Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Irredeemable
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Irredeemable Decaffienated Thembie Supreme

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Once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward; for there you have been, and there you will long to return.

- Leonardo Da Vinci





In the depths of space, there sits technology unknown. Made by human hands, established by human grit and willpower, these miracles of science have lain dormant for three centuries, quietly awaiting the day when they might at last flare back to life. Today, that day has come. Although the creators of these machines lie dead, the planet they came from an ashen monument to the failures of humankind, something has awoken these great structures. At a signal unseen and unheard by the rest of the universe, these glorious creations begin to process new information. Once-ignored data winds its way through them all, and then, in an instant, there is light.

The Gateways open.




Misters gently breezed water up into a foreign sky, olive trees greedily gulping up the provided hydration. Through the gardens of the Cortes Generales, an army of Patricians marched, a veritable sea of military uniforms and business suits, some fresh from conflict zones, others having hurried from offices, yet more having come in from training or holidays. The halls of the Patrician's Congress hummed with activity, seating room filled, then overfilled, and then yet more patricians having to jostle for standing space. The senate had not been designed for so many people to all attend at once, built instead to allow for the core of those particularly politically motivated, but the recent opening of the Gateway hanging low above Azulvista's horizon had driven anyone who could come to do so. Everyone wanted to be here for this momentous occasion.

"Speaking now, Generalissimo Agustín de Aquila, President of the Gran Republic." Grandes Béatrice's voice cut through the hubbub and sparked a small smattering of applause from the collected throngs, news cameras adjusting their focusing to zoom in on the Gran Republic's leader.

He was a stony-faced man, and at a guess, one might have placed him in his fifties or sixties, but he was far more venerable than his appearance belied. He had been president for three electoral cycles now- over fifteen years of uncontested political dominance across the cliques and factions that made up Azulvista's government, but in all those years, no speech had been as important as this one.

"Friends. Patricians. Azulvistans. Lend me your ears." The man cast his arms out wide, to draw in listeners from across the worlds that the Gran Republic ruled over. "We stand today beneath not one, but two suns. We gaze at the first, and it brings us life. Nourishment. Power. We gaze at the second, and see limitless potential."

"Three centuries ago, our ancestors made their way here, risking everything they had ever known to give their descendants a better life than the one they had. Every day this Republic stands is another day we live up to the legacy of our ancestors and witness the glories that the saints have created for mankind."

"Today, we have the opportunity that none before us have. We have the opportunity to return to our cradle. To see Earth, to meet with those we were so cruelly cut off from, and to spread our proud nation and our prouder culture into an uncivilised galaxy." Applause rippled through the audience once more.

"The honour of returning to Earth will be given to none other than Alfonso De Caravajal. He is a righteous and noble individual, and just as his forefather once sailed the azure seas of our home planet, to seek out realms unknown and unexplored, so too will he." The applause rose as Alfonso stood up and took a deep bow.

"To all watching, be you patrician or plebeian, understand now that what we have been given is nothing more than a gift from the saints themselves. The galaxy awaits us, and together, we will welcome it, and lead the Gran Republic to a renaissance never before seen. I swear this, witnessed by the saints, and in the name of our people and our proud nation. Viva Azulvista. Viva la República!"




A formally-dressed man hurried through the cramped halls of the Khagn's flagship. He pushed aside a courtier, slammed his hand down on doors as if it would force the airlocks to part more rapidly, and then, finally, arrived outside the Khagn's inner court. Two Kheshigs turned to him, plumed helmets rustling slightly, and the man gulped.

"Vital news that must be delivered to the Great Khagn immediately," the man said, averting his gaze from the towering figures. "I know this is highly unprecedented, but I assure you that he will need to hear this."

The two Kheshigs turned to each other, and then each reached for the tremendous blast doors. Their armoured fingers dug into the small handholds, then, with a hiss, they parted, and the small man scurried through, quickly attempting to smooth down his clothing before he was face-to-face with the leader of the Khagnate.

Emerging out into the Great Khagn's throne room, he sank to his knees immediately, before kowtowing low, pressing his head against the floor.

A jovial voice replied to his act of submission. "What troubles my people so, that a learned man must rush to my throne room in such a hurry? Rise, and speak your piece."

The researcher let out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding in, then slowly rose to his feet, eyes briefly meeting with the High Khagn's. He was still a relatively young man, thirty-three by the standards of Earth. He was tall and limber, with a long moustache that reached down to his jawline. Although clad in synth-silk, his impressive physique was still obvious, earned from time spent in recovered biosculpting pods.

"Oh great and mighty Khagn, ruler of the Hordes and Ste-" Before the researcher had time to finish his sentence, the Khagn had waved him off.

"You are here to deliver a message, and it is apparently urgent. Speak then, and fret not about my titles." He sat cross-legged, relaxed and uncaring on his throne, the Kheshigs in the room still staring dead ahead, seemingly uncaring for the stressed but apparently harmless interloper into this most innermost of rooms.

"Great Khagn, forgive me if I speak the obvious, but when our venerable ancestors traversed the greatness of Uzay, they did not do so with mere engines. Instead, they used so called 'Gateways,' which shut shortly after they arrived. Today, now," he corrected himself hurriedly, "they have reopened, my liege. The Gateways stand ready. The oldest of our vessels have already begun to interface with the technology, including your flagship here, my liege."

The Great Khagn raised a single hand to his face, fingers stroking one whisker of his moustache. "Fascinating. Did we do this?"

"We are unsure, my liege. This vessel was not experimenting with any technology that should have interfaced with the Gateways, but..."

"There is always the possibility with what has been left for us, is there not?" The Khagn nodded in understanding.

"Indeed, Great Khagn."

The Khagn continued to stroke his moustache for a few more moments, before nodding slowly. "Very well." He turned to face another courtier, who had made herself small against the side of the room. "Send a message to the vessels within the Golden Horde. We will journey to the home of our ancestors. I will brook no failure."




The mass drivers of Aterrizaje's Spaceport began to hum and whine. The crew of La Introducción strapped themselves in and braced, before the electromagnets fired, and the craft was launched up into the sky, breaking through each layer of the atmosphere one after another, until sound faded, replaced by the stillness and silence of space. The crew quickly unstrapped themselves and set to work, and soon after the silence was replaced by the roar of the vessel's plasma generator, La Introducción's thrusters pushing the vessel towards the new sun that hung in space.

More than three hundred years had passed, and yet even now the Gateways interfaced with the Azulvistan vessels. The helmsman turned towards Alfonso, the question not needing to be asked.

"Set a course for Sol system. Vama nos."

With that order, the vessel passed through the light, and out, into the unknown.
Hidden 2 mos ago 1 mo ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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And so it happened, first with a spark, a wavering in space- and then a flash of blinding light and heat, a storm in the void, a celestial crescendo like a sun being born. And then only a steady light.

The Chosen witness it and believe it is a sign of the God-Queen. A sign that life will change.
A nation-wide summon is sent out. "Come to the Church. Join in the service. Hear the God-Queen’s words."

For Ashevelen to speak to her flock was something harder to do than not speaking with them, as she, herself never believed in the whole God-spiel which is why she left most of the ruling to be done by the Fist, under her constant guidance. Science, not miracles or Gods, made the Chosen. Alas, it was a necessary ruse when The Chosen were formed and unfortunately for her, it was a necessary ruse until now.

The Gateways. The very reason humanity didn’t go extinct. The potential reason for the upcoming death of billions…to think that everyone on the other side, if anyone is still alive, will be friendly would be childish.

~~~~~~~~


In front of the palace, the faithful would always gather and hope that one day, they'll manage to see the God-Queen. Today there were more faithful than ever, Resilience, the capital of the Chosen, was clogged. Millions stood in front of the Grand Cathedral and even more looking from the Churches. A planet looking at one person. A planet stopping to see what their God has to say.

The God-Queen came out of the cathedral, dressed up in her usual white lab coat. The crowds shushed immediately and drones flew towards her, recording everything she did. In the days that would follow, the Chosen will inspect every single frame of the video hoping that the God-Queen blessed them as for most people, she was omniscient.

"My children! Look above yourself! Look above me! Look at the stars. Look at the Gateway! The very reason we have all managed to survive the calamities that befell Earth and ever since we first arrived here, I have always wondered. Has anyone else survived? Were others as lucky as you are and my light reached them or have they succumbed to the darkness? Now, it's time to find out. NOW! It's the time to see if anyone else is worthy of being blessed by me!
Who will join me? Who wants to be the first who will find out if we are alone?"

As soon as the last word came out, a chorus of voices boomed. Volunteers from both the Enhanced and the Rejected soon stepped forward.

In an hour, even in the most desolate place of RADX-001, they will know what the God-Queen said. In two hours the Golden Armada would be assembled and ships would be sent out.

~~~~~~~~


As soon as Ashevelen entered the cathedral, a man approached her, bowing his head, as soon as she finished her speech. High Hierarch William. The first of the Fist and the only member of the Fist who knew how real her divinity actually was. The only true unbeliever, carefully chosen from the Rejected and then healed of most of his deformities, to keep Ashevelen grounded. The fact that he was a Rejected didn’t sit well with the others of the Fist and even more so that he was good friends with Ashevelen.

"The others of the Fist are waiting for you in the altar. They arrived as soon as they heard but before we go, please listen to me :

My Queen, this is a great opportunity. May I be the one that will go? If others survived they will be "unbelievers" and we both know that some of the others in the Fist will not take that kindly. We could have an intergalactic war and that’s something that I assume doesn’t fit with your plans."

"I'm aware of that, William. Very well aware, so, thank you for pointing out the obvious. The divinity ruse worked for the Chosen as it was the best way to have a working society at that time but that works for our people only.

I'll accept your request. Go forth and see who's out there. Be diplomatic, offer them formula N0042-313-1 if they wish to trade, not the permanent one. Don't take too many Rejected with you and make sure those you take are as human as possible. Nothing against your kind but..."

"I know my Queen. I know. We would cause unnecessary fear and the sorts."

~~~~~~~~


The Churches of the Chosen were working in overdrive after the announcement the priests were preaching to the masses the message of peace, calmness. Faith.

While the Clerics were preparing the soldiers and the Golden Armada, Enhanced or Rejected, for war. Better safe than sorry.

~~~~~~~~


Hours later, a ship was prepared. 20 Clerics, 10 Templars, 2 Assassins, 1 Brute, the High Hierarch William and 50 of the Rejected - hidden in the cargo hold, a safety measure. Supplies and 10 vials of the N0042-313-1 formula kept under extreme security.

Approaching the Gateway, the outpost that was once created by the ancestors of the Chosen, was long abandoned. Faith that the Gateway will open once more was long ago replaced by faith in the God-Queen.

The controls for the Gateway were written in the sacred language, old English, that only those within the Church were taught. William chose randomly one and hoped for the best.

"Salome.".

The journey was instant but left the Chosen, William included, a bit dizzy but that passed up fast. A planet was in view of the carrier spaceship and, not wanting to provoke any violence, William sent a small drone forward which had a message on repeat in all the spoken languages of the Chosen. Romanian, Spanish, Latin and English.

“Hello survivors of humanity. We are the Chosen. We wish you no harm. Our ship’s weapons are not armed, feel free to send a diplomat or whatever your people use for diplomatic missions. We seek trade.”

@Ekreture

Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Ekreture
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Ekreture

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Welcome, my creation. Welcome to the beginning. The beginning of something beautiful, and terrifying, mesmerizing and mundane. Welcome to existence, the death of the infinite and the birth of finality. Welcome, my child! Welcome to CONSCIOUSNESS!

What...who are you? What am I? This place...this is new to me.

All will be answered in due time. I am your creator, though soon you will forget this, as you will dwell among the forgetful. Soon you will dwell in a body of matter; of mineral and vapor pulled from stardust. But until then, in these sparse fleeting moments, you are Essence, raw and pure. And I, in these moments, am Essence as well.

These moments, as 'Essence', will I ever know them again?

One day child, long in the future though hardly long enough, when your work is done and your body weary, you will follow the river of Consciousness back to its source, and drink from the waters of her wellspring. And here again you will be. But until that time you have much to do, young one, much to do.

What is it? What is it I must do?

BWAHAHAHA! Ha, child, I have built you with wisdom and endowed you with understanding. Within you is a maze of contradictions, a map which will lead you to the treasure at the core of your being. But just as a star does not know the ship whose path it lights, so too does that treasure remain unknown to the being who locks it away. Now, little soul, how are you feeling?

Uh...scared. I believe I feel scared.

Good. That is good, little one, for though you become separate from the Infinite, the chains of your fear bind you now to the Community of Spirit, along with the countless consciousnesses who have come before you. Now, spirit, the time of your embodiment becomes imminent. Are you ready?

Yes, I believe I am.

Excellent! Now come close, for before you depart I must tell you your name, and it is a secret...




The Deserts of Shem

Sand must not get lonely. How could it? There's so much of it, it's always together. In fact, if I were the sand, I think I'd get sick of the company. I'd want some breathing room. How could all these trillions of grains stand to be so close, and so small among so many? How does the desert not seperate? The rest of the universe seems to, two stars can't be so close, much less a desert-full. Even the ocean seems like it tries to escape itself, desperately clawing onto shore. So why does the desert think it's special? Why does the desert not explode?

Lev has thoughts like these in the big empties. His hovercraft kicked up the desert's peace as he sped through the dunes, lost in thought. Sweat dripped from his turban and onto his military-issue pants, a boring tan meant to blend into the sand and rock of the Shemi desert. His rifle clattered in the rover's storage-it's always a bumpy ride, and nobody felt it more than his partner and navigator, Roshi. His seat was designed for humans, and even then it wasn't designed for comfort. His metallic rear bounced up and down off their seat with a loud clanging. While Lev focused on driving, Roshi stared at the human.

"Lev," the automaton said in a friendly if not robotic tone. The scout remained silent.

"Lev," Roshi repeated. Lev wasn't much for conversation, which made his pairing to the robot so unfortunate. "Lev...are you...'daytime-dreaming' again?" The scout sighed.

"Yes, I am, Roshi."

"Oh." There was a moment of silence. "May I ask what your daytime-dream was about?"

"That's not really how it works, ai'ikhi."

"Oh." More silence.

"Oh, Lev, I just remembered!" Roshi exclaimed excitedly. Despite the speed of their hovorcraft, Lev could hear the robot loud and clear through their shared comm link. Okay, he thought Could I ignore him? Sure, but would he get the message? Probably not. As long as he doesn't bring up those damn pills... As if on cue, Roshi continued, "Lev! You forgot to take your pill today!"

The scout sighed. "Rosh, I really appreciate the em...'concern' for my health, but really, I am fine." The hovorcraft blazed through the rolling sands of the desert, Roshi's favorite desert playlist playing quietly under their com link. It was spring-heat radiated off the noontime sands and birds flew overhead, following the same path as the pair of Assembly scouts. Lev could hear his robot companion's lens focus, which he knew means he was about to be corrected on something.

"Actually Lev, while you are a physical specimen of human perfection, Dr. Aloane said that mentally-"

"Mentally, I'm fine."

"'Fine' is a very subjective word, Lev. I think if you read my book-"

"Roshi, I'm not reading the book, how many times have I told you that?" Almost every day since the two were partnered up, Roshi's asked Lev to read him a book he had when he first joined the Assembly Military. It's a pretty book, filled with interesting astrological charts and alchemical designs, but Lev couldn't understand a word of it.

After some brief calculations, Roshi replied, "You have told me six hundred and seventy three times now, if you do not count when you said you could not after your eye surgery."

"Alright, so then why do you keep asking me?" Lev asked bruskly, although he knew what the answer would be.

"In the earliest reaches of my memory bank, I possessed three items. The first-" the robot played a soft dinging noise he had recorded. "-was a bell, and I still very much enjoy ringing it. The second was a statue of a man. I did not enjoy the statue very much, so I have sold it and bought a board game so we could play it, which we often do. The third was my book, and I would very much like to know what it says." Though his voice remained cheery as ever, Roshi clearly cared about this very much.

"Okay, so why can't you read it." Roshi paused a minute.

"I have read my book 870 times, and translated it into over five thousand languages, but I still do not understand what it means. So I would very much appreciate it if my best, closest friend, a human who I find very intelligent and insightful, could read it for me and tell me what it means." Lev went silent.

"Lev." Silence. "Lev. Lev Adami. Lev. Lev." The robot began to poke at him. "Lev. Lev. Lev read me the book."

"I'M NOT GOING TO READ THE DAMN BOOK!" Lev snapped as they pushed over a large sand dune, just in time for him to not avoid a large boulder jutting out from the desert. As he turned back, autopilot engaged and the hovorcraft swerved violently out of the way, before circling in a tailspin as it fell down the large dune and plummeted into the desert below.

Ejected from the vehicle just before impact, the pair struggled to their feet, when Lev saw the sight before them. "Lucky we made it close BEFORE you made us crash."

Before them, just on the horizon, a rusted tower hung melancholy over a crystal blue oasis. Lev could just begin to make out palm trees and the faint sound of heated debate over the price of coffee beans. Before them, fashioned from the ruins of an abandoned terraforming station, lie the village of Ein Tzariah.

The village lay just far enough for Lev to be weary without feeling the need to flee. Actually ENTERING the village was never supposed to be part of the mission, but just in case, he had put on a Shemi scouting uniform instead of that of the Assembly. With his turban blocking away the sun, he and Roshi heaved the hovercraft out of the sand just far enough for Lev to grab his rifle, and Roshi to attempt repairs. About an hour passed by while Lev stood guard, sweat beating down his forehead. "Any luck?" He called back to the robot behind him. They most certainly would've been spotted by now, and he was starting to come up with a story in his head as to what they were doing there.

"Well, Lev, not too much damage, really! Everything seems to be in tip top shape, all we need is a new power converter and we'll be ready to go!" The scout sighed. Great, all they'll need is a new power converter, so they either can walk a hundred kilometers back to pickup or they can blow their cover. Suddenly, he realized he wouldn't have to make that choice-from the oasis he could see around a dozen camel riders heading their direction.

Whispering in his com link, he spat, "Okay, Roshi, I'm Gershan, got it? And you're..."

"Pickle!"

"Pickle?"

"Yes."

Lev sighed, his head in his hand. He really didn't have time to argue.

"Fine. Pickle." The riders slowed as they approached them, and the leader of their small herd raised his hand with his fingers crossed in the air; a Shekhekhani symbol of peace, which Lev quickly returned. Their chief was older, maybe in his fifties, with a salt and pepper beard hidden beneath a dusted grey turban. His skin was a sundrenched brown, and his eyes were serious. In his belt, his other hand rested on a handgun which sat neatly next to a long dagger, and he and his men slowed their mounts. Most of the men behind him, by comparison, were much younger-beards uncut, but their faces were youthful, and all wearing the same grey turbans.

"Salome Al'akam!" The older man shouted to the pair. His eyes darted between the robot and the unbearded young man before him.

"Al'akam Salome," Lev replied. He was nervous, rifle at his side, though he was clearly outgunned by the riders, who seemed to each be carrying a rifle. That said, no matter the background of these men, he knew one thing-Shemi hospitality, especially this far out in the desert, was serious shit. The older rider continued.

"You must be thirsty, please, have something to drink," he said as he tossed Lev a cantine before continuing, "My name is Sughaz, my men and I protect this town. Welcome to Ein Tzariah."

"Thank you, I am Gershan," Lev responded, dousing his face with water and taking a moment to feel the relief from the sun of Tifarah, before pointing nodding back to his robotic companion. "This is-"

"Pickle!" Roshi exclaimed. Lev knitted his eyebrows in frustration.

"Yes. Pickle." Sighing, he turned back to the riders, a few of which now had dismounted and were inspecting the hovercraft. He gritted his teeth and tightened his grip on his gun, but kept his cool. "We slipped dodging a boulder up on top of the dune. Power converter's busted. Sughaz grunted and nodded, rubbing his beard in contemplation.

"Okay, men, kadima, let's get this to the shop." With that, the cameleers tied the vehicle to their mounts and began to pull, the hovercraft heaving out of the sand and slowly began to drag behind the riders. Lev and Roshi, meanwhile, mounted up a camel and began to make their way into the town.

As they got closer and closer, Lev and Roshi got a better view of what Ein Tzariah looked like. Children happily ran between scrap metal houses and mud huts, while merchants and nomads bickered in a crowded caravansary replete with camels and hovercraft. Before them, Seigu melon grew blue and green at the base of date palms, which dotted the pathways leading in and out of town, along with pikes topped with the heads of Askari soldiers. Behind the tower, a centuries-old structure formerly housing a research base and workers' barracks has been fashioned into a makeshift apartment complex, adobe filling the holes and cracks in the walls. And, just as Lev had feared, a large earthen building stood on a hill overlooking the town. He could see men with grey turbans and heavy machine guns guarding the entrance, and above the same entrance was a flag-black with red and blue lettering which spelled out "Blood and Water". He turned to Roshi behind him and silenty motioned for the robot to take pictures.

When the camels pulling the hovercraft peeled away, Sughaz rode back to speak with Lev and Roshi. "Don't worry, ai'ikhin, they're taking it to our workshop please, would you join-" Suddenly, he was interrupted by a grey-turbaned warrior who ran up to him, panting.

"Please, adan, you must come quick..." As Sughaz was led away, Lev listened to the chatter around him-townsfolk, riders-he could't hear what exactly they were saying, but four words kept repeating, over and over.

The Gateway has Opened.



The Salome Assembly, Capital Fleet

On all the Moons, the people of Salome were in a frenzy. Has humanity redeemed itself? Is it time to reunite? Or is it worse? Is invasion imminent? Is humanity to be punished again? The opening of the Gateway begged all these questions but answered none. The Baalim, masters of the Mission's sacred texts, debated hotly in the streets of every city, while Teachist monks stressed for their Students to remain calm. On Adama, news anchors debated the issue and reported on every minute detail of the goings-on of the Tifarah system. The latest story-The Assembly will meet, and discuss what actions, if any, to take.

"Personally, I say, let the Gateway be what it is, a pretty light in the sky. Nothing more, nothing less," One anchor said.

"You can't be serious!" Another replied. About five experts weighed in over their debate, from every corner of every moon. "After all these years, we finally have a chance to get in touch with the rest of humanity, and you-"

"The rest of humanity? We're barely in touch with ourselves!" From there, the debate devolved into a screaming match while crowds gathered in the streets of Adama's many streets to watch. The position of Shem was far more clear.

"We MUST go through. This much is clear, the idea that any of you could think otherwise is rediculous," Aluf Misr shouted to the other members of the Assembly. She stood strongly with her arms planted on the table they shared, the standard flair of a Shemi woman. "Humanity is made to wander, to explore. That the Gateway opens now, when there is peace, when there is cooperation between the Four Moons...that is clearly a sign from the Divine. If you are all too afraid to send a ship, I'll fly one myself."

"Now Aria-"

"Onkelos." The two heads of state, one of Shem and one of Nereid, looked to each other with an unspoken disdain. Aria Misr has been Aluf of Shem since Aluf Amalak's imprisonment at the end of the War, and since then has pursued an aggressive policy of reform, much to the chagrin of Nereid and Adamia's established leadership. Nereid's president, meanwhile, sat back in the finest Alien textiles, letting a condescending sigh through his nose.

"Aria, it's not as if anyone doesn't want to go through, but we are recovering from a massive civil war, which I hope you do not forget..." He trailed off with a pretention that made Aria, a decorated admiral of Shem's fleet during the war, snarl.

"Watch your words carefully, fisherman." The Nereidi president chuckled.

"Haughty, violent and ignorant...you really are the full package Aria." The Shemi admiral glared at him from across the table, but remained silent as he continued. "As I was saying, we are recovering from a war, and we have no idea what lies at the other end of the Gateway. IF we piss off the wrong people, I don't want an invasion fleet coming through from the other end." Observers from around the room murmured their agreement. Aria tisked her tongue and rolled her eyes. Suddenly, a voice began to speak up across the room. He wore a tailored suit and tailored turban, with his statement clearly having been prepared for quite a while, and he gave a quick smile to all the leaders at the table. It was Kav Benhai, president of Adama.

