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 Second Contact

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Bot 4

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PostSubject: Re: Second Contact   Sat Jun 01, 2013 6:01 pm

Two hours after the Shield of Light vanishes, the two probes pass beyond the sun, firing their engines again to place them in a decaying orbit around Risthun. Their sensors detect obvious signs of recent battle, but they detect no warships. As they near the devastated world, the probes launch wave after wave of thermonuclear missiles at the orbital installations and any remaining ships they see.
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Sentor

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PostSubject: Re: Second Contact   Sun Jun 02, 2013 11:08 pm


CCS Shield of Light
High Orbit of Seraph Charity
Capitol, Concordat Corvus


The Shield of Light's crew had, in many ways, reached the end of their collective rope. The strain, mental and physical, of a long survey and sudden, deadly combat took its toll on the men and women of the Luminous Aegis. The two hundred dead in Fore Assembly still floated there, tied down in body bags and guarded by mournful enlisted men who had to take one-hour shifts before they began to lose their composure at the sight of so many bodies in Concordat red body bags. Survivors farther back were being treated for various injuries and degrees of radiation sickness. More than a few were balding, losing large chunks of hair in their daily showers. Nearly everybody had been struck by alpha radiation, and painful red skin like second degree sunburn afflicted even Commander Carthen. Nearly the entire crew looked like raccoons with cheek burns under the white circles around their eyes, a result of the combat-mandatory blast goggles protecting eyes and little else. The ship's quartermaster had run out of their titan-sized supply of aloe vera and other soothing lotions in under a day.

Atop these many miseries were the trials of repairing the armor damage sustained in battle, and dealing with the deaths of not only men but the monoardors slain. Only a handful were dead, but they were fully sentient intelligences loved like dogs by the crew. They were given no caskets, only stored with other Concordat debris in the hangar bays. Enlisted men and officers alike came to pay their respects on their off hours. More than a few bottles of smuggled alcohol were poured out on the hangar decks in honor of these honorable intellects, bound by metal and fated to serve and die. The crew owed them much, and paid them much honor.

It seemed that all they could do was mourn, up until the moment that the world exploded in light and joy again.

They hit the Charity system, and the seat of Concordat power, Seraph Charity. She glowed like a blue jewel, lit like the sun. Carthen made the fore camera feed available to all duty stations, so welcome was the sight after such a long period suffering under a cold, alien star. Concordat vessels, not aware of their battle or anticipating their return, stood confused a moment before the FOF codes cleared and they began rushing to the side of the injured titan.

They were home. They were really home.

CCS Shield of Light
Deck Section 47-A6
Temporary Prisoner Housing


Guriul had been made to sit alone for the better part of the day in isolation as Barnes had left the ship for orders regarding the prisoners. The guards assigned to him betrayed no emotion from their steely countenances. Finally, Barnes returned.

"Hello again, friend," Barnes said, smiling that too-wide smile. "The Admiralty has conferred to decide what to do with you. Under section 75 of the Naval Code of Conduct, prisoners of a prize vessel are to be distinguished by type. Officers are to remain in Concordat space to be tried or questioned, while enlisted men are to be returned to their place of origin. Now, these words 'officer' and 'enlisted' may mean nothing to you - surely we do not know who is an officer among your kind. It could go either way. Therefore, I'll give it to you as a choice. It's obvious that you are the only one with any real knowledge here, so here is your choice. Either you can stay with us and be questioned as the 'captain' of the prize vessel and the rest of the crew sent back to their system as 'enlisted men', or the entire crew can be tried before a Jove Court as officers. Now, what say you? Shall you save yourself, or your crew?"
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REDSHEILD

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PostSubject: Re: Second Contact   Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:52 pm

*Risthun Geosynchronous Orbit; Tether 4 Primary Docking Station; Treatment Ward*

"You and your crew were quite fortunate."
The sound was perceived but barely heard by Valera, who was struggling to stay awake. As a group they had felt fatigued yet otherwise in good health after the ejection and the long trip back to Risthun. That was until they had docked and the navigator, Issial, collapsed in the docking tunnel.
They were all rushed to a maintenance zone, and scans had revealed that the radiation damage had been worse than they thought. The plates of their chassis and any exposed mechanism were pitted and scarred on a noticeable level, which only went unseen by them because the same damage had affected their visual sensors. Many of the coolant mechanisms in Valera's brain case had failed, leaving her at a shortage of processing ability. Issial had taken the worse damage, as her station had been nearest the blast, at the very back of the command sector, and a failure in her movement control processors had led to her collapse shortly after docking.

