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Exogarden Forces

Remnants of an old military, known as the Apparatus, that have gone 'rogue' in the aftermath of an unknown, devastating war in the Garden.

0 · 60 views · located in Orion Spur

a character in “The Multiverse”, as played by AzricanRepublic

Description

ImageApparatus External Cordon Forces of the Veil


'Carpe ad astra, et ad Minores nescio Pace'
'To seize the stars, so the lesser knows peace'




In the wake of the Insurgencies and subsequent conflicts in the Local Region, Interstellar Supreme Command (known as officially as the Interstellar Supreme Apparatus Command, or ISAAC) of the Apparatus decided to take a decentralized approach. From the edge of the Veil in the planets of the Charybdian Shores, to the deepest depths of the Local Region and wider galaxy beyond it was granted a nearly quasi-state status, and several divisions of the Apparatus set aside became the center of this new buffer state's enormous military. Composed of several divisions and a contingent of ships, that have in the aftermath of the Galactic War been enlarged into an entire corps of both the expeditionary forces and their host-nation occupiers, have become a collection of colonies and settled planets under the nominal jurisdiction of the Exogarden's civil authority, the Local Region Bureau where permised and directly under the Apparatus Cordon Forces elsewhere.



Table of Organization of the Apparatus External Cordon Forces of the Veil;

Exogarden Expeditionary Corps

So begins...

Exogarden Forces's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces

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If this message reaches beyond the Veil, it should be known that eight years ago today war erupted between the powers of the Garden - a conflict which has brought the once great civilizations of Scatter and her territories into ruin. The great emptiness of space which was once the empire of our interstellar dreams is now a barrier of vacuum and radiation. It is with a heavy heart that I chronicle this broadcast for those in the stars beyond that soon, these prosperous nations and peoples may no longer be able to reach our brethren in the Home galaxy beyond the Charybdis Veil.

The Interstellar Nations and the Supremacy have turned our magnificent Garden into a battlefield, unleashing their war-machines in the hopes of crushing one another beneath the steel boot of states and militaries that have risen to challenge even the governments they are sworn to. As of this broadcast, every major population and economic sector of the Garden has become the colosseum of generals and admirals vying not to restore peace to our fractured homes, but build a new seat of power from the ashes after they have scorched our lands and boiled our seas.

For all their once thought unassailable authority, our governments have fallen one by one. Our leaders, deafened from cannon-fire, no longer hear their peoples. Our heroes, wrenched from their pedestals and forced to clash amongst the titans of our war machines and weapons of destruction no longer embolden our people’s hopes and dreams.

Our villains, now unbreakable in their strength and empowered at the failures of our lords, run rampant across the Garden in the quest to remake our homeland of mankind in their image. As of the time of this broadcast, they are winning.

And as of the time it is received beyond the Veil, they have won. Or at the least, our last ramparts are falling as the galaxy turns beyond. For those in the stars beyond, this is the last voice of our civilization. For those trapped beyond the Veil, you are the remnant of our kind, whether you be Garden-born, or Terran, or another breed of life from across the universes.

You are all that’s left of Scatter’s light.



A slow, dull humming cascaded throughout the inky darkness of the relay chamber while the last audio of the broadcast drew to a close. Stilhneer’s Ascension March, a solemn, quiet piece of a piano and violin died out while flickering lights materialized into a circle of uniformed figures. All surrounding a central node spewing forth a holograph of the galaxy, one of them reached a finger out to a glimmering icon and tapped it once.

“What … exactly does this mean?” A woman’s voice inquired, sharpened yet cool as she drew her hand back down to the great coat stretched across thin shoulders. The figure across from her, a swarthy man draped in a peacoat, answered bluntly.

“It means we’re on our own. Stuck across the Veil. Marooned.” He almost spat, drawing a gloved hand to his mouth to hide a quiet curse. “They’ve left us in the lurch, chasing ghosts all around the Deep Stars, while they’re choking to death on toxic atmospheres or burning up in renegaded stars.”

“We don’t know that.” Another voice chimed in, this one pressing a hand down against his starched uniform, a naval insignia pinned against his chest while he craned his chin towards the eight other officers standing before him. “We don’t know whether they completed Guarding Night and initiated Striking Dawn - “

The man in the peacoat let out a short chortle, looking to the naval officer. “If the Dawn had come we wouldn’t be hearing this. Are you listening to yourself? We knew this was coming when the Tenth Front reached Karelia. What we need to understand is that the Veil is sealed now, and that’s a good thing.”

A fourth man spoke up, adjusting the brim of the helmet draped across his head. He seemed to be sitting at a desk, legs bent and feet propped against a board of furniture. “A good thing? Are you serious? That was our way back home, now we’re stuck on the other side with god-knows what managed to slip through before we put the Cordons in place. You’re saying that’s a good thing?”

The other officer stiffened, adjusting one of the breasts of his peacoat to settle it on his broad shoulders. “What’s happened in the Garden has happened, it was not our mission to fight that war. We’ve succeeded in preventing the worst from trickling through the Veil and -

“Succeeded?! We’ve barely scratched the surface of it! Have you been groundside to the Shore Planets? I’ve lost whole colonies to Rogues - landers full of civilians butchered and eaten, picked apart like they were thrown into the jaws of a, a - Christ, I don’t even know how to describe it. And now, we’re stuck outside the walls!” The man at the desk suddenly rose himself up, practically knocking it away. Suddenly, another figure across the chamber spoke up.

“The Colonel is right, Commander.” The form spoke, an officer’s cap pulled tight across the brow as a white-gloved hand rose up to silence the dissent. “We can not derail the operation, contingencies were in place for losing contact with ISAAC and the Garden.” The stern words appeared to defuse the quarreling officer’s … for now, at least. As the figure lowered that hand though, a visible tension returned to the officer’s faces.

“That being said, it is clear the parameters of our mission have become broader than the scope of our abilities. We may need to discuss the option of altering our protocols.” The figure informed, while a few cautious glances were exchanged amongst the officers. The woman spoke again, turning to the obscured figure across from her.

“What do you mean, ‘altering the protocols’ … we’ve operated with strict instructions to stay away from other organizations and keep access to the Shore Planets as limited as possi - “

“I mean exactly what I said.”

Those short words drew wide eyes, and perhaps a gasp or two. The man in the peacoat clutched at the hem of his clothing, while his meaty face turned into a scowl. “You want to bring outsiders into this? I don’t believe that is a sound plan, Colonel.” He reported shortly, turning his head away. The figure didn’t seem to stall however, instead raising another hand as the command flowed.

“We have only so much time before our force concentration in the Shore Planets is overwhelmed … and there are still forces across the Local Region - the Apparatus stay-behind - that we must assume command of before approaching other states about this. There was a garrison force on Terra, the 666th, a static division. Part of the Shadow Authority. We will need them. And I need all of you to prepare yourselves.” The officers gave a cautious glance amongst one another, as if the ante of a game had just been raised drastically, while the figure gave a slow, parting word that would seep through the emptiness of space with the end of that mysterious broadcast.

“The war in the Garden might very well have ended. But ours is just beginning.

The setting changes from orion-spur to Starlight Point

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman

0.00 INK

Starlight Point, B-3 Military Airport


A muggy sun rose above the sweltering coastal temperatures of Aslund’s seaboard, broken clouds stretched over the waves and a mid-day heat steamed the sands below. On the tarmac of Starlight Point’s B-3 air field, the heat was even worse. For the marines of squad Omicron 3-2, waiting in formation next to an empty Jethawk was the worst part of their day. Staff Sergeant Alyx Stamatios stood with one hand draped across his chest, the other holding a small tactical pad. While he studied the mission briefs, five other marines lounged about, trying to sit in the shade of the Avhawk or avoiding the hot asphalt as much as possible.

“This is fuckin’ bull, Sarge. Why couldn’t they get some locals to run some MPs to Wing City?” Corporal Fortunato droned, prying the helmet from his sweaty head and dropping it to the floor before him. Another Corporal, Yiavannis, pulled a piece of jerky from a small bag, popping it between his teeth as he leaned forward onto his shins.

“Aaaaah c’mon Fortchie, think how long it’s been since we’ve hit Wing City! Last time we were there we spent our weekend of leave in a drunk tank, huh?” Yiavannis teased, lobbing a tiny piece of jerky at Fortunato, while Stamatios only grunted.

“Ain’t nothin’ for us to do today for Team Leads so, it was this or pull gate duty.” The Sergeant replied bluntly, then tossing the pad onto a seat in the Avhawk’s mid-cabin. “We’ve got some contractor and a marinjaeger at a fifteen hundred hours meet with some suit in the Government Center. So you five just strap in, shut up and keep yourselves quiet for the two hour flight yeah?”

Fortunato and Yiavannis both seemed to groan, while the three other marines were simply busy not melting and only nodded along. Corporal Walker was seated near one of the Avhawk’s two skids on its main fuselage, cradling his MG-40 up against his shoulder before he looked up. In the distance he spotted a rugged, floating square burning down the tarmac. Upon further inspection he realized it was a Pygmy, a small, soft skinned grav-skimmer used for shuttling personnel around on base. The little four-seater zipped down the shoulder of the runway, occasionally swerving around a parked Avhawk or some other airjet.

Stamatios noticed the skimmer too, and began stretching a pair of tactical gloves over his hands. “Looks like there’s our payload.” He said, rapping a hand on the pilot door. The two men exchanged a silent order, and after drawing his visor down the pilot of the Avhawk began to crank the machine to life.

“You think I can redeem the miles from gigs like this?” Fortunato inquired to Yiavannis, who simply shrugged as he adjusted the strap to his rifle. Fortunato seemed convinced however, pressing a hand to Yiavannis’ shoulder. “Nah nah, follow me here - you take your miles you’ve spent on transit to your post. Half of those, and then every mile flown and/or driven when deployment ends.”

“What fucking island holiday are you gonna’ go on?” Stamatios replied back with a blunt tone, leaning against the door of the Avhawk as he watched the grav-skimmer approaching. Yiavannis seemed convinced with the Sergeant as well, giving an idle shrug.

“You don’t strike me as the kind to wake up and be like ‘Oooooh, let’s spend a weekend on Diomede’.” Yiavannis said, exaggerated movements and all as he brought a hand up to fan his flustered features.

“Nah, I’m mostly talkin’ like, goin’ to Famegost for Dia del Desaparicion. Or to Kylern during Mad Month, get some ball games in.” Fortunato delivered, flicking one gloved finger up. He needed more time to explain himself, apparently. “I could claim just a third of these miles that’s like, four, five vacations a year boys - that’s, well that’s just brilliant.”

“Four vacations a year to places that might be damn near across the Garden from each other? Not even an extended deployment would get you enough miles for like, two. Where you from, Forchie?” Yiavannis asked as he drew a cigarette from his breast pocket, then fishing a lighter from his chest rig as Fortunato answered.

“On the far side of the Veil, in the Eastern Republics.”


Yiavannis let out a low whistle at that, while Private Webkin sat beneath the tail boom of the Avhawk to avoid the heat. “You dummy all of those places are damn near a thousand lightyears from each other. You even know how much travel you’d have to log?” He quipped, a sharp Caprican accent making Fortunato shrug.

“Just plannin’ for some vacays guys, fuck me I guess.” Fortunato grumbled. While the other marines heckled, Stamatios cradled his rifle across his chest as the Pygmy crawled up towards the Avhawk. The speeder rumbled to a stop, two of the three occupants soon disembarking while the driver, a Major, drew his finger up towards Sergeant Stamatios.

“You’re wheels up in fifteen and back in five hours. Do not get your sorry asses lost in Wing City!”

Stamatios only waved to the Major as a Warrant Officer and a Terran departed the Pygmy. The Warrant Officer adjusted a headdress wrapped around her neck, and then extending a hand to the Sergeant. “Staff Sergeant, Senior Officer Irina Osman, Paramilitary Police - this is Doctor Rahil Kawandi, from the Center of Blight and Disorders Outter Veil Institute.” Stamatios gave a quick handshake to Irina, and then tipped his chin towards the spindly looking Doctor clutching a tablet bag.

“It’s nice to meet you Staff Sergeant, but we must hurry! I have very important information to bring to the Terrans!”

Kawandi was a narrow, thin man, his dark skin taught against narrow bones and sharp features as the Major planted a pair of shades across his eyes. “I’m unaware if you’re familiar with addiction distribution Sergeant, but what I have right there - “ The doctor began to prattle on, encouragingly holding that tablet bag as Irina simply rolled her eyes and gripped Kawandi by the elbow.

“Just give it three hours and you can spin the whole story to the Terrans, doc. Let’s get airborne!” The Avhawk was cleared for departure in moments, and was soon churning through the air above eastern Aslund, the grasslands racing to the interior of the continent crawling away as the airjet cruised towards Wing City.

