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SLOW ZONE A Confederacy Of Dunces

Discussion in 'Open Roleplay' started by Gully Foyle, Jan 31, 2020.

  1. Gully Foyle

    Character Biography:
    I'm surrounded by idiots.

    Gully, of course, was smart enough not to vocalize her intense displeasure with her "comrades" and their rhetoric. No one was ever going to accuse her of being a proper statesmen, but she could hum a few bars and dance a few steps. What that basically amounted to was keeping her mouth shut as long as she could stand to.

    That, however, was easier said than done. Especially among this lot.

    "I say we wipe the dirty bastards out now, while we still have the chance!" shouted one of her colleagues. "They can't kill us if we kill them first!"

    Aaaaand that was about the limit of her patience. Oh well.

    "That's the stupidest thing you've said all day," she drawled. "And brother, you set that bar high from the get."

    The speaker was a short, wiry man approaching advanced middle age. Or, hell, he might not have been much older than Gully herself. His skin was tanned into leather, creased and wrinkled from a lifetime of hard labor. His hands bore the callouses of a man accustomed to working long hours under harsh conditions. His tailored suit couldn't have been more at odds with his appearance if it had been neon pink with sparkles.

    For all his faults, no one could say that Farad wasn't willing to get his hands dirty. As much as Gully despised his hot temper and predisposition towards wanton acts of violence, it had been his work ethic and brutal pragmatism that saved his colony from a plague that would have otherwise have wiped them out. Like so many other worlds, Carpenter had done its best to shake the colonists from its back like a dog ridding itself of fleas. Farad had managed to hold his people together until they could get through the crisis, and because of that, it had turned into a moderately productive source of nickel, cobalt, and lead, all materials in high demand.

    Gully's own world, Farnham's Freehold, named so because the party that stumbled across it was led by a colossal nerd, had fared better on landing, but lacked any notable deposits of minerals or resources that could be readily accessed. What it had, instead, was a relatively temperate climate and vast swathes of tillable soil. Settled (illegally) mere months after the first initial planets had been discovered, FF had, over the past several years, established itself as a breadbasket for the neighboring regions. For all that it kept less hospitable planets fed, however, foodstuffs didn't have the same value density as minerals. In another decade or two, it would be as wealthy as any planet discovered since Providentia, but until then, its influence, and by extension Gully's, was primarily in the form of goodwill from colonies that would otherwise have starved, or been forced to import processed rations.

    Farad, on the other hand, had deep pockets. Not only was Carpenter in the black financially, he came from Old Earth money, with all the power and influence that entailed. Hard worker? Yes. Entitled brat? Also yes.

    "And what would the representative from Farnham's Freehold have us do instead?" he sneered. "Cower? Grovel? Hope that the skinnies leave us in peace?"

    "O' course not," Gully snorted. "Grandpa didn't raise no fool. He did, however, tell me not to go stickin' my hand in hornet nests unless I was damn sure I was ready to get stung."

    Oh, great, she thought. My accent's coming out again. Must be getting tired. Or pissed. Maybe both.

    As it had many times over the last several hours, the room dissolved into hushed conversations as the many representatives debated among themselves the merits of Farad's fiery call to arms, or Gully's bucolic "wisdom." And, for about the millionth time, she wondered just what the hell Harry had been thinking, sending her out to New Tycho in his stead.

    Harry was nominally the elected leader of FF. True to its name, Farnham's Freehold had no ruling class, and made no distinction between peasant and politician. Nearly everyone had a farm, as much as they could handle by themselves or with the help of hired hands fresh off the ships. It was a big world, a quarter again the size of earth, but the gravity balanced out thanks to the lack of heavy metals. Thanks in no small part to Builder meddling, it had over twenty times the amount of tillable soil, and much of the world, especially around the equator, could sustain crops year round. Even with a steady influx of immigrants and all the automation money could buy, it would be decades before they managed to sow more than a fraction of a percent of the available land.

    Harry had been part of the first wave of colonists, and was one of the few that grew anything other than soy or grain. He grew sizable crops of tobacco, marijuana, poppy, hops, and just about anything else that could make life a little easier, though he sold the hard stuff exclusively offworld. Not that anyone minded. A little beer and a joint after a long day was about all anyone really wanted on FF. But, because he did have the fun stuff, that made him popular, and that meant that, when it came time for meetings, he was usually the head.

    If Harry was the head, however, Gully was the fist. FF had no fleet, and no real army or police force. Hell, there were less than 10,000 colonists all told. Wherever there were humans, there was crime, but mostly that amounted to petty theft among the newcomers and the occasional drunken brawl. Anything more severe was Gully's problem. She, having the closest thing to combat experience among the peaceful farmers, was elected the leader of the "Defense Militia," a force of about 500 young men and women who got together for a couple days every month to train. Of that 500, there were maybe 70 that Gully could really trust in a fight, and they were just about the only folks on the planet, aside from the vendors that catered to the steady flow of offworld traffic, who didn't farm for a living. Their job was to patrol the planet's sole spaceport and keep the ships' crewman from causing too much trouble.

    As Harry had no interest in martial matters, and it looked awful likely that this "meeting" was going to be a call to arms against the Belter colonists, he'd asked Gully to go in his stead.

    "Damn you, Harry," she muttered, and not for the first time.

    "Alright, I think that's about enough for now. How's about we all call it a night, and come back in the morning?" asked Cynthia Radder, the chair of the meeting.

