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Collab between @Gerlando, @Irredeemable, and @Eventua

Hyginus City - Cygni Geminae

With the war officially over, life in the cities didn’t really change much at first, the majority weren’t affected by massive deaths, which hadn’t been so substantial, and sure some jobs were receiving extra bonds and opportunities shifted, but what was the military going to do with this massive ammunition producing industry? Even if they used more in training the current industry was too bloated for peace and would likely go back to pre-war levels, which still was a major avenue for jobs.

There were some changes though- the news screens showed less boring Hyginian politics and instead had boring Intergalactic politics, there were some fancy new ‘parades’ every now and then, the military seems to have really embraced those… And, even if the people wouldn’t see them, there were now in orbit more than just Hyginian ships.

The deal had had its basics ironed out fairly quickly. Azulvista would provide raw resources, manufactured goods, expertise and material at very reasonable rates on long-term loans, so as to allow Hyginus’ tiny economy plenty of space to grow before the debts came due. They’d also bought out a space station in orbit almost immediately, which now played host to a series of colossal GRA freightcrafts, a not-insignificant number of them being retired troop transports.

The freighters had only begun to arrive fairly recently- although mercantilist, the GRA wasn’t about to let so many men and so much material go abroad without drafting a whole lot of paperwork for their captains and crews to fill out. Now that they were here though, it was time to give the Hyginans a taste of foreign systems.

Thus it was that in Hyginus City, in a well-trafficked area outside the city’s main cargo elevator, a small stall had set up shop, a pretty young Azulvistan woman bumbling her way through conversations- matching Tongue Nuevo to the Hyginian’s own confusing conglomerate of a language with mixed success.

“Tastes of a foreign star! Free samples, with more if you fill out a feedback form! ¡Bomba! energy! Microwave Coxinha! Azulvistan convenience to your front door!”

Needless to say the shop had near constant supply of customers, with energy drinks and fast foods being the more popularly sold products. Workers bringing the goods down would then buy them pretty much immediately, even with some language difficulties they managed to learn at least some basic phrases like “I’ll take that” “Here’s the money” and such.

In fact it wouldn’t take long for the Azulvistans to set up shop next to the secondary elevator as well and pretty much doubling their business.

There’s now various new food and drinks with foreign brands, they’re all too expensive anyway so people buy them just to try something new, well apart from the energy drinks of which somehow there’s so many you could probably create a new sun with all the tin cans. If before the average person consumed a couple of caffeinated drinks a day now it’s gone to at least 4-5 ¡Bomba! every day, hopefully it doesn’t have a mind-control virus like your regular crazy Twoist pastor would tell you.

Along the new expansion district it’s clear the capital is receiving a lot more funds than any other city, more shops, reopening of collapsed streets and modernisation of the heating system and insulation. Truly they’re trying to make it seem a modern city on-par with foreign ones, occasionally shown on TV, even then proper lighting is still only in major streets.

In the attempt to get more businesses inside the underground city the General-Mayor also bought and cleared large buildings for foreign businesses to buy and operate in, and if that doesn’t work the current orbital stations remain a comfortable place for any HQ, even if it may take a while to get to the city itself.

And even as civilian business exploded with the arrival of newcomers to Geminae, a far more sinister form of business was being prepared high in orbit…

Azulvistan Station - Orbiting Cygni Geminae

It was always a strange sensation – to have poured the mind of a god into such a small vessel. While he hadn’t had an organic body in… ooh, 250 years? 260?, his mind felt… itchy, in such a small digital space.

A single luminous carried him, interlinked with the central AI and database aboard his Avatar class diplomatic vessel, the Chariot of Mars – resembling a set of elegant cylindrical coils enwrapped around a central ‘rod’ of compartments and maybe two hundred meters long, painted in dark reds and emblazoned with the insignia of the Sevenfold Summation and a stylized image of crossed swords arrayed into the shape of a bird of prey.

Through the sensors and viewports of his Chariot, Mars couldn’t help but roll his eyes at the other ship on this mission, sticking out against the void and the view of the massive ringed station orbiting the icy world below. Streams of cargo and patrol ships flowed to and from the station and back to the gate, but with its painfully gray and undecorated chassis the other Avatar class vessel like his own failed to stand out at all.

Roselle, he thought to himself, why the change of heart?

She had always found questions of defense and weapons acquisition dull and irrelevant, but so suddenly – when he was finally proven correct to take it seriously over their centuries of isolation! – she had taken a deep interest in the growing industry of this would-be alliance of powers.

He shook his head. Whatever she wanted, the vote had been clear that he was being entrusted to handle this.

“Open communications channels to the station.”

The skittering crew of current measurement in the control room – their foot tall forms, amalgams of tools and limbs arrayed around a single spherical, almost mushroom-like chassis – set about adjusting the controls, opening up the channels.

Video footage came through of a stern military man sitting at a neatly organized but mostly empty desk, wearing a kind of modified dress uniform – clearly drawing inspiration from both Azulvistan and Hyginian officers, but in the dark red and white of the Summation’s insignia and bearing said insignia on his shoulder pads. He gave a brief, old world two-fingered salute.

In both modern Spanish and formal Hyginian the message was relayed:

“Good day to you from the Sevenfold Summation. I am Mars, along with my associate…" His image gave a smile, but his voice took on a distinctly venomous quality out of sync with his lip movements, “Roselle, members of the Sevenfold Summation. We are here for the agreed discussion and demonstration of Summation technical knowledge regarding military and industrial applications, and to review in what ways we can be of benefit to the great Federation of Hyginus. Requesting permission to land.”

The Hyginians looked at the rather peculiar crew from the Summation, they knew they were an interesting bunch who heavily relied on their technology, but witnessing it live is always a different experience. Out of the Hyginians a man stepped forward and replied to the hologram.

“It is a pleasure to speak with a member of the Summation, I hope you and your associates have a pleasant time here in our system,” he stopped and weighed his words, unsure if Mars could be considered actually here on the station or not, “permission granted.”

“The pleasure is all ours, of course,” Mars replied as the ship navigated to take its place on the station.