The setting changes from starlight-point to The Aurora

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Imperial Defense Force Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces

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Somewhere beyond the Red Line


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Seasons don’t fear the reaper
Nor the wind, the sun and the rain, we can be like they are
Come on baby, don’t fear the reaper



Droplets of moisture streaked against the cockpit glass of the Annihilator Mk VI as the airjet raced through dark, swirling clouds. In the armored seat of the Annihilator, the rushing wind and screaming engines were a muffled drone along with the occasional breath. With recycled air leaving a plain taste on his lips, Commander Frank Lyndon wiggled his fingers through a thin flight glove and then gripped tighter as he maneuvered the Annihilator through a bank of churning thunder clouds. Steadying himself against the hull of the cockpit with one hand, he slowly started to crane the throttle left, and watch as clouds streaked by.

Glancing down to his display, he keyed the atmospheric map onto his HUD and widened the focus on his readout. The flight through the storm was a sudden opportunity Commander Lyndon utilized after the strike package of eight Annihilators and two support airjets had descended to the sparsely populated planet from the carrier CNS Exylion.

Up ahead in about twenty miles the storm finally seemed to break, the temperate waters of the warm sea driving the weather that allowed the strike package to finish their transit and into an approach obscured from observation - hopefully. After hastily transferring from retrofits some lightyears from the Red Line, the Annihilators of the 89th Tactical Strike Squadron, had been armed and sent with the contingent onboard the Exylion. Themselves hastily cobbled together; a task force known only as Neulysses, was composed of merely a pair of ships.

Bringing him from those curious thoughts about developments from the past five days, a chime sounded in his ear. The communications bank opened on his display, while forward in the cockpit before him sat Lieutenant Rickey Stanford, the stations operator and co-pilot. Unencumbered with navigating the Annihilator through the storm, Stanford was quick on the comms and sensors.

Lyndon cautiously looked up from his navigation and studied the dark clouds around him. Off in the distance, he may have spotted the signalling red blip of another Annihilator’s beacon lights on its fuselage and tail. The eight Annihilators were pushing through the storm, and then sortieing on to their target in a loose horseshoe, with distance between one strikejet and the next varying in regards to getting through the storm.

“Looks like 2-2 and 2-3 are approaching the breakline,” Stanford began, adjusting a piece of his helmet with one quick hand. Lyndon’s ears were filled with a staticy crunch, and then a myriad of voices jumbling out as the comms stream connected.

“This is 2-3, Moishe’s gonna’ try and cut us through the next bank and - wait fuck, what … “ As the pilot trailed off Lyndon bit a scoff in his throat while pressing the Annihilator slowly to the left still. There, up ahead, he saw a glimpse of shimmering blue sky and tranquil water below it. Even farther off in the distance, a thin needle of land reached up from the waters.

“On approach through the band.” Lyndon reported, which earned a momentary glance backwards from his gunner. Slowly rolling the throttle upward by his leg, Lyndon listened to the muffled hum off two engines screaming.

“Come again, sir? We don’t know where the rest of the strike package is - those two ES jets haven’t been on comms since we hit the storm.” Stanford quickly returned as he put one hand up onto the interior cage of the cockpit above him.

“We’ve got about three miles of stormfront to use and still be on target, need a’ thread these all thin.” Was all Lyndon responded with before the Annihilator was buffeted against the clouds. As the grainy dark moisture boiled away the whole craft lurched once, then twice, bouncing free from the clouds and piercing into bright open sky.

Lieutenant Stanford was gripping at the handles as the Annihilator bucked and rolled, before dropping out from the clouds and leaving a swirling tail in it’s wake. “Fffhhh - this is Rampage 1, we’re through the storm bank.”

“Crack open a beer, Lieutenant. Welcome to 89-TacStrike.” Lyndon began, able to hide a smile through his oxygen mask. As the swirling dark of the storm was replaced with crystal blue and white, the windshield polarized just slightly to compensate for the new light. “This is Command Lyndon. Cycle out in pairs, one high and one low and regroup.” He ordered, dragging the Annihilator’s throttle to begin a long circle.

“Affirmative Rampage Actual, 2-3 fit to me.” And a myriad of other confirmations came from the other pilots of the strike package. Lyndon then peeled his hand away after throttling back, feeling the Annihilator loft in the air a few moments as the winds caught against the vehicle. As the Annihilator crested a turn and steered back towards the storm front, Lyndon made a quick double take out his left window, to the waves down below after noticing something odd down below.

Had they avoided a storm, he would not have been so concerned about seeing what appeared to be a pair of ships just beyond the edges of the weather. Following through the turn though, Lyndon’s suspicions were only confirmed. There below, two rusted looking trawlers bobbed atop the waves. “Lieutenant?” He began, but Stanford was already ahead of that ball it seemed.

“Got ‘em, C-O. Whoever’s fishing down there is pretty bad at it.” Stanford remarked dryly, while a chime sounded as he lowered his hands down to his own station. The gunner sat forward and lowered, positioned near the chin-mounted Tactical Airborne Weapons Kit (or TAWK), allowing the pilot a wider range of vision from his seat behind. “Wait, white-black is weird … “

Just as Lyndon steadied out the Annihilator, another appeared, breaching through the clouds. It was followed a few seconds later by a pair of others. Lyndon reached up to key his comms, adjusting the throat-bead while he spoke. “This is Rampage Actual, be aware: two small vessels spotted due northwest, spin up your drives and preheat.” He ordered quickly again, while flicking at a toggle on the stick with his thumb. In a corner of his central display, the weapons platform spun to life. While both Lyndon and Stanford shared control over the various missiles the Annihilator carried, the chin-mounted 37mm and 14.7mm weapons and hull-mounted 78mm stanchion cannon were under exclusive operation by Stanford.

Lyndon left the Lieutenant to prepare his own weaponry, he used the haptic feedback of his HUD to slave a pair of TGM-99 Streak guided missiles on the farthest pylons of the Annihilator’s stubby wings. Next, he filtered through the sensors, quickly locking both of the vessel’s positions. “Rampage 1 is weapons spooling.” Stanford said, then looking out the window and down to the vessels below.

“Intel said the fishing season was on the close and most ships would be berthing right? Why the fuck’re skimmers out on the edge of a stor - “ Before Stanford or Lyndon could discuss, the Commander noticed an odd shudder in the Annihilator. It was so insignificant that a lesser pilot might have missed it, but Lyndon had been piloting airjets for decades, and understood them like an extension of his body.

From somewhere back along the fuselage a thrumming tunk followed. Perhaps it was turbulence, or a capacitor shifting or any number of other things that occur during a routine flight, or something else. “Rack up an AP in the 78, and incendiary in everything else. I’ve got two Streaks slaved.” Lyndon said, then following the bank of clouds with his eyes as another pair of Annihilators broke free.

“White-hot’s way too heavy for a fishing ship, there’s something up with those ships down the - “ This time, louder now, both Lyndon and Stanford heard them clearly. One, two, three heavy impacts shook the Annihilator, and the stick shook in Lyndon’s hands. He fought the Annihilator through her shudders, pouring into the engines with the throttle.

“Rampage Actual is fire-hot, engaging. The rest of you, form the strike package and proceed to the target - Rampage Eight, you’re on my six.” Lyndon barked, cranking the stick to the side as he watched the final Annihilator come blazing through the storm clouds. His ears were filled with a flood of confirmations and the impact alarm.

“We just got hit with somethin’ bad! Those aren’t small calibers, I think they’ve got a fucking 30 down there or something!” Stanford barked out, quickly sliding his hand into the station control as he took control of the chin-mounted cannons. A moment later the Annihilator returned the volley sent to them. There were four dull barks as the 37mm revolver cannon cycled in the incendiary rounds fed to it.

Down below, the 37mm rounds crossed their distance with a clap of thunder, the magnetically accelerated shells punching through the hull of one vessel just above the waterline, two others snaking their way up towards the deck as the last one impacted uselessly into the water short of the target. “I’ve got hits, nothing critical yet. You wanna’ hit that one with the Streak?” Stanford inquired, riding along in his seat as the Annihilator shifted to approach the pair of vessels from behind.

“Spot on, Lieutenant. Rampage Actual is Fox-1.” Lyndon stated, his voice blunt and cold as he shifted a finger onto the trigger of his stick. As he crammed onto the throttle, he rode the charging engines while the sensors locked the Streak missile to the vessel.

“We’re booming the first vessel, Rampage Eight clean up that second one!” Stanford barked out again as the Annihilator streaked forward, nearly skimming along the waves as well. Descending so rapidly, the Lyndon planned to build speed as much as possible to regroup with the strike package after taking care of these vessels. Lyndon fixed his face forward, waiting patiently for the red box surrounding the targeted vessel to turn green.

When it did, there was a streak from somewhere beside the Annihilator, the guided missile jumping from it’s carriage and blast towards the target. Just as Lyndon was preparing to break the Annihilator away into a climb, the Streak raced up ahead, soon descending at an abrupt angle to then impact just behind the bridge. Lyndon’s visor polarized from a frothing, white hot explosion that spewed metal and smoke into the air, and he stamped on the yaw.

Cranking the stick the Annihilator peeled away, leaving the smoldering vessel in its wake as the airjet zoomed onward. Lynd felt 38 odd tons of metal and avionics yield to his hand, and punched the throttle to put as much distance between the surviving vessel and him as Rampage Eight made its run. The comms squawked as Eight lined up for their run, but Lyndon was confident the pilot, Ensign Symu, would keep the vessel from shooting his commander in the back. “This is Eight, cycling the long-arm.”


“Splash on the first target, she’s scuttled. There were secondaries in that strike though, they had ammo on that rust bucket!” The Lieutenant snarled as he pulled the visor of his HUD up, fitting them against the forehead of his helmet. “If they’ve got pickets on the water they’ll know there’s something coming out of this storm.”

Lyndon nodded along with Stanford, but kept his answer silent. Watching his speed climb, the Commander steered the Annihilator ahead to the rest of the strike package, six other Annihilators that had taken up their strike positions in a wide horseshoe. Finally, Lyndon responded, settling back into his seat as he spotted the approaching dots lining the in a line across the sky. “We just jumped out of the bushes on ‘em, Lieutenant.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Imperial Defense Force Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces

0.00 INK

....Grid Two-1, Activity detected, Sector thirteen, Subsector Two, Provincia Isiria_...

Routing Datalog, relays seven, nine, three, green. Subspace link strong..._

Watchtower Confirms - relay 12-2 - IPCOM, IDF CODE Alpha..._

"All Available assets respond to possible incursion with all due haste."

"This is not a drill."




"Action Stations! Action Stations! Set condition one throughout the ship! This is not a drill!"

Aboard the Far Sight Lost, in the outskirts of the Arastel System, alarms were blaring through the entirety of the Reverence II Far Sight Lost, with whispers in some uncharted fringe system potentially identified as possible Asylian activity, the Aschen would spare no expense to gearing up, and intercepting the automated beacon reports of unidentified aircraft operating on a previously sparsely controlled world on the fringes of civilized space.

"We have not confirmed the patterns, or the designs of the unknown ships operating in this sector, however automated beacons have begun sending distress signals as of 0330, local time." EVE reported, as she began filtering the data coming in from several automated early warning beacons strewn across the vastness of the Isirian provincial territories.

"My recommendation is that we take a small contingent of ships to investigate."

EVE's tone was resolute, sure in her carefully plotted recommendations, compiled from whatever data she could muster, while Admiral Genna, a fairly experienced field officer watched the readouts carefully.

"I'm not familiar with these pattern-designs." Admiral Genna remarked, manipulating a blurry hologram amidst a dark backdrop.

EVE offered a brief nod. "These patterns bear a vague match to outdated records pertaining to a 'United Coalition' but these designs have not been updated, and information on them is limited. They do not match any known Asylian designs." EVE confirmed, looking up to Admiral Genna from where she stood on the console, manipulating the tactical display to highlight whatever sparse data she could filter through.

"Right." Genna replied. "EVE, coordinate the Hour of Need, the Bum Rush, and the Undying storm to tactical formation Beta, coordinate the Javelin, and the Pellas to form up on our rear flank, while we move the Hercules, and the Ixion to form on our bow." The Admiral replied, eliciting an enthusiastic nod from EVE. "I'll calibrate FTL for a low-atmo jump, from there we can launch alert fighters." EVE said, her voice offering a soothing sound to the Admiral's ears, while the Command-Sync system began to disseminate orders to the Far Sight Lost's escorts.

The Hour of Need, the Bum Rush, and the Undying Storm were all capable Hastati class cruisers, each capable of mid, to long range sustained close in engagements, as well as providing an effective escort to the Reverence II. The Athena class missile cruisers Javelin, and Pellas formed the rear, while the duet of Aegis cruisers, the Hercules, and the Ixion moved to the front, each of the ship commanders synchronizing their coordinate data, and their FTL Drives to the Reverence II's command line system.

With everything synchronized, Admiral Genna watched the display light up, and she adjusted it slightly.

