Author Topic: Beyond the Petrarch  (Read 3782 times)

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Offline Rheyah

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The Galatea changed everything.

Before the war, the loss of an Orion was considered a terrifying defeat.  Terran power and their very existence as a species seemed to hinge upon their immense frames.  At two kilometres long, an Orion in a non-geosync orbit could be seen from the ground.  For the millions that lived in space based installations, their dark metal shadow represented stability and the guardian of the bright future of Earth.  When the Galatea was torn to shreds by the Lucifer's hellish artillery, the GTA populace suddenly and sharply became aware of how feeble even the greatest of material science could be as a source of inspiration.  It had taken a fierce propaganda effort to silence her loss.  Her wings were remembered as martyrs, her crew as heroes and her final battle as a last stand against overwhelming odds.

No one wanted the horrifying truth of the Galatea's annihilation at the hands of the Shivans to ever settle in the consciousness of its people.  Guncam footage and the accounts of her survivors were classified to the highest degree possible.  In a way, it was almost fortunate that the destruction of the Lucifer had diverted the attention of the Lost Generation so completely away from just how close they came to utter annihilation.  Reports from Vasuda Prime had been scarce.  The GTVA had yet to be formalised and the only real co-operation between the two governments was through the military.  Only years after the event did the GTA's fledgling interstellar paparazi finally air the footage taken from the orbital platforms moments before the Lucifer's main beam cannons began their thirteen hour bombardment.

The Vasudans never looked back home for inspiration.  As the humans reeled from the loss of Earth, the Vasudans took to the stars and made the void their own.  Their militaries began to trade tech.  The first beam cannons came to fruition in a Vasudan lab using Terran research staff.  The first Sobek class corvette used blended materials science derived from the remarkable Reinstrom Institute, the first truly great interstellar physics research institution.  The Vasudan penchant for reactor technology merged with Terran materials science and advanced weapons tech.  Piece by piece, the GTVA became a force that in the eyes of its populace, could contain and defeat the threat that had all but wiped them out years before.  They became confidence.  They became safety.

So, this brings me to myself.

I was but a young child when the first rumours of dark ships and hellish weapons came leaking from the Net in Beta Aquilae.  The public had long lost interest in the slowly burning war between ourselves and the Vasudan people.  It had become a fact of life.  The military were disinterested enough to barely even consider the prospect of censorship on public debating regarding an inevitable settlement.

When the first news casts began to discuss it live on air, their response was a series of tepid Captains and Colonels who explained such drab military details as deployment schedules and potential Vasudan atrocities.  As ever, they were fought tooth and nail by the usual skeptics, rationalists and demagogues who drown the gory details of war with reason, skewering the concept with remarks regarding the cost per anti-matter bomb and better uses of the funding.

What was remarkable as that they were correct, of course.   Slow burning wars quickly burn money.  If there was a threat, it had passed a long time ago  Vasudans viewed the war with as much disdain as did our populace.  The scientific establishment on both sides had already begun to unify their work despite fruitless threats by both governments.  It was no more a state of war than a state of terminal engagement.  The political and academic debate had already been settled.  Fringe elements of both powers had begun to trade.  Corporations in particular were keen to cease all conflict as soon as possible and expand into the other political association.

We may not have had the GTVA, but we would certainly have had something.  Maybe even something better.

So you will understand, dear reader, that the rumours of alien contact seemed far fetched at best.  The militaries of both powers had been slowly exhausted throughout the years and would have settled for any excuse to end what was ultimately a fruitless conflict.  It was only when Ross 128 went dark that we realised how wrong we were.

For fourteen years, the propaganda machine of the Galactic Terran Alliance had tried in vain to make a proud, philosophical people the enemy.  Some had believed it and they signed up to the military with glee, but most others had not.  Both sides lost most of their skirmishing elements in Ross 128 and Ikeya even before the Shivans had fully committed to an offensive.  The public were slow to respond.  My Vasudan pilots confirm that their own public were similarly skeptical, though their public debate was coloured by a prior knowledge of the Shivans through the discovery of ruins of the civilisation we have cunningly named The Ancients.

For those of you fortunate enough never to encounter a Shivan, you may only have knowledge of them from stories passed down by friends and family or what scant information you can derive from the Net.

When the Shivans attacked, both the Terrans and the Vasudans realised that their understanding and knowledge of war was influenced by an understanding of a fundamental morality behind the action.  Those tribes and groups foolish enough to consider genocide a viable tactic had been roundly condemned and thoroughly annihilated in return, for the preservation of the species.

This held throughout history, until the Shivans arrived.  Never before had we encountered an enemy so virulent, so singleminded and so sociopathic.  The Shivans waged war by their very nature.  How foolish are we to consider ourselves the masters of war compared to such creatures.  They did not care for conquering worlds or landing troops.  They did not care about territory other than to occupy it and sweep it clean.  They waged total war in a manner that no species reliant on reproducing could ever hope to match.

This mere fact alone leads me to believe one of two terrifying conclusions.  Either the Shivans do not have children, or the Shivans are more vast and more expansive and aggressive than any strategist has openly stated they have considered.  I believe I am far from alone in this conclusion.

We won the Great War.  It was far from a decisive victory but it was enough.  It bought us thirty years of peace.  We rebuilt without our blue planet and we stabilised and began to explore once again, bolstered by powerful new technology, new tactics, new strategies.  How foolish do I look, writing those words.  We should have learned from the first time.  We did not.  We went into the cosmos and we were burned, once again.  We barely saved ourselves from utter extinction and lost seventy eight million people in the process.

What made the Second Incursion so much worse than the first was the civilians.

The evacuation of Capella had come soon, but not soon enough.  As they poured through the node, the civilians brought stories with them.  Not the stories of what might have been or what could have been as had existed in the Great War, but documentary evidence.  They came with tales of heroic pilots dooming themselves against vast Shivan hordes.  They spoke in hushed, terrified tones of the destruction of the Colossus, once feted as the end solution to all war.   They passed by dead cruisers and corvettes, through debris clouds.  They witnessed flak and beam fire up close.  They saw the shadow of the Sathani, the oscillating subspace field and the vibration of Capella's outer layers as it turned the star they once called home into a traitor.

The one image that stood out above all else was surprisingly deceptive, however.  It defined how the public saw the war.

One civilian contractor piloting a small Elysium captured the moment a Deimos class corvette was torn apart by a lance of Shivan beam fire.  Though the footage has been analysed frame by frame by network journalists, experts and columnists alike, it painted an unmistakable picture.  The Shivans were death incarnate.  It was even possible to see the photon discharges of flash vapourising GTVA officers within the decks of the ignited corvette.

Fear spread like a cancer throughout the populace.  The GTVA had been founded on a military pact and the military industrial complex behind it.  It owed its very existence to the Shivan threat.  Now, with less than a third of its fleet remaining intact and half of them in dry dock undergoing desperate repair efforts, the GTVA's power base upon which it had relied so much as broken.

Politics flared on both sides of the divide.  Old hatreds reignited amongst conservatives who remembered the war with the Vasudans with hatred and derision.  How dare the GTA (they pointedly referred to it as such) gamble the lives of humans in an unproven alliance with the old enemy?  Cultural liberals took hold of a chance to finally attack the military industrial complex they despised while venting bile at the "bigoted Neo-Terrans".  The loss of so much military power resulted in a greatly reduced interstellar patrol fleet.  Crime spread with the fear in great waves.  Whole settlements went dark as wide spread looting cut power to communications.

There was no sense of heroism or of relief.  To the estranged people of Mother Earth, they were living on borrowed time.  Nihilism took hold in culture.  Food riots on starved stations wracked by piracy resulted in over a million deaths in under two months as organised saboteurs vented entire habitats into space.  Their perpetrators were old world religious fanatics who saw the Shivans as the agents of the apocalypse, and saw to hasten their return through ritual blood letting into the stars.

The change was more subtle amongst Vasudans.  The Vasudan parliament found itself under both cultural and political siege - how had the Vasudan Imperium changed in thirty years?  Was the GTVA truly worth the loss of autonomy?  A people drowning in artists and philosophers had lost its spirit.  It had become savage warriors as befit a universe dripping with blood.  Was this their fate?  Were they to forever avenge their fallen homeworld, only to die defending a graveyard?  Vasuda, they argued, had died with the planet that bore their name.

Either way, the GTVA response was sluggish at best.  Unlike the Great War, both the GTA and the PVN had born virtually equal losses fighting a defensive war in a nebula.  While their economies remained intact, their ability to project power had diminished almost to nothing.  Worse still, agitator members of the NTF still lurked in the shadows and when the first Vasudan settlement disappeared beneath a mushroom cloud, a new war loomed which the GTVA was ill prepared for.  Out of every hole poured the opportunists and vultures that pick clean all battlefields.  Pirates, mercenaries and criminals emerged from long held boltholes and struck civilian and megacorp stations in every system.  Vasudan piracy, almost unheard of prior to the Great War, became common place as civilian stations commandeered what few military grade transports they could and set about raiding nearby stations for food and water.

The greatest military alliance in the history of either species balanced on a knife edge.  With threat boards lighting up red across Terran-Vasudan space, a coherent response was needed and quickly.

There are no more chances.  The GTVA made a decision.  Their theorists suggested that simple logistics put an absolute limit on the territory the GTVA could be willing to defend whilst nodes remained uncharted, unsimulated and unsecured.  The GTVA put up walls and hid behind them.  They succeeded there by abandoning here.  I couldn't do it with them.  I resigned, and now I am out here.

