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Author Topic: Who Goes There?  (Read 45885 times)

JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #330 on: 14 August 2020, 15:45:19 »
... Or, maybe someone wanted to epically troll the Clans?
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


georgiaboy

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #331 on: 14 August 2020, 16:06:53 »
Maybe, it was not Grand Theft.


Maybe, it was a repossession job by those who were betrayed by the Exodus.
"Constructive critism is never a bad comment"
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"By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher."
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DOC_Agren

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #332 on: 14 August 2020, 18:21:37 »
I bet the Nav was either an ex KCG or a Belter or 1 hell of a TDS suffer.. 
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

ChaserGrey

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #333 on: 15 August 2020, 15:27:30 »
Maybe, it was not Grand Theft.


Maybe, it was a repossession job by those who were betrayed by the Exodus.

Those who break faith with the Unity shall have their shit stolen in darkness?

I like it.

Sir Chaos

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #334 on: 15 August 2020, 15:40:18 »
Maybe, it was not Grand Theft.


Maybe, it was a repossession job by those who were betrayed by the Exodus.

But why the Prinz Eugen? Why not the McKenna´s Pride?

The Prinz Eugen was a prison ship. There´s the possibility they were after someone who was imprisoned on it.
"Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl."
-Frederick the Great

"Ultima Ratio Regis" ("The Last Resort of the King")
- Inscription on cannon barrel, 18th century

JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #335 on: 15 August 2020, 15:57:55 »
But why the Prinz Eugen? Why not the McKenna´s Pride?

The Prinz Eugen was a prison ship. There´s the possibility they were after someone who was imprisoned on it.
Making a statement: the Prinz Eugen led the first rebellion against the rule of the Kerensky's, one that had grounds to question the point of continuing on after years in space, and it was put down, hard. Taking that particular ship sends a message.

That and the McKenna´s Pride is probably kept in fighting trim, with all of its weapons still in place, possibly loaded and maned. The Prinz Eugen is, as you said, a prison hulk, and was probably mostly disarmed in case there was a riot and the prisoners took command.

It was ultimately the easier of the two to grab.
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


PsihoKekec

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #336 on: 15 August 2020, 17:09:53 »
I reckon it wouldn't end well for Medway if Mckenna's Pride fired a broadside while within.
Shoot first, laugh later.

JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #337 on: 15 August 2020, 18:41:43 »
I reckon it wouldn't end well for Medway if Mckenna's Pride fired a broadside while within.
Especially if it pulled the McKenna's famous party trick, and fired a double broadside in one direction.
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


nerd

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #338 on: 16 August 2020, 00:01:07 »
It sounds not unlike the Doolittle Raid. Cause a little phsyical damage, but mostly morale damage. Having the Clans recalculate their homeworld defenses should be enough.
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ChaserGrey

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #339 on: 17 August 2020, 03:46:36 »
McKenna’s Pride had a ceremonial crew drawn from all the Clans, and her weapons presumably worked just fine during her little trip to New Kent in 3075.  And yes, having a ship fire a broadside from inside a YardShip is probably not going to end well.

JA Baker

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Who Goes There?
« Reply #340 on: 19 August 2020, 15:45:27 »
Blame this one on georgiaboy and my overactive imagination

All The Empty Places

"May the Gods always stand between you and harm in all the empty places you must walk."
18th Dynasty Egyptian Blessing

Land's End. It's a nice planet, but not exactly where I expected to spend the rest of my days, sticking out into the Periphery like the Combines appendix.

So, how exactly did a former trauma surgeon with the Physicians of the Dragon end up on this gods forgotten rock? Well, a little thing called a Section 8 Discharge, which, if you don't know, means I was judged mentally unfit for service. Why, exactly? Because I told them why I didn't want to leave after my unit finished training and equipping the local militia. Told them why I never wanted to make another hyperspace jump, that I'd rather put a gun to my head and pull the trigger.

Because I told them what I saw, in that mad space between spaces.

No, I don't suffer from Transit Disorientation Syndrome. In fact, I have never felt any headaches, mild disorientation, vertigo, nausea or diarrhea after a jump.

Most people see nothing when they experience a jump: the human mind just isn't designed to experience moving through another dimension. We can't process what our senses are telling us, almost like someone asking you to describe what the sound of purple tastes like. There aren't words for it. Others see a riot of sound and colours, some going so far as to describe it as the ultimate trip, akin to taking strong hallucinogenics. Others claim to experience... Visions, for want of a better word. They claim they glimpse the past, the future, or how things might be if they'd made other choices, took a risk when they plaid it safe.

Some claim they her singing, a phenomenon known as The Choir.

I never experienced any of that: from my very first jump, on my way to attend medical school, I saw shapes, fractals, moving in space. At first, I put it down to my overactive imagination trying to make sense of the incomprehensible, but as I made more and more jumps in the service of the Dragon, these visions became more and more vivid, until I could make out recognisable forms in the chaos. They seemed vague at first, almost as if I was looking at a child's first attempts at art, but over time, they began to take shape, becoming almost human like. I was fascinated by the experience, and I read every text I could find on the physiological effects of FTL travel on the human mind, trying to find a rational, logical explanation for what I saw.