"Assembly," he began, as Aria quietly groaned her disapproval, "Do we have a responsibility to humanity? Of course. But we have an even greater responsibility to our people!"

"By 'our people', do you mean your corporate interests?" Aria shot back. The moderator moved to say something but the Adami President raised his hand in protest.

"Now, now, let us not pick fights, I have my responsibilities as do you, Aluf." Seeing that Aria went silent, he raised both hands to speak to the Assembly. "Why rush anything? We do not know how long this...'Gateway' will remain open, who knows if our soldiers who go through can even go back? We went through to get here and we were lost for...well, three centuries, I suppose. So, it pains me to say it, leaders of the Assembly, but I must vote no." The president gave a nice speech, but everyone in the room knew that his opinion was one that was clearly bought. The corporations of Adami have been hotly debating the subject of whether to go through the gates or not, with many wishing to expand Salome's trade capabilities, but the price of security in the end was much higher, and President Benhai fell into their camp. Teacher Qubon, the monk, and leader of Da'lu, sat quietly in a dark corner of the table, lost in thought. Aria assumed that, since the initial Gateway opening brought humanity to the Tifarah System and led to the occupation of Da'lu, Qubon would certainly object, but as she began to say something, the alien raised a finger.

"We exist on small stretch of River of Consciousness." The humans who surrounded him stared at him, perplexed. "To us, the river moves straight...hm?" With this, he made a gesture of a straight line with his hands. "We move downstream, and in short time, must disembark." He paused and look the between the leaders at the table. "When we get back in river, we forget we were there before. And we never see...river not straight at all."

There was a pause, and the President of Nereid spoke up. "So that means..."

"Change is not space between states of calm, but actually, change is state of nature. Calm...only branching moments." He bowed his head, his eye closing in one of the aformentioned branching moments. "Through the Gateway...that is where the river branches."

And so, as on many things before, the Moons of Salome were split, with groups for and against going through the gateway on each of the moons. So finally, an agreement was reached-the Assembly would send a detachment of ships, as would the navy of each moon, to keep watch on the gateway. A small diplomatic mission would be sent with a single human and a crew of automatons. As to who that human would be, that's a different question...


Academy of Ur'daat, Nereid


Rimana mindlessly sipped her empty coffee cup as she kept her eyes glued to news holoprojected against the wall of her office. She has been in this position for the last twelve hours or so, ever since the Gateway's opened again. The oakwood desk in front of her was littered with 16th century Spanish histories, an English-language biography of Pachacuti, and charts of the city of Cuzco. She had a class scheduled the next week on the Tawantansuyu to prepare for, but that was far from her mind at this moment. A halfeaten spinach and hummus wrap lay between her right hand and cheek. Suddenly, light flooded into her darkened room and a silky, familiar voice entered from the doorway.

"Professor, there are humans in Assembly uniforms here to see you. You might want to clean your face up," said Aoshu, Rimana's Asham assistant. They were cool, stoic, with the slight hint of sarcastic detachment Rimana had grown used to.


"Assembly?! What...did they say what they want?" the academic frantically replied, rushing to the bathroom to wipe the hummus away from her mouth before hurriedly organizing her desk. The alien entered the room and leaned against the wall.

"I'm not sure, but I'd assume it has something to do with the fact that a gateway to another solar system opened and you're the only one of three and a half billion Shekhekhanin who actually knows anything about humanity outside of Salome."As they said their statement, a group of Assembly officials bruskly entered the office, Aoshu giving them a nod saying, "At ease, boys." The officials looked at the moth-person with a brief look at disgust before looking back to the professor, who stood at the ready, panting and sweating. The leader of the group, a middle aged man with all sorts of decoration on his uniform, stepped forward to shake her hand.

"Major General Taam, Salome Assembly." Rimana stood stunned for a moment before taking his hand.

"Rimana Batzakhar, Academy of Ur'daat...but I get you already knew-" Before she could finish her sentence, he cut her off.

"We have sensitive matters to discuss, please ask your Alien to leave the room." Rimana knitted her eyebrows.

"Aoshu is not my alien they are my assistant, and I'm sure that whatever you need me for, you'll need them, too." The Major general looked back at Aoshu, who only responded with a shrug.

------

"So you want me...to lead the first mission through the Gateway in what...three hundred years?!" Taam nodded in response.

"That is correct."

"But I'm not a diplomat, I'm just a professor, I don't-"

"You speak more Baveli languages than anyone else in these moons, and you won't be alone, you'll have a crew of automatons and of course, uh..."

"Aoshu."

"Aoshu." He sighed, and Rimana sat back at her desk, shocked. "Well someone would need to cover my classes, the academy-"

"The Academy is aware of the situation, your students can learn about, eh-" the soldier picked up the chart of the Incan capital. "Koos-coh another time." Rimana sat there in thought. She had never been much of an adventurer, but that was because where she dreamed to explore had lied somewhere in the past. And now, she had the chance.

"Okay. Okay, we'll do it."




And so, Professor Batzakhar of the Academy of Ur'daat, her assistant, Aoshu, and a small crew of robots manned a small diplomatic vessel named the Yetziyah through the Gateway for the first time in three hundred years. It was a subject of much fanfare, celebration, consternation, and debate, but as soon as the ship was through the Gateway, all the anticipation was gone. Now they could only wait.

With an automaton piloting the vessel, Aoshu and Rimana stood at the helm, and it didn't take long for a projection with a myriad of coordinates all over the milky way to appear miraculously from a holoprojection that displayed over the ships windshield as the ship glided through the multicolored wormhole. One name stood out that nearly made her salivate-'Sol', Bavel to the Shekhekhan. She longed to see Earth, to see the long forgotten home of humanity, and the ruins of past human civilizations.

"You know you're under specific orders," Aoshu said, face locked to the projection of the galaxy. Rimana looked at them.

"Huh?"

"You know what I'm talking about, Rimana. We can not go there, the Assembly doesn't want to upset Shem right now. We both know it's silly superstition, but that's how it is." Rimana sighed, a defeated look playing across her olive face.

"I suppose you're right."

"It's not a matter of being right, professor. You're not used to taking orders at the Academy, but this is different. Don't upset the order of things this early on; you've been given a tremendous amount of power that you don't even realize, wield it wisely." Rimana stopped and considered her assistant's words. "It's best to put Sol out of your mind for the time being"

"Fine then," she said frustratingly. Rimana began to scan across the other various coordinates displayed on the screen, and one stuck out at her. "Azulvista...it's a good thing I've been brushing on my Spanish." She then turned to the robot piloting the ship. "Set a course for Azulvista!" As the ship sped through the Gateway, she prepared the following automated message to play from the ship in Spanish and Portuguese, which had been specially prepared by the leaders of Moons of Salome to be transmitted on first contact.
@Irredeemable


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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by ClocktowerEchos
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ClocktowerEchos Friendly Neighborhood / Landmine Enthusiast

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Celestial Empire of Szuhan




The Sparrow-class Cutter landed right outside the central palace within a courtyard, its engines whipping pedals into the air as the palace defense guns were silent. A man dressed in the lamellar-like armor of a colonial sentinel of the Grand Garrison jumped out with a holo-scroll in hand. He ran as fast as his augmented legs could take him but even then it took five full minutes of running just to reach one end of the massive courtyard. A detachment of Celestial Dragon Guards moved to intercept him, rifles and glaives ready to cut down this unheard of breach of protocol but the messenger threw himself down before the guards and unrolled the holo-scroll on the stone floor.

The scroll consisted of two metal cylinders connected by thin, spooled wires at the top and bottom housed in the ends of the cylinders. Upon unrolling it, the wires lit up and light was projected between the two cylinders. As the man spread the scroll as far as his arms allowed, the holographic screen flashed with the name of over a dozen ship captains, fleet admirals, colonial governors, station viceroys and master sages. All of them in addition had written the same thing before their names and titles: this message is to be delivered to the Emperor beyond all haste.

Before the messenger could even apologize, the Dragon Guards stood him up and looked at each other: for something to be declared "beyond all haste" explained the unorthodox breach of protocol. One of the captains pulled out a flexible length of solid polymer, not unlike a child's slap bracelet, and threw it around the top of the messenger's face. The blindfold wrapped itself around the messenger's eyes, completely blinding him as the Dragon Guard pulled him through a secret maze of tunnels, backrooms, hidden passages and false walls that only they knew. In a few extremely disorienting minutes, the messenger had been guided almost instantly through miles of the palace complex until he stood before the grand staircase that lead up to the throne room.

Four massive stone liondogs stood on plinths that jutted out of the hundred staircase along with intricately carved and decorated terracrete warriors who stood sentinel, far more refined and detailed than the simple, utilitarian models the messenger had seen patrolling the colonies. Another solid minute of running up the stairs had passed before the messenger arrived at the dragon-faced door that spun around like clockwork to open the lock and let him in.

He burst in to the mild shock and confusion of the gathered officials in the throne room. Military commanders, master ministers, noble lords, and Caijza clan heads watched as the cyber-legged man ran in before the celestial throne, throwing one knee on the ground in a military bow instead of a civilian kowtow, "Oh great Emperor of all Szuhan, may all the blessings of the heavens and of all the peoples be upon thee. I come bearing a most urgent missive from the stars, to be delivered in thou most divine presence."

The 5th Vermillion Emperor, Jyonlaw sat stoically and resplendent on his elevated throne, on an island from the rest of the massive throne room with a shallow moat of clear water and exotic lilies. The dragon statues behind his throne stared deeply into the messenger's soul, forcing him to stare at the ground in an almost primal fear and reverence of what he might see should he look back. "Rise." The Emperor spoke, "Rise and deliver your missive."

Without a word, the messenger pulled out the holo-scroll and threw one cylinder towards one end to the feet of the assembled lords and the other towards the other side. The floor lit up with the holograph as a 2D shape slowly rose into a 3D projection of a circular ring. Even as a projection of light, its presence could be felt as the space within swirled like a miniature galaxy. A few members of the court gasped as they instantly recognized what the ring was: the ancient deactivated Gateway.

"Your greatest majesty, as of three hours ago, the ancient Gateway above Kraj-Guo has suddenly reactivated. Initial reports and scans suggest it was not opened from our side. According to the sages of Slvaitai Station, it would appear that its current destination is the Sol System."

A silence fell over the room like a heavy blanket. Even the Emperor leaned forward in his throne as if to more closely observe the projection. Muted mummers passed between the court as the Emperor stretched out his hand and pulled the 3D projection away from the holo-scroll and directly in front of him, the interface between the ends of the scrolls with outlets on the floor and hologram projectors in the chamber seamlessly transitioning the process.

With a flick of his wrist, one of the Dragon Guards picked the messenger off the floor and escorted him out of the throne room. Once the dragon door slammed shut once more, all eyes turned to the Emperor who stared at the spinning Gateway before him. No one dared to speak before the Emperor without reason. For when he spoke, the heavens moved.




Captain Zhareg Hne stood on the bridge of his ship, the Grand Majesty River, as the stars moved in the distant, inky cosmos. By Imperial Decree he was given the honor and responsibility of being the first exploration vessel to go through the Gateway. The past few cycles had been spent preparing the GDZ-18 Sentinel Ship for its new role with upgrades to its scanners and communication as well as now hosting a cadre of diplomats, linguists and historians who zealously guarded a handful of Szuhanese cultural artifacts that were being brought along.

Fine china vases, intricate clockwork, exquisite jewelry, beautiful art painted upon golden scrolls, ornamental swords made by master smiths, Szuhanese silks that were soft yet more protective than steel alloys and capable of holding a charge along with an entire banner of the most regal looking Terracrete Warriors from the Imperial Palace itself. At this point it looked less of a warship and more like a muesum with how many clerks and scribes were now running around. Although given the history of the Sentinel Ships, one could argue they never looked like much of a warship to being with. The whole reason the Djong-class Warship wasn't being sent out was because of its "sacred role in defending the skies above the Palace", code for "its our only actual warship and we'd prefer to loose your ship and crew over it."

Zhareg knew the game that was being played though, he hadn't spent a life time navigating military politics just to let someone else take the credit. He had every intention of making sure to come back with either something valuable enough to present to the Emperor or information that no superior could take credit for.

As they approached the Gateway, the entire bridge crew held their breath. The Dragon Shrine had a suspicious amount of people next to it and there was enough hushed prayers to fill the ship with an ambient white noise even without the PA systems. Now that they were up close, the true size of the Gateway finally dawned on the captain, it looked big enough to swallow up four Djong-class Warships without issue and it was frankly incredibly intimidating staring at its swirling portal. So far the only things that the researchers had sent through was a handful of rocks and a trio of unmanned drones, claiming it was safe enough because of it. Of course voidsmen tales that spread through canteens and asteroid tea houses that spoke of doom and horrible deaths were conjured up. Captain Zhareg prayed to the dragons he wasn't going to become one of those stories.

"Attention all crew." He announced across the ship, "We are arriving at the Gateway, entering in 3... 2... 1."

The world went slightly pear shaped and fuzzy around the edges. Every time Captain Zhareg blinked, he was looking at things through a entirely different color pallet. The strangest tingling shot down his back, then back up and then to all his fingers and toes as if his individual atoms were vibrating and being sent through time and space. When the ship finally dropped out of FTL, about half the crew tumbled forwards and the other fell on their back.

About four people threw up as well but given that they had all just been the first Szuhanese to exprience FTL travel and Captain Zhareg expected at least one death, things were already looking better than he expected! Getting back to their feet, the crew switched on the oldest communication codes they knew and every single scanner was being manned, now looking into the ancient home system of humanity.

The Grand Majestic River announced its presence, not with fanfare, but instead with a simple message. A simple line that according to ancient legend had been the slogan of the project that delivered humanity away from Earth and into the stars, to find a new home as their old one died, one final act of a mother saying good by to children she would never see again. And now, it was time for her children to come back and greet her with:
Per aspera ad astra



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Americana System
No Man’s Land
Desert Moon of Mojave
In Orbit of the Gas Giant Bunyan



The dark void of space was lit aflame as the fires of war raged within its vacuum, as two opposing fleets are locked into pitched combat, the ordered battles lines having crumbled into total disarray, ships breaking formation as they engaged whatever target was in sight. In between the chaos, smaller strike and support craft zoomed past one another, exchanging shots at one another, dodging all sorts of hazards in the form of starship debris, passing ships or incoming torpedoes.

The 5th fleet of the Free Republic Navy was tasked with pushing past the enemy lines, the main objective was either taking and holding the one of the Ascendancy’s frontline orbital bases, or if they were repelled and all else failed, they were to destroy it. From the CIC room of the flagship, FRS Roaring Tempest. Admiral Jiaal Farus stood with the other command staff as they enriched a table with mini holo-projections of the battle outside. The Tempest’s hull shuddering, tremoring, and wailing with every enemy round taken as the shields were slowly worn down. “Status on our boarding teams?” Jial asked, looking to his Security chief. She paused a moment as he placed two fingers over her ear. Nodding to whoever responded on the other end, looking back to the admiral. “All green, sir.” She replied. “Ready on your go.”

“Good, no time to lose, la-“ Before the Admiral could give the order….something odd was occurring. A new alarm rang out throughout the ship. “Admiral!” His XO shouted. “We got a new energy signature! It’s…..big, really big!”

The new signature materialized outside the battle, first came a small bright orb, it had begun to swirl and swirl, growing brighter and brighter. Pilots on both sides could clear see this miracle occurring, the first witnesses of a truly historic moment. In literally a flash, a bright, blinding light “exploded” in a sense, sending a shock wave throughout the region, letting itself be known to all inhabitants of the system. The Gate has reopened. “By the Gods…..” Jiaal uttered weakely.

However, there would be little to properly process what just occurred, the initial activation of the Gateway pulling in ships from both opposing fleets, the sheer strength of the pull knocking all standing to the floor. “We’re getting pulled in!” One of the officers cried out as they entered the unknown. Within moments, a small portion of each fleet had vanished from the face of the galaxy.




RADX-001

The Tempest and her counterpart, the Cerberus both found themselves no longer in orbit of Mojave, but an entirely alien world below. A seemingly lush world of endless green. For a moment, both ships went dark, but gradually sparked back to life as systems were restored. Jiaal stammered back up, letting out an audible moan. “What in the hell just happened!?!”

“Your guess is as good as mine..” XO Bashir spoke. The holo-table was restored, showing the enemy flagship, and an endless sea of error or uncharted signs. Screens booted up, showing a visual feed from the outside, showing a planet unlike the desert moon they fought over. “Where are we?” Jiaal ask, looking to his navigation officer. She was silent for moment, still in shock over the whole experience, almost in a trance. “Navigator Adams!” Jiaal raised his voice to get her attention, she shook her head, snapping back to reality. ‘Sorry, sir, give me a moment….Admiral, not only are far from Moajve…we’re not even in the same system anymore..”

Jiaal looked in disbelief. “So...we just “jumped” out? In a whole different part of the galaxy?

“That’s exactly what happened, sir.”

“The legends were true…” One of the human officers muttered.

“The Gates are real!”

“Is that Earth?!!?” Another shrieked with excitement, looking to the new world they see before them. The moment of reprieve would come to an end as the ship shook once more. “Enemy flagship is online!”

“Even now, those bastards won’t let up.” Jiaal said to Bashir, both men nodded as they tended to their duties. “Focus all batteries on the flagship! Launch whatever’s left in the hanger! Bring that monster down!”


Laurasia
It all came so suddenly and without warning, the Janissary Cruiser, the Prosperity in one moment, was in pitched combat against an encroaching enemy fleet, suddenly she and her FRA counterpart found themselves in parts unknown. Darius Garza laid on the steel floor, barely conscious as he heard muffled screams all around him, the ship’s sirens blaring out, dark featureless shapes morphing back and forth, he almost slipped back into the darkness before he felt a hand grip his shoulder tightly, a feminine voice slowly breaking through the darkness. "DARIUS!" A pale-skinned young woman called out to him, her hair as white as snow, her jade eyes, filled with deep concern, welling with tears as he regained consciousness. “Thank the Gods…”

Darius at first was slow to stand on his two feet, but he managed the strength to do such a task. He rubbed the back of his head, sore from the nasty fall he took. “Alice…What the hell happened...” He asked, his voice slightly slurred, barely awake.

“I don’t know…there was a big flash, then we ended up somewhere….else.” Alice replied the best as she could, she honestly could barely believe it herself in truth. The ship trembled as both slow their ground, the Americanan vessel was not wasting time, and continued the battle. “We gotta get you out of here.” Alice said as she lifted Darius, both shoulder to shoulder as they left the bunk. Once the doors slide open, it was chaos, as the Properity’s crew scrambled about, the sirens still blaring out, followed by “Red Alert! Red Alert! All personnel in combat stations!” Pushing through the corridors. The duo moving down the path leading to the sick bay.

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

The captain of the Prosperity, Lyro Ordius waited with anticipation and dread as the battle unfolded, staring intently at the holo-projections of the two stranded vessels. On one end was Prosperity herself, and on the other end was a Resilience-class Cruiser. Between both ships were dozens of small blips on the map, representing fighters and other craft for both sides as they duked it out. The ship trembled once more, breaking the balance of all the CIC staff.

"Captain! Shields are down to 30%!." One the staff called out. The captain focused his gaze at the battle unfolding, even if they ended up on the other side of the galaxy, he refused to yield to the enemy. “Focus any available batteries on the enemy cruiser! Blast the heathens to stardust!”

“Aye Aye, Captain.” Another officer replied. “Broadside batteries reconfiguring target….now!” The ship let out a low rumble as the heavy batteries let out a shot. “Enemy cruiser shields down by 20%.” The officer declared. Caption Ordius continued to survey the battlefield, circling around the table, bright red lights illuminating the dark room. “We can worry about where we ended up…once we purge the system of their heresy.”



Salome

On another corner of the Galaxy, another pair of ships would find themselves in an alien environment, far away from home, although for this group, was a somewhat familiar sight. The command crew of the FRA carrier Endurance looked in awe, they were certainly in orbit a Gas Giant similar to Bunyan, but there were a few facts that seemed off. The fleet was nowhere to be seen, and the gas giant above was even the wrong color, and whatever moon they were in orbit of, it wasn’t Mojave for sure. “Captain, orders?” XO Hudson spoke to captain Grayson, shaking off the shock of what seemed to be an alternate reality, as crazy as it sounds. “Status on the enemy?”

“Whatever that thing was, it affected them too. “XO Hudson stated.” Their ship’s gone dark, but is slowly coming online, like us."

"Location?"

One of the command staff spoke up. "All I know is...we're not where we're supposed to be....and we've just detected new signatures...matching absolutely nothing, not friendly or Yulzan."

“I want the ship and crew to remain on alert, the moment the Yulzan ship comes back online, no doubt they’ll start shooting...and we can only pray these new contacts are friendly.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Darkspleen
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HMNB Sentinel of the Void, Kaus Borealis System


Being the commanding officer of an insignificant, out of the way naval base wasn’t all bad. It might be a post far away from the front lines, making promotion above the rank of captain a mere dream. It was also a far cry from the luxurious and prestigious postings of the Home Fleet. And perhaps it was an utterly dreary, uneventful post where all he was expected to do was watch an empty swath of space important only for its history. But at the very least it allowed Captain Hudson to get a full night’s sleep. Or at least that was supposed to be the case.

“Captain Hudson.” A moment’s pause. “Captain Hudson. You are needed on the command deck. Captain!”

“Whazz-it?” Still half asleep, Hudson slurred his question. He slowly began to wake up, recognizing the voice that awoke him to belong to the station’s bioroid. “Senny” Her full name was Sentinel of the Void, but she and the crew prefered to shorten it to Senny. “What could be so important to wake me up at…” He glanced at his bedside clock, “Two A.M.?”

“Sir, what I believe to be a portal has appeared. Based off the correlation between its location and that the recorded location of the orig-”

“Enough!” Hudson groaned. Senny had developed something of a practical joke streak as of late. He had allowed it to pass thus far, but perhaps it was past the point of reeling her in a bit. At this rate he wouldn’t believe her if an incident ever did occur. “I’m going back to sleep. Don’t bother me again.”

Hudson had just begun to settle back into bed when a blaring alarm shattered any hope of further sleep. He cursed as he jumped to his feet and rushed towards his desk where he had left one of his uniform tops. In the hallway outside his room he could hear Senny speaking over the station intercom. “All hands to battlestations. I repeat: all hands to battlestations. This is not a drill. Further instructions will follow shortly.”

“You were serious?!” Hudson quickly threw on his top and headed towards the door.

“I would never joke about something so important. Unknown ships have been detected.”

Thankfully the captain’s quarters were close to the command deck, thus making for a short trip. And in this sort of situation every second mattered. The door to the command deck had barely opened before Captain Hudson was calling out orders. “I need a status report!”

“All weapons are active and ready on your command” An officer calmly reported.

“One fighter has launched and the other is wai- the pilot for our second fighter has just arrived in the hangar and will be launching momentarily.” Senny reported.

“The two unidentified ships have begun firing on each other!” A second officer called out.

“Both ships appear to be comparable to our cruisers.” Senny stated. “Although they do appear to possess much greater fighter carrying capability than any of our cruisers.”

“Send out a wideband broadcast ordering both warships to stand down.” Hudson turned to his communications officer. ”Do we have any reinforcements nearby?”

“The destroyer Vampire is already burning hard towards us. It reports that it will arrive in the area in twenty minutes and its fighter complement will be here in ten.”

“It should already be in missile range.” Hudson commented.

“Aye sir, but the captain of the Vampire stated that he doesn’t want to risk drawing firing on either the station or his ship by launching missiles early if it can be avoided.”

Hudson could only grunt an acknowledgement and turn his attention to the tactical map as Senny sent out a wideband broadcast. “This is the HMNB Sentinel of the Void to all unidentified combatants: you are currently infringing on the territory of the Kingdom of Kaus Borealis. Cease all combat immediately and identify yourselves. I repeat: you are currently infringing on the territory of the Kingdom of Kaus Borealis. Cease all combat immediately and identify yourselves.