For as long as humans and Vasudans have lived, there have been those that dwell on the cliff above the precipice.  Someone, somewhere has to look after them.  That is my duty and that is what I will die doing.  In my pilot days I blew Shivans out of the heavens in the hope of preventing the apocalypse.  Now I leave that duty to others.  The GTVA has abandoned these people.  I will not.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 05:41:50 pm by Rheyah »


Offline Rheyah

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The Shoals

"This won't work."
"Of course it will."
"You can't just swap the parts in from an old Valk and expect the Apollo's regulators to cope.  The Valk was a bloody interceptor, man."

To say Waters was exasperated was to direly understate the withering stare he directed upon the wayward jock.  "You do know what an interceptor is, right?"  A heavy wrench wrought a harsh note from the steel of the old fighter.  It echoed through the cavernous hangar.

Alex folded his arms, the dull fabric of his flight suit creasing in the dim overhead lights.  "I'm familiar."

"The Apollo's an old bird.  A good one, yeah, but her fusion drives weren't cooled like the Valks were."  Waters jabbed an accusing finger at a black tagged pipe within the bowels of the machine.  "I'll give you the events as they happen.  You start her up, everything's fine, get out into space, go for a burn."

The wrench slammed down again for emphasis.  "Then you burn.  Boom.  Explosion.  Lots of blood and guts all over space and I will be annoyed because you blew up my goddamn fighter."

"Right and what if you're wrong and I get an extra 20% out of the burn because of the uprated unit?"
"Oh yeah, you will.  That corpse of yours will be extra crispy."

Breathing a sigh of frustration, Alex eyed the craggy engineer.  To give the man his due, he was rarely wrong on this matters.  "So what the hell do I do with it then?  We don't HAVE a Valk to jam it into."

"That's your problem, sunshine," came the gruff reply, "not mine.  Fine me one of those corp birds that are based on the old biddy and I'll jam this into her socket with gladness.  It just ain't going in an Apollo."

"You're an awkward git when you want to be."
"You're an idiot every day of the week.  Sufficed to say, I suffer more."

* * *

"Another station went dark this week.  Wednesday, 21:35 hours."
"Which one?"
"Eldan Combine?"
"Yes.  One of their bio domes."

The Commander scratched his stubble.  The Shetland's CIC was an old, battle worn place at the best of times, but it never seemed more so than when her fusion drives were down.  Emergency lighting cast a dull, red glow upon the wrought steel and carbon fibre workdesks, accentuating every pit and scar the warship had earned through her years of service.  The only counter balance was the green and blue light of the tactical display, hanging in the air portraying a holographic mockery of Orkney stations' fortunes.

"Strike it off.  That is three in the last month."  His dry lips pursed.  "Have we any recent communiques regarding their situation?"
"No, Sir."
"This is concerning."

Renard leaned back from the tactical display, rising to his full height.  He'd never been the stoutest of men even in his years of military service and twenty years on the frontier had done nothing for his complexion.  However, at six foot two, he still had a presence.  His second had it too, though sometimes she was unaware of it.  He also knew her too well.

Alexandra Larel was not a tall woman but she'd have fit neatly into the GTVA's ranks with nary a whimper of male protest.  Five foot two of sharp features and shorn blonde hair returned his look with one of her one - one he'd seen in many officers during his career.  It was a practiced one.  She had something to say.

"You've been my XO for fifteen years, Ally," he said.  "Speak your mind."
"I have no evidence of it, but I think this is a campaign."

He arched a brow.  "Indeed?"

"Yes."  Larel started forward and reached into the hologram.  The plane of the system shifted and with a few gestures, a handful of icons rose to the foreground, blinking.  "I have been keeping my ears close to the ground - as you suggested, Commander."
"Good to know an old man's advice is still taken."
"Sir.  A lot of these attacks have been written off as pirate attacks - that's the rumour, anyway.  The assaults appear random at first inspection, but their timing is deliberately intended to coincide with periodic food shipments to five major Oort conglomerates and two inner system syndicates."

The Commander's brow creased.  "The profile of the attacks suggests massed fighter assaults.  No real firepower to suggest a sustained campaign."

"Sir," she said automatically, "except that certain allied stations have gone dark which my tactical analysis suggests could not have been accomplished without major tactical, bomber or capital ship support.  Pirates cannot sortie cruiser class vessels on a fancy, Sir."
"Some can."
"Not against such a varied range of targets, Sir."
"Hrm.  So assuming this campaign continues, what do you believe the end goal is?"
"To cut off food supplies to most of the Oort cloud and begin a containment or elimination operation."

"That's all very well," he said, scratching his chin, "but give me a prediction, Ally.  Where next?"
"Well, Sir, most probably Highfavour Station."
"That'd be ambitious.  The Combine's headquarters."
"Yes Sir."
"If they go dark, how long do our food supplies last?"
"Twelve days, Sir."

"Then," he said with finality, "we have a problem."

* * *

"So what are you thinking?"
"Nothin'.  You?"
"I just caught you staring."
"An' so?"
"I thought you were lost in thought."
"That weren't what I were doin' though were it."
"No, you were staring."

They stood as a pair, watching the distant boulders of the Oort cloud hang in the heavens.  Starlight rept across the dark metallic grit and grime that had caked their world for so long.

"Sometimes I wonder if I will ever see home again."  Her ragged jumpsuit, fraying at the creases, curled delicately beneath her folded arms.
"Gone, innit?" came the curt reply.
That earned the man a Look.  "I don't mean Capella."

He grunted.  "So what do yer mean then?"

"Somewhere solid?"  She shrugged.  "I don't know.  Somewhere I can put my feet down and feel earth?"
"Deckplate's solid enough f'me."

"You've got feet like hooves."  She smiled faintly.  "You would never understand the difference."

He shrugged and scratched at his ragged beard.  "Dunno.  Never belonged anywhere, me.  Jus' here.  Good people.  Good food.  Good booze.  Loads to do."

The woman paused, contemplating a stray fibre hanging off the sleeve of her jumpsuit.  She made it dance with a fingertip.  "You never feel trapped out here?  The rest of civilisation wrote us off years ago."

A long moment later, the woman breathed a sigh.  "Sometimes I envy you, Darell."

The old, crooked lips curled.  "Yeah, see love, that's somethin' to feel crap about."

* * *

"So.  Lay it on the table for me."
"Thought I already had."
"Apparently not.  So?"
"Its all on that bloody report you expect from me.  Takes wrench time out of my day."
"You have plenty of it."
"Don't I ****ing know it.  You any idea how much bloody effort it takes to keep this archaic crap online?  I stripped out fifteen metres of crapped up duct sheathing just yesterday."

She folds her arms.  Unlike the others, she has a stare.  The engineer knows it.  He turns away from his console and tries to meet it.



"...oh for ****s sake.  Don't give me that Tev Soldier crap.  Look, my boys and girls do good work but we aren't working miracles down here.  We do what we can with what we got and what we don't got is replacement parts."
"What do you need?"
"List is bloody endless.  I got half the systems on Orkney crapping out on us and you're expecting me to keep a prototype cruiser in one piece on top of all that."
"The Old Man wants his beam weaponry back."
"You still got the port and starboard flankers, right?"
"At half yield, yes."
"Unless you can get me a replacement WTR-74, that's all she got-"
"It's in the hangar."
"-and thos- wait what?"
"Bay 6."
" what the hell was this all about?  When the hell did we get hold of one of those?"
"I read your reports."
" what the **** are you doing down here?  You could have just said."

She smiles.

"You work best when you are annoyed.  Make the Shetland's main beam your priority."
"...I ****ing hate you."
"I'll see you in the mess."
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 05:23:03 pm by Rheyah »


Offline Rheyah

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Classified Level Rho

Presentation:  GTVA Security Council Central Chamber
September 18th, 2369
Distributed Warfare And The Concerted Response
Fleet Adm. R Petrarch


Thirty four years ago, we defeated the Shivan armada which presented an existential threat to our home systems.  This victory came at a materiel cost but the effect upon the stability of the GTVA has been lasting.  Our holding action in the Capella system was a success in so far as we managed to cut off an overwhelming military incursion with relatively minimal losses compared to the scale of the aggressor.  However, as the members of this Council are no doubt aware, this opinion is not widely shared.  We lost the bulk of our fleet defending Gamma Draconis and Capella including the Colossus.  These materiel losses have had a documented effect upon GTVA civilian morale.

Our fleet strength stands at 27% of its pre rebellion readiness with the loss of the Psamtik and the Colossus particularly notable.  Our corvette and cruiser fleet assets have diminished significantly in number and the damage inflicted on the Vega yards in the recent bombings have resulted in both a backlog of repairs and an inability to project power over wide areas of GTVA space.  At present, GTVI considers 79% of our territory to have ceded to locally vested interests.  While these vested interests are limited in scope and power, they provide a logistical difficulty in that they are both wide spread and have control over local supply lines.  In a number of theaters (CASE REPORTS ATTACHED) NTF squadrons have begun to act as local mercenaries and represent an effective deterrent and challenge to any small scale incursion our forces can present.

GTVI Numerical Operations have determined that without an effective solution to this logistical dilemma, the GTVA will effectively cease to exist within thirty six months.  Further, our chances of successfully resisting a third Shivan incursion should this occur become vanishingly small.  The situation is clear.  We must return our political, economic and military control to contested theaters while simultaneously exacting a solution to future Shivan incursions.  To do otherwise would be to doom both of our races to extinction.

