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Bio

I have been writing as a hobby for around seventeen years now (wow does that make me sound old). I have been a regular member and roleplayer on no less than eight different online forums during that time (including the old RPG), five six of which no longer exist.

I was previously a regular on the Homestuck forums, but I became so sick of thread turnover there that I asked around and eventually found the Guild. Since joining, I have exclusively only participated in Advanced RPs. Before Mahz gave NRPs their own subforum, I used to be an NRP regular in the Advanced Subforum.

If you ask anybody who has written with me in previous RPs, they should tell you that I have a generally open schedule, I post regularly and in a timely fashion, and I never drop an RP once I join unless the thread dies. Some of them may tell you that I have extensive expertise within the realms of Biology, Psychology, and Physics, which I will make no effort to validate since there is no way I can provide hard proof of aforementioned alleged expertise to anybody over the internet (though I am happy to try and answer any questions you send my way).

My favorite fandom is the Myst franchise, which seemingly nobody other than me has ever heard of.

I have been quadruple secret banned from the guild chat. That is not a joke.

Most Recent Posts

“You there, Journeyman! You are going to come with me since you aren’t busy. I’ve got some business to take care of at the Prison and I’d prefer to have somebody with me while I’m doing it. Hurry up.”
Veira

Hans froze mid-query about the relative slant of drainage ditches in the Mid-western Narrows when a tense woman with long, dirty blonde hair wearing red cloth over armor stormed out of the outpost and called out to him out of the blue, picking him out of the crowd like a cuckoo egg. She did it with naught but a single irritated glance after looking over the crowd once and then looking back to him.

After hastily tipping the woman at the market-stall, Hans hurriedly adorned his helmet once more and then looked himself up and down, trying to figure out what had given him away. Without his occasionally thrice-damned distinctive helmet on, there was no way she should have been able to pick him out from-

As he patted himself down, Hans' hand hit the dirtied and battered Journeyman's sigil still pinned to his overcoat, and he swore as he looked at the grimy, partly corroded badge. He had not coated it with enough dirt! Whoever the blonde woman in red was, she had probably been able to just make out enough of its color and contour to identify him!

"Traveler fucking damn a son of a harpy..." He swore under his breath as he jogged in order to catch up with Veira. Giving her a quick twice-over, he hastily brushed the crusts of filth off of his Journeyman insignia before falling into step with her. He opened his mouth to speak as he turned to look at her, and then stopped, subconsciously thankful that his grotesque helmet obscured his face and saved him from appearing as a star-struck idiot. Something about the way Veira held herself commanded attention. Her face had a sort of light to, a sort of striking grace and firmness to it despite the scars that demanded both respect and obedience. He was left staring at her for a full two seconds before he managed to shake the haze from his eyes, chastising himself for being so easily caught-up by the first striking face he had seen in weeks. Attempting to sound casual, he broached the subject of what the hell they were doing.

"You mentioned the prison. Are we interrogating someone? Carrying out a proscription? Are we remunerating the guards to aid their blind and deaf veterans-" His voice briefly caught as he glanced at Veira's scars again. "-or are we taking a cut from them?"


888888888888


Interstellar Union of Collectives
Bountiful Birth System
Administrative Habitat Station


Austere grey seating raises far above into the ‘ceiling’, artificial gravity maintaining the different orientation of the current ‘floor’ of the meeting room. Clearly designed for audiences the above seating is set back and lights shine down onto the table of meeting. Designed for standing adult ‘Ysh’ the table and display raises to a half average height, a little over a meter. Gently flashing the table display is currently in a standby mode, awaiting the progression of the meeting in earnest.

Two figures stand at one end of the table, speaking quietly. One is an alien being unknown by the Ysh, faintly shorter in stature than their average two and a quarter meters, with four arms and a bulky frame. Their head is little more than the afterthought of a lump atop their torso, with no apparent sensory organs or even a mouth. Their flesh is a bare, off-color yellow with no hair of any sort. Their appendages end with four-fingered extremities. By and large it resembles an incomplete, reanimated Yshin corpse. The being wears a skintight suit, though even this is a token gesture meant to alleviate the anxiety of those forced to converse with it. Its companion was a Ysh - or at least, a being that looked very much like a member of the Ysh. There was something ever-so-faintly wrong about it. Its scent was a grave departure from the norm, neither pleasing nor disgusting, but rather impossible and foreign. Their eyes were static and dull, indicating an absence of chromatophores. They wore more customary clothing, but everyone present knew what they were. It was a Mucor Typis as its own kind described themselves. A kind of cultured being made so as to resemble the Ysh, but without being apart from the rest of its own kind - it and the corpse-like being it accompanied were of the same flesh.

They were the representatives of the NAC, the Ninth Amaranthine Circuit. Although overtly alien and somewhat anxiety-inducing to contend with, thus far they had made for fair association. Their own society was apparently not too dissimilar from that of the Union's, and the two polities shared many values - and, for the moment at least, a particular agenda. The introduction of the IUC and the NAC had gone over better than either side had anticipated, and the relationship between the two seemed like it might soon become an alliance.

Seven members of the ‘Ysh’ delegation, presumably one of the ‘Ysh’ collective base units, stood around the other end. Vocalizers around their throats hooked up to headsets primarily covering their eyes, a small microphone is extended out to their rarely used mouths. Each member wearing a skinsuit with various attachments, each member looking roughly the same despite their variable ages. Almost lined up perfectly as an example of ‘Ysh’ aging from the youngest to the eldest, only disrupting this effect somewhere in the center of the grouping. Each gently chatted with those across from them as the larger group curves around the edges of the table, changing the visible color of the skin around their eyes in polite conversation. Representatives from a variety of professions, the delegation from the Interstellar Union of Collectives was in primary support of the eldest present there as diplomatic and administrative officer. Although rarely dealt with in any terms of parity, the foreigners had been found surprisingly agreeable.

All the members except the eldest trying and failing to not glance at the uncomforting visage of the ‘Ysh’-like foreign being. Particularly of disgust is the lack of color from the skin near the eyes of the construct.

The same being finished its conversation with the shorter, near-headless alien and turned to address the Ysh delegation. It then spoke, actually addressing them directly with words uttered through its tongueless respiratory hole. It spoke in the trade language used by the Federation, simply due to it being a known element that the translators could easily work with. An unseen cybernetic device embedded just below the surface of its skin projected corresponding, shifting tones of coloration that hung in the air like frozen multicolored amber in a halo around its eyes - made ever so slightly disconcerting by the still faintly visible, unchanging static hue of the flesh underneath.

"If the delegation of the Interstellar Union of Collectives is ready, we are prepared to begin." The tone of the spoken words was neutral, but had a curious hollow timbre to them. The implant they were using to make up for their lack of chromatophores possessed an excruciatingly formal hue, the 'words' used unintentionally more arcane and precise than was strictly necessary or even suitable for everyday discussion.