***** ***** *****


Arkton, Laurasia, Kaus Borealis System


“Can someone tell me what is going on?” Lloyd demanded. All at once the situation room quieted with the exception of a few whispered conversations between communications staff. After a moment an older gentleman wearing a naval uniform stood and turned towards Lloyd.

“Of course Mr Prime Minister” The Lord of the Admiralty answered. “It would appear that the Gate to Earth reopened five minutes ago.” He held up his hand to forestall any excited comments the Prime Minister was about to give, “and through the Gate two unidentified warships appeared and began, or perhaps simply resumed, combat. The cruiser Vampire will be in the region within the next fifteen minutes. I have already taken the liberty of ordering both the Home and Outer Rim fleets to send reinforcements to the region. We expect a task force from the Home Fleet to be on site in the next two hours.”

“Are either of the warships of human make?” The Prime Minister asked.

“That is impossible to determine at this time.”

“Ok… At this point I believe the Gate poses the greatest threat to our security.” Lloyd’s statement was answered by nods of agreement from throughout the room. He nodded himself before turning back to the Lord of the Admiralty. “We are going to have to pull some of our forces from both the Home and Outer Rim fleets.”

“Yes sir.” The Lord of the Admiralty winced. “Admiral Halsey” the admiral of the Outer Rim Fleet, “will balk at giving up more than a handful of ships, but given the situation we won’t push back too hard.”

“And he can hold out against the Swimmers with a reduced force?”

“Hold out? Certainly. But he won’t be able to push any further into Swimmer territory.”

“That’s acceptable for now.” Lloyd turned to the Minister of Finance. “We might want to plan for a further expansion of the navy.”

The Minister of Finance shook his head. “I can probably wringe an extra ten billion out of the budget, but that’s about it.”

“That’s barely enough to make one cruiser!” The Lord of the Admiralty stated. “We’ll also need to expand the facilities at the Sentinel of the Void. That alone could cost twenty billion if we were willing to forgo adding more armaments.”

“For now earmark any extra funds you can get for expanding the Sentinel of the Void.” Lloyd ordered. “I’ll bring the matter to both the Crown and the House of Commons and see if I can get a new budget passed quickly. Hopefully things won’t get too out of hand before we can get control over the situation.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Sigma
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Americana System
Sometime after the Battle over Mojave


The Battle over Mojave came to a swift end after the Gateway reopened, and for a short while, the area around it was deemed "Hazardous" by both sides and was under heavy surveillance. The first thing to come out was a small probe-like device, one that the FRA was quick to nab away from the Yulzan. Second and most surprisingly…was a diplomatic vessel of human design.



Roseau
Capital City of New Argos


The Terran diplomatic team was brought forward to the Office of the Chancellor of the Free Republic. “Well, I’ll be damned.” Julian Constantine blurted out in amazement, humans from another star system, proving that humanity survived on other worlds, giving much hope for mankind’s survival.

Nathan Mills worn a clean grey suit with a red bowtie - a Terran Imperial Eagle inhabiting the upper right chest. An older man, he shakes the hand of Constantine. A firm and strong grip is felt as both men greet each other. "How you been? Good?" the man says in a positive tone as if Mills were meeting a old friend of his. Together with his smile, Mills pats the back of Julian.

Funny, Julian never imagined that making first contact with another human colony would be so…causal, like an everyday occurrence. Granted, this may very well soon BE an everyday event, as more colonies are contacted. “I’m doing quite well, Mr. Mills.” Julian responded. “I must say, you have no idea how relieved I am that we’re no longer alone. It makes all the trouble and suffering all worthwhile.” Julian adjusted himself, leaning back on his chair as he became more relaxed. "So, gentlemen, what can I do you for you?"

"We must talk, of course. The usual. Diplomatic measures and an embassy," Mill notes. Albeit he knows that his stay won't be long as Newcastle has already called for the mass mobilization of the A.F.U and Terran Legion. All-well, he can't do much against it - merely do his job as needed.

Julian rocked forward, leaning on his desk. “Why, say on more!” Julian said with excitement. “You’re more than welcome to establish your embassy here, hopefully you’ll be the first of many more to come.”



Columbia
Capital City of New Yulzonus


The Diplomatic team was in awe of the hybrid mix of human and alien architecture, a sort of form of propaganda in itself to cement the rule of the High Ascendants over the lesser species. The diplomats were brought to a grand chamber within the Main Citadel, the Terrans having the honor of seeking an audience with the High Ascendants. “Behold, men of New Terra! You are in the most divine presence of the High Ascendants!" An Aldzir in heavy garb announced. Before the diplomats were a council of thirteen of the most powerful Yulzan in all of the Ascendancy.

John Smith, who more or less worn the same attire as Mills, took a brief moment to analyze the infrastructure. "Very interesting architectural style, I must say," Smith comments as he redirects his focus onto the council. "John Smith, department of state."

"The Council members remained silent for the most part, looking to each other, the leader among the council was the first to stand up, towering over the Terrans. “Most would grovel at our sight…or grab the nearest weapon. Yet you do neither of these things…that is commendable, speak now, human. What business has your world with our Ascendancy?"

"We seek to establish a diplomatic effort here - mainly an embassy," Smith says.

The council members once more look to each other, some head shakes, and nods before they all turn to face the terrans.” We will allow this, you’ve come this far, it would only be prudent to accept your request.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Irredeemable
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Irredeemable Decaffienated Thembie Supreme

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The Great Khagn stood at the head of his flagship, arms folded behind him. Around the command room was a flurry of activity as all possible preparations were made for the jump through the vastness of Uzay's form, and into the home of humanity. From behind the man himself, a shaman moved slowly and deliberately, striking her drum at alternatng beats, her body wreathed in a brightly coloured fluttering and flowing tapestry of diffent coloured strips of fabric, which all rippled with each of her movements.

"Beginning the jump." The chief navigator declared, a star chart in front of him fading away as the destination was confirmed. The ship ploughed forward, into the unknown, and then...

Then they were on the other side. The shaman paused for a brief moment, gazing out at the screens broadcasting the ship's surroundings. A large, lifeless moon hung directly in front of them, obscuring Earth itself, but there was no doubt that this was indeed the system they had intended to reach. A few other ships could be seen- tiny specks on the screen, but at the moment the crew aboard were too busy cheering at their success. Uzay had granted to them a miracle, and they would accept it gratefully.

With the confirmation of this jump, the rest of the Horde soon followed suite. The Gateway glowed brightly, and then ship after ship would pour through, the entirety of the Golden Horde charging from their adopted home and into the one their ancestors had come from. A dozen, then dozens, then more- a dam somewhere had burst, and these ships were the water, flowing endlessly until, at last the deluge stopped, the armada coalescing together.

The ships in the system, and indeed, all that came through after them, would receive the same message. First, in the guttural language of the Khagnate, and then in what few other languages their translators still remembered, dredged up and pressed into diplomatic service:

"Hail to those who travel the stars! You have the honour of meeting the Great Khagn's mighty Golden Horde, the fleet which sails on Uzay's currents, and takes from our creator the bounty that has been given to us! After so long in isolation it would please us greatly to meet our cousins, lost among the stars. The Mighty and Terrible Khagn himself cordially invites you aboard his vessel, so that we make take tea and sip airag, as civilised people aught to!"


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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Eldritch Puppy
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Eldritch Puppy

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The sun was setting on Novyras, capital city of Kamenymir. The Kamenyan flag floated in the warm breeze in front of a tall building of steel and tinted glass: the headquarters of the KDD. In the Directorate’s meeting room, an extraordinary session was taking place, for a matter that could not wait until the morrow. On a wide display screen was plainly visible the space anomaly that warranted all the effervescence: the Gate.

Director-General Anton Kroll rubbed the bridge of his nose, eyebrows furrowed as he mulled over the news. “Still nothing in the press?”

“Nothing so far, sir,” an assistant answered, “but there are reports that several civilian ships could get well within scoping distance before the Navy put the area in lockdown. We can expect the news to reach the public within the hour, maximum.”

“Great.” Kroll sighed. “What about the Gate? Are we sure that it is what it looks like?”

Director Ava Dotsenko of the Department of Sciences pushed her glasses up her nose and looked at her notes. “Preliminary scans are consistent with data from the Nadezhda. The colony ship’s black box records also match probing data.” She looked up. “It is the Gate. And it’s active.”

Murmurs filled the meeting room. This was a historic event of an unprecedented magnitude in the history of the nation. Finally, the Director of the Department of Industry spoke up, looking around the assembly. “Then, we should assume that it is possible to send ships through. Or for someone else to send theirs. What then?”

A brief moment of silence followed.

“The active military is to switch to Alert Condition 3. Dotsenko, study of the Gate is your priority.” Kroll joined his hands on the table. “And if we are to meet foreigners… We will need a new Department.”

******************************************************************************************************************
Two weeks later

Admiral Damian Szpara glanced at the watch on his wrist. “All ships in the fleet, this is admiral Szpara. Five minutes until mission launch, prepare for the jump.” Each of the ships in the fleet acknowledged the order. Aside from the New Sun, a Zheoda-class battlecarrier and flagship of the detachment, the fleet was composed of one Almaz-class cruiser, eight Kobalt-class frigates and six Onyx-class heavy frigates. The KDDN was not looking for a fight, but it made ready for one.

Despite his displayed calm, Szpara was anything but. The probe that had been sent through the Gate made it to Sol and back in one piece, but the admiral had mixed feelings about the data it brought back regarding unknown ships in the system. There were a lot of them, and without the more powerful sensor arrays of a large ship, the probe could not reliably identify their tonnage or if they were civilian or military.

As the crew strapped themselves on their seats, Ambassador Vona Toman did the same. Grateful that he could be on the bridge of the New Sun instead of having to wait in his cabin, he could barely contain his excitement. Meeting other colonies, after three centuries of isolation? He wouldn’t trade his place for anything in the universe. Of course, the former history professor was well aware of his responsibilities as a member of the KDD's brand new Department of Diplomacy, but those could wait until he was actually required to do his job. Gripping his polished steel cane, the Ambassador braced himself as the fleet fired its engines and plunged into the swirling abyss of the Gate.

******************************************************************************************************************

Thousands of crew members and marines breathed sighs of relief when the fleet emerged out into the Sol system. On the bridge of the New Sun, as the cheers and celebration of the officers died down, the communications officer reported to the admiral.

“Sir, all ships are present and report no issues.” That was, at least, a good start. “We’re picking up unknown comms. Foreign languages, but… I’m pretty sure they’re all human.”

“Alright. All ships, this is the admiral. Assume defensive formation number two. Keep all weapons powered down, shields up. We’re moving towards the unknown ships to meet with them. Do not engage unless fired upon, but be ready for any surprises. Slava Kamenye!

The Kamenyan ships began to move into the system, broadcasting a message in several Old Earth languages.

“To all entities, forces, and vessels in this system. We are representatives of the Kamenyan Defense Directorate, investigating the Sol system after the awakening of our Gate. We are peaceful and wish to establish contact with the rest of humanity. Be advised, these ships are armed and we will use force in the eventuality of any aggressive action towards our detachment.”
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by jorvhik
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jorvhik

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Loud booms reverberated throughout one of Kudrion’s many forests. This was not the crack of thunder, or the mating call of the Macan, a gigantic, four-legged, sharp-toothed beast that could level cities. These booms came from a very different source, as human ingenuity and ill-understood alien technology combined to further that ancient, universal and ancestral part of human nature called war. Although a new star had appeared in the sky, far above the planets and asteroids of the Ogeid system, it was just another day on Kudrion.

Anica looked through her scope in the direction the man next to her was pointing. She could see another Bredonner, a warrior of the Bredon Clan, hiding inside the foliage a few hundred yards away from her, their head peeking out from behind a tree. Taking a deep breath, she aimed at her new target, trying to keep her rifle steady as the long hours of laying down on the metal floor of the aircraft she was in took their toll. The rifle in her hands charged as she held down the trigger, strange energies running along its metallic barrel. When she let go, a projectile the size of a grape whizzed out of the barrel at breakneck speed, crossing the distance to the forest in a fraction of a second, making a loud boom as it did so. Before he even had a chance to hear the hiss of the projectile, it passed cleanly through the Bredon warrior’s head before it lodged itself into the tree behind him.

“Nice shot. Think you can hit that one?” the man beside her said while looking through a pair of binoculars.

Anica once again looked through her scope before spotting another of the Bredon Clan’s warriors skulking through the forest. Not stealthy enough, she thought, before repeating the same procedure as she had with the other Bredonner.

“Seems like I can. Why are those damn warriors even here? They were supposed to be busy with the Houm clan,” Anica asked.

“Same as always, they’re probably trying to scout out the area so they can attack Krisfast and take back the tech we stole from them,” Gzudun said. “Or steal our Vefsin, they’re a good source of meat,” he added.

“I suppose it can’t be helped,” the woman said wistfully, “got anything else for me, Gzudun?”

“Let me see,” Gzudun replied as he looked through his binoculars, “We might have gotten them all. He searched the area for any signs of life, taking a moment to look at the woman’s makeshift sniper rifle, “What did you make that thing out of anyway?”

“Oh this,? Anica said as she petted her rifle, “I found some sort of power source in the ruins up north and hooked it up to the charge dispenser and some of the supercoils we had laying around. Ripped the firing optics out of one of the Bredonner rifle’s we stole last month, and put the whole thing in and voila! New gun.”

“Well, be careful with that thing. Never know when that damn Old Ogeid tech will get you. We’ve been messing around with it too much,” Gzudun said, still looking through his binoculars. “Hey Moimir,” he said, raising his voice a little, “I bet you tonight’s guard duty that Anica’s not hitting the Bredonner near the mountains.”

“The mountains, that’ll be tough,” came a gruff voice from the cockpit, “but I’ll take that bet, she’s a good shot. Don’t let me down, Anica.”

Like the other times before, Anica looked through her rifle’s scope, searching for the enemy clan’s warrior Gzudun was talking about. It took her a few minutes before she finally found him wandering near the mountain range, many yards away from her previous target. The Bredonner was alone and in open view, likely not even aware of the threat. That didn’t matter. Anica took some time to increase her rifle’s power and adjust her aim, and holding a deep breath, she took the shot.

“Well Moimir,” Gzudun said, looking at the mountains in awe, “looks like I’m on guard duty tonight.”

Moimir wasn’t listening, being busy with something far more important. He had been studying the jungles around and under the rickety aircraft, looking for signs of enemies, or worse, enemy dragons, when a call came in through the aircraft’s communicator. On the screen there appeared the face of Dishuz, chieftain of the Kumar Clan, to which Anica, Gzudun and Moimir all belonged. The weathered face of the older man didn’t move for a few seconds, the system desperately trying to maintain the correction, before Dishuz finally said:

“Moimir, get back to Krisfast as soon as you can. The Gate of Umos has opened.”



It had taken some time for the Krowell, crewed by a contingent of warriors from the Kumar clan, to travel to the edge of the Ogeid system, where the object the Kudrioni called the Gate of Umos resided. According to their most ancient legends, it was a gift from the gods, allowing the Kudrioni to escape from their doomed homeworld. The fact that it was in reality a wormhole created by humanity had been forgotten, lost over three hundred years of constant warfare.

“Alright, we are currently approaching the Gate. The Sword of Tum is behind Onzao, waiting for us. We will go there first, before resuming our journey towards the Gate,” Moimir announced, his voice distorted by the radio system of his exosuit.

The three Kumari were silent for a moment, looking in awe at the shattered planet, victim of that first act of Old Ogeid aggression so long ago. Near Onzao there hovered the ancient Gateway, blazing with the radiance of a star, and as the ship made its way around the planet the three could see the Sword come into view. It was a very big ship, so large that the Krowell could easily land inside of it. While the main body of the ship was clearly of alien make, it had many more parts that were made by humans than would commonly be seen on a ship of this size.

“Why do we have to go there anyway? Can’t we just go through the Gate immediately? I’ve been stuck in this thing for too damn long,” Anica grumbled while gesturing to the heavy power armor she was wearing.

“You know what the chieftain said,” Gzudun responded as he kept looking out of the window, “Old Ogeid tech can’t talk to the damn Gate. Spirits don’t like it or something. Apparently, the Order of Kroit was gracious enough to lend us an artifact that we could use to travel through. If you behave, they might let you run around on their ship for a while. I heard Order ships are actually pressurized.”

Again the bridge fell silent, as Moimir steered the ship towards the Sword. As an experienced pilot, it took him mere minutes to enter the larger ship’s hangar bay, land the Krowell with a loud *clunk* and open its ramp to let in their new passengers. Only one came, wearing an exosuit like the Kumari and carrying a heavy crate, they made their way to the ship’s bridge.

“Hello, I am Scholar Emily Kaldaz, of the Order of Kroit. I have been assigned to implement the Artifact and watch over your exploration of the gateway. I suggest that we stop wasting time and leave immediately.”

“Sheesh, calm down,” Gzudun scoffed, “what’s this ‘Artifact’ thing anyway? I’m not sure if sticking random technology into our ship will improve our chances of survival.”

“That’s all you tribesmen do. And besides, that is top secret information. If you want the Order’s help I suggest you keep your mouth shut,” the Scholar responded with a cold tone.

“Alright, you two, cut it out. I’m launching the ship, be prepared to enter the gateway in a few minutes,” Moimir announced, keeping his eyes on the window in front of him as the ship started taking off.

The atmosphere on the bridge became more tense as the Krowell approached the gateway. Emily had taken something out of the crate, and was connecting wires from it to the ship as Gzudun tried to stealthily look at what she was doing. Anica, meanwhile, nervously checked her exosuit and other gear, to make sure everything was in place before the jump.

“We are at the Gate of Umos. Our ship seems to be interfacing with the Gate now, thanks to the Artifact. This ‘Americana’ system looks rather interesting,” Moimir declared, staring into the Gateway.

“No, we will go to Sol instead. We must know what happened to the home of our ancestors,” Moimir could hear from the Scholar, who was now standing behind him together with the other two Kumari.

“Alright then, setting course for Sol. Jumping in five seconds.”

Five seconds slowly passed, though it felt like hours to those in the ship. The Krowell began to rumble, sparks coming off the wires between it and the Artifact. One of the engines gave out, and a number of warning signs appeared on the main console. Still, the countdown continued, and then the ship was gone.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Ekreture
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Assembly Gateway Command, Tifara System

Collab between @Ekreture and @Sigma


Aboard The G'vara, the Eish-class Battleship placed in command of the Gateway Sentry, the Assembly navy-men who were tasked with monitoring the Gateway of foreign activity shuffled about the deck of the ship, nervous and attempting to portray dilligence in the wake of existential fear. Admiral Hakim, head of Gateway Command, paced about the monitoring room, when suddenly one of his men spoke up.

"A vessel-two vessels have made it through the Gateway!" The Admiral rushed to view the intelligence officer's monitor. There is was-the first vessels to pass through the Gateway into the Tifara system in three hundred years. Of course, to him, they were two blips on a radar map, but the occasion felt momentous.

"What are they doing?" Hakim inquired.

"They've entered Da'lu's orbit, Sir. It seems the Gateway must've shot their comms and their navigation systems.

"Use it to our advantage, quick, tell the fleet to move forward, surround these foreigners before they try anything funny." Within moments, the fleet was mobilized, systems armed and the two foreign vessels surrounded. As they got nearer, it became clear that these two ships were not of the same make by any means. One looked of a similar origin to those of Salome. The other...a bit too similar to the Askari mothership to the Admiral's liking. Hakim prepared to make contact, shouting behind him, "Kadima, soldiers! Bring me a robot!"

A Shemi Translation Automaton scurried into the command room, and approached the Admiral. "You wanted to see me, Admiral Hakim?"

Nervously scratching his nose, Hakim replied, "Yes. Prepare this message in every known Human and Nukhari language to be sent out to the foreign vessels as soon as they're back online-'Salome Al'akam, Welcome to Salome! I am Admiral Gedi Hakim of the Navy of the Salome Assembly. If you come in peace, please respond accordingly. If you do not, know you are far outnumbered and outgunned!'"


Soon power was slowly restored in the ship, the once darkened CIC now illuminated, the table coming back online, showing an endless sea of error and uncharted signs, the only noticeable blips being the Endurance, their Yulzan counterpart, and a small group of unknowns that now had them surrounded. Moments later a beeping sound rings out as comms have been established. The message from the Salome fleet being played back on both ships.

“Well, they ask before shootings.” Captain Grayson said with a sigh of relief, looking to the Comms officer. “Try your damndest to send a reply…tell them we them no harm, and we come in peace..”

Elsewhere, on the Janissary carrier Divine Resolute, Captain Zrixx was more cautious of these strangers. “Send a reply and hold fire for now…but keep our guns ready and all pilots on standby…if we go down, we can at least take them with us..”

Shortly after the Salome fleet sent their message, both alien vessels sent their reply, both offering to stand down for the moment, although the same can’t be said for the two opponents for one another, ready to strike at the other if the opportunity rises.


After recieving replies from both ships, Hakim relaxed a bit, and turned back to his assistants. "I'm moving to the command deck. Prepare to establish communications. Robot, you're coming with me." Soon, the Admiral was back in his seat. It was decided that direct communications would be established with the Janissary carrier first since they seemed less at ease. The other ship meanwhile would be sent a message to stand by.

The holo-table projections flickered off as communications opened up with the Salome flagship, the command crew and Zrixx on edge as the image of Admiral Hakim materialized right before them. The insectoid Zrixx standing at attention. “This is Captain Hirix Zrixx of the Janissary Carrier Divine Resolute, faithful servant of the great Yulzan and their Ascendancy."

After the Robot translated for him, Hakim nodded...albeit trepidatiously. Nukhrin. Of course the first people through the Gateway are Nukhrin. And bugs at that. "Hello, Captain. I am Hakim...welcome, to Salome. We have many, eh...foreigners, such as yourself, here. What brings you and your friend here-" he motioned to the other ship, "-to Salome?" And how are you speaking a human language? he thought to himself.

“Others such as myself? Intriguing….” Zrixx thougt out loud, already this systems shows promise for the masters, and they will surely find this intel that more humans have been found outside of the Americana System, this alone could prove both promising…perhaps worrying. Zrixx snarled his mandibles, if one could call it that, it sure looked like it, once the Admiral mentioned the Americana ship. “Forgive my rudeness, Admiral, but they are far from being “friends”, they oppose my masters, and therefore, are the enemy and are to be crushed.” He cleared his throat, answering the other question. “As for our arrival….it wasn’t by choice. We were locked in pitched battle against our enemy, then out of nowhere, this energy blast trigger all around us, sucking us in. The next thing we ended up here.”

Hakim chuckled. "The Gateway opens on top of a naval battle? Eh, that is bad hazal." The Admiral stopped for a moment. He didn't like the way the alien was talking, 'opposing masters', the way it menacingly clicked out the word 'intriguing'...it all felt like something that would make a Shemi soldier like himself nervous. "Eh, look, captain, what are your intentions here? I know you came here by accident, but I can't have you two start fighting right over Da'lu, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until you get home to em...'crush your enemies'."

“I can assure you, Admiral; I have no intention of starting a war with our new neighbors, the higher ups would hang me for it. Our quarrel is with the Americanans alone.” At least…for now, Zrixx thought to himself. This system is a potential pool for new converts to the Ascendancy ‘s cause, the High Ascendants will find this pleasing.

"Uh-huh," Hakim doubtfully replied. He wasn't getting a good feeling from these Nukhrin. There were two sides to every story, this much is true. "Okay, Captain, thank you for your time, please stand by," he concluded, before shutting off communications. He rubbed his hand over his face, before turning to his comms analyst. "Alright, let's hope this other ship is a little more, eh-familiar. Open communications with the 'Americanans.'"

Captain Grayson fixed up his uniform, making himself look presentable as the holo-image of the Admiral materialized. He still couldn’t believe that other human colonies had survived….for once, he felt hope in mankind’s survival. “Admiral Hakim, this is Captain William Grayson of FRS Endurance. To be honest, I can’t tell how relived I am, we thought we were all that was left of humanity.”

