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Beyond Alpha Centauri :::

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  • Lonestar
    Arlington, Beta Hydri 4

    One year later…

    The Office of the Lord Protector shuddered and shook as a gravship flew directly over the temporary Praetorian Palace. “Temporary”, in theory, as Nuevo San Antonio had been destroyed by Yoon while loyalist forces advanced upon the city. The Planet Buster had used a Hypermatter core, and the destruction had been widespread…over 29 million Protectorate citizens had died in that one incident alone.

    Pym stirred in his chair as the thought drifted over him. He had lost his wife in the war, as well as most of his “Immediate” (with a life span now approaching 700, there were lots of “immediates”) family. He shared the grief the entire Protectorate felt, with nearly 700 million dead, not to mention the 1 million in the “greater purge” and the 50,000 in the “Little purge” that followed. Fortunately, the 50,000 odd recipients of the “Little purge” had been put to good use, resocialized and now happy colonists in the newly acquired Bree holdings. It wasn’t something Pym wanted to do, though…

    “You worried that it’s something Yang might have done?”

    Pym looked up and saw Ian McDiarmid standing there, looking 20-something, in blue jeans and a Texas A&M T-shirt. Pym sighed and quietly injected himself with an anti-psychotic. Ian disappeared. Since the destruction of Nuevo San Antonio, Pym had felt himself growing truly old, something which had med him. Growing old and dying had been a phobia of his competitor back on Earth, and the idea of turning into Prokhor Zakharov did not please him that much.

    “Sir? Important message from the Admiralty. The freighter Edward’s Explorer is under attack by a Nautilus Privateer, the, uh, Teach .”

    The new War Minister was a young man of 90, taking from a teaching post at the Naval War college. Yoon had killed most of his cabinet, including War Minister Kolsklar. Now he worked with a body of strangers…Pym glanced at the two Rangers that were flanking War Minister Grayson. More Rangers in the building then there had ever been before, not to mention a company of genetically altered star marines on the Grounds. 1 km up was an armory that had a battalion of urban warfare Cybers. Security had been tightened.

    “Are the, Sea Dragon and Shackleton on station and ready?”

    “Yes Sir.”

    “ Then give them the go ahead to destroy it. I tire of those pirates thinking we’re easy pickings because of a little internal disorder. “


    Morgan Intersteller-Eoforwic Trade Lane

    Edward’s Explorer

    The EE was one of the hundreds of thousands of Protectorate fast freighters that had seemingly appeared overnight on the interstellar tradelanes. In the past 6 months, however, pirates and ne’er doers, mostly those affiliated with the Nautilus Syndicate, had preyed upon Protectorate flagged ships on an almost daily basis. The Pirates invariably left no evidence behind, or at least none that could hold up in court.

    The EE was over a Kilometer long, but the Nautilus Privateer almost matched it. It was, in fact, equipped on par with a pre-fall Earth Light cruiser. There was only one problem:

    Pre-fall Earth tech lagged far, far behind that of the Protectorate’s Military. The two Ranging destroyers, Sea Dragon and Shackleton decloaked and fired with their fusion and gravity guns. While not as powerful as the Particle cannons used by the regular navy, the eight beams of light that lanced out were more than enough to carve the Teach to ribbons. It’s engines died instantly, and the EE swung around and exposed it’s broadside to the Teach…just long enough for two breaching pods to burst forth and go flying towards the Teach. The Pirates, more used to boarding under armed merchant vessels rather than repelling two dozen armored star marines, lost control of the ship quickly.

    With a Nautilus Privateer in possession, the case for launching an invasion of the Syndicate had become a slam-dunk one.

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  • Lonestar

    Most of the Protectorate Expiditionary Force that had been dispatched to fight the Bree was now in orbit of the Crown Colony. Gathered in the conference room onboard the Riothamus were the twenty Senior loyalist flag Officers available at Hand. Fleet Admiral Fel was briefing the plan to Storm the Beta Hydri system...a feat that would be damned near impossible.

    The Holoprojection of the BH system showed the huge gravity weels scattered aroung the system, leading only a few safe paths in. "Safe" being a relative term, as each entrance was doubtlessly filled with Billions of Mines by now. There had been a heated discusson as to whether to slog their way through a Gravity Well, or blockade the system, or just plain sit tight and pray for the best.

    Fel seemed to have something entirely else in mind. He showed an attack route that would take the fleets straight through the densest of Minefields.

    "Roving, as we all know, is still a devolping colony. There are Hundreds of Massive Conestogas in orbit as we speak. Our proposed plan of to use what capture Bree shield generators we have on hand and..and..Bullrush our way through."

    Pym leaned forward.

    "I'm sorry Admiral?"

    "We are going to attach as many shield generators as possible to as many conestogas as possible, and send them barreling through with the Fleet following."

    There was a silence in the room, thenGeneral Chiu said, slowly, "Will that work?"

    "It's the quickest way to break our way in. We know there are still major Planetary Guard Units fighting in the system, and we can use them instead of stripping our occupation forces further."

    "What about the Cyber-facility on RE123?"

    "As far as we know...all the plans, hardrives, memory...every thing for the cybers, at all three of our facilities, has been wiped. SOP for emergancy destruction."

    There was another silence. Then Pym smilied. "Fortunately, that's the sort of thing I carry with me. So, no Cybers?"

    "None except the ones we got. Want to minimize our casulties..."

    There was more silence, then General Chiu spoke again.

    "In the history of bad ideas, this is the worst bad idea."

    Fel smilied.

    "You haven't heard all of my ideas..."

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  • Mr. President
    Why Can't We Just Get Along?

    Orchard Valley, Firaxis

    "I'm warning you," said Brian, "those political shows make my head hurt. You keep watching that, I'm outta here!"

    "No, no," replied Sam. "It's from the Drone Republic! I'm still hoping for another fistfight." He was referring to a now-infamous incident from the previous year involving a Socialist senator. During a discussion of the education budget, he took exception to a comment by one of his own party's representatives and threw a punch at him. It took fifteen minutes and about a dozen guards to break up the ensuing melee.