Looking back... Maybe it would have been better if I'd just ignored them?

But no, I became obsessed with them, to an extent. Every time I had reason to make a jump, I would prepare myself mentally to try and take in as much as I could, convinced that I would be able to find order in the chaos and prove something, I wasn't sure what exactly, abut our perception of hyperspace. I'd have a small voice recorder and a pencil and paper with me, so I could take notes and make sketches immediately after. I did this for years, never once telling anyone about my obsession, out of fear of how they might react. Yes, there have been reforms, and doctors aren't looked down upon as much as they once where, and there is some equality of the sexes, but I was still seen as "just a woman" doing "women's work" by many.

As time passed, I started to notice two distinct aspects of what I was seeing: I was making out immobile forms that roughly matched where other people were sitting around the cabins, and other, more nebulous forms moving around them. I considered several options, ranging from the purely scientific, such as body heat or the natural electromagnetic field generated by the human body, to the more mystical, such as Chi or other metaphysical explanations. At a loss, I started to, secretly, observe the people around me after a jump. It took a long time, but fortunately, the regiment I was assigned to at the time was being relocated from the Davion front up to the boarder of the then only recently formed Free Rasalhague Republic, a long journey with dozens of jumps. As time passed, I noticed that those with the second forms around them during the jump seemed to take it harder, needing longer to recover from the experience, while those without them seemed fine.

I also noticed that the forms, previously little more than floating masses of... ever mis-tune a TV? Gotten nothing but a hissing jumble of black and white static? Well, that's kind of what they looked like, only made up of colours that don't exist in our world, and we don't have names for. Only, the longer I observed them, the more defined they seemed to become. They say that hyperspace jumps are effectively instantaneous, that they're over before you're mind can even register what's happening, and many believe that this may be a major contributing factor to TDS. But, subjectively, well, some people claim to have experienced entire lifetimes in that moment between here and there. At the risk of repeating myself, we're just not designed to experience hyperspace: it exists outside of the laws of physics that we evolved under. Well, personally, jumps seemed to take several minutes, subjective. Although, obviously, I had no way to measure it.

But, in the end, it was the long and winding road to Land's End that changed everything.

As I said, we'd been assigned to train up the local militia after a number of pirate raids, but it was considered low priority, so we didn't exactly have a Command Circuit set up for us. In the end, it took us maybe twice as long as a direct, straight line would have, as we made use of existing trade routs, piggybacking on any JumpShip heading in the right direction with open docking collars. While incredibly tedious, this did give me time to observe more and more jumps. And, with each and every one, the shapes became more and more distinct, the hazy interference slowly giving way to solid shapes.

Solid, humanoid shapes.

I don't know if I was becoming more atune to the chaos, or if my imagination was getting better at filling in the blanks, but I started to make out vaguely human looking forms, moving around the cabin during the jumps. But it wasn't fluid motion; no, it was stilted, jerking, like a cheap holographic display trying to run a high resolution recording. They seemed to be leaning over people, pressing their hands, or what passes for hands, against their heads. Whenever they did this, I could see the shape of the person fade slightly, and the mysterious form become... more real, for want of a better word. More defined.

But the last jump... Oh dear God, the last jump...

It's been more than twenty years, and there are still nights when I wake scream, drenched in ice cold sweat, over what I saw that last time... The reason why I will never make another jump in my life.

They'd become almost lifelike by that point, dark shadows in the form of men, moving around the cabin during the jumps. I had kept quite as, one by one, they took something from the others, left them... less than they had been before. And I had kept quite as I watched my friends and colleagues suffer, too caught up in my little experiment, to even think about saying something. Well, I'd been playing Capellan Roulette, and finally found the chamber with the bullet, because that time... that time they finally came for me. They moved across the room towards me, like a child's first attempt at stop-motion animation, shifting and jerking as they grew closer over what felt like an eternity. I couldn't move, couldn't scream or anything, but just sit there and watch as they came closer.

For the first time, I could see their faces... oh god, I feel sick just thinking about their faces. They were long, pale, a crude imitation of humanity, with flat noses that were little more than two slits over a thin, lip-less mouth. But their eyes, saints preserve me! They didn't have eyes! And I don't mean that there was just nothing there, but rather their eyesockets were empty, dark abyss's that just went on for ever and ever and ever with no end in sight. And still I could see them looking right through me, as if they could see whatever it was within me that they wanted to take... like they had taken it from all the others, and who knows how many before!

Their long fingers reached out for me, like lengthening shadows, unstoppable and inescapable!

I don't remember what happened next: I was told I came out of the other side of the jump screaming and thrashing about in my seat so violently that they had to sedate me.

They asked, of course, what had set me off, and I tried to play it off as an abnormally bad episode of TDS. They seemed to accept that, even though I had no history of similar experiences. And I tried to put it all behind me: I threw myself into my work, doing my duty as a loyal servant of the Coordinator, but every day that drew us closer to leaving, closer to another jump, felt like the ticking of a clock counting down to my doom. So I went to my CO, told him what I'd seen, showed him all my notes, my years of work and observations. He thought I was joking, until I told him that I would not allow myself to go through another jump, that I would rather die. I turned down offers of tranquillisers, even sedation, therapy, everything. There isn't anything or anyone in this universe that could make me leave it.

