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 Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man

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Better Alex

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PostSubject: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:45 am

The year is 3265. The Milky Way galaxy is a patchwork of great powers, sweeping star empires, feudal planetary principalities, and independent worlds. Among these is the Terran Empire and its allies, part of the Interstellar Treaty Organisation, or ISTO. The ISTO nations are some of the earliest human-dominated countries in space, and the Terran Empire's capital is the cradle of human civilisation: Earth itself, turned into a utopian garden-world through centuries of reconstruction efforts. But the galaxy is in a state of tension, locked in a Cold War between the ISTO, the Communist Bloc, and the Free International Group. And in the crucible of this tension, a new world begins.

Episode One: The Call

Episode Two: The Wanderers

Episode Three: The Desert of their Sins

Episode Four: Spreading the Good News

Episode Five: Sounding the Trumpets

Episode Six: The Tree

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PostSubject: Re: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Sat Jul 28, 2012 3:05 am

Episode One: The Call

On September 8th 3265, in the skies above the industrial planet Kojima, a manned orbital military research satellite was seized by terrorists of the Colonial Liberation Organisation. Their demands: the release of their captured leader, otherwise they would begin a nuclear bombing campaign. In response, five top agents billeted on the planet were awakened from their beds and taken to the Imperial space frigate Arugula, to be deployed via launch tube. These men and women were:
Céleste Beaumont, a scout-sniper from the Imperial Marines trying to find her place in the world in spite of her childhood illness and cyberisation.
Herve Morrison, a ruthless Air Force Pararescue field tactician who hides a troubled and mysterious past with caustic wit and anonymity.
Mariah Ruby, a bodyguard android whom joined the Army Special Forces following the death of her employer.
Damien, a wisecracking, pop-culture savvy combat robot originally built for a career in bureaucracy, whom chose to join the Navy's Special Warfare Division as a space VBSS specialist.
Floyd Ophid, an Army ranger with a bombastic attitude, renowned for his spec-ops exploits.

Eight hours after the seizure of the facility, the operatives were briefed and Floyd was sent in as a lone agent. The others were intended to be sent in six hours later, to mop-up the mess. However, an hour into the mission, Floyd was captured and the others were mobilised for immediate insertion. Just prior to insertion, they were alerted to the terrorists' inclusion of four dangerous and enigmatic mercenaries--all victims of the Empire's crackdown of insurrectionist movements in the past few decades.

Deploying via an individual assault craft, the team boarded the satellite through an airlock and began their infiltration. However, they ran into problems very soon, being forced to engage several CLO terrorists in close combat, while Céleste assailed them from a catwalk with her suppressor-equipped rifle. The guards were slain and they proceeded to a freight elevator that deposited them in the mess hall. The four snuck in through the ventilation shafts into the next passageway, but were heard by particularly wary guards, whom had been alerted to their presence by security cameras. They were forced into a shootout, tossing poison gas grenades into the hallway before running back towards the elevator room.
However, they saw their worst fears realised: Floyd had not been captured, he had been on the terrorists' side the whole time and used the mission as a way to link up with them to personally oversee the rest of the situation. He, along with the four mercenaries, stood in the hallway, taunting the infiltrators. He admitted that the facility had a deeper purpose than they had been told, throwing the case wide open: the station was a military research base, for testing top-secret weapons of mass destruction, in this case the a new experimental lightweight missile termed "Project Baraquiel", which Floyd intended to turn against the Imperial worlds. They fought Floyd in a tense firefight where Céleste was severely injured. Floyd was defeated but managed to escape, despite his own injuries.

The four trooped onwards after repairing and healing themselves, splitting up. Céleste and Damien encountered a junction room and disabled the terrorists' communication equipment. They fought and slew the android mercenary Robert Collins, beheading him after he had hacked Céleste into paralysis. She was restored while Damien hacked the computer systems to find information on Baraquiel. Mariah and Morrison trooped on through the engineering compartments, but became split up. Herve was captured by Floyd's mercenaries. He was tortured, rescued only when Mariah linked up with the other two and led the charge to save him.
Fleeing the scene, they found themselves outside of the station's command centre. Breaking in, they held Floyd at gunpoint as he paced around, delaying them. Herve stared him down and conversed while he considered desperately suicide-bombing the villain. Floyd started off their second fight with a vicious blow to Damien, damaging one of his internal systems, but he was swiftly damaged by the other soldiers. He fled to a freight elevator with the saboteurs hot on his trail towards the missile's auxiliary launch controls. He planned to deploy the Lightning of God on the cities of Kojima's surface; the terrorist demands were a mere smokescreen for mass destruction. The heroes defeated a squad of terrorist guards, despite Herve taking crippling injuries, while Damien planted plastic explosives on the engine of the missle; however, the explosive malfunctioned and the missile launcher. Damien seized a rocket launcher and fired--a nuclear missile to defeat another nuclear missile. The intense blast damaged the station and it began to deorbit.

They managed traipse back to the escape pods, but found Floyd waiting for him. He grabbed Herve, ready to snap his neck. The tactician flicked out his combat knife and gouged it into the traitor's ribcage. Seizing the moment, Céleste shot him in the head, ending his threat. The team leapt into the pod and launched, while the military station crashed through the atmosphere and burned up.
Once they arrived at the Arugula, they were debriefed, castigated by a newly-arrived Rear Admiral for their destruction of valuable military property and data, and told that they were to be reassigned. Overnight, the political situation in the galaxy had grown hot; the Terran Empire was at war.

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PostSubject: Re: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Fri Mar 29, 2013 3:44 am

Gaiden One: Beaumont's Raiders

After the slightly bungled mission at Kojima, the surviving agents were transported to the nearest major spaceport city, Shinkawa. Along the way, Céleste had a hallucinatory experience and a twisted nightmare, followed by a grand mal seizure. She was taken to a hospital as soon as the shuttle arrived, along with Herve Morrison. They both had surgery to heal their injuries, and she had further analysis by technicians to see if she had a computer virus installed in her cybernetics. She did, indeed, and it was causing her hallucinations and night terrors. The virus was scrubbed, but Céleste was not satisfied. She called on a friend who resided in an orbital residential station to come down and check her out himself. He found that the virus still existed, but using his own custom antivir protocols, deleted the program. Meanwhile, Mariah and Damien had a night on the town while on shore leave.

The shuttle and frigate departed for its defence duties while the four troops geared up for their new assignment. Formed as the 71st Studies and Observations Group, they were sent into high-risk infiltration and assassination missions deep behind enemy lines during various ground battles and on sabotage missions in enemy-occupied space stations. As the war dragged on for the next couple of years, they managed to crawl out of the jaws of death many times during dangerous combat missions. A few other illustrious agents were attached to their unit, and served admirably. Battles hinged on the vital intelligence and sabotage put into action by units such as theirs. They became known as "Beaumont's Raiders" due to their commanding officer.
Despite these battles and injuries, their greatest tragedy came when they were in a period of rest between missions. After assisting the Army's sacking of a Soviet city, the forces organised a victory parade. The planet's "liberated" human population, however, resented the Imperial occupiers. During the parade, a little girl walked up to Céleste and Mariah; Damien, savvy as ever, bolted right before the explosion. The girl had a bomb planted inside her body and detonated it as she closed in on the two women. Mariah and several others were killed instantly by the blast. Céleste were severely injured; the girl's bones became deadly shrapnel and, despite medical attempts to staunch the bleeding, had lodged themselves in her vital organs. Céleste was able to survive because most of the damage was done to her cybernetics. She had major replacements and some enhancements in her subsequent surgery. The group was swifty reorganized for duty, but replenishments would have to be made.

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PostSubject: Re: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Fri Aug 09, 2013 11:12 pm

Episode Two: The Wanderers

November 3267. The Soviets had taken hit after hit, and a final assault on the agricultural world of Khoz was to be the tipping point. The planet was the breadbasket of the Soviet Army, providing raw food materials exclusively for their military. If Terran and allied forces could sack Khoz, they could cut off these vital supplies and rapidly defeat the Soviet Solar Republics.
In the final leg of this battle, the Soviet defense forces had been encircled; they retreated to the city named by the Terran invaders as Zone 231. Drawing in Terran forces, they launched a counteroffensive to encircle them. The Terran Army units had taken heavy losses and despite gaining most of the ground on the planet, they were at risk of losing the battle through sheer attrition. Soviet commandos had launched guerilla attacks and armored raids on the frontlines, bleeding them near-dry. Trouble was, the Imperial forces were separated by a wedge of Soviet troops. Infantry on one side, artillery on the other; with armored troops pinned down in the city in the middle of the carnage. Communications were scrambled and supply lines were thinning. The links needed to be reestablished. It would take a battle-hardened, skilled group of soldiers to punch through the enemy territory and link up for a major assault on the enemy’s headquarters.

To this task was set the Lonely Hearts squad—a rifle squad from the 505th Dragoons Battalion. The squad consisted of their Staff Sergeant, stalwart and honourable Edward Pepper; Corporal Richard P. O’Toole, their no-nonsense and reticent combat medic and head of the support team; Corporal Jayne Rossum, a good-humored but largely sociopathic robot and head of the assault team; Specialist Artem Meshcheryakov, the gruff but determined sharpshooter; Specialist William McGrady, the quick-footed, but mentally unstable scout seeking fame and fortune independent of his family's political ties; Specialist Zenzi Rothschild, a combat technician from an aristocratic family with highly political motivations; Lance Corporal Dan McRogers, a cowardly but amiable field medic; Private First Class Lucy van Marten, a former sex-model android conscripted into military service, blank and unemotional; and Private First Class Ophelius Greene, a haughty and loudmouthed Terran supremacist.
Having proven themselves on the frontlines against a platoon of Soviet armored infantry, they were recalled to the main combat base to tend to their wounded man, PFC Greene. Colonel Nathan Angus gave them this special task and sent them on their way, before Greene could recuperate. They were further given a mission by Battalion Inspector and political commissar Henry Heavenly: bring in the artillery battalion’s leader—dead or alive. Elsewise, Greene might encounter “a run of ill health”.

The squad hiked through forests, encountering enemy scouts and armored troops, as well as natural hazards such as a pack of hunting-bears. Along the way, Lucy experienced a psychotic break and swung into a second personality—the first gasps of dissociative identity disorder, part of the madness fated to her by her maker—an overly emotional girl named “Nadia”. Her squadmates managed to calm her down and coax Lucy’s personality back out. But her squad leaders were still unsure and committed to get aid at the city outpost, or drop her off. They took a detour to the bombed-out war-zone, intent on finding solutions.
Upon arrival to the city, they were ushered into the HQ and met the commander of the forces in both the city and the overall combat zone, Tivadar Laszlo. The Brigadier General offered what resources he could—food, ammunition, medical supplies, but admitted that their field psychologist had “bought it” about a week back, and only had surgical professionals on hand. The battalions engaged in the city were hemorrhaging manpower and could hold out for only a short time. The enemy was flooding in from the north and prevented securing vital strategic chokepoints and ammo caches. Soviet tank columns were advancing closer and closer to the HQ, and the troops had precious few anti-armor weapons. The Lonely Hearts were tasked with sneaking through the city, securing a cache of rockets, and leading the charge on the Soviet tanks. If they succeeded, General Laszlo would provide them with vehicles to get to the artillery base safely, and could be in a better position to reconnect supply lines between the artillery regiment, the panzer troops in the city, and the rifle regiment in the south. Before moving out, Dan and O’Toole concocted a plethora of sedatives and antipsychotic medications in order to keep Lucy under control.

