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Author Topic: The Perseid Daggers  (Read 6351 times)
R. Daniel 01
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« on: November 10, 2010, 06:05:10 PM »

The Federation steps onto a high-wire between speed and brutality, and sets free to roam its future a NIGHTMARE from its past.



This is a production note. To begin the story, skip to the first Episode Summary.

Scenario:

Epfia is a System-State of the Perseid Federation. It's mostly a tourist and research system, because it has a planet that greatly resembles Earth. The settlers named it Shyenne. Many earth-like planets exist thanks to terraforming, but since Shyenne was earthy from the start, people flock to it, to experience the so-called real thing.

Two decades ago, however, life got rough. Competition with rival planets, internal corruption, migration, and distant conflicts all hurt the economy and gave rise to crime and piracy. Now many of Shyenne's sprawling resorts lay vacant. Theft, environmental mishaps and deaths occur on a regular basis.

In the meantime, the federation at large has stabilized. As nostalgia for Shyenne rises and Epfia-based piracy starts affecting neighboring systems, the rest of the federation wants to lay down the law. The Federal capital has produced an economic bill that would make Epfia less independent and incur penalties for lack of progress.

Epfians are sore. They believe the neighboring states started most of the trouble, and now they want to push Epfia around like it's Epfia's fault. The federation effectively abandoned Epfia twenty years ago; why not return the favor, make it official and secede? Epfia could keep all her work and money for herself. This appeals to a minority, a loud and militant one.

This is where the story starts.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 02:37:58 AM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

Wingnut
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« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2010, 05:15:58 PM »

Sounds interesting. I could see something like this taking place in say the Outlaw Star universe even. Grappler ships and hyperspace style FTL travel seem the perfect setting for this tale. Planet terriforming also takes place in that universe too.
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The three most hated words in television: To Be Continued...
R. Daniel 01
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« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2010, 11:43:13 PM »

Quote from: wingnut
I could see something like this taking place in say the Outlaw Star universe even
You're quite right, though that isn't my intention. A fantabulous idea.

The story I'm applying to this scenario is different. I'd say it's like a cross between GitS and NANA, but you guys will judge. It's divided up into the familiar 13-episodes and I will post a little summary every few days--starting today.



Episode 01

New Characters (5):



1. Ruthie Shien-Lu
   Unlike the general population, Ruthie is in her twenties. She hides this however she can, even using her programming skills to hack official files. Ruthie values harmony and altruism, but that does not diminish her ambitions. She wishes to reactivate Epfia System's "Socrates" government advisory program.

2. Camellia MuRong
   Having had countless relationships and jaded herself, Camellia has grown very keen at seeing the substance inside a person. She suspects Ruthie lies about herself but befriends her anyway; she relishes mysteries, secrets and gossip. She works as a genetic engineer, in a lab firm that designs custom pets and other organisms.

3. Dulcey Remarque
   Soft and mischevious, she works her way into people's hearts very easily. This befits her job as a government re-socializer. Dulcey has no great interest in relations beyond friendship, preferring instead to spread her love on a wide net. She was once married, but foresees another decade before trying again. Work absorbs her.

4. Castor Virma
   An old security specialist, his compulsion to settle down and blend conflicts with his personal code as a man of action. He has an open mind with others but strictness towards himself. In general, he likes taking control and uses goodwill to affect this. He means well. He prides himself as a man of reason.

5. Epfia Shyenne, North Shore of Southern Continent, Locale 4
        Gravitrain lines, space elevator, infrastructure, security system intact. Natural encroachment level low. Game preserve boundaries broken; super-organism outbreak level moderate. Militia activated. Urban settlement mandated; mass suburban and rural settlement illegal. Social and community levels strong. Cultural-economic output moderate. Crime low. Reproduction freeze normal. Mean citizen age: 112.5.

Episode Summary:
        Ruthie sits alone in a room lit by a computer screen. She hacks into a government database and changes her age from 25 to 85. She also thanks someone and buys this secret benefactor a Rossum gynoid. After a few seconds, Ruthie confirms that nothing is happening, and breathes a sigh of relief.

        An unspecified amount of time afterwards, daylight fills the room, and Ruthie uses her computer to do some social research on her new home. She comments on some of the weird or attractive inhabitants she stumbles across. She also thinks about all the handsome country boys and romantic intellectuals she will find out there, and the freedom of escaping an unspecified city.
        Cut to Ruthie stepping out of a hopper this time in broad daylight, in the middle of a futuristic city. She gazes up at a space elevator, which stretches into a thin ribbon that disappears amid the clouds. Ruthie looks down to see a small train of robots and androids carrying her luggage.
        Cut to Ruthie taking an excited first step onto a gravitrain. After blurring past hundreds of miles of pristine wilderness, punctuated by flashes of settlement and a few colossal engineering projects, Ruthie reaches her destination: c cluster of former resort hotels, now apartments, in the countryside.
        The first thing that greets Ruthie upon stepping off the train and onto the train platform is a row of large political posters, espousing the wisdom of so-called Aristocrats. A woman with exceptionally long and graceful hair, and a swarthy man, glue the row of posters to the wall. The man catches sight of Ruthie and prompts his female partner into approaching her. The woman asks Ruthie if she supports the Federal reproduction ban; Ruthie says she is in a rush and will just go along with what everyone else decides. As she leaves the woman behind, the woman thanks Ruthie for her time.
        Ruthie’s android guide provides a brief overview of the area. The countryside has since become a complete wilderness that is dangerous to explore. Meanwhile, in the apartment cluster, everyone gets to occupy two whole suites due to low population density.

        This is her new home.

        On her way through the main entrance, Ruthie sees Castor talking to the security guard. Castor remarks that both he and Ruthie are new arrivals, and invites her to stop by his block at some point. Upstairs, Ruthie meets her new neighbors, two of which stand out: Dulcey and Camellia. They live below and above her, respectively, and reached her door first.
        A tad overwhelmed, Ruthie thinks to herself that these aliens move quickly. They must have nothing better to do. During these thoughts, she smiles amicably.

        Ruthie invites them inside and they help her unpack a bit, until Ruthie opens a set of blinds, and a pair of enormous eyes staring at her from the distance startles her. Camellia and Dulcey chuckle and remark that somebody in the cultural block must be curious about her, so they decide to take Ruthie on a tour of the neighborhood.
        First comes the aforementioned cultural block, Camellia’s favorite. It is an apartment cluster, structurally identical to the others, but with a special skin, which displays shifting images, and also reacts to various stimuli. Some of the inhabitants own ornithopters, and use them to fly and glide about the air. Ruthie declines an offer to use one.
        After the introductions, the three women relax for a moment in a wide den. Smoke and fragrances fill the air, of which Camellia partakes but Dulcey does not. Ruthie partakes only a little. Camellia accuses Dulcey of being uptight, and confides in Ruthie that it's been her year-long mission to find a man, woman or object to tickle Dulcey's fancy. Dulcey replies that Camellia doesn't know anything about relationships, as she switches partners like the genes in her designer pets. Camellia claims that's only because she's already seen everything. However, now that Ruthie has entered the neighborhood, Camellia has an entirely new puzzle to unlock. This prompts Dulcey to laugh, and affirm that this is why Camellia is Dulcey's closest accomplice. Dulcey works for the Office of Social Maintenance, a multi-disciplinary bureau that maintains local coherence amidst post-human social anarchy, and it always helps to have a smooth operator like Camellia watching her back. It also always stinks to have that person constantly tempt with things like the leaves she is smoking.
        Talk of leaves and designer pets impels Camellia to take Ruthie to the neighboring apartment cluster. Inside, aspiring agriculturalists have converted the living quarters into scores of growth bays, humid garden grottos, and microcosms that require sterile suits to enter. Camellia introduces Ruthie to some animals she helped to design and fund by herself.
        The community grows and exports food from here. Instead of slaughtering animals, grotesque knots of muscle hang pendulously from plastic stalactites, fed by a massive, artificial circulatory system that occupies an entire floor of one of the apartment buildings. It is apparently a skill in itself to carve these random growths into proper cuts of meat.
        Before they turn to the other sections of the settlement, Ruthie asks to walk out into one of the agricultural fields. Camellia laughs and concedes that Ruthie really must be from Klennis. Dulcey explains a dispute between some of the culturalists and agriculturalists. She hears arguments over space, land, energy, and much darker ones involving politics. A few of the inhabitants have started siding with the secessionist movement. Significantly, Dulcey bemoans how longevity has only given some personalities more time to nurse their rivalries and hatreds. Ruthie at first looks deeply intrigued by this insight, but then covers it up and acts completely knowledgeable. Camellia notices this and looks skeptical.
        As they talk, some of the curious gliders light upon Ruthie’s group for further conversation. One glider botches his landing and ruins a few plants in the process. This starts an argument, with Dulcey intervening and offering to the farmer that if mishaps and setbacks didn’t occur, his work and love would not be necessary in the first place. She also recommends to the fallen glider that he get his hands dirty and help out in the field for a day.
        Elsewhere in the field, Ruthie sees some other farmers begin to shout insults and seriously challenge the gliders. Castor and a few officers rush out to the field as a farmer wearing an exoskeleton strides out to chase off some other gliders, which have landed to watch the argument. Castor shows off his training. Despite the efforts of him and a few others to mediate, the anger is too deep, and the belligerents go at one another. Castor throws the man in the exoskeleton flat on his back when he readies to push Castor out of the way. Dulcey, who was elsewhere, rushes over to help settle the dispute, and uses Ruthie as a reason to renew their sense of community— do they really want to frighten their new neighbor before she even gets settled? She reminds them that beasts live out in the wilderness, not in the settlement.

        After diffusing the argument between the agriculturalists and the culturalists, Dulcey gives everyone a flower. They are the bloom-tops of the plants that were knocked over when the ornithopters crashed. Dulcey explains that the blooms will prematurely wither, and now each of the guilty culturalists owe Dulcey a bloom-top in return. To do this, they must help work on the plants or, obviously, simply get back into the good graces of the agriculturalists. Dulcey also gives Ruthie a bloom and says, half-ironically, Welcome to Shyenne.
        Ruthie responds she never actually said she wasn't from Shyenne. Dulcey and Camellia just chuckle. Ruthie thinks to herself that these Shyenners are no simple country bumpkins.
        To get Ruthie’s mind off the scuffle, Dulcey and a bunch of sympathetic inhabitants go to a concert at the nearby city hub. Electrical problems halt the concert temporarily, but it continues unplugged, with improvised audience participation, emphasizing the importance that many place on so-called exclusive human skills.
        Back at Ruthie’s new home, the residents have thrown a party lakeside, by firelight, supposedly typical of the community, aided greatly by the cultural block. Two of the belligerents from earlier make amends, deciding to enjoy themselves.
        Prompted by Camellia, Ruthie gets flirtatious and romantic with Castor. Camellia watches voyeuristically. Ruthie decides the change of scenery from her old city to the relative countryside was good, and if she sticks beside this Castor, also a new arrival, she should have nothing to worry about.

« Last Edit: February 20, 2011, 07:21:11 PM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2010, 07:20:22 PM »

Episode 02

New Characters (3):



1. Bernard Mauer
   Bernard is a twenty two year old who prematurely aged himself to seniority and maintains the age. He works as a craftsman and lives like a monk, trolling the high-rolling attitudes of the populace. People enjoy his pointed observations, as he takes refuge in audacity and aims to entertain.

2. Federal Forces
        Several thousand light-years from Earth, in the Perseus Arm of the Galaxy, the Perseid Federation arose on an aggressive wave of technological integration and socio-political dissolution. Though it possesses centralization on an interstellar scale, its greatest power and weakness lies in an anarchic spread of local capabilities, enabled by automation and superluminal communications.
        Most inhabitants of Federal territory have undergone procedures to live forever in perfect health. They submit their genetic code to archives and enjoy the ability to alter their physical characteristics, to the extent that they can afford it. Thus, this majority of Federal citizens classify as trans-human.
        To find a place in the machine-economy, or even feel like they still serve a purpose, many people integrate their brains into larger systems, leveraging the natural abilities of a human brain for certain control, comprehension, or authorship tasks. Some of these individuals undergo enough alteration or disembodiment to classify as post-human. A niche demographic rides technology through every aspect of life, occupying a completely virtual world.
   The Federation could easily spiral into chaos. The first bastion against this, as seen by most citizens, is the enforcement of strict reproductive controls. Yet many people do not wish to wait the potential lifetime, or even eternity, to have children. A significant criminal and terroristic element exists in the Federation as a result. In response, the Federation is not above applying programs like the Military Systemat, which gained infamy for a brief campaign of anti-human genocide.
   Standard Federal equipment is designed to fit standard humans, but optimized for use by trans-humans with mental uplinks. Designs undergo intense value engineering: the ideal balance of quantity and quality. Still, it is mostly cutting-edge and not cheap. Artificial muscles and advanced molecular armor set the standard. Tactics emphasize maneuver, space warfare and urban warfare. Automated defense systems, sized from insects to tanks, feature extensively.

3. Aristocratic Forces
   These people wish to secede from the Federation. They call themselves Aristocrats because their leaders pride themselves in having great skills or beauty without medical procedures or technological augmentation. Their main goal is to lift Federal reproductive controls, to repopulate Shyenne and transform Epfia System into an independent power. They believe in human self-sufficiency and categorize post-humans as outside the natural order. Their greatest support comes from standard humans who do not have the means or the desire to mesh with high technology. Most wish to abolish gene banks and gene archives. Their armament is old and sub-standard, but proven and relatively cheap. Overall, Aristocratic products must be simple enough for humans to build or craft with early Information-Age technology.