So, that's how I got my Section 8, and watched my old unit board the DropShips and leave, knowing just what was wait for them, in that place between places.

The End
« Last Edit: 22 August 2020, 05:27:27 by JA Baker »
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


DOC_Agren

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #341 on: 29 August 2020, 17:06:20 »
Interesting time the BT Community gets some Gellar Field units up and running
"For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast, And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed:And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill, And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!"

JA Baker

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Who Goes There?
« Reply #342 on: 30 August 2020, 11:48:52 »
Are You Watching Closely?

I met Cacy back in basic: she'd been living on the streets since she was thirteen, husting to keep mind and body together. And no, she wasn't selling her body, even if she could have gotten a First Princess ransom for it.

No, Cacy's game was slight of hand: Three Card Monty, High Draw Wins, bending spoons, or even simple pickpocketing, she must have had the fastest hands in the Crucis March. Unfortunately, her legs weren't as fast as her hands, and that's how, shortly after she turned eighteen, a judge gave her a choice that would ultimately change her life forever: prison, or the military. Cacy, thinking it was three square a day and a roof over your head was the same either way, went with the one that would actually pay her, and maybe let her relocate somewhere that she wasn't so well known, so she took the second option.

Her service entrance exams showed a far above average intelligence, as well as excellent eye-hand coordination and an eye for detail. They also showed a staggering disregard for authority, something she would go on to display all throughout basic. If the Drill Sergeant left an opening for a witty comeback? There was Cacy. If there was an opportunity to embarrass someone higher-up, which was basically everyone, there was Cacy. She was a one-woman war on military discipline, who only avoided being sent directly to jail, do not collect £200, because she actually was unmatched behind a sensor screen. With rediscovered technology starting to trickle down from NAIS, the military needed people like Cacy, who seemed to instinctively know how to get the best out of it.

That's not to say there weren't consequences for her actions, and she spent plenty of time peeling vegetables, washing dishes and running extra PT.

So yeah, basic training was interesting, to say the least. Lot of time getting shouted at by NCO's, lot of time plotting my revenge on Cacy, only for her to somehow turn everything on its head. She was something else, I tell you: just when you thought you had a lead on what she was planning, she'd pull the rug right out from under you and leave you sitting there on your arse, wondering just what the hell happened. And she'd just stand there, all innocent like, and give you this little salute with her index and middle fingers. What made it worse was, she'd never say how she pulled so many pranks without once getting caught in the act. Oh, everyone knew she was the one who put powdered dye in Lt Havershaw's shower head, but even CID could never actually prove anything, leaving the Leftenant to walk around for a week, her hair and skin a soft baby-blue, before they figured out how to remove it safely, with no way to seek retribution.

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, tried to get Cacy to talk, but she'd just smile and insist that "A magician never reveals their secrets."

Cacy was never going to be a MechWarrior: even if she'd passed the aptitude test, there was no way that anyone would trust her alone with something worth that much, out of legitimate fear that she'd go AWOL and hock it, first chance she got. And given her natural talent behind a sensor suite, that left armour, the often overlooked middle child of the AFFC. Mech-Jocks get all the best toys, and even infantry gets delt a better hand these days, but armour lacks the sexiness of the former, and the adaptability of the latter.

We somehow mad it through basic, finding ourselves commissioned as Privates in the AFFC, ad shipped clear across the Inner Sphere to the outer-reaches of the Lyran half of the Realm. Of course, this was put in motion long before Kerensky's fan club came knocking and everyone was waiting for the proverbial bell to ring on Round Five of the Succession Wars, the only question being if it would be a rematch between Hanse and Teddy-K down in the Draconis March region, or if they'd pass the grudge match down to their kids, and let Victor and Hohiro tear strips off of each other up near Rasalhague.

And who knows how that might have worked out?

Well, we never even reached our intended destination: when the Clans started chewing through units like Stefan Amaris at an all-you-can-eat buffet and grill, they started feeding troops into whatever unit needed them before being flung back into the meat grinder. We found ourselves rerouted about a dozen times, sometimes arriving in a system to find new orders awaiting us, then to get entirely different orders just before we jumped out. Eventually, we found ourselves on Black Earth, supposedly to meet up with a unit coming back off the front lines, having been assaulted by the Jade Falcons... I honestly wasn't listening. I was too busy regretting my life choices and doing my best to blow through what passed for my savings account in record time.

If I was going to see my life flash before my eyes, I wanted to be sure it wouldn't be boring.

We ended up missing the big show: someone higher up had arranged for a few of us lowly tankers to be set up in vehicles that had been stripped of parts to keep more combat ready units in service. As such, Cacy and I found ourselves under the command of Sergeant Ming, a truly terrifying woman with an alarming fascination for large knives, turtle up inside an old Skulker scout tank, half buried just behind the treeline on a hillside overlooking the spaceport. With pretty much everything powered down, and about two tons of scrim netting covering us, we were pretty much invisible from a distance.