The squad trooped through several city blocks, cutting down a raiding party, tripping traps, and evading mines. They hunkered down for the night on the roof of a building, Sergeant Pepper and his tacticians making a plan of action to assist an encircled rifle company not more than a kilometer north of their position. They planned to evacuate these pinned troops, secure the ammo cache, and link up with a mechanized infantry battalion driving towards the enemy headquarters. As they moved on through the next day, they met up with a scouting team from the unit they were trying to find, but wound up involved in an incident where three graal civilians were grenaded and beaten to death. They proceeded onto the hidden company HQ, embedded in a makeshift bunker. They met up with the leader of the severely depleted unit, Captain Willoughby, and plotted out a revised plan of action—disabling a Soviet artillery battery to the north, allowing the other forces time to hike over to the weapons cache, before swinging south in a pincer movement to destroy the advancing enemy tanks. They went to sleep, but Dan forgot to give Lucy her daily dose of sedatives and after a vicious nightmare, she awoke as Nadia, and was strangling Dan—having been unaware of her surroundings during her terrors.

O’Toole and Rothschild awoke and alerted the others while holding Nadia at gunpoint. After attempts to negotiate with her, Pepper came up with an ultimatum: either she leave and find her own way through the war-torn city or she stay and become sedated for treatment. She chose the latter, but her body resisted against the drugs. She became very drowsy, and the antipsychotic meds were entirely a failure, and it became clear that she was not going to easily return to being Lucy. Pepper called an emergency meeting of the squad. They discussed various ways of handling the situation; leaving her in the city, sedating her but taking her as a walking target/distraction, allowing her to fight alongside them…but in the end, they chose by a slim majority vote to execute her. To put her out of her misery; a life spent living as a husk, whose mind was deteriorating, was not much of a living. Sergeant Pepper elected to do the deed himself.

He slung her over his shoulder, took her to the outside, behind the building which hid the entrance to the bunker. He laid her body on the soft gravel and drew his pistol; he put a bullet in her head, and then said over the squad frequency, “Meshcheryakov, you’re in charge. Looks like I had the bullet meant for me all along” before placing the heavy pistol against his temple and firing. The squad rushed up to find them, Dan arriving with just enough time to attempt to save one of them with his medical equipment. But as he weighed his options and took too long to make his decision, it became too late to save either of them. They were buried under the twilit night sky and the squad returned to the bunker for one last night of sleep before their long fight ahead.

The two medics stayed in the base while the rest of the ragged squad, including three of Captain Willoughby’s shock troops, hiked a few blocks north to assault an artillery position. With the enemy artillery gone, the other troops of the rifle company could move to the ammo dump unobstructed. The assault was initially successful, but they ran into trouble in close combat; Jayne and McGrady took some hefty damage from a pair of kuhn mercenaries. Zenzi hacked a rocket-artillery truck and fired one of the ballistic missiles off, targeting the hulking reptilian aliens. However, when the rocket came down, Jayne was caught in the detonation and was critically damaged. He seized a burned, surviving Soviet gunner and self-destructed—a final act of hatred for “meatbags”. The other kuhn was slain by a combination of McGrady’s grenades and Meshcheryakov’s expert sniping. The team moved on to link up with the others at the munitions cache.

Dan and O’Toole marched off with the platoon of troops under Captain Willoughby, under guard of Lieutenant Baker and a few shocktroopers. Along the way, they stopped a pair of tauran civilians at a crossroads. Baker shot one of them in cold blood, despite O’Toole’s protestations, and beat the other senseless. Dan suspected a trap and, upon noticing another alien peering out from a door down an alleyway, fired his rocket launcher and blew a hole in the building. O’Toole, searching around, spied a tauran child cowering in fear down the opposite alley. He beckoned Baker over, whom could speak the tauran language; the Lieutenant executed the other civilian and walked over, harassing the child.

O’Toole began to twitch and feel his anger bubble up; anger at the horrid establishment for whom he fought, anger at his comrades and superiors for slaughtering civilians without care or recompense, and anger at himself for holding back for so long. He convinced Dan to hand him the rocket launcher and fired an explosive at the Lieutenant and his cohorts. As the smoke cleared, the Lieutenant stumbled out, bloody and burnt, dazed—his mind damaged by shrapnel from the rocket fragmentation. In his stupor, he assumed the enemy had fired upon them from the other alley and stormed the building which Dan had fired upon earlier. The rattle of gunfire and the screams of tauran civilians crept deep into O’Toole’s mind; he and McRogers helped the Lieutenant into a bed, sedating him for surgery—during which O’Toole cut his arteries and let him bleed out. Dan McRogers was shocked into silence, while O’Toole suffered a brutal mental breakdown. It was Space Mexico all over again. Dan helped lead him out and within a couple hours they had all met up at the munitions storehouse.

Dan shiftily tried to keep the truth from Sergeant Meshcheryakov, but eventually broke down and explained the whole situation. He and his partner desperately insisted upon evacuating as soon as possible—considering the mission a total failure. O’Toole, meanwhile, had been led into the building and babbled incoherently. He saw all around him the bodies of the slain civilians, contorting into people from his homeworld, blood flowing everywhere. Inside the building, he regained enough sense of himself to pry the pins from his six grenades and fall to the ground, saying, “The horror...the horror...” in a last gasp of clarity. McGrady saw it just in time, running from the building; Meshcheryakov, just as he prepared to let Captain Willoughby know about O’Toole’s madness and crimes, leapt back and rolled out the door. The room’s solid walls enhanced the blast before they crumbled into dust. A massive explosion demolished the room, gusting heat and shrapnel into the adjacent rocket storage. Gouts of flame roared upwards, detonating the munitions. Half of the building went up in the cleansing fire. The Captain, and more than a dozen of his men, went up with it. Zenzi and half a platoon of soldiers survived behind a thick steel wall and door, and they retrieved as much ammunition, rockets, and mortars as they could hold. Dan, having lost the only person with whom he ever had a real connection, began to break down as well. The others were joined by the rest of the company and they got the hell out of there.
Returning to General Laszlo’s base, they found him suiting up for battle. He offered to let them join him against the enemy tank columns and mech platoons. The exhausted, maddened, depleted squad refused; he allowed them use of an IFV and a couple soldiers. The rest of Willoughby’s men and their anti-armor weapons were all that the General needed in his fight. The Lonely Hearts sloughed off in their new armored vehicle, glad to be well rid of City Zone 231.

Along the rest of the route north, they had mostly no trouble. Only one encounter with the enemy—a combat mech and its engineering crew, whom had been attacking recon teams in the area for months—which was won handily by mortar shells and the armored vehicle. They found a soldier fighting another enemy mech a few kilometers south of the base, and they rescued her—she revealed her name to be Aurora Beaumont—after she had taken down the mech with a handheld light mortar. After picking her up, they arrived at the combat base of the 503rd Artillery Battalion.  Beaumont was patched up, the vehicle was parked, and the surviving Lonely Hearts debated in earnest what they ought to do. They had lost almost half of their number in the city, they had one man wounded critically far to the south, and two of their surviving soldiers were mentally disturbed by what they had seen and experienced. Meshcheryakov took Dan and their foundling to see the commander of the base, Colonel Wilbur Peterson—distant cousin of their former combat medic, O’Toole—while Zenzi and McGrady were sent to repair the base’s damaged communications towers. It was a raid on the base a week earlier that had crippled the lines of communication and supply between the troops in the region. With the towers back up, radio messages were finally relayed between the ships in orbit and the three forces.
Meanwhile, Meshcheryakov began to explain their purpose, asking the Colonel to come with them. After Dan went into a rage-filled rant and nearly suffered a nervous breakdown in front of the Colonel, he was removed and taken to the field hospital for treatment and sedation.

The Colonel then heard the full story—that Henry Heavenly had given them an assignment to take the Colonel in alive or dead, that this was their true purpose aside from aiding in communications and perhaps the assault on the enemy base. However, Meshcheryakov admitted that his squad was in poor condition to fight. The Colonel explained that Heavenly had a reputation for anti-alien zeal, seeing anyone that didn’t cruelly slay them as sympathizers of the Soviets and other alien powers. He dismissed the claims of the political commissar, but offered to return to the base willingly in order to stand trial, despite his knowledge that he may indeed die by Heavenly’s bullet.  He asked merely for time to lead his men into battle against the known enemy base, which could win them the battle and speed along the war. Meshcheryakov relented at this, and brought Zenzi and McGrady into the conference room to discuss their full plans.
The Colonel asked for their assistance in the coming battle, feeling the need of their heavy weapons and experience. Sergeant Meshcheryakov weighed his options, feeling at once the great burdens of command that just days ago had rested on Pepper’s shoulders. He asked his remaining men what they wanted to do; they agreed to fight, and he had then his own answer. The Colonel ordered them to get some sleep, restock on munitions, and heal up. They would strike at dawn.

The next day, the assault began in earnest. Colonel Peterson gathered the remaining Lonely Hearts and requested that they come with him and his three bodyguards. He proposed an auxiliary plan if the attack did not go as intended. Sure enough, despite the successful initial bombardment and mechanized assault, the mixed troops encountered serious problems. The fortress sported a powerful energy shield that denied the artillery strikes their due damage, and the cliff upon which it was set possessed hidden defenses of rockets and lasers that slaughtered incoming troops. Peterson decided to lead his strike team into a cavern at the base of the cliff that was known to exist from recon drone oversflights. It was suspected that the cavern was part of an escape system built into the fortress long ago. But first, they had to contend with a team of graal guards and a missile launching platform that was firing ASAT missiles into orbit. Peterson tapped into the wider comms and found, to his horror, that the gunships in orbit were being demolished by these missile attacks. Thus leaving them with no real orbital support or bombardment. He knew then, and placed it to the men, that the battle was in their hands. It was up to them to invade the fortress from below and disable the shields.

After putting down the token guard, Zenzi used her mines and hacking equipment to lock up the launch tubes and destroy the missiles, causing the entire installation to collapse as they entered the cavern. They discovered that it had become inhabited by a pack of hunt-bears, which led to a tense struggle with a powerful mother bear and her kin. They were slain, but not without some injury—Meshcheryakov was deafened by a blow to his head, and McGrady was slashed badly by the mother. The other bears were easily dealt with after she was felled.
The Colonel and the Lonely Hearts then took the elevator up to the fortress’ lower floor, which contained the generator system for the energy shields. Immediately taking out a pair of enemy guards, they scouted the next room, finding a pair of massive kuhn mercenaries. McGrady provided a distraction, allowing them to get the jump on one and take him down swiftly. Meshcheryakov decided to cut his way into the generator room with his thermal sword while the others protected him. Sure enough, the other kuhn and several graal bounded into the room. But Zenzi had laid her proximity mines, trapping them in a cloud of flame and shrapnel. The kuhn pressed on through his injuries, joined by a pair of birdlike acciptrids armed with high-tech weaponry. The kuhn was dealt with, but the avian combatant dealt a critical blow to the Colonel, overloading his shields and then dousing him with flames. They then coordinated an attack with neural shock bursts, causing Peterson’s mind to be wracked with pain as extremely high-pitched sounds filled his ears. Blood vessels burst, eardrums ruptured. The two assailants were taken down, but the Colonel sank back against a wall, holding his head in extreme pain. Blood poured from his nose and ears as he removed much of his heavy armor. He gained enough cogency to order Zenzi to disable the generator with her hacking tool. He stood up and moved into an adjacent room to search for further enemies. McGrady followed. Zenzi turned the other way.

