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Found 41 results

  1. Lor Space Aboard the Praetorian Aquila Class Starship Devotion Mid-December, 2014 (Terran calendar) Amara Val-Ren still felt somewhat ill at ease in the command seat of the Praetorian spacecraft. But in the short time since she and her fellow Praetorians had been revived by the Curator, she had actually spent only a small amount of time aboard either of the Praetorians' surviving starships. She and her brethren had been thrust into another conflict with the Communion, this time seeking to help the various space fairing powers that were being hard pressed by the Communion forces. Lacking the numbers to directly confront the Communion as they had over two thousand years ago, the surviving Praetorians instead did what they could to organize and inspire the forces of those fighting the threat. But for every cruiser they destroyed, or wave of antibodies they decimated, there were always more, the Communion continuing to add to its forces as it cyberformed planet after planet as it moved through sectors of space. But as desperate the situation was, the sheer scope of the threat had left little time for Amara or fellow Praetorians to dwell much on the fact that they were now two thousand years removed from the empire they had once served, and that all that they knew, everyone they once knew, were not long gone, even with how long Naram could live. But occasionally there were quite moments, where such thoughts could come to the front. In the face of those times, Amara could only try to focus on what she had to do to try to see herself and the others safely through this crisis. Of course, much of the time it seemed as if she was merely delaying the inevitable, but she could not let that stop her from what she had to do, for countless beings were counting on them, even if many of those beings did not even know it.
  2. Gizmo

    Incursion

    Incursion Incursion: Prologue Praetorians: AwakeningIncursion: Three If By SpaceIncursion: Holding the FortIncursion: Phase One Incursion: Blood in the Water A Lor refugee cruiser has become separated from the evacuated fleet! Can our heroes defend it from Communion fighters long enough to make it to safety? Featuring: Paradigm, Kharag, Deep Freeze and Seika Incursion: Meaning in Destruction The world-killer has set course for another world. The clock is ticking as our heroes try to discover why and escape with their lives! Featuring: Dragonid, Moon-Moth, The Traveller and Solar Sentinel Incursion: The Conquered Flesh The Stellar Khanate has been silent since the Communion first arrived in known space. Cavalier recruits blockade runners to find out the terrifying reason! Featuring: Cavalier, Eclipse and Rock Incursion: Opportunists and Opposition The remaining Star Knights are spread thin and pirate attacks have surged! But are interstellar brigands the worst our heroes have to fear? Featuring: Corona, Mechanized, Memorial and Galvanic Incursion: Backwater They came for a bounty but our heroes much deal with a corrupt sheriff, overcrowded refugees and rising tensions if they plan to make it back to civilized space! Featuring: Bliss, Roulette and Ruby VoxxIncursion: Phase Two The silent night of December 25th is broken by the arrival of a threat from the stars! The worst has come to pass and the Communion has come for Earth! With attacks on every corner of the globe the heroes of Freedom City must leave the familiar rooftops of their home city behind to defend their planet from utter destruction! Incursion: Stop-Thrust The members of the Freedom League organizing the defense of Earth from aboard the Lighthouse find that something is trying to turn their own weapons against them! Featuring: Comrade Frost, Fleur de Joie, Gabriel, Gaian Knight and Velocity Incursion: Drop the Needle The Communion's arrival has awakened something buried deep beneath Seattle's Space Needle and it might take three Erin Whites to save the day! Featuring: Cannonade, Cobalt Templar, Edge, Midnight II and Wander Incursion: That's Amore Dragonfly and Miss Americana have a plan for a defensive weapon using the Farsider's moonstone as a focus. The Communion has a plan to blow the moon into itty bitty pieces! Featuring: Dragonfly, Geckoman, Harrier, Jack of all Blades, Miss Americana and Willow Incursion: Uploaded to the Cloud As news of the invasion spreads and threats reveal themselves, a charismatic cult leader in Rio de Janeiro is on the rise! Dark magic or cosmic charlatans?! Featuring: Equinox, Ghost Girl, Nick Cimitiere, Nightingale, Phantasmo and Wraith Incursion: Spirit of the Blitz Communion needleship drones focus on the UNISON HQ in Geneva, which houses may of Earth's space flight capable combat craft! The Vanguard and their allies stand in the way! Featuring: Coiled Lightning, Foreshadow II, Myrmidon, Synapse, Ulysses and Young Britannia Incursion: God Squad Typhon plans to usher in the apocalypse by turning nanotech drones near the Naqada necropolis into cyborg versions of mythical monsters! Who ya gonna call? Featuring: Arrowhawk, Meatheral, Miras, Set and Sun Walker Incursion: Mind Over Matter The Communion's broadcast is laying siege to the psychically receptive minds of Earth! Our heroes use the Arecibo Observatory to meet the threat head-on on the astral plane! Featuring: Blue Fox, Hologram, Miss Grue and Nano Angel Incursion: Matter Over Mind While the psychic heroes fight the broadcast, their bodies are vulnerable! A second team must defend them against waves of Communion drones! Featuring: Fast-Forward, Grimalkin, Net Fly, Queenie, Silver Magus and Triakosia Incursion: Science Team Go! A computronium bomb hits the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia, converting everything it touches! Our heroes race to stop a grey goo scenario! Featuring: Asad, Citizen, Hronos, Maxima and Terrifica Praetorians: Ghost in the MachineIncursion: Phase Three While Earth has lay under siege the rest of the galaxy has burned with war. The Communion continues to sweep over world after world, converting most into horrific server tombs to fuels it insatiable hunger to expand its intellect and destroying others outright to create wormholes for some more diabolical purpose. It does not do so unopposed, however, as the Galactic Coalition fights back at every turn! Lor mentats soldier on shoulder to shoulder with Grue Arcane while Khanate pirates take up arms alongside newly awakened Praetorians in a battle for their very survival! They are outnumbered and overpowered but they have a plan. Legends are about to be born and one way or another