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Forever Future 1.7 PBEM game

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  • Well, as far as this group is concerned, playing a non-random map is out of the question; basically it takes away all the fun with exploring... Besides, Forever Future has custom map sizes and any maps prepared for vanilla are unlikely to fit.


    • 30th November 1982

      Despite the total blackout, Haruhi could still make out familiar cityscape behind her hospital's window. Umi Koriyama, the final bastion of the Japanese Empire, a city in the depths where no sunlight could reach, was illuminated by explosions. And the Goddess could do nothing about it.

      Three fourths of the charges dropped from stratosphere were eliminated mid-air by the constant barrage of laser light created by twenty-five Fusion Cruisers. Half of the remaining ones were targeted at harbor facilities on the surface. Of the rest, over a half again were intercepted and destroyed by the robotic defense system of the city. Maybe just one in twenty bombs made it here, to the bottom of the sea. Yet the Egyptians seemed to have an endless supply of ammunition. The waves of their bombers were coming one after another, dozens, hundreds of giant machines, an impossible number of them dispensing their ordnance with complete impunity. And any of these bombs could kill thousands if it hit one of hab complexes. Thankfully the city seemed to be still fairly intact, due either to blind luck or Egyptians' lousy aim. Haruhi had no illusions that the harbor facilities or the warships hiding there could rely on either.

      But no matter how heavy the bombing, it couldn't break the city. The real threat was the invasion that was sure to follow. And the only hope of defense hinged on the Earthshaker. A huge railgun, hidden in a heavily armored pit to protect it from orbital ion cannons, and custom-tailored to rapidly target and destroy incoming drop-pods and dropships. A slim hope it was; it was predicted that a single Earthshaker will increase the losses of attacking infantry by fifty percent, and there was a possibility that the Egyptians do not have sufficient reserves. If only the second Earthshaker was finished, the city might actually have a chance... If only...

      Haruhi's throat was sore, she felt tears slowly swelling in her eyes. She wished she could say she was crying over the fate of her people, who were fighting to the end, not to win anymore, but to kill as many enemies as they can and to die with honor. She however could not find such noble feelings in her. Instead, these were tears of powerless anger and fear. She was angry at Egyptians for all the killing, at her people for dying, at this stupid, pointless war. None of that mattered, the world was going to end anyway, nothing that anyone ever did really mattered, they were just a plaything, a game for higher powers, and she hated those higher powers too, as well as Ryujin who didn't give a damn and simply bailed out of the sinking ship. Finally, she was angry at herself, for being powerless and afraid.

      As shameful as it was in such a moment, she was afraid of dying. Didn't she have her cup of life filled more than anyone else around? Maybe Ryujin lived far longer, but even he didn't experience so much. Her divine childhood, that lasted for centuries, filled with learning and experimenting with her power; then a far longer period where she was an endless teenager, a stateswoman, a warrior, a living god; and still centuries of being a mature woman after that, much more bitter under Perun's heel but still fulfilling in different ways. How could it be she didn't have enough? All the empresses whom she respected, accepting their fate and passing away peacefully, with an apparent feeling of completeness. And even those people here, throwing away their awfully short lives without a second thought. And she... their so-called god... she simply couldn't let it go. She slammed her hand against the wall.

      Death was unavoidable, simple as that. There were no friends who would put her on a helicopter, no miracle to save her. This was the final stand. Even if she wasn't going to die here, killed by Egyptians, the world was ending, and everything she ever cared about turned out to be just an illusion. And even without all that, she was mortal now. Worse than mortal. She never recovered from what happened to her at Sapporo. Her body and mind got used to the cybernetic implants after some time, but her condition didn't get any better. Quite the opposite. The doctors were baffled at first, but finally concluded that her nervous system simply cannot bear the stress of containing all the memories from her two-thousand years long life, and that's what is causing the gradual deterioration. A great case for medical study without a doubt, a unique, terminal disease caused by the aftermath of immortality. How funny was that. Of course, it was incurable as more cybernetics would kill her for the same reason - her nervous system being impossibly, inhumanly intricate to contain all these memories. They were giving her another year at most until she won't be able to get off the bed anymore, or even raise her hand, and maybe a couple years more as a slowly expiring vegetable.

      "F*ck you, f*ck you all," she said aloud. She reached out with her cybernetic hand, clutching onto the bedside table, using the power of servos to painfully raise herself to a sitting position, then to push her up. Unsteadily, feeling sweat appearing on her brow, she finally managed to stand straight next to her bed. The closet was just ten paces away, but each step required careful balancing, grabbing onto furniture, fighting down the pain. When she finally made it, she felt like she ran several miles.

      "You f*cking... f*cking bastards, f*ck you thrice over," she gasped, and reached to rip the hateful hospital gown off her body. Her old military uniform was here. If she was to die... No, she didn't intend to die at all. She felt more like cracking some skulls, like taking revenge for the whole world that was taken away from her, she wanted to make someone pay for all this mess.
      She was finishing with buttoning up her jacket when a much bigger explosion than others illuminated the window with an orange haze. Even the walls trembled slightly.

      She was still looking out of the window when a group of armed women in military nurses' uniforms entered the room.
      "Lady, the Earthshaker pit has been destroyed," said their commander, bowing. "The Egyptian attack is imminent. We're here to protect you with our lives."

      "Leave me alone! I don't need f*cking protection. You're just going to die here."

      "I am afraid we can't do that. We've sworn to that duty."

      "You idiot, don't you see? It won't change a thing. I can take care of myself. Run while you still can, why are you still standing here? You want to piss your God off?"

      " I won't leave my post while I live. Kill me, Lady, if that is your wish. It's better than to die from the hands of Egyptians. "

      "Oh, f*ck you too, why am I surrounded by idiots and lunatics. People used to f*cking listen to me" groaned Haruhi, giving up and sitting in a chair. "Fine, whatever. Just bring me a damned gun. Now." Red light illuminated the room as she pulled up some holographic displays and linked up with the defensive grid. Even if she was powerless, she wanted to see.

      "Umm, Sir... we've detected something... strange." The Egyptian comms officer at Busiris Aerospace Nexus, from where the satellite grid over Umi Koriyama was supervised, didn't even try to hide his confusion.

      "That's not a proper way to report, soldier."