“Oh, Colonel,” he said, “Thank you for your service,” and he placed his revolver to Peterson’s head and fired. The shot grazed him, but just barely so, and he staggered back onto a computer console, bleeding badly and shouting confusedly. This was not the plan. He had agreed to come back. What was going on? His mind had been damaged by the neural shock, and he was lost in a sea of half-thoughts and blood.
A Soviet assault robot stormed into the room as this was occurring, tying up Zenzi, Meshcheryakov, and Beaumont in a heated fight. The robot was dealt with quickly enough, but not before McGrady put another bullet into the Colonel’s throat, through his cheek, and finally one executing shot through the chin. The final shot splattered Peterson’s brains onto the ceiling, and he fell to the ground. Dead. No trial. No capture. Execution. Assassination.
The others rushed to the room to find McGrady smugly setting his pistol on the ground, holding his hands up. Beaumont pressed her gun to his chest, threatening to blow him away. Her emotions flooded her, and she would have fired had not Sergeant Meshcheryakov intervened with calming words of wisdom and reason. Ever since the shield had gone down, artillery shells had been thumping against the fortress, and they had grown steadily louder and closer. Time was of the essence. Beaumont collected the Colonel’s dog tags, Zenzi grenaded the generator room and they fled the scene. The last thing they saw as the elevator descended was the room crumbling, burying Peterson’s body in a tomb of rubble. They escaped to their armored truck and sped away, seeing the fortress collapse under the artillery bombardment, seeing the glow of tracer rounds in the night’s darkness as the Imperial Army overran their foes in one final push.

They drove south, past the city which had caused so much pain; the city where they had lost so much and so many. Artillery shells arced in from the north, obliterating the enemy headquarters there. They knew in their hearts that General Laszlo and his brigade of tanks and riflemen had captured the city center, destroying their enemies with utmost ruthlessness. They arrived, finally, at their home base in the south. They were met by green-shirted Henry Heavenly and the nodding, complacent Colonel Nathan Angus. Heavenly clasped his hands together and welcomed them, confirming through McGrady that their mission was a success. The “traitor” was dead. He questioned them on the whereabouts of the missing squad members, and on what had happened. McRogers was laid up in a hospital, unfit for duty. Lucy underwent a psychotic break and transformed into a second personality and had to be euthanized. Pepper committed suicide in despair. O’Toole snapped, disgusted at his comrades in arms, and blew himself up while killing several dozen men as well. Jayne was killed in action against the enemy.

Heavenly nodded solemnly, lauding Pepper’s “courage” to “do what had to be done”, promising to award him the Iron Cross and assure that his pension went to Pepper’s fathers. He thanked the surviving soldiers for their service, especially McGrady for his assassination of Colonel Peterson. At this, Aurora flew into a rage, railing against Heavenly’s casual condemnation of a “good man” to death, deriding his political motivations and lack of military authority, and announcing her disgust with him. As punishment, he did the worst thing he could think of: consigning her to a lifetime in hell. She would get no shore leave; no discharge papers; she would head up a reconstituted Lonely Hearts squad—the Colonel had to approve of Heavenly’s “suggestion” formally, but he was firmly in the politician’s pocket. Meshcheryakov was reassigned to a quiet posting while his discharge papers were arranged and formalized. Zenzi and McGrady were arranged an honorable discharge and offered a chance to join the Party Security bureau—to do “good work” for the Party and for Humanity.

The Lonely Hearts had wandered far. That had seen much horror. They had survived much hardship. But only now were they truly Lonely.

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PostSubject: Re: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Fri Aug 30, 2013 2:40 pm

Episode Three: The Desert of their Sins

Between the bombing incident and the reinstatement of the SOG unit known as Beaumont's Raiders, the Soviet front had collapsed. The Imperial and Orionese combined victory in the Khoz system had destroyed the Soviet military's primary breadbasket, forcing them to engage in ever more drastic rationing on the home front. Domestic rebellions split the Soviet Republic into a central government, and dozens of national-ethnic separatist states. Seeking leniency, one or two made an armistice with the Terrans and consented to be deployed as advisers and technical experts against their former countrymen. But the war was not over yet--a massive naval onslaught was initiated in early 3268, intending to crush the Soviet fleet and burn their home systems.
Beaumont's Raiders were reassigned to "home front duties"--carrying out assassinations, political killings, counter-insurgency, and sabotage operations against rebels and dissidents that purportedly threatened the unity of the home front. They tracked down and assassinated many of the remaining orchestrators of the Kojima Incident, fulfilling their own revenge against the people that had originally put them through hell.
The three remaining operatives were Beaumont herself, Herve Morrison, and Damien. As time went on, however, they became increasingly disenchanted with the methods and missions they were forced into--particularly Herve, who viewed Beaumont as sloppy and Damien as an annoyance. Damien later was given leave to form his own unit, specialising in sabotage and field combat against the enemy. The unit's handler, an up-and-coming State Security officer named Henry Heavenly, had been secretly arranging for new recruits to be placed into Beaumont's Raiders to bring it up to full strength and restore its members' faith in the Empire they fought so hard for.

In the middle of the year, a sharp crime wave hit, coupled with the aristocracy's ambivalence to the war, and slowed down the war effort at home. The government resolved to handle the crisis quickly and quietly, forming special teams to eliminate any domestic opposition.
The 71st Studies and Observations Group, consisting of Celeste Beaumont, Herve Morrison, two mercenaries named Xander Vox and Brian Kessar, and tech specialist Zenzi Rothschild were assigned to the assassination of Marie Dao, captain of the planet Yin's chapter of the Green Dragon Syndicate. Two other operatives had gone missing in the Dao manor, and were assumed dead; it was up to Beaumont's Raiders to finish the job. What the straight-laced military personnel had not counted on was the wildcard insanity of the two mercenaries; Vox murdered a man in cold blood in order to deceive the guards at the manor, and signalled the assault with tremendous bloodshed, revealing himself to be a bloodthirsty psychopath. While Celeste, Morrison, and Rothschild attempted to sneak into the back and side, Vox and Kessar slaughtered guard after guard as a distraction. They barrelled into the house and killed a viridian mercenary with extreme brutality, as the sneaking team found the two operatives, William McGrady and Gracie Gray, alive and unharmed. They proceeded to investigate the house, killing sleeping freyans as the mystery thickened. Why were these aliens here? What was their purpose? What did a crime boss have to do with them? When they finally burst into the secure room of the Lady Dao, McGrady tackled her out of the building and blew her brains out. The other guards were slain, except for one that Vox tortured before they razed the building.

Returning to their downtown hotel, they sent their report to their handler while the news reported a gang or terrorist attack on the Dao manor. It seemed like it was a success--no one suspect that it had been a government assassination. But soon after, local police managed to trace witnesses and forensic data to the hotel and besieged the room with a Special Response Team. Vox pushed Celeste out of their way and stalled them until McGrady intervened with his legal privileges, convincing the SRT captain to leave as she had been acting without a warrant. As they were about to leave, however, Vox rushed through the door and threatened the policewoman. No longer needing a warrant, the SRT burst in with weapons drawn, provoking a warning shot from Rothschild. In an elaborate ruse, Vox managed to calm the situation down and convince the SRT captain that it was all a misunderstanding, that they were part of a long-term Imperial Investigations crime-busting operation, and that she had nearly ruined their entire set-up. She removed her team to confer with her superiors while the assassins fled the scene and hastily arranged transport at the spaceport outside the city; the shuttle took them to a space station until their interstellar transport arrived. Henry Heavenly greeted them himself, and led them to his ship.
Inside, he expressed to them the urgency of their next assignment: the Prime Minister himself had requested their presence and would brief them personally. He requested briefing from the group's members, and heard the mercenaries' side of the story. He approved of their brutality, which disgusted Herve; Celeste agreed with the necessity of their methods, which angered him further. Morrison rose and voiced his dissent, calling Celeste a sloppy commander, Vox a psychopath, Kessar a barbarian, and asked Heavenly to contact a military station so that he could formally offer to buyout his contract and retire from the military. He felt that he could serve the Empire in some other way--and that if this was the way to do it, it was no longer worth serving. Heavenly calmly took him aside and shot him in the heart, saying afterwards that, "there is no room in this Empire for disloyalty. Now you see what happens to those who lose faith." He then ordered Billy to "dispose of the trash", and had Morrison's body launched from the garbage chute-airlock into space.
Celeste was angry and left to her personal quarters. Vox saw opportunity and brown-nosed, offering to join the NHILP as a fellow "warrior for humanity" as Heavenly described himself. Brian, however, voiced his displeasure at his brother's amorality, and said that he did not know if he could continue working with him. In the aftermath, Henry Heavenly defined the situation as it was: the data gleaned from Dao's computers revealed a startling quantity of transactions between the Green Dragon syndicate and alien merchants at war with the Empire. Further, they revealed the hiring of mercenaries to guard these shipments...mercenaries from the Xenon Risk Control Group. Further investigation was needed, and they were to meet personally with the Prime Minister--highlighting the gravity of the situation.

Arriving after a day's transit to a direct-route jump gate, they arrived at Earth and docked at a space station, descending in an orbital elevator to Quito. They travelled from there via maglev rail to the Prime Minister's personal undersea château built into the rock of the Galápagos Islands. They had a personal audience with the charming young man--one who had accumulated much power in the past few years; heir of the Emperor, head of the domestic administration, and ostensibly the symbolic leader of the National Humanist movement. In his conversations with Beaumont's Raiders, whom he greeted with civility and grace, he revealed the full extent of his power; he dismissed Heavenly from his office for the killing of Morrison--as revealed by Celeste--and briefed the commandos on the connection that he suspected was at the heart of the new situation: the majority stakeholder in Xenon Risk Control was none other than an industrialist, businessman, and nobleman in the Imperial Parliament--Cassander Lodewijk Marten, Duke of Nieuwvaalia. He suspected that the Duke was at the heart of the sales and desired Beaumont's Raiders to "investigate and, if necessary, eliminate" the Duke. He offered them great reward for the completion of the task, except for Celeste. While honourable to a fault and devoted to the Empire, Maximilian concurred with Heavenly's reports of her being potentially intractable and more loyal to Empire than to Mankind. He gave her an extra incentive--succeed, or her parents would be judged by his political officers. After leaving, and getting a computer virus scrubbed from her system, Celeste reluctantly joined the others in gathering their equipment and figuring out a plan while they awaited transport to Nieuwvaalia.