    As the representative of the First Wave Union, she was the chair, and undoubtedly the most powerful person in the room by a significant margin. The FWU consisted of at least 70 worlds, all settled by Earthers, with controlling stakes in as many as 30 others. They were far and away the largest independent faction outside of the Sol system, or so they claimed. Gully wasn't so sure about that; the OPA and its various subsidiaries, allies, and favorably neutral systems could probably make a pretty decent claim to that title as well, but the FWU didn't exactly like the OPA, and therefore, weren't inclined to let them try.

    See, the First Wave Union was very much an Earther-first organization, nevermind the fact that none of its membership could truly consider themselves Earthers anymore. For whatever reason, everyone in this room, including Gully, had cut ties with the homeworld to seek their fortune among the stars. Not that the FWU let that get in the way of a perfectly good streak of bigotry against the "subhuman" Belters.

    This "meeting" was ostensibly the FWU's attempt to court neutral or unaligned Earther colonies into "The Great Struggle." They saw war with the Belters as not only inevitable, but desirable. The first part was...debatable. Gully knew enough history to know that war was certainly likely, not in the least because of the various economic pressures at play. Desirable, though? Now that was a different story.

    As the exhausted delegates of a hundred worlds filed out of the room, Gully sank down in a chair with a deep sigh. Farnham's Freehold had no business going to war. They didn't have enough competent fighters to fill a dropship, and most of the guns sat in Gully's private safe. She wouldn't even be here if the FWU didn't intimate that trade would get a lot more difficult if they didn't at least hear them out.

    Well, that, and the makings of what looked like a Belter colony in their system. With no fleet to speak of, FF didn't have the means to keep their asteroid belt free of potential colonists. So far, FF and the Belters had maintained cordial relations, with a steady flow of trade between the surface and the Belt. But, if war did come between Earthers and Belters, who's to say that wouldn't change? Without a fleet, there was nothing to stop the Belters from dropping a few rocks down the gravity well.

    And that, ultimately, was why Harry decided to send Gully as his representative. As long as that threat remained, no one, not even the peaceful people of Farnham's Freehold, could afford to remain truly neutral. If the cost of security was sending a few young boys and girls off to die, well, so be it. At least Gully could console herself with the fact that she'd be going with them.

    Until that day came, however, she was bound and determined to do everything in her admittedly limited power to head it off. If she failed, then she deserved to throw herself back into the fray. If nothing else, maybe she'd get lucky this time and catch a bullet.

    #1 Gully Foyle, Jan 31, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
  2. Anatoly Yaakov

    Character Biography:
    New Tycho was an impressively large station. At any one time it could house several hundred thousand individuals within its massive rotating habitation rings and its habitation drum. On top of that it could dock, resupply and repair dozens of starships at a time, as well as offload and onload cargo at a dizzying speed due to the innovative magnetic rail system that spread throughout the station. Anatoly had spent the last four months seeing as much of the massive, floating city as possible.

    In those months he had set up several new safe houses, ammunition stores, drug labs, grow operations, brothels, casinos and more. The UNN continent aboard the station were relatively difficult to get around, but the Martians who made up the other half of the stations police and security forces were essentially mercenaries at this point, the things he got away with made him feel like strutting down the main concourse with a spring in his step and a merry tune whistling from his lips. But being happy on New Tycho was also risky, someone looking like their life was going just a bit too good at the time was bound to attract unwanted attention, even if he had a pair of goons that trailed him everywhere at this point.

    For several weeks he'd been working for a new client, Earthers...or rather...colonists with astonishingly deep pockets. They'd been docking ships almost around the clock, unloading crates of weapons, explosives, riot gear and ammunition and it was Anatoly's job to allocate them to the ever growing network of store houses and safe rooms. He had even made enough to bribe several of dockmasters, allowing him to make a bit of extra scrip on the side selling narcotics to several ship crews. Life was good, but he had a feeling things were doing to change very quickly...very soon.

    He had spent the last hour leaning on the back wall of one of New Tycho's many conference rooms. The station was playing host to a gathering of representatives from the First Wave Union, one of several colonial alliances that had sprung up in recent months. They had wasted no time in distancing themselves from the fleet that had attacked a Martian cruiser and blown through the Providentia gate, and the dozens of Union ships which had entered the slow zone followed suit, one by one each declaring themselves neutral and simply on trade runs. Anatoly knew better, every day dozens more Union ships arrived in the slow zone, some parked just inside or outside their gates, others docked at the station racking up fees. He thought of the inevitable showdown when the Union fleet returning from its failed attack on Providentia finally reached the hub again and what the now several hundred Unionists inside the station would do. Would they attack? Would they try and take the station? Or simply pretend like nothing had happened.

    It wasn't like Providentia was in any state to seek justice, its fleet had been decimated, its population reeling from being evacuated off the planet they called home. However other belter lead systems had taken up the call. Both Balcora and Tannhauser had cut all political ties with the Union and blockaded their ships from transitioning through their gates. The Vernian system had also declared the organisation a rogue faction, but stopped short of more meaningful measures.

    He was yanked from his daydreams by the sharp clack of a gavel being struck, followed by the sound of dozens of people getting to their feet and discussing the events of the meeting quietly amongst themselves. He continued to lean on the wall, smiling mockingly as the delegates sidled past, many throwing him dirty looks. Not that he cared, he didn't give a fuck about the ancient Earther, Belter grudge, was long as he got paid he'd do whatever was necessary. He smiled nonchalantly to himself and leaned the back of his head on the wall, his contact would be along shortly and with them the next step of their plan.
    #2 Anatoly Yaakov, Feb 3, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2020
  3. Diarmuid O'Sullivan

    Diarmuid O'Sullivan UN Renegade

    Diarmuid pushed off the wall and straightened his back with a crack. He stayed where he was for the moment, letting the crowd mill around, some pushing outside while others were happy to stay and jaw a while. The press slowly began to move and he let himself drift with it, one hand groping in his pocket for his fags.

