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Praetorians: Tide of Progress

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Pilor II

Along the outer length of the Perseus Arm, former Khanate Space

Lor time mark 1753.1 [January 13, 2018 (Terran Calendar)]

 

Liora Sylestrin, also known as the Praetorian Spectra, guided the sleek form of the Kavaca through the smoky atmosphere of Pilor II.  The bleak rocky surface of the planet stretched out below the Praetorian spacecraft, spotted with rivers of lava that flowed up from below the surface. 

 

Located within the boundaries of a confederation of worlds that had remained independent from the Stellar Khanate following the Incursion and the return of Star Khan, Pilor II had become a focal point of industrial activity.  Several newly formed corporations had been granted mining rights on the world, seeking to harvest the numerous precious minerals and ores to fuel the development of the confederation worlds.

 

But recently some of those mining activities had been disrupted to such a degree that it had led to a request for assistance from the Praetorians.  And so Spectra was piloting the Kavaca towards the Regulas Corporation's main facility on the world, along with her fellow Praetorians Moon-Moth and Cavalier.

 

The facility had just come into view, a larger collection of attached buildings that stretched out on numerous pillars that kept them well above several lava rivers that flowed beneath.  The Kavaca's sensors locked onto the landing beacon for the designated landing platform as they drew near.

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Mining planets. Grand.

 

These places could be fun, of course. When Cavalier was on the Starforger, he'd always enjoyed such stop-offs. There was always a chance to blow off steam, get some drinks, and eventually get roped into some sort of horrifying conspiracy pulsing under the planet's surfaces. Even when he was a troubleshooter, he'd had some good fun - and some tight scrapes - on such worlds. 

 

But Korivan had taken something of the joy out of all of that. Things didn't seem so lively when you walked among the living dead and saw what happened when the vein was tapped dry and filled with computronium.

 

Still. This might be fun. Once business was concluded, of course. "So, what have we got from the reports thus far?" 

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"Activities has bean disrupted, i imagines they call on us to find out exunctly why for, but i suspects that they suspectings each other of sabotaging and stealing so unable to agree amongs theirselfies on what to do as none can be trusted has called for 3rd party intervention to avoid conflict." moon-moth reasoned, he'd seen it a few times before, wealth bred not only greed but mistrust of those around you who may attempt to swindle and steal that wealth and in truth such was often the case.

 

"I imagines its missing miners, shipments and failed machineries in equal measures." he hummed to himself as he span in his chair, hoping the motion and change of viewpoints would help him think outside the box "What says you Spectra? Cattle-ear?"

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"You'd think mining operations in a place like this would be dangerous enough," Spectra mused to herself aloud. She was mostly concentrating on where she was going than the things the ship passed, but she still had a habit of working random thoughts out aloud rather than in her own head. She landed the Kavaca without too much difficulty, and proceeded to power down the ship's engines.

 

Spectra nodded in agreement as Moon-Moth spoke. She couldn't for the life of her figure out why others found his speech patterns to be so difficult. Then again, she'd spent much of her life learning to communicate with others, even without the aid of her psychic abilities. For the most part, their perspective of the situation was the same. "I don't nkow if there are any physical casualties, but, the way these things go... material losses are just as bad to some of them. Everything is a resourse. I wouldn't be surprised if they saw us as one as well..."

 

"There are all sorts of rivalries and competition across this planet," she added. "Usually these things work themselves out on their own, but if someone is escalating things with industrial accidents... well, I'm fairly sure any of the corporations involved could cause a trade war or worse. I suggest we tread lightly."

 

She lowered the doors to exit the ship, putting on her best, diplomatic smile. "Shall we?"

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GM

 

The landing platform was located up on the upper level of the facility, several other landing pads spaced out around the area, some empty, others holding transport shuttles.  Standing off to the side of the platform, between other landing pads, was a lone figure who appeared to be waiting for them.

 

Once the Kavaca was down, the figure began moving over towards the vessel's exit ramp, so once the three Praetorians were making their way down the figure was waiting for them a short distance from the ramp.  The figure was a male humanoid, with dark grey skin and a hairless head.  He was dressed in a dark blue uniform and from the blaster at his hip appeared to be part of the facility's security detail.

 

The air on Pilor II was thick and heavy with smoke and heat, breathable, but just barely.  Ash floated around seemingly everywhere.  It was very likely that long term exposure to the air would not be particularly health, for those that needed to breath anyway.

 

"Welcome Praetorians."  The figure waiting on the landing pad said as the three reached the end of the exit ramp.  "I am Maar Lo-rid, I am the head of security for the Regulas Corporation here on Pilor II."

