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I found myself awake in a vast savannah, the green grass lush while a golden star beat down upon my pale, naked flesh. I was surrounded by a vast void, though a warm void, like an exercised breath in the terrestrial atmosphere before me. Yes, the savannah was quite empty-save for the occasional trees, along with a deep, blue pool of water, reflecting the pale azure of the sky above. Surrounding this pool was a heard of some foreign ungulate, horned and lazy, but muscular in its great size. They seemed unfazed by my presence, as if mine were a presence they had known for millennia.

Suddenly, my throat was dry and dehydrated, and I felt a compulsive urge to drink from the pool. I ran to it in my nakedness, and plunged my face into its cool, wet relief. When after a minute I arose for air, a woman was standing next to me, not unlike myself, save for her skin being a near pitch black. She was clothed, in a bright robe of colored textiles and animal skin. Still, she was beautiful, her tight curls cut short to emphasize her sharp features. She seemed primitive, yelling at me in some long-lost tongue, a tongue native to this alien planet, likely perplexed at my presence, or my nudity, or perhaps was simply dutiful in her stewardship of these beasts. I couldn't understand a word she said, and yet I felt my arm reaching out to touch her...

"People don't come to Felix to read, Koaga," Ghanzi chastised, forcing the young Janari to look up from his book. After all these thousands of years, one would think hard copies would've 'gone out of style', but Koaga wasn't one to keep up with the trends. The amphibian quickly dogeared the page and placed the novel down onto the bar. Outside, the gaseous pink mass of Petrion-B loomed into view, casting its shadow onto the Starfort.

"Sorry," the private replied sheepishly, "These sort of, uh, 'scenes' aren't really my thing." By scene, he meant anything that the infamous Starfort Felix was known for; gambling, drinking, drugs, prostitution. Unlike most fortifications, most visitors passing through Felix aren't travelers from abroad. They're citizens trying to escape the pressures of Martian life by pouring their hard earned money into a Laadaruuan whore, and the fort's commanders are happy to sap up every cent of it. Off the books, of course. Yes, the fort had quite relaxed liquor licenses and didn't quite keep the same tabs on their...'civilian employees', but records show that Felix is a Starfort like any other, replete with enough Customs bureaucratic bullshit to make a Free Nest trader forget all about the advanced weapons systems and guards at every corner. And it was the filing monotony known to all Starforts that brought the First Cavalry to Felix. After all, how could an Imperial Ruin scouting mission be considered a success unless the State knows how many corpses they found and exactly what caliber of munitions were in the far left ammo boxes in the back closet of the second gunnery?

That isn't to say, of course, that the First wouldn't be using Felix's...facilities at the same capacity as any other visitor. Major Astari disappeared as soon as the paperwork was done, likely into some closeted whorehouse, while Animo was catching up with some friends from officer school she ran into by their sleeping quarters. Luckily for Koaga, he found one of the more secluded bars that the Starfort had to offer, the kind of place a soldier can really contemplate the true cost of citizenship...or the kind of place a certain Xuha sniper could drink away the plight of Martian honor. "Ey, barkeep, another one for my friend here," he requested, to which the Aldzir behind the bar happily obliged. An Aldziri heartbreak ballad played in the background, complete with human guitars, Cultor grainharps, and the low incoherent rumble of an Aldziri trunk singing its heart out. Once Koaga unconfidently had another drink in his hand, Ghanzi continued. "If you want to survive more than a month in the First, you gotta relax, peregrine." The Janari winced at the old Imperial term, denoting an Alien citizen of the empire. Nowadays, it was more of a slur when it comes from humans, but honestly, Koaga wasn't quite a fan of how aliens threw that term around, either.

"You made it to the fucking top, you don't got to keep up the nerd shit!" The Xuha exclaimed. "What are you even reading, Koaga?" With this, the sergeant gestured aggressively towards the book in his hand.

"Adonis," the private corrected, protectively bringing the novel into his body.