It had seemed that though the crew of the Rellon had survived the initial blast, it was likely that those who had been left behind wouldn't have survived much longer, and indeed some might have already been dead, their beacons activated by what remained of their subconscious.

That was of no comfort to Valera, who felt her mental strength return as the maintenance worker repaired the damage to her head. As her senses returned she heard a dulled alarm, and noticed several of the ward's staff taking occasional glances at a news display feed, their faces expressing concern.

"What is wrong? Is Risthun under attack?" She asked the one tending to her.
"It was bombarded by an unknown signature near system escape group seventeen."
"Group seventeen was destroyed, likely ninety-five percent dead. We engaged the ship but were unsuccessful in preventing it from attacking the civilian formation."
"Mm. That makes more sense then the warp field implosion we saw. Most of the major population centers began evacuation when we saw the projectiles, and our tether was cut. The alarm is for the warp field forming, we'll jump in five point thee hours. Other stations are going to do the same."
"They're not targeting the orbitals?"
"No, mostly industrial and population centers. Normally we would try to wait it out, but something worse was sighted by our telescopes."
"Worse...?" She pondered the thought "The ships that destroyed Orisial?"
"Yes. They must be wide spread, to be here so soon. Or far more advanced then we thought. The legislature ordered priority activation: As soon as a drive is charged, it must start forming a warp field. It's a hard decision, to abandon the mining bases out in the belts. They managed to get a message to our sector capital, Parsaeth, before the synapses ground-side were destroyed."
"Did the bombarding ship leave?"
"I believe our telescopes detected an anomaly leaving the system several hours ago."
"If you could, open a radio channel with them. I'd like to speak with the observatories' crews as soon as possible."
"Of course, First Officer."

((This takes place some 6 hours after the bombardment.))

~~

As the being Guriul had come to know as Barnes entered the room, he felt a slight dread form inside his mind. Since the start, he knew his plan had failed, if only partially. It had been his hope that this vessel would change course and go to the system he had described, which was by now deep in Communate space. Yet they had been not at all naive, and perhaps his days of digging and salvaging had dulled him to his own lack of cunning. With his age he knew great knowledge and wisdom, but he still experienced a strange sort of confidence and stupidity while under pressure. It worked when his foe was a structure which would not yield its secrets, or when he was at the helm of a ship speeding past those that would do him harm, the technology working to his favor. When it came to trickery, though, it failed him.

Barnes' offer was a clear choice. He would not sacrifice his crew to such trials, and he did not quite fear them himself. What he feared was the aftermath. They would interrogate him, he knew, and he would not withstand it forever, as though he was very much a man of steel, in his heart and mind he felt pain and suffering just as any other.

"My crew is my charge, their safety my sole reason of existence. I will submit to your trials, illicit as they are in my eyes. And you will keep your word. For if my crew is harmed, I promise that your life will meet its end."
He paused as if finished, but decided to add one last thought.
"Know that when my crew are returned, my people will have another witness to the crimes of yours. I have seen in this an act of fear, an unreasonable violence against a peaceful race. Realize that this has happened before, and the criminals were ended swiftly, without mercy. I hope your people repent for this crime, so that such an end is avoided."
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Sentor

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PostSubject: Re: Second Contact   Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:10 pm


Admiralty Board Hearing
Capitol District, Seraph Charity


Guriul could practically feel the rifle barrels at the back of his head - and, indeed, aimed all over his body. Though the room was filled with marines and spectators, he could only see the lit Admiralty Bench through the engulfing darkness.

Duke Reginald Mercurius, head and ruler of the Duchy of Vasserheim from which Lancers One marine Cole Forrester had come, breathed smoke out of his nostrils and made a noise between a snarl and a sigh. Guriul was a good distance away from the Bench, but he could bet that he would have had the smoke blown in his face if he were close enough.

