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Nebula's Dawn: Lance of Liberty

Arcturus System

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a part of Nebula's Dawn: Lance of Liberty, by VindicatedPurpose.

The very fringe of colonized space, the Arcturus System is a binary star system with twelve planets orbiting the two stars.

RolePlayGateway holds sovereignty over Arcturus System, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

397 readers have been here.

Setting

The Arcturus system is a multi-star system, specifically a binary star system composed of two stars. The primary star is a yellow star, with the companion star a blue star. The Arcturus System is the very fringe of Federation space, and thus it marks the farthest reaches of the Outer Rim worlds.
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Arcturus System

The very fringe of colonized space, the Arcturus System is a binary star system with twelve planets orbiting the two stars.

Minimap

Arcturus System is a part of The Milky Way Galaxy.

4 Places in Arcturus System:

5 Characters Here

Jessica MacPhearson [10] They dont call me "Hyena" for nothing.
Eli Colter [7] Federation Marine Corps Captain - F.S.S. Salient Marine Detachment Company Commander
Nathan Crane [1] Federation Marine Corps First Lieutenant - Operative/Engineer aboard the F.S.S. Legacy
Terrence Kamatsu [1] "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work"
Adrian Ives [1] Federation Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel - Commander of the F.S.S. Legacy and its crew

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aronimus Weston
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Operation Trident: Day One

Iridosis Station, a waypoint, a checkpoint, and a rest stop for all ships. It was originally a military outpost, and served as a repair station for the first ships into the system. Now it was a center for trade, and further colonization, though that didn't keep the tower from retaining its old duties. Its shift to a hub of commerce was merely a step up, a prodigious step up, some might say.

The station's traffic control center was a giant dark room with a raised ceiling illuminated by the light of various holographic screens and the light of the Arcturus Stars piercing through the large view port windows. It was utterly entrancing. The twin stars of Arcturus shone and glittered before the twelve planets in the system, exposing the darkness of space. One was a sphere of fiery orange, the other a sphere of crystal blue. The two objects flashed and shone at everything in the system. They served as the guiding light for human ships into and out of the system. Their plasma danced within the magnetic fields, spewing in and out, and making graceful arcs of intense light and heat, yet not so intense as to burn and blind the life that existed on the planets orbiting them.

In the control center, was a central desk or rather holographic table. The table was flanked on all sides by holographic screens almost as big as the view port. The station controller was at the holographic table, his eyes were fixed on the ever changing numbers of planetary logistics, that and the stock prices. A guard was at a nearby console sitting with his legs outstretched, and his feet propped up on a nearby table as he was watching the driftball game. It was being played out on a holographic projection that spawned from his wrist communicator. A fellow station officer approached the controller while sipping his cup of coffee.

"Yes!" screamed the guard as he jumped from his seat. Apparently, the opposing team scored a goal on his team.

The officer was slightly startled, as he almost spilled his drink. He glanced with faint annoyance at the guard before quaffing down the cup, but he was careful to savor it and not finish it completely. He turned to the controller,

"Anything new, Kaateda?"

"No, nothing really," the controller spoke into his comm link, "Merchant freighter four zero one nine, this is Iridosis Control, you are green on exit."

"Understood, thanks control."

The controller retired for a bit, until he noticed his screen activate.

"Wait..." several numbers flickered and changed into an entirely different quantity on his screen. The controller's eyes widened just a bit, and then he turned to grin at the officer.

"I think...I just got richer," the officer's face brightened at the news.

"That's fantastic man! Maybe you can afford a vacation to Atmos now."

"Atmos? Who the hell wants to go there?" the controller shook his head, "I mean it's a decent city and all, but I've always been interested in the Inner and Middle Rims. In particular, Earth, the cradle of mankind. Without that planet, I don't think I would even be here. People tell me great things about that place. Hopefully I'll get to see what the hype is about."

The officer was about ready to slap a congratulatory high five, but this quickly evaporated as he noticed several of the personnel gathering at the large rectangular viewport, observing a small anomaly that was transparent to the naked eye. It seemed as if the organic blue-green hued space in front of the twin stars of Arcturus was expanding, and stretching. It was a distortion like the ripple in a pool of water when a single droplet hits the face, but the ripple was only along the edges. At the very center seemed to be a hole slicing itself open. They, however, knew better due to their years of serving aboard the station. It was a ship exiting slipstream, but this hole seemed different than usual. It was larger than usual. The controller tapped several keys on the holographic table before approaching one of the larger holographic screens standing before the viewport.

He glanced at his console for the ship's identification, a ship with the classifications of CC meant it was a Federal warship. CC was a designation that meant battlecruiser, and based on previous knowledge, the controller knew that there were only five of those ships throughout the Federation. They were quite capable of packing a punch, and they represented the pinnacle of Federation military naval design thus far. The controller did not know exactly what this ship was here for, but he remembered that the governor of New Sidney had recently issued a communique with Federation officials for support in dealing with insurgents.

"CC-15, this is ID-01, Iridosis Station," the controller paused, trying to remember lines that he oft repeated daily to ships, "Welcome to the Arcturus System, what brings you here today?"

...

"CC-15? This is Iridosis, CC-15, do you read?"

...

"This is Iridosis to Salient, what is your status?"

The station controller gazed past the transparent holographic screen before him and locked his eyes on the rippling stream. It was a swirling violet-blue vortex with particles shining in slip space.

"This is Iridosis to Salient, what is your status, I repeat, what is your status?"

The controller narrowed his eyes at the stream, trying to draw the contours of an imaginary ship coming out of slipstream.

"This is Iridos--"

"This is Admiral Weston of the Salient, we're in need of major repairs, deploy station crews immediately." A harsh voice ripped through the communication speakers located throughout the control center.

In the midst of open space beyond the reaching arms of Iridosis Station, a luminous swirling ripple formed, and the likeness of a ship emerged from this crevasse of time. In fact, it was a ship, a capital ship. A Federation Neptune Class Battlecruiser, dubbed "Salient" at commissioning. Several exterior plates were missing or burned off, several regions had chunks of plating torn off. The ship was limping for repairs after being caught within the evisceral grip of an armada of hounds. Most of the crew was lucky to be alive following that confrontation. Flames streaked from its hull, trailing into the slipspace hole that had ejected the ship. Sparks sputtered along its open wounds, as more plates lifted themselves from the hull and drifted lifeless away from the ship into the endless confines of space. The plates would join other conglomerations of debris floating lethargically without any purpose or meaning. The station controller froze for a moment, before he snapped back into reality.

"You heard the man, deploy the repair crews immediately," he motioned to the officer, who immediately tapped several keys on the haptic interface of the holographic table.

"Docking Bay 17, set repair teams on standby ASAP. Be ready to move at a moment's notice" spoke the officer into the communication system. That message later echoed resonantly through the vast corridors of Iridosis Station.

"I'm not having a federal warship burn under my watch," the controller muttered under his breath.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eli Colter
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It was bright. The sun shone quietly as the bits and grains of sand scarves crawled along the ground. Eight shadows intermingled with the blustering wind that spit the sand upwards. Eight marines, their rifles tucked close to their armored bodies as they moved through the old slums. The destitute shelters were lined up along the slope of the hill, they were stacked upon each other like agglomerations. These shanty towns lacked access to public services and sanitation, thus the people lived in squalor. It was the perfect location for insurgent cells to operate from.

Outlaw Team, this is command. Your targets are situated at Alpha Quadrant Sector 32, do you copy?

Loud as day, command, we got it from here.

Just so you know, we've got Walker in Sector 30 and he'll be ready to support whenever you need him.

Understood command, but I think this'll just be a mop-up operation. We cleared this area last week, no doubt the place will just be full of stragglers.

You know, I really don't get what the big deal is with calling for help, there's no need for you to show off, Colter. I mean, these guys aren't your usual run of the mill type innies you're dealing with here. Last week they detonated a car bomb that wiped out two Wolverines which was a detail of about eight guys, and you know what? You're leading a detail of eight guys! So I suggest you listen carefu--

Love you too, Vic.