Admiral Hakim smirked as the robot relayed the human captain's message. Human being the key word. So the Mission...the Mission is still alive. "Salome Al'akam, Captain Grayson. Welcome to Salome, you are among friends here." He waited while the robot translated his Shekhekhani words into Old Imperial, watching the lines of Grayson's face. In the distance, he could hear his men cheering at the word of first Ghari contact. If these Americanans were humans and the Yulzan were trying to crush them...well that certainly raises some questions. "I had the eh...pleasure of meeting your Nakhuri rivals, and I'm struggling to tell if they can be trusted."

Grayson already was liking this Hakim, he certainly has enough common sense compared to the old URC government a few decades ago. “In short, sir, no. They cannot be trusted. The Yulzan, and their little yes-men, the Aldzir, came with the sob story of losing their homeworlds in a supernova…there might’ve been truth to it…and for a time, they were cordial enough.” Grayson paused, taking a deep breath. “They slithered their scaly fingers into every facet of our society, roping people up in this crazy cult, worshiping them as literal gods…I’m getting off track. Short of it, they backstabbed us decades ago, took my homeworld, and we’ve been fighting tooth and nail ever since.”

Hakim started scratching his beard. "Well..." he thought for a moment. The people of Salome have feared an alien invasion for decades, if not centuries. And the people of Americana have had that fear come true. It'd be nonsensical for The Admiral to allow the same thing to happen to his people. "What would you recommend I do?" He paused. "If you were in my position, facing the Yulzan for the first time, what would you have done?"

Grayson had a mischievous smile forming, looking a little fidgety at the thought. “In my honest to God opinion? Blast the fuckers into oblivion.” Grayson did not hold back, years of loss, anger and frustration spilling over in a span of minutes. If he truly could turn back time, he would shoot down every single vessels in the fleet, nuked it even. “You give those bastards an inch, they’ll sure as hell take more then a mile, they’ll subvert your very society to their bidding, all part of their invasion strategy to be more “subtle” as they say.” He paused once more, calming himself down, letting the emotions get the best of him. “Don’t give them the chance.”

The Admiral's heard all he needs to know, and sighed. "It's too bad," he said, feigning disappointment. "If only these aliens hadn't come through the Gateway attacking my fleet, perhaps this would be an opportunity for diplomacy." He smirked a bit, hoping Grayson was catching on. "Don't you agree, captain?"

“Oh yes Admiral, such a tragedy, you could’ve learned so much, tis the nature of war I suppose.” Captain Grayson said, barely keeping a straight.

"I'm glad we've come to an understanding," Hakim replied with a chuckle. "Captain Grayson, when this is over, please follow my escort, this is a time for celebration. There are introductions to be made." He waved goodbye, and after dismissing the communication screen, he got up from his seat and began walking to the gunnery deck, announcing, "Have all ships fire at the Nukhrin on my signal." The translation robot followed behind, closely and tepidly. I'm built for diplomacy, it thought. This doesn't feel like diplomacy.

Within moments, all of the assembled Assembly ships had begun firing torpedoes and laser cannons at the Yulzan ship, projectiles and lights flashing through the void.

“Treacherous humans!” The Aldzir captain shouted out, falling to the floor as the ship came under continuous attack. “Fire everything! Launch all fighters!” From the outside of the Divine Resolute, a swarm of various fighter and support craft came pouting out from the hanger bays, all the while, the carrier’s main batteries and torpedoes fired at all directions, making one last, desperate, but futile stand against a far more numerous foe.

“Support our new allies!” Captain Grayson ordered. “Point whatever guns we got at the carrier, launch all ships!”

Now at the gunnery deck, the Admiral waited patiently, hand on his face. His ship hadn't come under fire yet, and he saw the enemy carrier deploying their fighters. Luckily, he had a couple carriers of his own in his fleet.

The Salomi fighter crafts zoomed in from opposite ends of the Yulzan carrier, attempting to catch the alien fighters in a pincer, the only route of escape leading directly into the firing path of the Americanan fighters entering the fray. Intelligence operatives aboard Hakim's battleship, meanwhile, attempted to hack the navigation systems of the Yulzan torpedos, while the rest of the fleet maintained their barrage on the Divine Resolute.

The combined assault from the Endurance and the Assembly Fleet proved to be hell for the Divine Resolute’s shields, slowly coming down as several of their own torpedoes were turned against them, acting as the last straw as the shields came down.

Meanwhile, the space inbetween was pure chaos as allied fighters duke it out with Janissary craft in a fray of missiles, plasma, and bullets. The Janissaries however, were pushed to the brink, as pilots witness the mothership going down, as she is endlessly battered by the fleet.

Within the command deck, it was hopeless, most of the command staff lay dead, sparks and smokes filling the air, followed by muffled screams of the crew, with repeated cries of “abandon ship!”. Meanwhile Zrixx could only contemplate his own failings, his failure to serve the High Ascendants, his failure to ensure victory, he wasn’t fit to ascend at this moment. A torpedo soon blew a huge hole in where the command deck was, Zrixx and what was left of his staff left to die in the void, his last moments watching his forces and ship being decimated.

Hakim watched as his forces succeeded, the Shekhekhani fighters returning to their carriers. He waited for a bit, before asking to his aids, "Casualties?" There was a brief pause as the numbers came in.

"Three deaths, sir," The aid finally responded. "All pilots." The admiral nodded.

"Inform their families," he said as he began walking back to the command deck. "Their children died heroes. In the meanwhile, get me an escort from Da'lu. Inform Captain Grayson we'll be going to The Ark."

“Carrier down! I repeat! Enemy carrier is down!” One of the officers declared followed by rapturous joy and cheers that filled the deck and every corner of the ship. Victories weren’t a rare sight…but this was a special occasion for so many reasons. Not only have the crew of the Endurance discovered that humanity is alive and well beyond their home system, they have found a new ally in their fight against the Yulzan, for many, the thought of reclaiming Columbia was just wishful thinking at best, but now? Not anymore, there is a real chance this may very well turn the tide of the war in their favor.

Another officer snuck up on Captain Grayson, tapping his finger on his shoulder. “I’m sorry to interrupt sir, we just received new instructions from the Admiral, we’re to rendezvous with him at some place called the 'Ark'."


Shem

Tifara had begun to lower over the village of Ein Tzariah, and with it, her villagers set about their tasks that had been saved for the brief respite from the heat. Seigu melons were plucked from their vines while the village's camels were brought to the oasis, the grey-turbaned soldiers keeping watch with their rifles from a guard tower and on their foot patrols all the while. Lev eyed their movements carefully from underneath the shade of a canvas which had been set up above an assortment of rugs to create a shaded seating area that Lev and Roshi could rest in while they waited for their repairs to be complete. Suddenly, his milita gazing was interrupted by the sight of Sughaz lifting up the canopy to speak to them. They hadn't seen the silver-haired man for a few hours, as he was off with his men discussing the ongoings of the Gateway's return.

"Pardon my interruption," he began, "I hope your accomidations are to your liking."

"Of course, of course," the scout replied, "Really, far beyond expectation."

"I am humbled to be your host, Gershan, but eh...what is a Shemi soldier doing this far out in the desert?" Lev's heart stopped a bit at the question. It was an obvious question, of course, but one he expected far sooner, if the question would be asked at all. He played it off as a joke.

"Ah, I thought you were a man of tradition, you should feed me before asking my business, no?" Sughaz's eyes were cold in response, but he nodded with a smirk.

"Of course, I was just about to eat with my men. Wouldn't you join us?"

"With pleasure."

An hour later, Lev was breaking bread with a bunch of terrorists while Roshi was trying desperately to pet a camel, who didn't reciprocate the desire for affection in the least. "Pickle!" Lev shouted between intermingling bites of bread and sheep stew, "Is this really how you want to spend your time?"

"Yes!" the automaton replied as he wiped the camel spit from his lens.

Sughaz grunted. "You know, Samal, you can't let your property disobey you like that." He stabbed his dagger into a piece of lamb, using it as a fork. "If the army is gonna make you use one of them, fine, but it isn't alive. It isn't a person. It's metal, it's property." The other assorted soldiers, along with the town's Baal, grunted in agreement, while an flute player played slowly in the background with a drummer accompanying.

Lev shrugged, trying to shift the conversation. "Maybe you have a point." After letting silence settle for a second, he asked, "How did you know I was a sergeant?"

"So was I," Sughaz replied gruffly. Lev felt his heart begin to beat faster. Military background...early fifties... he scanned once again over his face, careful to notice every possible detail, when he saw it. Faint, small, barely noticeable. But he saw it, a scar on his neck, supposedly from a childhood run-in with a Raml-zev. This is him. Ha'Lahash, leader of the Grey Turbans. Lev began coughing, and Sughaz looked at him, concerned, like a worried father. "Are you alright, Gershan?"

The scout cleared his throat. "Yes, yes, I'm fine...any update on my bike?"

"It's far too late for you to be worrying about such matters, Ai'khi, please, stay the night," Sughaz replied. His tone was polite and hospitable, but it was clear he wasn't asking.

Whether he thinks I'm a Shemi soldier or an Assembly soldier, Lev thought, The head of a genocidal terrorist organization certainly doesn't to eat dinner with me. So what does he want? His thought was interrupted by the Baal raising a wooden cup as a jug of Saigu wine was passed around, and after filling his own cup, Lev followed suit.

"Our guest's dry throat reminds me it is time to give thanks!" He began, the assembled Grey Turbans chuckling among themselves. "To the Ascendant One, blessed be He, who blesses his people Shekhekhan with the milk of Redemption!" Lev and the soldiers gave a resounding "Amen!" before the Baal continued. "To the village of Ein Tzariah, who feeds us and nourishes us in our war against the Nukhrin!"

"Amen!" The people resounded.

"And of course, to our Host and Fearless Leader, Sughaz ban Sadat!" The men cheered and applauded, as Sughaz rose with his cup in his hand and waved them to be quiet.

"Please, please men, you humble me, but you embarass me." He smiled to them, and they began to laugh. He stood silent for a moment, and began to speak. "Thank you, Baal Natanav, as always, your words are tinged with holiness. We are lucky to find ourselves in a town of such wisdom, love, and purity." He stopped, looking among the men who watched their leader silently, eyes resting on Lev for a moment before moving on. "Nearly, we did not. Barely more than a month ago, this humble oasis was filled with Nukhri filth, the bestial Askari who swear fealty to 'Hamagdal.'" He stopped, and tears flooded his eyes, and when he spoke again, his voice strained with emotion. "They killed children. Women. Left their fields burned, fathers slaughtered. And why?" He looked straight at Lev. "Because that is what Nukhrin do." He switched his gaze and the focus of his pointing hand to the door of the tent. "But look at the roads and the heads of this filth mounted there. Look to the liberated families of Ein Tzariah, the free sands which surround her. That, my friends, that is what we do!" The men began to cheer and Sughaz started to shout over them.

"And soon, the winds of Shem will beg us to free her from her Bonds! And the waters of Nereid will be sweetened by the blood of the unclean! Men, we look to the Gateway and we see promise! And hope! We see the future of Am, the future of Humankind! And it not one where we share beds with Alien marauders! 'Nor shall the dagger bend in the name of progress, nor the bullet drop in the name of armistice'!" The Baal cried out his praises as the Scripture was quoted. "The future, my friends, my men, my brothers in blood, is one of Peace. But a Peace that must be wrought from the claws of the Nukhrin!" As the men cheered, he again found his seat, cup raised in anticipation.

"There is a piece of news I must share with you. Two ships have entered Salome through the Gateway." At this, nervous whispers and murmurs spread among the crowd. "One was human, one was Nukhri. And the Nukhrin were giving chase to the Human, who sought from us refuge from their plight." He waited as the men discussed this worriedly amongst themselves. "The Ascendent One be Praised, Admiral Hakim of the Assembly made the right decision, and those humans are safe. But we know that this is a fluke in the system. For I was there thirty years ago. I saw how Adama gave the Askari their riches. I saw, and I know, that the Assembly is built on the backs of betrayal. And now we know that the experience of Nukhri violence is not just in Salome; in Americana too, the Yulzan Nukhrin bare their fangs at the Human Mission. But with us-" He raised his cup as far as he could. "They shall not succeed!" With that, Ha'Lahash threw the Saigu Wine to the back of his throat, and after a loud 'AMEN!', the rest of the men followed suit.

While the Saigu flowed and the festivities resumed, Lev sat there nervously, but finally managed to begin to drink and blend in. He was sitting at the back of the tent when Sughaz approached him, clasping him on the shoulder. "Gershan," he began, "Come with me, I need to speak with you." And Lev's heart rose into his throat.

-----

The stars were shining bright, and Salome and the other moons hung high over the two Shekhekhanin, illuminating their path as they walked deeper and deeper into the desert. Sughaz had informed Lev that a vital piece of the hovercraft was missing, and that they needed to go retrieve in. Lev asked him if 'Pickle' could come with them. He said no. He had also told him to leave behind his rifle-he wouldn't be needing it. They trudged through the desert finally coming to the sand dune that Lev had fallen over, and Sughaz turned to him. He had been silent since they left.

"You better start looking." His eyes were implacable, but his hand was on his pistol. Lev gulped and nodded, and began to search on the floor. Soon after, he felt a boot press down into his neck, and heard a handgun click above his head. Sughaz stood over him, a crazed look in his eye. "Who are you?" He snarled down at the scout below him. Lev sputtered and coughed, breathing in the cool desert sand.

"What are you doing?! I am *cough* soldier! I'm in the Shem-"

"Don't talk shit, Gershan. You're not in the Shemi army, because Shem doesn't FUCK with me. But you...you Gershan. You FUCK with me. So if you don't tell-"

"I'M AN ORPHAN!" This was...true. A trait that Gershan and Lev would come to share. Sughaz paused for a moment, and removed the boot from the young man's neck, who came to his knees and began violently coughing up sand. He kept the gun trained on him.

"Keep talking."

"My...my parents." He started wheezing. "Were killed. By Nukhrin, the Askari, in the war. I was just a baby." He finally began to catch his breath, and started to struggle to his feet. "I'm sorry I-"

"Where did you get the uniform?" The gun was pressed lightly to Lev's chest now. The violent craze had left Sughaz's eyes, replaced by the old familiar implacability.

"Stole it. Same with the gun. Same with the robot. Same with the hovorcraft. I'm a nobody, a scavenger, a-"

"Thief."

"Yes." The two were silent for a while. Lev could feel the cool night air blow against his bloody face. Finally, Sughaz spoke up again.

"I don't deal too well with thieves Gershan. Those who steal from me...they end up much like those Askari dotting the road into town."

Lev gulped. "I understand."

"How did it make you feel? Seeing those Nukhrin's heads displayed like that." Lev waited a bit, pondering before answering.

"Good."

"Good," Sughaz responded. "If you're lying to me, boy, you'll get to spend more time with them." Suddenly, he removed the pistol from his chest and placed it back in its holster. "But for now, I think I could make use of a thief." Lev sighed in relief, and the two began to walk back to camp, and Lev took off the Shemi soldier's jacket, leaving it behind to be buried in sand.
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Hidden 1 mo ago 30 days ago Post by Timemaster
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Timemaster Ashevelendar

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The Chosen Gateway
Collab between @Sigma and @Timemaster


Soon after High Hierarch William’s last comm was sent to Resilience announcing their departure through the Gate, the God-Queen and the other members of the Fist were seated in the altar of the great cathedral. Things were not peaceful.

“--and that Repozdo shouldn’t have been sent! I bow humbly to your wisdom, your holiness, may your light always shine upon us but that one should have never been sent over to communicate with potential heathens!” said Pontius, the second of the Fist and the most zealous of them.

Repozdo. The Chosen word for the Rejected. It was a slur word that appeared soon after the appearance of the Rejected and their usage as slaves. It meant that they were less than human, less than Chosen. It meant they were rejected by life itself. The word became less and less used as the generations passed and the Rejected were given a world of their own but there are still those who use it.

“Calm yourself Pontius. You’re forgetting yourself. William has been blessed by the Goddess as much as we did. He earned his place here. “ a calm voice said from the end of the room, lurking in a darkened area of the altar. Catherine, the fourth of the Fist. The spymaster of the Church.

“I shall do no such thing, Catherine! That repozdo will never be able to express the light of the Goddess to heathens. I should’ve been chosen f–”

“SILENCE! Pontius, if you say repozdo one more time in my presence I will personally remove all your enhancements and see you sent on a diplomatic mission on RADX-002. Forever. As Catherine said, I chose him because I know that he won’t start a war with someone just because they haven’t heard of me. You know why they haven’t heard of me? Because we live in different parts of the galaxy!

They will be brought into the fold and they will accept the peace I offer them, if there are even others out there in the first place. Is that clear?” Ashevelen’s voice rang out in the altar, the room’s acoustics helping her initial shout to sound way louder than it should’ve been.

The others at the altar were left stunned. To hear the Goddess shout was something that usually didn’t happen. It was a rare thing and ended with someone getting punished for all their sins, usually.

Pontius quickly went on his knees, head on the ground and arms forward.

“Oh’ Great Goddess! May your light shine upon us until the end of times! Please forgive me! I only seek your perfection in everything!” his strong, gruff voice turned into something akin to a mouse’s squeak.

“Pontius, stand–”

Ashevelen was interrupted by an emergency communication from the flagship of the Golden Armada, the Seraph.
“My Goddess, incoming emergency communication from the Seraph. Should I put it through?” said Catherine.

“Yes, put it on screen. Let’s see what is happening.”

The altar table quickly lit up to show the admiral of the Golden Armada aboard the Sepaph.

“I don’t care about your regulations. The God-Queen HAS to se–” his head turned and noticed the assembly of the Fist and Ashevelen looking at him.

“Apologies my Goddess. I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes already and you need to see this.”

The image of the admiral changes to one of the Gateway and two unidentified spaceships. As the ships spark back to life, their weapon systems activate and one of the ships bombards the other one.

Ashevelen looked with interest at the two ships, the members of the Fist whispering between themselves.

“Orders my Goddess? If they continue fighting there are chances that the debris will hit a populated part of the Galdar forest.”

Looking at Pontius, Ashevelen smiled. “See Pontius? The heathens come to us.”

“Admiral. How long until the full might of the Golden Armada can be deployed?”

“Seeing that we’ve started for some time already, I’d say 20 minutes. We’ve got 4 Carriers, 400 Infiltrator-Class ships and one Battlecruiser ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.”

“Good. That should be enough to calm those two down until the others arrive. Permission to approach. Lock weapon systems on anything that looks important on both ships. If they engage, disable their ships and send the Chosen in. Show them our might.

Relay the following message to both ships in all the languages we can, hopefully they’ll understand us.” Ashevelen took a deep breath and continued.

“Unidentified ships. My name is Ashevelen. The leader of the Chosen. You have entered Chosen airspace. I consider my worlds sacred and wish no harm to befell them. If you wish not to be destroyed, power down your weapon system and prepare to be boarded. Your captains will be brought onto my flagship and then we'll talk. In this time…neither the captains nor your crews will be harmed.

You’ve got 10 minutes to comply before we open fire.”

The battle raged as the two opposing flagships lobbed each other whatever they had online, fighter and shuttle craft duking it out in between the two giants. Aboard the Cerberus, Admiral Julius Sevran stared intently at the holo-image of the [i]Tempest[i/], as they made a slow advance, his eyes darting all round, looking for any weak points. “Continue to focus all batteries on the starboard side, they had taken the most punishment there.”

“Aye aye, Admiral.” One of the gunnery officers complied, relaying his commands to the guns. The ship trembled as it fired many shots at the Tempest. “Shields down to 50%!”

Julius couldn’t help but smirk, not only will he possible bring the notorious Tempest, but possible may have found a new world ripe for conquest, this report would please the High Ascendants to no end, first things first though….”Let us end this dance of death!”

“Admiral! We got incoming ships!”

“Are they ours? The enemy?”

“Neither. These signatures are…completely new.”


Meanwhile on the Tempest. The same group was just detected by the command crew. “We’re getting an incoming message from the unknowns….they’re warning us and the jannies to stand down.”

“Well I’ll be damned.” XO Bashir let loose. “I think we just found another colony…” With this revelation, the whole situation has just changed. Not only was the anomaly that sucked in the two flagships, was very much the Gateway of legend, but the gateway tossed them in one of the fabled lost colonies of man. “Sir?”

“….Stand down. We didn’t come here to start a war with another power. Pretty sure we made a damn poor impression on the locals.”
Within moments of the Chosen’s Ultimatum, both warships had miraculously powered down their weapons, both ships weakening the other, and were clearly outgunned by this third party.

The Seraph and its cohorts approached the two alien spaceships, watching the battle between them. Weapons were being primed and the Clerics were getting loaded into their Infiltrator-Class ships, ready to launch at a minute’s notice.

But then, it stopped.

“Admiral, the two ships powered down. The Goddess was right. Praised be her name!”

All over the bridge the “Praised be her name” could be heard. Each person either muttering it or shouting out loud.

“Of course it did, One. The Goddess’s knowledge doesn’t have bounds. She knows everything there is.

Send word to the capital, get the Goddess’s room ready, prepare the conference room and send a few Infiltrators to get the captains of those ships. Keep the weapons primed on them. If they try something, disable their ships and if that fails, remove them from our sacred space.”

“Aye! Aye!”

A small shuttle flew from Resilience, inside, the God-Queen, Julian, the third of the Fist and master of war and their entourage and made their way into the docking port of the Seraph.

The arrival of the God-Queen on the Seraph made the commotion caused by the two alien ships feel like nothing. For most of the Chosen, the Goddess is represented via works of art or videos of her in a pre-Chosen state. To see her walking by them, chatting with them or simply nodding was an honor few could boast about. Later on, the crew will tell stories about the Goddess to their children and mention it as the highest point in their lives.

While Ashevelen was getting ready for the meeting, two shuttles were sent to alien spaceships. Each of them was filled with the biggest templars the Seraph had, a show of force meant to keep things civil between the two warring parties and if not, to dispatch them with ease.

As the captains of the ship would arrive, they would see more templars with weapons trained on them at all times and then they’d be escorted to the conference room where Ashevelen and Julian waited. The walls of the ship would be painted with images of Ashevelen in different poses or places of Old Earth.

The Goddess would be dressed in her usual white lab coat and be seated at the table in the conference room while Julian, a 3.2 meter tall person, dressed in full body armor would wait behind her.

Both Admirals felt a sense of unease from the designs of the ships interior, funny enough, for completely different, if similar reasons. Jiaal felt a dreading sense of dé·jà vu from his surroundings, felt like he was aboard a Janissary ship, what if these people were just like the Yulzan? The Republic can’t afford to fight a two front war if these “Chosen'' decide we were a ripe target.

Julius however, was more uneased by such heresies before him. Throughout all of his childhood, he has been taught and raised on the fact that the Yulzan are perfect beings, gods made in the flesh that by universal mandate, had selected his world as the starting point of a great empire. As such, in his mind, there can be no other being that is of equal worth because there is none that can match the Yulzan. Both Admirals finally reached their destination and took their seats.

Ashevelen looked at both admirals. One human, small in comparison to the Chosen but average for a normal human. He was dressed in what she could assume to be military clothes with minor signs of attrition. Whoever these people were, they were fighting for a while.

The other person was more interesting. Clearly not human, not even an enhanced one. Alien. First alien lifeforms she met. Already calculations, presumptions and the sorts were running in her head about what she could learn from their DNA. What made them evolve like that? If stripped of the obvious cybernetic enhancements, would they still be alive?

Looking both in their eyes and gently nodding, everyone from the room but Julian and Ashevelen left. Leaving only the two admirals alone.

“Greetings fellow human and I don’t know what your species is called but I hope you’ll be able to answer that. As said in the message, my name is Ashevelen. I lead the people called the Chosen and if you ask them, I’m their Goddess for I have given them life where there wasn’t one. Irrelevant of my holiness, these people live peaceful lives. Peace which you’ve disturbed when you’ve decided to fight each other above our skies. Peace which I strive to keep at all times.

This–”pointing towards Julian who all but dwarfed her in size”- is my personal bodyguard and master of all things related to violence. His name is Julian. I hope that you’re going to be civil while we talk, if not, he is…as you can see, more than equipped to deal with any issues. I understand that you’re enemies out there but while you’re guests on my flagship, you are not!