"EVE, Execute the jump."

All at once, the Aschen ships winked out of existence from their original position.

----

Some could say that perhaps the storm got darker, as the transition point between the vacuum of space, and the atmosphere of the planet, somewhere in the thermosphere, a powerful spatial shockwave rocked immediate area, and cast a long shadow enough to darken the storm even further below. Brief flashes of lightning illuminated the underside of the massive, bulbous Aschen supercarrier, and illuminated the armored hulls of each of the escort ships that jumped in with it.

Aboard the CIC, the displays shifted to a more tactical locale, bringing up a wide 3000x3000 mile map of the ocean, and landmasses below, the clouds highlighted in muted greens, oranges, and reds, with indicators for wind speed, and other meteorological data. Genna watched a series of icons as they made their way through the storm, and a series of Icons below. It seemed they were fighting.

"We weren't aware of this kind of ordinance way out here, heavy ordinance." Genna said aloud, spreading her fingers to zoom in on the display. Genna watched quietly as one bluewater vessel after another disappeared from the display. She thumbed her chin, surrounded by the dull hum of twenty trillion tons of Supercarrier. She leaned forward and keyed up the other vessels. "Fishing boats aren't supposed to be armed." She surveyed additional icons up and down the coast, and made a face.

"I have positive locks on all targets in the area." EVE reported, her voice cutting the silence. "Identification confirmed for Scatterran designs, using dated data." EVE Pondered for a moment. "Recommendation, neutralize remaining targets, it is likely- I have incoming." EVE Added, a ballistic rocket fired from one of the remaining pickets, a crudely made missile silo fashioned from a shipping container, and some concrete reinforcement. The rocket arced upwards in a wide arc, detonating it's payload immediately before striking the Reverence II in a brilliant, blinding flash of radiological ordinance that splashed across a milky white barrier, energy washing across the entire superstructure of the vessel.

Inside the CIC, it was felt as a slight tremor, and a dull boom.

Genna grit her teeth.

"Shields are holding." EVE reported.

Grasping the console, Genna drew red targeting lines to each large vessel closer to the landmass, including the cargo ship that fired at them. "Full charge, return fire."

Almost immediately as the command was issued, a single dual-barreled weapon battery the size of a large house swiveled to life on the ventral side of the Reverence II, emerging from it's armored recess, and adjusting it's massive weapon barrels to the planet below. It was a single discharge of vivid green that streaked downwards like an errant meteor, splitting the clouds asunder in a brilliant flash of green light in the measurement of roughly ninety million roentgens that split the horizon in two.

In an instant, the cargo ship was engulfed in green light, and a plume of steam that mushroomed high into the sky, metal, and water both vaporized in a flash.

"Target neutralized." EVE reported.

Genna smirked. "Now that we've introduced ourselves, let's find out who our new friends are."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Imperial Defense Force Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces

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As the pair of Annihilators rejoined the rest of the strike package and reached the port, they descended towards the sprawling mainland at a low altitude and high speed, having broken a hole in the net of disguised pickets. To the west, a second group of airjets soared at a similar altitude, though these were heavier and slower M/AVT-88 and V/AV-82 AvHawk and Vulture transport craft. The ground component of the operation, a platoon of marine infantry landed at the target after Rampage’s landfall.

Reaching the coast, the airjets dropped their speed and hugged the tree tops. Up ahead in the distance, gunfire and smoke rose - Rampage had just descended on the port, letting their heavy weapon chew into the landing site. Looking up from a handheld, Commander Leon Solomon then handed it off to a Sergeant beside him. He settled into the jumpseat, and looked down the cargo hold to the marines before him.

“Rampage used the storm, who had the turn-around?” Solomon quipped, while the men and women before him all erupted into animation.

“Sonuvabitch - the one time aerocav does their fucking job!” A man snapped, while one marine pulled a pack of cigarettes from his vest. With a grunt, he bent to offer them to another marine across from him.

“Good call on that, I would’ve had them a turn-around for sure. You see one of those weirdos back on the ship? Swear to God, one of them looks like he eats his fingernails.” The marine poked as he pulled a cigarette for himself.

“Well fuck, Pasters wouldn’t stop fucking talking to them when we were uploading,” Another marine snapped, flapping a gloved hand to Pasters, sitting with a SAW-429 between his legs. Pasters tucked his nose up, and then drew a finger to adjust the glasses he wore.

“I studied aeroavionic engineering at West Biko, fault me for having a degree before the military,“ He began, shrugging at the taunt from his comrade. “Are you aware how complex these machines actually are? I’ll break this grate right here and let you try and find the sub-system bus that keeps these belts from auto-opening from power gyration.”

A few of the marines nearby gave a cautious glance at that, first looking down at their boots and then to the straps binding them onto the jumpseats. “You a fuckin’ slam dunk at the parties, aren’t you Pastie?” A Lance Corporal sniped, calmly adjusting the strap on his rig before turning his attention back to the drone of the engines.

“Listen the fuck up, we’re on hot dirt in twenty!” Commander Solomon barked as he unbuckled the rigs, promptly standing up to hold the ceiling of the AvHawk as it began its final descent. “Annihilators are smashing the port up but it’ll still be wild on the ground - we’re out in the middle of nowhere, the Aschen are probably wondering what the fuck a Star Fleet carrier’s doing this far into the Local Region and why there’s a Terran freighting mover out here with a distributing port,”


Policing the many sparsely populated worlds of the Aschen and Terran borders for the Exogarden had become a daunting task, no more importantly in the stretch of space that had become a special department of the Exogarden entirely. Officially the Aschen/Local International Regional Bureau and Apparatus Division, or ALIRBAD, was a policing and peacekeeping force monitoring the borders. With the breakdown in communications with the Garden, the Exogarden’s difficult task was made even more complicated by nearby rebellions and the inevitable growth of smuggling it brought to the sparsely populated worlds.

While contraband was a small concern to the Bureau, weapons were however. Exogarden security forces had stumbled upon a smuggling ring elsewhere in the Local Region some months ago, and had initiated this distant strike. Determining that whatever was travelling along this pipeline was going into Aschen space, the Exogarden had authorized marines of the AlIRBAD to make a deep-strike at the estimated last ‘acceptable’ stop on the pipeline before it was too far into Aschen to be effectively raided.

“Some plastic looking import/export has been stockpiling his way to the Aschen border - and we’vn’t a fucking clue what they’re lugging. Whatever it is though, it needs power, water and air. Day and night. This isn’t some auto exchange for collectors in Langara or Wing City.” Commander Solomon said, signalling for the troop doors on either side of the AvHawk to open without breaking his eyes to the marines before him.

“Whatever’s down there is for something in Aschen space and this is the last point on the journey before the Exogarden will let us invade the Aschen Empire again.” He continued, gripping at a handle overhead with one hand as the other waved. Before him, a hologram spewed into life and threw a blue haze across the marines before him.

A topographical map of the continent came into focus, particularly the small cape of her southern plains where the marines were raiding the port. A small outpost of civilization pressed against the continent’s wild interior, the port was likely used as staging for colonists in the previous years. As time went on of course most places with infrastructure like this, water, power or air, and especially comfortable living, had come to change hands with colonists and armed groups frequently. So much a strike package had been dropped on the place.

“We’re inserting in expected heat, right after the last missile strikes. They’ll all be shook, but not all dead, so don’t catch a slug checking a street shop. Now there are three primary locations we’re expecting the cargo to be at: Bravo and Charlie will be on these,” He gestured to the two sites, a pair of orange markers fixing the location. The third sat nestled away from the coast, up the snaking roads into small hills looking over the beaches. “But we’re landing here, on Alpha. Bravo and Charlie are secondary targets, anything from weapons to materiel in there supporting whatever’s moving into Aschen space. We want all of it.”

As the AvHawk soared above the outskirts of the port, Commander Solomon looked out through the open bay door to see an Annihilator loom by, her chin-mounted cannons rattling as a gassing station down below exploded into a swirling ball of fire and heat. “Rampage is tearing the place up, so watch your debris. Don’t assume the Aschen will take this standing down, this raid is going to spook them and whoever is smuggling into this stretch of the Aschen border. Now I know I shouldn’t have to say this, so watch your fucking targets.” The vehicle then began to descend, and Solomon reached over to his seat to grab his G4KS rifle from his jumpseat.

One of the crewmembers stood beside the bay door of the AvHawk, watching the ground approach. As he drew a hand up, a green light snapped to life beside the door. “Touch down in thirty! Ready!”

With that, the other marines stood up and checked their weaponry, the sound of rifles and machineguns charging filled the troop bay. “Who’re the Aschen gonna’ bitch to after this now that we’ve gone black on comms into the Garden?” One marine asked curiously, punching the 30 round magazine into the well of his G4K1 rifle.

“Same as the Terrans and everyone else now - fuckin’ no one, hah!” A Lance Corporal barked, smacking the charging handle of his own G4 and then shouldering it up into his chest as the two lines began to move. Solomon was the first one out, boots crunching against the ground after he jumped from the open bay.

The other marines filtered out the two bays on either side of the transport, quickly moving away from it to allow those heavy engines to fire off and bring the beast back into the air. “Form your squads!” Solomon yelled, waving a fireteam of four marines over to him. A Staff Sergeant joined as well, carrying a ruggedized set on his hip. Staff Sergeant Ferdinand Duncan had a typical appearance of a Tranebian: thin hair, a thin moustache and rough features from a life spent in the sun.

“We’ve got hits on a structure up ahead, Rampage hit the port and it looks like a group pulled back to the offices up ahead. Probably used to be civil utilities.” Duncan began, hefting the ruggedized off from his waist and showing it to the Commander. On the screen, a cluster of buildings up the road into the hills was marked red, blue and green. Red, targets found but yet unneutralized by Rampage, blue for structures that had already been hit by the strike package and verified (from above) ‘clear’ and green for targets that had been observed and found empty, so were thus not engaged. While the Exogarden doubted there were no civilians in the port, they took extra precautions to minimize the possibility of collateral damage.

Even with the best efforts though, the timetable of the operation had not allowed the Exogarden as thorough of a Pre-Strike Observation as they wanted to be. Down the road near the muddy parking lot for a structure, Solomon could make out the burning hulk of a civilian vehicle. What looked to be a sedan had borne the brunt of a direct strike from a barrage of 14.7mm shells. As it burned, Solomon focused his gaze, in the hopes he might learn if it were occupied or not when it was fired on.

Before he got his answer there was the crisp bark of a rifle, and Solomon ducked down into cover when the bullet went skittering off the rockwall he was behind. “Second story, window on the right!” A marine shouted, before him and another planted themselves on the lip of the wall and opened fire. Corporal Nixon Young steadied his G4K1 beside Pasters, who was also set up with his SAW. The two opened fire in a deafening fusillade, which allowed Sergeant Duncan to take Privates Loren and Corey on an advance under fire, and taking cover beside another parked sedan in the parking lot.

“This is Alpha 2-1, we’re engaged at the utilities stations! Watch your upper stories for snipers!”

Image


Elsewhere, a Vulture and AvHawk were descending into the port to attack one of the two targeted buildings found there, Objective Bravo. The Vulture descended to land straight on the roadway, near an empty stretch of docks. Eight marines jumped free as the Vulture was barely feet from the ground, Sergeant First Class Conway Parsons being the first.

“Out and green, marines!” He hollowed out, leading from the front as he disembarked and then began to sprint to the roadway barrier. From the nearby offices the sharp barks of rifle fire grew again, even as an Annihilator overhead bathed the roof of the structure with cannon fire. While the marines rallied under fire, the last man sprinting from the Vulture looked up, out to the waves.

“Hey there’s something coming out of the storm!” He yelled, soon ducking down behind cover. Even with the gunfire and explosions though, Parsons heard something else, something distant. Out there off the coast, the swirling clouds had broken apart and shattered, revealing parts of a sleek ship.

“Who dropped a fucking ship into orbit?!” Another marine shouted, occasionally peeking over the road barrier as rounds chewed into the concrete. Cursing under his breath, Parsons hefted his G4KS into his shoulder and pressed it up over the lip of the barrier. “That’s not the fucking Star Fleet!”

“Sonuvabitch, the Imperials dropped a fucking Reveverence II!” Duncan hollered. Being a Private in the Terran Conflict, and a squad-leader in the following Galactic War, he had seen the Aschen Reverence IIs up close and personal. Seeing one of those massive, sleek ships in person again after all these years drew a scowl to his face. “It’s gonna’ fire, everyone down!”

When that green lance struck the vessel just a few kilometers off the coast, there was a roiling explosion of steam and water, debris cartwheeling into the air as well. The shock wave sent papers fluttering from the windows as they were knocked out from the thundering blast.

One marine was blown onto his back, cursing out through a split lip as he spat blod onto the asphalt. “They found more of those pickets, they’ll glass the whole damn continent!”