the galaxy will never be the same. Incursion: Black Sheep For months Star Knight Kyle Steward has been a one man armored thorn in the Communion's paw. An ally arrives to help and catch him up on what he's missed in the meantime. Incursion: Red Five The Communion's machinations on Earth have been thwarted but the world-killer still looms near Pluto's orbit! Can our heroes destroy the superweapon before their home joins Lor-Van? Featuring: Argonaut, Cavalier, Geckoman, Hronos and Sun Walker Incursion: Merciless At the Coalition's secret base a final, desperate stratagem is being planned. It becomes much more desperate when the communed Star-Khan arrives to quash the resistance once and for all! Featuring: Galvanic, Paradigm and Rock Incursion: Troopers Behind enemy lines on a cyberformed server world our heroes must lead grudging allies from the Lor, Grue and more in an assault on a key communication relay before time runs out! Featuring: Corona, Eclipse, Roulette and Wander Incursion: Blockade Runners To get vital intelligence regarding the location of the Communion mothership back to the Coalition our heroes will have to fight their way off world and through an enemy blockade! Featuring: Bliss, Dragonid, Ghost Girl, Kharag and Wraith Incursion: Interstellar 66 With another world targeted for destruction to form another wormhole a risky deal must be struck. Are our heroes sure they're aligning themselves with the lesser of two evils? Featuring: Dragonfly, Deep Freeze, Ruby Voxx and The Traveller Incursion: Only Hope There's just one chance to infiltrate the Communion mothership and disable it from the inside, with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance! Featuring: Citizen, Mater Vyrdna, Moon Moth, Seika and TemperanceIncursion: Aftershocks
  3. Outer edge of the Sol System The Communion's attack on Earth had been repulsed by many of the planet’s heroes, working alongside several military and extra-governmental forces. For the moment, the planet was safe. But the Communion's world killer weapon was still positioned at the outer edge of the solar system, barely held in check by the Freedom League and their allies. With reports reaching back to the Freedom League and Earth's heroes from the Star Knights about a fleet of Communion ships headed towards the Sol System, possibly to try to assist in getting the world killer free, it was decided that merely holding the world killer at bay was no longer a viable solution. So the remaining League members on Earth had begun gathering a number of volunteers to try to help destroy the world killer before the Communion relief fleet could arrive. The gathering of the various heroes coincided with the return of one of Earth's Star Knights, Kyle Steward, who had firsthand experience against the Communion's deadly weapon. Now, Geckoman was behind the controls of one of the League's Pegasus spaceplanes, flying a rather odd collection of heroes to help in the fight against the world killer….
  4. GM High Earth Orbit The Lighthouse December 25 th, 2014 9:40 PM Greenwich Mean Time (4:40 PM Freedom City) The last nearly two months had been busy ones aboard the orbital headquarters of the Freedom League. With so many of the senior league members off in space trying to help against the Communion, the work load for the remaining League members had increased, the team feeling rather stretched at times. The information sent back by the League members in space had done little to easy the stress of those remaining behind. As shocking as it had been to learn of the destruction of Lor-Van, what the Communion had done with the planets and peoples they did not just outright obliterate was perhaps even more horrific. But there had been little time to fully dwell on things, as there had been crises around the world and coordination with heroes across the world to try to be ready should the Communion turn towards the Earth. And then a few hours ago, the League members in space had sent a message back to the Lighthouse, stating that they had located the Communion’s world killer spacecraft, and it was heading towards Earth. The remaining League members on Earth had moved into action, contacting the various heroes they had spent the last two months connecting with and getting people moving to various parts of the world to prepare should the Communion make it past the League members in space. Freedom Hall had served as a launch point for many, teleporting them up to the Lighthouse, and then back down to Earth to the various League teleport locations that had been set up over the years. For a time, everyone had been so busy organizing things, there was little time for anything else. But once they had coordinated setting things in motion, there was little to do but wait for news from the League members in space, of for the Communion to just arrive if there was no one left to hear from.
  5. Amazri IV, formally Lor Space March 1, 2015 (Terran Calendar) Amazri IV had long sat well inside the boarders of Lor space, many light years from the contested area with Khanate space. The planet had long been a colony for the Lor, established in the early years of their expansion from Lor-Van. It had developed into one of the Republic's primary centers of industry and manufacturing, with vast automated facilities that covered the northern and southern landscapes of several of its vast continents. Most of the large cities on Amazri IV had been located around its equator, where lush green forests spread out around the cities before giving way to high mountainous zones. Now more than half its surface had become silver colored metal, and even from space it appeared as if veins of the silver metal were continuing to spread towards the rest of the planet. Amazri IV was one of the most recent Lor planets to fall to the Communion, the cyberforming of the planet still underway. A group of the Coalition's top scientists had determined that the cyberforming process provided the most direct access to the Communion's central data centers, with the least protections in place to prevent unauthorized access. In short, if the Coalition was going to learn the whereabouts of the Communion's mothership, it would be by gaining access to one of the central relays on a world being cyberformed. So a small group of Coalition forces were aboard a Grue stealth ship, making their final approach to Amazri IV. "We will be at our target location within ten microcycles." Stated Gur'ul, the Grue Metamorph in command of the stealth ship, turning back to look at the odd collection of beings that he had been ordered to transport to Amarzi IV.