Aboard the station – which the various bickering Syndics who had bought it out had yet to dub with a proper name, leaving it as the disappointingly titled ‘Station Hyginus Alfa’ despite no less than five scheduled meetings, one of which had actually taken place, there was a veritable conglomerate of suited-and-booted businessmen and women quietly jockeying for position in front of the airlock.

Then, standing off to one side, a thick, blunted cigar smoldering between his clenched teeth, was Antonio de la Cruz de Lebrón, a thoroughly unimpressed look on his face as his eyes flitted across his countrymen. The doors swung open, and in entered the summation’s representatives. After the debacle at the Meeting Place – the near shootout that had resulted from Mars’ “honour guard” of temperature marines – Mars had been at least convinced to not bring them with him. As such it was just him and Roselle in their machine-shells, scuttling behind the syndicates, moving carefully with their holograms to carefully shake the hands of each patrician as well as the Hyginian representatives.

There was a slight bit of last-minute shuffling as the syndics settled into position, and then the various introductions went ahead. Six patricians meant no less than three paragraph’s worth of names to get through, and as each one tried to squeeze in a few more titles or awards here, the cigar between Antonio’s lips began to ever-so-slightly quiver at the pressure from his teeth, only being relieved from its duty when it finally came time to introduce himself.

“Now that the pleasantries are out of the way… Please. Follow us.” He spread an arm out wide, holding his cigar carefully now that more of it seemed to be ash than tobacco and despite having been off to the side, he somehow managed to cut his way through the gaggle of Syndics to command of the ad-hoc procession as they made their way through Alfa Station’s corridors.

What had once been a spartan and downright ugly industrial space station was now… Still fairly ugly, yes, but work had been done to clear it up. A lot of the clumsy internals had already been gutted and replaced with more efficient Azulvistan engineering, leaving more space for the customary wood paneling and carpets that seemed a bit too cushy for a space station. Still, the lights were bare and fluorescent, the doors clicked and hissed loudly and had to be opened manually, and when they finally arrived at the actual meeting room most of its wireworks was still clearly under renovation that had gone over time and budget, leaving its opulence severely undercut by the day-glow plastic panels fitted over the otherwise bare wireworks. The syndics, split between apologizing and attempting to cover up just how clumsy the whole thing was, only succeeded in making it even more of an uncoordinated mess, and by the time everyone had actually set down the fractures in Antonio’s cigar had grown alarmingly large.

Mars let his hologram smile at the view – for all the attempts at style and luxury the Azulvistans prided themselves on, it was always a pleasant moment when the mask slipped, just a little bit.

Then, Antonio set his cigar less-than-carefully on the ashtray by his seat, and watched as it split and unraveled, his face, for once, completely impassive.

“Well then, is there any ulterior information or suggestion before we go ahead with the presentation?” the Hyginian looked at both the Summation and Azulvistan teams, only for the various Syndics to shake their heads, Antonio’s eyes still fixed on the shattered cigar.

Mars heard a faint “Go ahead” in his mind from Roselle, and with an artificial ‘cough’ into the digital image of his right fist, his own hologram faded slightly as Roselle’s projectors began to intensify for the images they were about to display.

“While regretfully our Gate remained shut for the duration of the war against the People’s Union, we have been provided with extensive archival footage and records of its events, courtesy of our new friends in Azulvista. My condolences to all of those who were lost, and for the inevitable truth we must face with steel-like strength – the number of colonies established remains unknown, and the ways in which humanity has changed are, frankly, unpredictable to a dangerous degree. To this end, it is vital that our nations be prepared for any military eventuality.”

Mars smiled, raising a hand. He wished he could see the look on Roselle’s face as she displayed the first image in soft silver light.

A recording displayed of a group of diplat – the shorter, mole-like forms – armed with strange but simplistic ballistic weapons behind some kind of crudely assembled metal covers, occasionally taking potshots at unknown attackers. Suddenly, there was a series of bright flashes and the cover – as well as the diplat – was completely blown away.

The hologram shifted to a display of a taller and more humanoid diplat creature, particularly focused on the large and clunky rifle-like weapon it was carrying.

“The ArtemisRain Mk2.1 Portable Railgun. Capable of firing spinning iron-titanium composite slugs at Mach 3 – the most powerful anti-infantry weapon ever designed.”

Footage of the reloading process, the battery charging system, along with a mixture of simplified, incomplete schematics began to display.

Once the display was done, one of the syndics – a slender gentleman from Diemgarda named Rúben who had inherited a frankly bizarre number of shares in the small moon’s main arms subsidiary – raised a single hand.

“Although undoubtedly a railgun design has many benefits – especially in environments that are not self-oxidizing or where explosions would be a poor idea, the ergonomics of this design seem… flawed? An experienced Azulvistan soldato can reload their rifle in only a handful of seconds – between the need for both an ammunition and power supply, and the… peculiar method of recharging the device, it seems as if a soldier would be vulnerable for far longer than is necessary?”

Mars’ hologram flickered briefly, before giving a curt smile.

“Well, of course, it’s quite normal for our temperature measurements to be wearing body-armour and helmets, as well as possessing a high degree of natural resilience. But, perhaps…” he nodded, “some other designs?”

There was a bristle of consternation from some of the syndics at the subtle snub towards Azulvistan protective measures, but they nonetheless settled down. This was just the first item on the agenda.

One by one, he went through the new displays.

— “The ChemCore ‘Nose Gun’ Automated Defensive Installation” he declared, the sight of an elaborate two-gunned turret… that schematics quickly revealed was targeting based on pheromone signatures.

Although initially, a few of the Azulvistans had raised eyebrows at the design, the obvious question was fielded very quickly, this time by a statuesque syndic wearing a suit that cost more than the average plebeian could make in a year. “And for targets that do not emit a pheromone signature? Such as, say… a human being?”

Mars narrowed his eyes.

“I mean… humans do emit pheromones.”

There was a brief look of annoyance at the correction, regardless of its accuracy, but the syndic pressed on nonetheless. “At ranges far enough to base long-range weaponry on them?”