While in transit from Earth to Niewvaalia, they fine-tuned their plan with updated map information and recent news of the Duke: he was to host a grand gala at his stately manor house outside of the planet's capital settlement of Martenstaad, inviting dignitaries, members of the press, and parliamentary representatives to hear his latest announcement for a government contract, along with the Duke's brother, Willem. With both Billy and Zenzi receiving invitations due to their status in the Empire, this gave them fresh options for sneaking in, disguised; which they discussed as their ship made landfall. The day before the Duke's ball was to be held Brian, Xander, Billy, and Gracie did recon outside of the estate and set up their positions. On the day of the ball, McGrady walked in as himself with Xander in tow as his "bodyguard". Also accompanying them were Zenzi and a well-disguised Celeste. Gracie and Brian stayed on a hill about a hundred meters southeast of the manor; Gracie hacked the surveillance system and scouted on the grounds, while Brian acted as a sniper.
Things were going well enough--Zenzi broke into the computer room and began searching through mountains of data. Billy and Xander mingled with the crowd to blend in. Celeste scouted around, and uncovered the presence of Xenon mercenaries. Then the Duke made an appearance and announced the reason for the gathering: he had made a lucrative sale of home-grown androids as personal bodyguards for the Emperor. He showed the crowd the latest unit; a model soldier resembling dark-skinned red-headed young women. He retired to an upstairs room, which was being watched by Gracie's micro-cameras and audio bugs. Then, in a flash, everything went awry.
The bugs picked up the Duke's conversation with his chief mercenary guard, Bernard, and revealed part of his true plan: the guards would be used to kill the Emperor, possibly other officials, as part of a grudge and to initiate a coup d'etat. Xander and Billy managed to use diplomatic means to attain an audience with the Duke and his brother; they attempted to ambush him but the Duke was quick to respond with an attack of his own. And while Xander wrestled with Willem, he was no match for the man's expert fighting skills and unrelenting rage. Billy was forced to distract the mercenary and pop an emergency nerve-gas grenade, even as Xander lay dying from a critical blow to the head. Billy tumbled through a window; Xander managed to get to his feet and stumble out, landing on Billy while his quarry escaped down the stairs. Meanwhile, Celeste had rescued Zenzi, who had uncovered a dangerous discovery of her own--the android girls were to be shipped with some deliberate instability. Something that, like the Duke himself, had to be stopped if the Emperor was to be saved. Brian intended to save his brother, and ran down the hill to the manor, machine-gun in hand.

Celeste advanced forward, gunning down the Ducal guards, while Brian took care of the two ceremonial guards at the front of the manor. Zenzi rushed to the side of the building and administered first aid to Xander; afterwards, she and Billy snuck in through the back. The Duke re-emerged from his personal armoury, having donned an ancient ceremonial red suit of plate, with a griffin-styled helm, wielding a wicked longsword. He cackled madly, knowing that it was all over. He would either slay them all or go out fighting. His fleeting feeling of triumph was cut short by Gracie, who hijacked the truck that had been holding the model android and smashed it through the wall and into the Duke.
His brother had rushed forward and pinned Celeste against a wall; Xander reacted with a grapple and chokehold of his own, and began savagely beating Willem's skull in. He whispered in his ear his vicious intent to murder the man's family before knocking him unconscious with a swift trio of blows. He brought the hammer to bear one last time and splattered Willem's head against the marble floor. The Duke rushed over, infuriated, and shoved Xander aside to examine his brother. Tearful and shrieking, he lunged at the closest target: Brian, who had just stormed the gates. He miraculously pierced the seam in his hulking battlesuit, but that lone strike would not avail him. While Xander lobbed a grenade into the adjacent room, killing Willem's wife and children, Brian advanced upon the Duke and beat him into submission before opening fire at point-blank range into his head. The Duke and The Shield were both dead.
Billy and Zenzi had disposed of the Lucy clone with a grenade, who was further demolished from the inside with an internal block of plastic explosive. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place. In the aftermath, they shanghaied the truck and escaped the area with the clone corpse and the two brothers' bodies. Celeste, while enraged at Xander and his revelation of the murder being under Maximilian's orders, set this aside and placed a data call. She alerted Maximilian himself to the plot against the Emperor. He vowed to contact his father as soon as his starship exited hyperspace.

After a two-week voyage to Earth, the group acrimoniously split over Xander's behaviour. The deception, the wanton slaughter, the failure to be discreet...it enraged Celeste the most. But a rift nonetheless formed between the mercenary brothers. Back at the Galapagos, they met with Maximilian himself. He met them with a smile, moderated with saddened eyes. He announced that, in spite of their efforts and the data they uncovered about the internal conspiracy, the information had not reached his father in time. His Imperial Majesty, Francis Charles XII had fallen in combat.
"The Emperor is dead. Long live the Emperor," he said, casually informing them of his own accession. Xander saw through his guise and noticed that Maximilian was satisfied with the events. He promoted McGrady to Heavenly's former position, granted Xander a place in the Party, heaped the Duke's vacant title upon Zenzi's father--from whom she would inherit the dukedom--and gave Celeste a most sad bit of news. Her mother--pregnant, at that--had escaped alive and safe from the battle, but her father was killed in action. Celeste fell to the floor, emotionally drained and fighting off a seizure. In one final word, Maximilian thanked them for their service and invited them as guests of honour to his coronation.
As the three National Humanists left, Brian and Gracie remained behind to talk to Celeste. Brian quipped, "This government...only here do psychopaths and murderers get promoted, while the innocent get left behind."

Thus inaugurating the reign of Emperor Maximilian I.

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PostSubject: Re: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:06 am

Episode Four: Spreading the Good News

The intrepid members of the 71st Studies and Observations Group, due to their valiant efforts, were invited as guests of honour to Maximilian's coronation a month and a half later. Brian dropped off the grid for a little while and performed some small-scale contracting jobs. Xander and Billy went to political training schools and became officers in the State Sec apparatus--vetted due to their personal loyalty to Maximilian and membership in the National Humanist party. Celeste had some wacky misadventures in the Imperial residential city, meeting up with Billy for a few days. She bonded with Gracie for a time. Then the grand day finally came, and all were assembled in the ancient city of Bruxelles.

The warriors--except for Xander--were picked up by car to join Maximilian's entourage behind his horsedrawn chariot, which paraded through the city with thousands of men- and women-at-arms, cavalry and infantry dressed in their finest parade dress. Xander himself was selected to attend Maximilian personally as his guard. Plumage and colour and flags galore, with the national Imperial flag draping from many building windows as banners of loyalty. Rose petals were tossed from the same windows, littering the streets in a floral shower to honour the Emperor. They arrived at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Terra at half past noon, August 5th of 3268. Maximilian strode down aisle to the throne while a choir chanted a hymn praying for eternal rule. Maximilian was handed the sceptre, the orb, and the sword--symbols of his authority--while the Lord High Steward Frederick Rycon placed the Imperial Crown on his head. As per custom, Maximilian was granted no barrier to making a decree independent of parliamentary approval--and he used it to abolish the position of Prime Minister. He declared the start of a new age for the Empire: a program to make the State, the Party, and Society 'march in step' with himself as absolute sovereign. The crowds cheered and roared in approval.
He held court at the Cathedral even after the ceremony ended and the guest filed out to feast in the main square. The Raiders remained behind to speak to the Emperor, make requests, and court his favour. Most importantly, he granted them a period of leave while Strategic Intelligence gathered information on suspected persons. He told them, "Go, spend time with your families. Reconnect with your loved ones. Find your place in the world. When you return...there is no turning back."

The Raiders spent the nearly two years apart, initially on leave and then delved back into conducting missions as independent operatives of the unit, backed up by technical support and their own groups of accompanying soldiers. But in November 3270, the group was reassembled. Many things had happened in their personal lives. Celeste's mother had given birth to a baby boy: Artemus Jefferson Beaumont, and she had taken time to grieve with her over their loss of Daniel. Billy saw his family, briefly, but returned to his main duties at the Strategic Intelligence office as a secret agent. Xander did much the same, splitting time between enforcing the regime in the streets of Constance and leading strike police forces in counter-terrorist raids. Brian had seen to his girlfriend and their son, and worked on some independent direct action missions for the Raiders. He reluctantly returned to the group, far more reticent than the others to continue this grisly job. Zenzi had changed in status perhaps the most: her father had been made the new Duke of Nieuwvaalia, with her as his deputy in governing the planet. With a cushy government job that required little of her, she chose to continue working with Billy, doing the dirty work of the government despite her newfound nobility.
Billy, being equal in rank to Celeste but having political authority over her unit, had received an assignment straight from the national security council: a multitude of dangerous people had made themselves known and viable for justice, but they were in disparate ends of the Empire. The six-person team was split into three pairs and dispatched to eliminate a set of targets.
Celeste and Brian teamed up to raid a meeting of criminals in Orionese space, and eliminate three bold crime bosses before they threatened the safety of the war effort and upset the careful balance between organised crime and the police.
Zenzi immediately gravitated towards Billy and they chose to tackle Henry Addington, the former Chairman of the Party and Prime Minister. He had been Maximilian's political rival and was ousted from his positions, despite having secured the Party's position in the Empire. Jealousy and anger make for an unstable mix.
Thus remained Xander Vox and Gracie Gray, who were to handle the assassination of Frederick Rycon, suspected to be turning traitor against Maximilian and joining the aristocratic, reactionary rebel movement begun by Cassander Marten.
The team departed at a space station and took separate government shuttles towards their destinations.

Zenzi and Billy sought out Henry Addington at his last known location: his home planet of Raspon in the Aldagon System, deep in the Perseid Frontier. He had become quite paranoid in the years since his ouster, and his stilted apartment contained numerous surveillance systems. Billy and Zenzi set up shop in an apartment unit across the way, and scouted the area. Zenzi attempted, and initially succeeded, in hacking the wireless network and establishing a neural link so that she could see what the cameras saw and react quicker. But soon enough, the system firewalls uncovered her presence and forced her out after she had locked down the doors and windows. Billy feigned an official police investigation to the apartment block manager, who allowed him access to the computers in Addington's apartment. Zenzi re-established the hack and broke past surge protectors. Many electronic objects lit ablaze, and Addington hid in his bedroom while an armoured guard stood ready. Billy snuck around the back and began a ferocious grenade assault, his incendiary grenades burning the target badly, though his attempt at subsequently gassing the occupants with nerve gas were unsuccessful. Billy jumped safely down the fire escape ladder while Addington broke out from a glass window, falling several meters and breaking his ankle.
Zenzi attempted a direct assault with her lightning gun, but Addington was quick to react and barely avoided death while the lightning blasts turned his arm into a burned lump of flesh. She followed him past an alley while the heavily armoured guard bashed through the back wall of the apartment to chase after Billy. Unbeknownst to them, Billy had quickly hid in the trunk of a vehicle--Addington's car--and remained there even as Addington got inside and the guard mag-locked himself to the roof.