  6. Lor Timemark 1329.8 - March 1, 2015 Garron-9, Garron System Trooper Ekna Veiu sat strapped into the back of the transport ship between a Lor mentat clone with a lantern jaw and a member of a scale covered species he couldn't name and tried to steady his breathing. He'd never planned to be a soldier but then the Communion had ripped through the Khanate, leaving the precious few survivors to flee or be turned into monsters. The Lor loved to talk about never forgetting Lor-Van but they hadn't been the only people to lose a homeworld and they weren't the only ones who'd wanted to fight back. Ekna was seventeen stellar cycles old; that had seemed like so long sitting around on his family farm waiting for his life to start, old enough to enlist with the Coalition forces, certainly. As the ship shook from atmospheric turbulence and he clenched his grey-green hands all he think about was whether or not he'd see his eighteenth cycle celebration. There weren't any enemy ships in the skies above Garron-9, at least. There didn't need to be. What had once been a densely populated border world with almost a billion inhabitants was now a solid sphere of computronium, a planet-sized server to add to the Communion's processing power. A billion people converted into raw materials and 'antibodies', the mindless, shrieking foot soldiers of the enemy. This was only Ekna's second deployment but he'd already gotten to see those up close and personal. They'd lost that moon but he'd acquitted himself well, getting his wounded sergeant to safety. They'd given him a commendation for that. They didn't mention the rest of his squad when they shook his hand. He didn't mention the night terrors he'd had ever since. That was how he'd ended up as part of one of four squads deploying to Garron-9 with a simple mission: fight their way through and take down a communication relay, in theory briefly blinding the Communion in the adjacent sector long enough for something apparently above his pay grade. Troopers didn't need to know the big picture, he guessed. He looked up from his knees and immediately regretted it as he saw the Grue strapped in across from him scowling right at him. At least Ekna thought the Grue was scowling. It was hard to tell with no mouth. He immediately looked back down regardless. Most of the other troopers were more experienced soldiers and most of them had experience fighting against those who were suddenly their allies. Tensions were always high but the calm before the storm was always the worst. Then again, at least he knew what a Grue was. Each squad had been assigned a commander for the mission, though Ekna got the impression the rank wasn't exactly official. One of them was a stern Lor officer with no patience for excuses; he'd met a lot of those in the past months. The Zultasian told a lot of jokes and laughed loudly, all swagger and confidence. Ekna had never seen anything like the grey skinned woman with the cybernetic tail, though, and even though the forth commander didn't look all that much older than him he'd heard some of the other soldiers say she wasn't really Lor but Terran and everybody had a friend of a friend with a horror story about a Terran. Ekna risked glancing up again to the back of the transport where all four of them were standing, holding onto handing straps and conversing.
  7. GM UNISON Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland December 25, 2014 10:50 PM local time Just a few hours ago, UNISON headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland had been practically deserted, only a minimal security detail and a few technicians had been on duty, the rest home with their families for Christmas. That was until Colonel Ellis had been contacted by the Freedom League about an approaching threat from space. In the intervening time, scores of UNISON personnel had been called in, the headquarters now abuzz with activity as UNISON personnel were reaching out to contacts in governments and militaries around the world, as well as preparing itself for the possible arrival of a hostile alien force. Over a decade ago, UNISON had shocked many world leaders, when it had fielded a small fleet of space capable heavy fighters, the Uni-Storm, during the Grue invasion of 2003. Since that time, Colonel Ellis had managed to hold off efforts to decommission the Uni-Storm, which mean that UNISON had under its control a majority of Earth's space capable combat aircraft. The pilots for the fighters were still being brought it, and gearing up and receiving briefings for possible sorties. The mechanics that had been brought in were working as fast as they could to get all the fighters ready should they be needed, with more arriving all the time. Things were much further along than if there had been no warning, but they still needed a bit more time before they could get all the Uni-Storm into the air. During the past few hours, a number of even more unusual individuals had arrived at UNISON’s headquarters, as a group of superheroes from across Europe and the United States had arrived to offer what assistance they could. With Colonel Ellis' former connections with the Ministry of Powers in the UK, it was only natural that the current members of the Vanguard were present. Also present were two national heroes from countries in southern Europe, Professor Chiron from Greece, and Stella d'Argento (the Silver Star) from Italy. A pair of heroes had also transported to Geneva from the United States, sent by the Freedom League to assist as well. Currently the gathered heroes were with Colonel Ellis in a large command center in the center of the headquarters, where UNISON technicians were tracking activity all over the world as various militaries began the process of preparing themselves for the possibility of an attack, and keeping an eye on the telemetry coming in from numerous satellites and radio tracking stations on Earth that were scanning the heavens for signs of approaching ships. "So as of right now, we need about another half an hour to have all the planes ready to go into combat if needed." Ellis stated to the gathered heroes. "We can probably have half of them up in about twelve minutes, perhaps a bit sooner. As for the military units around the rest of the world…well, they are trying to mobilize as quick as they can, but this is probably about one of the worst times for such an attack in terms of the number of personnel away from base with friends and family."