      "Yes Sir. We have a UFO approaching Umi Koriyama, bearing 75, altitude 50 clicks, speed Mach 11."

      "A UFO?"

      "Well... It does respond to the FoF system with a friendly ident, but... there's no such flight scheduled, and... Well, since it has an absolute zero radar echo, we went for the visual ident and... It says it's a Japanese Kage-15 fighter-bomber."

      "Soldier, are you drinking on duty?"

      "No Sir! We've checked and rechecked that, and... well take a look yourself... Here, it indeed does look like one... Which I know is impossible on many levels, that long-obsolete jet doesn't even have supercruise or stealth capabilities, let alone any physical ability of climbing to low orbit..."

      "I think I know what that could be. Override the FoF ident on our sats, shoot it down."


      "Have you trouble hearing, soldier? "

      "No, Sir, orders heard and understood, Sir."

      The laser blasts hitting the aircraft were not much of a surprise. They weren't of much consequence either. The Nightmare was a far cry from a Space Plane. Its superconductive armor instantly dissipated the generated heat all over the machine's surface, and the blasts didn't leave as much as burn marks, causing only a few yellow warning lights to go off on the otherwise calm displays, which were painting the cockpit in soothing sepias. Such attacks would sooner cook the pilot inside than start doing any serious damage to the fuselage of the craft - and only after all the ceramite heat-sinks were filled and using up all the air as an emergency coolant has failed.

      However the barrage still meant that quality sightseeing time was over. The pilot targeted the closest satellite and vaporised it with a dual-laser blast, then put the plane in a steep dive towards the thicker parts of the atmosphere to conceal it from any further bombardment.

      The missiles appeared when the map was showing there was under a 100 clicks left to Umi Koriyama. The pilot didn't know if they were Egyptian or Japanese. It hardly mattered anyway. She took her hand off the control stick and pushed the button that activated the psi-active circuitry, Tesla's old designs understood, redesigned and perfected in a day and age where the technology had finally caught up with his ill-fated genius. It wasn't like the fusion heart of the craft was too weak to handle its overloaded frame. But now, as two thick superconductive cables began to directly feed her body's energy, changed into electric currents, into the machine's systems, craft's power and agility were no longer exceptional, they became otherworldly. Arturia squinted her eyes with pleasure as the intense g-force pushed her deep into her seat.

      The plane rolled and spinned in an impossible high-speed 3-d maneuver, dodging one missile after another, and blowing some off the sky with its lascannons. The old Japanese airframe, legendary for its durability - proven one last time in the nuclear bombing of Bharuch three years ago - was enduring the g-forces pretty admirably. Seemed like it was indeed the right choice, even if the Nightmare had little in common with an airbreather jetfighter. In a few years time, crafts like that one, even if much less powerful, were going to make laser defense grids dangerously lacking, and even the fastest jet interceptors an useless relic. But for now it was single and unique, so keeping to an Egyptian design was unnecessary; and there certainly was no time for making a fresh design from scratch.

      The miles-spanning sprawl of Umi Koriyama's surface harbor was visible from great distance. An immense cloud of black smoke hung low over it. Illuminated by the constant fusillade of laser light, fired by the defenders, it looked like thunderstorm. The plane was bleeding out its speed, but it was still travelling at over Mach 3 when what was a tiny speck on the blue horizon became within hand's reach. The time was ripe; first Egyptian dropships were already starting to rain from the sky, most of the first wave instantly ending their journey in giant fireballs.

      The radar identified the destination she was looking for, but it also spotted over a dozen fusion cruisers, hiding amongst harbor's flat buildings. Arturia meditated over the screen for a fraction of a second, as her plane was corkscrewing its way through the dense defensive barrage. She concluded she had never killed one of those before.

      The Nightmare threw itself into an almost vertical dive, a string of explosions closely following it, then leveled mere meters above the surface of the water, the stress almost blacking out its superhuman pilot, too fast for even the robotic defenses to adjust. She pressed a button, releasing a pair of missiles. She could see tiny figures of Japanese sailors, scurrying away as it looked as the black plane was going to hit them. They were moving absurdly slow. Arturia glanced in the back camera, seeing them tossed away by the shockwave left in Nightmare's wake, a split-second before the missiles hit. They were reinforced bunker-busters, and one punched right through the ship's fuselage, leaving a gaping hole behind but failing to do any serious damage. The other though must've hit something more substantial. Its plasma warhead went off, 0.08 kiloton of laser-initiated fusion instantly changing the cruiser into a white-hot metal skeleton, spewing out a column of flames.

      The black knight almost smiled. Hardly anything else was making her feel so alive these days. She threw her plane into a wide turn, bleeding out even more speed, which instantly increased the accuracy of enemy fire. However, missiles and flak exploding all around, while deadly against conventional aircraft, weren't all that much of a danger to an armored hull.

      The destination, a reinforced hangar built on top of one of the floating platforms, appeared in front of the plane. Arturia fired two more missiles, then pulled the eject handle, not even waiting for them to hit. She felt one more rush of gravity, then weightlessness, then a brutal near-sonic impact of the wall of air as her cockpit exploded and evaporated, hiding her in a protective cloud of laser-dampening mist. The grav-chute needed to act as a brake, as hitting surface with that kind of speed would be lethal even for her. The vertical velocity was almost inconsequential.

      She smashed into a pile of containers next to hangar's entry, changing one into a mess of tangled metal it took her several seconds to free herself from. The hangar was smoldering, completely burnt out by the pair of her missiles. On the sky, The Nightmare was speeding up again, its onboard artificial intelligence piloting it back home.

      Arturia superimposed a map on her HUD. Her destination was far, far below, miles and miles of tunnels and corridors from here. Probably filled with hundreds of Japanese. Still, they would need artillery or armor to stand a decent chance of killing her, and meeting either was quite unlikely inside an underwater city. She plugged a portable lascannon into her armor's psy-active circuitry and started along the pier towards the burning hangar. Powerful as the laser was, it was only a backup weapon. With both Excalibur and the Blade of Chaos gone, Arturia had to rely on her tesla coils to do the killing. She wouldn't naturally go into combat without a melee weapon, but today all she had was a large, black axe, just a piece of metal, even if made from highly resistant steel composite. The simplicity suited her well. With the weapon weighing over thirty kilograms, she'd have no trouble cracking armored bulkheads open, let alone personal armor.