The noise of the speech quickly stopped any ongoing conversation as focus shifted to the speaker. The group silently waited for the vocalization to finish, that itself was rather unsettling the range of sound coming from the ‘Ysh-like being, the youngest shifting their look to the other alien preferring not to recognize it. The eldest ‘spoke’, changing skin color to active the vocalizer by code then proceeding with their message, following quickly up on the end of previous speaker’s statement. The headset covered the eyes and much of the skin blocking the visible communication for the most part.

“We can begin, please proceed.” The voice was one of careful correct meaning in words, something gained from their efforts before obviously abandoning further advancement. The voice would quickly be identified as artificial should a Human, or other speaker, hear. Neutral because anything else would not be manageable by the underdeveloped vocalizing system.

"Very well. Members of this special delegation - Union military, navy, industry consultants and specialists - I am Sciroa Seventeen, adjucant and special liason for the NAC with the IUC for the purposes of this briefing. My associate here is Berrawo Ninety-Two, foreign operative and Field Commander under the third board of directors. We are here to elucidate to you as to the current political situation in the Imperial Systems Commonwealth, particularly as to why it is important both the NAC and the IUC be poised and ready to move if necessary. We will begin with a brief summary-"

Sciroa waved their lower left hand, and the table's display shifted to display a holographic map of the Commonwealth's systems.

"As I imagine some of you are already aware, the Commonwealth is divided into three distinct regions. The Core Worlds, the Verge Territories, and the Colonies." The map shifted and changed color to highlight each separate territory accordingly, various points of interests and demographic information appearing to supplement the imagery. "The NAC is currently an incorporated, independent organization in all three regions. As far as the Commonwealth is concerned or aware, the NAC is a mundane if prominent heavy-industries megacorporation. We have our own reasons for being there - our ongoing Hyper and Slipspace research project, of course. We also generate a large amount of capital and credit in the Commonwealth for the purposes of engaging in standard commerce with other nations, including with the IUC. The NAC does not have a traditional standard of currency and credit, and so it is necessary for us at this time to generate value and revenue in the galactic market through provision of goods and services with other sovereign powers."

Sciroa looked away from the projected map towards the elder. "Would you like to lay out the Union's current state of affairs in relation to the Commonwealth?" Although the color of their cybernetic chromo-array remained the same, an astute listener would have noted the faint hint of wariness and caution that had become intermixed with the hollow timbre of their voice.

The ‘Ysh’ present were not astute listeners, still relying on their less than perfect translation systems and so completely missed any hint of deeper meanings. The elder waved for the general information specialist, one of the middling ‘Ysh’, age and location, to reply. Vocalizer activated and proceeding with the same synthesized voice that the elder had ‘spoken’ with. Generally they made little use of the display as they generally spoke of non-location specific matters.

“The Commonwealth has up to this date not been the most pleasant of neighbors, being competitors for expansion and particularly militaristic one at that. Union analysis has mostly been of the conclusion that the expansion is necessary for the extension of their empire, plundering systems to put off their own collapse. However it seems to remain apparent that the Commonwealth will not collapse on its own anytime soon, primarily to the inordinate loyalty to their governing system. Specifics of revolt against the regime have always been obscure but it is estimated that a significant sustained disruption in normal operations could potentially cause widespread revolt whether that would be successful, there is no definite conclusion. A primary consideration has always been the specialization of the different regions, and indeed their strange focus on planets. No long term strategy has been formulated for policy on the Commonwealth besides pre-emptive expansion.”

As the general information specialist finished the eldest spoke through their vocalizer, unnecessarily, identifying someone in the raising cone of audience members above. “Regional Officer Obedient Legion, is there a question you wish to ask?”

Standing from their seating the Regional Officer sought to seek the best they could from as they stopped communicating with those across the cone. Fumbling on a vocalizer attachment they respond, “Yes Habitat Commandant, I believe there four distinct regions in the Commonwealth, not three as the ‘Sciroa Seventeen’ suggested.”

"Ah, yes, that is correct." Sciroa indicateda, their spoken voice faintly embarrassed, though their chromo array retained the same arcane tone. "This is because the Commonwealth has two different regions for legal incorporation, specifically the Core Worlds and everywhere else. As far as the NAC is concerned, the Colonies and Constituent Worlds are the same. Which leads us directly into our next point." He gestured and the projected map shifted again, additional graphs and lines of text appearing beside each region. "You see, the entirety of the Commonwealth's industry and economy revolves around the Core Worlds. The verge worlds and colonies supply in excess of ninety-nine percent of all skilled and unskilled labor in the Commonwealth. They harvest most if not all of the Commonwealth's resources, work in all of the Commonwealth's primary industries, and make more than ninety-five percent of all material, commercial goods. Most of these goods, products, and resources are then sent directly to the Core World markets. The situation there is the exact inverse. The Core World has only secondary and tertiary industries in it. Entertainment and leisure, luxury goods and service industries. These are not even the largest or most successful businesses in the Core Worlds, and instead the wealthiest individuals make nearly all of their money from speculation, proprietary trading, and accounting. The Core Worlds, which contain less than ten percent of the Commonwealth's population, contains more than ninety-nine percent of the Commonwealth's net worth, and more than eighty-five percent of all officially mandated products produced in all regions of the Commonwealth. The population of the Coreworlds are, by large, bourgeois and decadent or otherwise involved in the administrative affairs of the Directorate."

As the point was brought up into further detail a greater reaction came out the audience. At first there was merely flashes as some audience members looked to their friends and others in the time honored tradition of ‘Are you seeing this?’ however, this soon grew into rapt attention, always unblinking staring down from above. As more and more unfolded before them they sat still. With the last word they continued in stunned blankness, not a pattern unfolded across the faces of the audience members. Eventually one of the Ideological Protectors stood and made the distinctive ysh sound of attention demanding, finally bringing motion to the audience once more as they turned to face the rear. Vocalizer attached the Protector spoke out.

“That. That is evil of the Individual!”

The audience above broke out into flashes of words, concepts, phrases. “Immoral” “Inefficient” “Evil” “Individualistic”, each broke out mirroring amongst groupings of ‘Ysh’ until eventually settling back into their own seats and blankness, attention rapt onto the meeting below.

"The political demographics within the Commonwealth follow a similar pattern," Sciroa carried on after giving the audience time to settle down once more. "Many of the constituent and colony worlds are annexed powers who were either conquered or coerced into joining the sovereign power that would then later become the Commonwealth. Due to frequent revolts and uprisings within these annexed powers, that power formed the modern Parliamentary system of representation that we know as the Commonwealth. After that, order was restored across the majority of worlds. However, many of them are still not fully represented within Parliament due to the status of personal integration. Simply put, different factions and populations are integrated within the Commonwealth in accordence to need, convenience, and of course the motivation of Parliament, the Noble Diet, and the Imperial Line in endorsing such integration. Contemporaneously, many constituent and verge worlds have suffered from increasing unrest due to the full annexation and integration of a species known as the Valerians."

Sciroa reached out with their upper right hand and tapped on one of the illuminated table's control panes, calling up an image of the Valerian species, alongside several lines of basic information.



