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The United Coalition of Oriens

. . . and so we left Earth, vowing to return come the day that they are ready for us--and hoping that this day would come before their inevitable self destruction.

0 · 322 views · located in Orion Arm, Milky War Galaxy

a character in “Ascendancy: A Candle in the Dark”, as played by Doug


Nation Name:
The United Coalition of Oriens

Nation Population:

Nation Size:
The United Coalition of Oriens presently controls 4 solar systems.

The central governing body is known as the Grand Council, which is made up of elected councilors from each of the major planetary territories. Beside the Grand Council is another council of equal importance, the Scientific Advisory, which is made up of prominent scientists, engineers, and professors that are nominated and elected by the Council. This board rules primarily on matters of technology and ethics, and despite its name is far more than simply an advisory--it has the power to act.

At the head of the entire government is the Premier, an individual elected in a nationwide public vote to reign for a period of ten years. The Premier has veto power over any action of the Council or Advisory, and any motions put forward by the Premier must be failed by a 2/3 super-majority, instead of the simply majority required to fail a motion forwarded by any other Councilor.

Economic System:
The Economy of the United Coalition of Oriens is the extreme end of capitalism. Everything is privately owned and there is practically no government intervention, except in the case of providing funding for private research and in protecting the ownership of ideas and inventions. As a result, life in the UCO truly is survival of the fittest. The lazy and the inept quickly fall to the wayside and either find their way into menial jobs or starve. Of course, this truth has led to a stark decline among the ranks of the lazy and the inept, but those few that do fall into this category are often involved in protests against the successful and the government's hands off policies regarding large corporations. Fortunately, these people make up a minority, albeit a very loud minority, and are looked down upon by the majority of the UCO's citizenry.

The United Coalition of Oriens has a deep rooted affinity for science, both pure and applied. From before its foundation, the people that would eventually come together to create it were driven almost purely by a desire to learn about the cosmos, and that desire burns ever brightly to this day. However, this love of science brings with it its own baggage. Currently this is hot debate over the position of science with regards to ethics, and this debate rages hotter still as the frontiers of scientific advancement further encroach upon the rights of man and the safety of everyone involved, especially in the field of biology where an entire industry has grown around questionable genetic experiments performed on humans, or more commonly on clones.

In addition to science, the free market is another of the great pillars of UCO society. The entire nation was founded upon the ideals of the purest of free markets, though very limited government intervention has found its way in over the years. Sadly, this style of economy does not allow for simply getting by on little effort for those without a born affinity for the task at hand, and the result is a very poor, and very vocal, lower class. While they are a minority, they are a loud one and the debate surrounding their rights is almost as loud as that surrounding human rights in general. . . almost.

Important Characters:
Premier Silvia Brooks: The young Premier of the UCO, Silvia is stubborn and idealistic. She believes in free scientific inquiry unbound by ethical concerns, and in maintaining a powerful military presence, even at the expense of other social projects.

Grand Councilor Hans Bernhardt: An elderly member of the Grand Council, Councilor Bernhardt is one of Silvia's most eloquent and staunchest opponents. He does not see the need for any significant military in a world that, at least for now, contains only the UCO, and is a firm believer in ethical science. He is strongly opposed the the current regime's funding of what he sees as cruel genetic experiments, even if the end results are major medical breakthroughs.

Grand General Jacob Harding: Harding is the supreme commander of the UCO's Military Authority. He has command of all ground, air, and space forces under government control, or on government payroll. His seat in the Council is directly to the right of the Premier, and his position of power is equal to this. He really is Silvia's right hand, and bears the nickname of Silvia's Pitbull as a result of his aggressive defense of her ideals and doctrines.

Professor Johnathan Evslin: A prominent member of the Scientific Advisory, Evslin is a professor of applied physics (though really it should be called weaponized physics) at the prestigious University of Thessaly. He also holds degrees in Genetics and Biology and holds a strong belief that science is transcendent and should be unbounded by any ethical concerns.

Important Locations:
  • Oriens
    The system containing Oriens is named for this fact. It serves as the capitol of the UCO and has the densest population of any system under UCO control, with a total population of 100,000,000 individuals.
  • Soldaria
    The next most populous system, with a little under 5,000 residents, Soldaria is the next step in UCO expansion into space. The system contains two habitable planets--the garden paradise of Elysia, and the molten hell-hole of Tartarus.
  • Olympia
    The Olympia star system is named for the gas giant, Olympia that orbits the red giant star Magna Ignis. Olympia contains several habitable, albeit barely utilized moons and serves as a fleet base for the majority of the United Coalition of Oriens Space Authority. It is also rumored to be the site of highly classified government research.

Space Forces:
Quality over quantity. The UCO doctrine emphases advanced technology and rigorous training to overcome a lack of numbers. Each soldier is at the peak of physical fitness and trains for two years before qualifying for active duty. In addition to combat training, each soldier is also trained in a specialization, such as engineering, medicine, communications, etc, to ensure a diverse skill set in any given platoon. This same attention to detail is also applied to the vessels in the Space Authority. They are each made with the utmost attention to detail and care and are built to last.

Space Vessels:

Name: IWCM-5 'Athena'
Size: 9
Combat Role: Flagship
Carbon Nanotube Outer Coating (invisible to visible light, much harder to see in all other spectra, and resistant to heat based weapons)
.5 Meters solid iridium outer armor
5 Meters titanium inner armor
Gel shock absorbers to weaken compression waves

5 Positron Beam Weapons (PBW)
10 Proton Beam Emitters (PBE)
10 X-Ray Spectrum Pulse Lasers (xPL)
10 Gamma Spectrum High Intensity Lasers (gHIL)
100 5 Kg Point Defense Railguns (PDR)
20 Missile Tubes

Engines: What accelerations can your ship reach and how quickly can it maneuver. Keep in mind that accelerations in excess of 5 gs (about 50 m/s/s) will cause most humans to black out over a short period of time.