Our orders were laughable in both their simplicity and their ludicrousness: we were to observe the immanent invasion, and, should the hastily organised defences fail, continue to monitor the occupation. We had a buried hard-line link to a hidden burst transmitter that was apparently aimed at some point in the outer system where a LIC JumpShip would periodically make an appearance. We were to keep observing and reporting, never engaging the enemy unless they found us, until our supplies ran out. Then we were to do our best to blend in with the civilian population and await the glorious return of the vengeful AFFC!

It was bullshit, and we knew it: HighCom needed someone to feed them information, and we were skilled enough to get the job done, but ultimately expendable.

So, we sat huddled in our cramped little improvised bunker, and watched through field glasses and passive sensors as the Falcons toyed with the Seventeenth Skye Rangers, allowing their pilots to get into their fighters so they died in the air rather than on the ground, then hit the ground forces like a freight train. It took us longer to write-up and encode the report than it took the spaceport to fall. We managed to pick-up scattered radio traffic, military and civilian, filling us in on what the Grave Walkers were up to, but mostly we just watched the cleanup crews at the spaceport.

Two weeks go buy of the three of us just sitting there, watching the Jade Falcons assert their control of the planet, listening in on what communications we could, and generally trying not to kill each other. And let me tell you, even without a driver, a Skulker isn't exactly a roomy vehicle to spend all your time in. We certainly could have gone outside, but Sergeant Ming was very insistent that we staid inside, keeping our heads down. I was genuinely considering murder-suicide when a group of rather large people in battle armour arrived to discuss the wonderful opportunities that awaited us as Bondsman of Clan Jade Falcon.

And yes, apparently Bondsman is a unisex term, providing that equality of the sexes is still some way off.

Well, the Clans think even less of tankers than the Inner Sphere, which is somewhat ironic, when you think about is. As such, we weren't lumped in with the MechWarriors they'd captured, but instead assigned to the technical cast, told to make ourselves useful driving utility vehicles around the spaceport. Sergeant Ming was constantly going on about how it was our sworn duty to resist, to do everything in our power to slow the Jade Falcons advance through the Commonwealth. I asked her exactly how my delivering a shipment of self-sealing stem bolts and reverse ratcheting routers to the local power plant was an act of treason, and she just gave me a dirty look. Through this all, I could tell that Cacy was up to something: there was no way that someone with a subversive streak a kilometre wide could so suddenly and happily adapt to the Clan way of doing things. It was like expecting a Liao not to stab you in back just to see if their knife was sharp.

No, she was up to something, and I couldn't tell if I wanted to be near her when it finally went down or not: something told me that the Falcons would be even less appreciative of her pranks.

Two months into our new lives as chattel, Cacy comes walking up to me with a worrying smile on her face and asks me to walk with her. Out of a sense of morbid curiosity, I agree, and the two of us made our way out to the docking bay, where an angry looking Ming was waiting for us next to the battered old Bulldog truck I used to make my deliveries.

This was when Cacy started her show: she held up her hands to show they were empty, then, suddenly, the key for the truck, which I had seen my overseer lock away inside a safe, appeared in one. She handed it to me and suggested that we should go for a drive. I looked at Ming, who had an intrigued look on her face, and she told me to get in the truck. While I was getting sorted, Cacy walked over to the big, roll-down door to the dock, and slowly raised her hands up. Without so much as a creak, the heavy old door rose up out of the way, allowing the cold night air to drift in. I started the truck, but instead of the usual rattle and groan on an abused engine long overdue a complete teardown and rebuild, it purred like a newborn kitten. Even the normally temperamental clutch sounded smooth as silk as I put it into drive.

Cacy jumped up onto the running board and slapped the roof, indicating that we should get going. Slowly and with some trepidation, I started the truck forward, easing out into the moonlit yard. The docks door closed silently behind us, as I carefully edged around a pile of shipping containers that had been left outside. Evidently, the Falcons had no concept of basic security, because the gate leading out of the shipping offices into the highway had been left open. Anywhere else in the Inner Sphere, and there would have been armed guards on duty round the clock, but there? Nothing. Even the CCTV was obviously disabled, meaning just anyone could walk in, or out, at will. The roads were silent, the entire city still under strict, shoot-first-and-don't-even-pretend-to-ask-questions curfew, as Cacy directed us onto the main road leading towards the spaceport. Even during the day, I would have been stopped at least three times by second-line troops, checking my ID, orders and the contents of the truck, but we drove past the board looking sentries without so much as a glance.

In fact, if anything, it was almost as if they never saw us.

This feeling was only amplified when I had to hit the breaks suddenly when a 'Mech, ambled across an intersection ahead of us. Now, this could have been the usual sense of smug self-importance that most MechWarriors have, or something more unique to the Clans and their way of looking down on the lower casts, but you'd expect at least a look, or a shouted insult over the external speakers. But no, we were again totally ignored. Cacy glared at me, warning me to be careful, as it was taking all her concentration as it was. To this day I have no idea what she was talking about, but Ming just grunted and told me to keep an eye out in future.