    He'd come out to the frontier for the same reason he'd gone to the Belt, for a new life. And just like it had with the Belt, his old life seemed to follow him. The same old hatreds, the same old fighting. He'd fled Earth to escape what he'd seen as a dying world. Coming out here and no matter that the stars were strange, people seemed to want to make the same old world again.

    He'd not been popular as a policeman in eastern Europe. He hadn't been popular as an Earther mercenary in the Belt. He wasn't popular as a former UN employee out here. The people who chose to start a new life out on the frontier tended to be independent minded, the ones who viewed officials with wary suspicion.

    He wasn't here as a rep, it was more of a concerned citizen sort of thing. Trouble was brewing. Relations with Martian and Belter colonies tended to be at best, frosty. At worst, killings were endemic. It was just human nature. The Japanese and Scottish governments got on well enough back on Earth. Their joint colony venture on Kalan had both sides shooting at each other after the first couple of years.

    The names changed, the leaders changed, but the rivalries and differences seemed to stay the same. If it wasn't one thing, it was another. Diarmuid lingered by the door, half standing outside for politeness's sake as he sparked up.
    Gully Foyle and Anatoly Yaakov like this.
  4. Gully Foyle

    Character Biography:
    The whole of the station, aside from designated entertainment districts, was considered a no smoking zone. Gully wasn't in the mood for not smoking, and was definitely in the mood to ventilate the poor fool who tried to stop her. The nearest smoking district was nearly a kilometer away, and they hadn't taken regular breaks to accommodate the nicotine addicts in the bunch through the course of the meeting.

    With nimble fingers, she fished her pipe out of the breast pocket of her tailored vest and packed it, with real, honest to god tobacco. On most worlds, and the ships and stations between the worlds, real tobacco would be an unspeakable luxury. Despite the wealth of new planets, only a fraction were suited to grow the stuff, as finicky as it was offworld, and those that did had an informal agreement not to glut the market and drop the price. Harry certainly didn't object. Freehold's Finest was considered the top of the line, thanks to his husband's family. Even though growing tobacco on earth had been a ludicrously expensive proposition for centuries, they'd maintained the art of producing perique that Louisiana had been famous for centuries earlier. Traditionally aged for several years in fine wine casks, genuine perique was a near unimaginable luxury.

    Gully had a pipe full of it.

    The musty, earthy smell spread quickly in a bluish haze. The former cop leaned back in her chair, letting the nicotine wash over her and sooth her frazzled nerves. That had been her price for coming. Even on Farnham's Freehold, one of the few places in the Human universe where tobacco was cheap, Davie didn't let go of his precious perique for less than a king's ransom. A kilogram of it could literally finance an entire colony. The people who could afford to pay cash on the barrel were so ludicrously rich that they could practically buy all of FF a hundred times over, with just the loose change they scrounged from their couch cushions.

    Loyalty and patriotism were all fine and good, but Gully had a half kilogram of the stuff stashed on her person in various pockets, five in a humidor in her gun safe back home, and could count on another kilo per year for the rest of her life, however long that might be. And the only reason Davie had agreed to that was because he knew she was going to smoke it, rather than try to sell it herself.

    Such a vulgar display of wealth, smoking a whole bowl in one go, would have been shocking to her a few years ago. Star Helix made money hand over fist, pimping her out to various other factions who needed muscle once they realized what she could do in a fight. She didn't even get bonuses from it, and had left the glory for the quiet life as soon as her contract ran out. She'd managed to save up enough to buy a homestead on Farnham's Freehold, and put a down payment on the equipment she'd need to run it all herself. After five years of fighting, making use of the skills her grandpa taught her to work the soil had been practically heaven.

    Working with the planetary militia kept her aim sharp, and it allowed her to give back to the planet and community that had taken her in. She would be eternally grateful for the love and friendship they'd shown her. But there was no way in hell she'd willingly throw herself back into the fire without something powerful in the way of motivation.

    Everyone had a price, though, and as it turned out, hers was really amazing tobacco, and it didn't get much better than perique. It was worth every credit.

    "Damn, but this stuff is good," she said to no one in particular.
  5. Anatoly Yaakov

    Character Biography:
    This was taking too long. He had stuck his neck out meeting this idiot at a fucking Union conference of all places, his ugly mug was probably showing up on security cameras and tracking algorithms at he waited. Stupid squat Earther fucks he thought to himself as he began tapping his foot with impatience.

    Most of the crowd had left the room, except for a couple of people here and there in conversation and a single, well dressed woman sitting in a slowly expanding cloud of blue-grey smoke. He watched as she brought a small pipe to her lips and blew out several smoke rings, which steadily expanded before being torn apart by the conference rooms overzealous air recyclers.

    He had nothing to hide, so instead of waiting at the back of the room like a good little skinny, he sidled up to her and sat down in the row behind her, two seats down. "Now thats a smell you don't get around here very often, especially that flavour," he said, fishing a wad of scrip from his pocket and holding it out for her to see.

    She regarded him with cool, hard eyes and puffed another small cloud out around her, but didn't take his money. He smiled for a moment and slid it back into his pocket. "Clearly you're not as much of a pushover as the rest of these fat fucks," he said, looking around the room which was now mostly empty except for them.
    Gully Foyle likes this.
  6. Gully Foyle

    Character Biography:
    There was always one. The guy looked like someone out of one of her grandpa's ancient video games. There was a series he liked (that her grandma would have been mortified to know that he let her play) called Grand Theft Auto. Lots of random violence, maiming and killing NPCs at random, getting into police chases, that sort of his thing. He could have been one of the main characters, if she'd gone into the game files and stretched him out a bit to account for his build as a Belter.