"The full integration of the Valerians was due predominantly to the high relative prevalence of individuals with Psionic potential within their popualce, many of whom have been drawn to serve as State Psintegrae. Many constituent and verge world populations are displeased with this, since many of them have been waiting for full integration since they were annexed more than a century ago."

Another distinctive ysh issued forth, although this time from the Ground Forces Specialist on the floor of the meeting in the pause from Sciroa’s speech. Once more the pattern activated the vocalizer and words flowed.

“The Psintegrae are not something we have been able to gather much information on. We have been able to gather they are exceptional individuals, greatly desired for a variety of elite combat purposes, and it goes without saying we have been unable to procure a sample of one. It would be helpful if you could clear up for many what exactly a Psintegrae is, particularly in context of apparent improvements in their capabilities with this development.”

At this, Sciroa turned their colorless eyes to the headless, corpse-like being he had introduced as Berrawo standing beside it with something very closely approximating a knowing look. Berrawo began to speak - their voice was an unfathomable, arcane series of roiling, boiling tar intermixed with crackling static, their voice filled with hisses, pops, and a slick kind of effervescent resonance. Its voice had to be completely translated, unlike Sciroa's own already admittedly alien tongue. A large halo of iridescent light was projected above its head in order to provide a visual translation while members of the audience in the front rows rushed to convert its odd speech to something properly audible to the Ysh.

"Many individuals with Psionic potential in the Commonwealth are..." A faint pause of consideration. "...requisitioned at or near birth by the state by an organization we suspect is affiliated with the Commonwealth Directorate in some way, though how we are not yet sure. They are run through a processing and training regime that lasts several years, eventually procuding elite soldiers, security forces, and guards, known as Su'urtugal. You see many of them serving a police role in some of the Core Worlds, especially in affairs attached or pertaining to the Diet of Lords and the Imperial Line." Berrawo reached out and manipulated the nearby control pane once more in order to show a brief visual clip of a Yassinan Su'urtugal pursuing several individuals in powered armor across a crowded urban underroad junction, running much faster than they were despite being, on the surface at least, unaugmented. With a flick of one of their wrists as they caught up, one of the power-armored criminals was lifted off their feet and flung into a nearby wall, their form pressed awkwardly and with unnatural firmness against the metal surface, sounds of audibly snapping bones and shearing metal filling the briefing room over the other chaotic sounds of the underroad in the video.

"In addition to possessing considerable telekinetic prowess, these individuals are adept inquisitors, capable of reading surface thoughts reflexively as well as being able of going through long-term and deep memory when given time and allowed to focus. As far as the third board is presently aware, their Psionic powers are effective against all forms of sapient, sentient life, including the Mucor Typis - which, as we do not have centralized nervous tissues, is indicative of their great ability. The NAC has several protocols for preserving and obscuring information from discovery, but this is largely done through compartmentalization of our operations and dissemination of intelligence on a strict, need-to-know basis. Until our peoples' joint, API project produces notable results, it should be assumed there is no hiding any known memories or information from them, and it is speculated they may even be capable of retrieving subconscious and completely forgotten or otherwise inaccessible information."

The general information specialist broke in with their vocalizer. “The Anti-Psionic Initiative is a joint project seeking to update, improve and expand the various means of Psionic control developed after the integration of the Kre’allar. Particularly to increase its effectiveness in a greater variety of scenarios and deployments.”

The specialist manipulated the controls as they spoke, retrieving archival footage from the habitat’s databanks. Displayed up is footage of obviously dated security feeds from an older model of a ground forces’ power armor helmet. Watching a crowd of Kre’allar humans, in obvious conditions of some indoor compound, slowly filter through a security gate. There is no issues until alarms blare around the gate and ‘Ysh’ in power suits are blown back, the gate is mostly undamaged. A Kre’allar human unremarkable except for their position at the center of the psionic wave is briefly seen before bolting back into the crowd.

“Although effective in certain instances detection technology has continued to be rather limited even if it has greatly improved since that time, range is still an issue. Direct measures have been unfortunately even less developed.”

The display changes from a security feed to five Kre’allar lined up and restrained, a large pillar, obviously of heavy electronic construction, is being carried by two powersuited ‘Ysh’ in front of each in turn. After being brought in front of each the pillar is brought close to the foreheads of each, the first two showing no reaction. The third, however, visibly recoils from the device, prompting the two ‘Ysh’ visible to move the pillar behind the man and transfer his restraints to the pillar.

“Although improved from these models, especially in mobility, inhibitor devices still leave much to be desired, especially in a combat situation. Thankfully the NAC has graciously donated a number of subjects for this endeavor, allowing a greatly advanced rate of testing. This should hopefully soon allow for mock tests of currently developed models.”

"We expect many great things from the joint initiative, which the NAC owes largely to the Union's own initial, if modest, research in the area. Although the results are still to be borne out, as far as we are aware the Union is the only power in the galaxy that had taken any successful efforts into investigating methods of deterrence in that regard. With that topic addressed, let us now return to the Valerians." Sciroa tapped on their own controls for the table once more, shifting the projected imagery back to the previously displayed map of the greater Commonwealth. "As I said, many of the verge and colony worlds are presently subject to high degrees of unrest and civil disorder due to widespread discontent over the rapid integration of the Valerians into the Commonwealth, whereas many other member species have been waiting over a century. This is where I would like to turn the briefing over to Berrawo Ninety-Two here." He gestured with both of his right arms to Berrawo.

"Many thanks." Berrawo said, their crackling, seething voice whining through the air for a second time. "As my companion mentioned earlier, the NAC has been using the Commonwealth market as a means of generating revenue and credit for our own purposes - and to further that end, a number of operatives and agents have been distributed across the Commonwealth's sectors and infiltrated a number of their more successful industries." They motioned to Sciroa, who manipulated the control panel for the table again in response to project an image of several Commonwealth stock ratings, as well as a large display of several charts depicting how each particular stock had changed in value over time.

"With some effort, our agents have managed to procure inside-information on the value of certain key stocks far in advance of their public release. By comparing and analyzing contemporary market dialectics to those of the past, we see that the Commonwealth market's stability is highly predictive of social disorder and strife within the verge worlds and colonies, particularly within the oldest member species and factions not yet fully integrated. Within the last few galactic months, two new pieces of information have started to circulate through the Commonwealth."

"In particular," Sciroa spoke up, taking the reins of Berrawo's tract in an almost rehearsed fashion. "...amongst the core worlds there is spreading word of an upcoming bill that is to be passed through their parliament that would increase the individual cost for applying for state citizenship tests, as well as reformatting the tests to make them more strenuous, and to add either one or two new tests to the total number required by foreigners or colonial inhabitants in order to become citizens. I will return to this matter in a moment to explain why the bill may have been developed."

