Status

Recent Statuses

3 mos ago
That moment when losing a character in a rougelike makes you want to shed tears. No backup. It's gone.
4 likes
3 mos ago
There's something really sad about seeing that your dead RP was the last one someone did on this site.
6 likes
3 mos ago
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from advanced technology. What? No, it's not magic. Why would you even think that?
2 likes
11 mos ago
Trying not to worry is another form of worry. Sometimes you have to just accept that you're panicking, do absolutely nothing about it, and then the panic might stop
3 likes
1 yr ago
My friend thought GM stood for "General Manager" in an RP and that's what I'm officially going by now
14 likes

Bio

Hey y'all. I've been at this for about 8 years, and I've played a lot of kinds of RP. I like fantasy and sci-fi the most, just because they give me the most to play around with, but I'm cool with almost anything. I just like writing.

(I'm also writing a novel, but apparently that's not enough work for me, so I'm here too. I'm starting to think this place is just where I get out all my bad ideas.)

Previously named Jeyma.

Most Recent Posts

White Flower Revolution

(Part 1)


Streets on New Hollywood are different without protectors. They're louder, for one- nobody likes to talk with an armed guard three steps away. In the days before, people shuffled along crowded intersections with their eyes down. It wasn't a crime to talk, but then, the protectors never needed you to be a criminal.

"To Preserve Society," that was their slogan. They were created during the worst of the New Beijing riots, generations ago, when bombs were set under Oligarch's vehicles and blood was spilled by drunken rioters. A beautiful young Oligarch was murdered back then, one Ai Zhang, and the media plastered her photograph everywhere. Protectors were meant to be the solution; a policing organization willing to force down dissenters. Kill them, if you have to. Ensure it could never happen again.

Rubbish.

Yun is watching the city from the rooftops, like a character in a superhero story. Only he feels less like a character in an supehero story and more like some sad guy sitting on a roof. Oh well. He's taken to coming up here to think; most of his teachers had always said he could hardly think at all, but he's found the thin, atmospheric air clears his head wonderfully. Even today, when he can sense a storm brewing in the sky.

He's been trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle for- count 'em- one, two, three hours now. So many times he's wanted to give up, throw it off the roof and watch it soar into the horizon, but something keeps pressing him to keep trying. Maybe he'd never solved a puzzle in his life, but somehow, this feels like the time and place to do it. It's free up here.

Not like down on the streets.

He looks over the edge, craning his neck, and watches a crowd of thousands marching through. It looks like the whole city is marching along. They step in unison, shaking the ground, making his eardrums tremble even from far off. Some of them are sprinkling white flowers onto the pavement- a symbol of democracy on New Hollywood. They used to lay those at the graves of people killed by protectors.

How many people has Yun buried? Eta-Theta wasn't his first kill. Or his second, or his fifth. But it was part of the job- they expected you to do it. "To Preserve Society." And then grieving loved ones left white flowers on their graves.

In these rare, free moments, Yun has thought a lot about that. And he's decided that a normal person couldn't have done it. Does that make him abnormal? Maybe, but he wasn't born that way. He was born stupid, sure, or so his grades told him. And he was born big- bigger than most people, and stronger than is fair. But it was the ECU indoctrination that made him a murderer.

Now, the murderer hears something. Another rhythm, not quite as organized as the pro-democracy crowd, but louder, brasher and... well, more familiar. He knows that beat.

When he cranes his neck over another part of the rooftop, he spots another crowd, but this one isn't carrying any white flowers. They have golden flags raised over their heads, and some have weapons at their hips. They step out of unison, fight with each other, shout, and carry speakers that blast chaotic music all through the streets.

Yun's comrades. Ex-protectors. On a march of their own, it looks like. He'd heard something about it from his old buddy. Apparently, a lot of the other protectors were mad about being laid off by the government, and intended to "do something" about it. Nobody knew what that something could be, though, so it basically amounted to roaming through the streets and calling it a protest.