3 Wings of Strike Craft
50 Shuttles

Name: VSGBS 1 'Ares'
Size: 5
Combat Role: Battleship
Carbon Nanotube Coating
.5 Meter Iridium Outer Hull
2 Meter Titanium Inner Hull
Gel Shock Absorbers

10 xPL
10 gHIL
50 PDR
10 Missile Tubes

The Ares uses an M Class antimatter engine which is capable of powering the ship to an acceleration of 2 Gs for extended periods of time, but can reach accelerations in excess of 6 Gs for short evasive maneuvers. Smaller engines power maneuvering thrusters across the ship which can rotate the craft a full 180 degrees in thirty seconds with no change in altitude. These thrusters can also accelerate the ship to 2 G in full reverse.

No Strike Craft
10 Shuttles

Name: UCOGI-3 'Navis'
Size: 2
Combat Role: Light Escort
Carbon Nanotube Outer Coating
.2 Meter Iridium Outer Hull
1 Meter Titanium Inner Hull

5 xPL
2 gHIL
2 Missile Tubes

The Navis uses a M Class antimatter engine which is capable of powering the ship to an acceleration of 2 Gs for extended periods of time, but can reach accelerations in excess of 8 Gs for short evasive maneuvers. Smaller engines power maneuvering thrusters across the ship which can rotate the craft a full 180 degrees in ten seconds with no change in altitude. These thrusters can also accelerate the ship to 2 G in full reverse.


Name: UTCD-7 'Hermes'
Size: 5
Combat Role: Carrier/Transport
Carbon Nanotube Outer Coat
1 Meter Iridium Outer Hull
5 Meter Titanium Inner Hull
Gel Shock Absorbers

10 xPL
100 PDR
10 Missile Tubes

The Hermes uses an O Class antimatter engine which is capable of powering the ship to an acceleration of 2 Gs for extended periods of time, but can reach accelerations in excess of 5 Gs for short evasive maneuvers. Smaller engines power maneuvering thrusters across the ship which can rotate the craft a full 180 degrees in forty seconds with no change in altitude. These thrusters can also accelerate the ship to 2 G in full reverse.

15 Wing of Strike Craft
Troop and Supply Transport capability

Ground Forces:
The UCO Ground Authority Infantry is split into two branches, the Rifle Infantry and the Ares Corp. The Ares Corp is the ultra-elite branch of the military, second to none (not even PMC soldiers), and the Rifle Infantry are the main soldiers on the line. In addition to the UCOGA, there is the Zeus Corp that is attached to the UCOSA and serve as soldiers onboard space vessels.

The UCOGA as a wide variety of vehicles at its disposal. The strongest, the Myrmidon Heavy Tank, is armed with a heavy plasma cannon, two coaxial .75 HMGs and two side mounted AAA missile pods. The Heracles Light Tank is the most common vehicle seen in use, and is armed with a 120mm cannon, a coaxial .75 HGM, and a top mounted .50 HMG. The Toxite Missile Battery is the standard artillery unit of the UCOGA and is capable of firing a wide variety of missiles, from the 12 Class II Iris Missiles too two miniature LRBMs. The Odysseus troop transport is an amphibious vehicle capable of carrying a platoon safely to their objective.

The United Coalition of Oriens's history can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt. It all began when a small group of nomads saw a shooting star in the sky. Curious, they traced its path across the heavens and eventually stumbled upon where it had landed, largely intact, in the desert. It wasn't a comet though, but a chunk of metal. The knowledge of this artifact, and its location, was passed down for generations, until the ancient Greeks heard of it. The Thales heard of the mysterious object from a group of Egyptian sailors and after years of research discovered its location. He organized an expedition to collect the object and move it to a secret location in Greece, where it remained for centuries.

The Egyptians thought it was an artifact from their gods, and the Greeks didn't know what to think of it, but the object was still in its resting place when it was discovered in the mid 1500s by a group of western Europeans. They were the first to attempt to take the strange object apart and found wonders beyond imagination within. Wanting to keep their discovery secret, they moved it once again, this time to a cave in Siberia, and established an order to protect and study the device. Known as the Transcendii, this society maintained the device for about a century, until its destruction at the hands of the Catholic Church.

Centuries passed, and both the device and its protectors passed from memory. However, at the turn of the 21st century the object was once again discovered by a small group of archaeologists. Not sure what to make of it, Professor Henry Walsh asked his friend and fellow Cambridge professor Mark Jones to come and look at it. Mark, being an engineer, saw it for what it was almost immediately. An alien probe. Fearing for what would happen if the probe's technology were to pass into the wrong hands, the pair made a deal to keep it and study it in secret. So it was that the Transcendii were reformed, under a different name however. The society they founded grew in wealth, power, and numbers over the next thirty years and made great leaps in knowledge from investigating the technology within the probe. However, they couldn't keep it a secret forever. Before long word got out, in the form of rumors and whispers at first, but eventually the governments of the world took notice and began to make moves to acquire the technology. Fearing what would become of the Earth should the corrupt powers of the world get theirs hands on the probe, this group began to look hastily for a solution. They found it in the probe's FTL drive, which they successfully reverse engineered into their own version after a decade of effort. Using the probe's database they located a system that had a habitable planet, and over the next decade and a half they constructed a vessel known only as the New Horizon. Once completed, the members of the society slowly began to disappear from society in small groups of ten or so every few weeks. It took two years, but eventually the New Horizon was able to carry all of the society away from Earth and to their new home, which they named Oriens in honor of the rising sun.