    Brian was sceptical. "It better be good."

    Evidently it was Question Time, as a youngish senator in a blue suit was asking a question. "My question is for the Secretary of Defense," he said aggressively. "What is the justification for the Space Marines attempting to deal with the Hive in a piecemeal and haphazard fashion, when everyone knows - everyone . . . hey! Shut up! I didn't interrupt you when you were waffling away up here! When everyone knows, Mr. Secretary, that the Hive has been our Republic's number one enemy since the days of Chiron?"

    "That's Robert Patrick," said Sam. "They're tipping him to be the next Socialist presidential candidate."

    "Wow. It's like a soap opera."

    Several New Republic senators were heckling Patrick aggressively. "Bailiff, please remove Senator Martinez," ordered the adjudicator. "The Secretary of Defense will now answer." Silence gradually fell on the Senate.

    "They have five-minute penalties," said Sam, "like in blitzball."

    Brian shook his head. "What a crazy country."

    "The honorable Senator Patrick," said the Secretary of Defense, "obviously has no idea what it takes to run a war. Presumably this has something to do with the fact that he has never served in the army, unlike myself." Shouting from both parties rose up around him. He continued, "I would have to be an idiot to order an all-out attack on the Hive when even our spies don't know where any of their planets are!"

    Robert Patrick was on his feet again. "Idiotic? You know what's idiotic? It's idiotic to show that you're indifferent or even afraid - yes, afraid! That word isn't too big for you, is it Senator Walker? Afraid of a despotic bully like Emperor Yang."

    "I thought that guy was a Socialist?" said Brian.


    "The people aren't going to stand for the New Republic's timidity much longer. When the workers go into the polling booths in November, they're going to vote for people who are going to defend their rights, and who are going to fight for them, instead of bribing their enemies to leave them alone like one of Morgan's subdivision commandants!"

    "I didn't know you were a clairvoyant, Robert! When are you going to tell the workers how many of their children you're going to draft to spread your revolution throughout the galaxy?"

    "How dare you!" Robert Patrick removed his jacket and threw it onto a table. "Come over here and say that! Sybarite!"



    "Slum lord!"

    Sam said, "Good to see democracy is alive and well in the worker's paradise."

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  • Mr. President


    "How long have you been flying a shuttle, Dr. Jones?" Gary asked.

    The University scientist laughed, never taking his steely eyes off the command screen. "Since I was, oh, about seven years old. There are more pilot AIs in the Commonwealth than stars in the sky, but this is my one little conceit."

    "Well, you fly very well," Derek offered. "I'm sure you're helped by these clean space lanes."

    Yesterday they had spent some time in Dr. Jones' laboratory. Gary had digested several volumes of research papers, while Derek compared visual records of the Caledon and the Berrik ruins. Some of the same pictograms appeared at both sites, but spelled out different words.

    Dr. Jones said, "The authorities employ about two million self-directed robot probes. They take care of most of the large obstacles. But only on the space lanes. A lot of people enjoy fly-by tours of comets and ice asteroids. Ah, we're almost there."

    The shuttle accelerated somewhat. The centripetal forces would have been much more unbearable had the three men not been strapped into soft synthefoam seats.

    "I apologize for the turbulence," smiled Dr. Jones. "As you've no doubt noticed, I like to initiate parking manually as well."

    The shuttle pulled into an airlock with orange walls and slowed to a halt. Dr. Jones rose from his seat, donning a weatherbeaten leather hat. "Shall we?"

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  • Lonestar
    ISN News

    MATTHEW HESS: This is Matthew Hess, of the Intersteller Network. We apologize for this interruption of our normal broadcast, but we have a camera crew on scene in orbit of Beta Hydri 5. As you can see...

    * two dozen or so large Protectorate capital ships engageing each other. Emerald blots of other ships remain in the background, not engaging *

    ... Several Home Fleet vessels, including the Iron Duke are engaging the BH5 Flotilla under Vice Admiral Harms, who is commanding from her ship Surt. Admiral Farwell has ordered the Protectorate Starfleet to submit to Senate control. Refusals from several high level commanders, from VADM Harms to Fleet Admiral Fel have been forthcoming. You can see that the most local flag officer...oh!

    * Iron Duke and Endurance destroy the battleship Eagle*

    ...Most of the fleet is actually sitting out...I think we see the Surt trying to activate her Star Drive and escape, the Intrepid and Thiazi appear to be covering her retreat.....

    * wispy smoke of a Hyperdrive activation is visible on viewer, other BH5 Flotilla ships follow, Intrepid is destroyed as the Utgard-Loki fires main particle cannons*

    ...It appears the ships under Harms' command are escaping. It's worth noting the vast majority of the home fleet did not engage on either side...we're getting word now that the Governor-Generals on BH3 that did not submit to senate authority are having their capitals bombed using Valkyrie atmospheric capable starfuries. The Planetary Guard of BH3 have sortied needlejets to intercept I...oh Good Lord...

    *Planet Buster detonation from cameraview of downtown La Jolla on BH3*

    ...It appears that Yoon's forces are not holding back any longer....


    Earth Orbit

    "Oakenshield exiting hyperspace, she's taking up a escort position. If the UA doesn't know something's up, they sure as Hell do now."

    Pym merely nodded, knowing that within a few seconds they'd get a query by UA authorities asking what the hell a Protectorate light crusier was doing showing up unanounced. The signing of the treaty had gone off without a hitch. But upon his return to the Riothamus, he'd heard the news. Worse, none of the cabinet on BH4 had been reached. While Admiral Fel, the Supreme Commander of the Protectorate Expeditionary Force, had already contacte dhim and conveyed his intention to support the constitution, things were still grim.

    "Sir, we're being hailed by Zalharov."

    "In my cabin." Pym walked out of CIC, and walked up several ladderwells to his stateroom. Zakharov's face was on the viewer, inscrutable.