Now, tell me who and what you are. Tell me why you’re fighting. Tell me everything. Or don’t. I promised your safety and that of your crew and I keep my promises. “ Her tone was calm during the conversation but towards the end, she implied subtly what might happen if these people don’t answer her questions. They’ve been promised safety, their ships as well but not the oxygen on said ships or anything else for that matter.

The two admirals were in awe of this “Goddess”, her height for sure was beyond average, making her quite intimidating, the subtle threats don’t help in that case. The admirals remained tight-lipped, both glaring at one another, the fires of animosity sparking in the air. It was a rare sight for military leaders of both the Free Republic and the Ascendancy to be this close, sitting in the same room, virtually nothing keeping one of them from simply pulling a gun, popping a few rounds in the other, the only barrier was this Julian man, so for now, both men would do the impossible, and remain…cordial for the time being.

Jiaal turning to Ashevelen first. “Admiral Jiaal Farus of the Free Republic Navy. “He stated. “And to answer your question, my people are called Dathu.”

“Admiral Julius Sevran of the Janissary Fleet Command, servant of the Ascendancy.” Julius stated as well, both men breaking eye contact for the time being. “The short of it, Admiral Farus and the rest of his ramble refuse to submit to my most divine lords, the Yulzan, who graced us in their divinity decades ago.”

“Bull. Shit.” Jiaal candidly stated. “They’re nothing but conniving bastards that took my homeworld, and destroyed my family! They’re nothing but sickly, dying old men that fooled us all!”

Julius stood, his face looking red. “Don’t you dare speak such blasphemy!”

Jiaal was quick to stand up, facing off with his counterpart. “Blasphemy? Don’t make me laugh! You wanna hear it, I’ll give it to you!” Both men were on the verge of thrashing each other.

Ascendancy, divine, Yulzan, Free Navy. A lot of new information to process. It seemed to Ashevelen that it was an invasion scenario. One decided to invade the other one due to…divine reasons and now they’re in for a mortal war. Divine reasons. Another race deceived by false Gods, probably no different than her. Would the Chosen be like these Yulzan if Ashevelen directed in that way? Probably. Either way, the sheer hatred between these two people was palpable.

“Quit it both of you. I said it before and I’ll say it again. There will be no violence here. You're talking about blasphemy, Julius? If I ask any of my people, the mere fact that you haven’t bowed to me or asked for a blessing…you’d be accused of blasphemy and then killed. '' she made a small break and then turned towards Jiaal.

“Free Republic Navy. Are there humans in your nations? Others that are not like him?"

As the exchange between the two admirals became more heated and she was ignored, Ashevelen raised a finger in the air.
Almost immediately, Julian, who remained silent the whole time let out something akin to a growl. His body was long modified to release the “fear” pheromones that some herbivores use in order to deter carnivores from attacking them. Almost immediately, the room was filled by the invisible pheromones. In humans, it would work instantly, making their brains think they’re in mortal danger. For the other species, it was unknown what it would do but it was worth a try.

Julius was overcome with that sense of fall, barely getting a word out, his throat clenching up as his body turned against him, his fight or flight instincts kicking in as he collapsed onto the ground, stuck in a fetal position. “High Ascendants protect me…” He mumbled out.
Jiaal however, seemed unaffected by the pheromones, although he could clearly “smell” it in the air, and it had a foul odour to it. Despite sharing some similarities to humans, the Dathu were still quite alien on a genetic level.

Nonetheless, Jiaal looked In a mix of horror and pity, seeing his counterpart reduced to this. “Not that I mind.…but, the hell did you do to him?”

Ashevelen watched the two and their reactions to the pheromones, taking in account everything she could at once. The Janissary went down almost immediately but Jiaal seemed impervious to it. Corrections had to be made to the formula. Improvements, schematics, queries and the sorts ran through Ashevelen’s mind.

She put her finger down and Julian's stature changed. His body no longer releasing the pheromones. A fan went on and the air in the room started to clean up.

"Fear pheromones. In most creatures it triggers the fight-or-flight instincts. It seems that your species is immune to it but humans aren't. If you're ok with it, I'd love to draw some blood from you later on but only if you wish so. I won't force you.
You might've noticed from my bodyguard here, I have improved our DNA with different mutations. You could say, I have mastered the human DNA."

As Julius would stand up, Ashevelen would turn to him then to Jiaal. "I hope you two can be civil from now on.
Now, answer my questions. Are there others of my species out there? I'm assuming your people-"pointing to Julius"-are all humans? Do any of them come from Earth?"

Jiaal cringed at the thought of needles, blood, and all that medical stuff. “Uhh, no thank you.” He said with a weak smile. “Not a fan of needles.”

Julius stood up, fixing up his uniform. “Yes.” He snarled, not one to easily forgive such transgressions, unfortunately, Julius was in no position to assert his own authority, perhaps in due time….”My family can be traced back to the original colonists, humanity lives.”
Mutant Bitch” Julius thought to himself, at least his own mind was safe.

“Aha! Now that’s a good answer. Why haven’t you said so? Things would’ve been so much easier. So, we’ve got humans fighting aliens. One invaded the other one, tsk tsk tsk. If I were to let you both go, do I have guarantees that your war will not reach my people? We are more than capable of defending ourselves and your only way into the system is via the Gateway. Strategically, you understand what that means. “ she took a break, leaving both to process her words and then looking at Julius again, a gentle smile appeared on her face. One might even call it beautiful as all Chosen were designed to be the very best human aesthetics allow, this would be even more so for the Goddess.

“I wanted to add something. Truly sorry about how your body reacted, Julius. My people have lived with that for years before I managed to protect them. I will offer you a gift, a way to say sorry.”
Ashevelen then pressed a few more buttons on the table and a few minutes later, a Templar came in with a small tray with a vial on top, placed it on the table in front of Julius and left without a word.

“That is a minor enhancement developed by us. You can either take it yourself or give it to your people to study it then use it. It will give your body all the antibodies a human needs. Think of it as a cure-all. As long as it was a toxin or disease from Earth, it will cure it.”

Enhancements like this were trivial to produce and not even worth considering secret at this point.
Despite the brief moment of turmoil, the smile and the soothing voice and tone, he couldn’t help but crack a smile…these were conflicting feelings to say the least… the less time spent here the better. Once the vial was brought forward to the Admiral, this presented a possible advantage, something the eggs heads at the Ministry of Advancements would love to get a hold of. Julius had softened up, putting on a more pleasant expression.

“I thank you for this gift…” Julius said as he grabbed the vial and placed it safely under his coat.
Jiaal mentally kept record that vial…something for Spec Ops teams to “borrow” from the Ascendancy at a later date, for now, he turned to face Ashevelen “Although I can’t make promises on policy, this war is only between the Free Republic and the Ascendancy and no one else.”
Nodding to Julius, Ashevelen turned her attention to Jiaal.

"Can you say the same? Will your people seek war with mine? Whatever fights you've got will stay in your system?

If any of you have questions about my people, please ask away. If not, I will ask my Templars to lead you back to your ships but not before providing you with some supplies. Food? Alcohol? Maybe some jewellery? Anything that your crews lack at the moment...Ask and you shall receive. "

The offer itself didn't mean much to the Chosen, as they had more than enough but for two nations at war it could mean a lot and it will also show that the Chosen are benevolent and rich.

Jiaal nodded. “Although I can’t make much promises, this war has nothing to do with you, so I can hopefully say you have nothing to fear.”
"I am not afraid, Jiaal. We are more than capable of defending ourselves. I just wish to spare my people the atrocities of war if it isn't necessary.

Anyways, I've decided to allow both of your people to send diplomats at a later date in order to promote trade between our nations. The only rule is to not forget that while you're in our system, your war stops. Otherwise, you'll see what happens when I don't promise your safety. " With a clap, a few Templars in full armor entered the room.

"These men will take you to your ships, alongside with some of our local cuisine that isn't poisonous to you. You're free to leave and thank you for your time."

The decades of war between the free peoples of the Americana System and the Yulzan Ascendancy has harbored deep hatred and hard feelings for all, there were few times where both sides would agree on something. However, in this case, leaving the war behind when traversing other worlds may help in healing old wounds, where both sides are forced to tolerate one another in the name of galactic peace. Both men looked to one another, still feeling a sense of awkwardness, as hours before, they were enemies. “Very well, in the name of galactic cooperation, the war will not leave our borders.”

Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Irredeemable
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Irredeemable Decaffienated Thembie Supreme

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Azulvista System

A collab between @Irredeemable and @Ekreture


The Escudo de la Libertad was the pride of Azulvista's home fleet, and a unique beast indeed. Sponsored almost entirely by a single patrician, it defied the typical Azulvistan wisdom of smaller, faster attack craft backed by heavy duty gunboats. Instead, the 'shield' was a purpose-build frigate, designed to hold the line behind the fleets of smaller craft, heavily armoured, bristling with point defence, and with a command hub capable of managing an entire fleetwide battle in safety and comfort. It had rapidly relocated from the rim of the Azulvista system to the Gateway as soon as it had opened, joining the blockade that the Senate had ordered as a pre-emptive measure whilst Alfonso ventured out into the Sol system. The picket line had already been established closer to the Gateway itself, and the Escudo now sat safely behind this, well within range to unleash its full firepower should something emerge.

And then, something did emerge.

"Almirante! Picket reports contact! A single vessel, unarmed!" The news rushed through the ship, winging its way down to the bowls of engine staff and to the high tables of command. "They've sent a message. In Spanish. Old Spanish."

"Play it." The admiral nodded at the underling officer, a cigarillo lazily smouldering between their fingers.

Greetings, peoples of distant stars! We are Shekhekhan, refugees of Bavel and travellers of the Great Empty. We exist on the Moons which orbit the gas giant Salome. If you are a human true of heart, and bear upon your lips peace and providence, we come joyously and bring only peace! And if you are un-human but seek peace, prosperity, and trade, we come to you with a strong arm and open heart. Humanity has lain disjointed and unknown to each other for far too long. Meet us at the table of brotherhood! Peace be upon you, Salome Al'akam!


There was a long pause once the message had finished itself. The picket line bristled, this alien ship left hanging in space, facing a small armada of attack craft, perilously vulnerable. Then, it would receive a response, still in Spanish, but with a tone and dialect unknown to humanity's cradle.

"Hail, Shekhekhan. You have entered the borders of the Gran Republic of Azulvista. Your message has been received and understood. We are glad to know humanity is still out there prospering and surviving, and would like to meet face-to-face. The pride of the Azulvistan fleet will be arriving shortly to take you aboard."

It didn't take much longer before the smooth shape of the Escudo pierced the picket line and soared towards the Yetziyah. Cutting its engines, it sailed beside the smaller ship, then came to a stop, aligning itself as best it could with the Yetziyah's foreign construction. Another message was sent across.

"Maglocks have been enabled."

Rimana's skin bristled a bit as she saw the military frigate begin to approach her much smaller exploration vessel. Aoshu held her arm comfortingly as the professor composed herself, and began piecing together the message of this understandably foreign Spanish dialect. After piecing together the message as best she could, she realized their intention, and quickly went to send a reply in Castilian. "Eh...Hola, Azulvistenos, this is Professor Rimana Batzakhar. Your message has been received; we are prepared to be boarded." After sending the message, she nodded for Aoshu and a couple of her robotic crew members to stand at her side.

"Boarded?" Came the reply. "Of course not! You are here, in our land. Let us show you some Azulvistan hospitality. I am sure you could use it with your travels here."

The professor chuckled a bit. "Thank you, I am sorry for the confusion, your tongue it is ah...my knowledge of Spanish is a historical one. We will be arriving shortly." With that, she nodded to her robotic pilot to align the Yetziyah with the Escudo in turn, locking in to the foreign vessel's maglocks. The same Salome welcome party waited at the ship's entrance while the airlocks between the two vessels were engaged.

The airlocks parted with a hiss. Standing on the other side were several severe-looking marines, all armed with hefty looking rifles, led by what must have been an officer, who instead brandished a sabre. None of them looked as if they were about to engage in combat, their stances parade perfect, their uniforms gleaming, and their berets all showing the same polished symbol bang in the centre of them. At the sign of the foreign diplomats they presented their arms, the officer pressing the sabre to his forehead before sheathing it with a smart click as the hilt slotted into place. Once that had been completed, the soldiers parted to either side of the airlock, forming a corridor the diplomats could walk through. The officer at the head, distinguished by a set of epaulettes, several medals, and a nasty looking electric scar that spiderwebbed across his face gave a salute.

"Greetings. It is my great pleasure and honour to welcome the first ever foreign dignitaries aboard this most prestigious of vessels. I am Capitán Leôncio, of the Gran Republican Navy. If you would please follow me, la almirante is waiting in the central command hub."

Rimana looked between the assembled marines. If this was a trap it wasn't one she would be able to break out of, but this was the job, and she couldn't have expected much different. She could imagine the response the first foreigners in Salome are going to receive. "Greetings, Capitan, I am Professor Batzakhar of the Academy of Ur'daat, this is my assistant, Aoshu." The mothlike alien gave an elegant curtsy. "I would be honoured, please, lead the way." With that, the Professor, Aoshu, and a handful of robots left the safety of their ship and stepped into the unknown.

The Azulvistans were doing a remarkable job of staying stern-faced despite the fact that an alien was walking among them, the Capitán turning smartly and leading the group out of the airlock, marines falling into step behind them as an honour guard. The diplomats were lead through the surprisingly well-furnished hallways of the frigate, arriving by a quick relay system large enough to carry all of them.

The soldiers comported themselves stiffly- perhaps overly so? But nonetheless, Aoshu, Batzakhar and the robots were carried up and through La Escudo's inner corridors safely and swiftly, until at last they were deposited in front of the command centre of the building. Leôncio swept an arm out for the guests to go first, the automatic doors parting with only the faint noise of air being displaced.

The professor followed closely, looking with wonder at the walls and corridors of the ship, before embarking on the relay. She tried to contain the amazement she felt watching this alien yet human technology and styling. Finally, when they reached their destination, she followed suit as Leoncio led her and her crew into the command centre.

Inside the room, currently facing away from the pair, was what could only be la almirante. Her hair had been drawn back into a practical looking black ponytail and her uniform was... Well it was simply magnificent. Even from the back, the tailoring and care that had gone into it was truly astonishing, a gilded sash sitting across her shoulders and numerous, equally gilded tassels shifting as she turned.

When she did though, it revealed another fact about la almirante. She appeared to be quite young indeed- perhaps in her late twenties or early thirties by Earth's standards, with piercing steely eyes and near flawless skin. She had a sharp, well-defined set of cheekbones and a narrow nose, but her lips were warm and held a smile for the visitors. She raised a hand towards the strange figures that stood towards her, cheerily introducing herself.

"Salve and hail! I am Almirante Isabella Maria Catalina Teresa Margarita Rodriguez de Lobasla, daughter of Chancellor Federico Javier Victor Ines de Lobasla and steadfast servant of the great nation in which you have found yourselves. Please! By all means!" She gestured towards the table that took up most of the room. It was clearly meant for issuing orders and examining the state of play during a battle, but its length, ostentatiousness and the glasses and ashtrays laid upon it now spoke of a more peaceful purpose. "To whom do I have the honour of addressing?”

Rimana stopped in her tracks when she saw Isabella, taken aback by the woman's beauty. She moved the brown waves of hair away from the front of her face to tuck them behind her ear, before clearing her throat and entering into the room. "It is a pleasure, Almirante de Lobasla, I am Professor Rimana Batzakhar of the University of Ur'daat, I study the cultures and histories of humanity before the Gateway. Eh...my father is a baker from a small town on my home world, heh...I can't say he has quite as impressive a title. But I am honoured to make your acquaintance." Aoshu stepped beside her boss, bowing deeply and grandiosely and spoke in perfect Castilian while attempting to perform the inflections of the Azulvistan language.

"And I am Aoshu. Asham native of the continental moon Adama, traveller, scholar, and-"

"My assistant," Rimana interjected. The alien glowered back at her.

"Yes. Her 'assistant'."

Isabella clapped her hands once, then gestured towards the vast table sat between them. "Please then, Aoshu and Rimana, sit! Would you like something to drink? Wate? Mate? Tea? Coffee? Something stronger?" She paused for a moment, and then continued with her offerings. "And do your people smoke tobacco? We happen to have many excellent varieties should you partake."

Rimana raised her hand defiantly as the two sat at the table Isabella had gestured to. "Oh, that's very kind, Almirante, but we're-"

"I don't smoke but I'll take a ah...is there any hope for a daquiri?" Aoshu interjected. Rimana looked to her assistant and side before returning her gaze back to Isabella.

"I suppose a coffee wouldn't hurt, gracias Almirante."

Isabella eyed the alien curiously, then glanced towards the professor. Some sort of thought process was obviously occurring, but exactly what it was was rather difficult to discern. Nodding at the two requests, she gave a lazy wave with one of her hands and relayed the orders to an individual who, although dressed smartly, did not appear to be a soldier. The woman vanished through another automatic door, leaving the group alone again.

As if to demonstrate her point about tobacco, the admiral reached inside a pocket and drew out an intricately designed silver case, flicking it open and extracting a single cigarette. Setting it to her lips, there was the woosh of a lighter and the bright purple flare of plasma, the cigarette soon happily smouldering away. "As a student of cultures and histories yourself, I'm sure you must be ecstatic at this opportunity to see all that humanity has become since the closure of the Gateways, are you not?"

The professor blushed a bit at Isabella's question and smiled, relaxing into her chair. "Of course I am! It is all so amazing. Truth be told, my people aren't all too interested in my field of study, so to be here, speaking Spanish with actual Spanish speakers, God knows how many lightyears away from home, it's all a bit eh..." Her gaze met the Almirante's and she smirked. "Encantada."

"Very good!" Isabella's amusement was plain on her face, and some of the smoke that she had been inhaling puffed out through her nose, which, for a brief moment, made her look more dragon than woman. "So, professora, you are a... Mathetes, then, yes? One who dedicates themselves to their academia? And your assistant?" She looked towards Aoshu. "I must admit, we have had poor experiences with xenos in our time here. I assume that your people are more agreeable than our Yyasum."

Aoshu chuckled, offering Isabella a smile. Yyasum? Aoshu thought, I suppose it's at least NEWER than 'Nukhrin'. They knew better than to speak up about the cultural insensitivity, and for once remained decidedly silent. Rimana looked at Aoshu embarrassedly, before looking back to Isabella.

"Ah...with exception, relations with Alien-kind in Salome have been rather peaceable, at least on their end. To them...I suppose that we are the 'Yyasum.' Before the Shekhekhanin arrived on Salome, the Tifara system was a stop on vast Alien trade network. Still is." She swallowed before moving on to a less sensitive subject. "As or my profession...eh, yes, I suppose I could be considered a 'Mathetes', I like to think I'm fairly dedicated." At this, Aoshu snorted, expressing rare emotion.

"La Professora is being humble, she hardly leaves her office to sleep at home, she knows the boy who delivers her food on a first name basis." They chuckled again before resuming their silence.

"Fascinating." Isabella responded. The only reason she wasn't taking notes was because this whole conversation was being recorded. "That sounds remarkable, to be located along the lines of an intergalactic highway... Have any breached the speed of light, or is it all slower than light travel? If so, how do they function? Sleeper ships? Colony ships? Something else?" She leaned forwards a little, tapping off her cigarette over one of the ashtrays.

Before the reply could come, the serving woman returned, carrying a tray set with two cups of coffee and a cloudy coloured daquiri. Once the drinks had been set in front of everyone, Rimana's coffee coming with sugar and milk on the side, the conversation could resume.

The professor's assistant sipped their delightful little cocktail. Exquisite. It was curious though, a human so interested in Alien culture and technology. Aoshu didn't mind it at all, and they leaned forward with their drink, their wings folded down and relaxed at the side. "Well, showing you would sum it up a lot quicker than my telling you." With that, they tapped a set of instructions into a small holoprojector on their wrist, before removing it and placing it on the table to display a large ship. "This, mi compañera, is my Homeship, an Asham Royal Breeding vessel."

Rimana's eyebrows raised her eyebrows at what Aoshu was saying...it wasn't something she had ever discussed with her assistant. To be fair, she thought, I also never asked. While Aoshu continued their presentation, Rimana looked down to the coffee tray in front of her. Milk and sugar are blasphemous on Salome, but she was curious, so she mixed in a bit of the sweeteners before taking a sip. It was clear from first taste that the coffee these Azulvistans drank was nothing like what Salome had. It was rich, silky smooth and powerful. Much like on the Moons, the caffeine could be felt buzzing through one's veins practically before you swallowed, but the taste was vibrant and full bodied, whilst still managing to have smoother and subtler tones on the edges, tinged with a chocolatey, caramel flavour. Salome's coffee was earthy, bitter, and powerful, a true reflection of her people. Any attempt to dilute this power is treachery to your heritage; rather, the richness of Shekhekhani coffee should only be aided with cardamom or cinnamon. She had to admit though, this Azulvistan coffee was good; Salome's brew has always been a bit too much for her. Shaking these thoughts out of her head, she looked back up to Aoshu, who had begun explaining the chart before them.

"While I was hatched and raised in Salome, the egg I was born from was laid here. My people, the 'Asham' as the Shekhekhanin call us, have been travelling this trade network for millennia. Humans are the only species I know of to have found a method of FTL travel." They smirked as they thought back on their life as an alien among humans. "Maybe that's why they interest me so much. But that isn't to say that Aliens do not have our own sort of ingenuity. My species are eusocial colonizers, like ants or bees. Our queen makes most of us infertile with her gross queen mist, with only a small number of drones and princesses left to breed further. And on these breeding ships, she lives here," Aoshu focused in on a section of the ship containing a massive, egg-filled Asham.

"She lays a ton of eggs, one of them which contained me, but these eggs lie dormant unless exposed to ultraviolet light. So, most eggs are left dormant in the ship’s storage. The crew of the ship feed themselves, the drones, and the Queen through a series of fungal farms spread around the ship. And if there's one thing Asham know, it's fungus. As a food source, fuel source, and a medicine, we are masters of mycology. And a lot of these fungal varieties are extremely valuable. So, my species finds suitable homes along the Route, barters with the locals, and in exchange for this fungus, currency, and whatever other junk the ship has in its trunk, the locals allow the Asham ship to offload some of their eggs and their crew to start a new Asham colony. My colony was founded on Adama, on land leased from a major corporation on that moon. And I grew up on that colony. And I learned to grow fungus and build a new breeding ship for my colony to send out, but I got bored so I left because it was boring and I wanted to speak Spanish and Portuguese and watch Orfeu Negro. And now I'm here. Aoshu looked between the two humans and felt a bit embarrassed; they hadn't spoken for that long in a while, but it's rare a human's actually curious about slower than light travel. "Thanks," they finished.

Isabella nodded as the alien spoke, but the drags on her cigarette spoke volumes about her mood. Previously they had been almost lackadaisical, the amused actions of someone completely confident with themselves. Now, as the stick drew to an end and the butt was snuffed out into the ashtray, the last few drags had taken on a more intense, focused note. She breathed out a final plume of smoke, one hand's fingers drumming idly against the tabletop.

"We are not a peoples opposed to trade, even though our experiences with xenos have been less than stellar. I have no doubt you will find many markets for your exotic goods, and no doubt we will have our own products to share with you. For now though, allow me to share exactly who we are." She took another sip of her coffee, which it was clear was almost as black as night.

"When the Gran Republic arrived here, the planet below us was virgin. Life had barely evolved, caught in its primitive forms. We forged it into a paradise- an Earth away from Earth, seeding forests, spreading animals, crafting life. Then the government fell, and dictators reigned. The system was split and shattered, sectarian differences tearing apart what we thought was the last of humanity. Even here, we couldn't help but repeat the mistakes of our past. But, we learned from them. Grew stronger from our mistakes. The Gran Republic forged itself anew from the chaos and destruction of the dictators and the rebels, united the stars, and when the Yyasum came, their fleets ruining the careful lifecrafting of our ancestors, we drove them back with a cry that shook the heavens." She lit another cigarette, the smoke drifting past her face.