While Zenzi chased after them in hot pursuit, engaging in a tense gunfight and car chase on the city speedway, Billy carefully snuck into the back seat of the car from the trunk. Addington had hooked himself up to a portable IV drip of medfoam, and sped along as his guard opened fire at the pursuing Zenzi. Billy used his prog knife and attempted to cut Addington's throat, but missed and gashed him in the shoulder. Addington jerked forward and slammed on the pedal, drawing his pistol and attempting to fire at his assailant. Billy tried to fire back, but damaged his pistol in the process. Distracted, neither noticed when Zenzi pulled up aside the car and sideswiped, forcing it to careen into a building and flip over. Billy, using his catlike reflexes, expertly flung himself from the car and tumbled with minimal damage. Addington was thrown from the car after it crashed, smashing his back on the concrete building and severely injuring himself. His armoured guard was flung bodily away, but stood up undaunted by the attack. Zenzi got out and put herself between the advancing guard and Billy; she used an internal cyborg beam weapon to fling Addington against the wall, knocking him into near unconsciousness. Even as the armoured man grabbed Zenzi and lifted her up, Billy kept his eye on the target and watched him pry a shard of windshield glass from his shoulder and slit his own throat in a last act of defiance.
His target dead, Billy changed pace--ducking and dodging and feinting the armoured man while taking precise shots at the weak points. Zenzi released an electric burst from her other hand, and the man threw her to the ground. Billy seized the still-active vehicle Zenzi had hijacked and, while the guard was distracted with Zenzi, rammed him. Despite the heavy armour, the guard's leg was shattered by the impact, and his chest was crushed when Billy ran over him and parked atop him. Zenzi walked over and popped an incendiary pellet into his face, afterwards dropping a crimson strip of cloth as a false-flag calling-card of the Terran People's Liberation Army--militant far-left radicals that had a long history of street violence with the National Humanists. The carnage would appear to authorities to indicate a simple political killing between rival radical groups--and the two assassins sped away in their stolen car, scot-free.


Xander and Gracie were sent off to take care of Frederick Rycon--former Prime Minister, two-time former Prince Regent, and present Lord High Steward of the Empire. Immediately seizing upon a plan, Gracie requisitioned some potent poison from the ship's chemist, a liquid capable of causing cardiac arrest. Xander understood and purchased two bottles of expensive, ancient wine of six hundred years old. She took two small robots--animal-shaped and equipped with surveillance gear--and they departed. The arrived on Luna some days later, in the city of Granada in the Sea of Tranquility. The baroque palace of the House of Rycon loomed above much of the city, built into the twin craters of Theophilus and Cyrillus. The two strode up to the palace's exterior security headquarters; Gracie had forged orders proclaiming that she and Xander were security agents looking to prevent an impending assassination of Lord Rycon, Gracie playing the part of his mute techie. Xander's considerable skills at deceit and diplomacy managed to allow him and Gracie access--she installed a digital backdoor to the system and ensured the Lunar Emperor's location in the palace dining chamber.
Xander went to the front door in his best State Sec uniform and asked for an audience with the former Prime Minister. The guardsman rebuffed him, telling Vox that Lord Rycon was dining with his family. Xander insisted upon his credentials and purpose, showing the guard the signed orders. He escorted them to the parlour adjacent to the throne room, listening to the kindly old man chatting with his family and eating in the nearby dining hall.
Frederick excused himself to greet his guests, which he did with grace and civility. He asked them not to bow, which they did, Xander citing an appreciation for ancient traditions. Frederick mentioned the clashing between his ancient traditions and the new ways, only for Xander to express his mission as "to ensure that there is no clash between the ancient and the new." Frederick smiled appreciatively and invited him to dine with his family.

Xander and Gracie sat and greeted Frederick's family: his wife, Irmina; his son, Philip Peregrine Rycon; his son's wife, Thora; and his infant grandson, Eta Eric Rycon. Philip and his son had been on Earth for some months, and Frederick was welcoming them home with a feast of roast Lunar duck. Xander and he chatted animatedly about family, talking about his own restless ways after his brother left home to join the Army. He spoke of his biological father whom he'd never known, but his mother had described as tan and red-haired, much like the Rycons themselves. Lord Rycon began to call Philip to fetch a cask of wine, when Xander revealed his ancient wine bottle. Frederick gladly offered to have it opened and poured for his guests, but initially refused to drink any until the guests had drank. Xander managed to convince him, however; Gracie swiftly dripped the poison into Frederick's cup as she poured the wine.
Frederick drank deep and Xander engaged him in conversation about his old warrior's days, about his time as a soldier. Rycon began to talk about the old campaigns against the rebels, one he fought in long ago aside Cassander Marten's father. He spoke glowingly of the Martens as Philip rolled his eyes. But Frederick began to cough and sputter, growing weak and his heart seized. As Xander gazed into his eyes, Frederick realised at his last moments who his assailant was and collapsed onto the table.
Empress Irmina shrieked and ran out of the room. Gracie sped off with the guards and Philip to fetch a doctor. Xander feigned CPR but in his hurried movements he really stabilised the man. Xander swiftly commanded Philip's wife to take her son and find a doctor to help, and tell the others that he was stabilising. Once they left, he strangled Frederick until the breath left him fully and he died.

Philip returned with a guard and Xander looked to him. He bluffed, "My lord, I...I failed." Philip whispered in his ear, "No...you succeeded," revealing his knowledge of the truth. He had seen the poisoning, and knew Xander's lies, knew that Frederick had been murdered. But he merely patted him on the back and shrugged away the death. He told the guard to take the body away and retired to the throne room. Xander inquired to Philip of his knowledge of the situation; he merely swatted the question aside cryptically. Before he left, Xander asked about his family's connection to the Rycons, earnest for once in the face of the nobleman. Philip said he'd look into it, and offered the killer a permanent home on Luna.
The assassins left the palace, clean and quick in their work, assuaged with Lord Philip Rycon's compliance. They sent their report off to both Billy and Celeste, confirming a mission well-done.


Meanwhile, Brian and Celeste were dispatched to join a police raid in the Orion Empire. The Orionese had a long history of blending Chinese and Celtic cultures and ethnicities into their own national identity, and their criminal organisations were largely offshoots of ancient Chinese Triads. The primary syndicate was known as the Council of the Six Dragons--each council member ruling over a clan or syndicate with their own speciality, demarcated by a colour: Black, Red, Green, Blue, White, and Yellow. A meeting of the chieftains was being held at the Green Dragon corporate headquarters on the planet Vayen, to iron out issues relating to the Green Dragons' new boldness in dealing with alien merchants. The bosses were Lord Zhang-Wei, head of the Green Dragons, a ruthless trafficker in weapons and a nimble martial artist; Lady Shang, head of the Red Dragons, a deceptive and beguiling ruler of a web of brothels; Lady Mei, head of the Blue Dragons, expert trader in information and white-collar fraud; Lord Hennessey, chief of the Yellow Dragons, money launderer and financier; Lord Calvin-Kennedy, head of the White Dragons, a cruel drug trafficker who never went anywhere without his brother Derrick; and the ceremonial head of the Council, Lord Shen, chieftain of the Black Dragons--his syndicate was the most dangerous of them all, excelling in assassination, human trafficking, and coordination of all the other syndicates' activities.

The Orion police was to stage a raid on the meeting and arrest all of the chieftains; Celeste and Brian were ostensibly sent as liaisons between the Orion police and the Terran government. In reality, the two were aware of a possible assassination and coup attempt by the Green Dragons and their White Dragon allies against the others. Beaumont and Kessar were ordered to kill John Zhang-Wei, Charles Oleander Calvin-Kennedy, and Charles' brother, Derrick Ian, during the raid. When they linked up with the police in an adjacent building, they were reluctant to assist; the police lieutenant found it an affront to his country, these Terrans meddling in their affairs. But orders were orders, and he allowed Brian to lead a team of SRT police through the front while he led a second team around the back. Celeste would scale the building through a system of ducts and sneak into the meeting to collect intelligence.
Celeste observed their meeting silently, while the police made their way through the building--a gruelling task that claimed the lives of four policemen. The Green Dragon guards' skills were focused in bladed combat and poison gases, but they were no match for Brian's new massive powered armour and mounted railgun. As they reached the ninth floor, the police groups linked up only for the police lieutenant to be cut down by a guard as soon as they charged into tenth floor lobby. Brian coldy slew the killer and two other guards before a bulky-looking brawler barged in and assaulted him. The large man was undaunted by Brian's heavy armour and struck him hard at a seam, the shuddering hit reverberating deep into Brian's body, nearly concussing him or worse. But Brian managed to recover and shot the brawler through his stomach and then through his head.

Upstairs, Celeste quietly removed the grate of the air shaft and carefully opened fire with a suppressed rifle at the two Calvin-Kennedy brothers. Derrick heard, at the very last moment possible, the click of the trigger, and shoved Charles aside. He took a 7.92mm bullet to his heart and collapsed, dying and bleeding out. Charles threw himself into a frenzied rage and attacked the nearest person--one of his own guards--snapping his neck. His beloved brother and counsel was dead, and he simply lost his mind in grief. The meeting devolved in a terrible melee with guards and council members holding each other at gun- or knife-point, while Charles continued his rampage. Lord Zhang-Wei was forced to reveal the presence of a cloaked assassin in his employ, and attempted to stop the raging Charles. He went down from another of Celeste's bullet. None of them could tell where the shots were coming from except John; he sent his assassin after the shooter but not before Celeste got off one final shot and blasted him in the throat while Lady Mei clutched him in her arms. Celeste was forced into close combat with the cloaked assassin while several council members were killed. Only Lady Shang, Lord Shen and Lady Mei, stood standing when the police arrived at the tenth floor with Brian in tow.

Brian bashed his way through the door and held the remaining gang lords hostage at gun-point. Going off the rails, he made an honest speech from the heart, explaining his life as a soldier and mercenary at the behest of the government, and how it made him realise that the world is rotten. He derided the crime lords as sick beings, each having their own seat in Hell. Calling himself the Devil incarnate, he opened fire at the head of the Black Dragons, annihilating him in a single shot. The Blue Dragon head woman attempted to knife him in the seam of his armour, but Brian countered with a harsh strike to her face. The claws of his armour's hand plucked her eyes out as she collapsed in a pool of her own blood. Lady Shang of the Red Dragons threw her hands up in a sign of surrender, announcing her willingness to fully cooperate. She revealed that she and Lord Shen had made a deal with the Terran and Orionese governments, selling out their rival clans in exchange for protection from local law enforcement. She proclaimed her absolution of the seedier crimes of her fellow Dragons.
As Celeste finished off her assailant, she strode up to Brian in his huge battlesuit and admonished him for the massacre. He continued to threaten Lady Shang and explained his reasons for doing so: the corruption of the criminals and the government, intertwined like snakes--or, rather, like dragons--sickened him and he was determined to destroy the rotten core of it. Celeste, while shaken, agreed and shot Lady Shang.
The police inquired as to the events inside; Beaumont merely replied that the criminals turned on each other. The policemen shrugged, seeing the sense of it, and began to walk away. Brian asked them what they had done to alien merchants they'd found, hiding in the other rooms. The police sergeant lazily mentioned that they'd shot them. Brian began to express his anger, but Celeste cut him off, towing the Party line and approving. Brian gave up, and the two left the building. The carnage spoke of victory.


After the killings were successful--each in their own ways--the teams sought their return to Earth, the predetermined rendezvous point. Brian and Celeste, and Xander and Gracie acquired clearance for luxury tickets on a passenger torchship. Billy and Zenzi took off on their own starship.
On the journey, they each had their own affairs to deal with. Brian and Celeste had an altercation with a security guard on their ship, which put several people in the infirmary. Xander murdered a woman, specifically to get back at a child that had splashed pool water in his eye. Billy and Zenzi had perhaps the most shaking events: she proposed to him, and he agreed. They notified their parents and began to make arrangements.

