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Current Merry Christmas and keep the change, ya filthy animals.
6 mos ago
Dictionaries don't give you synonyms Pug, you wanted a thesaurus.
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Happy Halloween! Have a spooky night everyone!
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Man, Mahz' must have the most baller benefits in history to still be on holiday.
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Thick thighs save lives.


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Collab between with | @Liotrent |

“Alpha-Newton. Alpha-Newton? Alpha-Newton.” Hubert kept repeating the name and thought to himself, ‘what mother names their kid Alpha-Newton?’

He pondered this as he continued enroute towards the Zetan section of the space station. “Dick!”

“Huh? What is it Hubert?”

“That’s Director Hubert to you! What do you think the Zetans are like? I have a bet with some lousy ensign on the NHS Hopeful that they’re all androids.”

“Uh… I don’t think it’s good to go into a diplomatic situation with prejudices based on what you think they look like.”

“Come on Dick! This is why you were never popular at school!”

“Hey!” Dick pointed his finger towards Hubert and said, “I was popular at school, just not with women!”

“Probably why everyone called you ‘Dick Magnet’ right?” Hubert gave him a smug smile and wiggled his moustache. The hologram on the surrogate failed for a moment and froze at an unfortunate time making Hubert look like a weird dumbass.

“Pfft- Your hologram failed! Hahaha!”

“Damn it, robotics! You have one job! FIX THE DAMN HOLOGRAMS!” Hubert was seen looking behind him and shouting, the Hologram on the Android had trouble following his movements before being recalibrated again.

The pilot then piped up, “Director Seymour, Director Wazzinski. We’re nearing the docking location. Please prepare. We’re already receiving docking instructions.

“Damn… Well, it’s your loss Dick if you don’t bet now.”

“Fine, I’ll bet on… Cyborgs. Human cyborgs. Now could you please focus Hu- I mean, Director Seymour.”

“Yes, yes I think I can now.”

The Zetan Embassy’s airlocks hissed open, and the diplomatic mission was let aboard. It seemed that there would be significant problems when it came to who, exactly, would win the bet, because the variety of individuals in front of them seemed to indicate most of the group were right.

On the one hand, there was Alpha-Newton, who looked almost entirely human. With a smarter suit than he usually wore and a pair of heavy sunglasses to mask his implants (just in case,) he looked every bit the dignitary. Flanking him were two next-generation warforms, sleeker, smoother and with more integrated functions than before, standing sentinel-like in a military stance. Around them, various cyborgs and androids roamed, carrying out the functions necessary.

“Greetings. Welcome to the Zetan Meeting Place. It’s very good to see you.”

Hubert of course came out dancing and Dick was very embarrassed. Hubert then spun around and extended a hand for a handshake.

“Lead Director Hubert Seymour, pleasure to meet you Mr. Alpha-Newton.”

Dick in the back mouthed the words “I’m. So. Sorry…” while he stood behind Hubert.

Alpha-Newton paused for a moment, the confusion and scepticism in his eyes hidden well behind his sunglasses. “I assume you were responsible for the… Musical introduction, we received, Lead Director Hubert?” He extended a hand and shook it firmly, turning to lead the small group to his office.

“You’ve found yourself in good hands when it comes to technological nations. We’ve spent the past three hundred years expanding our understanding of the universe and finding new ways for mankind to overcome the weaknesses its cradle allowed us to keep.” He flexed his right forearm idly.

“Ah! Fellow techies and scientists! That’s good to hear, right Dick?” Hubert’s enthusiasm was intense, Dick couldn’t do much other than reply “Yes sir whatever you say…” in a tone that was near disappointment.

Hubert then turned to follow Alpha-Newton, “So what kind of tech do you all have? This is all very exciting! Actually, have you made sentient Alien contact? If so, what kind of organisms are they? Do they breathe oxygen? Are you unique among your people? What kind of-” The questions poured out of Hubert in a never-ending stream. It did not help that he was both excited and full of adrenalin.

Finally, Dick intervened to give their gracious host some respite, “Sir, maybe you might want to let Mister Alpha-Newton do the talking. I’m sure they’re very eager to answer many of those questions after they’ve had the freedom to properly introduce themselves to us.”

Alpha-Newton couldn’t help but let out a wry chuckle at the barrage of questions. “Here in the Zetan Consciousness, we consider ourselves to be pioneers in the field of robotics, cybernetics and computing. We’ve created true, genuine AI who are afforded citizen’s rights, created many augmentations and implants to help us in our day-to-day lives, and have designed countless remote and automatically controlled drones such as these warforms here.” He indicated to the android bodyguards flanking him. “These are remotely controlled by other Zetans.”