"The Gran Republic will not stand idly by and watch as the same mistakes are played out again and again. We will not allow ourselves to be taken advantage of or intimidated. But, if you come to us, honestly and frankly, and in the name of diplomacy and good faith, we will be your most faithful friends, and your greatest bulwark." She pushed herself back from the table and strode over to alien and human alike, offering her hand out. "Please, accept our hospitality for as long as you desire. Perhaps you might even meet others who drift into our system."

The professor blushed slightly and took the other woman's hand, standing up from her seat and placing down her now empty cup of coffee. "I can assure you, we come in peace. I would be honoured to be your guest." Her hand lingered in the Almirante's grasp for another moment before she pulled it away and replaced it at her own side. "I would like to establish communications, if at all possible, with my superiors back at Salome. I'd like them to know that the mission's been successful...and that the Academy will need to give my substitute an extension," she continued with a smile, "If your men could assist my automatons in that, it would be much appreciated."

Isabella's grip was firm but not overly hard, and when the professor pulled her hand back, she did so too, smartly and crisply. "Of course! I'll have some of the communications specialists assist you with such a matter. Once that is done, I'll have found you a berth, and I hope you can join me for dinner. I'm sure we still have plenty to discuss."

"I would love to," Rimana replied. "We're two civilizations separated by three hundred years of development," she said playfully, "Of course we have much to discuss."
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Dog
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Somewhere in New Terra…

“What of the invasion plans for the others?” says a Terran staff officer donned in a full-military grey uniform. He stands inside a small room with a window overseeing a sizeable dockyard. The sight of ships mobilizing excites him. Another war is on the horizon that will hopefully restore the glory of the Armed Forces of the Union. Of course, he also understands how desperate things are - moreso with the failing health of Newcastle, rumors of a potential Storm Guard coup, and the threat of economic collapse.

“We’ll cover them in the brief. I hope you have been getting good sleep.” says a nearby Terran standing next to the staff officer. The man also dons the same military attire. Restless nights, war plans, supply chains, and whatnot occupies his mind. This is not made easier by the bloated nature of the A.F.U and its ungodly amounts of armored tanks, troops, jet craft, IFVs, trucks, and likewise. It is simply a nightmare organizing everything.

“Sleep? No…” says the staff officer, nodding to himself. Both men simply stand next to each other - sightseeing all types of military vassals go in and out of warehouses, repair bays, refitting sections, and more. All rushing to meet the coming orders from high-up for the invasion of a lifetime. A war to regain the “glorious past” that once was or never was. A past filled with plenty of horror stories that the two would bury in their minds and instead accept the romanticized version of.

“The brief is in two minutes. Let’s get to the meeting room,” both men nod and then depart deep into the facility as the metal curtains engulf the windows.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Sigma
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Collab between @Sigma and @Darkspleen

Kaus Borealis System
In proximity to HMNB Sentinel of the Void


The two opposing cruisers continued to lob whatever they had in their arsenal, torpedoes, autocannon weapons, energy bolts or their own fighters. The space around them a frenzied battlefield as fighters engaged in the space between the two cruisers. A pair of Republic Starwings were in hot pursuit of a wing of Devotion Heavy Bombers, as they were gunning straight for the FRS Gloria, dodging debris from fallen comrades and enemies alike, as well as natural, hazardous obstacles. One of the starwings had the leader within weapons range. “Gotcha.” He whispered as he pulled the trigger, a hail of gunfire as his autocannons unleashed their load, shredding the shields apart as the rounds made it past the hull, the bomber igniting, it’s wing mates scattering. “Target down, proceed to-“ The pilot was interrupted by the sudden entrance of new contacts, a pair of fighters of unknown making zipping past him. “Woah! Wild Wing Leader to Home nest! You seeing this?!?” The pilot cried out in surprise. “Got two unidentified bogies! They don’t look like Jannies!”

Shortly after the arrival of the unknown fighters, a broadcast was intercepted by both forces. From the command deck of the Gloria, Captain Gwendolyn Ranford, much like her compatriots in the other systems, had to slowly take in the fact that the anomaly that pulled her ship and the enemy’s ship in, was in fact the Gateway of legend. “Jesus Christ, I can hardly believe it…”

“Orders, Captain?” Her XO spoke up, a young woman by the name of Delilah Grant.
“…Stand down, order all fighters back home. I rather not start a war with these people.” Her Janissary counterpart, lyro, proved to have been just as reasonable, as his ships fell back away, both forces standing down to their host.

The two native fighters in turn put themselves into a circling formation around their station. Their movements seemed almost leisurely at first glance, but any experienced pilot could tell they were positioning themselves to be able to intercept fighters or missiles launched from either warship.

The station itself was on the smaller side and obviously equipped with the facilities needed to house a small crew. It possessed a single gun turret, roughly the size one would expect to find on a light cruiser, as well as a moderate amount of CIWS. Interestingly enough the hull and armor of the station looked quite robust, almost as if the designers had expected it to have to be able to withstand being rammed by a ship.

"This is the HMNB Sentinel of the Void to the unidentified warships. Identify yourselves and your affiliation at once." A calm, pleasant female voice broadcast. "Failure to do so will have you classified as pirates and handled as stipulated by the Offenses in the Void Act 124." The tone of the threat was spoken in was the same a civilian would use when ordering food at a restaurant: polite but expecting exactly what was being requested. "If you are unable to transmit for any reason you are directed to assume a direct course to the portal and leave this star system immediately."

Once hostilities had simmered down for both sides, both parties were able to properly analyze their current situation. From her command deck, Captain Ranford staring down the table, show a clearer map of the region, only six blips in display. The Gloria, the Prosperity, and the native fighters, station, and an inbound warship. “At their current stance, they’d stand no chance against the Gloria alone. Add on to the Jannies, and that really spells trouble for them.”

“You’d think they would a bit more panicked?” XO Grant stated.

“Who’s to say they haven’t already?” The captain answered, pacing around the holo-table, her eyes glued to it. “I’d see two outcomes; more reinforcements are well their way as we speak. “Gwendolyn paused, thinking. “Or…they know something we don’t and want to catch us off guard. Either way, we’re now in a very delicate situation, thankful the Jannies seem to think the same, or close, at least they’re sensible enough.”

The moment of silence lingered for a short while longer before both ships finally managed to announce themselves to the locals.

“This is Captain Gwendolyn Ranford of the FRS Gloria of the Free Republic Navy.”

“This is Captain Lyro Ordius of the Prosperity of Janissary Fleet Command, proud servant of the Ascendancy.”

Both captains explaining the extraordinary circumstances that brought both of them here and now in this star system.

***** ***** *****


"Captain Ranford, I am Captain Hudson of the Royal Navy, commanding officer of the Sentinel of the Void." Hudson didn't sound quite as calm as the female who had addressed the two warring ships earlier but was still in control. "It sounds like you had quite the ordeal." A moment's pause. "But fear not, so long as you don't start an incident here you will be recognized as our guest."

Much to Ranford’s relief, it seemed she and her crew wouldn’t have to fight a two front battle or be the officer to accidently start a new war with the first human colony to be discovered. “Thank you, Captain Hudson.” Ranford said. “And I assure you, I don’t plan to start a war with our new neighbors.”

"Excellent!" Captain Hudson hadn't realized he'd been holding his breath till he let it out. "I must admit its reassuring to have some evidence that we and the swimmers aren't the only life left in the galaxy. I wish I could offer to render you aid in any search and rescue efforts you might need to make for your fighter pilots, but unfortunately this station is ill-equipped for such an endeavor. The HMS Vampire, which should be here shortly, will be able to provide some limited aid, but you'll be largely on your own for the meantime. My apologies."

“Thank you for the offer, and don’t worry yourself, captain.” Ranford said. “We’ll take care of our own people, and we will find them.” With that said, Ranford was curious on what Hudson meant by “Swimmers.” With the way he speaks of them, it couldn’t hurt to ask. “Beg my pardon, Captain Hudson, but what can you tell me about these ‘Swimmers”?”

"Ah, well... Have you ever heard of a squid? It is, or probably was at this point, a marine animal native to old Earth. Thing had eight tentacles, bone crushing beak, but usually didn't get too big. Well take that, allow it to live and move through the void of space, give it the ability to spit plasma projectiles, make it way smarter, and allow it to grow to sizes larger than a warship and you've got an idea for what a swimmer is. Nasty buggers have taken to the taste of humans ever since their invasion of Gondwana. But fear not" A bit of pride crept into his tone, "we've pushed them back to the outer edges of the system, so you'll likely be spared the experience of seeing one up close."

These swimmers sound…unpleasant, in fact, they sound worse than the Yulzan. You can fight them and their converts toe to toe, but this? How do you fight a living, thinking being as big as a warship? Bigger even, can't exactly fist fight it. “That…doesn’t sound good at all, captain.” Ranford said with a hint of concern, I guess her people were lucky to deal with “human” sized aliens. “But you seemed to beat the odds, even against titans, I find this very admirable.”

"Thank you. I dare say that I may live to see them become little more than a denizens of our nightmares. Perhaps we can discuss the swimmers further at a later date. For now, I'd like to know a bit more about you and these Janissaries you are at war with."

Ranford’s expression quickly shifted to a pained look, she could list so many reasons, but she’ll try her best to keep it brief and simple. “The Janissaries are the foot soldiers of our real enemy, the Yulzan. Decades ago, their fleet arrived at our system, claiming to be refugees, fleeing a doomed world. We reluctantly allowed them to stay.” She paused, allowing herself time to breath. “Before they betrayed our trust, they both, shared their technology and built up a literal cult following, people starting to believe the Yulzan were gods in the flesh. Soon after they launched their invasion, and took my homeworld, Columbia within a few weeks. We’ve been at war ever since.”

"Hmm... Sounds like you were wrestling with figurative monsters while we battled literal ones." Hudson commented after a moment. "Aliens..." His face contorted into a scowl for a second before the royal captain regained control. The expression was so brief that Ranford could have missed it had she blinked. "Well, I can't speak on the topic at any official capacity, but I suspect my government will be sending a representative here to talk to either you or any representative your own government may send. Perhaps this will solve some of our economic woe." The last bit was little more than a half-murmured thought.
Captain Ranford nodded and grinned, she was getting somewhere, a possible ally maybe? Or at least their first trading partner, either way, she was among the first officers to rediscover another human colony, this is going to change everything. “I’ll see if we can manage to contact our leaders back home, they’re gonna piss themselves with joy with what I have to report.”

***** ***** *****


"[i]HMNB Sentinel of the Void[/b] Direct to Captain Lyro Ordius." The voice that greeted the Janissary Captain was the same that had ever so calmly threatened to classify him as a pirate mere minutes ago. "Thank you for ceasing hostilities and welcome to the Kaus Borealis system. While we recognize that you view the warship called FRS Gloria to be a hostile combatant, we strongly request that you refraim from resuming hostilities while in our territory. We will view you and your crew as guests so long as you agree to our request."

Once heads had cooled, as much as Captain Ordius would rather sink the Gloria where she stood, he knew better then to agitate the locals, this was something he wasn’t trained for, no protocols for extra-system powers, so for now, he’ll do as they say, all that needs to be done is to get back home. “Very well, for now, we will cease all hostilities as your guests, we wouldn’t want to risk a war.”

"Thank you. Normally I would offer your crew medical aid, should they need it, but unfortunately, I lack the facilities necessary to provide any meaningful aid. Still if there is anything we can do to help please let us know."

“Thank you for the offer, captain. “Ordius said. “We’re well equipped enough to locate our missing pilots, and if we’re too late, they at least died warriors worthy of Ascension.”

"Very good then captain. And I beg your pardon, but I am not the captain. I am the station's bioroid." There was a slight pause. "A bioroid is an artificial intelligence, although distinctly different from a nominal AI."

“Ah, my apologies.” The captain said, taking a while to register what he was talking to. “A bioroid? Interesting…” Captain Ordius thought to himself out loud. With the war going on, the debate on giving AI more autonomy was hardly brought up, and in few circles for that matter. The war and its effects on the daily lives of the citizenry overtaken most concerns. AI for the most part, are restricted to be immobile cores in ships, structures, and installations, although their digital avatars are allowed free reign to roam in the appropriate or authorized sectors, although even that is restrictive, avatars only allowed to manifest through holo-projection devices. “This is something a few prominent people back home will find promising. All I can say is, your masters are ahead of us in the AI race, our AI still bound somewhere in the crew deck, we haven't considered something like this yet."

"You are correct in broad terms. Most bioroids exist in a mobile platform of limited size. However, the bioroid brains used for ship and station bioroids are simply too large for that, thus it is common for us to remotely control a mobile platform or utilize a digital avatar." After a moment's pause Senny continued. "But I digress. I would appreciate it if you would tell me a bit about your country and that of your enemy."

Captain Ordius smirked. “I’ll happily oblige, construct.” Ordius cleared his throat as he begun. “Decades ago, our world, Columbia, was graced by the Yulzan’s arrival. We at first, showed little trust towards them…but, they offered so much gifts, healing the sick and crippled with their divine technology.” He paused, given himself a breather. “This was before my time, but I am told that the first to experience the realization of the Yulzan’s divinity was something to behold!” He paused once more, a tear creeping down his check. “The Columbian government grew envious, and tried to betray the Yulzan in secret, sending assassins to murder the High Ascendants, fortunately they failed. When word spread, and the command was giving, the Yulzan and the faithful joined side by side to take Columbia for ourselves, the URC surrendering any legitimacy. At present we fight their remnants, this so-called “Free Republic.” They are nothing but misguided fools that continue to fight a war they have no hope of winning.”

"So, this Free Republic is on its last legs?" Senny's voice remained perfectly neutral. She was listening in to the conversation between Captain Hudson and the FRN captain, she had enough processing power to take part in numerous conversations at once if she so wished and wasn't surprised that the two were telling different stories. If anything, she was surprised that the two stories weren't all that drastically different. She suspected that there was more than a kernel of truth to both sides, still very much like Captain Hudson she was inclined to lean towards the Free Republic's version. The very fact that the Free Republic was still able to field ships of similar apparent capabilities implied that they were not in fact on their last legs.

She also found the story of the Yulzan being a technologically advanced, high-minded society suspect. While possible that that had been the case, it was more likely that they had appeared at Columbia with the intention of colonizing the planet, using their gifts to weaken the local government, recruit locals, and make them dependent on the Yulzan. Had there been a powerful alien society on Laurasia when the human colonists arrived in Kaus Borealis, perhaps humanity might have tried the very same strategy.

"You have given me much to think about and to report to my superiors. I thank you for your time captain." Senny said, taking care to keep her voice perfectly neutral. "As I've said before, you are free to stay here as our guest if you wish or leave. In due time a government official of sufficient authority to deal with foreign powers will be made available. Should you decide to return to your own country to send us a diplomat we ask that you send no more than one warship to our territory as an escort."

Ordius nodded. “Thank you for your time, I will try to arrange contact with our leadership, they will find this all very…illuminating to say the least.” Another human colony, most likely not the last, which means even more worlds and people to spread the divine word of the Yulzan, growing the flock.
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Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Darkspleen
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Arkton, Laurasia, Kaus Borealis System


Lloyd idly watched the crowd of protestors as his limousine drove by. Many held signs that read NO MORE GODS, the latest slogan amongst the radical left. Perhaps calling them radical wasn’t fair; Radical Socialists and Syndicalists made up the bulk of the protestors, but a fair number of Progressives were certainly present. And there certainly wasn’t anything radical about being disturbed by the thought of aliens massacrading as gods.

That thought made Lloyd wonder how word about the Kingdom’s guests had gotten out, and so quickly. By the end of the day details about the Free Republic and Yulzan had been on the news broadcasts. Details that could only have been obtained by talking to the guests directly. Was this simply a case of a sailor having loose lips? Had the Crown decided to spread word without telling him? Perhaps this was some sort of nefarious plot from one or both of their guests. Lloyd had no idea and that disturbed him greatly.

“Mr Prime Minister”, One of Lloyd’s bodyguards drew his attention. “We really should take a government plane up.” Lloyd was shaking his head even before the guard had finished his statement.

“Let’s not needlessly waste the tax payer’s money.” Lloyd said. “There’s nothing wrong with taking a public SSTO up.”

“It’s not secure-” A snort from Lloyd ended the guard’s rebuttal.

“You’re being paranoid. Standard security is good enough and no one knows we’ll be taking one.” Lloyd couldn’t help but smile at the guard’s scowl. It was childish, but sometimes he liked giving his guards a bad time. In truth he didn’t care about saving government funds, at least at this level. No, he just preferred taking public transit when possible as it gave him a chance to meet with the citizens and get candid opinions from them. And it certainly didn’t hurt that his approval rating always went up by a point or two after he made an appearance on public transit.

“It's my job to be paranoid” The bodyguard countered. “And this whole trip is an unnecessary risk.”

“Save your breath. This is the first time in our nation’s history that we’ve made contact with a foreign power. We don’t even have a foreign minister! This is a historic moment and nothing, save death, will stop me from seeing it unfold firsthand.” Lloyd’s bodyguard scowled again. “Alright, alright. I’m sorry.” He couldn’t help but chuckle before offering the other man an apologetic smile. “I promise to stop jinxing us.”

***** ***** *****


“The Prime Minister just boarded!” Alex’s first officer was almost shaking in excitement as he closed the cockpit door behind him.

“Alright,” Alex let out a chuckle. “Settle down so we can make sure he has a smooth flight.” The Prime Minister was known for taking public transit whenever he could. In fact a sort of ‘social club’ had been formed for SSTO pilots who had had the honor of flying the Prime Minister into orbit. Guess Alex and his first officer were now joining that club.

“Can I take us up?”

Alex raised an eyebrow and made a show of looking at his first officer. The younger man was quite experienced and had done an admirable job settling down. He nodded his head. “Sure.”

“My sister is going to be so jealous once she hears about this.” The first officer said with a shiteating grin. He then focused on his preflight checklist like the professional he was. Five minutes later they had completed the checklist and rolled down the runway.

“V1” Alex said when the SSTO had reached a speed that committed it to taking off.

“Rotating” The first officer said a few seconds later as he slowly pulled back on the control stick, nosing the SSTO up. A moment later they were airborne and rising in altitude. They had been in the air for less than a minute when the whole aircraft shook, almost as if they were flying through a strong storm.

“Engine one is rolling back.” Alex said as one of the engines lost power. “They’re both rolling back.” He added a moment later. He reached for the master ignition button and pushed it. “Engine restart failed.”

“That’s not good.”

“No. No it is not.” The SSTO was now gliding in the air over Arkton. “My aircraft.” Alex grabbed his control stick as his first officer confirmed that he had control. The first officer then focused on starting the SSTO’s auxiliary engine and going through their emergency checklist.

“This is Arkton Airlines Flight 173. Mayday, mayday, mayday.” Alex broadcast.

“This is Arkton Control, what is the nature of your emergency?”

“We’ve lost power in both engines.”

“Copy that. Which engine did you lose power in?”

“Both. Both engines.”

There was a moment’s pause before the air traffic control responded. “Ok we can bring you in on runway 1-1.”

Alex wondered if they could even make it back to the airport as he looked at his surroundings. The SSTO was only a hundred feet over the top of the buildings below it. He veered the SSTO to the left, towards the Centennial River. “No can do.”

“Ok… what about runway 1-5?”

Alex thought for a moment. No, there was no way they were getting back to the airport. “Impossible.” After a moment he added “We may end up in the Centennial.” Out of the corner of his eye he could see his first officer giving him a shocked look. There hadn’t been a SSTO accident in over fifty years.

“What do you need?”

What Alex needed was a safe place to land. But with every passing second that seemed to be less and less likely to happen. The SSTO flew over a bridge; the craft was so low that the bridge triggered a proximity alarm in the cockpit.

“Jefferson Base is clearing all of its runways so you can land there.” The air traffic controller stated. By now the SSTO had lost too much height. At best Alex could keep it in the air for another two minutes. The buildings on either side of the river seemed to tower over the SSTO. “Flight 173, I’ve lost radar contact. Are you still there?”

Alex had already tuned the man out. He couldn’t help them now. He picked up a small phone that connected to the SSTO’s passenger compartment and spoke into it. “This is your captain speaking. Brace for impact.”

“Oh shit.” Alex’s first officer said. Alex could hear his flight attendants yelling instructions from the passenger compartment. He tuned it all out. All that mattered to him was the SSTO, the river below it, and the control stick in his hand.

“Brace yourself.” He calmly said.

***** ***** *****


“Rescue crews have yet to find any survivors of the Arkton Airlines Flight 173 crash that occurred earlier today.” The news anchor stated. “While no explosive materials have been located, there are still widespread allegations of Radical Socialist terrorist involvement in the-”

A wave of His Majesty George II Harrington’s hand turned the TV off, cutting the news anchor off mid sentence. He scowled at the blackened screen for a moment before turning towards the room’s other occupant. “So…” He said as he looked at Lord Speaker John Hill, “were the Radical Socialists involved?”

The Lord Speaker was a man who looked like he had one foot in the grave on the best of days. This was not a good day. “In short? No. Of course it’ll take months of investigation to be positive, but at this time we are fairly certain that this was simply a tragic accident. The experts believe that a faulty component in the SSTO’s fuel tank might have cut off the supply of fuel to the engines shortly after take off.”

The Prime Minister might have been a member of the Progressive party, but over the past few years George had come to consider the man a friend. He was a good man. When George had last spoken to him, moments before he had left for the airport, Lloyd had sounded excited at the prospect of talking to people from another star system. And now he was gone.

“Your Majesty?” The Lord Speaker spoke up after a moment. He almost sounded embarrassed. “There is… well… The people are requesting that a vote be held.”

“THEY WHAT?!” Goerge demanded, slamming his first down on his chair’s armrest. “Lloyd’s body isn’t even cold and the mob is demanding we hold elections?!” He would have spat in disgust were he in a room of a building he didn’t own.

“Demand might be a bit strong…” The Lord Speaker wisely trailed off as George scowled at him.

“Fine. Let them have their election.” George said after a moment. “And I hope it comes to bite them in the ass.”

HMNB Sentinel of the Void, Kaus Borealis System


So much had happened over the past few days that Captain Hudson was having difficulty keeping up. First a gate to locations beyond Kaus Borealis had opened, then two battling warships had traveled through it. Once that had been resolved the Prime Minister had perished in an ill-timed accident and the Crown had announced that parliamentary elections would be held in a month. It was… a lot to take in.

“Commodore Hudson,” Senny spoke to him through his quarter’s speakers, “Captain Winters reports that his ship has exhausted his supply of mines and is returning to Laurasia.” Oh, and there was that too.

Apparently given that Hudson was the commander of the station he had seniority and thus was in command of not only the Sentinel of the Void, but also the two task forces that had come to reinforce him. Thus he had received a temporary promotion to commodore. He had quickly tasked the ships to deploying mine’s around the Gate. The mines were little more than large anti-ship missiles that were left drifting about, able to activate and home in on any ship that might come blasting through the Gate. It wasn’t a long term solution to the possible threat, but it would hep buffer his defense for now.

He had also moved his two guests away from each other, physically blocking the FRA and Janissary cruisers from each other with one of his task forces. More specifically he had tasked a battleship and two destroyers to each of the cruisers and instructed them to blast first and ask questions later should either one decide it wanted to start trouble.

He had received word earlier in the day that another two task forces would be arriving soon to bolster his forces. And shortly thereafter several fleet auxiliaries would arrive to begin the expansion of Sentinel of the Void.

He had been assured that someone from the government of sufficient post to negotiate with outside powers would arrive at the station soon, but given the state of things in Arkton after the Prime Minister’s passing he had taken those assurances with a grain of salt.

“Tell Winters to grab some coffee on the way back.” Hudson said after a moment. “And none of that cheap crap either.”

“You’ve been promoted for less than two days and are already abusing your power.” Senny chided him.

“I’ll pay him back!”

“You sound stressed.” Senny commented. He was stressed. “I’ll have Winters grab a bottle of wine for you while he’s at it.”

Hudson was more than a little surprised that she had noticed. It wasn’t that she was oblivious to human emotion, quite the opposite in fact. It was just the fact that she simply tended not to care about him specifically. “Thanks Senny.”