Over the next century these settlers established several cities across the surface of this world. At first they existed separately as individual city states each with their own unique form of government. Their numbers were small, and Oriens was large--the paths of these cities rarely crossed. However, after three hundred years of slow growth the leaders of these cities came to realize that if they were to succeed they would need to unite. And so, in the year 2421 (Earth years) the leaders of the cities states signed the Unification Ordinance of 300* which brought them together into the new United Coalition of Oriens. This entity has survived for over 300 years of isolation, and the year is now 632.

*The UCO uses the year of the arrival of the first settlers as year 0, and a year on Oriens is slightly longer than an Earth year.

So begins...

The United Coalition of Oriens's Story

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#, as written by Doug
The rocky surface of Oriens stood strong. Even against the unending onslaught of the sea, it did not give an inch. Powered by the locomotive power of the cool breeze, the ocean poured itself out over the coastline in its attempts to assert its dominance. And, even as its latest attempts were so valiantly resisted, it already had already launched its next assault. Nature was nothing if not patient.

It was on this hard ground that Silvia now rested. She gazed out over the endless horizon as her thoughts turned to eternity. One day, she decided, that vast and mighty being of the ocean would eventually find victory on this rocky coast. It would, of course, be slow. But how could even the most rugged of coasts resist the sea’s unending efforts to overthrow it? The time it would take could be measured in millennia, but eventually this rock would give way to sand. Sand destined only to be swallowed up by the very sea which had given it form.

In a way, Silvia thought, the fate of this coast would be not unlike the fate of this planet, the fate of her beloved nation, or indeed her own fate. Time has the most innate ability to atrophy even the most steadfast of creations. To fell even the strongest of walls. To collapse even the most virtuous of nations.

It was on this coastline that Silvia had always done her best thinking, for on it she was truly alone with the cosmos. An unending sea of water stretched out before her, and above her spread the infinite grandeur of the vastest of all oceans--the universe. There was not a single soul around her for kilometers, and it was this tranquility that so stimulated her mind.

She sat up, feeling the cold ocean breeze as it tousled her glistening, flaxen hair and gently caressed her body. It was a warm day for the equatorial regions of Oriens, about 280 degrees Kelvin, but still she felt a shiver run down her body as the air penetrated the loosely woven cotton fibers of her light navy blazer and cooled her skin. To some it would have been uncomfortable, but Silvia found the sensation deeply invigorating.

She sat like this, for a time, however soon she heard a soft crunching noise over the sound of the ocean. Turning her head, she saw a figure approaching from across the coast. He was tall and slim, his walk slow and full of purpose. Smiling as she recognized him, Silvia waved her hand in the air and shouted his name, “Harding!”

Harding stopped for a moment to lift his hand in recognition of the call, and then continued his walk, albeit at a quickened pace. After a few minutes he had finally closed the distance between himself and the Premier, and he chose that moment to speak. “I thought I might find you here Premier Brookes.”

“And that you did General, why don’t you have a seat?” Silvia responded, tapping the ground beside her.

Harding obliged, removing the gray fedora from his head as he sat. Although it was rare to see the Grand General of the United Coalitions of Oriens Military Authority outside without his military uniform, today he was dressed in a far more relaxed manner. Instead he wore a simple charcoal blazer with raw denim pants and a dark navy shirt, a clear indication that he was far from any politicians, or cameras for that matter. “I tried your house, but obviously you weren’t there and nobody seemed to know how to contact you,” he said.

“Yeah, sorry about that.” Silvia leaned back, “I hope your hunt for me didn’t take too long.”

“No not at all,” Harding said, casting his gaze out over the horizon. “I can see why you come here, it really is something else.”

“It sure is,” Silvia laughed, “But I’m sure you didn’t walk all this way to discuss the scenery with me. What can I do for you?”

“It’s nothing that can’t wait, and I’d prefer to discuss it indoors,” Harding replied. “We can sit here a while, I’d rather not ruin your day this early.”

“That bad, huh?” Silvia sighed. “Well I guess we’d better get it over with then. Let’s go.”

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#, as written by Doug
Colonel Grace Williams stood idly by, monotonously drumming her fingers across the hard metallic disk that encased the primary holo-projector at the center of the large circular form of the Siren’s Central Command Center. This central point was surrounded by raised circular tiers, emanating from the center in a way not unlike the ripples left in the wake of a rock breaking the surface of a pond. In fact, it could be said that this room was designed to invoke that very image.

Her long hair, black as space itself, was pulled up into a neat bun and covered by a black beret affixed with a golden pin that elegantly revealed the garment’s purpose. It was a subtle reminder that she had served in the Ares Corp prior to her commission with the UCOSA. Her uniform did little to contradict this image. Her white blouse was crisp and without a single wrinkle or stray fold. Her black jacket fell neatly over her shoulders, and seamlessly transitioned into a pair of pressed black trousers. Even her shoes, a pair of black oxfords, were shined and without defect.

“Twenty seconds, sir!” The nav officer somewhere to her right called out, announcing the imminent collapse of the warp metric wrapping the Ares class vessel and affording it the ability to break the universal speed limit, well relatively speaking anyway. From the strictest of viewpoints, the Siren was not moving at all. But such semantics had little consequence in the real world.

The Siren, along with the Navis craft Heron and Aegean, served as the escort for a pair of Hermes ‘galleons’, as they were colloquially termed, and their cargo of processed iridium metal. The convoy was carrying almost 100 cubic meters* of the platinum-group element for sale to the Ryuu. Though vulgar and warlike, they did have money, and so long as their gold lined the pockets of UCO business interests the UCOSA would be rented out to provide transport and protection for trade convoys.