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"Liora Sylestrin. A pleasure to meet you--circumstances notwithstanding." The volcanic atmosphere made everything feel oppressive and grim; she could't help but wonder if that was some sort of indicator for how this entire thing would proceed. Still, she smiled, allowing the others an opportunity to indroduce themselves. It was a tactic she used often; while very well could have introduced them herself, it would establish far more individuality and equal weight among them, ultimately giving the group a far greater presence in the minds of anyone they encountered.

 

This wasn't her first rodeo.

 

"Perhaps we can continue with the details of the situation somewhere a little more... ah... breathable."

Edited by GranspearZX

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"Thankings you friendsie, I am moon-moth" moon-moth states diplomatically as he looks around at the landing pad at the various industrial fabrications covering its surface "This is a very hot place!" he states, matter of factly "Indeeds i would preferings to go somewhere a little more secluded so you may tell us how we can be helpings you." reinforcing what spectra had said merely seconds ago.

 

"I imagines you have already arranged such?"

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Cavalier dropped the guard on his helmet. He immediately wished he hadn't, and had just gone for the "transparent faceplate, all else opaque" style that Star Knights so loved for diplomacy in exotic environments. But it was a mining planet. He knew that the longer you stayed propped up in a tin can while the people on the ground worked with the basic blue collar protections, the more you might be regarded as soft or sensitive. So, while he would have preferred the hermetically-sealed, air-conditioned wonder of his armor, it was time to poke his head out in the name of better relations. 

 

And destroying my sense of smell.

 

"Yeah, it's a bit... distinctive here," he said, sniffing the air and trying not to convulse. "Real aroma to the place. And while I'd love to take it all in, I agree with my colleagues. We may wanna find somewhere a little more isolated to discuss matters."

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GM

 

"Of course Praetorians, conditions here take some getting used to."  Officer Lo-rid replied as he pressed some buttons on a bracer he wore on his left arm.  Suddenly the platform beneath them all shifted slightly and then the entire platform, including the Kavaca began to lower down into the structure of the facility.  Down below the exterior roof was a large hanger like space, filled with a number of other spacecraft and atmospheric vehicles.  Dozens of beings filled the hanger, busily going about their daily routines, from refueling and maintenance to prepping vehicles for lift off.

 

By the time the platform had reached the hanger floor, exterior doors had slid back into place overhead.  While it was cooler down in the hanger, it was still warm and the air was not entirely free of the smoke and smell from the harsh conditions outside.

 

The security chief led the Praetorians out of the hanger, the hallways beyond being a bit cleaner, and certainly a more agreeable temperature.  As with the hanger, the halls had a steady flow of personnel going about their business. 

 

A short while later the Praetorians were in the Regulas Corporation's security offices.  They were a bit tight, but at a facility such as this, space generally was at a premium.  The air quality was much better in the offices, and officer Lo-rid lead them into a small conference room that would allow them sufficient privacy.

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Once they were able to breathe a bit more easily, Liora considered her options. There was no use in speculating just yet, but her mind was certainly open to a number of scenarios. She had to be. 'Rule nothing out. All things are possible.' Words her father lived by.

 

As the moved through the hangar, Liora mentally reached out to Cavalier and Moon-Moth. Now was as good a time as any, she figured. She wasn't even certain it was necessary yet, but it was better to err on the side of caution when it came to these things.

 

Everything looks like business as usual down here so far... Not sure if that's good or bad.

 

Liora didn't sit down when they reached the conference room; instead, she put both hands on a chair once the group settled in, leaning forward a little. After piloting the Kavaca, she really didn't feel like sitting down again so soon. "So what exactly has been happening here?"

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It is a still image of a living thing, we seeing only what is wanting showing to us; A comfortable counternance to affect our opinions.  moth intones in his mind still a little uncomfortable with psionics but not openly hostile to spectra, nor any other praetorian burdened with such tallents

 

perception is reality, do not allow them to control it utterly.

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It's a mine, Cavalier thought back. A bit bigger than usual, but still a mine. Back on my planet, some mines tended to go business as usual right up until the minute that everything exploded. He shifted, trying to look like the respectful muscle while Liora broached the topic. Star Knights might have had a talent for diplomacy, but that didn't mean that he was going to talk over the person leading the discussion. They may be back on flow after the recent disruption, trying to keep things as normal as possible - but they may be keeping their security measures in the back, to make sure no one gets unnerved. Either that, or they may figure things are back to normal for now, but I doubt they're that dumb.

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GM

 

"Well Praetorian," Officer Lo-rid began in response to Spectra's question, "we have had a series of rather disturbing occurrences at one of Regulas' oldest mine sites here."

 

"The operations there have managed to follow mineral veins well under the surface crust.  As part of many of our operations on a hostile location such as this, and particular deeper underground as this site had reached, current mining operations require the draining of lava from the immediate vicinity to prevent problems.  Often this requires draining areas beneath where current mining is taking place."