As the dust settled from the impact, Duncan lifted himself up from cover just slightly, eyes scanning the sky before him. “If they hit anything within a click of our position we’re in the fallout zon - fuck, back in cover!” He screamed, as a chunk of the vessel’s rudder went careening into the roof of the office ahead of them, breaking clean through one corner and then sending a shower of concrete debris and rebar onto the parking lot and highway below.


With the Aschen supership settled into her loft, any hopes of quick answers would have evaporated. Pickets still lined the coast, in some fifty mile line, and three units had been infiltrated in a triangle around the port. Onboard the Far Sight Lost, they may have brought themselves in close enough to pick up communications from the marines on the ground, though considering all three were engaged in fights practically as soon as they disembarked conversation was brief and sporadic.

“This is Alpha 2 Actual to the Aschen vessel - we are engaged by indigenous combatants at three objectives around the port … “

“This is 2-3, that strike was too fucking close! If something goes off in this port the whole fucking place could go up!”

“Oscar-Mike, 2-3, just secure your objective and watch your timetable!”

"They've got some medium AA around the port sectors, we just spiked a 20mm quad!"

Another transmission had arrived though - this one from somewhere deep outside the system even, it appeared. Unencumbered with distant communications like the Exogarden was with their short range packs, something else was able to speak with the Far Sight Lost much easier.

[Attention command and crew of the Reverence II Far Sight Lost, I am a custodial Expert OS of the Exogarden’s Aschen/Local Regional International Bureau and Apparatus Division, or ALIRBAD.

Three days ago the two ships of Task Force Neulysses began a counter-smuggling operation tracking a shipment that I've determined is bound for Aschen space: further, I determined that this planet was one of the last stops before successful interdiction would become problematic. Currently I am working with the commander of the CNS Elyxion to facilitate communications between the vessels. Please stand by.
]

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Imperial Defense Force Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces

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The Admiral watched intently on the display as the results from her strike poured into the display. The target had been neutralized, and the remaining picket began to scatter. This much was obvious as none of them had the capability, or the equipment to strike a Reverence II, no matter how ballsy these filth were.

"The fact that these Scatterran Remnants are striking this deep into our border territories is not only an embarrassment, but a national security blunder the likes of which I don't care to repeat." The Admiral said, turning to her command officer, a middle aged Commander by the name of Kalfas. "We're going to strike swiftly, and with a show of force that will send a strong message to all those involved, that this Empire governs these worlds, and that we will not tolerate those who defy our rule."

The Holographic display adjusted slightly, and Genna checked the altimeter, as the Reverence II slid through the transition zone into the stratosphere. The ship shook, and bucked slightly, tremors echoing through the superstructure while air currents, and wind eddies blew against the vessel, condensing white puffy clouds off the sleek starboard hull that served to slightly mask the visual approach, while white hot plasma boiled across the bow sections from the ship's size, and velocity, dissipated by the fluctuating energy shields that while rapidly losing efficiency due to atmospheric disturbances, were still quite strong.

"Ninetynine thousand and falling." EVE reported, while a yellow line gently curved down from present position. A three-dimensional representation of the port city below them appeared, while several likely landing zones were identified.

EVE's report rolled in as Genna quietly listened to the message from deep within the system, cutting out bridge chatter while she focused on the task at hand.

Pulling up another display, Genna keyed up the frequency of the transmission, and dragged an icon to instruct EVE to facilitate two-way communications as soon as possible, with the task of coordinating the strike up ahead, Genna had to quickly envelope the city, and cut off any avenues of retreat.

"With our descent in altitude, long range bombardment of offshore targets will require coordination with escort." EVE reported.

Genna nodded, and dismissed the notion for a moment.

"We need to identify friendlies from foe, gods damnit we need IFF Signals now!" Genna barked, directing her ire towards the tactical officer.

"Sort the gods damned nonsense, and clean up the noise!" Genna shouted, her voice carrying all through the CIC of the Reverence II.



As it settled into it's position, roughly fourty thousand feet directly above the city's dockyards, the Reverence II cast a long shadow over the entirety of the city, and out into the water, it was so low now, the deep bass note of it's massive engines reverberated through the entire city as a low, thunderous rumble over the din of machinegun fire.

Veterans of the Terran Conflict, and those who had seen a Reverence II up close knew what was about to happen next, as a loud pop echoed through shattered buildings, causing some of the rowdy natives to pause in their cover, and look up. Immediately over the dockyards, a brilliant shaft of purple light extended up into the belly of the beast, casting a haunting, iridescent purple glow across broken glass, and shattered concrete.

Amid the chaos of a wide, and flat dockyard lined with shipping containers, between exchanges of fire between ALIRBAD, and Insurgents, the first Aschen boots made their way to the ground, amidst the brief, and occasional white flash of light from above, as AA fire pelted the shields of the Aschen supercarrier as an act of futile defiance.

They came with a plume of dust, towering twelve foot tall behemoths in power armor, sealed from the elements, and each wielding the heavy Type 60, the heavy Magnetron rifle. The Adept Sergeant sported a wicked grin, while he formed up his squad, shifting his weight as he felt several small caliber rounds ping against his back, ricocheting off of the armor in a shower of sparks.

"Secure the port! We gotta suppress the resistance so we can establish a beachhead! Command wants to lock down the whole city!" The Adept called out, while a second Adept shouted.

"Hell, they can glass this trash bin for all I care!" He retorted, as he lifted up his weapon, and sent several slugs into, and through the concrete of a small guard shack, sending chunks careening into all directions, while a third adept kicked an overturned yard dog off to the side, sending it sliding into a burned out shipping container.

"Fan out in all directions! If it shoots at you, brain the sumbitch!"

Heavy mechanical footsteps signaled the adepts as they moved out, carefully in all directions, the warzone was hot, and they were about to make it hotter.

---

"The first Adept deployment is on station." EVE reported. "I'm still awaiting further communications from this ALIRBAD."

Genna rubbed her forehead, and nodded.

"Disseminate an IFF Package to all friendlies on station, I don't want them shooting my Adepts." Genna instructed.

"By your command." EVE replied.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Imperial Defense Force Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Amritha

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In orbit of the planet, onboard CNS Elyxion


Deep within the central bridge of the Elyxion, the bridge team watched in mute silence as imagery filtered back from the planet’s surface. Across the main airscreen the enormous Reverence loomed above the battlefield, obscuring some parts of the port as the operation rushed onward even with the newest addition. There were a few hushed voices, or the clack of machinery as a technician ran their equipment. The battle unfolding down below while the carrier hung in orbit near one of the planet’s small moons was quite distant in a concern, though with the Aschen arrival the Starfleet vessel made no intentions of moving suddenly.

From bow to stern nearly two and a half kilometers with a beam of almost eight hundred meters, the Arbaleks class Expeditionary Carrier was one of the smaller interplanetary carrier ships in use throughout the Exogarden’s squadron. It was also, more importantly, a long-distance strike and reconnaissance vessel, ill-armed in terms of cannons and missiles. Strikecraft, marines and transport vehicles is what the Elyxion specialized in. Her commander, Captain Jakob Aatos stood with his hands on the railing while he studied the Reverence on the airscreen ahead. Beside him was the image of a fair woman, soft green eyes and thin hair spilling over bare shoulders.

“I am sensing an elevated heart-beat Captain, was the High Commodore wrong for selecting the Elyxion for this mission?” Amritha inquired, her fabricated view betraying the odd shimmer in her visage as the woman turned to face the silent Captain.

“No ma’am - Systems, prepare the ex-fil package for the mission return.” Jakob began, barking an order down to the decks below when the bridge stepped into activity a moment later. Looking back over to Amritha, he studied the intelligence standing before him. “I take it you’ll be informing the Commodore.” The Captain inquired through a hushed tone, watching the intelligence then glance over to the main airscreen.

“Personally. The Task Force’s secondary phase is beginning smoothly, you don’t have to worry so much about that.” She placated the nervous Captain with a soft nod, chilly eyes almost soft for a moment. “The Elyxion is to return-sortie with the Trafalga upon mission completion.” Amritha began, then turning away from the Captain. “What’s left can be for the Aschen, you only had one objective. Let them have any prisoners as well, sate their palate for the flare of execution.”

As she spoke, the Captain stood away from the railing, a comms display winking to life in front of him. Nearby hails from the Reverence II were being processed. He steadied himself as the link between the two vessels opened, but in a second a question crossed his mind. The Captain turned for Amritha one last time, glancing over his shoulder to then see nothing behind him. With a sigh, he turned back to the display screen.

“This is Captain Jakob Aatos of the CNS Elyxion to the Reverence Far Sight Lost, an Exogarden Task Force has interdicted a possibly dangerous shipment bound for Aschen space, marine and aviation assets on planetside as we speak and we are engaged by possible insurgents.

We have a marine platoon groundside and accompanying strike package that has sortied on the target prior. We’re processing battlefield damage assessment now, while ground forces mop up the rest of the resistance - uh, how copy Far Sight Lost?”


“This is Alpha 2-3 calling site green at the port, designating targets for ground engagement now.”

Atop the roof of the port’s main office building, the marine squad in the southernmost dock of the port were taking up defensive positions with objective Charlie and the town out ahead of them. Asphalt crunched under boots as Sergeant Parsons aimed a finger down to the far end of the roof.

“Let’s slap the 14.7 over there, and we’ll put a slug through anything these Aschen are going to kick up.” He barked, turning towards a Private as he approached carrying a backpack comms drive. The marine held a wireless receiver, while the other draped across his battle rifle strung to his chest.

“We’re patched in with comms from the carrier.” The Private reported, and then Parsons quickly took the receiver. As a pair of marines broke open the drop container and began assembling an anti-material rifle, Parsons stepped besides a conditioning unit plugged into the roof and pressed the receiver to his cheek.

“This is marine infantry squad Alpha 2-3 to Aschen ground forces, we have one objective secured on this location - Alpha 2-4 is at the north end of the port with objective Charlie. Be advised multiple fire contacts on approach into the town. 2-3 is preparing for long range suppressing fire now.”

Between his eight marines they had the 14.7mm anti-material rifle and an MG-40B GPMG, not to mention a contingent of launchers and grenades. Defending the objective, and projecting fire onto the port and into town below was Alpha 2-3s secondary task next to supporting Alpha 2-4 at objective Charlie.

At a distant end of the roof, Lance Corporal Daniel Barislav and PFC Otto Franer were setting up the MG-40B onto a tripod. Yanking open the receiver, Barislav cleared the weapon for a fresh strip of 7.9x59mm rounds that Franer was pulling from a box. “We got eyes on 2-4? They haven’t gibbered over platoon comms yet.”

Barislav was already ahead of Franer, leaving him to load the weapon as he pressed a set of binoculars to his eyes and looked down into the port below. Along the main thoroughfare to the northern warehouses, the Lance Corporal spotted the familiar, splotchy coastal camouflage of the ALIRBAD’s marine infantry stacking up to a nearby warehouse. Tapping at a key on his comm bead, Barislav kept the binoculars fixed onto 2-4.

“This is Bari, advise the Aschen to form up and support 2-4, they’re stacking on objective Charlie.”

A few hundred meters across the port, a squad of eight marines peered over the road barrier, beginning to crawl over it and filter their way towards the first warehouse. The marine at the front, a Sergeant, cradled the M-8 submachinegun in his hand and drew a hand into the air. As he keyed his comms, the marines lazily stacked up against the door. “This is Alpha 2-4, stacking on Objective Charlie.”

The setting changes from the-aurora to Eden Prime

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Amritha

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Eden Prime, somewhere in the Charybdian Shores


Despite Eden Prime’s remoteness, no less than a thousand lightyears from Terra, five to Langara and nearly ten to New Empyrea, the planet had every trapping of interstellar civilization common to a settled world. The Terran Federation’s admittance into the Interstellar Nations in the wake of the Terran Conflict was a double-edged sword that many in the House of Nations still probably debated about to this day - if one could simply hop through the Charybdis Veil into the Garden like one used to. On one hand, many of the central blocs were quick to use Terrans in their grand game for trade and resources in the Local Region like the Blue League, quick to punish the Aschen economically now that they had done the worst military, was quick to establish a rich industrial state in the barrens of the Local Region.

Off-setting the Aschen Empire’s difficult economic position with an even greater cultural insult, of accepting a Terran state to the Interstellar Nations before the more ‘civilized’ Aschen, was the reality that much of the territory that became the Terran Federation was hardly a homogenous state in terms of ethnicity. Roughly twenty percent of the population were previously stateless Gardenite colonists scattered across various planets that would become the Federation’s borders, and even later, in the wake of the First Galactic War, would Terran and Aschen refugees find themselves building a nation together.

The political victory for the Federate was not to be undermined either, despite the best efforts of the blocs of the Outer Garden to keep the Charybdis Veil as the de-facto border of the Interstellar Nations. In the time since that distant conflict, the Federation had seen nominal peace. Smuggling and sectarian violence aside, the Terran Federation seemed to be the Coalition’s greatest victory in bringing territories beyond the Charybdis Veil into the Gardenite fold.