He paused for a moment to slide an office door open. “I’m afraid we’re the wrong people to discuss sentient aliens with. The United Republic of Columbia has sentient alien citizens who do indeed appear to breathe oxygen.” The warforms waited outside as Alpha-Newton sat down behind a desk.

“As for myself, yes, I would consider myself a fairly typical specimen.”

Dick and Hubert followed to sit down opposite from him. Dick redirected the conversation to exchange information fairly with the Zetan across from them. “Well, you’ve answered some of our questions, I’m sure you’re curious about us.”

Hubert followed up, “We have advanced robotics, well developed medical technology, advanced automation. Ask and we shall answer!”

Alpha-Newton paused for a moment. “It seems to me as if we share quite a few similarities. Excellent news.” He smiled pleasantly. “What are the material conditions of your planet? Have you developed ‘true’ AI? If so, how are true AI treated? What type of government do you have?” There, those should be a good place to start.

Dick and Hubert were pleasantly surprised to have other intellectuals to talk to about technology. Dick replied first, “New Haven is Earth-like being only slightly smaller. It has the same mineral composition as Earth and is biologically diverse.”

Hubert continued, “Too diverse in-fact. Our first colonists were stricken with disease and sickness. We had to battle against such things to survive. We developed quite impressive environmental suits and robotics to deal with New Haven’s biosphere while we developed vaccines.”

Dick then brought out a data pad and a hologram projector and a list of several technological achievements were displayed. The list however did not detail the specifics of each technological achievement. Dick then pointed to one of the items listed, “We’ve managed to cyberize human consciousness. This is, I believe, counted as true A.I... We treat these citizens just as well as any other. They are still first-class citizens of the New Haven Directorate.”

Hubert chimed in, “I once thought of having myself turned Cyber, so many different customization options. But while I’m Lead Director, I’m not allowed to do such a thing. All Directors are to be of ‘mortal flesh’ as they used to say. It’s one way to make sure that a Director’s term ends when it ends.”

Dick then answered the final question, continuing from Hubert mentioning the Directors. “We are what would be classified as a Technocratic Dictatorship. Lead Director Hubert here is technically the dictator. However, Hubert and a number of Lead Directors before him have started to move away from complete control and have started to allow more freedom in the Directorate. Not that there wasn’t before, however, we’ve cut down on surveillance and security in a lot of aspects of New Haven life. Hubert is what one would call a benevolent ruler.”

Hubert puffed out his chest with pride, “That’s right! Under my directorship, I’ve ushered in a new age of exploration. That’s how we came to find all of you, here in Earth orbit.”

Alpha-Newton nodded, a proper smile spreading across his face. “I’m glad to hear you, at least, had a well-developed biosphere. The less said about Zeta-5, the better.” He sighed deeply, then instigated the A.I claim with interest. “Hm. Interesting. Not how we went about doing it. Zeta was still tetchy on releasing information about their mind uploading, but not the Directorate, it seemed… And then, the first frown crossed his face.

“We on Zeta are very proud of managing a direct democracy with half a billion citizens. We do not aim to override a nation’s own government, but… It would be admirable if you were, indeed, aiming to dissolve dictatorial power into that of the people.” He held a hand across towards whoever would shake it.

“But even with that said, make no mistake. This seems like the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.”

Collab with | @SgtEasy |

Since her appointment as Ambassador, which felt like months ago now, Joan had little time for rest. Her days started familiarly, with the burning of incense, prayer to the spirits on Earth to relieve guilt and a small meal for breakfast. But as soon as she got out of her quarters, it was straight into piles of work. She had been swamped with countless applications for the Extra-Solar Mercenary Group even though she shared half the load with Lukas Descartes. She was disappointed with the ECU’s refusal of the Red Cross but with how the ESMC was coming along, she was silently thankful for the reduced workload. Which only served to feed her guilt in the morning, thinking of all those dead humans.

Joan was starting to suspect that her companion was more inexperienced than even her, given his growing weariness in the mornings. She hoped he would not quit, his frivolousness and pomp made for entertainment in the drollness of paperwork.