"Adonis. That's my name." Ghanzi scrunched his face at that. A Janari with a human name? Pft. Goes to show what happens when an Alien grows up thinking they're human. Xuhajann aren't like Janaris, they know what they are, and they know their place. And their place is on the battlefield. That's why they get a warrior's name. That's why Ghanzi's name was Zeitan, not Orion, not Josephus, and not Adonis.

"Alright, Adonis. What are you reading?" Reluctantly, Adonis brought the book from his body, carefully passing it over to the sergeant, who took it and examined it like he was looking for a 'Xuha safe' logo on some dairy products.

"Earthly Daughter," Koaga answered. "Victoria Astrelius. Read it a couple times through back in school, thought I'd refresh myself." Zeitan started chuckling.

"This old-ass Imperial shit?" He asked, tossing the book back to the Janari. "Thought this stuff was made for humans."

"Still a good book, Ghanzi." There was a moment of silence while the Xuha thought it over and Adonis took his drink. "It's uh...this privileged young Imperial women, has everything she'd ever want, but she has no satisfaction in life...every relationship she's in feels meaningless, her work all seems futile, her friends are shallow...basically, just miserable despite being rich as hell, when she starts getting these recurring dreams of life on Earth."

"Earth?" Asked the red alien. "You mean like...where humans are from?" Koaga was starting to get annoyed at how frequently Ghanzi was referencing things as 'human' or not, how he made it seem like they didn't all have a common history, a common heritage, and now, a common cause. Still, he didn't want to bring it up.

"Yeah, Earth." Zeitan looked at him while the Janari finished his drink, waiting for him to finish the story as well.

"Well? How's it end?" Koaga looked to him, a wicked half-grin on his salamander like face as he waited to build up tension.

"You'll have to read it," He finally said, and the sniper began chuckling.

"Sounds fucking lame, Ado." The private began laughing in turn.

"Hey, say what you want, but Astrelius was a fucking genius." The two soldirrs sat for a moment, laughing, and then went quiet for a bit. Koaga spotted an Ulala woman sitting alone at the other end of the bar. She was dressed well for a commoner, but still clearly was one, and her bright eyes caught the Janari's before she smiled at him. Gathering up his courage, he stood up from his seat and went to talk to her, leaving behind his book, which Ghanzi reached across to examine. A silenced screen behind the bar flashed news about the Resurrectionist admiral, Olivia Lahti. The Xuhajann smirked as he saw the two side by side.

"Earthen Daughter," he muttered under his breath, and turned his gaze to the pink immensity of Petrion-B. "Ain't much earth left it seems." On the glaring screen, Lahti was labeled 'terrorist' and a 'dangerous fascist, bent on the annihilation of alien populations'. Following this were images of the Resurrectionist genocide and the hurried explanation that while it was unknown if Lahti was connected to these images, she would certainly condone the actions taken in them. Zeitan snarled at the piles of dead Xuhajann.

"When they give me a war to fight, you won't have any." While Ghanzi stewed in his dreams of bloodshed, Koaga was smiling wide as he spoke of nonsense with a beautiful stranger. In the same fortification, their commander was paying for meaningless sex, their other commander was trying to impress people who didn't matter anymore, and all the while, the First Cavalry had no idea of the blood to come.
@Aristo Eyyyyyyyy semi-zuukid one between me and sig?
@Rabidporcupine Message me about the races, message DracoLunaris (the other gm) about your map claim
@Wernher Sig is correct, earth is dead. Also, I own the Sol System. That said, if you did have some sort of idea for earth, feel free to pm me or join the discord and message me on there, although I'm telling you now that it's very unlikely I accept it.