To this end, we present a feasible solution to this dilemma:  The Distributed Warfare Protocol.


* * *

CLASSIFIED LEVEL RHO:  Unauthorised access punishable under the GTVA Security Act, Deneb Convention:  Section 21-3-5

Structural And Materials Analysis on Shivan Beam Cannon System Noting Heuristic Patterns and Crystalline Indices
Nature 2368-Vol 34-2324(124) - REDACTED
P Malgan, S Alan, L Anubisan (Institute of Plasma Research, Vega III Research Outpost Omega)

Abstract:  We subjected a captured, inactive Shivan large scale materiel plasma beam acceleration weapon to heuristic analysis.  The general structure of the material surrounding the weapon mount is probed using neutron analysis and a QF3D  QED plasma wakefield beam acceleration system with high energy electrons.  The mechanical and material structures of the weapons system are found to be uniform to an extent never before seen on a large scale construction effort with magnetic domains aligned down to the atomic level with little loss in domain energy.  Subspace domain probing efforts suggest large scale energy conservation violation occurs in unusual crystalline circuits with no known superconductive properties.  No method of projecting of magnetic field without entropy loss of stochastic plasma particle selection is found.   Unusual responses found to energetic excitation.


* * *


*****, GTVI Security Branch

SIGHTING UNCONFIRM:  SHV FGT, vol. 34-30-40-37.  Src:  civ contractor (DETAILS ATTACHED).  Second hand.  No vis.
Be advised.  GTVI-CLAUSE 37 in effect.  Investigate.


CO, GTD Impervious


Received this from GTVI Sec at 2340 yesterday (FWD).  Unconfirmed sighting beyond the Petrarch.  Seven systems distant.  Should be a hop skip for the Roma.

Probably another false alarm but GTVI has had odd reports coming out of that sector for a while.  While you're there, try and calm the locals.  If it's Etos again, don't be afraid to step in.  Deal with them or whoever is antagonising them as you see fit.

Fleet will remain at condition two.  Report back every twelve solar hours.  You have full theatre command until relieved.  Operate under GTVI Clause 37 - you have legal control of local law enforcement.  Direct them as you see fit.

We will be convening for the annual CXO dinner at 1600 on the fifteenth.  Try to get back by then.

Good hunting,



CO, GTCv Roma

Will do my best, Sir.


CO, GTCv Roma

Sir, finally got a proper answer out of them.  False positive.  Turned out as Etos combat drone gone awry.

Be advised of similar reports from other CorpSec AOOs.  Their MK 3 Static Defence Drone has recent aesthetic changes that confuses civvy tracking - looks like a Dragon from 25 klicks out.

Doesn't help they don't broadcast IFFs in the clear too.  Apparently its 'corporate policy'.  Told them to stop spoofing IFFs and to broadcast in the clear when operating the damn things.

They probably won't.  Will make best speed back for the fifteenth.  Keep my seat warm.

« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 04:23:35 pm by Rheyah »


Offline Nyctaeus

  • The Slavic Engineer
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Because why aftermath of Capella is often so noexisting in mods? Capella was literally a hell. Something that will leave a dire scar on terran and vasudan societies. Something I call The Capella Trauma and wanted to introduce in some mod, but never had an opportunity.

Potenial post-capella generation is gonna be generation of extremes. Radicals who want strong military and authoritarian government hoping them to protect common folk from cosmic destroyers, nihilists who believe that we're inevitably doomed waiting for the Shivans to re-emerge and finish what they started and finally, the conservatists - vasudans seeking serenity in ancient wisdom of sages and live like their predecessors used to, hoping to appease the angry cosmos, and terrans who desire nothing then safe harbour on their long-lost blue planet.

After everything we've seen in FS2, GTVA would be like "How the **** are we supposed to confront enemy like this?!".

And this thing fulfills this assumption well :yes: . Post-Capella is likely to be dark time of instability and immense social changes. Something that's worthy a campaign telling a story about it.
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Offline Rheyah

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Etos Industries Celebrates Bumper New Year But Experts Warn of Malingering

Etos Industries released its 2387 first quarter results to considerable fanfare after years of lackluster performance.  Net sales have increased to GCD 1.3 trillion (+17.2% on Q1 2386) with profits increasing by 8.4% to GCD 97 billion.  This is a recent up turn for Etos Industries, which for the last thirteen quarters has been a consistently average prospect for investors and potential business partners alike.

A little history is required for those of you more rooted in Core Zone prospects.  Etos Industries was founded in 2371 as a merger between two Altair-based mining magnates.  As with most corporations founded during that time, little state funding was available due to the pressures of the recession and the Disillusionment.  To paraphrase local business news, they grew "parasitically but organically", taking over weaker rivals and growing larger without any significant industrial oversight.  They were named the Treasury 2374 "Prospect To Watch" and this trend continued year on year until 2378 - the year the GTVA formalized the Petrarch Doctrine.

Etos Industries underwent a shift in strategy during those years.  As old investments grew under the new GTVA climate, Etos was one of the first adopters of the notion of Red Dipping - GTVA registered corporations investing in infrastructure beyond the Blue Zones.  The Red Zones experienced large scale migration in both directions during those years and Etos was able to confirm its presence in a number of systems.  This strategy paid dividends until recent years saw a downturn in those markets.  Market analysts believe this is due to the manner in which native Red Zone organizations have begun to organize - often forming co-operatives and alliances of their own which are able to compete for and control local resources.

So why the sudden change in profitability?

There are a few reasons that present themselves.  First is Etos' own proclamations.  Their recently appointed CEO, Ms Lynda Barker states "Our financial results are the result of a long underway and extensive re-branding and slimming strategy, focusing chiefly on our core competencies and extending our reach to new markets.  We are proud to be at the fore front of industry beyond the Petrarch Nodes and are committed to our long term strategy of developing undeveloped systems."

Etos amongst a number of Red Dippers have become more aggressive in the way they deal with privateers.  Red Zone founded corporations are not afforded full GTVA business protection clauses and are invariably unfavoured compared to Core or Blue Zone organizations.  This strategy is commonly known as Dip Padding, which means upping your profit margins through squeezing independent contractors and aggressively pursuing debt.

More concerning to potential investors is the rumours concerning possible Red Zone connections with the Wayward Sons of Capella, a well known and established paramilitary syndicate.  Etos denies these rumours in the strongest possible terms, stating that their official company policy "is to rigorously investigate all connections with Blacklisted organizations and report them to the central regulator".  This has done little to reassure sentient rights campaign groups who claim to have evidence of active collusion with criminal elements in at least three systems.

The recent acquisition of a number of smaller competitors in a variety of markets joins the complete change of staff in the boardroom.  Recent CEO Ausar Bastbadru was ousted after overseeing the final years of poor financial results.  While he could not be reached for comment, the Vasudan CEO was pivotal to a softening of a number of Etos policies relating to social inclusion and was popular in those communities within which Etos operated.  Perhaps it is indicative of the more aggresive approach they intend to take with their business strategy that they oust a well loved CEO in favour of a younger and if rumours are to be trusted, far more fiery CEO.

Watch this space.


Offline Rheyah

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Vasudan And Terran Weapon Designs Over The Years - A Primer

GTVA military historians have long argued over the eventual end state of the Terran Vasudan War, not just from a political or socio-economic perspective but also from a technological perspective.  It can be said that the T-V war was one in which the technological advancement of both species was heavily stunted in favour of military growth and there is some evidence to support that conclusion.  Weapons manufacturing was one of the few scientific regimes that suffered in neither organisation and both governments were in a constant arms race to find the advantage, right up until the moment the Shivans arrived.

There is an argument for a certain amount of technological convergence.  Both species realized early on that advancements in materials science brought about by subspace and zero gravity manufacturing techniques were beginning to greatly exceed the capabilities of kinetic action weapons.  As both species spread into space, the relative ease with which anti-matter could be produced through solar energy acceleration rigs made it an apparent weapon of choice, the difficulty of storing and producing anti-matter offset by the tremendous power storage capacity it allowed.  Both species fed their need for power with banks of ultra high energy fusion reactors, whose waste products were pumped through huge reactor baffles and used to drive the million ton machines both races used as warships.

The discovery of subspace advanced materials science by close to one thousand years inside of fifty.  Terrans and Vasudans first left their systems using small, unmanned rocket propellant launched spacecraft.  They now voyaged through the stars in indestructable titans, powered by fusion and anti-matter.

As warships became bigger and more powerful, new methods of inflicting damage on them were required.  Conventional explosives were hopelessly outmoded.  The battlefield of the Terran-Vasudan war was a nuclear one, where more firepower was exchanged in single capital ship duels than by the whole of human civilization up until that point combined.  The only effective way of delivering nuclear strikes was by projectile.

Here is where the two species diverged.

The Parliamentary Vasudan Navy rarely drifted from their initial approach to the war.  Dating back to the days of being a planet bound species, the Vasudan obsession with flexibility had always tempered their largely religious warfare with a respect for their body's natural durability.  Vasudan warfare was a brutal affair but it was not without its charm - the Vasudan's bony forearms and prodigeous strength allowed them to forgo the Terran innovation of the shield until late in their discovery of ranged combat.  As such, the standard Vasudan combat stance for generations was that of two weapons.  An old proverb amongst the Vasudan military goes, "foolish are those who see combat as a meeting of steel.  It is two such meetings."