He'd declined to join. But those men down there didn't, and judging from their trajectory, it looks like they're heading on a crash course straight for the White Flower protesters. He knows what'll happen when they meet: it's what you call a blood bath.

Yun takes another breath of that electrified, ozone-heavy air, and sighs. He pushes the half-finished, never-to-be-completed puzzle to the side. He heads for the elevator. He presses "first floor."

~~~~~~~~


When the door opens, he almost wishes it hadn't.

The elevator was slower than Yun had anticipated, and the crowds much faster. He steps out of his apartment building right into the midst of a war about to happen. On the right side of Echo Avenue, the wide street Yun lives on, are the White Flowers, sprinkling the ground with petals like girls at a wedding, and chanting pro-democracy, anti-Oligarch rhymes. A few flecks of brown robe hint at the Mixtists among them.

Advancing on his other side are the ex-protectors. They need little description, except that the predominate color is gold, and the predominate attitude is "break stuff." Without their uniforms, it's amazing how much they seem like common thugs. (Is that who they've always been?)

The two crowds are about to meet. Yun stands in the middle of them both, and up in the sky above, deep gray clouds promise a downpour.

"Hey, Flower, Flowers, come over here!" one protector calls, spotting the protestors on the other side. Another says "Hey, y'all the ones that cost us our jobs!" At that, boos and jeers break out across the line. Someone starts laughing manically: "Nobody to keep 'em safe now! Shouldn't have got rid of us!"

An empty liquor bottle flies over Yun's head, and breaks apart at the feet of a young man with messy hair. He looks back at the man who threw it, raising his fist into the air as answer- half the White Flower crowd joins him. The other half seem to start looking around quickly for avenues of escape, but there aren't many.

"Oh, oh, whatchya gonna do?" More laughter. More fists thrown into the air. They draw closer- slowly, testing the waters- they eye each other, curse each other, hands go to hips to grasp for clubs, swords, knives. With a deep, sinking feeling in his gut, Yun spots out a few guns in the throng.

He watches himself step out into the middle of it.

He doesn't even know what he's doing; why is he here? What, is he gonna stop a riot on his own? But something inside Yun, the same thing that came to life that day in the desert with Eta, won't let him do otherwise. That cyborg told him "And try living as best you can. Because one day, I will find you again, and I will make good on my promise."

If he's already a dead man, what does he have to lose? With a hoarse voice, hands spread out to either side of him, Yun shouts "Stop!" The crowds almost seems to hesitate: being directly in-between them, everyone can see and hear him. Does he have their attention?

"Stop!" he says again into the crowds. Yun is not an eloquent speaker. Right now, he's just a desperate one. "Don't do this, don't. It'll just be..." what'll it be? "Just more bodies in the ground. Just more dead people. Stop, everyone, stop. Walk away. Go home."

For a moment, everyone is silent. Maybe this guy is right. Even some of the protectors glance down at their feet and seem almost ashamed. But then just as Yun dares to think he's succeeded, a gun goes off.

Bang! Nobody sees who shot it. But the man hit is a protector, and it's a perfect shot- a hole is in his neck. Blood spurts from his throat onto the ground, splattering through his golden t-shirt on the way, and the sound he makes is truly awful. A sputtering, desperate choke. He thrashes around, grabs at his comrades for support, falls to the ground- his eyes go wide as he realizes what's happening- and it's all too late.

As the White Flowers pull back in shock and fear, a protector shouts "Kill 'em, boys! Vengeance!" The golden crowd surges forward with a ferocious, angered roar, and the Flowers aren't fast enough to escape.

The rain starts to fall. Yun doesn't know what to do. But on instinct, or maybe loyalty, he runs along behind the protectors. They dart through neon-lit alleyways and dodge under exposed wiring, stepping over curbs made of a wild mix of concrete and metal. They jump down stairs and dart past open doorways.

They're chasing a White Flower; Yun doesn't know which. He only figures it out as they finally corner him in an pitch-dark alley, where some busted old screen still bathes everything a blue light. The falling rain reflects it, bounces it around, giving the whole scene a dream-like aura.