Personally, Grace could not understand why such a backward nation as Ryuu would be purchasing iridium metal when so many facets of society were in such dire need. The UCO could provide them with irrigation systems, seeds, food, design specifications for factories, iron, and so many other materials that could directly benefit all walks of life in the nation, and yet they seemed only interested in material that’s only real use is that of military nature. Of course the mining conglomerates of the UCO weren’t complaining, with the gradual slowdown of ship production the demand for iridium was slipping, and they were looking for any available markets for their product.

“Ten seconds!” The call came again. Grace turned her attention to the space above the holo-projector. While it was, for the moment, occupied only by air, in a few seconds the space would begin to populate with holographic representations of objects in the system. One of the great disadvantages of travel by warp metric is that it rendered the vessel caught inside completely blind. It was only by virtue of the vector calculations done by the vessel’s navigational computers that Grace had any idea where the Siren was going to land after its voyage. Even the slightest variation in approach vector could cause a vessel to miss its destination by parsecs, and the crew wouldn’t know they were off course until they arrived.

Still, there was always the rush that accompanied arrival. Grace felt the slight shudders of anticipation run up her spine as the seconds counted down. Would they be at the right spot? And what rested just beyond the metric? This excitement was not in any way unique to Grace, or even unique to this voyage. The anticipation that accompanied the collapse of a metric was universal, and it never weakened.

“Metric is collapsing.” The navigations officer called out, signaling the end of the Siren’s journey. There was no apparent change in motion, but quite suddenly the CCC was abuzz with activity as the then till unused radar and XDAR arrays kicked into action and probed the surrounding system. While the slow speed of light ever slowed the process, an image of the system and its bodies began to appear, rendered beautifully in full color by the holo-projector.

“All craft are present and accounted for, Colonel Williams.” A young man manning one of the many radar stations called out, prompting a brief round of applause. It wasn’t unheard of for a miscalculation to split convoys apart during FTL travel, and while this was rarely dangerous it was very inconvenient to be forced to wait, potentially for days, for the lost elements to recalculate their trajectories and work their way to their intended destination.

“Good, order the convoy to form up on our position. Once we are assembled, lay in a course for the Ryuu capital world.” Grace ordered without so much as looking away from the holo-display. The relevant parties would carry out the orders without regard to whom she was specifically addressing. “And remember to keep all weapons systems powered down; we don’t want to do anything that could be seen as a challenge to the Ryuu people. So much as a misplaced stare could send them into a battle fury.”

*By order of the Council as stated in the Universal Charter for Inter-planetary Commerce, all shipments of iridium and other materials that fall into the category of "ultra dense" are to be sold by volume, not by mass, so as to ensure that buyers unfamiliar with this class of metals knows how much they are purchasing. A lot of 100 cubic meters of iridium has a mass of about 2,256,000 kilograms, or an Earth weight of about 2,500 short tons. An equivalent mass of iron would have a volume of over 280 cubic meters, so you can see the need for such a convention when dealing with merchants who are accustomed to the lower densities of common materials.

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#, as written by Doug
Silvia’s house stood high above the coast, sitting in quiet solace on a cliff face. Some would call it an architectural wonder, others an abomination, but no-one could deny the solid engineering of the structure. It rested half on the cliff, half over, supported by no visible struts of any kind. Only the carefully balanced equations in a notebook that Silvia still carried held the glass and metal structure solidly in place. The house was a bit of a labor of love for the Premier, after all she is the one who had designed it.

When Silvia led Harding in through the front door, the pair was faced with an atrium, of sorts. Directly in front of them was a large mirror, giving the room an illusion of vast size though it was only a few meters across. To the left and right were passages leading off to the house’s numerous rooms.

Harding removed his hat as they entered this impressive, though simple, room, revealing his gray streaked black hair, and placed it with his jacket on a coat rack near the door. Turning left, he followed Silvia through the maze of glass windows and metal walls until they reached the house’s study. It was perhaps the only room in the house that didn’t feel vast, owing to the fact that it was completely lined with bookshelves, save for a single window in the back. These shelves held volumes from every period of history imaginable—from the latest books on theoretical physics to a first edition copy of Origin of Species. The floor was made of polished hardwood, an incredibly valuable commodity on a planet with no surface life where any trees must be grown at great cost in environmentally controlled greenhouses and hydroponics bays, as was Silvia’s desk.

It was at this desk that Silvia sat, leaning back in her chair and sighing. Harding pulled a chair from the side of the room and placed it in front of the desk before himself sitting down. “Can I get you some wine?” Silvia asked, removing two crystal glasses and a bottle of the red liquid from a bottom drawer and laying them on the table.

“Yes, thank you.” Harding replied, taking one of the glasses as the Premier poured it. Taking a sip, he smiled. “A fan of the fruitier varieties I see.”

Silvia laughed, “Yup, just don’t go telling everyone. I’d like to keep some semblance of dignity as a cultured person.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it Silvia,” Harding said, though in a strangely serious tone. “Regrettably, I’m afraid I’m going to dampen your spirits a bit with what I have to tell you. It’s about the HRM.”

The Human Rights Movement, commonly known simply by the acronym HRM, was a group of “concerned citizens” that had been organized for the sole purpose of opposing legislation that defend, or even justify, so called unethical practices by UCO scientists. While the organization had started honestly enough, it wasn’t long until they were derailed from their original course and became an aggressive group that almost bordered on terroristic. They commonly used blackmail and bribery to get their way, and have already caused serious damage to the position of scientific research in the public eye.

Silvia leaned forward, resting her elbows on the wooden surface in front of her. “Lovely, what have they done this time?”