So, it was with greater gusto that she prepared for today. The Zetans had been kind enough to accept her offer of “breaking bread” and she had surrounded herself with preparations to make sure today went right. Not only was this her first time meeting personally with a foreign diplomat but the foreign nature of the Zetans excited her. They eliminated death, for spirits sake! They had made their own Path to Reincarnation which only proved to her how amazing humanity really was.

The Priestess had dressed in her finest robes and touched up on her face paint. She had deliberately forgone the thorn-crown with a silver one, adorned with a carved lapis lazuli from New Gift. She stood in their meeting room near the entrance to the embassy and hoped it was enough. Given their cyborg-like nature, she had figured that the Zetans would have looked down on too much pomp and excess for such a simple meeting. And she wished for this to be a sort of casual meeting instead of one too formal. This was to be a discussion after all!

Thus, she had a table with two comfortable chairs on the side of the room, facing the viewing window towards the black void of stars. On the far side was a couch with a coffee table which could be easily converted into a media screen if the diplomat Sigma wished to watch old-Earth movies or ape remakes of them. The centrepiece of the room was a painting of New Gift and Earth orbiting each other, in resplendent blue and green colour contrasting the darkness of space. Joan did like painting after all and felt it fit for a diplomatic room.

She heard a rapping on the door and made towards it. The guard must have escorted the diplomat to the room. Deep breath in. Deep breath out. Joan opened the door. “Diplomat Sigma, this one greets you as a fellow inheritor of humanity’s legacy.”

Sigma-Devi entered the room, her now omnipresent guards hanging outside. Perhaps the priestess had misjudged the attitude of the Zetans, because as she had been numerous times before, Devi was dressed in her diplomatic wear, with its gilded faux-silk and bright colours.

“Greetings. Ambassador Joan, was it?” Sigma-Devi inquired, nodding once it was answered to her satisfaction.
“I must say, of all the nations that have arrived here so far, yours has been the most unique. I would love to discuss more about your people, just as you wish to ask about my people.”

Joan nodded politely, standing as upright as she could. Still, the human was standing taller than her. Despite gene enhancements, height could only be stretched so much. She led the both of them to the modest table, opening the chair for her guest as per etiquette.

They exchanged pleasantries and continued on to the root of why they were there. Joan didn’t want to waste too much time. “While this one is young, this one has travelled much and played the part of a diplomat among the city states in the Khanate. War is not declared without slight so this one wonders how such peaceful peoples fought in a conflict that comes to a standstill like yours and the ECU did? This one could not find much information on the matter and did not want to pry the ECU because of their current… civil situations.”

Sigma-Devi frowned. “Ah. Of course. Well, allow me to explain.” She took a seat, considering her words carefully.

“The ECU are ideological puritans. They believe any modification to the human form is an abomination. Widespread, heavy augmentations such as those the Collective routinely goes through is, therefore, an atrocity that should be removed.” Her frown deepened.

“All they needed was a casus belli. One we foolishly gave them when we took in a refugee scientist who had received a heart replacement named Doctor Bodhi. They drummed up war support through lies, claiming we had kidnapped their citizen, rallying the Undefeated to their cause, and going on the warpath. Those are the broad-brush strokes; you will have to apologise if I seem curt, this is hardly my favoured topic of conversation.”

The priestess nodded and hummed, chewing on her words. “This one apologises for her abruptness, this one wanted to get to the truth of the matter. This one’s church, along with several states within the Khanate, have voiced concerns over the Khanate’s standing in this new galactic community. We are afraid that this one’s Khan has chosen to bear their support for… extremist and warlike factions.” The hints towards the ECU, the Matuvistans and the Undefeated went unsaid.

“In the end, we would like to make it very clear that our only issues are with the current government of the Earth Cultural Union. As far as we are concerned, the Undefeated were not the primary aggressors, and Matuvista’s entanglement with the current civil unrest on New Hollywood is entirely unrelated to us. Matuvista is free to interact with the ECU as they desire.”

Joan nodded, inwardly relieved that she was not overstepping her powers. Secession was a serious matter and while opinions upon the Khan’s decisions were not suppressed, one’s standing could fall with the wrong words. “These more peace-focused states have expressed interest towards providing aid for the Zetans if they would like it. While our brothers and sisters march to war, this one and supporters would like to show that us apes are not as savage as we seem.”

The ambassador procured two files from underneath the table, one included a list of immigrants and willing aid workers. Herald Temujin II was receptive to this idea and provided the go ahead for this first deal to go ahead with no strings attached but the second file would need a fair trade. She handed over the first immigrant aid file towards Sigma-Devi.