They were greeted by Henry Heavenly, and received promotions and decorations; Billy was raised to the rank of a general officer in the State Security forces, and Xander received a colonelcy. They were invited to personally attend Maximilian's address to the human race in Saigon--not merely the nation, not merely the Empire, but all of humanity. He came onto the stage dressed in the green jacket of the Party paramilitary force, flanked by black-clad grim security men.
He began with a reference to the ancient war waged in the region, during the 20th century, and its place in history as an exemplar of war's horrors and the divisiveness of humanity. He leveraged this to announce the next step in the political reform of the National Humanist regime: the six allied states would unify into a confederation, with himself as President of the union. The victories in the Soviet and galactic core fronts had seen the acquisition of vast swathes of space; the new government was named the Confederated States of Union--uniting the human states in a confederation, with a central lawmaking body--the Confederated Assembly--enabled to coordinate the war effort. He further declared the formation of a new armed force for the security of the Empire, to guard mankind against the coming storm, to commit political troops to fighting the enemy in the field. The crowd replied with thunderous applause.

Afterwards, the assassins were called into a downtown government office to meet Maximilian himself. He commissioned Billy to head the new "storm guard" force as its Director. Xander was given the responsibility of being head of Maximilian's personal guard, and the chief inspector of the metropolitan police in the capital city of Constance. Brian was given a chance to serve the new regime in a capacity beyond mere mercenary work--a stable job, in the Security Department as Billy's aide-de-camp. He realised that his work had descended into what he had tried to escape in the Army: slaughter and bloodbath. He said to Lord Maximilian that he was bloodthirsty, and could not escape this. Maximilian quipped, "You say you have a bloodthirst? Join me and you shall drink every day of your life." Brian reluctantly agreed to throw in his lot with the regime.
Gracie accepted a job as the military liaison in the Security Department. Then came Celeste; for her hard work, her temperance and loyalty, she was raised to a Lieutenant General and made the His Majesty's military adjutant.

Beaumont's Raiders were scattered to the winds, its members going their own ways and onto important positions. The New Order began to take shape. But across the stars, the tides of war were changing, and an ocean of blood was on the rise.

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PostSubject: Re: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:32 am

Gaiden Two: Wars and Weddings

In the following years, the newly-formed Confederated States undertook a rapid blitz into the territories of the alien alliance calling itself the Free International Group. The United Suns--dominant and powerful within this alliance--absorbed the Affacta Combine and several small protectorates to from a stronger front against human encroachment. The Cassiopeians fell, followed in rapid succession by the Freyans and Dralasites, the Viridians, and the Kuhn. The Imperial campaign against the Vryst was the briefest: in a one-month span, the Imperial Navy hopped from world to world and glassed them all; Vryst planets were nigh-uninhabitable and would require serious terraforming before colonisation anyway. The General Staff rationalised the annihilation of millions of worlds and the Vryst burned for it; the idea was conceived by the Emperor's adjutant Celeste Beaumont during a staff meeting, and so it was termed the "Beaumont Doctrine". The Empire used the same doctrine to great effect on other worlds in the Spinward Front, destroying non-garden worlds and blotting out billions of alien lives.

The human populace rejoiced both in the swift victories, and in the national media sensation that was the lavish wedding of Zenzi Rothschild and William McGrady in April of 3271. Rothschild was the wealthy heiress of aristocrat and industrialist George Francis Rothschild, heir to the dukedom of Nieuwvaalia and the county of Rothenstein in the Inner Colonies. While McGrady was the favourite son of politician Shannon McGrady, and in his own right was a renowned war hero and glamorous secret agent, who had been recently made Director of Field Operations within the Imperial State Security Department. The people fell in love with their romantic story-- their mutual attraction on the battlefield, their reconnecting while working for the Party, and their engagement while doing "classified field work" for the Imperial Strategic Intelligence Agency.

The National Humanists increased their control of the Confederated bureaucracy, both enhance the war effort and for their own ends. Maximilian, as President of the Confederation, ensured the people that the new measures at home were for their safety and security, to bring about a swift end to the war. The Confederated Assembly voted itself expansive powers to override the constitutions of its member states and institute greater controls over prices, markets, wages, commerce, and communication. Freedom of movement virtually disappeared, and surveillance became ubiquitous.

And indeed, by 3274, the war was nearly won.

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PostSubject: Re: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:34 am

Episode Five: Sounding the Trumpets

On a far-off, formerly-cassiopeian world named Unthor, a mysterious disease broke out in the colonial settlements. In 3274, two eminent physicians, a computer analyst, and two security specialists were called in by the government to conduct research on-site. They were Dr. David McGrady, youngest son the powerful politician Shannon McGrady and a surgical prodigy and polymath who nonetheless suffered from a critical autoimmune deficiency; Dr. Seilon, a former colleague of David's who had been imprisoned for committing a series of grisly murders; PERCY, a corporate executive and specialist in computer security and data systems; State Sec agent Adrian, an openly psychotic interrogator with the State Sec criminal police agency; and Aurora Beaumont, an emotionally unstable Army veteran recommended by several advisers to the project. They were attached as a research team under the purview of the State Security Field Operations Agency, with field ops Sub-Major Gwendolyn Fitzroy leading the team. Her utopian intentions seemed out of place with her employers' policies, but she was efficient and stern.
Travelling as a team to their destination was difficult enough. Seilon's fame as a known serial killer unnerved some of his teammates, and Adrian's instability led to the death of a guardsman aboard their space jumpship. However, despite these incidents, they arrived on time to Unthor. The planet was massive, twice the size of Earth, with frozen mountains covering most of the surface but for the equatorial belt--once glittering with cassiopeian cities, it was now peppered with smouldering ruins.
The Confederation had begun colonisation of the world with Terran settlers. But thousands of them had died from a viral haemorrhagic disease that caused massive swelling and bleeding inside the sufferer's body. Most of the deaths were in the reappropriated cities, but scientists dared not stay there long. Large databanks remained, storing research information. Field scientists in the wilderness studied the disease across the planet, and these six men and women were assigned to one outpost to gather samples, learn more about the disease, ascertain its origins, and find a cure.

In their first ranging in the forest north of the small settlement, they were stalked and assaulted by a native predatory lifeform--identified by Fitzroy as a "slagbeast"--which injured Aurora and nearly killed Seilon before being struck down by Adrian, who proceeded to play with its entrails like a child. Upon return to camp, the injured ones were treated at the hospital's quarantine zone. Seilon had contracted the vicious disease, with the expectation that he, like the others, would die. Meeting face-to-face with his own mortality gave him a reason to rise against his condition, and he worked feverishly on a drug to slow down the effects. He was able to synthesize one, but it only could do so much--it would not be a permanent cure. He endeavoured to join the team on their next ranging.
Meanwhile, David studied samples in a laboratory. He discovered that the disease only affected humans, no other animals, and was likely incubating in the trees with the wood as a "host". It was already known that it was airborne, but did not live long without a host. They deduced that it was engineered, likely by cassiopeian guerillas, and they were releasing it near the human settlements, meaning they must have nearby bases of operation.
A team of flamethrower-wielding guardsmen led by Fitzroy and the camp Captain went out and burned down the forest south of the creek, with an aistrike napalming the woods beyond. While this was happening, PERCY had broken into secure government files and found that much information was being concealed. He planned to tell no one, but ended up blurting it out to Adrian as they stood at the edge of the settlement, watching the forest burn.
Adrian, indignant at PERCY's deception, flew into a rage and put the robot in a grapple. The flames reflecting off his face, however, were hyponotic and entrancing; Adrian suffered a horrid hallucination of grey concrete walls, iron bars, shrieking women with needles, and men in white labcoats as they rest of the team came out to see the commotion. He destroyed PERCY and killed a guardsman before being snapped out of his hallucination by David. He surrendered and went to the brig.

Breaking from his normally strict moral code, David used deception and trickery--weapons of his brother, whom he despised--to fool Adrian into taking a powerful medication. He would be needed in their next ranging, and they could not risk another psychotic break. Adrian's mind fought the drugs, a battle between his repressed memories and his broken psyche, but he arose from it with a bizarrely calm and stable mood. Aurora was creeped out, David was satisfied but hated himself, Seilon had renewed a sense of purpose with his life, and PERCY was uploaded to a stationary computer terminal. Then Fitzroy called them on their radios and informed them--at dawn, they would leave, and trek into the mountains beyond the Burned Forest, into the Frozen Wastes. The hunt was on.
Before leaving, Adrian retrieved his armour and had PERCY's memory core installed onto his suit. They came to the hospital to retrieve Dr. Seilon, but his condition had significantly worsened. Terrible bruises covered his body from the massive internal bleeding, and he was barely able to walk or even stand. He was forced to renege on his promise, and stay behind as a dying man. But, strangely, he seemed at peace. He felt as though he had made his effort, had repented for his murderous crimes in the pursuit of a better world. At David's request, he was placed into cryogenic stasis and was transported to a central settlement. David cared for the man, and believed that Seilon could be redeemed if he could only somehow live.
The rest of the day, the remaining team trekked through the burnt forest and crossed into the wintry glacial wasteland. They were immediately set upon by hazards: the bitter cold, the blustering winds, the soaring mountains in the distance, and dangerous wildlife surrounding them. Moving along the river, they carefully avoided the ire of a bull slagbeast, but were forced to hike through harsh mountainous terrain for the better part of the day. They determined that there were a thermal signature in the mountains over the past week, which looked far out of the ordinary. It had moved from one end of the mountain range to the other, so they set off to find it.

Beaumont slew a bird for research, her gunshots seemingly scaring off another slaagbeast in the distance. But her weaponry drew in another foe as the night wore on. They set up camp, with Adrian and PERCY reconciling and bonding, with Adrian promising to find a lost item dear to the robot. But, their camaraderie was cut short; Beaumont caught sight of a pack of animals circling them and coming out of the impenetrable blizzard. Alien wolf-like creatures, pale blue and shaggy with three tails and red eyes, darted forth to surround them. Beaumont and Fitzroy took down a few, while Adrian went toe-to-toe with the pack alpha, disembowelling it with his kukri. As he squared off against another predator, Fitzroy fired a shot; he was in the way of the shot, and took a grazing blow through his armour and shoulder. He cursed her name even as he bled the other creature's neck with his swift blade. Afterwards, he walked right up to Fitzroy and decked her while Beaumont disarmed her. David awoke from his sleep and patched them up.

They following day, they trekked through the mountains more, encountering another slaagbeast. This time, it was a bull: four meters, and a ton and a half, of muscle and tusk. It stalked along the side of a mountain canyon, tracking them until it determined that the group wasn't leaving its territory. It pounced down and attacked them, heading straight for the lead. Adrian swept out with his vicious blades, cutting the massive creature deeply. It was nonplussed and struck back with its wicked tusks, cracking his armour and cutting him deep. Fitzroy seized up her hunting rifle and let loose a shot; but, again, she tragically failed to hit her target. Her shot missed and found Adrian's leg, snapping his tibia and ripping through his femoral artery. He fell down, passed out from the blood loss and pain. The slaagbeast bull charged at Fitzroy, mauling her badly before being struck down by Aurora Beaumont's expert rifle skills. David set to work healing the two, setting Adrian's leg, and helping with their armour repairs. Exhausted and furious, Adrian knocked Fitzroy out again and took up watch over the night. He surreptitiously used his knife and cut her suit open, exposing her to the bitter cold--for eight hours. She awoke terribly frostbitten, hypothermic, and deaf. Her ears were frozen in the night; Adrian "kindly" cut her ears off afterwards, to "save her" from from further frostbite. She collapsed, sobbing and screaming, but unable to hear.
Adrian and PERCY requisitioned a backup squad, a support vehicle, and medevac for Fitzroy. She was taken away in a hovercraft hours later, while a section of four troopers and an armoured car left with them--a robotic combat engineer named TK, a field medic named Silas Taylor, and a pair of inseparable combat troopers: the loudmouth Tex and his taciturn commander Axel.