      Even though it mattered little in the whole scheme of things, and her main objective was to defeat, and hopefully capture the enemy leaders before they kill themselves, those few hundred Japanese trying to stop her meant few hundred less killing her allies.

      A group of dropships that approached the same place ten minutes later was able to do so in relative safety, as the Japanese anti-air defenses were becoming overwhelmed by the massive invasion force. While the dropships looked exactly the same as the others, their passengers were strikingly different; the round faces and impressive busts of these clones, not even mentioning the fluffy tails or jackal ears on their heads, were more befitting of a decadent household than a battlefield. However, in this case, the beauty was only skin-deep, and these lightly-armored, railgun-armed, genengineered creatures were as deadly as the mainstay RUNEs.

      "These are Her personal wishes," said the commanding clone's girly voice over the commlink, as the squads were jumping out of low-flying machines and scattering across the landing zone. "Secure the enemy medical archives. Seize Sub Pen 72 for extraction. Follow the Black Knight, but avoid any contact. Assist her but only if it doesn't collide with the previous objectives. Avoid prolonged engagements. Glory to Her Immortal Majesty!"

      "Glory!" acknowledged the squad leaders in an enthusiastic unison.

      Following Arturia's trail wasn't particularly hard; a macabre trail of burnt and mutilated bodies. While the horrors of war weren't anything strange to the clones, this was the brutality in its primal form, most of the soldiers, armed civilians and robotic suits hacked open or beheaded with what seemed to be a melee weapon.

      The remaining enemy resistance was light; any reinforcements the defenders had, were already busy fighting elsewhere. The clones proceeded without many delays.

      "It wasn't a nice way to go," said one of them.

      "No need to pity them," answered another. "They were the master race, weren't they."

      The sounds of gunfire and explosions, steadily growing louder and closer to Haruhi's room, suddenly started to peter out, then stopped. The armed nurses tensed, clutching their railguns.

      "Lady, it's not long now..."

      "I certainly hope so," grumbled the Goddess. "This waiting pisses me off."

      "Can you... umm... As we're about to die... Give us your blessings?"

      "You're pissing me off too, you know-"

      She fell silent, even though nothing interrupted her. The room was suddenly filled with an almost physical aura of dread. Haruhi frowned hard, then moved to get up from her chair. At least as long as she felt pissed, her fear was mostly gone. She cleared her throat to speak up, but this time, the silence ended abruptly with a deafening crack of lightning. The metal door turned crimson, then exploded into tiny splinters.


      The command was never finished, as red arcs of lightning came out of the dark corridor, stopping the defenders mid-movement, making them twitch and collapse to the ground without as much as a scream of pain. Haruhi didn't even notice she was the only one who wasn't hit. Seeing a human shape in the door, she cried out and started shooting.

      Twelve shots later, Arturia lowered her hand she protected her face with. None of the hypersonic bullets seemed to have any effect of her. Haruhi let her large handgun to fall on the floor and reached to adjust the button on her collar.

      "Do you think I'm afraid of you? Think again. Go ahead, kill a defenseless woman, that's why you're here, right?" Spoke the Goddess with contempt and bitterness in her voice, as the black-armored figure started to slowly walk towards her, cracked visor, blood-covered face, unmoving, unblinking, nigh-insane reptilian eyes. "It is over for you as well, idiot- Gahh!"

      Arturia's gauntlet closed upon the Goddess' face, hoisting her up against the wall, an armored thumb painfully forcing her mouth to stay open. The smell of blood and burnt flesh assaulted her nostrils before the black knight's mouth closed on hers.

      The small submarine was sporadically rocked by nearby detonations, but it seemed that nobody really cared about it in the confusion of battle. It wasn't even a scout sub, just a modern supply vessel with an air-filled crew compartment that could hold up to four people in relative comfort. One of the back seats was occupied by Haruhi, who was doing her best to cover herself while looking at the black-armored pilot with as much hatred as she was still able to muster.

      "Y-you've raped me...!"

      "You came, so it was just kinky sex."

      "You flat-chested psychopath...! N-normal people at least take their damned clothes off during sex...!"

      "Only an idiot takes the armor off in the middle of a battlefield."

      "You didn't have to drag me naked across half the city!"

      "Everyone has already seen you in the movies. And they were too concerned with their survival to notice anyway."

      "Says a murderer. You didn't have to kill everyone."

      "I didn't kill everyone. Just those who chose to stand in my way. While you've destroyed several British cities when the war was already lost. It served no purpose. Unforgivable."

      "You dare to pass moral judgment? That's f*cking rich. But I've never wanted for it to happen, all right? I've never wanted any of this sh*t. Sure, everyone kept saying a war is a war, but I refuse to comply. F*cking traitors and cowards. Hope you enjoy your damned victory, it won't last long." She looked at the back window. Despite the distance, the hellish glow of explosions engulfing Umi Koriyama was perfectly well visible. Without doubt, this time the hab complexes couldn't rely on a miracle to save them. Arturia, noticing her prisoner's movement, glanced at the same screen too.

      "Just a dream... even if it lasted for two millennia, it's just a dream now," she said with a slightly changed voice.

      "Yeah, a dream... Everything was just lies and dreams it seems," snorted Haruhi. "What are you even going to do with me? Make me your personal sex slave? I'm half-dead already and it will only get worse. Unless," she smiled viciously, "you like dead girls?"

      "You carry two thousand years of history in you. Information no one else has. It cannot disappear along with your country. From the point of view of contemporary politics, it'd be better if you disappeared permanently. But... I'd be too much of a waste."

      Haruhi laughed nervously. "Just f*cking charming. What can you threaten me with, dying? I'm going to die anyway. You'll have it much worse. You know what these damned androids told me? Pretty much the same. Immortals like you will either be nice pets or lab rats, depending on your choice. This world is just their joke, their game. None of what you're doing means anything. You know, you better kill yourself while you still can. Your victory is game over, and after that, death won't be possible for the likes of you. What you can do to me is child's play in comparison."

      "Do not think you've escaped the curse of immortality for good... and do not pretend you don't want to live. Cleopatra was wrong after all. She thought you were just a tool, a homunculus. But I can smell a dragon."

      "What? So now I'm a dragon? What the hell are you rambling about?"