Eli closed the communication channel, and led the group through the old slums. Rust City, Mars, lived up to its name, despite its large industrial works, the structures seemed to be rusting, or perhaps that was just the Martian sand.

"Boss, he was only trying to help," P.F.C. Solomon spoke over the helmet comms. He was fairly young to be a P.F.C., and he didn't seem to be the type to shoot a gun. Killing, wasn't something that came naturally to him, and that made him seem more of the younger brother in the group. The kid that nobody wanted to see dead.

"Noted, Private, but Vic--"

"Has a habit of worrying too much," Sanders finished the Captain's sentence before he could do it himself, "I mean it's not like a marine dies everyday, oh wait, I forgot..."

Eli had forgotten Sanders' habit of sarcasm, which seemed to rear its head almost everywhere. At times it was funny, and at times it seemed he was trying to get a point across, albeit in a harsh manner.

"Yeah? Sanders, did I ever tell you my marine death rate so far?" Eli scoped out ahead, his rifle darting from side to side as he moved forward slowly. The lime green HUD monitor in his helmet's screen did not detect any visible hostiles.

"Yeah, boss. Zero. As always..." Eli would have seen the private roll his eyes had it not been for his helmet, "I'm sure Vic had nothing to worry about."

"Good job Sanders. Maybe when you get to be half as smart as I am, you can take command." Eli chuckled.

"Ellsworth, Minigan, and Ferrar, shore up the right side." Eli commanded. The three marines shifted their positions to Eli's right, as he led through the center. They eyed the surrounding backstreets with caution, with their fingers on the trigger, ready to open fire on any hostile that attempted to shove his face in their view.

"Boss man dun' laid a chop sesh' on you Sanders." Demus laughed.

"Brooklyn, you---"

Time stood still. Spurts of red mist began to land on Eli's visor, they dropped like pellets being dragged across his view, leaving trails.

Dust and sand swirled to form a storm that shrouded Eli's field of vision. Something red and fleshy smacked across his helmet and smeared blood across his view. Everything seemed to be flying left. He looked around, the sand was still held high like a curtain around him. He blinked once, then again. His head blinked once, then again, while his hands clung to his rifle. He couldn't move them apart. Sanders' voice came over the comm, or at least he thought it was Sanders' voice.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eli Colter
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"This is Outlaw Team, requesting tactical support ASAP!" it was Brooklyn over the comm link while Eli watched him strafe his light machine gun at enemies hidden in the clouds of sand.

"Someone get his legs!" Eli heard randomly over the comm. Bullets and their tracers were zipping past him, as cracks rattled around him. His HUD blinked the word "Error" in a light red hue as he spotted Jin crouched behind a barricade consisting of old industrial pipes. The private held his rifle over the bulwark and fired at random.

Then he heard nothing.

He looked around, there was sand and dust everywhere. Then there was some red stuff painted all around the ground, and bits of metal. There were chunks of meat on the ground, but it wasn't meat.

He couldn't see anything except for a shadow in the distance. The shadow began to define itself more clearly as the sand and dust died down. It was Solomon, his face was...very...anguished. There was blood and sand all over his face, blood and sand. His helmet had been blown off, and the part of his helm that was cracked revealed shards of metal planted into his cheeks with blood streaming out. He was bleeding from his eyes.

"Captain!" Eli heard over the comm, he couldn't distinguish the voice. It sounded like Mendez...or maybe it was Brooklyn.

"Lay down some suppressing fire Mendez!" that one sounded like Jin's voice...or was it Minigan...

Gunfire spurted and crackled repetitively like a nightmarish song, but nothing was pleasant about it to be called a song. It all seemed very blurry to Eli, the sand, the red mist, the metal.

Captain...

He turned to look at Solomon again, he was screaming, but Eli heard nothing. He saw that the private's legs were completely gone, all that was left was a pile of flesh and a pool of blood getting drier and drier as it seeped into the sand.

Sanders?

You're leading a detail of eight guys...boss man dun laid a chop sesh on you...

Eli glanced away from Solomon, and he looked to Ferrar. He looked like some deformed creature, he didn't look like a human being anymore. With his entire right side ripped off, Eli couldn't tell where his armor began, or where his flesh ended, but he saw the blood. It was smeared all over Ferrar's face and he had this ghastly look, his eyes were open wide and staring blankly at Eli. The private was still gasping for breath, blood gurgled from his mouth. He was clinging to his life, but something told the captain that he was already dead.

loud as day, command...there's no need for you to show off...

"Son of a bitch! Captain! We're pinned down!" Was that Brooklyn? Or Ellsworth?

outlaw team, this is command...has a habit of worrrying too much...

"Captain! What do we do?!"

love you too, vic...someone get his legs captain calling for help

"Captain!"

suppressing last week...it's not like a marine dies everyday

do you copy targets situated this week got it from zero

marine death everyday command to as always

nothing was only trying too much Colter

worrying to half as smart

captain...


It was dark, and beads of sweat formed on Eli's forehead, the lamp in his quarters had not activated yet. He looked around him, darting from corner to corner in his room. He gasped for several moments before he buried his face in his hands.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aronimus Weston Character Portrait: Max
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(Co-written with VindicatedPurpose)

F.S.S. Salient

The Admiral stood at one of the many observation decks watching the stars held high in the blackness of space. His hands were crossed behind his back, and he turned to look at Max who was bubbling at the nearby terminal.

"Calm yourself lad, we're past those pirates now," he sighed, "I don't know what's going to happen to you. I might have to have you quarantined and extracted by officials to be examined," the admiral resumed staring blankly into space.

"Why? It's not like I am damaging the ship.....". Max noted, looking at the Captain. Granted, the hologram wasn't technically what he was seeing out of, but it was close enough. "Also, extraction sounds painful....though, if I had to guess, I still won't feel any pain......Captain sir?" Max certainly was thinking of interesting things to say. "Captain Sir" was his latest one. He had said "Frak" before.

"No, but you are here illegally, and I could get into a lot of trouble for that...Max," Aronimus addressed the young A.I. with his name for once, "I know you haven't damaged the ship," the Admiral could only wonder. He paused for a moment.

To think that the mission simply started out with traveling to the Arcturus System to investigate a disturbance had evolved into this. Pirates ambushing and on the verge of crippling the most advanced of Federation warships, then an unknown A.I. suddenly springs up into the system of the ship. Not to mention intelligence regarding insurgent operations in the region where they were headed. The admiral often wondered if it was just a dream, but he knew it wasn't, it was just something that was highly improbable, not impossible.

Max did however think about this. However, in a bit of defense, he pointed out "Well, technically, I don't know how I got on board. It wasn't my choice. So technically, I did nothing wrong...". He was a bit more blue again now, instead of green. That was when he asked "How did this happen exactly anyways? DO we know who put me on here, or if this was some freak accident or whatever?"

"Easy lad," the Admiral was a bit startled as the young A.I. was firing off questions, Aronimus knew he had a lot to think about and Max had a lot to wonder about, but the Admiral believed his questions would be answered in due time.

"No, you did nothing wrong," he paused, "If I knew the answers Max, I would tell you. I have a friend, I believe he's working somewhere in the system, that may shed some light on your predicament. Walk with me, Max," the Admiral began to make way to his cabin. Max followed him, holographically, jumping from terminal to terminal.

"So Max, how are you enjoying my ship so far?" the admiral hoped to entertain the youngster as best he could. Perhaps this was the beginning of a grandfather-like attachment.

"Pretty good. Luckily, this ship has adequate memory space to run three A.I.s. Just imagine any other ship. The Salient is special in that it has an excess of data storage space. Just imagine if this was a scout ship......".

"I'm not sure I follow," for the Admiral, this wasn't exactly his cup of tea for a conversation.