The next day, they set off to find the first thermal signature. They came upon an abandoned camp, and investigated it. TK poked around and found a mine. The vehicle's ground-scanner detected an entire minefield, which they destroyed carefully with the car's machine gun. The team continued on through the mountain range, calling in an air strike on another minefield. They were attacked by a gigantic bird, which damaged their vehicle's wheels. After repairing it, they called in a gunship to assist them in the coming assault on the last known enemy location.
Initiating the attack with the helicopter's missiles and autocannon, they roared through some barricades and engaged the enemy directly. The encampment was swarming with cassiopeians, which tried in vain to defend themselves. Dozens were slaughtered. One managed to fire off an antiair rocket at the helicopter, causing it to crash into a bunker. A team of cassiopeian guerillas shot the pilots as they climbed out. Adrian and his team killed them in retaliation, and only kept a few around for later interrogation.

A mixed group of Army and State Sec armoured troops were called into occupy the encampment while Adrian interrogated the prisoners. One was mutilated and taken out to be shot by Aurora, while the other--blinded when it ocular flash-bangs malfunctioned--was manipulated by Adrian. Psychologically broken and convinced of Adrian's rhetoric about his race's stagnation and decline, he swore himself to his service and took the new name "Nydass". He became Adrian's 'pet dragon' and was given new eyes. He provided them information on how to extract information from the corpses--cassiopeian partisan officers had strategic data installed on neural implants--and ways to identify them. Using this, Captain Winters of the local State Sec detachment worked out that the partisans were operating out of a base far to the north, a bunker underneath a bombed-out, irradiated ruin of a city. They had been launching biological weapon attacks as part of a contingency, despite the collapse of their government and communications network.
With Nydass in tow, Adrian and Aurora led a full battalion of troops in an air assault on the city. Missiles and rockets pounded at buildings while an cassiopeian antiair laser weapon pumped beams through the sky, shooting down several dropships. Orbital marines reinforced their positions while orbital rods were deployed to strike down the antiair tower--but not before the team's own airship was downed. Tex took some brain damage from a shard of metal driven into his head, and a dozen soldiers were killed on impact, but otherwise they were alive. The other ships landed, swiftly moving through the city to clear buildings in vicious house-to-house fighting, trying to secure the area. Adrian and his team--Aurora, Tex, Axel, TK, Silas, three marines, and David McGrady--moved through a maze of buildings while under fire from snipers. In an ambush by a squad of cassiopeians and a combat robot, however, Aurora was mutilated and two marines were killed. Aurora staved off radiation sickness, blood shock, and infection while she waited for medevac. Her leg lost, she was taken away for medical attention.

Adrian and his squad linked up with the other lieutenants and Captain Winters in the heart of the city. After an inspiring speech from Adrian, they stormed in. Three hundred-strong, the soldiers swept through and slaughtered the opposition, though they lost dozens. Winters himself perished in close combat in the thin, dark hallways. Adrian, Nydass, Tex, Axel, and David met up with a demolitions team and stormed with the command centre; a few cassiopeians surrendered. One resisted, trying to shoot Nydass while insulting him before being tackled to the ground and berated for his failed resistance. Adrian moved to the computer mainframe, attempting to hack into its systems with PERCY's help. But something went wrong-- PERCY shut down and the facility went offline. PERCY underwent a hard reboot, and checked his systems; it was discovered that the data from the mainframe had been downloaded instantly when he attempted contact. Checking the computer revealed that the data had been wiped entirely and the system was unable to boot up. The demo team set up nuclear charges; they all left, taking the cassiopeian prisoners, and detonated the bombs.

They returned to the colonial capital as conquering heroes, victorious and bearing the cure to the deadly disease that had ravaged the settlers. After a week of feverish work, Dr. McGrady and the other researchers synthesised it into a permanent vaccine and spread it across the human settlements. Dr. Seilon was revived from his cryo-sleep and cured, while David sat waiting for him to awaken.
However, not all was well. Adrian and PERCY uncovered secret files, hidden in the robot's code, that pointed to some sinister digital virus that absorbed the data and destroyed the base's computer. Adrian placed a call to Fitzroy's superior officer on Earth, and received a cryptic answer and a request to report for debriefing. His newfound sanity stimulated his curiosity--and PERCY himself wished to get to the bottom of this manipulation.

The grapes had been trampled, but there was work yet to do...
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PostSubject: Re: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Sun Dec 21, 2014 11:49 am

Episode Six: The Tree

Following their successful foiling of the Unthor Fever pandemic, the doctors and their security bided their time in recovery at the major settlement. Seilon himself was laid up in the hospital as the disease was slowly cured. Aurora was transported off-world to receive private medical care. Adrian and PERCY spent the month integrating into each other's minds, and sifting through the recently-stolen data. David languished in despondence and loneliness, considering suicide.
Adrian received a summons from the same mysterious State Sec officer to return to Earth for debriefing after interrogating their captives; he pressed the man for more detail and it was revealed that the State Sec field agency was searching for a cassiopeian world of legend named Cedaria. The data may point to its location, but it had to be deciphered. Adrian pursued the interrogation of two more captured cassiopeians--manipulating one into agreeing to help the occupation forces, and threatening the other with his family's death if he didn't assist them. The second one revealed that he once worked at a mining facility on a planet indicating in the databanks as a storage site for Cedaria's coordinates. He knew the way to operate their machinery and activate the downed comm towers that would reveal Cedaria's exact location. Adrian was ready to go, and went to spend time with David. He brought with him Nydass and the second cassiopeian prisoner, whom he named "Nokia".

Meanwhile, Seilon had finally been released from the hospital. In passing, he made an apology to his nurse, Karla, a female inion--a race of humanoid-felid aliens given privileged status--for having been short with her. She offered a way for him to make up for it: take her out to dinner when she gets off work. He did, taking her to a nice restaurant built to service human settlers. The staff viewed them with suspicion and disgust, and treated her rudely. Seilon revealed his past to her, being frank and honest about who he was, and promising that he has become a new man. She responded with interest rather than horror, and revealed that her own personal life had not been a peaceful one. He interrupted their dinner after their waiter was vicious and cruel towards her; he took the waiter out back to "take narcotics with him" and ambushed him with a powerful sedative-hypnotic-hallucinogen. He put the man through a terrifying drug trip and pulled him out with his mind broken. He returned to dinner and finished the evening with offering to walk her home. They both clearly liked each other.
She lived on the outskirts of town, in an impoverished and run-down neighbourhood for alien guest workers. Along the way, they detected that they were being stalked by another inion. She continued on, and Seilon cut through an alley to ambush the stalker. He knocked him out, took him inside, and mentally tortured him the same way he had done to the waiter. A cabbie came by to take the guy away; in the heat of the moment, Karla and Seilon embraced and flung themselves to the bed in sexual union.

The next day, Adrian and David went to Karla's home to pick up Seilon. She had requested to accompany him, and he attempted to convince Adrian. It was easier than he thought, and they all left for Earth with Axel and Tex in tow. On Earth, the two doctors and Adrian--with PERCY--were swept into a meeting with their highest superiors: General McGrady himself, along with his immediate right-hand-man, Brian Kessar. General Xander Vox was present, solely for the benefit of Adrian--revealed to be his pet project. Adrian had been promised information on his background by Major Lopez, the State Sec officer who had contacted him. McGrady, displeased, shot Lopez in front of them. He admonished them for seeking such classified information, but offered it as a prize upon finding Cedaria. He further gave David a secret order: kill Adrian if he gets out of control.
Returning to orbit, they were given a military corvette and began transit to a safe jump point. They were headed to the mining facility, a planet nicknamed "Carthago".
However, trouble immediately formed. The ship's captain, a nihilistic AI, had his own orders and balked at Adrian's request to explain to the crew the full situation. PERCY hacked the captain and the ship's systems and found that the artificial intelligence had secret files ordering it to keep the mission secret from the crew under any means necessary. He had sent a message to the armoury's guard to arm a nuclear weapon. PERCY swiftly destroyed the captain's code and shut him down before Adrian rushed to the armoury.

He found the guard, a stormtrooper named William Shatner, trying to arm the weapon. An altercation developed and Adrian stabbed him the face, electroshocks bursting his ear drum in the process, deafening him and knocking him unconscious. Adrian took him to the medical bay and presented him before Dr. McGrady. David attempted to sedate the terrified, wounded guard--who mistook his pleas for calm as sexual advances. Adrian noticed this and took it upon himself to terrorise him when he awoke, convincing him that he'd been raped by both David and Adrian. David attempted to treat the guard's mental trauma.
Meanwhile, the ship finally made its warp jump to Carthago. They initially encountered automated resistance in orbit, but cleared it away quickly. Parking in low orbit, the team assembled their plan: with roughly two platoons of Marine and one platoon of State Sec soldiers, scout drones, and several armed shuttles, they could launch an attack on the planet. Three key facilities had to be captured: a main communications building and two boosting towers that would focus and enhance the signal from the main building. Nydass and Nokia suggested a diplomatic solution with them as envoys. Seilon suggested using poison gas to hasten the sack. For the first facility, they attempted diplomacy. Nydass and Nokia presented themselves as having taken over a human vessel and were there to rescue the entrenched cassiopeian survivors. They flew down in an empty shuttle to show goodwill. The facility commander, however, detected their bluff and surrounded the shuttle with armed men. The shuttle opened fire and Adrian's support teams swept in. Tech teams pumped the building with nerve gas before storming in and discovering several traps. PERCY hacked the network through a computer terminal and found the commander attempting to send an overload signal through the comm tower; it would alert the other two facilities and permanently shut off its own signalling devices. PERCY turned it off prematurely, thwarting the dying alien. Then he activated the tower.

They returned to the vessel above the skies, planning their next action. They contacted the main facility and achieved a diplomatic solution. Promising utter devastation if they did not comply, Adrian achieved through terror what he had been unable to achieve through trickery. He offered to give them a shuttle with which they could acquire food from a granary building to the west, and report to the authorities that they had been destroyed. The base commander agreed, and switched on his tower. All that was left was the final facility.
Adrian requested some reinforcements, forcing them to wait for a few days. However, during this time, PERCY had been stretched across multiple platforms. His consciousness was strained and he broke; his latent paranoia became highly active and his mood changed rapidly. He became angry at Adrian for forcing him to disconnect from the ship while operating a large combat-bot; so, he sought his revenge. In a rage, he shut off his communication to Adrian's brain. For the human, it was like having part of his mind shut down; it drove him into a full-blown dementia. His screamed and fell into the foetal position, a terrified child once more.
David was pinged by PERCY, and he arrived to find Adrian shrieking at his presence. After some work to medicate him and bring PERCY around, they managed to return him to cogency. Just in time for another starship to arrive at the scene: the space carrier Judicious and an accompanying task force of drone ships and lesser destroyers. The force was commanded by Jerome Khor, a young commodore famed for having never lost an orbital invasion battle. Khor took overt control of Adrian and PERCY's vessel and sent a team to visit, board, and inspect the ship, as well as transport nerve gas and vital supplies.