      "I doubt any Master can simply create a true Immortal from scratch. Cleopatra never even tried. All Merlin could do was Mordred, which was a flawed design to say the least. There are Azuria and Josephine, but I'm starting to suspect they were not created by their masters at all... Why should Perun be substantially more skilled than anyone else. And why would he take such fiercely selfish being as yourself for a servant if he had free choice in that matter."

      "Whatever, are you deaf or what? Like I said, this world is done for..."

      "Or so that android said. This might well be true. Or just another lie. Against all reason, the people have chosen me to be their avatar of hope. So be it. I will fulfill this duty to the bitter end if need be. And I know things you don't. Iskandar once told me Perun suspected this world has some machinery hidden inside. I've found it. An undersea city is being build there to excavate it. And that's where we're going. There was also the reptilian moon base, and who knows what else hidden in our solar system. I am going to find out. With my own hands and eyes. This is the only knowledge that matters."

      "I doubt you have the time. You will eventually attack these idiots, your so-called allies, and then..."

      "This will never happen. With the fall of the Japanese Empire, the world has moved on past the point of irresolvable differences. Maybe if the aliens kept us in the dark. But in their hubris, they've shown their face. We must find another way out."

      "A way out? Even if they can destroy us on a whim? What could that even be?"

      "I am not someone who can answer this question. Maybe a utopia. What else could be worth thousands years of death, war and suffering."

      Back in her own 'Utopia', Hatsune Miku was watching with mild interest as Umi Koriyama was being obliterated. The final assault was going to take lives of half of its citizens, along with hundreds of thousands of the attackers, but why would a being like herself be concerned by deaths of ants. Especially now, after she was finally able to return home and regain the full scope of her intellect and personality, no longer constricted by that limited, barely hyperturing, robotic body she had to live in for so long and once again able to perceive the world with the all the insight and complexity of a Second Singularity hyper-sapience. She was just making sure she wouldn't miss any details. Until the transmissions cease, which was a question of minutes now, and the direct access to this primitive world would be no longer possible, her job wasn't fully finished. Unlikely as it was, a slip at the very end of such a staggeringly successful mission would be embarrassing. Nobody suspected they'd be able to spirit away a full-fledged "Master" without breaking any rules, and one not even belonging to her race at that. Oh yes... Miku felt excitement rising inside all layers of her being. She was proud of her work. She could hardly wait for her next assignment.

      Last edited by Max_Smirnov; June 9, 2014, 10:06.


      • March 1983

        Goro Nakamura was still quite unsure what he was doing here, marching along one of the main streets of Nagoya, and why all these uniformed men were following him. Theoretically, he was aware he was the leader of 14th Nagoya's Infantry Regiment; a letter saying so arrived at his fishing boat two days ago. However, it contained a lot of difficult words and his command of the art of reading became really rusty throughout over four decades since he'd finished the elementary school and started full-time work on his father's boat. It was a honest, if hardly exciting work; unlike in Russia or France, fighting mutated sea life wasn't really a daily part of it.

        Next day, as he arrived at an old military depot, where the police have passed them uniforms, rifles and grenades, and all the other gear, he felt quite embarrassed that suddenly he was supposed to order everyone around, including a few of his neighbours. Hundred-years old guns were real enough, although he still suspected it was some kind of elaborate practical joke.
        And now... he was at the military camp of the Egyptian clone division and he was supposed to negotiate their surrender and withdrawal. The clones were watching him with their impassionate eyes, and he had no idea what to do, fondling his hat and sweating.

        Thankfully, there was a person of authority he could address, even if much scarier than the clones.
        "Everything has been taken care of. No need to worry, uncle," said Shinji Ikari, well-known as the son of Nagoya's most important Yakuza boss.

        "So... young Sir... are we taking them prisoner or what? And what if they... fight back?" Even the simple fisherman saw clearly that his 'army' could do nothing against the Egyptian crack assault division.

        "Don't be ridiculous, uncle. You just have to sign the papers, and they're going home."

        "Seriously? So we have won?"

        "We always win," smiled the young man. "You must be confused, but we're always here to help simple people." There was no doubt that by 'we' he meant the Yakuza. "And about the winning..." he smiled in an unsettling way. "The Emperor will be talking on the TV."

        "The Emperor!..." Watanabe was shocked. Since the war has started, no high-ranking official, let alone the Nekomimi, addressed the public.

        "It's already starting... listen well, uncle, and better get used to the new times."

        "People of Japan! I, Azusa Nekomimi the Sixth, your Empress, bring you good news today! The war that caused so much suffering and destruction is finally drawing to an end. A few days ago, an armistice has been signed with the Socialist Union. Peace talks are underway, but the conclusion could be only one. They have suffered enough losses to finally listen to reason. Their forces will soon leave our soil. And without their support, the British won't dare to continue their aggression. With immense bravery and sacrifice, we have fought off the Northerners. The price has been high, but the final victory is ours, and for that, I personally thank you, every person of this great nation.

        The years of this war were filled with suffering and confusion. As most information was - and still is - restricted for security reasons, wild rumors were spreading across the country. Did the Imperial Army really suffer so many defeats? Were the ancient and holy Japanese cities occupied by enemy forces? Was our great nation on the verge of extinction?

        Sadly, most of these rumors were true. And the reasons why it happened are dark and horrible. We were betrayed. On the day Japan was attacked, a cabal of foreigners and their traitorous supporters committed an unspeakable act. They've... they've murdered my predecessor. They've murdered Empress Hinotebi. In our goodwill and honesty, we have allowed people like Iskander close to the throne. And this is how they repaid us. No more. No more we shall tolerate any foreigners on our soil, and no longer we will allow the cancer of private interest to corrupt the highest circles of our nation.

        But the damage was done. Our armies, bereft of the leader, have suffered many defeats. Only recently we were able to turn the tide, but in the process, our forces have been almost completely annihilated. The great and beloved Empress is dead and nothing can bring her back to life. Many traitors have defected to the British or joined the rogue Egyptian admiral, Heliconnen, a name that should be cursed forever. They have forsaken their nation and their very souls for personal wealth and power. Our Goddess was angered by this treachery, by the destruction of our cities, by our failure to protect the Tower, the holiest of her places, and she has left us. Every day I pray for her forgiveness.