“This includes a list of willing aid workers and immigrants keen to help the Zetans in rebuilding the planet. This one understands that differences between our planets could be severe so free genetic modifications will be provided to all Khanate citizens willing to migrate or work on Zeta-5. This one assures that this comes with no political strings attached, as long as our citizens are safe, we have no problem sending these volunteers.”

Sigma-Devi shook her head. “I’m afraid that at the moment, Zetan rebuilding efforts has led to a dramatic increase in highly classified projects. I’m sure you’ll understand, but it will not do to have foreign citizens working on sensitive city defences and military constructions.” So far, so unfortunate for the apes. Perhaps the next file would be better.

Joan moved to the second pile, a thicker brown manila folder, placing a furry hand on top. “These include a list of unmarked military vehicles of varying specifications, the details of which this one can run through later, to be traded as a deterrent against future threats. Alongside this is an official non-aggression pact which ensures that the Khanate nor the Zetans will not raise arms against the other, unless the pact is broken.” She sighed. There were ways to avoid war that she wanted to avoid but sometimes, needs must.

“This one has brokered many peace agreements over the years. If your people had a boost towards its military infrastructure, it would serve as a future war to come. Though the Khan aligns itself to the group opposite you, we do not need to follow their foreign policy to the letter. The Khanate does not bow to anyone but the Khan.” She said this firmly, trying to be as open as possible. She believed the best way to earn an ape’s trust, as well as a human’s, was to be as truthful as she could.

Sigma-Devi considered this next folder for a long while. Internally she was debating the matter with other members of the Collective, so that when she responded it was with the confidence of knowing that Zeta backed her. “As for military assistance, we will have to decline. Zeta is more than happy to agree upon a nonaggression pact with the Khanate, but we will have to respectfully decline military vehicles.” She paused for a moment. “With the note that we would be interested in small quantities for research purposes.”

There was a note of disappointment on Joan’s face but it would have been largely unrecognisable to one not versed in ape expressions. Much of the deals were not made but small steps were okay, at least the non-aggression pact had come through. “This one would be happy to provide quantities for research purposes traded for a similar quantity of your own military technology?”

Addressing | @Sigma | and | [@Tort] |

Commandanta Isabella stood at the head of her vessel and fumed. Nothing, nothing was going well for her, and it had all started in the middle of the night.

She had stood, holographically projected, in a meeting with Condel Julianus and various other high-ranking members of the Matuvistan military to report on her progress. She had spoken at great length about the successes they had made, the rebel leaders seized, the number of rebel casualties that had been tallied up, the containment of the struggle in Neo London, and how their new ape allies had succeeded in pushing the New Beijing situation away from the edge. Neo Paris had fallen of course, but they had no military presence there and the government at home had widely agreed that it simply wasn't practical to try to exert equal force across two disparate cities.

Then, she had moved on to the necessity of further forces. She was still operating effectively, but reserves were starting to run low, and she was increasingly having to rely on the void borne marines to maintain order and discipline. She needed more of everything- ISOCs, more jetrikes, any jetknights that could be spared, and certainly another transport load of men. What she had instead gotten was an apology, and her government telling her that was out of the question.

The Colombians, the same forces she had been lending military support, had formally backed the White Flowers. That meant that not only did she now have a third angle to take care of, but the Matuvistan government had declared at the Meeting Place that they would not be sending more troops to New Hollywood. They had privately ended discussions with the government-in-exile in Neo Istanbul to evacuate them and any loyalist citizens to Matuvista (although there were a lot of asterixis that came with that offer,) but the formal support was winding down as the winds of fortune changed.

'Winding down' did not mean that the troops were leaving though. They still had their objectives to complete, and the objectives had to be completed regardless of their dwindling manpower. A flurry of orders had left her command center shortly after the meeting, most of which had not been well received by her troops, but at least they understood she was not their foe. This was on the Senate back home, the Senate that had left their own men and women on the ground out to be bled dry.

At least initial reports from the ground had been... Acceptable. An enforced radio silence had allowed them to sweep up approximately 40% of the Colombian ground forces without any difficulty and two of the commanders in charge had accepted her impromptu invitation aboard her command vessel. She had hoped for all of them, but she couldn't delay to try to snag more. This was as good as she was going to get. A Colombian command vessel had come aboard her own ship just moments ago, and within a few minutes the officers were in her central room.