"Well, I'll put it to you this way. An A.I. needs space to properly operate. This....A.D.A.M...." He glowed red, if only for a moment, at the mention of him. The Admiral managed to catch the mere second of Max's change in color.

"He is a new type of A.I. It's probably why the Salient has upgraded memory, to allow room. Well, essentially, to operate, they need space, more space, to be capable of advanced operations, wiring sub routines for counter measures, and the like. Then, there is TAU, he's cool, your second A.I. To have them both operating, you would need even more free room. You need this free room for them to write code and such, otherwise, it could potentially overload their work capacity, and make them unable to fight off certain attacks, because they could end up clashing with each other. The Salient has actually enough memory to run five A.I.s separately without lag. I find this interesting. Probably part of your experiment with A.D.A.M. You don't know if he will end up being able to grow in size beyond his original programming, and therefore take up more room. Also, you would need some more room set up for TAU."

"Of course, this is mostly speculation, Sir Captain". Max seemed to like talking to people, especially to the admiral. He now often called him "Sir Captain", and as far as people could tell, he only gave people nicknames if he liked them. That's when it just occurred to him that he might not fully get it, and the real meaning behind his question, causing Max to momentarily glow pink, out of embarrassment.

"Umm....basically, think of a person. A person needs space to work, they can't work in a cramped closet. Now put multiple people in that closet. Even more crowded, less capability to work. The people need room to work. The A.I.s need memory space. Sorry, does that help?"

"Indeed it does," the Admiral drifted off, "Max, are you sure you have no idea where you came from?"

"No, but I would like to......" Max said with at least a bit of determination.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Courtney "Rich Girl" Reynold
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1900 Hours Day One

The station personnel went active immediately, the hatches of the station's extending ports opened to release a swarm of repair drones and crews aboard light craft. Armed with welders and fusion cutters, these crews would start off repairing damaged wiring. They would move on to sealing off the holes in the Salient's hull, the vacuum would take care of the flames streaking from the ship's wounds.

"Careful people, this is a federal warship, we don't want the gummint to start knockin' on our doors the next day and tell us this thing went to bits," said the overseer through the communication channels.

"Start with the wiring, those are vital to the ship's internal software, not to mention hardware. Even a single wire can keep this monster from firing its main cannon," the overseer took a drag from his cigar as he watched the workers through the viewport of the station's repair bays.

Perhaps that was exaggeration, but he was making sure that they were getting their job done, perfectly if humanly possible. He had a thick golden mustache complimenting his head of hair which seemed to cover his head like golden duck fluff. He had a pair of old aviator glasses covering his eyes, perhaps he was trying to revive an old fashion style.


"Move on to the plating when the wiring has been completely repaired, we'll probably have to start pulling plates from the wreckage field out there," he stared into the endless yard of debris plating that had been scrapped from ships over the years.


- - - - - - - - -



F.S.S. Salient Main Barracks

Atomsk Dunaway would have pulled out a smoke to start puffing, seeing as how he needed those to think sometimes. Today, he had his arms crossed as he stared intently into the view screen that was linked to a camera feed viewing the prisoner, Courtney Reynolds in her makeshift prison cell. The cell was an uninhabited personnel quarter converted for the purposes of interrogation and detainment. Atomsk had placed two sentries outside of the quarters to make sure she wouldn't get out of the compound, as if she could in her present state, with her arms bound with electro braces.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Jessica MacPhearson
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Maybe he'd forgotten to take his finger off the button. Maybe it was shorted. Maybe it was just Murphy, lining up another punchline, but poor Victor Keshek had left his mic keyed, and there wasnt a pilot aboard that would miss an opportunity to yank the bastard's chain. After all, he never missed a chance to call a pilot on a sloppy landing, or snark at them for launching late, and took positive delight at tying them in a holding pattern when they -really- had to go to the bathroom. All's fair in love, war, and flight deck shenanigans.

<Love you too, Control. By the by, I seem to be having some trouble with my electrical...> Hyena's voice trails off slyly.

The Rapier had been visible lining up on the hangar bay by virtue of its winking nav lights and a brilliant white landing beacon. All at once, however, those signals darken, rendering the darkly-hulled fighter all but invisible in the black. With repair shuttles zipping to and fro, debris from the Salient a navigational nightmare, and the Rapier now god-knew-where, it was a collision waiting to happen and a Controller's absolute worst scenario.

There is only static, when the inevitable demand for restored lights comes. The silence hangs thickly as another civilian repair craft shoots across the hangar's open bay, a streak of white oblivious to the multi-ton projectile somewhere in its vicinity.

No response comes, despite the rising pitch and volume of Victor's transmissions, but -just- a hair before Victor was ready to call an actual flight path emergency to the other craft in his purview, a white light blazes blindingly in the control window's direction; Hyena's Rapier zipping rapidly into the hangar with all lights blazing. Engine roaring as it powers to support the craft in a landing hover, now that it's within the hangar's gravity, she is barely visible over the glare, waving cheekily.

<Oh, hey! Fixed it, Control! Wow, lucky break, -that- could've been embarrassing.>

The Rapier settles down, tame as you please, into its appointed place amongst the mess, and the canopy pops open. Hyena removes her helmet and makes a show of calmly patting her short hair back into place before climbing down.

Inappropriate, dangerous, irregular... the act had been all these things. But it was also just a small slice of 'normal' held against the chaos of the repairs and the still-fresh memory of people that had not come home. If she had to make herself the target of retribution and punishment to give these people something to laugh about? Well, that was something she was good at.

Turning in her equipment and making a brief report into the flight logs about her happily uneventful CAP flight, Hyena leaves the hangar, intent on a hot meal and a warm bunk.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Eli Colter
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F.S.S. Salient
Victor, to put it delicately, palmed his face as he put down his headset. The two personnel sitting next to him had smiles on their faces, it was the usual Victor, comically angry. He donned his headset once more.

"Cripes girl! You nearly gave me a heart attack and I'm only forty two!" Victor barked. He turned to Eli, shook his head in disdain.

Eli chuckled, "Fighter jocks right?"

"Eh, to hell with them!" Victor cried while typing some keys at his console.

Eli flicked him a look with an eyebrow raised.

"What?" Victor asked, prodding for an answer from Eli, to which the captain stayed silent to the controller.

Then he sighed, "Sometimes I wonder why I even have this job, or why I even bothered to volunteer on this ship. The truth is..." he had his hands in front of him, gesturing a wait-for-it moment, "I didn't volunteer to be here. I got assigned to this job, without my consent, but...what are yah gonna do."

"To be honest though, I wouldn't have it any other way. Without them, I'm sure my job would be a hell of a lot more boring. Sure, occasionally, there's a dropship pilot that has attitude, which makes talking on here a little less boring."

"Aw thanks Vic," said a random pilot over the comm, "Brings tears to my eyes, a true hero."

"Shut up you!" Victor barked through the comm.

He looked at Eli, "I need to remember to take off my headset and turn it off," then he proceeded to turn off the headset.

"Sounds like you need a woman," Eli laughed and pointed out.

Victor shot him a glance, "Don't start with me boy,"

He glanced at the feed showing the hangar, "I'd better get down there to check out the problem...before it gets worse. You know these fighter pilots..." he sighed.

"Sure they talk a big game outside in space, but in the hangar, when there's a problem, they're like babies...and guess what? I'm babysitting."

Eli chuckled, "I'll tag along, just uh...don't put me in a diaper." Victor glared at Eli again just as he pulled out a cigar.

He proceeded to offer the captain one, to which Eli responded with a gesture and telling him, "No, but thank you."

They entered the nearest lift, Victor pressed some keys on the terminal, and the pad descended into the lower levels.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Terrence Kamatsu Character Portrait: Laura Elliot-Park
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#, as written by mlijn12
One week before the Salient arrives the Arcturus System

Terrence had just gotten off of watch on the bridge and had finally been able to close his eyes and lay down on his rack before the beeps of his communicator went off.

“Bridge to Kamatsu.”