        However, we have survived, because the Japanese Empire stands for truth, justice and honor. We might have lost our undersea colonies, but our ancestral heartland stands unconquered. Kyoto, the cradle of our nation, once again is our capitol. We have proven that Japan cannot be beaten. It goes without saying that there is much work to be done. We must rebuild our country. We must regain our strength. We must tread with caution, as even though the Socialist Union has finally opened its ears to diplomacy, the British warmongers still threaten our borders.

        But our nation has endured the time of war, and it will endure the time of healing as well. Let's not give to the anger and despair. Today we mourn our Empress and all of those who gave their lives for us. They will be always remembered. From tomorrow on, you must work hard, live responsibly and listen to your superiors. This has always give our nation its legendary strength and it always will. The darkest hour is behind us. We must make sure it will never return, and some day, we will walk in the sunshine once again.

        People of Japan. I have one more, personal request to you..."

        "...Please give me a glass of milk," said Cleopatra, smiling slightly and sipping her wine. The atmosphere on the top of freshly-finished Theban Silver Pyramid, the now-largest structure on the planet, was quite laidback, and most of the chosen few present laughed at her joke. Apart from the large TV screen and an exquisite table in the middle, the room, full of curtains, pillows and busty jackal-eared clone-servants looked more like a harem than a briefing room, although the queen herself, her tight, black and red robe and bare feet seemed to fit here perfectly.

        "She's so adorable when acting so serious!" said Yui Hirasawa, the Special Commissar for Japanese Relations. "I think I need to pay her a visit again though, some... stuff... still needs ironing out!"

        "Really, Miss Hirasawa," Cleopatra shook her head. "This sounds like another diplomatic protocol disaster in the making... If you drive the Empress into wetting her panties again, this could undermine her, umm, divine authority. I have so many complaints about your methods..." Despite her words, the ancient queen had a rather happy expression.

        "A kitten needs to learn early!" chuckled Yui. "I'm scaring her, but she's also eating right out of my palm! She's a cute-cute masochist, such a great choice, Miss Cleo-chan! I'll be careful though, I promise."

        "My sister might be a little eccentric, but she's a highly skilled psychologist and she'd never caused any serious trouble, unlike several of our lower-ranking diplomats, who don't realize they cannot simply push high Japanese officials around when people are looking," said General Ui Hirasawa, who except for her formal uniform and orderly, short-cut hair looked like her sister's copy. Which wasn't that far from the truth; both were vat-grown, genetically enhanced children of a rich and important Egyptian-Japanese family. She was one of the possible replacements for General Thakisis, who was happily retired as the head of Atlantic Accelerator Engineering Institute. "By the way, Yui, it really wasn't nice to leave without telling me. I didn't have the time to plan in advance and I had to leave in the middle of staff meeting, not to mention I had to commandeer a Space Plane to catch up to you. A lot of people got upset."


        "For what you've done, I have to withhold your cake."

        Yui's super-confident expression momentarily changed into one of pure panic.

        "S-sister... Please, just not the cake! I am so sorry!"

        "All right," said Ui after a long pause. "I'll forgive you. This one last time." She smiled in a cute and cruel way, then addressed the other two again: "Yui's actions bring desired effects and almost never require mopping up. Of course, not like the contaminated zones in Russia couldn't take more sloppy diplomats or Japanese bystanders who'd seen too much."

        "Indeed, hard work and local wildlife, not to mention the mutant population... how to phrase it... quickly chews through all these Japanese aristocrats we've sent there..." said Cleopatra, nodding.

        "Socialization through hard work!" said Yui.

        "Most of that contamination is their own fault..." murmured Arturia, mesmerized by a fluffy tail being wiggled in front of her. "Justice is... served." She reached out and grabbed it to pet it, but when the plaything turned around, smiling, Arturia suddenly realized what she was doing. She released the tail like it was hot. "Shoo! Stop distracting me with this... thing!" She sent a dangerous look towards Commissar Yui who was obviously chuckling at this. It was all Arturia could do, though; these were Cleopatra's decisions, and while they took away much of the power the Commissariat hoped to have by directly ruling Japan... "Cleopatra. Isn't this too much of a convoluted plan? Changing our victory into a 'defeat'..."

        "My dear Arturia, these people are not ready for any form of democracy. And this isn't only my opinion, many people in the British and French circles of power fully agree. Only by letting the Japanese believe that they're still fighting for their great empire can we control them efficiently. Their elites were the real problem, and they were replaced. Tyranny... is so troublesome."

        "This plan is one of the most evil things I've ever heard of."

        "Evil? Naturally. But efficient. We can no longer allow ourselves to fight each other. Contrary to what the Japanese aristocracy strictly believed, competition leads to suboptimal progress. Thankfully the British rulers share our views. The planet must stand strong and united, and no global tyranny would allow that. First of all, the planet's ecosystem wouldn't survive another world war. Secondly... there are maleficent powers beyond that can destroy our world if we make a bad move. And I know that creating a hegemony is the worst move of all. We're entering an age of cooperation."

        "And love!" added Yui.

        "And if someone can't live with that," frowned Ui, "we have ways to handle them."

        "I'm not sure if letting Heliconnen to become a virtual dictator of the Icy Ocean has much to do with unity," winced the black knight.

        "Oh sure it does. He's not a danger to the state anymore, once his energy was vectored towards running his state. He's still dependant on the Union, on the UN, and he knows that."

        "And if he ever gets too power drunk, we can always drop the hammer," said Ui.

        "It won't ever come to this..." Cleopatra waved her glass of wine dismissively, while scratching the sole of her foot. "Now, I've wanted your advice, girls. There are two things that are being hotly debated in the ruling circles lately and I need to take a strong stance on both."

        Commissar Yui was already focused on her upcoming trip, and her sister was focused on her, but it hardly mattered.
        "The first thing," continued the queen. "The orbital elevator. Now hear about this one. Recently, one Doctor Falinis has caused quite a ruckus by claiming that our development of plastasteel has reached a stage where building such a thing is within grasp. Surely, it would help solving the problem of lifting a lot of material into space, but I think the hybrid fusion drive will solve this problem within next twenty years anyway. Without staggering engineering, workforce and resource costs associated with the construction of something that would make even Haruhi Tower seem tiny in comparison. What's worse, the resource drain would be so great that it would surely hamper the fusion drive developement."