    She eyed the script as he flashed it, like it was supposed to impress her. It didn't. She was still paying off the mortgage on her farming equipment, but as it stood, her farm was already in the black, and if she kept making payments at an accelerated rate, she'd be debt free after another three harvests. Net income-wise, she could live comfortably on any Earth or Mars. Not rich by anyone's standards, but comfortable. Gross income? She made more in a harvest than a lowlife gangster would see in his wildest wet dreams. Even more, once the cattle grown from grandpa's prize cattle sperm and eggs grew from spindly calves into a herd. Even on Farnham's Freehold, real beef was rare. Milk even more so, since it couldn't be transported as easily. She didn't even have to have full herds, just breeder stock to sell to other farms.

    It was a little disconcerting that the grimy little shit recognized perique by smell. Or at least had an idea that it was more expensive than the seeds-and-stem variety that passed as top grade around here.

    Still, she spared him the withering glare of a have to a have-not, hoping feigned arrogance would drive home that she wasn't the friendly sort.

    "I ain't here to get pushed," she drawled. "Not exactly my style."
  7. Anatoly Yaakov

    Character Biography:
    Anatoly got back up, his hands raised in mock apology. "Mi no keya what your style is welwala," he said, a hint of anger in his voice. "Dis statashan is not your home, remember dat."

    "And it won't be yours for much longer either, if we can help it." The voice was deep, confident with hints of an English accent. Anatoly turned around to see a man with white hair and a well manicured beard standing not far from them, his large fframe draped in a dark red cloak, gazing at him with disdain. "With your help this station will be for one thing and one thing only, keeping the Union in control."

    He paused for a moment as he sniffed the air, wrinkling his nose somewhat and glancing in the direction of the woman sitting nearby. "And Belters? Well...what do you care about belters? After all of this is done, you'll be off on some god forsaken rock no doubt, living a life of luxury until some air recycle fails and you asphyxiate along with whatever scum can chosen to spend their time around you."

    Anatoly and the man stared each other down for a moment before the belter grinned and let out what could only be described as a dry, rasping laugh before he began to cough repeatedly. The man turned his attention to the woman sitting nearby, happily minding her own business until she noticed his staring at her and looked her.

    "Representative Foyle, I am honoured to make your acquaintance. I have a feeling we will be needing as many capable warriors as possible in the coming days. My name is Baron Fortescue, of Arundell." He bowed politely to the woman who continued to stare back with a look of stunned irritation. Arundell was a powerful colony amongst the First Wave Union. It was one of the last to be settled, boasting only one large colony which the Baron seemed to lord over like it was his own personal kingdom. The colony was however, situated on the moon of an extremely large gas giant, named Tharsis.

    Within weeks of the settlement being founded, vast shipments of precious metals were pouring back through Arundell gate into the hub, courtesy of the gas giant's extremely resource rich asteroid belt. The settlers had wasted no time in securing mining rights for the resources of Tharsis, violently ejecting any other would be prospectors. And thus Arundell had become not only obscenely rich, but powerful.

    The Baron used this new found wealth and power to buy stakes in many other Union worlds and through not entirely altruistic means, bend them to his will. Within a year of the colony existing, each allied system had forcefully ejected any belters attempting to settle within them, declaring these colonies for Earthers only. The belters and sometimes Martians could do nothing but leave in the face of overwhelming violence and resources of the Union.
    Gully Foyle likes this.
  8. Gully Foyle

    Character Biography:
    "Honey, I don't want your home," she said to the sassy Belter. "I'm just here to make mine a little safer."

    Had any of her old colleagues at Star Helix been present to hear her speak, they'd have been looking nervously for the nearest piece of solid cover. Preferably, another asteroid entirely. When Gully went full Scarlett O'hara, with the soft, almost nonexistent "r" sounds, the long, drawn-out vowels, and the soft, dreamy quality that could almost be mistaken for seductive, there was an even chance that someone was going to regret their life's choices very, very soon.

    Really and truly, Gully had no beef with Belters. They, like most people throughout history, had spent a long time at the mercy of the rich and powerful. It wasn't their fault that they'd been exploited to the breaking point, and past it. Nor was it any business of hers if they sought to get a little of theirs back against the folks who'd ground them into the rock of their artificial homes.

    What she didn't like, couldn't abide, really, was when someone got a little pushy with her because of where she was from originally. She didn't much care for Martians and Earthers with that attitude, either. It used to not bother her, not much. It was a daily reality of life in Star Helix. People were already disinclined to like a cop, and even more so if they looked a little funny. It was practically the definition of "not my tribe."

    It wasn't until she got to Farnham's Freehold, and had to sort out disputes between the colonists, that she realized how much she really hated that sort of nonsense. Earther, Belter, Martian, they all bled the same. No one's blood was pure once it leaked out all over the ground.

    Fortunately for the Belter, a bigger fish came swimming along, not realizing it was in the presence of a shark.

    "Gully Foyle, of Farnham's Freehold," she replied. "Speakin' as one of those 'warriors', it seems we get the most work when some poor politicians wants something they can't get by bein' a regular ol' bully, bless their dear little hearts. And here I was hopin' that more civilized means of persuasion were still on the table."