“Through field uniforms or softsuits, in the case of marine contingents?” Chimed in another.

Mars and Roselle’s holograms both froze up briefly, before at last Mars just grimaced and shook his head.

“No, I… I suppose not.”

“Ah. Well then.” The interest rapidly faded from the Azulvistan’s faces.

— “The Droideka Micro, for rapid response in confined spaces; easily deployed either by air, into tunnels, or as a quick-response security protocol” the footage displaying a small group of rolling, pillbug-like robots that would unfold into a set of stationary guns and emitting an energy shield around itself… however, their small size meant the caliber couldn’t be more than a millimeter, and the notes on the shield’s battery structure were using a number of expensive, hard to acquire metals

One Hyginian stood up, his dresses are simpler in design than the Azulvistan but still formal.
“Cobalt, Lithium, strong magnets… these materials could be shipped from other systems, but otherwise they’re scarce here. High production cost and complex manufacturing process that has to start from scratch, I doubt it can be made in sufficient numbers to be useful.”

"Well," Mars said with a smile as the silver hologram seemed to flicker briefly, "I'm sure there's the potential of a trade deal there-"

The silver hologram flickered again, as did Mars, before crossing his arms.

"Moving on."

— The next demonstration was, in fact, more of a brief powerpoint presentation – information about a gas-delivered retrovirus that would cause extensive neuron decay, giving enemy soldiers and civilians dementia, paranoid hallucinations, and rendering them comatose in the space of a few days

At this demonstration, Antonio simply reached into his jacket, pulled out a new cigar, then clipped it and set it between his lips. Less than five seconds after he had lit it, an impressive pile of ash had already settled in the tray, the patrician’s face starting to take on a peculiar expression. “So, to clarify, this is a retrovirus, so we risk all the typical problems that come with biological weapons of them evolving out of potential killcodes or containment procedures, that is deployed like a chemical weapon, that then takes days to render targets comatose? Rômulo, can we get up a demonstration of TAX shells on New Terra? Yeah, the assault video.”

Leaning back in his chair, the members of the meeting were treated to a short, noticeably brutal scene clearly taken from a soldier’s helmet camera, Azulvistan soldatos storming across a broad plaza lit up by tracer fire and illuminated by the incandescent glow of a city aflame. Two planes screeched through the sky, clustered payloads bursting over the building the group was assaulting, soldiers scrambling to fit on masks and adjust the seals on their protective garments.

Less than ten seconds after the bombs had fallen, New Terran fire had stopped. Fifteen seconds later, and the soldiers were kicking down the doors, entering a corridor filled with twitching, jerking Terrans, foam spilling from their lips and bloody tears leaking from their eyes.

Mars and Roselle simply stood there as the footage rolled by, their mechanical forms watching intently.

“TAX-3. Toxic Agent X-3, a potent binary nerve agent. Inert when transported, causes the breakdown of the body’s ability to respire within ten seconds of exposure, death occurs without the antidote within three minutes, capable of being deployed en-masse as a gas or liquid where its volatile nature leads to it rapidly sublimating and becoming diluted in the air, or used in an ultrafine powder if you need staying powder.” Antonio stood up, pressing one index finger down firmly onto the table. “If you want to impress us with a chemical weapon, this is what you need to compete with.”

Inside, Mars was boiling - the hologram remained static, but the machine visibly stretched itself out for a moment.

“Incidentally,” an androgynous syndic with a slasher’s grin leant forward slightly, “should any of you be interested in procuring samples of TAX-3 for your own defense needs, we are proud to state that ESM-SA has secured an export license pending final senatorial approval. The substance can be mixed by an imbecile, deployed via artillery, canister, bomb or agent, and will terminate any target. We were very pleased to discover that it circumvented New Terran infantry chemical defences while leaving our own troops unharmed when their protective measures were properly utilised.”

“Interesting, I may have a proposal if you agree.” a tall Hyginian answered, looking mainly at the syndic but also sometimes to Mars. “Since you have developed such dangerous bioweapons, I imagine you’d also have developed countermeasures on the same level. We’ve seen PUNT use ineffective protective gear and how that turned out, it’d then be best to use state of the art equipment against a potential enemy or if rebel elements got their hands on biological weapons.”

There was a brief pause from the syndic, and they drummed their fingers on the table awkwardly. Sighing, Antonio spoke up instead. “ESM-SA doesn’t make military hazard suits, and since were previously getting your current stuff on lend lease… Well suffice to say you’d need a different bunch of suits.”

“Perhaps we could convert a local factory to produce them under license, the stuff we saw already didn’t look too complex, at least not as much as a railgun complete with battery pack.” the Hyginian stopped and opened a bottle of cognac, pouring himself a glass. “Want some?”

There was a shrug from the syndic. “Not while working, no. You’ll need to talk with another representative I’m afraid.”

Mars quietly shook his head, trying not to let the sudden takeover of what was going to be his moment override his social graces.

As the syndicates and the Hyginians discussed further, he raised a single hand and 'coughed' to draw attention.

"We underestimated Azulvistan chemical science, my apologies. But biological weapons don't merely have to take the form of disease, you know."

He smiled slightly, as Roselle's machine nervously backed away a bit.

"Allow me to explain."

His own hologram taking center point and shapeshifting, displaying one genetically engineered monster after another.

— "Biosoldier Template #081, 'Cellbuster'," as footage of a small , clearly alien spider-like creature a few centimeters long was shown to inject hosts with a delayed or remotely triggered explosive
— "Biosoldier Template #153, 'Mandrake Crawler'," as footage of a four-foot long thing with overgrown external lungs and a scream powerful enough to rupture ear-drums, shatter glass, and damage electronics
— There were other templates, of course, each nastier and more bizarre than the last… but to the assembled audience a consistent question kept popping into their minds with ever increasing horror…

As the last of these horrifying chimeras was finally showcased, Rúben once again raised a hand. “Uh… Pardon me for asking this, but why? Just… why?”

Most of the other syndics murmured and nodded in agreement. Antonio simply ashed his cigar, an elbow resting on his desk and his palm pressed firmly against his forehead.