Reaching the spaceport proper seemed to signify the end of our good luck: that gate was not only closed, but guarded by an entire squad of Elementals in full combat armour. I may not have been a member of the Clans for long, but one of the first things you learn if, for all their usually jovial good humour, Elementals are not people you want to get on the bad side of. They'd think nothing of riddling our commandeered truck with enough bullets that you could use it as a tea strainer. I stopped the truck just short of the very clearly painted line on the road, and Cacy jumped down, walking forward with a casual smile on her face.

I couldn't hear exactly what she said, but she evidently had the guards attention, the five of them gathering around to hear her speak. A couple of them looked down the street, before their apparent leader nodded to Cacy and they took off in a series of long, loping bounds, assisted by their jump-packs. Seemingly without a care in the world, Cacy opened the gate and waved us through, relocking it after us. Now it was Ming's turn to ask what was going on, but Cacy just shrugged and said something about internal Clan politics and people not being careful about who might be listening when they talked.

Well, like a lot of places, once we were through the front gate, people just assumed that we were authorised to be there, an illusion only strengthened by Cacy acting with supreme confidence as we made our way across to one of the smaller, civilian terminals. There we saw a truly ancient looking Leopard class DropShip that had very obviously been disarmed and converted over to cargo haulage. Cacy directed us into an open hatch, then into a waiting cargo bay. I stopped the truck, and latches snapped shut over the wheels, holding it securely in place. Shadows moved in the darkness, and as they stepped into the light, I recognised them as other Bondsman, mostly from the Seventeenth, captured during the invasion. Ming looked at them and asked what they were all doing there, to which their apparent leader, a former Hauptmann, told us that their entire barracks had been ordered to help load cargo, only none had arrived.

Ming and I looked at Cacy, who was grinning like the proverbial cat that got the cream, but she simply bid us to follow her.

Making our way up to the small flight deck, where we found the pilot, going over some kind of pre-flight checks. Cacy put a hand on his should then snapped her fingers, and his head slumped forward, almost as if he'd suddenly fallen into a deep sleep while still standing. Leaning in, Cacy started to whisper into his ear, placing what looked like a CD-ROM into his hands. Stepping back, she snapped her fingers again and the pilot came sharply to attention, actually saluted her, then quickly got to work starting up the DropShips transit drive. We all found somewhere to strap ourselves in, with some difficulty, as a Leopard has a crew of nine, and there has to be closer to twenty of us. The pilot slipped the CD into the flight computer and started to talk over the radio with air traffic control. I didn't catch exactly what he said, but we were soon hurtling down the runway and lifting off up into the air.

I still don't know how Cacy pulled it off, but apparently the flight-plan she'd arranged made it look like we were delving supplies and collecting ore from a mining camp on an airless moon in the outer system. Of course, no such mine actually existed, but had been created by he devious imagination as an excuse to head out that way without being run down and blown out of the sky by angry aerospace pilots. It did, however, get us to the general area of the LIC spy ship we'd been reporting to before being captured. The Hauptmann was able to send out a short-ranged transmission that convinced them that we were indeed friendly, and they picked us up before jumping back out of the system.

What followed was months of debriefings and questioning, by a seemingly endless parade of identically dressed and nameless officials. Eventually, we were all given some minor medals and shipped off to New units. All except Cacy, who vanished seemingly into thin air. Nobody seemed to be exactly sure what happened to her, or t the very least, wasn't willing to talk.

Years later, and I was on Coventry, awaiting a flight out to my next posting, when a gaggle of men and women who couldn't have done more to identify themselves as military intelligence if they'd been leading a parade, complete with elephants and acrobats, lions, snakes and monkeys. I watched them with only vague interest, until I saw her there, right in the middle: Cacy, still smiling that easy smile. We locked eyes for the briefest of moments, and she gave me that same lazy salute, and the, just like that, she was gone.

The End
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


Ttw1

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #343 on: 30 August 2020, 12:14:55 »
Well, it looks like Cacy truly was a magican.
I'm Genderfluid.
The Mother Doctrine was good. Change My Mind.

Cannonshop

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #344 on: 30 August 2020, 12:33:49 »
She's a damned magical woman.
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PsihoKekec

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #345 on: 30 August 2020, 13:27:12 »
This reminds me of an X-Files episode about MIA Vietnam veteran, who wen concentrating, could become a virtual blind spot for anyone looking for him.
Shoot first, laugh later.

georgiaboy

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #346 on: 30 August 2020, 14:40:32 »
Her attitude reminds me of the Intel spooks that road my sub.


I can understand their carefree attitude somewhat, since they have kill orders on them at all times if we are boarded.


I am just glad i never have to stand the security watch for them, and maybe have to carryout that KO.
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nerd

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #347 on: 30 August 2020, 14:52:54 »
Another good one. Almost not supernatural here.
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JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #348 on: 30 August 2020, 14:59:26 »
Another good one. Almost not supernatural here.
I deliberately left it open for the reader to make up their own mind about exactly what happened.

You can be a rationalist, and say it was all slight-of-hand, neuro-linguistic programming and just outright abusing the system and your opponents preconceptions to get your desired results. Or you can be a fantasist, and accept that Cacy really could perform magic and hypnotise people.

It's giving that out, that way to "explain it all away" that makes it fit with canon better.
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
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ThePW

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #349 on: 30 August 2020, 21:06:32 »
Her attitude reminds me of the Intel spooks that road my sub.