“This is Kamatsu…”
This was his first time he had been off watch for almost 24 hours and he wanted a damn good reason for the interruption. They had been underway for about a month and any special feeling about the Vigilance had started the wear off. It was after all...just a naval vessel. The crew did their jobs and kept it moving forward toward the Arcturus System. Even with his relatively short time in command Terrence had started to notice that the composition of his crew wasn’t ‘random’ as he had been told. For one his Chief Engineer, by far not the best in the fleet was known for experimental energy core and mass drive modification. His Helmsman, a young Lt. Commander by the name of Park had been chosen exclusively for the position because of her vessel piloting skill.

“Captain, we’re dropping out of slip stream and approaching the Arcturus System.”

Terrence ran his hands over his face and rubbed his eyes before he replied and lifted himself off of his rack.
“On my way, call all command staff to the bridge.”

Finally, Terrence thought, he knew they were going to make in the next 12 hours but that must have been 12 hours ago. He thought about stopping at the small mess they had abroad the Vigilance before heading to the bridge but wanted to be there when the stationed hailed them. With the Insurgent's heavy activity in this system he knew that as soon as anything entered the vicinity of the station, it was going to be picked up quickly. He removed his jacket from the back of the chair in his quarters and put it back on before leaving and headed down the corridor to the turbo lift.

When he had arrived on the bridge all of his staff had taken their positions before he took his; A seat that sat in the middle of the oblong room with a few command modules at its sides.

“Crewman, have we been hailed yet?

Terrence asked to a young enlisted crewman at the communications station. The man had clicked a few points on the panel before he looked back over.

“Not yet Captain. Should I Hail them?”

“I thought they would have picked us up...Well never mind then. Polarize the hull, block emissions and place us on silent alert.”

He rested back in his seat, finally at his destination. Ready to dismantle the Insurgency the best he could.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: Adriana Stark Character Portrait: Jessica MacPhearson
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Salient's Mess Hall

"Screw the -lot- of you!" From behind Clyde, a savior descends from on high, clad in the trappings of angels... or at least in a flight suit that smelled vaguely of the chemicals used to scrub atmosphere in a cockpit.

As if completely unaware of the confrontation that had potentially been brewing, she throws an arm around Clyde's shoulders with enough force to pull him back slightly from Adriana's range and into a comradely semi-hug. Hyena, ever-grinning and wild-eyed, fixes them all with a glare that was comical in its mock-seriousness.

"I caught thirty-six, AND I was baby-sitting the gunboats, AND I ran my guns dry, AND -" Here she pauses for dramatic effect, puffing out her chest and tilting her head like some propaganda poster flyboy of a bygone era, "If you'll all recall, it was Mexican day in the Mess and I had THIRDS!"

That declaration should be just enough to draw loud groans of sympathy and arrogant howls of derision that were the bread and butter of fighter jock dick-measuring. They mocked her on levels both professional and personal, and she gave right back on both fronts. She goes to pull Clyde around the table and to an empty couple of places on the other side of Adriana's ire, not taking no for an answer from the exhausted Navigator as she plunks him down and takes the seat neighboring.

"If you drive your car anything like you drive this boat, Clyde," She rounds on him, next systematically diffusing what could have been a nasty confrontation, "You've got more kills than an Asian Grandmother in rush hour, so same to you!" Holding out her hands and squinting her eyes in a horrible parody of that racist stereotype, she 'swerves' her shoulder into his.

Next, and predictably, she points a finger squarely at Adriana, "And I think we've had this discussion before, the damn canon doesn't count! Just -unsporting- is what it is. Like hunting rabbits with a nuclear warhead."

Clapping her hands soundly together, she holds them over her own tray, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to enjoy whatever that machine just shat all over my plate. Looks like a baby spit up into his own diaper." That should illicit a second round of pained moaning, and Hyena just smiles a spread of teeth at them all.

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Character Portrait: Clyde Summer Character Portrait: Jessica MacPhearson
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Salient's Mess Hall

Despite her assessment of the food's quality in appearance, Hyena makes short work shoveling the gelatinous mass into her maw. With a dismissive wave, she coughs down enough to satisfy the immediate gnawing of her stomach before answering Clyde. Flying always made her hungrier than anything. Maybe it was the oxygen mix.

"No worries. We're all stressed to hell. Last thing we need out here is bloody noses." The pilot gives him a broad wink and a shrug, "Call it even. If you -hadn't- blasted that gun, those junk fighters would've been all over us. Just don't do it too often. Any closer and my ass would still be smoking."

Taking the time, next, to drain the drink that came with the meal, she lets her attention skip lightly across the mess and its assorted uniformed occupants. Yawning, she leans back to pop what sounds like every disc in her back and the couple in her neck for good measure. The rack would definitely be her next destination, at this rate. Now if only they would make an announcement regarding shore leave...

"It tastes about like it looks, if you're wondering. I know they don't want to break out the good stuff for a short trip, but I'm praying to whoever listens that we take on some new chow at the station."

She chuckles lightly, jabbing a leftover scrap with a fork before peering at him closer with that unblinking stare, "You alright? You look like she still managed to pummel you for a round or two."

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Character Portrait: Eli Colter
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F.S.S. Salient

Eli and Victor entered the main hangar, which was where the majority of the Salient's fighter complement rested. They main hangar was connected directly to all the vehicle bays, which allowed the transports to easily pick up and deliver ground support where it was needed. Unlike the secondary hangars, the main hangar was in an enclosed and confined facility in the middle of the Salient's hull. The main hangar was connected via tubes and tunnels to the secondary hangars which were located on the ship's port and starboard sides with kinetic barriers to block out vacuum.

The secondary hangars only had a small complement of fighters on hand at all times, these units were first-responders, reacting quickly to engage hostiles. First-responders were trained to react on a moment's notice, they almost lived, breathed, ate, and slept in the secondary hangars...almost. They were a stopgap to give time to units in the main hangar to equip and deploy while the first-responders fended off the hostiles. The Salient did not keep many fighters in the secondary hangars due to boarding parties. Boarding parties would quickly set up explosives and destroy vital craft in a ship's armament, thus weakening it.

The two men caught a group of engineers surrounding the Rapier.

"What seems to be the problem," Victor inquired as he pulled away the cigar while eyeing the contours of the fighter.

It wasn't exactly eye-candy, but one had to admit that it was a unique fighter in its own right. Quad guns mounted on the wings and a pair of large engines that provided the thrust were the trademark of this fighter. It was currently being phased out of service for the sleeker Phantom Class Interceptors.

"Eh, I think there's something wrong with her electrical thingy. At least that's what the pilot told us." several sparks flew onto the engineer's mask as he laid on his back trying to re-integrate the wires in the fighter's underbelly.

"Electrical thingy?" Victor's eyebrow raised.

"Uh yeah, sorry, I think it had something to do with the electrical circuitry of her forward thrusters and communications," the engineer replied while some more sparks sputtered.

"I know about the comm, she wasn't returning anything over the transmissions. The thrusters? What exactly happened?"

"Well, we saw her comin' in kinda' rickety...if you want to call it that. We thought she was gonna hit another fighter," another mechanic gestured with his hands showing a fighter craft landing.

"We managed to isolate the problem, somethin' was up with the wiring. It was probably damaged during the battle...probably wouldn't have happened if she got one of those new Phantoms."

"Blame the budget committee for that boys," Victor took a puff.

"Heh, yeah, well the problem seems to be under control for now. If it happens again, no doubt we'll have to take her apart and check if there's something else goin' on. The pilot was lucky this time around, I can't say for sure the next time though."

"Hmm, alright well, excellent work boys, if you need me, call me on comm."

"Roger wilco Vic." the mechanics returned to patching up the Rapier's belly while Eli and Victor left the main hangar.

They strode through brightly lit corridors to the Mess Hall, where they found some seats at a table, unaware of what had just transpired in the Mess. They didn't miss the pilots bragging or the Marines shoveling down food and getting ready for seconds. Victor and Eli tapped several keys on the table's interface, as the machine whirred into being. The MRE packs slipped out of the machine's hatches along with canned drinks. Victor opened the pack quickly, it was some sliced pork with some orange liquid drenched atop with vegetables on the side, and a small packet of apple sauce.