  8. March 1, 2015  51 Pegasi  50 light years from Earth    51 Pegasi is an LV-type star, the kind of small yellow dwarf utterly undistinguished except for the simple accident of longevity and luminescence that means they are, by a wide margin, the stars most likely to support Lor-type life across the galaxy. 51 Pegasi does have one novelty - 51 Pegasi B, the gas giant trapped a little more than 4 million miles from its home star. 51 Pegasi B is a burning hot world, wracked by storms and super-heated winds that make the planet one of the most hostile in Lor space. Even so, the scientific research station on 51 Pegasi Ba, the single asteroidal satellite of the planet, has always been something of a backwater. The fluid dynamics of superheated gas giants is a vigorously debated scientific discipline, but one with few practical applications.    The team from Ohtalv University arrived for their year-long assignment five and a half months ago, a few weeks before Ohtalv University and the rest of Lor-Van was atomized by strong-nuclear suppression from the Communion. A routine scientific posting had suddenly become a refuge, but also a cage - the picket ship usually assigned as their rescue vessel was called away for convoy duty months ago and they have nothing on the base rated to so much as leave the shadow of the asteroid.   Of the five person team from the University, their world gone and families dead, supplies dwindling more and more every day, four are still alive. It's a sad story, but a story repeated again and again the Lor Republic. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Until recently.    As he sat in the station's control center, Narab Zober watched what would have been the career-making discovery of a scientist a year earlier play out before him with calm interest. Only the cool discipline of his Hephestian martial heritage kept him here, kept him working, and kept thoughts of home, family, and all he had lost out of his mind. Lives had ended - but life went on.  "...from deep neutrino scans, the entity has reached the rocky core of Pegasi 51b and has begun what can only be described as _feeding_ on the heavy metals and other materials within." He watched the rippling clouds, gone chaotic in recent days, and raised a long feathered eyebrow, his padded fingers folded on the table in front of him.   "To survive at the heart of a super-heated gas giant, the Gorgon's energy and matter absorption abilities must be even greater than previously estimated. Fascinating. At current rate of consumption, I estimate that within seven standard days, Pegasi 51b will have lost its gravitic cohesion and begin breaking up." And then plummet into the burning heart of the star - along with this station. "This is Dr. Narab Zober of Lor Science Station #0047, ending this rotation's report. Tomorrow Dr. M'Kelley will offer her report on the fluid dynamics of a gas giant in the process of core destruction. End transmission." When he was done, he stared at the communications terminal, as if willing a reply by sheer force.
  9. Kestevan 79 23,000 LY from Earth March 1, 2015 Temperance was seeing the ghost of a dead star pass by. There was a way to say it that was much less poetic and much more scientific. And, although there may have been some literalism to it, given her powers, there was little spiritual thrum out in the void of space. If there were entities that represented the great void, they were likely to cling to the travelers passing through it - and even then, they were keeping a wide berth from her ship. Ship. She said it like it was familiar. She was hurdling through the void on a gigantic hunk of metal, the vacuum of space surrounding her on all sides. She knew enough to know that her head wouldn't necessarily explode if she went tumbling out into the void. That was where her knowledge ended. Everything else, on the other hand, was so limited. This was not her territory. Thank God for the others, then. Three of them had reached out to Sharl. They were space travelers of a sort - that was how she understood it - who had encountered Communion forces on a planet orbiting a star near Kestevan 79. The planet had been destroyed to make way for a wormhole - just like had happened to Lor-Van. By their estimate, and given the Communion forces overseeing the wormhole, they believed that whatever was controlling local operations would be stationed nearby. And they had gathered, through said intelligence, that there had been someone who'd survived Lor-Van who had a knack for electronic frequencies. Who had been on the planet when the Communion forces had organized and attacked. And who might be able to parse their signal through the field of cosmic radiation that made all other efforts impractical. He had recommended that she might want to stay behind. This wasn't her field, and it wasn't her fight. But she'd seen what had happened to him when he had come back. She was not going to leave him to wander into Hell alone. She just had to hope that, when the time came, they could get through the fires together.
  10. Criminal Carter Bay, Florida, Terra One week before the Battle of Kesteven 79; Lor Timemark 1329.7 "Whaddya mean what do I want you to do with 'em?! They came to my son's house!" Anna knew she was screaming, and she knew she sounded like an old woman when she screamed, but for once in her life she didn't care. She'd tried for weeks to reach Basil after the fighting in Freedom City during the Communion incursion; and only now, pacing back and forth so fast she was burning through yet another bedroom rug, had she finally gotten ahold of her old friend. "They tried to kill my grandson! They tried to put their filthy stinking hands on my little baby granddaughter! I want them dead! I want their whole goddamned organization dead and buried in a goddamned hole in the ground!" Basil let her rant, like a good friend should, knowing what Clock Queen was like in a righteous temper. When she was finished, Basil broke in gently. "I'll do whatever is in my power to help you, my dear Anna." His voice was warm and soothing, the perfect veteran musician's calm, even tones. "I am not soley responsible for composing their fate, but I think I can persuade even their backers to dance to my tune for a while. But the question remains, Anna, what will you do for me in return?" His tone was serious, but almost apologetic, the same way he might have asked for repayment on money she'd borrowed from him back in the day - which now that she thought about it had happened more than once. "Certain things have never been tolerated in our organization - but of course we're talking about a third party. If I'm to move against them, I need to be sure that you can move with me the next time I need a favor." Anna put her head against the wall, palm flat against the bright green wallpaper of her retirement bungalow, and thought about her old friend's words, even as not for the first time recently she felt a great wave of unaccustomed fatigue. "Listen, Basil, I...I promised my boy I wouldn't get back in the League, and I meant it. It's important to him - and you know nothing's more important to me than family." She opened her eyes and caught sight of herself in the mirror across the hall. Jeez - look at me! Eighty years old, and she looked like a healthy woman in her fifties - a woman who was going to spend a long, long life right here in this bungalow if she chased Basil away right now. He'd better be right about the white noise blocking the line here. "But a deal's a deal. If you need a favor, a real favor...gimmie a call. I'm yours."