The Hyginians similarly were confused, terrified or just tired from the demonstration, they dared not to ask questions, maybe fearing the answer would be even more batshit insane.

The smile on Mars' face had quickly faded. They weren't impressed at all? Had Roselle been right about this?

"Ahem, well… fear, of course. Each carefully engineered to exploit common enemy phobias or instinctive panic responses. An enemy with crushed morale is an enemy already dead."

Antonio allowed an expression of quiet superiority to slip across his face at this idea, but said nothing, even as Mars held his tongue from adding 'the resources to make them are endless, too'.

"But, of course, warfare isn't psychological only in the realm of combat."

—"The EyeMinder V3", he whispered, revealing an image of a rebel diplat undergoing some kind of interrogation, its head locked into some kind of strange machine. By the time the interrogation is over, the rebel has revealed key information and is left a passive drone.

“This is the first thing you’ve demonstrated that’s not either horrifically inefficient, demented in design, execution or both, or completely without merit for its intended deployment. Anything else remotely like this?” Antonio gestured with his cigar, clearly exhausted.

The other syndics however, had turned to him now with a wide spread of expressions on their faces. The six of them glanced at the rest of the group, then began to quickly speak in Tongue Nuevo, the rapid-fire dog language hopefully incomprehensible to the foreign delegates. The conversation, which at first had seemed like it was going to conclude itself quickly, spun out for first a minute, then two, several different syndics getting just as heated as Antonio seemed to be before the broader patrician finally slammed a fist down on the table, his second cigar promptly exploding at the movement.

“Have we reached some kind of agreement? Wonderful, let’s finish this demonstration, and maybe I’ll be able to salvage a few hours of my life from this travesty of a rotation. Go ahead.” Antonio swung the blade of his hand back over to Mars.

Mars, meanwhile, was staring at Antonio with an intensity he'd no doubt encountered before – the pure and bottled outrage of a person who wasn't used to being so consistently upstaged and shut down. Antonio, for his part, merely began the slow process of clipping and lighting the third cigar of the meeting.

"We-well, I, eugh, this is-!"

Suddenly, his hologram paused again, flickering wildly, before the red machine simply shut off its projector and stood to one side, watching the attendees in silence.

Roselle's silver machine took a cautious step forward.

"Wh-what my colleague was about to say, was, he would prefer I handle the remainder of this presentation. Apologies for, uh, the time wasted so far."

— "The… Vel-Marra Talwyrm," she stammered over the name, as if not used to saying it. The displayed imagery, of an efficient tunneling machine with modular weapon, armour and crew components that was clearly designed for use by baseline diplat. It would need to be scaled up for human use but otherwise required few changes to actually be useful.

For the first time the Hyginians looked mildly interested in a positive way, some spoke with each other and wrote notes down, one stood up and spoke.

“This drilling machine looks efficient and without too many weird details that at this point I would expect. The weapons and armour though, is it meant to dig into a place and start shooting? That’s an interesting idea but I’d like to know if there’s been actual combat scenarios where a machine like this was used.”

Roselle's faceless machine nodded at the question.

"This design is the result of extensive subterranean anti-insurgent operations during the pacification of the diplat. That said, unarmed variations of it see civilian use, particularly in excavation and transportation infrastructure setup."

“Now, this is something I can get behind.” A brawny, well-tanned syndic in a starch white suit and a wide-brimmed cowboy hat leant forward, a grin on his face. “Even ignoring the military applications, you scale this up and it’d blow our current boring machines out the

“And on the military side… I can already see uses for this.” The final of the assorted syndics spoke up with an approving nod. Even Antonio gestured optimistically with his cigar- the closest thing he’d managed to actual, genuine approval since the meeting commenced.

Roselle gave a gentle sigh, though as much from relief as anything else.

"In truth, it's become very clear to me and my colleague, that we would have been better served offering assistance and technology in wider civilian or space-based infrastructure, not weapons. If the Hyginians would like, I would be happy to discuss some proposals for terraforming groundwork after this meeting?"

“You’d want more of our civilian sector compatriots for that sort of talk, but in lieu of them, I’d be more than happy to have a proper talk if you’ve got more of where that driller came from.” The same cowboy-looking syndic chirped up.

Mars' machine trembled slightly, as Roselle nodded at the cowboy syndicate.

"I think I can arrange something. We do have quite a number of other schematics in a similar vein – primarily subterranean or submersible."

As the conversation went on the Hyginians were more and more interested. All but the one who previously spoke about the biological weapons, now just drinking from that bottle of cognac, were now paying attention and nodding in agreement as the Summation representative showed the design.

“The subterranean types would definitely be useful, both civilian and military types.” a somewhat scrawny Hyginian lady said, fixing her brimmed hat a moment later.

Roselle’s voice tilted slightly, still not displaying any kind of hologram but the machine almost seemed to lift itself a little.

“Wonderful! Um, let me sort through some of the others, then…”

A few designs were agreed to test in more detail – an efficient industrial laser emitter and a "walking" mecha design capable of burrowing, apparently based on some kind of animal from the diplat homeworld among them – before Roselle raised the question of terraforming.

"The people of Hyginus deserve a home that can sustain them. Now, while I and my colleagues would be happy to discuss the options of genetic engineering, I understand why people would be, uh, uneasy with the idea.”

She emitted a holographic image of Hyginus and its various read outs and measurements.

“As it currently stands, Hyginus’ surface is unsuitable for life, forcing humans to live in sealed bunkers or orbital stations. It’s far too cold, its lack of a strong magnetic field leaves it constantly exposed to cosmic radiation, its thin atmosphere is unbreathable for humans, and it suffers frequent collisions from asteroids.”

Roselle’s machine-shell eased itself forward slightly, the hologram flickering before displaying schematics for some kind of generator.