That was, however, simply on the surface. Behind closed doors however, the Terran Federation’s greatest threat weren’t the distances to their allies, or even the tumultuous political battleground of their former homelands. In the recent months since the communications blackout and inability to traverse the Charybdis Veil, the Federation and her population of Scatterrans, Aschen and Terrans have had to nominally ‘share power’ with the standing might of the Apparatus forces marooned on the other side of the Veil.

Head of state of the Terran Federation, Johnne Rodre, was grateful for the Exogarden of course, but having lived through the Terran Authority, the Aschen occupation and subsequent struggles of settling the worlds of the Charybdian Shores, and the beginnings of this blackout had set him on edge with the Exogarden. Or rather, the Apparatus’ propensity to disregard the wills of the peoples and governments she nominally served had set him on edge. Sheffield had established the Federation’s ‘intricate’ relationship with Exogarden at its creation, but Johnne wasn’t able to put away the sensation one found when in a room with a wild, unchained animal.

That was how he felt now, closing the door to the large conference room and seeing the slim, brown haired woman standing before the large bay windows. Her Navy blues were crisp and clean, a small beret nestled on her head, while her hands were draped in front of her. She didn’t seem to notice Johnne arriving, instead allowing the Terran to close the door behind him.

He’d heard of the woman before, one of the Star Fleet’s capsuleers - a living, immortal computer used by the navy to operate their larger starships. This was no simple capsuleer however, in the months following the blackout she had become a staple around Metropolis City, meeting with the Terran government to organize the ‘effective protection’ of the Terran Federation and other minor states of the Charybdian Shores. She reported back to someone in the Exogarden, though Johnne had yet to find out exactly who.

Perhaps it was one of the Corps’ junior officers, one of the marine commanders or a commodore of the Exogarden’s Varangian Squadron. He’d met most of them.

“I’m glad you were able to meet with me, President Rodre. It seems communications are difficult even this far from the Veil.” The woman said quietly, her chin tilting down just slightly as her hands dropped to her side.

“Y-yes, of course. I take it this is about me denying the operation to - “ Before Johnne could finish, the woman was turning, sharp green eyes focusing on the Terran. Easily standing a clear head taller than her, Johnne couldn’t explain the unnerving eyes that locked on to him despite the woman’s small, diminutive appearance. Even though she had those distinct, Gardenite features, her small frame betrayed a danger deep within the woman’s mind.

“Despite the Terran government’s concerns, we have decided to move on that asset.” She informed rather bluntly, her empty face hardly missing a beat as Johnne’s curse stuck in his throat. “Simply business, I’m sure you understand. That being said it appears I may have been … unclear in some of my previous agreements with your government.”

The woman was standing before Johnne in the blink of an eye, her delicate face locked into a determined visage as she leaned close. “We’ve put a couple corpses back together on some backwater lighting station and it turns out quite a few were low to mid smugglers,” She said, bringing her face closer and closer to study Johnne. “Two or three were in Federation custody before their little roadtrip. Am I to assume, President Rodre, that the Federation security forces are possibly complicit? Or just incompetent?”

“I don’t know who the fuck you think you are but - “ Johnne steeled himself before the woman, one hand holding the breast of his suit jacket. Before he got his voice though, the tiny woman simply shook her head. He was silenced in an instant, fuming down at the Gardenite.

“Pace yourself, Mr. President. Despite my initial accusations we are, officially, still on the same side.” She offered, then raising a delicate hand up to smooth his jacket’s breast. Her voice was steady and low though, head turning down just slightly. “We have reason to believe the blight and our psionic ‘incidents’ may be connected.”

Johnne turned his lips into a scowl, if this wasn’t enough of a problem on it’s own, he was reeling at the thought of something this massive going on just beneath the veneer of the rich nation. “What do you mean? The blight’s a planetary crop failure … and psionics have been fleeing Aschen space for decades, our Federal Psionic Program has - “

“I’m aware of the success of your civil programs, Mr. President, but Cordon Forces have encountered a number of combatant psionics that is concerning to the Juniors.” She started, and then took a brief step beside Johnne. One slight hand rested on his shoulder, giving a soft grip. “I would appreciate it if you informed the Local Regional Bureau of the … specifics of your little board school programme. If I don’t have to worry about your little school being a pipeline to extranational actors, it will placate the High Commodore too.”

“You can’t be serious, the Exogarden has no right to monitor the civilian governments - the House of Nations will have a fucking stroke when … “ The woman’s harsh green eyes narrowed, while at the corner of her mouth a smile broke.

“I don’t think I have to remind you the House of Nation’s inability to help our predicaments now, Mr. President. Communications drop routinely between the Garden and the Local Region, but considering there was an entire Apparatus corps that deserted just prior to the breakdown … do I need to explain how difficult Rogue divisions can be for us both?” Her voice softened at her last question, giving Johnne an encouraging squeeze on the shoulder before drawing her hand away. “It will be in both of our interests if we cooperate fully, and work for the common effort of securing the Shore Planets.”

“I … I see, I can make a call to Sheffield as soon as possible, and the Director of R&D.” The woman turned slightly, features softening as she seemed to achieve the complacency from Johnne that she desired. He never noticed how empty a capsuleer’s eyes were, this one’s a pair of deep, sage eddies that studied a cruel world and found it almost unimpressive. Johnne took a deep breath after he spoke, loosening his tie while the woman simply strode for the door.

“Excellent, Mr. President - I’m glad we were able to come to this understanding. I’ll inform the High Commodore of you and your government’s full cooperation, the Exogarden appreciates Terran assistance with these situations.”

The setting changes from eden-prime to The Aurora

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheila Nagala Character Portrait: Imperial Defense Force Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces

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Aboard the Far Sight Lost.

"Admiral, we've established two-way communications with the Exogarden Carrier Elyxion." EVE chimed in, while the Admiral remained focused on the large holographic table before her.

A shimmering audio icon flashed in the upper right hand corner, and the Admiral slowly reached up to touch it. Keying the communications, she was about to factor response until another contact appeared on the far side of the system.

"Additional ships detected, authenticating identification codes now, It's the Psalm Everyday." EVE reported, the second Reverence II roughly half an AU away pinging on the Far Sight Lost's command grid. This caused Admiral Genna to frown. "This is Provincial Garrison's Command, why is Fleet here?" Genna asked herself quietly.

"Ad Victoriam, Far Sight Lost, this is Psalm Actual, I'll be taking command of this operation as of this moment, I require a full sitrep, and a link up with the Starfleet Carrier in high orbit over the planet." Admiral Nagala's voice carried loud and crisp over the CIC's speaker system, linking the second Reverence II into the Aschen Datalink. It took roughly two minutes for Nagala to go over the identifiers, before she instructed EVE to broadcast to the CNS Elyxion.

"Attention Elyxion Actual, this is Fleet Admiral Nagala, supreme commander of the Imperial Navy, be advised I'll be taking full operational command of all Imperial Assets in system as of now, and I am requesting a full briefing on this package your forces have intercepted."

Pushing some stray black hair from her face, Nagala keyed up her own display, a wide-field display of the entire star system, with Aschen and Exogarden assets highlighted in green, and soft blue respectively. Something this dangerous would no doubt get Intelligence's attention, so she had to act swiftly. She adjusted the peaked cap that rested on her head, and manipulated the controls slightly, to reposition her own Reverence II into a lagrangian point inside the star system, far removed from everything that had been transpiring below.

Below, aboard the Far Sight Lost, Admiral Genna had already recieved new orders from Nagala to begin securing the entire port city immediately for termination, with the Empire's zero-tolerance policy concerning insurgents, the fact had disturbed Admiral Genna greatly.

"Admiral.." One of the Tactical Officers called out. "Fleet's just disseminated revised objectives, they want us to glass the continent?"

Reading the text associated with the order file, Genna nodded. "It's part of the Empire's Zero Tolerance policy when it comes to insurgencies. They don't want to differentiate between friend, and foe, so they want to kill them all. Fortunately, the order stipulates that we're to assist the Exogarden with whatever their objective is, and then raze this city to the ground once all ground assets have withdrawn."

Focusing on the display in front of her, she listened intently to the Marine chatter below.

"We have Scatteran forces moving against the north side of the port, I've identified this warehouse here." EVE reported, highlighting a warehouse where Alpha 2-4 had begun stacking for insertion.

"Our Adepts are closest to this position, we have enemy RPG positions in these offices here." EVE reported, highlighting a red office building, roughly four storeys tall.

Genna nodded slightly, tapping the building.

"One-two, quarter charge, make it so." Genna ordered.

"By your command." EVE reported.

Roughly two blocks from the northern warehouse, inside an office building, a group of insurgents were forming up with a heavy RPG as the line of Aschen war Adepts moved along the side street to the north, unfortunately for them, something big was about to happen.

Those on the ground would hear a deafening, shrill whine, followed by a strange staticky buzz, and a forty thousand roentgen spike in energy, and then there was two blinding green flashes of light, followed by a deafening, thunderous boom-boom, as one of the bow-turrets on the underside of the Reverence II opened fire, engulfing the office building in a flash of neon-green plasma, and sending a shockwave that shattered windows, and set off car alarms.

Amidst the chaos, eight war adepts in blue armor emerged from a nearby overturned eighteen-wheeler, calling out to the Marines stacking at the warehouse.

"Hey! I heard you guys needed a hand, you want us to go in first!" The Adept sergeant called out, his armor bearing the insignia of the Aschen Navy, and the stripes for sergeant. He chambered a twenty-millimeter Magnetron bolt, before he kicked down the jersey barrier that separated the roadway.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheila Nagala Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Amritha

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Captain Aatos stood with his hands behind his back, looking at a diagnostic of the Reverence II. He had only seen one in person years before when he was younger, on a distant world in the Eastern Republics in a war long ago …

“We’ve found new arrival contacts, signatures read Aschen ships!”

The shrill bark of an Ensign brought him out of his thoughts, and the Captain cautiously glanced over his shoulder once more, as if expecting to find someone in the crow’s nest behind him. “Fuck - this is the CNS Elyxion. We’ve tracked a smuggling pipeline, one end Exogarden security forces uncovered on a planet in the Charybdian Shores. Whatever these insurgents have been smuggling to Aschen space has required considerable resources, an entire life support system even … “ As Jakob began to debrief the Aschen admirals, he was sure to keep the most important cards to his chest - or rather, to the chest of the High Commodore that sanctioned this operation.

What was more concerning was the resistance put up planetside that left an uneasy burning in him, even with the arrival of the Aschen. Amritha’s personal interest in this mission was another factor that drew him to a darker and darker place as he spoke.

“Every smuggler and bootlegger will be running to the star lanes after we neutralize this den, so if there’s anyone you’ve needed to bring in for questioning I’d think about that right now. This is the largest trafficking lane we’ve found in the past few years, and whatever it’s for … well, it’s big as hell.”



Planetside, the eight marines packed at the warehouse readied their weaponry. A Lance Corporal adjusted the firing arm of his MG2 autosuit. The exoskin was light enough for use by even the most mobile of marines, while allowing the user to carry a heavy belt as well as the use of an articulating arm for operating the larger machineguns. The MG-40B hanging by his hip was one of those larger machineguns.

“Ay look, more locals!” A Private replied, loading a 42mm grenade into the magazine tube of the GL-91 grenade launcher. Several of the other marines were quick to recognize the Aschen, giving them a quick all-clear and then waving them over.

“You idiot, those are the fuckin’ Asch - we’ll open it up and you can storm it!” Another Corporal shouted, standing off to the side of the door. Gripping the handle to draw open the warehouse door, the Lance Corporal and Private both then stepped into action. Standing in front as the door opened, the Lance Corporal and Private both levelled their weapons up.

“Ay this the Uber Eats, got the firecracker shrimp!

The GL-41 fired first, a single round bouncing deep into the warehouse to explode with a heavy bang, and was then joined by the MG-40B as the Lance Corporal proceeded to bathe the warehouse before him. The other marines backed away just slightly, as the two marines poured their ammunition into the warehouse. Another marine then turned towards the Aschen, stacked up with his comrades and then waving the heavily armored troopers forward as their two fighters emptied the last of their ammunition.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheila Nagala Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces

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Admiral Nagala kept silent as she listened to the briefing. She had heard reports of invasive species popping up on fringe worlds across the Empire. So someone was importing something they weren't supposed to. This brought a brief shadow of concern across the Admiral's face.

"Acknowledged, CNS Elyxion." The Admiral replied, which was short, curt, and to the point, maybe even concerningly so, as she manipulated her holographic controls.

"Once their op's finished, we'll have Far Sight Lost conduct a sterilization op, we'll need prisoners for the Aurora Chair, though." Nagala remarked, frowning as she turned to her command staff, each one of them at their stations, working diligently to supplement EVE's already massive ability to coordinate across vast distance.