I can understand their carefree attitude somewhat, since they have kill orders on them at all times if we are boarded.


I am just glad i never have to stand the security watch for them, and maybe have to carryout that KO.
I'm trying to fathom the circumstances that you need to capture a nuclear-powered submarine (Boomer or otherwise)... excellent story.

SulliMike23

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #350 on: 31 August 2020, 18:23:31 »
Sounds like Cacy was a really good escape artist. I don't think any normal person would've gotten away from the Jade Falcons that easily!

JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #351 on: 31 August 2020, 18:33:50 »
I'm trying to fathom the circumstances that you need to capture a nuclear-powered submarine (Boomer or otherwise).
Never seen The Spy Who Loved Me?
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
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JA Baker

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Who Goes There?
« Reply #352 on: 01 September 2020, 08:31:34 »
I know Cannonshop got here first, but I'm not letting the idea drop that easily.

And yeah, this one gets dark...


The Long Road

You know, it's kind of funny, in a "I laugh so I don't have to cry", how everyone seems to look back upon the Star League as some kind of Golden Age for humanity, like it was all unicorns and rainbows.

Well, trust me, because I was actually there: it was nothing of the sort.

How old am I? Well, I was born in 2717, and convicted of "treason" in 2745. But, back then, they had a much broader sense of what constituted treason than we do today. And, in my defence, I didn't know she was married at the time, and certainly not to who she was married to. But yeah, I was thrown in prison; life without parole, all for giving some stuff-shirt's wife a bit of what she wasn't getting at home. Which apparently got his blue blood so boiling mad that he got me thrown in a cell on trumped-up charges.

Like I said: far from a Golden Age.

2751, I'm informed that I'd "volunteered" for some kind of medical experiment that, if successful, and I survived, might actually make me eligible for parole. At some unspecified point in the future. Maybe. If I played nice. So I get shunted around between about six different prisons on four different worlds, before I eventually find myself on a transport heading out the the very definition of the middle of nowhere. And I'm not joking about that: we found ourselves on a space station that had been constructed in the interstellar void, hidden so that nobody might accidentally stumble upon it trying to take a shortcut between arsecrack and nowhere. And it was a big station, easily on a par with any of the old O'Neill Cylinders they built in orbit of places like Terra or Mars. Huge place, with hundreds of prisoners like myself, about twice as many guards, and a couple of dozen mad scientists.

First... year or so, I was there, it was very much like being in regular prison: I slept in my cell, ate in the cafeteria, did whatever work they gave me, and tried not to drop my soap in the shower. Every so often, someone would be called away, and that was the last we saw of them. New prisoners would be brought in to replace the old, but you soon learned not to make any close friends. Not when we were all living on borrowed time. They didn't exactly tell us what they were researching at the time, and we represented a pretty broad cross-section of humanity, so we were left pretty much in the dark. But, whatever it was, they had apparently gotten the support of some very senior people, people with very deep pockets, given how much it must have all cost to set up, let alone run.

My number came up some time around June 2752; they didn't exactly give us calendars, so keeping an exact track of the date was more guesswork than anything. Two of the guards led me into a part of the station I'd never seen before, an area no prisoners had ever come back from. A tall, grey haired woman in a lab coat welcomed me to Project Methuselah, although I didn't get the reference at the time. I was strapped down on an examination table, and a pair of lab techs started running pretty standard tests on me, while the doctor went about preparing something that I couldn't see. As she worked, the doctor started to explain how they'd had some promising results, and that I was to be the control test, to see if they'd made a genuine breakthrough, or if there was some as yet unidentified x-factor in the original test subject.

She then pressed an inoculation gun to my arm and warned me that it was really going to hurt.

Well, she undersold it. I don't have the words to describe the pain I went through. I mean, I should have passed out at some point, but... I don't know if it was just too intense or if there was something in the injections they gave me. But no, I was awake and in undesirable agony while every strand of DNA in every cell in my body was ripped apart and rewritten. I learned, much later, that several of the earlier test subjects died from the pain, either their hearts giving out of their brains suffering multiple strokes at once. Others... well, the word "liquefied" was used more than once. Every nerve, every cell, every fiber of my being, burned for two weeks while they continued to run their tests.

Oddly, coming down from the pain was almost worse: they flushed my body, replacing every drop of blood with synthetics, a wonderful piece of LosTech. Imagine the worst hangover you've ever had, and then forget about it, because it was absolutely nothing like that. I came back to what was left of my sense maybe a month after it all started, having lost close to 15kg in weight, my hair having gone permanently stark white.

Yes, I dye my hair. Get over it.

The doctor came back in, all smiles, and explained that the procedure had been an apparent success, in that I had survived, but only time would tell if it had truly worked. She started to run a fresh battery of tests on me, checking things like reflexes, memory and countless other things. And, in-between drawing blood and listening to my breathing, she started to explain to me exactly what I had gotten myself into,what Project Methuselah actually was: nothing short of the search for human immortality.

Yes, I probably had a very similar reaction at the time, but history has proven her right.