“Well,” Harding sighed, “it isn’t so much what they’ve done, as what they’ve said they’d do. Just this morning they released a tape to public news outlets in which they claimed that they had the resources for a major strike on a government facility within the next two months unless the Council passes the currently proposed motion to place ethical limits on research. Most people aren’t taking them seriously, but it is a very real threat, and one we’ll have to deal with. Soon.”

“Do we have any more information than is publicly available?” Silvia asked. Though the UCO claimed to be an open government, it did occasionally come into possession of information that wasn’t public knowledge, at least for a little while. The UCO’s Intelligence Authority, a branch of the military responsible for information gathering, espionage, and all flavors of subterfuge was all permeating were it was needed. The HRM had been infiltrated from the moment it became a potential threat to the current regime.

“Regrettably, not at the moment.” Harding shook his head. “The upper echelon of the movement is keeping any specifics very close, and we don’t have any infiltrators anywhere near high enough to get any additional information. The moment IA knows anything, you’ll know it.”

“Damn it.” Silvia’s fist struck the desk, hard. “Why can’t we all just deal with issues like civilized men, instead of resorting to threats of violence to get our way. The worst thing is that this threat will probably work. Officially we’ll ignore it, but there is no way that this won’t weigh in the minds of the Council as they are voting, especially in the minds of those who are either undecided or not completely on board with killing the bill. We cannot allow these threats to compromise our morals, not under any circumstances.”

“Save it Silvia, you’re preaching to the choir at the moment.” Harding gently shook his head in disgust. “I couldn’t agree more, but there isn’t much we can do about the threat. Right now, though, your people need you. They’re afraid, and looking for some form of comfort. Military Authority is planning a press conference on the threat, and we would like you to speak at it. We can only do so much, but the people listen to and respect you. Your voice would go far towards calming them down.”

“Of course I’ll do it, when is it?” Silvia shot up out of her chair and immediately went about gathering loose papers that were haphazardly scattered throughout the room.

“Tonight, we need to respond as quickly as possible. A helicopter will be here to pick us up in about an hour.”

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------------------Inside the Ryuu System (known to the IPF at this time as Omega-Bravo)-------------
Four long-range Strike Fighters and a small transport shuttle – carrying ten Sword soldiers – bearing the IPF emblem slowly make their way through the newly discovered Omega-Bravo System. Their commander – Lt. Bentley – led the small scout force in his personal fighter. His call-sign was Sabre. His deep voice boomed into his microphone, “This is Sabre, all craft, report in.”

(Private Rex) A high-pitched, somewhat timid-sounding voice said, “Ocelot, reporting in.”

(Sgt. Gendren) A gruff voice quickly said, “Tex, reporting in.”

(Corporal Tanner) A methodical, almost flat voice droned, “Longshot, reporting in.”

(Shuttle Captain Lang) A gravelly voice barked out, “Oxen, reporting in.”

Bentley brought up the shuttle on his comms unit. “Oxen. What are you getting on your scanner?”

Lang’s gravelly voice filled Bentley’s headphones. “I am picking up what looks like the outline of a planet… But I cannot get a good fix on anything specific on it. This radiation is causing my instruments to glitch. Shouldn’t our radiation shields be preventing this?”

Bentley responded, “No. Of all people, I thought you would know that the only reason our instruments work in Argus-Rho, is because-“

Rex cut in with her rapid-fire speech. “It’s-because-surrounding-Argus-Rho-is-a-permeable –radiation-barrier-that-absorbs-the-constant-radiation-bombardment-emanating-from-the-Aether-Curtain. Its-communications-hub-“

Gendren chimed in. “Rex. Slow down. You’re losing Lang.”

Rex could be audibly heard taking a deep breath. “I apologize. We have been cruising this space for awhile, and I was starting to grow tired. So I took two of my Wake Pills…”

Tanner cut in. “Two? You are only supposed to take one Rex. Two usually result in hyperactivity . But then again, I’m sure you realized that now.”

Rex sighed. “Oh. I forgot. I’m fresh from training Tanner. I’m still ‘learning the ropes’, as the Earth saying went…”

Lang simply slid on into the conversation. “Please, continue your explanation Rex. I was actually learning something on this scouting mission.”

Rex continued. “Yes sir. Well, the communications hub works only because it sits just outside the barrier, and is specifically tuned to the Aether Curtain’s radiation levels. That being the case, without the anti-radiation barrier surrounding Argus-Rho, not only would our ship instruments be severely crippled, the health of all troops there would also slowly deteriorate due to the radiation. The radiation levels we are facing now is miniscule compared to Argus-Rho.”

Bentley tried to get the conversation back on track. “Yes Rex, thank you for that explanation. I’m sure Lang learned something important today. Now, Lang, where is this planet?”

Lang pressed a few keys in his cockpit. On all of the Strike Fighters’ radars, a map appeared. It showed the large gas giant that was in front of them, and just behind it, the planet Lang had mentioned earlier. Bentley keyed the comms again. “All Call-Signs, set course for that planet. Keep weapons on, but uncharged.” The small squadron made its way for the planet, arriving in its vicinity within twenty minutes.

---------------------------On Board the Concord-----------------------------------------------------------------------
General Austin looked over his briefing that he had received from the Hierarchy not more than 2 hours ago. Intriguing…Seems I am the ambassador once again. This was not the first time Austin had been sent on a diplomatic mission, or to convey an important message. He was chosen for just that reason, or, at least, that is what the Hierarchy had told him. It didn’t matter to him. He was to deliver a message, and that is exactly what he would do. The navigator of the Concord walked up to Austin, giving a small bow. “General Austin. We are approaching the Soldaria System. Coordinates for Elysia are set. Shall we engage metric?”