"I'll require full debrief on the conclusion of this operation, additionally; be advised to withdraw all assets upon conclusion. I have given the order to begin sterilizing the continent, I intend to send a strong message to these insurgents that we will not tolerate their actions."

Turning to her Executive officer, she gave a curt nod, and then focused her attention back to the holographic readout before her. Nagala had been a veteran of not only the Terran Conflict, but the Galactic War, and all subsequent conflicts with the Scatterran states, the errant racism simply dripped from her words, and the hologram of the strike carrier darkened her face even more.

On the ground, the Adept Sergeant grinned under the opaque-gold visor of his helmet, which polarized from the flash of the explosion.

"Let's show these boys how it's done!" He called out, unclasping a chainsword from his hip, and one-handing the gargantuan Heavy Magnetron as he sailed through the door, his massive frame taking out the concrete around the door frame, and the door itself as his weapon barked it's report inside the warehouse.

The chainsword revved it's angry buzz as he sailed inside, the deep 'thoom' of his weapon echoing against the weapons fire from surviving insurgents, bullet impacts striking his armor in a shower of sparks, but a keen observer could see the subtle ripples across the metal surface from each impact.

Four adepts ran into the warehouse, followed by agonizing screams, as someone's severed head flew out one of the gaping holes in the warehouse from the Lance Corporal's MG-40B.

"Show me what amounts for fury among your misbegotten kind!" Bellowed an Adept Knight-Apprentice, before he lunged towards a young insurgent, laughing as the man emptied his magazine futilely into the adept's stomach in a flash of sparks, and pinging metal. The Adept immediately bathed him in flame from his hydrazine flamethrower, and then tossed the burning man across the warehouse, like a flaming comet, the screaming body arced high over shipping containers.

The setting changes from the-aurora to Government Center

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman

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After the five hour flight from eastern Aslund, landing at the airport in Wing City joining an escort of the 666th Division’s Wing City garrison, the journey to the government center was a quiet one. A single Starlux pickup and Konkurs armored car were waiting for them on the tarmac as the AvHawk touched down, and three marines stood by the doors. The engines of the AvHawk chopped and churned, while the doors rolled open. Fortunato was out first with Stamatios, cradling the AK-7C carbine across his chest as he followed the Staff Sergeant.

“You the package from Starlight?” The driver of the Konokurs shouted over the shriek of engines, Stamatios only nodded as he pointed to the Starlux. Fortunato tossed his carbine over his shoulder, letting it hang by the sling.

“Shotgun, bitches! I ain’t cruised Wing City in a minute,” Fortunato began, coming around the hood of the Starlux and knocking his hand on it. Popping open the passenger door, the other passengers disembarked the AvHawk. The doctor and Officer Osman were the last, joining Stamatios and two marines for the Konkurs armored car.

“So what’s all this shit about? They pulled me off the WCPD driving course for this.” The driver of the Konkurs inquired to Stamatios, who only pried open the side door of the patrol car and toss his weapon in. Osman was quick to guide Kawandi into the Konkurs before she introduced herself.

“Senior Warrant Officer Irina Osman, Exogarden Stellar Police Force. You’re running us to the host-nation Government Center today. The doctor here has some … interesting information for the Terrans.” Irina offered, unbuckling her own M-9A3 carbine and packing it away in a compartment board of the Konkurs.

“Senior Warrant? Huh, you guys do fucking exist.” The driver said flatly, standing with a hand at the SSG handgun on his hip. “Bureau phoned ahead and has us on a secured line, it’s about a 30 minute drive through the city to the Government Center.”

Inside the Konkurs, Kawandi settled himself into one of the bucket seats and then tapped away at the tablet in his hands. “Did he say there’s a secured line? I wanted to speak with someone in the TNG as soon as we landed.” Irina was the last one in the Konkurs, closing the door with grunt.

“Easy now doctor, we’ll get you to your little tabeltop game.” Yiavannis replied, seated next to Walker as he laid the MG-40B on the floor of the cabin. “You believe this guy, Staff Sergeant? I’m surprised he ain’t got out a hallpass for us to stamp yet.”

“Can it, Yiavannis. Here, doctor.” Stamatios barked, pulling a handheld from a receiver by his seat and offering it over to the Terran. While the Konkurs trundled onward, Kawandi soon raised it to his ear and spoke.

“H-hello? Yes, this is Doctor Kawandi - I’m a xenobotanist and agroeconomist from the Outer Veil Institute. I’m part of a scientific expedition on cases of regional or planetary crop failures a - yes, yes, I’ll hold, please contact anyone or any department appropriate to speak to.”

The others couldn’t help but listen on to Kawandi, Yiavannis having a curious gaze on his brow though as he looked around the cabin of the patrol car. “Aaaaah I’m awful at plants - ex-wife got me one of those fuckin’, Aslund wilts or something, poor bastard was dead in a week. I actually think I took water out of the plant at some point,”

Stamatios, at least, took the doctor’s words more seriously. He steadied a gaze over to Irina. “Agri in the Shore Planets, that’s what this is about?” The Staff Sergeant asked, focusing intently on the officer. Kawandi would intricately expound every minor detail of his little mission here, and likely bore him the entire ride. Why had the Exogarden sent the Stellar Police along with him?

“One piece to a problem, Staff Sergeant. Bad yields, uptick in smuggling, the Federation’s less and less … cooperative in governing the Shore Planets.” Irina replied dryly, holding tight onto the straps buckling her to the bucket seat as the Konkurs navigated Wing City’s traffic. Kawandi had been on hold for quite a minute though, and was ready to offer an explanation of his own.

“Ah, ‘bad yields’ does not properly describe some of the cases I’ve come across. An heirloom grain species deteriorating in such a rate, across several different environments is -? Yes, yes I’m still here. Ah, this is, Doctor Rahil Kawandi … “

The setting changes from government-center to The Aurora

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheila Nagala Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Amritha

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Lance Corporal Parkastos disengaged his autosuit, swinging the MG-40B off of the mechanical arm before it folded onto the pack mounted to his shoulders. As the Aschen forces stormed in, Alpha 2-4 only exchanged brief gunfire with the insurgents before joining the Aschen. Towards the rear of the warehouse, Alpha 2-4 and the Aschen adepts would find the objective: a pair of shipping containers chock full of life support equipment and materials.

Parkastos keyed his comms with a free hand, soon scanning over the contraband before him. “This is Alpha 2-4 we are green on objective Charlie, definitely a positive on that target analysis.” He started, checking the time on a wristwatch as two other marines were busy securing the contraband.

“We’ve got oxygen and CO2 filters, electrolysis units - whatever they’re moving it’s humanoid.” The Lance Corporal remarked, before making a quick snap to Private Apallis as he studied a large o2 filter. “E - ay, don’t fuckin’ break shit! This is evidence, idiot.”

“I ain’t gonna’ break it!” Apallis snapped, bitterly turning the box away from Parkastos. The Lance Corporal only huffed, snarling to his comrade.

“Y’rember’ the fuckin’ toaster?”

Who knew you weren’t supposed to put metal in it.

“Everyone, Apallis, literally everyone knows that.”

The Lance Corporal let out a defeated sigh as the two marines began to bicker, giving a glance over to the Aschen adepts with a defeated shake of his head. When the comms began to babble again, Parkastos tipped the earpiece back into position. “Fuckin’ idiots these guys … uh, yeah, this is Parkastos, it’s cleared. Any news on the Commander?”

The setting changes from the-aurora to Government Center

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman Character Portrait: Tesfaye Ghebreselassie Gebremariam

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#, as written by Ylanne
"Dr. Rahil Kawandi?" The voice on the other end of the phone sounded puzzled. Monica Yudell thought she vaguely recognized the name, had perhaps seen it listed as publication author on something she'd read awhile ago. "This is Dr. Monica Yudell. I'm the senior policy advisor on agriculture to the Ministry of Development. I'm told you wanted to speak to someone about crop failures? Is that right?"

Monica's office was barely large enough to fit her desk and two chairs, with a small filing cabinet preventing the door from opening all the way, and an intern occupying the other half of her desk three days a week, so close they were almost breathing on top of each other when both were present. The one window was clean but small, and afforded a view of a large tree on the sidewalk outside the building, which at least was better than her colleague's view one door down, who could see a security post, and sometimes the guard dog, but never anything else.

Monica was only three doors down from the Minister's office, and all of them had been allocated only half of one floor in Government Center's West Wing - the chosen few deemed senior enough to hold Government Center offices, while the rest of the Ministry's staff were in the decidedly less ostentatious building a mile away. Monica half-wished they'd actually all been set up at the warehouse, which was how she liked to think of the Ministry's actual office building, since it would have drastically cut commute time for intra-ministry meetings.

"What the fucking fuck?!" Something shattered down the hall. "You can't just leave things like that!"

Monica squeezed her eyes shut. That would be the intern, probably audible over the phone to Dr. Kawandi. This had always been a mistake. Monica cupped her hand over the receiver and yelled down the hall. "I'm on the phone!" Then muttered, "Christ," to herself, shaking her head. "Sorry about that - you were saying?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman Character Portrait: Tesfaye Ghebreselassie Gebremariam

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Speaking over the phone was difficult regardless of which end of the receiver one were on, between the dull grumble of an engine in Kawandi's background or breaking glass. Kawandi gave a pleading look over to Stamatios for a moment, who then quickly silenced Yiavannis with the snap of a finger. "Quiet down, lil' fucker ... smart people are talking."


"Ye-yes, excellent. Doctor Yudell, I apologize being so hasty with this - the military preferred I do this in person but, I feel it rude to simply barge in and throw all my research at you." Kawandi began, tilting his head to carry the receiver while he fiddled with the tablet on his lap. "I'll have an in-depth explanation when we arrive, uuuuh, can I get a time for that please, Sergeant?" Kawandi broke away from the phone, peeking over to the Sergeant who turned over his wrist to check a watch. "Half an hour! I should be arriving in half an hour, forty-five minutes ... but to begin Dr. Yudell, I am the lead researcher studying crop failures on three planets in the Charybdian Shores - that is, uh, the galactic north of Terran in the Local Region." As Kawandi spoke on, Yiavannis gave the Terran a cautious side-eye while sharing a snack with Walker.

"Is this what you do after college? Ride around with a bunch of dropouts talking to secretaries on the phone all day?"

Walker pursed his lips in thought at Yiavannis' words. He then turned to look at Yiavannis, his lips drawing into a disappointed frown as he realized the man was dead serious. "Uh, Yia ... you're the only one that dropped out." He finally offered, sucking on his teeth while the Corporal looked around quizzically.

"Nah fuckin' way, really? You guys finished third academy?" Yiavannis questioned. His voice dropped down to a mutter now though, as he first looked to Irina. "I mean, you're a Warrant so. You probably spent like, twenty fuckin' years at college or some shit."

"I stayed around an extra three or four years to get my CrimJus for the ESPF." Yiavannis was taken aback by a moment, not by Irina's extended career in academia but - he was sure at least Walker didn't graduate! Pointing a finger over to Stamatios, he was about to launch at the Staff Sergeant before the Aschen simply shook his head.

"Masters in Business Administration, bud. Sister opened a florist on Nachtmar but didn't know a thing about running it so." Stamatios only shrugged dismissively, while Yiavannis for once, was simply put into silence and laid his back against the seat. Now that he was provided some silence, Kawandi was much more talkative into the receiver.

"We’ve encountered a series of possible genetic diseases across several different common spelt crops - er, wheat, and in my research I’ve come to more questions than answers.” Kawandi replied rather dejectedly, scrolling through his tablet as the pair of Apparatus vehicles trundled through the choked lanes of Main Street and on towards the Government Center. “I don’t mean to incite a panic but, in the coming days I would like to share my finds with as many of your people or directors in the ministries - agriculture and transport, particularly, but as many of your science teams as well.” The Starlux technical slowed before the armored car, taking the approach through any checkpoints slowly and cautiously. The marine driving the armored car made a silent motion to Stamatios and the others in the back, slowly rolling down a window while plucking up a sheaf of papers and a small bundled folder on the dashboard of the vehicle.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman Character Portrait: Tesfaye Ghebreselassie Gebremariam

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#, as written by Ylanne
"You're studying crop failure in the Charybdian Shores, and you're from the Open Veil Institute, but you're here and demanding an urgent m - " Monica broke off, as realization hit her. She turned and yelled toward the door. "Hey - can you get the Minister?"

The intern responsible for the broken electric kettle appeared sheepishly at the door, half-hiding behind the door frame. Arjun held what remained of it by the handle, gingerly, his fingers barely wrapped around it for fear of the large pieces of jagged glass cutting him. His hand was already bleeding, one laceration clean through the middle of the palm, and his face was bright red. "I - uh - I might have - "

Monica waved dismissively, impatient. "It's fine; we can get a new one. Look, I've got a visiting xenobotanist/agroeconomist on the line, and from the sounds of it - well. Please get Minister Tesfaye. Immediately. And then, please go down to medical."