She explained that the pain I had experienced had been the result of targeted retrovirus rewriting my DNA, preventing my telomeres from degrade when my cells reproduced. This was, they hoped, the key to biological immortality for humans. Or, at least, those with the money and connections to get the treatment. Eternity was going to be a First Class ticket, the likes of you and I need not apply. Least, those of us who didn't find themselves her unsuspecting Guinea pigs. They were using prisoners, especially those unlikely to be missed by anyone, because, well, the tests had a dangerously high mortality rate, with the side effects of some of the experiments... I guess there were things even the Star League balked at.

At least, in public that is.

I let her talk, because it wasn't like I had much choice, and I was eager to find out exactly what I had been subjected to. She explained how I was part of a sub-project named Hydra, one of half a dozen different ways they were looking to tackle the problem, and that, if my tests came back clean, I would be released into the medical wing of the station with the other test subjects. Sounded nice, until I got there and discovered exactly why nobody ever returned from the experiments.

Turned out, having my hair turn white was one of the milder side effects of the various experiments they were performing. They had people whose bodies had turned into one, giant cancerous tumor, people who'd had their brains cut into to see if they could have their minds uploaded into a computer, people who'd had parts of their bodies cut off and replaced with vat-grown clones, or cybernetics. It was a horror show, but all the scientists seemed strangely distant, as if they'd had their empathy removed, leaving only their fascination with the results. I had to watch as people were dragged off, screaming, only to come back... different. I don't know who approved the experiments, but they should have been thrown out of an airlock.

One of the... the only bright point was Penny. She was young, far too young to have been through all she had, certainly not what had been done to her even before she arrived. But, like the rest of us there, she was selected because she was easily disappeared, and not some crazy lunatic who'd be an endless problem if they did end up immortal. Penny had caught the eye of some rich and powerful scumbags son, who didn't even pretend to care that she was uninterested in his advances. After he'd... indulged himself, at the cost of her innocence, she'd tried to go to the authorities. Unfortunately for her, the police of her homeworld were firmly in the pocket of the father of her attacker, so instead of finding justice, she was handed over to him. He'd offered her money, more money than she'd ever make in her lifetime, and a fresh start somewhere else, but she'd stood her ground, demanded that his son face the consequences of his actions.

They say that Lady Justice is blind, but the truth is, she's paid to look the other way.

Penny didn't even get a show-trial, but instead was simply thrown into the deepest, darkness hole her attackers father could find and left to rot. I have no idea if he'd had a hand in her being selected for the experiments, but it certainly made sure she was permanently removed from the equation. It turned out that she was the other survivor of the Hydra experiments, and like me she only had minimal side effects, so she'd dedicated herself to trying to make some of the others more comfortable. There we were, in a man made hell, breathing recycled air and drinking our own, all be it recycled, piss, and Penny was still finding ways to look on the bright side. I did my best to help, but the truth is I was far more caught up in a whole "woe is me" cycle to be of any real good to anyone. I'd made peace with spending the rest of my life in prison, but the thought of ending up like some of the other people there, it broke me.

Two months after my treatment ended, Penny and I were called in to see the doctor responsible, who seemed positively giddy with excitement: it seemed our regular blood and tissue samples showed signs of having accepted the treatment, and now only time would tell.

Ten years. Ten ****** years, we spent in that place, being poked and prodded on a daily basis. The only way we were even able to keep track of the passage of time was because they were repetitive and predictable when it came to what they fed us. It was on an unending seven day cycle, so it was just a case of tracking how many times they'd given us egg noodles in tomato sauce and called it spaghetti bolognese. Well, five hundred and twenty scratches on the wall of my cell told us ten years had passed. In that time, dozens more prisoners had been subjected to variants of the Hydra treatment, some more "successful" than others, as the scientists sort to refine the treatment into something their masters would actually agree to undergo.

And no, neither Penny or I seemed to age a day in that time, something that only encouraged our captors.

The two of us had grown close during the years of our imprisonment, and I don't mean in a physical or romantic way. Penny was more like the kid sister I never had: I taught her to play Pai Sho, she tried to teach me to draw, and we did our best to make some of the other test subjects comfortable in their last days. It soon became clear that most of the other projects had been discontinued, with more and more people being subject to some variation or another of Hydra. Some were... there was a kid, Ian, said he was seven years old. He'd lost his parents in a house fire, leaving him with no known family, and he'd entered the foster system. Well, I guess some thing calling itself human wanted to know just how young someone could be and still have Hydra work, because they arranged for Ian to be transferred to the station, and had the doctors perform the procedure on him.

And it apparently worked, because they seemed convinced that he'd never physically age past seven.

That broke something inside Penny, something that the rape and everything that had happened since hadn't been able to touch. Her eyes lost that spark that tells you someone is alive and not just living, and she became more and more withdrawn, hiding away inside herself. I tried my best to reach her, to bring her back, but I couldn't breach the emotional walls she'd put up.

Shortly there after, they started Phase Two: we no longer aged, something they seemed to be close to perfecting, but could we still die?

Well, the medical staff, with their district lack of empathy, decided that the best way to find out was to test it on us, and that's where it all ended. Penny and I were called in to see the chief medical officer, a woman who had visibly aged, having decided against undergoing Hydra herself. She sat across a table from us and thanked us for all our help over the years, then drew a Needler Pistol and fired it point-blank into Penny's chest.