“Now, while there are several areas to work on, the best places to start would be the reduction of asteroids and the creation of magnetic fields. That would provide immediate benefits to infrastructure and operations or transportation of people and resources both to and from Hyginus, while laying the groundwork for further terraforming long term. These are, of course, large scale industrial efforts all on their own, but we have tackled some similar challenges in our home system–”

“And at what cost?” one of the Hyginians asked, soon after the lady with the brim hat followed.
“What my colleague meant is that such a project would have extreme costs, whether the magnet is made of Augustinium or less exotic materials. As for the reduction of asteroid crashes, what are you planning? We could expand asteroid mining but there are multiple satellites around Zacunto , the gas giant and the asteroids that could possibly get on a collision course with the moon are too many to mine all in a reasonable amount of time.”

Roselle’s holographic readouts flickered a bit, her shell almost seeming to shrink slightly.

“Well, those are fair complaints. It would certainly be a large-scale endeavor, but there would be clear long-term economic and political benefits to it. And as for the immediate costs…”

A change, ever so slight, in her tone of voice. Excitement, perhaps.

"Augustinium is a clear starting point for the actual magnets, but we have a number of carbon-titanium and silicon-copper composites that would support the framework and conductors needed for magnets of the size needed. I have schematics for an engine that could use one or more large methane reserves as fuel for the power system; normally it would be impractical but having run the numbers I feel confident to say Hyginus actually already has most of what would be needed."

She displayed new schematics now, for some kind of miniature satellite equipped with a short-range laser.

"And while expanded asteroid mining would help, my proposal is an array of automated defensive satellites. We use a number of them on our own stations and colonies and they’re individually quite cheap to produce and maintain – the issue long-term would be the numbers needed for complete shielding, but even only a tenth the total required could see annual asteroid collisions reduced by 39.2% if we were careful about their positioning."

We’d be happy to take some of those asteroids off your hands, though, she avoided saying.

An asteroid-destroying laser on an orbital station, with powerful batteries of materials rare in this system and a structural shape that can’t reasonably be made by the few space yards they had. If this is the cheap design I can’t think what the expensive one is, the woman tilted her head slightly while thinking, straightening herself just before speaking again.

“Interesting, I’m sure there were already some plans to expand orbital defenses, but I’m worried about the lasers and the systems needed to make them function. I know a more conventional weapon might not have the power to destroy an asteroid, but the batteries required might cost more than you think, also are we sure the solar panels will be enough to power them? They may have been designed with a brighter star in mind.”

“These orbital asteroid defenses don’t seem entirely unrelated to our own strategic defensive initiatives…” The statuesque syndic spoke again. “Ours aren’t primarily designed with asteroid impacts in mind, but they do serve as a proof-of-concept that Azulvista may be able to provide engineering support towards this endeavor.”

The Hyginian lady nodded to the syndic, being able to expand the orbital defenses while adding to this new terraforming project could be quite the catch.

Antonio cleared his throat. “And there is the possibility of outside contractors. Are any here familiar with the ‘Khagnate of the Sky?’”

Roselle nodded, the entire machine shifting slightly in agreement.

"I've read the dossier we have on them, they're certainly a, uh… [i]capable[] space-faring civilization."

“Large manpower reserves, a desire to take apart any rock they happen to spot, and a seemingly endless appetite for more materials, and best of all, they’ll do it almost entirely at their own cost so long as you let them operate semi-autonomously. Sure, we’d be losing long-term profit in the unlikely event we get anywhere close to exhausting the asteroid supply… But they could likely also be tasked with asteroid redirection, for a small fee. Several birds, one very large stone.”

As the one Hyginian finished the bottle of cognac he added his input “If I read correctly they move in large armed fleets and you can never be sure when they’ll decide to leave… or settle down perhaps. How can we ensure there won’t be issues later down the line?”

“We recently crushed a fully militarized, planet-settled war machine that held up multiple fronts across the galaxy for months, and you think we can’t handle a few squatters?”

The Hyginian nodded and grabbed another bottle of cognac from god knows where.

Another Hyginian took over and replied to Antonio “Very true, and remember the Khagnate have some of the best expertise on asteroid mining and redirecting.” He took a moment to look at the syndics “I’m sure we could further both plans, there are already funds for expanding the planet’s defenses, a few orbital stations that shoot down asteroids could easily use that fund.”

Roselle allowed herself a chuckle or two. It wasn’t often she got to rub it in Mars’ face, but she knew exactly what he would be thinking as he impotently fumed inside his chassis.

“Honestly, the more our expertise can be concentrated, the better – if the reduction in asteroids can be eased at little to no cost, then the number of satellites needed will decrease significantly. Plus, well…” she briefly re-displayed the schematics for the laser emitter, “if you happen to use our laser designs, the energy costs go down significantly.”

The Hyginian thought about it for a moment “Will the satellites be built in Summation spaceyards? It would be easier to move them across the Gateway than convert spaceyards here.”

Or make completely new ones, he thought but omitted from saying.

Roselle reached out a hand to shake the Hyginian’s hand.

“An excellent thought – I was thinking that might be the best option, yes. I’ll need to discuss this with my colleagues back home, of course, and the issues of cost and exchange will have to be hashed out, but…”

Her hologram shifted, taking the shape of a slightly haggard looking young woman with glasses, her hair in a ponytail.

“We can discuss all of that properly in time. In fact, yourselves – or other representatives from your nations – would be welcome to visit and observe the production lines at our own shipyards. The Indra, Agni, Moumlet, and Shiva shipyards all have the tools and staff needed to begin when needed. Efficiency and utility, well… It depends a lot on who is making the decisions. Right, Mars?”

The red machine lurched suddenly, stumbling briefly as its red lights were restored. After a painfully long pause it emitted the hologram of the uniformed man once again, his expression stone-faced.

“... Yes. Agreed.

When all was finally said and done, and the foreign delegates finally ushered out, there was a moment of silence as the syndics stared at each other.

Then, almost simultaneously, there was a unified declaration of ‘they’re batshit fucking crazy,’ perhaps the only sentiment that all six patricians- even ESM-SA’s rather enthusiastic contribution to the meeting seemed to agree on. Antonio, for his part, simply stared at the now-shut airlock leading out of the station, in deep, serious contemplation of if simply throwing himself out now would save him the pain of having to conduct yet more diplomacy with the clearly malfunctioning intelligences they had just met.