PVN warships had an emphasis on point defense and deterring long range strikes through the prodigeous use of missiles.  Their warships were a battery of short range anti-capital ship plasma turrets, dedicated point defense platforms and then long range missile batteries designed to spew out vast numbers of self guiding missiles.  Terran vessels caught in duels with Vasudan warships had a matter of minutes to extracate themselves before the barrage of missiles became too much for their defense systems to withstand.  Those which employed fighter screens fared much better - Vasudan missiles had yet to reach the level of refinement where screening became impossible.

Early T-V era capital ships were equipped with heavy thruster driven torpedoes designed to spoof ECM and evade fighter detection.  These had extremely limited success against well drilled Vasudan CIWS technicians and crews.  Vessels would have to close to near ramming range simply to deliver their payloads.  GTA cruisers were typically overwhelmed in these early conflicts and often relied on numbers to survive.

Terran destroyers generally fared far better - their fighter crews quickly became skilled at screening ACGM volleys and even a small Terran cruiser could carry the lethal Hammershot PDMS, a micro-missile point defense system which could turn entire volumes of space into instant death zones for Vasudan pilots.

In a scramble, the GTA switched to unguided, single shot mortar-esque weapons with an extremely high exit velocity.  After close to eighteen months of losses, a form of countermeasure had been found to the remarkable Vasudan CIWS network.  This set the stage of the mid-war.  Vasudan warships outgunned Terran warships ton for ton, but a number of gifted non-flag officers (particularly the late Admiral Wolf) managed to convince GTA command to switch their approach in large scale conflicts.

Vasudan battlegroups, individually superior ship to ship, found themselves torn apart at range by massed mortar fire.  The Fenris cruiser made its debut appearance as a fast moving attack cruiser and provided one of the first true victories of the war.  A squadron of Fenris cruisers operating under the command of the then Commander Joseph Wolf cornered and crippled the PVD Tefnut as it resupplied at a forward base, forcing the Vasudans to withdraw the destroyer.

The war settled into a comfortable stalemate.  The Orion class destroyers were given a second refit equipping them with a full battery of the new Howitzer Fusion Mortar system.  The PVN fell back a system or two, fortifying their nodes and skirmishes went unanswered by both sides.  While destroyer  engagements were rare during this period, the Orion had a notable advantage on the Ramses attack carrier.

A number of historians claim the war never left the stalemate.  While this may not be as controversial a statement as it might have been closer to the foundation of the GTVA - certainly knowing as we do now, how uninterested both populaces had become in what was widely pilloried as a First Contact Gone Wrong - we would be remiss not to include four other major advances in our list.

The emergence of the Typhon class destroyer and its subsequent destruction of the Eisenhower gave GTA strategists collective pause for thought.  Unlike the Ramses, the Typhon was designed as a pure endurance platform.  Equipped with twelve of the newest Khopesh ACGM batteries, a vast fighter bay with construction facilities, phenomenal subspace mobility for a vessel of its size and the usual Vasudan attention to detail, the Typhon obliterated the majority of the 4th Fleet in Vega before retreating to hold the node.  While the Typhon itself was later destroyed in other circumstances, it represented a tremendous step forward in ship design which continues to resonate in modern GTVA ship design.  The Deimos class corvette in particular uses collapsed molybdenum alloys first prototyped in the Typhon.

It became obvious as time went on that Vasudan weapons technology continued to develop at a pace comparable to that of their rivals.  The advent of the FK series (unaffectionately known to Terran pilots as the FK-U missile) enabled Vasudans to finally compete with the Hammershot IV for fighter point defense.  The response to this by the Terran military came in the form of a projected plasma system breakthrough made late in the war.

Both sides had been struggling to keep plasma containment geometries stable past CIWS range.  While plasma weapons were drastically more powerful than any comparable missile delivery system, they were decidedly short ranged.  When physicists at the Rechenzentrum Garching announced the results of simulations of subspace field induced propagating plasma mirrors, the reponse was decisive.  A prototype was quickly produced and the result was the Deluge, the first long range plasma artillery ever developed by either race.

The effects of the Deluge were immediately felt in the PVN.  The first Orion to be equipped with Deluge weaponry was the GTD Galatea under the now Admiral Wolf.  Wolf launched an operation which destroyed the PVD Illahun and drove Vasudan forces back across half a system, ceding a volume that had been held for nearly four years.  The lukewarm response of the oppressed GTA citizens at the rolling back of this curtain is an enlightening one which is left for a more complete history of the war.

When the Shivans arrived, neither side were prepared.  Both civilizations were barely engaged in the slowly burning cold war with support on both sides of the divide at an all time low.  The Shivans came with advanced subspace based plasma weaponry and intimidating rapid fire plasma based CIWS systems which shredded entire fighter wings in seconds.  A single Shivan cruiser was capable of overwhelming entire fighter screens and their cruiser support by itself.  Worse, their fighters were shielded by a then unknown technology and it quickly became obvious just how ineffective the formerly superior missile based CIWS of both sides were against this new defence.

The development of countermeasures to the Shivan threat is well known and taught by military historians throughout the GTVA and thus will not be covered.  This includes the final stanza of this poem of warfare, the coda, the moment when both civilizations gave up their greivances with each other and chose to form the Alliance as we know it today.  The plasma beam weapon.

In many ways, the plasma beam weapon represents everything both races were striving to work towards.  That it required both Terran plasma physicists and Vasudan engine designers to finally reproduce the Lucifers' beam weaponry from readings taken at impact events on Vasuda Prime is a lesson for future generations.


Offline Rheyah

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The fleet doesn't get together very often.  The Initial Response Force battlegroups are semi autonomous, fully integrated commands with both Terran and Vasudan fleet elements.  We don't operate in traditional battle groups in the way the mainstream fleets do.  We also aren't delineated as the mainstream fleets are.  We operate with minimal logistical support far beyond the Red Line, as the parlance goes.  It's a demanding job and it requires a certain perspective.  You can't just go charging into a Red Zone waving the Silver Zeta and expect the locals to instantly co-operate.  We don't have the supply lines to operate full fleet actions out there and it only takes one nut with a freighter full of anti-matter to do a billion credits worth of damage to a corvette.

With that said, you can't be delicate.  There are rough types out there, nasty people whose M.O. is to just be as sociopathic as they can be.  They aren't the worst, though.  You've got the Red Dippers, the types who treat the Redzoners like disposable property.  That's what we spend most of our time doing.  Putting out plasma fires burning in the Red Zone colonies.  Make no mistake, though.  Space is a big place.  There are a million holes for rats and there aren't a million frigates and ten million fighters to plug them.

I think that's why they gave the Admiral the Impervious.  It's a never ending task and it takes a philosophical type to survive such a job.  A lot of the mainstream COs are all about The War.  When they aren't fighting the Good Fight, they're off training or drilling or all manner of different military style approaches.  That works, for them.  They get called on every once in a while to deal with pirate uprisings and everyone has a lot of fun shooting down the enemy.

Out in the Red, that doesn't work.  These people aren't GTVA citizens.  We let them live out there, but we don't help them.  They don't have rights - if they did, we'd have to colonise and that isn't in The Plan.  Our whole existence is dominated by one thing.

What if the Shivans return?

So we let the Red Zoners beyond the fortified Petrarch nodes be, for the most part.  They colonise and quarrel and fight amongst themselves and we step in when we hear something brewing that could threaten large scale efforts or we get reports of something that might be Shivan out there.  That's the horrifying truth that we never tell anyone.  We aren't rat catchers.  We're Shivan hunters.  It only takes a supposed sighting of a Shivan fighter to get a frigate or a small IRF task force sent into the Red Zone.  We've never found one, thank fortune, but we investigate everything.  Just in case we need to bomb another jump node.  I hope that never happens.

I'm rambling again, I know.  Sorry.  I wanted to get this out of my head and written down somewhere so I could explain all of this to someone.  Even just a computer.

I guess the thing I find most amazing is how is remarkable how words retain such power, even so long after they have been spoken.  They stick in your mind, revolving like gathering stellar dust, picking up anything that passes into their view.  They shape how you think and what you feel and in doing so, maybe they shape all of reality.

Isn't that what the old philosophers used to say before we discovered subspace?  That reality was contingent on some abstract layer of consciousness?  I wonder what madness birthed the Shivans.

Maybe the Vasudans will admit to it one day.  They'll reveal some wheelchair bound corpse and admit that yes, it was he that brought them into being.  Khalresh, my XO, likes that one.  She is such a stickler for protocol but that vocoder hides a dark and disgusting sense of humour.  It makes the NTF I faced in my youth seem very much an anachronism, that both my worst enemy and closest friend is of another species.

I was sat with the Admiral, talking about this very thing.  He always has me over for a drink when the Roma returns for her sixth month ReInt.  He sits there in that preposterous leather chair of his, reclining back and fingering whatever god awful Vasudan drink he has a taste for this week.

This time, however, just as I'm leaving, he stares into his glass.  I don't know what he could see in those murky brown depths, but cogs are turning.

"It's been twenty years since Capella," he said.  "Capella has shaped everything.  It's changed the way we live, changed how we think and changed what we are."

Then he looks up.

"In Sol, they won't even know Capella is gone.  They won't see it for nearly twenty five more years.  We'd better get home before they do."

* * *

"You aren't being serious."
"Forty seven.  I seek not to spread fallacy."
"I never knew."
"I chose to prevent your information."

Sip.  It goes straight to the head.