Episode Summary:
   About a week after episode 01, Dulcey surprises Camellia at her work, and brings Ruthie along. Camellia shows them a pet order she is filling, as well as an Arrowcat that rangers captured in the wilderness, which the firm is now analyzing. This brings up the decay of the fringe settlements and the chaotic conditions just beyond the population centers.
        With the visit over, Ruthie, Dulcey and two other employees head out on a joint mission to determine the root cause of the power outages. They go to the city hub, then to a wilderness power station. Bernard is hanging around, making a small wood carving for a technician. He heard that Dulcey's group would be passing through and wants their escort as he looks for more materials. This brings up his apparent age.
        Together they check out some wind turbines and an automated bio plant. Someone has attached huge, encumbering political banners to the blades some turbines and machinery. The group is also startled to meet some post-humans. Shyenners colloquially call this particular type of post-human a Chlorophile, because they have made themselves plant-like.
        Drawn by a sweet smell, the group stumbles upon a dead Chlorophile, and a pack of Arrowcats like the one at Camellia's lab attack them. They survive thanks to their future tech. By sheer luck, Ruthie manages to fire her revolver at an arrowcat as it knocks her off her feet, and blasts its head open at point-blank range. Before she has recovered from her shock, Ruthie screams about the rangers not being around when you need them; Bernard offers that they may have ignored or even released the predators on purpose; Dulcey agrees, pointing up how those anti Federal banners were quite visible, and if the rangers disagreed with them, they would have already confiscated them.
        The group heads back to the hub to file a report. Ruthie stays behind at the energy plant with Bernard. Inspired by Dulcey's defusal of the argument in Episode 1, Ruthie has Bernard craft a small bloom-ring. Bernard teases Ruthie about being a little girl, a romantic young twenty-something.
        This makes Ruthie nervous, and there is a suspicious twinkle in Bernard's eye, but they both laugh it off. Ruthie explains that she has found a potential love interest, and is going on a date later that day. Despite his teasing, Bernard pours great effort into the ring, finishing a somewhat rough version in only a few hours, in time for Ruthie to wear it. Ruthie says the ring is fine, to leave it unfinished. She has only just arrived on Shyenne and it reflects her own state of affairs. She thanks Bernard leaves.
        As Ruthie transfers gravitrains at the city hub, she overhears some Aristocratic rhetoric in the public square, calling for the reduction of gene banks. It emanates from around Camellia’s workplace.
   A much larger clump of people than usual has gathered. In the reception area that handles applications for human genetic alterations, many Aristocratic women have gathered, all marked by exceptionally long and graceful hair. They have all recently conceived children, illegally, since reproductive controls have not lifted. They demand genetic procedures done on their children. The staff at the lab is staunchly Federal, but due to the pressure they feel themselves under, they are willing to work out a deal. One of the staff suggests that they serve only half of the women present, and allow the women to decide for themselves who gets the procedures; since Aristocracy is supposedly the rule of the best, they should let evolution take its course. This only enrages the women and it takes the intervention of exoskeletal Federal militia to dissolve the fracas that results.
        Afterwards, Ruthie goes home for a date with Castor. He immediately notices her strange new ring, which pleases her and gives her spirit. Out of defiance to the day’s dangers, she suggests a place: the forest near where the Arrowcat attack occurred. Castor reckons that he has met his match and hesitantly agrees.
        They share similar interests. Ruthie bluffs her way into convincing Castor she is around his age; Castor evades disclosing everything about his past. They are both intrigued to learn more about one another, intellectually and physically. Castor insists that he accompany her on any further forays into the wilderness.
        Ruthie says that’s great, and she also believes in Dulcey's calm attitude, which suggests a well of confidence and consideration. Castor imparts that he wants to believe the reasoning behind Dulcey's approach, but his experience says it just isn't practical. He's seen the hard and physical way work plenty times before, and all it takes is devotion--something which most people lack. Still, he is willing to keep an open mind, and he is trying to overcome his past and see things Dulcey's way--and Ruthie's way.
        Ruthie remarks that his way of thinking turns her on. Things get intimate and they decide to head home together.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 09:14:17 PM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2010, 05:28:12 PM »

I notice that a few people check up on this, but so far only one comment. Either the summaries are too bare, or nobody's feeling the direction I took after the setup.



Episode 03

New Characters (2):



1. Rendophine
   Alias of a notorious hacker on Epfia Shyenne. In a past life, he worked as a chemist to develop a mood-enhancer. Now secluded, he maintains a legion of dolls and small robots, whom he programs to do his bidding and cut his hair. He temporarily lost his nose to fire during the Systemat's genocide campaign. His bitterness remains.

2. Pirate Forces
   Pirates have little regard for human life, even their own. Nihilistic cloners revel in whatever pleases their fancy and ride the edge of disaster. Sometimes pioneers or merchants, they are nevertheless chaotic and represent what the Federation will do anything to avoid. Their equipment is mostly ancient and ineffective, but ubiquitous. The only forces to acheive reliable victory against them are post-human, like the once-genocidal Military Systemat.

Episode Summary:
        Two weeks after episode 02, Castor and Ruthie wake up in each other's arms. Today, a special government assignment has pulled Ruthie away from her programming job. She took the morning off because Dulcey set up the assignment. Castor has, too, because Ruthie requested Castor as their security escort.
        Castor considers this the best possible day: protecting something he loves on the way to a worthwhile cause. He and Ruthie take a gravitrain to the city hub, where they meet up with Dulcey and her two male colleagues. One wears a Federal combat suit identical to Castor. They are going to a condemned area, to try and meet a hacker called Rendophine. They do not know his exact location, but have decided to start by investigating the abandoned township where he is alleged to base his operations. He has signaled an interest in their plans, but has not provided them with anything more specific.
        Boarding a new gravitrain, Ruthie notices that they are the only passengers along its entire length.  The population on Klennis has polarized significantly over the past two weeks. The intimidating atmosphere created by Aristocrats has driven many inhabitants of this township, already sparsely populated and known to be hostile to secession, to denser places, seeking anonymity. The township had a reputation of harboring a relatively high number of so-called daydreamers, who live off state stipends, awash in media, disconnected from the physical world. The entire area is notorious for its advanced state of decay and high number of wandering automatons.
        Along the way, Castor notices a fleet of old, battered shuttles landing in the spaceport. A newsflash echoes throughout the train; the Aristocrats declare their takeover of the government, and their alliance with pirate forces, whom they call the vanguards of trade. They boast of how the pirates have brought in an Evening Star class ship, which their mortal enemies, the Military Systemat, left abandoned three decades ago during the last huge war. They call the ship Prime Garuda. Secession will occur and any Federal intervention will have to contend with a captured Systematic Evening Star.
        Though rattled, the group decides to focus on their mission: they will attempt to enlist the aid of Rendophine, in order to repair and reactivate the Socrates advisory program and defeat his fellow hackers, who take joy in continually poking holes in it whenever the federation brings it back online. Once restored, its voice can join the effort to find a non-violent solution to the Economic Bill conflict.
        They reach their stop prematurely. The line continues further into the township, but some unexplained damage has already obliterated a section of track further on down the line. As the confused party files out, Castor activates his camouflage and goes nearly invisible. The empty gravitrain begins zooming back to its origin.
   Dulcey calls the municipal services. The operator explains that an unexplained explosion last week caused damage to the gravitrain line. Incredulous, Dulcey demands to know why the incident has gone unreported and why crews have not repaired the damage. The operator coldly responds that the township has been notified to conduct its own investigation and repairs, and will not receive assistance from municipal services. Dulcey asks how this is supposed to happen, and the operator replies that then the remaining inhabitants should increase their numbers and develop their own skills, instead of relying on machines and others to do so much. Dulcey thanks the operator for his information and terminates the communication. She believes they will have to traverse the remaining distance on foot. She is convinced that any request for municipal hoppers will come with various strings attached.
   Castor reckons that this is not such a bad alternative. He and his colleague carry two people apiece and vault alongside the gravitrain line until they find an inhabited area.
   Castor and his partner use their suits’ binoculars to examine the inhabitants. They look like daydreamers and hippies, generally outcasts. A few post-humans exist either at the center of attention or the sidelines. Castor and his partner camouflage themselves but remain fairly close to Dulcey, Ruthie and the others as they enter among the squatters. When one of Dulcey’s colleagues asks about Rendophine, the squatters direct them to a nearby resort building, which has numerous collapsed walls and shattered windows, and smoke trailing up from burners and campfires. Dulcey laughs knowingly and leads her colleagues and Ruthie inside. Castor and his partner watch over the entrance and get in position to leap inside the building if necessary.
        Upstairs, they find some hippies gathered around a large vase-like vessel, which clinks and tinkles like glass as it boils away translucent colored crystals in its bath. As the hippies breathe its vapors from small plastic tubes, they enter varying stages of a high. The first thing one of the hippies asks is if Dulcey is there to bust them this time.
        She appears to know them well and jokes around a bit, before seriously asking if any of them know the whereabouts of Rendophine. Nobody does. She asks if they know anyone who would. Nobody does. One hippie drops a pellet into the vessel, and says it’s too late to save the situation; the Aristocrats brought the pirates into their fold, so the Federals will throw Systematics at them. It’s going to get ugly. A second hippie drops a smaller pellet and says he wants the Systematics to come; they’re more sympathetic to daydreamers and outcasts than the Aristocrats. People like the Aristocrats act like they're all wholesome even with blood on their hands. Dulcey reaches into a pocket and pulls out a crystal orb about the size of a golf ball, and drops it into the vessel, where it gets stuck at the neck, but slips down into the soup as the vapors dissolve its outer layer.
        The hippies look on in awe. After she lets them admire it for a bit, Dulcey replies that despite being permissive in some respects, Systematics exceed the law all the time, and they are not a suitable substitute for anything. The only reliable solution in any situation is to let things flow like a conversation.
        Persuaded by her contribution to the party and the discussion, a formerly silent post-human sits up on a cot in the shadows. He knows exactly where to find Rendophine.
        Meanwhile, outside, a post-human with strange eyes walks up to the roof of the building where Castor watches Dulcey and Ruthie. Castor remains still and camouflaged as the post-human leans casually against the railing a few feet beside him. Then, startling him, she turns and asks him directly if he’s on her side. Castor decloaks and replies that of course he is. Smiling, the post-human replies that this is good, and she will ensure his path is clear of pushy robots.
        Dulcey leaves the building and the party heads for Rendophine’s lair. Ruthie asks Dulcey about her connection to the hippies, and it appears Dulcey used to be one of them, and views this entire township as an ongoing project of hers. As they walk, various robots, one the size of a small house, actively avoid them, which amuses Dulcey. As the party eats a packed lunch, she corrals the machines for sport. This causes several collisions.
        At the meeting place late in the afternoon, they find a sprightly pale android like a female mannequin. Dulcey sprints towards it for amusement, but instead of running away it hunches over to return her blow; this stops Dulcey in her tracks. The android then hops away and invites them to follow. The party decides it must be Rendophine.
        They penetrate layers of gloom and decay, until they reach a small parlor filled with a rank of armed androids and gynoids. One gynoid walks up to the group and holds a television. It produces voice only. It is Rendophine.
        They state their ideas to Rendophine and say that a conflict would likely dislodge him. His android army would pose a threat to local powers and they would smash him. In any case, his peace and comfort would disappear. It makes sense to side with them, and they are prepared to supply him with whatever resources and luxury goods he desires.
        Rendophine says that one of them already gave him a Rossum's gynoid in exchange for some archival tampering, and that his benefactor demonstrated excellent taste in beauty. The lead Rossum's gynoid winks at Ruthie, who makes no reaction. Rendophine says that restoring Socrates would constitute a defeat of his hacker-competitors, and be quite a feather in his hat since he is no longer an important chemist. He hates both the Aristocrats and the Military Systemat, which the federation will likely deploy, ever since the Systemat blew off his nose. He will help the federation maintain the status quo, but on one condition: they must live up to the Federal doctrine of discussion and transparency, and share all the secrets that he knows they are hiding from one another.
        Ruthie and Castor deny having secrets and accuse him of having a double standard; Rendophine steps out in front of the party and explains that as a hacker, not only has he been hired by many people to create and keep secrets, he has sought out and penetrated the clandestine efforts of others. He points to Ruthie and Castor and says that as long as they are the worst liars, he will not help them.
        At this moment, one of Rendophine's gynoids call to him. He tells the party to wait where they are and disappears. In a moment, the television reactivates and he angrily tells them they're not leaving. The gynoids and androids draw weapons and train them on the party. Apparently, someone is destroying Rendophine's outlying machines with firearms. The room starts to rumble intermittently. The group seeks a safe alcove in which to hide. As they wait, Dulcey tells Ruthie that Camellia was suspicious about her, and asks Ruthie the truth about her age, her relationship to Rendophine, and her identity in general.
        Before Ruthie can answer, the ceiling bursts open. Suited soldiers leap and trudge around through the wreckage. They outmaneuver the machines; some soldiers fall. The group takes this opportunity to attempt to run. Some soldiers target the group. Castor throws himself in front of Ruthie and fires first; Dulcey and her colleagues stand completely exposed, and they explode in a shower of shells.
        Castor and Ruthie are fleeing through the wreckage, eventually the explosions cease and a trumpet calls. A voice tells Ruthie and Castor to halt. Several Aristocratic soldiers appear from the shadows and arrest the two survivors. They say that they have saved them from falling under a degenerate's spell.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 07:13:51 AM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2010, 04:47:12 PM »

Things are starting to swing into high gear here. I really don't know why I'm the only one to comment so far, but sometimes I get caught up in reading a story that I don't give feedback until there's more to say at once instead of a one line review. The characters and how they were developing seemed quite solid so there wasn't really anything to point out as being a problem or anything like that.
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2010, 12:13:09 AM »

Thank you, Wingnut, that was encouraging.



Episode 04

New Characters (5):




1.  Fld. Msh. Henry Beaucarr
   Supreme Commander of the Epfian Royal Defense Force, the primary Aristocratic military organization in Epfia System, and head of the Rangers Shyenne, a planetary militia. He is absolutely confident and sincere at all times. He has a fatherly persona, which can be overbearing and intimidating, but effective on a primal level.

2. Dealia Iyer
   Long before she ever harbored ambitions, the human population of Shyenne knew Dealia as a natural voice in the folk circuit. She is in her late twenties, a recent birth, but has used her position to see the lowest and the highest in human nature. Her messages are simple, avoiding original substance and focused on delivery.

3. Shosanna Iyer
   Though Dealia's twin, she has little performance talent. She helps manage Deliah's rise to fame and provides all manners of backup during performances. She accepts events and people with a knowing smile, and professes love.

4. Sgt. "Isobel" (Louise Bai)
   She looks like a human; she looks like a Systematic; she looks like the Gibson dolls she collects. Her evolving style breaks rank, but Frederick allows it, considering her role as a culture diva for the Systemat. Isobel invites scorn and domination by behaving like a snobby teenager. She effaces herself this way, and becomes a razor.

5. Lt. Kevin Hong
   The effeminate lietenant does not usually command a platoon but he does command the hearts of most who see him. He usually exists as a combat body to avoid romance and focuses on serious matters, like security and hacking. He knows his reclusivity increases speculation, but he cannot help it and does not wish to alter his personality.