"Thank you for coming aboard," she said, grimly. "It pains me to do this, but I must inform you that the Colombian government has thrown their formal support behind the White Flower Rebellion. Although my Senate has not given me liberty to deploy additional soldiers to this front, this does now make us formal enemies."

Bridge staff and marines levelled their guns at the commanders.

"Please. I assure you that I will treat you with all the respect and dignity that soldiers of your office deserve, but it would be best for you and your guards to lay down your arms now, without my bridge staff having to mop up blood."

Collab with | @Sigma |

"Emperatriz, spotting Colombian glider approaching New Westminster. Available units move to intercept, over."

"Cóndor-6, copy. Moving to intercept."

The atmospheric craft deployed rapidly, engines spooling up and blasting off. Although not true jetfighters, they did the job they needed to. Within a few minutes, they had shot their way across to the approaching glider and hailed it.

"Colombian glider. This is Cóndor-6, interceptor of the Matuvistan Expeditionary Force. You are currently in restricted airspace and, let's be honest, you're a grape in this matchup. Land now, or we will engage. Repeat. Land now or we will be authorised to use live weapons."

There was a pause, and Cóndor repeated the message.

"Glider, this is Cóndor-6, you're tagged and locked on, last chance. Land now."

“Restricted airspace?” Cain said in bewilderment. “Last time I saw, we were invited. You mind explaining what the hell’s going on?”

"Blame your Senate. You're supporting the rebels now, and that means we have orders to shut you out and take you down. Either you can have a nice holiday in a PoW camp, or I can open fire."

A droning beeping sounded, proving the Matuvistans were clearly serious with their threat, their fighters already locking on to the Glider. “Fuck…like we have a choice.” Cain muttered to himself, before turning to the pilot. “Take us down.”

“Y-Yes, sir...”

“Fine, we surrender. Just know... this act of war won’t go unnoticed, and this won’t end well for anyone one of us.”

"Trust us glider. We know. We have our orders though, and you have yours." The beeping would end, showing the radar lock had been broken. "May the saints have mercy on our nations."

It was a scene that was replayed all over Neo London. Isolated firefights between the once-allies, Colombians either slipping into the city or being taken captive and held in New Westminster. Those that were captured were led away to New Westminster PoW camps, with commissioned officers being separated from the rest of the men. It was an efficient operation, but even so, it was another drain on a force that was spread increasingly thin.

Isabella knew that they couldn't hold. The latest assault had proved that. New Westminster was cracking apart, and with nobody else coming, it didn't take a genius to see who was going to break first.
Jake shook his head at Hattie. "We can't find the boy in a car. The kid's right, but not for the right reason." He paused to take a drag on his cigarette, then continued, tapping off the ash into the snow beneath his boots. "Even with the snow falling like this, if we just drive along we'll miss anything he might have left behind. Besides." He tapped the map he was holding. "Says right here our search area is everything from Hildon ouskirts outwards. That means we're searching as soon as we leave Jeremy's parking yard."

His radio crackled, and what was said was quite clear to the group.

"Hey, over/under on this kid being a popsicle?"

"Jesus Jed, you fuckin' kiddin'? We're here to find him, not find his damn body."

"Oh come on, we know how this would end. If the summer had been normal, sure, maybe he'd be about, but in this weather? He's dead. We should face it."

"Fuck off Jed. You think Mary wants to hear you talk about her boy like that?"

"Hey, Hey!" Deputy Grey's voice cut through the brewing argument. "Jed, that's disgusting. Both of you, keep the airwaves clear, and use the basic shorthand. It's not difficult." The radio crackled for a moment. "If that's everything, let's keep this professional. Kodiak over and out."

The radio fell silent.

"Can't say I agree with Jed's tone, but his assessment isn't inaccurate. If we don't find him soon, we're going to have to be preparing a vigil rather than a search party. Let's try to avoid that, eh?" He took another long drag of his cigarette, then, with an eye on the map, began trudging through the snow, taking on the role of group pathfinder for himself.

@Yam I Am

We will invade the Digg front page and bury all your posts. We will coordinate massed sockpuppet attacks on your NationStates nation. You cannnot win this war.
@Yam I Am

Unacceptable. Our state's propaganda machine has turned you into a crying soy wojack. If you do not wish to lose all your Reddit Karma, you must surrender.
I am beginning the glorious Fifth Worker's Reich of the Greater Unified German States, who wants to join me comrades?
A video had been circling across Matuvista’s internet. It was an inherently unusual video- it was only about thirty minutes long and there was very little to view other than the walls of a prison… But it was the audio that was important. The video started with the narrator talking as a truck cruised into the prison.