"Meanwhile," Berrawo picked up once more, "...in the verge and colony worlds, there is a very curious rumor about many heavy industrial megacorporations enacting plans and agendas in order to advance a policy furthering advanced, widespread industrial automation. As far as our agents have been able to discern, this was in fact nothing but a rumor. However, the various corporate powers operating in these regions believed it. Many of them are now racing to implement these policies in order to stay ahead of their competition. As more than eighty percent of the Commonwealth's products and goods are made using skilled labor provided by their populous verge and colonial populations, advanced automation implemented on that scale would likely completely destroy the weaker economies present in these systems."

"Which is where we return to the first rumor of the upcoming citizenship bill. The NAC's analysis of the situation is simple." Sciroa picked the conversation up again, changing the projection above the holo-table to dismiss the displayed market data. "The Commonwealth is aware that their market is due for a minor crash soon, and is preemptively seeking ways to consolidate political capital in advance while also scraping together an additional source of revenue in order to weather the drought. However, knowledge of the second rumor has not yet spread at large to the core worlds, due in part to the industries incorporated there not desiring to tip their respective hands. They, in turn, are hastening their automation agendas in order to get out ahead of the perceived, incoming crash."

Sciroa paused briefly, permitting the audience to digest the information that had just been divulged before continuing. "These three separate forces are all timed to occur in-synchrony with one another. It is the NAC's educated guess that the Commonwealth stock market will soon flag severely. Not by a tremendous amount, this will not be a civilization-slaying depression, merely the largest notable dip in recent history for them. At the same time, parliament will pass a bill making acquisition of full citizenship more onerous and inaccessible to the lower classes of the verge worlds and colonies, and various corporate powers will begin implementing their automation policies in full. This will leave a vast portion of the lower class, working populace unemployed and without any meaningful courses of action remaining to them short of revolt."

If the audience had been composed of a more auditory species whispers would no doubt be abound. However as it was composed of ‘Ysh’ the sight of the audience was one of ever changing colors. Excited communications encompassed the ‘Ysh’ audience, presented before them was not just an opportunity for a victory, but a lasting one. The ever present conflict to the south, perhaps a necessity with two expansionist powers, could be ended with a grand liberation. This opportunity was not one to easily pass by, the audience shifted back to the floor, the vocalizer of the Naval Forces Specialist.

“This is an opportunity that may never again be presented. In light of this certain measures normally reserved for moments of national survival have been decided to be put into effect. Primarily to general information that will be released through appropriate channels, primarily it is to be considered at this time that all reserve collectives are to be mobilized for matters of national importance and ability to support the necessary manpower for any possible liberations.”

The Naval Forces Specialist paused allowing this to sink in before continuing, “Orders have been sent out to Naval units across the Union to report to the Southern sectors, as have other orders that will be listed by my colleagues in the matters of National importance. To fill holes in roles caused by this mobilization, select mass mobilization super-collectives will be mobilized, specifics of which will be available on request at a later date.”

The vocalizer of one of the Industrial Consultants flared before making his words auditory for those who required it, “In support of military forces it has been decided that all vital industries are to be brought to full economic mobilization in accordance with necessary supply. In addition several stockpiles have been authorized use in bringing full production as fast as possible.”

A disturbance in the audience causes a pause, “Regional Officer Obedient Legion, I believe you wish to ask something?” Apparently nonplussed for their second time of being visibly picked out of the audience, Obedient Legion vocalized their question.

“Will offensive forces have habitat vessels on hand for necessary resupply? This impacted the last war to a large extent according to estimates that I have presented before.” They pause before continuing with renewed vigor, “I cannot speak for everyone but I speak for some at least when I ask if we are going to take this risk with a chance to succeed or are we going to handicap ourselves?”

The flare from a vocalizer resounded before the words of the Habitat Administrator, the Eldest came, “I can confirm that Habitat vessels will be deployed for this effort as well as other necessary logistical tasks. I can also say that further orders and information will be released as we close onto full preparation. The current plan is maintaining preparation to support, and possibly enact a quick and bloodless as possible revolt to secure freedoms for the colonial peoples, this is something that will be reflected in operational procedures, specific information will be forth coming soon.”

"The NAC is also preparing to render assistance to any liberation movement that arises." Sciroa followed up. "Our naval assets are not as numerous as those of the Union, but we are even now laying down discrete logistic routes and passages in key areas of the Commonwealth. We will work to keep liberation forces supplied and equipped, and we will also mobilize special operatives in order to strike at the heart of the Commonwealth's ruling elite. Of course, we will not act without the consent of the common populace of of the various liberation movements and without agreement from the IUC's own intelligence analysts."

“Thank you Sciroa Seventeen, and we must thank the NAC in its good morals over the good of the galactic peoples.” The Eldest paused before continuing in a more formal style, “We know that each of you will do their best to assure that suffering of subjugated peoples will not continue for long nor will it come to nought but more suffering. We must all assure that every soldier, and worker, researcher, and farmer, all do their best to exploit this opportunity in the best way that they can. I want you to spread this message to your subordinates, as we may go to war we seek only peace, a peace that can only come when an individual is no longer subordinate another individual in their single name alone. Only when the collective good comes first can we reach a lasting, free peace.”

The general information officer transmitted, vocalizer working for those who needed it, “Specifics will be in future briefings in a more regular situation, orders will be sent once you all return to your posts. This Briefing is officially over.”

888888888888


The Imperial Systems Commonwealth
The Core Worlds
Corinthene
Adalusia City
Neuftshcellier's Fine Dining Highrise


Neuftschellier's was a fine establishment, Severus Thannicus, policy analyst to the assistant deputy minister of internal revenue, thought to himself. Perhaps his favourite in the city. It was expensive, but not too expensive, just expensive enough that one could demonstrate affluence without breaking the bank. All the right people frequented it as well, anyone who was anyone really. It was a good place to see and be seen. The food was good, and the view, the view was spectacular. Thannicus had been born and raised on Corinthene, not in the capital city itself, but not far away, and one city on Corinthene was much like another, all gleaming highrises, none more than a few decades old. Some complained Corinthene lacked character. Thannicus thought 'character' was a funny way of describing decrepit old stone buildings like the ones they treasured on Praetoria. The old must by necessity give way to the new, and on Corinthene, it did. Constantly. Thannicus could see at least three highrises under construction from where he sat. He adjusted the Rhodesian sized powered chair he was occupying and scanned the room for his lunch partner.

He was only left waiting for a few minutes. The soft whirring of the restaurant's elevator doors receding carried ever so faintly like a whisper across the open-aired hall, seeming to waft just above the low murmur of voices from the other diners. Stepping in across the fine black-and-gold slate tiles was a Rhodesian Woman with a fine red and auburn coat of fur, with the faintest traces of golden coloration along the tips of her hairs along her ears and along the back of her head. She was wearing a brass-colored strapless evening dress adorned with a modest brocade of orange lines about the front and back, drawing the eyes inevitably up, and the way it caught in the light of the afternoon sun through the restaurant skylights gave it a seemingly luminescent gleam. The ensemble was held together with a pewter brooch with a recognizable emblem adorning it - nine Amaranthine gems arranged in a circle, one being a prominent starburst at the top. She carried with her a business case, with small pewter clasps tying a small shash between its corners to a line across her waist. Nearly concealed beneath the folds of fine silk was the sight of a sturdy durachrome wire, indicating that the case being tied to her person was not precisely just for show.