"So how's it goin' lately? I heard you were sent onto one of those pirate frigates that got disabled by the main gun." Victor chewed on piece of pork, trying to sate the appetite he worked up while yelling at pilots.

"Uh, yeah. A five man team, we were inserted by gunship...I found out the pilot died after he took us home." Eli dug into his pasta with a fork.

"Ah geez, who was he?"

"Uh, Peter "Ray" Davidson? Heard of him?" Eli lifted a piece of conchiglie with tomato sauce into his mouth.

"Him, yep I remember him, a British kid. He was a Unit Commander, gunship pilot. Nice manners." Victor cut a swath through the pork on his plate.

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Character Portrait: Jessica MacPhearson Character Portrait: IRU-6K "LilleT"
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FSS Salient
Lower Decks


Hyena frowns lightly as Clyde neglects his meal and stands up, looking like he'd gotten the bad end of a pub crawl. She stands as well, pondering, for a moment, if she should help him get to Medical before he ended up loosing his footing and meeting a bulkhead face-first. But he recovered enough to walk, and Jess didn't want to intrude upon the personal problems of a Bridge Crewman she only knew in passing.

Besides. The blur at the edges of her own senses suggests that a much smarter choice would be to seek out the welcome embrace of her bunk. Better to be locked behind a door where Victor couldn't get to her when he figured out most of her 'electrical troubles' were manufactured solely for the benefit of getting a rise out of him.

Chuckling at the image of the Controller's face - red with embarrassed rage - Hyena deposits her tray and slips out of the Mess, moving in the opposite direction of Clyde's line of travel.

Halfway to her destination, the pilot is thwarted. Angry red emergency lighting and yellow caution tape, combined with a very stubborn civilian contractor, bar her straight-line shot to the decks that housed the pilots' quarters.

"Decompressed?! What do you mean decompressed?!" She throws her arms wide in exasperated disbelief.

"I mean just what I said, Lieutenant." The contractor was singularly unmoved by the pilot's animated plea, "We're doing structural work on this corridor, and you're gonna hafta detour."

"We've been walking this deck for a week and you're telling me the whole time-"

"That it coulda come down on the lot of ya? Yeah. That's what I'm tellin' you. Detour's that way." He jabs a stubby, dirty finger down a ladder well, supremely secure in his position as roadblock.

Creatively lamenting fate's fickle timing, Hyena tromps down into the depths. There are many other passageways in the Salient that are in a similar shape, and diversion after detour after misstep soon leads to one lost pilot in the deep structural spaces of the massive warship.

Sure that she's passed that set of pipes at least 3 times now, Hyena takes a different turn and ends up in a dimly-lit room that seems to have been used to store all the odds and ends that the onload crew just didn't have another place to stuff. Extra power packs, a gunboat engine, crates and crates of oil, grease, and powdered eggs... And not a comfortable bunk in sight.

"... Damn it to Hell in a dainty little handbasket..." She growls, giving a swift kick to one of the many nondescript crates.

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Character Portrait: Jessica MacPhearson Character Portrait: IRU-6K "LilleT"
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A crate tumbled in a storage in storage compartment 12 bashing a second crate which in turn sent a strange contraption hurtling to the floor. A number of smaller crates fell on the machine causing a disturbance to the slowly activating sensors, this was IRU6 a long dormant Robot still unconscious as if sleeping but sensing the world around him as if in a dream.

The sound and motion sensors activated just in time to hear smilingly unimportant words and noises, the Sensors identified these as human chatter at first and unworthy of note however something else soon triggered; something far for complicated.

... ..... ...... ........ ......... ..........0 ...........1 .................1........0.....0...1...0...0..1010.1010..
10100010100101001010001010111001010101010001001010100..........010001001001000100001001000010010101000100100101001010011010100 {ERROR] 10010.......{ERROR)11001010110101..... {ERROR}......10010100101001010001....
Reconstruction Complete..... Voice pattern identified........processing...... Voice Pattern accepted................. loading systems...... activating processors...... activating main computer bank...... automated repair system engaged.....scanning..... scanning complete.... repairing..... all systems operational..... Artificial intelligence capacity activated.... Loading Personality...... {ERROR}Current SYSTEM PROFILE [LILLE-T] Inaccessible..... DATA1O1 Script Command [BLOCK] engaged......Reconstruction Commencing....... 23%......56%.......87%.....99%.....99%...... Reconstruction Complete..... Loading Default Personality....... Loading Complete..... SYSTEM PROFILE [START] Logging Off......... SYSTEM PROFILE DEFAULT [IRU-6K] Logging On.

IRU struggled to take control of his sensors, something was producing errors in his system and IRU was unsure exactly what it was.

Inquiry to System: Why has this Unit been activated?

Answer to Profile: Voice identification has been recognized, [GD787] program initialized.

Inquiry to Sensors: please state the reason of current Errors

Answer to Profile: Sensors have detected current location at an excessive 90 degrees to the right


IRU at last understood, he was not on his wheels but on his right side.

Profile taking control of General System Iru calculated he would be able to better manage himself if directly in control of all his systems . Iru attempted to raise himself but was unable to do so due to an obstruction, he registered the presence of a Human in the hold.

He would gain the Human's attention by attracting its sound sensing mechanism using the [PA42] program.

Panicked Announcement: Help!, Help! Unable to achieve satisfactory rotation and movement, obstructed by obstacle, requesting assistance Help!, Help! A horse a horse my Kingdom for a horse! SOS, Help!

IRU began repeating the message in other human languages but decided to state the message in 5 languages each time in order to raise the probability the Human Unit would understand IRU. Iru hesitated, this [Panicked Announcement] program was illogical and fragmented ,wasn't the a horse a horse... statement in his Shakespearean Quotes section? Serious data cleanup would be in order once he was retrieved....

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Character Portrait: Jessica MacPhearson Character Portrait: IRU-6K "LilleT"
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F.S.S. Salient

Her kick shifts the tower of stacked crates, and something shifts. Then several somethings. Hyena dances backwards out of the way of the falling objects, swearing again as she avoids being struck in the miniature cascade. When it settles, she dusts off the front of her flight suit and tentatively sticks her head out of the compartment's door to see if anyone heard the commotion, way down in this empty part of the ship.

When no one immediately makes themselves known, Jess almost decides to make herself scarce before someone accused her of causing the mess. But curiosity stays her boots, and she cant resist taking a peak in amongst the detritus to see if there wasn't anything there that an enterprising pilot could make use of without anyone missing it. After all, it wasn't as if they were using it -before- now if it was way down here, right?

"Panicked Announcement: Help!, Help! Unable to achieve satisfactory rotation and movement, obstructed by obstacle, requesting assistance Help!, Help! A horse a horse my Kingdom for a horse! SOS, Help!"

The metallic voice rings out just as she'd picked up one of the smaller boxes full of miscellaneous things, and it startles her enough that she drops it. Bearings skitter across the deckplates as the voice switches to a few languages she recognizes and several she doesn't before repeating.

Again, her shadier instincts suggest that turning her back and pretending she didn't know a thing might be the more intelligent option, but that magpie curiosity soundly trounces it. She pushes a duffle out of her way, rolls a drum, and lifts a box to reveal IRU wiggling about on its side.

Having never seen anything like the little dog-bot, its appearance actually makes her laugh. But she digs her hands under the long box that pins IRU, and gives a grunt of effort to stand it back up and free the squawking robot.

"Poor bastard.. I think I broke it." She says that to herself more than to IRU, stepping back and looking down at the little guy with a quizzical smile etched onto her face.