    Probably wondering if it was smart signing a treaty with a potentially desposed leader

    "Can I help you, Randius?"

    "Hank, I have a few questions. First, what is that light crusier doing here, and second, does it have anything to do with newstories we are recieving at our listening posts?"

    Pym gritted his teeth, looked at Randius' face. It had the same arrogance that Prokhor's did. No time for that, we're all friends here.

    "Obviously, you already know the answer to that Randius."

    Randius nodded thoughtfully.

    "Will you be requireing any assistance?"

    Pym continued to grit his teeth. Not in a million years would I let the UA get a hold over our government. You don't really think we're that stupid, do you? The stress is getting pretty bad...

    "No thank you. We will be leaving shortly for a secure loyalist location. I do appreciate your hospitality while I was here, and still wish to take you up on your offer of a state visit."

    "And I you. Anything else I should know before you leave ?"

    "No." Pym said. He glanced out the viewer that simmed a window, and saw 5 white smokey fields erupt. One Protectorate Battleship, one Battlecrusier, and 3 destroyers entered real space.

    "Well, we were also expecting another escort." Pym added, belatedly.

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  • Sovereign
    Geneva Coliseum
    Terra, Sol System

    A long table sat at the center of the coliseum, surrounded with several tens of thousands of seats filled with humans.

    A large structure hung overhead, with distinctive lettering that read "Geneva Blitzball Stadium". The structure, upon activation, shimmered to life. Millions of gallons of water swirled around, forming a beautiful floating sphere of crystal clear water.

    Music could be heard wafting throughout the arena, a mixture of jazz and country music. The music coasted to a stop, as two figures emerged from opposite sides of the arena.

    The figure walking in from the right wore an uniform of navy blue with golden trimmings, along with a white overcoat. The figure approaching from the left wore an dark blue uniform with silver insignia.

    The two figures took measured strides along the long red carpet, and after a tense minute of silence, both figures approached the table at the same time.

    The right figure was the first to speak.

    "Hello, citizens of Humanity. It is I, Academician Zakharov. We have come here to witness a historic treaty between the University Alliance, and the Protectorate of Man.

    The man to my right is Lord Protector Henry Pym, the leader of the Protectorate of Man. Please give him a warm welcome."

    Henry Pym spoke.

    "It is with great pleasure that I am able to come here, to meet the Academician in person, and to ratify the treaty that will give each of us a better understanding of each other."

    The Academician smiled, and beckoned towards the table. Both powerful men sat down, side to side, facing a sheet of paper, with an old fashioned feather pen.

    The Academician spoke once again.

    "I thereby acknowledge the points provided within the treaty, with all the benefits and rights thereof. The University Alliance shall acknowledge total diplomacy, establish an embassy, and open full trade relations with the Protectorate of Man. May both nations live well."

    The Academician took the feather pen, and stamped the first of two historic signatures upon the sheet of paper.

    Academician Randius Zakharov

    He returned the pen to its holder, and nodded to Henry Pym.

    Pym smiled and began his address.

    "As the leader of the Protectorate of Man, it's my hope that in the coming weeks, months, and years, both nations will avoid any misunderstandings. The Protectorate of Man formally opens total diplomacy, an embassy, and full trade relations with the University Alliance."

    Henry Pym took the feather pen, and added his signature, the seconf of the two historical signatures to the sheet of paper.

    Lord Protector Henry Pym

    The arena erupted in cheers.

    Billions of holo-vision viewers throughout the Human Sector watched the treaty signing, the highest watched event in recent memory.

    The two leaders stood up, and faced each other. They shook hands, resulting in another round of cheer. Both men faced towards a third red carpet and exit. They walked side to side towards the exit, as equals.

    Upon the exit of both men, the floating sphere of water took on a navy blue hue, then a emerald hue, before reverting back to its original crystal clear state.

    Several hours later

    The Academician sat in his chair, and let out a long drawn out sigh.

    Finally. I can focus more on my short term plans, now that the Protectorate is out of my hair for the time being.

    His eyes drifted towards a sector lying between the Sol system and the main University regions, on the floating holo-map.

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  • Mr. President
    The Dragon Wakes

    Franco stared in bewilderment as several medium-sized Hive ships charged directly into his flotilla's line of fire, but understanding gradually dawned as Hive fighters poured forth like a plague of locusts.

    "My God," he muttered. "That thing doesn't look like a carrier!" He gestured at his comms officer. "That request for reinforcements?" he began. "Send it now!" he finished.

    The message would take hours to get there. But it only took seconds for the diversionary ships to fire on the advancing Drone vessels, severing the main power conduit on DRS Harold Jarvis. Then the fighters were upon them.

    "Weapons on wide array," Franco ordered. "Fire at will!"

    A handful of his people's torpedoes found their mark, but more missed. The Hive fighters darted between the lumbering Drone capital ships like vengeful mosquitoes, chipping away at their hulls.

    Actually, Franco realized, some of the "fighters" were probably bombers, because they were firing more in a more ventral than frontal fashion, and their payloads were clearly much larger. And, if he magnified the view on his MMI, he could see that they were actually a different shape.

    But there was no time to think about that now, because the Liberty Bell's proximity sensor had just triggered. Franco focused on the violated region and saw a flashing Hive fighter icon - it had already fired!

    "Brace for impact!" he ordered, and an instant later the entire ship rocked. Alert messages poured into Franco's MMI, threatening to overwhelm his senses. Then the safety systems kicked in, and he could see again.

    "This is all we need -" he started to complain, when an Impact Detected! message overlayed onto his tactical layout.

    "That son of a . . ." Franco sputtered. "He rammed us! Damage report?"

    "It's bad, sir," his operations officer replied. "Full breach on hull sector four. We are losing atmosphere on deck eight. The power conduit is fluctuating and we have no more suspension, at all."