When she was greeted by the attendant, she simply passed him a card with the same emblem emblazoned across it as seen on her brooch along with a few words. He nodded in understanding, and Severus found himself momentarily entranced as she crossed the dining lanai, her hard-soled bright orange shoes clinking distinctively against the fine tiled floor. Her whole body seemed to bob and undulate with a curious rhythm as she walked right up to his table. She stopped just within half an arm's reach, gave him what was most assuredly a very well practiced smile as she looked him straight in the eyes, and offered him her wrist.

"Belleza Trianedyne. The NAC's Primary Adjucant Representative for Corinthene. I must say, you have the most beautiful idea of a business meeting I have had the pleasure of experiencing thus far."

Thannicus blushed beneath his fur as he bent to chastly kiss the stunning woman's hand. "Ms Trianedyne, I'm both thrilled you could make it and thrilled you appreciate the establishment. It's a personal favourite of mine." He moved to pull her seat out for her, an entirely redundant gesture as the powered chair descended and positioned itself perfectly for it's intended occupant before lifting her to the height of the table. Thannicus returned to his own chair, which did the same, placing the two of them at eye level. The policy analyst did his best to avoid staring at Belleza's shapely ears. He flipped open his menu, trying to avoid the distraction of Belleza doing the same, her soft, fine-furred ears being the only part of her head visible above both their menus, her right-side twitching slightly as a breeze rolled by.

"So, I am told you are the Senior Policy Analyst for the Assistant Deputy Minister of Internal Revenue?" Belleza's voice sounded like a silken cloth polishing slick marble, even partly muffled as it was coming from behind her menu. She had rattled off both titles effortlessly and without any hesitation. That was not entirely surprising given the complex and byzantine nature of Corinthene as the Commonwealth's beauracratic center. Most of the population here lived with being able to memorize and recite long titles of those working under the Imperial Directorate to the point where doing so was second-nature.

"Yes, quite so," Thannicus responded, quite pleased with the slight emphasis she'd put on 'Senior'. "It's a fascinating position, with a great variety of responsibilities. Policy analyst isn't even the best word for it. Certainly I do, well, analyze policy, but there's a great deal of real world data involved, thank Lexus the Metternich government restored the long form census-" Thannicus caught his rambling and felt the skin beneath his chestnut-coloured bristles flush again. "But I'm rambling, I should perhaps be a little more forthcoming about the reason I asked to meet with someone from the NAC. Specifically, we are hearing the strangest rumours coming out of the UAG." Thannicus was a bureacrat, not a spy, but he knew how the game was played on Corinthene. Adressing such a subject so brazenly was not usually done; he was hoping to perhaps get an honest answer out of Belleza by catching her off guard.

"That would be the United Artanin Governments, yes. I have to confess, they have been causing the second and fourth boards absolutely no end of stress!" Belleza sighed faintly as she folded her menu shut, laying it by the side of the table as she draped one of her vixen arms adroitly across the finely polished and gleaming table surface, her index and longfinger twisting around each other in what must have been a force of habit as she drew imaginary lines in the glass. "The region there is quite unstable, from what I have been told. The leaders of the current - well, not to seem boorish but they are something of a brutal regime. The NAC has some assets in the region that are being threatened by certain less tractable parties. A straw of Tuber Malt if you please." She graced their waiter with a smile as he came to offer them drinks.

"The Chanteclair please," Thannicus gave the waiter a smile of his own, though it was considerably less charming than Belleza's. He turned back to the striking woman. "That is troubling to hear...but not unexpected. The UAG in general could be described as 'less tractable', so I certainly understand how your corporation may be encountering difficulties. I don't believe Her Imperial Majesty's Government could condone what we understand to be a violation of Artanin sovereignty. But personally I am most sympathetic to your difficulties."

The unspoken implication of course was that anything Thannicus personally felt was reflective of the unofficial opinion of the government he served. Such was the way of things on Corinthene.

"Trust me when I say nobody is more upset than the Circuit." Belleza's smile turned ever-so-slightly down. "You see, after several cycles of being stonewalled, we were contacted by a party we were informed had the authority to lobby policy directly with their body of Ministers, one thing led to another, there were a few...massacres perpetrated here and there by separatist movements. Quite frankly the NAC has been harried by every other Artanin in a suit, claiming to represent the actual legislative body of the United Governments..." Belleza shook her head, slowly, once. Her smile thinned, becoming a stern line as she turned her gaze up from the table to look Thannicus in the eye once more. "I'll be blunt. The NAC does not wish to - refuses in fact - to associate with any known or potential terrorist bodies. We were forced to move forward with our agenda in UAG space on a presumption of abrogated sovereignty." She held up her free hand, part of her corded sash wrapped about her wrist and making a faint clicking noise as the cord tying it to her waist dragged across the table. "I know that sounds bad, but we are trying our best to hold out for...whatever legitimate political body eventually reemerges. The Ninth Amaranthine Circuit is fully prepared to honor a preestablished contract with the peoples of the Artanin Governments so that both we and they may mutually benefit and prosper as one from what will be accrued through our interests there."

Belleza lowered her hand and adopted a small, piteous smile as she lowered her head just-so, forcing Thannicus to look down towards her across the table. "The NAC was deceived into an arrangement and it would be costly not only for us, but for the Artanin people as well, for us to abandon what we have started there. Once stability in the region has been restored, we will of course abide by the sovereignty of the United Governments and their wishes, but for the moment we have a fiduciary duty to the people in the region to safeguard their future dividends."

Thannicus leaned back in his chair, processing what he'd heard. He was silent for a moment, during which the waiter slippped in to deposit their drinks. Thannicus nodded appreciatively, took his glass, and after a cursory sniff, took a long sip, savouring the wine's rich flavour.

"Ms.Trianedyne, I must thank you for providing the NAC's side of the story. Frankly what you've told me today is much more substantial than anything I've heard so far, and I'll be sure that my superiors are informed of the realities of the situation. Nevertheless, a nation's sovereignty is sacrosanct, and my Government will be hard pressed to alter its views on that point." He took another long sip of wine, as if the matter was settled. Belleza raised her head again, adopting her prior posture and seemingly appraised Thannicus with a cool expression as he drank. Her left hand traced towards the deceptively thin and long straw of glass of her own drink, fingering the recepticle delicately.

"This does all remind me of a rather humorous incident from the other day," Thannicus said meaningfully. "Someone accidentally sent around a draft memo on the economic beneftis of inviting the United Artanian Governments into the Commonwealth." He tried to chuckle lightly, but it came out sounding rather forced. "A classic blunder in the Directorate. All the more amusing in how timely it is."