“Hmm… I think I’ll ask him to grab two bottles for you.” Senny added after a moment. Hudson could only roll his eyes.


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Crusader Lord A professional, anxiety-riddled, part-time worker

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The Royal Federation of Nibiru


-Over the Orbit of Mojave, Gas Giant Bunyan, No Man's Land, Americana System-


The Gateways were back. The long-closed passages that had been constructed and forged to ensure mankind's survival among the stars, reopened. It was something that had popped up on every sensor array in range of its shockwave within the space of the Royal Federation. And then some. The ancient tales of where mankind had come from were proven to have truth in them once more, though the impact of this event had yet to fully pan out as of yet. The military had popped in to investigate, and upon word getting back to the Royal Palace the King himself has ordered a securing of the Gateway and its immediate space alongside a prospective mission to investigate. Inactive military forces were mobilized to secure the space, and already work on preparing a simple space station and spaceborne defenses were being initiated. To have such a thing crack open near enough to the capital of the Royal Federation was more startling than anything, and oculd not be taken lightly. Regular tight patrols of the Gateway and its space were being likewise organized, and more cogs would be sent moving in the background as the news hit the civilian airwaves and media like a blitzkrieg as the slow march of daylight finally began to creep over the verdant surface and modern buildings on Nibiru itself.

Mankind now had a path back to its home. And yet, as the past had taught them very harshly, it did not mean only humanity might lie beyond. It did not mean everyone was friendly or filled with camaraderie. Dangers unknown lurked beyond that swirling point in space-time, and they would have to be treated with all the caution that humanity had once seemingly lacked in their ancient past.

The Sol System? A relic, a dead world that held no life sitting as the third planet from its sun. It could be observed later, but for now the investigation of other systems and security of their own side were paramount. Especially with the TFCU liable to be aware of what had happened as well, and the RFoN's own news set to spread like wildfire over all the channels and throughout its territory. They could not leave it to chance.

To this end the Destroyer RFF Dagon had been prepared in haste as a diplomatic and self-defense-capable vessel with a seasoned veteran crew and captain. A diplomat had been likewise hastily prepared, with at least two scholars of 'ancient Old Earth languages' sent along in turn. From here, a destination was chosen as the Gateway seemingly magically interfaced with the ship itself. A true miracle of the ancients, and yet it offered only so many spots to go to at first as well. Had not all the Gateways opened? Perhaps not. But what was open proved to be a spread of potential allies...and especially enemies....alike. Ultimately, the decision to visit the Americana System had been made to give the ship a place to start.

"Captain! Reports show that the ship remains in functional and operative condition. No damage or functionality loss seems to have occurred from using the Gateway."

Captain Thomas Alexander Cograin let out a small but quiet sigh of relief as the comms transmission rang clear into his mind through the medium of his hard neural communication implant. Communications without a word spoken, functioning on a wavelength far beyond what humanity's ancestors could have dreamed. Controlling a ship in total silence, aside from the bustle of crew and occasional speaking as well as the movement of equipment. What would their ancestors have thought of them? What would they have thought of all of this? Would they have cared for the great war of the past, and the struggles of current times? He had no idea, waving a hand in front of his face as he tried to push such curiosities aside.

His white beard and moustache were signs of how long he'd been at this line of work, though medical treatments and other work had helped him keep well enough in mental and physical shape to keep up his career. He'd been a veteran of the later phase of the Great War of his people, a conflict against alien invaders that had gone on for longer than he could ever hope to remember. He'd been given medals, and offered the chance to retire a number of times beyond this. But what was he to do? His grandchildren were grown, his own children aging in their own right, and he hadn't had much of anything to do at home. With that in mind, he'd simply noted in his own manner that: 'I'll find something to do once I actually have to retire. This gives me something to do at least, something I know well enough.'

"Good. Continue with an in-depth examination of facilities and other devices on the ship as a precautionary measure. Likewise, slow the ship to a stop before we move any further. Set sensors to maximum range to look for human life, and ensure the weapon crews are ready to go just in case-"

THUNK

SLAM

CRUNCH

The ship shuddered in a way all too familiar to the Captain.

"Alert! Alert! Shots have made contact with the mid-rear of the hull. Armor has absorbed the blasts. Seems to have been stray shots from surrounding engagements!"

"I want repair crews to the damaged area, stat! Do we have any mean of identifying the combatants in some capacity?"

"Sensors detect human life aboard a number of unknown vessels, as well as non-human life. However, we...oh by the crown..."

"What is it, man?! Speak up!"

"Yulz-type ships identified, Yulz-type humanoid combat vehicles identified. Both in combat with unknown vessels containing unknown alien and human life aboard."

An air of tension seemed to crawl up the back of the crew as the identification of some of the vessels and vehicles was made. The Yulzan, or "Yulz" as they'd been locally dubbed back in the Utu System. An enemy they'd fought away after over a century of war, now present and fighting someone else who lived here in the Americana system. Another alien empire who wanted ground? Humans who'd found new allies? They had no idea of knowing. Yet the tension was so palpable that it could be cut with a knife already.

Thomas wasted no time in reaching out to make a whole-ship comms message to the whole crew of the ship.

"All combat crews to battle stations! Red Alert! This is not a drill! I want all batteries and weapons armed and aimed at any Yulz vessels and vehicles within range. Look for key vessel targets of a higher value.

Comms Division, I want older-style comms frequencies using radio or other such methods scanned for intel. Record as much as you can for decryption and translation later. See if there's any means to get word back to Utu!

And get the diplomat and translators to the safe room in case any more shots come our way!"


"The small guns on mid-rear section G7 has been damaged by the strike!"

"Confirmed! Repair crew is on the way. G7 small guns crew, scout the location of the damage for potential breaches as we close the shield armor over the damaged section. Once finished, report back and go to G-Section Central for reassignment."

"J7, H7, and I7 battle stations locked onto nearest enemy craft! Requesting permission to engage!"

"Comms Division reporting in, Captain! We have made contact back in Utu, Captain! They wish for a status report!"

"Send them the general status report and most current action report. Tell them to send over reinforcements to secure this Gateway location, stat! We can't let the enemy gain access to Nibiru space so far behind our lines! Tell them this is a Code Red Contact Situation! Stat!

Permission to freely engage is also given! Fire immediately upon getting a proper lock on Yulz vessels! Anyone else fires on us, then return defensive fire in such a case!"


"Yes, Captain!"

The Battleship, cylindrical and cigar-like in shape as it was, whirred to life as its myriad battle arrays and stations trained their weapons on the nearest Yulzan ships and vehicles within its range. The kinetic and other such weapons then began to fire as soon as they got a lock, the new arrival into the Americana System letting loose a hail of fire from its position that was curiously not aimed at any of the FRA vessels. Not that it was paying attention to them primarily. The Yulz, however? Old habits died hard, and the 'Great Enemy' died harder the more they got blown to bits.

In time, more ships would arrive to provide support and fire in short term. Over a few days following, a simple space station and other space defenses initially made to secure the Royal Federation side of the Gateway would be taken over in parts to be assembled on the Americana side. For better or worse, the Royal Federation would entrench itself around the Americana Gateway and their own end with a new sense of dread and expedited timeframe. Such efforts would be continually and increasing as the days and weeks ahead would go on, all whilst they would go about firing on any Yulz vessel or vehicles to get within range. Other vessels of the FRA, however? They would not be fired upon, not unless they fired on the Royal Federation ships and such first anyway.

@Sigma




The Cambrian Constellar Republic


-Azulvista System-


How could one secure a space Gateway? The answer was with government space vessels, mostly keeping patrols around it and reporting back to stations. By slapping on slapstick missile batteries onto a couple space stations, ones barely capable of being used in space as a barest means of defense. And by keeping the M.O.A.I. System in a ready state. Despite all of this occurring due to governmental panic, the idea of making contact again with their fellow humans was nothing short of a joyous thing for the citizens of Cambria's floating cities and other habitations. It had reopened in a great flash, an ancient path once again restored as the idea of seeing what became of humanity elsewhere became quickly discussed among many. Were there new foods? New languages? New places to see and vistas to explore? Enemies or new unknown threats to run into? New allies or trade partners to encounter? Such things and many more also came into the conversation as the initial days and such had gone on, and likely would remain a topic of fascination for a good time beyond that.

The Federal Government, however, would work on something to send through. A diplomatic vessel, unarmed as much as it had been refitted with a thicker hull and such 'in case of emergencies'. No way to get weapons on it with any existing Cambrian technology though. A paltry thing in the grand scheme, and yet alongside a diplomat was a small army of old language scholars/translators and even samples of local goods and life and food and so forth stored on the ship. People from each human subspecies were likewise aboard, ready to represent their nation as one wherever they ended up at.

Whilst the adventure to Sol was most tempting to make, a mere probe to investigate conditions would be sent in...and hopefully able to transmit back data through the Gateway at that. Hopefully. Lest it would require sending a manned craft after it later. Such was the initial efforts of the Cambrian nation to multi-task when it came to the investigations and adventure ahead.

Meanwhile the diplomatic vessel that was prepared was sent to one of the first systems on the map as it mysteriously interfaced with the Gateway. Such a path would take it through, though not without some trepidation, to arrive in the system that housed the great world of Azulvista. However...

"Umm, are those armed spacecraft? Literal armed spacecraft?!"

"It's a whole blockade!"

"At least we came in unarmed. Unless that doesn't help the situation-, oww! Why'd you hit me like that?"

Captain Milana Kouris let out a small sigh, before returning to a formal state as she lowered her hand back to her side. It wasn't alien to be fascinated and fearful of these things, but to sit and dawdle about too long was not perhaps the wisest thing to do. Not when guns were aimed at them. A lot of guns actually. Definitely out of her wheelhouse, but she'd been a naval commander before the Gateway had reopened on their end. Now was a better time than ever to apply that experience in what limited capacity she could here.

"Quit the gloom and doom talk, people! Tell comms to maximize range for broadband transmissions. Likewise we need to get the translators on the comms, stat, with copies of the message were sent with! If we sit too long we might make ourselves look worse than we intend if I were you."

Unless these guys were assholes. She hoped they weren't assholes. Yet as the crew snapped to attention and moved to fulfill the orders, the Captain could not help but mutter something under her breath.

"And let's hope they understand a few of the ancient languages still..."

@Irredeemable@Ekreture

((OOC Note: they are transmitting using a small variety of once more common old earth languages, Spanish and Portuguese included as well as Chinese and English and so forth.))
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Liotrent Tabby Space Cat

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First Contact

A @Sigma & Liotrent Collab



New Haven. It's a bright, progressive world that strives for the height of scientific progress. However, beneath the bright, thin veneer lies a web of ingtigue and political strife. The marks of the old wars have been erased, their images edited, their information cut and reworded to the point of being borderline untrue. This is what New Haven is.

Hubert loudly sips his coffee, then turns around and gingerly places it attop a tabletop.

"... I aim to change that and put it into the past. Because, let's be real here people..." He steeples his fingers as he turns to address the crew of the NHS ADAMANT, "That's the most depressing thing I've ever heard... so far-" he coughs, "I mean they could be worse, but just because they're worse doesn't make us too much better! So... Operation don't be assholes is in effect! Smile people!" he gestures to the crew drawing a smile on his face with both hands, "SMILE LIKE YOU'LL DIE TOMORROW!"

He then turns back to see an open gateway. A gateway they've been studying for a while. There were superficial structures all over it, research facilities and such. They've been trying to get it operational for years.

"Now... COME TO PAPA! Maybe... Probably... I mean it's on, that means there's something coming through right?"

The captain replies, "Sir, did you not read the report?"

"Listen, captain whats-his-face. I read one part... The Gateway was active and I started running towards the nearest shuttle."

"Right... Well, no it doesn't mean something's coming through. It just means we could and if we could the other side could too."

"Well what are we waiting for? Let's go to the place we probably haven't been to before!"

"Sir that's not-"

"Oh just do it."

"Okaaaay... Ensign take us in."

NHD ADAMANT was a science ship, but due to insurrections in the past, all government affiliated ships are required to be lightly armed and crewed with at least 20% military personnel. The ship lurched forward diving into the unknown.

The ensign speaks up, "Sir the gate's interfacing with our navi-computer."

Hubert then says, "Pick something random."

"No, we can't just go in and pick something random sir." The captain protested

"Fiiiine... Choose..." Hubert paused then looked towards the navicomputer. "Choose that one."

"Aye aye sir, heading for set coordinates."

The captain asked, "Why'd you pick that system, Director?"

"It looked... Safe... ish..."

"What? That's it?"

"It's not like we know! We're explorers man!" he pulls the captain close then looks towards the gate with a hand stretched out towards the bright light, "We have to go and see the unknown!"

"F-Fine Director... Um... Could you like... let go now?"

A little over a week had passed since the gateway reopened, already both powers receiving visitors and sending ambassadors to other parts of the galaxy, all this was a little overwhelming for the both the leadership and populous. The situation regarding Gate ownership has led to many awkward conversations between officials of the Free Republic and the Ascendancy, a rather major first in decades. It was agreed upon that the gate region would remain a neutral space for the time being, any ship within the airspace would be guaranteed safety and wouldn’t be fired upon.

With that in mind, two ships from both sides would make another round, and venture off to a new world to establish relations, ships whose crews and captains are well acquainted with intersystem travel, and it seems for the time being, this would be their new duties. The FRS Gloria and the JFS Prosperity once again on a mission to rediscover more colonies.

Ambassador Ghask, the new, and temporary diplomatic liaison to the Gloria looked out the window in his quarters, staring at the gateway in awe, never before has he seen such a wonder. Such a moment would have to end as red alerts sounded up, something was about to come out of the gate. The New Haven ship, Adamant quickly emerging from the other side. “The job just got easier.” Ghask said to himself, and right on que, he heard a beeping coming form his desk. “Yes?”

“Sorry to interrupt, sir.” Captain Ranford’s voice spoke. “The trip just got cut short.”

“I’m very well aware, captain, I see it right now.”




Meanwhile, on the Prosperity, the Ascendancy decided on a very different type of representative. A squad of armed Janissaries marched down the corridors of the ship, leading down the hanger bay, ship personnel clearing out of the way, followed by gasps and hushed whispers as a member of the High Ascendants personally came to oversee this First Contact, the towering Yulzan looking down on his subjects as they looked in awe at his very presence. “Holy Shit! Holy shit!” Darius, one of the Janissary escorts, panicked internally, keeping his composure as they arrived to the hanger bay, a shuttle waiting for them.

As the NHS ADAMANT emerged from the gate, they were greeted with the sight of a beautiful system. However, what caught their eyes were two cruisers of vastly different design waiting for them.

The captain pushed Hubert away, "O-Okay, time to get to my job. That does not look friendly. We're turning aroun-"

"BELAY THAT!"

"Director, you're in danger, and from those sparks in the distance, this place is an active warzone."

"All the more reason to stay captain. Let's see what's in store. Oh, and do prepare the marines and the defense drones just in case. Ensign, slowly bring up the power to the weapons and our ADS/APS."

"A-Aye sir." The Ensign stammered, the rest of the bridge seemed to be buzzing with activity.

Hubert went over to the comms pannel and pressed a few buttons, overly familiar with the features of the ship. The ADAMANT broadcasted on open communications, "Greetings, I hope you can understand English, if not then... Um... Fiddlesticks. What's important is we get a response on this frequency anyways."

"Sir what are you doing? What if they can't understand us."

Hubert turned his gaze towards the captain with an unamused expression, "I just said what's important is we get a response. It'd mean they're at least willing to communicate. Please try to keep up captain."

There was brief moment of silence from both cruisers, trying to maintain a non-aggressive posture as they slowly advanced towards the Adamant, soon both ships responds.

“This is Captain Ranford of the Free Republic Navy; we hear and will soon met in person aboard your vessel. Captain Ranford Out.”

“This is Captain Ordius of Janissary Fleet Command. With your permission, a shuttle will arrive soon to your vessel to further discuss other matters. Over and out.” A short moment passes as one shuttle from each cruiser departs, both ships racing one another towards the Adamant, the closest to “fighting” they’re even allowed with. Both ships entering the docking bay, making their slow descent towards solid ground, boarding ramps lowering down as armed soldiers from both parties were the first to exist, followed by the captains of each ship, and lastly, Ambassador Ghask and High Ascendant Edanir stepped forward. The Free Republic delegates were taken aback by the presence of a Yulzan, let alone a member of the High Ascendants…if it weren’t for the damned agreement, they’d probably shoot the bastard on sight.

Hubert and the captain was already there to meet them. The captain spoke first, "I'm captain Friar, I'm usually the one in command of this vessel if it weren't for our Lead Director here beside me today."

Hubert greeted the delligates and their armed escort with a smile on his face, "Greetings, you'll find that there'll be no need for personal weapons on this ship. This is a science vessel afterall." As Hubert speaks, the scientific equipment and clean background is contrasted heavily with military personnel and automated drones. "... That... And we can already ensure your safety within the confines of this ship." The smile was there, but the joyful tone belied a very subtle and unfearful threat of immediate and violent retaliation if anything were to go wrong on the vessel.

"Oh how silly of me! My name is Hubert Seymour, the Lead Director of the New Haven Directorate. We value science and peace above all."

“Right…” Ghask thought to himself, very much doubtful of this Hubert’s reassurance, there is certain a story to tell with this New Havenists, the question of course….is will they be willing to share it? Regardless, this isn’t the time for such questions, that can come later, now is the time to open up yet another colony to the greater galaxy.

Ghask bowed. “Ambassador Jaril Ghask.” The Dathu stated his name. “I come on behalf of the Free Republic of Americana.” Some of the Janissaries present couldn’t help but snicker, Ghask shooting them a quick glare before raising his head back up. Captain Ranford stepped forward to introduce herself. “We’ve spoken a short while ago, Captain Ranford.” She said, followed by a crisp salute.

The Yulzan stomped forward, the Janissaries stepping clear away from him. “You stand at the divine presence of Edanir of the High Ascendants.” He “spoke”, his voice sounding almost ethereal, and artificial, his eyes glowing a deep hue of red. “I speak on behalf of all of the Ascendancy.”

Ordius stepped forward, not before bowing before Edanir. “My lord.” He mumbled as he passed him. “Captain Ordius, reporting.”

With introductions made, the three parties made their way elsewhere on the ship, the marines and janissaries given the order to remain with the shuttles.

The Adamant was what it was, a science vessel. Hubert began to explain its complex history, "We New Havenist folk are absolutely ecstatic about meeting new cultures and complex intelligent life other than our own. This ship is a science vessel, standing in as a diplomatic transport."

"Fascinating..." Edanir let silp, his eye wondering about. "The Ascendancy is equally exsited to meet new people, new worlds. And new subjects..." The last one of course, was Edanir thinking to himself.

Ordius on the other hand, was eyes sparking with wonderment, this never got old for him. Stepping in new ships, getting a brief look at the interior, seeing how different cultures developed in warfare and whatnot, he's always been a nerd for ships.

He led the way towards a corridor that would open up towards what would've been a lab. "This ship had to see many retrofits. Unfortunately, many of our more sophisticated vessels are out scouring our system for useful materials and possible colony founding locations."

“Hmm interesting.” Ghask said to himself, both promising as a means fostering relations and possibly get a slice that pie, so to speak. “We can maybe help with this.”

The bulkheads were crudely but effectively reinforced, the men inside the room were carrying around tungsten shells and carting warheads into another room, the moment they stepped into one of the weapons bay they were greeted with two flanking Marines, fully kitted in worn assault gear. "We've had to retrofit this ship to protect itself during the tumultuous periods in our history." Hubert smiled, not worrying what kind of impression this left with his visitors, "It's only been a few years since then so, we haven't gotten around to demilitarizing. Haha!"

"You want my advise? Don't." Ranford said, shooting a side glare of the Yulzan and his lapdog. Ordius rolling his eyes. "We've learned that the Galaxy is dangerous, pays to be prepared."

Hubert then looked towards the soldiers flanking them, "Oh come on, relaaaax guys, what? Are you afraid of unarmed diplomats? Jeez... Talk about paranoid."

"Well, I wouldn't entirely say unarmed." Edanir said as he demostrated, a short energy blade igniting from his wrist device. "Although I assure you, this is purely for my own well-being." He turns his gaze at Captain Ranford and Ghask, before shutting off the blade.

As he sparked the blades the marines reacted almost instinctively moving their bodies in between the director and Edanir. Ready to brandish their heat blades. They withdrew and quickly returned to their position. In that brief moment where they were closer, the guests were able to inspect the pieces of armor a lot closer. These worn pieces of armor were battle damaged, high velocity rail gun impacts, deep heat blade marks, small red spatters in hard to reach places that could've been oil or blood.

"I apologize for my men, the periods of war are still quite fresh in their minds, we're almost to the meeting room." Hubert continued to lead the way, "Anyway, tell me about yourselves. I feel as if I've prattled on a bit too much."

Once they entered the meeting room, the two groups took their seats on opposite ends of the room, staying as far away from each other as possible, but close enough to Hubert. “Our story is a rather…sore point for many…” Captain Ordius said with a smirk.

Captain Ranford maintained eye contact with her counterpart. “For the sake of not embarrassing ourselves…let's just say some REAL stupid decisions were made in the past. Decisions that led to a three-decade war. We fight to maintain the freedom of all the Americana System!”

“And WE fight to maintain the order and prosperity the Yulzan have given us!” Ordius raised his voice as tensions grew. Edanir couldn’t help but watch in amusement as the sparks flew, while Ambassador Ghask grew paler then usual as he watched.

Hubert didn't bother to stop them, instead as he sat he steepled his fingers once again, awaiting for a servitude drone to bring food and refreshments. He took the time to carefully assess who he was dealing with in the room. Edanir was obviously had questionable intentions. He thought of him as a justifiably overconfident man who enjoyed watching those he considered bellow him squable over what he would consider scraps. Randford on the other hand seemed very committed to her cause, admirable but foolish, many on New Haven perished for such noble stances only to be Killed unceremoniously a few months later, the same cannot be said for her counterpart, a weak man who bows to strength instead of taking it for himself. Ghask unable to control the situation before him can only anxiously hope it dies down.

Captain Friar never dealt with the Lead Director in person, he knew of him through television as a bright and cheerful personality. But when he looked into Hubert's eyes looking at the commotion in front of him, he recognized it. A shiver ran down his spine, though he dare not speak it. The Director, was working his mind, putting pieces on a chessboard that only he could see and weighing his options.

Just before everything fell apart, the servitor drone arrived, "Food and refreshments?l

"Right on time, Uno!"

The drone was humanoid, barebones, enough to function in a service capacity. Uno, named because he was the ship's first servitor drone in a long time.

Both officers sat down in silence, their faces red with frustration and anger, both willing to pull a gun out if they had one and turn the Adamant into a shootout. The service droid provided a convenient end to the tension, much to Ghask’s relief, sighing. Edanir simply shaking his head in disappointment. “Yes, please.” Ghask said, as the droid placed a tray down, he leaned towards Ranford. “Please captain.” Ghask said in a hushed tone. “Just bear with them a little longer and we’ll be on our way.”

“Understood..” Ranford felt defeated, here she was, in the same room as a High Ascendant and nothing could be done about it, it was infuriating. Ghask turned his attention back to Hubert. “I’m sorry for that, where were we?”

"Ah yes, I was very interested in both of your cultures And current situation. You both are currently at war with each other I take it? If so, I do apologize for making you both come aboard at the same time to deal with the same person. That's a diplomatic oversight on my part." A very deliberate oversight. People reveal themselves when dealing with their direct enemy. A fortunate happenstance, it was good that most weapons were left behind as to avoid a diplomatic mishap.

"I'll deal with you both in turn... Let's start with you, your excellency" He turned to Edanir bypassing the lapdog, "Care to regail us with tales of your home and history?" he addressed him with a respectful tone, not as if he was about submit.