    Her hand came nowhere near the revolver resting in the shoulder holster under her suit jacket. She didn't so much as glance in its direction. So cleverly tailored was the jacket, one would hardly know it was there even if they knew to look. But nonetheless, something about her demeanor would have made a perceptive person very, very nervous.
  9. Anatoly Yaakov

    Character Biography:
    Anatoly watched the interaction with a raised eyebrow. "With any luck the Coalition agree to our terms. Otherwise we are prepared to take more...efficient measures to secure the prosperity of our systems," the big man said, seemingly no longer interested in what the woman had to say, and turned his attention back to Anatoly.

    "Now, we have preparations to discuss." He said, walking up the centre isle towards the small, raised stage. "Once this meeting has been concluded, two vessels will dock with the station, their names are the Stratus and the Anchor. These vessels are carrying one hundred and fourty individuals who will be expecting you to arm and armour. Once everyone is in position, you will receive a message from me via your terminal to begin the operation.

    "The Operation" was in fact, a attempted coup of New Tycho Station, or at the very leave the seizure of key locations across the station including the reactor, the docks and the command centre located at the opposite end of the massive floating city. Getting dozens of fully armed warriors from one end to the other would normally be a difficult task, but thanks to Anatoly's new found connections in the Martian security force, they had two maglev trains waiting for them in the docks, ready to whisk them through the complex tunnels of the station and almost to the doorstep of the two admirals of the Sol Coalition who commanded the station.

    If he cared enough, he would have told any belters he knew to get indoors and lock themselves in, however every time he felt a slight pang of guilt he just looked at the ever increasing amounts of cash in his bank account. He already had a ship waiting in the docks to evacuate him. However getting there from the command centre, while a battle raged across the station would be risky at best. He didn't want to end up another dead body on the floor after some meathead mistook him for just another skinny and put a bullet between his eyes.

    He had heard about the type of folks Fortescue employed, brutes and savages. Racists and ultra nationalists who were not only paid for hunting and killing belters, but enjoyed it. The Baron had promised him he could leave the station unmolested, but he did not trust the tall, old man.

    As they spoke, individual representatives of the Union began to filter back into the room as the break between discussions was almost over. He recieved several suspicious looks but made himself scarce soon enough.

    He left the room, his two bodyguards in tow and headed for the docks.
  10. Gully Foyle

    Character Biography:
    There was stunned silence as the old man left. Most of the folks here weren't fighters. They were diplomats, businessmen, politicians. Men and women of power and influence, none of whom were prepared to pick up a gun and go into harm's way. It just wasn't who they were. Cynthia, the FWU spokeswoman, took the stage with a sly grin on her face.

    "I believe that concludes the discussion portion of our conference," she said. "The time for talk is over. If you want to join us, join our cause and reap the benefits of our grand Union, I suggest you follow that man to the docks. If not, well..."

    Several armed men entered from a side door, guns at the ready.

    Gully didn't move, didn't so much as blink.

    "For the sake of security, these men are here to ensure that you don't go spilling the beans, as it were. Between you and me, ladies and gentlemen, I recommend going to the docks."

    There was a general rush for the door. More thugs, more discreetly armed, but nonetheless ready to inflict immense bodily harm on anyone who deviated from the correct path, waited to direct traffic. As the general rush passed, only a dozen or so people remained.

    Gullly recognized a few of them from her days at Star Helix. Former cops, soldiers, and mercenaries. Others, like the representative from Shangri-La, were hardcore pacifists; Buddhists, Christians, a pair of Islamic holy men, all sworn to peace. The fighters, Gully among them, formed a protective circle around the monks and mullahs. For their part, they all knelt as one, in prayer or meditation, aware that their fates were in the hands of others, or their gods or whatever. The former cop had never been much for religion. She didn't get it, and she didn't want to get it. All she knew was, she'd rather die than let folks who literally wouldn't harm a fly get mowed down.

    And die she would. Seven fighters, all in suits, with whatever weapons they could conceal on their person, none of them drawn just yet, versus ten heavily armed and armored mercenaries. Gully had faced worse odds, numerically, at least, but never with nothing more than a bit of cotton, wool, and silk in between her and the incoming bullets. The others seemed to reach the same conclusion. One and all, they were trained and experienced. They could probably wreak havoc in the short time left to them, but armor was a force multiplier.

    "People, please," Cynthia said, a wry look on her face. "Are you really ready to throw your lives away?"

    "Can't say you've left us much of a choice," said a short, stocky man that Gully recognized as a former Martian Marine. "We go with those yahoos-" he nodded towards the door "-and we're cannon fodder. At least now I can die with a clean conscience."

    "So be it," she said.

    Gully and the others tensed, ready to spring into action.

    "Stand down, we have our team."

    As one, the mercenaries lowered their guns, and stepped back behind the FWU heavy.

    "Congratulations, gentlemen and lady," she said, nodding purposefully towards Gully. "In recognition of your valor and devotion to your principles, the First Wave Union would like to cordially invite you to assist us in stopping the dastardly Baron and his men before they take over the station, murdering countless innocents along the way. Your friends here," she said, gesturing towards the kneeling men and women, "will be kept safe for the duration."

    "In other words, they're hostages," Gully spat.

    "On the contrary," Cynthia replied. "We won't harm a hair on their heads, no matter the outcome. I can't say the same for the residents of the station, however, should you fail."

    "Hostages," the former Marine confirmed. "Well, what's to stop them from spilling the beans?" He nudged one of them with his foot. "Don't you guys have, like, a vow to tell the truth?"

    "I think you might be mistaking us for witnesses," said the woman wearing the collar of a Catholic priest. "I cannot speak for my colleagues, but the Lord demands that I not bear false witness. He never said anything about condemning a handful of people willing to die to protect us from wolves. Even the Lord practiced deception from time to time, for the good of his children."