    We're dead. "Change of plans," Franco said, and he hoped he sounded confident. Silently he cursed the Hive carriers. A few of the frigates carried three fighters on board. They would not make a drop in this ocean.

    "I want a turtle formation," he ordered. We're going to trade blows with them, Franco thought grimly, until the reinforcements arrive or until we can't fight any more. "Order the flotilla to hold the formation and hold its ground. If we're going to hell, we're taking them all with us!"

    As his crew rushed to comply, Franco watched the main part of the Hive fleet coming about to face him . . .

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  • Lonestar
    Nuevo San Antonio

    "All Opposed..." Came the Speaker's graverly Voice. There was a hint of dispair in it. In fact, most of the politicos weren't even trying to hide their dispair. They were taking part in the destruction of their Political System...

    "The Constitutional Amendment has passed, it will now be submitted to the Governor-Generals for vote..."

    Onate snarled and hit the "mute" button on the Vid. He was the Head of Ubiqtorate, the Protectorate's Special Services Department. With him in the room were Wrug Ved, Commerce Minister, Nishant Koklasklar, War Minister, General of the Armies Matt McCarthy, and head of the Metasensory Regulation Administration, Joshua Creedon. Of the five, he was the most discerning to be with in the room. Kolasklar spoke first.

    " We know how Yoon did it?"

    Onate waved at Creedon, who nodded with a slight smile. He tapped a button, and in the center of the table a Holo of a Hferhin appeared. Creedon spoke, in the same patronizing voice all Teeps seemed to have.

    "Senator Yoon had some friends from out of town help convince the more important members of the senate to vote his way. We now know there are at least 30 Hferhin on Beta Hydri4, and we've found a handful on other planets in the system. It was pure luck we found them, really. One of my Ghosts who had experience with Proginator mental shields came across one following Yoon. From there we expanded our survallence. Even now, the Superb is tracking what appears the commandship for the Hferhin mission, near Nova Albion and quite within the System defense network."

    McCarthy was steadily growing redder throughout the monologue. "That...that rat Bastard sold us out to the Hferhin? Why? Obviously, he wants to take The Office, but what do the Hferhin have to gain from it? Everything the Dosi tell us indicates the Hferhin could knock us flat, just if the Dosi decided to do the same to us. It makes no sense."

    "I know it doesn't." Onate spoke, his anger was now under control. "That's why we have teams in Place. We..."

    "Governor Pedri is speaking." Ved said.

    The Elderly Governor-General of Arlingotn County was one of the 200 remaining Endeavor colonists, and was much loved by the Public. Today he seemed livid.

    "The council of Governor-Generals has a response to the Senate. No. Not just No, but Hell no! This is an attempt to usurp..."

    There was a Cheer going up in the cabinet room. The ISN narrator reported that Senator Yoon already had a counterstatement ready.

    Yoon's snakey visage appeared on the vid. Creedon seemed to be stareing intently at the space immediately behind Yoon, and to the right. Onate wondered if he could see something they couldn't.

    "I'm afraid that, in the interests of Democracy, we cannot allow the Political Appointees of a Dictator decide how we run our Country. The Senate is ready to support freedom and democracy in the interests of our people. We therefore call upon the Armed Services of the Protectorate of Man to prepare to defend the elected government of the citizenry...."

    McCarthy turned to Onate and Creedon. "Your Teams...."

    "Already moving." Creedon murmered. His voice seemed far away. The vid went staticy, and ISN reported some sort of distrubance at both the Senate and the Chamber of Governor-Generals.

    A youthful 1st Lt. came running in.

    "Sir, the Superb is being engaged by the Hferhin vessel...and the Iron Duke is moving to intercept."

    Nova Albion Orbit

    The Hferhin Vessel came around again, blasting it's Q-Beams at the Superb. The damn thing had already withstood a full forward blast of the Superbs Fusion Lasers, but it had shielding similiar to the Dosi's or the Proginators, and had managed to shrugg off most of the hit... The Valkyries Harried the Hferhin vessel, while the Gargantuan Goliath class Battleship manuevered to fire it's main Particle Cannons. At less than 6 kilometers, the Superb fired it's Plasma Shard Buckshot, which seemd to have gained a lucky hit. The Hferhin vessel was slowing down, and within seconds the Superb's Particle cannons would reduce it to stray atoms.

    The Comms Officer glanced at the CO. "Sir, incoming message from Admiral Farwell on the Iron Duke."

    "Put him on."

    Superb This is Iron Duke. You are ordered to stand down and allow the Hferhin vessel to escape. I say again, you are ordered to stand down, and allow the Hferhin vessel to escape.

    The Superb's CO had been in the fleet for almost 40 yrs, this was his third command. Suddenly, in one blinding insight, all the strange news and politics were making sense. My God, what's going to Happen to us?

    "Negative Iron Duke! Tactical, Particle Cannons, full ...."

    "Sir! The Iron Duke is firing her PCs!"



    Protectorate News Service wire report

    (Nova Albion)

    For the first time since the early days of the New Europa Uprising, Protectorate vessels fired on one another. Commercial MV FRONTIER reported to PNS that the Goliath-class Battleship HPS SUPERB engaged a Hferhin vessel shortly after The Senate declared it had control of the government. Another vessel, the HPS IRON DUKE, apperently the flagship of Home Fleet CinC Admiral Farwell, opened fire and destroyed the SUPERB. Vice Admiral Harms of the Beta Hydri 5 Flotilla ordered all ships under her command to ignore orders from the Home Fleet until the Political situation could be clarified on BH4. The Senate then ordered Harms to return to Home Fleet control.

    Harms has refused. Everyone from Newstations to amateur subspace radio operators are reporting the Home fleet is prepareing to attack the small, 40 ship Flotilla in orbit of Beta Hydri 5. There is no word yet as to what Dr. Henry Pym's reaction to all this is, or even if he's aware of it.