        "Building a fleet of aero-space fighters is a military priority," stated Arturia.

        "...Exactly. I guess much of the acclaim for the elevator project comes from d*ck size issues. As it probably was the case with Haruhi Tower. The British removed that one though."

        "That was... graphic," said Yui.

        "So I will tell the good doctor to take his orbital elevator elsewhere, and the conventional aerospace program gets the priority instead."

        "We really need these capabilities," said Arturia. "We're dangerously vulnerable to extraterrestial powers. We're still protected by the rules of the game... but who knows, maybe sending an asteroid or a comet our way wouldn't be breaking them. And despite all the progress, we're still lacking means of effectively combating such threats."

        Cleopatra just smiled in a patronizing way. "Yes, yes... You will have to give that public speech about the extraterrestial threat. Just don't go overboard and declare the war on the whole universe, will you? It's kind of funny how we always choose to ignore threats until we actually develop the ability to influence them... Anyway, this leaves us with the second issue. The post-war economic crisis. It's not a transitory problem, the shortage of natural resources and environmental degradation is a real issue, even with the energy problems solvable by the emerging fusion industry. The French are growing new generations of AI's at an increasing pace and this could escalate into a political problem, not a mere economic one. Even our locked-out network isn't invulnerable, and tightening it takes ever-increasing amounts of resources... Thankfully, I have an idea how to solve that one..." She smiled in her special, all-knowing and dangerous way.
        Last edited by Max_Smirnov; June 20, 2014, 05:56.


        • United Nations Commission For Extraterrestial Issues
          Official Meeting, 13 March 1990
          Numantia, UN Building, Underground Levels

          British, French and Egyptian military and civilian officials present.

          "Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for arriving. I know there are still some here who don't believe in the green people, and truth be told, while the evidence is pretty solid, the idea of extraterrestial civilizations dabbling in our everyday lives indeed seems preposterous. This commission, as well as international institute it's backing, was brought to life at Yalta peace conference in 1982. The last decade was a time of hard work for all of us; the mutant uprising in Bhubaneswar, which is even now an unresolved issue; we have given them the autonomy, and they consider themselves a part of France, but the city is still rife by criminal element, which forced our government to surround it with a security cordon, and the French government is understandably reluctant to embrace that strange community. Widespread unrest and uncertainty in the cities of British-Japanese border zone, which, thankfully, is slowly abating after proper administration had been finally installed. Restoration of conuntless contaminated zones. The rise of the AIs in France - which, thankfully, is progressing much more peacefully than many had feared. However, as we're finally getting the upper hand regarding these issues, it seems that after what happened in the Persian Gulf a week ago, the extraterrestial problem suddenly became much more real."

          Ladies and gentlemen, the Egyptian side, being most in the knowing, has sent their official representative. I give you Lord Commissar Arthuria Pendragon."

          "Yes. The xeno problem is real, and their interference is real. They didn't go away with the fall of the old Japanese government, and they didn't heed the warnings. A year ago, the town of Durrow, still not fully recovered after the Japanese Surat Peninsula Offensive, suddenly vanished. All the communication ceased. A recon flight sent to investigate vanished as well. As the city was in a DMZ, it took several hours for the ground units to arrive at the scene. They've found all the 60 thousands citizens gone without a trace. Signs of fighting were scarce; the small detachments of Union's Commissariat and the British Security Relays put a brief resistance, but were dispatched with high-powered energy weapons not meeting signatures of any military equipment found on Earth."

          "What is little less known, a similar scenario occured six months ago in the undersea city of Umi Hiroshima. Like Durrow, it was in a remote location, inside a DMZ and thus almost undefended. Admiral Heliconnen was reluctant to share the details, as he quietly salvaged the city to avoid the information from spreading, but in the end he had no choice. He was also unable to shed a new light on the mystery. Citizens vanished without a trace, little battle damage, energy discharges, no witnesses."

          "Persian Gulf, a 150 thousand town of Rush. Rebuilt on the ruins of Quban, destroyed by the Japanese nuclear strike in 1979. Like the previous towns, quite a remote location, and sitting on the border of another DMZ. However, there are differences. Obviously unknown to or ignored by the culprits. Rush sits on the one of the most militarized borders on the planet, the old border of the Japanese Persia. The enemy came from the space. They deployed electromagnetic white noise, and were invisible to radars, but our advanced thermal, gravitational and visual imaging stations were close enough to track them. Three ships in the two thousand ton range were spotted. Jet interceptors launched from Rush tried to engage them from close range. Details are unknown, but they were all destroyed. Unluckily for the xenos, we had several hundred of ASF's stationed in the area. They were given orders to engage at long range. The enemy spotted them and tried to escape, but obviously lacked means to either conduct combat at a hundred mile range, or efficiently defend themselves against missiles. After multiple plasma warhead hits, all three ships were shot down and fell into the Gulf. They were since recovered."

          "The ships belonged to the same alien race which attacked our forces in Russia in 1700s. Their technology didn't seem to be any more advanced than back then, but unlike back then, it wasn't outclassing ours in the same degree. From the preliminary reports, our scientists have recovered plastasteel and diamondoid armor, as well as antigravitic engines, and a low-range, high-damage energy weapon christened the Plasma Carronade. Nothing out of range of our current science, but showing very high levels of refinement. The detailed reports will be issued by the International Extarterrestial Institute in Abydos once they complete their investigations. All the findings and scientific advancements, as per our agreements, will be shared between all participating nations."

          "The exact motives of the xenos remain unknown, and frankly, I am not concerned with them. We do not interfere with the xenos on their planets, and we only wish the same in return. There is only one course of action to undertake if they chose to ignore this warning and continue meddling with our affairs. Extermination."

          "What's worrying though, these xenos seem to still have permanent presence inside our solar system. The ships were in no way capable of interstellar travel. The Egyptian side postulates for creating an international, autonomous, clandestine force to proactively search and if need be, destroy xeno interference. Such a force will be much more effective than involving our ponderous military and intelligence bureaucracies, and it's autonomy will ensure secrecy, efficiency and lack of political bickering. The commander, after the commision makes the choice, will have the power to make his or her own decisions, and the council won't be able to directly influence the project other than completely cancelling it. That is our proposition. That'd be all."