    There was a general nod of agreement from the clergy. Gully was skeptical, but she was also backed into a corner. Which, come to think of it, was exactly what Cynthia had in mind. If she made a stand here, hundreds, maybe thousands of innocents would die at the hands of brutal maniacs and desperate, panicked delegates. She resolved, then and there, to see the FWU pay for this one day, but that day wouldn't be today. Let them think they had the upper hand.

    "Alright," she said. "I'm in. I'm gonna need armor, though. And guns. Lots of guns."
  11. Archibald Cassidy

    Archibald Cassidy Sergeant, VFMC

    The Renegade's Tavern - New Tycho Station - the Hub
    The waiter put his dish down.
    Elysian coral chips with a cold chili sauce, served just like they were back home, the coral likely hacked off one of Elysium's giant coral structures that stretched into the clouds. They were a solid, smooth red, with the taste of shrimp chips. The chili sauce was a Belter addition, and was often served at icy temperatures.
    He was on shore leave quite early, the ship he was assigned to was on its maiden voyage when the Unioners attacked. The ship was a Charger-class frigate fresh out of the yards, officially named Bucephalus. The crew however,took to calling the ship Svetlana. Maybe after winning some battles they could get their wish, but for now it was an unofficial name.
    The chips were glorious, their crisp taste and hollow interior combined with the zest of the sauce providing for a delicious flavor that could be remembered for years on end. The bowl was rather large, unusual for high-end Nautilian restaurants but actually on the small end for Tavern dishes. He guessed Emeria Station was more often frequented by Nautilian bulk freighters than New Tycho.

    He finally became aware of the impending situation when a message appeared on his hand terminal. Some Earther on Tycho's security force who had once been his friend tipped him off about suspicious security activity near the docks, as well as the preparation of the two reserve maglev trains, which was unusual for the station.
    He hadn't put two and two together yet, but subconsciously was preparing to get off the station.

    Arch Cassidy put in a communications request to the captain of the Bucephalus.
    He still didn't know the captain's name.
    #11 Archibald Cassidy, Feb 13, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  12. Torin Kapisi

    Character Biography:
    It seemed that the moment his UNN counterpart had entered his authentication code and touched his thumb to the scanner to activate the Fortress stations, the threat of Union ships attacking melted away. Not only did several vessels immediately withdraw from the Hub as soon as the massive railguns mounted on the stations lit up and began to move, but dozens more declared themselves neutral, simply on commercial missions or travelling from one system to another.

    Torin smiled smugly as threat assessments once again declared the Hub safe, and the Fortresses trained their guns on the Providentia Gate, waiting for the Union fleet that would inevitably transition through. The fleet would have two options, surrender themselves and their vessels to the Sol Coalition for breaching the peace, or die in a hail of railgun rounds. It was still several hours before they were due to pass through the gate however, so Torin took this moment to return to his office and catch up on some housekeeping.

    More and more he had reports of desertion, corruption and general discontent amongst the Martian contingent on the station. Sometimes entire ships would simply turn off their transponders and disappear through a gate, other times he heard of security teams selling off sensitive equipment, or giving access to secure areas for insultingly small bribes.

    He was well aware of the fact that 1300 potentially habitable worlds had opened up to his people and remaining loyal to a harsh, barren rock in the Sol system was not an inspiring thought, however he could not comprehend how people could simply turn their back on their great nation, a nation that had given them everything they had, had taken them into the galaxy.

    He reclined in his chair, reading through the reports. Wondering if this fit of insubordination would pass or if this was just the beginning.
    #12 Torin Kapisi, Feb 13, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  13. Gully Foyle

    Character Biography:
    "Holy shit," Gully breathed.

    She'd been expected a crate of small arms, not an entire freaking arms show. The FWU clearly wasn't playing around when it came to stabbing their more problematic elements in the back. There wasn't just a single crate, there were nearly a dozen of them. The really disconcerting part was that each one was...personalized.

    "The hell is this?" asked the former Martian Marine as he cracked open his case, finding an entire suit of MCRN power armor. It was an older model, to be sure; the MCRN wasn't about to let go of the newest stuff, even with the current turmoil.

    "The advantages of requiring attendees to RSVP," Cynthia said with something of a smug grin. "It was easy enough to tell who'd stand on their principles."

    Gully felt a shiver down her spine at the thought that someone had been able to read her that easily. But, then again, her life was pretty much an open book for anyone with access to the right records. Any competent psychologist could piece together what made her tick, if they wanted to. And clearly, the FWU had wanted to. It was pretty clear that this whole thing had been in the works for quite some time.

    Her breath caught in her throat as the cask hissed open. It wasn't quite her normal assortment of goodies, but it was certainly close enough.

    "Uh, I don't mean to be a spoilsport, but where the hell did you get this stuff?" she asked as she pulled a Chiappa Rhino out of its holster. Some of her fellow Star Helix cops had been a fan of the newer, more modern recreations. This thing was original. Easily three hundred years old if it was a day. What's more, it was in perfect condition. Like, mint.

    "Let it never be said that the First Wave Union won't go to tremendous lengths to take care of its own," she said, practically smirking. "Rest assured, you won't be doing this for free. Everything in the crates is yours to keep, should you survive. In addition, we understand that some of you have security concerns in your home systems. Our fleet isn't unlimited, but I'm sure we could come to a mutually beneficial arrangement for all involved."

    The former detective took a deep breath. She absolutely didn't have a choice going forward, then. At least she'd get some goodies out of the deal.