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  • Frankychan
    Hive VII Fleet
    Omega IX system, Hive fleet

    Admiral Trassk barked out orders as alarm klaxons blared throughout the bridge. The Drone fleet's incursion into Hive space set off alarms throughout the sector. Cloaked satellites which monitored ship movements triggered when the Drones entered into Hive space.

    The Drones arrival into Omgea IX's system abruptly ended Trassk and her fleets orders to level the planet. Trassk instead ordered the fleet to drop their virobombs on the planet while simultaneously ordering the fleet to begin offensive maneurvers. To distract the Drones, she commanded a few ships to attack, acting as cannon fodder so the main fleet could begin battleplans.

    Trassk spoke with the calm demeanor that the Hive was infamous for.

    "Scramble the fighters. Order the carriers to empty their hangar bays. No reserves."

    Moments later, the fleet's three carriers began to spill their deadly cargo into space. Hundreds of ships poured out of the hangars like angry insects stirred from their nest. The fighters and bombers swarmed around their carriers, waiting for their attack orders.

    Trassk paced the command deck with the air of superiority.

    "I want our frigates and smaller craft as the first wave, followed by the corvettes. The carriers and this battlecruiser will be the final wave."

    Officers around the bridge began relaying the admirals orders to the ships in the fleet. Even in an urgent situation like this, the Hive's reputation of calm under pressure showed throughout the personnel...a nod to their training and socialization.

    Efficiency before Emotion

    The VII fleet slowly shifted from an orbital bombardment position of Omega IX, to an enormous mass of ships. The few Hive ships sent as cannon fodder were nearly on top of the Drones advance ships.

    Trassk stared through the viewport and at the mass of Drone ships ahead.

    "Order the fighters and bombers to engage the Drones. The order the first wave to attack."

    Hive Fighter Squadron SY-12
    Pilot X-4218 (Nelson, Human)
    Pilot X-4219 (Sliim, Xiero)

    Nelson engaged the trhusters of his fighter into full burn. Seconds ago, the wing commander ordered all fighters to engage the Drones.

    Even in a zero-gravity environment, Nelson felt the surge as the acceleration kicked in.

    His Xiero co-pilot, observed and monitored the information coming into them. Sliim kept Hive protocol of non-individual designation as he spoke to Nelson.

    "X-4218, multiple readings on radar. Diversionary Hive ships are all destroyed. Computer estimates indicate Drone ships are heavily armored. Coordinated attacks are recommended."

    Nelson nodded. From what it seemed, the Hive diversionary ships seemed to have knocked out one Drone ship, but the rest were barely scratched from that assault. Nelson understood that the patrol craft sent to distract the Drone ships weren't meant for full scale battle, but he wished they did a bit more damage.

    "Co-Pilot X-4219, arm missiles."

    Just before Sliim could ackowledge, the wing commander's voice filled the channel.

    "All pilots, command indicates that these ships have engaged with 6 Hive corvettes on our border. They estimate that a few of these ships may be damaged from that engagement. Visual contact with any Drone ship that is damaged, we are ordered to launch all missiles at target, then ram it."

    Nelson nodded in affirmation, "Confirmed, Command."

    One of the ships just ahead of him looked like the hull was slightly damaged.

    "Co-pilot, missiles online?"


    Nelson launched his payload and watched as the missles collided with the Drone vessel. Dodging the flak from the Drone ships, Nelson kicked the accelerator into full burn, directly into the Drone ship....

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  • GeneralTacticus
    A Midnight Sun

    Control room of the CSS Kraken, Windfall System, approximately four days after discovery

    "Dr. Mernok, the Kraken is now fully operational. All systems are active and useable, all weapon batteries charged, and we've even managed to get the shield generator working to some extent. It won't make us invulnerable, but it's more than doubled the effective resilience of the armour."

    Mernok nodded, not looking up from the various technical reports he was reading but waving a hand in the general direction of the speaker.

    "Well done, Engineer. Communicate that to Laekdaemon Central at once. They've been getting impatient, and they should be delighted to hear that our secret weapon is ready for use."

    "At once, sir."

    29 hours later

    Mernok was sleeping when the reply came, but the loud chime announcing it's arrival woke him immediately.

    Encrypted Text Transmission:
    Dr. Zacharias Mernok, Windfall System
    From: General Kane, Laekdaemon Prime
    Subject: Re: Kraken Operational
    Time: Chiron Standard, 08:12:23


    Dr. Mernok, we are exceedingly prleased to hear of your success. You shall be rewarded when you return, and we will be very glad when you do, because we have been making little progress against the rebels - their assaults have been beaten back, but we have not launched a successful offensive since Dienkes Base. The ship upon which you stand will change all that.

    You are instructed to make an FTL jump to the following co-ordiantes, approximately half a light-year from Laekdaemon. There, you will turn the ship over to myself and a proper naval crew, and we will use it to end this madness.


    Ten hours later

    It was a small, unremarkable patch of space that General Kane had chosen in which to board his superweapon. Bare even of comets, it was empty, cold, and far from any route any ship might take to an inhabited system.

    To Kane, though, it was the most important bit of space in all the universe right now. He'd been on his way there with a significant part of the Cadre fleet only hours after sending the message to Mernok, and though he knew theKraken would not be here for hours yet, he could not help pacing up and down on the bridge, mentally reviewing every aspect of his plans, every security measure taken, every single thing that might go wrong.

    He was jolted out of his thoughts when an alarm began beeping loudly and shrilly.

    "Sir, massive FTL signature approaching from the Windfall system! It's-"

    The sensor officer was cut off as, on the forward viewscreen, the vast and unmistakable bulk of the Kraken dropped into realspace, escorted by three Cadre warships. A few seconds later, Mernok's smiling face replaced it on the viewscreen.

    "Surprised, General?"

    Kane opened his mouth, but nothing came out. How could they be here so soon?

    "I have to admit," Mernok continued, still grinning, "I was rather shocked myself. This thing is over 50% faster in FTL than any of our other ships... and what's more, it's capable of pulling other ships along with it, hence the presence of our escorts. Could be quite a nice advantage, even if we can't duplicate the drive.