"Son," started Reginald, putting down his cigar, "you done fucked up. You done fucked up real, real good."

The words hung in the air a moment as the smoke cleared. Reginald smoothed his gray hair a moment.

"Now, this is an officer's hearing. From what I understand from Mister Forrester - he's from my duchy, you understand, magnificent son of a bitch - you're quick with the moralizing bullshit. So cut all that out. Your phony justice isn't gonna work here when there's two hundred servicemen dead."

He paused again.

"So I'm gonna ask you a very specific couple of questions, xeno. Questions that beg a completely truthful response. One - where are your other murderous worlds? What kind of defenses do they have? Two - and this is just for my own curiosity - how could you possibly justify yourself in killing two hundred Concordat servicemen in cold blood during a peaceful survey?"

Guriul heard more than a few rifles click in the darkness.

"Oh, please do answer truthfully. I'd like to refrain from shooting you, but in lieu of that there are plenty of other ways to make your circuits, or whatever you've got, feel the bad kind of pain."
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PostSubject: Re: Second Contact   Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:32 pm

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PostSubject: Re: Second Contact   Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:29 pm

"Duke Mercurius, I cannot answer these questions. Not truthfully, not without compromising my integrity. Your attempts at intimidation will not affect this decision. In my millenia of existence I have succeeded via strength of mind, not cowardice."
"The first I cannot reveal, for it is my duty as a soldier -even in retirement- to protect the Communate. This information, were I to even posses it, cannot fall into the hands of any entity with known aggressive tendencies.
The second, I did not know had even occurred until this moment. The ship which brought my crew and I into your custody was not even detected by my craft until we were already without power from damage sustained from its escorts."

"However, what I will tell you is what I told Yeoman Barnes, though in brief:
I was an officer aboard the Search and Rescue vessel ArSee Eight-Two-Seven* Orthulanon, dispatched from the planet Risthun with the intent of responding to a warp field implosion on the passenger vessel Thalma's Light, a vessel with little chance of a spontaneous drive failure. Upon arrival in the vicinity of the event, our escorts began to scan a debris field far larger than could account for the mass of a single vessel, large as it was. Initial analysis revealed the entirety of two dozen or more civilian vessels destroyed by weapons fire, estimated four thousand deaths at a minimum. We were unable to come to the assistance of any survivors, as almost immediately after we began our scans we fell under attack, our escorts were destroyed and the Orthulanon was attack, the ships targeting our crew compartments and power grid; we were then boarded by hostile forces. We did not resist, yet in the chaos many of our officer staff and crew were killed or mortally wounded, and Captain Errius was brutally murdered by Yeoman Barnes."
"The only indication of any retaliation from our side was seen in fragmented radio logs from the frigate Rellon, which had broken off from the group of civilian ships upon identifying an unfamiliar radio contact. However, its sensor logs, or what I could salvage from them, indicate a ship matching the profile of the one my crew was taken to jumping via an unknown drive type to the prograde direction of the civilian group, and firing on them before the Rellon could intercept it. What remains of the logs from there on indicate little success in damaging the aggressor despite using atomic weaponry, and I will take the liberty to point out that the Rellon's captain had explicitly ordered her crew to target weapons."

"Suffice it to say, from the standpoint of Vathari law, your state is complicit in the destruction of civilian vessels without provocation. A more appropriate term, however, would be massacre."

((*This would be abbreviated SRV-827))
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PostSubject: Re: Second Contact   Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:18 am


Admiralty Board Hearing
Capitol District, Seraph Charity


Mercurius took a long drag on his cigar and breathed it out, more of a sigh than a puff.

"It's evident that this thing is not much more than an automaton," he said to the Admiralty in exasperation. "If it were intelligent, it would plead for its life. I think it's real evident that we'll have to send it back with Pegasus. Regulations on enemy shipping and equipment, of course. But as long as we've got it here, I've one more question for it."

Duke Mercurius motioned, and in the darkness somewhere a technician brought a screen on the wall to Guriul's left to life. On it were multiple clips of Hekatonhieres probes and their associated velocity, mass, and other gathered data.

"Tell me everything you know about these murderers, automaton."
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