We keep the crew alive until we reach our destination."
"Excellent, amazing, wonderful, astounding, brilliant."
The queen's mate would continue complimenting her. If he stopped then he would be the third mate to be killed by the queen.



"Shhh, shh, sh... What was that?"
"Shut. Up. Kfuu."
"I think. I think... it's the sound of SGT Rodgers needing help. But no, that's impossible, right? He never needs help. Oh , wait his legs."
"Shh." Ralo interrupted gently setting SGT Rodgers down in the rubble, "Something's close."
All four of them pulled out their weapons. Even SGT Rodgers, who was laying on the ground. They were witnessing a large creature, known to the the natives as the "Croco". It resembled a massive crocodile, only slightly smaller then a future Gharial, although it resembled a crocodile what distinctly set it apart was it's legs, They weren't crocodilian, they were equine-esque. This behemoth was just finishing up eating the body Gorb, who both, was one of the abberians yelled at by SGT Rodgers before they entered the rift, and the only abberian to see the inside of a Croco's mouth.
"That sucker's massive." Whispered SGT Scott, aiming her stun-rifle at it's neck.
"Not bigger then a Gharial though, I outran one of those things once, and you know that- HOLY SARAKU!"
Saraku is an abberian curse. It also means Commodity in the language of Kannada, but that's not important right now. Anyways, this scream was caused by the A screecher leaping in front of Kfuu while he watched the Croco eat. In less then a second three weapons were fired. The Screecher dropped dead, but now that wasn't the biggest problem, the biggest problem was what was next.

* * *


A large flock of birds flew directly at the survivors. If you had the time to stop and look you'd see they were future wrens, fleeing yet again from the native wildlife. If you had been paying attention to them you would have noticed they flew off into a nearby cave. This cave is also the reason why there are no future wrens on Ellara.
The group didn't have time to notice any of these things. As they were tearing down the jungle attempting to get away from the creature that had scared the flock. Resembling a Pteranodon the "Pterro" was a deadly sky predator on Ellara. Although they mostly stayed away from the ground, the wrens had unknowingly directed them to easy prey. Within a matter of seconds all four had been grabbed and were being lifted up to the Pterro's home, possibly to feed their babies.
Hidden 9 hrs ago 9 hrs ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster

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One. One-One. One-One-Two. One-One-One-Two...the counting keeps going on and on. Everyday, every moment. Multiple goals, One person.

Survive, multiply, find what happened. What if it happens again? Are we alone? No. No longer alone, together. Forever. Find a way, maybe it's possible, leave the planet. No, impossible. Ship ready but maybe not ready. Where to go? No need to go. Together is better.
thoughts of the One


All of the thoughts of the One were mostly the same, everyday. Every night. Every single moment of their existence, from the moment they were made they had these thoughts. Not clones but the extensions of One. Working, researching. Each thought is similar but unique.
Everything ended when a bright light filled the sky. The Gateway was opening again.

As soon as the lights stopped, machinery long though inoperable/unpowered started making sounds. Lights went up all around the city and for once in the history of The One, everyone stopped working. Abandoned their work and watched the sky, understanding what happened. A few thousands of the One went straight away to record the memory for the new ones that came. More went to study the new machines which suddenly activated. Most still remained inoperable due to the lack of knowledge regarding them. What would happen if a wrong button would be pressed? Would the Dome open to the raging elements outside?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


A moment passes and then a course of action is decided. The ship will be sent through the Gateway, if it comes back, it will bring some raw materials. Maybe some food. If not, then, they'll die. More will be made. More will take their place and eventually pass through the Gateway. Maybe other colonies made it. Maybe The One will be more once again.

Meat and blood are brought onboard the ship and a small group of 20 Ones, each followed by another 30 Ones to be used as emergency batteries. One short burst of pain and salvation for the others.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


After 60 years of trial and error, the space ship rose from the ground and up into the sky. It looked more like flying metal scrap than a spaceship but it flew. Switching from nuclear power to human batteries, the ship waved through the black spheres that were still emitting EMP pulses from time to time.
A few died but their loss was expected and understood. Choosing a location of transport at random, the ship went through the Gateway. Few pieces of metal falling off it in the process.

" May God guide our hands and hopefully we've chosen a planet that will help us. All of us. Zeta @Irredeemable. Interesting name. "
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