"That's not how you use that word, Khalresh."
"I was unaware I committed a transgression."
" that a smile?"
"I am incapable of such."
"I know that expression."
"It remains a deceit on behalf of your conscious mind.  You seek, yet again, to humanise me, Lilian Shawcross."
"And you are being obtuse.  Again"
"I share nothing in common with such an angle."
"That's not what I meant."
"My joints are acute at this moment in time."

A moment passes.

"How many years has it been now?"
"Which moment do you choose as reference?"
"I thought you believed in time as a..."

There is a wave of a hand.

"...fluid thing."
"Even a fluid may be marshalled."
"You're being difficult.  I am trying to be nostalgic."
"I do not believe in this Terran quality of nostalgia."
"I thought that was more of a Vasudan quality."
"Ours is not nostalgia.  It is obsession.  Twelve years."

Another pause, longer this time.

"I've read your file.  I don't regret anything, but why?  Why spend your life here?  There are commands you could have in the core fleets.  Why here?"
"I prefer the company of Terrans."
"Bull****.  Even I don't prefer the company of Terrans.  Case in point."
"A poor preference."
"You still haven't given me a real answer."

An adjustment of seating, of uniform, of robing.

"Terrans have a saying - those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  As do we.  Better to be the parents of tomorrow than the children of yesterday."
"...oh come on, everyone has quotes like that."
"I have never been a child of yesterday, Lilian.  In this wilderness of vacuum, we give birth to the future.  Were I simply waiting for the destroyers, I would surrender to fear of the past."
"We still hunt them out here, you know.  That IS why we are out here."
"Yes, but we hunt them.  Out here, they are the prey.  Never again shall we be theirs."

* * *


Thought you might like this.  Old lecture I got when I was in OCS STac.  Found it when I was looking through my stuff on the clus.  Thats your lady, isn't it?

Old memories die hard, mm?



A Short Primer to Subspace Warfare:  Strategy and Tactics
Delivered to OCS tranche 4-b, 2381 as part of OCS Strategic Talent Terran Fast Track Initiative
Lt. Cmdr. L. Shawcross
Chief Strategy Officer, GTCv Archon
IRF Second Strand

Thanks for coming.

There are two things a good commander should know about subspace.  The first is that subspace is fickle.  The second is that it exists at all.  The second is the harder of the two to appreciate.  I will try and elaborate to the best of my talent, but I'm going to offer an apology first.

GTVA Sci Ops sends a number of candidates to OCS every year.  I know a number of you are in this room.  To you poor sods, I send my apologies because this is going to seem outrageously basic if you have any understanding of spatial compression theory.  You know as well as I do that there are reasons why subspace geometries grow languid away from gravitional fields and why nodes form and collapse, but they aren't important to this lecture.

Simply put, subspace makes interplanetary travel possible.  It also makes interstellar travel possible, but the mechanics of interstellar travel are ironically far easier than interplanetery travel.  It also places substantial technical and energetic constraints on interplanetary travel which must be considered by any strategist worth their salt.  To be an effective strategist in an era of subspace combat, there are three important concepts which you must understand.

The first:  subspace travel is energetically expensive with drive size determining drive effectiveness.  To expand upon this;  the size of the drive determines how far you are able to tunnel and how difficult it is to open a valid geometry.  This has an obvious and immediate consequence - ships with a lot of drive power and space dedicated to drive power move a lot faster than ships which don't.  To counter act this - they also take much longer to move.  A block 3 Orion refit charges its drive assembly in Code Blue e-jump conditions in eight minutes.  A Hecate clocks in around six point five.  That's an eternity in a heated battle.  You can imagine how long it takes under normal operating conditions without burning clean through your heat sinks and any em-ractor modules you have installed.

The result is that most of your subspace mobility varies from platform to platform.  A number of IRF outfits use sub-skimmers, which are literally light freighter platforms with c-moly plating designed solely to get in and out of deep interplanetary space in extremely short time spans.  We use them as SAR platforms but also as strike platforms as well.  They jump in, disperse a cargo of two or three wings of fighters and jump out within fourty seconds to a safe distance, awaiting a response.  Those of you who did your reading for Advanced Subsystems Maintainence will be aware that the design specifications for the old Argo military transport included a corvette class drive motivator.  Guess why that was there.  The Deimos in all its guises and the venerable Fenris had a staggering amount of subspace mobility for their size.

Vasudan engineering tends to favour a more progressive and measured approach.  Those of you fortunate enough to serve under Vasudan engineering staff will realize that they consistently get a good twenty percent faster recharge ton for ton out of their engine systems.  This comes at a consistent range cost.  Keep this in mind when planning for cross fleet deployments.  As always, Vasudan ships show an individuality we don't really appreciate in Terran deployments, but it is rare to find a Vasudan engineering crew chief who doesn't have a full up to date spec of his ship ready to hand.  They usually take pride in it.  Do not be afraid to ask.

All but the most advanced prototype fighters are utterly immobile as far as subspace travel goes.  Sure, SoC and other spook outfits have advanced drive motivators which allow for deep insertion tactics, but as far as I know, those motivators involve rather expensive materials and precision engineering and maintainence.  They simply aren't cost effective for most materiel.  Most fighter engagements will happen within a tenth of a light minute of their source and only if they have direct line of sight.  Orbital battles should be planned with this in mind.

Secondly:  subspace travel is unpredictable and is stabilised by the presence of strong gravity wells at coupling ends.  The calculations involved in a subspace jump are handled almost entirely in fifth and sixth order differential calculus using five coupled tensor equations and involve subspace probing methods which have never been perfected.  nyone who has read the reports of the tactical nightmare the Shivans presented to the GTA and the PVN will be well aware of just how devastating an advantage the ability to send entire swarms of fighters halfway across a system at whim can be.

However, we are not Shivans, so we must accept that the coupled equations we have at best are just good guesswork and our field theory and implementation involves a stabilising constant which accounts for gravitational effects.  When spatial curvature is present and thus gravitons curtail the nascent tendency of subspace to flip a weakly applied subspace field gradient, subspace fields behave predictably and a direct A to B path is easy to apply.  These calculations take time even for modern computers, which must simulate and account for graviton probing in higher order dimensions.  To simplify further, the actual co-ordinates entered into a computer are merely a reference point.  The computer then has to calculate the actual path of the field between those two points, find a stable, none collapsing solution and then finally generate the field geometry required.

That we can do this at all is a miracle of modern engineering!  With that said, it still takes time.  Ships can jump without pre-calculated field geometries using a best guess approach but the results are often catastrophic.  The PVD Damascus incident from the Great War indicates the risk of crash jumping when they jumped twenty kilometers over a Vasudan desert trying to escape from the SD Lucifer.  The automatically ejected black box indicates they dumped a full drive charge into an unstable jump configuration.  The jump was less than four hundred thousand kilometers and it dumped the ship out with an opposite orbital velocity to Vasudan Prime itself, meaning it slammed into the desert at nearly 40 million ms.  Crash jumps are an emergency measure.  The tendency for poorly managed subspace field geometries to invert and slam you into a sun or a planet is not one to be trifled with.

Further, subspace travel is safer and faster if you are able to compute those geometries and do so in the presence of a gravitational field.  There is no actual difference between the distance travelled, but if you care enough to look the coupled equations themselves up, it becomes obvious that the fields grow more unstable the deeper into subspace they propagate.  Larger ships can counteract this with sheer drive power and improved computation, but there are limits even to this.  A local gravity well - even a large asteroid or a small moon - can mean a great deal of time and energy can be saved on relatively short jumps.  Use this to your advantage in the module war games.  Controlling the gravity well around any population centre can mean you have a tremendous amount of mobility the enemy cannot match - unless they are Shivans in which case, I wish you the best of luck.

As a rule of thumb.  Your fighters will be limited to short jumps.  Your destroyers, a military risk worth taking, move slowly but purposefully over large distances.  Use your cruisers and corvettes to hem in opposition and make deep strikes with the support of your fighters.  Subspace windows remain open for several moments and synced drive configurations can open the same window multiple times.  Use this to move fleets as units or sentry or strike fighters with a larger unit.  Keep to that and remember that Shivans don't follow those rules and you should have enough to pass this module.

Thirdly and finally:  subspace control is everything.  We have always had an understanding of subspace tracking built into our drive technologies, but subspace drive technology towards the end of the Great War was beginning to surpass the ability of all but the most dedicated arrays to track superluminal movement in a solar system.  Drives got bigger and more powerful with each passing year and we simply did not have the condensed space research on either side to advance it.  The discovery of the Precursor tracking artifacts changed all of this.  Now, a properly equipped fleet dispersed effectively can institute at least a two jump net around their forces and prevent all but the most dedicated of surprise attacks.  As a result, attacks on sensor facilities, comms buoys and even the modern AWACs are the key to allowing an entirely new dimension of warfare.  Protect your eyes, ladies and gentlemen.  They are your best weapon in modern war.

That concludes my primer.  I hand you back to the Captain, who will take you through the capabilities of the Chary-"
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 04:59:14 pm by Rheyah »


Offline Rheyah

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  • Will release something one day. Promise.
Rho II

ITEM 27356-BA94-13

Log File - Dr R. Jennings - dated 27/13/2387 GC
Postdoctoral Researcher -
Superluminal Optics Research Centre
Alto Pegasan Institute For Advanced Physics

I'm dictating this down with my results because I don't fully believe them myself.  I don't really know who to talk to about them.  If I tell Marco, he'll tell me to go and fix my input files.