"While attempting to drain a lower chamber beneath the area currently schedule for expansion of operations, something interrupted the draining.  Several members of the team overseeing the draining machinery went down to see if they could make a determination of what was causing the problems, but we lost contact with them."

 

"Eventually another team was sent down with security, but there was no trace of the first team.  The draining equipment had been severely damaged.  We have currently shut down operations in that section of the mine until we could determine what happened and resume draining the lava from the area.  Less than a week later, a similar incident occurred in another section of the same mine, this time we did not send down a tech team immediately when draining operations were interrupted, and by the time we did investigate, once again the draining equipment being used was all but destroyed." 

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"hmmm most curiouses" moon-moth said aloud as he leaned fowards in his seat, antenna bobbing and swaying with thought as he weighed up what they had been told by the officer, he had some idea of what might be happening but it would require further investigation and information before he proposed the idea to the group.

 

"What kinds of damage?" he asked seemingly out of sheer curiosity "Not melting damaged by heats i would be imaginings...chemical degradations? smashed? torn?"

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Spectra listened, not saying or thinking anything as she heard the explanation of the situation at hand. There were a number of reasons that she didn't like how that all sounded. She could feel a faint pull at the strings of fate just thinking about it. It was a feeling the was familiar with--the faint rumblings of potential futures twisting beyond the periphery of her vision. If nothing else, it had taught her to be especially cautions, and never to assume that she knew everything.

 

"I don't suppose you have any surveillance set up in those areas?" She wasn't holding out too much hope for that; if the equipment was destroyed, there was a chance surveillance would have been too. If someone had targeted the miners and their equipment specifically, however... It didn't seem random. "Either way, I think we'd all benefit from seeing what was destroyed. What's left of it, anyway."

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So many ideas came to Cavalier's mind. He broke them down in his list between "fairly reasonable," "possible, but will yield laughter," and "possible, but may yield me getting burned at the stake." Asking about native subterranean fauna would be weird. Such creatures did exist in magma on certain planets across the galaxy, but odds were the mining company would have led with that if there were any rumors of lava-worms. 

 

So many lava-worms out there. It's almost surprising.

 

So, there would have to be a different route. "I don't suppose there have been any kinds of spook stories among the minors? Things lurking in the dark? That tunnel that you swear it sounds like it's moaning?"

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GM

 

"Well, that is the unusual thing Praetorian," the security chief began in response to Moon-Moth's question, "parts of the equipment was melted, but something that was hotter than the lava it is designed to deal with.  But other parts were smashed or torn apart."

 

He then shook his head to Spectra's question.  "I am afraid not, this is generally viewed as rather routine work so surveillance is not considered much of a priority.  Besides, there is not likely to be any beings from our competitors down in the areas that need to be pumped.  We certainly can show you what we have recovered from the two incidents."

 

He then turned to Cavalier and gave a small shrug.  "I am sure you can appreciate Star Knight, there can often be wild rumors among workers in a location like this.  The conditions are harsh and hours can sometimes be long.  Even with what recreational facilities we can provide, that can wear on a being, cause them to see things that are not there.  We often get claims of miners seeing something moving in some shadowy section of a mine, but nothing about moaning sounds or the like."

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Definitely something down there... but I don't want to scare them any more than they already are.

 

"I think I understand why you called us.. Would you mind if we took a look at the site of the latest incident?" There was no reason she could think of not to do that.Neither Cavalier nor Moon-Mouth seemed tired from their trip, so it was probably an efficient use of time. Besides that.. Spectra had a nagging feeling that this would happen again, sooner than later.

 

It sounds like it was provoked by the draining... That suggests an intelligence to me. I feel like the difficult part will be convincing them NOT to continue.

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Perhaps not, murder is bad for reputation, reputation is good for business and we are representatives of the coalition to some degrees, we having small authorities to acts on their behalfs

 

"indeeds if we could be seeings the site of the incidents first handsies we can begins our investigations." he offers humbly as he stands back up from his chair "wishings to make sure that matters resolve in a timely manners and business can be resumed as soons as possibles for you chef with no further dangerlings for you or your men."

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Hotter than the magma it is used to dealing with... could that mean magma from deeper down in the strata? Perhaps something dredging its way up from the depths? Something that might need a radically high body temperature to adapt to those depths...

 

Then again, speculation was nothing as long as they were relatively topside. "Yeah. This would be best if we could get eyes on the scene." 

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GM

 

"Of course Praetorians, I imagined you would want to see the damaged equipment."  The security chief stated as he stood to lead the three out of the conference room.  It was a short walk back through part of the facility and up to another of the landing bays, where they all boarded a smaller atmospheric flyer.