"Found you, Flower, Flower," taunts one of the other protectors, and Yun realizes what they've been chasing. It's just a kid. Maybe fifteen, maybe sixteen. Messy hair. Is that the one who raised a fist? Too young to be involved in all this. Why do kids always want to go to protests? He looks afraid.

"Boys," Yun says quietly, to the other two men, "he's just a kid. Maybe we should back off, huh?"

But when they look back at him, he knows in his heart that they won't listen. The light of this alleyway makes their gold bandanas look like a sickly green-yellow, and makes their faces seem strange and demonic. When they smile, their teeth glow. "Come on, Officer Yun," the younger one grins, "I heard about you. You've done worse." Without waiting for Yun to answer back, they both reach down to grab the kid by his throat.

There's one real benefit to the holo-indoctrination protector's go through. Although it drives them nearly to insanity, by running through combat scenarios again and again and again, it also hones their reflexes. In his time, Yun must have participated in tens of thousands of fictional fights. After even a few hundred, everything is muscle-memory. By your second or third thousandth, it's faster and deeper than instinct. Lighting-quick.

It's funny: for all the ECU's emphasis on 'maintaining humanity,' to watch the way a seasoned protector moves, anyone would think they're genetically modified.

So, perhaps the other two protectors shouldn't have been so surprised, when Yun attacked them from behind and threw them to the ground. Or when he moved quicker than either of them (being less experienced protectors) could keep up with, or when he knocked them unconscious with a swift kick each. But the messy-haired kid was certainly surprised.

"What... what happens now?" he just barely chokes out. He's still not sure if this man is a friend or a foe.

"Now, kid," Yun answers, "you go home. Do you know the way?"

He didn't, but Yun led him out. He grew up on these neon streets, and knew every little nook and curve and cranny. They stumbled back onto the main walkway after just a minute or two, each leaning a little on the other for support. (Running for your life and beating men unconscious are both a little tiring.) An older man in a brown robe intercepts them then, and the young man seems to recognize him.

"Hey, uh, Yan or, or whatever your name was," the kid says, "I think I'm good from here. I know this guy."

Yun relieves him into the custody of the 'guy,' who is obviously a Mixtist. Yun has his own thoughts on the 'Mixies,' encouraging protests like this one, getting youth involved in it. But he bites his tongue. There's been enough fighting tonight.

"You know, I'm glad this happened," the kid says, before leaving. "I mean, I'm not glad glad. But the news will talk about this. The more they talk about us, the more people might stop to listen." He smiles weakly. "Thanks, man."

On his way back home, Yun walks through the downpour, spotting drenched white flowers clogging up gutters, noticing flecks of blood mingling with the water. He has no idea how many died tonight. Tomorrow, he will hear that his fellow ex-protectors killed twenty-four White Flower protestors in revenge for the one shot. This will spark retaliation around the globe, bringing anti-protector and anti-Oligarch sentiment to an all-time high. Within a week, the revolution will grow to encompass all of New Hollywood.

But tonight, he doesn't know any of that. He only knows the blood still on his boots, and the rain soaking him down to the skin. He stands in it, alone, and lets it wash over him.
<Snipped quote by Tortoise>

Post a week if I can manage it. Beyond that I won't appear much.


Don't stress yourself about it. This is a game, after all, not a job.
It's a short post but I just need to get some minor details out, working on a collab right now anyway.

If anyone wants to come chat with some mad production peeps just hmu.

Sad I missed the party.


Pfft, the party missed you.

Does your recent post signal that you're back in? Or should we still consider you in low activity for the time being?
(Addressing: @Irredeemable and @TimeMaster)
(Starring: Kayla)


Of all nations, shouldn't the ECU have more diplomats? Kayla is tired of picking up social duties every time someone else is off having fun. Why did Tanaka and Abadi get to be the ones to party with the Matuvistans?

It's how ECU politics always go, honestly. The Oligarchs are supposed to be only the smartest people, but everyone knows those "intelligence tests" are fake. It's really more about who has the strongest connections. Kayla doesn't. Her parents, investors but not members of the Noocracy, had to kick and claw for years to get her into the system at all- she thinks they bribed half of New Beijing to do it- and it's amounted only to her being constantly side-lined by generations of the more established, more wealthy Oligarchs.