Remember when they discovered faster than light neutrinos?  That was stupid but this?  This is insane, but you gotta keep quiet, right?  I mean, its just first order correction stuff, like... numerical instabilities working themselves out.

< SILENCE - 18 seconds >

I mean, its stupid, right?  But it's there.

Okay, so, there's a fallacy that's as old as maths itself, seeing patterns in the numbers.  It's like that prehistoric religious BS where people saw meaning in stones and cards and comets.  Thing was, I was just working off the real data.  Jake comes to me and says, "Rach, I got some weird stuff off the SUBCEP data when I was reducing it.  Can you take a look?"   I thought it was an opener for a conversation or something or an attempt to try and get me to have coffee with him but he just dropped this LUBkey on my desk and then went off all weird like he'd seen a ghost.  We all get like that from time to time.   Half the time I think I'm in the wrong career.

< SILENCE - 10 seconds >

So, er, anyway, I had a look at his data and he hadn't reduced it properly yet but sure enough, there was this really bloody big spike in the 13-26 EHz subspec band - er, this is a proper big discovery, by the way.  That's the band you expect to find subspace grav waves if you have a region of space time compression.  Anyway I did what any half decent PhD student would do and applied the Al-Qara metric to the Sanwell-Einstein subspace stress energy tensor on the assumption of a collapsing subspace metric and sure enough, there it is, 13.742 EHz spike.  Little off, but its margin of error stuff.

So I hunt him down later and ask him where his data was from.  He asks me if he's right.  I say I can't find any errors.  Then he gives me this really haunted look and just says.


At this point I'm crapping bricks, but I'm not some little girl.  He's got to be wrong, and I've missed it.  This time we both sit down and look through it all.  Over and over and over.  Must have drank ten litres of coffee over the first few weeks while it sank in.  After our brains went numb we even pulled in some of the pharoahs to check our calculus and to run simulations, not telling them where we meant.  We spent six months looking at this data and every single time, we get the same thing.  An extreme spike at 13.7 EHz.  Indicative of subspace gravitational compression waves.

Here's the scary thing.  There's a big object called the Great Attractor, right.  It's an astrophys object that we thought was pulling the Milky Way towards it but that was sort of disproven in the 2030s.  We found some huge supercluster that was supposedly attracting everything and I don't see any reason why that's changed.  On a whim we got some old SUBCEP data and applied a new, more accurate algorithm to it.

It's the same damn signal.  Time delayed and doppler shifted due to the tachyonic compression of such large distances, but it's there.  13.7 EHz with a travel time of 47,000 years, give or take a thousand.  It's not just there though.  It's everywhere.  Capella.  The Attractor.  The galactic nucleus.  I'm getting the same signal from Andromeda.  Not the Large one, but the Small Magellenic Cloud.

It's the same goddamn signal.  I hope I'm not right.  I really do, but if I am.  Oh god.

The Shivans are compressing space.  If it is them, and I've got no reason to think it isn't, they're engineering entire galaxies or...  What?  I mean.  Entire superclusters!  This damn signal is everywhere!  What the hell are they doing?!
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 04:59:33 pm by Rheyah »


Offline Rheyah

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  • Will release something one day. Promise.

"Where the hell are they coming from, Jackson?"
"How the hell should I know?  That's the whole bloody point of an ambush."
"Find out then!"

Larel wasn't sure if it was the blood red of the emergency combat lights within CIC or the oozings of the fresh wound above her eyes which was tainting her vision.  The two had a tendency to merge.  It had occured to her in the past that there had to be a deliberate reason for combat lighting to be a dark shade of red.  She gripped her chair and stared at the flickering TacDisplay.

It was a mess, not least due to the patch of skin she had left when her head collided with the crystalline edge.  The ECM had flooded in early.  Her sensor tech was good, but whoever was doing this had TevTech or equivalent.

"Maynard, can you clear up this jamming?  I can't see a damn thing here."
"Tryin'.  I think I got a fix on their screamer.  Rocks are makin' it hard."

The deck lurched once more, the lights overhead crackling as beams deeper within the ship strained.   The impact alarm was little more than a monotonous warble at this point.   One of the dancing contacts flickered for a moment and solidified.  It caught her eye.

"Gunboat, octant five," she barked.  "See it, Jackson?"
"Think so.  Looks like a Precipice class.  They've got a turret solution on us."
"You think?  Helm, bring us about to-"
"Oh hell.  Vampires, vampires! "


"Precipice gunboats aren't supposed to have torpedo racks!"
"It's not the gunboat, Ally.  They have bombers coming through octant three."
"How far out?"
"Four klicks.  CBDR, impact in twenty five."

From bad to worse.  "Great," she muttered.  "Just great.  Do we have an escort or are they sitting on their hands?  Tell Viv to get bomb popping or we are dead."
"Alpha lead, we have inbound vampires, octant three.  Request you splash 'em."
"PD, perimeter at one klick-"
"Got it, one klick.  Echo One through Three to salvo mode and saturation, octants two, three, six and seven."
"Kara, get us-"

Another impact slammed Larel forward out of her chair and tore the weakened harness apart.  Fireworks ignited in her chest, twisting her diaphragm.  The pain gifted her brief repose, drowning her in a sea of blood and adrenaline while her ship whined around her.  Stars twinkled in her vision.  In that groggy netherworld, one thought after enough found itself stranded in the empty cavern of her mind.  They milled around, each awkwardly seeking her attention with the slightest of gestures.  All of them, she knew, equally urgent but never closer than a thousand klicks away.

A blooded hand went to her chest and she sucked in a breath, the first since the hit.  Her crew around CIC were drifting through a foggy mire, each trying to gather their senses.  The ringing slowly subsided.

"Report," she croaked.
"Er...  Lower decks-"  Jackson coughed.  CIC's filtration was damaged.  Smoke was drifting.  "Lower decks report that was a magazine.  DC team is on it."
"Did they hole us?"
"Think so  Bulkheads are down, seems to have contained most of it."

"Kara,"  Even the strain of talking was too much.  That impact had cost her a rib or two.  "I want this ****ing boat turned around and I want that gunboat lanced."
"Working on it!  I'm down two maneuvering thrusters.  Attitude control is wonky."
"Viv reports vampires are down, bandits scattering.  We're clear on the gunboat."
"Good.  As soon as we're clear, bring the main lancer up and fire for effect."
"Got it."

The one thing no one ever expected in the Red Zones was a beam cannon.  Allyn would gladly teach them why no one ever wanted that.  That was, if they survived long enough to do so.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 04:59:41 pm by Rheyah »


Offline Rheyah

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  • Will release something one day. Promise.
Code Black

They had built a home in a corpse.

A stressed beam far overhead yawned, shaking loose a sprinkling of dust.  Merino sneezed, drawing the baleful gaze of one of the establishment’s more dour patrons.  The military man shot a look back - he wasn’t taking any crap from a freighter jockey.

They locked eyes for a long moment.  Merino gave him a nod, raising his pint.  He got a rare nod in return and the man once more set his eyes upon his drink.

Merino wiped his nose with the back of a grimy bit of cloth and gazed up towards the ceiling.  These old stations had a habit of finding ways to invade your lungs.  The system was strewn with them, sewn together hulks of metal with ten million warm bodies scuttling around from warmth to warmth, scraping together an honest living in amongst the flickering lights and damaged equipment. Unfortunately, you had to be dishonest to make an honest living in the Red.  Most of the honest folks ended up dead.

Another distant rattle shook the station to its core as it birthed yet more traffic into the void.  More dust in his pint.  Damn it.

“Captain Vilham, I assume?” came a voice.  It was feminine but curt.

“Major Vilham now.” Merino shot a glance skyward.  She was a tall one, but what made her impossible to miss was that haircut.  Buzzcut on one side, long on the other.  “You’re late,” he said, gesturing to a murky glass.  “That wine’s bad enough without all this rock dust in it.”

“My apologies”,  she replied, squatting her lithe form onto the heavy metal stool, “it is getting harder to move through the system unnoticed as of late.”

“I hear that, Helena.”  The recent cartel-feud had caused system wide instability.  “You said it was urgent.  If it’s about that brawl around the Sceptered Isle, there’s not much we can do.”

Helena gave him a Look.  It had lost its effectiveness over the years.  “Yes, yes, I know.  The Ref can’t intervene.”

“You know how it goes.  Only if it’s a real threat.”

“Right, and what would be a real threat to the Blues?  How many Mjolnirs do they have camped up by the node?”

“Dunno.  A lot.  Plus a battlegroup.  Do you have a point?”

Helena frowned.  “A lot of help you are to the poor folk out here.”

The pint had soured with the dirt.  “You chose to come out here, Helena.  I didn’t make you.”

“No,” she replied, “I wanted to help.  I just thought the brass would have more of an interest if they had one of their own out here digging through the dirt.”

“Yeah, well, you know how I feel about this place.  But I also know why the brass did what they did.”

“That doesn’t make it any more morally right.”

“It’s above my paygrade”, he replied, taking a pull.  It still tasted like crap, much like everything else.  “What’s the flash about then?”

Helena reached into a satchel she was carrying and retrieved a small data wafer.  She tossed it onto the table.  “This.  I couldn’t send it by s-band because if I did, I would have every dust-sifter all over my backside.”

Merino glanced at the wafer, then at her.  “You’ve been squawking on s-band for months now with that food initiative of yours.  Why the secrecy?”

“Just look at it,” she said, pushing it across the table.