For perhaps two seconds, Belleza continued to simply stare cooly at Thannicus, as if he were some particularly fascinating souffle. But a moment later though, her face practically lit up and she returned his chuckle with a soft, light laugh reminescent of rain falling across a forest canopy. "Oh, don't I know it. The same thing happens all the time at our corporate HQ down by the Calorwoods. Why, just the other day, somebody accidentally slipped some statistical data on our stock returns into my orbital holdings portfolio!" Her laugh faded to a light chuckle, and then abruptly her face fell to a more cool expression as she lifted the straw of glass with her drink in it and took the smallest of sips, staring at him intently from over it. Barely a fraction of the already miniscule thread of liquid vanished from her glass, and it was then that Thannicus remember that Tuber Malt was a particularly potent beverage. The thin straw of glass Belleza was drinking from would probably be enough to send her home unconscious if she took the whole thing at once.

She lowered the glass and her smile returned as both of her ears fluttered lightly and became less taut. "Well, I for one think it would be a splendid idea for the United Governments to become part of the Commonwealth. The light of Llyena and her majesty is precisely what the Artanins need to get all their kits quiet."

The waiter arrived once more to place their orders. Thannicus gave him a small smile and ordered the arctic thon, a particularly succulant fish native to the colder waters of Corinthene. Belleza ordered a Chestnut Souffle and requested two garnishes to go with it - something of a sweet meal, and not particularly filling.

"Oh, the Commonwealth always welcomes the opportunity to foster development and security in the galaxy. It would certainly solve the NAC's problems in the region as well. Ah well, perhaps one day. For now it's just a hypothetical discussion." Thannicus remembered not to slip Belleza a wink at that last comment. "A very interesting one certainly, but not the stuff of actionable policy."

"Yes, of course, after all, I am certain the cabinet has most of its political capital tied up in that upcoming push for automating the verge and colonial industrial bases!" Belleza agreed with a sly smile, followed by a slight tilt of her head as she closed her eyes to take a sip from nearly a fifth of the remaining fluid in her thin straw glass.

Thannicus managed not to frown or say anything revealing he had heard no such thing, but his ears flicked rather noticeably. "Yes...it's a...contentious issue to be sure."

"Ha! You don't say! Even a few airheaded glamorins I passed on the way here were up in arms about it. Quite the daring policy change. Very bold. Though I have no real opinion on the matter, advanced robotic automation is somewhat beyond my purview." Belleza laughed again as she lowered her glass, her ears now having a faint and alluring, folded droop to them.

Thannicus was saved from having to fabricate a response by the arrival of their orders. He resolved to ask his colleagues about the matter when he got back to the office. Belleza's souffle had barely touched down on the table before she viciously stabbed into the garnishes atop it before cutting it up into pieces, determined to seemingly mince the dessert thoroughly before actually tasting any of it.

Thannicus dug into his thon with a little less enthusiasm. He chewed slowly as he cast about for a way to conceal his ignorance on the topic, and he thought back to earlier in the conversation, sneaking the occasional glance at Belleza's ears. "It's funny you should mention stock returns actually. I was just looking at some rather irregular market data yesterday."

"Irregular?" That got Belleza's attention. She looked up with something approaching apprehension of her face - understandable, since any kind of irregularity in market data significant enough to even appear as an irregularity in the first place for a market as flush and large as the Commonwealth's Core Worlds was nothing to ignore. "I...Oh, I hope I am not intruding upon any of the Directorate's mandates by prying."

Distracted as he was by her ears, Thannicus mistook Belleza's interest in the subject for interest in him personally. "Oh, nothing I can't share with a valued associate. It's all public data, it's the apparent irregularity that's the interesting part. You see..." Thannicus managed to carry on for a good ten minutes uninterupted on the exact nature of the discrepency, only too pleased to show off his expertise for his attractive lunch companion. His attractive lunch companion who seemed to drink everything he said in with incrementally increasing amounts of her excedingly strong intoxicating beverage.

"Hooh, you....you know-" Belleza said, fingering her nearly obscured straw glass suggestively with both hands now, less than a sixth of its original contents remaining. Her ears were pricked ever so slightly at the tips, and though drooping considerably around the bases had adopted a very pleasurable curve to their overall length. "That- That's, well, I'm not a handsome acolyte- analyst policy like you are, but when my assistant, they screwed up my asset prot-prot-" Belleza paused for a moment, blinking concertedly several times. "PORTFOLIO! Yes, momentary jutter there, I thought there was something weird about it. Now..." She paused again, taking another sip from her straw glass, the remaining liquid within growing treacherously shallow. She then pulled her left wrist up, drawing her business case connected to her waist and wrist by durachrome cable she had been dragging across the edge of the table the whole time during Thannicus' speech, and started to pry it open. "Normally, this isn't really something I'm supposed to do, but well you've been letting me hear about your...really great...exciting work...because I'm a valued associate...and I'm pretty sure that makes you a valued associate of mine, and maybe it will help, so..." Belleza rifled through the case distractedly, her words ever-so-slightly indistinct, until she found a small display-pane with a utilitarian silver trim and slid it across the table to Thannicus.

"I mean, it looks like...something might be messed up? And if the market is also mussed- fussed up, it's probably related right? Whats is your...expert opinion if that's ok." Belleza's voice took on a certain airy, breathy quality as she voiced her inquiry, her eyelids lowered ever so faintly as she gazed at him expectantly.

Quite thoroughly under her spell by now, Thannicus picked up the pane without much thought for terms like 'conflict of interest'. He frowned as he read. "Well, it seems to me you're going to be dealing with a significant surplus of a whole range of goods and materials. This doesn't look good for the NAC's earning potential. I'm inclined to think your initial projections were far too pessimistic, and your stock may become over-valued. Not that it's anyone's fault, I can think of several ways this might have happened on its own. Most likely..." the policy analyst llaunched into another monologue, convinced that Belleza was absolutely enthralled by the subject.

However, he was eventually cut off by a bright, ringing tone from the vicinity around Belleza's left wrist - which had been busily running and stroking her left ear for a while now. "Whoops! I've- we appear to have stayed, just a bit, past desert. I think it's maybe...early evening now? Uh, I have to get back...back to the...future...past...uh...circuit...The offices, yeah, but this was great." She got up, unsteady and about to fall over until the automated chair, well-accustomed to saving incapacitated customers, rose to steady her stance by pressing against her back while she regained her balance. She spent a moment adjusting her business case and the durachrome cord it was secured with, which had become wrapped around her whole arm three times somehow during Thannicus' speech. She then bobbed pleasantly over to Thannicus and nipped him lightly on the snout before standing as tall as she could. "We should...this again, yeah? Hope you...analyze those...that irregularity what-for. My bosses would like that. I would like that. Next time!" She errantly held out her wrist like she had when she first met him, but seemingly could not hold it all the way up. Belleza giggled faintly and then stumbled off towards the elevators, leaving a smitten and perplexed Thannicus behind her to pay the bill.

It was not until he had paid and reached the elevator himself a while later that he realized he was still holding onto the display-pane Belleza had shown him.