She's sick of it. Or maybe she's just sick of trying not to think about it? Doesn't matter. She sits in a borrowed office on the Meeting Place, bouncing a rubber ball off a wall, catching it, bouncing it again. This is her passive resistance to the whole system; no matter what task she's assigned, she makes sure she doesn't do it. Not as a lazy thing. Because she doesn't want to help them. Kayla imagines herself as gum in the gears, not really breaking the machine, but slowing it all down just a little bit. One undone task at a time, taking the system down.

Or maybe it is a lazy thing.

That doesn't matter, either. She didn't do a thing during the Zetan Occupation, and you know what, she feels good about it. Why should she help the Noocracy bomb some cyborgs out of reality? The Noocracy never did anything for her. It was only a little bittersweet to hear of the Memory's withdraw back to New Hollywood. The last ECU cruiser was finally back home, and was even docking on the planet itself- for inspection, or repairs, or something like that. She didn't read the whole report.

Wish I had more chance to talk to the Zetans, she thinks, as she often has before. Sitting over orbit of a planet under siege, there was never much chance for conversation. And that's really a shame; she likes conversation. Especially with interesting people. It's the one good thing about babysitting the Meeting Place: you might actually meet someone new. Someone not at all like the people of New Hollywood, with a fresh perspective...

Oh, what's that? The sleek console in front of her, which she's been dutifully ignoring for two hours, starts up beeping. Words flash across the screen, and she only absorbs about half of it, but that half makes her very, very excited. Unknown vessel approaching and Requesting dock and Message received.

Then she listens to the message itself, and suddenly, Kayla really is glad she was on the Meeting Place tonight. The One? Let's see what you're about...

She bounces back her own voice recording to the unknown vessel:

"Welcome, welcome! This is Oligarch Kayla speaking, member of the Earth Cultural Union. This construct is the Meeting Place, an international space station created for... uh, diplomacy? Yeah, diplomacy. Ahem. Attached to this message are instructions for docking near the ECU segment of the Meeting Place. Come by, we can... break bread."
Starring: Martina Ward


ECU trials are strange.

The person being tried- Martina Ward- already thinks a lot of things about her country are strange, of course. But this place takes the cake and swallows it whole. The room is lined, wall-to-ceiling and front-to-back, with golden statues three men high. They're all frowning, and all share a resemblance to figures of authority from Old Earth. One is a Julius Caesar, another other a Stalin, there's a Habsburg- a few British kings or Japanese emperors round out the edges- and an American president stands watch by the door, as if waiting to grab up anyone who tried running away.

Aside from being made of gold and massive in height, they all have one other thing in common: they're staring directly at the accused. Ms. Ward, 31 and charged with Anti-Earth Activities on Grand Scale, is made to sit in a metal folding chair right in the center of the room, where all of Earth's tyrants and strongmen can stare down at her disapprovingly.

Along with the judge in front of her, of course, who is seated much more securely behind a high desk of the kind seen in courtroom films from Earth. The Old Earthers must have figured that was a good place to judge people from. The prosecutor alone has no seat; he prefers pacing around the room energetically. He's been talking for two hours, hammering out Ward's many crimes, accusing her of hating Earth and the ECU and all her people, telling all the citizens of New Hollywood that this is their enemy.

"Has not Ms. Ward been arrested for Anti-Earth activities over a half-dozen times?" he demands. "Has she not been spoken to, patiently, again and again, by our nation's protectors? How long do we allow her to keep going? How long will we let her be a nuisance- no, scratch that, a threat to our way of life?" His voice is magnified around the room, echoing off the sculptures, as if they were joining on in his accusations.

But he's not talking to Martina. Or even to the judge, for that matter. The outcome of this case like this would have been set long before it began. No, he's preaching instead to all of New Hollywood: they're watching through cameras in the statue's eyes. 500 million New Hollywoodites witnessing this trial. On their screens at home, or ones mounted on building sides. It's a public viewing. A show.