“Most Fridays, that hovertruck drives into the prison. It’s a military transport, and it carries the executioners for this week’s death sentences. Nothing weird about that, but I noticed something last Friday and it got me up before dawn for this shit. So, normally, you hear maybe a single volley, maybe two. But last week, I heard… I don’t know. Thirty? Forty? I got no proof, so let’s see what I hear this morning."

The video then sped up, the first of Matuvista’s three suns cresting the horizon. Once its rays had touched the prison, the video slowed and the voice emerged again. “Alright. First dawn. Should be a volley coming now.” A timer started in the corner, hanging on zero. Then, a series of cracks split the early morning, and the counter ticked up. “So, that’s one criminal dead. Nothing weird. Then, wait for it.” There was another crack. “That’s just them finishing the guy off, not another dead.

The seconds dragged, then a minute. Then, at about a minute and a half, another series of cracks. “So that’s two. By the way, they execute these guys in batches, so it could be one dead, could be like five. Fuck do I know.” More minutes dragged along, and then… Crack. The counter ticked up.

By the time the video ended, the counter sat pretty on 11. “Dunno about you, but something here seems a bit off,” the voice chimed in. “Never heard more than 3 before last week. Now there’s 11? Seems suspicious. Alright, well, I guess if I don’t post again I’ve been thrown in prison so… I guess let’s hope I can upload again? Aight. Signing out.”

Addressing |@SgtEasy|

Devi, we received two new nations whilst you were away. One I handled. The other… Well, they’re about to arrive aboard the station shortly. You should know though,

“They’re somewhat unusual, Capitão. They say that they’re evolved… Well, evolved apes.” The patrician paused for a moment, as if recognising how absurd their own words were.

Apes? Simians? Our closest ancestors on Old Earth? Sigma-Devi paused for a moment as she processed this information: She had been asleep after returning from the gala, and thus hadn’t had the same chance to come to terms with the Khanate as the rest of the Consciousness had.

“Indeed, Capitão. The same ones on Old Earth. We thought them entirely extinct, and now here they are, apparently uplifted and having mastered interstellar flight.” Alfonso paused for a moment as he too processed this information, then slowly reached for a pocket and drew out a cigar.

No time to waste. I shall send a message immediately. Open communications with them before they bring their parade aboard.

"Understood, Capitão. At once." The patrician gave a crisp salute, then hurried off to relay the message.

Almost at the same time, the Khanate received two messages.

Hail from the Gran Republic of Matuvista! Congratulations on your Gateway having opened, and your peoples being re-introduced to the stars which our mutual ancestors promised them. Much as you draw from the past of great Mongolia, we are the heirs of the mighty Spanish Empire, inheritors of a New World twice over, and eager for any and all who understand and draw pride from their past, no matter who they be. Please, we bid you come aboard with all haste, and should you wish to engage in further diplomacy with us, have no doubt your ambassadors and representatives are welcome aboard the Santa De Angelo.

Greetings, Supremus. We are the Zetan Consciousness, and we understand the need of continuing mankind's legacy in the face of what seems like certain extinction. We are transmitting this message directly to you to offer you both a heartfelt welcome to the Intergalactic Community, and a warning to you- there are others who will not be as welcoming as we to the idea of Simian inheritors. Should it please you, we invite you aboard our section of the Meeting Place whenever is expedient for further discussions.

"¿This is insane, you see that right?" A cigarette dangled from Marco's mouth as their transport flew through the air, covered by a team of three jetrikes. Their job here was fairly simple. Recon had identified a rebel leader stronghold, and after almost a week and a half of constant pounding music and permanent day, they knew the rebels within would be exhausted and prime for picking off.

Inwardly, much of the Matuvistans had been impressed when news of the Hollywoodite plan had leaked through to them. It was... Not exactly a traditional method of winning a guerrilla war, but it certainly showed a knack for tactically thinking outside the box that the Gran Republic appreciated.

"¿Would you shut the fuck up? This is gonna be easy." The strike of another lighter, and the small space within the transport continued to fill with smoke. None of the soldiers cared- every single one of them had the habit themselves. Within Matuvista’s civilian population, tobacco consumption sat at around 60%. In the military, it was closer to 90%. It helped, of course, that revivalist lung therapy could stave off the worst of the effects.