Episode Summary:
        The morning after episode 03, Ruthie is horrified to see a motorcade of Aristocratic vehicles surround her apartment building. She watches Henry step out of a hopper and enter the building. A moment later, there is a persistent knocking on her door. She eventually opens it to find the doorway filled by Henry, with a throng of aides and guards clogging the corridors. Henry asks if he may come in, and although Ruthie does not initially grant permission, she relents. Henry motions his staff to stay where they are, closes the door behind him, and asks permission to sit at Ruthie’s breakfast table. Dazed, Ruthie grants it and sits across from him.
        Henry extends his apologies. The incident involving Dulcey's death has become an instant media sensation, though Ruthie has had no idea. After returning from the local police station and parting with Castor, she sequestered herself only to hear from her family and Dulcey’s family.
        Henry pitches the kind of society he is trying to create. He also reveals that he has formed a scholarly body to study ancient human cultures from pre-computer times, and found inspiration. Trans-humans tend to say that standard humans are asleep and ignorant, he says, but it's more like the Unaltered have awakened to who they really are, and feel satisfied. He asks Ruthie some rhetorical questions and compels her to answer with patronizing appeals, and after making himself seem completely reasonable, extends an offer for her to hold an important position in the nascent Aristocratic government, so she can make a proper case for her opinions. Ruthie remains distant throughout, so finally Henry apologizes for intruding and leaves her with two weeks to decide whether she wants the position.
   Cut to five days later. A melancholic cloud still surrounds Ruthie, but she steps out for the first time since Dulcey's death. Her first action is to dispose of some bouquets.
        Despite continued communications troubles, some information has reached Shyenne. It seems Dulcey was not completely lost in her death, as her parents are resurrecting her last adult-state in a neighboring system. This state of Dulcey is, however, from decades past: effectively, a different person. Ruthie has no interest. The date of the funeral coincides with the deadline Henry gave her. Normally, the funeral would have already taken place, but Dulcey had friends throughout the federation, and her parents are allowing time for mourners to work their way through red tape and interstellar distance to reach Shyenne.
        As Ruthie wanders the North Shore region towards the main city hub, she questions her motivations for moving to Shyenne, how bad she should feel considering the newness of these friends. She laments the recent silence from her parents and from Klennis at large.
        An ad for an Aristocratic pop duo, twins named Dealia and Shosanna, grabs her attention for a moment. It is cut short by a rude announcement delivered by a Rossum’s gynoid. Ruthie recognizes it as Rendophine’s. It claims its owner has been killed in a murderous raid by Aristocrats, and it is now releasing footage on autopilot. The footage captures the Rangers Shyenne, out in the wilderness, training Arrowcats to discriminate between Aristocrats and non-Aristocrats, and to prey specifically on non-Aristocrats. It is immediately followed by footage of the Rangers Shyenne in a public conference, where they respond to complaints about wilderness breakouts with indignant demands for additional funding.
        An announcement by Henry follows, claiming that recent communications disruptions are proof of Federal tampering. He advises Shyenners to remain alert.
        Ruthie decides to meet Bernard and hear his opinion. She plans to tell him her secret, expecting him to understand her feelings more than the centenarians, and to give her an honest appraisal, no matter how cold or blunt it may sound.
   Inexplicably, indefinite delays hit every gravitrain line. Isobel accosts her with Kevin far behind, and she asks Ruthie to accompany her for a while. Bemused, Ruthie agrees; once she does, every train delay lifts. Isobel warns Ruthie that a storm approaches and that collaborating with the Aristocrats would bring her nothing but trouble. She advises her to stick with the Federation and also the post-humans. Ruthie tries to push Isobel and all her troubles away along with it, but Isobel grabs Ruthie by the arm, gets very close and claims that she has lost friends as well. Amid the tension, another advertisement for Dealia and Shosanna breaks Isobel's focus; she releases Ruthie, criticizes the humans and makes to leave, informing Ruthie that they will be in touch.
   Ruthie considers running to another city, then to Klennis, another planet entirely, where her parents are and where the population density would make it easy to blend back and disappear. But she decides that running would do her absolutely no good. Running from her age has already proved dangerous; Rendophine, who helped her do so, used it as leverage against her. Rendophine himself ran from society; it branded him a disease and obliterated him. The Chlorophiles did the same; the Aristocrats released the super-predators and let the Chlorophiles fend for themselves.
   Ruthie absentmindedly ends up at Camellia's workplace. She seeks the designer pets to cheer her up. Camellia runs up and the two have a tearful embrace, not saying much. The one Arrowcat still occupies the main research lab, now more dissected and dissolved than ever. Ruthie decides she must pick a side; running only gets the hunters' attention or leads into their trap. She considers reproduction, the most contentious issue. Ruthie wonders whether pregnancy is beautiful (thinks of a warm smile and swelling woman stroking her womb delicately) or ugly (looks to another part of the lab, where a glistening insect's abdomen swells similarly and spurges out a puss-like egg sac). Camellia offers that she would not be able to live her life the way she wants to if not for the reproduction limit. Certainly, Ruthie reflects, in their civilization, reproduction is no longer necessary. Ruthie also reflects that she is a programmer. Introducing even more people into their stable civilization is like entering extraneous code.
   Ruthie readies to leave. Camellia says she will go along with her. As Camellia logs out of her workplace, the firm’s head researcher makes a triumphal announcement. The lab has designed a special bug which will target only the Arrowcat with a special disease, which will put the creatures to sleep and destroy their DNA. Ruthie shakes her head and contacts Bernard.
        He is free. At his usual place near one of the energy plants, one of the few safe wilderness border areas, some of the hippies and post-humans from episode 3 have joined him (one of the post-humans is actually Ariane before she joins the Systemat). Ruthie pulls him aside and tells him her true age. For the first time, Bernard looks confused, then bashful. Then he returns to his usual sour expression. He does, however, grasp her hands in his, and forcefully promises to be there whenever she needs it. He has already forgiven her for being untruthful about her identity, because neither is he.
   As Ruthie and Bernard have talked, Camellia has tried to not interact with the hippies and post-humans. They tease her for her relatively tame and wholesome appearance, but she replies with cool comebacks, which gains their respect.
   Immediately, however, two hot-rod hoppers come tearing through the countryside. One tumbles into a wreck by some trees, and another jets to a sudden halt by the group. Two hopper-trucks stop by to attend the crashed hot-rod. Men pile out. They are all clones, and soon, the group realizes, they are all actually pirates.
   The victorious hot-rod hopper sets down on the ground. The driver gets out, points to Camellia and demands that she gets on his space-ship, referring to his hopper. Camellia is too stunned to answer, so the pirate saunters up to her and explains how he is a man living in the moment, defining himself by his actions and not his genes, and he expects a woman and everyone else to respect the concept of his actions, for truly, that is what intelligence and what being human is all about, down to your very soul.
   The entire group is stunned and the post-humans send out emergency signals. Soon enough, the other pirates, physically identical but fashionably different, recover the driver of the crashed hot-rod and storm the facility, starting a meaningless impromptu dance party.
   Aristocratic militia come to stop the feverish, violent festivities, which leads to a general brawl, and Camellia narrowly misses getting taken as a hostage. Camellia, Ruthie and Bernard all retreat to Ruthie’s apartment cluster.
Ruthie calls Castor, who is excited to hear from her, and says he'll fly to wherever she is. He wasn't kidding; he's joined some culturalists on top of the artsy apartment building where they continue their ongoing experimentation with ornithopter backpacks.
   Cut to Ruthie’s group stepping out of a taxi-hopper by the lakeside. For a moment, they watch some inland seagulls, when Castor's voice from above startles them. Castor makes a dramatic entrance and sheds his backpack.
        Ruthie is somewhat amused. She asks him what the secret was that he was hiding. Castor looks ashamed and thinks. He says that he had started thinking romantically about Dulcey. He says that there's no way Rendophine knew about it, but he didn't have any real secrets so he thought he would just get whatever was weighing on his shoulders anyway. Castor adds that he doesn't even suspect Ruthie of having any secrets. He's sure that Rendophine was just like one of the seagulls flying overhead. He and Ruthie just happened to be the two morsels closest to him, so they got pointed out, whether or not they had any meat on them. Ruthie points out that Castor may be the same; he insists that Ruthie has plenty of meat on her bones, and in her head. Then he gets embarrassed and says he didn't mean to say that she's a meat-head. Ruthie asks Castor how he is doing and why he is gliding around instead of guarding something. He says that there is a standoff situation at the station where he gets his assignments and his pay: a complete communication blackout. He pulls out and unfolds a piece of plastic; it flickers and displays a still of Aristocratic and Federal soldiers facing off not 100 yards from one another. The Aristocrats say that even though they have taken the planet, they will not force the issue; they wish to create life, not destroy it. Ruthie is dismayed. She asks Castor if she can join him in using the ornithopter packs; she wants to go someplace where there are few people and little surveillance. Castor gives her his pack.
   Once up, she sees an unusual amount of activity around a nearby condemned building. A group of Aristocrats have decided to reclaim it. The men and women work at relatively differentiated tasks, with men making most of the decisions and doing the heavy lifting. They refuse an offer to rent exoskeletons.
        Ruthie wonders whether it is love or domination, having children, helping the men-folk do their own thing, but she notices that at least everyone on the jobsite looks happy. She decides that it must be both love and domination, and ignorance. The post-humans take away some privacy but they usually leave everyone alone. Moreover, they are less susceptible to corruption and cronyism. Lastly, Ruthie remembers how Isobel claimed that she, too, had lost friends. Ruthie decides to side with the post-humans, maybe even the Systemat. She tells this to Castor and he takes it to heart.
   She suggests to the hipsters on the roof that they crash on the Aristocrats' efforts. The Aristocrats will move in no matter what; in the meantime, might as well not be shy and avoid looking like a bunch of degenerates. All are in agreement; they swoop down and interrupt the job site a bit.
        They've almost gotten some cooperation smoothed out when an air-raid siren starts blaring. Militia appear and municipal hoppers touch down; government workers hand out yellow survival suits and tell everyone to get into shelters near the city hub. There have been a number of explosions in high and low orbit; a severe amount of wreckage is falling to the surface. Hours later, after nightfall, everyone is packed together in a shelter. Looking up at the sky, they see flashes of battle in low orbit. Then two comets fall; one ignites the wilderness and the other lands near the city hub. Ruthie and Castor grasp one another tightly.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2011, 07:35:29 AM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2010, 11:42:23 PM »

Episode 05

New Characters (2):



1. Systematic Forces
   The Military Systemat is a cosmopolitan, cybernetic, post-human military organisation, privately funded and publicly controlled. It requires all members to undergo specializing medical procedures and adopt a uniform pigmentation. It dwells almost exclusively in deep space, where it hunts pirates.
   It started seventy years ago. A Federal hacking campaign infiltrated the networks of a hermetic rogue-state, then used propaganda to incite its corps of super-soldiers to bloody mutiny. In exchange, the soldiers gained Federal citizenship. The survivors declared the various post-human communities scattered throughout the federation as the masters of tomorrow, and created the Military Systemat to serve them and the federation at large. Their mission was to encourage homeostasis and foster a technological Singularity, which they would join and help others to join.
   For decades, they gained a reputation for efficiency and determination. Their greatest successes lay in clever logistical wrangling and tactical evolution, which allowed them to sustain simultaneous attrition campaigns without taxing their clients. They ground opponents into their grave irrespective of popular support.
   Thirty years ago, their reputation sank into infame. After duplicating themselves into a technological Singularity along with a bloc of other states and organizations, the original copies deemed themselves and all the remainders of humanity as unnecessary. An unparalleled campaign of nuclear, biochemical and some stellar weapons led to the destruction of eighty percent of the Systemat, along with billions of humans, trans-humans and assorted post-humans.
   Systematic hardware has slowed its advance after losing so many designers and supporters, but even three decades after the disaster, it remains ahead of the curve. It generally requires a vast amount of energy and computing power. For most militaries, it is not worth the cost.

2. Tech Note: Whirlydog
        The whirlydog is an autonomous robot with a wide range of configurations and levels of advancement. Its name derives from its tendency to bounce chaotically around the landscape, in coursing streams when numerous, continually circling targets without forming thrusts. This is due to its combat role, which is to test environments and cause confusion before humanoid soldiers advance. The detachable gun mount is universal for everything from pistols, to rifles, to launchers, to small cannons. Militaries usually mount extra batteries on the external racks. Whirlydogs fitted with hands can reload one another or perform simple tasks like opening doors. The most notorious accessory is a diamond-toothed circular saw, useful against both hard and soft targets at close range. Diamonds are not expensive, and may be grown in labs. On open ground, the whirlydog is usually more efficient than human infantry; in urban settings, the tables turn.