The other 700 million will be sure to watch a recording later.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this woman is an enemy of the state. She's organized a dozen rallies and protests against the protectors. And fine, fine, our leaders aren't unreasonable; the protectors have been pulled back, just like her and her radicals demanded. I think it was a mistake, personally- but it happened. And was it good enough?" He made eye contact with Martina. "Was it good enough for you, Ms. Ward?" She gets about three milliseconds to respond, before he answers on her behalf: "Of course not. You turned against the Noocracy next. And the holo-suites! Well, you aren't in a holo-suite now, Ms. Ward. And this is the day it ends. The day New Hollywood finally tells you 'No.'"

It goes on for another thirty minutes, the prosecutor's anxious steps sounding so hollow in this empty room. It's funny; you would think New Hollywood, of all places, would want a court packed with audiences. But there's nobody in here- nobody at all but Ward, Judge Mayer, and the nameless prosecutor. Maybe the cameras make live audiences redundant. Martina wonders what happens to people when the cameras shut off.

Her daydreams are interrupted. The judge is informing her, the accused, that she has three minutes for rebuttal. "This is the allotted time according to Lawyer's Second Principle, established year 235."

"I wasn't told I'd have time to speak at all," says Ward.

"2 minutes, 52 seconds before trial conclusion," says the judge.

So she'll have to improvise. Suddenly, Martina can feel the weight of the statue's eyes on her- every Hollywoodite watching this trial. She's become a kind of famous figure recently, and mostly by accident. Not that it matters to the noocracy; they just want to make her look bad. Chase people away from her message.

Truth, if you're listening, Martina prays, as she has before, to the closest thing Mixtsists have to a formal god, I need back-up.

With a sigh, she starts off: "I'm not against Earth. Or New Hollywood." That's still a stupid name, she thinks, but doesn't press that particular point. "It's a fun place, but that's the problem. All we do is have fun. Our cities never turn off, our music never stops playing, the holo-suites never close..."

She remembers the first time she met a real Mixtist, in the ruins of some nameless alien city, squatting over a campfire. She told Ward about how bizarre and dangerous they thought holograms were; like solid lies.

"That's what they called them," Ward says, relaying this story to the judge and prosecutor. "'Solid lies.' And that's what they are. We spend all day in fantasies, but none of it's real, it just looks like it is. When the game is over, life is still exactly what it was before. Or life is worse off, because you weren't in it. We spend every day dreaming of Earth, but what is Earth? I don't know. I've never been there. Neither have any of you. We waste our time instead of pushing forward and making our real situation something worthwhile."

"What about terraforming?" the prosecution interrupts. "We're making the world better right now."

"They didn't invent terraforming in a holo-suite," Ward interrupts back, and realizes her voice is shaking like it's about to catch fire. "It's based on Old Earth tech anyway, we just filled in the gaps. What have we invented that's new? What does New Hollywood have to be proud of? Our music is 300 years old. Back on Earth, they wrote new songs every day, about anything they wanted. Why can't we?"

She wonders what a new song would sound like. It's a really sad thought. "I don't hate this planet. If I did, I would have run off and joined the Zetans, like a doctor we all know about." Rumors from Bodi's colleagues occasionally leaked into the ravenous, scandal-hungry Hollywoodite media. Slowly, the public- and Martina- was starting to second-guess the ECU story about his 'kidnapping.' "Last week, there was a march on the U.N. Memorial in New Beijing. Two hundred thousand people attended. Do you think they came for no reason? This is a lot bigger than I am. Everything we do is a lie, this government is made of lies, this whole trial is a fucking lie, and people are starting to-"

At this point, the prosecutor slaps her.

"Sorry, your honor," he says, while Ward rubs her cheek in shock. "I just couldn't bear to listen to that anti-Earth nonsense any more."

"Sustained," affirms the Judge, even though that doesn't strictly make sense in this scenario. "Accused, you have twenty seconds remaining. Is there anything else you'd like to add before sentencing?"

"He slapped me," says Martina, all the words apparently knocked right out of her.

"Overruled," says the judge.

And at that, the accused's one, brief moment of having a voice is passed, and her sentence comes down on her.