  11. December 25, 2014 In Shropshire, Daniel Frewer turned his head to the sky, wondering suddenly what lay in the heavens. In Osaka, Homura Kato froze on the subway, feeling a sudden sense of calm and tranquility. In Alexandria, Amir al-Khudari locked himself in his apartment and spent hours writing page after page about some coming revelation, the dawning of a new prophet. Across the world, a whisper was falling into the minds of humanity. A thought launched like a needle, to grow and take hold for when the time was right. But for some people, the whisper was more like a shout. National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center Arecibo, Puerto Rico 9:12 PM The Scarab meditated above the structure hanging suspended over the gigantic radio telescope. She had felt the psychic broadcast raining down on humanity, and knew what it meant. If people were being guided towards a certain thought, it would likely come with a hard suggestion - and one of the best places for that to come through would be a site aimed towards receiving messages from the heavens. Something had come through early, however. When she arrived at the telescope, she had found the scientists in a mad bacchanal, offering praise and worship to whatever lay beyond. She had tranquilized them and managed to undo the damage, but they were still recovering. Now was the best time to turn this force's tricks against it. She just hoped the others would arrive to provide a full counter-offensive.
  12. Lor Timemark 1329.7 - February 28, 2015 Repiuk System Asteroid Belt When rich ore deposits had been discovered in the asteroid belt of a system with no habitable worlds nearly a hundred and fifty years prior it had drawn in a rush of prospectors, independent fortune seekers and small companies looking to stake a claim that would set them and their families up for generations. As the demands of the galactic economy shifted and the best veins had been tapped out, however, the cost of refinement had risen past the profitability of the belt and one by one facilities had been abandoned, subterranean ghost towns riddling the asteroids with tunnels and shafts. Decades later those abandoned mines would serve as a base of operations for a vicious pirate fleet, their leader cannily realizing that the remaining deposits of heavy metals would play havoc with snooping sensor sweeps. They'd been found out by the Star Knights nevertheless and soundly routed, leaving another layer of abandoned equipment in their wake. It was Sri A'Lan Koor who had remembered those raids and suggested the belt, a remote location of no military significance or appeal to the Communion, as a staging area for the Coalition forces. For the past three months the secret had remained kept, long enough for the leaders of the Coalition to feel secure gathering together in one room as they planned out their last, best chance to drive out the invading menace. Standing at the war table the veteran Star Knight had to wonder if they weren't going to do the Communion's job for it. "You need to pull your head out of whatever orifice you've shapeshifted for defecation purposes," Senator Diena Th'emme told the Grue Arcane across from her flatly, fingertips pressed firmly against the surface of the horizontal display between them. The tall, imperious woman managed to make even the utilitarian grey jumpsuit she was wearing come across as regalia, her honey blonde hair done up in a crisp bun. "We have a precise window of opportunity. What troops we can spare to assault the communication relay will have to be enough." The short, stocky being to her made a fluting growl, waving fur covered hands for emphasis as his translator box did its work in an incongruously light soprano. "You would send them to their deaths and for what?" Minister Ch'rrr had rallied a number of worlds to the Coalition's banner in his home sector but was by nature disinclined toward risk taking. "The slim hope of a possible advantage for a doomed plan? Your ancestors' pardon, Citizen Tulink, but I cannot place so much faith in a single simulacrum. Surely you agree, Praetorian Val-Ren?"
  13. December 25, 2014 Freedom City Midnight Manor Late in the evening on Christmas Day, a Deep One sang an eerie song in the Midnight Manor, her body silhouetted by the darkness outside. "BUT I GET UP AGAIN! YOU'RE NEVER GONNA KEEP ME DOWN! WOO!" As her song finished and the strains of Tubthumping vanished into the quiet of what was sometimes one of many front parlors in the Hunter mansion, Aquaria leaped in the air and cheered, her smooth, wet skin glistening from the exertion of the vigorous karoake number. "I am awesome!" For their part, Mark and Nina both cheered and applauded - Mark hadn't been at all sure bringing the machine along was the right idea, but luckily Jessie's amphibian friend had practically snatched the karaoke machine up with her tongue and practically begged to go first. (Jessie had, blushingly, commented that Aquaria used to do this a lot before disappearing herself) Aquaria first approached Mark and Nina, since they had been the latest to the party - only arriving after Martha Lucas had turned in early and left her son and his girlfriend free for Christmas. "You guys want a turn? C'mon, don't be chicken!" Between Nina's competitive streak and Mark's natural showmanship, it wasn't long before the couple was standing in front of the computerized board, picking out their song - 500 Miles seeming to be an early favorite. Aquaria bounded over to join Erin and Trevor to watch the show, declaring, "Surface music is great, you can yell so loud when you're singing! And nobody complains!"