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Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Courtney "Rich Girl" Reynold Character Portrait: Alice Chen
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F.S.S. Salient

Eli lifted three pieces of conchiglie into his mouth and chewed away. He was a marine, and he ate like one. Victor wasn't, but...he ate like one as well. Several marines nearby had an outburst of laughter, which drew their attention only temporarily. They noticed a naval officer saunter by, his face was green. He looked like the Mess had given him something that he didn't agree with. A few minutes passed by since Victor last spoke.

"You're pretty quiet today kid, somethin' wrong?" Victor scarfed down some more of his pork.

Eli was staring past his food, he chewed to a stop once Victor spoke.

"Hmm, oh, nothin'." Eli continued chewing again, while staring at his food.

Victor eyed him suspiciously, he knew that look that Eli had.

"You didn't...you didn't have those hallucinations again did you?" Victor inquired, he had paused eating.

Eli looked up at him, "No," he looked down at this food again. He pushed aside several squishy pieces of pasta on his plate with his fork.

"I had one of those dreams." Eli paused.

Victor closed his eyes for a moment, before they flitted open and zipped from his plate to Eli. "Did you go to the med?"

"What for?" Eli asked.

"Kid, this has been happening to you for awhile now. This isn't normal, and I think it would help if you went to see a shrink." Victor laid down his fork and knife.

Eli chuckled at the thought, "A shrink? Vic, comon'..."

"Damn it Colter, I thought what happened on Mars would have knocked some sense into you so that you'd actually grow a pair to confront your mistakes. For God's sake, it wasn't even your fault. You know what your issue is? You're stubborn as hell. The only mistake you made that day was not listening to me. Nobody would have known what would have happened, but shit happened. And you know what? It's time for you move on." Victor jabbed a finger at Eli.

Eli remained silent, staring at his food, his mouth closed.

"Kid, snap out of it alright? Things happen, people die. Enough with the guilt, I'm getting too damn old for this shit," the last word crashed on Eli's ear.

Eli sighed, "I'm trying."

"You're not trying hard enough. Those men aren't gonna' come back." Victor paused, "If you're seeking absolution, I'm not the one you should talk to." Victor rose and took his plate and utensils with him to dispose of.

"These hallucinations and dreams aren't...normal. It might be PTS-"

"It's not PTSD," Eli stopped him there, "It's nothing."

"Oh no, it's something," Victor nodded with conviction.

Eli remained silent for a couple of minutes, "Those men aren't gonna' come back."

"No. No they won't. They can't talk to you, but I'm sure they can listen." Victor patted him on the shoulder.

--------------------

Atomsk watched Lieutenant Commander Chen slip through the metallic blast door after the guard waved her in. He remained outside of the makeshift cell awaiting the conclusion of the interrogation. He was hoping that the Lieutenant Commander would pry the pirate for information regarding the movements of their fleets, or at least find enough evidence to incriminate her for charges of treason. Plus the bitch had killed several of his men, he would see to it that she wasn't getting out early on good behavior.

He stared straight on at Courtney through the feed as he watched Alice begin her interrogation. There was a scowl on his face, one that was intensely focused and characteristically belonged to Atomsk.

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Character Portrait: Jessica MacPhearson Character Portrait: IRU-6K "LilleT"
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Jessica "Hyena" MacPhearson
FSS Salient, lower levels.


"Master?" Jessica repeats the title that the IRU had repeated several times in her direction, folding her arms across her chest and looking down at the little bot.

"The hell are you on about?" It seemed to have basic interactive functions, at least. Very old, though. Or at least was designed to look that way. Hyena couldn't help but shake the image of some cheap scifi flick complete with bad acting and green paint aliens. The thought made her grin again, and she casts a look over her shoulder as if hoping someone -had- found her, so that she could share the ridiculousness of the situation.

Nudging a box out of her way with a boot, she makes a slow half-circle of the robot, giving him her own set of scans. Looked like a kid's toy, really. She'd never heard of any kind of utility robot that looked even remotely like the one in front of her. Shrugging, she ends up back where she started and runs a hand through her short hair.

"Well... They upload you with a deck layout? I need to get back up to Main Deck. Or the hangar. Whichever one they haven't managed to barricade with construction, yet."

She eyes the overhead as if she could glare directly at the manufacturers of her misfortune.

"...What are you doing down here in a box, anyway? Ship's readout didn't say anything about utility machines."

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Character Portrait: Jessica MacPhearson Character Portrait: IRU-6K "LilleT"
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Iru's systems where struggling to comprehend what Master was trying to say to him, Sensors registered as working excluding the damaged numbers 3 and 4 visual sensors. Systems in collaboration with Databanks where able to register several possible meanings to Master's communications however Profile Iru could only execute command 3B41 [improvise] and then based on Master's reaction update systems of Master's irregularities for future reference.

"The hell are you on about?" (Databanks file Master, Vocal communication... Saving... Saving complete)

Processing... "Hesitant Answer:" Unit Iru currently based on surface of storage compartment inside some kind of large scale Human Battle waging Contraption. Datalinks reference some technology's to United States Nasa Organization however information deemed out of date... for future reference Unit will require update.

Databanks clearly held a file on this machine profile "Salient" but this was not registered by ether profile or date, Profile Iru could not use such information due to security protocols

"Observation:" Systems currently locating information about word "Hell"

"Amused Statement:" Systems unable to detect any "sins" in Databanks, Unit's future residence in "Hell" therefor is assumed as unlikely. Master need not worry of Damnation, Systems register probability of Hell's existence as [Error], processing.... [Error].... [Error]...terminating search under protocol ID [Irrelevant DO676]

"Well... They upload you with a deck layout? I need to get back up to Main Deck. Or the hangar. Whichever one they haven't managed to barricade with construction, yet." (Databanks file Master, Vocal communication... Saving... Saving complete)

"Inquiry:" Please Define profiles "They"... Sensors do not detect further Organic presence close by.

"Cautious Answer:" Databanks posses file named "Salient" however nether Systems Profile authorization or Date of entry is available. Information is therefor confined under security protocols, use of file "Salient" not recommended.

"...What are you doing down here in a box, anyway? Ship's readout didn't say anything about utility machines."
(Databanks file Master, Vocal communication... Saving... Saving complete)

"Hesitant Answer:" Unit's transit to current location registered as [RECORD DELETED]
Systems require sheep's readout in order to locate Category [Utility Machines]

Profile Iru hesitated... sheep? datalinks directed systems to conclude that term "sheep" identified a contraption which traversed in liquids or a machine which journey's into space.
Profile Iru felt that something was wrong... Sheep? Processing....

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Character Portrait: Jessica MacPhearson Character Portrait: IRU-6K "LilleT"
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Jessica "Hyena" MacPhearson
FSS Salient


"Hesitant Answer:" Unit Iru currently based on surface of storage compartment inside some kind of large scale Human Battle waging Contraption. Datalinks reference some technology's to United States Nasa Organization however information deemed out of date... for future reference Unit will require update.

"United States? Cripes, that hasn't existed for..." Hyena shrugs. Mars public schools weren't the best in the Federation, and she was usually too busy skipping them, anyway, ".. A long time. And 'They' are the construction crews crawling all over this hulk. I was hoping you had a deck map. So much for that."

"Hesitant Answer:" Unit's transit to current location registered as [RECORD DELETED]
Systems require sheep's readout in order to locate Category [Utility Machines]


"Sheep?" That confused her, too. Maybe it -was- broken.

Shaking her head, Hyena runs a hand through her hair again and looks over her shoulder at the hatch.

"Either way, I need to find a way back up. Old man wants a ceremony before we get cut loose for shore leave, and I've been flying for the last 6 hours. So.. I guess you can follow me, little guy. Maybe one of the Ship's AIs knows where you were supposed to be assigned."

Beckoning, assuming that IRU has a way to mobilize himself, the pilot leaves the space and commences negotiating the massive ship back into areas more densely occupied.

"Are you a combat model?" She questions as she walks, "The Marines are always coming up with crazy shit like that. I don't know what the fascination is with canines. Something about them being called Devil Dogs way back in the day."