~~~~~~~~

Addressing: @Crusader Lord


Envoy Christensen,

I'll start off by thanking you for your actions against that anti-Earth terrorist, Davids. I'm certain you'll be glad to hear that Tanaka has fully recovered from his injuries. Speaking of, I've watched over the footage of the incident, and

You know what, forget it. I'm just going to be honest with you. I haven't watched over the footage of that incident. The reason I'm contacting you is because some other people have, really high-up and educated ECU people, and they're getting pretty worked up about it. They said that you moved too fast for a "baseline" human, and that you seemed too strong for a man of your age. I won't lie, the word "inhumans" has been thrown around a lot lately.

They think that you're genetically modified, is what I'm getting at. Now, I'm not judging you for that, if you are, but it's a question my government wants answered, and they're sending me to answer it. If we could maybe have a talk about that- I'll buy the drinks- and maybe afterwards our two peoples will be able to pursue better relations.

Call me,
Andrei Fedorov, Earth Cultural Union, Oligarch.


~~~~~~~~

Starring: Savant Heralds and Kayla

Addressing: @Sigma


"These Columbians sound... interesting," says Kayla, an aggravating but politically weak Oligarch, who has somehow managed to get herself involved in every situation since the blockade ended.

"They're a lurking threat," corrects Savant Heralds, the one true leader of New Hollywood- whatever those discontents crowding the streets might say.

"That's why we need to talk to them, Heralds. Didn't they have some mercenaries who helped us? Maybe they're sympathetic."

Heralds grimaces. He doesn't like thinking about the war. Already, it's proving a black mark on his rule that future Savants would 'learn from' in the worst way. But appearances must be kept. "Perhaps, my young friend," he says. And then he smiles in a way that is meant to be fatherly. "Why don't you go and see them? Talk to some of their diplomats, see their cities, take as much time as you need, and give me a nice full report on them when you get back."

Kayla smiles. "You just want to get me off New Hollywood, don't you?"

Heralds has to sigh. "Yes," he confesses, deadpan. "Now... just go, please. The Columbians can put up with you."

The girl laughs. And in only a short time, she's approaching the United Republic of Columbia's home system, sending out requests from the ECU for a formal discussion. Time to see what really makes these people tick.
@Tortoise are you cool with my activity being... low?

Due to the nature of my nation if anyone has anything they want to discuss I am down for it, but just due to my new job I'm not sure how often I'm going to appear with the drive to do solo posts.

I have half of one done but I don't know when it'll get finished.


You're fired!

Jk, jk, of course it's fine. Your real life is more important. Besides, the posts you've done already have given us an absolute ton to reference and react to; the deals you have with different nations, the revelation of the Zetans true homeworld, and the whole megastructure theme. Even if you were to never post again, you'd have left an imprint. So I understand if you need to slow down your posting a little. You can just be the powerful corporation lurking in the background for now
Man, someone always beats me to the chase when new players show up

@VXGreen
Always open. Make sure you read over the OP, as it has most of the info you'll need. In fact, I just now added a new section, labeled "New Players" that should help you get started. It contains suggestions of what to do when your NS first gets accepted, and a brief run-down of game events so far called the "galactic history book." (The history book is still incomplete, but I plan on finishing it out when I get home from work. )

Finally, I recommend joining our discord server. It's where most of the planning, talking and worldbuilding for future posts happens, so it helps not to be left out-of-the-loop. Link: discord.gg/ZKcvNr2T4K
@Aleranicus
Yo, I love it so far. Just a really cool vibe. I can't wait to see how it looks finished.

And yeah, Raylah is right: I've seen some great sheets go nowhere, because the writer never posts. And I've seen some mediocre sheets redefine roleplays. Personally, I think that the ECU sheet is way below my usual standard, and I wrote it in a rush, but I've still had so much fun with it. So don't worry about making it perfect. Just make it something you can play
Hello there. Been a few... weeks months since I originally posted.

Do you have room for a SolarPunk Neo-Aztec Federated Aristocracy? Or yall full up on those?


No solar punks yet! And your whole idea sounds amazing. I do believe Irredeemable has also touched on Aztecs a bit- but only very lightly, since he has a hispanic inspired nation. I wonder how they'll interact

And as Time Master helpfully mentions, our Discord is a great place to jump on. It's where like 90% of planning and discussion goes on, so it's important for staying fully in-the-loop.
(Starring: Abadi)


"You are now Acting Liason of the ECU Meeting Place Diplomatic Staff," her holo-butler answers Abadi. "It is completely up to you what to do."

She nodded. There's no other answer you can expect when asking advice of a hologram, but sometimes you still want to try for a sounding board. "It's all so complicated."

"Shall I put on some music?" The butler asks, in a tone carefully balanced between decorum and helpfulness.

Abadi considers it. The Meeting Place is always so much quieter than New Hollywood. It's like a morgue. "Yeah," she answers, "let's hear some Led Zeppelin. As loud as you can make it."

Which turns out to be very, very loud. As Immigrant Song brings the steel, dead walls of the ECU segment back to life, she finally considers all the work in front of her. There's a lot of it.