He snatched up the data wafer and slid it into a socket on his arm screen.  The display lit up after a moment and he cycled through the haptic interface.  His brows narrowed at what he saw and he shut it off fast.  “...Is this real?”

“Yes,” she said.  “Genuine Code Black.  My source died getting me this.”

The Major felt a lump form in his throat.

“Ah hell.  You free for a trip?”

“The Roma?”


She nodded.  He downed his pint.  Might be the last relaxation he got in a while.  “Let’s go.”

* * *

Her scope scanned the flickering dark of the corridor ahead.  She gestured behind her.  The signitature clunk of mag boots slowly move to her side and another rifle joined her line.  A gloved hand sent her companion to a warped support strut.  He ducked down slowly in the zero gravity.

Not that it would matter.  Their guns were almost emotional aids now.

A wave of unearthly energy fizzled through her bones and made the ammo counter on her HUD dance between numbers.  Nothing had worked right on the ship for days, even her body.  The deck rocked beneath her.  A battle outside?  Who knew any more.

“Mendez.”  The voice crackled in her ear, even the static unable to mask the anxiety.  “Do you think they can track us?”

“How the hell should I know?” she replied, more glibly than she’d intended.  They’d been on strung out shape even before this mess with one battle after another.  Now this.  The CIC had fallen to the infestation eighteen hours ago.  Since then, she didn’t know what state the ship was in.

“Cap’n...  How the hell did they do this?” said the voice.
Carla bit her tongue.  “You’ve asked that before.”
“Yeah, but-”
“Is it going to help if I say the same crap I said to you last time, Private?”

There was a pause.  The deck rocked again.  Definitely a battle.  “No Sir.”
“Then stop asking stupid questions.  We just need to get the hell of this ship before they consider us a threat.”

They advanced one section at a time.  It was slow progress.  A handful of survivors trailed them through the hellish halls.  Five left, on a ship of six hundred.

Their cancer had begun as all cancers began, a creep building in the darkest recesses of a body.  Growing unnoticed, subverting and feeding on the very blood supposed to keep the body alive.  One emplacement.  That was all it had taken.

They’d lost engineering first.  It took control of the fusion reactors and main computers within six minutes.  Used the control of the subsystems to vent the entire compartment into space and then took control of all secondary power systems meaning internal defenses were worthless.  When their anti-boarding team responded, they’d been slaughtered.  It had taken less than an hour for the cancer to produce weapons platforms able to slaughter an entire contingent of armed troops with black market weapons.

CIC had rigged a secondary command post and were preparing to detonate a couple of their anti-matter charges on a timer.  Twenty minutes later they went radio silent.  That was about the time the command structure collapsed.  Every ship wide communication system collapsed.  Gravity vanished without warning.  The cancer hadn’t needed it.  They were a zero gravity species.

Carla had grabbed who she could, found an isolated compartment, sealed the doors, isolated them as best as she could from the main life support systems and prepared for a last stand.

Nothing had come.  Hours went by and nothing.  It had been a lot of time to think and mourn.

The corridors were quiet now, but it was difficult to maintain your sense of up and down without gravity.  Carla had done plenty of zero-g, but it was harder when it was the decks of your own ship you were walking through.  Corpses floated by in faint clouds of drifting crimson.  They had no real use for organic matter, after all.

A faint red light crept over the floor at an intersection up ahead.  Mendez snapped up her hand and her entourage froze to the wall.  She knelt down and gritted her teeth.  The weapon was heavy in her hand, but her aim was sure, for what it mattered.

It passed by, around fifteen metres ahead.  An oscillating ellipsoid mass of hellish colour, silently cruising through the drifting dust.  Strobes of crimson darkness stroked the walls and where they touched, they left behind mirrors of themselves, coating the wall in a shimmering blackness which morphed and then formed into slowly pulsing conduits of light.  The ceiling warped as they did.

It stopped and turned.  Mendez held her breath.  A distant thunder resonated through the deckplates.  Then, without another word, it drifted on, continuing its silent work.

“...hell if I know, Private.  We need to keep moving.”

In retrospect, they’d responded as best they could, shutting off decks, trying to hold the tide back long enough to regain control, but it hadn’t mattered.  In less than twenty hours, they had entirely reconfigured the ship.  Entire sections of the ship had gone missing where they had repurposed the material to better use.  Others had warped beyond imagining, stretching to carry ungodly amounts of power to remote sections of the ship.  You couldn’t get close to one of those unearthly conduits without feeling as if your skin was to rip from your bones.

Most of the others were mute.  They’d all been through the mill and most of them had been low level employees.  They’d signed on the dotted line and didn’t have military training.  Mendez had fought for the NTF in her youth.  That gave her something they didn’t have.

At least, that’s what she had thought.  The Shivans had robbed her of that too.  If Henderson didn’t stay quiet, she was going to shoot him to preserve her own sanity.  The escape pods were still intact.  Two hundred metres of dead hallways and a vague hope that whoever was out there was friendly.  That’s all they had left.

They moved on.

* * *

Commander Lilian Shawcross needed to pace, and she didn't have the room.

Like all of the Diomedes corvettes, the Roma was a ship of compromises.  They had been born out of the ashes of a decimated fleet, in the aftermath of a brutal war, during a time when the philosophies and motivators of war were changing.  The GTVA didn't know what to do about the Shivans.  They could barely hold their disintegrating power structure together.  Forged in the early days of the fleet refits, a half dozen melded and counterproductive design ideologies catering to a dozen demands posed by what remained of the Brass resulted in a chimera of a vessel.   

Her design brief had called for a rapid strike vessel with staying power able to operate in deep space and co-ordinated fleet actions.  Thick armour, but overstuffed and febrile guts.  Her guns and lancers put too much demand on her underspecced heatsinks, so when the lancers opened up, the ship glowed like a minor planet in a sunbeam.  She had legs too - the drive motivator was for a ship half her tonnage again,but also ran hot.  Her reactors could probably perform fusion on mud bricks, but were finicky Vasudan designs and Vasudan engine techs were a privilege, not a right.  To make matters worse, she was pregnant too.  A full squadron hung like old Earth bats through her sole cavernous space.

Something had to give somewhere.  The Roma, a Block 1 original, was a product of a military industrial complex which was desperate to defend itself, bereft of ideas and terrified of the dark.  With her stuffed, overdesigned guts, the Roma gave ground in the only place she could.

The outfitters had done their best with the CO's quarters, given the space.  The shelves were tidy, the bed was high quality.  They even found space for the traditional hard spirit cabinet, but what she didn't have was space.  After five years, Shawcross didn't mind so much most of the time.  IRF deployments were six months in, three months out, and life was always interesting aboard an IRF Diomedes.  Either the Zoners kept you busy, or the ship herself did.  The Roma had been mostly tamed long ago in the way all Diomedes crews eventually had to, given the sheer design spread of the various Blocks and refits.  As one of the oldest, and an active participant in the Pacification campaigns, she'd earned herself a few battlescars and her share of honour.

Some days though, she was a Block 1 Diomedes operating a month beyond the Petrarch, in semi mapped space with no military grade traffic oversight systems.  Today was one of those days.

It wasn't the done thing for a Commander to show concern in front of the crew, but with the Roma being her usual overstuffed self, the only place Shawcross could vent her concern was in the privacy of her cabin.  There wasn;t enough damned space.  She cast another baleful eye to the report on her screen.

Code Black.  The first in nearly eight years.

The Red Zones were home to almost two billion people, living outside of the controlled and policed Blue Zones beyond the massively fortified Petrarch nodes.  Independent salvagers, pirates, hauliers, freighters, mercenaries and stations making a living selling goods and provisions.  Finally, the Red Dippers - morally apathetic GTVA corporations taking advantage of the unregulated environment to engage in what could be charitably described as worker unfriendly business practices.  They had spread over a dozen systems or more, sometimes beyond even GTVI's ability to track them.  The Brass weren't willing to put up the infrastructure.  They had the Sol Gate project ongoing in Delta Serpentis, and who knew how well that was going.  Shawcross had heard rumours of odd transmissions from Sol, but nothing concrete, and the Brass were quick to quash rumours.  Developing beyond the Petrarches had become political suicide - if we expanded too far, would we encounter the Shivans again?

The GTVA hid inside its walled garden, and left the Red Zones to fend for themselves.  The IRF sorted out damaging squabbles, and waved the Silver Zeta for what little good it did, but the IRF mobilised for Code Blacks. No one know how much Shivan tech still remained salvagable, or active.  Barely anyone knew how to control Shivtech, and the sole example had been destroyed decades before.  Even there, concerning reports about what went on within the Hades had spooked GTVI for decades, and the result was an operations status known as Code Black.

She stopped pacing.  Enough with the stress.  Time to do her job.

"Incomms, XO", she announced, to the stuffy air.

It took a moment for the familiar robotic tones of her XO's vocoder to reply.  "Commander."

"Khal.  Get the Major, his guest, Hill and our acting CAG to Conference at 13:00 VST.  As of now we are operating at Condition Black."

There was another a longer pause.  Gears were turning.  "I understand.  XO, out."

A flick of a wrist brought up what passed for a system map of their operations theatre.  Scattered settlements nested in ruined planetary belts.  Major corp presence in the closely nested dense material field.  Solar collectors sun side.  A lot of mining operations - it was an old star, in the wake of an old supernova.  Heavy export traffic.  No habitable planets.  A workers hell.  Six days to get across the system safely.  Three if they winged it.  Not advisable in a system filled with dense debris belts around an old flare star.  Could end up becoming heavy elements to fuse in its waning core.  Fortunately, they had a few leads to work with.