General Austin paused…It would be unwise to do that... “Not yet. Stay on the fringe of the system. We don’t want to come in unannounced do we? Send out a comm buoy to Elysia. Make sure to have it broadcast that no weapons of any kind are hidden on it. Have it relay this message.” He cleared his throat, and pressed a button on his command console. In red letters, it read; REC:ON

“This is General Austin, of the IPF military force. I have been sent to relay a message in person to the United Coalition of Oriens, from the Chosen Ones themselves, regarding an important issue pertaining to the IPF. If it is permissible, I request that my frigate, the Concord, be allowed to land on the planet of Elysia. My frigate is armed, however, I will power down all weaponry,(the crew visibly tensed at this) and our shield systems as well, if my presence is allowed. Please, respond as soon as possible by communications probe, or shuttle. That is all.” He pressed the button again, and the audio stopped recording.

The Captain of the Concord ran up to him immediately. “General Austin. Will all due respect, is it not somewhat irrational to go into UCO space completely disarmed? What if they should choose to attack us? It makes no sense to me.”

General Austin put his hand on the Captain’s shoulder. “Captain. My actions are most rational actually. If we went in with weapons online, the UCO might consider it as a move for a sneak attack on Elysia once we land. That would start a completely unnecessary conflict with the UCO, which is not the Chosen Ones’ intention. Now, let me do the talking, and we will emerge from these talks unscathed Captain.” Austin motioned the captain away, and stood, looking out from afar into the invisible barrier marking the beginning of UCO space. He saw the small comms probe launch itself into space, and heard its message begin to broadcast. Now, we wait.

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#, as written by Doug
Ryuu System, UCOSA Vessel Siren
The convoy had gather without incident and was beginning its several hour voyage to the Ryuu homeworld. While the collection of ships could have collapsed their warp metrics a fair distance closer to the planet, Grace did not want to risk taking the unstable Ryuu by surprise and opted to drop out of warp a fair distance away from the planet in order to give them significant warning of the convoy's arrival, not to mention the extra time allowed the warp buffer to recharge before contact was made. Of course, the decision turned a distance that could have been covered in a fraction of a second into a far longer affair.

Grace, duty bound to remain on the CCC deck until the Siren was once again at warp, was slowly pacing the floor. The reality of commanding a space vessel was brief moments of excitement followed by an eternity of waiting. Fortunately, this boredom was not destined to last. “Colonel, we just picked up something odd.” A call from Captain Harry Reeves, the Siren's chief radar technician, caught Grace's attention.

“What is it Captain?” Grace asked, turning to face the man at his station. Captain Reeves was a 30 year veteran of the Authority, if he thought something was off Grace knew well to listen to him. In fact, the Captain could probably have been a General by now, if he wasn't too obsessed with his current job to turn down every promotion handed his way.

“A few seconds ago, XDAR picked up some strange movement on the far side of the system. Granted, the image was incredibly fuzzy at that distance and the objects moved quickly behind one of the outer planets, but they seemed to appear out of nowhere, as if. . .”

“As if they dropped out of warp into the system.” Grace finished Reeves's statement. “Of course at that distance I'm impressed we could see anything at all, how did you do it Captain?” She asked. Despite now being a C.O., Grace had spent most of her career as a tactical officer working with radar that could never have accomplished such a stunning feat.

“It's the new XDAR imaging systems Colonel.” Reeves replied. “Using soft X rays with wavelengths ranging from 5 to .1 nanometers we can resolve a grain of sand at a light-second. The short wavelength gives us amazing resolution, and because the energy is less than 10 kiloelectron-volts we don't get the penetration of hard X rays, so it bounces off things quite nicely. Of course, we have to filter out objects to prevent our displays from being overloaded, so in general the screens will only register objects greater than half a cubic meter in size.”

“Impressive, I'll keep that in mind.” Grace replied. “Keep an eye on that planet for any more activity. The Ryuu are probably just scouting their system, but you never know. Let me know if those contacts reemerge from behind the planet.”

“Yes sir.”

Elysia High Orbit, UCOSA Vessel Chimera
General Percy Bryant was relaxing in the relative comfort of his private quarters. Being the commander of the UCOSA 3rd Battle Group certainly afforded a great many luxuries beyond those of a lower C.O., in fact it would seem that even serving on-board an Athena vessel would yield some greater measure of comfort for all officers.

The room in which Bryant spent most of his time was very close to a small apartment. There was an atrium of sorts, leading into a living quarters, study, private bathroom, and bedroom. The entire complex was wrapped in wood and marble and filled with the comforts of home, from the bookshelves lining the walls of the study (again, made of wood), to the marble bathtub, no expense had been spared to keep the room comfortable. If it wasn't for the slight curvature of the floor, a necessity of maximizing space efficiency in a cylindrical vessel, it would have been easy to forget that this oasis in the darkness of space wasn't securely mounted on terra firma.

He smiled, leaning back in his chair. He had just finished reviewing the mission reports of a group of officers who had been sent to the fringes of UCO space in search of useful resources. The system they had scouted seemed ripe for exploitation, though it was inhospitable to humans. Nothing a few industrial robots couldn't handle though.

Leaning back in towards the desk, Bryant grabbed his tablet and began dictating a recommendation to the company who had purchased the survey to move in on the system as soon as possible. Even though they had purchase the survey, it was standard business policy that the first company to actually erect a structure in the system would have first rights to the entire system, not the first company to survey it.

Bryant had barely begun this process, however, when he was interrupted by a knock on the door. Calling for the officer to enter, a young woman stepped into the room.

“Sir, we have just detected a message from the IPF, sent via radio probe. There is a General Austin who wishes to communicate with the government. He has requested permission to land his vessel, with shields and weapons disabled, on the planet to relay his message in person. There are no government figures in the system at the moment, so that task will fall to you as ranking military officer.” The woman said.