~~~~~~~~

(Starring: Yun)


Yun is in a small room, sitting in a circle of chairs that don't match. Few things match on New Hollywood, of course, so neither him nor the others are surprised to see a plastic folding chair, a tree stump, an ottoman, and a small throne all together. The more shocking thing is the news they're hearing.

"They're really cutting us?" Bisonette asks, from the stump.

"So this is what we get?" asks Smith, from the throne. "After that nightmare on Zeta? We come home and, what, half of us lose our jobs?"

"More than half," Yun corrects him. He's the one in the folding chair.

"Bullshit," declares Bellin, proudly exhausting my means of describing which chair he's sitting in. (It's the ottoman, alright? Why did I do this to myself.) "It's just bullshit." With the clapping of hands and grunts of approval, all the other men agree. Yun is the leader of this group, but Bellin is always a strong second. Maybe too strong.

"But why are they doing it?" someone asks.

"We lost the war," Yun answers, shrugging, before Bellin can interject. "They blame us for not busting up the toasters. The people on the streets are all in a fuss about it, protestin' and stuff."

"Yeah, boss, that's why the need us!" one of the other protectors catches the moment. "We the ones who know how to put 'em all down." More sounds of general agreement from the gathering.

That is, except for Yun, who stays silent. He has been thinking about that exact question lately, and keeping up with the news for the first time in his life. And he has come up with a different answer. At last he says, dropping fully into the expected phrasing of a protector: "I dunno, boys. Those toasters hit us pretty hard. People are comin' back all messed up in the head, and the people have got used to not havin' us around, watchin' them at every corner. They don't want us back. Why would they?"

Nobody answers. In one way or another, they all know it's true. The people have gotten used to a greater feeling of freedom on New Hollywood, without the omnipresent threat of violent protectors. And with their very public failure at Zeta, the government is just itching for an opportunity to put all the blame on the 'incompetent' protector organizations. Soon, most of them will be out of work, and all of the rest will have their funding torn to scraps. It's the end for them.