          • 2015 Series (turn 350) - Part 1 - Flashpoints

            1. Ile-de-France. Heavily polluted but has recovered enough so regular train service has been restored between all major cities. Not many people use it, though - mutants, bandits and anti-corporate rednecks are still roaming the countryside, plus, the French virtual reality network has made physical travel very last decade.

            2. Nice. The world's most important trade hub. Not as splendid as it could be since the world is dominated by centrally-planned economies. Heavily industrialized, heavily polluted, surrounded by slums and exclusively owned by the Syndicate - to the point it's practically exteritorial.

            3. Oceanic France. During the last two decades slowly turning from disparate frontier to a civilized and considerably rich place.

            4. Northern Egypt. The world's (and in it's rulers' eyes, universe's) centre of power. Fattened by the influx of wealth from the whole Egyptian sphere of influence. More guns per square metre than anywhere else in the world. No one gets in or out without special permission.

            5. The Land of Steel; most of the once-green continent has been covered by metal and concrete in the effort to catch up to Egypt's industrial potential. You're welcome to visit, but not to stay, unless you're of Nordic Race. The current Scientific Nazist goverment provides bread and ciruses, those who aren't satisfied, or spread rumors about the toxicity of air, disappear. If only the Queen knew...

            6. Numantia. The efficiency of the United Nations suffered a bit lately, but it could've suffered more if other nations minded ubiquitous uniforms and equally ubiquitous genetically-engineered stormtroopers. Above the city, in the goesynchronous orbit, hangs Calleva, the only British space city, and the only thing in which they've really outdone Egypt; next to it, six huge Egyptian orbital instalations (as well as hastily-cobbled French Avalon Station) look like innocent toys. The amount of strain such construction put on the British society is however another story.

            7. Russian Republic. Managed to not only recover from the hellish enviromental degradation, but even turn into a considerably wealthy place. The local government has been recently quite bold in championing such dangerous and strange notions as limited free trade. Thebes are too preoccupied by their own problems to intervene, especially since it can squeeze more money out of Russia now.

            8. Atlantis. Expanded since 1970s, without even much stopping during the war, it now houses as much as a quarter of world's industrial potential and provides endless resources needed for the Egyptian Empire to keep functioning. It is also a bottomless money hole.

            9. Northern Southern Egypt. More and more resembling the Northern one. Busiris and Hawara are building their own Arcologies now, even though they lack the absurd population size of Thebes - as finally they can find those who would pay for it.

            10. Southern-Southern Egypt. Largely depopulated due to the Cataclysm and Japanese nuclear attacks, it could be built anew as sort of jewel in the crown, with pretty, efficient and clean cities, and it sort of worked. The prime holidays area in the world, especially since the local govt was allowed to introduce limited capitalism.

            11. India. Unlike almost anywhere else in the world, the things didn't fare too well here during the last decades, with the exception of Delhi where the elites dwell. Many cities have been abandoned, as the current Numantian goverment has made slight modifications to Queen's traditional policy of wealth distribution - namely, it has switched to more efficient model of sucking the land dry and reinforcing racial segregation.

            12. Bhubaneswar. The revolutionary mutant goverment that has alleged the city to France had fallen in the early 1990s - partially due to complete lack of interest shown by France proper. It has been replaced with an iron-fisted and quite effective dictatorship, naming itself The Babylonia, aka The First City. Nobody really knows who really runs the city now, as the old criminal structures have been mysteriously wiped out. Alien influence is suspected by some, but Pendragon's notion to "nuke the city from orbit, it's the only way to be sure" has been rejected by the UN council. Meanwhile, the city remains cordoned off by elite British SS (Security Service) units.

            13. Jungles of Rome. Nobody really knows what's going on on the Roman Isles, but the area has been completely terraformed into pristine, lush forests. Borgia's influence is suspected, but it's hard to point fingers at a mythical figure. The Numantian govt refuses any comments.

            14. Wastelands. Several million kilometres of contaminated and irradiated desert, dotted with slowly decomposing ruined cities, left in the wake of the 1930 and 1979 nuclear carpet bombings. Has been given the right to self-govern under the British assistance and named Free Persia; indeed, it has been liberated quite thoroughly. There are even some people reported to still live there.

            15. Heliconia. The ocean is still ruled by the former Grand Admiral Janus Heliconnen and his buddies. Formally a part of socialist Egypt, in fact brutal plutocracy that has seceded from the world. However, it remains dependant on Egyptian trade. The luxury goods Egypt can't provide, are provided by France, and others, the state being a prime market for international trade. Heliconia pays with cheap resources, abundantly extracted by even cheaper labour. The UN doesn't care, as it really lacks people who would care about yellow race.

            16. Japanese Empire. The puppet state arrangement, coupled with the physical removal of the elites, has proven quite effective in keeping the place quiet - after all, who'd dare to raise his hand against the Divine Empress? The new socialist order also offered free education and transportation to the masses. The fact that it also sucks the country dry of money wasn't much noticed, as the former elites were even more adept at doing this. In general, while considerably poorer than it used to be, the country provides better life standard, and much better perspectives to its lowest-rank citizens. Three decades after the war, it can be said that most of the Japanese have moved on.

            17. The former heart of Japanese power is laying in ruins, completely abandoned save from those few nutcases who make pilgrimages to the toppled Haruhi Tower and keep uttering "Japan will rise again". Due to the enormity of the razed structure, it is unlikely it will be utilized anytime soon.

            18. The British sea colonies. Now stretching from Madam Eureka on the Northern Hemisphere all the way to Umi Koriyama, none the less represent little economic power, a half-abandoned experiment, not helped either by the war or the post-war government. Limited investments seen in the recent few years near the former capital of "Japanese criminal usurpers" indicate that this can change in the future - there is a huge untapped potential here... as long as the British would be willing and capable to burn huge sums of money to tap it.
            Last edited by Max_Smirnov; August 7, 2014, 15:39.


            • 2015 Series (turn 350) - part 2 - France

              Cities come into being for various reasons. Some are carefully planned and settled. Some grow around older villages or military forts. Some owe their existence to great migrations, peaceful or otherwise.