    She cast a glance around the room at the others. Some looked pensive. Others were busy strapping on their gear. The holy men and women were still kneeling in prayer.

    "Uh, guys? If your gods have a thing against skin, you might want to turn your backs."

    That got a chuckle from a couple of them, and as a group, they turned to face the other wall.

    With the lack of modesty characteristic of someone who'd spent a lot of time throwing themselves into the fire, Gully shrugged out of her suit and into the provided fatigues. Unlike her suit, which was all cotton, wool, and silk, they were a lightweight synthetic material that was not only heat resistant, it would also provide some protection against fragmentation and spalling. It wouldn't do much for bullets, but there was also a plate carrier, which went over top of the blouse.

    In keeping with her preferred era of firearms, the carrier didn't have standard mag pouches strapped to it, but rather, 8 round en bloc clips for the almost certainly reproduction M1 Garand resting at the bottom. It was an extremely powerful, precise weapon, well suited to her style of shooting. The 8 round magazine limits precluded its use for suppressing fire, but there were enough automatic weapons distributed among the others for that task.

    Even better, the rounds were smart frangibles. Unlike plastic rounds, which avoided punching holes in important walls by being too low a density to cause problems, they actually had range and stopping power against armored opponents. Made of sintered metal powder held together by a smart binder, they had a similar density to lead. When they struck an object, an accelerometer would detect the level of resistance offered. Armor backed by squishy flesh had some give, and the round would try to punch through. Spaceship walls tended not to flex much under fire, at which point the round would shatter into harmless dust. As a bonus, when they struck flesh, they would penetrate a little way in, and THEN shatter. Only, in the confines of the human body, the effect was akin to a subcutaneous grenade.

    Smart frangible rounds were great, but they were also expensive as hell. And somehow, the FWU had managed to scrape together 160 of the things in .30-06.

    "We got a plan?" asked the Marine in power armor.

    "Not yet," Gully said. "But rest assured, I'm not charging in there blind. Way I see it, it's going to take them at least another ten minutes to get to the ships, plus another half hour to give out all the guns. We've got time to cook up a plan."

    "Works for me," said another of the fighters. Gully didn't recognize this one, but he had the bicep tattoo of a prestigious UN army unit. "Alright, so here's what I've got in mind..."
  14. Anatoly Yaakov

    Character Biography:
    "You told me one hundred and forty men," Anatoly growled at the Baron, who stood there with an expression of complete indifference. "Not two hundred. An extra sixty men is harder to hide...harder to transport, hell we might not even have enough arms for them all." he said gesturing at the rows of crates arranged neatly around them. "Yaakov, these extra soldiers are mercenaries, they have brought their own arms and a few more toys to boot. You need not concern yourself with their wellbeing."

    "I still don't pashang like it," the belter said, stalking off towards the airlocks. The two freighters were in their final docking procedures, inching closer to New Tycho and its outstretched docking clamps. With a series of loud thumps and groans they relaxed into the moorings and began to offload their cargo. In single file, Union soldiers began to disembark and line up in front of the crates. Several of them eyed the belter with suspicion. He didn't care, he was used to it with this lot.

    Steadily the hall they had converted into a staging area filled up with people, the air recyclers overhead clicking insistently as if passive-aggressively telling them to ship out before they all suffocated. Walking over to the crates, Anatoly unlatched their lids and kicked them off, moving down the line until their contents were visible for all to see. One had fatigues, grey and blue of the Union, not the patchwork clothes many of the people standing before him wore. Another had body armour, another ammunition and another weapons.

    "One set of fatigues, one set of armour, two clips and one gun each!" He shouted at them. "Form a line and be quick about it, we don't have all day." He turned around to see the Baron staring at him with that same infuriating indifference. "I have just been informed that our friends in the command centre have activated the fortress stations. The fleet of Union ships sent to bolster the Martians in Providentia will return to the hub shortly and if we don't have those guns under control by then, this operation will have been a failure." He said, flicking some imagined piece of dust off his ridiculous cape. "As soldiers of the First Wave Union, you are the vanguard. Your actions here will determine the course of human history for the next several decades."

    A murmur went up through the crowd as they considered the mans words. "You are all to listen to Mr. Yaakov here, he is a local and has been arranging a network of safe houses and ammunition stores across the station. He knows this place better than anyone else here, so if he says to do something or go somewhere, you are to do it. Otherwise," as he spoke a door parted in a nearby bulkhead to reveal four lines of heavily armed and armoured soldiers. They wore the insignia of Earth with a single black column running through it. Their faces were obscured by helmets but a green light shone through their visors, "there will be repercussions."

    The squad of mercenaries entered the staging area, making barely a sound. Behind them came a robotic clanking as a battle mech lumbered into the space...followed by another...and then another. The machines were of Earther design, smaller than their Martian variants, but more heavily armoured. Each sported a missile pod on one shoulder and heavy machine guns on each "arm". The same insignia of the FWU had been painted on their chests, the Earth with a large black column covering it.