Episode Summary:
        Small fires dot the wilderness and one piece of wreckage smashed into a section of the hub's downtown, but volunteer crisis teams have everything under control. The warped forms of the wreckage are quite a curiosity. Eventually, most people filter back to the hub to eat and drink and rest, but everyone is still on edge. Though they remove their masks, everyone continues to wear the rest of their survival gear. The Aristocrats have all disappeared; only Federal security remains.
   An ear-piercing alarm sounds. Steel curtains and roadblocks deploy, whirlydog robots rise up from tiny bunkers in the middle of the road and smack down from wall-mounted containers. The public announcement system reports the security situation and issues alerts. Everyone re-dons their gas masks and dares not venture out to share the road with the whirlydogs. Castor notes dark dropships peek between the clouds and release some fliers. They produce massive shockwaves, fold up and fade away. All are unintelligible blots in the sky. The other fliers disappear and the air is quiet. Bernard surmises that the Aristocrats have very few forces around this hub.
   Someone attempts to belittle the scare and starts removing his protection gear. Everyone around him restrains him and this starts a low-key argument. The PA system sounds an ear-piercing gas alert, and everyone freezes. They turn off the coffeemakers. It is so quiet that Castor hears a familiar droning. It is the drone of a floating tank, and only the Systemat uses those.
        Bernard makes for the roof to see. Ruthie tries to stop him, but Bernard replies that any Federal unit ought to distinguish him from a combatant, and if they don't come to the rescue, shame on them. Ruthie is dumbfounded, but this starts a cascade until only Camellia, Castor, Ruthie and a few others remain.
   After a series of loud pops, smoke engulfs the street. The whirlydogs come to life and begin firing randomly, until a series of punctuated droning sounds causes them and the pavement below them to explode. Scattered gunfire pops from multiple directions. Ruthie and company hide behind whatever they can, peeking out frequently. They see movement; unstable, comical little fan-rings, followed by swift whirlydogs and then finally, a deliberate beetle drone with four Federal riflemen. They skirt the storefronts. One rifleman spots Ruthie peeking, calls a halt, and holds up his weak hand to the storefront, which lifts open, allowing smoke and more gas to coil inside.
   With rifle trained, the soldier calls for everyone to show themselves. Castor and Ruthie step out simultaneously, followed by Camellia and the others. They get down on their knees with their hands behind their heads and wait. Only Castor looks calm. Eventually they are all told to get to the roof where their friends are waiting. Hoppers will take them to a secure location, north of the hub.
   On the roof they find Bernard, looking smug as a Federal lieutenant stands beside him. They watch some hoppers incoming.
Gunfire breaks their focus. Everyone crouches down and the riflemen train their guns on the hub's administrative building. Glass explodes on its top floor, and then a few civilians wearing protection gear and a Federal-style rifleman burst out of a door and scramble across the roof. They all wear Aristocratic identifiers.
   The doorway structure explodes. Ruthie recoils but continues watching. From the billowing smoke and through the windows, four Systematic riflemen leap and crawl up the sides. The lead Aristocrat raises his gun but the Systematic on the roof shoots his hands, creating puffs of blood and fragments. The Systematic releases its gun, leaps forward and jabs the Aristocrat in the faceplate, knocking him back onto his buttocks. The Aristocrat spins around on the ground and tries to scramble back to his feet; the Systematic shoots off the Aristocrat's feet. Finally, the Aristocrat lays still in a pool of his blood.
   The civilians, meanwhile, ready their own smaller weapons but the Systematics on the walls swing up in close position and launch into their backs, snapping their spines and pinning them to the floor. Four more Systematic riflemen climb through the smoking hole in the roof. In a filtered voice, the lead Systematic tells the Aristocrats that it was too late for them to delete their files. The Systematics will extract much more information from the Aristocrats' brains.
        A Systematic gunship swoops down above them. They drag the Aristocrats to one corner while two Systematics approach a pole that flies the Aristocratic flag. They wrench the pole from its socket and throw it down to the street triumphantly, whereupon they shoot the flag.
   Someone has pushed Ruthie and company onto the hopper, and as it turns in the air, she looks away momentarily. Castor lets out a low chuckle. When Ruthie looks back a second time, they are still there but the doors of the gunship, like jaws, have opened; the third time she looks, the area is deserted.
   The hoppers start crossing the saltwater straight that separates the southern and central continents of Shyenne's western hemisphere. Camellia doubts the hoppers have the range. Castor is surprised she would know to be concerned; she explains that a former flame was a municipal employee with access to hoppers. Castor is curious but Camellia closes her eyes and says she will pretend she is riding a designer bird. Ruthie asks the pilot about the range, and he says not to worry; the Systematics have it all figured out. Soon enough, a ferry appears on the horizon. The hopper lands on the ferry to refuel, then launches towards the next ferry and the next, continuing into the afternoon, until it reaches the next shore.
   A major city appears on the horizon: the central continental capital. Rolling plains surround the capital on three sides. Huge dropships land and launch at the spaceport. Systematic haulers carry massive containers into the city. At the elevators, trains and containers already shoot up and down between the surface and low orbit. Smoke rises from countless holes and craters, and several high-rise buildings have collapsed. Surveillance drones and gunships circle everywhere.
   The group passes through processing smoothly, and is free to wander a large portion of the city, mostly on the rooftops. Systematic civilians in their signature survival suits and opaque masks are intermixed at checkpoints. Ruthie has little time to rest before Isobel appears. She excitedly tells the crowd that her commander is here, leading the gunships. Castor asks her to specify; Isobel replies Frederick, or rather, Major Kaltbaum, is over the plains. She points to the plains and asks if anyone would like to see the battle. A Systematic civilian beside her unfurls a large opaque sheet and stiffens it against the roof railing. Ruthie refuses to turn around and watch, but Castor and some others accept. Isobel sneers at Ruthie and says that for someone who started this war, she ought to show some interest in it. Ruthie holds back her rage but this motivates her to watch over Castor's shoulder. Isobel also offers a mental feed but none accept it.
   Six ground-based, Aristocratic tank squadrons advance with turboprop-gunship and infantry support. A fully antigravity-based Systematic squadron of gunships and two seahorse-tanks fly out to meet them. Air support for both sides is engaged around the planetary capital, which looms in the background, up in flames. Both sides deploy smoke in an attempt to surprise the other. The Systematic gunships quickly dispatch their Aristocratic equivalents, and cause some confusion by dropping whirlydog drones and riflemen wantonly among the tanks. The Systematic tanks absorb a tremendous barrage from the Aristocratic units, retreating the moment they arrive. The Systematic infantry prove effective in tandem with their gunships, but eventually the superior firepower of the tanks and the energy requirements of the Systematic platforms force the remaining Systematics to retreat. The Aristocratic tanks, scattered and mangled, also retreat.
   Castor remarks that in the open field, that is probably the best the Systematic commander could have hoped for. Isobel cackles, exclaiming that Henry Beaucarr just threw away his best men on a diversion. Ruthie looks out onto the plains to think, but senses someone behind her. A Federal officer is waiting patiently. The officer asks Ruthie to accompany her. Isobel catches this and raises an eyebrow, but the officer reminds her that she outranks Isobel, then grab's Ruthie's wrist, and tells Ruthie's group that she'll be taking her to a private meeting at a nearby administrative building. Ruthie asks if there will be decent food; when the officer says yes, Ruthie follows enthusiastically.
   Along the way, someone bumps into her. Ruthie does not catch his face.
   Cut to Ruthie in a fine office. She devours the remains of a deli sandwich. After a deep, satisfied sigh, she takes better stock of her surroundings. Across from her sits the Director of the Office of Social Maintenance. This is the agency that employed Dulcey.
   The officer informs Ruthie that the Aristocrats have already begun abandoning Shyenne for fortified positions on Klennis. This means that they have forfeited the ground their army was designed for and have pinned their hopes on a planet that favors the federation. It's safe to assume the Aristocrats have little time left. If the Aristocrats fall too quickly, the Systemat may still stay behind until the end of its contract, leaving the Systemat plenty of time to pursue its agenda of revitalization.
        The individual with the alias of Isobel is slated to play a leading role in the Systematic recruitment effort. The federation has noted the interest that Isobel shows in Ruthie. They have Ruthie's statement of sympathy with the Systemat, and know of her relation to Dulcey Remarque, whose death some have inflated to the spark that signaled the invasion.
   Ruthie is shocked that the Office of Social maintenance knows about her conversation with Castor the day before. The Federal officer replies that Castor has a good number of connections. Ruthie looks off in befuddlement.
   The Director speaks next: the Systematics are keen to bolster their image and their numbers with this campaign. He expects they will do everything to seize the narrative and spin it positively. The federation wishes to use the Systemat, not the other way around. Before any disasters hit the Federal network, the federation would like to install Ruthie as a mole, in order to help disrupt any Systematic action that is not directly related to defeating pirates and Aristocrats. They give Ruthie about thirty seconds to decide whether she will accept this assignment or not; she accepts immediately. They shake her hand, give her some contracts to sign, tell her not to worry and send her out the door to await instructions.
   On the way back to her group, she discovers a paper in her pocket. It states that Henry will not give up on Shyenne, nor on her. Ruthie crumples the paper and feels sick, and starts crying. She throws the paper to the ground and looks down with a deep breath. She looks up again, more composed and angry this time, with fists creaking and pulsing, white and red.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2011, 06:09:02 PM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2010, 09:29:23 AM »

Episode 06

New Characters (5):



1. Col. Jeffrey Zabat
   As the Federal commander and overseer of the Federal Force Projection in Epfia System, he holds ultimate authority. Distinguished as having defeated enemy Systematics with numerically superior trans-humans, and forcing stalemate with numerical parity. Off the field, he charms with a laid-back attitude and a quick wit.

2. Maj. Frederick Kaltbaum
   The legal owner of the Systematic expedition and Evening Star class ship that bases it. Chosen by the Systemat for his creativity and resourcefulness, his earnest sympathy, and his fearlessness on stage. Despite his cynical comments, he often invests too much in others. He sees power differentials in everything.

3. Lt. Bertrand Swarit
   The male Vector ace aboard the Systematic ship. A blood knight, he joined the Systemat to pursue the ultimate challange. He usually lives in the moment but realizes the importance of certain institutions to create and support good moments. Just as the Systemat never rests, he treats every moment of his life as a competition.

4. Lt. Hannah Flecter
   The female Vector ace aboard the Systematic ship. She values order and logic above all else. As a secondary task, she investigates Systematic internal affairs to ensure they meet standards. She is as cynical as Ariane but tends more towards action than pessimism. As a friend and ally, she offers enduring commitment and honesty.

5. Retro Note - The Shyenner Arrowcat
        The unspecified super-predator mentioned in previous summaries is the Shyenner Arrowcat. It was the first multicellular organism to be domestically conceived, designed and produced on Shyenne. Its name derives from the arrow-shaped pattern on its back. The fur along the pattern area contains ultraviolet markers, which facilitate identification and tracking of the creature. Designed for sport hunting, it possesses simian intelligence and highly efficient genes. With the deterioration of order throughout Epfia, a number have escaped their reserves, begun breeding, and claimed the lives of too many citizens.

Episode Summary:
        Three days after episode 05, major hostilities have ended. The refugees in the continental capital, stuck in prefab shelters and living on military rations, must listen to an announcement before they can head home.
   All the television screens and PA system speakers extend the introduction of one Colonel Jeffrey Zabat, commander of the Federal Expedition to Epfia and the man directly responsible for all military action in Epfia System.
   Shyenne has just witnessed the first phase of the operation: the physical integration of one major planet, in this case Shyenne, into the Federal system. The expedition will now target its physical efforts on the next planet, Klennis, while building econo-intellectual integration upon the physical accomplishments in Shyenne. Jeffrey encourages Shyenners to apply for direct military service, because this is their federation, not the fiefdom of backwards tribesman or the dumping ground for pirate waste. Besides, service offers agreeable benefits and guarantees victory.
   Jeffrey confirms the involvement of a Systematic battalion in the expedition. He gives due credit for their assistance during the physical effort on Shyenne. He commends Lieutenants Bertand Swarit and Hannah Flecter, whose marathon sorties displayed their ingenuity and dexterity over the planetary capital. Jeffrey also commends Major Frederick Kaltbaum, commander of the Systematic Battalion, who, with much Federal assistance, disguised his ship and crew as the enemy, and maintained that disguise for long enough to orbit alongside them, thereupon using zero-range energy attacks and marine boarding actions to decimate and confuse the enemy before the Federal body arrived. Jeffrey subdues his grin at the story and nods, saying it shows the power of collaboration. He also assures Shyenne that the Systematics have a three-month limit to their contract; once expired, the contract obligates them to leave Epfia System with all of their materials.
   Jeffrey ends the announcement by stating his desire to resolve the conflict with minimal destruction, and hopes that the damage of the past three days heals quickly.
   At that, the cordons relax. Federal personnel and the tired citizens begin rushing in opposite directions: the army to the spaceport, the citizens to the transportation outlets.
   Castor and Camellia join the rush; Bernard and Ruthie remain. Bernard calls it a rat race and finds it amusing. Ruthie cannot hear him. She watches another spot of stillness about ten meters away, where Isobel and Frederick interact. She studies them. Frederick congratulates Isobel on establishing a base and laying low. He presents her with a Gibson's Doll gynoid as both a reward and as a management aid for her new assignment. Isobel coils up in glee as Frederick pets her head and runs his finger along her jaw. She names the gynoid Violet, and steps forward until Frederick's hand rests lightly around her neck. She gives him a delicate kiss. They exchange salutes, then turn their backs on one another and part ways. Isobel crashes into to Kevin with a joyful embrace, whereupon she spots Ruthie, and begins to scamper towards her.
   Bernard had also started watching, but as Isobel approaches, he tries to back away discretely. Isobel beseeches him to stay. She correctly surmises the purpose of his aged appearance. Isobel approves of his social message, but Bernard continues to wriggle out of the situation until Ruthie also insists that he remain. Though he calls Ruthie crazy, he'll gladly back up a friend. Isobel asks if Ruthie has told anyone that she and Ruthie were to be travel companions for the near future; Ruthie admits this is the first she's heard of the idea, but she's not opposed to it. She tells Camellia and Castor to continue home without her, and hopes they don't start fooling around with one another. Isobel is delighted by Ruthie's cooperation, and would like to make an official offer. She asks both Ruthie and Bernard to accompany her as she styles her new gynoid.
   They get into an imposing, car-styled hopper, which zooms to an undamaged section of the city. En route, Isobel explains the differences between Rossum's products and Gibson's products, and why she prefers the latter. Ruthie is impatient to get down to business but Isobel smugly tells them to wait.
   The hopper lands. Along the deserted street, most of the stores are closed, except for one clothing boutique. The owner of the store hyperactively sets Isobel up with all the materials she could need to make an outfit. While Isobel works on her gynoid, she finally states her business. Since she knows Ruthie to be a hacker, and one who places trust in computerized policy programs like Socrates, Isobel figures Ruthie must be a kindred spirit of the Systematics who despises the Aristocrats, especially after they famously killed her friend, Dulcey. She also knows that the Office of Social Maintenance wants to use Ruthie as a sort of spy. So she asks Ruthie if she would like to be part of Isobel's security detail, as well as her liaison to the Federal government, in exchange for a modicum of public support for the Systemat. Ruthie agrees.
   They work together to finish styling the gynoid. Ruthie is clumsy and inexperienced; Isobel declares Ruthie as unfeminine. The two women challenge one another until Isobel decides to show Ruthie her capabilities. She storms away with Violet following, billed automatically. Ruthie flounders a bit to gather her things and rushes after them.
   A Systematic rifleman greets her on the other side. It stands directly in her path, staring her down. Isobel, Kevin and Bernard have vanished. Before Ruthie can move past her shock, the hyper-eccentric owner of the boutique bursts out and hails Isobel. The passenger's side door of the hopper opens and Isobel steps out. The boutique owner titters that he eavesdropped during Isobel's visit, and declares his admiration of Isobel's style and attitude. He and Isobel cordially exchange cards. Relieved, Ruthie remembers she is among zany post-humans. The rifleman remembers its appearance, identifies itself as Kevin, and tells Ruthie to be on her guard as he walks over to the hopper and opens a door for her. Inside the hopper, Bernard and Isobel await. Kevin mounts a whirlydog-cycle and escorts the hopper once it embarks. Ruthie asks where they are going; Isobel replies, to crush Deliah and Shosanna.
   It is late afternoon. The Iyer twins sit atop some steps, along the edge of a public square, with the sun at their backs. Apparently, they survived the invasion without being apprehended. A small crowd has gathered to hear their unplugged performance. They sing a song that corresponds to their predicament: losing a loved one to a foreign land, but remaining at their homes despite the desolation, being the fiber in the tapestry of life.
   Isobel sets her sights on the twins. She looks back to Ruthie and tells her to commandeer the area's PA system, and not to worry about consequences; Isobel holds the rank of a Sergeant. Once she has the PA, she blasts a fanfare to tear attention away from the twins and immediately starts her own song. She introduces herself and says it's nice to meet Shyenne. She sees its quaint country appearance, its pastoral facade, but knows that predators stalk underneath, ready to swallow pills and pornos from Klennis like a glutton. Shyenne is a jungle just like Klennis, and they ought to be proud and fierce as the arrowcats. Inspire the machines of their society, don't just hate them or live by them.
   Isobel's song, being racier and edgier, and having louder projection, gathers a larger crowd. The Iyers have no choice but to stop and listen. Even after Isobel has finished singing, the crowd remains to interact and ask her questions. The Iyer twins approach Isobel and offer their compliments. For her part, Isobel returns nothing but veiled accusations. She challenges the twins and informs the audience that whenever the twins stage a performance, so will Isobel. The fans will have to choose which show to attend.
   During the excited commotion that follows, an android slips Ruthie an Aristocratic card. It claims that it's still not too late to turn back.
   On the way back to the hopper, Isobel looks up at the roof of a building and addresses Kevin, telling him that one day, he'll have to cover guitar and show his pretty face on stage. The monstrous rifleman peaks up from behind a ledge to rub its neck. Ruthie and Bernard reach the hopper, and get dropped off at their apartment cluster. Isobel gives Ruthie one final handshake and a curtsey.
   Once free of the Systematics, Ruthie and Bernard share a sigh. A resort service is already trying to buy back their apartment buildings. Bernard encourages Ruthie to drop Isobel's offer and dash it all, but Ruthie considers Castor's encouragement to take action and Camellia's ambivalence. Camellia lays low as a general rule, but would like very much to meet Isobel. To gain enough influence to repel the buy-back and due to the general consensus, Ruthie officially decides to take Isobel up on her offer. She calls and signs an electronic contract.
   They are about to retire for the day when a news flash arrives: in high orbit above Klennis, Colonel Zabat has died. A nuclear-assisted pirate onslaught threw the Federal expedition into disarray, but the formation around the Systematic vessel remains intact. Systematic Major Kaltbaum will temporarily rise to fill Zabat's position, and the Evening Star class ship, now the Federal flagship, is re-named Dulcinea. A communications and migration freeze is now enforced for all but military channels.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2011, 04:32:29 AM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2010, 05:01:30 PM »

Interesting to note that with the exception of Isobel, all the characters under the Systematic(?) flag are dark skinned. Was that intentional as a mark of some sort?
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« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2010, 06:14:04 PM »

Yep. Since the federation is a crazy mixer, the Systematic tone is actually mid-range compared to other characters. It's just that the Systematics are completely desaturated and uniform, so I could color them in without dealing with hue and all that jazz. Isobel keeps herself pale and hued for various reasons, which, incidentally, I shall explain in the next summary. Thanks for noticing, dude. Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2010, 03:55:06 PM »

Just realized that I haven't included anything from any parents. I had intended these science-fiction characters to have some family that plays a role. Also, wtf Dulcey's funeral hasn't happened yet... I will rectify this.