Bryant looked up at the officer. “Are there any other vessels in the system aside from the General's frigate?”

“No sir.” Came the reply.

“Very well.” Bryant stood up, “Prepare my shuttle, and tell this General Austin that he is cleared to enter the system and land. Transmit him coordinates to the landing strip at McMillan Military Base, tell him I'll meet him on the ground.”

“Yes sir.” The young officer nodded, before turning to leave the room.

Bryant waited a moment, and then followed. He stopped at his bedroom to quickly change into his dress uniform before leaving the room in its entirety and heading towards the ship's hangar, where his shuttle was waiting to take him to the surface. It wasn't every day that an emissary from another nation came knocking on the UCO's door, and he felt slightly uneasy as to the exact nature of the message—especially a message that needed to be hand delivered.

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#, as written by Doug
McMillan Military Base, Elysia
Bryant stepped out of the shuttle and immediately repressed the strong urge to clap his hands over his ears. The planet of Elysia took some getting used to, especially the sounds. What could have been considered a jungle paradise sounded like hell to ears used to the dead silence of Oriens, where no surface life (certainly none that chirped or cricked) existed.

McMillan was located near the equatorial regions of the planet, which rested just close enough to the sun to remain uncomfortably warm without turning into the hellish landscape of Tartarus, and even in the coldest months of the year it was still stiflingly hot, almost 300 Kelvin. Of course as a result of the low eccentricy of the planet's orbit, the hottest months were not much warmer. How the humans of Earth lived on a planet that reached these temperatures fairly regularly, Bryant never understood.

No sooner had he placed his first foot onto the hard concrete of the base's landing strip he found himself greeted by a young officer of the Ground Authority. The distinctive golden pin on his beret and shoulders labeled him clearly as Ares Corp, and his manner left no doubt of the distinction to creep into the general's mind. “Good afternoon Sir,” the man said. “It is an honor, I'm Captain Wallace.”

“Hello Captain,” Bryant replied, only to find himself speaking to a back, the man had already begun to walk away with the clear assumption that Bryant was to follow. The Ares Corp were elite, and also very to the point. Especially with an officer of the Space Authority, a branch of the military seen as soft by most of the other branches. After all, officers and crew in the Space Authority did spend most of their time sitting on their hands in climate controlled environments, instead of keeping a vigilant watch over military bases in the least comfortable of locations.

Bryant quickly closed the gap that had opened between him and the captain, and as soon as he did so the man spoke again. “My team is to provide security for the meeting, and for you.” He indicated towards a small group of men approaching from across the tarmac. “Our radar has detected General Austin's frigate, you should be able to hear it in a few moments as it enters the atmosphere. I've never heard of landing a spacecraft like that before, but I guess that's more your cup of tea.”

“Is the meeting room ready?” Bryant asked. Part of the order he had relayed prior to his arrival specified the condition of the meeting room. He wasn't sure how many delegates from the IPF were involved, so there was to be seating for at least eight men around a square table. The room itself was located on the top floor of the facility, with a large window taking up an entire wall and affording quite a view of a massive waterfall in the cliffs nearby. And, of course, the A.C. was to have been maxed out.

“Exactly as per your specifications sir.” Captain Wallace replied. No sooner had these words left his mouth then a great roaring filled the General's awareness, drowning out even the infernal racket made by the forest's inhabitants. Looking to the sky, Bryant caught a glimpse of the craft breaking its momentum against the atmosphere of the planet. The craft, burning bright orange with the heat of atmospheric friction, rocketed towards the tarmac at astounding speed. Of course, it was still miles into the air, but it was still quite a sight to behold even at that distance. Calls came from around the base to clear the strip, and men and machines scurried every which way to get clear of the descending giant.

The landing went, fortunately, without incident. For most of the men on base though it was a marvel, none of them had ever seen a craft so large landing. At 200 meters long, it was as if two football stadiums had just descended from the heavens and landed gently on the tarmac. Needless to say, UCO vessels were not designed for landing, in fact they would break apart in an atmosphere, and relied on their numerous shuttles to get men to and from space. That, or one of the many space elevators that linked the planet of Oriens to its array of space stations and docking ports.

No sooner had the behemoth landed, it opened its mouth. A lift platform descended from the bottom of the craft, lowering General Austin and a small contingent of men to the ground. As the stepped off the platform and onto the concrete, one in particular stepped forward and glanced around the facility, no doubt waiting for the welcoming committee.

Bryant, assuming this man to be the one he was to meet, adjusted his jacket and walked out from cover onto the tarmac, followed by the contingent of 4 Ares Corp soldiers. While Wallace was armed only with the T-4 .45 caliber automatic handgun holstered at his hip, the other three men were fully armed, two with T-65 7.62 mm bullpup assault carbines and the third with the massive .50 caliber T-60 battle rifle. Bryant himself wore his .357 service revolver, the standard issue sidearm of the Space Authority, in a holster at his hip.

When the party reached the waiting delegation, Bryant stepped forward and offered his hand to the man he assumed, by uniform and manner, to be General Austin. “Welcome to Elysia, I am General Percy Bryant, at your service.”

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-------------------------------Near the Mayug Clan------------------------------------------------------------------
Lang had just brought up a detailed map of the area, when weaponsfire erupted all around them. Three Sword soldiers immediately fell to the ground as the ballistic rounds overwhelmed their suits’ armor. Gendren took a round straight to the head, and he fell as well. Tanner took a burst to his shoulder and fell to the ground, on his knees. Lang, a bear of a man, quickly helped Tanner up and dragged him behind the shuttle.