@Rabidporcupine Sounds good, there's no rush! :)

Praetorian HQ, Olympia, Mars

The room had two entrances, in addition to a large window of the most secure acrylic, which displayed the city of Olympia prominently and in full view. Busy people who spoke in rapid, clandestine whispers and were tapping away on brightly-lit screens walked briskly through the hallway with lapideus steps, their clearance removing them from any threat they might otherwise pose. Yes, despite a few possible blunt objects scattered around, the room, the meeting room, the glorified hallway of the Praetorians was rather secure. And in the midst of it stood a nameless man with a stout reputation; there stood Ulysses. A celebrity of espionage and subterfuge so unknown that most did not notice as they passed him, and those who did only did so with a subtle glance before returning to their screen. His beard clung tight to his face, hiding in their roots for fear of his razor, while above, his black hair settled nearly, much longer but restedly combed to his professional standards. His uniform, the uniform of all Praetorian commanders, was trim and sable, angular and formfitting in its fall.

The agent squinted at the red Martian sky, and with eyes narrow, he could make out the impish Phobos, hung high and lazily over the ruddy landscape, hiding from the eyes of the citizenry, but was present in their minds nonetheless, the malformed asteroid being a joke of the system since ancient times. He knew that Deimos, smaller but there all the same, was somewhere else in the Martian sky. A familiar figure entered Ulysses' peripheral vision, but he said nothing until it spoke.

"Looking for Phobos?" He said. He too looked for the small moon, but his Janari eyes weren't made for such human endeavors.

"Not hard to find," Ulysses responded. He stepped back to face his superior, General Banelo, the director of all Praetorians, and the commander bowed in respect. "General," Ulysses said.

"At ease, Commander," Banelo replied, and Ulysses obliged him, straightening his back. "How were the Free Nests?" The human smiled, having spent the last few months in the southern confederacy, doing usual Praetorian political work there, as well as pursuing more...devious endeavors.

"I should've brought more bug repellant, but it was fruitful. Planted a wave of new recruiters, set up some comms…" He trailed off when his black eyebrows knit in consternation, before continuing, "but you already know this, so I'm unclear as to the purpose of your asking."

The Janari sighed. "It's called being friendly, Commander Oculto. You should give it a try." He exhaled. "Now are you ready to head to the warzone?" The General began walking towards the door, beckoning Ulysses to follow, and they continued to the next room.

"Of course, General, once I learn the details of the operation." There was a large, gold table in the middle, complementing the hungry blood-red walls. As Ulysses and the General walked in, the subordinates who were examining a presentation on a holoprojector in the middle of the room hurriedly exited, and Banelo went to the console, uploading a picture of the upper Orion-Cygnus arm to the projector. Zooming in, he displayed a detailed map of the Resurrection-Scorpine war, complete with dots indicating the current location of Martian mission bases. Ulysses quickly found his seat.

"As you know," the General began, "You are to consolidate the varied anti-Resurrectionist militias under one banner." The screen shifted, displaying an overlay of troop locations; both the Scorpine government forces and the anti-Res militias. There was also a basic list of militia categories; Scorpine irregulars, Xuhajann reclamationists, foreign volunteer outfits, coalition-sponsored mercenaries. These were further broken down into those beneficial to the needs of the State and those that were not. Those that were not, Ulysses knew, were to have their leaderships replaced with commanders more amenable to Martian needs. For a bit longer, General Banelo rattled on more information that the Commander already knew; build more bases, outfit the new army, bring in more mercs.

Eventually, the General pulled up a new diagram onto the holoprojector, one of a large naval vessel. "You will be lended full command of a cruiser; the Calypso. She will act as your base of operations, and is to primarily remain in orbit of the Scorpine capital of Scorpius."

Ulysses nodded. "Of course, General. I understand the importance of the situation at hand. I promise you I will not allow this mission to fail."

"Good." Banelo turned off the holoprojector, which made a pleasant sound as the hologram dissipated. "You will depart tomorrow morning, the shuttle to the spaceport will pick you up from your residence. You'll find the Calypso waiting." The Commander stood and gave a curt bow, before turning to leave. "And Commander," the General said, stopping him. "Good luck."

Ulysses smirked. "I have the power of the Martian State at my disposal. Luck is unnecessary."
@Arawak Yes
@Sypherkhode822 Oi! Join the discord!
@Dinh AaronMk Boi...discord
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