  14. The CommunionThe Communion is an alien race from the deep reaches of uncharted space. They destroyed the planet Lor-Van and threatened Earth and the rest of the civilized galaxy during the Incursion event of late 2014. HistoryTwo hundred years ago, a Lor starfaring expedition found a strange planetary body in the Perseus Arm, approximately 17,000 light years out from the star known as Sol. A surface scan indicated that the body was completely devoid of organic life, and made, right down to the mantle, of an extremely sturdy superconductive material. A few orbital drones were sent down, and the crew discovered to their great confusion that the planet had not only once been alive, but had hosted a civilization. They could find the bones of it all over - buildings, trees, highways, oceans, and beasts, all transformed into the same material. After touching one of the drones down and ensuring there was not some “gray goo” threat awaiting them, the ship landed, and a party took to the planet. A number of theories emerged. The planet had fallen prey to a nanotech disaster, but the active nanotech had long since broken down, leaving its workings. The planet was built to serve as a living computer, not unlike some Dyson spheres in the further reaches of Lor space, and had been crafted with simulacra of a civilization as some sort of distinguishing mark. In any event, the party's engineer, an experienced technopath, attempted to make contact with the inert planet, in an effort to dig something from its database. Fifteen seconds later, the screaming started. Thirty seconds later, the planet's drones, long since left in a state of suspension, roared back to life and swept across the surface, attempting to get at the new organics who had touched down. The party barely made it off the planet with their lives, dragging the screaming technopath all the while. Once they had her quarantined, the crew's counselor attempted to parse the relevant data from the technopath. What he got was fragmented, broken, and utterly horrifying. The planet had been organic once - once being nearly twenty thousand years ago. Two separate data banks ran in parallel through the technopath's head - one a record of the planet's history up until its transformation, one a record of victory by the thing that had done it. The entity referred to itself as “the Communion,” one singular consciousness at the heart of an endless, expansive army of drones. It had sent servants to prepare the way on the planet, subverting its orbital defenses and broadcasting messages that would “sway” the citizens to its glory. As it touched down, it broadcast a telepathic signal that brought the citizens of the planet into its fold; those that resisted were destroyed under psychic assault. After the planet was pacified, the work of conversion began. Those converted citizens who had worthwhile memories were absorbed, body and mind, into the folds of the Communion. Those who were worthless would be slain and turned into computronium, to aid the processing speed and memory capacities of the greater collective. The transformation complete, the drones would lift off, leaving the world as a relay point for the greater network and a monument to the glory of the Communion. Why would they do this? For the simple reason that the Communion believed it was the perfection of thought, and everything else was static against the void. Once news of this got back to the Lor Security Council, a covert investigation was made into the nature of the Communion threat. If its goals were so expansionistic, then why had no one heard of it until now? A team was assembled, consisting of infiltrators, archaeologists, and top-range mentats, with the aim of prying knowledge of the Communion out of wherever it could be found. It turned out that other species and galactic entities had knowledge of the Communion; it was just buried under the auspice of legend or out of sheer loathing. The Grue Unity regarded the Communion as a mythical figure of anathema, the “Un-Thought” that bent will rather than stringing it together into a collective whole. One of The Curator's drones shared information, though at a high price, revealing how its greater self regarded the Communion as an affront to existence, something that wrecked unique entities in order to turn them into just another piece of a disturbing whole. Aside from conjecture, however, the search turned up little. The Communion had vanished from the known parts of the Milky Way millennia before. Or so it was thought. But in late 2013, the planet in the distant reaches of the Perseus Arm - the one that clued the Lor into the existence of the Communion - showed signs of movement. As if it was booting up. It was a passing thing, and ended as soon as it had begun, but no one took it as a comforting sign. LinksStats for Greater Communion Drone
  15. December 25, 2014 Walking about the Dubai International Convention Centre and mingling, Amir al-Misri would have been well within his rights to congratulate himself on a very successfully hosted conference. The science and technology summit - his PR people had come up with a more pompous title but it had sounded a little too obviously designed by committee to stick in the billionaire philanthropist's mind - had drawn experts in civic engineering, clean energy initiatives, information networking and a few dozen other equally impressive fields from around the globe. The chance to compare notes and show off the latest prototypes had been incentive enough but the sizable grant money being offered by his firm to the most impressive projects hadn't hurt, either. He wasn't left to bask in satisfaction for long, however, as one of his aides rushed over, his colouring pallid with stress, and shoved a tablet into Amir's hands. "Sir! Sir, you have to see this," the uncharacteristically disheveled man insisted, running a hand through his neat beard. "Some sort of weapon just made groundfall in the Rub' al Khali! It looks like- the data suggests it was launched from orbit. The payload... we don't have any idea what we're looking at, sir." The thermal satellite image on the tablet showed an aerial view of the Empty Quarter with a small, strangely cool blotch at the site of the impact. A blotch that was slowly but noticeably spreading outward.
  16. December 25th Continued from >Mind Over Matter Fast-Forward was back on the streets of Freedom City so fast he barely had time to grab a candy cane from a department store giveaway as he made his way to his first destination. It was evening New Jersey time when he appeared at Dancia Devons' front door in Lincoln, where his super-speed knock sounded like a machine gun's rat-a-tat before he slowed himself back down (and sped everything else up) until once again he was in sync with the normal world. Knocking firmly, he called, "Dancia Devons! Dancia Devons!" When she opened the door, the Discovery Channel personality on Dancia's doorstep said without preamble, "Scarab needs you to save the world from robot psychics from space." He glanced around quickly to make sure no one was in the hallway; luckily her neighbors were all still enjoying their Christmas. "How quickly can you get to Puerto Rico?"