Bentley quickly took control of the situation. He quickly motioned Rex and Tanner closer. Due to the combat situation, Bentley reverted to code names. He spoke in a rushed whisper. “Ocelot, Longshot, take your fighters, and get out of here. Someone needs to get back to command and get them to send an emissary to negotiate peace with them. Or, if need be, a strike force. Oxen, take Tex’s fighter… He won’t be needing it anymore. You’ll be with me. We’ll fly out past that ridge to our west, at the end of the canyon. Hopefully, we can discourage these natives from following Ocelot and Longshot. We just need to hold out until The Hierarchy sends reinforcements, or we can establish some sort of cease-fire with these natives.” All of them nodded to one another. Sabre placed his right fist over his heart. “May you succeed..” The rest of them copied the gesture. Then they all said, “…Or find peace in death.”

Ocelot and Longshot immediately ran for their fighters. Longshot jumped into his and closed the canopy just in time to avoid a burst from the natives. Ocelot wasn’t so lucky. As she jumped into her fighter, she took two rounds; one in her left shoulder, and one in her lower-left abdominal area. She quickly fired off in her comm unit once the canopy was sealed. “I’m fine. Just a… A minor hit…” She hit the thrusters. Ocelot and Longshot quickly launched out of the canyon… But not before Ocelot’s fighter took a heavy burst to one of its engines. She stayed in the air, but her fighter was trailing smoke and limping its way out of atmosphere, slowly trailing behind Longshot.

Sabre and Oxen jumped into their respective fighters without incident. As the rest of 1st Recon started to leave, Sword opened fire on the hostile natives with their AR-556 rifles from behind Lang's shuttle. They fired in a methodical motion, two starting from the left and moving right, two from right to left, and one –equipped with a HAR-347 Heavy Rifle—firing down the middle of the native force. They wouldn’t be escaping this volley. One Sword trooper –Before taking a round straight through his upper chest area—fired a missile at the ground underneath the Natives’ feet, attempting to literally “pull the rug” from under them. As he lay on the ground, he saluted Lang and Bentley. He gasped into his comms. “We will hold the line Lieutenant. Complete your directive. I will find peace… in… death..” He laid still. The other Sword troopers murmured assent into their mikes as Lang and Bentley launched off towards the nearby ridge.

--------------------------------------Just outside Ryuu’s atmosphere-----------------------------------------------
Ocelot and Longshot made it out of Ryuu’s atmosphere without further incident… But Ocelot’s damage finally came back to haunt her. Her engines cut out, and she began to drift away from the planet. Longshot immediately keyed her up on the comms. “Hold on Rex. I’ll get you out of-“ She cut him off. “No, Tanner, get out of here. Follow Bentley’s directive. I have supplies in here to last me a while… It doesn’t make any sense for you to risk your life for me. Now get out of here. NOW!” Tanner hit his boosters, and sped off, towards the waiting Hierarch outside of the system. Rex simply drifted. Was hoping I’d get to test my skills on this mission…Just not on the ground. She blacked out.

-----------------------------------------McMillan Military Base: Elysia----------------------------------------------
General Austin carefully watched Bryant approach him, accompanied by what looked to be very disciplined soldiers. Perhaps Special Forces? Austin reasoned it would not be wise to ask. He looked at Bryant’s hand as he extended it in greeting. Among the IPF, handshakes were only used in the Arena, during the War Games, as a sort of “promise” to fight fairly. Austin reasoned that it would be inappropriate to deny this gesture though, she he took Bryant’s hand in his own and shook it. “Thank you for allowing me to come onto your planet General Bryant. As you already know, I am General Austin. The message I bring may not be what you expect… But please, let us go somewhere we can discuss this, away from prying ears.”

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#, as written by Doug
McMillan Military Base, Elysia
Bryant noticed a slight hesitation before the General accepted his handshake, though he could not tell if the minor flinch was a result of weakness, or of cultural differences. He opted not to use the moment to try and read Austin. “Please,” Bryant replied, “it is my pleasure to welcome you to Elysia on behalf of the United Coalition of Oriens, and on behalf of its owners, Venture Group. Sadly, representatives from neither party can be present, so I will serve on their behalf. A room has been prepared, if you will but follow me.”

Bryant gestured for the group to follow, and began to lead the way to the facility's primary structure. The base itself was an impressive sight, and it should be, being as it was the primary base of operations for the UCO in the entire system. The facility stretched over a square mile of jungle, and was surrounded by iridium reinforced concrete walls lined with metal watchtowers. The structures themselves, from the dozens of cylindrical hangars that served as homes for the UCO Atmospheric Authority's fighters to the barracks and administration buildings, were made of reinforced concrete and metal, and the entire base had a very clean feel about it as a result. In fact, in the proper conditions it even could be said to glimmer in the light of Soldaria.

As the group entered the primary admin building for the facility, they entered into what Bryant could only call a paradise compared to the base's exterior. The room was well lit with natural light, passing through a multitude of windows, and was cooled to a comfortable 275 kelvin. The building itself was very plain so far as the group could see. The circular lobby had a concrete floor and metal ceiling, but was devoid of anything save for a reception desk, a few chairs along the walls, and access to a pair of elevators.

Bryant led the group into one of these spacious elevators, and pressed the button to indicate the 10th floor, the top level of the building. The high speed lift covered the distance in no time at all, and opened directly into the large circular room that was to serve as the meeting place. The long table in the center of the room was wooden and lined with chairs. On its surface rested a number of pads of paper and pens, as well as several large pitchers of ice cold water and accompanying glasses.

“Here we are,” Bryant said as he stepped off the elevator. “Please, make yourselves at home. We can begin whenever you are ready.”

As Bryant spoke, Wallace and his men spread out along the edges of the room, maximizing their ability to watch as many of the newcomers as possible while trying to stay close enough to the General to interfere should things get violent.