Unbeknownst to anyone on the corvette, however, the team was a ruse. They were special agents either assigned or contracted to investigate the sluggish progress of Adrian's team, observe them, and speed up the task at hand. Component within this force were the recently-recovered Aurora Beaumont, promised a reprieve from further service; retired war hero Artem Meshcheryakov, promised a secure job in teaching; Jackson Smith, a State Sec special forces soldier eager to prove himself; Marceline Creed, a zealous missionary of both National Humanism and Catholicism; and Primus Lucan, a researcher and analyst with the State Security Department. In truth, they all had their own motives; most had been dispatched by General McGrady to keep an eye on Adrian--all but one. Primus and his integrated AI Solomon were sent on the direct orders of Xander Vox to keep Adrian safe from the others' machinations.
And so, they boarded and took notes--and bugged the computer systems for observation--leaving behind Aurora and Primus (under the guise of "Solomon Lucas"). Aurora began a new bout of physical therapy with Doctors Seilon and David McGrady. Meanwhile, Commodore Khor planned with Adrian their operations on the surface: Adrian and his lieutenants would lead a platoon of mixed State Sec and Marine forces to storm the remaining secondary facility after gassing it, while Khor would deploy the starship's Marine Expeditionary Force--a full division of orbital drop forces and their accompanying air and logistical assets--to conduct a general occupation of the planet. A reinforced regiment would surround the main facility and set up artillery positions in case things turned sour.

Axel deployed as a special officer alongside 3rd platoon, with Khor's team observing them at the front. They turned out to be incredibly useful as Marceline used expert killing skills to turn invisible and slay two cassiopeians before being critically injured by a sniper's laser. Jackson put his training to the test and slaughtered enemies left and right, as did Meshcheryakov. The platoon leader waltzed in with his men in tow, clearing the side rooms after the main fighting had been finished. Primus continued his ruse of being a nervous researcher and expertly hacked the building's cameras to give them an edge. After seizing the relevant data and activating the booster radio, they continued via shuttle to the main facility to link up with Adrian.
At the central building, Adrian took command of the diplomatic team, which included his observers. With Nydass and Nokia in tow, they were allowed entrance and escort through the structure. The base commander informed him of the complexity of the communications system--the main array had to be accessed from the basement, whose door could only be opened by a computer in the CIC. A computer none of them knew how to operate, since they were not trained technicians--only inhabitants of the orbital colony that was long destroyed. Adrian, with his three experts on cassiopeian technology, broke through the system and unlocked the doors. They proceeded down to the comm control centre.
Adrian and PERCY, Nokia and Nydass, and Primus and Solomon entered a large chamber composed seemingly of natural stone. Inside was a tremendous sphere around forty meters in diameter, shiny and black-metallic. When they approached, it rippled like water. When Primus attempted to touch it at Solomon's urging, it felt solid and dense. He instead forced Nokia to touch it; when he did, the sphere's surface turned liquid and formed around his hand. When the alien wondered aloud about how this would help them find Cedaria, the entire surface rippled and he was thrown bodily backwards. The sphere changed in composition to a translucent glass-like substance containing billions of pinpoints of light--a star chart--and shifted around until it stopped on one nebula with a singular star system not far from its own location: the Local Cluster. The two boosting signals further strengthened it, and it tightened to indicate the Solar System, and Earth's moon. A strange communications computer or star chart--an artefact determined by Solomon to be older than the cassiopeians--told them that Cedaria was on or in Luna itself.

They returned with the wounded Nokia to the corvette, rich with new information. After a conversation with Commodore Khor, they agreed to allow the observation team to join Adrian's crew. Satisfied that Adrian and them had the necessary information from the planet, Khor ordered his soldiers to sweep in and exterminate the cassiopeian presence.
Adrian's vessel travelled to Earth for briefing by General McGrady. Doctor Seilon was paroled and appointed to head a research laboratory; Meshcheryakov was thanked for his assistance and dismissed--Aurora followed him out, released from her servitude. The rest were invited to join McGrady at dinner that night--with Adrian presented with an officer's insignia as reward for his actions.
Meanwhile, a State Sec boarding party in orbit attempted to gain access to Adrian's vessel. The Major in charge commanded his men to sweep through, collect recording devices, seize the aliens aboard, and retrieve the ship's databanks. PERCY managed to prevent the latter, and stalled for time until Adrian returned in a quickly-arranged shuttle. However, an incident occurred that left the Major shot by PERCY's remote-control large combat bot, two of his lieutenants injured by Primus and Adrian, and a dozen of his men killed in fighting across the ship's decks. Several of Adrian's marines were slain as well. The incident ended with the men leaving, and Marceline joining them.

Afterwards, they rejoined General McGrady to attend a dinner hosted by the Emperor Maximilian himself, with Shannon McGrady, General Celeste Beaumont, and Lord High Steward Philip Peregrine Rycon in attendance, along with three guests of honour: Tex, Axel, and Marcie. There, they learned of His Majesty's plan to bring out a new world order, with both William and his mother, Shannon, as appreciated partners in the crafting of it. The discussion turned to the newfound discovery of Cedaria being on the moon, and Maximilian offered Xander a chance to find the true location. A "friendly race" between two "gentlemen", for the favour of the Emperor. Xander chose to send Primus and Adrian to find it, with David in tow. Billy sent Marceline to head them off, with Tex and Axel to guard her.
On the moon, after parking the corvette in Lunar orbit and retrieving his two cassiopeians, Adrian ran across a crashed vehicle. They rescued a young girl named Akeelah who displayed mysterious abilities; Primus was personally interested in her as it was clear that she was an escapee from one of General McGrady's special projects. However, on the way to a State Sec facility--once PERCY pinpointed the signal from Carthago--David made it known that he didn't want to remain on the team, and wanted to go home. He sent a message to his older brother asking for a pickup; Adrian, monitoring the conversation, acted to prevent a breach in their security. Primus was ordered to stop David, and so he shot him. David let out his death rattle with blood pouring from his skull, clutched in Adrian's arms.

Adrian and his team finagled their way into the facility, moving through a labyrinth of tunnels that ran several kilometers into the lunar crust. They arrived at a massive cavern, half a kilometer on either side of a hundred-meter sphere, with catwalks and thousands of workers tangled all around like a spider's web. The base's commander allowed them to look at the sphere--an object that had been excavated and analysed for centuries with no results. Only now had it flashed with purple light and an undulating, liquid-metallic surface. The team encountered Marceline and a standoff began; ultimately, Marcie and Primus touched the object, as did Nokia and Akeelah. Adrian announced his intention to leave, having gained all he needed to know.
Nokia and Nydass were killed, and Marcie seized Akeelah and threatened to shoot her. Axel, in a snap decision, assaulted Adrian. Tex joined him, firing on the two agents with a machine gun. Marceline turned invisible and snuck away, leaving via an elevator shaft; she knew what was coming. Primus expertly shot Axel in the chest and face, killing him. Adrian charged Tex and disembowelled him, despite the Space Texan's brutally bludgeoning blows. Tex fell to his knees, losing the will to fight, and crawled over to his brother's corpse. As he cradled Axel's body in his arms, tear streaming from his eyes, Adrian walked up behind him. The large blond beast whispered derisively, "How cute," and beheaded Tex. The base commander's men arrived and shot Adrian; he fell, his shin broken and his femoral artery burst. Blood poured from him as Primus implored for a ceasefire. The State Sec troopers captured them and guided them to a brig while they sorted out the situation. PERCY and Lieutenant Nixon, however, stormed down with three platoons of heavy infantry. Sensing imminent defeat, the commander shot Adrian in the throat and left him for dead. PERCY shut down the doors and activated the room's auto-turrets, as his giant robot form marched upon them. With rockets and lasers, he saved Primus and Adrian and killed their assailants; they celebrated their victory on the shoulders of PERCY, as the State Sec soldiers surrendered.

Akeelah ran off, and discovered in the garage a half-dozen dead bodies and the shuttle outside, damaged. Entering, she found Marceline sitting next to David's dead body, in the middle of a call. They fought briefly before Akeelah ran back to the garage as Marceline hijacked the shuttle and lifted off with intent to flee to Earth. Just then, PERCY led the lead team back to the surface; using the corvette, he fired on Marcie's shuttle with missiles, destroying it. They were retrieved by a MEDEVAC shuttle, whose personnel engaged in immediate, emergency surgery to save Adrian's life; unfortunately for him, his leg was too infected and damaged and had to be amputated. He was stabilized and Primus notified General Vox, sending him a copy of their recorded data.
They were messaged by General McGrady right afterwards, and were admonished for David's death and their lack of strategy as a wave of missiles blotted their corvette out of the sky. A second wave of missiles, loosed from hijacked orbital satellites, swarmed the shuttle. Primus, Adrian, and Akeelah escaped via the escape pod. The shuttle and its other passengers were destroyed.
After retrieval on Earth, they were debriefed by General Vox--angered at McGrady's "slap on the wrist" for his "bold" hijacking of orbital defence satellites, but joyous over his own promotion and acquisition of full funding for the restarted NEXUS Project. He swore to make use of this "tree of knowledge" provided to him by his most prized agents.
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PostSubject: Re: Season One: Gathering the Tribe of Man   Sun Dec 21, 2014 12:19 pm


The following year would prove to be the final one of the Great War. The Confederation's forces broke through the remaining bastion worlds of the United Suns. Months ground on, with millions of human soldiers dying. Conquered races were thrown into battle as auxiliaries, dying in droves for Maximilian's promises of their species' freedom in the new order. At last, in early February of 3275, Imperial and Allied forces besieged Liberalis, the capital world of the Suns. After a gruelling battle to capture Megiddo, the largest and only populated moon of the world, strike teams hijacked orbital habitats and drove them into the planet's surface. Nuclear and kinetic bombardment laid the world to waste. The battle was considered a rousing success, with minimal human and allied casualties. General Beaumont, for her part in crafting the Beaumont Doctrine strategy, would be ennobled and granted many honours.

Remnant forces sued for peace and surrendered, while "outlaw" factions continued to fight a guerilla war. The war was effectively over by April. In its wake, the Confederation assembled a Constitutional Convention, fulfilling a pledge to establish a new state with a new constitution. The Convention was steered by Maximilian, who guided the text towards a centralized republic enforcing the National Humanist doctrine. The Confederate Congress was empowered to be a transitional legislature.
At the official reading of the new constitution at the final session of the Confederate Congress, Maximilian was nominated by Lord Philip Rycon to be the first elected Supreme Chancellor of the Central Galactic Union. He was unanimously elected by the provisional congress to the position. He was empowered with dictatorial authority for a term of one year, during which he declared an official end to the war in early July 3275. Special eections were held for the Central Galactic Congress, local governors were selected, and a host of new laws were passed to unify the former Imperial Code with the new Republic.

The age of the Central Galactic Union had begun.
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