"But the Minister is - he's over in the main building, with the Prime Minist - "

"It's important, Arjun. Go tell him someone's dying if you have to. This is more important than whatever Khayyam is going on about, and besides, we all know she doesn't really care if he's even in the room. Go get him."

Arjun nodded, reluctantly, stepping away, then paused. "Uh - what do you want me to do with..."

"Just throw it in the fucking dumpster. And wash out that cut!" Monica turned back to the phone. "Exactly how worried do we need to be on Terra, Dr. Kawandi? Obviously, the blight hasn't yet made it here, or I'd have heard something by now. But I'm getting the sense that time is limited."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman Character Portrait: Tesfaye Ghebreselassie Gebremariam

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The two vehicles trundled to a stop before the steps of the Government Center, engines rumbling until they finally died. The driver of the Konkurs armored unbuckled himself, and peered over his shoulder while resting a hand on the pistol at his side. “We’ll be out here with the vehicles, I hate having to walk to a smoker’s section.” The marine grunted, drawing his sidearm and putting it onto the dash of the armored car. Holding a pack of cigarettes in one hand, he waved through the windshield to a pair of approaching Terran soldiers and then opened the door.

Irina and Stamatios were first out the side door of the armored car, making way for Kawandi in the middle with Yiavannis and Walker at the rear. They had left their weapon in the vehicles, locked in the various carry rigs by the seats as they disembarked. “I’m Senior Officer Osman and this is Staff Sergeant Stamatios, the doctor had called ahead.” Irina and the other marines exchanged the first, of likely many, quick introductions. On their way through security and into the heart of the TNG.

“Y’know I got lost once in a government complex as a kid, found the break room and stole someone’s ice cream - wonder where they’ve got the break rooms around here.” Yiavannis said as they came through the doors, looking high up to the ceilings above him as Stamatios made a short huff.

“I’ll put you in the daycare center, Corporal.” Stamatios charged, giving a glance over to Walker. “See what’s in the cafeteria today, get me a sandwich.” The Sergeant nodded over to Walker. Yiavannis clicked his tongue and took a deep breath.

Got it, shady street food.”

Osman, Stamatios and Kawandi were then left to approach a sentry desk. The doctor tucked the tablet under his arm and then placed a hand on the counter before him. “Hello, I’m Doctor Kawandi - I’d called ahead to uh, Doctor Monica Yudell, from the Ministry of Development.” He replied, while the two others were preparing IDs and credentials.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman Character Portrait: Tesfaye Ghebreselassie Gebremariam

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#, as written by Ylanne
"I'll call up and let her know you're here," replied Shiya Calusdian, a mid-aged woman with greying hair hanging loosely about her face, whose narrow, dark eyes watched the visitors closely. She gestured to the security scanners and a row of lockers beside them, three rings on her fingers momentarily flashing in the light. "Weapons in the lockers, ID's up here, and then pass through with your bags and papers. You know the drill." She lifted the receiver to the desk phone, momentarily frowning at the smudges that Hra'iir Qaa had left when she'd been on shift just before her. "Dr. Yudell? Your visitors are here - Dr. Kawandi, and looks like two others."

"Yes, please just send them over, okay? I've got Minister Tesfaye here with me too." Monica sounded rushed, and Calusdian could have sworn she heard the sound of objects falling and scattering all over the floors up there. "They don't need an escort."

"OK, I'll send them up as soon as they clear security," Calusdian said. She beckoned for the others' IDs, and once produced, held them to the desk scanner to check for signs of forgery, copied the information, then generated visitor badges, passing these and the IDs back over the counter. "If you know where you're headed, your meeting is in the West Wing, that way, up on the sixth floor, left-hand side. The Minister is waiting for you too." So you'd better be on your best behavior. Calusdian jerked her head toward the long marbled corridor with gold-inlaid ceilings connecting the old building with its annex, gorgeously draped windows spanning floor to ceiling for over ten meters.

The setting changes from government-center to The Great Black Water

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces

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Somewhere in the Great Black Water


While a storm raged over the murky, dark waves, great wings stretched out of a swirling black cloud like the limbs of a manta ray. Rather than down in the waters however, this metal beast loomed through the dark skies and clouds above, silently gliding in a lazy patrol over the seas some distance from Shintenchi. Save for the occasional blink or twinkle of a navigation light across the bow or stern, the vessel ran completely dark as its long range scanners and drones filtered through the strange encryptions and comms travelling back and forth across the planet.

Onboard the Globewalker II, Commander Frank Kahstos stood with his arms locked behind his back. Before him, he studied a topographical and emissions maps of Shintenchi, studying various little flickering lights and readouts. In the hours since the PN-2343 Atalantra had been dispatched into the Great Black to monitor whatever was going on in Shintenchi and Aslund, cryptoanalysts had long ago broken the comms to discover Shogunate and Terran personnel discussing something. Kahstos wouldn’t have his answer until now however, as he brought up a communique between the PN-2343 and Starlight Point’s Signals Intelligence Center. A hologram of an Ensign soon appeared beside him, promptly flashing a quick salute before debriefing the Commander.

“It appears there is a communications link established between a Shogunate terminal, to a Terran prison in Caldonia.” The Ensign remarked, quickly transferring a the information to the Commander’s own personal data terminal. Lifting his wrist to look at the screen, Kahstos chewed on his lip in thought.

“Hmmng, guess Starlight’s HUMINT was correct - I do believe there’s a war criminal on Shintenchi.” He remarked dryly, returning his arms behind his back while he stared at one drone in particular, several hundred kilometers away and approaching Shintenchi. “And I do believe Miss Drulovic is entertaining a visitor.” He finished.

“Commander, we have Bubble One-Three on return from it’s high altitude pass over Shintenchi, batteries are at 13 percent and dropping but - it should be able to make it back to the flight deck.” Another Ensign replied, down below in the pits of the bridge where the real brains of the operation were.

“Very good, cycle the drones and extract One-Three’s data ASAP. Packet it straight to me when completed.” Kahstos ordered, leaning forward to grip the railings of the crow’s nest while he glanced over to the drone on the landing approach. An Agros drone, stripped bare of any weaponry to instead carry a series of powerful, high-intensity active and passive sensors, as well as a powerful hacking and infiltration suite, the sleek craft had performed no less than three low-orbit passes over Shintenchi, and then into Aslund itself.

Fortunately, by the time most anyone had noticed the Agros’ active scanners or codebreakers the vessel would have been long gone, nearly on another rotation of the planet’s surface. To ensure drone’s stealth however, the Agros did not transmit what it saw and heard back to the Atalantra, instead storing it in a coded drive box that would be removed upon recovery of the craft.

“What the hell would Adrianne Drulovic have to say to the Taiyou Empress Dowager … “ Kahstos inquired to himself, drawing a hand up to his chin while thinking. Off to the side, the holographic display connecting him to Starlight Point snapped open, a Lieutenant standing at attention with the massive airscreens of the signals center behind him.

“Commander Kahstos, we believe the Taiyou have arranged a meeting between Adrianne Drulovic and Kendra Shaw. Nothing sinister, we assume - just catching up, sharing war stories - “

Before the Lieutenant finished Kahstos crossed his arms and gave an incredulous huff. “Reminiscing a genocide, sounds like a lovely way to reconnect.” He clenched a fist and studied the map ahead of him.

“We believe the current TNG’s regime policies have had … adverse consequences for former assets like Drulovic. Commander, did you want to alert … the Juniors?” The Lieutenant’s voice was shaky at the end of that, lowering as well, as if there were ears everywhere.

“Absolutely fucking not. One of them gets their hands on Shaw or Drulovic, we’ll be looking at a warlord making a play for the Exogarden.” Kahstos remarked rather quickly, shaking his head as he turned towards the Lieutenant. “I’ll be assuming full operational control - any information stays between Starlight and me, understood?”

”Y-yessir.”



Several hundred kilometers away, nearing the quiet shores of Shintenchi, a single Agros drone buzzed through the air, the sensor pods rigged underneath her wings burning hot as they switched through various emissions and signals coming from Aslund and Shintenchi.

… correct course to 2.3. Adjust Skypod aperture.

The instructions came bursting through the command line and the drone complied, lazily adjusting its course to draw it away from the Shintenchi shores and over towards Aslund proper. With that, it would be in a better position to pick up stray encryptions over Aslund, while another drone would be tasked with loitering over Shintenchi.

The setting changes from the-great-black-water to Government Center

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman Character Portrait: Tesfaye Ghebreselassie Gebremariam

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Stamatios exchanged a brief glance with Irina for a moment, the woman’s cool eyes telling him all he needed to know. As he drew his Mk. 920 sidearm, then pried the slide back to reveal the round in the chamber, promptly switched it onto safe and then handed it over. Irina did the same, her own sidearm a related model, though a bit smaller. Revealing herself as law enforcement, perhaps, Irina placed her firearm beside the Sergeant’s with a nod.

Irina took a moment as Kawandi provided his information as well. Steely eyes looked over to Stamatios, while a soft hum escaped her lips. “Odd, isn’t it?” Irina inquired, giving Stamatios a curious eye while she placed a small info-chip of her own onto the counter beside Kawandi’s papers and identification.

“Odd, ma’am?” Stamatios replied rather softly, resting a hand on his empty holster as he observed the hustle and bustle around him. It took him a minute to realize. “Hmmm, guess it is.”

Stamatios, like many members of the 666th, was an ethnic Aschen. A Caprican, specifically, in the olive drab uniform of an Apparatus marine. Kawandi was a Terran: Tanzanian, specifically, or as many of his Gardenite compatriots pronounced his homeland ‘Tinziria’.

Irina, herself, had the sharp features of a Vendragan, a Scatterran ethnicity somewhat comparable to a European Spaniard. The three of them together made the appearance the Federate had always envisioned for the Local Region: an Aschen, a Gardenite and a Terran working together. Stamatios was surprised there weren’t cameras flashing to capture the moment.

“A snapshot of mankind - hell, all we’d need is a Taiyou and it’s a propaganda piece for the Federate.” Irina started with a chuckle, taking her IDs back as they were finally issued through. “Fortunately, they’re not around with their cameras … or anything else, for that matter.”

“Thank you ma’am,” Kawandi began to the woman at the desk. “Excuse me, Officer Osman.” Kawandi asked, fitting his papers back into his breast pocket as the three of them made their way towards the West Wing. “Would you mind holding this for me?” He inquired, handing the woman a small device. “A data drive, I’d prefer to leave it with the Ministry of Development.”


As they made their way to the West Wing, Stamatios took up the rear, escorting the Senior Officer and her Terran charge. At the door, Kawandi stopped for a moment, reaching up to adjust a pair of glasses on the bridge of his nose. Draping a hand on the door, he turned to both Stamatios and Osman. “Thank you for the escort, Sergeant … uh, I’m sorry again, your name was?”

“Stamatios, Doctor. Staff Sergeant.” The marine offered with a soft tilt of his head. Kawandi simply nodded and opened the door. Irina was the first to speak, stepping past Doctor Kawandi while offering a brisk salute with her right arm.

“I am Senior Officer Irina Osman, this is Doctor Rahil Kawandi - and our escort planetside. Staff Sergeant Stamatios.” She gave a wave to the other two, and Stamatios made a salute of his own while Osman continued. “I’m part of a special detachment assigned to Kawandi’s expedition monitored by the Stellar Police Force … Doctor Kawandi, please.”

Kawandi was standing off to the left with his tablet wrapped against his stomach. At Irina’s motion, the doctor ran a hand through his hair as if preparing for a speech. He stepped up to a nearby table and placed his tablet atop it, giving a soft flick of his finger.

“Hello - it’s good to finally bring this to you. Uhh, I am Doctor Rahil Kawandi, xenobotanist - truthfully, my passion was entomology but … the pressures of colony life, yes?” Kawandi began, his best attempt at a joke as he stood at the end of the table. The device he’d set on the table winked to life, a holo-projector soon displaying a series of folders and presentations above the table.

“As I first explained, there has been a … developing situation in the Charybdian Shores, or as my compatriots here call them,” He gestured to Irina and Stamatios abruptly. “The ‘Shore Planets’. In the past years there was a surplus crop yield, from two major planets in particular.” With that, he flicked a hand towards the holographic displays, bringing two Earth-like worlds into focus. “Lately however we’ve experienced a curious blight. While at first we believed it was benign, something that we could treat with a simple gene-therapy with adaptive crop modification I believe we may have exacerbated the situation with these methods.”