"Easy, difficult, whatever. It's still insane. They can see us. That's not how this works." Marco insisted, sweeping the ash that had fallen down onto the floor of the transport away with his boot.

"We're above the light line right now. They're not gonna see us until we drop down on them, and even then, ¿so what? They're gonna be exhausted. I bet you half of them won't even be able to get themselves out of bed. We're gonna have too many people to fit in the other transport." Leonor laughed and let out a plume of smoke, drumming her fingers against the barrel of her rifle.

"La Emperatriz, Capture Team Delta. The words crackled through all of their earpieces.

"La Emperatriz, go ahead Delta." Came the response, and with it a little bit of the strain on the men eased.

"¿We're a minute from raid site. Is everything clear for approach? Over."

"Hold Capture Team. We're waiting for a request to clear with the Oligarchs. Be prepared for rapid deployment. Over."

"Confirmed La Emperatriz, holding." Confusion filled the transport. What were they waiting on? Then, their squad leader smirked.

"¿What, you guys didn't think we had night vision to launch a raid in broad daylight, did you? Dumbasses. The Oligarchs are going to switch the lights off right before we launch the raid. That said, night vision on." There was a brief pause as troops blinked and their eyesight adjusted itself to the new light level.

"Delta, this is La Emperatriz, lights are off, you are go, go, go for deployment, over."

"Copy La Emperatriz, going in. Capture Team Delta over and out."

With that, the transport plunged down towards the ground. Holding on tight, the soldiers inside waited, the interior of the transport lit only by smouldering cigarettes and a dim red light that told them it still wasn't time yet.

Until it turned green, and all at once the soldiers moved. Rifles slung over shoulders, cigarettes stomped out, and the transport's floor groaned open, the team clipping themselves onto the deployment system and dropping down. As they left the comfort of their vehicle, they could hear the pounding music that still filled the air, covering the noise of the engines and soon, the gunfire.

"Squad, form up on me. Prep for breach." A few glances were exchanged as the breacher drew out their shortened semiautomatic shotgun- all these years, and few things were quicker and easier to use to blow off hinges, then turned to look at their squad leader.

"¡Breach!" The gun barked twice, then the soldier's heel slammed against the door and sent it toppling inwards.

"¡Move move move!" They moved inside together, a well-drilled, well-trained group. A single lone sentry stood in front of them, clearly half-asleep. He'd soon have a much more final sleep as three silenced rounds embedded themselves into his chest and neck, the thud of his body against the ground muffled by the thudding bassline blared all around them.

From there, the squad moved on. Each room had to be cleared, and in each one they found a similar scene; people disoriented by the sudden darkness, exhausted, barely able to put up a token resistance. A few foolishly tried raising up their guns to meet these strange shadowy figures storming through their facility and were met with precise, targeted fire, whilst most ended up being cuffed and left face-down.

But there was one man they wanted that they still hadn't found. As they moved through room after room, he escaped them, until at last, there was just one left. Marco reached for the doorknob, looking at squad leader. There was a nod, the door swung open, and the soft clatter of a flashbang was lost in a particularly over the top guitar riff.

Once it had gone off, the men pushed inside. Targeted audio-visual disruptive devices opened up, providing anyone who stood against the soldiers a taste of hell as their body was overwhelmed by high and low frequency sounds and a dazzling, off-coloured strobe glare.

"La Emperatriz, Capture Team Delta."

"La Emperatriz."

"Package secured. No casualties. Returning to base. Tell the Oligarchs to turn the sun back on. Capture Team Delta over and out."

"Dios salve, Santa Maria,
Llena eres de gracia"

"SHUT UP AND SHOOT GOD DAMMIT. WE'RE HALF A GALAXY AWAY FROM THE SAINTS." How the hell had it all gone so wrong? One minute they were returning from patrol, the next something had taken out the main engine of their transport and they were spiralling down to the ground. The pilot and co-pilot were dead, who knew how many of the squad were injured, and now Gaspard was praying instead of shooting.

The permanent daylight of Neo-London helped them more than it did their attackers though. Hunkered down behind rubble and their crashed craft, they could see anyone stupid enough to poke their head up and try to advance. Nikki's rifle barked and chattered, the soldier ducking down to take a moment of breath.

"⸘What the fuck happened‽ ⸘What the fuck is going on‽"

"⸘Who the fuck cares‽ ¿Why does it matter? ¡Stop whinging and start fucking lighting these fuckers up! ¡It's only six minutes until evac, so work for it!"