“Well. That was a complete and utter fucking travesty. If none of you mind, I’m going to go and get absolutely senseless at the bar. Anyone for orujo? I think I spotted a decent bottle there when I passed by.”

A few mutterings of agreement from the rest of the syndics quickly deteriorated into yet another discussion regarding what, exactly, the group should drink. The whole thing only finally ended when Antonio’s cigar, having put up with the patrician’s frustration-induced mishandling, exploded yet again, ash and unsmoked tobacco fluttering to the floor with the last of his patience.
Collab between @Conscripts and @Gerlando

Briefings had never been fun, and this one wasn’t much of an exception, bored to no end Nil passed through Noel’s spiel with an impassive face and a couple slight nods, masquerading her internal panic at seeing the next mission would have a lot of water AND sand, she never hated sand but now she worried for some reason… it wasn’t very stable ground.

Apparently they were going on a, mister Jose? ah it’s a ship, Nil wasn’t sure what was worse, being on a boat or staying on a small sandy island, the latter seemed worse given the recent experience. Maybe she’ll just put on the new earmuffs and ignore the briefing for a while, better to make sure they work now than later.

Then a few different people started talking, probably discussing the briefing and other of that stuff, both the ice cream making green woman and the teleporter Callie started talking. It would be interesting to hear what they had to say, what made them worry and what made them tick, but right now Nil preferred to calm down and hey, the earmuffs worked.

More people joined in, everyone bringing in their fashion and mannerisms, or lack thereof, this Task Force would sure look like a carnival from the outside.
Then glancing to her right Nil saw a man trying to speak to her, taken a bit by surprise she looked at the man for a second, lowered her headphone-looking gear to her neck and replied.
despite having no clue what the original question was.

@Sniblet looks good, approval 2
@Letter Bee seems good to me, Approval 1
Yet another Sison Auditorium Barracks RP

The Meeting Place - Sol

In the system that had been the cradle of humanity, orbiting a dead planet many considered hell, that's where the meeting place is. In there a recently established embassy definitely had its work cut out for them, not even the time to finish building the main room that a war had broken out, by terrans nonetheless.

To complicate matters Hyginus had lacked the need of diplomacy for over a century and new untrained ambassadors had been sent to the meeting place, but slowly as inexperienced diplomats went to and from foreign embassies more and more questions would find answers. Where are the Terrans? Who did they attack? Do they have any allies? What is their military capable of?

When enough information had been gathered and the vetuste fleet finally prepared for new action, it had come the time for the official declaration of war, no one doubted this time would come, it would just be a matter of when and how.

Ortiz was considering how to rewrite parts of the official declaration before sending it out to the rest of the meeting place, he had been moved to being a diplomat after showing at least some skill at the job, which was enough to make him a senior diplomat among the mass of his inept colleagues. He decided it would be best to remove a few phrases so to make sure it wouldn't anger other nations that also had earthen names.

Now it was time for him to send the message.


Capital Ship 'Mértolle' - Cygni Geminae

Aboard the ship there was more activity than had been seen in several decades, if not over a century even, the generators rumbled with final purpose, moving the hull that slumbered for over 20 years while the crew inside ran around in a not so orderly manner.
The huge metal beast was moving, this time it was not an exercise, it was not being moved for a refit and it was definitely not being moved to just bomb an empty waste of ice, it was going to war.

"All systems online, moving into position within the fleet."
they would be sent as the first wave of the assault fleet, with reinforcements planned to arrive soon after.
In reality it was likely the rest of fleet would be ordered to evaluate the situation and choose to jump based on the first waves early reports, even then they were a well armed force ready to take on the enemy with plenty of cannons and missiles, the Federation wasn't going to pull any punches.
Elysium System

Emerging from the other side the Hyginian survey ship found itself in a completely different system, The defensive Zeus platform waiting for them on the other side, ready with defensive weapons and support ships, the people of New Haven had over an hour to prepare for this meeting after all.

The ship slowed down after seeing the meeting party.
“This ship is from the Hyginian Federation, we come in peace.” the message is sent to New Haven’s Zeus platform stationed outside the gate. It’s a station that specializes in stationing ships for rearming and is brimming with guns on all sides.

“Hygian Federation ship, your ships will be intercepted by three drone fighters, they will be your escorts. Follow the lead to the designated hangar area. You will be met by representatives of the New Haven Directorate.” The transmission cuts and several ships of military make arrive to dock at the Zeus platform. There are transports moving from ship to ship and indeed from ship to platform. Among these ships were three drone fighters from New Haven that came to a stop in front of the Hygian survey ships.

“The drones are at a stop in front of your ship. Confirm?”

“Drone arrival confirmed, proceeding to follow the escorts to destination.”

The survey ship beams a quick report back to the mother base and proceeds to follow the escort drones, on their path the hyginian crew observe this new system they are in. A large yellow star centres the system emitting much more light than the hyginians were used to in their own system, orbiting this star is a gas giant that is quite hard to miss, it can be observed this gas giant has a moon, a blue and green gem which would fit the description of pre-disaster Earth. The crew notes how both them and this nation have settled around gas giant orbiting moons far away from Earth, but also how lucky these people were to have such a beautiful gem to live on, it truly would make sense to call it a New Heaven.

The survey ship is guided by the drones on an approach vector to a large empty hangar with lots of room to land. The two flanking the ship begin to peel off and the fighter leading will also peel off as the ship approaches 0.5km.

Zeus platform then says, “Hyginian ship, maintain your vector, landing within 0.5km.”

The ship slows down as it approaches the hangar opening and begins to extend the landing gear.

“Preparing for landing.” With a last spurring of its engines the ship lands creating an audible ‘thunk’, the ship settles on its landing gear as the hangar door closes.

Once the oxygen starts flowing back into the room the Hyginian vessel opens a ramp on its back, three fully suited people get out, their hands are empty but they carry pistols on their hips.

Exiting their vessel they were met with three representatives from New Haven flanked by automated security bots. The sound of boots and metal stomping on the clean hangar floor reverberated around the empty hangar. The three drone fighters that escorted them earlier came in and docked on the Hangar roof and were taken by some unseen mechanical system, perhaps to refuel or rearm.