  17. December 25, 2014 A ripple of tension had traced through the world's hero community, even those with few direct connections or who actively avoided such interactions with their peers. Something big was coming, perhaps already there, and the Freedom League was calling in everyone, every able body, to meet it. Details were scares and answers were scarcer but the apprehension of a soldier the night before shipping out hung over them all the same. That silent tension was broken as Asli Sadik's phone vibrated with a message notification, marked urgent with an attached video file. The compression had sacrificed some of the image quality but the hood, cloak and mask of Seven, a relatively recent addition to the League reputed to be a witch of considerable power, was immediately recognizable. The background was an indistinct blur but the urgency in her voice came through clearly enough. "Greetings, hero. My apologies for the intrusion but the need is great..." * * * * * "...great-whatever owed my great-whatever a favour and I'm calling in the chip," the porcine young man who'd identified himself as a descendant of Zhu Bajie told Daniel Lee as the grainy video played on the engineer's laptop screen. He snorted absently in a manner that wrinkled the entirety of his flat nose and hitched up his belt with both hands. "I ain't really got time to explain everything but I figure if I tell you there's adventure and demons to punch involved, won't take much convincing anyway..." * * * * * "...obviously the west bank of the Nile is a little out of the way for you," admitted Elwyn Eldrich, hockey jersey wearing nephew of the Master Mage, waving about a rune covered staff for emphasis, "but we're stretched a little thin here, frankly. Believe me, if I could leave the dread dimensions myself right now-- well, you know how they get around the holidays, I'm sure." As the video played the shadows in the corner of Jeremiah Cornwell's dorm room deepened unnaturally. "Now, can't keep the shadow portal I'm making for you open long..." * * * * * "...realize this is-- It's not how I wanted to do this," the stern young woman with Asgardian armor and a bow strapped to her back frowned, crossing and uncrossing her arms uncomfortably as John Fraser watched on his aging laptop's monitor. "But my mother always said that in a real emergency, you were the one I should contract. I'm sure you have a lot of questions - I would, too - but right now the world needs Arrowhawk." The video file ended and the gently spinning whirlpool of pitch black and midnight purple that had appeared a few meters away beckoned.
  18. December 25, 2014 South Pole Basin  Lunar Farside    It is not true that Farsiders never leave their city, merely that such events are rare and usually for a purpose. The construction of the South Pole station by Farsiders had been one such purposeful occasion, one launched over a Terran century ago by a Farsider monarch concerned about a recent Terran visit to the Moon. (Some Terran visitors to Farside City have pointed out that the Apollo missions took place over six decades later, but the Farsiders have the records of earlier 'interlopers' to show skeptical visitors of today.) With its neutrino detectors and concealed telescopes, the South Pole station is well-placed to directly monitor doings on Earth. Or for that matter, as Lady Lunar proved in the early 1980s, to strike at it.    A collection of intellects vast and furious on Earth had realized the station's potential not long after the Communion crisis began - concealed as the station was, it was the perfect place to strike at an enemy in Earth orbit by surprise. What had been a location for observation could become a location for misdirection; a notion that appealed to the ruling government of Farside City, which liked the idea of saving the world they orbit without their true role ever being known. (Farsiders do love their secrets!)   And so, for much of the last two months, the greatest minds of Earth have come to its only natural satellite with a singular purpose. To build a machine to protect the planet from the Communion! Steve Murdock had offered what advice he could during its construction, but his experience with dimensional technology was all practical. It had come down to Dragonfly's specific genius and Miss Americana's vast storehouse of general knowledge to put the great work into practice. Caradoc, and the other non-scientists in the party of heroes guarding the weapon (as Steve was not allowed to call it around his employer) had rapidly found another role in the small lunar colony.    Lunar soil ashy beneath his feet, Caradoc raised his gleaming blade to the sky, the shining tip above the heads even of the tallest Farsiders in their environmental suits. A new group of Farsider militiamen had been deployed that week - and their usual trainers were busy with an Earth-Prime holiday, an important one, but one that he could miss while Gina Evans was safely ensconced in the tiny pre-fab quarters that she had occupied for the last month. There would be time enough for celebration when the work was done.    He spoke over the radio.    "Your enemy will target your environmental suits first! They are not pirates, or conquerors, or enslavers. Your dead flesh will feed their ever-growing armies." He lowered his blade as the group shifted uneasily, and for a moment there was dead silence on the lunar plain besides the domed Farsider military base even on the radio frequencies they used to speak with each other outside the dome.   