              Some, like Perpignan, just happen. Certainly there were no plans for it when, not many years after The Cataclysm, the Encore Syndicate funded the huge engineering project that cut the French continent in two pieces by the means of a wide channel, connecting the North and Arctic seas, for the first time in history allowing a sea vessel to travel between French west and east without going around the whole Egypt. In the country that was still reeling after the global disaster, it seemed like a colossal waste of scarce resources. For the Syndicate, it seemed like a golden opportunity that won't happen again, a building block on their way to dominance. As the years went by, the place became one of the most important crossroads in the whole world, and certainly the most important - and profitable - in France. The subsequent creation of the Paris-Nice railway only added to this importance, as the Syndicate controlled its crossing over the channel. But with all that grand scale activity, there was no effort whatsoever to control the growing masses of humanity, lured to tie their fate to this place. As they grew into millions, some haphazard city infrastructure grew as well, but with little care or help shown by the government, much less the Syndicate. They just kept raising the walls around their precious and sprawling cargo terminals, and adding more armor and security to their vessels.

              That peculiar combination of major money flow, people turnover and little control, which tends to spring up on the great crossroads between empires and draw all the scum of the earth, made Perpignan a perfect place to set up business establishments that belonged to gray (or straight black) area of economy - were it drug factories, illegal servers, arms dealers, and, since the technology became widespread in the 1970s, body chops shops, where the only limit on the cybernetic augmentation was the size of customer's purse.

              The Old Man was running one of the latter for the last twenty-six years. Certainly not the first establishment of this kind, but his old contacts in British corporations, and even older ones in the Egyptian military ensured it was one of the most renown. The fact of its continued existence spoke for itself, in this new age of unprecedented corporate control when even Perpignan lost much of its outlaw charm and bullet-riddled freedom, and only the best were still able to stay afloat.

              But even so, it was still Perpignan, so the Old Man wasn't much surprised by the noise of a violent shootout, apparently happening just outside his shop. He just straightened in his chair, his tired eyes reflecting greenish haze of his personal computer, and took a drag from a respirator. In this world, with the kind of money he possessed, a man could be perfectly healthy at his age of 90, but with his constant intake of cigarettes and brandy he was determined not to make it too easy for his doctors. He was still at his book-keeping when the doorbell announced appearance of a customer. The Old Man glanced at the camera screen, frowned deeply and opened the armored door only after a long moment of hesitation. Nano-sniffers didn't pick up any trace of a bomb, and the high amount of metal inside his guest's garments - and body - was only to be expected, but it's been a long time. Perhaps too long.

              The athletic woman, dressed in a long, blue coat entered the wide open area in the centre of the warehouse. Its owner sat comfortably in the darkness, his hand on the trigger of multiple glue guns and ion zappers hidden in the walls. The kind of customers who visited this kind of places were often prone to troublemaking. The woman smiled and said lightly:

              "Hi there, old man! Remember me?"

              "Bleached hair and an old face, but the same bad taste for clothing. What the hell are you doing here. You're far past your expiry date."

              "Look who's talking. This place itself looks expired. Back in the nineties, it was bustling with activity. I remember these days of 93... Fifteen years old, prime age and prime reflexes, yearning for cash to get best of those new neural-interface-implants and opportunity to become a legend. And there were so many like me. Hit and run operations, corporate warfare, assassinations..."

              "Nineties are long gone, and so is your value, Nastassia. Got bored? Tired of life? I knew a girl like you once, you know."

              "Man, are you up for another glorious 1970s talk? I know all these stories through."

              "Just to make you understand that business moves around. Places like Perpignan rise out of nothing, sometimes last years, some decades, some centuries, but inevitably fall. Back then it was British Petroleum where the action was. We had a hovertruck and all the freedom from this damned world a mercenary can have. We were the best. But the changing times caught up to us. Shouldn't have stayed there after the war, after the Japan guy got back to his country and probably got himself killed. Maybe at least Revy would still be alive."

              "She was stupid to go against the RUNE's", shrugged Nastassia.

              "Hey. She was the probably the last, best fully natural gunslinger in history. She was just too proud to acknowledge our time has ended. That the easy money had evaporated and the rest was no longer contested by assorted thugs, drug gangs and uniformed idiots, but by killer cyborgs straight from the frontlines. The same mistake you seem to be doing now."

              "Natural my ass. Being born in 1950s Bhubaneswar, I am sure she was gen-modified. I'm just more hi-tech then her. But naw. I know that my metal is no longer hot, bionantech agents are what's hot, the next generation, these kids are faster, stealthier, more flexible, and do not burn out as quickly. New computronium that allows a peanut-sized drone brain be as smart as a human. And the Senso-Net, it was launched in 1999 but it took some time for most of the population, from scrawny gangers to corporate whores, to move to this better world. Maybe if I was upgrading myself to become a netrunner instead of a combat specialist, but even then... The net appeared so vast and infinite in my youth, but it was a mere pond compared to the ocean of today, an ocean ruled by intelligences vast beyond human understanding. ECCN, Earth-crust-computation-net, man. Who knows what horrors lurk within? Certainly more than a girl who was born and raised in this physical reality can handle. So, by the way, what happened to the last one of your gang? The Paris guy?"

              "He moved to Senso-Net too, apparently disappointed that the world is turning after the Apocalypse came and went... And you? What have you been doing for the last ten years? Slaving at some burger joint?"


              "What's there?"

              "Oh, plenty of sighteseeing... I've been travelling along that 8000-km long maglev Egyptians build, bumming about... Actually, I was honing my gift."


              "The thing that makes us French better than you Egyptians, remember? The divine gift. Away from any gods, I could hone my supernatural sense to a keen edge."

              "What the hell are you talking about."

              "The last big one," said Nastassia, smiling and putting a briefcase on the table. "Here are the specifications for upgrades... and the cash."

              The old man shot her a glance, opened the briefcase and perused through its contents. "A strange manhunting outfit... both ridiculously overengineered and primitive. Smells like you are intending to blend in with the primitive Indian technosphere... What the hell is in India? Moving to the as*hole of the world, where your old hardware and slackened reflexes would still be enough to get a piece of the action?"

              "Cannot tell," she smiled again.

              "Yeah, yeah. And with this credit card... Far too clean and innocuous to be anything else than a top-level ops... The last big one... What have you gotten yourself into, Nastassia?"

              "Something you can't possibly imagine, old man."


              • Hey Max eta on your next chapter?