    "Anyway, she's ready for you to take command. I'm rather looking forward to seeing it in action; we didn't get much in the way of live-fire practise in Windfall."

    Kane nodded.

    "The crew and I will be transferring over shortly. You've done very well, Mernok."

    48 minutes later

    "General Kane, we will be entering realspace in five... four... three... two... one... now."

    As the words left the helmsman's mouth, the ship shuddered slightly, and the viewscreens abruptly showed the night-side of the cloudstreaked rocky world of Laekdaemon Prime, only a few planetary diameters below.

    "Very well. Commander Alexis, you may fire when ready."

    A few switches and buttons later, the decks of the Kraken began vibrating softly, and a blinding white beam lanced from the front of the ship, down through the atmosphere of Laekdaemon. On the viewscreen, Kane could it as it sliced downwards and into the mountain that held the priamry rebel command centre, which was immediately obscured by the resulting explosion.

    At a gesture from Kane, the viewscreen changed, now showing footage from a Cadre satellite in low orbit. Kane smiled, watching in slow motion as the vast column of light struck the mountains and reduced it to vapour.

    Looking up from various sensor readings, Mernok gave Kane a thumbs-up.

    "General, our first firing was a omplete success. The mountain has been vapourised totally and a hole at least a kilometre deep has been gouged into the crust. There is no possibility of anyone surviving that, and the main gun should be ready for another firing within sixty seconds."

    Kane nodded absently, staring down at the white-hot, slowly cooling remains of his enemy's heart.

    "So perishes Lysander, greatest among traitors. Send whatever rebels remain a simple ultimatum: they will surrender now and hand themselves ove rto justice, or we will continue to destroy them until they do. Either way, we win."
    Last edited by GeneralTacticus; May 16, 2004, 02:33.

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  • Lonestar
    Hank Whistled.

    The UA shuttle had a silvery hull that could only be, for a person of this importance, Admanta. Harder than Diamond, right up there with Neutronium or a Nano-Hull.

    Showing off your Wealth Young Zakharov? One admantine shuttle does not a superpower make...

    Pym's thoughts trailed off as the doors opend and what looked to be University equilivants to Cybers exited. Then, 12 troopers in polished, unpainted Power walked out. They had the same shine that the Shuttle did.

    Damn it. I hope the Riothamus is recording all this. They have Cybers...and Admantine-armored soldiers. Why dragged these out? To show us what potential allies we can be...or a 'don't mess with us' indication? I don't know... Pym swallowed. The treatment to resist casual scans from P14's down the Dosi gave us has been a Godsend. I have a good poker face, but if there are any Teeps in Zakharov's they'd detect my broadcasting of emotions immediately.

    Once the assembled troops checked the perimeter for any external threats, the all clear sounded on both shuttles.

    Henry Pym exited from the emerald shuttle at the exact same time Academician Zakharov exited his silvery shuttle. Both leaders locked gazes upon each other, while closing the distance between the two of them.

    The Academician was the first to speak.

    “Welcome to Earth, Henry Pym. I am glad that we are able to meet today, in what could be the first step in the right direction for both of our people.

    Arrangements have already been made in Geneva to host our historic conference.”

    “Thank you, Academician Zakharov. It is a pleasure to finally set foot on Earth after what seems to be an eternity.”

    The two leaders made their way to a waiting hover-limousine at the base of the landing pad. The soldiers followed in hover-trucks, to provide bi-lateral security for both leaders.

    Hank sat down on one of the seats facing Zakharov. His security people would throw a fit that he was alone...but so was Zakharov. Zakharov was watching Pym, waiting for something for him to say. Pym remained slent, finally Zakharov spoke.

    "I must confess Mr. Pym, I was a bit surprised to have recieved your transmission. Given our Past history, I was sure we were headed for a major war. You know, we were even approached by the GHE about 'containing' your nations' aggression. I am glad it never came to that. " Zakharov took a sip of Vodka. Pym thought it was probably synthetic, the Academician would be a full to drink at a time like this. Zakharov continued. " On a personal note....thank you for the media you sent about my Father..."

    Pym studied Zakharov's face for a moment, trying to discern the hidden meaning. Then it struck him. My God, he really means it!

    "Academician, First off....don't call me Mister, or Henry, or Lord Protector...if you're going to call me by a title, call me Dr. Pym. I worked hard for my Ph.Ds. You can also call me Hank, if you prefer. Second, I think we both know a war between our two peoples would have been cataclysmic at best. While I'm confident we can stomp you...sorry, I'm not threatening you...., We'd end up open to conquest by some other, not very nice people. I...we're tired of War Academician. I saw enough of it on Earth, then during the civil war on Beta Hydri with the New Spartans..." Pym took a deep breath. "We couldn't allow the Bree to retain Sab Abar, but we didn't have the numbers to simply land and pacifiy the planet. Our Decision to reduce it was...our only guarentee."

    Zakharov looked at Pym strangely.

    "You know, I think I may even believe you. Thank you...Hank. You may call me Randius. I think, someday soon, you should make a state visit to Zakurnia."

    "And I extend a similiar invitation for Beta Hydri 4. I..." Pym looked out at the grand Coliseum. There were hundreds of Alliance troopers crawling around the grounds. Almost as many of the Cyber-knockoffs. "Tight security." Pym commented.

    "We have had several Terrorist attacks of late...both at Home and here on Earth. It seems many Terrens are ungrateful for our emancipation of the world from Believer rule." Randius shrugged. "A pity. We've had to be heavy-handed in our responses, but most of the resistence fighters are only hicks fanatics."

    Was that the reasoning of your bombarding of Southern California? Pym wondered.

    The Limo came to a stop, and an aide opened the door from outside. Randius stepped out, and Pym slid out the door on the other side, and walked up to stand beside him. Randius grinned.

    "Well, Dr. Pym...are you read to give the Galaxy a good shake-up?"