The first representative began to speak, “Welcome to the Zeus Defense platform. This section of the station is to receive foreign representatives. My name is Julia Wolver, diplomatic representative of New Haven stationed here in Zeus.”

The second representative followed, “My name is Evan Langley, expert in economy and trade. I will be serving as an assistant as to whether or not we can negotiate trade.”

Finally the third, “I am Lieutenant Rowan Kingsly, military representative and tech specialist. Relay to me any desire to form some military alliance.”

Julia then begins to explain, “Usually, the lead director himself would meet you, but on such short notice the Lead Director is unable to do so. He is currently at Earth overseeing the finalizing construction of the New Haven section in the Meeting Place. A neutral space for all nations. For the time being we will stand in for them.”

The hyginians move awkwardly in their environmental suits and form up with a man in front of the other two.
”Pleasure to meet all of you, I’m the diplomat from the Hyginian Federation, you can call me Ortiz.” saying this he can’t stop thinking how he only just became diplomat, the higher-ups probably only considered them disposable and didn’t expect them to do much diplomacy if at all.

”This is a first contact mission, I’m sure we can agree on some accord, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first things first, would it be safe to remove this helmet?” Ortiz asks while tapping his bulky helmet.

Julia adjusts her glasses, “It is good of you to ask. There’s oxygen in this hangar, as you can see we do not have suits. However, our experience in our early days says that you should first be screened for unknown pathogens. A decontamination room is adjacent to this one.” Julia then points towards the door at the end of the hangar.

“If you’d follow me, we will go through decontamination and you will also be asked to take a nanite injection in order to kill any unknown pathogens we may not be immune to.” Julia says.

[color=006400]”Alright then, after you.”[color=006400] Ortiz motions to the others behind to remain on the ship before following Julia, the weight of his suit making itself heard with each step. The rest of the crew remain on the ship or closeby, leaving the lone diplomat on his own.

Ortiz and the other personnel move into the decontamination area. It was a white clean room with sprays of decontaminants. A dispenser then presents four nanite injections. The three New Havenists took their shots and without a second thought injected themselves.

Julia then turns to Ortiz and hands him a datapad. “Please sign your name here, this is a document for nanite injection treatment. It’s to make sure that you consent to such. If not, then we’ll have to conduct our business here.”

”This is alright.” Ortiz says imagining how many medical tests he will need to go through at home after injecting himself with an unknown substance.

Ortiz removes his gloves, making a sound when the air inside the suit and the air in the room mix, rolling up his sleeve he finally injects himself with the nanites and feels the effects soon after, it’s a weird feeling for him. When he feels the effect from the nanites has finished he takes off his helmet and the bulky centerpiece of his suit, revealing his stunningly short mane of black hair.

Julia adjusts her glasses again and leads him out of the cleanroom. As they entered the station proper they moved through a hallway busy with marines, drones, and non-combatants moving to and from bringing documents to different offices. “As you can see the station is busying itself with self-defense and communicating with other foreign nations about transits through the gates. We pride ourselves in working efficiently and effectively.”

Rowan, the lieutenant, interjects, “... We also pride ourselves in security. There are several systems in place that allow us to monitor all activities happening within the station. Additionally, there are military personnel patrolling in close intervals to ensure maximum security.”

”It’s good to see your people be so diligent and hardworking, even our military officers would be impressed and trust me when I say they have high standards.”

Evan then looks to Ortiz, “I’m sure trade and economic growth is within your best interests. This station sees the transit of several cargo vessels every rotation and it never stops. Communication and smooth transit is key to ensuring that the flow of resources is uninterrupted and goes without incident.”

On their walk Ortiz tried to keep count of just how many people were passing through the hallway until eventually, defeated, he gives up with a sigh, this place sure is busy.

They then come to an overlook of another hangar that’s busy with departures and arrivals. Several transports come and go without incident and smooth operations being conducted at all times. The overlook also passed one of the hangar comms control. There were several people looking over panels and screens, all of them talking and directing ships and drones at the same time and guiding them to the hangar.

One man turned around and said, “Ah, Julia, new arrivals?”

“Yes indeed.” She then turned to Ortiz, “Meet the man that guided your ship in. People in the station just call him Garry.”

”Very nice to meet you, Inmust thank you for guiding us here.” Ortiz looks at Garry, the man seems the jovial type, he also doesn’t seems as busy as basically everyone else in this corridor, perhaps his shift has ended?

Garry takes his sunglasses and places it on top of his cap. He takes off his headphones and says, “Ah don’t worry about it. You actually gave me something to do. I handle surprise arrivals and departures. Basically stuff that’s handed to us at the last minute.”

“Despite our tight schedules there are always going to be a few unscheduled arrivals and departures. Garry is one of many flight controllers that handle those few situations.” Julia explains.

”Where exactly do all these ships come from? How many systems are you connected to?” Ortiz asks, puzzled by how could a space station be busier than a train station back in Hyginus.

“Well it’s not just our system. Six months have connected us to several systems and that has led to the neutral space known as the Meeting Place in the Sol system. We also have several planets in our system that travel to and from places. The Zeus platform is also a repair station and a military installation so it’s busier than it looks because it has multiple functions.” Rowan pointed out towards the hangar, “Look there, that’s a ship that came from deeper in our system here in New Haven, it’s dropping off maintenance supplies.”

Observing the hangar, Ortiz gets the impression the station is somehow larger than it looked on the outside, the large hangar seemingly empty apart from the newly arrived ship and a couple more parked.

”Your gate has been in operation for six months? How did it activate? We have no idea how it works and don’t know who did it.” Ortiz wonders if their gate has been open for six months does it mean there are gates that have been open for far longer? Perhaps these people are relatively newcomers in a decades, maybe century old galactic community.

Julia and the other diplomats looked at eachother, “Your gate has only recently opened…?” Julia asked, “All the information we’ve gathered from other nations is that theirs have been online for about the same amount of time. We don’t have any idea why they opened either.”