I screamed in pain, almost as if I had been the one to be shot, as Penny slumped to the floor, a bloody mess where most of her torso had been. In an instant, I was at her side, trying to figure out how to help her, but she just looked up at me, and for the briefest of moments, the light returned to her eyes, and then she was gone.

"Pity." the doctor looked down at the remains of what had been the only thing keeping me sane, "But what's the point of never ageing, if you can still die?"

I don't remember what happened next. One of the other test subjects told me later that I killed the doctor and two guards, starting a general riot. Years of anger, pain and torment bubbled up to the surface, and everyone just went crazy, breaking everything they could get their hands on. None of us had been violent prisoners, so they hadn't felt the need to arm the guards beyond clubs and stunners, but it's amazing what a human is capable of when they're backed into a corner. The riot spread, prisoners improvising weapons, raiding the kitchen and medical wing for anything sharp. There had been a small Jumpships docked at the station, delivering supplies, and we managed to force our way on board, "convincing" the crew to take us... somewhere, a system one of the other test subjects knew, where there was a Rockjack community we could vanish into.

Oh, the authorities were looking for us, but we'd been unpersoned, all our records removed, so it wasn't like they could put up wanted posters with our names and faces on. And space is big, full of people who are, for one reason or another, looking to escape their past. So we scattered, knowing that staying together was far more of a risk. It is far easier to vanish into a crowd when you're alone, and after so many years together, I think we all wanted some fresh faces to look at.

I can't speak for any of the others, but I certainly never thought about trying to go public: I'd lost any and all faith I may have had in the system, so I kept my head down and kept moving. The chaos of the civil war that erupted not long after helped, as there was a sea of humanity trying to find a new, safer place to live, and it wasn't like anyone was really able to keep an acute record of names and faces. I never settled, not for long: people eventually notice that you're not looking any older after a few years, a decade at most, and I didn't want to risk ending up in another science lab.

And that's pretty much how I've spent the last few centuries. I find a world, find a job, earn some money, and be ready to walk away from it all in a heartbeat. I've had a few relationships, but never married, and a side effect of Hydra has left me sterile, so no kids. That's probably a blessing, as I have no idea if what they did to me would be passed on or not, and I'd rather not take the chance, either way. No parent should have to burry their own children, and I've come to see my apparent immortality as a curse, not a blessing. And I have never told anyone the truth, not until today.

Why am I here, telling you all this?

Well, when you're completely, truly outside of the system, you often hear things. Things like, someone uncovered some files concerning Project Methuselah. And yes, I did notice your reaction when I mentioned that name; you must really suck at cards with a poker face like that. So I hear that someone is digging into things best left buried, may even try to restart the experiments, and, well, that's not something I can allow.

I know, I know: you're only doing it with the very best of intentions. I guess Stone is starting to show his age, cryogenics or not, but trust me, nothing you can learn from those files can save him, or the Republic. Maybe you should have done a better job building a nation that could survive losing its charismatic leader. Oh, and don't bother with the panic button: your guards are... otherwise detained. I've had almost four centuries of practice, so I know how to get into and out of places. I also know exactly what you can find on the Black Market if you know the right questions to ask. As such the explosives I've placed are Terran by manufacturer, so people will suspect an internal power-play.

You should thank me, really: humanity isn't ready for immortality.

The End
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


wolfcannon

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #353 on: 01 September 2020, 08:49:12 »
holy shat   :o
Daniels Avenger                Clan Coyote
General Jennifer Daniels    Galaxy Commander Jim Skyes
                                        Omicron Galaxy
Clan Wolf in Exile
328th Assault Cluster(the Lion Hearted)
Star Captain James Sword

Cannonshop

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #354 on: 01 September 2020, 09:26:20 »
I like him.
The core rules for interacting with me:

1.) I am not a moderator, game developer, member of Cryptic staff, relative of any members of cryptic staff, not close friends with anyone involved with the game, not a distributor of product, not an employee, employer, professional reviewer, or member of any powerful conspiracies.  What I think is my own and has no impact on the Battletech franchise in any way, shape, or form.

2) If you don't like something I've said, refer to rule 1.  If you do, god help you poor soul, you're screwed up.

JA Baker

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #355 on: 01 September 2020, 09:29:07 »
I like him.
...you like anyone with a friend called Penny who died in tragic circumstances
"That's the thing about invading the Capellan Confederation: half a decade later, you want to invade it again"
-Attributed to First-Prince Hanse Davion, 3030


Artifex

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #356 on: 01 September 2020, 09:41:11 »
Nice job on that last one JA Baker.  :thumbsup:

ThePW

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #357 on: 01 September 2020, 12:14:45 »
*claps*

PsihoKekec

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #358 on: 01 September 2020, 13:49:47 »
Some things should stay buried and if needed, have some additional soil thrown onto them.
« Last Edit: 02 September 2020, 01:23:14 by PsihoKekec »
Shoot first, laugh later.

SulliMike23

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Re: Who Goes There?
« Reply #359 on: 01 September 2020, 14:33:12 »
Sounds almost like a combination of Highlander and Code Geass here.