The little bot intrigued her. He was a funny little shape, and talked like a broken first-gen AI. A walking computer database that just spewed out whatever you asked it.

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Iru's system registered several inconsistences in Master's analysis of the situation; several databanks began to forward information identifying this phenomenon as a "Misunderstanding"
Iru's systems where not programed to handle this kind of human error, Iru's Datalinks recommended engage the observations and adaptation self-updating programing however Systems rejected this due to inadequate information.

Profile Iru would attempt to communicate these inconsistences to master and seek a terminal point when possible for Databanks updates.

"Suspicious Statement": Master, The United States of America is registered as the most influential, technologically advanced, militarily powerful human Faction profile. Possibility for United States expiration is concluded as extremely low.

"Clarification:" Master this Unit has no assigned function any purpose in relation to this category; Unit is programed to obey Master, Unit registered as [Autonomous Robotic Unit].

Profile Iru activated function [traverse6424G] wheels and began to follow Master as Profile Master attempted to navigate the sector, Master inquired into Unit Iru's other functions such as his [BLOCK ENGAGED] Astronomical record of Andromeda Galaxy.
Sensors identified an influx of Data Traffic, System judged these as indication of a terminal.

Profile Iru longed to update his obviously lacking Databanks however he could not leave Master… Directive could not sanction such an act.

"Inquiry": Master may Unit connect to nearby Terminal? Unit will be able to improve service quality and efficiency to Master once updates and system diagnosis are completed.

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Character Portrait: Aronimus Weston Character Portrait: Leos "Ace of Diamonds" Cydus
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F.S.S. Salient

Aronimus continued strolling down the corridor, by now Max had wandered off somewhere to explore. The old Admiral was headed to his quarters, and walked in an regular pace, until he received a direct call to his comm.

"This is Admiral Weston, what is it?"

"Petty Officer Hansen, sir. We um...received an encrypted message from...an 'Ace of Diamonds'"

"Ace of Diamonds?"

"We ran a background check, he's listed as a pirate and a mercenary. We attempted to trace the source location of the transmission, but we came to a dead end."

"How did they manage to get through to military channels?"

"We're not sure sir. Would you like me to play the transmission?"

"Send it to my neural interface."

"Understood sir." the comm channel beep terminated the exchange. The Admiral then opened the transmission himself as he resumed his walking speed.

"This is the Ace of Diamonds. If you wish to continue negotiating the terms of our contract on the Federation's behalf, I ask for you to send a messenger to speak with us at the House of Clubs on the entertainment level of Iridosis Station. While it is recommended to speak face-to-face to us yourself, I do understand that you are dealing with pirates, and you should have safety precautions in mind. Please note, however, that we will provide an expanded safety escort for the messenger."

Ace of Diamonds? Pirates? The Admiral arrived in the Captain's Quarters, just as the blast door behind slid shut with a hiss, and the lights flickered on at his presence. He was intent on unraveling what this was about, and he was sure that there was one man who might know the answers. He sat at his desk, and immediately activated the terminal. Multiple giant cyan-glowing holographic and transparent screens flashed into being around his seat.

On one of the screens, Vice Admiral Fontaine came into presence with his characteristic white fluff hair covering his head like needles. His face had the trenches and the lines marked by time, just like the rings of a tree if one were to cut it open. Behind him was the planet that his office was orbiting. The white atmospheric streams formed various arcs across the bluish-green planet's face.

"Yes, Admiral Weston? You called?"

"Sir, I received a message, encrypted, just approximately five minutes ago, from an 'Ace of Diamonds,' I think it would be best if I played it back for you," Aronimus tapped a key on his chair and the transmission replayed itself, in the same voice, same tone, and same intent that it had five minutes ago when Aronimus first heard it.

"I noticed that he mentioned some 'terms' of a 'contract.' Apologies if I am stepping out of place sir, but what does he mean by this?" Aronimus asked as the transmission ended.

Fontaine glanced aside, before asking, "Is this a secure channel?"

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Character Portrait: Aronimus Weston
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F.S.S. Salient

Aronimus was perplexed, "Yes, this is my personal quarters."

"Good," the seventy five year old Vice Admiral cleared his throat, "Admiral, you know me as the type of person who doesn't do things 'by the book.'" Aronimus nodded.

"We recently drew up a deal with some professional mercenaries on the Outer Rim, specificially the Arcturus System, to help manage Lord Liberty for the time being until we can muster our forces," Fontaine steepled his fingers as he leaned back in his seat, while his elbows propped up on the armrests.

"JSOC was hoping that we could perhaps buy them for their services so that Federation servicemen and women need not shed their blood over this. As you can see of late, these insurgents have become quite a threat. Casualties have been mounting as we've tried to hunt down and eradicate the various little cells that pop up and establish themselves throughout the Federation."

"But, Admiral, isn't that the duty of our Armed Forces? To defend the people?"

"It is indeed, and we may do so by any means necessary. However, these insurgents present only a minor problem. We've drawn our attention to the greater pirate threat, the pirates that you faced near Themos V are but a mere taste of what they may have in store for us if we don't act now."

"And Lord Liberty?"

"That is your mission, to search and destroy the insurgents in the Arcturus System until more reinforcements can arrive to fully stamp out these guerillas. You need not worry yourself over these affairs, JSOC will handle it from here. You have a mission Admiral."

"I...understand." the comm link closed as Fontaine's visage vanished, and Aronimus was left in his seat to think.

- - - - - - - -


In the hangar, a pair of personnel, clad in grey form fitting jumpsuits, each bearing Federation insignia patch sewed on their arms, made their way to a stationary dropship in the hangar.

"The location has been sent to your systems. I trust your judgement in the matter, this deal is critical to our strategy against the insurgents in the system. It is imperative that this deal goes through, do you understand?"

"We understand sir," the first man said in a crisp timbre of affirmation as they boarded the dropship.

"Good, Fontaine out." the two men then entered the rear hatch of the dropship as it closed shut behind them. The dropship's vertical nacelles lifted it upwards, before rotating the thrust to the rear, and with a light burst of power, pushed forward. The dropship exited the kinetic field of the hangar, and set its destination for the station.

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Character Portrait: James Walker
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On board the FS-03 Redemption.

James was laying down on his bed, clutching a small stuffed gorilla close to him. He had been in that position for a few hours now. He couldn't sleep, but he didn't want to get up just yet. Moments from his past filled his thoughts as he laid in the dark.

"I'm sorry for your lost Jim. I will understand if you need more time to-"

"No. I'm ready for my orders, I wouldn't be here if it were otherwise. I've been cleared for active duty by the doctors and I am ready to report."

"Still, I can't imagine how hard it must be for you and your wife. I heard he was intrested in becoming a pilot for the Marines. And just one more year 'til he graduated high school."

"What are my orders. Sir."

"... I'm aware that you requested to be reassigned to one of our Vigilance class warship before your sons accident. Is that something that still interests you?"


James lifted the stuffed animal in front of him. It had black and grey fur with solid black buttons for eyes, and a banana on one hand. The gorilla was wearing a white shirt with 'WORLD'S BEST DAD' printed on it. A few moments of silence past before his wrist comm beeped, it was a message. James sat up and placed the stuffed animal on his desk before answering his comm.

"This is Commander Walker." He spoke into wrist communicator, not bothering to turn on the holographic screen.

"Sir, we have arrived in the Arcturus System. All the safety checks have been performed and we will be ready to dock in the Iridosis Station in an hour." A voce spoke through the wrist comm.

"No. We won't be going to the space station, not unless it's absolutely necessary. We are to go directly to New Sidney, to the city of Atoms. I will be at the bridge shortly." He said before turning off the comm and standing up and stretching. His body was sore from laying down for so long.