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  • Sovereign

    A small emerald colored transport landed smoothly at the outskirts of the ancient and historical city. The landing pads were devoid of other shuttles, for security precautions, due to the importance of the two arriving shuttles.

    Several minutes later, a shuttle clad in Admanta armor landed on an adjacent landing pad. Once the Admanta shuttle landed, the landing doors opened on both shuttles.

    Twenty marines in full power armor, wielding particle rifles, marched out of the emerald shuttle, in a perfect rectangular formation. They took up station at the bottom of the extended ramp.

    Two Mechas, the latest in the University Alliance’s long line of robotic infantry, slowly made their way out of the silvery shuttle. A dozen space-troopers clad in full Admanta armor, with complete faceplates, a quantum rifle, and a shoulder mounted Xaos rocket mini-launcher, followed the exiting Mechas.

    Once the assembled troops checked the perimeter for any external threats, the all clear sounded on both shuttles.

    Henry Pym exited from the emerald shuttle at the exact same time Academician Zakharov exited his silvery shuttle. Both leaders locked gazes upon each other, while closing the distance between the two of them.

    The Academician was the first to speak.

    “Welcome to Earth, Henry Pym. I am glad that we are able to meet today, in what could be the first step in the right direction for both of our people.

    Arrangements have already been made in Geneva to host our historic conference.”

    “Thank you, Academician Zakharov. It is a pleasure to finally set foot on Earth after what seems to be an eternity.”

    The two leaders made their way to a waiting hover-limousine at the base of the landing pad. The soldiers followed in hover-trucks, to provide bi-lateral security for both leaders.

    After fifteen minutes of traveling through the maze-like roads of Geneva, the vehicles reached the Geneva Coliseum. Both leaders exited the limousine and then they entered the Coliseum. The troops took up station at each entrance of the Coliseum.

    Two hours later, the historic conference between the University Alliance and the Protectorate of Man began.

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  • Lonestar

    Pym stepped into the sparkling CIC of the Riothamus. Compared to the Endeavor's CIC, it was large, quiet, and tidy. Also, there were many holographic interfaces, with a large viewer on the forward bulkhead. It struck Pym once again how long, long ago it was when he left Earth. Commodore West was talking to the Master Chief Operations Specialist.

    "You sure?"

    The Master Chief nodded, and Commodre turned to the TAO. "Set General Quarters. "

    The GQ siren began to blare, and Pym strode over to West. Damn it, what now?

    Without waiting for Pym to ask, West spoke.

    "Sir, upon our exit from hyperspace the HOLMES-5 tactical A.I. pickedup that the UA's orbital battlestations were energized and launching their fighters. The new drive is exotic enough that they should not have picked up our entry into the solar system this quickly, even without being cloaked. I'll begin deploying Valkyries..."

    "Negative Commodore. Secure from General quarters. You can deploy the Valkries, but only as a honor guard. Order the HOLMES-5 to begin gathering data...we need to know how they saw us coming, but secure from GQ. We're hear to sign a treaty, not start a war." Pym looked at the tactical display. " I guess they chose exotic sensors over exotic defenses. The Gravity wells we have set up all around Beta Hydri would have stopped cold intruders if they tried to waltz in. We transmitting our ID?"

    West looked nervous. "No sir..."

    Pym groaned inwardly. Years and years of isolationism had caused most officers to make sure the transponders were off. It wasn't his fault, just the enviroment he was trained and advanced in. At least the Riothamus had the Protectorate's Sword and Star over it's named on the Hull, hopefully the UA's finest would visually sight it and not try to blow them out of space.

    The HOLMES-5 chirped. " We are recieving an intensive scan from several sensor relays. The Scans include all spectrums, X-rays, Quantum viewing, A trace pattern of tachyon..." It droned on for a while more. Pym frowned. It wasn't likely they'd get a detailed look at the interior of the ship, but their sensors were far more advanced than he thought. They'd be able to pick up the Hypermatter drive if they new what signs to look for.

    The HOLMES-5 interrupted itself. "Incoming transmission."

    "Play it."

    "Protectorate Vessel Riothamus, welcome to Earth.

    Is Henry Pym onboard? I would desire to speak with him, regarding arrangements to be made in Geneva.

    I am now ordering my battlestations and forces in Earth to stand down from alert status as a gesture of good faith."

    Hank looked at West, then waved at the comm system. "May I, Commodore?"

    "Yes Sir."

    Pym spoke into the comm.

    "Mr. Zakharov! I greatly appreciate you not blowing us out of space. This is Dr. Pym. Respectfully resquesting permission to have a shuttle land with escort at Geneva spaceport."

    There was a silence. Pym noticed the tactical display was indicating the Battlestations were de-energizing. Still no word on whether or not they'd icked up the Ranging ship Oakenshield, which was parked in the Oort Cloud cloaked 'just in case'.

    "Dr. Pym, we're pleased to have you visit. Permission granted."

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  • Sovereign

    Several of the University Alliance's most advanced sensor arrays had just been built in the Sol system to detect incoming invaders long before they got within three light years of Sol. The advance warning would give the University forces in Sol ample time to achieve battle ready status, drastically reducing any advantanges the enemy might achieve through the element of surprise.

    The sensor arrays were comprised of six spheres surrounding a larger central sphere. The six spheres were mounted on cylinders extending out from the central sphere, arrayed in the six cardinal directions. The entire sensor array measures at just one meter across, from end to end. The four original cardinal directions follow the flat disk of the Milky Way Galaxy, while the two additional cardinal directions, called Upper and Lower, follows the Z axis through the spherical center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

    The sheer volume of data relayed by the sensor arrays would overwhelm a human being. The arrays gathered terabytes of data every minute, which was unheard of for human sensors. Data ranging from atomic compistions, wafting interstellar gases, solar winds several years old, the subtle gravitional forces being exerted by Sol upon surrounding light years of space, several errant asteroids knocked out of Sol's Oort cloud millions of years in the past, cataloguing the speeds of all the particles around the Sol system, scanning of the quantum space surrounding Sol, monitoring communication channels, and a multiude of space phenomena were gathered, and sorted by powerful scanner Artifical Intelligence entities.