888888888888


The Ninth Amaranthine Circuit
Akkamarid System
Point Phokashra


Point Phokashra was the literal center of the NAC's operations. In addition to being located at the central-most coordinate location within their territory, it was also located on top of the Akkamarid barycenter between the Greganev and Librens stellar binaries, serving as a bridge between the otherwise relatively distant locales. Though definitively residing within the Akkamarid system proper, the system's boundaries were vast due to its quaternary status. A vast gulf of more than two-thousand astronomical units lay between the station and the closer Librens binary. While still encompassed within the overlapping, gargantuan heliospheres of the stars Tramitet and Estre, leaving the immense gulf between them a relatively clear and cool void, the station was nonetheless almost effectively positioned in the middle of interstellar space.

Phokashra itself was a massive, sprawling starbase. Little more than a kilometer in diameter when it was built five years prior, the station sprawled out in every direction like some unfathomably massive urchin now more than thirty-six kilometers from end to end. The density of traffic in and about the tremendous station was higher than some planets in the Commonwealth's Coreworlds saw. A ring of smaller supporting stations, minuscule specks in comparison, ringed the station across all three of its axis. It was no exaggeration to say Phokashra was the beating heart and the central nexus of the NAC's existence.

Very near to the core of the immense structure, a single figure rode a tram through an armored transit shaft, reinforced blast-doors opening ahead of it and slamming shut behind as the platform descended into the secure center of Phkashra. They were altogether distinct and unique relative to the standard Plasmodium templates favored by the NAC in most circumstances, being a natural species as opposed to designed - though their anatomy was unlike anything seen in the local region of the galaxy. Their lower body was a mass of twelve, rubbery, seemingly boneless hydrostatic limbs, supporting a torso with six arms and a bulbous head that seemed to surge across the creature's back with a distended, fluttering mantle of flesh. Most of the alien being's body was covered in a dark crimson skintight suit, though it wore firmer, metal frames around and underneath the folds of its mantle while a mask obscured most of what was presumably its face.

The tram finally shuddered to a halt and a chiming, animatronic voice rang out as a final layer of blast-doors and a wavering field of shielding lowered to permit the creature pasage.

'Identification confirmed. Welcome, Ariamache Four.'

Ariamache slithered and drifted through the darkened interior of the infrequently traversed core sector, which was truthfully much smaller than most might have otherwise imagined, at least as far as accessible areas went. There were, in fact, only four places one could go, all accessible from a single junction that Ariamache quickly reached. Four signs manually carved into the metal of the corridor walls were present, lines of luminescent coils winding within the grooves so as to make it immediately apparent exactly where one was and where they were headed even in the event of power failure.

Sending Platform
Subspace Observation
Kalpa Vault
Iteration Analysis


Paying no mind to the other three passageways, Ariamache drifted down the corridor leading to Iteration Analysis. Passing through unseen layers of security and a final shielded door, Ariamache entered the small meeting room. Little more than a slick, black-topped conference table in the middle of a darkened hemisphere-shaped room, the curving ceiling serving as a massive imaging system, currently displaying a map of the known galaxy in bright, contrasting colors so as not to unnecessarily darken the rest of the room. Already present were eleven other alien beings of the same species as Ariamache, gathered together at great inconvenience. As a matter of doctrine, none of them were permitted to participate in the meeting remotely. Not only would doing so be very nearly impossible due to the excessive security features of the core sector, but it would doubtlessly have opened an unacceptable vulnerability in those security features. While the NAC was eager, willing, and in fact expectant of the fact that a great deal of their secrets and technology would eventually be deciphered by foreign powers, the contents of the four sections of the core sector could never be revealed to outsiders, ever, no matter the cost. The stakes were far too high to gamble with the ambiguities of how even a single sapient being would react.

"This meeting of the Second Board is hereby commenced." The being to Ariamache's left indicated as she took her place at the table, distinguished from the rest of the gathered beings by the luminous, orange stripes running along the arms of its skinsuit. "The only new topic of consideration at this time is the impending issue of the Daisan Order."

The hemispherical imager surrounding the table moved and zoomed in to display the three-dimensional boundaries of Daisan controlled space, as far as it had been determined - though even the incomplete map showed that the fringes of their territory alone possessed more volume than the rest of the powers in the local region combined.

"As discussed previously, a plan has already been formulated in order to extend the VMSRA disc into Daisan space, which has a high projected certainty of success, albeit at significantly greater cost than otherwise normally acceptable. The means of constructing a single VMSRA within Daisan space safely and securely outweighs the cost of building twelve anywhere else. The First Board is still examining potential ramifications and consequences of the chosen methodology, but that is not what we are here to discuss."

The hemispherical screen refocused again, until the three-dimensional plane of stars had shrunk to show a small rectangular corridor of space - containing numerous territories, but with three in particular highlighted.

"As you are already aware, within the Federation, the UAG, and the Empire of Astrana, we have elected to pursue implementation agendas on the assumption of abrogated sovereignty of the respective powers. For various reasons. However, it appears that in all three cases - even in the case of the UAG - it has been decided that our presence in their territories is not to be tolerated even in light of the Daisan threat. Contrary to our expectations, it does indeed seem that these powers are destabilized and stagnant to the point where they would in fact prefer their senseless destruction over-"

"Skip past the bit where you are mad over being wrong about being able to bully them in their own homes and get to the point." Ariamache cut the decorated being off. He bristled faintly, but moved on with only the barest hint of indignity.

"All three powers are about to imminently launch military operations to expel our forces and decommission our facilities - all presently still under construction and far from active. The First Board has examined our own analysis of the situation and decided that it was inadequate. They indicate that these powers are likely to hold the grudge against us for some time, and that this will become a point of international friction as the local galactic community starts to ally together in order to combat the Daisan threat. Even in the event that the NAC is not sanctioned by a formal gathering of some kind, it will become difficult for us to infringe upon their territories again without invoking the anger of our current allies."

"And their current experiences with us will make them unlikely to entertain future offers." The being to Ariamache's right, distinguished by their dark-blue skinsuit and the stark-white coloration of their rubbery skin, stated matter-of-factly.

"Correct. Thus, the First Board has ordered us to test our prototype VMSRA modules intended for use in Daisan space within these hostile powers as soon as is convenient." The decorated creature indicated.

"They ask the impossible." Ariamache indicated. "The stockpile we have set aside in preparation for our incursion into Daisan space is already a massive drain on our resources, and we are expected to drain them further by testing the new convection stations in three separate territories at once? Impossible. Perhaps once the secondary ring of systems has finished being colonized...But not before."

The blue-suited alien shrugged. "Perhaps, perhaps not. We still have no mandated timetable for our incursion into the Daisan field of influence. There is no reason not to leave them for another day and use the stockpile to test within these three regions."