"...come on, boys," Bellin says. "Break time's over. Let's get back to it."

~~~~~~~~

(Addressing: @Raylah)

(Starring: Abadi)


Abadi, technically 'Acting Liaison Abadi' right now, starts with the Undefeated. She figures it's easier to get into work with a topic you already have an interest in, and she's come to consider Guardian Blackwood to be almost a friend.

Which does make all this a little disappointing. The Undefeated's recent announcement is soaked in that kind of flowery language other Oligarchs might appreciate, but Abadi can hear through it. The Undefeated want to stay in the galaxy's good graces, so they're leaving the ECU to keep fighting alone. Walking away.

Six months ago, she would have been more upset. But recent events have her thinking, and despite her own hand in starting this war, Abadi isn't as confident as she was when it began. The Zetans are strange, but they're one people among many, and could have been ignored. Maybe the ECU should have left well enough alone.

Still, they simply have to respond to this. Allies or not, a borderline betrayal cannot go unnoticed. New Hollywood cannot develop a reputation for being walked over.

When Kelsie next checks her Meeting Place messages, she'll find a short word from Abadi:

Guardian Blackwood,

I was surprised to hear your Meeting Place announcement. In the interest of courtesy, I will say that I was glad to see someone defending our position. However, I was shocked to hear of your withdrawal from the war. We had not discussed this. I would have believed the Undefeated better than the retreat without a word.

In the future, I hope you will consider consulting with allies about decisions in joint military operations. If you wish to maintain alliances, that is.

In Memory of Earth,
Liason Abadi.


~~~~~~~~

(Addressing: @Irredeemable and @Crusader Lord)

(Starring: Abadi and Tanaka)


Tanaka's heartbeat is getting weaker, and weaker, and weaker. There's two bullets lodged in it, or so scans say. Nobody can look- there's no doctors. In a diplomatic installation with maybe a dozen people, it wasn't thought to bring one.

Holo-suites aren't fit for it, either. He's in one now, made up to look like a hospital room, but it's as artificial as any program. All it can do is monitor him. And today, that just amounts to giving Abadi continued updates on Tanaka's failing condition. Every heartbeats tears open the wounds again...

"Do you like the music box Christensen sent?" Abadi hasn't known how to talk to him since the event. She barely knew before.

"Yeah," says Tanaka, who has also not known how to talk since the event. He seems to keeps thinking of it all as a game that will end soon. Sitting up in his hospital bed, listening to holographic machines pretend to beep and whir all day- the sound of music must have been a welcome change. He insisted on sending an official-sounding 'thank you' note to Christensen for his concern and generosity.

The medicine they sent didn't help, however. Seemed better suited for that tougher Xandalian physiology; Tanaka's frail body could barely process it. One doses, and he was vomiting up his meals for an hour. It was safe to conclude that he wouldn't be getting any better that way.

Abadi sighs. "The New Hollywood Global Physician Organization finally responded to our request. They said it won't be possible to send a shuttle with a doctor in it for some time, and they said- that... they said based on your scans, by then, that..."

Tanaka put together what she was trying to say.

"So what do we do?" he asks at last. As if she can answer him. He's like a lost puppy. And he's stuck in Abadi's care.

"Well," she finally struggles out. "There are the Zetans."

The silence sits for a minute. "Yeah, ha-ha, they made that crazy offer to 'help' me..." Tanaka is prepared to play it off as a joke, but Abadi pushes on: "No, really. There are the Zetans."

He is at a loss for words.

"...the Zetans?"

"Yes."

"...the toasters?"

"That is what we call them."

"...the cyborg robots that we've been at war with? That we're still technically at war with?"

Abadi scratches her neck awkwardly, and tries not to look him in the eye.

"Abadi," he says.

She continues to looks away. She's making a very good study of a spot on the wall.

"Abadi," he says again, sitting up suddenly in his bed- a motion that makes him cry out, wheeze and gasp for air. That third bullet is in his lungs. He coughs, bringing a spew of blood up onto the white sheets, and this is too much for Abadi.

"Would you rather die?"

That evening, a reply of acceptance is sent back to the Zetan embassy.
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