    The Baron looked at Anatoly and nodded once. "Everyone lock and load, we move out in five minutes!" He roared.
    #14 Anatoly Yaakov, Feb 20, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  15. Archibald Cassidy

    Archibald Cassidy Sergeant, VFMC

    Crew Decks, VFN Bucephalus - New Tycho Station - the Hub
    The senior officers of the ship stood in a circle, concerned. The recent movements Cassidy had observed were troubling, to say the least.
    Sam Rodney, the second-shift captain and second-in-command, opted to leave the station and return to Nautilus. After all, they were only taking shore leave here, and since everyone was on the ship following the emergency "all hands on deck," there was no need to be there.
    Jake Emmerich, the first-shift captain, said otherwise. He was a grizzled veteran who did twenty with the MCRN and signed on with the Confederacy (the Vernier Confederacy) because the MCRN wouldn't let him back in. He said that if they left early and something did happen, they'd be prime suspects because "they would've known it was going to happen." Several minutes later the decision was made official, and the crew was simply instructed to keep the weapons hot and prepare to repel boarders. They also undocked and added the redundant airlock, which was an invention made by Consul Hunter after seeing OPA pirates do the same. The way it worked was that they'd attach a redundant airlock module to their ship, so that if the docking ports on station were locked down, they'd simply ditch the airlock and run away. This took around three minutes to install with a good robot arm and crew, but the crew of the Bucephalus got distracted and took four and a half minutes.
    #15 Archibald Cassidy, Mar 11, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
    Anatoly Yaakov likes this.
  16. Ashlen Balboa

    Ashlen Balboa Commander, MCRN Frontier Fleet

    Character Biography:
    CIC, MCRN Aegis - Slow Zone - the Hub
    The immediate Unioner threat was gone, and now the injured Aegis moved back into the Hub, ready yet again to make its presence felt. Before they could dock at New Tycho (and possibly recapture it if the Unioners had taken it over), they had to scare off the Unioner ships.
    Surprisingly, there weren't any. Because of the lack of threats, Ashlen turned off the drive and drifted them in. Not being seen was impossible, but they'd probably mistake her for a cargo ship.
    "XO, prepare the Marines. We don't wanna take any chances this time. Weapons hot!"

    "Aye, captain. Forward tubes are open and armed. Three potential targets are locked. Shall we fire?"

    "Do not fire unless fired upon. We're gonna creep up behind that alien station's shadow."

    "Not the commands I remember receiving," Boris Archangel chuckled.

    "I'm not Destin," Ashlen responded.

    "As you say, Commander."

    The Aegis drifted along. Ashlen flew over to a small cabinet near the CIC's roof and opened it. Inside was an original FN FAL rifle, with a weird device on the muzzle, and painted in a color reminiscent of green snot. Destin's family heirloom. She inserted a magazine but didn't cock the rifle yet. Inside were smart frangible 7.62mm NATO rounds. She wondered how Destin got his hands on thirty magazines worth of them, as she knew smart frangibles, especially in such an antiquated caliber, were extremely hard to come by. But now was not the time to ask questions.
    She needed the gun in the event that push came to shove and a boarding action was necessary. But it also reminded her of Destin. Of the five years they'd been apart. It seemed almost unnatural. She cursed the MCRN under her breath for not letting her and her entire crew resign.

    The Aegis moved like a phantom, drive off, as it crept ever closer to New Tycho.
    #16 Ashlen Balboa, Mar 18, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020
  17. Anatoly Yaakov

    Character Biography:
    The carriage was packed. Anatoly was uncomfortably pressed up against one of the doors of the train, trying to ignore the smell of several dozen mercenaries who had been aboard a freighter for several weeks. The thing rattled, the lights flickering from time to time as it rumbled through New Tycho, bearing him and his soldiers through the massive station, from the docks up to the command centre.

    He checked his terminal again, watching their arrival time tick ever closer. They had gone over the plan almost a dozen times since they'd left the docks. Every squad has packed into the train, while the three mech's climbed into the cargo carriage at the rear. Once the doors opened the squads would advance through the station and into the administration offices that filled the first three levels of the command centre, securing it before the mech's disembarked.

    Once the mech's got to the front lines they would begin their assault on the control room. He had inspected the place several times now, posing as a technician or security guard. No one had paid him much attention, just another belter on just another station. But he had made useful notes, such as the weight and strength of the blast doors protecting the control room, that would slam shut the moment an attack occurred. It was the reason for bringing the mech's in the first place, two the pry the doors open, a third to act as a vanguard as they stormed the room.

    He was so up in his head, going over the plan again he didn't notice the train slowing down. A moment later it squealed to a halt and the doors opened, followed by several gunshots. He swore under his breath, pashang mercenries, always so trigger happy. He poked his head out the door to witness three Martian marines, blood pouring out of bullet holes in their chests. A second later an alarm blared. "Pashang idiota!" Be shouted at the idiot who had fired. Their surprise was blown, they had no choice but to get to the control room as soon as possible.

    "Go!" He roared into the carriage, "Go, go, go, go!" The sound of hundreds mag boots thundering across metal decks filled the station as they began their assault on New Tycho's control room.
    Archibald Cassidy likes this.
  18. Archibald Cassidy

    Archibald Cassidy Sergeant, VFMC

    VFN Bucephalus - New Tycho - The Hub​

    While waiting for the clearance to transfer through the Verne gate, they'd brought out a record player. Yes, a record player. A dockworker found a record floating in space completely intact, after a cargo compartment disintegrated. He tried to find the owners, but they told him that the record was his. The Bucephalus' tech geeks managed to 3D print a record player with the proper materials. They only had that one album, from back in the way old days before space travel, and nobody had any idea what the songs meant.

    We had a contact the other day
    But the terrs all ran away
    We were firing the M.A.G.
    from the hip like Audie Murphy
    so if I go up in a puff of smoke
    it's better then being a slope,
    or a fuzz from the BSAP!
    I'd very much rather be me.

    Sometimes I wish I was a blue job...

    What was a blue job?
    What was an M.A.G.?
    And who was Audie Murphy?

    Whatever the lyrics meant, it was a good way to pass the time.
    Then the alarms sounded.
    #18 Archibald Cassidy, Jun 4, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2020

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