Unfortunately, the nearest IRF reinforcements were two weeks away.  If they had a genuine Code Black, it could vanish into nothingness in some corporate lab and sit there being inert, or it could become an outbreak and threaten the Petrarch.  No one really knew, because they were working with hypotheticals.

A Block 1 Diomedes, her attendant patrol cruiser, a Rapid Jump Ship, 12 fighters against an entire system full of civilians on a Code Black.

Her pilots were going to have to roll the hardest sixes of their lives.


Offline Rheyah

  • 28
  • Will release something one day. Promise.
The Man Amongst Demons I

As I journey deeper into the abyssal realm of the Destroyers, I cast my mind to my successes and to my failures.

With each transition into the realm that the Destroyers seem most at home within, I grow further and father from my own.  I do not know how long or how far we have travelled.  The Shivans have little need to inform me.  As a young pilot, I battled the GTI and their insurgency.  Their secrecy and their singleminded intent are familiar to me.  Their motives and morals, their dream of a mankind freed from the chains of a rudimentary, primate existence.  Elevated beyond Gods and emperors, masters of subspace and the phenomenal forces that the Destroyers control.

My greatest success was achieving that which no species had ever accomplished.  A dialogue with the Shivans.  For a moment, if nothing more, the Destroyers were halted.

My greatest failure is that I may never know if my sacrifice and the sacrifice of the millions that suffered under the unavoidable tyranny of the Neo Terran Front is ultimately to bear fruit.  An alliance may be beyond my ability to provide.  I was always little more than one man.  A man with power, yes.  An Admiral and a soldier for humanity with a love eclipsing that of any self effacing patriot.

However, I believe I have awakened something that I did not expect within the Destroyers.  In sifting the ashes of their prey, they have grown curious.  I believe that curiosity is why I still survive.

Perhaps, then, I may awaken enough of a curiosity such that when the Shivans return to the crumbling GTVA, they may only wreak vengeance, not genocide.  I have yet to determine if the Shivans can feel hate, despair, anguish or anger, if they can feel at all.  Their unblinking visage is a haunting one.  Their eyes do not appear to recognise my existence.

What are they?  What is their purpose?  Are they nomads?  Wanderers without a home?  Or are they something else, something more fundamental?  Are they a force of nature or of entropy?  If so, why do they take the form that they do?  What if the Shivans themselves are not Shivans?  I have considered for a moment that perhaps the Shivans are not who they appear to be.   Perhaps this is a cosmic facade. some avatar of a greater power.   I chasten myself at such thoughts.  They lend more of their rationality to the irrational than to the science that brought me here.

Perhaps then, the answer lies not in who the Shivans are, but in what makes the Shivans.

My greatest regret is that I share these thoughts with myself.

* * *

They seem to understand that I am unlike them.  I have never seen them eat or speak, even to me and yet day after day a receptacle of some foul liquid is brought to my chamber, if you can call this such a place.  The first time, I was forced to choke it down.  Now, as the hours, days and weeks pass me by, I grow accustomed to its taste.  It has a metallic tang to it, much like I imagine a tube of mercury might taste were it not lethal.  I did not ask them for this.  They simply seemed to understand.

As far as I am able to tell, mine is a unique arrangement.  Since the last of my officers killed himself, I am all the Shivans have remaining in their custody.  If they eat, then they do so in secret.  Their communication between ships appears to be the same as their communications between..  persons.  I remain blinded to any difference from Shivan to Shivan.  They appear identical, even down to the individual markings.  Perhaps they are simply a shell.  Am I a figure of amusement to them, some ascended primate stupidied at a distant mirage?

If so, they demonstrate this no more than they demonstrate their pretense towards ingestion.

They do not appear cruel or callous.  It would be simple for them to accomplish were they so.  The Shivans do not build windows, but each jump has a distinct feel.  We have jumped no less than eight hundred separate times, remaining in subspace for long periods.  Where are we going?  This vessel appears nothing special, little more than a cruiser.  What could drive them to expend such energy?

Spending such a long period amongst them has done little to ease the enigma.  They are silent totems, wandering hellishly lit hallways formed of the same cloth from which they are cut.  There is one thing of which I am sure, however.

Their interest in me is secondary to their goal.  I am but an observer, doomed to play the part until, as always, the bitter end.  Perhaps before I die, I will understand the enigma of the Destroyers.

* * *

While time seems to slip by and my nails threaten to become roots, I study them.  The metronomic delivery of the mercurial sustinence indicates both their interest and disregard for our society.  I remain uncertain as to whether they understand exactly who or what they have in their custody, though clearly they understand our biology.  One of them, a five legged biomechanical monstrosity, saw fit to enter the chamber where I rested and merely stared.  At another time, this may have given me cause to fear.  Now, I simply regard the unearthly creature with the same regard as it sees fit to greet me.  It remained standing in a room without gravity, serving neither as jailor nor scientist before turning to depart.

Since that brief, cryptic encounter, the apertures which pass for doors in their vessel have begun to open for my passing.  The walls have subtly changed, a certain periodic translucence revealing glimpses of a cosmic netherstorm through which the Shivan warship travels.  They have not seen fit to implement gravity nor substantially change the soup like composition of their vessel's atmosphere.  There is no suggestion of work involved in this construction.  Sections simply appear after a length of time, translucent to light and yet as solid as the objects surrounding them.  very often, the same section will appear and disappear between passings.  If the Shivans have labourers, they are remarkably efficient.

I have yet to find a location to which they seem unwilling to allow my access.  Occasionally I find them anchored to walls, their bodies ignited with a hellish glow as if burning from within.  Yet strangely, there is not a hint of warmth.  I have even ventured to touch one, only to find their bodies as cold as the walls surrounding them.  Something, I note, which has changed recently - the walls themselves now radiate warmth.

Perhaps I would have preferred hostility.  I have been a hostage before and may yet survive to become one again.  They regard me not as experiment or subject or hostage but as a curiosity.  They appear to be adjusting the environment to suit my needs, even sending emissaries to study me in order to ensure their accuracy.  I have explored most of their vessel and found little to nothing even resembling a control pit or CIC.  I have found no computers and no systems of any kind.  Nor did I find anything approaching a biological interface or brain structure.  The vessel is clearly not alive.

Their motivations, as ever, remain an enigma.


Offline Rheyah

  • 28
  • Will release something one day. Promise.

I fell in love with the stars.

It's really quite a stupid thing when you think about it.  I mean, what are stars?  Big blazing balls of gas that kill you with radiation if you get too close and starve you.  That's the thing, though.  You never realize what you love until it's gone.  They are gone.

It's terrifying.

We've been here in this..  Frak me, I don't know what it is.  Nebula, maybe?  Supernova remnant?  We did a lot of grav analysis in the early years but never found a neutron star or a pulsar here.  In amongst the shifting dark clouds lie the shattered remnants of planetoids scattered throughout its bulk.  The stars own children snuffed out by its violent demise.  We keep thinking there might be a micro black hole out here but even if it were - it'd be so small we'll never find it.   

That's something the engineers do know.  This star wasn't a natural death.  It died screaming.  It was torn apart.  It bears the mark of the Destroyers.

Bosch knew.  Bosch fortold of this.  So did the Hammer, but they don't understand.  They think the Destroyers came to cleanse, not to enbolden and lift us beyond the dreams of our ancestors.  They came to test us and found us worthy.  They will come again.

We shall follow his example and those who refuse the call shall be given to the Destroyers to do with as they see fit.  That's what they say.  I'm not so sure, but I must have faith in my path and my calling.  We toil out here, welding, forging, training.  All of us, all of this in preparation for their return.  When they come, we shall prove our worthiness and our loyalty.

The masses never understood.  I hope they understand his message before the end.  Capella wasn't a warning.  Capella was our future.  I want to see it through.  I believe that wholeheartedly.

I just wish I could see the stars again.  I miss them.


Offline Colonol Dekker

  • HLP is my mistress
  • 213
  • Aken Tigh Dekker- you've probably heard me
    • My old squad sub-domain
+1 like

That's some amazing stuff :nod:


Offline Trivial Psychic

  • 212
  • Snoop Junkie
I find it difficult to follow the plot when I'm not entirely sure who is talking from one scene to the next, but I suppose that's part of the mood.  Overall I am intrigued.
The Trivial Psychic Strikes Again!


Offline theperfectdrugsk

  • 26
  • thinks there should be a dedicated 'en-dash' key
Ooo! I dig it!


Offline Colonol Dekker

  • HLP is my mistress
  • 213
  • Aken Tigh Dekker- you've probably heard me
    • My old squad sub-domain
I find it difficult to follow the plot when I'm not entirely sure who is talking from one scene to the next, but I suppose that's part of the mood.  Overall I am intrigued.

I absolutely love the slow boil.   

@Rheyah keep doing what you're doing 👍


Offline Rheyah

  • 28
  • Will release something one day. Promise.
I find it difficult to follow the plot when I'm not entirely sure who is talking from one scene to the next, but I suppose that's part of the mood.  Overall I am intrigued.

It's not really a plot tbh.  Its mostly a collection of the small bits of fiction surrounding the campaign setting I have been on and off writing for about 6 years.

Just finally got around to reading through the whole thing.  Rheyah, you have got to finish this thing!  You have a gift for story-telling!
"Wouldn't it be so wonderful if everything were meaningless?
But everything is so meaningful, and most everything turns to ****.
-David Bazan