Kawandi then keyed onto one planet in particular, named Ameria. As information scrawled down in a long list, there were also graphs detailing the crop yields throughout the years - and the obvious decline in tonnage exported to the other Shore Planets and the rest of the Local Region. “On Ameria we’ve seen it the worst. This blight has reduced agricultural output to the point of even threatening basic subsistence on the planet itself. Firstly though, I believe I have a drastic request … “


”Any and all crop stocks received from Ameria, I would suggest be frozen and held in security. This blight has only been found in terrestrial yields - I believe that zero-gee agricultural works can not be affected by the blight due to the methods of orbital agriculture. I have made an extensive list of all possible shipments from Ameria to other worlds as well, hopefully making it easier to ensure no infected yields have a chance of exposure here on Terra, or elsewhere.”

The setting changes from government-center to The Aurora

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheila Nagala Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Amritha

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Two of the Adepts moved rather clumsily, and noisily behind the Lance Corporal as they too shouldered their weapons, each Adept letting their weapons attach with a magnetic clamp to their armor, as they lumbered over to the shipping containers.

Each one of them cantered their head as their visors retracted, eying the contraption that was in front of them.

"What is it?" One of the Adepts asked, turning towards his Sergeant, whom shrugged. "Hell if I know, let's leave it, and let the glassing beams handle it." He suggested, as what sounded like thunder echoed in the distance, followed by a brief flash of orange-pink light that seemed to wash through the windows. One of the Adepts went to the window, and looked out towards the Reverence II in the distance, a brilliant lance of energy fired from the belly of the ship, causing flames, and plasma to lap high into the horizon above the buildings. They had begun glassing an insurgent controlled zone, taking care to avoid Exogarden positions.

"Hey!" The Adept Sergeant called out.

"Whatever nonsense you got here, we better pack up and get rolled out, they've started glassing, and it won't be long before they reach our position." The Adept said, moving back to the Lance Corporal, and his Marines, his visor retracted with a plume of smoke from his cigar, that he had been nursing on throughout the entire engagement.

"What do you suspect this all is, Sarge?" A third adept inquired, lumbering over Private Apallis, and nudging one of the o2 scrubbers with his comically large armored foot.

"Whatever it is, it ain't pretty" He turned to the Lance-Corporal. "Corporal, what do we gotta to to secure this stuff!?" The Adept-Sergeant called out.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheila Nagala Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Amritha

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Planetside, at the port


Parkastos stood beside a pallet full of materiel, studying the various filters and devices. He was quiet as the radio continued to squawk, the occasional bark of gunfire coming from the other end. Apallis and PFC Strommat were busy photographing and logging the equipment before them. “I think we’ve got a few shipping numbers intact, might be able to get something from that.” Apallis remarked, resting one elbow across his knee as he stood crouched before the pallet.

“I dunno’ what’s been goin’ on in your neck of the woods but whoever’s been trying to get into Aschen space has known their way in. We’ve had traffic disappearing around this constellation for months.” Strommat replied as he caught the question of one of the Adepts, taking a small vial swab and promptly shoving it back into the pockets of his ballistic vest.

“Whoever it is they’re definitely a pro, some of this shit reeks of Red Halo.” Apallis tossed away a packet of air filters and then promptly stood up. Looking over to the Adept by the window, the din of the glassing was slowly growing closer and closer - and Apallis even tasted carbon and atmosphere in the air while he adjusted the G4K rifle at his side. “We’ve heard some odd shit about this little trafficking ring - whatever they’re smuggling, there’s not a buyer in Aschen space for it. Not one intel has determined, at least.”

As the Aschen Sergeant called to the Lance Corporal, Parkastos shook his head and cleared his nose with a huff. “Let it burn with the rest of the planet. We’ve got all we wanted off it, tags and prints. This should have been more well defended if they needed this stuff to make it all the way into Aschen space, wherever they were taking it.” Parkastos’ eyes narrowed then, thoughts running through his mind.

“If you needed this big of a safety just to get through the Local Region we should’ve stepped off into a fucking shitstorm right, Parkie?” Apallis inquired, coming to stand with the marines and other Adepts.

Parkastos’ face suddenly turned, eyes widening a second as he looked over to the Adept Sergeant. “This planet was listed uninhabited on our starcharts - we haven’t had a probe in the constellation for years though, what do your charts read?” He barked to the Sergeant, then promptly turned to look out the window as he brought his JEMI short-band radio to his lips.

“This is Alpha 2-3, something’s not making sense here. I don’t think we’re behind the package, I think we’re ahead of it!”



Onboard the CNS Elxyion


Onboard the CNS Elyxion, Captain Jakob Aatos took a sharp breath as he watched the displays before him. The port had been secured, but as the marines and Adepts groundside linked up, questions began to filter through Aatos’ mind. He had expected more resistance, or at least a more determined attempt to keep the marines from the docks.

Now things were simply going too fast for him to think. It had been mere hours since the Aschen begun their glassing, and at his estimation they would only have a few more hours more before there was a complete collapse of the biosphere on the planet and any investigation would become exponentially more difficult. “Fuck. What’s our timeline looking like here?” The Captain barked.

Down below, an Ensign in Systems stood over the working pit while three other technicians were working. “Estimated sixteen hours before a biosphere collapse and anyone groundside will need to be in a vac-suit. Atmospheric boil to begin in six to eight.”

Just then, a Lieutenant let out a deep yell from Comms, holding a receiver tight to his ear. “Captain, we have comms from Commander Solomon’s unit! He needs connection with both the Elyxion and the Far Sight Lost!” Aatos gripped the rail tightly as he heard the report from the Lieutenant, then firmly nodding as he agreed to the request. As the link was established, the expeditionary carrier tethered its high-powered communications beam to the Aschen ship, a channel soon opening that was first marked with loud gunfire.

”This is Commander Solomon, planetside at objective Charlie - we’re at the Governor’s House but need backup immediately, and a medevac. We’ve - uh, we’ve stumbled on something big.”

The setting changes from the-aurora to Government Center

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman Character Portrait: Tesfaye Ghebreselassie Gebremariam

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#, as written by Ylanne
Osman, Stamatios, Kawandi. Monica made mental note of the names, as she smiled politely, and returned the introductions. "Monica Yudell, senior policy advisor on agriculture. The central switchboard directed your initial call to me. This is Dr. Tesfaye Ghebreselassie Gebremariam, Minister of Development. The director of agriculture isn't available right now unfortunately, or I'm sure she'd join us too." Monica wondered what the woman's reason for absence today would be. Last week it had been malaria.

The two Terrans watched the graphs with curious eyes, Monica carefully taking notes on a tablet in front of her - a luxury purchase she'd been told she should be grateful that procurement had approved. Of course, the luxury designation would have made somewhat more sense if the damn thing ever worked. Monica figured the toady clerk had had a good laugh over that one. She sat tense beside the minister, who wasn't taking any notes at all - likely relying only on Monica to do it for him. Most of them did.

Monica was short and lithe, the minister a stocky man only a few centimeters taller than her. She was barely past forty, tan skin complimented by thick dark hair pinned up neatly behind her, while Tesfaye was pushing sixty-five, uncombed tufts of hair grayed in contrast to his dark face. He was balding now, and unlike nearly every other ministerial head, was dressed in a casual field jacket and collared shirt with the top button left undone, in contrast to Monica's sharp, tailored pantsuit. But she'd hidden her frustration, as usual, because Tesfaye was the Minister of Development, and she was only a senior policy advisor, not even a departmental director. The departmental directors were all in the annex, perhaps ironically. This posting was supposed to be a reward. A prize.

"Do you have lab results on the blight?" Monica asked, "even a genetic profile at this point? What's the underlying cause?"

"We have to assume the relevant pathogen has already been introduced," Tesfaye said gravely, eyebrows furrowing as he looked up at Kawandi. "We'll send monitoring teams to look for evidence of it, but we'll need to obtain samples to compare suspect specimens against, and if you do have that genetic profile - regardless of how many mutations it's gone through at this point - we'd like that too. And the shipment list, please." Tesfaye looked at Monica, and she suppressed a sigh, producing a portable drive and proffering it to Kawandi.

The setting changes from government-center to The Aurora

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Sheila Nagala Character Portrait: E.V.E. Character Portrait: Ceres Genna Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Amritha

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#, as written by barney_fife
Aboard the Far Sight Lost...

"Admiral, I have an incoming transmission from the CNS Elxyion." EVE chirped as Admiral Genna manipulated her holographic interface, a sound interface flickered into view, she reached up and tapped the icon, and pulled the screen towards a large interface, thumbing her chin, and resting against the console.

”This is Commander Solomon, planetside at objective Charlie - we’re at the Governor’s House but need backup immediately, and a medevac. We’ve - uh, we’ve stumbled on something big.”

"Commander Solomon, this is Admiral Genna, Far Sight Lost actual, I've got reinforcements en-route, hold tight." She replied, triangulating the origins of the transmission on the large command interface, while clicking two Condors on the icon, and a third to be sent to the warehouse.

"Let's extract the Adept team, and Alpha 2-3." Genna called out, before keying the comms.

"Alpha 2-3, this is Far Sight Lost actual, evac Inbound, standby."

Genna turned towards EVE, and then highlighted another swathe of city. "We'll redouble our energy projectors to these neighborhoods here, and start sterilization." Genna remarked.

The massive superstructure of the Reverence II groaned, and protested against the pull of gravity, as the ship's massive thrusters ignited, and the thirty kilometer long supercarrier began to move it's yaw, it's prow adjusting slightly to reveal sunshafts through the darkened sky.

Three Condor VTOLs descended from the belly of the beast, engaging their thrusters, and darting off into two different directions. One Condor began heading towards the Warehouse district, to pick up the Adept Team, and Alpha 2-3, while a pair of Condors began to head towards the Governor's house.

---

Groundside, Warehouse District

The Adept Sergeant shrugged in his armor, the servos, and hydraulics hissing with his movements. "This world was categorized as a colonial frontier world, sparsely inhabited fringe world, with little attention paid by the Empire." The Adept replied, taking a moment to key EVE up for the inquiry.

He lumbered over to the pallet of equipment, and then paused, there was a deafening thunderous roar, and a stiff breeze that washed through broken windows. The Reverence II above had stopped glassing for a moment, igniting it's gargantuan engines to reposition itself further away from their position.

"Sarge!" An Adept called out, as he pointed up into the sky. "Condor!" He called out, the shrill whine of the VTOL engines carrying through the interior of the warehouse.

"Apallis, our ride's here!" The Adept Sergeant, a man by the name of Tarkus called out, as his visor retracted.

"Let's load this garbage and get out of here, looks like you got some friends who need help at the Governor's Mansion." Tarkus added.

---
Groundside, Governor's House

"Solomon, this is Constellation-Five-Nine-Nine, coming in hot, I've got Nebula-Two-Niner-Niner with me, we got assistance inbound, hold position--" The message abruptly cut out at the sound of 30mm flak going off overhead, the pair of Condors, with one of them trailing thick black smoke swooped around the large gated front yard of the Governor's Mansion.

"Triangulate that small arms fire! Take em out!" Sergeant Tiri called out, slamming a fusion cell into his disruptor rifle. He flinched briefly, as small caliber rounds ricocheted from the hull of the VTOL.

"We're hot, go go go, the Navy ain't payin us by the hour!" Tiri called out, hitting the ground running with two ten-man squads of Aschen marines, all formed up and hitting the ground running.

Gunfire was interrupted for Solomon, by the distinct cracks of disruptor fire, as Sergeant Tiri's squad engaged a group of insurgents on the south side of the Governor's lawn, using overturned cars, and some steel hedgehogs as cover, sending shimmering green bolts of light into a block of rowhouses across the street.

The setting changes from the-aurora to Government Center

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Exogarden Forces Character Portrait: Irina Osman Character Portrait: Tesfaye Ghebreselassie Gebremariam

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Kawandi stood at the end of the table with his hands folded in front of him, the Terrans’ demeanor betrayed a prior service, though it was hard to imagine the smaller man carrying a rifle and wearing a uniform. He noticed that those sitting across from him weren’t taking notes, or scrawling away at their tablets - all except for one of course. “Ah, I’d requested paper copies as well but the Colonel had … concerns about this research being compromised from a leak.” Kawandi started, then leaning forward as he continued to explain more.

“We believe there has been some sort of fungal contaminant that originated from another planet, possibly somewhere in the Garden or out here. I’ve not been able to determine an original genetic profile, only a post-mutation gene map. I do have one developing theory,” Kawandi said, quickly bringing up a display of background radiation commonly observed in the space around the Shore Planets.

“We’ve heard of genetic deteriorations brought about by background exposure through space travel, but this normally takes place through a much larger time frame, and often upon deliberate exposure to radiation. These crops were degraded from, we assume, one passing shipment through space … “ Kawandi stopped for a moment, before then looking back over to Irina. The woman quietly fished the device out of her ballistic vest, prying the strap loose to reveal the long cylindrical piece of equipment.

“Here is a digital copy of my data on both the compromised crop genes and the blight, as well as a physical specimen. What you’ll discover is that, I believe, the blight was native to a planet with a closely related crop species and formed a symbiosis with it before an infected yield was transported through space to be planted elsewhere - here in the Local Region, that is.”