    Any deviations were double checked and then triple checked to confirm any presence of cloaked vessels. Most deviances are resolved by several scans from multiple sensor arrays focused on the location of the deviations. If subtle or unusual deviances follows a linear path, such as a ship's probable vector, the artificial intelligence entities calcuate the amount of deviance, and promptly send an alert to the Bastion battlestations orbiting Earth.

    One such array detected a very slight ballooning of quantum particles, which would have been undetected by less sophisicated sensors, in a vector path. The artificial intelligence housed inside the sensor array's central sphere focused the Upper Sphere on the incoming anomaly.











    Alarms began blaring throughout the massive Bastion battlestation holding postion at Earth, several thousand kilometers above the Arctic.

    Crews scurried to their stations and cannon emplacements. Blast doors slammed down throughout the station, reinforcing it aganist marine assault. Battle Mechanoids took up station at each major intersection, while the lighting throughout the battlestation dimmed. Thousands of cannons began charging up to battle ready status, as armor began to deploy over airlocks, spacedocks, and hangars.

    The same actions were being repeated throughout the newly completed Bastion Battlestations Beta, Gamma, and Delta. The unfinished Bastion Battlestations Epilson and Zeta were charging up their completed weapons while construction crews took shelter behind armored bulkheads.

    Appoximately fifteen minutes later, space erupted into a cascade of white and green light as an unknown five kilometer long vessel emerged from qunatum space.

    The identity of the ship was revealed after several scans, as the Riothamus of Protectorate design.


    The Academician was in an odd mood. He was elated that his sensor arrays were able to warn his forces at Earth of the incoming unknown vessel.

    However, he was caught slightly off guard by the size and new class that the Riothamus was. The Academician relaxed after learning that it was a Protectorate ship, but not by much.

    He decided to open hailing frequencies from his private office.


    "Protectorate Vessel Riothamus, welcome to Earth.

    Is Henry Pym onboard? I would desire to speak with him, regarding arrangements to be made in Geneva.

    I am now ordering my battlestations and forces in Earth to stand down from alert status as a gesture of good faith."

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  • Lonestar
    Senate Building
    Nuevo San Antonio

    Senator Edward Yoon was young, as far as senators went. Most politicos were dinosaurs who were content rubber-stamp the Lord Protector's decisions, while he was a vigorous, "idealistic" 150 yr old. He had ran on a platform for reform in the government, and won the seat from Ross city 20 years ago. For most of his career, he'd been thwarted whenever he tried to bring more democracy to Beta Hydri. For some reason...whenever he seemed to make progress Ian McDiarmid would call him in for a private meeting and convince him to drop the matter. He never knew why, but it was comforting talking to him.

    Now, with Ian gone, he was finally making strides. Many, many senators were (as well as Provincial Governor-Generals) still in favor of keeping the office of Lord Protector exactly as it was. They didn't care this wasn't a real democracy, but a fascist state with an authoritarian figurehead. Sure, there were more personal freedoms in the Protectorate than in most human worlds, but the people didn't have real power.

    Besides, without reforms he would never get to occupy that highest post. Even with Ian gone, it was difficult, and he had to get aid from outside agencies. His comm chirped. Senator John Werner, the leader of the Federalists was on the viewer, and his face was blotchy with rage.

    Yoon smiled.

    "Hello John. I see you got my email file?"

    Werner's face was twisted in disgust.

    " did you you..." Werner took a deep breath, and tried to calm himself. Another breath. " I...I don't respond to blackmail."

    Yoon smiled and glanced at the device on his desk. It indicated Werner was not recording this conversation. Probably. But his friends had been more or less truthful so far...

    "You didn't really give me too many options John. Here's there deal, convince your boys to vote for the amendment and ISN won't find out you like 'em young. Very young. Do you understand? This has to be a honest effort on your part. I'll know if you try to pull a fast one. Also, can you be a dear and talk to your Governor-General friends? I would appreciate it."

    "You...bastard.." Werner's voice was almost a whisper. Yoon remained silent. "Alright, Damn you. I'll do it. I'll do it." The comm went blank. Yoon leaned back with a self-satisfied grin.

    "It appears you were correct."

    The large figure step out of the shadow. He had a blurry quality, with red eyes and a skull like face. He almost seemed not real. But then, the Hferhin were like that. At least, around humans.

    "We are always right. We believe that your ascension is immient."

    Yoon inclined his head at that.

    "Thank you, my friend. Do you think that..."

    The Hferhin chuckled.

    We are not your friends. Remember, we had an agreement, about what concessions you will grant once you've attained the Office.

    Yoon smiled.

    "Of course. The Protectorate will withhold it's forces when the Progenitor attack on Chiron commences. I will even make like recommendations to foriegn governments." I'll do no such thing you pig. You think I'll sell out humanity for your masters' dreams of GodHood? If you can't get close to the current Lord Protector, what makes you think you can get close to me?

    The Hferhin chuckled again.

    Of course you will.

    The Hferhin seemed to open up his chest, peeling back one of the large scales. He lifted out a small, black organic object. A yellow eye opened up, and wild, whip like tentacles extended.

    Yoon's smile dropped.

    "What's that?"

    Your keeper. She will ensure you hold up your end of the agreement. It won't actually control you, but it can influence you. And if she has to influence you, it will not be enjoyable. Do not worry, it is exceedingly unlikely she'll be detectable by your sensors, optical or otherwise.

    "You...aren't serious. You know I'll honor our agreement..."

    The Hferhin was silent, then lowered the Keeper onto the ground. For a second it stared at the Hferhin, as if apprehensive about Yoon, then it it scurried over to Yoon. It's long, black whip-tentacles latched onto him. Soon, it was on the small of his back. The whip-tentacles stabbed into his central nervous system.

    We're sure you will.

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