 

The trip took them over more of the bleak, half lava covered portions of the planet.  A short while later, the surface dropped out from beneath them and they were looking over a massive depression in which three large structures were built in a small circle toward the center of the depression. 

 

"This is the Emord Crater, the location of particularly rich veins of minerals that has been divided between the Regulas Corporation and the Tandeer and Sooran Corporations," Officer Lo-rid stated, pointing to one of the three buildings in the center of the depression in turn.

 

The security officer guided the flyer toward the Regulas Corp's building, calling in for landing clearance as he did.  Soon they had landed in a small hanger that just fit the flyer and walking through the corridors of the building.  In contrast to the corporation's main headquarters on the planet, this facility was clearly primarily for mining operations.  The halls were smaller and more cramped, a bit of a smoky haze in the air, likely a combination of the planet’s atmosphere and the mining operations themselves.  Workers were moving about at a much quicker and more purposeful pace.

 

Officer Lo-rid led the Praetorians toward a central turbolift, offering them face masks connected to a small purification cylinder if they wished for them.  He took one, but merely clipped it to his uniform, not yet putting it over his mouth and nose.

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This part of the planet was less earth and more ember. Cavalier had seen some burning craters in his time, and tread through more than a few of them, but it was something else to see the grand gaps that seemed carved out of the planet. Or furrowed out by the rising lava. 

 

No matter what the species, we'll always go to the gates of Hell and kick 'em open to get something of value out of it.

 

He took everything in as they landed and entered the facility. He noticed the motion of the workers, passing about the facility with precise and studied motion, the kind that was reinforced by days of practice. As they approached the turbolift, Cavalier nodded politely to Lo-rid without drawing attention to his own helmet. He figured that making a show of it would be taken as patronizing. He focused more on what might await them at the bottom of the lift.

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Moon-moth took a mask when offered, long experience had taught him that having something and not needing it was better than needing something and not having it, he had no idea what might be waiting for him in the depths of the mines, though much like his fellows he suspected some lithovorous species of lava dweller had destroyed the pump and murdered the miners attempting to destroy its habitat.

 

"Thankings to you cheif Lo-Rid." he stated simply as he squeezed himself in the corner of the turbo lift and waited for it to begin its journey down.

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She wasn't sure why, but the massive crater made her  nervous. Unlike Cavalier, she hadn't really seen many mining facilities, and even then, it was all earth and no fire. It was both breathtaking and terrifying at the same time, and it lent an ominous feel to thought of the ravaged equipment and 'missing' miners.

 

Spectra took the offered mask; after having been out in the planet's air without one, she decided that repeating that was unnecessary if she had the option to avoid it. She stepped onto the turbolift behind Moon-Moth casually closing off her own thoughts. She wasn't a particular fan of closed spaces, something she often forgot until it was actually happening. Tetragenesis III had very little in the way of underground anything, ; while it wasn't a full on phobia, it was certainly a little inconveniencing.

 

"I will say," she commented idly, "this is a pretty sprawling operation...Just how many corporations are running on this planet anyway?"

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GM

 

"Across the planet there are six different corporations that possess mineral rights."  The security chief answered in response to Spectra's question.  "There are a few instances where a one of those corporations has subcontracted with smaller corporations for the actual mining of certain deposits."

 

The start of the turbolift ride was rather confining, as they passed through a narrow passage that went down through the rock.  But after what seemed several hundreds of feet, Lo-Rid put on his breath mask and suddenly the lift opened up into a massive underground chamber.  The chamber arched outward what appeared to be at least a mile in any direction, although it was difficult to tell because the turbolift was up against what appeared to be a massive rocky column in the center of the chamber, several of which appeared to have turbolifts along them as well.  Several other rock columns were scattered about the chamber as well.  The bottom of the chamber was more than couple thousand feed down, and they could make out massive mining machines scattered about it.  Numerous tunnels, appearing to be a hundred feet across, dotted the outer edge of the chamber, appearing to slope down deeper into the planet.

 

The air was thick with smoke, dirt and other gases.  About what one might expect from a heavy mining operation taking place in a highly volcanic location.

 

Shortly the turbolift reached the bottom and Lo-Rid led the Praetorians out, but they had not gotten very far when a disturbance off to one side caught there attention.  There was a large crowd of beings, about half wearing the utility coveralls of Regulas Corp employees, the other half in a different style of similar utility clothing.  Scattered within the crowd were several Regulas Corp security personnel and what looked like other uniformed security personnel, trying to separate the two halves of the crowd.

 

"Excuse me a moment Praetorians," Officer Lo-Rid stated as he saw the scene, "I believe this requires my attention for the moment."

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