"Which is unacceptable." A green-clad being at the opposite end of the table stood at their full height whilst speaking. "With the Daisan, our forbidden access of Kalpa Vault schematics ahead of schedule to devise the new convection stations is necessary, since otherwise the disc cannot possibly be expanded into their space. But these other powers are more...tractable. Sophisticated, even. They will have far greater cause to probe and pry as to the exact nature of the stations. It could lead to a breach of the core secrets if their investigations prove thorough enough."

"That opinion, while noted, is awfully pessimistic. You assume any of the present powers in the galaxy even have the means to detect what we will be doing." The blue-suited being replied.

"It is nonetheless a warranted fear." Ariamache interjected. "If we give them any reason to investigate, we must assume they will. For that reason, I suggest we run diversionary efforts in all three realms. Given our present strain of resources, I suggest strictly asymmetrical tactics of attrition while we maintain a ploy of conventional VMSRA stations."

"Agreed." Came the chorus of replies.

"I accept that the chances are remote, but what if one of the three powers should detect our efforts?" The green-suited being inquired.

Andromache's six-arms wavered and undulated in a fashion equivalent to a shrug. "All three regions are...quite politically unstable. Although it would otherwise be undesirable, given the context of our situation, destabilizing the regions further in the event our own efforts should be discovered will likely preclude any further efforts on their parts, at least for long enough that the convection stations will become active."
<Snipped quote by Terminal>

I presume said moderator is too busy moderating the discord for penis and cum jokes. :)

I would not know. I still am not allowed in. Pass on my sympathies.
There's no reason for it to be as dead as it is, though, considering there is still an active writing contest moderator.

Excellent answer. Factually correct and 100% true.

<Snipped quote by Terminal>

That sucks troll schlong....

Could we do something independent of the sub forum, just because it's fun? You've done some before in the past right? Is it a lot of work?

Sure. I could hypothetically run an independent project there. It is just that there is a 0% chance it would be Mod sponsored. For people to actually get anything, it would have to be run by someone else who the Mods would be amenable to making a contest moderator.
<Snipped quote by Terminal>

don't say this too loud or people will get upset. I think you know why it died.


Let me say it extra loud just for you.

I have no idea whatsoever as to why it died.

I know that it did die. One of the contest mods lost their position, the others went AWOL, and TheGreyDust's project unfortunately did not take off. I do not know the actual causes behind any of those events.

If you know anything, by all means, please enlighten me.
<Snipped quote by Terminal>

Son of a bitch.

Why?

I wanted to do more of that, damn it.


No idea. I was not informed as to the why.
What the hell, it's been three months. That's probably a sufficient waiting period.

The writing contest subforum is dead.
The guard stationed at the Southern City gates gave the man a look. He was not precisely inconspicuous. Clearly not a knight of any kind of order, despite the fluted mail and his grotesquely shaped helmet - he bore no insignia. His papers indicated his membership with the Order of course, but that was not precisely reassuring. The man had not appeared on any of the posters in the barracks however, so unless he was running just ahead of news of his bounty he might possibly even be legitimate.

"Name?" He asked.

"Hans Iikka." Came the echoing reply. Then something clicked.

"Wait. I know you..." The guard cautioned, leaning forward ever so slightly. "You're that orphan from Gaelia what slew a, uh..." He trailed off awkwardly, momentarily afraid the man might take offense. The guard's memory was not the best, and Hans was wearing a tailored overcoat. It was possible he might have been a low baron.

"A slay a lot of things." Hans replied easily. "Just here to help."

"Huh. Well, alright." The guard grunted as he took another look down at Hans' papers. A member of the Order invited up North on official business...and a bounty hunter recognized by the regional House. "Though I have to say this seems a bit queer. You sure you can be both a bounty-hunter and a member of the Order?"

Hans shrugged, the metal in their mail-jack clinking faintly with the motion. "You know how it is with the Order these days. A few of my bounties tend to be other Order members, yeah? If my practice should be a little crooked, my quarry are more crooked still."

The guard grunted in vague affirmation in reply, handing the papers back. "I get it. Well, as long as it is not strictly Order business then, I do not suppose you might be interested in clearing some space on our hangman's wall? For a bit'o the Law's privilege, of course."

"Oh, not today." Hans replied as he tucked the papers away in a small courier's tube. "Wouldn't want to raise any undue tensions, you know?" He thumbed the side of his helmet's hooked nose. "But if you know any mages willing to weave a few enchantment runes on the quiet somewhere discrete, I would appreciate it. My blade could use the work." He reached nonchalantly into a pouch under his long-coat, drawing a handful of copper coins from it and pressing them into the guard's hand - which had opened up between them almost reflexively. "Your gate tax." Hans indicated in an offhand tone. The guard's eyes flickered briefly in understanding.

"Well, he's a bit on the shady side, but there is a warlock who works out of a butchery in the narrows. Does a bit of cleaning work, as it were. Everyone knows about him of course, but he can keep his mouth shut. There's also this lass in a nearby bordello, does a bit of spellery on the side in her downtime if you were looking for a more private setting..."


"Some of the chops, wrapped please." Hans indicated to the butcher, setting a handful of copper coins on the counter.

"Certainly." The thick, rotund man replied in a cool if low voice. Their eyes were narrowed and skeptical, but they went about the task willingly enough. "You said your name was Hans, yeah? That Journeyman that hunts mages?"

"I am he, but I only really fought mages over near the border a few times. Mostly I fight monsters, it's just cutting a few spell-wrights tends to get more attention. Also, Journeymen can't hunt bounties. Sign an oath and everything. Not really good for business."

"Do people even take that oath seriously?" The butcher asked as he finished wrapping the meat together in a thick bundle of waxed parchment.

"Some more than others, but as you've demonstrated I have a bit of a reputation. I wouldn't want to send out the wrong kind of message." Hans answered smoothly as he took the bundle. "Certain kinds of people keep a close eye and lookout for me."

"I get it. People get expectations because of what they've heard. Stuff like that goes around here in the narrows all the time. "

"I'll bet." Hans remarked idly as he stepped out of the shop.


Having conspicuously then made his way to a certain bordello, followed by pointed loitering and badgering of scholars at the city archives, and rounded out by malingering around a particularly rough part of the docks and exchanging words with the locals, Hans was content to let the misinformation he had uttered about propagate to the rest of the city's mage population. He the, finally, made his way back to the Order's outpost, having already passed by it twice as he went about his own business. With the better part of his initial groundwork out of the way, it was time to tolerate whatever inadequacy awaited him within its walls.

...Or at least, sit back and observe it. Rather than entering upon arrival, Hans decided to loiter at a nearby food-stand, removing his helmet and hiding it under his overcoat, held beneath one arm while pretending to flirt with the stall-woman and eating. For a man in his thirties, his appearance was not hard on the eyes - his hair was scraggly and unkempt, but his face had a roundness about the cheeks and a particularly slimness to it. It took the woman nearly a quarter-hour to realize what he was doing and indicate that he should probably buy something else to keep his appetite up, at which point the conversation turned to a more pointed conversation regarding her knowledge of Mezzar, all the while Hans looking out at the outpost's entrance.


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