Episode 07

New Characters (3):



1. Sgt. Victoria Budashi
   Beaming smiles and exploding with energy and finesse, Victoria is one of two competing culture divas selected by Frederick. She strives to popularize the Systemat, emphasizing positives and spinning off negatives. Her message is often dark but such is her candor and cleverness that even enemies stop to listen.

2. Cpt. Rudolph Lug
   Rudolph believes that he belongs to a different era. He is opposed to the Systemat but made a certain commitment to a dying wife. He heads the Tarantula Hawks. On the field, he performs as a sniper, and styles himself a manly hunter. Fiery sermons rumble readily from his gut, darkening his face in exertion.

3. Systematic Dulcinea Company 3 - Tarantula Hawks
        This company, commanded by Rudolph, primarily handles scouting, sniping, assassination and intelligence duties. The Systemat allows its units to elect mascots, but limits the choices to insects. The tarantula hawk is a long-legged Terran wasp, which stalks and paralyzes much larger spiders with its stings, to lay eggs that will later consume their host.

Episode Summary:
   Ruthie walks down some nearly-empty streets at the break of dawn. She heads towards the Office of Social Maintenance in the central continental capital.
   About two weeks after episode 06, Systematic ads sprinkle walls, electronic billboards and virtual spaces. They ride a wave of fear over the Pirate swarm that has grown around Klennis. Support from the entire interstellar pirate network has started flowing into Epfia System, intent on destroying any attempt by the Systemat to rebuild itself. The pirates have also done well to salvage scrap in the battle zones, reforging it into equipment, which Federal forces hesitate to stop. The Dulcinea has thrown itself into overdrive, fabricating equipment, bombarding the enemy fleet and Klennis in equal measure. Already, entire regions of Klennis have fallen into ruin. Sacrificial Systematic insertions have slowed the rate of Pirate cloning, but a stalemate has developed. In a bid to break it, Federal forces increasingly switch over to the Systemat. A Federal news flash announces that a suitable replacement for Jeffrey will arrive alongside Federal reinforcements within the next few days.
   Ruthie reaches the Office building. Two Federal riflemen stand guard outside, minded by a Systematic civilian. Ruthie sneaks inside and reaches the Director. She confides what she has learned about Isobel. She tells of a local, high-exposure concert event that Isobel will conduct, now that Isobel has stripped the Iyer twins of most of their followers. The Office director asks Ruthie for a suggested course of action--what level of disruption or obstruction, if any, to attempt--and Ruthie reveals that she already has a plan to sabotage the concert. If it succeeds, it will destroy Isobel's fragile composure and create bad publicity for the Systemat. All she needs is a team of hackers and an impresario to assist her. The Director pledges to provide them both immediately, and to expect a report in a few hours.
   On her way out, Ruthie contacts Camellia. She asks if Camellia would still like to meet Isobel. She does, and Ruthie responds that today she has the chance.
   The day is extremely foggy. Ruthie meanders about the city, unaware that a Systematic scout is trailing her. It uncloaks itself briefly to steal batteries from a whirlydog in storage. The scout sports an insignia of a tarantula hawk.
   At midday, an android passing out pamphlets gives Ruthie a blank. The inner fold informs Ruthie that the Director has secured Ruthie the personnel she needs. Ruthie soon receives a call from Isobel, giving her directions to a meeting point. Isobel warns her that she is almost ready to leave, and will not wait for Ruthie's arrival.
   She finds Isobel reclining at a cafe near a Federal-Systematic recruiting station, with the occasional interested civilian or applicant stopping to chat. The hyperactive boutique owner fawns over her as she drinks tea from a china cup. Business at the station is slow now, but freshly trampled refuse litters the street. Ruthie tells Isobel that she has found some important guests for her, but before she can go into any detail, a voice calls from behind.
   Victoria rides in on a whirlydog-cycle with her bodyguard and coterie. Isobel greets her with a combination of disgust and respect, saying that the publicity function is complete, but Victoria is welcome to the leftovers. Victoria reminds Isobel that a competitive plurality is the healthiest system, so she should remember to behave respectfully to her competition, and jauntily nudges Ruthie into agreement. She also recounts that she has just negotiated the Iyer twins into self-imposed seclusion.
Finding a gap in the exchange, Ruthie tells the group about the impresario and offers to let them both introduce themselves to him. Victoria gladly accepts, gives credit for this to Isobel, and cheerfully proclaims that everyone is getting along after all. She says if Isobel or her staff needs anything, Victoria will gladly provide. Isobel is not particularly interested, but considering Victoria’s involvement, she feels obligated to compete. So it is agreed they will go together.
   The meeting goes over well; the impresario finds Victoria especially charming. Victoria approaches Ruthie as Isobel performs for the impresario. She decides to show Ruthie the virtues and way of riding the Systematic whirlydog-cycle. Ruthie tries briefly, but balks at the speed and low protection; she is not wearing a survival suit, after all. Victoria is shocked that Ruthie is not a reinforced post-human, and vows to keep her safety in mind.
After Isobel emerges, the impresario reports his decision: he gives a classical performance role to Victoria and decides to attend Isobel's upcoming performance before deciding anything on her.
   Ruthie and Isobel have a moment alone after the others leave. Ruthie expects Isobel to be jealous of Victoria and scornful of the impresario, but she is merely disappointed with Ruthie for not selecting a more compatible collaborator. Ruthie suggests that perhaps the reason Isobel fared not so well against Victoria, and why Victoria is making such rapid gains in popularity while Isobel plateaus, is that Isobel needs to share more. Perhaps she needs to open up. Isobel detests talk show appearances, recalling some awkward moments, so Ruthie offers her friend Camellia instead. She describes Camellia as a gossip queen with ennui, who enjoys manipulating genes. This fits right up Isobels alley. Ruthie sets them up to meet.
   Ruthie has already told Camellia that she has had no luck trying to alter Isobel's mindset and has drawn little more than what the media already knows. She has a feeling that Camellia's sophisticated personal touch might succeed. Ruthie has told Camellia that Isobel makes submissive displays for her commander and counsels her to take the lead, and see how Isobel reacts.
   Camellia meets Isobel in the wilderness, with Ruthie watching nearby. Ruthie activates a cloak. There are some sexual overtones between Camellia and Isobel. During the proceedings, Camellia explains she's a gossip whore, but was interested in Isobel even before she knew of her success or position. She says she has never actually been with a girl, but Isobel sparks her interest. Isobel laughs and accuses Camellia of lying, then replies most everyone is a whore for something. She offers to give Camellia an inside scoop that she hasn't shared with any publication or talk show, and gives Camellia permission to diseminate the information across the datalinks or however she wishes. Then she takes Camellia's wrist and gives herself better leverage over Camellia. Isobel explains that with women, she prefers to take the lead. She has as much of a taste for power plays as her commander, and loves to see the weaker pushed down into their place.
   After some brief intimacy, Isobel explains that she prefers the city to the county, so they start walking back to the nearest hub. Along the way, Isobel spills her mindset and describes her origin.
   Like almost everyone born in the federation, Isobel was a designer-baby. Yet her case was more extreme. First of all, her parents fixed the local reproduction lottery in their favor, depriving other hopefuls of their chance. The high price of the fixing, then, left them even more jealous of their daughter's development. They attempted to alter her psychology soon after conception, but ignored warnings and went too far, causing as many problems as they solved. They also gave her an unusually pale complexion and created a condition where she grows an over-abundance of capillaries in certain areas near the surface of her skin, to give her a permanent and deep, attractive blush.
   Camellia comments that she detests control freaks. Isobel laughs at her and explains that aside from designing her, they never did much out of the ordinary to her. During her time with them, mind-games did develop due to their nosiness, and she would always strive to out-wit them, finally culminating in her estranging herself from them. Yet she has no ill feelings towards them.
   Camellia looks slightly confused. Isobel laughs again, and explains that the whole story wasn't a pity play. Isobel looks at Camellia with skepticism, and explains it just goes to show how it shaped her view of people as selfish creatures, and how the reproductive instinct is the most selfish of them all. Isobel does not resent it much; she knows the extent of her own selfish behavior. It is simply reality, and she uses it to her advantage. She sometimes makes herself look completely like a gynoid to fulfill the selfish fantasies of others. But it does often deserve to be punished when taken too far, which is why the Systemat exists. Isobel goes on to add that technically, her entire existence is illegal, but because she supports the Systemat and has agreed to its rules and conditions, it supports her as well. It's obvious that it isn't composed eighty percent of genocidal blood knights.
   The two women have now reached the ruined outskirts of the nearby hub. Quietly, almost too quietly for Ruthie to hear, Camellia comments that Isobel makes a convincing case. This fits within Ruthie's plan for Camellia to coax information, but it sounds too sincere. Ruthie quickens her steps to get closer, but suddenly she finds herself lofted up in the air. Something holds her wrists and ankles together. The deranged voice of a Systematic combatant shushes her and reassures her that it will not halve her, unless she makes a ruckus. It chides her for snooping and tells her that it will release her, but she must not turn around, or else it will crush her brain. Ruthie complies.
   The Systematic decloaks; it is the scout with the tarantula hawk insignia. Its vibroblades extend and it coils up to deliver a death blow. It reveals that Rudolph is watching Ruthie's secret campaign against Isobel with great interest. There is an opinion that Isobel is reckless, easily destabilized and must have something discourage her from further publicity. Ruthie asks what is going on, and the scout replies it is piercing the web around Shyenne. It has found information about Ruthie's so-called friends that Ruthie would never want to know, and threatens to reveal that information if Ruthie ever relents in her campaign against Isobel. Her reward for following orders will be to live in ignorance.
   Just then, Ruthie receives a call from Castor. She holds up the phone at the scout's behest, only for the scout to skewer it before she can do anything else. It reasserts that the tarantula hawks have taken her under their protection and their targeting scope, and wishes her good luck. It vanishes.
   Later that evening, Ruthie takes medication from Camellia to hide her distress. She half-lies that the cause is her concern for her family on Klennis and for Isobel's performance to succeed. Ruthie asks how the date with Isobel went. Camellia giggles and says Ruthie somehow picked the right word, and says she finally found a fresh fascination. She hugs and thanks Ruthie.
   The concert gets underway, and Kevin pleases everyone by making an appearance, tele-operating his humanoid body from within his nearby combat body. Victoria has lent some bodyguards to compensate for Kevin's engagement with the crowd.
   The only problem is that the crowd is a fake. Ruthie's hackers have managed to make the concert date appear as a different time. Many cultural venues maintain an entire fake audience of androids, identifiable only by a large blue dot on their wrists, to give the illusion of bustle and relevance even with low popular interest. Ruthie ensures that this has happened tonight. Then, as Isobel is in the middle of a song about giving herself to the audience, building up to the climax, the entire audience stops cheering altogether, and begins filing out. Some boo her.
   Isobel and her fellow performers are too confused. They eventually stop playing as the floor empties. Even one of the performers, the one who has bands covering his wrists, puts down his instrument and leaves. Soon, only a few people remain. Standing dead-center in the middle of the floor is Rendophine's premiere gynoid: the Rossum's model, given to him by Ruthie. It announces that the hacker Rendophine was a rival and even a jackass, but also a brother-in-arms; it announces revenge on all Aristocrats, current and former, and draws a gun. On-stage, Kevin collapses.
   Ruthie breaks out in a sweat. This wasn't the plan at all--this is an improvisation by the hackers she employed. The gynoid clumsily levels its weapon at the impresario and Ruthie runs out to shield him. Then Kevin's rifleman body steps forward onto the stage and riddles the gynoid with bullets.
   The party is in shock. The impresario insults Isobel, her security detail and the Systemat in general. He will not give any role to Victoria, either. He storms out and leaves Isobel spinning between rage and tears.
   Kevin receives information from a Tarantula Hawks platoon on Shyenne that the Federal reinforcements, and the return of federal authority, are due in two days. If Isobel wants to retaliate, she must do something fast-acting, and she must do it by tomorrow. Isobel takes no time to decide: they will contact Victoria, and enlist her aid in eliminating the saboteur network. They will start with those directly responsible, and they start that very moment. It takes Kevin little time to discover the involvement of the Office of Social Maintenance and even a few former Aristocrats. He begins to compile a list of suspects. Ruthie inches towards the door but Kevin does not mention her name. Soon, the Tarantula Hawks hail the party from outside. A suspicious Federal motorcade has begun heading for a spaceport in the wildnerness, a spaceport whose axis points towards the Federal reinforcements. Isobel tells them to check for decoys and orders everyone to ride. They will target the motorcade.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2011, 07:24:30 AM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2010, 11:20:33 AM »

Episode 08

New Characters (1):

1. Tech Note: Disruptor
        The Systemat developed this weapon before the genocide. Most governments banned it before it saw use. Originally intended as a non-lethal crowd-control device, it projects a variable-spread cocktail of electromagnetic energy which phase and oscillate at random. It is able to defeat the low-level shielding available to most civilians, causing involuntary muscle spasms and maximum pain. It also disrupts electronic signals. Extended exposure to disruptor fire can melt soft solids, burn circuitry, and cause advanced cancer and deleterious mutations.