"¡GRANADA!" One of the soldiers scrambled on the ground for the small little bomb and hurled it back with the strength of a man desperate to continue living. They squeezed their heads against the ground as the grenade went off mid-air, raining shrapnel down all around them. Nikki hissed as she felt a piece sting her thigh, but it was nothing compared to what it would have felt like if it'd gone off right next to her.

"¡HIJO DE PUTAS!" Another soldier opened up, before hurling several grenades of their own. Once they were done with their little outburst, forced down by counter-fire as soon as the grenades had gone off and the rebels could poke their heads up again, Nikki looked down, surprised to see that the small nick in her leg was now bleeding profusely.

"Mierda. ¿Medic? ¿We still got one?" She looked around frantically, only to find no medic left. One of the other soldiers would have to help her then. Raphael, she idly recalled, feeling the colour leave her more than she did actually see it. Once the bandage was on tight though, so tight that she could almost ignore the red seeping through it, she could at least know she wasn't about to die.


Maybe Gaspard's prayer wasn't a bad idea. Just as she raised her own crucifix to her lips, she could hear a sound that could only be their earthly salvation.

Jet engines.

Machine guns chugged and plasma throwers spat death as the jetrikes roared into view, quickly followed by troop transports, flying as low as possible. As the trikes engaged the enemy, the transports opened their lower doors up. "¡WOUNDED FIRST!" Yelled one of the medics aboard, and it was with some relief that Nikki wrapped an arm around Raphael's shoulder and the pair hobbled over towards the vehicle. She clipped herself onto its embark system gratefully, feeling herself pulled up and into the waiting arms of her comrades.

Addressing |@Sigma|

Isabella paced back and forth on the command deck of her ship. They had had a major win, and then it had been balanced by a major loss. Águila-3 and its escorts had been ambushed and gunned down- although the destruction protocols had gone through to deny the rebels anything useful, they'd taken 70% casualties, and those were 70% casualties that were not about to be replaced any time soon. Every big loss like that hurt her forces a lot.

What made it worse was that something was happening in Neo-Beijing. An unidentified vessel, claiming to be an oligarch's allies, had landed, and despite claiming they were here to assist the oligarchs, there had not only been radio silence, but radio disruption from their landing points. Satellite footage did not paint a promising picture.

She had not been one for regular smoking prior to this operation, but now she reached for a cigarillo that one of her senior officers had left her. She lit the end slowly, breathing in, then out with a juddering sigh. Normally she was one of the people being commanded; never before had their lives been her responsibility. Grunting to herself a little, she turned and strode towards the airlock closest to the bridge of her ship, trailing smoke as she did so.

When the airlock opened, Colonel Bisson was met with Isabella in her full military regalia. Only one medal hung from her chest, but the cape and the epaulettes (not to mention the gold finishing) conveyed the message nonetheless. The cigarillo, half-smoked, hung from her lips, and she stood with a sword affixed to her ship. "Welcome aboard." She declared imperiously. "I'd say this ship's name, but it doesn't have one. Only a unit designation. Please, the bridge is just up ahead here. We have quite a bit to discuss."
Jake had remained relatively quiet as the group introduced themselves, only nodding along to names. Halfway through Elias' little spiel about the supernatural he had drawn a packet of Benson and Hedges Premium from out a pocket. He paused for a moment, assessing his current company, and then wordlessly offered one to Hanako. Take it or leave it, he'd tuck the packet back into his pocket and draw out a lighter, tugging his balaclava down, he curled his entire body around the small white stick and struck the flint over and over until finally a flame caught and he could relax a little.

"Leaf peepers might be dissapointed. Not sure what this weather is going to do to the trees, but it's not going to be good." He turned and looked towards a nearby maple tree, its leaves already withering from the chill and lack of sunlight. "Anyway." The walkie-talkie clipped to the man's jacket crackled briefly with conversation, then quietened.

"We should get going. Warmth's sparse enough as it is." As he walked past one of the sheriff's cars, he picked up a waterproof slab of a map, tapping it idly. "Looks like as the last group heading out, we've been given the area closest to the rez. For you folks not from around here, if we see one of them, don't fuck with them, they don't fuck with you." He reached up to his cigarette and swore, before once again drawing his lighter out and getting a flame going. "I'm gonna shut up until this is done," he grumbled."

Sounds like a slur for our new ape people, perhaps?
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