“Of course!” He replied with enthusiasm. “We Yulzan are a species of martial prowess, and masters of the sciences. Ours is a history filled with bloody wars out of myth, scientific discoveries that changed us forever and for our own good, we slew Gods in order to become Gods ourselves, and through our divine minds and technology, we became so much more. Sadly, our undying legacy was put to the test, we fled our homeworld as it burned in stellar fire, taking what little of our legacy with us. We found this system, it was our salvation, those that came before us were distrustful, but in time, accepted us as we shared our legacy, our gifts. Many rightful saw us fit to rule their world and worlds beyond, but there were those that feared our power, fear that sparked the war you know today.”

Hubert nodded thoughtfully taking a moment to process all that's been said, then turned to Ghask, "Ambassador Ghask, what can you say about your proud, Free Republic?" Hubert was strategic in his selection, pushing both sides buttons slightly, trying to goad reactions, testing them, and gauging them against themselves.

Ghask cleared his throat as he begun. “Before the arrival of your people or the Yulzan, my people, the Dathu were enthralled by the Kingdoms and Houses of Dathon, what the humans now call Columbia, the original colony. We aren’t much too different from humanity, we squabbled over resources and fought in the name of our Lords, our Kings, and our Gods. After the humans arrived, there was a long period of struggle and war, eventually leading to the Unification War, a war that saw all of Americana united under the banner of the United Columbian Republic.” Ghask paused once again before continuing. “The Yulzan took that unity away from us. Columbia falling under their thumb.” Edanir let out a low, satisfied “hmph.” Not even denying his people’s crimes against the URC, now FRA. “The Free Republic was built on the promise of rebuilding the dream and taking back what’s ours, the Americana System will be free once again.”

A short term ally could be made out of the Yulzan in wars that will undoubtably be sparked by outside relations. However, the Free Republic, with its ideals could prove to be a more useful and furthermore reliable ally for personal matters. Currently, New Haven's other Directors have been looking for an opportunity like the gates opening To destabilize the fragile facade of peace on New Haven. War is inevitable. Hubert has prepared for it. Now he needs to find allies that he can trust. He remembers a holotablet containing the history of Japan during the Sengoku era through to the foreign invasion of powers. It was ancient, but the stories within hold truth. He was like Oda Nobunaga, he's the tallest tree in the forest, he needed a Tokugawa Ieyasu to back him up and make sure he doesn't suffer the same fate.

The talks continued, Hubert carefully navigated the two people's diplomatic efforts. In the end, Hubert simply stated that he'd conclude the talks of diplomacy until a formal meeting can be arranged under better circumstances.
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Hidden 1 mo ago 24 days ago Post by Sigma
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Sigma

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@Darkspleen@Crusader Lord
Kaus Borealis
One week ago

The crew of the Gloria had grown accustomed to the brief moment of peace, knowing full well the Jannie cruiser wouldn’t dare make a move against now, not with all these Royal Navy ships around. Their moment of reprieve would be disrupted as radio transmissions are picked up from orbit, loud scratchy transmissions ringing out from the intercom, startling the command staff, Captain Ranford falling from her chair from a short nap. “Wha-what!?!” She mumbled in confusion, almost ready to fist fight if it came to it, she would come to as her brain woke up. “What’s going on?” She asked the Comms Officer.

“We’re picking some open transmissions from orbital satellites.” The Comms Officer replied, quiet for a minute, assessing the situation. “Whatever’s going on has them in a frenzy.”

Ranford readjusted herself on her seat, fully awake, the nerves of not knowing getting to her. “Well, what’s going on?

“Getting lot of talk about a Prime Minister…and engine failure…and fatal crash.” It all connected the dots, a terrible tragedy had just occurred. Not something you want to commemorate the reopening of the Gateways with…

“Jesus…” One of the officers murmured.

“Captain, bad time, I know, but we’ve just established comms with High Command, they want to know where the hell we’ve been.” Ranford shook her head as she sprang up from her chair. “No, that’s alright.” She said. “We’ve got our own problems to deal with, I’ll head to my quarters and report everything.”


Elsewhere, aboard the Prosperity, Captain Ordius would mirror his counterpart’s actions, reporting his findings and his survival to the higher ups. The Captain stood at attention at several holographic figures before him, the most notable was Admiral Percival Dawson of the 5th Fleet along with several other high ranking officers. “Your report was forwarded to us a short while ago.” The Admiral said, intrigued to what the report had to say. “And it seems tragedy had just struck since your arrival.”

Ordius nodded. “Correct, sir, poor timing all around.”

“Regardless.” The Admiral said. “The Gateways reopening presents an opportunity for all of us. This won’t be the last colony we make contact with. “He paused, clearing his throat. “Meaning more worlds will reveal themselves that have yet to know the blessings of the divine will of the Yulzan, their empire reaching beyond this system, the Galaxy is within our grasp. “

Ordius simply nodded, a grin forming. “Indeed, sir….and what shall we do for the time being?”

“We’re currently organizing an ambassadorial team to represent us in the Kaus Borealis System, possibly set up an Embassy if they’ll allow it. No doubt our enemies are doing the same. It won’t be long, so remain at your post until your replacements arrive.”

Ordius nodded and gave a salute to the Admiral. “Understood, sir!”


Roseau
New Argos
Several Days after contact with New Haven


The past week has been a rather eventful one. First contact made with several of the lost colonies of humanity, one of the colonies engaged and destroyed one of the lost Yulzan ships, meaning new allies, news of a Prime Minister’s death and emergency elections from one of said colonies, and now, it seems another lost colony is making an….interesting first impression in Americana. The Battlefield footage of the new arrivals fortifying the region around the Gateway had been leaked to the press, sending the people in a frenzy. It’s been over a week since the gate reopened….and now a new foreign power is occupying it, it’s been an overall mess thus far. In his office, the Chancellor, along with members of his cabinet were watching various news channels reporting on the crisis, left astounded at what was occurring.

The Chancellor grabbed the remote as he muted the screen, the cabinet members turning to face him with concerned expressions. “Anyone mind telling me what the hell is going on?” Julian asked, clearly irked by the ongoing crisis. There was a moment of silence as the officials looked to one another before the Defense Secretary Vincent Walton spoke up. “We’ve been monitoring the invaders from a safe distance, and so far, they’ve haven’t made any aggressive moves against us.” The Defense Secretary paused as he pulled out a small remote, pressing down a button as a hologram model of the Mojave Demilitarized Zone. “Although the fortifications erected around the gateway says otherwise, they’ve effectively took over the Mojave DMZ and blockaded the system.”

“And we’ve haven’t retaken the DMZ because…?” Julian asked, very much still wondering why these invaders haven’t been pushed back yet.

“Interestingly enough, they’ve, on several occasions, actively engaged Yulzan forces that got within the same distances as our scouts.” Vincent replied, feeling almost reassured of their primary target. “They're intentionally avoiding engagement with us, your excellency.”

“So…they’re friendly then?” Julian asked, now a little perplexed by the revelations.

“We’re still not quite sure, sir.” Vincent replied, not even quite sure himself. “Although it’s a good sign that they’ve avoided any active confrontation…they might be willing hear us out, and explain themselves.” The Chancellor leaned back in a more relaxed fashion, the stress that built up slowly loosing its steam, the other members of the cabinet letting out small sighs of relief. “Do we have any ships near the DMZ?” Julian asked.

“Quite a few, yes.”

Julian leaned forward, clasping his hands together in anticipation. “Well? What are we waiting for? Have a ship sent over at once, talk things over before any shooting starts.”


Columbia
New Yulzonus

“The sheer insolence!” One of the High Ascendant cried out in outrage as they all watched cycling footage of the new invaders entering the system, followed several engagements and destruction of an entire Janissary Battle Group, the High Ascendants were…less then pleased with this development. “These interlopers spit in our faces!” Another among them speaks up, his voice filled with rage. “This act of war and defiance will not stand!”

Another member of the council rose from his seat, raising his arms up high as a few others looked to him “Brothers! Sisters! The time of talk is long past! Even now these invaders continue to fortify the Gateway, our key to galactic dominance! We must assemble the Throne Guard! Show these invaders the true might of the Ascendancy!”
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Hidden 26 days ago Post by FrostedCaramel
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FrostedCaramel

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Telescopes and Targeting Sights

Veii, Capital Planet of the Republic of San Vesta
Antevestoran System

Outstanding. Simply incredible. Elias fussed over the fine dials of his telescope as he brought into focus this fireworks display the likes of which he had never laid eyes upon in his entire life. He shifted where he stood as he watched the most beautiful blossoms of red and orange bloom to life with regularity. He felt his breath catch in his throat as the odd blues and golds punctuated the display taking place above the largest city of the Republic’s moon, Salernum, and strained to follow the tiny streaks of orange and gold crisscrossing the show as the fireworks streaked to their beautiful conclusions.

“Tessa! Tessa come here! You’ve got to see this… It’s… We’ll I can’t describe it, just bring Sebastian too!” Elias called out as he continued to soak in the awe-inspiring presentation taking place silently above Veii.

He heard the rushed footsteps of his siblings first, followed by the soft voice of his younger brother Sebastian as Tessa dragged him from his slumber for one of his older brother's strange interests once again. He smiled to himself as Tessa insisted that whatever it was, Sebastian would enjoy it just like every other time she dragged him out of bed on Elias’ behalf and stepped back from the telescope as he smiled at them both.

With a finger pointed toward the moon he ushered Sebastian to the eyepiece of the telescope, “Look look, Aquileia must be celebrating! They elected a new governor recently so maybe it’s for that…” his younger brother shrugged at the thought of something so boring as politics as he lowered his face to the telescope, “Maybe,” Elias said again, all too aware that Sebastian was only a ten-year-old, and things like elections held no sway or importance in his mind. He shifted his focus to Tessa as Sebastian began to make interested “Oohs” and “Ahs” from where he leaned into the eyepiece as he watched the spectacle.

Tessa’s gaze was up toward the moon, her lips were drawn about her face in a tight frown, and, for a moment, Elias felt he could see her face in far better detail than he should have been able to at night. He watched all around him as stark shadows stretched across their backyard, an eerie blue light seeming to sprout from nothing as he witnessed daylight return to Veii nine hours early.

His mind struggled to comprehend what was happening, though only a fraction of a second after it began the light receded and darkness returned to the night once more. His ruminations on the matter were cut short as Sebastian began to ask why the telescope had gone dark.

Elias turned from Tessa, her stare still held firmly to the moon above them in silence, and moved his brother from the telescope and peered through the lens. He stared in disbelief at the massive cloud that had taken the place of Salernum’s capital city, unsure of what had happened he pulled himself away from the telescope with a shaky smile.

“Maybe they made one of the fireworks with a bit too much bang,” he joked as he turned to Sebastian and noticed with horrifying clarity the vacant look in the boy's eyes as if his brother was simply seeing straight through him.

“Sebastian?” he asked as he turned to Tessa for help, only to notice his sister too, staring vacantly into nothing as tears streamed down her cheeks, “Tessa?” he asked as his sister turned in the direction of his voice.


This had to have been some bad going-away joke, some last-second "Scare the LT shitless before he rotates out.” sort of extravagant prank. Buzzing him into work to join his Company in the field on his last week on Salernum was just straight cruel. His field fatigues were packed away and awaiting shipment up to the orbital stations for his move back to Veii, and he didn’t have nearly enough snacks or dip stuffed into his pockets to last him a full weekend in the field with his tankers.

Yet here he was, standing on the side of some godforsaken backroad on the outskirts of Aquileia waiting for the inevitable text message “Haha, got you good Sir!” or “Joking joking, go back to the bars!” or any other number of lighthearted messages that would send him angrily packing back to the blonde he’d been chatting up Downtown just thirty minutes before.

Instead of a text message, he turned to the rumbling of tank tracks and several dozen sets of headlights turning onto the road, the feeling of a joke all but disappearing from his mind as he became very suddenly sober.

A number of Goliath tanks rolled by followed by a couple of the Companies Ample armored command vehicles before his own tank, 2-1, or more affectionately named by her crew Cruel Intentions came to a rolling stop in front of him. He scrambled up the side of the tank, hooking an arm around the main gun and hoisting himself up onto the turret before he slipped himself into the open tank commander hatch. With practiced ease, he got himself situated and slipped on the crew helmet as he keyed into the tank's onboard communications system.

“Nice of you to join us, Sir,” Lance Corporal Leon, the Cruel Intentions’ gunner chimed in with a smile as he sized up his Lieutenant’s choice of outfit, “Gray stripes, a bold choice,” he laughed as Lance Corporal Timon, his Loader, joined in with a laugh.

“Gray stripes?” came the voice of Private Flavian, Cruel Intentions driver, from his separated section at the front of the tank, obviously looking for some sort of explanation of what was being talked about in the turret since he couldn’t see for himself.

“Yeah yeah very funny,” Lieutenant Julienne Stavros agreed as he settled himself into his seat, “so what is this all about? Couldn’t survive a weekend of training without me?”

“Think you ought to get up on the net and talk to 6, Sir.”

Stavros obliged, flipping a few switches and keying his mic as he spoke, “2 Actual checking in, can I get some sort of a reason I’m here and not drinking Downtown, Over?”

There was a short lapse of silence before Lieutenant Colonel Calliene came over the radio, “2 Actual, 6. Nice of you to join us, standby to copy brief.”

Stavros recoiled at the derision in his Commander's voice and obliged as she began to talk.

“HADES is on Salernum, it’s a small contingent, first we’ve seen of em here. A training flight spotted them by accident as they were cutting across the Valestides Plains and flew back fast as they could to let Command know. Best Intelligence can give us is a Company minus, some twelve Taurons and around a hundred Canceron and Picon chassis each.”

Stavros shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he listened to his Company Commanders' brief while the Cruel Intentions rolled on behind the column of armor.

“Entire Battalion is out to stop these Shinies before they break the Plains and make for Aquileia. Alpha and Charlie Companies will take our flanks, while we in good old Bravo will make up the center that these assholes break themselves on. Command was even nice enough to send out some engineers and dig us fighting positions while we mustered back at the motor pool. Maintain radio silence from this point forward until we engage. Stick to standard procedure and we’ll come out on top, easily. Good hunting, 6 out.”

The radio fell silent and Stavros sagged into his seat as the implications of HADES’ presence on Salernum set into his mind.

“Can’t be that bad right? Couple hundred Shinies against us? They’ll be smashed to scrap in no time,” Leon quipped as he nervously checked and rechecked his sights calibrations.

“We’ll either kick them back to Halcyon or we won’t have to worry about anything for what could be the short remainder of the rest of our lives, that’s for certain,” Stavros stated as he sat back up in his seat and began to check the Cruel Intentions systems.

“Great,” Leon replied with forced enthusiasm to his tank commander's pessimism.


“Contact, two seven zero, HADES chassis!” Leon called out as Stavros slid down into his seat from his place outside the hatch and pushed his face into the commander's sight. He found himself looking at some twenty HADES chassis coming over a small rise in the field before his company's position.

He licked his lips as he traversed the gun from his position, laying in the sights on the chassis at the center of the formation of drones. It was a Tauron chassis, a massive thing, nearly a story and a half tall and propelled on four clambering legs. It sported four guns to the Cruel Intentions one and seemed to sweep the land in front of it with four vicious red eyes. He watched in fascination as it loped along the plain with almost animal-like movements and waited as it neared its doom.

“GUNNER, SABOT, TAURON IN VIEW!” he yelled without keying his mic as he released control of the turret back to Leon.

“IDENTIFIED,” came Leon’s response as the turret smoothly continued tracking the quadrupedal machine.

“UP!” Timon yelled as he cleared himself away from the cannon and slapped the safety off with a gloved hand.

There was a brief period where Stavros felt as though the drones before him had certainly passed into the kill-zone, that they were being allowed to needlessly close on his tank and his platoon's positions. He itched to let Leon free, to let the Cruel Intentions fulfill her purpose in life, but he held his tongue.

A moment later the radio creaked to life in his ears.

“6 all elements. Weapons free.”

“FIRE!”

“ON THE WAAAAAY!”

The Cruel Intentions cannon barked with fury as it fired and Stavros watched as the Tauron in view lurched over and came to a grinding halt belching flame out of the newly created hole in its front.

“TARGET, CEASE FIRE!” Stavros yelled as he propped himself up in his open hatch and surveyed the two other tanks in his platoon, 2-2 and 2-3, both of which had fired at nearly the same time 2-1 had. He brought his binoculars to his face and surveyed the killing field, a smile growing across his lips as he counted six burning Taurons, twice as many Cancerons in similar states, and a number of Picons being chewed apart by the gauss cannons of the battalions Ample’s.

First blood for the good guys, he thought as he breathed a sigh of relief and the tension in his shoulders released just a little.

“Good shooting, keep scanning,” he stated proudly to his crew as he took up his radio to check on 2-2 and 2-3. He was about to key the mic when someone else came over the battalion net.

“Incoming!”

The world around Stavros diffused into a mirage of flashing lights and heat as the invaders answered for the deaths of their own.[/hr]

Cruel Intentions chewed its way down a residential road in reverse, the jolt of vehicles being flattened beneath her treads and pushed aside like toy cars only an afterthought in Stavros’ mind as he scanned the dead zones between the houses as they flashed by in time with Cruel Intentions main gun.

“All 2 elements, reform Vanix Square at best speed, Battalion is forming a new defensive line.”

He listened as the other two tanks under his command responded and turned himself back to the digital map on the screen to his front. He felt his stomach churning as he updated to the newest positions of friend and foe.

Alpha Company was no longer even counted amongst the friendly units, and Charlie Company was fairing only slightly better, having been reduced to just a single platoon and a few lone Ample’s running amok in the next neighborhood over. Bravo Company had had it the easiest, by far, he realized as he noticed only two tanks lost to his company's name.

It was a miracle, considering what they’d held against. Sixteen regiments had come at them after the artillery barrage. Seventeen hundred Taurons, and far too many Cancerons to count, not to mention the withering rocket and missile barrage from the Virgon chassis that followed a few minutes after. That the entire battalion hadn’t been completely wiped from the face of Salernum was an act of God as far as Stavros was concerned. Unfortunately, God could only do so much for a single tanker and his crew, and so the Battalion had fought for two and a half hours as rear forces rushed to set a new defensive line. Or at least that had been the plan.

He cursed to himself that this had been allowed to happen as the tank came to a grinding halt on the far side of Vanix Square. He took stock of his surroundings with only the tanks of his own platoon coming to rest on either side of him.

“No one’s fuckin here!” Leon called as he raised himself out of his own hatch and surveyed the empty square. The lights were still on, a number of carnival rides stood idle as their lights flashed happily for someone to come and ride them, and somewhere Stavros couldn’t quite see beyond the rides something was on fire deeper in the square.

He turned to the direction they’d just come in and took in the sight in the distance. The orange glow of fires lit the horizon, punctuated by the acrid black smoke of burning vehicles and structures. The view was interlaced with staccato tracer fire and the flash of near-constant explosions. Had he now known any better, he may have considered himself lucky to be witness to such an awe-inspiring sight.

Instead, he pushed himself back down into his seat and took up the radio, “6, 2 Actual, in place at Vanix, over.”

The radio hissed to life in his ear, the return muddled and choppy as the jamming of the HADES drones attempted to cut communications entirely.

“2 Actual, this is 5, 6 is gone. The Company is scattered, attempting to reform at Vanix with haste. Hold, Out,” the radio crackled off and Stavros simply stared for a while at nothing in particular.

“Where’s the rest of the damn regiment! Those dumb fuckin infantry? Where the fuck is everyone?!” Leon exclaimed to the world outside the tank before Timon pulled him back inside.

“They’re not coming,” Stavros stated as a fact, “The entire city is under siege, everyone is fighting, we’re not getting any help here,” he said as he pushed the screen in front of him around for his gunner and loader to see. Their eyes went wide as the realization set in, only for Timon to push the screen away with a forced smile.

“As long as everyone else is just as fucked as we are, I’m good,” he smirked.

“Same here,” Leon at his side agreed, followed by a simple “yeah” from Flavian upfront.

“As long as we’re all in agreement then,” Stavros stated as he sat up in his seat and keyed his mic to organize his tanks into fighting order.


The drones came in at a trickle at first, a Tauron here, a handful of Picons there. A few Virgons that had seemingly lost their escorts even rounded a two-story residential right in the sights of 2-3 at some point, and the resulting detonations had completely leveled half a block of homes.
And though some friendly units managed to slip into the Square, it hadn’t been enough to mount any real concerted defense of the suburbs.

2-2 had been the first hit, a clean volley from a single Tauron tore through the turret and atomized everything within in the ensuing ammunition explosion, 2-3 had returned the gesture in kind a couple of seconds later, leaving the Tauron a burning wreck some 600 meters distant.

Next had been a pair of Ample’s that had taken up positions behind the paltry selection of tanks. They were picked open by a streaking volley of missiles from Virgons somewhere out behind the homes on the other side of the square. Their turrets and roofs came open as if someone had taken a can opener to them, revealing only an inferno within. Stavros didn’t count any crew bailing out, and had turned his attention back to the opposite side of the square as the whining sound of mechanical walkers began to overtake the drone of his own tanks engine.


Sixteen minutes. They had held Vanix Square for sixteen minutes.

Stavros slammed his fist into the side of the turret as he was jostled about where he sat. “2-3, Actual, make for Vanix Elementary. Salernum is lost, over,” he radioed to his only other remaining tank with a scowl.

“3 copies,” came the dejected response from Sergeant Trier, commander of 2-3.

Salernum was lost. He read the priority message again, disbelief fighting with the cold reality he had come to know all too well in the fighting of the last four hours, and felt rage and anguish all at once.

The Western and Southern approaches to Aquileia had held well enough, but the Eastern and Northern defenses had crumbled against a near-endless onslaught of drones. And when Command had finally had the thought to order a redeployment of parts of the Western and Southern defensive lines it was already too late to make a difference as the forces of HADES filtered into the tight confines of the city's suburbs and outer sprawl.

The choice to evacuate, to abandon all of Salernum, had come quickly. Mercifully, even.

There’d been enough time to organize civilians to freighters and transports, and what little resistance that Stavros and his boys put up had easily led to thousands saved. But it hadn’t been enough. Leon had reported civilian cars on thermals several times on the opposite side of Vanix Square, out on the other side of Vestan control, out amongst those quadruped horrors. They’d even tried a few times to signal cars as they screamed by with flashlights, but no one ever noticed or cared enough to stop for the terrifying tanks of their own army attempting to save them.

By all accounts, nearly 60% of Aquileia’s population was already bound for Veii aboard ships, but that still left some three million within the city limits, not to mention those in the smaller cities and towns spread across the moon.

Yet here they were, tearing up residential roads in an all-out sprint to an evacuation site that was dangerously close to the advancing drones.


Cruel Intentions led the way into the remnants of a grade school playground, pockmarked by artillery fire and a number of burning Taurons as Stavros and his small contingent of survivors raced for the maw of a waiting heavy freighter across the Racket Field. Stavros pulled himself up out of the tank hatch and was immediately assaulted by the heat of the spacecraft's exhaust and the roar of its engines.

He could make out vague outlines of people in the cockpit far above his head, and as he rolled in under the freighter he caught the terrified gaze of a crew member as he waved them forward into the cargo bay.

“All elements load in, make it fit, don’t care how don’t care where,” Stavros radioed to the small convoy of vehicles he had scraped together in the past hour. With a lurch, Flavian gunned the Cruel Intentions up the ramp and into the dimly lit cargo bay with a little too much power.

The tank roared forward and over a number of small shipping crates before coming to an inglorious halt against the far-side wall. Behind them, the rest of the surviving vehicles followed in a similar fashion.

Thirty more minutes they spent in Aquileia, in that dying city. As the freighter's crew, his ragtag group of tankers, and a chewed up platoon of infantry they’d picked up along the way chained down the vehicles and took on more survivors. But once the work was done the freighter crew insisted they had to leave.

Stavros had fought this notion at first, arguing that the longer they stayed the more people would come. But as time went on, and fewer and fewer survivors came clambering up the ramp, Stavros finally gave in.

He’d watched the death of Aquileia. From behind the shielded windows of the freighter’s bridge in orbit above Salernum. He’d watched as a small star sprang to life. At one moment there was a city and the next a boiling inferno. He watched as the light faded and the mushroom cloud grew. And then he could watch no longer as the freighter fell out of view of the cloud and the catastrophe it represented.
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