Episode Summary:
        Millions of miles away, the Dulcinea disengages from combat around Klennis. A number of depleted Federal vessels follow, including Hannah, who inhabits a Vector body.
        Hannah docks with the Dulcinea for replenishment. She transfers her brain to her human body onboard the Dulcinea and signals to meet Frederick. Frederick transfers his brain from a command-shell into his own human body.
        They meet in the Dulcinea's observation room. A window in the floor displays Klennis. Punctuated by mushroom clouds and craters, obscured by clouds of dust, the planet looks diseased.
        Hannah reports on Systeamtic internal affairs. She brings to light that Rudolph has, on several occasions, mis-used emergency superluminal channels to beam mental commands into a scout body on Shyenne. He has used the body to premeditate and commit various crimes, and Hannah suspects he about to commit more. Rudolph's motivations are all ostensibly to preserve the Systemat, but really, they seem more likely to undermine it.
        Frederick encourages her to continue investigations, but to take no action. Removing Rudolph would remove an enormous benefit to the Systemat. Already, Rudolph's personality and politics have disarmed scores of soft Aristocratic battalions and militia.
        Hannah threatens to challenge Frederick. Frederick invites it, but with a warning that the Systemat cannot likely spare the time and computing power to execute a full Command Review, while also sustaining a holding operation around Klennis.
        For the moment, Hannah relents. She returns to her Vector body and leads a Federal flotilla back into battle.
        Frederick reflects that history will see Rudolph as a sideshow. People expect these transgressions, as the Fifth Moon of the Systemat has always gotten itself into human entanglements. That is why it did not smash itself. That is why it still exists. Crime is part of human society. Any Systematic that lacked the purity of essence to unflinchingly commit genocide, thirty years ago, has no right to complain about the Fifth Moon now.
        Frederick watches the Dulcinea's fabrication unit, floating alone in space. It resembles a dark, mechanical amoeba. From all corners of the Epfian system, crews and shuttles feed it asteroids and wreckage. As it grinds and digests its food, it excretes a sausage-line of vehicles, equipment, and Systematic bodies ready for occupation.
        Back on Shyenne, down on the surface, a Tarantula Hawk scout steps forward and offers Isobel a disruptor carbine. Kevin points up that only certain Federal units can use disruptors, legally. Isobel counters that on Shyenne, until a suitable Federal commander arrives, or steps up to replace Frederick, the Systemat is the federation. Isobel takes the disruptor and says that with it, her victory is assured.
   Kevin notes that his communications are jammed. The Tarantula Hawks offer secure channels. The Tarantula Hawks cannot trace all of the hackers, but various signals lead to the Office of Social Maintenance. The hackers' ringleader, probably, is leaving the Office Building in a motorcade, heading to a spaceport that points towards the incoming Federal reinforcements. The route passes through a sparsely populated area, ideal for military operations.
   Ruthie wonders why suspects wouldn't take shelter in Federal garrison, instead. Everyone gives Ruthie a crazy look. Kevin replies that the saboteurs know the Systemat will accept no compromise in pursuit of an enemy, even if that means blasting through nominal allies, and so the garrison would probably surrender the suspects. Furthermore, once the Systemat apprehends enemies, it applies psychological alterations. They can only hope to outrun the Systemat, not outlast, outbluff or outgun.
   Isobel contacts Victoria and she agrees to help pursue the suspects. She offers a pool of whirlydog-cycles, but Kevin points up that they'll be hard-pressed to catch up with the suspects and then take them into custody on wheels. They'll need at least a hopper. The Tarantula Hawk platoon offers its three gunships for transportation and close air support.
        As the gunships approach, Isobel takes a moment to visit the bathroom and change into her survival suit. Before she changes, she tries to contact Frederick via an emergency superluminal military channel. She tries many times but cannot reach him. Putting that aside, she dons her suit until only her faceplate and helmet remain on the countertop. She stares at her face in the mirror, distraught. Taking the faceplate, she holds it in front of her face like a mask, then removes it, then replaces it, back and forth until one final stare, after which she finally dons the faceplate, seals the suit and walks outside.
        The gunships have arrived. As Isobel walks to one, she stops and looks up at the stars until Kevin calls out to her.
   Ruthie attempts to hide behind the few other people in the venue as they leave, but her Tarantula Hawk handler pulls her aside and tells her that she will watch the proceedings. As one gunship loads Isobel and her guards, and the second gunship flies out to retrieve Victoria and her bikes, Tarantula Hawk operators stuff Ruthie into the Systematic survival suit and load her onto the third gunship. Only the Tarantula Hawks know of her presence as they disembark to intercept the motorcade.
   The handler explains it cannot beam a video feed into Ruthie, due to the risk of signal interception, so Ruthie will watch with her own eyes. Ruthie asks why it is forcing her to watch at all, and it replies that she should be able to figure it out on her own.
   The gunships approach the motorcade over an industrialized area, several minutes from the spaceport. As the gunships draw closer, they activate flashers and sirens, and display police identifiers.
   The motorcade has four sedan-type hoppers and one limousine-type hopper. The sedans rise to the cusp of the skyline and maintain that altitude. As the gunships call for the motorcade to halt, the sedans descend back to ground level and the entire motorcade accelerates. It enters an area festooned by pipes and conveyors and platforms, effectively screening the motorcade from aerial attack. Keen to save ammunition, the gunships hold their fire and deploy an impatiant Isobel and Victoria, as well as six other bikers and four whirlydogs. The Tarantula Hawks activate blast shields and roadblocks built into the industrial zone. Federal hackers manage to deactivate most of them immediately, and throw up some of their own to slow the Systematic bikers' advance. Ruthie encourages them from inside her gunship compartment, though only her Systematic handler can hear her.
   The Systematics still cannot get a clear shot on the motorcade. The third gunship, with Ruthie onboard, jolts ahead of the chase and deploys two bikers and two whirlydogs. They wait to intercept the motorcade. When the hoppers arrive, instead of stopping or slowing to divert their course, Federal riflemen rise out of the moon roofs of all the sedans and fire on the blockade, destroying both whirlydogs and killing one Systematic. The other rifleman manages to hit the second sedan with a single explosive shell, causing minor engine trouble. The sedan pulls aside as it cannot match the rest of the motorcade for speed. As the other hoppers pass by, the sedan's rifleman and driver salute, then prepare to face off against their pursuers. The Systematics fire a wall of ordinance and reduce the sedan to bloody fragments before it can return fire.
   Isobel has tasted blood and cannot wait any longer. The riflemen agree. They order the gunships to fire on the motorcade, overruling the reluctant Tarantula Hawks. The gunships fire on the machinery above the motorcade, causing the hoppers to decelerate as they avoid debris. Ruthie's handler opens its gunship compartment and leaps onto the hood of one sedan, causing more confusion in the motorcade. The scout fires a burst of explosive shells at the limousine. The sedan tries to throw off the scout, but it sinks claws into the armored hood. Then it fires a burst of shells into the sedan's windshield at zero range. The force of the explosions rips the head and limbs off the scout and disintegrates the sedan. The limousine emerges from a cloud of smoke with only superficial damage; the scout writhes around on the asphalt with the remaining stumps of its limbs and neck, its brain case intact but helpless.
   The motorcade still possesses two-thirds of its strength, but it is doomed, close but too far from the spaceport. The Systematics have all but caught up and surrounded it. The hackers help by raising defensive road blocks and blast shields. Bikers and sedans weave through the industrial labyrinth in a general mêlée, but the maneuverability of the bikers allow them to disable the armored sedans with minimal loss. Then the limousine ascends into the sky, making one final dash for the spaceport.
   Isobel and Victoria approach the mêlée. One last roadblock stands before them. Still competing, they jump over it at the same time. Victoria, more confident on her bike, vaults over the block. As she reaches the apex of the jump, two Federal riflemen clinging to the underside of the limousine decloak; as she lands, they disintegrate her in a hail of explosive shells. Isobel accidentally catches a wheel of her whirlydog-cycle on the roadblock, tumbling but also avoiding the incoming fire. At the last moment before she hits the ground, she lashes the limousine and riflemen with a bolt of disruptor energy.
        The limousine crashes into the asphalt and grinds to a halt, dragging one rifleman underneath for the duration.
   A Systematic spiderswan lopes over to Victoria's remains, looking for intact portions of Victoria's brain, and quickly reports no salvageable material. Another spiderswan carries the disabled scout and dead Systematic rifleman. The scout speaks into Ruthie's ear, saying it is excellent that the Systemat has another female martyr to stoke recruitment. It congratulates her for creating this scene, and jokes that females should steer clear of Ruthie for their own safety.
   Ruthie asks what the scout means about Victoria being a martyr. Ruthie assumes that Victoria should be fine, since the Systemat can simply pull her backup information and reproduce her from her last saving procedure. Not in Victoria's case, the scout explains. Events moved so quickly on Shyenne, Victoria insisted on joining and serving the Systemat before it could complete such a procedure.
   As the scout talks, Ruthie falls into further horror. Kevin pulls the Director and other survivors out of the limo. They wear survival suits, but Kevin removes the Director's helmet so Isobel can kick his face. Another Tarantula Hawk spiderswan stands nearby, ready to take custody. It leans down to take the Director into its hellish embrace.
   The spiderswan steps up into the underside of a gunship. As the gunship departs, the scout informs Ruthie that her suit will now render her unconscious and implant an alibi. Ruthie promptly blacks out.
   She wakes up in bed the next morning, wearing her clothes from before the Tarantula Hawks stuffed her into their survival suit. She checks herself for wounds or puncture marks but finds none. About a dozen messages from Castor and Camellia fill her inbox.
   Isobel also left a message. She provides a distorted account of the battle with the motorcade. She also gives Ruthie the day off. Having had such an intense experience, Isobel wants some time alone. Additionally, Frederick will briefly return to Shyenne once the Federal reinforcements arrive. Isobel wants at least some private time to prepare.
   Camellia, Castor and Bernard all want to hang out. They heard about a fatal incident surrounding the concert she attended last night. On the way to meet her friends, agents claiming to work for Henry accost her. Soon after, representatives of the hackers she employed also contact her. Ruthie surmises they may be Tarantula Hawk agents, posing in order to implicate and dispose of her. Whatever the case, Ruthie decides she is through with shadow games. The Tarantula Hawks have her beaten. From now on, whatever Ruthie does will be out in the open.
   Ruthie meets with Castor and Bernard, and a few other acquaintances. Camellia is absent, but promises to catch up later. After having some fun and relaxation, Bernard recounts that it is the day before Dulcey's funeral. The turmoil on Shyenne had postponed it by two weeks.
   As the group starts to splinter apart, Camellia finally arrives. She, Ruthie and Castor travel home together. Camellia reveals that she had sent much of the day with Isobel, who felt broken up by the loss of Victoria and the savagery of her enemies. She felt so moved that Camellia has decided to throw in with the Systemat, and has a procedure scheduled for tomorrow. She cannot re-schedule, and is unsure if she can both attend the funeral and undergo the procedure. Ruthie withholds her rage and coldly takes her leave. She pours out her problems to Castor and reveals how she's lied about her age. Castor is surprised, reacts awkardly, but reaffirms his commitment to her.
   The following day, Federal reinforcements arrive and speed to Klennis, breaking the stalemate. Dulcey's funeral also takes place. Jets fly overhead and politicians arrive. The large turnout surprises Ruthie. Camellia is absent. Instead, a host of media crews permeate the ceremony, often smothering Dulcey's parents. Ruthie and Castor knew Dulcey only briefly, but they receive privileges as the last people to see her alive.
   Rudolph, arriving ahead of the main Systematic body, is there to underline the importance of reconciliation. He explains about how he initially came from a group similar to Epfia's Aristocrats, but now negotiates settlements with Aristocratic commanders to lay down their arms, with notable sucess. He believes Dulcey stood for the same thing, and also believes she would not want her colleagues, who died alongside her, to go unmentioned.
   Despite her patience, Ruthie cannot contain herself. At the dinner after the funeral, Rudolph has a little too much to drink and begins making heady pronouncements. Ruthie steals attention away from him and recklessly insults or exposes nearly everyone present. She will go back to programming. She no longer wants to play dangerous games. That's for the Systemat. She leaves the dinner in an uproar.
   Castor, Bernard and several others follow her out, calling after her. She is about halfway to a rental car when her handler, the Systematic scout, decloaks before her. Everyone skids to a halt at its abominable appearance.
   First, it explains to Ruthie that it rejoined her during her sleep. Then it drops the secrets it had been holding back. Last of all, it points a finger to Castor, and asks if he will return to the Systemat, and take up the post of a sergeant, which he held before the genocide, before he came to Epfia.
   Castor shrugs and squirms as he attempts to explain himself, but shame eventually silences him. Ruthie at first looks hurt, but says nothing as she sinks into a grim, earnest expression. The scout asks Ruthie if she would mind if Isobel learned of Ruthie's role in the concert sabotage. Still, Ruthie says nothing, only picks up her pace. The scout says farewell. It cloaks and its voice fades away into the distance.
   Ruthie doesn't take any calls. Isobel leaves a message asking Ruthie to meet her immediately; Ruthie ignores it and asks aloud if it’s so she can kill her, too. Castor also calls, and also gets ignored. Ruthie implements a program to fool pursuers and finds a small car cached in a storage locker. Without stopping for anything, Ruthie heads straight for a part of the continent she has never visited before, following a contact she received from the Director, before his apprehension.
   The address belongs to a Federal lieutenant. After passing a series of perimeters and inspections, she finds him lounging by a pool, his beefy frame inert. A willowy, brunette woman lies draped over his side and gives Ruthie a territorial stare. The woman coaxes the lieutenant awake and he responds rudely. He demands to know who Ruthie is; she explains her former role as Isobel's aide, and offers information he could use in order to attack Systematic personnel before the Dulcinea returns to Shyenne.
   This delights the lieutenant, who angrily recounts a sap story about how he's the best lieutenant in the federation, yet the task force in Epfia passed him up for Frederick as the new regional commander. He'll take any opportunity he can get to land a sure hit against the Systemat.
   The following day, Isobel attends a major fashion show. She will introduce her new colleague, the replacement for Victoria. Ruthie watches from the shadows, a few hundred feet away. A Federal scout installs himself in a balcony box overlooking the stage, camouflaged.
   Isobel takes center stage and the lieutenant immediately fires a burst of explosive shells. Kevin appears in front of her, instantly decloaked as his body and braincase fly into several pieces. The remaining force of the explosion also tears Isobel in two, but leaves her otherwise intact. Isobel laughs as she exposes her wrist. It has a blue dot identifying the body as belonging to a gynoid, not the real Isobel.
   Ruthie blends into the exit stampede. She watches proceedings elsewhere on the planet. Another Isobel walks with Violet towards an armored Systematic hopper-sedan. A smaller, slimmer Federal scout, bearing an insignia identical to a tattoo on the lieutenant’s paramour, fires from a sniper's position and obliterates Violet, who held a ballistics shield disguised as a parasol, and then obliterates Isobel.
   Systematic personnel and sympathetic Federal personnel all scramble to pursue the assailants, who cover their tracks with explosives and activate camouflage. Unidentified armed androids also separate from the crowds and harry the Systematics.
   Ruthie drives her car at top speed to the nearest Federal garrison station. She has donned a survival suit. For a shortcut, she enters a traffic tunnel, but suddenly it activates a biochemical quarantine. The exits seal with heavy doors and airtight foam. The lights cut out, then turn a dim ultraviolet. Headlights of a Systematic hauler snap on behind her, flooding the tunnel with blinding light. Isobel's voice greets her.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2011, 12:53:00 PM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2010, 12:55:08 PM »

I didn't intend Wolfe to look like Gendou Ikari. He is, however, based off of someone who looks like Gendou Ikari.



Episode 09

New Characters (5):



1. Lt. Wolfe Noel
        A huge blood knight. Though Systematized only recently, he has risen to command a platoon in just a few weeks due to his enormous combat potential. In execution, his style seems reckless and random. Furthermore, his words sometimes sound mutinous. Yet every check into his mind has returned positive. He styles himself a dark romantic.

2. Cpt. Ariane Beauchene
        A resident of Epfia Shyenne, Ariane prefers a life of productive leisure, crafting programs and toying with puzzles. She has a methodical and realistic approach to life. Naturally, she handles logistics and controls whatever system needs optimizing. She is deeply cynical and can sink into pessimism. She values truth over happiness.

3. Systematic Dulcinea Company 1 - Bulldog Ants
        The bulldog ant is noted among Terran insects for having the strongest biting power. It is also the mascot of a Systematic company, noted for its swarming maneuvers, as well as having patience and determination second to none. Frederick commands this division.

4. Systematic Dulcinea Company 5 - Bullet Ants
        The bullet ant is noted among all Terran organisms for possibly having the absolute, most painful sting. The Systematic company bearing its insignia devotes itself to this idea. Its soldiers hurl themselves into danger, in an attempt to cause rout and slaughter amongst the enemy. Opponents hypothesize that tough enough force could goad the Bullet Ants into self-sacrifice over nothing, but so far, nothing has withstood their initial thrust. Bullet Ants contributed the most during the anti-pirate bombardment and holding-action phase of the Klennis invasion. Wolfe leads them.

5. Systematic Dulcinea Company 2 - Ladybees
        A private genetics firm developed the ultra-cute ladybee from Terran bumblebees, honeybees, and ladybugs, to provide biological agricultural assistance. Aside from spreading pollen, fertilizers and antibiotics, they interpret humans as members of their colony and aggressively hunt pest species. Systematic logisticians often choose the ladybee as their mascot.