His thoughts turned to what awaited him at Iridosis. James hasn't seen his parents in a few years ago, last time his father got drunk and knocked James out after losing a arm-wrestling to him. He smiled thinking of the memory, but it was short lived once he remember that his parents doesn't know what happened to Icarus. The commander grabbed his gunbelt from the back of his desk chair and walked out of the room.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Eli Colter Character Portrait: Doctor Marcus Bergman
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F.S.S. Salient

Eli left the mess hall, a bit distracted and detached. He wandered through the corridors, passing nearby personnel who didn't seem to notice him. He thought about going to the barracks, but they were probably in training sessions at the moment, and he couldn't interrupt them. As he passed by a viewport, he decided to stop and take a look at the galaxy. He leaned his body against the rail, as he stared intently into space. It seemed like nothing new to him, just billions upon billions of dazzling stars. He wondered what they were for, then he shifted his gaze to the planet of New Sidney off in the distance. The ball of rock and dust was characteristically defined by the light brown color that painted the planet and white of the swirling clouds in its atmosphere. The captain wondered what sort of hell that the planet had been through.

Then he thought about Earth and then Mars, someone get his legs! and at that moment a headache encroached upon him. He raised his palm to rub his forehead at the spot where the ache was splitting his head. Eli shook his head and blinked several times, trying to shrug off it off. He thought about going to the medical bay, but he felt like something was holding him back. He dismissed it as nothing and decided to head to the medical bay.

- - - - - - - -


"Doesn't seem to be anything wrong, Captain," Doctor Bergman handed him a tablet displaying the brainscan. Eli wasn't exactly an expert to interpret a diagnostics scan, to him it was just a variety of green, yellow, and red spots all around what was supposedly his brain.

"Note the green and yellow areas are larger than the red areas, which means your brain activity is at a normal level," Marcus commented.

"As for the headaches, I recommend that you take some of these," the medic handed him a bottle of tablets.

"Take them after a meal, once every twenty four standard military hours, and then perhaps some rest."

"Alright," Eli refrained from reaching his forehead with his hand.

"I trust you'll do what I say, Captain?" Marcus glanced at Eli.

"Seems easy enough, thanks." Eli left the infirmary promptly and walked alone in the corridor, passing other personnel, to his quarters. He seemed to be stumbling, and walking unevenly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: James Walker Character Portrait: Nataliana "Nia" Martinez
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On board the F.F.S. Redemption: two weeks before the Salient arrived at the Arcturus System.

Nia steadied her breath as she took aim. She tightened the grib on the long object she was holding and closed one eye before she took her shot. A loud crack shattered the silence in the room as the cue ball sped across the billiards table, knocking the 8-ball in to the corner pocket. Nia raised her pool stick over her head in victory and began to rotate her hips as if dancing to music that wasn't playing.

"Bullshit," a man standing next to her yelled as he throw his stick on the table, "you said you suck at billiards." He shook his head.

"No I didn't, I said I'm not as good at pool as I am at darts." She said with a big smile. "Now who's next?"

Before anyone could answer her challenge, her wrist comm started beeping. "Sorry boys, maybe next time." She said before placing the pool stick on the table and raising her wrist up towards her face.

"This is Lieutenant Martinez. What you got?" She spoke into the comm.

" Martinez, this is the commander. You need to be at the bridge. Now."

Nia didn't respond, there was no need since she was sure Commander Walker already move on from giving her orders. She didn't mind that hee doesn't waste time on formalities.

"Looks like Grumpy is up from his nap. He's probably going to make us to battle drills all morning." The man by the pool table said to the few other soldiers in the room, followed by a laughter.

"I'm sorry, sergeant, I wasn't aware that your middle name was 'whiny-bitch'." She said, a smile still on her face. The room exploded with laughter as she walked out of the room. It wasn't a long walk to the bridge, she hardly had time to button up her officer coat before walking into the command center of the ship.

"Commander Walker, you needed to see me?" She asked as she walked up to the only one standing.

James looked the young lieutenant up and down. "This is the first mission we've been assigned together, so I don't expect you to understand where I'm coming from. However, when we have approached our destination, I expect my second in command to be at the bridge ready to receive my orders, and not be playing a game of billiards." He spoke sternly.

"My apologies, I understand, sir, and it won't happen again. What are my orders sir?" She asked, straightening her posture and looking forward.

"After we've descended into New Sydney atmosphere, you will take a hand full of men with you to the outskirts of Atoms and collect Intel on the local insurgents. I will take the remaining men and locate a secure and, if possible, discreet location to orbit the planet." James lifted his wrist and activated his comm to display a holographic image of New Sydney with several points of interest highlighted throughout the planet. "I'm updating the briefing to you now." James didn't want to say anything more than what was necessary. "I also sent the list of men you will be taking with you."

"You mean I don't get to pick the men myself?" She asked, finally breaking her bearing. She opened her mouth to say more but James spoke before she could.

"I need you to get everyone on this ship in tip-top shape, not just work with the best of them." James looked at his disappointed lieutenant for a few moments before finally cracking. "You can choose someone to be your right hand, but other than that, you follow my list. Understood?"

"I understand, sir." She said, gaining back her bearing aside from the smile on her face. The was the closest thing to a victory she had over the old man. She would take what she can get for now.

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Character Portrait: Max
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Max had begun checking various systems again. He had been very careful ever since the attack, especially with the prisoner on board. While he had complete faith in the various security checks of the Salient, having reviewed them several times over, he knew somewhere there was a hole. The question was where. After all, somehow, either by accident or on purpose, he got in. And he was not even discovered until he activated.

He had once, for a split second, considered asking ADAM and TAU for help. But ADAM he didn't trust, and was sure that ADAM would use any excuse to try to wipe him out. And TAU, TAU was his friend, and he did not want to strain that relationship if he discovered any implication or evidence that indicated he was put in to sabotage the ship. Besides, he needed to prove himself useful. He had read the procedures for Rogue, Hostile, and/or Rampant AIs. He decided that it was his best interest to not be any of those.

There were many variables to consider. A human would have gotten a headache from them all, and an AI would likely only report the one most likely, or what matches the most to what the captain asked for. He however, had been listing all the ones that didn't seem unlikely, while at the same time not excluding those that people might say "No one would ever expect", or "no one would ever think of". Here were a few:

1: He was somehow accidentally loaded into the ship through chance and coincidence, and finished forming on the Salient mid flight in deep space.

2: The insurgency loaded him into the ship, and planned to attack at the same time he was activated. The Insurgency's attack on the Salient (He thinks the pirates are part of the Insurgency, because no one has yet to bother telling him they are not, though likely because (as far as I can tell) they don't actually know if they are not) was remarkably close to his activation, and had it not been for TAU, ADAM would have likely to continued, and probably would have succeeded, to kill...delete him, provided the Salient was not completely destroyed by Insurgents first.

3: Some sort of high ranking and/or powerful Federation official/officer planted him in the Salient, and this is one big test, either for the Salient's Cyberwarefare defenses, or to have him develope to be Pro-Federation. Not really likely, but possible.

4: Deleted. Highly unlikely and most likely impossible.

5: While unlikely, might be possible that he somehow hitched a ride on Clyde's implants, and then got accidentally transfered out later. However, very unlikely, should consider other options first.

And the list went on. There are too many to truly list, and because of the variables, there were likely more he has not even thought of yet. Though 3 would explain why he had yet to find a hole in security. He should have found it by now.

"No. That's arrogance. Arrogance is bad, indicated by many movies such as Star Wars, A Kings Gambit, 2060's version, and A Song of Ice and Fire books series. AIs are made by man. Literary and Cinima references indicate Man is not perfect. If man is not perfect, then AIs cannot be perfect".

Max then realized something. "Where did I get knowledge of all that from?".

Another mystery, but also a piece to the puzzle. Max had something now. That data had not come from the Salient. "Which means, now I have a trail to follow".

That's when he also got another possibility. "The Virus, what if it was not for ADAM. What if it was meant to do something to me?"


(Cliffhanger! Anyways, sorry for taking fucking forever. Also, this is all from his view. This does not dictate anything the crew actually thought or said. With that said, let me know if I got something wrong!)