  19. Outer Edge of the Lor-Van System 17 Hours After Destruction of Lor-Van The previous solar cycle's worth of hours had been among the worst in the lives of either Seikahi’ino or Ana Plonsky. On shore leave from the Xeno, the human woman had chosen to spend it on the shining crown jewel of the Lor Republic with the more worldly Kahi'iru agreeing to tag along as a favour to their mutual acquaintance to make sure she didn't get herself into any trouble. There was no way either of them could have been prepared for the Communion's sudden, merciless attack on Lor-Van. There was no way anyone could have been prepared. They'd been among the lucky ones, making it to a spaceport and squeezing their way onto a mid-sized cruiser just as the bay doors closed and it made for orbit. They'd sat on makeshift benches formed from empty cargo containers while a panicked young man had asked over and over if anyone had seen his sister among the crowd and a frail grandmother had been unable to stop an infants plaintive wailing for even a moment. They'd been in the windowless hold when word had filtered down that the Star Knights had arrived in force, a moment of sudden hope and relief before learning that the armor clad champions had sacrificed themselves to give them and the other fleeing vessels time to break orbit. They'd been there when the air had begun to taste just slightly stale and those familiar with starships had begun muttering that the engines didn't sound quite right. There when a crewman had let slip that they'd fallen behind the rest of the extant fleet and wouldn't be able to jump to FTL until repairs had been effected. There when the panicked young man from before had to be restrained before he could hurt himself or anyone else. There when someone asked aloud what was stopping those terrible silver sliver ships from coming to finish them off. On the ship's bridge, Samran-86 ran a hand through her tightly shorn red hair and reminded herself to keep her breathing calm and steady. The Lor officer had assumed command of the vessel from it grateful owner, a cargo hauler with no experience with emergency situations. The clone mentat known to her fellows as Eject was beginning to think he'd had the right idea. "Any friendly vessels, this is the freighter Either Ore. We are venting plasma and require immediate assistance. Repeat: we require immediate assistance. Is anyone out there listening?"
  20. Galandis Refinery Korivan The Khanate This seemed to be what he lived for, nowadays. He'd long since turned in his resignation at work. The guys at the aeronautics firm might have been willing to excuse his "long lunches" every now and again, but this was a different matter entirely. He had explained he was going to take a "sabbatical"; they acted like they understood, but he had a feeling that the position might be filled by the time he got back to Earth for any long stretch of time. If he got back to Earth. Sometimes, he wondered if he'd cracked. Here he was, alone, in the last place in the galaxy anyone wanted to be. He hadn't starting thinking about snails crawling along the edge of straight razors yet, so that was a point in favor of sanity. But there was still that urge, that drive. The need to do everything to the enemy that had been done to him and his people. He knew what lay down that road. But damn if it wasn't a tempting one to walk. Cavalier sighed. The personal reflection could wait. He had work to do. And so, he adjusted his visor to meet the swirling storm of dark silt, and trudged off towards his objective.
  21. Aboard the Nomad The edge of the Lor Republic 19 Hours After Destruction of Lor-Van Aya K'zan, also known as Corona, had received a transmission about the attack on Lor-Van far too late for her to be able to try to get there aboard the Nomad. After learning of the destruction of the capital of the Republic at the hands of some new enemy called the Communion, she had contacted two of the few allies she had made since her arrival on Earth, a human Emily Stenford, also known as Mechanized; and another off-worlder, Memorial, formally of Belran. As it turned out, Memorial knew a good deal about the Communion, making it an even easier decision for Corona to bring her along. The three had been heading to try to rendezvous with the Lor fleet on the Nomad when they had received a transmission from Lor Fleet Command. With the chaos the Communion attacks had brought, and the Star Knights shifting their forces to help address the threat, large sections of space had been left unpatrolled or defended. Reports had come in from systems just along the spinward boarder of the Republic about increased pirate activity, capitalizing on the chaos and absence of Star Knights. Command had ordered Corona to alter course to investigate the activity and deal with it, noting that it was the sector assigned to one of the Star Knights that had died trying to defend Lor-Van. Corona had also been directed to make a stop to pick up an additional passenger from a system along the way, a Tempestian known as Galvanic, who had been known to provide help to those in need since leaving Tempest. Now with Galvanic aboard, the Nomad was well underway towards the sector of space that had seen the worst increase in pirate activity.
  22. Rio Branco Avenue Rio de Janeiro, Brazil December 25th, 2014 5:25 PM local time Nick Cimitiere's jacket was tempered for heat and cold, meaning he didn't need to forgo protection - or mystique - based on the temperature. But the humidity of the Rio summer was still getting to him. The whole city was strung out for Christmas, but the tilt of the earth meant it felt more like the height of July back home. Speaking of back home... he'd told his family he'd be out of town for a few days, but would be back for Christmas. He always hated to lie to his family about these matters. Four years home from college, eight years as a superhero, and he still hadn't come clean about meddling in the affairs of life and death. But some matters of death were more important than matters of life. There had been a number of disappearances in Rio over the past few weeks. People from all walks of life had left messages for their family and friends, saying they were going to "a better place," and then had vanished entirely. Fortunatus, a local seer and fate manipulator who Nick had partnered with on a particularly tough job years ago, had given him a call about the matter. "The path is clouded to me," he had said. "I see that they are gone, but I cannot see where they have gone and who led them there. I fear this may be more your department than mine." "Anything else you can tell me?" "Just one thing. There are a number of 'great bumps' on the horizon." "Great bumps" was Fortunatus's term for a confluence of random factors that could spell either windfall or disaster. Nick had no idea where it came from. "I have one that I must handle myself, as it involves plucking the threads of chance like a harp. But I can see that these disappearances will not stop soon, and may breed a catastrophe of their own if unimpeded." And so, after spreading the word amongst the community and walking the back roads of reality, Nick had found himself walking a beat in paradise. Those who had gone seemed to be truly gone - after visiting their residences and the local cemeteries, he could find no trace of the vanished having left ghosts. Then again, he wasn't the only one on the beat. "How's it coming on your end?" he asked over the comms relics he'd handed out.
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