Episode Summary:
        Ruthie freezes, sticky gloves of her survival suit creaking on the wheel. She waits and listens.
        Behind her, a massive, six-wheeled Systematic hauler idles. It bears a Ladybee insignia on its side and a collection of chemical containers on its roof. Its headlights drown out the tunnel.
   The hauler projects Isobel's voice through loudspeakers. Isobel greets Ruthie and informs her that, like Dulcey Remarque, the only thing Ruthie's good for is dying.
   The hauler roars to life; its hacked autopilot sees the space beyond Ruthie's car as its destination.
   Thanks to her distance from the hauler, Ruthie has time to zoom over to an exit hatch on the side of the tunnel. She pulls out a four-chambered, grenade pistol revolver and fires all four chambers at the hatch. This obliterates the lock and hinges, but as soon as she runs over and leans her weight against the hatch, she realizes the biochemical seal remains unaffected. Only crews outside can open these hatches, or else some kind of hacking could, but Ruthie has no time for ways and means.
   By the time Ruthie looks back to check the hauler, it has already reached her--or so she thinks. The hacking changed its target from Ruthie's car to Ruthie too slowly. The hauler slams into the tunnel wall, bounces back and into the air, hits the ceiling and then shivers to a standstill against the ground. The featherweight and resilient materials of both the tunnel and the hauler leave minimal fragments, but the chemicals explode. The concussion causes Ruthie's visor to crumple into an opaque mess, and her suit momentarily goes rigid as it counteracts the pressure wave, which throws her several feet through the air. The fireball melts the back and right sides of her suit, hindering movement.
   Once the temperature has fallen, Ruthie pops off her ruined visor.
   Isobel stands a few feet away, facing her, apparently alone. In the background, the door of the hauler's operator's box is ajar. Ruthie casts her eyes around for her gun but Isobel lashes out with her disruptor, freezing Ruthie in pain. Isobel remarks that she always thought of herself as a bitch, but now Ruthie gives new meaning to the word.
   Isobel drags Ruthie back to her car, explaining that it simply must look like an accident. She almost uses the vibro-bayonet to cut open the melded car door, but thinks better of it. Instead, she decides to push Ruthie in through the window and re-orient her victim while keeping her immobile. At one point during her struggles, she accidentally hits herself with her own disruptor beam, and spazzes. She muses that she could really use Kevin's strength at this moment.
   Once satisfied, Isobel backs away from the car and calls up the hauler. She sends it further back, readying it for another acceleration into Ruthie. She hopes it crushes the car, because her disruptor has exhausted its batteries.
   Isobel is quickly disappointed when Ruthie, after finally regaining her senses, pulls a derringer from a secure compartment in the car, then blows off Isobel's head with an armor-piercing bullet.
   The hauler still has its orders, however, and squishes Ruthie's car into the far blast door. Ruthie survives, but has no movement; the car has crushed around her and broken her back. Ruthie is in too much pain to feel safe as the hauler deactivates its engines.
   The hauler laughs. It accuses Ruthie of falling for the same trick three times in one day. Soon enough, a spiderswan crawls out of the hauler. It scampers towards Ruthie's car.
   Suddenly, the biochemical seal lifts. Frederick's voice projects over the tunnel's speakers, saying that he has seen enough of this scenario. The blast doors open and the exit hatches pop off their hinges. Isobel says it's no use, and leaps towards Ruthie's car. Her first vibro-blade foot neatly slices off the car roof and her other foot follows through to toss it away. As she is about to swing her next limb through Ruthie's head, Rudolph and another Tarantula Hawk sniper fire their railguns through the widening gap in the blast doors, clean through the battery connections of Isobel's spiderswan body. The body loses power and falls on Ruthie, giving her further bruising and lacerations, but still, Ruthie is more or less alive. Bulldog Ant riflemen stream through the hatches and secure the location. Ruthie loses consciousness.
   Ruthie wakes up in a hospital. Castor comes in and gives a heartfelt apology for not protecting her and for withholding information. He pledges to change that and starts by nursing her. Despite the severity of her wounds, she will physically recover in about a day, because Castor has spent a fortune to apply the most advanced treatments available.
   At one point, they watch a newscast about the official arrival of Frederick and his expanded officer corps, also about the orbit of the Duclinea. Frederick believes that Shyenne has secured itself, so he will take spend a few days in support of a Federal politician. After that, the Dulcinea will speed to the Epfian gas-giant, Visha, to collect energy and deny the pirates a source of power.
   Ruthie and Castor serendipitously receive a message: Frederick would like to see Ruthie in person.
   Ruthie recovers without complications. She and Castor take a space elevator to the Dulcinea. The vessel has begun curling the segments of its central shaft outwards, like a flower.
   The elevator does not connect directly to the Dulcinea. At the terminal, a simple android waits for them and guides them onto a gunship. It rides with them towards the Dulcinea. A mouth opens on a habitation section of the Dulcinea; the gunship maneuvers into it and lands. After a few moments, the gunship opens. Ruthie is surprised about not sensing movement during the entire transfer.
   The android begins leading them towards Frederick. It bids Ruthie follow as she examines the vastness of the bay, which is deserted, but still contains a few large vehicles.
   A tram-hopper already waits for them. They traverse a long, straight hexagonal hall, large enough to fit a Systematic gunship. It looks like a warrens; thin alcoves line the entire length. Dim lights reflect over the smooth and sterile interior, a dark plastic. After a few turns, they reach a door. It leads to a reception area. The android explains that information transmission is normally forbidden in this space, so it will go to inform Frederick of Ruthie's arrival in person.
   Ruthie examines her surroundings. Five minimalist portraits adorn the walls, seeming to represent the concept of each of the major, pre-disaster Systematic leaders. The portrait of Bodystar Garamt, Nexus of the Fifth Moon, is outlined by an orange light. It is the only polychromatic portrait. The other portraits have blue-lit outlines.
   Frederick says to Ruthie that the portrait should suggest why one fifth of the Systemat did not participate in the disaster. Also, the door is open. He invites Ruthie and her friend to enter.
   The next room has a two-meter ceiling but a floor so vast that its walls disappear into shadow. It has no internal lights, but a window constituting an entire wall allows light from the distant stars and from Epfia. An enormous window at Ruthie's feet allows Shyenne to add its blue glow and its brightness to the room. Space vehicles appear as specks.
   A broad square mat covers the floor beyond the window. Behind that, a bare desk sits. Ariane sits cross-legged in the center of the mat, working on a paperthin laptop, wearing fitness clothes. She turns away as Ruthie and Castor approach. Frederick stands beside her, similarly dressed. He removes his fingerless gloves to shake Ruthie's hand. Ruthie is obviously confused, awed, and skeptical.
   On behalf of the Systemat at large, Frederick apologizes to Ruthie. At first, Frederick would have passed Ruthie off as another hostile agent. He would have eliminated her. Yet thanks to the timely mental interface of her friend, Camellia MuRong, Frederick saw that Ruthie had been partial to ignoring the Systematics, had Isobel not forced herself upon Ruthie.
   Ruthie is surprised at the beneficial sideaffect of Camellia's systematization. She wonders if she should think better of Camellia.
   Frederick continues. He apologizes about Isobel and asks if Ruthie would like to see some justice administered. The Systemat has already tried Isobel in its style, opening and closing the procedure in one day. He will bring Isobel into the room, if Ruthie will allow it, and assures that Ruthie will face no danger of insult or injury.
   Isobel walks into the room, escorted by two riflemen: one Federal, the other Systematic. The Systematic is Kevin. Castor puts an arm around Ruthie, half-comforting, half-restraining her. Regardless of Ruthie's reaction, Isobel seems unaware of Castor and Ruthie's presence. She thinks that she is alone with Frederick, Ariane and the riflemen.
   Ariane turns around to face Isobel and leans back, chuckling to herself. She sets aside her laptop, stands up and salutes as Frederick does the same. Isobel returns the salute, trying to look as cute as possible.
        Frederick gives Isobel a dishonorable discharge. The Systemat has found her guilty of participating in police and military actions against orders, of attempted murder and of using a disruptor on several occasions. He dismisses her.
        Isobel does not leave, only looks dejectedly into space. She recounts the story of how they first met, with her running from various authorities on a slim chance that she could make Frederick's pick, forcing her way into the Dulcinea's visitor's chamber in pursuit of her dream of serving a Systematic commander, of joining the Systemat. It's that strong will and her welcoming of the pain and humiliations along the way that first endeared her to him.
        True as that is, Frederick advises her to remember that more is at stake than just her feelings. Moreover, Isobel should be grateful that he is releasing her as she is, without psychological manipulation. Isobel does not respond. Frederick warns that if she does not show proper respect and protocol, he will be even harsher. Isobel responds that if it's Frederick being harsh, she doesn't mind.
        Without saying a word or betraying any emotion, Frederick lifts his hand and points to Isobel. She falls flat on her face, motionless but still awake. He tells the riflemen to leave her there for the time being.
   Considering the display, Ruthie asks Frederick how she can be sure this is the real Isobel. Frederick asks if Ruthie would like to know the details about the Systemat's intuitive remote command system, which deactivated Isobel's body, but Ruthie says it wouldn't convince her of anything. So Frederick puts Isobel to sleep and has the riflemen pick her up. He positions himself slighly between Ruthie and Isobel, removes Isobel's hair, opens her skull, and gingerly extracts her brain case, stretching her circulatory and neural cords almost to the limit. With anger and discomfort, he asks Ariane to release the final lock on the braincase. Ariane accomplishes it. Isobel's braincase starts to beep loudly. As Frederick assures the environment is clean, Ariane also removes one panel of the case, revealing the labyrinth of Isobel's occipital lobe. Ruthie may approach. Ruthie asks if she may touch; after some silent consultation between Frederick and Ariane, she may. Ariane puts a hand on Ruthie's shoulder, ready to push away, and Ruthie brushes a finger against Isobel's brain. It is rough and squishy. Despite the proximity of so many Systematics and Castor, she could perhaps cause permanent damage if she were so inclined. She entertains the possibility of vengeance, but drops it. Ruthie is satisfied.
   Frederick reassembles and reawakens Isobel. Isobel loses her Systematic reincarnative guarantee. Finally, she will have no say in choosing her successor and take no credit for the new star's success. Frederick removes all Systematic markers and identifiers from her. At that, he orders the riflemen to drag Isobel into the reception area and see her off to Shyenne. The door closes after them.
   In order to make a clean break from Ruthie, Frederick offers her a so-called severance package. He doesn't expect any positive publicity or friendship, but he will give her economic compensation and ignore her if she will ignore the Systemat.
   Ruthie asks what will happen if she declines the offer. Frederick says, in that case, the Systemat will continue to monitor her and counter any hostility. Considering the good faith Frederick showed in Ruthie today, she says the chances of acceptance are high, but she will need some time to decide. Frederick invites her to a gala that he is planning to throw on the Dulcinea in two days, and gives her until then to decide.
   Back on Shyenne, Ruthie and Castor have some bonding time. Starting slowly, they frolic in the park, tell jokes and stories, watch some gliders, and take a joyride on a hopper borrowed from Bernard. Castor describes his past and suggests Ruthie take up residence somewhere near the garrison station that employs him. The lovers realize their relationship remains strong after its recent trials. Once evening arrives, they use their hopper as a floating dinner platform, and rest above the canopy of some wilderness. An alien bird perches in order to sample some of their food, but Castor waves it off.
   Two nights later, Ruthie and friends go to the gala. The Dulcinea has curled itself into the shape of a lily; its energy projector stands fully exposed and has reconfigured into a glowing stamen. Onboard, the group sees Camellia for the first time in about a week. She's been preoccupied, familiarizing herself with various post-humans.
   General hob-nobbing occurs. Some of Shyenne's planetary and interstellar political negotiations play out in real-time. Victoria's replacement debuts Isobel's replacement. Towards the end of the event, Frederick takes Ruthie up on stage and takes it in a solemn direction. He tells the gathering a little about Ruthie's troubles, and asks Ruthie if she would accept his compensation and agree to a cultural truce. Ruthie accepts.
   Down on Shyenne, Isobel watches a broadcast of the proceedings. A basic android drives her to her new apartment, then zooms away. In search of employment, she walks to the clothing boutique where she styled Violet. The owner is delighted to see her but has no space or money for an extra employee. He suggests she live off a state stipend and offers her an old android as a housewarming present, which she takes.
   With few practical skills and no desire to enter an aggressive social business, Isobel returns home and decides to become some sort of freelancer. Perhaps she will rebuild her reputation as a performer.
   Inexplicably, the door to her apartment will not entirely close. The problem seems to get worse until she calls the superintendant, whereupon the problem resolves itself. She flirts with the superintendant. He says he'll see her around, and leaves.
   Isobel takes a shower. She hides shock at finding a fading message written into the condensation on the shower stall. The messenger is a Bullet Ant scout. It warns her that Tarantula Hawks are watching, and asks that she plug an extension cord into a socket near her floor. Isobel dries off, dresses and lays out the cord. She pretends to surf the networks and play games as she watches prongs appear from nowhere and plug into the extension cord. She eventually goes to sleep and has further conversations with the scout in her dreams.
   The dream-scout transforms into Wolfe. He reveals to Isobel the internal conspiracy ranged against her, perpetuated by Rudolph and hidden from Frederick. Apparently, Hannah uncovered it weeks ago, but Frederick had done nothing about it until two days ago, and has not circulated any plans to punish Rudolph. Wolfe places most of the blame on Frederick. As a consequence, he requests Isobel's aide in seizing control of the Systemat. With their combined Systematic popularity, success is possibile. Moreover, certain Aristocrats on Klennis believe Wolfe's action would weaken the Systemat, and are willing to offer him and his supporters an escape route, should the need arise. Isobel supports the idea.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 12:21:29 AM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2010, 10:18:55 PM »