Ortiz remained speechless, all these gates had opened at the same time? Moreover it only happened six months ago, of course they wouldn’t know what caused a galactic event of this magnitude. Ortiz recomposed himself.

”That is correct, our gate has only just opened and our mission was to explore other systems and conduct first contact diplomacy.” gauging the New Heavians reactions, new gates opening are rare occurrences, at least as far as they know.
”So exactly how many known gates have reactivated?”

Julia then says, “From the top of my head around fifteen from our official count. Sixteen now including your gate. Out of the sixteen, yours is the only one yet to have opened after the six month mass activation.”

Garry then interjects, “Actually, you could’ve head straight to the Sol system and met all the other nations. We’ve been doing construction there for a while.”

Then there was a ping on Garry’s terminal. “Oop! Gotta get back to work.” He puts on his headphones and sits down by the terminal, “Zeus Platform to Sunsurfer, you’re clear on dock 11. Escorts coming to you…”

“Sunsurfer?” Julia mumbled before turning to Ortiz, “... It seems the lead director heard of your arrival and expedited his return. We should meet him at Dock 11.”

”Alright.” Ortiz followed Julia on the way to dock 11, his thoughts still on the previous discussion, fifteen open gates? mass activation? not to speak of the Sol system being used for diplomacy, is there a Terran empire and these people are their vassals? did they already defeat the demons of Terra or maybe they all killed themselves already? Maybe he’ll get some answers from the lead director.


Lead Director Hubert returned from the Meeting Place with his diplomatic transport, Sunsurfer. He disembarked and saw Julia and the others approaching him.

“As I live and breathe, if it isn’t the beautifully fabulous Julia Wolver!” he threw his hands out and walked towards her as if to hug her.

Julia pushed a hand out and held the Lead Director back as she adjusted her glasses, “Sir, I’m glad that you’ve returned from your trip.”

“Glad to be back! I hear there’s been some interesting developments here!” Hubert says.

Dick, the Director for civil development and psychology, emerged from behind Hubert and said, “It’s good to see that you’re handling yourself well Julia, both in diplomatic duties and keeping the Lead Director professional.”

Hubert then stepped back and fixed his suit, “I’m always professional Dick! Otherwise, I wouldn’t be in this position. Anyways, who’s the astronaut?” he pointed towards Ortiz.

“This would be Ortiz, the representative for the Hyginian Federation.” Julia replies.

Hubert then goes over to Ortiz, takes one hand and shakes it profusely while asking multiple questions, “NICE! ANOTHER NATION! Tell me… What’s your place like? Do you like our place? Are you war-like or peaceful? Do you have contact with xenos? What’s your tech like?”

Meanwhile, Dick then pinches the bridge of his nose then looks at Julia and whispers, “Can you stay with us, I think I’ll have an aneurysm if I continue to accompany Hubert alone on these diplomatic functions.”

“Sure… If you take me out to dinner Director Wazzinski.” Julia winked.

Dick couldn’t help but gulp audibly, he nodded, “Professional duties first Julia”

“Just like in the academy Dick.” Julia said before turning to Hubert, “Sir?”

Hubert turned to Julia, “Ah yes? Jules?”

“Maybe you should give him some space to answer sir.” she continued.

“Ah right…” Hubert took a step back and said, “... Well, introductions first I suppose. I’m Lead Director Hubert Seymour. I would be what you would call the leader of all of New Haven. Nice to meet you.”

While initially taken aback, Ortiz felt somewhat glad this Director was so warm and alive, unlike basically any high-ranking officer back home.

”The pleasure is mine Mr. Seymour, I’m a diplomat from the Hyginian Federation, me and my crew just arrived in this system to check for other life and well, here we are!”

Ortiz looked around the hangar,

”Should we proceed with the meeting here?”

Hubert smiled from ear to ear, “I don’t see why not! Come let’s do some diplomacy! Ask anything, go anywhere… Well almost anywhere… And let us have some jolly cooperation!”

”Sounds good, I think we could start us off by trying to understand each other’s nation and our priorities, just so we’re on the same page.” Ortiz said, trying to gauge the reaction of his interlocutor.

“Well, I’m an open book!” Hubert says, “What do you want to know? We’re a science oriented nation with superb medical technology. We’re no slouch militarily speaking either. Anything you’d want to know about these subjects?”

Science oriented Ortiz thought about it for a second, back in Hyginus they had seen minimal technological advancements in the span of three whole centuries.

”What level of medical technology? You see, our home is very industrious and many people work hard jobs with risk to their health, advanced medicine would be a great benefit for the workers.”
and it would also benefit the tyrants at the top Ortiz thought but made sure not to say it.

Hubert then said, “Well, since you’re here you’ve already received a Nano shot right? Nifty things. Programmable little machines that enter your body and get passed out of it over time harmlessly! All the while getting rid of any filthy things in your body. That’s pretty much the pinnacle of it.”

“... We also have enhanced prosthetics. You may not know it but the lieutenant’s right arm here is actually mechanical. However, we’ve made it so that it is as close to a human arm as we can get it. So much so that some people opt to become fully machine.” Julia follows up.

”That is truly amazing, how did you manage it? How long do these nanomachines keep their effect? I imagine it’s not indefinite.” Ortiz looked at the mechanical arm that until now he hadn’t realized was mechanical at all.

”Perhaps we could arrange a trade deal for prosthetics and such, sure it would take some time but I’m curious to know what you might need in return.”

“Well I’m sure we can arrange something, we’d need to go through official channels and work it out with your higher ups. But there are other things we’d need such as non-aggression treaties and such. It might be good to inform you of things happening on the other side of the gates. Seems like there’s talk of war after all.”

”It might be a bit early for us to jump into a war already, anyway I’m afraid I’ll have to go back to ensure stuff gets through those official channels but I’m glad to have met you, we’ll make sure to send someone over to that meeting place in Sol. Who knows, maybe that’s where we’ll meet again.”

While there were a few more exchanges of pleasantries the discussion was practically over.
Flying away the ship’s crew wondered how lucky they had been but also how many things could be hiding away further from their home system.


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