Episode 10

Episode Summary:
         In Isobel's apartment, the afternoon after episode 9, something is amiss. Objects fly around the interior. Doors open and shut at random. A frantic, demented voice remarks that Isobel really isn't here. Another voice commands to decloak and boost transmission signal. Two Tarantula Hawk scouts decloak. Isobel has vanished.
   The expedition to Visha has begun. All across Shyenne, the six Systematic infantry companies that have taken shore leave on the planet begin boarding their gunships, loading their gunships into their dropships, and launching their dropships into orbit to rejoin the Dulcinea. Rudolph, standing on the tarmac of a spaceport, receives word from his Shyenner scouts that Isobel has vanished. He begins to contact Frederick as he walks, but the Lieutenant hired by Ruthie in episode 8 is back to his one-man guerilla campaign, and takes an ultra-long sniper shot at Rudolph. The shot misses the mark and only succeeds at blowing off Rudolph's right arm, tearing open his shoulder. Rudolph gets up, waves away assistance, picks up his severed arm and continues walking and talking to Frederick. He orders his Tarantula Hawks to continue the loading procedure and let the Federals take care of the assassin.
   Cut to the spaceport of the central continental capital. Wolfe calls a special muster. The entire Bullet Ant company, two hundred cyborgs and their respective support units, stand ready in an open square of tarmac. Their dropship squadron idles nearby. One gunship lifts and glides over to a point in the air in front of the company, and holds there: it is Wolfe.
   Wolfe announces the transmission of special orders to the company. In a moment, a few of the Systematics recoil and glance at one another. A few seconds later, chaos erupts. Riflemen bash and shoot one another: spiderswans sever countless limbs, and gunships smother one another in cannon fire. Nearby, some spaceport personnel try to raise an alarm, but hacking blocks their signals.
   After mere seconds, the culling is finished. The vast majority of Bullet Ants have sided with Wolfe. Wolfe orders extra whirlydogs to fill vacancies and assigns a double-concentration of combat stimulants to the riflemen. Gunships spin and open to accept passengers, dropships fire up, and vectors launch.
   Isobel stands at the center of the commotion, an island of stillness. She requests soldiers in order to close her vendetta; Wolfe grants her a full platoon, and warns that she has only two hours before her window closes.
   In high orbit, the Dulcinea has returned to its usual shape. Ariane confirms that all companies are fully loaded and en route to the Dulcinea. She happens to notice smoke and wreckage at the spaceport from which Wolfe launched; Wolfe blames it on guerilla activity similar to what Rudolph experienced. Frederick gives Wolfe a gentle reproach for acting tough and not reporting the incident.
   Down on Shyenne, Ruthie has installed herself near Castor's garrison station. Some journalists have started asking about her time as a so-called double agent. At the moment, Castor is away, preparing some surprises. Ruthie takes this chance to visit the garrison station and familiarize herself with the personnel. At the station, they assure they won't let any pirates, Systematics or Aristocrats lay a finger on Ruthie. Only the Federal flag ever flies at their station.
   Ruthie is eating at the mess hall when an alarm blares and the room shakes. More annoyed at spilt soup than really frightened, she is concerned that an accident might have occurred, and begins heading out to determine the cause.
   The announcement system calls for all combat personnel to prepare for combat. Hostile units are incoming: Systematics. A loud explosion punctuates the announcement; the building shakes and loses power.
   Two Federal riflemen burst into the room carrying survival suits. Auxiliary lighting activates. They tell Ruthie to don the suit. She will follow them, avoid the outside if they get separated, get underground and avoid walls and corners. As Ruthie dons the suit, they appraise her more to the situation. About thirty Systematic riflemen and six gunships are breaking in, which is grim. Even though the Federal garrison is twice as large, they are unprepared and lost their air support. It will be a few minutes before reinforcements arrive.
   Ruthie and her escorts start heading back to where they came from, but are turned aside. Walls explode and Systematic whirlydogs flood into the building. Diamond-saws cut through doors and walls, fragments fall and knock the breath out of Ruthie. The riflemen stop at one point to hold off pursuers. They order her to continue. Ruthie opens one pristine door to find the hallway beyond clogged with broken whirlydogs, which pile atop a dead Federal rifleman, a diamond saw embedded in his neck. A crippled whirlydog twists and thumps against the ceiling but cannot free itself from the pile; Ruthie backs away before the robot targets her.
   Further on, four Federal riflemen find her. They tell her to accompany her; the Systematics seem to want Ruthie more than anything else. To provide her a safe haven, the garrison remnants have begun a swinging maneuver towards the gunship fields. When reinforcements arrive, they will reach that first. This rifleman squad will escort her to a shelter near the field.
   Gunfire pops from all directions. Soon enough, it begins to hail down on Ruthie's squad. Whirlydogs hound them. They see glimpses of Systematics jumping through windows and clinging high up on walls. Two of Ruthie's squad perish. One of the remaining riflemen takes Ruthie under his arm and carries her. They reach a bastion of Federal soldiers only to hear orders to split up, to take the fight to the Bullet Ants and exceed their intensity. The Bullet Ants are known to self-sacrifice, so the acting Federal leiutenant tells the remaining soldiers to create areas of false importance and fool the Bullet Ants into overcommitting.
   Ruthie's rifleman leaps up to the second floor of a nearby building. He will get to the shelter via a hole in the building, rather than the expected doors. A dead Federal rifleman is splayed out near a window; a survivor leaps back from another window and recounts that he served alongside the Bullet Ants not two weeks ago. It looks just like Klennis.
   More Federals fall to unseen assailants. A few Systematics make rash maneuvers and also get caught off guard by Federal shells, but not nearly enough. Meanwhile, Ruthie's rifleman makes a few more jumps and fires at corners to keep Systematics at bay. Ruthie catches a split-second glimpse of a Systematic's rifle curling back around a corner.
   Ruthie and her rifleman eventually reach the shelter. The sound of small-arms fire has died down. Instead, the ever-louder, oppressive droning of Systematic gunships fills the air. Their pods are right outside the windows. Ruthie's guardian plunges into the shelter, and hustles to an inconspicuous room filled with old backup generators, which hum loudly. The generators will mask Ruthie's biosignals. Reinforcements are seconds away. Ruthie frantically wonders where Castor is.
   Far from the garrison, Castor is at a food market, buying a nice bottle of wine to celebrate a new phase in Ruthie's life. The civil defense alert in his area just starts to take effect.
   At the garrison, it is quiet. One last peal of gunfire, coupled with a gunship volley, shocks Ruthie and breaks her resistance. Delirious, she asks the rifleman if he is Castor.
   Before he can answer, she is thrown to the floor. Her rifleman is flailing as a pneumatic vibro-bolt has lodged itself in his strong wrist, breaking his grasp on his rifle. A Systematic scout decloaks. It has attached itself to the front of the rifleman. The Federal grabs his grenade-pistol with his free hand, but the scout grabs that wrist, then uses the hands at the end of its legs to dig claws under the rifleman's fingers. It pries the rifleman's hand open, finger by finger.
   The rifleman still has his legs. He hurls himself at walls and floors, even the ceiling, but the scout holds fast and methodically continues its work. No twisting, no slamming, no matter how violent, loosens the scout's grip. Its joints do not have the same limitations as the rifleman's, and so they automatically have superior leverage.
   The grenade pistol falls to the floor. With that accomplished, the scout then forces the rifleman's chin up. The rifleman tries to drop to the floor to reach the pistol, but the scout extends a leg. It jackhammers the rifleman's neck with a pneumatic bolt, cutting through armor, through artificial musculature, and then through the man. Blood pours freely for a moment. Painkillers and stimulants serve to keep the rifleman completely calm, and he continues to search for an in towards the pistol, but he is sluggish and the scout then jackhammers the side of the Federal's helmet. A small plume of brain bursts from the hole.
   After pausing for a moment, the scout releases the corpse and cloaks. Blood courses down its hydrophobic skin, but scuffed skin patches keep blood suspended in the air. The gory mess drops to all fours.
   Ruthie has hidden in a nook between a wall and a generator. The scout watches her cower in the dark but it does not approach.
   Ruthie hears many footsteps file into the room. Scouts cut through pipes and tear wires, and together with some Systematic riflemen, they pull a generator clean out of its basin. Ruthie flinches, then uncurls. They surround her.
   Isobel stands before her, flanked by two spiderswans. One holds a hardcase with the word "Fontis" engraved on both sides. The other holds a railgun pistol revolver. They regard Ruthie in silence. Ruthie manages to stammer out that life is more important than vengeance. She insists it's bigger than that. She should be happy to have reached heights that few others could reach, and her real enemy isn't Ruthie, but Rudolph.
   As Ruthie talks, one of the spiderswans opens its hardcase. It contains one bullet. The other spiderswan hands Isobel the pistol. Isobel loads the revolver with the bullet and dials it up to fire. Once Ruthie has finished her appeal, Isobel concedes that she is one of those tiny people that holds grudges. She fires the bullet into Ruthie's chest.
   Ruthie grunts and grits her teeth. Tears form. For the moment, she is still alive. Her elation drops as she feels burning throughout her torso. Her stomach gurgles. She coughs and a few spots of blood appear on the inside of her visor.
   Isobel's face is not visible due to her faceplate, but she leans forward expectantly.
   Ruthie vomits explosively, turning her visor opaque red. Her body arches and legs kick as if she is swimming. The mass of her stomach seems to empty out, forming a liquid ball around her groin and hips. Her arms stick to her side. After a few seconds, her twitching stops. More of her body seems to flatten out and deflate: then, stillness.
   Isobel tries to leap forward with the bayonet of her disruptor but a spiderswan restrains her. It advises her to avoid contact. Isobel insists she wants to see.
   The other spiderswan minces up to Ruthie's remains, raises one foot, and makes an incision near the large ball. An orange soup with fuzzy bits of pink spills out. The spiderswan jettisons the segment of its foot that made the incision.
   As the rest of the platoon rushes back to the gunships, Isobel remarks that it is excellent. She discards the revolver and joins the platoon.
   The Duclinea has finished receiving all of its companies except for the Bullet Ants. Frederick hears news of Wolfe's treason and is outraged. Vibrations wrack the Dulcinea as mutinous Systematics stage attacks onboard the ship. Frederick advises all Federal units on Shyenne to allow the Bullet Ants to leave Shyenne without interfering. Loyalist Systematics will resolve this problem.
   Isobel, still on Shyenne's surface, mulls her options. The path between her and Wolfe's departing Bullet Ants is now fraught with Federal and paramilitary Civil Defense forces. The platoon sergeants and lieutenant begin discussing the best path through the gauntlet when Isobel realizes an alternative. Why not move away from Wolfe, away from the hostile concentrations, and simply hijack some relatively unguarded Federal dropships? The platoon leaders like the idea. They blast out of the siege and begin executing a plan.
   On the Dulcinea, the mutiny has floundered. It dealt negligible damage. Frederick readies to launch an orbital bombardment on the rising Bullet Ants, as he orbits Shyenne direcly above them. Yet he finds that once he begins the firing sequence, the Dulcinea swings away from Wolfe, and targets the central continental capital. The small mutiny onboard must have been only to buy time for hacking the Dulcinea. Ariane projects that she cannot erase the hacking before the Dulcinea fires. Frederick orders Ariane to shift her focus to the ship's engines. Ariane reestablishes control to the engines and accomplishes a spinning maneuver. The Dulcinea fires its projector uncontrollably as predicted, but now it fires into empty space.
   Frederick sorties Hannah, Bertrand, and their vector wings, as well as two dropships to deploy a spread of tanks and gunships in high orbit. Frederick's aces and superior numbers crush Wolfe's vector force, until complications arise. A cloud of Pirate junk-ships and Aristocratic ships (Federal cruisers captured before the invasion) bubble in near the Duclinea and its Federal support ships. Zero-range space warfare begins. Some of the enemy ships explode in massive kamikaze attacks. Frederick receives a transmission from the Federal commander: the Aristocrats have launched a vast stockpile of nuclear warheads and broken the siege line around Klennis. Ground forces on Klennis have also seen their situations reverse. It seems the resistance in Epfia is staging its first and last major offensive.
   Almost everyone on Shyenne has confined themselves inside, wearing survival suits. Castor sprints, trips and clambers through a freshly deserted city. Eventually, a garrison sends robots to stop him and investigate his intentions. He uses his identifiers and bosses them into lending him a municipal hopper; he must reach Ruthie's station.
   He finds it in smoking ruins. Hazmat teams swarm the site, along with a heavy Federal presence. Castor throws on a survival suit and forces his way into the building, claiming the need to don his rifleman suit, so he can contribute to security. Instead of heading to the lockers, he finds the one known survivor of the attack, the mess hall cook, who survived by hiding in the meat locker. Yes, the cook remembers seeing Ruthie right before the attack occurred. She was definitely in the station during the attack.
   Castor finally asks what all the hazmat equipment is about. They have found a deposit of Fontis. Castor asks what it was used for, and they explain there was a single victim: a female. They have not identified her. Despite protests, Castor heads straight for the site. Along the way, he recognizes friends and colleagues among the dead.
   He finds the old generator room, which contains two bodies: a dead rifleman and the sunken remains of a civilian in a survival suit. The suit's poncho floats on a wide, orange puddle. Hazmat technicians use weak hoses to push the puddle into a vacuum. They also apply a heavy spray. Castor rages and tells them to stop. Citing his suspicion about the identity of the victim, he bosses them into removing the victim's visor immediately, before taking the remains to the lab. They prop up the body, open the visor, let the gore drain, then wash off the face. It is sunken and skeletal, but it wears Ruthie's glasses and bears a resemblance to her. Castor insists it might be a coincidence. The technicians gently open the survival suit and find a snap-curl bracelet-phone around the victim's wrist. It confirms the owner to be, without a doubt, Ruthie.
   The technicians resume their work on the puddle. Castor watches, turns away, then watches more. He wants to bend his knees and kneel down but knows it's dangerous. He says he needs to go but doesn't move. A rifleman near him puts a hand on Castor's shoulder, partly for condolence, partly to ensure that Castor doesn't get any closer to the puddle.
   Ship fragments shower down on Shyenne. In orbit and beyond, the Aristocratic and Federal-Systematic fleet exchange blows. The Aristocrats unveil a sophisticated, almost romantic spacesuit design, reminiscient of a medieval armor given boosters and heavy weapons, but it is weak and inefficient against vectors.
   During the chaos, Isobel, in stolen Federal dropships, slips into the jump-gates aiming for Visha. Wolfe's dropships execute devious maneuvers and demonstrate an intimate understanding of physics. Frederick destroys the jump gates before Wolfe can make a similar jump, but the remnants of Wolfe's Bullet Ants successfully flee to the sphere of the Aristocratic flotilla.
   The Aristocrats have lost their pirate cannon fodder and have trouble penetrating the Dulcinea's dispersion field. Bloodied by their exchange with Federal cruisers, they retreat to the other side of Shyenne, using the planet as a shield. Both fleets take a moment to rebuild their formations.   
   A few hundred miles away, rising towards the fleet on a space elevator, Castor is on the move. His face is an unchanging glower and he wears a Systematic uniform, slightly different in style than the one worn by contemporary Systematics. He has an enormous radio at his feet, with a receiver that looks like a brick phone. Using an outdated emergency code, he signals to the Dulcinea that it has left behind personnel. He spams the Dulcinea until a small hovering robot appears outside the elevator tram's window. It scans his face and uniform code and tells him that he is no longer Systematic. Castor asks if the Dulcinea would like a Federal personnel transfer and asks to speak with an operator.
   Frederick considers Castor a minor celebrity caller, and as Castor rises on the elevator, Frederick interviews him personally. He starts with the obvious question as to why he wishes to rejoin the Systemat.
   Castor replies that Isobel has killed Ruthie with a batch of Fontis, and the Systemat is the quickest, surest way to find Isobel.
   Frederick offers no condolences. Rather, he is shocked that a batch of his third most-dangerous chemical weapons fell into the wrong hands. This campaign has been very educational and disastrous for him and for all Fifth Moon remnants. Frederick stops talking to himself and returns his attention to Castor. So, Frederick surmises, Castor wants revenge.
   Part of Castor wants vengeance, yes, especially because he knows nobody will continue the cycle and come after him when he kills Isobel. More importantly, though, he wants to see the armed conflict resolved as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to take it into his own hands.
   Frederick has had those exact thoughts. But why should Frederick take Castor?
   Castor believes that no matter how fine or clumsy a system is, as long as it has the right people in the right places, it can work. Well, the Systemat under Frederick may have been a very fine system, but it had the wrong people in the wrong places, and Castor would like to end that by installing himself in the right place--in command of a rifle squad--and by doing right by Federal law and Systematic logic.
   Frederick is pleased. It takes the constant full effort of people like him to for an institution to survive, day-to-day and year-to-year, and the Systemat is no exception. After verifying his identity, the Systemat will re-integrate him.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2011, 08:39:37 AM by R. Daniel 01 » Logged

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